Mindful Sex Threesome

Mindful Sex: The Threesome

My first threesome involved a lot of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and a mattress on the floor. It was fun, sloppy, and we all had a good time. After that my triad sexual experiences were all heavily supported by the use of alcohol. Sometimes they were the result of wanting to get physical with someone other than my partner, but not wanting to cheat. I always woke up the next morning feeling a little confused, a little guilty, and a lot hung-over. I never really had to deal with the politics of a threesome, and certainly not the complex feelings that can arise, because I was not actually present. I also missed out on how fun and sexy it can be to have an extra set of hands in the mix, or to watch your partner exploring another body.

Today I like to show up for everything, including my sex life. And let me tell you, fully experiencing a threesome is way better than drunkenly fumbling though one. Mindfulness can expand in all directions of life, including new sexual adventures. The more you bring your practice into every aspect of your day, the more you have the potential to lead an awakened life. I always talk about how the very challenging times are incredibly ripe for spiritual growth, but so are the fun, very sexy times. A new sexual experience, such as a ménage à trois, offers a smorgasbord of sensory and mental activity. If you get mindful about it, a threesome can be a spiritual path of it’s own. Just to be clear, your sex life being a spiritual path does not necessarily have equal some sort of new age explosion of “spirituality.” It can still be dirty, wild, and fun. Everything is a spiritual path and in my experience that path keeps getting more simple and ordinary every day. And sexier too.

There are, however, unique challenges and negotiations involved with bringing a third person into the bedroom. If you are considering inviting someone to join you and your partner, a mindful approach will make all the difference in taking it from fun to really fun. Here are a few tips for making your threesome fantasy a reality that doesn’t require a bottle of rum:

 

DON’T “BUY A PUPPY”

Wanting to spice things up is one thing, trying to fix your relationship by throwing another body at it is another. Whatever needs to be addressed between the two of you will not magically disappear when you see your girlfriend going down on another woman. It might be momentarily forgotten, but it’s not a cure.

There is also the chance that your problems will surface during the threesome. That could get a bit awkward to say the least. So just like buying a puppy isn’t a good idea when a relationship is going though a rocky period, either is group sex. Talk about what you hope to get out of including someone else in your sex life. Notice and discuss if either of you has hopes of it fixing the problems you are experiencing. Most importantly be honest with yourself. The best way I know to be totally honest with myself is to sit down and get still. Meditation has a way of pushing what is true to the top of consciousness.

 

TALK DIRTY (IN A CLEAR WAY)

Before you embark on a three-way, sit down with your partner and talk about what your expectations are. Decide what is off-limits and what is free game. Come up with a plan of action if one of you starts to get uncomfortable. When exploring an alternative lifestyle in your relationship, Moushumi Ghose, MFT, a sex-positive therapist and co-host of The Sex Talk, says, “Setting ground rules is key. Things will come up while you are out there ‘mixing it up’ so having as many key words, and advance communication to help ease the situation will make it all the better.”

Power dynamics can be especially important to discuss. While being dominate with your partner might be the norm, it may not be appropriate when someone else is there. Getting spanked in front of someone else could be incredibly hot; it could also be really embarrassing. If you are inclined to be kinky, decide what stays in the chest under the bed and what comes out, before your friend arrives. If having this kind of discussion scares you, you may not be ready to take this step. Practice just talking about it, while mindfully noticing what emotions and thoughts arise, before taking the plunge.

 

TAME THE GREEN-EYED MONSTER

Jealousy has been one of my greatest teachers. That said, if I could never experience it again I would be happy to skip that class. Jealousy can be really painful and all-consuming, but with the many insights of a meditation practice you realize how pointless it is to spend time tangled up in it.

Jealousy can certainly come up in a threesome, and that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with being turned on and jealous at the same time. For some people jealousy can actually morph into a turn on. If you notice that feelings of jealousy are arising, don’t try to ignore or suppress them. What you resist persists. Instead, allow yourself to have the feelings in your body and notice the thoughts in your head without getting eaten up by them. Focus on your partners, feel your breath, and relax.

If the feelings don’t pass, take a time out and talk about what’s going on for you. Don’t use this as an opportunity to shut down. If having shut down sex with one person is bad, it’s even worse with two!

There is a great chapter on jealousy in The Ethical Slut, by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt that is helpful for everyone, threesome or not. If you are working through a lot of jealousy, rooted in abandonment issues, you may want to hold off on seeing your partner have sex with someone else. Take the time to address those issues, and know that there will be more fun opportunities in the future. For me, meditations on jealousy have given me access to some very profound insights. Once you stop trying to make the discomfort of jealousy go away, there is so much to learn.

 

SAFETY FIRST

Discuss sexual history and practice safe sex with anyone you invite to join you. Period. This may feel awkward and that’s okay. A meditation practice can give you all the tools you need to greet that awkward feeling with equanimity. As you allow yourself to have the experience you are having, without resisting, you will feel more comfortable to communicate with others freely.

