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Thursday, December 13, 2012

December 2012 at last



Here we are at last, December 2012. I remember when I first heard about the Mayan calendar in 1999 and how it “ended” this month, I wondered what the world would be like in 12 years. Now here it is and I truly wish I could say that it’s better than it was then but all anyone has to do is look around and you can see that it really isn’t. I know that sounds pessimistic and kinda gloomy but as a species and a planet, we’ve been better. But truly that’s okay. We are where we are and right where we need to be. We are nearing the end of a large energetic cycle and I still believe that we’re lucky to be alive at this time. I can’t help but feel that this is a pivotal point for mankind and each of us plays a small part in the change that is occurring.

So many pieces of information have come into my consciousness since I first wrote about 2012. It seems that every little thing that I learn fits nicely into the explanation of what’s going on in the larger picture. The wonderful thing is that in these past 12 years thanks to my energy work, the training I’ve been receiving, the alignment I’ve been working on to my Higher Self and writing this blog, I’m able to see it all from a deeper and far less fearful place. On the one hand, I’m honestly scared to death but on the other I’m completely at peace with whatever happens and excited to see it. I know I have no control over it so all I can do is attend to my attitude about it.

I honestly have no idea what might become of us as we move through the end of the year. December 21st may come and go and we may not even notice anything change. We may wake up on the 22nd and laugh at all the doomsday fears and write them off but something is shifting. A deeper level of consciousness is awakening on our planet and that isn’t something that we will see immediately in the physical realm. When you look across the planet at all of our problems, you see many of us working to come together rather than allowing things to break down into further chaos. This spirit of cooperation will grow and we will learn to work together as one group rather than fighting because of our differences.

If we make it to December 22nd we may see no change in the physical world but I have no doubt that our consciousness as a species will continue to grow and evolve. In that growth we will see that cooperation (peace) rather than competition (war) is what moves us forward. We are capable of so much as a species. Imagine what we can create if we all choose to work together for common goals rather than fighting over who has what. When we learn to value and celebrate our differences, our growth as a species will accelerate. Imagine what it would be like if all the cells in your body starting fighting for control as compared to the incredible things they accomplish when they work together to create these amazing bodies we inhabit. That’s the difference between cooperation and competition so imagine that power magnified if all humans worked together like the cells in our bodies.


BE PREPARED JUST IN CASE

This will be my final post for this year as I want to focus on the things I need to do personally during the holiday season. I encourage you to get an emergency survival kit in place even if it’s just for the harsh Winter ahead (remember global climate change is in full effect). Extra food, water and supplies are essential. Imagine what you would do if we lost power in this country for an extended period and plan from that mindset. It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. Hold on to some cash rather than putting it all in the bank. If we lose electricity, you won’t be able to access your money in our electronic world. Think long term, prepare as best you can and keep a positive attitude. Everything that is supposed to happen will happen. We can’t control the world, our planet, our destiny, the environment or anything outside of ourselves only our response to it. Stay alert, awake and aware and grounded in the present moment so that you can respond rather than react.

In my heart of hearts, I know that we’re all lucky to be alive right now. It’s a glorious and powerful time. We are witnessing the birth of a powerful new consciousness on this planet and it will change the course of our history. Each one of us that is alive chose to be alive now to be a part of this. Do your part. Show up and manifest all that you came here to do. Don’t hold back. Shine your light and radiate your brilliance out into the world to help us co-create a future beyond our wildest dreams.

May you be blessed, supported and loved by the Divine and by those in your life. May you always be guided to your highest and greatest good.  Thank you for reading the things I’ve had to say over the years. I really appreciate your support and the encouragement that you’ve sent me along the way. I hope to see you on the other side of the Galactic Alignment which occurs on December 21st, 2012.

No matter what does or does not happen, may you always be filled with and surrounded by love.

My best to you always,
Michael

Monday, November 19, 2012

Making an IMPACT



I’ve been doing energy work and erotic body work for almost 7 years now and it has been some of the most powerful work that I’ve ever done. The work has changed me in some wonderful ways and helped me to grow in ways that I never expected. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to help guys learn about themselves, how they express and explore their erotic energy and work through old issues which have held them back in various ways. The main part of that work has been to help them be conscious about their desires, their actions and how they get their erotic needs met. As I help them learn to be more conscious about their needs it has required me to become far more conscious of my own.


IT STARTS EARLY

In the early years of our childhood due to our lack of understanding of how the world works and parenting techniques that perhaps could have been better, we can easily see the world as a threatening and scary place. Since we are often preverbal or very young, we aren’t physically able to protect ourselves so we begin forming our energetic defense patterns. While each of the patterns has its own particulars as to how they help us manage energy coming at us, the common theme among them is that we shift our energy away from our conscious mind because that is where the problem appears. We begin to perceive that too much is happening or coming at us and we begin taking action to throttle that down to a manageable level. When we shift away from being conscious and in our bodies we become less conscious, we tune out and even disconnect from our bodies. That’s where the problems start for us.

As long as we operate in the dark, unconscious and disconnected, we can never manifest the full power of who we are and what we came into this world to do. We can live “normal” looking and often very productive lives but life will be very challenging for us in ways that are directly related to the defense pattern that we choose. When we are not fully in our bodies and consciously engaged, we keep our true power hidden from the world and for the most part inaccessible to ourselves. This, by its very nature, limits us. Finding ways to become more conscious, to be more fully embodied and to therefore have full access to our energy field is our challenge as humans.


