reflection on relating consciously

There seem to be two camps in the relationships advice playing fields. You get the drama addicted, pop psychology camp who believe in lots of ‘shoulds’.

These usually include the need to choose a partner very very very carefully who should provide money, happiness, security, unlimited time and attention, as well as should evidence specific masculine or feminine behaviours which will compliment you perfectly, throughout your life. Of course there are certain behavioural expectations that you should show in return, otherwise the whole house of cards will come tumbling down.

The other camp are the wandering mystical never-be-tied-downs who quote Krishnamurti, Rumi and Tolle in the most abstract, persistent and perplexing manner possible. They are also impossible to relate to on any meaningful level. If you ever reflect anything back to them, or make a suggestion for improving something in the relationship you will swiftly be reminded that you are simply projecting and that they are a higher spiritual being who is free to act, be and talk anyway that they like! When you want to get into the messy muddiness of actual relatedness you will instead be swept away by prose and philosophy which obscures anything as simple as a request to put the toilet seat down.

This seems more  like a caricature of a battle between Soul and the Spirit than a dance of Lovers, Loving.

I see it like this: as with all things it’s about integrating two truths.

The personal ‘me’. my soul, is affected by lots of stuff- my history, partner’s dynamics and wounds and troubles and issues and good things like personality and preference. The higher or spiritual ‘I’ remains aware and unattached- understands that as a being I am complete within myself.

Most of us have a LOT of soul healing to do in order to relate consciously: we need to examine our psychological legacies from our family of origin. We need to explore our self esteem issues in a safe way. We have unmet needs driving our behaviour stemming from trauma or abuse or poor attachment. We need to build trust with people we can trust. We have to grow our identities as adults- consciously sifting through the beliefs and ideas poured into us by society and schooling. We have to awaken our beautiful feminine self through the body and the emotions that inform our aliveness in this fleshy world.

And we need a spiritual awakening. We need to wriggle out of the tight shell of this “me”- and begin to dissolve those false barriers between our inner aspects, “them” out there and “That” out THERE. We have some spiralling upwards to move towards, a little bit of letting go to accomplish. We have an ego to transcend and an identity to expand. We have a calling to meet the Sky.

When we are doing the inner work of both Soul and Spirit we are healing, truly. Then there isn’t that dark, manipulative neediness which can occur with very wounded or scared or defensive people.  And we have two beings choosing to delight each other because it’s an overflow of a happy inner world- or reach out spontaneously for connection, holding and understanding when the inner skies are cloudy. There really is a sense of freedom to love and be loved.

Transformation from the inside out!

Sedona Temple closed as a brothel in the USA: friends and colleagues arrested

This “we work with sexological bodywork or sexuality but we are not sex workers” thing has come to a head in the USA. This challenge and opportunity that affects all those who work with sexuality. A noted South African sexologist has entombed her practice in academia in order to ensure her position on the farthest side of the sex worker scale. She still sells sex toys at great cost when you come for counselling, but this she has rationalised.

Friends, colleagues and teachers in the USA have been arrested on charges of prostitution and profiteering from prostitution. They have been arrested for doing sex work, when it may be that they have not resolved this issue for themselves. Better to embrace the fact that one is a sex worker, be very careful about your work, and align with organisations mobilising for change in the laws than to pretend to be separate entities entirely.

We hear such mixed views on this topic: “The temples of old housed temple prostitutes therefore sex work is a noble profession” versus “This is not sex work, I am but a spiritual guide.” And of course all shades of grey in between, all levels of proficiency in being able to hold the core of one’s work with integrity. Sounds as complex as it should be- since complexity is the beautiful expression of Life.

