Beyond orgasm

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Modern sexual mythology poses that orgasm is the big kahuna of erotic bliss. Well, I say, isn’t that a ticket to disappointment?

OK, yes, orgasm is delicious, at times deeply delicious, sometimes even a fully-puffed-out peak experience delicious. No question, no issue, no complaints. But as long as we focus on that orgasm as the main event, the whole point of the show, the goal line, we could be missing out on some amazing, life-altering experiences.

I had a friend whom I joined once on a trip to Paris. She had two main goals to see at the Louvre: the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. Goals accomplished, she was ready to leave, not terribly interested in everything else the world class museum had to offer.

Well, this is how I think many people view orgasms. Come, take your selfie coming, and think you’ve experienced the cream o’ the crop of everything sex has to offer. After all once you’ve had the mighty orgasm, it’s downhill from there … until the next ride.

Maybe it’s time to re-think that flawed premise. While we’re at it, it’s also time to think that maybe the mighty orgasm you have come to know and love and worship is almost like a decoy or distraction from the true depths of intimate pleasure.

THERE’S MORE

I’ve loved orgasms ever since I first discovered what they were, but fortunately I learned along the way that sex is a multi-dimensional experience—provided you choose to go there. If you think outside the jail of habit, porn conditioning, and other depictions of sexuality, and if you find change and creativity more fun than annoying, you could broaden your horizons.

If diversity of experience isn’t good enough of a reason, you might consider this: bodies age and change. This includes orgasms. While for me they still are quite pleasurable to experience, physically they are mere shadows of what they used to be forty years ago. If orgasm was my idea of the main event, the raison d’etre for sex, I would not be wildly happy about my inevitable physical decline.

But sex is a journey with a buffet of goodies to enjoy before and even after the destination most people seek. Here are a few suggestions in brief to consider.

Expanded Sensuality: In the hunt, race, and habit of bringing on orgasms for self and partners, people often miss out on the luxury of pure sensuality. It’s mostly just a mind set. We’re conditioned to take the most direct route to achieving orgasms. Stampede the clitoris or attack the penis straightaway. We often ignore other ways that the body delights us if we give it the opportunity. A slower build-up of sensual energy can 1) make eventual orgasms more intense, and 2) be a grand reward on its own.

When broken down analytically into named activities like cuddling, spooning, stroking, soaking in a hot tub, stretching, whatever, it may not sound too thrilling. But each of these activities offers the mind/soul an experience of sensual consciousness. It’s what you make of it. Cuddling can be anything from a major bore to the grand entrance to a peak experience depending on the mental and emotional chemistry happening.

Energy Orgasms: There is a type of full-bodied orgasm that is very pleasurable yet most people in Western culture have not heard of it. Under certain circumstances, full-bodied orgasms can create a more powerful and intense release than a traditional genital orgasm. As the name implies, full-bodied orgasms involve a shuddering sensation felt throughout the body, and are often accentuated through various relaxation, breathing, and visualizing techniques. While they often also involve genital stimulation, it’s nevertheless different, usually not involving male or female ejaculation or penetration.

Energy orgasms are entirely possible while fully dressed. In my personal experience, they have frequently happened during extended hugging, hugs in the ten-to-twenty minute range. All the emotional love and excitement of intimacy merge with sexual excitement until I/we start feeling waves of energy build and crash, build and crash, build and crash.  When this goes on for awhile, it leads to full-bodied shudders, and if you are prepared for them (i.e. not surprised or shutting down) the shudders increase in intensity. If you eroticize them, it can be some of the hottest sex ever (yes, still fully clothed and without ejaculation/penetration!) One nice feature about energy orgasms is that unlike physical orgasms which end things, at least temporarily, energy orgasms keep coming until you voluntarily just cannot have another wave. It’s a case of the middle being more intense than the end.

Meditation Adventures: Something I rarely if ever see described or depicted is the opposite of fifty shades of pain, bondage, intense physicality. That rare yet powerful quality is complete relaxation. One way to put it simply would be to meditate together while embracing each other either clothed or nude. The object here is not traditional intercourse but more of a mental and emotional intercourse, no-goal cuddling. The mind and heart do the merging while the bodies are as relaxed and quiet as any other kind of meditation. This kind meditation can be done without conversing or with one person guiding a visualization. For some this will sound dull as dust, but for others, the potential adventures in intimacy, energy, and sensuality will be overwhelmingly delicious. (This is different from therapeutic cuddling which is intended to be romantically or sexually abstinent.)

In a relaxed state, the body goes limp (although granted this does not always include erections.) The relaxed body absorbs pleasure in a more sensitive, profound fashion than a body engaged in pain responsiveness or wild thrusting. I think of relaxation as more pleasure, less work. It’s comparable to when listening through headphones to something and you turn the volume down very low; you end up listening more carefully to the whispers instead of the shouts. The meditation part opens the gate for streams of thoughts and feelings to flow, and this can lead to amazing adventures for the connoisseur of consciousness. You can end up seeing visions, hearing the inner voice, taking psychic journeys, basking in creativity. Bonus: Sessions like this can bring on unexpected energy orgasms as well.

Four Orgasms Theory: One time I played with writing a book (never published) in which I proposed that there are four types of orgasm: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. An orgasm could be described as a peak of excitement. Each type of the four is different enough from the others that focusing on any one kind will produce spicy variety. For example, a mental orgasm would be a peak of excitement for the mind. It could be a surprise, a thrilling sentence, a toy for the imagination, the right thing at the right time. Doling out mental treats leads to a mental orgasm. Kapow!

