| VENUS BUTTERFLY EFFECT
VENUS BUTTERFLY EFFECT
Sexual Healing: A Review and Discussion
By Iona Miller, CHT 12/04
But couldn't everyone's life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life? ~ Michel Foucault
The relationship between two people creates society; society is not independent of you and me; the mass is not by itself a separate entity but you and I in relationship to each other create the mass, the group, the society--Krishnamurti
For all the trappings of civilized society, and our attempts to restrain and civilize it, sex remains forever the chaotic vital force, eclipsing our hearts and capturing our minds, winging on the airwaves in the throbbing beat of rock and roll, ensnaring all, in love's enticements and torments, from our founding creation myths, to our greatest dramatic performances. Its mountains of spice span the great divide between divine comedy and stark tragedy. ~ Chris King, Sexual Paradox
“Total union is not possible when the ego is afraid to give up, and where the ego is not firmly grounded in the instincts it dare not surrender to the transpersonal power.
~ Marion Woodman, Addiction to Perfection
The philosophy presented in Paul Pearsall's 1994 book Sexual Healing is more pertinent than ever, as we seek new ways of healing ourselves, others, and our trouble-plagued world. Many people understand that this work begins at home, in cleaning up one's own backyard;, but we can also come to understand that social outreach can be rooted in a healthy approach to our sexuality and wholeness.
In chaos theory's butterfly effect, small influences are pumped up into great change; in the Venus butterfly effect; healing spreads from the sexual core of each of us into the environment. The seemingly inconsequential or unrelated affects outcomes in ways unpredicatable to modern humankind. We can certainly guess at many factors in our lives, but there are equally other things happening beyond our knowing that perturb our life paths into different choices. The same can happen on a greater scale, from molecular to global.
Sexual healing requires that we practice selflessness as often out of bed as we do in bed so that when we make love, we love like we live. Sexual healing suggests the universal principles of collective responsibility rather than individual right lead to better health for ourselves and our society. The focus to comply to avoid punishment must be replaced with intentionality. All the elements of ordinary experience are sacralized.
The sexual and reproductive choices of each of us play a pivotal role in the future of life and human culture. The multidimensional sexual relationship in its mingling of cooperative and competitive motifs, is a fundamental mystery of existence, out of which life, diversity and the richness of human culture spring - the condition of creative sexual paradox. (Fielder and King).
People connecting is the true act of healing. Sexual healing views the immune system as a sensual and sexual organ ~ a liquefied nervous system. The primary purpose of sex as a psychophysical impulse is not to fulfill the individual but to promote more caring and intimacy everywhere and for everyone - family, society, and the world. Sexual healing is based on the sacredness and privacy of the two-person interaction. There are five levels of connection: with self, with another, with something more, with the present moment, and with the body of another person.
Intimacy/interdependence and immunity are inseparably linked, like mindbody and matter/energy. Our personal health is intimately related to our sexual and bonding styles, and reflects in the greater community at large. Our culture is rooted in our psychophysiology. Sexual healing is based on the assumption that the desire and ability to merge intensely with another person is crucial to health. Through it we connect with another person, the present moment, and open to the transpersonal, living in the moment not for the moment.
There are long-term health benefits in such unions. But healing love derives from caring acts, not spontaneous and romantic emotional reflexes and brain-chemistry which can be quite overwhelming and distressing. Pleasure heals. Sexual healing actively enhances relationship, feels good and fits well and constructively with the world and is good for your health. It is the physical expression of how we think, feel and believe about our healing partner. People either stress or nurture us, in general. We decide if we feel threatened or comforted, attracted or repulsed.
Psychoneurosexuality suggests intimate relationships are not only choices of who and how we love but affect our health and that of our partner. Every act of love and intimacy is an act of immunity. We can protect and heal our bodies with healthy connections. Trust and security allow us to open to vulnerability.
In meaningful connected sexual intimacy our hormones are in erotic harmony that boosts immune function. Every sex act is potentially an anti-aging immune stimulation. Intimate relations are a way of stimulating, programming, balancing and strengthening the immune system.
