I Recently came across this article by Jalaja Bonheim, Ph.D, a very well known author and someone I admire greatly. I felt that her article on sexual wholeness was one that I might have written myself, it is that good. I hope you will also find it as helpful as I have.
- TELL YOUR STORY IN SACRED SPACE.
Telling your sexual story is a powerful way of coming out of sexual isolation. Sometimes, it can be a lifesaver. However, this deeply intimate process should always be contained in a sacred space, which might be a therapist’s office or even a trusted friend’s living room. I recommend telling your story in an environment in which it will be received with attention, compassion and reverence, in which you will not be judged or shamed, and in which your confidentiality will be respected.
Like the body, the psyche has its “private parts,” in which we hold our deepest, most intimate secrets, as well as our most vulnerable feelings, memories, hopes and fears. Your story is sacred, and you would no more want to share it with an inappropriate audience that you would want to have sex with inappropriate partners.
- EMBRACE PLEASURE AS A FRIEND.
Wilhelm Reich was one of the first psychoanalysts to realize how much we fear pleasure. When Joanna, a client, had an orgasm that left her, as she put it, “at the center of the universe, totally at one with everything,” she reacted not with elation but with terror. Often, we associate pleasure with decadence and sin, while viewing pain as virtuous. As one man put it, “In Catholic school, I learned that suffering was good. Jesus suffered, and so did the martyrs. Nobody went to heaven for having a good time.”
Provided our pleasure does not harm ourselves or others, we should consider it healthy, healing, and holy. Sacred sexuality honors pleasure as a gift from God—nature’s way of letting us know what is good for us. So, welcome pleasure into every moment of your life, and embrace it as a teacher and a friend.
- FIND TIME AND SPACE TO OPEN TO YOUR SEXUALITY BY YOURSELF.
Since you are by nature a sexual being allow yourself to explore new ways of expressing your sexuality. Masturbation—self-pleasuring—can be a voyage of self-discovery and an experience of truly making love to yourself. But there are many other ways to turn yourself on as well. Get naked, wrap a shawl around your hips, and do an erotic dance. On a warm summer night, go out and lie in the damp grass, letting your body commune with the earth. A good lover is a priceless gift, but don’t think that without a lover, you can’t be sexual.
- TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE PARTNERS YOU ATTRACT.
If you have a history of choosing inappropriate partners, you can safely assume that in some way you still feel unworthy or undeserving of the love you want. Learn as much as possible about where and why you go astray. Watch for patterns of “making do,” condoning abuse, or settling for relationships that are ultimately destructive and undermining. Sacred sex involves not only physical nakedness but also emotional and spiritual nakedness. Take a good hard look at who you are getting naked with.
- LEARN TO EXPRESS YOUR SEXUAL DESIRES AND NEEDS.
Good sex requires honest communication. Don’t expect your partner to read your mind. Unfortunately, fear and shame cause many otherwise articulate men and women to become mute in bed. Alexandra spent ten years in a sexually frustrating marriage before she finally found the courage to ask her husband for what she wanted. “As a good, red-blooded American girl, I was brought up to believe that the man had to give you sexual pleasure, and that if he didn’t give it to you, there was no way to get it.” As it turned out, he was more than happy to oblige her. Yet one wonders how many relationships fail because partners have been taught not to express their desires.
- SLOW DOWN, SAVOR THE EXPERIENCE.
We all know that stress can destroy our health. It also cripples our sexuality. Slowing down—way down—is essential to sacred sexuality. Ecstatic lovemaking occurs only within sacred time, time out of time; it cannot tolerate being crammed into tight schedules. “Quickies” can be wonderful. Still, they are the sexual equivalent of fast food. Give yourself of a gourmet meal now and then.
- RELAX WHILE AROUSED.
When sexually aroused, we tend to tense up. We generally want to reach orgasm as quickly as possible, so we concentrate our excitement in the genital area. Often, we unconsciously hold our breath at the same time. Practice doing the opposite. Breathe deeply and relax into increasing levels of sexual arousal, without rushing toward orgasm. If and when orgasm occurs, it will release a healing flood of pleasure throughout your entire body.
- BE BRAVE.
Even with the best partner, sacred sex is bound to be somewhat scary. As in any encounter with the divine, you will need to let go of control and surrender to a power greater than your own. Sacred sex is loving sex, and love is not for cowards; it takes courage to plunge into that purifying blaze. Yet the body yearns to reconnect with the eternal source of its being, and grieves when we become so fearful that we refuse the healing medicine of ecstatic pleasure.
- OPEN TO GOD AS YOUR LOVER.
Meditate on a divine being who blesses your sexuality and desires you with as much passion as you desire Him or Her. Mystics of all spiritual traditions have invoked God as a lover who led them into states of rapture and orgasmic pleasure. By accepting God as your lover, you invite sacredness into your spiritual experience. On the other hand, opening to the divine lover will also transform your spiritual practice. In the presence of God the lover, worship becomes lovemaking, and lovemaking becomes worship.
- TAKE THE NEXT STEP.
Ask yourself, “What is the next step in my sexual life?” It can mean telling your lover about your sexual fantasies, writing erotica, or choosing to be celibate. For one woman, taking the next step meant visiting a local sex shop. “I was scared,” she remembers. “Decent people just don’t do that kind of thing. Then I thought, ‘OK, it’s time for you to admit to the world that you are interested in sex.'” What’s the next step for you?