OUR BRAINS CONSTRUCT OUR REALITY

The challenge to be more conscious is what has led me to expand my bodywork practice from only soft and sensual erotic touch to more intense sensory experiences. Sensations are to be experienced and cannot be thought. They are felt in the body by the body. The moment the sensation producing device contacts the body, the brain takes the stimulus sent to it from the nerve endings at the contact point and runs it though our filters of life experience. If it is similar to experiences we have had which are considered pleasurable, we get one response to the sensation, but if it is considered unpleasant then we get a different response. It is not about the sensation itself because that is just an experience, neither good nor bad, but rather it is about the judgment of the experience that our brain puts on it that determines our response to the stimulus. A sensation that might feel ticklish or pleasant to one person might feel intense or painful to the next with the difference being based upon the summation of life experience for that particular person.

The key thing to keep in mind here is that it is the brain that is determining the body’s response to the stimulus and not the stimulus itself. In essence it is our judgment upon the stimulus that determines how we perceive and respond to it. These judgments are derived from past experiences and our judgments upon them as good, neutral or bad. All of that happens at a very unconscious level and so all that we are aware of is that something happened and our body responded. It is how the brain keeps the body safe and functioning without the conscious mind having to take control and figure out what happened and what needs to be done. When we get hit, we get an immediate unconscious reaction without really thinking about what the response should be.

Our bodies are amazing sensory devices which are in essence created by the mind through the brain to allow the mind to experience the world in which we exist. Through the senses we take in all of the environmental data that is available to us. In every moment we are receiving data through sight, sound, smell, touch, taste and the more unconscious psychic data about the energy surrounding us. Our brains receive 400 BILLION bits of information per second yet our conscious minds can only process around 2000 bits per second. This says that our conscious minds are choosing the information that they pay attention to and therefore constructing our own individual realities based upon those choices. We do not perceive reality as it truly exists but rather as our minds choose to see how it exists based upon the pieces of input they select. A fully embodied understanding of that one piece of information can completely change the way we experience the world around us.


FIGHT, FLIGHT OR FREEZE

The brain is gathering data in every moment and the conscious mind is processing a small portion of it with the objective being to keep the brain safe and the body functioning. If part of the stimulus that we receive is perceived as threatening to the safety of the body, then we move into our most primal response pattern for protection. This is the sympathetic nervous systems “fight or flight” response. The sympathetic system is not one that we can control with our conscious mind. When a threat is perceived the body responds with an adrenaline surge that helps us fight our way out of the situation or muster up the speed to flee from it. However if both of those options fail then we go into the “freeze” response to numb the pain of the assault.

In nature when one animal becomes the targeted prey for another their fight or flight instinct kicks in and the animal takes the appropriate action because its life is literally on the line. If the animal is able to escape from predator, when it is safe it will twitch, roll or jump about recklessly as a way to discharge all of the energy from the hormones that were released into its system to help it escape. If by chance the animal is unable to escape, it goes into freeze mode so that the sting of death is bearable since it is unavoidable at that point.


MODERN FIGHT OR FLIGHT

Through the evolution of our species and the modernization of the lives that we live, rarely do we ever literally have to fight for our lives but we do go into fight or flight mode quite frequently. For many of us our attackers are typically those that we know and love. When we experience being molested or even spanked, we may be too small to fight and unable to flee yet our brains perceive a definite threat to our well being and the response is triggered. As adults we may get into heated arguments with others to the point where we feel like we want to throttle the other person because of the strong emotional charge we have to the dialogue. Despite that we know that physical fighting is not an acceptable option and often backing down isn’t either and yet the response gets triggered unconsciously. In both of these situations, “freeze” is the only socially acceptable and therefore workable outcome.

In freeze mode we do not become immobile like a statue but our energy systems internal response is “shut down”. This causes our bodies to have to hold on to all of the hormones and endorphins it released for fighting or fleeing and store them in muscles and organs because there is no physical discharge of the energy. Essentially our energetic response to the attack gets frozen in the “on” state. For many people this will show up in later years as adrenal burnout because the adrenals continue to churn in an effort to get us out of a situation that no longer exists. That may not make logical sense to our conscious minds but the reptilian defense response from our bodies comes from the subconscious mind and the most primal part of our brain which is focused only on survival. It does what it does to keep the body-mind safe.


TALK IT OUT

In psychotherapy, a common technique for dealing with these types of frozen emotional states is to re-engage the emotion and attempt to take it into the physical discharge phase by kicking and screaming, pounding a pillow, hitting a punching bag or any type of activity that allows our systems to burn through the adrenaline stored in our bodies from previous “freeze” responses. This technique is really only successful when we are able to fully tap into the fight or flight response with the body to engage the response system and stay with it through full discharge.

In talk-based therapy this can be especially challenging because we are rarely able to fully recreate the feeling of the fear necessary to engage the autonomic response mechanism without a deep level of surrender. Pretending to be afraid, especially when our mind knows that it is just pretend, is rarely enough because the reptilian part of our brain never truly perceives the threat as an actual threat. Consciously trying to recall the experience (or experiences) which triggered the original survival response can be a long drawn-out exercise because it relies so heavily on conscious memory. That memory is often blocked out because the emotional charge was too strong for us to handle at the time and so our brains response was to erase that memory or block it. This leaves us without the mechanisms needed to disengage a body which is in full-on defense mode. This is often the underlying cause for those experiencing chronic fatigue syndrome because their adrenal glands are fried and their bodies are unable to reach discharge. Energy drinks will never be able to fix that and actually exacerbate the situation by causing the adrenals to pump even harder.


WORK IT OUT

To really address the underlying energetic response we need to allow the body to gear up, reactive the “fight or flight” response, re-engage the stored energies and fully discharge them. The best way I’ve found to do this is through intense physical actions where fear is consciously engaged. This is where impact work like flogging, spanking and whipping can be invaluable. For most people, when they hear these terms they associate them with kinky sex play, discount them by saying “I’m not into pain” and miss out on the opportunity for healing through these activities.  As someone who did that very thing for most of my adult life, I am very aware of that process. I fully understand how someone on the outside can look at these activities and not see how the experience could be healing in any way. Most of what the general public sees when they think of these BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism, Masochism) activities is one person doing mean or kinky things to another in an effort to have power over them and often as a precursor to sex. That is certainly the most common focus for most BDSM play but it is not the only purpose.

