Saturday, February 19, 2011

Yoga, Humility, and Sexuality

The ongoing daily experience of many days of Yoga affirms the importance of humility. At this point, I’m far enough along in the practice to not worry about what others are doing. I’m simply becoming more aware of my own body and how stiff I am. There are always ways to improve my practice. Today the instructor “modified” my positions in a way that allowed me to discover new parts of my body. Many of the modifications she helped me with where around hip openers. My guess is I would need a year of hip openers to do anything about them. I jokingly talk about my “father’s hips” which I inherited. They simply are stiff, and don’t move, and get in the way of flexibility regarding many more positions. Alas, it is a process, and a lesson in humility.

So it is true in sexuality. Sometimes my role is it the role of a teacher, and many times my role is that of a student. I continue to discover that there are many others who know more than me. I also know I am continually uncovering my own biases and barriers. And in many circumstances, I affirm that I have more to learn.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Yoga lessons and sexuality, day 2.

In Yoga, you’re not a victim. You can modify, stop, or further enter into the position. This is the basic premise of any position. If a certain position doesn’t work, multiple modifications are possible to make it easier or more difficult depending on your skill. The same is true if the position is untenable. In some cases, you simply stop. And yet, some of the most growth occurs by entering further into the position. As the instructor says, “breath into the movement.”

So it is in sexuality. Sometimes we need to modify or change our sexual health concerns (such as our values, beliefs, cultures), or end something (perhaps a behavior, or bad relationship), or enter into some event and see it as an opportunity (conflict, sexual expression, desires, etc).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yoga, Individual, Integrity, Intelligently and Sexual Health

While in Puerto Valletta, Mexico, for a well-earned vacation, I take time to attend Yoga as part of the vacation. (And, no, blogging isn’t work; it’s a type of journaling for me!) Today’s lesson was about being in the moment, a great thing to do while on vacation. The instructor also talked about how yoga is an individual practice that needs to be done with integrity and intelligently.

She explained that each student knows his/her body, and knows when to push the extra effort to fully enter the experience, and each student knows when to pull back. This is/must be done with integrity. The only one who truly knows is the student.

The individual practice done with integrity also requires intelligence. By this I understood intelligence to reflect wisdom, correct/good form, and staying at the edge of practice without going too far and hurting one’s self. Intelligence implies listening to the body, increasing self-awareness of one’s greater limits and personal limitations.

So to do these terms apply to sexual health. Your journey toward sexual health is YOUR journey. Only you know what truly expresses your heart of hearts regarding sexual health. No one else can tell you. Others may guide you, but you are the one responsible for the final choice. And sexual health requires wisdom, knowing and respecting your inner truth.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Importance and Difficulty of Integrity in Sexual Health

Link to Dan Savage and Mistermix

The above link describes another public scandal regarding sexuality. What both Dan Savage and Mistermix highlight is the importance of sexuality in a person's life, the desire for sexual satisfaction, and the danger when you're not able to resolve these difficulties in your relationship. Integrity in sexual health requires personal responsibility to declare your personal definition of sexual health. Sometimes this requires challenging the stereotypes of what others think you should want, and choosing your path toward sexual health.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Creating your future and Transcending the Fear

It’s always great when I find someone reading my blog. I was asked a follow-up question regarding breaking the cycle of fear described in the “Illusion of Fear” blog (dated: 1/29/11). I start with the material from the blog and expand it further.

Step 1: Don’t play the game. The fear is not real.

Remember the fear isn’t real. It may feel real, but it isn’t. Again, very little of the fear we experience is in reality. While it may hurt if someone leaves, or is angry, or doesn’t like us, or we loose our job, or whatever, our actual existence is not called into question.

If you catch yourself playing the game, stop. In this case the game is the various roles of the triangle. Simply stop. No matter how you try, you can’t win at a game of fear. I love the line for the 1980’s move Wargames, “The only winning move is not to play.”” (To watch the scene:

Step 2: Transcend the Fear --Find a bigger goal.

Transcending this fear is possible. One way to do this is to identify values that express what inspires you at your core. It is essential to step outside of the fear and take responsibility for the subsequent choices. I know this is easier said than done. In another blog entry, I highlighted the Litany of Fear.

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. (Dune, Herbert)

To me, this litany of fear reminds me that the fear is not real, and that if I stand through the fear, only I remain. In that moment I have an opportunity where I can make a choice that expresses my true identity.

