It's vital for mindful acts of emotional and spiritual intimacy to steadily develop as a daily practice for healthy sex. To that end, Center for Healthy Sex has created daily meditations to help you reach your sexual and relational potential. (You can subscribe for free here.)
Even momentarily concentrating on healthy solutions rewires psychological patterns to receive and share healthy sexual love in the present. Here are three meditations with the themes of consent, marriage, and planned sex for you to ponder and practice this week.
Meditation 1: Consent
"Come, woo me, woo me; for now I am in a holiday humor, and like enough to consent." -- William Shakespeare
Healthy sex requires consent, without exception. In new relationships, partners usually seek out each others' full and free participation. But as time progresses, explicit statements of consent get reduced to shorthand signals, and it's all too easy to ignore a partner's true wishes or even to override them through coercion. True relationship, of course, requires continuing attentiveness to a partner's concerns, including unspoken ones. But asking consent, as well as giving it, assumes the person's autonomy. And those who grew up in controlling environments where their autonomy wasn't respected might have difficulty both seeking consent and bestowing it. Intimacy, of course, is impossible without the consent of both parties. Forced intimacy -- a contradiction in terms -- is found whenever one party claims to nurture an emotionally honest relationship while actually disrespecting the other's boundaries. It is nothing less than psychological hostage-taking.
Sadly, during much of history consensual sex was the exception rather than the rule, and the horrors of human trafficking and child brides remain in too many parts of the world. But in our society, having a legal age of consent asserts that no sexual activity involving a minor is ever consensual, regardless of the circumstances. A child does not have the capacity to make mature, informed decisions nor to understand the social stigma and long-term psychological consequences of sexual acts. But even in our culture, definitions of consent can vary. In a 2005 sexual assault research survey, over 25 percent of respondents blamed a woman for being raped if she was drunk, wore revealing clothing, or acted flirtatious beforehand. These appalling statistics reveal a society-wide deficit of autonomy, because public attitudes reflect personal struggles. And until we can be sympathetic to our own right and need for wholehearted and unforced assent, we cannot show more than token concern for another's consent.
Daily healthy sex acts
- How do you confirm a partner's consent? Have you ever felt that someone owed you sexual favors? Assess your ability to assert your autonomy while honoring the autonomy of others.
- If you've ever committed any kind of sexual assault, seek help through a therapist, 12-step program, or spiritual practice. Your inner world will become a safer place for you once you do. Make amends for misdeeds, and volunteer your time or money to a women's shelter or charity fighting domestic violence.
- Today, seek others' consent in all your interactions. Avoid unilateral decisions, ask for input, and listen with respect and care.
Meditation 2: Marriage
"Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener." -- Paula Deen
Marriage is a publicly recognized union between two people. When two persons, no matter their sexual orientation, openly unite their lives out of mutual respect, love, and adoration for each other, they enter into a marriage. Whether or not the coupling is acknowledged by law, joining lives with vows of commitment to share the future defines marriage. Choosing a lover who understands you deeply, whom you cherish as your best friend, and whom you connect with sexually is a good guideline for marriage.
But advertisements and movies depict marriage differently, as a fairy-tale bliss trip -- the proverbial "happily ever after" at the end of the story. Clearly, this is not the case. Too many people jump into marriage without recognizing the demands of sustaining a heartfelt connection over an extended time. Deep relationships are messy business. The amount of self-confrontation and emotional maintenance they require can become incredibly uncomfortable. Calm and maturation take place only when we stay willing to examine ourselves, give our partner the benefit of the doubt, and hold the vision we are both trying to achieve. Giving up control and surrendering to the greater good of the relationship is an ongoing, and a tough, practice.
Marriage is an endangered species. Fewer than half the couples that marry make it, and fewer people are marrying today. Consider the purpose of marriage for you. It takes a rare kind of devotion to yourself and to your beloved -- truly through thick and thin, in sickness and in health -- to endure the rocky road. Marriage can, in fact, be a happily-ever-after story, but only if it's also a story of two partners growing and forming themselves in the space and freedom each gives the other throughout their life together.
Daily healthy sex acts
- Sit with your beloved, and have each write the other a letter expressing dreams and fears for the relationship. When finished, seal each in an envelope, exchange them, and agree to hold them -- unread -- until your relationship gets rocky and you both agree to read them.
- If you are considering marriage, write down the most meaningful reasons for which you want this union and why you want it with your beloved.
- If you're already married, revisit your vows. Have you upheld them? Should they be rewritten? With your partner, evaluate the state of your marriage and where you may need to course-correct.
Meditation 3: Planned Sex
"Plan for the future because that's where you are going to spend the rest of your life." -- Mark Twain
It's not always possible to be emotionally present for other people. In fact, it's challenging to be present even for ourselves at every moment. When planning sex with a partner for a future time, we inevitably confront our own fluctuating moods before our "appointment." Even spontaneous sex can require negotiating or waiting for another's moods -- a delay over which we have no control. So since both parties' desire waxes and wanes, planned sex is a practice just like meditation. For example, sometimes we don't feel like meditating but we recall its value and train ourselves to practice it -- and usually receive its benefits despite not having been in the mood. Similarly, by showing up for each other and keeping a sexual commitment, sex becomes even more profound over time. When we make plans and honor them, we discover our ability to show up for ourselves and others in the moments we've agreed to.
We can also plan time for conscious communication to preclude accidental argument. If we're upset about something, we might request a discussion at a later date rather than interrupt current activity for a confrontation. Rather than walking around "meaning to say something" or introducing a tough topic with, "Oh, by the way... " why not make a plan to sit down for shared truth? Life decisions deserve more consideration than happens casually on the run, and our relationships merit determinations made by choice, not chance.
While there's no guarantee fate won't throw a curve ball into our love lives, we can insure ourselves emotionally by dedicating special times for affection, sexual connection, and communication on important issues. Planning proves we know the importance of our love and how much it impacts us. Planning prevents our constantly dropping hot potatoes in each others' world. Life does that enough.
Daily healthy sex acts
- Make a date to connect with your beloved for sex or intimate talk. Notice the anticipatory feelings arising, and prioritize your commitment as a weekly ritual.
- The next time you feel upset enough to confront a friend or associate, schedule a sit-down meeting for a later time, and follow through even if your feelings have settled.
- Today, plan one moment for self-care: Set your alarm, regulate any moodiness or scheduling conflicts, and stick to your plan. Right on time, breathe deeply, enjoy the view, smell the roses, and fully experience the pleasure of fulfilling your earlier intention.
For more by Alexandra Katehakis, M.F.T., click here.
For more on conscious relationships, click here.