Loving empathy is earned within an enduring, responsible, intimate exchange intentionally engaged in with another person. We feel love when we behave lovingly. Empathy means sensing and acknowledging another’s feelings, but sympathy validates them as authentic. Sexual healing combines both for mutual support. Our passions are prototypes for immune function and healing, and perhaps more foundational than fads in “healthy living.” Those who pursue time-consuming health hobbies to the detriment of their relationships, take note.
Adult romantic love can be viewed as a continuation of the attachment process. Love is an integration of three biologically based behavioral systems: attachment, caregiving, and sexuality. "Companionate love" includes attachment and caregiving but not necessarily sexuality, whereas "passionate love" emphasizes only sexual attraction. Attachment style is likely to exert a very pervasive influence on our relationships with others, because it reflects general views about the rewards and dangers of interpersonal relationships.
There are three typical attachment styles: secure, avoidant, and anxious/ambivalent. There are similarities in the life-cycle of adult love (an attaching “in-love” phase leads on to a secure attachment) and childhood attachment (strong maternal attachment leads to secure attachment style).
Characteristics of parent-child relationships are probable causes of differences in infant attachment styles and are also among the determinants of adult romantic attachment styles. Attachment dimensions are likely to influence who one chooses as a dating partner and may play an important role in organizing behaviours, perceptions and expectations within dating relationships.
Secure individuals have a more positive self-image than insecure types. They are more trusting in general and likely to believe in people’s altruism and capacity and willingness and to adapt and control the outcomes of their lives. Their views of love are more romantic and less practical. They tended to report warm relationships with caregivers.
Insecure people have lower self-worth and confidence. They believe human nature is complex and difficult to understand, consider others less altruistic and more likely to conform to social pressures. Love style is related to obsession/dependency. They tend to report cold or inconsistent caregiving. Differences in attachment are linked to differences in beliefs about self and others in ways that are consistent with attachment theory.
Secure individuals’ parental representations are characterized by differentiation, elaboration, benevolence, and nonpunitiveness. Representations by dismissing people were characterized by less differentiation and more punitiveness and malevolence. Fearful individuals describe their parents as relatively punitive and malevolent, but their representations are well differentiated and conceptually complex. Anxious-ambivalent people describe their parents ambivalently as both punitive and benevolent.
Differences in adult attachment styles are found to be related to differences in (1) most significant love experiences, (2) mental models of self and relationships, (3) attachment-history (memories of childhood relationships with parents), (4) vulnerability to loneliness, and (5) feelings related to work, such as feelings towards relationships with coworkers and using work to avoid social contacts.
Bonding is a buffer against both delusional delight and crisis, the slings and arrows of life. We learn to be attracted to the intensity of interpersonal relationship rather than our own arousal states (psychochemical high). Infatuation causes us to assess our emotional, cognitive and sexual coping capacity to be intimate in a healthy and satisfying way. An individual`s own attachment style was a stronger predictor of perceived relationship quality than the partner`s attachment style.
Compared with secure and anxious-ambivalent persons, avoidant persons report lower levels of intimacy, enjoyment, promotive interaction, and positive emotions, and higher levels of negative emotions, primarily in opposite-sex interactions. Avoidant persons may structure social activities in ways that minimize closeness. Secure people differentiate more clearly than either insecure group between romantic and other opposite-sex partners.
1. Personal attachment style has a more significant effect on how relationships are experienced than partner`s style.
2. Males will report lower levels of interdependence, commitment and satisfaction when with anxious females.
3. Females will report lower levels of trust and satisfaction when with avoidant males.
Relationships can have an effect on attachment style, but attachment style is actually pretty robust and rarely affect another’s attachment style. Attachment style is related to attachment history, beliefs about relationships, personal love style, duration of romantic relationships, self-esteem, avoidance of intimacy, limerance and love addiction.
This suggests attachment style is likely to exert a very pervasive influence on the individual’s relationships with others, because it reflects general views about the rewards and dangers of interpersonal relationships. Attachment history has a decreasing effect on style of romantic relationship as individuals age.
We can be nurtured by someone without feeding on them. Sexual healing is based on sharing our life energy generated by a fully connected life. It is not possible when we draw from the core our partners’ life energy or give energy from our own core. We can give altruistically without giving lives away to energy vampires. Sexual healing requires a new view of bonding and a concept of connective codependence as a cure ~ a means of deploying one’s loving erotic style to care for and with another no matter how severe the relationship crisis and challenges may be or how hurt and impaired the partner may become.
