Love Myths

July 7, 2010 by  
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I’m always looking for good articles to share with you.  Today I came across the below article by Dawn Raffel based on an interview conducted with Diana de Vegh.

What I love about it, is how clearly talks about our misguided concepts about soul mates and people completing each other.  These are romantic thoughts developed and sustained by society and the media  and mostly directed at women.

If we are not a whole being and living a full life, chances of a loving and healthy relationship is minimal.  I specially like the phrase in the article “There’s no scarcity of love,” she says. “We can find it with our coworkers, with our friends and families, in our dance class. We can love what the world offers us; we can love our own vitality.”
Oprah.com

“Everybody has one soul mate.” “True lovers can read each other’s minds.” “All you need is love.” A psychotherapist who’s seen it all pokes holes in some of romance’s little fairy tales and explains why life is saner—and happier—without them.
If we could each pick a few songs to banish from our heads, Diana de Vegh would nominate all those soggy old refrains that say there’s one—and only one—true love for each of us: our better half, our shining knight, the person we’ll be lost without. That line of thought, says de Vegh, a therapist in private practice in New York, isn’t benignly corny—it’s harmful, feeding what she calls the myth of love scarcity.

“In the scarcity model, where there’s only one person out there, we’re all competing for the guy who’s rich and handsome,” she says. Our relationships become fear based: We obsess and clutch instead of creating an environment in which two people try to unfold…Continued

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Sexual Encounters And Intuition

July 6, 2010 by  
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Any sexual encounter requires some unveiling of ourselves.  Even the one-night stand does. We become physically naked, open about our desires, and often feel the pressure to perform; men to show off their skills at lovemaking and women to show their pleasure.

Adding to all of it are such questions as: What does this sex mean to this relationship? Will this last?  Is this right for me? What is he or she going to think of me?  And when the lovemaking ends and our excitement subside we find ourselves living in a completely different relationship than the one we had before.

How can we navigate these waters without having the feeling of losing our balance?

1      – inner-equilibrium.  Being in touch with ourselves and knowing we all have the ability to take care of our limitations, fears and expectations will allow us to enter a relationship with a full commitment to the experience.

2      – Intuition.  Listening to our intuition is like listening to an internal alarm.  When the experience feels good and we are comfortable our intuition is subtle. When something is amiss or we have crossed our comfort zone it becomes louder than a samba school on the first day of carnival.  It is up to us to be connected enough to listen to it.  And it is up to us to be respectful and courageous enough to act on it.

Read more

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What About Self-Help?

May 18, 2010 by  
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EYE-4Just read an article by Deepak Chopra (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/when-you-help-yourself-wh_b_578892.html).  It’s a good post about self-help really being about self-discovery if it is to have lasting changes.

What he left out is that self-help is really an American phenomenon.  Somehow we have developed a society that needs to read about, having sex, loving, being in a relationship, being happier, finding ourselves etc. instead of just being.  Why is that?

I think one of the answers is our values as a society, families, and individuals.  In the United States we live under constant pressure to work and to succeed while the rest of the world uses work as a means to have more fun. To us work is an end unto itself and success defines us.  The result is that more and more we live in our own world of trying to succeed and less and less in actually living.  And we are in a hurry, so we want immediate answers.

We want to have good sex now.  So instead of communicating with our partners, spending the time to actually enjoy the intimacy, we read books that give us step by step ways to have better sex.

We want a better relationship now.  So instead of giving the time and attention a relationship needs we read a manual on how to make it better.  We don’t have the time to just be.

I’m not ditching self-help books but am saying the answer, as Mr. Chopra has written, lays within us.  It also lays in the way we live our lives, and in the ways we have constructed our societal set of values.

Work and technology are tools to allow us to have better relationships with others and ourselves.  Not the other way around.  So if we really want to have better sex, relationships, lives, we need first to set our priorities straight.  Once we do that, we are set to take the voyage of self knowledge and most likely will not need any self-help books.

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Allowing Ourselves To Live Different Types Of Relationships

May 17, 2010 by  
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There are many kinds of relationships.  We just need to be open to enjoy them for what they are.  It sounds like a pretty obvious statement but the truth is people are complicated and we often have expectations.

