It's vital for mindful acts of emotional and spiritual intimacy to steadily develop as a daily practice for healthy sex. To that end, I've co-authored a book of daily meditations titled Mirror of Intimacy with a colleague at Center for Healthy Sex to help you reach your sexual and relational potential. (You can subscribe for free to receive the meditations by email here.)
Even momentarily concentrating on healthy solutions rewires psychological patterns to receive and share healthy sexual love in the present. Here are three meditations with the themes of differentiation, love messages, and grace for you to ponder and practice this week.
Meditation 1: Differentiation
"One moves from an innocent wholeness, in which the inner world and the outer world are united, to a separation and differentiation between the inner and outer worlds with an accompanying sense of life's duality, and then, hopefully, at last to sartori or enlightenment -- a conscious reconciliation of the inner and outer once again in harmonious wholeness." -- Robert A. Johnson
Human beings have a paradoxical need to be affiliated with others while simultaneously maintaining a sense of independence. Knowing who we are in a relationship means, in part, that we give a partner the space and respect to do the same. We call this process differentiation: the ability not to overreact to our partner's upset and to operate autonomously even though our partner may want things his or her way. The challenge is to hearken to our partner's needs and requests while tolerating the tension inherent in every healthy relationship. We all have to learn to live with the give and take that accompanies being with someone and loving that person deeply. Differentiation demands that we know our own patterns and are willing to work with and on them -- to combat our self-centeredness or shame rather than to be an emotional victim or perpetrator.
Seeking differentiation in a love relationship reminds us that the first step towards intimacy is intimacy with ourselves. To love ourselves with another requires that we grow up, because only then can the real work of intimacy begin. Your partner can love and support you, but you have to change your fundamental patterned responses that don't work. Creating a healthy relationship means you nurture your differentiated self while connecting closely with the one you love to create a healthy interdependency. Choosing this balance gives you space for an honest exploration of sexuality with each other to the depth of your hearts and spirits, because part of differentiation is speaking your truth. Intimacy reveals new ways to know your partner, share your struggles, request your needs be met, stay open to change, and keep dreams alive.
Daily healthy sex acts
- Inventory your relationship behaviors to determine whether you're taking a more differentiated or a more codependent stance.
- Check your inventory to see if you're on the side of mature love -- supporting your partner's potential, which may mean his or her starting a job requiring travel, returning to school, or taking an exciting trip with friends. Perhaps you fall more on the immature side of love -- restricting options for you both by being possessive, engaging in power plays, pitying yourself, or controlling the relationship and your partner. Once you locate your love, take it in the direction you both want it to go.
Meditation 2: Love Messages
"Lovers, of course, are notoriously frantic epistemologists, second only to paranoiacs (and analysts) as readers of signs and wonders." -- Adam Phillips
Many people have lost the power of their words to communicate personal and meaningful messages. Education trains us to convey facts -- often at the cost of valuing our unique perspectives. When we communicate, are we merely conforming? Do we placate with catchphrases, condemn with sentences, or seduce with a silver tongue? For people robbed of the pleasure of authentic speech, communication must seem like a doctor's appointment as they're poked and prodded for readable symptoms. But the real aim of language is to love another through our words, to connect our hearts to those who listen.
Our world whirs with instant messaging, texting and sexting. Never has a culture exposed us so constantly to so many words and ideas. Sentiments slip through our fingers as we're delighted, provoked, bored, or repelled, but rarely can we hold them long enough to be truly impacted. That's where love comes in as the uniting principle which joins people as well as experiences. We must reclaim our words as powerful tools whose power derives from perfect alignment with our truth. That way, whoever reads or hears our words will hear that truth.
Writing with truth requires self-knowledge, as we can write only from our thoughts and being. Done with awareness, we communicate more than just our words because, in unseen ways, writers and readers are connected. A person might write an entirely appropriate love letter, but any hidden compulsion or anxiety may trigger an unconscious reaction in the reader beyond what's written. What happens to the affection that sped a love letter after love is gone? Do magical words lose their luster, revealing in retrospect only mistaken projections and manipulations? We read people as much as we read paper, which is why a true heart truly shared is worth more than words.
Daily healthy sex acts
- Believe what people reveal about themselves, on purpose or not. If someone spends all her or his words attacking others at a party or on a dating site, take note.
- What is your communication style? Love addicts often loop, repeat, overshare, and jam unneeded words into a sentence. Predictably, love avoidants play language like hide-and-seek. Today, find your own meaning first, then say what you mean, simply.
- Write a letter you'd love to receive, with all the adoring truths you yearn to hear. Let it inspire you to convey loving thoughts and feelings to others who deserve them.
Meditation 3: Grace
"You are so weak. Give up to grace. The ocean takes care of each wave till it gets to shore. You need more help than you know." -- Rumi
When we think of grace, we typically conjure images of ballerinas making the impossible look simple and elegant as they glide through space. Or perhaps we marvel at the divinely beautiful movements of basketball stars as they float upward to sink basket after perfect basket. In fact, we consider most graceful talents as otherworldly gifts from above.
The word grace holds a myriad of meanings across cultures. Zeus's three beautiful daughters were called the Graces, who personified and bestowed charm, joy and beauty. In Greek mythology in general, the gods were endowed with superhuman powers but when they misbehaved or flouted the laws of nature, they were thought to have fallen from grace. The concept of grace is also deeply embedded in Christian ideas of salvation and blessings. Even in business dealings, when we grant someone a grace period we give him or her extra time to fulfill an obligation. When we hold people in our good graces, we regard them with favor. But like the Greek gods, when modern-day heroes such as sports figures or powerful politicians are caught breaking the law, they are demoted from icons to mere mortals and forfeit their position of hallowed exaltation.
All these uses of the term grace derive from the Latin gratia, meaning pleasing or grateful. We rightfully equate grace with thankfulness, as when we say grace before or after meals. To surrender to grace is a cultivated act of courage by which we give up worry, fear, and doubt and choose to live in gratitude. When we live in gratitude we make space in our lives for goodwill to flow. Life then takes on a quality of ease without obstructions or drama. When grace is the norm, joy and happiness permeate all our relationships.
Daily healthy sex acts
- Keep a gratitude list for one month. Each day, list five things you're grateful for. What happens when you acknowledge the abundance in your life?
- How grateful are you for your relationships? How often do you share your gratitude with the people in your life? Small appreciations go a long way.
- Pay attention to your physical grace today. Do you hold your head high and glide through your day? Do you slog through it with heaviness in your body? Or are you somewhere in between? What changes in your diet, exercise or mood might help you move with greater grace?
For more by Alexandra Katehakis, M.F.T., click here.
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