Merging Relational Intelligence and Erotic Intelligence

June 7, 2018


“Human sexuality is another area where we can either hide out in the guise of separate self or access freedom from the mind of separation. If we pay attention, eros can be our greatest ally in reclaiming the sacredness of being alive and in unity.”

Once a year, I offer a course about Mindful Sexuality: Healing the Sex-Spirit Divide. I feel passionate as a dharma teacher to help people build a bridge between their practice and the realm of sexuality, and have witnessed sexuality being left out of teachings far too often (both in Buddhism and secular mindfulness). I have personally witnessed people play out an unnecessary disconnect between the quality of presence they bring to the cushion and how they perceive their own sex life. Every time I’ve offered these teachings, I have witnessed tremendous healing and gratitude from those who have craved a compassionate space and clear mirror for empowering their relationship with erotic intelligence.

This work is about investigating more deeply and releasing the personal and collective conditioning that are pervasive in the field of human sexuality. This year, these teachings feel even more important. We are experiencing a unique moment in history where old wounds have come to the surface in our collective field. There is a unique opportunity for healing dynamics between men and women, in particular. As both a woman and dharma teacher, however, I have been truly disappointed in the ways I see us collectively avoiding a deeper healing. In other words, while I am grateful for the MeToo movement and the courage it has taken for women to speak our truth, I believe that the trance of separation and the habit of duality are largely getting in the way of deeper healing.

The ways I see duality preventing true healing include the following dynamics:

Women versus Men
People who have power versus people who do not
Victims versus Perpetrators
Repression versus Explosion

Blaming and shaming are not the only true tools for keeping libido in check. Has blaming and shaming yourself ever, even once, worked as a means for helping you to engage more consciously in life?

The way through this urge to lean into duality, as both crutch and habit, is to bring compassionate awareness to our personal – and collective – relationship with eros. The real opportunity of this time is to develop relational intelligence.

I offer this course as an antidote to the often negative medicine being passed around now about how best to heal what is wounded and unwholesome. Rather than making it about blaming and shaming or us verses them, I believe it is a moment for us to look at old ideas that are no longer serving us as sexual beings. I believe it is a moment to find the willingness to engage in deeper healing. Our collective healing begins deep within each of us – and then radiates outward to all of us.

I will end my reflections by sharing an excerpt from my book, Relational Mindfulness: A Handbook for Deepening Our Connection with Ourselves, Each Other, and the Planet.

“Eros is not just about how we relate in bed. It is also about how we engage from and with our whole being. It is also about our overall willingness to relate and show up for one another with courage, love, passion, and honesty. The tragedy of a society disconnected from eros is manifested by a tremendous amount of disembodiment, sexual violence, and abuse, but also loneliness, isolation, and self-loathing. On a day-to-day basis, the loss is people not being connected to their own life force and vitality as they engage in all of life’s activities. Beyond the thrill of seeking chemical stimulus, sexuality is about the pleasure of connection. Connection – to one another and to our own life force – is what we all want deep inside.

Erotic intelligence is our expression of wholeness as sexual beings. Erotic intelligence is the force that knows a true yes, the boundary of a no, unselfconscious enjoyment, the courage of vulnerability, and caring in-the-moment affection. Erotic intelligence is the foundation of honesty and trust that must exist in order for there to be intimacy. It is the celebration of our animal bodies without causing harm. Even in moments of sexual confusion or being pulled between our heads and our hearts, erotic intelligence can welcome that confusion too as part of the sexual journey. If we leave our sex lives out of our investigation of consciousness, I believe we are doing ourselves a great disservice. Given that human beings are wildly divergent in our needs and tastes sexually, it is a shame to trade in one’s truth for society’s made-up rules and manuals of behavior. In a world of sexual distortion, we each have an opportunity to turn towards, rather than away from, eros, and to be part of the healing of generations of distortion. The reward is deeper love, integrity, trust, pleasure, joy, and connection.

Relational Mindfulness allows sex to be another opportunity for deepening our capacity for presence and generosity, both on the giving and receiving end. There is nothing exotic or technique-y about bringing mindfulness to sex. And there is absolutely no standard for how mindful sex should look. Mindfulness simply helps us to remember and enjoy our innate capacity for loving connection, without the disruption of the mind of separation. It helps us to commit to non-separation and possibility in a deeply enjoyable aspect of human life.”

I hope that these reflections have been helpful to you. If you are someone who feels called to join me, remotely, for a month-long exploration to heal the Sex-Spirit Divide, you can find more information on my website, under Online Courses.

This work is open to everyone… every gender, sexual orientation, age, and race, those who are sexually active, and those who are not.

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