But expectations keep us from living and enjoying certain relationships, because we want them to be something else than what they are.  If we can learn to live in the present and enjoy people and our connections as they happen and as they are, we would have more fun in our lives.

Sometimes relationships are just intellectual.  And that is just what they are. But we can have wonderful conversations if we don’t keep hoping and expecting them to be something else.

Sometimes relationships are just sexual.  And that is great.  Feeling sexual and sharing it with someone else can be a good experience if we don’t get frustrated and angry hoping it can be different.

And sometimes we have those relationships where most everything falls into place.  And it is heaven.

In every situation we have to ask ourselves: can I deal with this?  Am I okay if that is all I get from this experience.  Once we can answer yes, then that the key becomes not to force the relationship to be everything to us.

Sometimes connections are in our paths to fulfill some want or desire we are feeling.  Taking things for what they are and letting them run their course is a mature and smart way to live life.

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Through Grief Into Life

March 24, 2010 by  
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After my husband passed away I put his wedding ring on a chain and wore it around my neck.  Then I wondered when my own wedding ring should join his in the same chain.  Then one day his ring, my ring and the chain were placed in a velvet box in my closet.

Life goes on.

I miss intimacy.  Not just sex but lying in bed with someone and watching TV, having candle lit dinners, and falling asleep with another person’s arms around me.  I also miss having a man around the house doing things I can’t.  And I miss my husband.

The other day a friend came over and hung the house numbers – I had taken them down while having the house painted – which had been resting in a drawer for the last six months.  His presence in a way made me feel as if I was again one half of a couple and I realized how much I like that feeling.  I love sharing.  I specially like to share the good things I accomplish in work, the fun stuff I do or the nice things I hear from others.  When I’m blue I most often prefer solitude.

After my friend or as a girlfriend called him – borrowed husband – finished the house tasks, I cooked a meal and felt compelled to light candles.  I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t add that I also felt physically attracted to him.  While handing him tools our hands touched and I felt his skin to be soft and smooth.  I watched his arms flex as he worked and my heart skipped a beat.

Life goes on.

This was the first time since my husband passed away nineteen months ago that I felt attracted to anyone.  But it was not the first time I thought about the possibility of being intimate with someone else.  Last month I bought online two sets of sexy lingerie that have been living in a plastic bag in my drawer since their arrival.  They are laying low waiting for the right time to adorn my body.

Of course all these feelings are in my head and heart.  I don’t know how or when they will manifest as a reality but when I daydream my needs for giving and receiving love exist without a hitch.  Kisses and touches happen in a most harmonious way and the shock of being in a new man’s arms after years of being with my husband do not stop me from experiencing the moment.

Reality could be somewhat different.  Fear and guilt might populate my heart. Do my feelings mean I love Chris less than someone else who forever will keep their hearts shut?

No.

I know I will always love Chris and he will always be my husband.  But I also know I have in my heart the space for loving and receiving love from another man.

Life goes on.

I won’t rush anything.  I try my best to live one day at a time as life has shown me that plans often go astray in life’s rambunctious nature.

But I do know one day all the love I have in me will find a worthy recipient and then again on a Sunday I will again wake up late with my man and make him brunch.

I am part of a community of men and women whose scars run deep but whose hopes and love for life keep us all going.

Life goes on.  We love, laugh, and cry but above all else we must live with the hurt and the hope.  It is our gift to ourselves and the ones we have lost.

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Owning My Own Sex

November 15, 2009 by  
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While reading Lisa Guest’s post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-guest/identity-lifes-superimpos_b_356105.html) on her sex journey through her adulthood I thought about my own.

I have been sexually active since I was thirteen years old.  At that time I had a boyfriend who I loved with the heart a thirteen year old could have and he loved me back with his seventeen year old heart.  All was perfect except that my boyfriend was having sex with an older woman.  He told me because he didn’t want to keep anything from me. He explained that the reason he was seeing this woman was because he needed and wanted to have sex.   It didn’t make any sense to me at the time; why would he be willing to have sex with another woman and not me?  He tried to make me understand that I was too young but I wouldn’t hear and so I spent the next three months trying to talk him into having sex with me until I succeeded.

