Spirituality and sexuality Continued……………….

Hello! Everyone, hope everyone’s doing great! I had a visit to India last month so it took me a while to get back to this. I still have to catch up with the comments in the discussion. I want you to know that I really appreciate all participation and will get to it very soon, keep sharing folks.
I once had a client and she was having her second baby. She paged me in active labor and we decided to meet up at the hospital as soon as possible as this was her second baby. I jumped out of bed at two am in the morning, I hastily put my scrubs on and headed out the door. I reached the hospital in 15 minutes. To my surprise, the client was still not there. Two hours after the client was still not there. I was starting to get worried because she lived half an hour away from the hospital. Finally she arrived at quarter past four am. She looked beautiful with full make up on, and dressed to kill. Too sad I had to give her a hospital gown to change into. The baby arrived very soon, after she arrived. After the birth I said to her, whew! That was close, I was worried about you. What took you so long? She said oh it took me little longer to get my make up on in between contractions. I didn’t want to look terrible when I meet my baby for the first time! I stood there marveling at her commitment to look good at her first meeting with her baby. Honestly! Most women don’t even care if they have any clothes on with that kind of labor pains, leave alone getting any make up on. But this was her, looking good was of utmost importance to her. Most women do want to look good, not many care in labor though!

As I was seeing the same client in the clinic and I was reviewing research based information on circumcision with her as it is a ritualistic practice, among some communities to get little babies circumcised within few days after birth. She almost exploded, “No circumcision for my baby! It makes men very sensitive down there. My partner can’t even hold himself long enough for me!” I am not doing that to my son. She broke down sobbing as I sat there listening to her story. I thought to myself, hopefully the guy figures this out sooner than later and works around this problem. Otherwise the woman is not going to stick around. I offered her a social worker and other referrals to work around this problem. This is when I realized her compulsion to look good all the time probably stemmed from her unmet sexual need.

Sexual incompatibility is an underlying problem in a lot of broken or dysfunctional relationships, but it never gets talked about. It is a very sensitive and difficult topic to approach and hence it is swept under the carpet and everything else is blamed. Communicating effectively about sexual experiences and needs is very difficult for most people and people feel very vulnerable to talk about sexual needs. Especially in ethnic cultures and if it is a woman of color the complexity multiplies many fold. Amidst, lack of communication, sexual incompatibility goes unaddressed leading to either a broken relationship or poor quality of life. It is thus important to get comfortable with your own sexuality and develop a positive attitude towards it. It is also important to approach your needs or your partner’s needs with care and comfort.

Fabric of our social system rests on family units and sexual compatibility plays a very significant role in the stability of this relationship. A marriage is a legally enforceable contract and it is considered null and void if it is not consummate. A normal sexual function is a blessing, assume it with discretion.

“Sex is a wonderful gift, a Divine gift, but it is a gift that comes with a powerful effect: a wound; an ache for reunion, desire for the coming together of the separate. And, for better or for worse, it’s a gift that doesn’t come with a receipt. So we can’t decide we don’t want it and take it back to the store to exchange for something with less warning labels. We are sexual beings and part of what this means is that we wake up with that ancient fire burning in our bones – a fragment searching for other fragments with which to unite.” This is a quote from one of the sermons on the internet.

Just like other things in life sexuality needs to be treated with due care and caution. By engaging in constructive and mindful sexual activity. Here is what I consider constructive sexual engagement. It means engaging with a consenting partner, who is at an age of giving informed consent for the activity after understanding the implications of engaging in the activity. It is important to protect yourself from unintentional pregnancy and STI’s (sexually transmitted infections). Assuming responsibility for your own safety and the safety of your partner is important. Active HIV status requires disclosure in some places. Respect your partner’s wishes and body. Take ownership of the fallout of this activity together. Any exchange of money or resources in exchange for sexual activity is considered non-constructive. Every successful relationship thrives on mutually met needs. It is important to understand and respect your partner’s needs. Provide them a space where they can approach sexual needs with comfort and without inhibition. Positive space for dialogue on sexuality should start in childhood itself. Parents need to address this issue with sensitivity and practicality.

There are some cultures that practice female circumcision, thus violating the woman’s right to sexual indulgence in the most brutal way. I don’t know how any spiritual liberation can be achieved by oppression and suppression. At least this is not my understanding of spiritual evolution. I don’t think spiritual evolution can happen by forcing someone. In fact, in my understanding it requires privilege and freedom to explore the universe. If the divine did not wish this the divine would not have created this. If we believe that the divine is the perfect creator then why hesitate to accept this creation of the creator. Often these circumcised women live in the after math of this psychological trauma of genital mutilation. Much as sexual indulgence is a man’s right, so it is a woman’s right too! Any relationship that does not support a woman’s right to sexual indulgence is bordering on abuse. While, female circumcision is an extreme. Bigger problem is the subtle violation of a woman’s sexual freedom in patriarchal systems of governance.

Once I was at a birth and the woman had her baby. After the birth, I saw a tear at the opening of the birth canal and I said to her, “Do you want me to put a stitch here?” and she asked me what happens if you don’t stitch it?” “Well it will heal itself but will sting a little for few days, and it might take away from the sexual experience later on.” Her very controlling partner who was present in the room looked at her sternly and said, “No she doesn’t need it, do you?” Woman looked at me and said “Stitch it.” I smiled and said as you wish my dear! He was livid and his presence felt so hostile in the room. Next day when I came back to see the woman, “I asked them what did you name your daughter?” He pronounce some Arabic name and I asked, “What does that mean?” “Chaste” he said emphatically! I thought in my head “Good luck with that.”
After that he never booked her into my schedule, each time she came in she made it a point to seek me out and say thank you to me.

