Sexuality Self Care and Intimate Relationships
Sex, is one of the three pillars that create the structure for a whole, healthy life, at least according to Ayurveda. The two other pillars are Sleep and Diet which we cover in great depth over in those workshops. Here, you are going to explore the path of sexuality in relation to yourself and in intimate relationship with others. Ayurveda embraces sexuality, sensuality and intimacy, unlike in most other traditions and modern day culture. The way sexuality has been systematically reppressed, exaggerated and abused is a travesty because sex is one of the primary spititual gateways to real connection and union that is our birthright. We have been taught that sexuality is separate from spirituality but this is far from the truth. Ayurveda’s ancient texts explain that denial of sexuality or celibacy moves us away from the self-realised state, whereas through embracing and expressing sexual energy we directly experience union and realise our true selves.
Down with the patriarchy and up with Wholeness! What is needed now is equality and equanimity. What does this have to do with Sexuality, you say? The first step in embracing your personal, sexual autonomy and creative energy is what is needed now for women and men to evolve into an equal and equanimous state. Sexuality is a reflection of culture and your self care, self love practice is an essential part of the return to Wholeness. It cannot be overstated how essential it is to cultivate the feeling of being Whole. In your body, as you are. In Hindu mythology and the kama sutra (the book of Divine Love) each god and goddess has a consort, a partner, husband or wife. What I’m asking you to cultivate here is a relationship with your inner consort, the relationship that you have with yourself should be the most intimate and important one.
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Returning to wholeness is an active embrace of your whole self. Put simply, this is about owning your masculine and feminine aspects and using your creative, sexual energy to embody the change you want to see in the world. Shiva energy is the masculine end of the spectrum and exists in all genders. Shiva energy is steadfast, stable, strong and totally unmoved with complete presence. Direction, purpose, freedom and pure awareness are the qualities of Shiva. Shakti is the feminine end of the spectrum, embodying the qualities of fluidity, flow and powerful flexibility.. Shakti energy can be wildly sensual, raw and expressive. Both these energies are equal and opposite, you hold both simultaneously within you and both flow simultaneously within you.
Self Love is Universal Love
Put your own oxygen mask on first, as the saying goes! When you dedicate time to care for, love and pleasure yourself, your capacity to love and care for anyone else is expanded. Your self love practice will look different through the various phases of your moon-menstrual cycle, it will fluctuate according to the energy dedicated to your work, intimate relationships and family, but regardless of what is going on, your self love practice is a priority and essential for your wellbeing.
All the ayurvedic practises and rituals are considered self love. Your approach to nourishing yourself with diet, the quality and quantity of sleep you are having, your yoga and massage practice all fill the self love cup, if done with intention. There are also specific self care practises for supporting your sexual self. We have two tendencies when it comes to balancing the sexual/sensual/creative energetic centre, we either leak energy or we repress it. All the practises shared here will help to balance your energy, whether you feel ‘leaky’ or uncontained frozen or depleted. Enter your self care/love/pleasure with a clear intention to circulate, ground or cultivate your energy depending on what you feel is needed.
During your abyungha massage (shared in the RITUAL workshop) spend time specifically massaging your breasts, belly and yoni (the whole genital region) moving your hands slowly with warm oil for lubrication. Get to know and trust yourself intimately, learn how you like to be touched and be empowered to pleasure yourself!
The practice of using sacred stone eggs to improve the function, sensation, blood and energy flow to the womb is ancient and used by women all over the ancestral world. I recommend using the yoni egg as part of your yoga practice which will also help your activation and understanding of mula and udiyana bandha.
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Using the egg through the day can be grounding for some women and a way to stay connected to your feminine power centre on days where you feel heady, stressed or anxious. Some women find they have improved sleep while using the egg at night and it can be reclamation of your sacred inner space as your own. Listen carefully to your body and trust your own feelings with this as you would with any practice. As with anything that goes inside your body, the quality of the stone is very important.
Another ancient Ayurvedic remedy, vaginal or yoni steaming involves sitting or squatting over warm herbal water, to support and heal almost all female reproductive health issues. Think of it as a facial for your flower. The practice of sitting over the herbal steam brings blood and energy flow to the region as well as restoring hormonal balance through the use of different herbs.
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Steaming is not recommended during pregnancy or menstruation, and as always only use high quality herbs and listen to your body’s feedback when starting this practice.