We continued living our love story until I was seventeen and the world was a very big place for me to only be his girlfriend.   Although I don’t recommend to thirteen year old girls to engage in sex – I was lucky my experience was one of love but it could have been disastrous – I only have good thoughts about that time in my life.  It was a different time where AIDS and a lot of other sexually transmitted diseases weren’t as much of an issue as they are today and so I lived my teenage love story with a boy who truly loved me.

Of course I learned very little about sex during that time as I never talked to adults about it and they never thought to tell me the birds and the bees story.

I loved sex but I also learned to use it as a way to feel “loved”.  When I moved to NYC at age eighteen, I had many one night stands and while they were fun when happening, they always left me with a bigger hole than the one I had started with.  That’s actually the reason why I got into my first marriage.  I met someone who I thought would help me get my life back on track, working towards something meaningful and creating some type of a family, and so at age twenty I was tying the knot with a man eleven years older than me who quickly made me look fondly to those lonely days.

I didn’t have an orgasm until I was a thirty two year old divorcee.  It just kind of happened.  I was fooling around with a boyfriend, a nice sweet guy, when it happened.  It was a sensation like none other and I was blown away by it.  After, I wished my mother would have taught me a thing or two or that my girlfriends, who were having their orgasms, would have shared with me how it happened and what it was all about.  I was happy that I finally was having mine, but I wished it hadn’t taken me so long.

Now having an orgasm in a way made things a bit more complicated.  Before having a real one, I wasn’t sure what it was or felt like, so when asked by partners if I had one I would always say “yes”.  I think you can say I was faking.  Not that I didn’t enjoy myself but I was certainly faking the big “o”.

Because so many men don’t really know and sometimes don’t care about female orgasm we go through many sexual encounters that are simply unsatisfying in many levels. So what happened after my first one was that unfortunately I had to continue faking it but now fully knowing I was doing it.

I don’t have kids but if I had daughters I would want to talk to them, when time came, about their sexuality.  I would want them to own their body and desire much more than I had owned mine when I was a young woman.  I think knowing how our pleasure works can empower us as women and can help us have more of a sense of self-respect and a more satisfying sexual life.

When I met my second husband I found in him a sexual and spiritual connection.  Here was a man who really wanted to love and please me while I loved and pleased him.  He also understood that my way of being pleased was my own and it was never a reflection on his abilities.  He was a man in every sense of what the word means.

Today, I am a widow and sexually I haven’t been with anyone for about two years.  Sometimes my body screams to be touched and I think back to those days of one night stands but soon realize those were the days I didn’t understand the depths of that being naked inside and out with another human can be.

I’m not saying that every sexual encounter needs to be with your soul mate.  But I do think for the sex to be truly fulfilling, at least for me, it needs to be profound at the moment that it happens and that the two people are able and willing to share the strengths and weaknesses that make us human.   I guess my requirement is sex between two adults. I have been through too much not to see another person with love and compassion and be seen the same way.

I do know love has many meanings and shades and so does sex but at a certain point in the life of an adult some shades no longer look good on us.  So I probably won’t be having my one night stand any time soon but I do look forward to the possibility of sharing love without being concerned about the hows and whats with another person.

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Sex And “The Secret”

September 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured

By Marnia Robinson and Gary Wilson

How many people have asked you, “Seen The Secret yet?” It’s a documentary about the law of attraction. The message is that our thoughts, feelings and expectations shape our experience of the material plane. The film reminds us to choose thoughts consciously, as we tend to create more of whatever we focus upon – desirable or undesirable.

Consciously focusing on what we hope to create is certainly wise. Yet it may be even more vital to cultivate equilibrium. Without inner equilibrium, we can easily trip on two major stumbling blocks when using the principles of “The Secret.” The first is that we may choose what we want to create based on primitive brain impulses from the Limbic and Reptilian portions of the brain (see diagram below) that are not in our true best interest. The second is that our subconscious feelings also manifest in our lives, so mood swings born of subtle neurochemical shifts create unintended results. Intense fluctuating feelings mean that one minute we see clear evidence that the Divine is in our corner, and the next moment it feels as if we are being punished for some infraction we don’t remember committing.