Sex is blooming hard to regulate if you are a politician, policeman, lawmaker, religion. Darn, Life is so messy and so grey and indeterminate at times. Life is just so… defiantly prolific! Just as you make up one rule for a particular circumstance another arises…

My first loves (gosh I’m so ‘poly’), are the altered states of meditation that arise in the body and breath and subtle energy flow. Any kind of kink, or even plain old therapeutic massage, if done well can take one there- its about the individual capacity for dropping into experience. I like living in those states, and finding more of them. They are only useful if awareness and consciousness results, otherwise they are just playing. Nothing wrong with playing.

Arnold Mindell calls these altered states living the dreambody: and it can be accessed in many ways. The dreambody is the Soul speaking, shouting for attention. She speaks in many ways: through meditation, being ill or dying, having sex, becoming mentally ill or living through a catastrophic event etc. Guess which ways are more popular for those seeking the Soul?

The truth is that ‘sex’ (and my definition is ‘a state of being which involves sexual energy being raised and felt’- this can happen in a conversation),  need not come into it at all, unless this way has been specifically chosen by an individual’s Soul. That is up to God/Fate/Fortuna and a seeker’s courage. But it might.

Should hundreds of people across America wish to use the Way of Sex for personal growth and pay for teachers, facilitators and guides- or playmates- I think that they should be allowed to. I don’t care if you call it tantra or sex work or sensual massage or sexological bodywork.

Sexual expression and identity is our most fundamental freedom- this is a core issue and now the Soul of America is dreaming itself into being. Consider, even, the police and lawmakers as allies in this struggle. How will we support her?

Celebrating Dakini Shakti’s Return To Cape Town

A beautiful gathering took place at Dakini Shakti’s house on Saturday night, in Cape Town.

We got to hear stories of her adventures in the UK, America, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkey. Students and friends gathered and laughed, and danced. We remembered her father with love, who passed very recently after her homecoming.

To see stories about the travels, particularly Russia and Scotland, of which I speak, see here http://www.blog.shakti.co.za/

Orgasm

Orgasm is an auto ecstatic phenomenon:

  • through the interplay between polarities
  • the outer feminine triggers the inner masculine
  • given the right environment orgasm is possible
  • partners may trigger it but the ecstacy and the joy is personal

5 ways for women to work with their own orgasmic potential

The following 5 simple practices can change your life because they are about you getting to know you. Developing the capacity for a love affair with yourself will help you in becoming more orgasmic or first-time orgasmic.But to be clear the goal is not orgasm; the goal is pleasure in whatever form it wants to take! 

The practices are not listed in order of priority. They also do not need to be done on a schedule. Rather play with these suggestions as feels good for you. They are not a complete list of practices by any means, nor is each useful for every person. Each example is only a start-up suggestion of applying these 5 practices to your life. Many others exist in each ‘category’- I may start collecting and sharing these on my site but few translate well to reading. Most are best learned with the support of a teacher or other seekers. I have not included any partner or group work because I think women need practices that they can do their own. We become orgasmic or sexually healthy not because of our lovers but through our own inner work. The se practices support a more loving and intimate relationship with your own person (and this includes your body) and that is where all transformation truly lives. Treat this as an experiment in getting to know yourself better, not a new set of tasks to be mastered.

 Meditation

When I met my current partner he quickly noticed that I was very much ‘in my head’ during sex (and not orgasmic with a partner). He gently suggested that learning to quiet my mind with meditation might help. I resisted quite firmly, believing that disconnecting further using a male-centred method of ‘switching off my mind’, was not desirable. Well. I was right and I was wrong. I discovered that many forms of meditation have been life changing for me and I am so grateful for his encouragement. Others are definately not for me.

The type of meditation that I suggest here works well for women. It does not need rigid discipline, steely stillness of the mind or battling with busy thoughts. It simply means being present for 10 minutes in the moment.