 

TAKE IT ALL IN BABY

You are having sex with three people! Be there for it. Open your eyes and take it in. Stay with the sensations, tastes, smells, and sounds. Treat this as a meditation. The more open, free, and present you are, the more you will inspire your partners to be. Let the experience unfold in its natural way and don’t worry about “getting it right.” Take your time to get to know this new body that is mingling with you and your partner.

If the excitement and newness of the situation speeds you up too much, pause. Settle into your body and breathe. As you breathe feel how the pleasure moves through your body. Connect with the other people who are also breathing and feeling good.

You may discover new things about yourself and your partner when you expand your sex life in this way. Stay open to all the gifts that your sexuality has to offer. Be brave and have fun.

It may be that just talking about a threesome is enough for you. Just sharing the fantasy of opening your relationship in that way can be really hot. Experiment and greet your experiences with mindful awareness.

One of my teachers, Shinzen Young, talks about making your romantic relationship a monastery. Do this in all ways, including trying new things in the bedroom. Remember to really show up for all of it, each moan, tingle, and quiver. Who said being mindful couldn’t involve multiple people having multiple orgasms?

 

Originally published on Deconstructing Yourself. Read Jessica’s Mindful Sex Series here.

If you are not in a relationship but interested in exploring threesomes check out this installment of The Sex Talk here. For more info on Moushumi Ghose visit her here.


commitment you deserve

Getting the Commitment You Deserve

I’m at the age where everyone around me is getting married and having kids. Watching this can be very hard for those who want to get married but have not yet met a life-partner or are with someone who isn’t ready for that kind of commitment. For example, I was recently talking to a friend of mine who wants to marry his girlfriend. He has never had a strong desire to get hitched to anyone before, but he feels like she is the right one and wants to make it official. He shared with me that, much to his disappointment, she doesn’t feel the same way just yet. He isn’t sure how to move forward from here now that the cat needs to go back in the bag somehow.

This conversation got me thinking about commitment. Perhaps wanting more commitment from a significant other, an employee or an employer, a friend or a family member is actually an opportunity to make a bigger commitment to ourselves. What if we took that longing for a diamond ring or a promotion and turned it in to a longing for a deeper love and understanding of ourselves?

One way to begin practicing this kind of self-commitment is to be willing to sit with ourselves, our ever-changing and fluid selves. Feeling your feelings instead of resisting them is saying Yes to a proposal from your deepest self. This self-commitment can be as scary as committing to a lover or a job. Be gentle and brave as you observe and explore the flow of emotional sensations in your meditation.

Not all of us grew up with adults that could hold space for our fears, sadness, insecurities, or even joys. Some of us were raised by people who couldn’t commit to themselves let alone to us. We now have a chance to create and hold that space for ourselves. Every moment is a new opportunity to commit to knowing ourselves more deeply and staying present to our experiences more completely.

It can seem terrifying to sit with feelings like the heartbreak that my friend felt when his lady answered, “Not yet.” I often hear people who are resisting challenging emotions say, “If I start crying I don’t think I’ll ever stop.” You will stop. You might start back up again for a while, but the tears, fear, embarrassment, or whatever it is for you, won’t go on forever.

Furthermore, as anyone who has sat for long enough with emotional discomfort will tell you, your relationship with painful emotions will start to change. You will begin to notice that emotions are simply physical sensations, and when separated from the story in your head, they stop being bad or good. You begin to recognize them as the movement of life, the energy that is in all things.

Committing to yourself, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death, is something you can do every time you stay with an uncomfortable emotion instead of checking Facebook or some other distraction. It’s something you can do every time you listen to the small clear voice inside that tells you to take that exciting new job even though you are afraid. It’s something you can do every time you sit down on your cushion and do your meditation daily practice. The commitment you make to yourself every day will create a foundation for a deeper and deeper self-love. You deserve that commitment.

 

Originally published on Deconstructing Yourself. Read Jessica’s Mindful Sex Series here.


jessica and dad

Dying With Dad (first in series)

One of the perks of meditation is that it instills compassion in the practitioner. True compassion comes from a place free of expectation, need, or neuroses. It isn’t personal in the sense that I once thought. Compassion comes from a very expanded perspective; it’s not limited to Me and the story of what it means to be a compassionate person. Some of the most compassionate people I have met are not exactly warm and loving in the way you might imagine. Their compassion extends past the personal, to a more universal place. When I cared for my father in the last months of his life, the compassion I felt for him was less personal and more universal than I had ever experienced. This is what made it possible for me to be one of his caretakers without suffering greatly.

I had acted as my father’s caretaker previously. The first time that comes to mind is Christmas Eve when I was six. I was wide-awake in our family bed, hoping to hear the reindeers’ hooves on our roof, when my mom tried to wake up my dad. I realized then that Christmas was not what it seemed. My mom couldn’t wake my dad and so she went downstairs without him. Something told me that he might be disappointed if he wasn’t part of what was happening below. Or, that he might get in trouble with my mom if he was a no-show. Because of my dad’s drinking, it was quite a challenge to wake him once he was asleep. I didn’t take any chances. I kicked him, with all my six year old might, in the leg. Mumbling and grumbling, he woke up. Soon he was downstairs with my mom, eating the chips and salsa that my sisters and I had left out for Santa. The feeling of knowing I had taken care of my dad overrode the stark realization that there would be no reindeer hooves, and I finally fell asleep.

