To some people, it’s bewildering even seeing those words in the same sentence. To others, the concept is familiar but slippery to define.
Ancient spiritual teachings, such as those found in Tantra, take the approach that there is no separation between the material world and the spiritual world. Unlike other spiritual paths that tend to denigrate the body, Tantra teaches that the body is as much part of spirit as anything else, existing on one fluid continuum. This has led to a beautiful tradition in which sexuality can be cultivated as a path toward spiritual enlightenment.
But with all the differing opinions on what makes sexuality profound or profane, how do we know where to draw the line, if there is a line to be drawn at all?
I would argue that rather than searching for external criteria (ie. the nature of the relationship between those involved or the specific acts performed etc) the element of sacredness flows from within.
What are the qualities that can make sexuality more sacred and connected?
Be present. Not just physically present, but mentally, emotionally and on every level of your being. This means not worrying about whether you look fat in that position, or thinking about the argument you had last night, or the presentation you have to give tomorrow morning. For that moment that you set aside for making love, whether it be with yourself or your partner(s), be open to the unfolding of each moment. It is from these details that the entirety of your experience is created. If you are too busy thinking, it will be over before you know it and you won’t even remember what happened. A good way to centre yourself in the face of nagging thoughts is to focus on your breath. Simply watch your breath. And if you are with a partner, you can synchronize your breath to heighten your connection. This simple act will draw you back into your body and allow you to be more alive and receptive to the unfolding of your sacred dance.
Honour the being you are with, even if it is only yourself. This can be especially hard with ourselves. We can be quick to judge ourselves for our perceived shortcomings, while being relentlessly demanding at the same time. Often self-pleasure is used as a means of quick stress release rather than a special time to celebrate your body. Though it is sometimes easier to project love on another, we can still lose track of that person’s inherent uniqueness and begin projecting our own agendas and expectations onto them. The key to reverence is being in full acceptance of that being, as they are in that moment, and recognizing your shared humanity. Reverence brings forth respect,
Clarity of Intention
Being clear on one’s intention for engaging in any given sexual encounter is paramount for trust and presence to be established. Knowing why we are engaged in any particular encounter and what our future expectations may be from that person are vital for being able to drop into the present moment. When we are being dishonest with ourselves in our reasons for having sex (ex. trying to manipulate that individual or trying to mask our internal feelings of inadequacy), we are creating a situation in which real closeness isn’t possible. Honesty and clarity pave the way for intimacy, even if it is only a one night stand. Knowing that all parties have communicated their needs honestly allows you to drop those deeper levels of interaction in which real magic can happen.
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