Find some time and space that is private for you. Walk around the space however you choose, relaxing into the movement as you go. Consciously set the intention of spending time exploring your own senses and enjoying time with yourself. Keep walking around. While walking (with eyes closed and ample space if you are easily distracted) press your thumbs to each of your other fingers in a regular, rhythmic rotation from first finger to pinkie and back again. You will now be walking and touching your fingers together as you go. After getting the hang of keeping both going, add the next sense. The next is breathing. Notice your breathing, notice your fingers moving, notice your feet touching the earth with each step. Notice all three actions as you walk.  Add the feeling of the air touching your skin and face, also notice your feet walking, notice your breath moving and notice your fingers touching. After a while notice sounds: cars, dogs, your breath, children outside. Keep noticing your feet, your fingers, your breath, your skin. Keep complete attention on each action in turn. Now add the taste of the inside of your mouth. Notice each sense again and also notice the taste. Now add sight as the last one and keep changing your attention through each of them until you feel able to flow through them with ease. Stop. Keep your awareness in your centre, in your body. Notice what has happened in you. Your mind will be still but receptive and present and your body alive and awake.

That’s it! Now go and do what seems like fun to you… nothing more complicated than that! Use it when you need to drop out of an agitated or worried mind and into your body. Use it before you make love, or are anxious to be seeing your partner after a period apart. Use it before self pleasuring or being otherwise creative. Enjoy.

(Thanks to Dez who used this exercised on the training course with us. I call it, after him, The Shamanic Walk)

Breathwork

We women have really been done a disservice, and in turn the men and women who love us. Before mothers where instructing their daughters to “lie back and think of England”, women truly shared their wisdom with each other in sacred spaces set aside specifically for these teachings. Here women were taught how to circulate sexual energy (among many other things!) with simple, effective techniques. One of these is the use of the breath to encourage relaxation, create unity between the heart, mind, body and emotions, and to move sexual energy upwards through the body. This aids arousal; it encourages being in your body and feeling more of who you are. There are as many techniques for breathing as there are cloud formations in the sky but this simple and not-too-out-there one is a good start. It is slow and gentle and can take a few minutes- 10 minutes of this and you will feel heavenly. Do not stand up suddenly when doing this- you may well be dizzy!!!

Breathing through your mouth, notice your breathing. Noticing means becoming aware of what something feels like, feeling where in your body you are experiencing it and allowing whatever is happening for you during the experience. When you are fully immersed in noticing- this will take a few minutes- allow yourself to take fuller (but NOT FASTER) breaths than normal. Feel your in-breath rise up through your base (this is your genitals and perineum), travel up through your body and out of your mouth in a long, slow stream. Repeat this until you really can feel the focus of your breath within your body and not just the lungs. Imagining it happening is the first step to feeling it happening. On the out-breath let any worry, anxiety, holding or tension go with it. If you feel heat and arousal in your base area allow that to travel up through your body with the breath. Your breath becomes the vehicle for the flow to move through you. After making a few cycles of in -and out-breath, begin to increase the experience by now working also with the out-breath a little more. Let your out-breath become a sigh, let sound move with it. Often an ‘aaaaaaahhhh’ sound accompanies the out-breath. Your body may feel softer and more relaxed with the breaths moving in slow, gradual waves through you. Let your body move with you however it wants to; sometimes the pelvis wants to rock or the shoulder and neck want to soften and sway. Enjoy the cycles of long, slow in-breaths moving from your base, up your body and out your mouth and then the long slow exhales of letting go. Keep going for at least 15 minutes to create an energy flow with yourself.

To end this exploration, let your breath return to normal and just feel your body  and its aliveness until you feel complete with the exercise. Any emotion or sound that arises is normal, any spontaneous movements in your body are normal and can be welcomed and appreciated.  You can of course use this with a partner while making love. You can do this by breathing together in rhythm or opposite to one another. You can also use it to focus more on your own body experience by breathing in this way on your own while making love with someone.

Movement

Creating opportunity for vigorous, spontaneous, creative movement is central to a woman’s expressiveness. If we keep our bodies from exploring, flowing or playing then it makes sense that sexual freedom and fun will be difficult for us. Shyness, fear of being undignified, contraction of our childlike exuberance are barriers to self knowing and intimacy.