There are many more stories about how I took care of my dad. The highlights include: Putting out a small fire on the motel carpet, after he had passed out with a lit cigarette in his hand; sitting with him late into the night while he listened to John Lennon and cried; picking him up off the kitchen floor and dragging him to the couch and covering him with a caftan; and lots of advice sessions on how to improve his relationships with my sisters.

My dad took care of me too, in the ways that he could. He sent me lots of care packages that included cash when I moved to LA. I still have stacks of “just because” cards that he mailed me over the years. He always had a small gift for me when I saw him and took me on many trips and to concerts. He nursed me through innumerable terrible hangovers with ginger ale and Campbell’s chicken and rice soup (he also always offered “hair of the dog”!).

All of my caretaking came from my need to fix him. If I could fix him, maybe he could become the dad I wanted. He wasn’t the only fixer-upper I had, just the first. I had many boyfriends and girlfriends who filled the same need for me. Eventually I realized that I was just recreating a pattern and hoping that it would turn out differently this time. That insight was a real game changer. It took time, support, and a lot of meditation to really put that realization into action, but I’m happy to report that I’m not interested in saving anyone anymore. By the time my dad was in his final months I was in good emotional and spiritual shape to be a compassionate caretaker, without falling into my old ways. That doesn’t mean that I always did that perfectly, or that I never took anything personally. But my practice helped me to be gentle and non-judgmental with myself, and to get unstuck when things got sticky.

On the last full day of my dad’s life things got a little sticky. A new home health aide came to the house. She was clearly uncomfortable and unprepared. By this time, my dad wasn’t communicating very much and his eyes were starting to set in a glazed, fixed stare—a sign of impending death. I had hoped that the health aide would be able to give him a sponge bath and change his sheets. She had forgotten her latex gloves, a must for patient contact, and told me that she wouldn’t be able to bathe him after all. I asked her to help me move him to his wheelchair so that I could bathe him myself and change the sheets. She obliged, but accidentally banged him arm on the metal chair. He cried out and his skin, which had become paper-thin, began to bleed.

I was beginning to border on a freak-out. I felt angry with this woman and my voice showed it. I did what my meditation practice had taught me to do: I relaxed my body, took a few deep breaths, and allowed the thoughts and sensations of emotion arise and pass. Then I asked her to leave. I certainly didn’t want to be a jerk to this woman who had not intended to do any harm. I was also about to start crying and her shoulder wasn’t my top pick.

My dad was becoming agitated and the cut on his arm was bleeding though the bandage I had put on. I knew that his hours were numbered and seeing him in any pain at all really upset me. I felt helpless and afraid. I had been caring for him over the last month, but at that moment it seemed to me that I was not up to the task. The enormity of the previous months started to press down on me and I felt tiny and incapable of moving forward. I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. I wanted someone to wrap me up in blankets and put me to bed.

But it wasn’t time for me to break down, it was time for me to take care of my father. Big angry tears streamed down my face as a told him that I would get him clean. He couldn’t sit up on his own in the wheelchair and so I decided to move him to the recliner next to his bed. As I allowed my tears to flow, the anger and fear evaporated and a feeling of calm came over me. I continued to cry and my tears fell on my dad’s body as I lifted his emaciated body from the wheelchair. I carried him like a baby in my arms, as my tears dripped onto his neck and shoulder. The tears no longer came from sadness or anger. Instead they seemed to come from a less personal place, a place that was open and free.

The sadness, fear, and anger had transmuted into a deep feeling of love and kindness. I didn’t recognize the significance of this until later when I recounted the story to my teacher, Shinzen Young. Compassion can be born out of challenging emotions and show up when you least expect it. Only moments before I was at my wits end, and then instead of being swallowed up by grief and anguish, I was given access to a kind compassion that gave me energy and freedom

I got my dad to the recliner and slowly cleaned his body with warm soapy water. The tears fell and mixed with the water. He made small sounds and his body relaxed. When he was clean and dry, I dressed him, carried him back to his freshly made bed, and covered him with blankets.

I am so grateful for that experience. Not only the release from suffering that occurred, but also the simple beauty of cleansing my dad’s body. That was some of the last psychical caretaking I did for my dad. It came from a part of me that was free of expectation and wasn’t trying to fix him. It opened me up to be even more present with him in his final hours.

Caretaking can be complicated. It’s necessary to come from a place of compassion and openness if you want to avoid needless suffering. That may mean some deep work around the “Caretaker Ego.” Exploring why you want to help others, and what you hope to get out of it, can free you up to be truly selfless in your caretaking. The kind of compassion that can come from a meditation practice makes you available to offer care that transcends personal motives and concerns, and transmutes suffering into love and kindness. Meditation helped me to unpack years of emotional baggage about taking care of my dad. Because of this I was able to take care of him when it really mattered.