Courage is not acting without of fear, it is acting in spite of fear. Continuing the metaphor of the game, the way out of the game of fear is to play a completely different game. The “fun” part of this process is that you get to decide what “new game” you want to play. Instead of fear, play a game of love. Or, play a game of healing, or play a game of wisdom. Every experience becomes an opportunity to express or learn something greater in your life. In other blog entries, I’ve called this “Creating your future.” This concept is not original to me, but has it’s root in viture ethics. Mark Vernon summarizes virtue ethics as:

Virtue ethics begins by asking what it is to be human, and proceeds by asking what virtues — or characteristics, habits and skills — we need in order to become all that we might be as humans. It’s much associated with the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, who discussed the meaning of friendship as a way to illustrate his approach to ethics. … The virtue ethics approach is not individualistic. It tells us that to become all we might be as humans we need others. And we need others in a number of ways. One is highlighted by Aristotle’s focus on friendship. Social animals, like ourselves, are fulfilled by being with others: we discover who we are by discovering who others are — those to whom we are connected by way of family, affection, community, and society. They shape us, and we shape them, and so we need to have a concern for them all. (Link:

Step 3: Other’s as a reflection of your goals

Our task is to define the virtues by which we want to live our life. It is done in community/connection with others. The struggle with virtue ethics is most people don’t know what they are, or are caught up in a dilemma of having to use other people’s opinions of the important virtues. The process of clarifying your values, and the behaviors consistent with those values is the experience of discovering YOUR truth. My experience suggests a client is much more successful when their life that reflects their truth.

Paradoxically, others are the source of the primary values in our life. What we like and dislike in others reflects our inner core. This is a classic psychological principle that also applies to transcending the fear. That which we are drawn to reflects an inner craving that we must address. That which we reject reflects an inner craving that we must address. Whatever we fear is an opportunity to personal growth, discovery and transformation. An open, honest and fearless examination of those reactions is necessary for this discovery. It is then that new possibilities of a transformed life become possible.

We can recognize these values by identifying various pivot points in our life (see blog date: 1/22/11) It is in these pivot points where we get a sense of something more in our life. The experience is rewarding, but isn’t always easy. Sometimes these are values that we have and want to express more; or, it may be values we don’t have and want to obtain.

Step 4: Identifying your values by completing the following assignments.

To begin this process, I give my clients a number of assignments to identify pivot points that can be useful in identifying the values in your life. This assignment will help you to start thinking about something greater in your life. Think “big” about your future. What would a “life you love” look like?. You need to step forward to identify and claim the values that you find important, the values that you will use to shape your life. What works for some people person will not necessarily work for you. We may learn from each other, but our path is uniquely our own.

• Identify three people who inspire you. These people may be real or fictional, living or dead, someone you know, or simply someone you’ve read about. For each person, identify why this person is an inspiration to you. Examine two or three values this person has expressed through their life. As you think about each person, you may start to identify themes that are important to you.

• Name three times when you experienced a sense of timelessness. Some authors describe this as “being in the flow.” In this context, “timelessness” is the experience of time passing without your awareness. Think of a young child playing outside all day. You say to the child “Come in for bed.” To the child, the day passed with a sense of timelessness. They simply were completely in the moment. Describe the settings in which you experienced timelessness, focusing on who, what, when, and where. What words do you use to summarize how these experiences inspire you?

• As you examine the individuals and experiences in your life that are important, make note of common themes, values and experiences. These themes are expressions of your experience of God in your daily life.

• After listing the themes, review each word in a dictionary or Wikipedia. Learn the depth of meaning of these words. Summarize what you learn.

Step 5: Choose

The challenge is to ask yourself, “How willing am I to do whatever it takes to express my values in living?” Our inspirations are often people who, despite their fear, choose actions that express their values. Think of people such as Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi and Mother Theresa. They expressed their values in their daily lives to the degree that the world recognized them as inspiring. You can use your values to shape your choices in a profound way. The key questions are, “Will this behavior protect my values?” and “How do my values shape the next step for me?”

In each moment you face fear, you can succumb to fear and fall into the triangle roles of persecutor, victimizer, or rescuer, or you can choose to engage in behaviors that express your values. When you succeed, life will be amazing. And yes you will fail, and life will be amazing. Perfection is not required, but integrity to YOUR values and truth is how a person lives a life they love. Each moment is an opportunity. Choose.

Books referenced in this text.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Developing Sexual Health

This process of developing your sexual health consists of five phases of understanding. Think about these phases as tools to help you understand what you need to do, and where you are in the particular topic of choice. For example, everyone “knows” what sexual health is, or do we. Picking up this workbook is the process of moving forward to start gathering information. Struggling with this information and coming to a basic understanding is later followed by a sense of awareness of commitment to your values in the realm of sexuality. These phases are:
1) Unexplored commitment reflects the fact that many people simply don’t think about the topic of sexuality.
2) Active exploration refers to the process of seeking information regarding sexuality. This dimension addresses the six tasks below. The person actively seeks information via the Internet, therapy, friends, family, society, etc.
3) Diffusion reflects a time of struggle and confusion. “What I thought I know is no longer the case.” This is a time of rejecting social norms about what I should be, and a time of exploration sometimes through trial and error.
4) Deepening and commitment of the identification of the individual’s likes and dislikes and an increased level of comfort with the self. For many people who identify of “straight” this may be occur without the exploration and diffusion dimensions.
5) Synthesis is a process of integration of all aspects of the self. There is an internal congruence between the self, values, behaviors, likes and dislikes. There is also an integration of the sexual identity with all other aspects of the person’s life including gender, racial, religious, and familial.