In contrast, equilibrium encourages genuine wellbeing. Such feelings attract fulfillment and a strong faith that the universe is beneficent.

What do you really want?

Let’s look first at how impulses can influence the use of the law of attraction. All mammals are programmed with powerful urges for certain things, whether or not those things are in their best interest. In the case of humans these include preference for sugary and fatty foods, short-term benefits without considering long-term consequences, impulsive procreation, changing mates, and so forth. Across our species such innate urges foster survival to sexual maturity and the passing on of as many genes as possible. It is not the job of these primitive urges to move us toward personal growth, harmonious long-term relationships, or heightened spiritual awareness.

Therefore, if we rely strictly on our cravings to decide what we will use The Secret to create, our choices tend to be skewed. For example, an addict might be tempted to use the law of attraction to manifest a lifestyle that enables him to obtain the substance or indulge in the activity to which he is addicted. The power to manifest an “adult shop” around the corner is probably not the highest use of the law of attraction. Similarly, a woman might be tempted to attract a particular lover based on sexual chemistry. She may not realize that the qualities her primitive brain is seeking in him in order to pass on more genes via her own offspring – such as his attractiveness to other women – are not the qualities that would make him a good life partner. In each case, the person employing the law of attraction would be using it self-destructively because he/she is pursuing subconscious impulses, which feel like great ideas.

primbrn1The source of these primitive impulses, the reward circuitry in the brain’s limbic system, is a fountain of wants and desires. Part of its function is to encourage us to engage in an ongoing search for satisfaction … without ever finding it. It keeps us striving. This perpetual questing has spread humans around the globe in ever increasing numbers. It also leaves mankind extremely susceptible to marketing and advertising that promise satisfaction – whatever they actually deliver. In short, our built-in perpetual dissatisfaction allows us to be manipulated so that we exploit the resources of the planet with little regard for balance. Frankly, the film The Secret itself encourages this reflexive consumerism.

Buddha studied this weakness in human design a long time ago, and concluded that the source of all mankind’s misery is desire. Yet there is a way to counteract this built-in weakness. By cultivating inner equilibrium, we can muffle the cravings that otherwise lead us to grasp at each new sexual (or other) thrill, culinary temptation, promise of short-term relief, or impressive gizmo. With a sense of balanced wellbeing, it is easier to see which things really benefit us.

As it turns out, we may be better served by deeper, more harmonious interactions with others, time to read our inner compasses so we use our lives to best effect, a sense of connectedness and alignment with the Divine, and forgiveness and service to others. Our own actions act as magnets – attracting similar actions from others, so forgiveness and selfless service are particularly useful.

The point is that we need inner balance and freedom from our intense, primitive yearnings to bring our best goals to conscious awareness. Only then can we use the law of attraction safely and in the best interest of all.

Sex and the cultivation of inner equilibrium

Spiritual traditions often teach the cultivation of equilibrium through meditation or prayer. Most also have monastic orders, which emphasize that celibacy is critically important in this process. It is easy to understand why. Fertilization-driven sex is not only a most powerful urge, but it also sets off a subsequent, subconscious cycle of perception-shifting neurochemical changes. Without our realizing it consciously, both sexual frustration and climax powerfully influence our state of mind in ways that temporarily disrupt our sense of wellbeing and balance. Beset with intense desires or unnatural apathy, we suffer – and our reality reflects back to us that suffering, hampering our spiritual optimism and progress.

Devotional celibacy takes the knife out of aspirants’ hands by mandating gender segregation, declaring lustful thoughts off-limits, and teaching practices that aid in quieting such thoughts. However, it may be even more effective to master an approach to sex that promotes equilibrium in a stable, sustainable way. Without the intense neurochemistry that accompanies climax one also quells the subconscious ripples that inevitably follow at a neurochemical level.

