I came to my spirituality and my sexuality both because of and in spite of my fundamentalist upbringing.
Sex was easier. Without ever discussing the topic directly, Mom let me know that sex was an obligation of marriage that I most definitely would not enjoy, but would have to perform. As the daughter of a fundamentalist preacher, I was thoroughly indoctrinated about men’s inability to control their sex drive and woman’s responsibility for anything that went wrong. In college, and still uninformed about what happens during sex, I was easy prey for the preacher’s son I hooked up with. Using everything I had been taught against me, he finally succeeded in getting me into bed. Though it was more rape than love-making, I learned two very important things that completely undermined my home training. 1) Even in the forced circumstances of my first sexual encounter – sex feels really good! 2) Sex is the best tool I had found to do what I wanted most – please others!
Spirituality was much more difficult. We weren’t just fundamentalist. We were taught that once saved a Christian must never sin again in thought, word or deed. Being a very literal and very honest child, it didn’t take me long to conclude that I was inherently defective: I couldn’t live up to the most simple standard of Christianity. Skipping over decades of painful struggle with the meaning of life and where I fit into that picture brings us to my current spirituality.
Who am I?
Why am I here?
What is my life about?
The three questions are so closely intertwined as to be nearly inseparable. In the broadest of terms, who I am is defined by my basic life philosophy: to the best of my human ability never intentionally hurt another. I believe it is up to us to define why we are here. For me the answer to that question is to do my best to have a positive impact on every life I touch.
Fleshed out more completely, I see myself as a healer and a teacher. Since I believe healing can only come from within and that we can each only heal ourselves, it is more accurate to say my role is to facilitate healing. I tend to focus this healing and teaching work in the areas of physical, spiritual, relationship and sexual.
My focus on physical healing began before I was even aware of the other arenas and grew as I found the need to take responsibility for my own physical healing. The physical focus allows me to impact those who may not be so open to the more esoteric aspects of healing and also provides me with the most clearly visible results. It also has a more scientific basis that satisfies the more logical parts of my mind. Facilitating healing through massage, Watsu, childbirth support and related modalities I am not only able to directly provide relief, but also to teach practices to encourage clients to take responsibility for their own healing and not only be dependent on me or any other practitioner.
After decades of search and struggle, I found that the rules and hypocrisy of religion did very little for me. I instead adhere to a spiritual philosophy of responsibility for myself, for my own actions and for the outcomes I create in my life. My philosophy of doing my best to not harm another is a direct outgrowth of that spiritual concept. I seek to model this for others and to guide them to take responsibility for themselves through my example, through counseling when my advice is sought, and through my various teachings.
Relationship plays such an important role in how we see ourselves, in how we see others, and in how we experience life. I have focused a great deal on energy in my life on creating the right relationship for myself. Together Preston and I have brought this concept to reality. It is our goal that we demonstrate in our daily lives that a wonderful, open, honest and sharing relationship is possible. We freely share who we are and how we make our relationship work with those who are interested in what we have together and in those who seek our counsel. As much as we enjoy sharing our relationship, we hold what we have as sacred and constantly return to the principles of love, respect and honesty on which our relationship is built.
And then there is that sexual thing. How does that fit in with spirituality and healing? Very well, actually. I have found that sexuality is inherently woven through all three of the other areas of my focus. Sexual energy creates life, and it sustains life. The hormones, endorphins and other chemicals released during sexual activity relieve pain, reduce inflammation and promote healing. The movement, deep breathing, and heart pounding excitement increase blood and oxygen flow throughout the body. And the orgasmic release gives way to a deep relaxation that is hard to duplicate by any other means. If you doubt the healing role of sex, do a quick internet search on sex and longevity.
The spiritual aspect of sex may seem a little less obvious, but practiced with conscious intent, sex creates connection with self and partners that is deeply spiritual and fulfilling. It is touching into that most central, creative part of ourselves. While sex has the potential and frequently is a selfish and destructive force, it also has the potential to be a deeply giving and creative force. To use sex appropriately, there must be an openness, a trust, very honest communication, and a willingness to give of the deepest part of yourself without losing yourself. Sex provides the opportunity to be fully in touch with yourself and with another at the same time.
Which leads into relationship. Sex, other than masturbation, is all about relationship. Even masturbation can be said to be about our relationship with self, and often also about our relationship with our life partner. From the viewpoint of my life purpose, sex is an ideal tool for healing and teaching. So often sex has been the avenue of abuse: often physical, but even more frequently emotional. But sex can be a street paved with gold as an avenue to opening and improving communication, to enhancing relationship, and to improving intimacy on all levels. Preston and I use polyamory as a tool to add new ideas and dimensions to our relationship. Any experience outside our relationship is the catalyst for discussion. What was new, different or special? What can we use from this? What did we learn about ourselves through this experience?
We became sex educators because we found that by sharing things we had learned together we were able to expand sexual experience for others and to enhance other couples relationships. We both love to teach. We both enjoy sex. We have learned together that sex can be a great, fun game that adds all kinds of new dimensions to life.
Lest anyone think, from my philosophy, that I am some kind of saint. That is hardly the case. I have found that this philosophy is what makes life work for me. There is a great sense of fulfillment in putting my hands on someone’s body and reducing their level of pain. There is great joy in guiding someone through a life problem and helping them realize that they can take control of their own life. The wonder of helping a couple improve their relationship can be almost as great as that of assisting a new life into the world. And fulfilling a sexual fantasy, seeing someone rediscover the excitement of flirting, adding a new sexual dimension to someone’s life has its own orgasmic quality. Sexual healing and teaching is particularly fun. I get all the enjoyment of sex play and orgasm, and all the fulfillment of enhancing someone else’s life. What could be better?