The four orgasms theory largely involves nonphysical stimulation, emphasizing that lovemaking is a blend of holistic arousal techniques, not just body part play. Make love with the mind, heart, and spirit to really experience the heights of arousal. Through practice and personal experience, one learns that orgasms as usually portrayed have their limitations and that there is a wealth of powerful experiences most people miss.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Western culture through its books, movies, and stories primarily and overwhelmingly tells us how important sexual orgasms are. We have dumbed down orgasms to the physical level. Ironically, if you decrease your focus on physical orgasm and increase your focus on nonphysical stimulation, you will have better orgasms of all kinds including those that can happen while fully dressed.

Woo-hoo!

 

 

Age and invisibility

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Little is more sexually humbling than advancing age. That creeping feeling of mounting sexual inconsequence, being invisible like a worn-out shoe strewn in the back of a crowded closet, the loss of being admired and desired in everyday flirtations, oh, yay. Bring it on.

If you ever wonder how pervasive sex appeal is in everyday life, even when sexual activity is not part of the agenda, try getting old. There’s much truth to the saying getting old is not for wimps.

Some people welcome this stage of sexual anonymity as a relief. They are happy to get beyond the era of sexual performance pressures. I am not one of those people.

But since I have reached the Medicare years, it is what it is, and it is actually not as bad as my fantasy previews told me it would be. Even when I endured the height of sexual loneliness with no lover on the radar, I found some interesting new awareness.

Much of my life over the last few years has been about unhooking. During that period I said good-bye to both my parents who were off to explore a heaven they weren’t sure existed. In large measure I also unplugged myself from TV, focusing my viewing instead on Netflix, YouTube, and HBO streaming. The course of life events also unplugged several important friendships due to death, estrangement, distance. In some ways it has been like a big time out, and suddenly I am five years older, five years closer to the end of the game.

NEW PERCEPTION

In a strange way, having next to no physical sex (and I should add a minimum of hugs as well) in five years put most of my input in a virtual reality realm. I would talk or write about sexual relationships. I would sometimes have great experiences in my dreams. I would see sex in movies. Yet it was like being in some laboratory in a comfy form of solitary confinement.

While removed from sex by habit or as a relationship routine, I would look at what passes for sex in this culture and I would wonder how various foreplay activities even came into existence. For example, suckling nipples. I had gone so long without licking anyone’s body parts that the idea of doing it actually seemed strange. You do what? I found this fascinating, oral gourmet that I have been. Over the years, women friends have asked me what’s so compelling about female breasts, and now I was asking myself much the same question! There were days when that once-cherished and deeply familiar activity seemed like visiting a distant foreign country.

What’s so compelling? The answer sounds dull to explain it. Consciousness. The suckling activity opens an inner doorway to what for me is a spiritual connection. It’s like a walking meditation or some other sensual activity that begets an energy connection on a primal, intimate level with another person or with nature in general.

When consciousness is the reward, so much of the taken-for-granted old school standards of beauty seem to vanish. Looks pale in comparison to personality. I clearly feel my own disappointments of the changes that aging makes on my own body, so I get it when women express dismay over what they see as loss of (physical) beauty in them. Yet the sags and wrinkles and other lamentable changes do not matter to me, and sometimes are more attractive to me than the woman realizes or that the beauty culture assumes.

How? Why? It’s because I see both objectively and symbolically. I believe we all do. We see through the filters of our personal histories, our aspirations and desires, our fears and hopes. An aging woman’s body reflects back to me my own history, and I treat her as I wish to be treated. I love her for who she is in the here and now, and I hope for the same in return.

I’ve discovered that what most draws my attention to a potential lover (real or in fantasy) is mental and emotional. It’s consciousness. It’s the energy zap that we build together. Making bedtime deeply satisfying goes way beyond physical looks.

SEX IS CONSCIOUSNESS

In the dominant youth and beauty paradigm, the young and the beautiful have all the advantages. Unfortunately, even when they have all the genetic advantages, their culture has not provided them with instructions about the soul of sex. The user manual comes primarily in the form of mass media indoctrination about all things physical, all the helpful products and services they should buy, marketing, marketing, marketing.
Very little about consciousness.

When I think of my most satisfying sexual memories, rarely has it to do with someone’s youth or beauty, how a body looked, etc. It was so much more about mental chemistry, what the encounter meant, the feelings that were stirred up, the fun we made for each other.

The deep satisfaction mostly came from the message “I care about you” expressed in a multitude of ways. Kissing that cares about me. Hugging and stroking that cares about me. Words and tone of voice that show caring about me. Facial expressions and glances that show caring about me. Caring about who I am and what I think and how we fit together. Even sexual hunger that shows caring about me like how a light bulb cares about its power source.

Society, as I probably do not need to tell you, is often cruel. As an example, Hollywood had ridiculous standards of beauty, rarely showing women my age in full sexual readiness, charmed and eager, unless it’s done for laughs. Well, guess what impact this has on old men, let alone old women? We become ashamed of our passions because society has put it off limits and made it a subject of ridicule. One reason it does this is society pushes sex as a physical pleasure, and omits the part about sex as consciousness.

Sometimes mean-spirited people or entertainment will insult someone’s looks by saying, “S/he has a great personality.” For me, personality really does matter more! Intimate sharing of personal stories, empathy, the willingness to be vulnerable, intelligence, and a fertile erotic imagination make for a more interesting bed partner than someone who looks delicious but whose brain is on perpetual stand-by.