The chief risk of the “controlled intercourse” path is that the initial learning curve may result in so many slips back into orgasm that the couple does not experience the benefits of equilibrium and gives up before mastering the practice. If a couple masters it, however, the practice of making love without orgasm often proves more sustainable than celibacy. Its other advantage over celibacy is that it counters the aching longings of celibacy – which are feelings of lack (more on the significance of feelings of lack in a moment).

True, the couple may experience a longing for orgasm for a time, but as they continue this gentle lovemaking practice, focusing strictly on the generous healing of each other, they often find that the longing for orgasm settles down to quite manageable levels, replaced by a comforting sense of wholeness and wellbeing. Dr. J. William Lloyd described this sensation:

in successful Karezza the rest of the body of each partner glows with a wonderful vigor and conscious joy…tending to irradiate the whole being with romantic love; and always with an after-feeling of health, purity and wellbeing. We are most happy and good-humored as after a full meal.

The power of a subtle sense of lack

Why should feelings of wholeness and wellbeing be so important in shaping how our thoughts manifest? After all, can’t we just visualize away any sexual hangovers using the principles of The Secret?

Alas, the law of attraction does not function solely based on our conscious thoughts. Our subconscious feelings and expectations also shape our experience. If we’re feeling satisfied, whole and full of energy, then we tend to attract events that reflect our inner fullness: material abundance, time for things we need to do, and a sense that the Divine is nurturing us.

However, if we are feeling depleted or needy, our feelings tend to attract draining events, taxing demands, inadequate support from those around us … and above all material scarcity or greed. When we have a subconscious sense of lack, it feels like there isn’t enough to go around, so it feels risky to share what we have with others. Selfishness is therefore a natural outcome of feeling depleted or needy.

Ever wondered where all the scarcity and selfishness come from on this planet? Obviously, no one consciously uses the law of attraction to create scarcity. Yet, if you look around, a sense of “not enough” is clearly one of the most powerful thought-forms on this planet.

dopaminesmIs it possible that humanity creates and reinforces subconscious feelings of lack constantly with fertilization driven sex? Certainly, the sensational feeling of high dopamine at orgasm is followed by a steep drop in dopamine (and other neurochemical changes that last for days). Low dopamine gives one a sense that some key element for happiness is missing, a malaise that colors one’s perception of the world, and tends to attract accordingly. Might that be how humans contribute to a worldwide lack of material abundance, and the tendency to cheat or grab more than their share?

Because some of these shifts occur at a subconscious level, we may not be aware of these subtle changes in perception. Yet that doesn’t prevent the law of attraction from operating on them.

If we are feeling jumpy with excess sexual energy, what might that state of mind attract? Distractions, short-term or unrealistic thinking, get-rich-quick schemes, and desires for addictive highs (sex or substances). These perfectly natural subconscious feelings, which are also normal phases of the orgasm cycle, play a profound role in what we create in our lives – no matter how deliberately and scientifically we employ the law of attraction at a conscious level.

Sex and the power to create

Napoleon Hill wrote a classic best seller decades ago about the same principles portrayed in The Secret. In Think and Grow Rich he emphasized the importance of careful management of sexual energy:

No man can avail himself of the forces of his creative imagination, while dissipating them. Man is the onlyhill1 creature on earth which violates Nature’s purpose in this connection. Every other animal responds to the call of sex only in “season.” Man’s inclination is to declare “open season.” The lives of many reflect a continued dissipation of energies, which could have been more profitably turned into better channels….

When harnessed, and redirected along other lines, [the sex drive] maintains all of its attributes of keenness of imagination, courage, etc., which may be used as powerful creative forces in literature, art, or in any other profession or calling, including, of course, the accumulation of riches.

For Hill, the answer is clear: a loving relationship with sexual discipline.

Sex, alone, is a mighty urge to action, but its forces are like a cyclone – they are often uncontrollable. When the emotion of love begins to mix itself with the emotion of sex, the result is calmness of purpose, poise, accuracy of judgment, and balance….

No man is happy or complete without the modifying influence of the right woman. The man who does not recognize this important truth deprives himself of the power which has done more to help men achieve success than all other forces combined.

A key question

The next time someone tells you that orgasm never sets off a withdrawal phase over the days or weeks following, remember that the shifts can be subtle and subconscious. Quietly ask yourself if events and circumstances in that person’s life suggest that a sense of lack is actually manifesting.

