Transforming relationships and sexuality.
The Tao is indefinable and unknowable within the limitations of our rational minds. Yet it is the Source from which all manifestation springs. The Tao underlies all things, in the Tao we are all one. In Love we are moving with the Tao. To be in love is to be beyond the limitations of personality, ego or even the body. In love we flow with the ultimate, we are one in the Tao. This is why love can sweep you off your feet and turn your whole world upside down.
To reproduce we return to the Source. To grow, transform and awaken to our spiritual nature we also return to the Source. This is the Way of Love
When in Love you touch the infinite power of the Tao, all your limitations are challenged. Love is intelligent and will raise you up in its intelligence, yet to go with it you need to transform. In romantic love, it is when a couple are at the doorstep of transformation but do not pass through, that they lose the bliss of the first weeks or months and the passion goes flat. It is the moment when love no longer gives you a high but puts you back down on earth saying 'expand your small reality and make more room for me if you want to rise any further.'
Our culture does not equip us for this rising, We have no model for sustaining love, only the compromises of co-dependence or a perpetual cycle of breaking up to make space for a new relationship where the excitement can be regained. Co-dependence comes about when a couple fulfils each other's neurotic, emotional survival strategies, which are reactions to wounds from the past, and thus they avoid the challenge of healing and growth. This leads to flatness, loss of freedom and a dull mind . And frequent serial monogamy or promiscuity leads to exhaustion as each new relationship fails to deliver lasting love; they are also traps. Love demands that we change and grow: without following its intelligent process it turns to dust and is remembered merely as an illusion brought on by a flush of powerful hormones.
Love and the ego are at odds with each other. The ego is self image, all the habits by which you identify yourself. It is sustained by repeated thoughts, familiar emotions and actions. Love is alive, limitless, constant at source, yet constantly changing all that it touches. To remain in the presence of love you have to let go to change, to growing and transforming in its influence. Once you have fallen in love, to sustain it, you have to get up again, learn to ride with it and soar the spiritual heights and plumb the emotional depths. Love will show you that you are not what you thought you were but much more than the mind can imagine. But to open to the greater truth of love means letting go of cherished illusions and habits.
If you consider what happens in co-dependent relationships: a lot of energy is put into trying to change the other person, getting them to fit comfortably into your own patterns. Sometimes compromise is made when it is easy to, but both partners will hold out on changing the places where unresolved fears and emotional charge hold sway. So either a working compromise is found or the relationship breaks under the strain of repeated stuck arguments. But after years of living in co-dependent compromise, the feelings of suffocation, boredom and stagnation lead to a crisis and break up. If not this, then a later life of bitterness and resentment develops under a veneer of getting on all right.
Love dies when we don't know how to flow with it. Sex dies when we fail to travel with its overwhelming charge to the source of its power: the generator dance of masculine and feminine, Yin and Yang as they emerge from the Tao. The physical raw meeting of sex is bigger than the individual. It is life reproducing itself. If you stay really present in sex, life will draw you into deep bonding within its own spiritual source. And in drawing you into the Source it gives you the experience and spiritual and energetic impetus to mature and evolve as an individual This gives an evolutionary benefit to your soul, your offspring and the community. Yet in the West we have tried to possess sex, to make it a pleasure zone where our egos feel more real in its intensity. But sexual energy is no easy beast to tame, it is a serpent - dragon that threatens to overwhelm and conquer the ego that refuses to let go. So in fear we often withdraw from surrendering to its full power and stick with habits and fantasies that keep sex in the mind and remove us from being really present in the act. If this mental approach to sex doesn't become boring, it becomes addictive. Either way we cease to grow and expand with it, and then the teachings of ascetic traditions about the dangers of sex seem to have a ring of truth.
If we separate ourselves from sexual energy we sever an energetic artery connecting us with the raw spiritual power of the universe. Addiction to, or denial of sex both cause this. Yet in the West our history of sexual suppression has left us with such a poor appreciation of the subtle and not so subtle nature of sexual energy flow that we tend towards these extremes in the absence of being able to be really present, conscious and aware in sex.
With such poor preparation for both sustained love and conscious sex it is easy to understand how relationships are such a struggle in our society.
How can we move forward and find a higher quality of love and sex that is beyond the end of romance? Being present is the key, but as simple as it sounds, there is a lot to undo from our collective and personal past, to be able to sustain loving presence with another.