THE BEST OF SEX

Over the years, my most satisfying sexual experiences were ultimately not linked to my idea of physical perfection. Here are a few of my favorite sexual traits and you will notice that they do not require youth and beauty.

Mind play. When a lover plays well with my mind, anything physical enjoys the consequences. Communication during erotic play accentuates the joy. Mind play happens in different ways—surprises, revealing secrets, sharing juicy fantasies, stoking the fires of passion with a well-chosen vocabulary.

Attitude. Intimate times are markedly influenced by a person’s general attitude in life. Someone pessimistic and deep in victimhood will be different from someone optimistic and filled with happiness. One’s attitude about sex also plays a big part in how a meeting of minds and bodies goes. Harmony of attitude works so much better than disharmony.

Sensuality. While sensuality is primarily experienced as physical, the driver of sensuality is the mind. The mind chooses what to do and how to do it. A person with sensitivity and empathy will perform differently than a narcissist or someone just going through the motions. Similarly, the recipient’s mind controls how the input is interpreted, with eager delight or with defenses up.

Energy channeling. The practice of energy exchange during lovemaking is not well-known in our porn-saturated culture, but once you are familiar with it, nurturing it becomes a priority. Some people give energy and some people steal it. Building energy together is tremendously satisfying and paradigm-shattering, especially once you experience full-bodied energy orgasms. It re-set what I look for in a mate and re-defined my personal definition of beautiful.

Fun in bed. Are those times in bed enjoyable? True fun? Was there laughter?  Did time fly by? What happens sexually is secondary to the fun quotient.

This is not to imply that it’s wrong to enjoy physicality or that physical beauty is not worth appreciating. Rather, it’s noting that beauty manifests in different ways and it’s short-sighted how our culture largely ignores that. The over-emphasis on youth and beauty is a recipe for inevitable unhappiness in later life unless and until we liberate ourselves from that prison.

LIFE CHANGES

It both breaks my heart and infuriates me when I see snide remarks about how someone is aging poorly. I hate that so much of our media culture promotes this kind of mentality. It’s almost as if hurting people has become a new national pastime.

Yet I also know that there are people like me who see a different vision of aging. Sexual experiences can be beautiful and profound at any age. For me they become more delicious when it’s understood and appreciated how much of a role consciousness plays in creating deep fulfillment.

 

 

Friends with benefits — yay or yuck?

Friends with BenefitsOne positive feature of aging is the long-range perspective that it offers. You can see the birth of good ideas, and then watch their fate as society grabs it. With enough time, you can witness ideas pass in and out of social favor. Sometimes that time period isn’t very long.

Friends with benefits is one of these ideas. In my world, it began as something of a fun, optimistic, and cheery entity. Even the word usage felt zip-a-dee-doo-dah happy. Friends with benefits. How fun — like winning an unexpected bonus prize.

It meant that the bonds of friendship could open wide to embrace sharing sensual or sexual affection. You could give each other pleasure as a pure act of friendship. It was a variation on that mythological goddess called free love. Friendship seemed like a good enough reason to give each other some joy.

Traditionally, relationship commitments involve practical matters such as career concerns, finances, family ties, and so on. You based giving the green light for sex on your negotiations about creating a life as a couple. While dressed up in romantic imagery, it was, in essence, a business deal.

Friends with benefits, often written as FWB, stood in stark contrast to “just friends.” The latter was often heard as the sterile kiss of death for someone aspiring to break through the curse of an unrequited love. “Let’s just be friends” meant that an iron gate of rejection had been clanked shut against any possibility of romantic or erotic love. Forget about it. Ain’t happening.

To me, friends with benefits was comforting. It was mutually beneficial. In the most optimistic flavor of free love, it often led me to feeling good about humanity. When the joy of sex still meant something, it allowed me to feel joy.

Little did I realize then how pathetic it was going to get as time marched on.

FRIENDS WITH MEANINGLESS SEX

It wasn’t very long before the term friends with benefits was also being uttered for all of its negative implications. For many people it became synonymous with meaningless sex. It became more about benefits than friendship. The glimmer of warmth and fun from the original idea had worn away from its chafing with dumbed-down, pornographic versions of what sex was.  It morphed from a term of endearment into a term of shame.

There was a loud gong of implication that anyone who considered FWB as a positive lifestyle choice, even temporarily, was of less than stellar character. Males seeking FWB relationships were cast as sexual predators or immature playboys. Females were cast as sluts. Just as happened with the term swinger, FWB came to stand for “having a sexual relationship without being emotionally involved.” It also came to mean that people who didn’t have the balls to commit to a relationship would sit on the fence for awhile.

Originally for me, friends with benefits was something like a vitamin pill or medicine intended to bring comfort and joy. I loved my friends. I wanted the best for them. Friendship was the power concept and benefits was an add-on extra for an already thriving emotional connection. It was not sex without friendship, sex without caring, or even sex without love. For me it always felt like a gift in the power of now.

WORD HABITS

In heated discussions, words and phrases are often tossed about habitually without much thought given to the richness of their meaning. Sex is one of those words. Friends is one of those words. Sex with friends can be a double whammy.

Sex can mean anything from a loveless physical activity among strangers to a deeply fulfilling sacred encounter. Friends can mean anything from barely known casual acquaintance to  cherished soul mate. Sex with friends can mean anything from an act of desperation with an acquaintance (no time limit on friendship required) to a spiritually transformative encounter with a lifelong friend.