Remember, the sense of lack or malaise can be projected in any direction. Often it is projected onto one’s lover, who is perceived as needy or emotionally distant (needing ‘space’). In such case it attracts dissatisfaction, irritability, apathy, defensiveness and emotional separation. In contrast, loving couples may not tend to project this subtle sense of lack onto each other. They will reap many benefits from their union. Trusted companionship manifests in events that reflect a sense of safety. Yet the downside of the passion cycle will also show up in their lives. It may show up as increasing lack of sexual contact (thus gradually decreasing their beneficial sense of wholeness), or as money woes, professional troubles, illness, chaotic/draining challenges, addictions, and so forth.

In short, a subtle, recurring sense of lack combined with the law of attraction is never a welcome influence in our lives – and yet it is present in most every adult life. Both celibacy and passion can leave us with longings. Whatever its source, a sense of lack renders our lives less joyful and balanced than they otherwise would be. Life seems a struggle.

A deep sense of equilibrium and wholeness helps us to create abundance. Anxiety or a sense that something is missing shows up as lack.

Spiritual Wholeness

Worse yet, subtle feelings of depletion or neediness make us feel like our Creator isn’t particularly loving.

If God is what people say He is, there can be no one in the universe so unhappy as He; for He unceasingly sees myriads of His creatures suffering unspeakable miseries – and besides this foresees how they are going to suffer during the remainder of their lives. Mark Twain

This suspicion that God isn’t looking after us keeps us feeling separate from our Creator, our world and each other. It is, in fact, the source of our dualistic perception. Various spiritual teachings insist that when we can overcome our dualistic perception of the world, we will transcend our limited, material-plane perception and restore ourselves to our innate multi-dimensional abilities. Deep, sustainable feelings of wholeness and wellbeing may be a critical step toward this effort.

When we feel whole, that is, when not beset by primitive cravings or recurring feelings of depletion, we tend to perceive our common interests with others more easily – perhaps because our perception is free of the protective selfishness that is so characteristic of subconscious feelings of lack.

When we feel whole, it is easier to hear the “still small voice of Spirit,” and tap our inner wisdom. Anyone who has ever tried to hear Spirit while experiencing intense sexual desire for an unsuitable partner knows just how hard it can be to hear that voice while under the influence of hormonal/neurochemical extremes.

When we feel whole, we also align more easily with the wholeness of the Divine. It may even be that an experience of transcendent oneness with another is an experience so close to the awareness of our universal oneness that it can be a shortcut back to full spiritual perception.

Sexual desire represents a critical decision point, although we seldom choose consciously. We can use desire (carefully) to increase our sense of safety and wholeness. Then we welcome contact and oneness with others – including our Creator. This aligns us with the flow of loving abundance throughout creation. Or we can use sexual desire to set off a subconscious cycle of highs and lows. The lows will tend to shift our perception for the worse, setting off a sense of depletion/cravings that push us toward defensiveness and selfishness. Then it is very difficult to align with the flow of loving abundance.

The real secret is that we choose how to use this powerful force in concert with the law of attraction.

Marnia Robinson (with degrees from Brown and Yale) is a former corporate lawyer who left her career to investigate how ancient sacred-sex prescriptions can heal the widespread disharmony in intimate relationships. Her last conventional job took her to Europe as “Director of Legal Services – Europe” for Campbell Soup Company.

Gary Wilson attended nursing school before becoming a licensed massage therapist. He teaches anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology, and advanced bodywork modalities (sports massage and neuromuscular therapy) at several massage schools in California and Oregon.

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Bonding Behaviors

September 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured

Written by Marnia Robinson

Want to bond more deeply with your lover? Use these behaviors to speak directly to the only part of your brains that can fall in love, or stay in love. The desire for, and rewards of, these behaviors are deeply rooted in millions of year of evolution. Enjoy!