Being in a relationship, being intimate with another being is your direct connection to source, it is through the act of making love that you are here, nobody is exempt from that fact. By claiming your sexuality as sacred you reconnect to the mysterious source from which you came forth. Thousands of years ago, the Ayurvedic sages lived in relationship, knowing that sex is an integral aspect of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
The prerequisite for an intimate relationship is that there is mutual trust and respect. (You can explore the anatomy of trust in POWER) When these two essential ingredients are missing one or both partners will feel unsafe or uncomfortable to communicate their needs and desires. Unspoken boundaries are crossed and the cycle of violation and disrespect is perpetuated. Needless to say, trust and respect must be directed inwardly first. When you trust and respect your body and emotions your ability to communicate effectively and demonstrate respect for your partner will flow. This will take practice and time, but you are worth it!
Intimate Relationships are our biggest and best teachers. Whether you acknowledge the karmic connection between yourself and your partner or not, you are engaging in an intimate relationship with another soul. This is true regardless of the length of the relationship, whether you’re together for one night or 50 years there is a karmic connection being resolved. There is a reason you attracted this person into your life at this precise time,it may not be all rainbows, but it is a perfect reflection for what needs looking at right now. Be open to the possibility that you are learning from your partner and have the opportunity to grow within this relationship and beyond it.
Relating to your Beloved
Love reveals all that is Unloved
Your Beloved usually holds the keys to unlocking your greatest gifts and deepest wounds. Through the act of truly loving, trusting and respecting one another, everything that resides within you that is not loved, trusted or respected will be revealed, to be healed. If you are in a relationship and navigating bumpy waters, storms do not always mean you are supposed to split but you do have the possibility to heal and grow together. Love what arises through your union, whatever arises, love that.
(Shakti and) Shiva’s Dance
When two humans come together, bringing their whole, holy selves, both their magic and their messiness to the relationship, the dance begins. Two humans, integrated in both their masculine and feminine aspects (beyond gender and social roles) can truly see one another and create a sacred container for evolution through their union. All humans embody Shiva and Shakti energy, you could call it masculine and feminine energy, yin-yang, sun-moon, or by the natural elements, earth and water being the feminine, fire and air being the masculine.
The point being, you are made up of d all elements and both energies, both are equal and opposite, this polarity is what empowers both energies to exist and express. There is a spectrum, at one end there is Shakti energy and Shiva is at the other. You sit somewhere on this spectrum (again this is beyond sexuality and gender roles, I am talking purely energetics) and you will have a balance point on that spectrum, the place where you feel comfortable and yourself. This balance point is different for everybody and will change through different cycles of life.It will depend on your dosha, your astrology, your family, cultural upbringing and life experiences.
When you enter into a relationship you find the balance point between you and your partner. If your partner is more feminine, you will balance by expressing more masculinity and vice versa. Again this will change through the cycles of life and of the phases of the relationship itself. Having this awareness of faminine and masculine dynamics can support you to identify and adapt when the balance is off..
The old model taught that two halves make a whole, but what is created when two wholes meet? What happens in the third space created in the union of two wholes? In nature, every new is born from the union of masculine and feminine energy. Everything in creation is the result of these two energies in union. When they meet, a brand-new third aspect arises. We mingle and merge in the third space, we dance, with twists and turns, intimacy and distance, balance and play. We remember the mystery, the source from which we came, where only love exists.
Relating and Dating in Harmony
Knowing your dosha and the way natural elements of earth, water, fire and air dance within you can help to restore balance between two people in a relationship. This applies to all relationships (mother-daughter, co-workers, co-parents, not just intimate relationships. Knowing your own and your partners dosha will help you understand exactly what you need to communicate and what the tendencies are to avoid potential disconnection or implosion.
The reason we enter into soul contracts/intimate relationships is to help us grow and evolve. Some people do that growth through friction and others through support. For example, If you and your Beloved are different doshas, then you are going to have different needs and tendencies from one another. On the other hand, if you and your Beloved are of the same or similar dosha you will be on exactly the same page. Whatever you need at this time, in this lifetime, is one of the reasons you have entered into relationship.
Both of these dynamics have their gifts and challenges. If you have two different doshas, you have come together to help each other grow through healthy friction and cultivating respect for each-other's needs.This can lead to rapid growth and expansion and it can blow up if the friction is unhealthy (which can be addictive) or if there is a lack of understanding, tolerance and compassion.