Sexual healing requires us to move beyond mindbody chemistry toward more growth-promoting, meaningful, stable, enduring, more demanding relationships, focusing on the other rather than our internal high. Sexual healing involves recognition of your own, your partner's, and your relationship's variations in sexual intimacy. It is a measured response to the true identity and essence of the other person. Bonding is based on connective codependence and interdependence and is the source of the most powerful sexual healing.
Pearsall helps us reclaim our psychosexual essential nature from the "sexual syndicate"; with its negative labels, mechanical technical proficiencies, ersatz taboo-breaking, and hypersexualized but relatively meaningless sexual context and content. Media arguably plays as big or larger of a role in the syndication of sex than the healing arts.
The net result is that we either manically try to ‘measure up’, or feel like failures, grow despondent, wrongly viewing ourselves as addicts or codependents. We import techniques from outside of ourselves to “fix” the problems from self image and sexual compulsion to erotic anesthesia.
My own experience as a therapist with a specialty in sexual abuse throughout the 1980s and ‘90s showed me quite graphically that many of the principles being preached by the recovery movement and other social institutions lacked a certain fundamental insight.
They spoke of the four primary modes or dimensions of human connection: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual, but often in a prescriptive not in a cohesive way. It seemed like a one-size-fits-all formulaic approach, with a dogma of "Do's and don'ts". The guiding principle of sexual healing is Oneness and connection, not power, control, or even personal autonomy.
Sometimes the enforcement of these models of life, sexuality, and recovery were toxic in and of themselves. In collusion with misplaced religious zeal, it spawned the poisonous cultural memes of Satanic Panic and False Memory Syndrome, which consumed many lives. Families were split apart by an imported delusion and faulty social model, children were manipulated and confused, enforcement agencies and courts were tied up, people were falsely accused and imprisoned, etc.
At best, rigid protocols and endless meetings were the "only" way to become a more functional individual, lest one continuously repeat the dysfunctional cycle or pass it on to future generations. This distorted control over cookbook definitions of good sex has created a bondage of self-pleasure.
But wouldn't it be terrific if we could perturb society and mount the same kind of effect in a positive direction based on sexual healing, and permeating the fabric of life from the molecular to the transperonal level? This would go a long way toward healing our mindbody splits, left over from the obsolete paradigm of the mechanistic age. It reminds of Lysistrata, and the more recent Women Who Slept with Men to Take the War Out of Them.
Pearsall dared question some of these underlying recovery-based assumptions without attacking the system directly. Instead he simply offered a treatment philosophy he felt supported overall health more strongly. Some of these values are echoed in tradition while others are revolutionary in their simplicity. Sexual healing is an androgynous process that combines the strengths and counterbalances the vulnerabilities of gender roles. It might therefore be considered a creative movement toward gender reunion, or wholeness.
He suggested a type of sexual shamanism, that a sexual healer is a model of sexual health, not just one with an absence of sexual problems. He called this personality an Erotophilic ~ a lover of the erotic, of Eros, of close intimate contact. In myth, Eros is wed to Psyche, the psychophysical imaginal faculty. The child Voluptas embodied their mutual joy. Giving, not just trying to get, makes us healthy and heals us. We partner in a kind of privileged miracle.
All shamans exhibit sensual activity and playful joy in living with others. A sexual healer is a "care-sharer". Stamina and desire emerge spontaneously from those who are energetic, erotic, tender, responsible, happy, confident, empathic, sympathetic, and fulfilled. Motivation follows the exchange of intentional caring acts. Why wouldn't it?
But Pearsall doesn't burden us with New Age guilt or shame about our health or lack of it. He busts the myths of self-healing, illness, grief and guilt as enemies, positive thinking, codependence and the heroic medical model. In fact, he considers illness a learning experience that perturbs our emotional stagnation. Suffering sickness is an inspiration for healing and an evolutionarily necessesity because it drives us toward reconnection and the maintenance of our connections. No disease kills people faster than loneliness. Most depression is rooted in lack of meaningful connection, bonding.
