It's vital for mindful acts of emotional and spiritual intimacy to steadily develop as a daily practice for healthy sex. To that end, Center for Healthy Sex has created daily meditations to help you reach your sexual and relational potential. (You can subscribe for free 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 shame, trauma, and kindness for you to ponder and practice this week.
Meditation 1: Shame
"Love taught him shame, and shame with love at strife
Soon taught the sweet civilities of life."
-- John Dryden
Shame is a communicable dis-ease passed down generation after generation. The physiological effects of shame have been observed across cultures with very different practices and beliefs: lowered head, downcast eyes, red face, sense of tingling heat. Shaming is a tactic employed to induce behavioral expectations. Healthy shame is necessary to keep a society intact, because we must know when we are behaving in shameless ways. However, it can be a form of emotional abuse. Shame is deeply embedded in the human nervous system (we feel shame in our gut), and it is an early emotion that children learn. The word probably derives from a root word meaning "to cover" and many creation myths depict the dualistic nature of human consciousness as covering a natural state of grace.
There is healthy shame and toxic or "carried" shame. Healthy shame clearly reveals the errors of wrong action and signals us to self-correct. Whenever we catch ourselves at fault or are about to consider wrongdoing, we should stop and think about our actions. For minor infractions, we can gently laugh, and playfully remedy the situation such as letting someone off the elevator before we get on, letting healthy shame be our guide.
Carried shame is self-punishing and often involves negative self-talk such as "I am the worst!" This is a wholly learned behavior, the result of shaming parents, teachers, bullies, and even fictional characters who inform our world view. Shame is the natural result of programming, and therefore we do not have to be ashamed of our shame, because it's not ours. The truth is you have a reason for being -- this is your own natural grace. The sooner you may look behind the curtain of your shame, the sooner you will realize what attracts you to move toward life in fulfillment of your true purpose.
Daily healthy sex acts
- Healthy shame can include the shame of privilege from living in a civilization built on war, slavery, child labor, and other abuses. It can also come from being out of one's integrity like when we cheat or steal. Are you able to feel empathic shame, and will you let our shared shame lead you into right action guided by noble intention, such as making amends or reparation?
- Which is more prominent in your thoughts: the shame of not being enough or the shame of being at all? Feel your shame to free your shame. Recovery from sexual/romantic dysfunction or addiction means fulfilling your true purpose, not conforming to the status quo. You have a right to be, you were meant to be, so today let yourself simply exist without apology or agenda.
Meditation 2: Trauma
"Anything that's human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone." -- Fred Rogers
To unearth, process and release trauma is key to healthy sex and love. Our body and psyche bear two kinds of trauma -- explicit (known) trauma and implicit (unknown) trauma. Bodily trauma may result in superficial bruises that heal with time or serious disability that requires care throughout the lifespan, and the same may be said for psychological trauma. Most often, we don't know or remember what trauma we've received, which is built into our brains and bodies. We may wonder why there are limitations in certain areas of our lives, such as romance, career, or personal well-being. It takes special effort to work at releasing the damaging impact of unprocessed trauma in order to function. Without a healthy process for repairing trauma, affected people default to auto-regulation, which involves dissociation through involuntary strategies at hand (such as thumb-sucking in infancy or masturbation in adolescence) that many times lead to addiction in later life -- because that's the real process behind any addiction: unconscious tactics to repair trauma.
If you can remember growing up, you must comprehend your life is full of unprocessed traumas -- from the forgettable to the extreme. Parents forget to pick you up from school, teacher scolds you, friend doesn't sit next to you -- any of these little injustices rarely receive the closure they deserve. The common coping mechanism seems to be swallowing the experience to move on hoping it doesn't happen again. Extreme trauma from abuse, violence, rape or incest might do such lasting damage that even with the most professional expert care, it might require a lifetime of vigilant rehabilitation. Sadly, even extreme forms of trauma too often do not receive the professional expert care they desperately deserve.
Daily healthy sex acts
- What issues and unpleasant feelings do you see repeated from your childhood in your current relationships? When trauma isn't processed and healed, past patterns of emotional, psychological, physical or sexual abuse will be reenacted on an unconscious level with a partner. We call this trauma bonding, often mistaken for healthy relating. Do you accept these relational conditions as your inescapable fate, or can you envision a process to break the bonds of past trauma?
- (Find a) physician, (therapist, sponsor, or spiritual guru, and) heal thyself.
Meditation 3: Kindness
"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." -- Dalai Lama
Loving kindness is one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves and to the world, especially in a world where so much violence takes place on a daily basis. Being mentally and sexually healthy starts with how we treat ourselves, so if we're riddled with internal messages of violence instead of consideration and soft-heartedness, then that's what we'll project onto our lives. Self-judgment and flagellation are signs of a punitive or critical internal structure that keeps us from our full potential and from our true nature of kindness. The human animal is wired for love and war; being socially-gregarious creatures, we have a high capacity for attachment to others, but we're also always scanning for danger. When our personhood has been distorted by abuse of any kind, we can be vicious, cruel, mean, and even kill one of our own. When raised with loving kindness, the structures that are meant for war, are less on guard or activated at all times. Instead, the more reflective part of our brain, or our higher self, is in charge of making more accurate assessments of ourselves, of others, and the appropriate actions we should take.
Love thy neighbor as you would love yourself. In a fast-paced existence, thoughts of sweetness, being charitable, compassionate, and understanding require that we slow down. Take time to meet your day with kindness, notice when you can let aggravating circumstances and thoughts go so that you can be curious and helpful instead of shutting down. Practice benevolence and patience and be on the lookout for any violent messages you perpetrate on yourself (like calling yourself an "idiot") or your intolerance of others.
Daily healthy sex acts
- What act of kindness do you deserve today, this week, or this month? Are you delicate and good-natured about your mistakes, or do you take yourself to task? What do you need to do to neutralize the violent voices and make a bigger space for the voices of compassion and kindness?
- Share with a trusted other or your partner the judgments you have of them. Listen to yourself in order to determine whether those judgments are your projections of yourself. Listen to your partner as they express their judgments of you without reacting, practice kindness and compassion for them instead.
For more by Alexandra Katehakis, M.F.T., click here.
For more on conscious relationships, click here.