To be able to be fully present in love and sex requires an alert empty mind. But any insecurity dulls the mind and takes you away from the moment. Thoughts like: Am I going to get enough love or sex? Am I good enough? Do I deserve it? Does she/he love me? Am I attractive enough? - The list of commonly held insecurities is long, and they have a debilitating effect on relationships. For where you feel lack, you search for it from the outside. As children we are born looking for and expecting, sustained simple love and connection, yet our cultural traditions do not really enable parents to deliver this, they are too busy with their own insecurities and fears. In ideal circumstances the birth hormones will open a mother up into an altered state where such loving connection does happen but as with falling in love, unresolved wounds, imprints and limiting patterns resurface, and sooner or later an infant is crying out for simple presence, total love. This wanting then becomes the basis of the child's own neurosis. As we grow up we learn to live in our thoughts and leave behind the emotional turmoil of our infantile wanting. Yet all the habits and patterns we developed to cope, and all the underlying beliefs about our worthlessness that came from not getting uninterrupted love, continue to dominate us from underneath our developing self awareness. None of this is anyone's fault, but as individuals and as a society, if we want to have successful relationships, we need to move on.
Self worth develops from the experience of being an integral part of the universe, from being a part of the Great Mother, being one with the Tao. This is as true for an adult as for a baby. But since most of us felt that lack when we were so small, we crave connection with others. Many people become needy and try to grasp it. Others learn to control themselves and become cold as the need is buried ever deeper.
It is rare for someone to take themselves through the natural weaning process and discover that the source of infinite love is within them. Yet it is this discovery that brings total transformation in your life and your relationships. To get there takes a deeper movement than simply changing your thoughts. There is a closed circle of thoughts and emotions that needs to be opened up and healed. The craving for connection has an emotional and energetic shape that is felt in the body as a very physical reality, it has form. This form underlies all the thoughts of worthlessness we have about ourselves. The feelings give rise to self deprecating thoughts and anxieties, which in turn reinforce the feelings. This in turn leads us to act out our basic survival strategies whether they be grasping, manipulating, controlling or whatever we did to try to get the love we wanted or numb our pain. But acting out these ingrained patterns feeds us back into the original feelings since they only ever were ways of coping, they never delivered pure love.
Finding the source of love within yourself, involves self responsibility, self discipline, being alert to what you are actually thinking and doing, and changing at the deepest level. It takes giving up the search for love from the outside. This all needs a quieter, emptier mind. Meditation, when practised with deep emotional healing, is very helpful here. Learning to be present with the Tao in the midst of all life's emotions, happenings and changes, gives you the centred state from which self love springs and healing can happen.
The following is a powerful meditation to help you be at one with the Tao. If this is practised regularly, daily preferably, then fundamental transformation will take place.
Give yourself some time in a safe space, where you will not be disturbed. Sit comfortably and pause to reflect on your intention to meditate on your inner core. Then close your eyes, take some deep breaths and relax your body. Continue to breathe deeply and relax for a few minutes. Now begin to notice what you are experiencing. It may be thoughts or sensations or emotions or energy. Whatever is happening just spend a while being very aware of what you are experiencing, what is arising and falling away. Be aware of the breath rising and falling. Feel where the breath is rising from. Be aware of the change, the constant changing.
After a while notice that regardless of what you are experiencing, whether it be inner thoughts or feelings, or sounds, sensations or images, there is a deeper sense of your presence, an underlying constancy. You are always here, seeing and sensing what is happening. There is a constant witnessing of experience. Notice this for a while. If your mind drifts off onto a string of thoughts, or a tune or whatever, notice that here you are witnessing it. Everything is changing and here you are constantly witnessing it. Carry on in this way for a while.
Now the meditation changes to experiencing that central part of you that is witnessing everything. Turn your inner eye inward to see yourself. Turn your inner ear inwards to hear the inner sound of your being. Turn your inner mind inwards to know the actuality of your being. Be patient and keep noticing what you are experiencing and then move back to looking into your centre which is witnessing the experience. If you are distracted use the distraction as a reminder that you are present here witnessing, and thus let the distraction be a mirror to the centre of your being.
After ten to fifteen minutes or longer if you can, focus on your belly and come out of the meditation, keeping in mind the presence that is your being.
Following the moment of experience continually is the nature of this meditation, for in that moment of experience is your source. The vessel of continuity of that experience is your soul. In this meditation simply follow the moment and bear witness to your actual existence. It is about being alert in a deeper way than through the filter of thoughts, it is about experiencing the moment of actuality. Ultimately this is beyond experience itself and is fully enlightened consciousness in the realm of the soul.
Meditation reveals that love simply is. It is a state of being that we enter into and through which are joined to the totality. Loving relationships and conscious sex both offer doorways through. But it is easy to mistake the doorway (your partner) for the Source. Then we suffer under the illusion that love is something that flows from one person to another. In turn this leads us back to our infantile patterns of craving love and deep physical contact. It is a paradox that when you stop looking for love from another and awaken to your inner source, then when you are intimate and share it, it expands and becomes more powerful than ever the craving mind could imagine.
This simple shift around totally changes relationships.
