Sensuality, Sexuality, Spirituality in Practice

  1. The Bliss of Discomfort
  2. Sensuality, Sexuality, Spirituality in Practice
  3. Finding Meaning in Relating
  4. The Power of Vocation
  5. The Self-Reflective Life — Self Reflection

Sensuality, Sexuality, Spirituality — I’m suggesting that many, if not most, aspects of life serve one or the other of two conflicting purposes.

painting by wayne c allen

Recently, I started a series of articles. I suggested that four areas (sexuality, relationships, vocation, and self-responsibility) could be looked at for guidance on how our lives are progressing, and that the four needed to be no less than neutral in “feel,” and to be in balance.

To continue with the ideas from the last article, and indeed from this series of articles, I’m suggesting that many, if not most, aspects of life serve one or the other of two conflicting purposes.

Let’s, for purposes of argument, say that the two purposes are creativity and striving.

sarah's circle

I wrote a series of articles on spirituality and finding a path of purpose and meaning. I mentioned an idea that comes from Matthew Fox – the difference in approach between what he called “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Sarah’s Circle.” The first approach is linear and hierarchical, the latter circular and egalitarian. It’s not a “right / wrong” thing—it’s a matter of appropriate application. Science, for example, depends heavily upon linear thinking, and “the arts” upon circular “flow.”

Business—“The Political”—is based upon Jacob’s Ladder —hierarchies.
Relationships—“The Personal”—are based upon the flowing dance of Sarah’s Circle.

As I was thinking about this, I remembered past courses in anthropology, religion, and sociology. As feminist theologians would tell you, the female side (Sarah’s Circle) of the equation was the original side. When life was agrarian, and small farms and tiny towns were the norm, the feminine deities were worshipped—as was the right brained, intuitive side of life.

Worship and spirituality was a dance of intimates, and sensuality and sexuality were used as tools for deepening one’s sense of self – for finding one’s place in the universe.

I can’t prove this without doing some research, but as I mentioned in the last article, the Khajuraho Temple in India is a symbol of this holistic and deep form of sexuality and spirituality. Sexual practice became a route to spiritual deepening.

This spirituality is built upon the cyclicality of the seasons, the fecundity of the soil, and the ebb and flow of the planting—harvesting cycle. References to female deities abound, for example, in the Old Testament—the people shifted in their view toward the masculine stream, but would erect Asherah poles and place female deities with the crops, just to cover their bases.

The balance began to shift with the change in power structures that came with the development of large cities. At this time, there also was a shift toward male deities, and toward rules, regulations, and priesthoods of men with nothing better to do than to create rules and regulations implemented through force.

One of the major shifts at this time was the subordination of women. In this male-centric world, women were either revered or reviled. Their sexual attraction was feared. Soon, male characteristics (logic, lack of emotion, head over body) became dominant.

Darbella and I were wandering the streets of Kitchener the other day, and she mentioned reading a version of the “Eve” story contained in a book we’re reading, called The Magdalen Manuscript. The gist of the book, by the way, is that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalen, and that she was a Priestess of Isis. Their relationship, according to the book, was based upon advanced Tantric practices.


Dar’s talking about the Eve story reminded me of the Jewish tale of Lilith, Adam’s first wife (according to the Talmud?) Lilith was created as the first woman, who laughed and refused to obey Adam.

Adam and Lilith never found peace together; for when he wished to lie with her, she took offense at the recumbent posture he demanded. ‘Why must I lie beneath you?’ she asked. ‘I also was made from dust, and am therefore your equal.’ Because Adam tried to compel her obedience by force, Lilith, in a rage, uttered the magic name of God, rose into the air and left him.” web reference

Adam whined to God, and God banished Lilith and created Eve, who was suitably docile and submissive.

I’m mentioning all of this not to get on a rant on the past, but to indicate a very Zen thing. We are great believers in balance in all things. Balance between left and right brain hemispheres, between yin and yang energies, between body / mind / spirit. We see the way we engage in all aspects of our lives as indicative of our balance.

From a sensual / sexual point of view, balance is essential. You can choose to see sex, for example, in a number of ways. It is, at it’s base level, how we procreate, as do most animals. Nothing special there, just sperm and egg.

It’s also something we can do with friends and partners, as recreation.

Many people think of it as a “marital duty” – an obligation – something demanded, bartered, and refused.

On another level altogether, sensuality and sexuality are tools for getting inside one’s body, out of one’s head, to feel the movement of energy inside.

Over aeons, many philosophers, teachers, and writers have indicated that sexual ecstasy is a divine experience, and the closest we get to transcendence. (Scott Peck used to say that’s why we cry “Oh God!” at orgasm.)

Sadly, in our rush to rush, in our panic to succeed, time for contemplative and deep lovemaking flies out the window. We’ve gotten so bad that many people have to schedule sex, or rush it, lest the children need something. As time goes by, sexual advertising intrudes everywhere, yet the more uncomfortable people get with their own sexuality. Most people avoid sexual dialog or subjects, and prefer to hide and pretend that sex is not important. Others use past abuses to keep them from present healing.

The courageous few engage in a process of (to quote the title of a Marvin Gaye song), sexual healing or better put, healing through sexuality. This requires a fierce determination to process through the culture-induced uncomfortable feelings to a depth and breadth of sexual and sensual experience. This is the whole point of the work being done a places like Body Electric in California.

The reason for this sensual and sexual work is to develop and strengthen of our life force, or chi. This energy, for most, is at a low ebb, and stagnant. With Breathwork, Bodywork, and focus, the energy can be unblocked, built upon and directed. As blocks, both physical and mental, begin to dissolve, one finds increased creativity and focus. This, however, requires rigorous discipline, practice and dedication. As well as a willingness to unblock and let go. Especially in areas sensual and sexual.

We suggest that experimentation with massage, erotic massage, Tantra and Chakra / Kundalini exercises are ways to broaden one’s experience and to increase one’s level of intimacy with others. If you’d like to know how to play with erotic massage, e‑mail me and I’ll send you links to male and a female erotic massage exercises.

The most basic way for beginning this exploration is by using dialog, touch and communication. I mention this exercise in This Endless Moment, and it was first suggested by Masters and Johnson:

One person sits with “his” (or her) back to the headboard, legs extended and feet spread wide. “She” (or he) sits with her back against his chest. She tells and shows him how she likes to be touched. He follows her lead. Then, they reverse positions.

The goal is to become goal-less. This is not a prelude to anything else, but an exercise unto itself. The same can be said for many of the meditative postures one learns by practicing Tantra.

Other exercises are included in This Endless Moment.

At the end of the day, the state of our sexual and sensual lives speaks volumes about who we are and how much of life we are open for. Working through hang-ups and fears with a therapist and Bodyworker is essential if one is to progress in self-understanding.

If you are resisting doing this work, get over yourself and begin!

Next issue, we’ll explore elegant relationships!

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So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

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