 

Originally published on Deconstructing Yourself. Read Jessica’s Mindful Sex Series here.


Awakening Ruin Art?

Will Awakening Ruin My Art?

Awakening will destroy your life. Whatever you think is yours to claim, will fall away. The self that has been driving you to do better, push harder, and succeed more grandly than the last time, will burn away to a sprinkling of ashes. But from that smokey rubble will arise a new understanding of success. A success that isn’t based on being the best, but rather on just being. This transition takes time and can be painful and awkward. For me, losing my drive to be an artist was especially gut-wrenching.

I’ve been creating art of one kind or another since I was in diapers. As a kid I wrote, directed, and starred in “variety shows.” I’d wrangle my all my sisters and brothers for rehearsals and then a big performance for our parents. Or I’d tape record talk shows in which I was the host and also all the guests, with a plethora of accents and stories to share. Writing has been a part of my life since I learned to write. I have journals from age 6 on. I was also a ballerina until at age 12 smoking cigarettes and talking to boys seemed like more fun than leotards and buns.

My love of the arts is what kept me alive during the dark years. No matter how far down the rabbit hole of drugs and alcohol I went, I’d always pop back up to make a film, or produce a play, go to an acting class, or even just see a good movie. I loved making and enjoying art more than I loved oblivion. So, not only am I passionate about making films and other creative endeavors, I owe art my life. Perhaps as much as I owe meditation my life

When I first started meditating there were a series of awakenings that rocked my world. I went from being one person to being a very different person in a matter of a few short years. One of the first things that changed was my driven attitude around my creative career. Until meditation, creativity was my one love. It always won out over my significant others even. I had one girlfriend who would just shake her head as I headed off to the theater on holidays, birthdays, and pretty much every day. I was slightly enmeshed with my creative life.

So when I fell in love with meditation, it became a new love that tore me out of the arms of art. The drive to be a successful actor, filmmaker, or writer fell away like I was shedding my skin. At first I was terrified. Who would I be if I weren’t striving every day to be better, do more? I felt like I was losing my best friend, my lover, and my guardian angel all at once. Not to mention losing the identity that I had painstakingly held together for so long. I was losing Me.

But soon I saw that there was no Me to lose. The strands of thoughts and emotions that had created this sense of self were seen for what they were. Just some impermanent phenomena that I had mistaken for Me. Once this was realized it became easy to let go of my attachment to who I thought I had to be as an artist.

I saw that much of my outward creativity up until then had been fueled by a need to be seen and loved. Performing was something that my parents noticed and celebrated when I was young. I remember the feeling of seeing my father’s pride when his friends said how great I was in the school play. I remember thinking that maybe if I were good enough (talented enough, famous enough) he would love me more than he loved alcohol. Incidentally he came to all of my plays when I was a teenager so drunk he could barely walk. Later after the DUIs he always left right afterwards so he could get back home to his fridge full of beer. He was always proud, and he always let me know that. But I never became more important than drinking. That’s the way it goes with addiction. All that to say, there were some deep reasons why I felt driven in my creative life. And those reasons fell away as my attachment to self dissolved.

So I let go of my acting representation, let go of my “look” for commercials, let go of the constant need to show up at the right party just in case I met the right person who might choose me to act in their film. I let go of that whole life. I gave in to the death of that part of me. And I was happy for a while. Just meditating, teaching meditation, going on meditation retreats, listening to talks on meditation, meditating while eating, driving, and shaving my legs. I suffered less and less and my life was filled with a peaceful happiness. It also started to get a bit, well, boring.

Then something really cool started to happen. I began to ache to perform and create. I knew I didn’t want to try to relive the past. I wanted something new and fresh and alive. There was no “drive” to BE an artist. This desire to make art was coming from something much greater than a tiny part of me that wanted approval and admiration. So after being a “self-trained” actor and writer all my life I started taking classes. I was finally humble enough to learn thanks to all the meditation. I took writing classes and entered a three-year acting program that kicked my butt and turned me on to no end. I also helped produce a short film that went on to have a successful festival run and online release.

During this time I started to come up against some old wounds around my creativity. Feelings of “not good enough” and thoughts about it being too late for me to be an artist would surface and try to get me to believe them. Some days I did. I felt very stunted and limited. I also found myself constantly supporting others in their creative pursuits, acting as cheerleader aka producer for other people’s visions. While I continue to support others in their projects, at that time it was a way to stay small and keep my own visions in a box.

My partner was and is very free in his creativity, and by contrast I felt like I was in a cage of bad memories and old beliefs. I would watch him booking roles, writing scripts, painting massive abstract works, translating ancient poetry and feel like I would never be able to express myself so freely and with such skill and beauty. One day we were driving around and I was telling him how much I wanted to express myself creatively and how I still felt stuck. He turned the car around, drove us to a little indie bookstore, parked in a loading zone, saying, “be right back!” He returned with a copy of The Artist’s Way and told me that he had seen it help other people. I figured, why not?