People who use FWB as a term to judge or insult are clearly defining their terms in the most negative way. Cheap sex, shallow friendships. People who have a happy relationship with FWB (and possibly with sex itself) define their terms in more complimentary ways.

Much of the terminology here is confusing. You have the previously mentioned “just friends” which is a red light to sex, red-light districts excepted. Then there is “more than friends,” which is supposed to imply green lights for sex but in a way that is beyond friends with benefits. More than friends implies lovers. Lovers implies an emotional bond.

I have noted that sex frequently does not get its due as something magnificent, a treasure for humanity. As an institution, marriage legitimizes sexual relationships, and yet it seems more like establishing property rights than holding sex as sacred. I don’t hear many people conceiving of marriage as entering the temple of exquisite beauty to share the ecstasy of God’s gifts to humanity.

With sex routinely trashed as a brainless activity, something for dickheads, predators, whores, and losers, it’s much more difficult to envision friends with benefits as sweetness and light. As the term comes more to imply loveless sex among relationship wimps, I often wonder exactly what the benefit of FWB is supposed to be.

Empty, vapid, mechanical sex? Oh, boy, where do I sign up?

FWB Scenarios

In my world, friends with benefits emphasized friendship. Sometimes circumstances made a marital commitment or a declared committed relationship unwise or impractical, but the desire to share pleasure was still very strong.

I was raised in a time and place where “free love” was idealized as joyous. I was around for the Summer of Love in San Francisco and the Northern California counter-culture of the 60s and 70s. Alternative lifestyles were common in my circle of friends in my neck of the woods. I grew up prizing intimacy, harmony, and creativity. I conceived of sexual sharing as a way for two people to connect more emotionally. A deeply felt sexual connection would inspire my desire for relationship-building.

In my case, I was a struggling artist for much of my life. As such, I was not a good bet for a woman seeking financial security in a mate. However, I made a loyal friend and was a sensitive lover. Swinging never appealed to me. I liked emotional involvement even when it did not include living together. I was a go-to person when someone wanted a good listener who gave honest feedback on hard-to-talk-about subjects.

In the world around me, I saw different FWB arrangements. Some situations created too much mobility for stabilizing a relationship. Students might attend different universities, often beyond commuting range. People in the military or those whose jobs involved extensive travel often had relationship difficulties because of it. Sometimes people were reluctant to “settle down” because their life was inherently unsettled.

After a brutal break-up or a lengthy period of loneliness, a FWB relationship could be a true blessing. I’ve had times where they were hugely healing, a positive morale boost for climbing out of the pit. If both people are on the same page that this is a gift of mutual affection and not a commitment to build a new relationship, they can help ease the pain of a troubled heart. (If they are not on the same page, it can be the beginning of bad day.)

Friends with benefits seemed to particularly benefit those of us who were not A-list specimens in looks, wealth, power, or other mainstream status markers. A-listers are more accustomed to getting what they want, and you could say they have more bargaining power in the competition for mates. As a B-lister, I was grateful for the intimate encounters I had with friends. We may not have had it all, but what we had felt special. I think B-listers excel at appreciation and innovation just because we have always had to find ways to feel loved in a world keen on sorting, ranking, and rejecting.

Aging also presents plenty of obstacles not encountered as much in youth. For example, singles in their later years often have to deal with where to live. Whose residence becomes the chosen one? Does that mean that one of them sells a house? Are there extended family issues with that, such as adult children of seniors who strongly object to Mom or Dad’s choice of a new partner? Or maybe after a couple of serious betrayals, someone does not want to immediately put a new love partner on-board as a co-owner or beneficiary. Friends with benefits is good enough, at least for now.

Sometimes medical conditions and other recovery scenarios make friends with benefits an attractive option. Life throws us many curves. Sometimes we find ourselves very alone in dealing with these curves, and it is a great blessing to find any semblance of love and support during these ordeals. FWB is not just about wild sex. It is also about more sedated forms of compassion and caring. Cuddling, hugging, empathizing, laughter, free speech, and energy exchanges are also benefits friends can share.

Alternative lifestyle scenarios also figure in here. While this is (fortunately) changing, GLBT people were legally forbidden from marrying, often creating the situation where what amounted to FWB relationships became the most practical choice. Then there are people who simply and unapologetically like being sex friendly and don’t buy the premise that making love with a friend is not emotionally meaningful.

People sometimes say that FWB relationships happen because people can’t make up their minds about committing. It’s also noted that sometimes people start off as casual bunkies and then unexpectedly fall in love. This could be a problem if one one of them wants a deeper involvement. The friendship portion could shatter if rejection or jealousy feelings rear their ugly heads.

A MORE INCLUSIVE WORLD

Having had some morale-saving FWB relationships over the years, I find it most irritating how the idea has been corrupted from when I first encountered it. I think that anything we can do to make life nicer for people, especially those needing a lift, is a good thing. I also hate to see the beauty of sex dragged down into the morass of shame, ridicule, and mainstream trivialization.

I have great empathy and also sorrow for people who suffer loneliness and rejection, feeling excluded from the good life. It’s not that they necessarily are excluded, but they feel that way, and that’s just as bad. Although it is definitely not a surefire answer, a sex-friendly friendship can be a blessing.  It has saved me on occasion.