Create a playlist that includes some loud drum-based music, some melodious female singing, some flowing, nostalgic pieces and some still and spacey songs. Aim for at least 40 minutes worth. Use the first few to stir up some juicy wildness in yourself. Stamp your feet, making wide open legs and tribal gestures. If you feel silly just keep going! Let the music take you on a journey to strange movements and mayhem that you have not enjoyed before. Sweat! Lots!

When the music changes to the next phase really let yourself express. Be the ballerina you never where, or imagine a story that you tell with your body. Allow, allow, allow. The body knows things that our minds do not- let it play and express- without trying to figure it out first!!  Let the sweet, sad music deepen your exploration: use circles and flowing movements to express the longings in your soul that have no voice yet. Let the last songs of stillness and quiet calm you and centre you- you may wish to lie down or just stand and sway.

Dancing is a feminine wisdom that yields change; I urge you to use it lavishly when you can. If you have like-minded friends dance together or find any of the meditative dance classes available. See this link for a Cape Town based dance class called BlissDance by Dr. Shakti Malan http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=94222169370&ref=ts

Self pleasuring

Ha! I am not going to say what you think I am here. When I say pleasure here I mean ALL pleasure  enjoyed through ALL the senses. Food, hot baths, trees in blossom, soft puppies, arduous mountain hikes, glorious music, hot oil massages, silk scarves, divine art, books that sing, sexy clothes, heart warming friendships that make you belly laugh, perfume, feng shui’d houses, good wine, outdoor festivals, chocolate, sunshine, blazing fires… I could go on forever. Pursue beauty. Especially if you are grieving or in a crisis or life sucks. Apply Beauty to yourself as medicine because that it really it. It is balm and nutrition for the soul.

Decorate yourself. Adorn yourself with oils. Pamper and spoil your body. Beating it into submission in the gym accomplishes some good but it can also turn it into an enemy; your body is not your enemy but a lifelong ally. Seek beauty every day and your eyes will open more and more until you find it is almost impossible to avoid. It damn near breaks down the door sometimes trying to get in!

A technique for seeing more clearly is called the Soft Gaze: it involves switching our habitual stance in the world from defensive seeing to loving sight. Try it in the mirror. Stand up straight and look at yourself in a rejecting, defensive way. Allow those negative, critical thoughts to rise up and fill your eyes. Stare at yourself as if those judgements were absolutely true. Reject yourself with your eyes; actively notice the space between you and your image in the mirror. Now stop. Close your eyes and become calm. Allow those thoughts to drain away through your feet and into the earth. Breathe deeply and as you do bring your attention to your heart- the centre of your chest. If you need to, think of someone who you love deeply or an experience you had in which you felt great awe. Feel where that emotion is experienced in your body- usually the heart area. Allow that feeling to expand through your heart. Revel in how loving you are. Now open your eyes and look at yourself with love and compassion. Think of all those endearingly cute and silly things you do. Remember yourself as a child, as a baby. Look deeply into your own eyes. Look with love and acceptance. Notice how beautiful you are. See the glow that your skin radiates when confronted with a loving gaze. Now drink your own image in- let the sight of yourself fill your heart. Look at yourself with the eyes of a devoted and utterly smitten lover. Smile and be smiled at. Communicate raw love with your eyes. Stop and close your eyes. Breathe a good few times deeply. Feel what has happened in you. Notice yourself.

