Ah, sex. What a fun topic! Except when it isn’t. It’s amazing how loaded sexuality is for so many people. It’s impossible to talk about sexual dysfunction as merely a physical phenomenon when so much of our collective unconscious (and conscious!) is taken up with sexual metaphor, nuance, and imagery. We are all sexual beings created through the sexual act (test tube babies aside, maybe). Everything is energy and all energy is sexual. That may seem like a leap but every interaction has a receptive and a thrusting element. The Taoist yin-yang is code for this. The masculine yang generates as the feminine yin weaves and Creation is born. A fun way to think about the Big Bang! Kundalini energy, a major aspect of yoga practice, is (among other things) sexual energy and when unlocked it offers unimaginable creative potential for healing and growth.
Yet the number of hang-ups we have surrounding sex are stunning. So many issues of shame and guilt are wrapped up around our sexuality, body image, vulnerability, trust, abandonment, and passion. And far, far, far too often sex is wound up with abuse. It’s no wonder sometimes the body doesn’t want to work. In many people, women and men, sex and intimacy push all the red danger buttons. In sex we literally are taking someone else’s essence into our body or for the guys, entering another’s most private space. I’ve heard guys describe intimacy issues as a fear of drowning, being swallowed up, whereas for women it is often about feeling tainted, used, violated. No matter how post-modern we pretend to be ideas of “sin” often live in the body itself. So whenever I have a guest with sexual dysfunction, sacral issues, menstrual pain, or intimacy concerns the first step is to have them ask where “sin” lives in their body. Nearly every time it is near or around the genitals. So, silly as it sounds, we go through a mind/body exercise of cleaning out their sin closet.
- Meditation! Breathing is the primary sexual act. It also, like sex, releases feel-good hormones (endorphins) in the body when we do it right. So a fun meditative exercise is to unwind the breath by focusing on each of the seven chakras and letting each one pulse to its natural rhythm. Feel where the breath is tight or uncomfortable and notice without judgement. Then allow the breath to move naturally through the chakras. Using imagination allow the energy centers to “kiss” each other and see which are naturally compatible and which are not. That’ll give a good idea on where we may need some extra love. If you have a willing partner then breathe together, allowing the chakras to connect/link (as in energy healing but with the intimate intention). Experience where your bond is most comfortable and where it may seem a little weak. Remember to have fun with this! It can be vulnerable so keeping it playful is best.
- Exercise! The body needs to feel alive and up to the task and the function of the heart is directly connected to erection. Cardio will help. And for women, who too often have body image concerns, exercise makes us feel more vital and connected.
- Nutrition! Essential fatty acids, green foods, anything that is good for the heart. And chocolate, which stimulates endorphin production.
- Supplements/Herbs! For the guys, zinc is of major importance. For the ladies, DHEA. For both, classic euphorics like damiana and kava. I make an aromatherapy blend, which includes jasmine, rose, patchouli, clary sage, mandarin, amber, and ylang-ylang. These oils are all classic euphorics, which stimulate the pituitary gland, create a relaxed and open state, and the clary sage has a hormone balancing effect, which helps with menopause and anxiety too. Because they can be mixed into a massage oil they can foster intimacy.
- Communication. We hear this so many times it almost seems trite but healthy long-term sexuality comes from an open, trusting connection. When we feel safe and open then bonding is natural whether it results in the sex act or not. When we are holding onto our baggage, expecting our partner to read our minds, and keeping a laundry list of resentments sex may become just another worry instead of a joyful experience.