Alexandra Katehakis Ph.D., MFT

Sex, Lies & Trauma

Monthly Meditations to Invite Eroticism (July)

Shadow. Circumstance. Trauma. Love. (4 themes.)

Posted Jul 01, 2013

At Center for Healthy Sex, we find inspiration from many sources to treat sex addiction, love addiction, and sexual dysfunction. Meditation and affirmations are helpful tools that build esteem, create procedural memories, reduce anxiety, slow the heart rate, and increase blood flow to the brain.

Attachment theory is a component of our philosophy—behavioral patterns imparted in infancy affect the way we grow up to live our lives. Because this early programming becomes so ingrained, it takes consistent and sustained effort to rewire the neural pathways.

These monthly meditations are similar to the affirmations we use with clients. They are intended to provoke deep thought about core beliefs and inspire open communication with a partner. (You may sign up for our free daily meditations here.)

Meditation for Week 1 -- SHADOW

"To honor and accept one's own shadow costs nothing and is immediately—and embarrassingly—ever present. To honor and accept one's own shadow is a profound spiritual discipline. It is whole-making and thus holy and the most important experience of a lifetime."
~ Robert A. Johnson

Sunlight shines on us and casts our shadow on the earth. In the same way, the inner light of consciousness shines in each of us, and casts an inner shadow wherever we're not transparent. Any act, thought or feeling we perceive as “not right” casts a shadow. So it's true that “if you spot it, you got it." Thus we all know at some level that ”pulling a geographic” is ineffective--we can't run away from our problems because we're their source.

Still, most of us stay blind to our shadow, which we readily project onto others--partners, parents, strangers on the street, media personalities. We all project our most negative and positive traits outward, even though to others they’re "as plain as the nose on your face." Trouble is, we can’t see our own nose without a mirror. Life is that mirror. If we look into our life, we can develop personal and relational consciousness.

Look at the character defects in others that aggravate you the most. The shadow in you amplifies them in your personal drama, like the proverbial butterfly's wings whose fluttering creates a hurricane on the other side of the world. If you deceive, rage or manipulate a little, your shadow will allow you to hide out among people who deceive, rage or manipulate a lot. Does your partner frustrate you with sexual or emotional unresponsiveness? You can bet that you habitually dismiss your own unresponsiveness elsewhere. Recalibrate your outward expression, receive a proportioned response. Change yourself, change this world. No other way.

Daily Healthy Sex Acts:

  • The shadow is a gift for those who know how to shadow-play. To enlighten yourself on where your shadows lie, notice the ways others work your nerves and locate the feeling of this shadow in your own actions. (And to see where you secretly shine, discern the behaviors you most admire in others.)
  • Wholeness and transparency are not achieved by escaping or expunging one's nature, only by embracing and integrating all aspects of livingness—good and bad. Today, whenever blaming another overshadows your thoughts, tell yourself in truth, "I've done that, too," and remember when you have. Then forgive both of you.

Meditation for Week 2 - CIRCUMSTANCE

“Thus we see, too, in the world that some persons assimilate only what is ugly and evil from the same moral circumstances which supply good and beautiful results—the fragrance of celestial flowers—to the daily life of others.”
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

The conditions we're living in at any given moment color our perceptions of our own and others' lives. We're all born into unique circumstances, and cannot ever completely understand another's situation, no matter the depth of love and intimacy shared. This includes our life partners and even our own children because every individual's circumstance combines so many levels of life: material, emotional, mental, and spiritual. It always sounds a bit funny to hear people gossip about the personal lives of celebrities, as we seldom know the real-life situations of our own friends and family, much less of people we've never met. In fact, we rarely know our own lives half the time. We're continually faced with confounding circumstances that try our patience, perhaps giving us unending opportunities for spiritual refinement.

When it comes to the circumstances that set the stage for our lives at birth, we may wonder whether caregivers create, or react to, a child's personality. The dispute between nature versus nurture is longstanding but in recent years we've come to believe that a child is shaped by both. Perhaps all potential influences on us co-exist in a symbiotic state--a house of mirrors from personal to interpersonal to planetary. Ultimately one of the only knowable truths is your own circumstance, which includes your actions as well as your perceptions. Perceiving that others suffer more or less than we suffer can be as much a part of our circumstance as the home we live in, the work we do, or the relationships we've built. May we hold a place of compassion for the circumstances of others, as we know from experience the over-riding importance of our own.