I used to see it that way as well until one of my clients from my erotic practice asked me if I would flog him. As an erotic provider who was focused only upon trying to create layer upon layer of pleasure to help soothe, relax and heal the body. Hitting my clients with something was definitely NOT part of the experience I was offering. Yet because I knew that something within him wanted to explore this activity with someone he trusted, I saw that there was a pathway to healing there and I needed to engage this with him. I told him that I would see what I could do and get back to him on it. From there I began reading books, purchased a flogger, found a mentor for using it and got the training I needed to safely flog him.  Little did I know at the time where this request would be taking me but it has literally changed my life and for many of those I’ve worked with it has also changed theirs.


WHAT IS A FLOGGER?

I know that BDSM tools and play is an area that most people are unfamiliar with. The book that has been burning up the charts lately, “Fifty Shades of Gray”, however is bringing some of it into the mainstream. A flogger is typically a solid handle with strips (called “falls”) of various materials hanging from the end of it. The falls are made typically from rubber, leather, elk or other animal skins. They are cut into various thicknesses and widths to produce very different sensations. In the picture, the second one from the left is the original one that I bought and is made from elk. The one on the far left is made from foxtails. I mention it to show that not all floggers are like what we see in old Biblical movies. They aren’t filled with metal chards or things designed to cause intense pain and injury. Some may be but they are by far the minority. These types of floggers are used to create impact and sensations not break the skin or cause damage.


KNOWLEDGE IS THE BEST TEACHER

I believe that in order for me to be competent at and fully understand an experience, I need to have firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to receive the experience for myself. To that end I went to several experienced flogging tops and had them flog me to the point of surrender. I was able to watch my body and mind go from a state of nervous anticipation to one of dread, fear and anxiety as the experience began. Putting myself into a situation where I was restrained and out of physical control and then allowing another person to strike my body with leather straps to the point of pain triggered a lot of things within me.

As things became more and more intense, I could feel the adrenaline begin to course through me and I could feel my body waking up and experiencing a new set of sensations. I could feel my resolve toughen up so that I could allow myself to take more. My mind began to flash back on all the times as a child when I had been spanked with a belt or “hickory switch” (aka a thin tree branch). I could feel the anger rising in my body and those experiences becoming sharper in my mind. Soon I was overwhelmed by emotions and flooded by painful childhood memories. I was yelling, cursing, kicking, screaming and challenging the man flogging me to give me more and at times even taunting him. It felt so good to be in a safe space where I could let all the anger, fear, rage, sadness and even joy out. Yes, joy because I was FEELING and I wasn’t afraid to do it. I was pushing myself past my fear of pain and experiencing surges of pleasure and at times waves of euphoria. It was not at all what I had expected which was that I would be a wimp, take a few strikes and call it all off because it hurt. On many levels it was one of the most liberating experiences that I had ever had and it blew me away. I knew this was exactly the type thing that I wanted to be able to help other men experience as well because of the deep healing which was occurring in my body and mind. At the end I was exhausted, invigorated, ecstatic, emotionally drained and empowered in a way that I could not have imagined.

My client’s simple request for me to flog him had taken me on a journey and opened a space of healing deep within me that I might never have experienced if I weren’t doing this type of erotic work for others. I believe that if I were not doing this type of work that I would never have sought that experience on my own and certainly never have experienced the healing that was possible from it. Little did either of us know in that moment where his request would lead. I will forever be grateful to him for asking because by me opening to the request, I’ve ultimately been able to recreate that experience for countless men and allowed them to heal their own wounds through it. This is just another example for me of where someone spoke their desires and deep healing emerged from it in the fullness of time.


HOW IT WORKS

By consciously placing yourself in a situation where you can’t escape, through the use of various restraints, you are putting yourself in a space of surrender. For men in particular that is an uncomfortable place because it means surrendering our power to protect and that runs counter to our socializing. We are taught to be tough, in charge and in control so that we can protect and defend ourselves and those we love. For many men, just allowing themselves to be restrained by another person is a challenge all by itself. By doing it consciously they are given the opportunity to experience what happens within their body and mind because they know that they hold the power to stop it all simply by saying “STOP”.

One of the key components to using this work to heal old trauma is knowing how the brain works. Researchers have found that the subconscious part of our brain doesn’t know the difference between what is happening in the present moment and what is being thought by the conscious mind. This means that if I were to sit and focus on some painful or traumatic experience from my past, my unconscious would be led to believe that it is happening in the present moment and it would begin triggering a defense response within my body as a way to keep the brain and body safe. This is why constantly dwelling on your past negative or undesirable experiences will cause your body to respond because the brain believes it is happening and so you stay unhappy because your focus is on your negative experience. Where your awareness goes, your energy flows.

In the case of the work I do, being restrained is a key element because that act alone brings up so much fear. The next part is being blindfolded because that takes away one of our senses and for most of us, especially men, it is the primary sense we use to feel safe. When you take away one sense, the others heighten. The sense of touch becomes more sensitive. That is where the impact work comes in. With our ability to fight or flee taken away (by the restraints and blindfold) our fear level can rise more quickly and trigger the fight or flight response more easily. When it is re-activated the body releases all the endorphins, adrenaline and hormones that it stored during any previous freeze response and the brain creates more as needed.  After this happens you can be guided through the physical discharge phase which essentially emulates the fighting or fleeing energetic discharge. Tapping into the pain, the anger, the fear, the rage or whatever emotion comes up and being free to fully express it can be incredibly cathartic.