I was and still am a sex-positive idealist. I thought that lovemaking was healthy for the body, mind, heart, and spirit. I thought that if we humans moved more toward loving intimacy regardless of the form relationships took, we would be better off as a species. For me, intimacy always inspired caring about the welfare of the person I was intimate with. I thought others would feel that way, too.  At least a few did.

Friends with benefits — yay or yuck? I still say yay, but I would ask more questions.

What happens in the minds of lovers?

Minds-of-loversThe word itself has never much excited me, but I have always been raptly interested in consciousness for lovers. Yep, consciousness.

Whether I have written love stories or erotic stories, or just lived my life, the juiciest part of lovemaking for me is what happens within people’s minds. What motivates them to do what they do? What thrills them? What do they want? What thoughts do they have? What do they say to each other during one of nature’s most creative experiences?

Sharing consciousness is the stuff of intimacy.

INTIMACY — NO YAWNING

When I look at so many media portrayals of romance or erotica, the picture that emerges is that sex is what we do to someone or what someone does to us. It’s usually not depicted as a co-creation, as two people joining equally in a duet. The seducer seduces or the chaser takes charge and does something — usually a physical act. Mouths and other body parts crash into each other in hurricanes of passion.

Yet intimacy is not what we do to someone. It’s what we do with someone! Intimacy is equality in action. It’s a duet.

Intimacy is vastly underrated. It often sounds lame, especially to people trained to be intrepid, hot men or women of action. Intimacy often sounds as exciting as contemplating one’s navel. It’s usually portrayed in G-rated bunnies and duckies terms. Men are frequently taught to put up with intimacy as a step to “get to the good stuff.” Little do they know.

I think intimacy is top-drawer, the best. It makes the rest juicier, more meaningful. It’s where connection happens, friendship expands, love boils, lightning strikes. True intimacy is like a closely guarded secret, an out-of-bounds topic. Out of sight, out of mind.

Heavily exploited by porn but also distorted in mainstream depictions, sex has often become increasingly like stupid pet tricks. It’s about doing more outrageous activities, pushing the envelope on quirky-kinky. Be wild, be daring, be fearless. Show off better than the last person. It turns sex into a circus show like Buffalo Bill’s Wild West — thrills & spills and rootin-tootin fun. That’s exciting, but it’s not connecting.

Sex also often becomes much ado about playing roles. You are sub and I am dom. Or you are slut and I am lucky bastard. Or you are whatever and I am whatever. Roles can be very steamy to play for those with creative imaginations, but usually it’s much more mundane. This is especially true when playing roles does not create emotional connection to another human being.

GETTING REAL

Truly adventurous sex would be entering another’s mental and emotional world unarmed. That’s a place where all our memories dwell and all the emotional firing pins are hidden yet cocked.

Have you ever made love soul naked? Have you ever been able to shed all the cloaks and disguises of your real self and share love from that mental space? Yes, it can be exceedingly scary to be so open, but with the right partner, it can be incredibly profound and satisfying.

Nothing draws me closer to someone than sensing their realness. When I feel they’re meeting me with their true and uncensored self, I become most present. I listen respectfully as they share their fears or sadness or rants or (yes!) their joys and aspirations, too. And with all this input, we make love with more depth and caring. It changes everything.

Lovers as objects are supposed to play the right roles, say the right things, follow the expected scripts. Real lovers are not objects, they’re people, and real sex is about real feelings. Only lovers willing and able to be intimate with each other can feel the difference.

Lovers as objects have to look right in every way possible. Wear the right shoes, the right naughty fashions, the right do. There’s also a long list of skin and body conditions to avoid — to be cosmetically perfect is the ideal. I have read some blogs and have had some personal correspondence with women who feel more like hunks of furniture for their mate’s pleasure than they feel included in any co-creation of beautiful experiences.

Loving people see beauty in so many different ways. Many of those ways are nonphysical — intelligence, creativity, sensitivity, enthusiasm, passion, compassion, humor, spice, oh, so nice. Intimacy is an exploration of whole people co-creating. Yet where in our culture does anyone learn co-creation? I think long and hard to come up with examples.

HIGH ADVENTURE

It’s worth it to reflect for awhile on what mating really is (or could be.) We enter into love relationships as hunks of history, programmed with agonies and ecstasies. We could provide a healing sanctuary for one another, neutralizing emotional wounds from the past from our mutual love.

The minds of lovers are really dealing with more than the mechanics of sex, even if much is not conscious. Most of us yearn to be loved and accepted. We yearn to have someone care about us. Sex is a way people measure how they’re doing in life. A truly fulfilling sex life boosts happiness, especially when it generates loving feelings, self-esteem, and relationship health. When sex is unhappy, it’s often because it lacks intimacy.

For the sake of intimacy, I like to deliberately make love mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Making love mentally is sharing ideas without censorship. That means much more than talking dirty. Sex can provide a bonding experience rich with thought. Permission to shelve inhibitions often lets more good stuff surface. Unfortunately, many people feel too intimidated (for lots of reasons) to speak their truth even to their mate — sometimes especially to their mate. Most everybody has learned the hard way that sharing without editing can have dire consequences. It can also create peak experiences.

Making love emotionally is sharing feelings. Thoughts and feelings are different. Feelings often don’t have explanations or rationale. They may not be logical. They may be dreamlike. Sharing feelings freely and openly is relatively rare in a society that encourages secrecy, shame, guilt, and mistrust. One example is saying “I love you” spontaneously without running it by the analyst in your brain.