If you are in the second dynamic, your doshas are similar or the exact same. You have come together to help each other grow through support and enabling through your partnership. This can be a super sustainable route to growth and could also lead to enabling each others’ outdated patterning and stunt growth for the sake of comfort.
Lust, Like and LOVE
Here is the second prerequisite for entering into an intimate relationship. You have to Like the person, Love the person and Lust for the person. These three facets must be present in order for a balanced intimacy to unfold.
The first is attraction, magnetism, put simply, Lust. There is a long-held religious hang-up around this word and the belief it is a deadly sin. This is yet another way sexuality has been deliberately severed from Desire (Learn more about Wild Direction in PASSION) and the ability to trust your natural bodily response to Life. Before engaging, ask yourself honestly, is there attraction?
The second element is affection, in this phase you learn about the other person and you have to Like them. You want to feel fondly toward your lover, as you learn them, faults and all. As the ups and downs of life happen you want to embrace them, whole and complete as they are, this lays the ground for the third facet to shine.
Love. I once thought that Love was a choice, something that you decide to do. Other times I believed I could Love just about anyone, accept and embrace whoever crossed my path. Then I met, and was met by my Beloved and I understood what is was to Love, Like and Lust one person. We go into more detail about non-conditional, longevity love in PASSION.
Sex and your Dosha
As always with Ayurveda, our doshas, the seasons and our life cycle are taken into consideration in regards to a healthy intimate relationship. There is an ever-changing balance point where you are not burning out or feeling restricted from pleasure. Sex is another aspect of life that can bring you into balance, or take you out of it. Your sex life may be an aspect that you can identify stagnant, scattered or excessive energy. Understanding your dosha (and your lovers dosha) is the first port of call (If you do not know your dosha yet, head to DOSHA)
Vata dominant people are creative, spontaneous and enthusiastic lovers, and if there is an excess of Vata energy you can get stuck in your head or lose interest quickly. Take time to wind down and get in the mood. Mentally stimulate each-other with inspired or sexy conversation, enjoy slow, warm oil massage and make sure the S.E.X space is warm and free of distractions.
Pitta lovers are passionate and just like with food, have a big sexual appetite, if there is an imbalance in Pitta dosha you may lack stamina or rush your partner but you will be sensitive, especially to touch. Stay cool and pace yourself!
Kalphas are a love bomb waiting to explode! Kalpha dosha people are sensual and generous lovers, although may experience a low libio or get stuck in routine if there is an excess of Kalpha energy. Be sure to spice things up in the bedroom - in fact leave the bedroom and try opening to new experiences.
Sex and the seasons
One other consideration is the time of year and season you are in. Women’s libido fluctuates through the different hormonal cycles within a month. Naturally when you are ovulating, the body is compelled to create and typically women feel especially loving and generous during their ‘spring/summer’ weeks. During ‘autumn/winter’ weeks you might not want to get busy, you may need to conserve your energy and hibernate. There is also the Wild Woman phenomenon, where you might feel raunchy and turned on pre-menstruation or during your bleed or feel inspired to explore that wild, sexual energy solo.
When it comes to the external seasons, there is also some ebb and flow. During winter is the prime time for loving, both alone and with another. As long as your immune system is strong, in ayurvedic terms, if your ojas is not depleted, making love daily is prescribed. As is the use of ojas building herbs like Ashwaganda. During the transition seasons of spring and autumn, it’s recommended to make love once every three days. In summer or the rainy season in tropical climates, it’s recommended to make love once every two weeks. Let me clarify here and say that these recommendations are in the case of sexual relations between two people who are not sick, super stressed or mentally unwell. We are talking about being deliberate and considered with intercourse here (and particularly for men ejaculating) and it is important to make dedicated time each day to connect with yourself and your partner intimately, that may not include having sex. You can learn more about this in the SLEEP workshop.
Truly loving yourself (and another) has to go beyond the limitations of labels. Loving the soul beyond the story. Loving yourself beyond your ego-identity. Loving your partner beyond their role as your partner. Providing the safe, sacred space to be fully expressed, however that self is expressed in every given moment. True Love is about meeting each other as brand new each day. Which involves meeting yourself as brand new each day. The practice is in cultivating passion & creating a container for compassion. And tapping into the current of true Love that is ever present. Go to PASSION next to explore unconditional love further.