Conscious Sexual Self

Connection Requires Consciousness

Gestures of Peace When You Are Angry

Oh you will fight. If you are in a partnership of any kind for any length of time, you will fight. This is normal. You will fight about ridiculous things and important things, things long gone and things that haven’t happened yet. Some of you will fight loud and some of you will fight with closed lips and a few cold words. Some of you will get a rush from it and some of you will hate every minute.

It isn’t how you fight or how often you fight that will necessarily damage your relationship; it is how you stay connected when you do fight. Relationship researcher extraordinaire, John Gottman calls these gestures during conflict repair attempts.

Repair attempts are the ways in which people remember their connection in this midst of a conflict. It can be a little gesture that says, “I know we love each other, even now”. It is a moment of outwardly slowing down the escalation to show I am staying in this with you, I am being careful with you and me, I care about what happens here. Repair attempts are gestures of peace that make all the difference if they are received by your partner.

Here are some things to try :

Say how you feel. Not the surface, “I am pissed off” feeling, but the other ones a bit under the surface. This will require that you slow yourself down for a minute and get vulnerable. Be honest with your partner about what is being stirred in you in this moment. Could be, “I am feeling judged and ashamed.”, “I am feeling scared of losing you.” “I am feeling like a little kid being scolded and I want to rebel.” “I feel defensive”. This grounds the conversation in an emotional reality and makes it easier to be gentle with one another. Take a breath and be brave.

Say that you can see their side of things. Valuing their perspective doesn’t mean they are all right and you are wrong. It means hearing one another and being reasonable. You might repeat back what you have heard them say to make sure you understand. You might say, “I see your point…” or “I dan’t thought of it that way.” Also it is good to acknowledge the things that are working even while addressing a problem between you. Tell them something you appreciate about them or something they are doing that is helpful to the situation. Nothing is black and white here.

Say how you messed up. Sorry to tell you but most likely there is some small way in which you misspoke or responded less than ideally.  And the thing is you probably know it; you just are using that frustration with self to fuel your frustration for the argument. Try defusing that. You don’t have to make it heavy; you can say, “Duh, that was the wrong thing to say, sorry.” Or you can say, “Let me try that again” or simply, “ I don’t like how I responded there.” Its ok, we all play our part.

Say that you need to calm down. Once we hit a certain emotional frequency, it is nearly impossible to think clearly. Let your partner see that you are taking care of yourself as a way to stay present. You can say, “Hang on. I need to slow down and take a breath.” Or “I am feeling overwhelmed and am having trouble taking this in. Can we slow down?” Or maybe you need to stop the conversation right now and come back to it later when you are clearer. Saying this now can save you a lot of wasted arguing.

Say that you trust your bond. This is more subtle than the rest but it can be the strongest kind of repair attempt. It relies more on your relationship style and history. Many people use humor for this. They crack a little joke to lighten the mood a little. Some people might use a private reference point or something like, “Well, I guess we have to have our quarterly fight sometime.” Or some people just reach out a touch their partners hand or shoulder, silently saying “I do love you, you know.” The key is that these are delivered with a smile and from a genuine place of good will and trust.

Say that you love them. Remember it and say it. And if you see a repair attempt coming your way, honor that for what it is – a way to stay connected. Take in the gesture of good will by responding in kind. Take a deep breath, slow your roll, and remember why you love this person enough to bother arguing with them.


May All Beings Have Pleasure

Last night in my yoga class, we were led in Metta or Loving-Kindness prayer practice. For those of you not familiar with this, overly-simplified, it involves repeating short statements of blessings for oneself, then for another, then for all beings. This allows you to mindfully cultivate loving kindness towards yourself and others. The statements themselves can vary a lot from traditional to more personal. For example, “May I be happy. May I be free from suffering. May I be at peace.”

Last night our teacher encouraged us to design our own blessings, for something we wish for ourselves and others. I immediately thought, “May I have pleasure.” Yes, pleasure! Imagine that as a sacred wish for ourselves and others. At once I felt the rightness of this blessing, but I was also aware of the many ways that pleasure has been pushed out of our sacred spaces.

I believe that pleasure is healing and transformative. I know our bodies are masterful systems that are clearly build for pleasures of many kinds. Pleasure can bring awe and compassion and transpersonal awareness and deep peace. It soothes us and inspires us. Pleasure can feel like a gift from god/spirit/universe/goddess/all that is. It is a message to our bodies and souls that we are going to be ok, that life is full and rich, and that we are capable of astounding feeling. Good stuff.

But generation after generation, people were afraid of pleasure. Afraid that it would distract, distort, create selfishness and laziness and gluttony and immorality. Those who were spiritual were supposed to be above such things, removed from the petty satisfactions and pleasures of this life. How sad this has been for us to turn away from this gift, which comes freely with our body and our senses, available to all regardless of social station or luck. And so we lose our chances for pleasure, just as we lose our chances for peace or happiness or release from suffering.

So last might I reclaimed pleasure as a blessing, for myself and for all beings. “May I have pleasure. May all beings have pleasure”. Try it out yourself. How does it feel to bring pleasure into your prayers or intentions? Do you feel guilty asking for this? Does it feel indulgent? Why is this? What if this was a beautiful blessing that we all deserved?

May you be happy. May you be free from suffering. May you find peace. May you have pleasure.


Rock That Muumuu!

Recently I was at a friend’s house for brunch and there, on the TV, was a Love Boat marathon. This was very compelling. (Hey, don’t judge) Not only because of the nostalgia factor and memories of elementary school sleep overs, but because of the striking contrast to what we see on TV today.

There were elderly people with fully developed romantic story lines! Not played for laughs! And not played by actors who looked like they could still do 5 hours of step aerobics (My mind is in the 80s, stay with me here). On episode after episode, there were senior citizens enjoying love, flirtation, and sexy storylines with multiple suitors vying for their affection.

Now sure, The Love Boat format was largely about the guest stars who were famous years ago. But seeing it again made me realize how much our media has changed and the images of people we see have changed. Remember TV used to be primarily targeted towards adults, including adults in their elder years. This has changed as our marketing focus has slide younger and younger. And of course we are meant to look younger and younger as well. It’s all about anti-aging these days.

It is one thing to see more older actors being celebrated as sexy now. Jane Fonda and Helen Mirren – super inspiring and SEXY as hell. And that is good to see. But it is also intimidating and has attached to it the additional message that we have to look like a 40 year old to be an attractive 70 year old. It is something else entirely to see someone who actually looks like my grandma, strutting her stuff in a fluffy turquoise muumuu with attached cape that gently flows over her noticeably large belly and hips, having someone be hit with love at first sight of her. That sends a different message about who is worthy of a love story, doesn’t it?

Now I am not claiming that The Love Boat did great things for my developing mind or sense of what love had in store. But I do think that seeing storylines involving people my grandparents age hooking up for some vacation love and for some spontaneous weddings was probably good for me, setting a foundation I was unaware of that romance stays with us throughout our entire life.

What I think is important to remember is the insidious way our image of the world gets edited by who is not represented. We should always take time to ask ourselves - who is missing from this crafted-for-my-entertainment world? For all the vastness of available media at this point in time, the people we see are in some ways more edited than ever. We need to see people of all colors, ages, sizes, gender representations, orientations, physical capacities, … and we need to see just plain old average looking people, living their lives and loving one another. We need to see ourselves represented. All aboard!