LET GO OF THE PAIN AND THE PAST

Needless to say, it’s very powerful and edgy work and is a joy for me to be a part of. When I started my erotic practice, this was certainly not anything that I thought I would ever be doing, yet here I am. I am amazed at the powerful transformations I’ve witnessed from guys. When we’re done, they are relaxed and energized at the same time. It’s a bit hard to fully describe because the two terms don’t usually get connected but that’s how it feels to me and is the term I hear the most from my clients. When our muscles let go of the unconscious tension that we hold in them (old fight or flight charge ups) then our energy is freed up because it takes energy to hold tension in muscles. The more of our energy we free up from the muscles, the more energy we have for other activities and the easier our bodies can flow.

The really beautiful thing about this work is that because it doesn’t rely on direct sexual stimulation for the process to work, that allows me to open this part of my practice up to females. I’ve had many requests from women in the past to work with them but I’ve never felt comfortable engaging women sexually so I’ve resisted. I’m sure that shift alone in my practice will bring even more healing for me and help move me to the next level to heal.


FEAR BLOCKS US

I hope this has given you some food for thought. The biggest obstacle to living our most authentic lives and having full access to our power is fear. We are conditioned to be afraid of everything. Fear is one of the most powerful motivators that the world has against us. When we fear anyone, we give our power away. When we are willing to face our fears, especially our fear of pain, those fears will always dissolve away. We move from a place of reacting to a place of responding. We are able to see life as it really is, without the fear of pain and the excuses we create to justify it. We can respond to it in the way we consciously choose rather than unconsciously reacting to it from a place of patterned behavior. We may come up with all sorts of reasons and rations for our behavior but if your actions happened without you consciously choosing to do them, then it’s patterned behavior. Conscious action requires thought and will never be explained by “I don’t know why I did that”.


Having fear certainly won’t prevent things from happening to us but being alert, awake and aware will help us get through it. We can’t control the world but we can control our response to it. Are you making your choices consciously and living the life you choose or does your fear get in the way?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The delicate balance of life


The Universe is constantly seeking balance. This is true at every level from the largest stars all the way down to the atoms that make up everything in the known Universe. This truth is what inspired Newton’s third law of motion that states for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Between the action and the reaction there is a moment of dynamic equilibrium where neither force is acting upon the other. It is in that space that the energy transfers or shifts and the action becomes the reaction. That is the space of balance.

Since we are a part of the Universe, what is true for the Universe is true for us. This search for balance is probably easiest to understand when you look at the level of our human existence. Take for example the rotation of our planet. At noon we are at the part of the planet that is closest to the sun. At midnight we are at the part that is the farthest from the sun. That balance is achieved by the steady rotation of our planet which is the result of the magnetic attraction and repulsion of energy around the core of our planet. We need equal attraction and repulsion to achieve the steady balanced energy of rotation.


FEEL IT FOR YOURSELF

If we scale that view up a step larger you can see how balance is achieved by our planet as it rotates around the sun. The delicate dance between the Sun and the Earth happens because our tiny planet is pulled then pushed up one side of the Sun’s gravitation field and then back down the other. Here is a fun and easy exercise to help you feel the energy of that balance. Put a small weighted round object (like an orange or ball) into a tube sock and hold the open end of the sock in your hand. Swing the ball around in a vertical circle and put your awareness on your hand. With focus you can feel the two points in your swing where the energy has to begin going up one side and also down the other to achieve the rotation. You can feel those shift points at the top and bottom of the rotation. Those two points balance each other out and result in rotation of the ball around your hand like the Earth revolves around the Sun. It is physics in action.

As a point of reference, on December 21, 2012 the Sun and the Earth will reach one of those points. Imagine the galactic center in the middle of the Milky Way is your hand and the Sun is the ball in the sock. Simultaneously to that event, our planet will reach that shift point in relation to our Sun on the exact same date. Here imagine that the Sun is your hand the Earth is the ball. The energetic shift you can feel with the sock and ball is the same shift our Earth and Sun will be experiencing simultaneously.


BALANCE IN MOTION

To take this examination to a smaller, more humanistic scale, think about our movement as we walk. For us to achieve locomotion, the movements of the left side of our body must be balanced by the movements of our right side. As one arm swings forward, the other swings back. As one leg moves forward, the other moves back. Even balancing that out top to bottom, you notice that the opposite arm and leg move together so that we can achieve a smooth and easy movement. Try not swinging one arm as you walk for a while, then try not swinging both arms and watch how unbalanced your movement becomes.

When you begin to examine any activity or action with consciousness, you’ll begin to see where balance is being sought at every level. For a moment think about what it is like to walk on something that requires us to have balance to do it, such as walking along a ledge or across a beam or log. When we are balanced there is an ease and harmony to our movement. When we are out of balance, our arms flail and we wobble trying to regain balance lest we fall. Balance is the desired state because it takes less effort and therefore less energy for us to get from one end to the other with ease.

It can be seen from the example above that the “out of balance” condition results in wasted energy, struggle and dis-ease of movement. Understanding that will allow you to begin to notice the places in your life where you are out of balance. If you feel your energy is drained, life is a struggle or there is dis-ease in your body then you know that you are out of balance in some area of your life. This is Newton’s transitive property of physics in action. If A = B then B = A. Bringing yourself back into balance (vitality, peace, health) begins with an understanding of that principle.


ENERGY FOLLOWS AWARENESS

The key to changing anything in our lives begins with having the awareness that something needs to change. We will never consciously change anything that we are unaware of. So dis-ease (struggle, emotionality, exhaustion, etc) is the alert that something needs to change. The next step is owning the fact that “I created this condition” either consciously or unconsciously. When we allow our consciousness to remain in an unconscious state, we stay in victim mode wallowing in pity and blaming the world for our condition. As our souls evolve we learn that the same power we used to unconsciously create the out of balance condition is the exact same power that we can use to consciously create the desired condition. This understanding can never be completely comprehended and fully understood while in the un-evolved victim (blame mode) mentality.