Making love spiritually is recognizing that people are much more than their bodies — that they are spirits inhabiting bodies. Spiritual awareness can have a surprisingly powerful affect on lovemaking including energy play, harmony with God/nature, a deeper appreciation for spiritual love, and transcendent sexual experiences (I’ll write about that sometime!) Spiritual lovemaking takes a great deal of emphasis off superficial beauty and re-focuses it onto cosmic beauty.

JUST THE BEGINNING

Becoming aware of how you might make love mentally, emotionally, and spiritually can be very enlightening. It can shift your focus in fascinating ways just to consider how you might do that.

Seed planted. Let me know what blooms!

Sexual respect

respectSomething I don’t see much in our culture and would like to change: respect for sexuality. Besides being the gift of creativity itself, no small feat, sex is a natural and free source of pleasure that, oh by the way, keeps us healthy, fit, and glowing.

So much about sex is awesome and wonderful, and yet our culture as a whole has trivialized it, demonized it, ridiculed it, dogmatized it, pornified it, and uglified it.

I have often wondered what the world would look and feel like if we truly respected sexuality. What if we beheld it as sacred from the get-go? What if we looked at sex as many of us look at a moonrise or sunrise or sunset or moonset? What if we looked at it with the reverence we hold for the natural world around us — the magnificent ocean vistas, the towering waterfalls, the beauteous alpine meadows? What if we honored sex as a spiritual interlude with our loved ones … and the divine?

I strongly believe that we should go back to the drawing board on this one and give it a re-think.

THE MEDIA CULTURE

When it comes to disrespecting sex, pornography is just a start, but a huge start. Supposedly porn shows us state-of-the-art sex — what we should aspire to. Yet it’s as if they never heard of or even imagined intimacy. Porn sex is usually not fun, loving, friendly, intelligent. It is grueling, mechanical, and often hard-hearted. It’s beyond what most people look like and what they are capable of doing. The platter of antics that porn serves up is not respectful of the natural magnificence of real-life sex. It’s a cheap imitation pandered as the sizzling best.

Porn, meanwhile, mirrors in a sexually graphic way what the other media suggest or allude to. Sex in mainstream Hollywood movies is usually depicted as a recreational conquest that often leads to problems or tragedies. It’s just for kicks or to prove someone’s coolness factor. Often someone seduces and then humiliates and abandons the victim. We see a bumper crop of horndog creeps in movies and plenty of acts of humanity against humanity. Rarely in movies do we see a depiction of sex as awesome, beautiful, empowering, and happily life-changing.

TV shows being even less explicit than movies often use dialogue to cheapen sex, to show it has no respect for sexual attraction. Sometimes the less explicit that sex is, the more harm it can do. Popular entertainment often reinforces stereotypes that keep many of us feeling ugly, ashamed, and unworthy. Look at all the people who become the butt of jokes about their various forms of “ugliness.” In drama sex is often tossed into the gutter, slime for crime. So-called factual TV has a field day with sexual deviancy and malice without presenting counterpoints of healthy sex. Think Jerry Springer’s ilk. When do you ever see sweet programs about the wonders of orgasm? Just sayin’.

Media turn sex into a cheap knock-off of what I came to know as its potential. Media turn sex into formulated physical interludes that have little mental, emotional, or spiritual impact — unless it’s painful or tragic. This usually translates into the message that the sex urge creates bullies and victims. Great message. Thanks, guys,

SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS

Most religions do not encourage us to respect and adore sexuality. We’re taught more to fear the devils who tempt our lustful desires. Outside of attempting to control behavior with fear, religions from what I can tell don’t do much Lord-praising and God-thanking for this wonderful gift. They portray sex as about flesh and weakness, not about holy merging and love.

In a similar vein, marriage is usually presented to the world as sanctifying a relationship after which sex is permitted, yet this institution does not portray sex itself as being sacred. Sex becomes a benefit of marriage; now it is legal and even God blesses it. Yet sex is not often held in reverence as a special bonding ritual. It devolves into “Not tonight Honey” and auto-pilot calisthenics.

As a condition of a committed relationship, monogamy means avoiding temptation from all others. Yet relationships often practice sex as an activity, not as a deep, special bond. It does not seem to occur to people that despite appearances. a sexual relationship is 24/7. Even when you’re not acting sexual, intimacy-building (or its opposite) happens with every interaction. The communicating, the shows of affection, the support in both sickness and in health, even the arguing and dealing with problems and disappointments affect all future interludes.

Non-monogamous lifestyles might appear to hold sex in higher regard — or maybe it’s just pretend. When people trash a lover’s feelings and avoid deep intimacy to feast on multiple partners, that isn’t respecting sex. I’ve seen it work ethically and happily, but it’s rare.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

What does sexual respect look like?

Sex itself is sometimes goofy, wild, gritty, wicked, intense, slobbery, ooey-gooey — anything but dignified. The fun of it is relishing the whirling, swirling mess. Offering each other a sacred space within which to be wild and free is a fabulous gift. It is like saying, “This is recess. Play all you want.” Protecting that playground with all your honor shows respect for it.

We seem to have made a cultural imperative to diminish the value of sex. To respect sex would be to participate in it with gratitude. It would mean honoring your partner who chose to share this experience with you. The play might get dirty and edgy. It may seem anything but sacred. Yet having had the thrill ride brings us back to the thankfulness for such play.

Respecting sex is also understanding that you make love to more than bodies. You make love to souls, to personalities with feeling, to people with emotional histories. When sex is about making love to souls, the intimacy goes deeper. The feelings penetrate farther. Even the pleasure is more intense.

