Heart and Soul Healing

A women's health physician explores avenues to greater wellness.

Sexuality as a Spiritual Practice

Sex is a common way that people connect with their spiritual selves

Believe it or not, sex is one of the most common ways that people connect with their spiritual selves. Our deepest desire and motivation as human beings is to connect with our expansive spirit. We long for experiences that are uplifting, pleasurable, expansive, and that bring life force (spirit) into our otherwise mundane existence. We feel most alive when this life force is flowing through us. 

Not only do we enjoy or even crave this connection to life force, it is vital to our health. Every illness, injury, depression, anxiety or health concern stems from a diminishment or blockage of the flow of life in some way. In working with patients, it is important to help them not only on the physical level, but on the mental and energetic/spiritual levels as well in order to have optimal recovery and health.

In our culture we have been taught to identify with our minds, and what they say to us. When we listen to our minds only, we believe that the key to life and happiness is following the rules, working hard, making money, and staying safe. When our minds run the show, we can experience worry, anxiety and boredom, and may block our ability to connect with our spiritual self. Pleasurable and sensual experiences are outside the boundaries of the mind, and are key in connecting with vitality and life force.

We seek this connection to our energy/ spirit/ life force in various ways, healthy and unhealthy. The use of alcohol, drugs, smoking, or even a daily café latte represent attempts to loosen the mind, and have a sensual experience, but don’t lead us to the connection we seek. Many people will directly pursue spiritual practices that connect them with their expanded self. Meditation, yoga, prayer, and energy healing all have the potential to open the door to connection with something greater.

And then there is sex.

During a healthy sexual encounter, the world falls away, thought are suspended, and pleasurable energy connects heart, body, and spirit. Sexual energy provides a complete experience of body/ spirit merger and is possibly the most accessible avenue to spiritual connection for most people.

It is interesting that spiritual practices such as chakra- opening meditations (e.g. Dolphin Breath) and some yoga practices connect life force through the body and energy field in a way that is experienced as orgasmic pleasure. Certain religious ecstatic experiences are experienced as orgasmic.

Identifying sexuality as a spiritual practice tends to run counter to our cultural conditioning. Sex in our culture tends to be a secret matter, and most people carry some baggage with them about sex from conflicting messages they have received. 

Typically, young people who are awakening sexually are viewed as “going through that phase” and we expect that as they mature, the interest and preoccupation with sex will lessen as they put their minds and energies to “more important” life matters. Sexuality does tend to wane through life for most people to the point that in midlife, sexuality becomes a major issue, overt or buried – hardly a source of spiritual connection. 

What if we were to re-identify sex as a healthy, vibrant, important part of life, and celebrate it as an avenue for spiritual practice that can be integrated into our ongoing lives? What would unfold if we were to examine our sexual lives and recreate something that is nurturing and vibrant? Consider opening to sexuality with a new mindset.

For tips and practical advice on recreating your sexuality in midlife, check back here next week.

Marilyn Mitchell, M.D., works in integrative medicine.

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