Jim Jamion: What are some of the key principles and practices from
indigenous cultures which relate to our sexual healing?
Both the tantric and the shamanic paths emphasize honoring both feminine
and masculine, both shakti and shiva, and cultivating their union. This
discovery and balancing of active/male/yang energies and receptive/female/yin
energies both internally and externally is just what is needed to end
the "war between the sexes" which eats at the roots of our patriarchal
Both paths also emphasize opening the heart or cultivating a state
of unconditional love, so that our attitude toward self and toward others
is one of acceptance and compassion rather than judgment, hate, and
blame. So that our stance toward life is a "Yes!" rather than a "No!"
Sexualove or eros is seen as Holy, as the force which draws us together,
which stimulates our urge to merge with the Beloved. Both the human
beloved and the Divine Beloved.
Tantrikas and shamans understand that while the body is beautiful and
sacred, we are more than just our bodies. We are beings of light, we
have an energy body as well as a physical body. So there are practices
which heighten our awareness of the energy body and which open the energetic
pathways within the body.
Jim Jamion: How does this healing relate to our developing healthy
Well, there is a circular relationship. You must heal yourself, feel
complete in yourself, and love yourself in order to share love with
another. You must know yourself, become intimate with yourself, before
you can be intimate with another. Most of all, you must integrate your
masculine and feminine inner selves and discover that the Source of
love is within you or you will always be chasing after a romantic partner
and feeling needy and dependent once you find one.
Jim Jamion: What blocks us from developing healthy intimate relationships?
In a word, fear! Fear and misunderstanding. The wound between men and
women runs deep in our collective consciousness and often seems rooted
in the very cells of our bodies. Men and women often find themselves
polarized into opposing positions especially when it comes to sex, emotional
expression, communication, and matters of the heart. The core of these
differences is sometimes expressed as "men want hot sex and women want
romantic love," when the truth is that both men and women long for satisfying
sex and sustainable love. In the past, there has been a tendency for
men and women to regard each other as the enemy, and so, if they are
heterosexual, to discover that "sleeping with the enemy" leads to conflicts
and power struggles. Sexual healing in this context means finding ways
to redirect the energy which is wasted in struggles over who is right
and who is wrong, who is dominator and who is victim, who is to blame
and who is wrongly accused, and instead support each other in solving
the critical problems which face us all as we enter the 21st Century.
For many generations, men and women have been socialized differently
and shamed or punished for exhibiting traits deemed inappropriate for
their gender. I believe that by socializing women to repress their sexual
desires and socializing men to repress their emotions, we have created
a situation in which people often find it difficult to meet their needs
for nurturing and erotic satisfaction. When men and women are freed
from culturally imposed stereotypes and reconnect the heart and the
genitals, harmony is restored and abundance is available to all.
Jim Jamion: Deborah, you suggest that "Jealousy Is Our Teacher." Please
tell us what you mean.
In my book, Polyamory: The New Love Without Limits (IntiNet, 1997)
I discuss two basic approaches to dealing with jealousy. One seeks to
avoid jealousy, to control your partner or to manage your life in such
a way that as much as possible you avoid situations which trigger your
jealousy. The other welcomes jealousy as a teacher, as an indicator
that you're being shown an area where you need to do some inner work.
The first approach may be appropriate at times but is basically fear-driven.
The assumption is that you are incapable of tolerating and rising above
this primitive emotion. The second approach recognizes that whenever
you run from the shadow - and jealousy can be seen as the shadow side
of love - you lose an opportunity to grow and evolve into a more spiritual
being. Enlightenment means to shine light into the darkness. So for
example, if you find yourself getting jealous, you can take a closer
look at what's going on internally instead of blaming your partner or
trying to change an external circumstance. You might discover that you
have a fear of abandonment that needs to be healed, or that there is
a lack of trust between you and your partner. These core issues are
what really need to be addressed.