There is a further layer of gratitude for me. It is to the deity that created this magnificent system — God, nature, the universe. Making love lets me love a mate and my deity at the same time. The more I love my mate with an open and free heart, the more pleasure flows through me from the design that the great infinite provided.

This is sex beyond ego. We’re taught to adore a person, conditioned to think someone is hot, sexy, and responsible for arousing our hunger. What we don’t often consider is that the very sex appeal we are driven by is an expression of God! The very energy of attraction that makes someone hot to you — and you hot to that person — is the force of nature or the force of God.

Respecting sex is like respecting the force that shaped Yosemite Valley or the Grand Canyon or that makes the mighty oceans. It’s the same force that makes flowers and trees bloom in the spring and dance magically during the harvest days of autumn. It’s the force that takes our breath away in all the ways it does.

LOST AND FOUND

As many people will attest, we don’t often appreciate what we have until we lose it. To make matters worse, often when we have something, we soon want more or we want different. If something may be lacking in our vision of perfection, we tend to forget the blessings of what we have. In my opinion, big mistake.

These days I memorialize gifts given to me long ago from people who have gone on. I lament how I took some gifts for granted, the times I didn’t try harder, the times I didn’t see farther than my immediate desires or limited perspective. In my current life, I have no partner, a situation which inspires much thought and perspective about the meaning and worth of happy sex.

If it were held as more sacred, perhaps we would not treat sex as an after-thought, a recreational diversion for when we get bored. Perhaps our lives would have more meaning if we conceived of sex in a more creative light.

Sexual dry spells

Dry-spellWhen I wrote a blog post about uninvited celibacy, it became freshly pressed and opened the floodgates on comments from men and women in similar situations.

A great time to think about the meaning of sex turns out to be when you aren’t distracted by having any! Whether celibacy is by choice or is a situational dry spell like the one I’m in, being sexually dormant offers an unusual window into what it means to be sexually engaged.

At least that’s what I tell myself. My dry spell is two years-old. After the death of my mother in 2011, I joined my elderly father 650 miles away from my house. My love life (and the rest of my life) has been in limbo ever since. I have intimate friendships but nothing physical. I suspect it’s like being an athlete sidelined by an injury. You want to get back into the game, but your situation is that you’re required to rest, so you spend hours thinking about your sport.

I’ve made some observations about sex during my dry spell:

MALE SEXUALITY’S GUTTER IMAGE

Male sexuality has taken a huge drubbing in our culture over the last few decades. It’s slumped in the gutter. Men are often depicted as jerks and losers whose primary interest is getting off. Sex is often portrayed as a mechanical romp without feeling or intimacy. It’s all about — and just about — bodies. Yawn.

There’s a serious shortage of truly interesting male lovers depicted in the media. Seriously. I can think of few examples of men who impress me as fabulously inspired lovers. Not just a hunky babe magnet, but someone who brings heightened consciousness to bed. A true love god. Men in porn are like bottom feeders. I cannot remember seeing one and thinking, “Wow, he’d make a great friend.”

As a man, I carry the legacy of my gender brothers. Being loverless ironically reminds me how lame the social blueprint of sex is. Our sexual standards are very low. Sex gets seriously dumbed down. We get just  a comic book version of its potential. I have heard women say something like, “When it comes to sex, men are like dogs.” When I look at how sex is portrayed in the media, I have to agree. Woof. That’s not the kind of sex I want.

Men have little sexual self-respect because it’s not something taught or nurtured in the culture. Men end up with very little pride in their contribution to making sexual magic. If men are perpetually depicted as using women for sex, that’s what men aspire to be unless through some personal miracle they learn a different way. Lacking positive male role models for sex, young men become robots. Dog robots.

REAL MEN HAVE REAL SEX

Real sex is so much more than, well, sex. It ‘s more than pornographic body play. It is a mixture of great treats for the mind and heart with sensual arousal. Great lovers know this instinctively. They know that it is all about connection, and they make love with ideas as much as they make love with kisses and caresses. They make mental and emotional connection with their mate. They are mindful more than habitual.

We’re taught in society to treat each other more as toys than as co-creators of a fabulous journey. This tendency we have to treat each other as roles and objects goes far beyond sex, of course, but in my world, lovemaking is one route out of being superficial. It is a gateway into the deep pool of intimacy. Sex puts me in touch with deep feelings, which makes it spiritually profound. A statement such as that sometimes brings up chuckles or a sarcastic retort, which I translate as another sign that we have trashed sex with our demeaning representations of it.

Many of us are taught to think that “I want you” really means “I want access to your flesh.” Many of us are not taught that it could mean, “I want to embrace your soul as you embrace mine.”

ENERGIZE

You don’t often hear it expressed this way, but I think that making love is about energy exchange. Thoughts and intentions you have express themselves in whatever you do physically. They flavor it like ingredients used in cooking. If you’re upset, stressed, resentful, or something like that, your lovemaking will feel much different than if you are happy, loving, giving, and truly excited.

You won’t truly understand “energy” until you are sensitized to feeling it for yourself. The only place I recall seeing this presented in any mainstream movie was in the 1997 film Bliss. The movie showed a maverick sex therapist who taught the bliss value of energy exchange over the habitual physical orgasm production that most of us are taught.

I have been fortunate enough to experience energy flow first hand. An overall feel-good sensation fills me. Moods swing up with heightened energy. Satisfaction pervades the spirit. With heightened energy, sensuous touch feels hotter and better leading to that swept-away feeling.