I brought a bunch of books written by Swamiji from Amazon many years ago and one of the books that came with this bundle was ‘Kundalini – an untold story.” Since my little hands felt it was too heavy a book to hold in my hands, I tucked it under a heap of books. I read the others. A couple of months ago, for some reason I pulled it out from under the heap. Here is a quote from the book “It is not possible to reach an orgasm if you have inhibitions, if you have fears. And no matter how much you resist or hold back, nature propels each living entity towards a sexual union………we may label it good or bad……..but nature knows that it is only in letting go that you experience the greatest liberation.”

“Your sexuality, sexual conduct and sexual thoughts, all of which can be controlled by meditating on the Svadhishthana chakra, have a direct and immediate impact on your state of mind and consciousness.” This is another quote from “Kundalini – an untold story” by Swamiji, book is still on shelf for sale so no more quotes. Go grab yourself a copy, I don’t want to get banned from this space for spilling the beans!

A physical body is controlled by a bunch of sex hormones. Since the body is designed to procreate. It will constantly prompt you to engage in sexual activity. You may experience sexual thoughts or stimulation and even release sometimes. It can be in dreams or wakeful state. Don’t hold yourself responsible for this state of the body, you can’t exercise control over the hormones. Your brain is your data organizer and manager. Therefore it will present to you different options that you can exercise as thoughts. Your true self is not the body or the brain. The true self is the consciousness that helps you pick the right option for yourself. You can hold yourself responsible for picking the right option from multiple options that your body and brain present to you. It is within your control to exercise the discretion to act on the right option or the thought.

As I was browsing the Teachings of Ramana Maharishi. Apparently, he says the mind doesn’t even exist. So stop wasting your time on purifying the mind. Try to focus on who you really are and it is not the body or the mind but the consciousness.

Here is yet another quote from one of the research studies, the researcher was trying to ascertain if there was a common thread between sexuality and spirituality and how it can be used in counselling.

“Sexuality and spirituality are assumed to have common origins found in a pervading sense of human incompleteness and a yearning for wholeness. The parallelism of desire and function of these two energies may promote complementary arousal and demonstrate how one may be integral in eliciting the other. It is proposed that upon establishing this foundation, deeper understanding of human potential for intimacy with another and with God could aid in personal and relational counseling as well as direct further research.”

When people engage in spiritual exercises, it generates different energy flows. As this energy flows it stimulates different body systems and in turn stimulates the nervous system. Hence all physiological body systems may experience stimulation as all systems are innervated by the Nervous system. At different times depending on which area of the brain and spinal cord is experiencing awakening or activity different parts of the body may feel stimulated. Hence sexual stimulation can also be a part of the normal spiritual experience.

When you learn to experience desire in it most intense form that you will develop the intense craving for a union with your partner or the divine. And you will actually experience the oneness because the body then melts in this fire. The depth and perception of the desire is same in both the cases to let the body melt into the divinity. At this point you are detached from everything else because the desire is so compelling that nothing except state of oneness matters. It is about cultivating self-oblivion to experience intimacy. “Shama kahe parvane se pare chala jaa, meri tarah jal jayega, yahan nahin aa, woh nahin suntaa, usko jal jana hota hai, har khushi se har gam begana hota hai….”

Boy! This sounds terrible but we have all fallen into this trap at least once in our lifetime in one or the other context. We know the consequences but we still indulge… And then you are sitting in front of this pregnancy test with fingers crossed and praying to the Lord that the second line does not show up. (A positive pregnancy test will show two lines on the test strip) Oh Lord! Please let me not be pregnant. Lord is shaking his head and thinking, too late woman, you didn’t leave any juggle room here for me to work with…..

Here is a Hindi movie song that captures the essence of love in spirituality…..

Pyaar koyi bol nahi
Pyaar aawaz nahi
Ek khamoshi hai
Sunti hai kaha karti hai

(Love is not language, Love is not a sound, it is a silence that listens and talks)

Na yeh bujhti hai na rukti hai
Na thehri hai kahin
Noor ki boond hai
Sadiyon se baha karti hai

(It is a drop of light that has been flowing eternally, can’t be blown out, nor stopped or paused)

Sirf ehsaas hai yeh
Rooh se mehsoos karo
Hath se chhoo ke ise
Rishton ka ilzaam na do
Pyaar ko pyaar hi rehne do, koi naam na do….

(It is only a perception of the soul, if you try to emulate it physically, it is defiled, let love be love as is pure and undefiled)

This is the description of the spirit in us, which experiences this love and not the physical body. That is why it is difficult to have a physical proof of spiritual experiences. As soon as we try to translate this spirit into physicality, it acquires the properties of a physical body and its limitations and is no longer a spirit. Our problem is that we exist in a physical plane and hence our desires take a physical form. As soon as we translate this perception of love into a physical form it acquires the attributes of a physical body. Then love conforms itself to the physical dimensions, which are limited in nature and love then becomes the cause of human grief. So when I hear people wanting proof of spirituality, I know they don’t understand the meaning of spirituality as yet. That is their problem not mine. Essentially, when love is experienced in spirituality it is formless universal love. Sexuality is a means to capture just an aspect of spirituality into a physical form.

Here is another quote in Hindi that I came across, “Deh ki vastvikta ko nakara nahin ja saakta, sirf samajh kar apnaya ja saakta hai.” It means you can’t ignore the truth of a physical body, you can understand it and embrace it as per your inner experience. Procreation and the cycle of birth and death is the one and only absolute reality of every physical body.

Will continue in thee next post, stay tuned won’t disappoint you……….