What is true for the microcosm (the parts) is also true for the macrocosm (the whole). If we raise our awareness up from the individual to the species level, it is easy to see that we are terribly out of balance there. This can be seen everywhere across the planet. We have wars raging out of control, political fighting and infighting, drought, famine, global pandemics, wide-spread poverty, skyrocketing murder rates, unregulated theft, as well as social, economic, political and environmental systems collapsing or on the brink of collapse. These are all key indicators that we are severely out of balance as a species and therefore something must change. So there is our first step: awareness.

When the list above is viewed as a whole, it seems like it would take a monumental effort focused on any one of those to begin to implement even the tiniest change. But what if rather than focusing on any one problem, we held our awareness at the species level and examined things from that perspective with the simple understanding that we are out of balance. Imagine what awareness might arise from that state of neutral observation. Remember this level of awareness requires that we move beyond our individual situations of petty day to day worries and struggles. We have to begin thinking of ourselves as one cohesive collective consciousness (humans) and examine things from that perspective.


LIFE IS LITERALLY A DELICATE BALANCE

When viewed in the light of the collective, as an entity we are out of balance with the very thing which we depend upon for life, the environment. We exist in this environment because we have adapted and evolved out of it. The condition that the environment is in is what allows us to exist. Without our environment, we would not and cannot exist. Take away the air that we depend upon to breath, the water we drink, or the land we live upon, and it is game over for our species. Take away any one of those things and our existence would not be possible. However if you take humans out of the equation, life would continue just fine without us. We are not nearly as essential as we like to think. In truth we seem to be causing more harm than good.
We are a product of the environment; it is not something we created to make our lives easier. If the environment changes too much, just like other species from the past, we will go extinct because the systems to support us are no longer present. As powerful a species as we think we are, it’s important that we remember our place in the grand scheme.

Every species which has ever existed has done so by evolving out of the system which sustains it. When the environment changes, new species arise that thrive on some output from the system. They in turn generate output that other species thrive upon. That process repeats itself over and over and remains in a constant state of flux. Within our ecosystem, new species of life are constantly emerging while others go extinct. That is the natural flow of life.


LIFE GIVES ITSELF FOR LIFE

Nature has a mechanism for keeping its systems in balance that keeps the cycle of life flowing. When one species becomes too much of a consumer, eventually either its food source dries up or a larger predator species thrives to bring things back into balance. For example, once upon a time on this planet only single cell life-forms existed. There was no oxygen, no other life-forms and no protective ozone layer. Those single-cells thrived because they had no predators. They consumed the energy available and produced their output which was toxic to them. Eventually they had over populated the planet and consumed all of the energy available. Through the process of mutation some of the single cells began to work together to create more complex multi-cellular life-forms. These life-forms then began to thrive because they consumed the single cell life-forms and their output.  

This process continued for millions of years over and over again as life evolved into more and more complex species until eventually early humans appear on the scene along with dinosaurs. They were food for us but we were also food for them which helped to keep both species in check. Then several million years ago, a large asteroid hit our planet and dramatically altered the environment as a result of the impact. Scientists estimate that 95% of all species alive at the time were wiped out. The 5% which survived did so because they adapted to the new environment in some way and they went on to repopulate the planet until the next asteroid hit and started that cycle all over again.

It is important to remember that every living thing on this planet is a consumer, a producer and a food source for life. Each species ingests other smaller species, air or water and eventually becomes food for a larger species to keep “the cycle of life” going. That cycle must logically include death to keep it going. Imagine how crowded things would be on this planet if nothing ever died.


HUMAN SEPARATED FROM NATURE

Humans are a part of the cycle of life but unfortunately we have separated ourselves out from the very thing which created us. As our consciousness has evolved over the ages, we have constructed stories and myths to attempt to explain our history, existence and purpose. We see ourselves as separate from and superior to nature. We consume our planets resources in an unregulated fashion and we are beginning to rapidly overpopulate our planet due to the lack of larger predators in our environment. As long as we remain on land, our main predators come in the form of microscopic organisms and viruses. If you put us back in the ocean or deep into the forest, the equation shifts and it again becomes survival of the fittest.

In every area of our lives, we consume. The only place we give back, as an organism, is through the carbon monoxide that we exhale and the shit that we produce which ultimately nourishes micro-organisms at the bottom of the food chain. When we die, unfortunately we take these bodies and put them in steel boxes which get encased in metal chambers and buried in the ground so that nothing can get to them. These bodies eventually decompose. At that point because they are in a closed system, all of the nutrients which they can offer back into the food chain is buried in a hole along with the fears which put them there. It is the final slap in the face to the very system which gave us life and produced the body in the first place. Cremation and the scattering of the ashes back into the environment keeps the cycle flowing.


MOTIVATED BY FEAR

Our resources are beginning to show signs of collapse because we aren’t using our evolved consciousness to work with the system from which we emerged. Because of our fear of the unknown, death, and our self-created and self-serving myths about the nature of our existence, we are draining our resources. Through our technology and the use of machines, we keep others alive who would perish if left to their own devices. We force them to languish in a suspended state of animation because those of us who are still living believe we cannot bear to live without them. Our fear of letting go causes them to live out the rest of their lives in protracted state of pain or slow decay.

The truth is that we can and do survive because eventually we are forced to let them go when even the machines can’t keep them alive. Just think for a moment of the resources (energy, time, money, people) required to keep a single human perpetually alive on a machine from which they have no chance of living without. Millions languish in this suspended state of animation just in our country alone. (I’m not talking about machines used to help us heal from temporary situations. Here I’m referencing those which languish on life-support systems who have no chance of ever regaining consciousness or an independent existence.) We keep them here because of our fears and needs, not theirs. Death is a piece of life. It is the balancing component to birth and what keeps the cycle of life flowing.