Grasping energy exchange changes everything. Even cuddling by itself can be surprisingly exquisite. The body feels incredible and the mind fills with juicy deliciousness. Sometimes I’ve experienced the energy pop being so intensely blissful that traditional sex paled by contrast. How is this so? Energy! Consciousness! I’ve never seen this described or depicted anywhere outside of my own life.

LETTING GO

Under the right conditions, sex provides the perfect climate for letting go emotionally like a wild wind storm. The freedom is incredible. When I am sexually free and spiritually naked, my mind fills with wonders — visions, memories, feelings, fantasies, the energy buzz. I can man up or boy down. I can make rational sense or with permission zone out into a creative wilderness.

Since I know how important this space is for me, I do everything I can to make sure my partner has the emotional freedom to let go, too. That could entail encouragement. It also includes not judging or criticizing, especially her fantasy life and turn-ons.

Giving good head is more than oral sex. Giving safe mind play is precious. More damage is done when the opposite happens, yet we’re taught in thousands of ways to keep people locked in boxes of controlled conformity, especially when it comes to sexual behavior.

THE GIFT OF GIVING

Having no lover reminds me how much I treasure giving intimate pleasure to someone special. Pleasure is a two-way street. I receive so much energy and joy from giving energy and joy. It is a palpable, primal connection when it happens naturally. Perhaps it is simply that I was raised to be a pleaser and support person, but I feel less fulfilled as a human when I cannot pursue this craving. I feel like a honey bee transported from a lush garden to a vast desert with no blooms in sight for miles.

My romanticizing is not about materialism — wining and dining, buying affection with gifts, artificially pumping up egos, seducing and deceiving. It is much more about spiritual romance, the God-rendered magic of mate attraction, natural (no drugs needed) ecstasy, and the compelling drive to know and be known.

So here I am stuck again in the paradox of today’s sexual consciousness. I yearn to deeply please a partner body, mind, heart, and soul … in a world where sex has become so devalued it is beheld with grave suspicion. “Men are dirty dogs. Of course they want sex. Woof.”

When I am without a lover, I find myself especially empathic to women who suffer from sexual neglect. They often feel hopeless and damaged. Loneliness is painful. Of course they mirror for me my limbo life. I project upon them my cravings for harmony and intimacy. I fantasize that I could touch them in a way beyond what they know. Not me doing them, not me having all the answers, but us opening to each other in a journey of mutually-supported exploration.

DRY SPELLS

We tell ourselves stories to make sense of our worlds. With the dry spell I tell myself stories about why I don’t pursue love, what my family obligations are, why past relationships dissolved and what I could have done differently. I wonder if at age 64 I am too old for new love, too old to sexually attract anyone, or too young to be thinking insipid thoughts like that.

Is sizzling sex a spiritually transformative experience?

Spiritually transformative experience

Ever since I became sexually aware (let alone active) I have held a high regard for this amazing phenomenon — for sex. It made an immediate impact on me as something awesome — truly awesome when the word awesome still meant filled with awe.

Stepping back for a sec. The family I grew up in was not particularly religious. I wonder if dry, sanitized Presbyterianism even qualifies as a religion. This is really to say that I never got much of an inspired, feel-good vision of who or what God and Jesus were from my childhood church or Sunday school. The whole idea of going to heaven to live with God fell ker-plunk on the church floor for me. Couldn’t relate. Made little sense. There were no dots to connect.

Yet after my first French kiss somewhere in the haze of high school (thank you, Mona Miner) something made sense. This was the most delicious sensation I had yet encountered. I was immediately grateful to the brains behind this totally yummy creation.

God created this? Wow! Compliments to the chef-in-chief.

It was this readily available source of bliss — natural and free — that inspired me to wonder more about the universe and the God who created it.

THE GUTTER

It irks and saddens me how so much of our modern culture has cheapened the sexual dance. Often it’s not placed much higher on the evolutionary food chain than gutter slime.

For me one of the main repercussions of this gutterizing trend is that saying something like “I enjoy sex” is likely to draw snickers, groans, and wisecracks. This doesn’t happen if you say, “I love exploring exotic temples and cathedrals.”

Most religions embrace sexuality only if it is practiced in accord with their strict specifications. If you aren’t a monogamous, married heterosexual having come aboard as a virgin, you’re in deep doo-doo.

Not often do we characterize sex as a spiritually transformative experience, but for me it was.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL

Experiences I had that could be considered sexual also led to true, no-drugs-involved ecstasy. (I have to include the no-drugs part because nowadays so much written about ecstasy is about drugs.) The most intense experiences were fully clothed hugging or cuddling extravaganzas that brought on ever-intensifying energy surges. They eventually reached crescendo in powerful ecstatic bursts. I’ve heard them described as energy orgasms, and in my experience they dwarf in strength the more conventional variety of Mighty O!

The pleasure shooting through us like a gale was so intense that we could only stay in ecstasy a few seconds in real time. Experiences like this left a powerful residue of curiosity about their nature. When you get into it just a little you start hearing about tantra and the merging of spirituality and sexuality from sources that do not separate the two. The real-life, in-the-body experience of ecstasy is transformative! It resets the bar for what a sexual experience can be, far, far away from gutter slime.

Find out for yourself. To start just be open to the idea that sex (or hugging, cuddling, any display of affection) has the potential to generate spiritually-charged thoughts or feelings. Be open. Stay aware.

At the very least, spirituality creates a sexually transformative experience.