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In our culture, after hundreds of years of sexual denial, the pendulum has swung the other way. Now our society has a preoccupation with sexuality. There is hardly a place where its mark cannot be found. All this makes it difficult to feel the deeply personal, intimate, and holy function that sexual energy can play in our lives.
Despite the degree to which sexuality permeates the culture, the collective guilt of history can still be felt. We have been socialized to be suspicious of pleasure, to live removed from our bodies, and to maintain a tight rein over our feelings.
In a culture riddled with guilt, sexual confusion, and body shame, the sexual force has often been misused. Yet when entered with joy, tenderness, and respect, it becomes not only a source of great vitality, but a guide to the ways of the heart.
We are entrusted with our sexual appetite, power, and capacity for feeling not so that we will be driven by it, but so that we may be nourished and upheld, strengthened and moved. The flow of sexual excitement in the body is, in and of itself, a healing gift. There need be nothing about our sexual experience that removes us from the sacred. In fact, sexual union can be the ritual expression that unites body and spirit in a divine dance of Creation.
Conflict Between Partners
Because we are evolving beings, our need or lack of need for sexual expression will flux and change. It may sometimes feel impossible for two people to remain harmonious in a mutual level of desire for any prolonged length of time. There is tremendous understanding available if we are able to listen deeply whenever a lack of harmony arises between us.
We are gift bearers, bringing messages to ourselves and to one another through our sexual sharing. The ability to remain still enough to hear these messages requires tremendous discipline -- the discipline of not complaining, of not blaming, of not fearing or doubting or judging. It is, in fact, the ultimate discipline of unconditional love and curiosity.
There are many reasons why two people are drawn sexually to one another. There is the need to be reassured, to reassure the other, to forget separateness, to be safe, to feel alive and vibrant, to be united, to feel in communion with, to ward off loneliness, to feel valued, to be momentarily complete, to do our duty, to transcend the daily boredom, to touch the mysterious, to awaken the life force, to be consumed by a power greater than the mind, to heal misunderstandings, to claim our territory, to reinstate our affectionate hold, to give what we believe the other wants, to keep peace, to express tenderness, and on and on and on. All of the reasons are valid; all of them are part of a deep urge toward wholeness and love.
But each different reason carries with it a different energy field. Some of these fields are mutually compatible, and some are not. If, for example, we are longing to be reassured that we are loved and valued, and our partner is giving what he or she considers to be a duty, neither of us will be satisfied.
During times of disconnectedness, if we can intimately and with deep trust venture together into our most vulnerable honesties, we will begin to discover there the understanding that can eventually lead to healing.
Going Beyond Fear
We have been given few attributes as potent, volatile, and complex as our sexuality. For our sexuality often becomes a focal point where unacknowledged fears, hopes, expectations, and griefs rise to the surface.
It takes courage to go beyond our fear and actually acknowledge what is buried within us, but, when we do, we open the way for communion, joy, and profound discovery.
The more we can share about ourselves with our beloved, the more sexual harmony we will enjoy, and the greater will be our ability to discover and heal all the fears and misconceptions that keep us from our true capacity for intimacy, pleasure, and fulfillment.
Intimacy and Humility
We have been socialized in this culture to believe in a romantic fantasy in which two people meet, fall in love, live happily ever after, and never need anyone else.
This, we all eventually discover, is merely a fairy tale, and seeking it distracts us from the possibility of a more fulfilling voyage of discovery, a voyage that can lead us deeper into ourselves and into each other.
Inevitably, we bring not only our love to a relationship, but also our wounds and confusion. As the relationship begins to mature, we become a bit more willing to let go of the image that we believed we needed to maintain in order to love or to be loved. We become willing to risk showing more of ourselves, more of those places where we believe we are flawed.
Healing relationships give us the courage to face ourselves, to see those attitudes and behaviors that are not in keeping with our essential being. They show us the ways in which we distance ourselves from others, and enable us to see how we defend those habits and beliefs that compromise our well-being and the well-being of our relationships. As we acknowledge and share these patterns, they can become undone. Conflict, guilt, sorrow, and all the other fearful emotions can lead us to the place where the wounded child waits in hiding, so that what has been hurt can be brought to health.
When our heart's desire is to heal ourselves and each other, then every single moment can become an invitation to move toward love. When we open to ourselves and to our beloved with honor and total acceptance, something miraculous happens. In the full mingling of our spirits we are renewed, strengthened, and delivered to our highest possibilities. Our love has become a bridge not only to ourselves and to each other, but to life itself.
Criticism and Intimacy
There are times in every intimate relationship when we wish to express to the other person that he or she is doing something that we feel is not in alignment with his or her spirit.
This is a delicate moment. For when we share any kind of criticism, the attitude we hold toward the other and the manner in which we speak are an essential part of the message we convey. The communication becomes difficult to receive if we are relating out of a sense of separation or condescension, if we are bitter, judgmental, or angry or if we are needing the other person to change.
There is a much greater possibility that our communication will be heard and received when we are embracing the other as essentially well and whole, and when we speak with acceptance and respect for who he or she already is.
We have all, at times, used our intimate relationships as a place to vent our frustrations. A healing relationship, however, calls for impeccable responsibility and infinite fairness and respect. For only then can enough trust develop so that trembling hearts can open deeply to each other and risk being known.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher
HJ Kramer / New World Library.
The Awakened Heart: Meditations on Finding Harmony in a Changing World
by John Robbins and Ann Mortifee.
The author of the best-sellers, Diet for a New America and Reclaiming Our Health shows readers how to instill harmony in their lives and achieve inner peace through sixty meditations.
For more info or to order this book
About The Authors
JOHN ROBBINS is the author of the internationally best-selling Diet for New America and Reclaiming Our Health. The recipient of the 1994 Rachel Carson Award, he is the founder of EarthSave International, a nonprofit organization that supports health food choices, preservation of the environment and a more compassionate world. Visit EarthSave International's website at http://www.earthsave.org.
ANN MORTIFEE is one of Canada's most distinguished creative and performing artists. She has received numerous awards, including the Order of Canada for outstanding contributions to the performing and healing arts. A distinguished teacher and workshop leader, some of her topics include Compassion and the Healing Power of Music, Releasing Your Inner Voice, and Healing Journey. Visit her website at http://www.annmortifee.com.