  • smiling, with eye contact
  • skin-to-skin contact
  • holding, or spooning, each other in stillness for at least twenty minutes to a half-hour
  • wordless sounds of contentment and pleasure
  • stroking with intent to comfort
  • massaging with intent to comfort, especially feet, shoulders and head
  • hugging with intent to comfort
  • lying with your ear over your partner’s heart and listening to his or her heartbeat for several moments
  • gently placing your palm over your lover’s genitals with intent to comfort
  • providing a service or treat without being asked
  • giving unsolicited approval, via smiles or compliments
  • gazing into each other’s eyes for several moments
  • listening intently, and restating what you hear
  • forgiving or overlooking an error or thoughtless remark, whether past or present
  • preparing your partner something to eat
  • synchronized breathing
  • kissing with lips and tongues
  • making time together at bedtime a priority (even if one partner has to get up and work on something afterward)

Marnia Robinson (with degrees from Brown and Yale) is a former corporate lawyer who left her career to investigate how ancient sacred-sex prescriptions can heal disharmony in intimate relationships. She is the author of Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships. Her work has been featured in the award-winning anthology Toward 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age. She runs the web site Reuniting: Healing with Sexual Relationships, and resides in Ashland, Oregon with her husband, Gary Wilson.

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Governor Sanford And Love

July 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured

Written By Bill J.

I read some of the emails allegedly written by the Governor Sanford and his girlfriend from Argentina. A few sentences stood out to me as I read thru them. Gov. Sanford speaks of an emotional bank account full of love. I remember someone else who used this term back when I was a Christian. It got me thinking, is there such thing as a bank account of love? What is love in this context?

Is love a feeling? Is love a commitment? Is love grace, mercy, empathy or unconditional acceptance? Love in the English language simply means a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. Among other definitions it means sexual affection and intercourse or simply a term of endearment never implying any sex or physical attraction.

Love is a complex issue and one that seems unique to the individual because it is based on their motivations. When we do anything, even love someone, we draw from whatever is stored in our minds and what is stored in our mind is a catalog of information and facts based on our education, experiences and self knowledge. It is these items that form our beliefs about love and consequently our feelings, motivations and eventually our actions, behaviors and attitude.

When we say I love you, what are we saying? In reality, meaning the day to day meanderings of your average person, saying I love you probably means you are important to me even if I don’t feel anything so intense as sexual attraction, physical desire or I’m ready to throw myself under a bus for you. It probably is a simply expression of endearment that let you know you are not alone. When you are feeling attraction coupled with trust, I love you probably means I want you to know how good you make me feel. When you are in the middle of passionate sex with someone you trust and are attracted to, it probably means keep going because this feels really good.

How do we really love someone? I Corinthians 13, which is a letter written presumably by the Apostle Paul, tells us many attributes of love from his point of view. The list states that love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.

I think this is a good list detailing love, but honestly, these are actions and not feelings or at least the absence of certain emotions like envy, and pride or being easily angered. So in retrospect, the author of this letter is telling us that love is prohibiting certain emotions and acting out behaviors like kindness, trusting, protecting, and persevering.

We can learn just as much by what a person doesn’t say as by what they do say. The writer never says love is a feeling of sexual desire or physical attraction. The writer never says love is getting married or having children. The writer never says love isn’t possible with more than one person. The writer never says jealousy is a part of love. This last one is ironic considering God is a jealous god, according to ancient Jewish writers (the penalty for straying from God in those days was death). Is jealousy a good or positive emotion in any relationship? In essence, love as defined by this Biblical writer, is mostly, if not entirely, about actions and behaviors or the lack of some of them.

I find meaningful love to be an attitude, which translates into certain actions and behaviors that facilitate good will toward people or a person. Can everyone love according to this definition? Can a psychopath love according to this definition?

If love is the greatest of all commandments, as is attributed to Jesus, then some people can’t love because of mental or organic birth defects and some people, meaning psychopaths can love even if they feel no emotion like affection, remorse, empathy or guilt. Do you need emotions to love someone? If so, what happens when those emotions cease to exist in a relationship?

As I am sure that you know, emotions come and go and sometimes for no discernible reason. Do we always feel positive emotions toward people in our lives? Is it possible that positives feelings simply are not love, but the byproduct of our thoughts, and beliefs? Seems to me that love is an attitude created by our beliefs and thoughts and these translate into behavior.

