In the realm of sexuality and personal growth people often talk of boundaries – things we don’t want to do or experience. Edges are places that are challenging and “edgy” that help us expand and grow. How do you distinguish between an edge and a boundary? For us to grow we must do things that are challenging just like working our bodies in yoga to improve strength, flexibility and balance. If we stretch too far too soon, we can tear a muscle, ligament or tendon. If we don’t stretch at all, we become couch potatoes, afraid any little stretch will be painful. And what is pain, but a sensation we have judged undesireable. To stretch and grow in a healthy way we have to know ourselves, know our limits, communicate our limits and respect ourselves. Just as we can improve our yoga practice by practicing with a teacher and other students for inspiration and instruction, we must know where the boundary is between good stretching and over-stretching that results in pain.
How do we gain self-knowledge so we can distinguish an edge from a boundary? Just having an awareness that some things are appealing yet challenging and some things are just not appealing is a good first step. Taking time to pause, breathe, feel our sensations, emotions, or thoughts, and write them down helps. Many people have been conditioned to believe that anything valuable involves hardship and pain. Moving out of this ideology into a mindset of positive reinforcement is important in distinguishing boundaries from edges. Otherwise, you may be susceptible to playing a role in someone else’s vision, and telling yourself that the pain you are experiencing is necessary for your growth. Anyone who loves you and has a desire for your growth will not try to convince you of what you want to do.
When we go slowly we get more time to assimilate our sensations/emotions/thoughts, and to distinguish nuances that are more or less pleasurable. Rather than running up to a cliff and jumping before we see the extant of the chasm, it’s prudent to take a look over the edge first. Boundaries are there to protect us. Try it out in your mind first. Do you have clarity that it’s truly something you don’t want or something you’d like to try but are afraid of? What are your reasons for your negative thoughts? What secrets are you keeping from yourself?
Are you more likely to take risks without careful consideration or hide in the shadows? What is your default response to challenge? If you are a reckless risk-taker, careful consideration is a worthy practice. If you are primarily motivated by sameness and security, what is one thing you know you’d like to do in life, but are afraid to do? Do it and pay attention. Default patterns are the way we unconsciously respond to stress. This lays the basis for many addictions.
How many relationships do you know that are marked by ceaseless strife? Silent misery and passive aggressiveness or outright aggression and occassional violence. Why is it that we tolerate, even suppose normal, relationships that involve such pain and conflict? In non-sexual relationships if two friends have a disagreement it is usually worked out or the relationship ends. I know of no long-term non-sexual friendshps that involve anywhere near the degree of conflict that is common most marriages, partnerships, and loverships. What is it about the sexual relationship that seems to encourage us to engage in drama? When we engage in a sexual connection, we open a gate to our past wounds, emotional history, sexual shame. When we attempt to maintain a long-term relationship or marriage in the face of differing or changing desires, we set ourselves up for conflict. A good indicator of how ready someone is for a loving, low-to-no conflict relationship is how well someone relates with ex-spouses, partners, lovers. Another good indicator is the degree of emotional connection and intimacy one experiences with non-sexual relationships. When we are strong, independent people, getting all our non-sexual needs met such as emotional connection, material well-being, physical touch etc., we can come into a lovership knowing we are choosing to connect out of joy and abundance, not out of a desparate need to get all these needs met by one person. Believing that we must get most or all of our needs met by one person and that person must remain an exclusive sexual partner for life for those needs to be met is a recipe for co-dependency, sorrow and conflict..
Believing that there are an abundance of beautiful, loving, kind, support people in the world is the antidote to obsession with one other person. Why stay in a lovership that involves perpetual warfare when you are wanting something different than your lover. Could it be that you are wanting something different, something incompatible with your lover’s desires? Or are you ensnared in conflct because of emotional patterns, communication habits, cultural conditioning and fear? It is impossible to have an enjoyable relationship that is kept together mainly by fear. Fear breeds resentment which manifests as conflict.