So I added that to my daily meditation practice (and all the other things we do to heal) and I set an intention. I would start to share my art with the world again, but from this new perspective of freedom from outcome or attachment to proving myself to be a “success.” I was clear and focused, but there was no sense of urgency. I was willing to take it one day at a time.

I wrote a lot, meditated a lot, went to my classes, and told my friends and community of my intention. I also rearranged my teaching a bit. Instead of teaching most days, I only spent half the week focused on my new love, teaching meditation. That way I could dedicate the other half of my time to my first love, art. I guess you could say that I began a polyamorous relationship with spirituality and creativity. And—surprise, surprise—came to know that there is no separation between the two. It was only my mind that wanted to draw that line.

That was only a few short years ago. It astonishes me to see what has happened in that time. I made a short film and feature film both as an actor and producer, got cast in several projects, started writing for multiple online magazines in addition to Deconstructing Yourself, got a book deal, and grew my teaching in a lovely way. It can feel a little magical to me, but when I look back I see that it has been a long road of hard work and lots of support from others. It’s not enough to set the intention, you first have to be open to the possibility of that intention, and then be willing to take the necessary steps. It’s not like The Secret.

This new relationship with my creative life has actually provided more awesome opportunities than I ever could have imagined before. I am now able to hang on loosely to my creative work, which of course makes me better at my crafts. There’s none of that fear and desperation that often accompanied a project in the past. I’m freer and braver as an actor, writer, and filmmaker because I’m freer as a person. I get to inhabit my creativity fully, without the filter of who I think I am. And now I’ve stepped into directing.

This is something I have always wanted to do, but never thought I could do. I thought to be a director you had to have vision and who did I think I was to step into that role. I didn’t think I had what it took, so I never tried. But through this process of rediscovering my creativity I realized who am I not to step into that role. And so I did. It was delicious! I loved every moment of it. I also found that I have my own cheerleaders, people who truly want to support me in my creative evolution. I’ve had them all along it was just hard to accept that support when I couldn’t offer it to myself.

The film still needs to be edited, and color corrected, and all the rest of the post-production fun, but I have now had the experience of directing and I have a feeling it won’t be my last. All these years of meditation, and inner work, cleared the way for me to expand creatively. Even better, I get to keep expanding and evolving. I have no idea what will happen next (well I do know that I have to finish my book…) and I’m so excited for the next adventure.

At this point in my life I am fully embracing and lavishing in the wonder of creativity and art. It’s become a part of my everyday, and an important way that I connect with other humans. Making a film, or writing this article is my way to continue the age-old tradition of telling stories, my way to engage with my humanity. Coming out of my generally stress-free life to make a film is completely worth it. The tension in my shoulders that my partner has been massaging away all week is worth it. The sleepless nights before the shoot are worth it. The risk of “failure” is worth it. The joy of the process greatly outweighs the pain. And meditation keeps that pain from becoming suffering. So why not go for it? What else would I want to do with this “one wild and precious life?”

Meditation shows us that life can be a bit cyclical. We feel good, we feel bad, we feel good, we feel bad, we feel neutral, we feel bad, we feel good… and so on. Saṃsāra is the sanskrit word for this. It’s a kind of endless wandering through this human experience. Meditate for a while and this insight will hit you like a sock full of quarter rolls. Yes, it can be a bit painful to see that you are in the Matrix with no hope for escape. Waking up doesn’t excuse you from that. You may be crystal clear that it’s all an illusion. You may know that your thoughts and emotions are as empty as my bank account after making a film. You may not suffer anymore, or at least rarely. It doesn’t matter, you’re still part of the virtual reality, at least until your body dies. After that, I have no clue what happens.

So, I say why not have a good time while you are here? What better way to do that than to create art? Make the most of the monotony. Choose to make meaning and engage with life. Explore your passions. Do what you enjoy. Celebrate your creativity. Express what only you can express. And As Joseph Campbell says “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” Who knows, maybe one of those doors leads out of the Matrix?

If your spiritual practice had stripped you of your desire to create art, trust that your creativity will return. When it does it will be washed clean. No longer cloudy with fear or marred with the need for approval. Instead your creativity will come from a place that words can not describe. Truth will “bubble up from your subconscious” just like Michael told me years ago when I was afraid I’d lose my creativity. This new arising of artistic expression will tear you apart in the most beautiful ways, as it heals and nourishes you. You will find that when you create art you are of service to something much greater than just a small grasping self. In fact you may begin to realize that your creativity comes from something that transcends self all together.

Don’t think that awakening locks the door on being a painter, or actor, or musician, or writer, or any activity of self that you may wish to inhabit. Rather your awakenings will only clarify and deepen your creativity. You don’t need to suffer to make good art. Let me say that again. You don’t need to suffer to make good art. I happier than I’ve ever been and I can still access the shadow and channel it into my art in disturbing and delightful ways.