When you are complete you may open your eyes and move around, letting the intensity go. Emotions are good; realising that you may have a way to go in loving yourself is excellent and valuable knowledge. You can get quicker at switching to this compassionate way of looking. If starting with yourself was particularly challenging then try this meditation again in this way:

       http://taoism.about.com/od/meditation/ht/Flower_Gazing.htm 

I wish you great joy and delight. Let me know what you find- and what finds you…

Expressing Feelings

No two ways about it, I am afraid. Pleasure and pain are good friends and seldom travel alone. When we spend energy blocking “bad” feelings like pain, sadness and anger we shut out joy, love and bliss too. And what’s more, most of us have never actually completed challenging emotional situations from childhood or growing up or hurtful relationships. Sometimes those experiences where so difficult that we disassociated during them- we shut down our feelings and our senses because we were overloaded with trauma at the time. Many women have learned to do this to varying degrees. It kicks in during the most inconvenient moments- like when the person we love is intimately pleasuring us or when we feel a rush of anger during a fight. We push the unwanted feelings away together with any pleasure that could have arisen.

The practice of expressing your feelings can take any form that you like. Typically we want to express in a way that doesn’t harm us, others or objects. The best forms of expression include movement, sound and the actual feelings. Let’s use this one: the temper tantrum. Give yourself permission to be completely irrational and immature just for a few minutes. Make a soft, padded, private space on the floor for yourself. You will need to be able to be noisy too. Lie on your back with knees bend and arms at the side, palms face down. Go within and find a trigger for the feeling of unfairness, disrespect or being overlooked. Bring the experience up and let the memory run through your mind’s eye. Breathe deeply through your mouth to bring up the feelings, making sounds on both the in and out breath. Let the sounds of frustration and anger come up that you have not yet expressed. You may shout and scream about all that was not OK for you and really voice anything you wish you had said! Let your feet kick the floor and your arms bang the floor (not hurting yourself) and let the rage and frustration and injustice take over. Make noise and be as wild as you wish!!! This is your moment to let it all come up. Memories easily shift to similar stored experiences so let your thoughts roam to whoever they wish and to whatever topic they wish. No need to hold back! Scream, cry, shout, vent, kick, roll around and let everything just go. When you are spent of all that energy just lie back and feel. Any emotions are welcome and who knows what may arise? Welcome everything with a curiosity to know yourself more. Allow the energy that has been dispersed to go fully and enjoy the aliveness and calm.

Regularly venting past and present emotions is one of the basic skills for becoming more orgasmic. Being able to source these emotions within yourself gives you the power to use them or share them as you desire. Awareness leads to consciousness which leads to choice and freedom. Without completing those things that have wounded us in the past we lose power in the present to live from the soul.

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These practices are simple but how many people do you or I know that do them? They continue to enrich my life; I know that they can in yours. I look forward to hearing comments or answering any questions that you may have about them…

living with an opening closing opening closing heart…

“Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings.” Rumi

Bird on the Wing at Day Break by Richard Dennison

This has been a struggle for me over the past while-this opening and closing. When I say me- I quess I really mean “my mind”. It has been painful to feel the opening of my heart, which had been closed for most of my life; and then to feel it shut tight in defence when I feel hurt.
Dear Rumi breathes spaciousness back into my conflicts with his gentle wisdom. He reminds me to slow down, become aware and notice. Notice when I am open and notice when I contract. My mind’s role is to be present and witness the surge of emotion and sensation, to ‘allow those movements’ and to hold space for them to flow. Not to treat them as a puzzle to be solved, or a character building lesson, or a failure of love or circumstance.
Discovering meaning in our lives by paying attention to the signals and subtle signs is part of the Art of Living; the Craft of Life. But we discover these signposts in places that we normally do not explore. We will be less successful if we try to process everything through the mind- to think, think, think until we understand. Try exploring a feeling; try tracking its place in your body and expressing it through movement rather than thought or words. Try making a sound not based in language.
The need to name things is an inheritance of our western culture. It is not always helpful. It actually produces barriers to understanding in the true sense of the word- understanding can drop into consciousness like a light in a dark room without words to list and catalogue the learning! Yes, its true. We not be able to blog everything we learn and reduce it to a 3 point sermon or motivational speech!!
Imagine resolution coming to a misunderstanding or hurt in your relationship through a hug, or loving touch without ever needing to say the words- or name a victor. These moments can be as deep as anything we will ever know.

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