What is the solution? If you are in a loveless marriage or drama-filled partnership, consider how to meet your needs without the assistance of your partner. If you have children this may seem especially difficult. How could you meet your needs and your children’s needs without depending on your partner? If this seems impossible then the thought of losing your partner is likely to generate considerable anxiety and fear in you. No matter how much reassurance is sought and given, if the basis of a relationship is fear, the result is conflict.
Imagine a world where children are created out of love, mutual desire to create a new being, and a committment to co-parent this child no matter how the parent’s relationship evolves. In short, not assuming that the parents will remain partnered or married for the extent of the child’s first 20 years of life. Who would we choose to have children with? Imagine a culture where everyone feels material security in home, meeting basic material needs, needs for intimacy and emotional health, physical touch, and so on, without having a lover? Imagine a world where a lovership adds to an already abundant joyful life where we can rest securely in the knowledge that we are going to get our needs met without an ongoing sexual relationship with one person? Is your primary reason for having children a desire to create and nurture a new being and to experience the joy of being in relationship with a child as they grow?
The teacher Osho spoke of a world where there is no sexual shame, where adolescents are supported in exploring their natural sexual desires and curiousity. He supposed that much of the unhappiness in the world is due to the fact that few cultures and few parents support their children’s sexual explorations. If a child is allowed to follow their sexual desires when they first emerge, would they be more emotionally stable and available to their children? At the heart of this is whether sexual freedom promotes joy, conscious evolution, and care for others or not. For millenia, the political and religious authorities have held that sexual repression is neccessary to maintain order and functioning in the world. The primary way we constrain individual’s sexual expression is through shame. This is the primary way that we seek to control others. Calling someone a slut or whore is an attempt to shame them into behavior that will satisfy our fears which can never be satisfied in this way. Controlling someone is a constant job, requiring constant monitoring and maintenance…pretty exhausting stuff. And not leaving much time to evolve and develop yourself if you are obsessed with controlling another person’s behavior.
The practice of conscious sensuality can help us to come into present time, unhindered by emotional charges; judgments of ourselves and others. When we are in tune with our bodies we have a natural ground to release small upsets that can, if not released, turn into major upsets or lifelong patterns of disharmony, distractions and disease. For when we don’t consciously release traumas, charges, and upsets we’ll keep creating situations designed to restimulate the experience so we can release it. Without consciously releasing, each opportunity becomes another piece of armor, another justification, another wall of separation.
Conscious release processes which allows us to clear our field of emotional charges, judgements, and other contractions in our being, usually in relation to other people. By clearing naming and articulating our charges with a neutral third party, we compost our charges and our stories. It’s very important that people have training and understanding of this approach. So often people are unconsciously talking as a way of getting empathy and release, yet the way many people talk, they end up reinforcing their stories about others or cementing in their emotional blocks. When we hear someone’s charge and simply acknowledge it with a thank you, we release them from the charge without taking it on ourselves. So often people give sympathy or advice or build up the story with their own distress. You have a choice: Do you want to feel justified in your distress or do you want to release it! Releasing our charge and coming into present moment, means taking responsibility for our present moment and taking responsibility for being in joy. When people are afraid to be in joy, they often take refuge in blaming others, and thus abdicate responsibility for creating joy in their lives.
Let us do our emotional releasing in a conscious way, and save sex for ecstasy, communion and creation. In fact, your lover should not always be the first person you should go to if you need to release a charge or get empathy. This dilutes the charge of the sexual connection, fosters co-dependency, and inhibits the development of friendships and counseling relationships. Once you’ve consciously released your charges and upsets, then you can clearly and cleanly communicate with your lover/partner/spouse. By developing more trust and intimacy with a larger group of friends and peers, you can see more clearly what you are getting out of a sexual relationship.