Your spiritual practice will set the artist in you free. No longer bound to your past or some cookie cutter image of success, you will thrive and blossom. It will probably take time and hard work, but do not give up. The world needs you. You are so tiny and insignificant, and so very unique and vital. Hold space for both of those truths and go make some art!

We never know where our creativity will take us. This article was going to be a list of tips for mindful movie making, and this came out instead. Let your art and your spirituality surprise you. Let it knead and shape you into something you can’t recognize. Let it take you back again and again to beginner’s mind. The adventure will just keep unfolding, if we like it or not, so get on the ride and enjoy.

 

Originally published on Deconstructing Yourself. Read Jessica’s Mindful Sex Series here.


Getting off without checking out

Mindful Sex: Getting Off Without Checking Out

When I was fourteen I decided it was high time to lose my virginity. So I did. It happened in the backseat of a hot rod car— I think it was a green Chevelle—with an eighteen-year-old with tattoos and a ponytail. I kept my turquoise All-Star high tops on the whole time. I was high and don’t remember all that much of the experience. I just did it because I thought it had to be done; it didn’t really matter if I was actually present for it. I had never even made out with anyone before.

Later that year I had sex again; this time in a field with a twenty-year-old with a ponytail. I was also intoxicated again. This pattern went on for many years. Not always with older men with ponytails. Not always with men. What remained the same was my inability to really be conscious for sexual experiences. Even if I wasn’t drunk or high, I wasn’t really fully there. I was checked out in some way. I didn’t look into my lover’s eyes. I didn’t feel a sense of merging or the sacred. During the sex act I certainly didn’t tell them how much I cared for them. It was all about checking out and getting off; sex without presence or intimacy.

When I started meditating I was still very disconnected from my sexuality. I had begun to recognize that thoughts and emotions were not as solid as I thought. Meditation showed me parts of myself that had been previously unavailable, but I wasn’t quite ready to delve into my sexual life. Then I read a book that talked about looking into your partner’s eyes while you climaxed. I thought, “No way. Never going to happen.” The idea of actually seeing and being seen at that vulnerable moment made my skin crawl. I preferred to squeeze my eyes shut, turn my head away, and if possible hide under a pillow. I really liked sex and thought of myself as a very sexual person, but I didn’t want to cross that line to a establishing a real connection.

I was also cut off from my body. I didn’t want to feel anything emotionally uncomfortable so I tried not to feel at all. I was good at sex and I enjoyed it, but when I look back it’s as if I was only using a small percentage of my sense awareness. I had no idea how good sex could actually be. I was only partially present for my partners because I was only partially present for myself. I tend to attract people who match me with where I am in my emotional and spiritual evolution. So no one ever called me out on the fact that I disappeared during sex. My meditation practice, however, did not miss that fact. When you spend time working on waking up, it gets harder and harder to go unconscious. By observing thoughts and emotions every day in formal meditation, my practice was revealing the parts of me that were hidden away. The awakening I was having in other areas couldn’t help but spill over into my sex life. I wanted more. My authentic sexuality was bursting forth.

After one of my first retreats I realized that I wanted my sexuality to be included in my spiritual practice. I wanted to open my eyes. I wanted to really feel all of it.

The first time I looked into my lover’s eyes while we made love was frightening, exhilarating. It was also obvious that, of course, this is the way it should be. I began to have very profound spiritual experiences during sex. It was a meditation in action that I had never known. As a result my creative life began to expand too. I found that I had more energy to write, act, draw and play. My sexual and creative nature began to blossom in a beautiful way.

It became impossible to be cut off from such an important part of my experience. Meditation was giving me freedom from my mind and access to my body in a way that I had never known. I recognized that the potential for richness, connection, and satisfaction were limitless. A whole new world was opening up, which was very exciting.

And my relationships benefitted. I was no longer hiding from my partner. I was present, vulnerable, and open. My body became incredibly sensitive. I could feel things that I hadn’t even known existed. It was like how some people describe certain drug experiences, but without the drugs. With this greater connection to my own body I connected with my partner on a much deeper level. What it is possible to share with another person continues to shock and delight me.

This doesn’t mean that I always make sweet love, staring into my partner’s eyes, and whispering sweet nothings. Mindful doesn’t mean mushy or boring. Mindful Sex can be dirty, fun, exciting and rough. It can be based on who I am in that moment. I’m no longer stuck with one version of sex. I’m free to explore, push my boundaries, and see what happens next.

By simply feeling and seeing your partner while you are having sex, you can connect in ways that seem magical. It’s not actually magic; it’s how life is when you show up for it. You can start by just really experiencing a hug. It doesn’t have to be sexual. Feel the other person’s arms around you. Notice the feeling of your breath and theirs. Experience the warmth of another body meeting yours. Try it in a conversation. See their eyes; the color, the shape, the size. Watch the way their mouth moves. Hear the sound of their voice. Give up being solid and separate, and for even just a few seconds connect from the place that goes beyond You and Me.