Becoming responsible for your own sexual needs has a similarly transformative effect..Sexual energy emerges from the ovaries and testicles where universal energy is concentrated to create the dense, high charge that is so powerful. The energy has to move, and usually it is released outwards. This is to bring pleasurable relief from the build up of energy that begins to dominate behaviour. But the sexual energy is powerful condensed life energy, and its potential for regeneration and for fuelling spiritual evolution and awakening is repeatedly lost this way. Also it is an addictive cycle of release, where dependence either on masturbation or a partner becomes established. The fundamental limitations of this way of sex lead some to search for ever more extreme turn ons and others in the opposite direction to cutting off from sex and forcing it into a slumber. Both extremes and the whole range between them, lead to loss of power.
If you can learn to move the sexual energy up in to the body, you gain both the benefits of the energy and self empowerment, as any form of sexual dependence is broken. This could sound like an ascetic recipe for denying sexual pleasure. Far from it: learning to recirculate sexual energy profoundly deepens the quality and pleasure of both sex and self pleasuring. Men, just as much as women, can learn to be multiply orgasmic and as dependence on each other diminishes so the space for a deep sexual communion is opened.
Sex becomes a truly loving union this way. In a similar paradox to the one about love, when you become fully self responsible for moving your own sexual energy, and let go of searching for pleasure, the pleasure and power of it increases enormously. Then it feels safe to really open and deeply share of yourself. The energy can build and take you beyond the limitations of habits and fears and needy desires, into a profound wave of sexual/ spiritual energy as it moves through the body and transmutes into a spiritually awakening energy. This takes you beyond enjoyment into ecstasy and on to a gateway into union in the Tao.
The way of love is simple. As we let go of resistance to its flow through our lives we reclaim our innate ability to respond to its quickening and grow in its awesome presence. The complexity of our habitual responses to feeling a lack of love can be cut through by a simple commitment to opening to the way of love. The age old separation of love and sex is
bridged, and when the sexually charged yin and yang energies of sex dance in the unitary nature of love, we are flowing with the Tao at the heart of creation itself.
Here are some examples of people who have worked with us on their relationships
One man, Bill, constantly reached out to his partner, Jenny, wanting her to open to him in strongly passionate love and sex. The more he reached out however the more she retreated, feeling this as demands. He would become angry and she retreated more. Both blamed each other. Change came when Bill started to meet his own passion, to give himself the love he craved, and to recirculate his own sexual energy. Looking at his childhood he saw that his mother couldn't love him the way he wanted, she was overwhelmed with six children and a violent husband. As these early imprints released in the love and presence that he learnt to give himself, a melting happened. Blame, anger, bitterness and neediness dissolved, a tenderness took its place. He stopped reaching out to Jenny for love and sexual fulfilment..
Jenny's part was to find why and how she retreated. She started to recognise the sensitive protected places that were being threatened by Bill's reaching out. These places held old hurts and wounds. She was not consciously aware of them having learnt to numb them out with what seemed 'harmless comforts' of recreational drugs. Little by little by finding the honesty and courage to let go of the numbing out, the hurt places revealed themselves. By becoming present to her pain she was able become more and more present to the moment. A meeting in love became possible, it became safe to let down the barriers.
Sandy was unsure that her husband, John loved her. He was reserved, quiet, while she was passionate, quick tempered. Sandy wanted John to change, to be more demonstrative. The more she wanted this, the more self defensive he became, which was how he tried to preserve a sense of himself. He also tried hard to keep the peace, to get it right and not to upset her. In the trying he lost himself all the more. The less present he was, the more she blamed him, the more tense he became, stiff with fear, stuck, and unable to make love with her.
When he found his own centre, he found a sense of self he had never had. He stopped trying to make it alright for her, letting her get upset, feeling his fear of this - allowing this. She started to find the love and presence that she wanted so much, within herself. Through this she found that while she had been wanting love from him, she had closed off her heart to him - feeling 'why should I love him when he doesn't show he loves me.' She started to consciously open her heart to him. As he started to feel this love he opened more and the endless tangles of blame started to dissolve. Both experienced a deep personal growth as they found the way to love, through finding themselves.
Shauna had suffered from sexual abuse as a child and was frightened of men. She wanted her partner Ben to be like a boy as that was safer. He had been happy to stay like that , a beautiful, young 'peter pan' who was looked after. But after a while the relationship was threatened. He became depressed, unable to function well in the world.
Ben's sense of manhood had been affected when his father's business had collapsed when he was a child and his mother had become the main earner. His father had felt a failure. Working with recirculation of sexual energy he became conscious of weakened, empty places inside, where he was holding himself as a boy. He became able to bring loving energy to these places. He stopped giving power to Shauna, both in terms of wanting to please her and not threaten her, and in wanting her to look after him. His masculine energy and his sense of power started to grow.
As Shauna discovered her central core, she found the pureness of her being, a deep rich experience of her soul essence. This gave her the strength to face her fear of sexual energy - her own and men's sexual energy. As she started to free her sexual energy flow, her feminine sexual power started to return, as if from a place outside of herself - from where it had become locked out as a child through fear. As she started to live from her core essence, she became able to become a woman and allow Ben to grow up and become a man.
© Andy & Ella Portman 2000 - 2006
CD available including the meditation in this article