Daily Healthy Sex Acts:

  • What are your current circumstances? List the first five that come to mind on a blank piece of paper. Now draw a circle, and create a pie chart to show the amount of “pie” each circumstance eats up in your life.
  • Did you list only material circumstances or did you include emotional or psychological circumstances, too? What are the top five emotional circumstances of your life right now? How much do love, anger, grief, and other feelings emerge on any given day?
  • How about the top five mental circumstances? Do you have dominant thoughts? What do you think about throughout the day? How does this mindset inform your circumstance?
  • Reflect on the outer circumstances that indirectly affect your life—the perceivable circumstances of your lover, family, friends, community, and world. Do you recognize their circumstances as yours by association?

Meditation for Week 3 - TRAUMA

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
~ Fred Rogers

To unearth, process and release trauma is key to healthy sex and love. Our body and psyche bear two kinds of trauma: explicit (known) trauma and implicit (unknown) trauma. Bodily trauma may cause superficial bruises that soon fade, or serious disability that takes lifelong care. The same may be said for psychological trauma. Typically, we don't remember trauma we've received, although they’re literally built into our brains and bodies. But we may always wonder why certain facets of our lives—romance, career, personal well-being--seem so limited. It takes great effort to release the damage of unprocessed trauma.

Without healthy management of trauma—ideally learned through secure early attachment to a caregiver—human beings default to auto-regulation, dissociating from the pain through involuntary strategies (thumb-sucking in infancy or masturbation in adolescence). Habitual dissociation may lead to addiction in later life, since that's the real process behind any addiction: unconscious tactics trying to fix unprocessed trauma.

If you can remember growing up, you know your life is full of unresolved ordeals ranging from the forgettable to the spectacular. A parent forgets to pick you up from school, a teacher scolds you, friends make plans without you, a crush snubs you publicly. These everyday injustices rarely receive closure; our usual coping mechanism seems to be swallowing the experience and hoping it doesn't happen again. Likewise the severe damage inflicted by abuse, violence, rape or incest, which might require a lifetime of rehabilitation with expert professional care, too often doesn’t receive desperately needed treatment.

Daily Healthy Sex Acts:

  • What issues and unpleasant feelings do you see repeated from your childhood in your current relationships? When trauma isn't processed and healed, past patterns of emotional, psychological, physical or sexual abuse will be reenacted on an unconscious level with a partner. We call this trauma bonding, often mistaken for healthy relating. Do you accept these relational conditions as your inescapable fate, or can you envision a process to break the bonds of past trauma?
  • You’ve heard the motto, “Physician, heal thyself.” Fill in the blanks: (Find a) physician (therapist/sponsor/spiritual guru, and) heal thyself!

Meditation for Week 4 - LOVE

"Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it."
~ Rumi

Poets and scholars have pondered the meaning of love from the beginning of time. The Greeks delineated three types of love: Agape, Philia, and Eros. Agape is a love that is so deep and profound it includes the universe; it is a feeling that emerges from inside our being and encompasses the depths of our soul. Philia is the love we feel for our friends—the warm, familial gentleness that brings security, laughter and kindness to our lives. Eros, or romantic love shot from Cupid’s arrow, is the love that starts wars, moves mountains, and makes star-crossed lovers like Romeo and Juliet die for one another. Eros is passionate and sexual and, like a powerful drug, sends us into a swoon (and sometimes out of our right minds). It inoculates us to our lover’s imperfections so that we enter the commitments of everlasting love which are necessary for building a family.

In the game of tennis “love” is a score of zero, suggesting that when we’re in love the score is even and all is well. But how often do we keep a competitive score in love relationships? This “tit-for-tat” score-keeping holds the ball in play so that we don’t have to look at ourselves. Research shows that when contempt, defensiveness, blame and shame are in the forefront of a couple’s style of relating, divorce is surely on the horizon. Conversely, utterances of love and appreciation are antidotes to nasty, “I won, you lose!” words that eat at the foundation of love. Keep the score zero in your love relationship: Give generous doses of gratitude, make caring gestures to your partner daily, and watch the passion and abundance grow.

Daily Healthy Sex Acts:

  • Keep a healthy score by counting how many times you utter something loving and positive to your partner in a day.
  • Tell your friends and family members that you love them, and follow that by a loving action.
  • Give thanks to your Higher Power by making a gesture that has meaning to mankind, whether it’s holding a door open for someone, offering a smile, or making a donation to a charity or person in need.


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