I didn’t know that an amazing sex life would be a side effect of meditation when I started this journey. Actually I didn’t even know that my sex life was missing something. Now I know that there are no limits to the pleasures that await me. I now consider my sexuality to be as much of my spiritual practice as sitting on the cushion. This is no different from how I view my work, eating, interactions with family, creating art, and life in general. Meditation stops being this special thing we do for thirty minutes a day and begins to be our moment-by-moment experience. Everything is part of it.

 

Originally published on Deconstructing Yourself. Read Jessica’s Mindful Sex Series here.


Mindful retreat Santa Monica

Daylong Retreat: Mindful Sex and Intimacy — November 25th

Take a deep dive into mindful sexuality and intimacy. Author and spiritual teacher Jessica Graham invites you to merge your spiritual life with your sexual and romantic life. Through mindfulness techniques, self-inquiry, and writing exercises your authentic sexuality will be nurtured and celebrated. 

Register here

Saturday, November 25th, 10am – 4:30pm
@ 1001a Colorado Ave
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Directions


Philly reading

Philadelphia, PA Reading and Book Signing — November 18th

Join author and spiritual teacher, Jessica Graham, for a reading and signing of her new book Good Sex: Getting Off without Checking Out. There will be time for a Q&A and some interactive mindfulness practices. Come see Jessica and get your book signed!

Saturday, November 18th 7pm

Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni's Room
345 S. 12th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107


Wild & Awake: A Good Sex Workshop for Women — November 11th

SEXUAL AWAKENING IS YOUR BIRTHRIGHT. CLAIM IT.

Join spiritual teacher, author, and sex and intimacy guide, Jessica Graham, for a women’s Good Sex event. Jessica will guide you to deeper connection with your authentic sexuality, expression of intimacy, and personal pleasure. Through meditation, self-inquiry, trauma recovery, and writing exercises you will be invited to a whole new world of pleasure, sexual expression, self-love, and sexuality.

Financial commitment: $100
Limited space. You must register to attend by emailing jessica@yourwildawakening.com

This is a fully-clothed, non-sexual contact event. Gender queer, non-binary, and any who identify as female are welcome to attend.

Silverlake Independent JCC
Sat, Nov 11, 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
1110 Bates Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029


Good Sex by Jessica Graham

Good Sex: Getting Off without Checking Out

Good Sex by Jessica Graham

Jessica Graham demonstrates that a deep spiritual life and an extraordinary sex life are not mutually exclusive in this keenly personal and unflinchingly frank guide to finding mindfulness in sex without losing the fun and adventure. Not only a toolkit for creating a rich and deeply satisfying sex life, this playful, explicit, and transformative book conveys the deeper message of how combining meditation with sex can bring about profound spiritual awakenings. Graham discusses everything from open-eyed orgasms to threesomes to how to deal with a partner with a low sex drive. From a sex-positive and nontraditional stance she explores non-monogamy, the benefits of pornography, sexual trauma, consent, and much more.

Order your copy today!

SHOP NOW

TIPS • Mindfulness meditation • Communication • Non-monogamy • Addressing sexual trauma • Discovering what turns you on • BDSM • Safety • Developing true intimacy • Threesomes • The sex-spirituality connection • Celibacy • Working with your partner(s) • Overcoming shame • Being in the moment


mindful awakening

Mindful Awakening: The Cost Is Just Everything

There are certain defining moments throughout spiritual development. When you first recognize that you are not your thoughts. When you experience physical or emotional pain break up into flowing sensations that are no longer “bad,” therefore revolutionizing your relationship with pain. When you fully grasp the truth that suffering is optional. When you come to know oneness—not in the wow-woo, new age way, but in the fully realized way. And when you fall in love with everything, including the emptiness, knowing only love. All of these and more are awakening. These fundamental discoveries rearrange you at the deepest level, creating paradigm shifts and psychological evolution. Once you’ve woken up, you can’t really go back to sleep. But you can hit the snooze button and hang out in a kind of groggy half asleep limbo. This is not a very cool place to reside. But it’s a spot where a lot of folks get stuck for years and years.

The thing is, waking up is scary. It means losing everything, and that doesn’t sit so well with the small, self-centered, pleasure seeking self that we are tethered to before waking up. In fact waking up is the last thing that that part of us wants to do. It wants to get off, feel good, and get its numerous daily fixes. We want the booze to make us happy, the pills to make us sleep, the Netflix to keep us entertained, the sex to keep us satisfied, and our loved ones to make us feel like we are enough. Waking up means seeing through all of that, and then watching it all slip away.


The thing is, waking up is scary.