Our fears also show up as over-population. Emerging from the need to have “more of us”, most religions teach that no birth control should be used. They cloak this fear under tons of religious dogma which essentially comes down to the belief that God is expecting us to multiply. They teach that if we do something to interfere with that process (contraception or abortion) then we are supposedly playing God. But isn’t “playing God” what we should be doing? Much in the way that children “play adult” as they grow up because they know they will eventually become adults, I believe that as humans we are growing into Gods. As our consciousness evolves, we must begin to recognize that we are in fact beginning to attain the powers and abilities that we have previously been attributing to the Gods (in any religion).  If we don’t learn to consciously use the powers that we are evolving into, we’ll be nothing more than the child who perpetually lives at home with their parents because they are never willing to step into their own power and create a life for themselves.


ENERGY FOLLOWS AWARENESS

This out of balance condition that we find ourselves in cannot continue much longer. When we look at all the things which are happening on a global scale (drought, severe weather, starvation, water shortages, war, poverty) it is clear that something has to give because we are in a crisis situation. That crisis however is also the driver for our change because “crisis precedes transformation”. The good news is however that the transformation is already beginning because of emerging needs. We are learning new ways to do things which aren’t as destructive to the environment (renewable fuels, low emission vehicles, conservation projects, wildlife protection programs, pollution reduction and on and on).

There is no simple solution for our problems. If there were, we would surely have figured it out by now. The first step in solving our problems however is recognizing that there is a problem (“awareness”). If we own the fact that we created it (consciously or unconsciously) then we can learn to use that same power (“energy”) to create a better way to solve the problem that works for us all. It should come as no surprise to anyone who is waking up and paying attention that 2012 has to be a year of transformation and change and our cycle of destruction must come to a head because we simply cannot continue in our present mode. Through cooperation and communication we can make a difference. When we seek balance in all of our individual actions, we’ll begin to see balance from our collective actions. It’s not going to be an easy journey but it is time for us to wake up the human consciousness from the collective unconscious and transform our way of life as we know it now. It all begins with awareness.


Where are the places in your life that you are out of balance? What prevents you from making a change there to come back into balance with life?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Love thyself


A very frequently quoted phrase from the Bible is “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” It often seems to be what motivates people to be more loving toward others. But what if we really took this phrase to heart and loved others the way we love ourselves. Wouldn’t we be giving them guilt, shame, judgment, self-loathing and very conditional love?

It’s often far easier for us to love others than it is for us to truly love ourselves because the one person that any of us truly knows everything about is ourselves. We know all of our past actions and we also know all of the judgments that we’ve held against ourselves because of it. We are taught from a very young age to judge ourselves and to accept being judged by other authority figures in our lives in an attempt to be a better person. Imagine for a moment if you actually loved everyone else the way you loved yourself. My guess is that for most of us, we’d run out of friends pretty quickly because they wouldn’t like the way we were “loving” them.


SELF-PLEASURING

Masturbation is one of the ways that we can truly love ourselves. That action however is typically fraught with guilt and shame due largely to the religious teachings which have been imposed upon us since childhood and held in place by our culture. Our most intimate time with ourselves should be a joyous expression of pleasure and inwardly directed love yet all too often that is not the case.

The Deer Tribe introduced me to a new term that they use instead of masturbation which is “self-pleasuring”. When I first heard someone use that term in the Shamanic Dearmoring process I thought they were using it describe something specific to the process and they didn’t want to confuse it with masturbation. Recently I learned that they use the term because they believe that “masturbation” is a mechanical process whereas “self-pleasuring” is the purpose of the activity. I’ve become quite fond of the term now that I see it framed that way.

As an erotic therapist working with men on various aspects of their sexuality, self-pleasuring is often a topic of much discussion in my initial consultation with new clients. When I ask them to tell me about their masturbatory habits or patterns, most men will tell me stories which typically fall into three main themes. One theme is “it is a rushed experience with ejaculation as the only objective”. They use it to relieve stress, clear their head or tranquilize them into sleep. The second theme is using it “only as a last resort” because they were unable to have sex with someone else. They live in a constant state of avoidance because they want to have sex so badly that they feel they have to be as ready as possible in a moment’s notice. Unfortunately they also aren’t having sex for various reasons and so they just stay in a constant state of anticipatory arousal with no relief in sight. These men are so aroused that when sex does happen it is usually over in a matter of minutes because their bodies are in such a state of desperate need.

The third theme is those who enjoy the experience without guilt or shame. These men always seem to be more connected to their bodies and their sexuality. They have a better understanding of what they enjoy and need in the form of touch to become aroused. They are typically more at peace with themselves and more relaxed because of the pleasure that they bring so joyously to their bodies. Generally speaking they are better lovers too because they understand the healing power of pleasure, even if only at an unconscious level. They are able to make love to themselves and are therefore more loving towards others. They are the ones who want to learn how to extend, increase and expand upon their techniques for bringing even more pleasure to their bodies.


DISCLAIMER

Since I am a male working only with males, the body of my professional experience and focus of my education is on male sexuality. As such, I’ll say that all that I’m about to share will be based upon the male perspective but assume that much of what holds true for men will also hold true for women. Each gender and each person of course brings their own set of baggage to the experience. So rather than me trying to constantly defend my statements as being “the male perspective”, I’ll just say here that everything will be from that perspective and women should read this with that in mind and not become offended by my statements if they aren’t true for women. I’m the first to admit that women are a mystery to me in general but particularly when it comes to their sexuality.


A RUSH JOB

For most of us, we discover masturbation at a very early age and around the time that we are told that it is taboo and not discussed openly by the adults in our lives. Masturbation then becomes something that we feel we have to do in private and as quietly as possible to avoid detection. The fear of getting caught therefore leads us to being as quick about it as possible. So from a very early age we add shame, fear and guilt to the process along with speed and then as adults wonder why we have sexual performance issues. Is it any wonder that performance enhancement drugs like Viagra are the most popular drugs on the market today for men?

