I use the term sacred sexuality because I believe that sexuality is our life force energy, and each person's unique life energy is sacred. Our relationship to our own life energy determines our relationship to other aspects of our life. If we cannot embody, or envision the sacredness that is innate in our sexual energy, it is difficult to embrace anything else in our world as sacred.
My belief is that the incongruence between our sexual energy and our sense of what is sacred is limiting humanity's potential for healing our planet, and ourselves. As well, our misuse of, and shallow, undeveloped relationship with our sexual, sensual nature is limiting our ability to expand consciousness in our world. We live in times when humanity’s darkest nature has been exposed to the light, therefore beginning the process of transformation. The capacity to accelerate this transformation and usher in a new era of ecstatic sexuality is now possible. It is up to us whether or not we chose to assume this challenge.
The subject of sexuality is fascinating to me because I believe it impacts all aspects of our lives, consciously or unconsciously. As a therapist, I know that most individuals and couples have challenges and issues regarding their sexuality. It is not surprising to me that a topic that involves the act of creation itself engenders a vast range of issues, confusion and conflict. I can well understand why there is a tendency in our culture, personally and collectively, to be obsessed and/or repressed regarding this root of human nature.
As humans, we tend to fear and project that which we do not understand. Humanity does not understand or remember the true nature and boundless potential of sexual energy. This has resulted in humanity dancing mostly with various shadow aspects of sexual energy. My intention in naming the shadow aspects of sexuality is not to aggravate a sense of hopelessness around how much abuse and misuse of sexuality is being enacted. Rather, my intention is to ... [to complete last thought]. However difficult it may be to bear the knowledge of what is happening now, it is vital that we keep in mind that when shadow is exposed transformation begins. Remember, it was not too long ago that issues such as the sexual abuse of children by those in trusted and sacred positions were kept as deep, dark secrets. Our sadness and disgust regarding humanity's misuse of this sacred, powerful energy is a sign that transformation has begun.
Some shadow aspects of sexuality that humanity has engaged in:
- Many experience shame, guilt, fear, confusion, inadequacy, humiliation, and disparity as the primary emotions around sexuality and their bodies.
- The education and information regarding sexuality is often about how "not" to get a disease or get pregnant, or how to avoid sex. Most cultures do not value the archetype of the Lover. The healing potential of conscious loving and love-making is not part of the information we are given about sexuality. Becoming a better lover is not considered an important aspect of emotional, psychological and spiritual growth. We bumble along often with disappointing results that lead us to disengage not only physically, but also emotionally and psychologically.
- Media and the internet show an ever increasing link between sexuality and violence, power and control over another. As a result of research by scientists and psychologists, we are now beginning to understand that neural hardwiring occurs in our thinking and feeling processes (see Norman Doidge, The Brain That Changes itself, for insights into neuroplasticity). When a person subjects themselves to these images over and over again their arousal or/and connection to sexuality can get wired towards aggression, power and control. The pleasure and joy zones of our brains, and therefore our bodies, do not get stimulated. This is why some pornography (which I distinguish from erotic) leads to a lack of true intimacy in real relationships.
- Sexuality is too often a means of manipulation for those with control and powers issues.
- Many of humanity's most horrific acts against one another have often involved sexual violence. Children too often have been the victims of this atrocious misuse of our most sacred energy. Sexuality is political violence in the form of rape, and sexual torture continues to be employed as one of the most damaging and long lasting weapons of war.
- The rift between sexuality and religion, spirituality and some wisdom traditions, has left humanity with a fragmented sense of self that has wreaked havoc on our psyches, souls and spirits. This sense of being separate from some vital aspect of ourselves is often unconscious and may manifest in anxiety, hopelessness, depression, lack of meaning in our lives, and overall loss of energy to fully engage life.
Although these issues may seem overwhelming I believe we have begun transforming our relationship with our sexual energy. What signs of transformation are presently becoming visible?
- In the last decades, there has been a resurgence of interest and teachings around the various concepts of sacred sexuality. There are various traditions, such as Tantra from the Indian tradition, or the Taoist originating in China, that have long espoused the ancient art of sacred sexuality as a way of increasing vibrancy of health and to prolong life. (Those interested might view www.tantra.com for books, resources and videos).
- It is clear from my work with hundreds of couples, both in groups and private practice, that enhancing intimacy and becoming better lovers is a primary aspiration of many couples of all ages who seek more conscious partnership.
- The shadow is now totally exposed and the collective response is to take action to ensure that these abuses are not being ignored. People are even risking their lives to speak out about sexual oppression and abuses in other cultures and religions. Religions are facing their own demons and are being held accountable for the results of sexual repression and abuse. The emphasis on healing sexual wounding is allowing more people making sure their experience of abuse does not define who they are. Many who are abused no longer feel isolated or stigmatized; they become empowered to create a healthy relationship with sexuality.
- Some of the world's most interesting thinkers are making connections between sexual energy, deep ecology, spirituality and expanding consciousness. Understanding of the interconnectedness of sexuality/sensuality and how we value and treat the earth is developing. I believe there are parallels between the deep ecology movement and our transformation of sexual energy (for example, Ken Wilber's book Sex, Ecology and Spirituality).
- In one generation, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in the acceptance of various forms of partnership (gay, lesbian, etc.). It is now becoming "normal" for people to have several different types of relationships, and there is a movement towards falling in love with the person, rather than their gender. The stigma of loving the same sex is dissolving. To me, this indicates that humanity's fear regarding the diverse nature of our human sexuality is subsiding.
- We are beginning to embrace the concept of sexuality as life force energy that can open us to expansive states of consciousness. More people are experiencing orgasm and highly sensual states of bliss as spiritual experiences. There is a resurgence of knowing the potential of engaging our sexual energy as a means to help surrender the ego to soul/spirit.
More people understand the connection between life force and creativity and purpose. This understanding can help unlock blocks that sometimes result in depression, anxiety issues, overall stress and unresolved anger issues
- There is a widespread movement to learn about the wisdom of some indigenous cultures that have very different understandings of the potential and purpose of sexuality. This understanding will help us to rediscover what we have lost as a species. (See Sonbonfu Some and Malidoma Some, We Have No Name for Sex (audio); Sobonfu Some's book, Intimacy; and Jeremy Narby's Cosmic Serpents, Origin of DNA).
After years of exploring human sexuality I believe we know very little about the innate potential of our own life force energy. We experience something that we refer to as sexuality, but we are skimming over the surface, drinking a drop of water of what may be the deepest of oceans.
I consider this is an auspicious time for psychology and spiritual traditions to come together in support of multi-dimensional developmental models that not only include, but honour, embodied spirituality. I suggest that the next critical step in sustaining the movement towards more collective self-awareness is for psychology, religions, and spiritual and wisdom traditions to openly assert and develop models emphasizing the importance of healthy sexuality as a fundamental facet of an integrated, whole human being.
Our sexuality, our souls, and our spiritual natures long to be harmonious and congruent. All health care professions nurturing the body, soul or mind, or hopefully all three simultaneously, must become more knowledgeable about how to heal the great rift that still keeps this natural union of sex, soul and spirit separate and discordant.