It doesn’t generally happen all at once with a flash of lightning and a dramatic sound cue. It’s usually more of a process, which is a good thing because otherwise waking up would cause a lot more psychotic breaks (it does happen…). Gradually we peel back the layers of identity and attachment, which slowly over the years deepens awakening. But with each of these layers comes another death, another instance of letting go—whether you like it or not. This kind of “letting go” is not really an active thing that you do. It’s rather a thing that happens to you, you let go. When you fight this natural effect of your spiritual work, life gets painfully challenging. You are trying to hold on to something that is no longer even in your fingertips, let alone under your control. Everything starts to feel hard. You don’t want to meditate, you don’t want to interact with anyone, you don’t want to feel or think anymore. A spiritual malaise sets in.

 

SPIRITUAL BYPASSING

It can feel like you are stuck in a kind of hell. Unable to go back to the old ways of excess, avoidance, and unconscious suffering, but also unable to open fully to a new way of life. You have one foot in and one foot out. The resistance to embracing the next iteration of your awakening can be strong as all get out. It can come in the form of falling back into old self-destructive patterns (which, sorry to say, won’t give you the fix they used to), becoming “depressed” and attaching to that identity, and the good ol’ trick of spiritual bypassing.

Spiritual bypassing is when you use your past insights to avoid your present feelings. I’ve seen that there is no self, so I don’t need to do any personal work. Everything is love so I can just ignore how much I hate myself right now. I know suffering is optional, I’m not suffering, I’m past that point. Really. And so on. I myself have been an expert spiritual bypasser over the years. Luckily I have friends, teachers, and a partner who don’t let me get away with it for very long. I’ve also come to see the urge to bypass something as a form of resistance. Whenever there is resistance it’s sure that a new insight and a deeper awakening is close by. In this way resistance has become one my my best friends. When I become aware of it I get all happy, giggly, and throw my arms around it, just like a good buddy. Resistance, if treated gently and with love, peels back to reveal the brightest of jewels. What you really are.


Whenever there is resistance it’s sure that a new insight and a deeper awakening is close by.


Yes, seeing what you really are, in all the endless ways, can be scary. You do have to wade through loneliness, grief, confusion, and immense loss. You have to see and love the parts of yourself that frighten and disgust you the most. You have to be willing to die into the fires of awakening, with no hope of recovery. You have to let go of getting a fix from that guy, or that show, or that cookie, or that meditation technique. The part of you that can get a fix will be no more, and when you try to get off on whatever it is, it won’t work. It’s scary and you lose a lot, but once you stop hitting snooze and wake up to the next transformation, none of that will matter. You will be operating from a whole new perspective. Born again, so to speak. Until you reach the next plateau and do it all again. The good news is, your relationship with this process will change as you do. It won’t always be such a big drama to awaken. You won’t hit snooze so many times, and eventually not at all.

 

IT’S GOOD TO HAVE A MINDFULNESS TOOLKIT & SOME FRIENDS

I am a big believer in having a huge toolkit full of mindfulness practices. While, yes, you do eventually “lose” them too, having useful options on the spiritual path makes for a smoother ride. If you know how to deconstruct thought and emotions, you know how to deconstruct whatever self is arising. That includes the acting out self, the shut-down and avoiding self, and the spiritually bypassing self. If you have some lovingkindness and relaxation techniques available you can soften around your resistance, while also sending it unconditional love. If you can focus on your breath, you have the concentration and equanimity to go about your life even when you are trudging through the Dark Night. So, no matter how awake you are it’s helpful to keep your mindfulness tools clean and sharp. You never know when they might come in handy.

I also believe that community, or sangha, is a required support when traversing the ever shifting landscape of awakening. While sometimes we need to climb the mountain alone and sit under the stars without company, we also must be willing to climb back down and join humanity once again. A community of peers, teachers, and students is what deepens and sustains my insights and awakenings. I need to be seen, and to see others, to truly transform. I also need oversight, and opportunities to be of service. Plus the loneliness of the spiritual path is eased by having friends you can talk to who know what the heck you are talking about! Perhaps even more than all that, I think the reason we are here at all is to have relationships with others. Through these relationships we heal, grow, and wake up. It is our birthright to connect with everyone and awaken to each glorious moment. And the cost is just everything.

 

REMEMBER YOU ARE HUMAN

So give up. Give in. Swim out until you can’t see land, and then drop down deep to where there is nothing you’ve ever known. Then pop back up and go to a silly movie with your sweetheart, or eat some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and binge watch The Walking Dead, or go have a super hot one night stand with a stranger at the bar. You’ll find that it really isn’t either-or. You get to be an enlightened, spiritual being and a beautiful, imperfect human being. You may not relate to the fixes of life the same way as you used to, but the joy and pure pleasure of just being will deepen and flourish in ways you could never imagine.

You won’t want back what you lost, though you may grieve it and have moments of melancholy and heart-aching nostalgia. Remember you are human—it’s hard to let go of the things we hold dear and attach ourselves to with the glue of thought and emotion. But you are also much more than just a human with a mind and body. You are all of it, and all of it is you. You don’t need to earn your awakening, you just need to put both feet in and remember to wake up. Now. And now. And now.

 

Originally published on Deconstructing Yourself. Read Jessica’s Mindful Sex Series here.