If you have a sex education class in school, you will hear sex organs refered to by their correct anatomical names: vagina and penis. If you watch sex films you will hear: cock and pussy. If you attend tantra sex workshops you will hear: yoni and lingam. There are pro’s and con’s to each set of names. The anatomically correct names are functional, without charge, and have with very little turn on. Cock and pussy have lots of charge, connotations and turn on for some, and can be a huge turn off for those religiously or spiritually minded. Yoni and lingam don’t have a charge associated with them in western culture so are useful to westerners who didn’t hear them growing up. They do increase the likelihood of reinforcing some people’s predisposition towards the spiritual and away from the body. And this is a significant risk, for far more people in the culture today are too associated with their minds and too little in touch with their bodies. It also can lead to justifying sex in terms of spirituality and not acknowledging raw sexual turn on. In other words, adding another layer of sex-negative conditioning. Choose your own words, play with new ones, don’t get attached. And don’t let words get in the way of what you are experiencing. This is what happens when we are seduced by our conceptual minds and out of touch with our bodies.
This is a common split in the male psyche and it turns out that women can also have difficulty integrating a sexually satisyfying relationship with a emotionally nurturing relationship. Why is this? What are the roots of this separation, seemingly leaving us with the choice of a long term friendly but passionless partnership or an explosive short term or rollercoaster connection? The more we can be loving and nurturing ourselves in our sexual connections the more we can accept sexual love as a form of nurturing, fulfilling love. The more we restrain ourselves from passion in the hopes of a long term relationship, a “spiritual connection”, a meaningful relationsihp, the more we may set the fuse for one-night stands and conflict in our relationships. When we openly acknowledge our sexual desire and interests, we release the fear of being judged and allow ourselves to actually explore the sensation of the desire, not just the sensation of nervous excitement that comes with keeping a secret.
Being nice is another way of saying “i’m afraid of how you will react if i am completely honest”. People often think they are less than honest because they are “nice.” It’s not so much that they are trying to protect other’s feelings but are trying to protect themselves from the reactions of others if they were to reveal themselves. After years of practice i now feel grateful when someone shares something that is hard for me to hear, that is, if it is done gracefully and with a little forewarning. I know that honest communication reveals a desire for trust and intimacy. How easy it is to be nice to total strangers! If i know someone is capaple and courageous enough to communicate honestly and responsibly when they are upset, then i can trust what they are saying when it’s something i want to hear. Many people are only honest when they are angry and the anger has burned through the filter of their repression and fear.
Only after you have lived for a while in total sexual freedom can you easily keep agreements with a lover that restrict your freedom. The knowledge that one is truly free and is simply choosing between different options is very different that someone who is afraid to pursue what they want. Very few people have given themselves complete sexual freedom so they continue to make agreements that cause repression, dishonesty and distance. Often the agreements that are sought and demanded of lovers reflect unrealized desires we are projecting onto our lovers. This is why so often people break the agreements they seek. To have total sexual freedom means to accept responsibility for oneself and to acknowledge that we are born alone and die alone…that we can’t shrug off responsibility for our lives onto someone else. When we take full responsibility for our lives, we won’t seek to control others, because we won’t be living in a state of repression and denial. To have total sexual freedom is to allow the possibilty that no one will be your lover or that many people will judge you because they envy your power and courage. They will seek to enroll you in their conspiracy of fear and call it altruism. What comes up for you when you think of total sexual freedom? Why?
Is Polyamory more evolved than monogamy? Or Vice-Versa? This line of thinking shows how easy it is for many to try to justify their behavior. Rather than just say, “i want to have sex with more than one person” or “only one person” many people want to universalize their experience and bolster their actions by subscribing to an ideology, thus provoking arguments and reactions. When someone takes complete responsibility for their choices and only refers to their own experiences, their revelations build connection and understanding instead of arguments. When many people find the courage to be more polyamorous they often condemn monogamy on the basis of their unmet needs or on past hurts without acknowledging that monogamy is an appropriate choice for many people at many times in their lives. Likewise, condemning polyamory as spiritually and morally bankrupt reveals more about our fears than what the experience of polyamory is like for others. The names we call others are the names we are afraid of becoming. And the more we identify with an ideology or an identity the more we are separated from the natural growth and change in our desires and in our lives. And the more we can stay grounded in our own experiences rather than ideology, the more we can connect and build trust and understanding with those who are having different experiences.