Jim Jamion: What one thing can a person do to create more personal
Begin to really tune in to your own sexual energy, your own sexual
rhythms, and the ways in which you may be blocking your awareness of
the natural flow within you. Give yourself permission to be the beautiful
sexual being that you are and know that you deserve sexualove. Allow
nurturing sexuality into your life in whatever form it presents itself.
Let go of the past, let go of the victim identity and be willing to
hang out in the unknown. In our workshops we offer people tools for
shedding old conditioned patterns and focusing on the present moment.
We offer an experience of another way of life, an experience of the
paradigm shift. Once you know it's possible you can then find the courage
to transform yourself and your way of relating.
Jim Jamion: How do we build our sexual energy, and use this energy
to promote healing and intimacy?
Sexual energy builds naturally when we learn to contain it - not repressing
it, but learning to circulate it throughout the body and then directing
it internally or exchanging energy with a partner. The ancient taoists
understood that health results from raising and balancing the energy
or life force within the body. Energy loss or blockage results in disease,
aging, and ultimately death. Generating higher levels of sexual energy
provides a means of clearing blocked pathways and directing more energy
where ever it is needed for healing. In other words, sexual energy,
life force, and healing energy all come from the same source and can
be transmuted into one another. The taoists determined that while sexual
arousal can increase energy, excessive ejaculation depletes energy in
men as does excessive menstrual flow in women. Sexual healing thus encompasses
teaching men how to orgasm without ejaculating, thus allowing them to
prolong intercourse, be less goal-oriented and self absorbed, and fully
satisfy a woman. Leisurely, unhurried lovemaking not only energizes
the body, but also contributes to happier, loving interactions between
Jim Jamion: I've experienced the feelings of well-being from the endorphins
released during sexual pleasure. I've have also experienced the emotional
bonding which develops between a couple in a sexual relationship. I've
read that this bonding is triggered by a substance called oxytocin,
which is released during sexual play. What can you tell us about the
healing power of sexual pleasure?
The endorphin release and the oxytocin release are different mechanisms.
Both can be triggered by sex as well as other activities. Endorphins
are said to be responsible for the ecstatic feelings of romantic love,
or limerance as it's sometimes called, which occur in the early stages
of "falling in love." They are also implicated in the "runner's high"
that joggers experience. Endorphins are stress reducers, they contribute
to the activation of the whole endocrine system, they create a sense
of well-being. The problem here, at least for long term monogamous couples
is that the effect wears off after a few years with the same partner,
so those who are addicted to the endorphin rush may find themselves
seeking a new lover.
Oxytocin is best known as the hormone released in nursing mothers through
stimulation of the nipple during the baby's suckling. It's long been
thought to be responsible for mother/infant bonding and also causes
contractions of the uterus. More recently it's been said that oxytocin
mediated bonding can replace the initial endorphin high in long term
relationships. Personally I think the neuroendocrinology of sex and
love is far more complex than we realize, and it can be misleading to
attribute all our behaviors to biochemistry.
In more general terms I think it's safe to say that leading edge health
care practitioners and researchers are just beginning to discover what
taoist masters, tantric adepts, and shamanic healers have known for
centuries: Sex is not only pleasurable, it is good for you! Sexual arousal
activates the endocrine system which in turn contributes to cardiovascular
health, enhances the immune system, elevates mood, and slows the aging
process. Good sex can also improve your appearance, reduce stress, relieve
pain, burn calories, and regulate the menstrual cycle. The basic concept
involved in this aspect of sexual healing is that sickness and health
are not the responsibility of medical experts, but rather come from
within. By tapping into the innate wisdom and healing ability of the
body via the breath and our sexual response, we create our own well
Deborah Anapol, Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology is author of Polyamory:
The New Love Without Limits and Compersion: Using Jealousy
as a Path to Unconditional Love. She offers workshops on relationships
and sacred sexuality nationally, as well as working with individuals
and families who are making the shift to a new paradigm for relating.
For info on her upcoming Portland Workshop September 10-12, 1999,
contact her at POB 4322-CX, San Rafael, CA 94913, 888/770-0046 (tollfree),
firstname.lastname@example.org, or check her website