When I ask the men I work with to tell me about how long they spend self-pleasuring, the majority say that they spend 5 minutes or less per experience. Often guys will say that they might masturbate 1 to 3 times a week. Given that, the typical male then spends about 15 minutes or less per week pleasuring themselves. Add the emotional baggage they hold around the experience and it’s easy to see why we have so much conflict in our male dominated world and we struggle to love ourselves or others.


“I’M SAVING IT”

The other theme I hear is that guys will avoid masturbation out of a desire to have sex instead or as a way to be ready in case their partner wants to have sex with them. For too many men it seems to be an either/or situation that they are setting up for themselves. The result is “either I masturbate or I have sex” and unfortunately for most of us that means we receive no stimulation at all. This seems to be especially true for the straight men that I work with. We modulate our sexual energy so that we will be able to “get it up” and “perform on command” for our partners.

As young men, when we reach sexual maturity, we are bombarded by the biological imperative to mate in an effort to ensure the preservation of our species. The hormones that our bodies generate cause an unending stream of desire for sex. As we grow older, that intensity of desire begins to wane and we learn to regulate our sexual activity to accommodate that shift. Unfortunately we connect desire with ability. As our constant desire for sex diminishes, we believe our ability to be sexual decreases along with it. This can be a debilitating misconception for men because we falsely associate our virility with ability to maintain an erection.


OUR BELIEFS SHAPE OUR EXPERIENCE

The truth is that our bodies are capable of far more than we give them credit for but the key to accessing that capability is our belief system. Whatever belief we hold in our minds about our sexuality or sexual ability, our bodies will adopt and behave accordingly. This became very clear to me during the Shamanic Dearmoring process. As a 47 year old man, I had convinced myself that one ejaculatory orgasm a day was about all that I could handle. In my sessions I would find creative ways to avoid too much stimulation so that I wouldn’t ejaculate because I feared that I wouldn’t have enough desire to be aroused enough to work the rest of the day. As I witnessed my experience and thoughts during the ceremony I realized that I was almost constantly holding my energy back out of the fear of not having enough. I was moving my erotic energy based upon a false mental construct that said “one orgasm a day is all I am capable of”. Once I recognized that it was a mental limitation and not a physical one, I was able to let go of the construct and just allow my body to do whatever it wanted without me trying to mentally control it. It was very freeing and liberating to trust my body’s innate wisdom without trying to short circuit the experience.

“Deep pleasure brings deep healing” is one of the principles from the style of Tantra that I study and the belief upon which my entire erotic practice is based. For many people, when they hear that they think that it’s just a platitude tossed out by Tantra practitioners to justify their erotic actions. As I’ve learned over the past 6 years in my professional practice, it’s not an excuse; it’s a very powerful truth. I’ve witnessed men break down into tears when they experience pleasure in ways they never have before and they realize how they have limited themselves erotically from past wounds.


WE ALL DESERVE LOVE

Self-pleasuring is self love. Learning to love and respect our bodies and being willing to bring pleasure to them can be very challenging for us. In a body conscious society, we see ourselves in a mirror and dislike what we see because it doesn’t look like the images we are presented with as the “ideal body”. Rather than try to heal the belief, we sink into that wound, deny our body some pleasure and eat more to try to numb the pain. The junk food that we eat to try to feel better causes us to put on more weight and so the stored fat holds our wounded belief firmly in place in our physical bodies.


THE MECHANICS OF FEELING GOOD

The healing power of an orgasm cannot be denied. When we experience orgasm our brains release many hormones including oxytocin and prolactin. These hormones relax our bodies, soothe our systems and clear our minds. Those things alone are very healing for the body but the emotional component of bringing pleasure to our bodies and allowing ourselves to feel good cannot be denied. Consider for a moment how you feel when you are sexually satisfied versus how you feel when you are under stress. In which state do you believe you would be most loving, compassionate, relaxed and caring?

The release of these hormones can help soothe our bodies but to really achieve the deepest levels of healing, we have to examine our emotional state during masturbation or even during sex. I could compulsively masturbate because I enjoy the rush of hormones and the physical relaxation but if I do it from a place of guilt or shame then I am not reaching the deeper levels of healing that the experience has to offer me. This is only possible when we consciously observe our emotional state which draws us to self-pleasure and the thoughts which emerge as we engage the process. As we become consciously aware of the beliefs that we hold about masturbation then we can begin to take action on healing any emotional wounds which surface. Without that deeper awareness of what is motivating our actions, we will continue to deny ourselves pleasure or behave in an unconscious mechanical manner as an avoidance mechanism rather than engaging a pleasurable process for loving and healing ourselves.


PRACTICE

William Reich, psychotherapist and sexologist, observed “The patient who cannot masturbate with satisfaction has not completed his analytic therapy.” In other words, Reich was saying that the ability to give oneself pleasure is a key indicator of self-acceptance.

The following practice can help you to heal sexual guilt and fear. Usually such fears arise in the moment when you are starting to pleasure yourself. That is when the admonishing voice within says, “Watch out!” At that point you have a choice either to go with your past conditioning and feel guilty or to take a deep breath and find the courage to explore the new dimension of self-pleasuring, healing the fear and guilt through a positive experience of consciously directed pleasure.

Plan for some time that you can be alone and uninterrupted. Be willing to turn your phone off (a ringing phone is very mentally distracting even if you don’t answer it), avoid email and shut the world out for about 30 minutes of alone time. The world will survive without you for a little while and will benefit by the healing work that you do on yourself. This doesn’t have to be an elaborate process but rather a dedication of time from you for you and about you. Choose a time when you won’t feel rushed but also when you aren’t too tired.

