Life needs you to love, to come home to your true loving self. It needs you to be open to all that you don’t know, it needs you to listen with the intent to deeply connect, it needs you to want to feel everything, it needs you to recognize at every moment this might be your last chance to get it right. Here are the ever-evolving tips that I work to live by every day in the quest to build a life made of love. Each seems deceptively simple at first glance, but they are each present advanced practices of both what love requires of us and how, if we are blessed, we are re-created in its form. Love is in you, all around you, inescapably holding you if we could just learn its ways.
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“Just about every study I have done relying on Google searches made me feel worse about the world… But after studying the new data on sex, I actually feel better. This data makes me feel less lonely… Men and women are united in this (sexual) insecurity and confusion…Google also gives us legitimate reasons to worry less than we do. Many of our deepest fears about how our sexual partners perceive us are unjustified.” -Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Sex has long been associated with self-recrimination or worse. There might not be another aspect of our humanity that brings up more confusion, loneliness or self-condemnation than trying to make peace with our sexual nature. Well now, through the analysis of huge swaths of Google data, it is confirmed that we are united not only in our anxiety and insecurity about our sexuality, but also and maybe more importantly in our collective desire to seek out and enjoy our sexuality.
Recently, it has dawned on me that I have spent many years of my life keeping myself apart from other people in ways that I didn’t even recognize. Whether it is in my unseen judgments of other people’s choices and behaviors, or the ways that I am unavailable to listen to others, or the insidious ways that I consider myself above others, I have effectively built a fortress of habits that keep me at arm’s length from the things I want most in life and isolated from what I most deeply long for- belonging in my family, in my work, and in my community. Even with recognition, habits of separation are both subtle and persistent. They creep into my thinking insidiously and separate me not only from the people around me, but often from the moment itself.
I learned something important the other day as I was on my way home from a week away making sales visits across the frozen plains of the East Coast. It had been a challenging trip of flying and driving, driving and flying, staying in hotels and eating alone. I was sad and lonely. I was questioning the very premise of what I do. I was so in need of a friend. And while I am now committed and mostly capable of befriending myself, I realized how vulnerable it makes me to be without community. A brief meeting with a pilot, waiting for a plane reminded me about Charles Eisenstein’s video on Sacred Economics when I got it… Community can only be born out of feeling our need for each other. This is the root of many of our deepest problems – that we have largely un-learned this most basic truth about our survival- that we do in fact need each other.
Maybe the smartest book I have ever read about how sexual attraction happens and why it is such a powerfully transformative healing response came from Stanley Siegel’s book Your Brain on Sex. In fact, I would call reading that book and the subsequent radio interviews I had with Dr. Siegel watershed moments in my own sexual understanding and the beginning of a whole new level of pleasure. The basic premise of his work is that our brain is continually working subconsciously to heal us, which explains what happens in our dream time as well as our fantasy time. Our dreaming brain uses our unresolved emotional issues and internal conflicts and reconfigures them as we sleep to bring us peace… Or, in the case of our erotic fantasies, to make pleasure out of pain.
Knowing why we act and what we are creating is everything. The clarity with which we begin any endeavor is not only the initial map we have to steer by, but even more deeply, aligns the mysterious and subconscious to achieve our intentions. A dear friend told me not long ago that “intention is everything” and to act without it is our current form of insanity. Rather than resolutions, which are usually a reaction to what we don’t want, think of guiding this New Year with true intention. To get you started, I offer up a few parameters, which may come in handy to measure your state of being.
How we think is not only the foundation of who we become each day, but creates the meaning we take away from our life. Here are three thoughts, which if taken to heart, will gift the quality of your holiday time, offering you the internal space to be truly present, the warmth that comes from being witnessed and the power of your fullest attention.
Suddenly, all of my ancestors are behind me. “Be still,” they say. “Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands…” -Unknown
“Sex is full of lies. The body tries to tell the truth. But, it’s usually too battered with rules to be heard, and bound with pretenses so it can hardly move. We cripple ourselves with lies.” -Jim Morrison
I love sex. There is little else in life that eclipses the culmination of release, joy and satisfaction that I experience every time I make love.
There, I said it.
I have been censoring my voice for too long now. It started a couple of years ago in a rough patch in my business when I took money from the wrong people with a bad lawyer. For years, I have been afraid to tell my own truth about what I do every day for fear of saying something I shouldn’t, for fear of reprisal. But what I have learned in this censoring of my voice is that the more I question my right to speak, the more I doubt whether I can express what I know and feel, the more that my voice recedes from me. I have said this before, pertaining to love, this mistaken idea that we can selectively close off one part of ourselves, or selectively reject some part of someone else, is simply a lie. As soon as we shut down, the closing spreads, often without our recognition. The truth is that to live fully and authentically, requires the courage of being all in. Whether in love relationships, sexual discovery or writing, the one foot out the door syndrome, where we hold back and won’t fully commit to the experience, is a killer.
“Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow - that’s vulnerability.” -Brene Brown
At the end of almost all relationships there are two roles, the one who is leaving and the one who is left. Optimally, yet I think more rarely, both people in a relationship are ready to move on and the leaving is mutual. I have noticed in my own life that for me, endings are almost always about being left. I don’t think I am unusual in finding myself habitually in the same role pattern. People who leave others tend to be the ones who leave. People who are left tend to be the ones who hang on. Each role is steeped in both our conscious values and unconscious adaptive emotional patterns.