Connection guarantees the continuation of our genetic identity and the survival of humanity and the world. Health isn't strength, it's balance. Sickness isn’t failure, it's a challenge. He points out that health as a convenience allows us to continue to engage as effective individuals in too much work or busyness, neglect our loved ones in narcissistic pursuits, and focus on distractions from feeling love and loving. Total health includes loving intimacy with those around us not just solitary health fitness practices and choices. Suffering can set us back or draw us together; none of us are self-sufficient.
But rather than polyamory, a term usually applied to guilt-free licentiousness rather than omnidirectional capacity for intimacy, he suggests a “pentamerous model of sexual healing, based in psychoneurosexualiy. Thoughts, feelings, caring, intimate touch, eroticism and healing can be united through meaningful sexual intimacy to promote wellness. Important factors include 1) self esteem; 2) intimacy; 3) coherence or rapport; 4) mindful celebration; and 5) sensual connection at the molecular level.
Sexual healing is a paradigm that transcends the mechanical tension-release model of the last 50 years. It looks for the healer between and maximizes the power of intimate connection between two people who choose to link their inner healers, to seek meaning in life together, and to express that connection physically.
The body is designed for connection. The body is an enchanted resonating musical instrument on which our minds play. We can use it as a means of celebrating and actualizing our connection with another person, an interactional synchrony. We can literally breath love and life into one another, particularly in times of illness or suffering.
When we make love, in a sense all of us have made love, since we all share the same genetic stuff. The sexual response model of sexual healing is based on the art of sex and the process of creating beauty and meaning together by merging not only our bodies but our most personal inner healers. Responsible intimacy leads directly toward world transformation.
We can heal ourselves, heal another, and help heal the world. Sexual healing is volitional, rational, socially responsible merging with our lover to find multidimensional meaning together: enhanced self esteem (self-actualization), increased sense of intimacy, shared sense of life coherence, mindfulness of the present moment, and sensual expression of loving caring. Sexual healing is thinking, behaving and responding sensuously with another person.
Meaningful sexual intimacy allows us to connect with the higher Self we all share, finding higher meaning and purpose in love. This helps with the manageability and comprehension of life’s seemingly endless chaos. Merging with someone we love makes us intensely aware of the present moment. It leads to an increased sense of purposeful, giving and caring life, constructive to society. Bonds don't happen; they are made. Meaningful bonds are not the automatic and inevitable result of love, but result from loving behaviors and intimate caring acts.
Matter is spiritually transformed through love. It matters deeply. Soul becomes matter and matter becomes soul. When the passion for life harmonizes with the transformative dynamic, body and soul are one. Divine ravishment is an awakening to higher innocence. Subjective and objective worlds become one.
Ravishment requires the conscious sacrifice of ego demands and unconscious power ~ saying YES to life. It means surrender spiritually to the thing between us, surrender to the body, to the process. You feel the blood, the bones, the beating heart. We plunge into our own Being. The genuine coniunctio is a complete interchange, a glimpse of the profound mystery of the spiritual life, putting our trust in the irrational. We risk doing so.
If the passionate receptivity is strong enough it is nearly impossible for beautiful and potent expression not to manifest. To receive is to connect with, to become permeable. The deeper the significant permeability the more pan-experiential it becomes. The intimacy of real softness and the experience of beauty and growth is inherent in honest and open interaction.
Deep receptivity seems to have no connection limited by our usual ways of thinking. Authentic receptivity empowers all who come near it, who risk being touched. We open to the outside and to ourselves, softening boundaries in our own being, discovering new things about ourselves in the process. It is an opening to experience as a whole: self and other, inner and outer self, existence as a whole. At our embodied core we are simply all-embracing wonder.
When the expressive potency penetrates and knows it is penetrating and the receptive receives and knows it is received, then both polarities are functioning in creative interplay, constant creation. In giving and receiving the forces of life are multiplied. The giving one receives and the receiving one gives by letting go. The body is surrendered to its own primordial oceanic rhythm in active expression.
We listen and respond and translate what is heard into creative interplay, trusting there is meaning in the irrational. This is the Tao of relationship, or Eros, the essential creative capacity to give and receive, which cannot separate sexuality from love.
To be true to the soul is to value the soul, to express it as uniquely as possible. Love engenders soul. The paradox is that to be in time is to be in the eternal. We see with new eyes. Sexuality is no longer limited to parts of us but becomes our total response to the whole world. We are either part of the problem or the solution. Unhealed patterns are passed on to future generations.
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