The things you will need for this are: something to write on, something to write with and some lube or lotion and a space to comfortably lie down. Using your bed for this is ideal because that is also the space where much of our wounding has shown up though sexual engagement with another or ourselves. Encourage yourself to see this experience as a healing ceremony. When we engage ceremony, we heighten our awareness because we are bringing our consciousness to the process rather than simply recreating unhealthy unconscious behavioral patterns. You may want to put on some soft music or light a candle or two to help set the mood. Do what works for you to help you feel sensual and warm. Warmth is important here as it is challenging to feel sexy and sensual when you are cold and uncomfortable.


ENGAGE THE EXPERIENCE

Begin this process by removing your clothes, lying down and allowing yourself to relax. Spend a minute or two taking some deep full breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling out the open mouth. If you find the mind buzzing with thoughts, take a moment to write down what you are thinking about. Make it a quick note to yourself about whatever it is so that you know you have it and so that you can let it go for now. Also make some brief notes about any thoughts or emotions which surface related to the self-pleasuring process you’re about to engage. At this point, try to limit yourself to just naming or identifying them rather than trying to explain, justify or process them. Also make a note regarding your mood going into the process.

In the following process, if you find yourself moving into a judgmental space with any part of your body, know that this is just old pain tapes playing and counter them by caressing that body part and repeating “I approve of myself” until the judgment gets drowned out. Try not to single out that part by naming it, but rather repeat the phrase so that you are approving of your entire being and not one part over another. This can be a powerful exercise all by itself.
Once you have these notes complete then spend some time touching your entire body. Touch all of it head to toe. Caress it lovingly. Begin at the top of your head and work your way down to your toes. Gently stroke the back of your head and play with your hair. Notice any thoughts which arise as you caress your face including your ears, eyes, nose and mouth. Try not to engage the thoughts beyond simply noticing them, almost as if you were taking inventory. Continue that process as you move your touching down both arms to your fingers, over your chest and nipples and down to your abdomen. Notice any judgments which arise as well but don’t become attached to them. Try your best to stay with the loving space of self-touch.

As you move your hands down to make contact with your genitals notice any changes in moods, thoughts or emotions. Let this touch be about exploration more than masturbation at this point. Give your genitals the same amount of attention as you did any other body part. Don’t let them become the focus at this point. Continue the light stroking of your body down to and over your genitals and between your legs. Allow yourself to make contact your asshole. Be especially aware of thoughts which arise here as this is a place where most of us hold our deepest shame. Move your hands back out and over your hips to your glutes and caress them as well. Continue on down through the thighs (inside, outside, front and back) to the feet and toes on each leg. Try your best to lovingly touch every body part during this experience.

After you have touched every single reachable part of your body, take a couple deep breaths to complete that phase of the process. Take a few moments to make any notes on any particular or powerful thoughts, emotions or sensations which surfaced during the experience. Let these be brief bullet points or thoughts rather than detailed notes or analysis. Don’t let the note making become a distraction for your love making because you really are doing this to make love to yourself. Allow the note taking to be a way to simply release anything that begins distracting your mind rather than a journaling or analytical process.


BEGIN SELF-PLEASURING

Now allow your hands to return to your genitals and begin stimulating them in a loving manner. See if you can find a slightly different way to engage this experience than you usually do. This might be as simple as using the other hand or just playing and finding some new way of bringing pleasure to yourself. Perhaps adding lube, vibrators or toys will bring a new dimension to your exploration. Give yourself permission to play and explore rather than feeling like a taskmaster trying to complete a project.

If you find your mind wandering, just notice it and gently call your attention back to the touch and/or your breath. Notice if there are times when you are holding your breath and consciously choose to let the breath flow. If you are normally quiet during your masturbation, try to consciously add a moan/groan quality to the exhales. Breath in through the nose and out through an open mouth with a nice deeply resonating “Oooooo” sound. Try and feel the vibration from that sound all the way down your spine and out the top of your head. Allow that vibration to move the pleasure all through your body.

Let this experience be about being loving with your body and ultimately loving yourself. While an orgasm is a beautiful part of this experience don’t let that become the objective but rather let it be an equally enjoyable part of the experience. For men especially try to refrain from ejaculating until at least 30 minutes has been spent on indulging yourself in loving self-pleasuring. Remember you are worth every minute that you are able to invest in yourself. Respecting yourself enough to fill your body with pleasure will transform old negative belief patterns and heal sexual wounds. If your body desires it, allow yourself to end the process with an orgasm/ejaculation and really go for it with gusto. Moan, groan and roar it out with power.


IN THE AFTERGLOW

At the end of your self-pleasuring experience, allow yourself to lie quietly and as still as possible and enjoy the buzz you will feel in your body as your brain releases the endorphins and other pleasure hormones. By allowing the body to be still, your energy is not directed at movement but rather at relaxation and awareness. Allocate at least 5 minutes or more to this post-orgasmic space of bliss. Notice how you feel during this time. Notice what you feel and where you feel it. Try not to analyze it or yourself but rather just soak in the pool of self-love that you have created and enjoy it. Allow yourself to enter this space as you would meditation. Just observe what is without trying to change it.

After 5 minutes, take some time to make notes on what you experienced, review any notes that you made prior and take whatever action is necessary. If it was important enough for you to write down, it is worthy of your attention, action and love. Often times you’ll find deep inner realizations surface during this process. Honor those and take action because that information came from the depths of your being. Self-pleasuring raises your vibration and gets the catalyst sexual energy moving. Powerful insights can emerge from that if you are conscious and aware.

The important part of this experience is about being conscious of your thoughts, moods and sensations. When we lovingly move our sexual energy this way, we can clear lots of blocked energy and heal some deep mental, emotional and sexual wounds. Engage the experience from a loving place and remember that you know your body best and are therefore capable of stimulating it in exactly the way you enjoy the most. If that statement sounds challenging to you, then use this self-pleasuring experience to help you begin to see the truth in it.


Can you truly call your masturbation time “self-pleasuring”? If not, what stands between you and the ability to do that?