Having an affair isn’t about love in my opinion as much as it is about capturing emotions that make us feel good or escaping boredom, and/or depression. Falling in love isn’t about noble values as much as it is about being physically and sexually attracted to someone. Jealousy isn’t about love as much as it is about fear and insecurity. Sex isn’t about love as much as it is about the feel good chemicals that release in our brain from sexual stimulation and orgasm. We all remember those first pangs of attraction and desire. They are powerfully good feelings and sex can feel similar to them. The best sex, in my opinion, happens between two people who trust one another.

When feelings of good will or emotional attraction no longer exist in a relationship it can usually be boiled down to our thoughts. Sometimes mental issues like organic depression take away feelings, but mostly our belief and/or thinking, is the cause of our diminished feelings. Sexual attraction or just being horny has as much to do with biological cues that seem to be motivated by visual attraction to body shapes, contours and the subtle exposure of those body parts, and of course facial characteristics. Yes, I know, women are often aroused by more than visual stimulation; however studies show that women respond just as much if not more, to visual signs as do men. For women, the next level is often more about the emotional connection which they seem to translate into trust and trust allows for a much deeper form of intimacy that men seem to be in short supply of.

Can you love someone who isn’t physically attractive to you? Can you love a partner who no longer can have sex with you because of a physical limitation? Do you need sex and sexual attraction to be happy, stay married or remain in a relationship? Is sex with someone other than your partner or spouse a deal breaker? If you could not longer have sex would you let your spouse or partner have sex with someone else even if they loved you and didn’t want to leave you? I think we need to ask ourselves these questions rather than stand for ideals and values that may not work.

Considering that about 60% of marriages fail in this country. What does that tell us about the state of commitment, marriage, and our ability to live up to these values? Please don’t blame divorce on a lack of morals or an evil selfish society lacking in a god. Divorce among Christians is far higher than among atheists.

There are many biological components to attraction, bonding and mating. Many different types of chemicals are released during attraction, sex and touch. These chemicals are powerful in that they shape our thinking and influence our feelings. The research shows that it takes about 18 months for all those chemicals to subside and go back to normal levels. In the mean time, who you bonded with, moved in with or married may not be your ideal mate. Unfortunately many people, under the influence of attraction and sex chemicals, didn’t really pay attention to the aspects of their partner that bothered them. Sometimes it’s too late to back out and people stay together often out of responsibility or practicality rather than mutual trust, values, attraction and respect. The love is gone so to speak. Those feelings of lust and sensuality may never come back if there isn’t a deeper connection then those initial chemical markers released during the honeymoon period.

In reading Governor Sanford’s alleged emails to his girlfriend, I see some of the same issues that plague us all. He is stressed, unhappy (even though he has much and attained much), middle aged and wondering if he will ever feel those powerful feelings of sexual attraction again i.e. love. Governor Sanford forcefully abandoned principles and values that he espouses just to be with his girlfriend even to the point of leaving his wife and children on Fathers Day. His actions should tell us something about how powerful attraction is.

I think we all long to feel overwhelmed with those powerful feelings of attraction and sexual desire. They make us happy and pleasure is what motivates the human race according to Freud. We all hope to be unconditionally loved and made to feel secure, but we know that no relationship is perfect simply because we are not perfect. Love is not a feeling of attraction, sexual satisfaction or simply a commitment to some moralistic value system. Neither is love simply a choice. I certainly don’t want someone saying they love me simply because they choose to. It’s as if choosing to be nice is another word for love. If that were the case wars would cease, divorce would never happen and sex would be boring. Love is as much about an attitude of the mind that respects both oneself and others.

Love is about being honest, secure with simply being yourself, emotionally transparent with people you trust, authentic, kind, open minded, gentle, compassionate, empathetic, reasonable, not giving up and always treating people as you yourself would wish to be treated. It is about reaching deep down and finding what really matters and forgetting about trying to possess another or control them to simply make your life feel safer or secure. In my opinion, we don’t need a back account of love collected by good deeds, we are better off being true to ourselves and authentic with others.

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