Elevating the Heart: The Path to Real Sex.

Via Wendy Strgar
on Nov 5, 2010
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“Good sex isn’t about just elevating your heart rate — it’s about elevating your heart.” -David Schnarch

The crossroads between our genitals and our neurology turns out to be a super highway. One of the most powerful transformers in the new science of brain re-wiring occurs during deep intimate connection. As some of the mystery of sexual intimacy is revealed through the emerging science of neurobiology, we begin to understand how we are shaped and re-shaped by the people we love and who love us back. The brain actually rewires itself as we open wide to physical love within a committed relationship.

Enjoying intimate connection in a committed partnership is an important distinction because the intimacy we share with someone who loves and is committed to us is qualitatively different from casual sexual encounters. I recently heard my 18-year-old son tell his brother, “Don’t bother with hook ups; it is way more chill to have a girlfriend who really cares about you.” I was gratified that he can already sense how committed relationships change your life compared with the easy hook-up.

In fact our personal relationships are the most gentle and profound mechanism of growth through out our adult life. As we mature in our relationships we move toward the process of differentiation, where in each partner develops more of themselves and stops looking to the relationship to validate them. Allowing ourselves to be different from our partners fosters passion and intimacy. By learning to effectively hold onto ourselves in our relationship, we circumvent the classic responses of men sacrificing the relationship to their sense of self and women sacrificing themselves to their relationship.

Building a relationship that has room for both people to be themselves is by definition flexible and resilient. It is also fertile soil for transformative intimacy. David Schnarch, best-selling author of Passionate Marriage and most recently Intimacy and Desire believes that doing the important work of becoming separate individuals actually allows you to enjoy some of the best sex of your life. By not needing to agree or get the approval of your partner, you are free to explore and express yourself deeply and authentically and, which is perhaps the biggest turn-on when it comes to tapping the sexual potential of the relationship.

A powerful technique that Schnarch teaches to tap this potential is called “Hugging Until Relaxed.” The practice is deceptively simple, yet remarkably transformative. Both partners stand on their own two feet and hold each other for at least ten minutes; more if necessary, until you are both completely relaxed into your selves and then into each other’s arms and presence. This holding period is challenging, given that the average hug lasts 5 seconds. Many of us never really learned to relax in a hug. Learning to relax fully in the arms of someone else, even someone you have been intimate with requires a new level of trust in yourself.  Knowing that you can really open up and not lose yourself in a sustained hug triggers your brain to think differently. It creates what Schnarch refers to as a “Somata-sensory” moment of meeting, which means that we meet each other deeply with our whole body.

Even more daring and profoundly erotic is the exercise of open eyes sex. Although historical and spiritual texts have long described the practice of looking deeply in to the eyes of the beloved during sex and orgasm, a whopping 80% of people do not look at their partners or have sex in the dark. This is an amazingly powerful tool of seeing into someone at a point when you are most deeply connected, but also clearly differentiated from each other. I remember the first time I practiced this technique and was stunned not only by witnessing my husband in a way that I had never known him, but more deeply by realizing how far apart I kept myself from him at the moments when he was inside of me.   It is a practice that changes everything and, now it turns out, the change remolds your brain wiring.

If you want to learn more about this don’t miss the recent interview I had with Dr. Schnarch who is brilliantly articulate and one of the most learned teachers I have ever spoken to about the art of loving.

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About Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family. In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy, she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative advice. It has been called "the essential guide for relationships." The book is available on ebook, as well as in paperback online. Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.


10 Responses to “Elevating the Heart: The Path to Real Sex.”

  1. catlyn777 says:

    I am definitely going to try the ten minute hug! Sounds like a good time to me 🙂

  2. Nikki says:

    Can you be more specific in "what way" it remolds your brain wiring? Does it make us feel more attached, safer, WHAT?
    Great article, would be more potent if we actually knew what affect this kind of sex was having. Would you like to fill in the gap Wendy? Thank you!

  3. ARCreated says:

    yeah long hugs…not 10 minutes (which I will try) but the long hug is a daily ritual!!

    I learned a long time ago that love makes sex better…no way to beat it!!!

    looking into his eyes during love making? …great stuff!!! 🙂 now if only he would get home from work …..

    Great article…

  4. Aurora says:


  5. nikki says:

    Me again…I meant the chemical affect, the hormones, brain, etc…

  6. Viv says:

    The looking into the eyes thing is way intimate, too bad sex happens mostly in the dark. Something to think about. That may be a bit uncomfortable if we dont' have that level of intimacy with our partner or it may provoke issues around vulnerability. I create yantras meditation art. One comes to mind the Moon/Nourishment Yantra, http://gallerylotus.com/ that helps (when used as a meditation tool) us allow ourselves to be nourished. It nurtures the inner feminine, intuition, heart etc. in both men and women. Yantras are from the Tantric yoga tradition so it may appeal to those who have an ongoing yoga practice. Namaste.

  7. Guest says:

    Sex with a committed partner is the best I've ever had, but let's not forget the difference between a CASUAL hookup and a LOVING hookup. "Hook-up" probably isn't the right word, but traditional monogamy isn't right for everyone. Based on everything I have read, lifelong monogamy works in very few relationships. Serial polygamy/polyandry and outright deceit seem much more common.

  8. Guest says:

    …and 80% of people don't make eye contact? That's sad!

  9. Sherri Rosen says:

    Love the article. I'm totally on board with you. So very different with someone you love. Holding one another for quite awhile, nothing like it. Looking into one another's eyes for quite awhile. Amazing!!! And making love by daylight or with the lights on, wow, can really see one another. You can see I really liked your article. Thanks

  10. […] yourself from now on? What impact do you think this might have on your life? In a recent article by Wendy Strgar it was postulated that by being more authentically yourself you no longer need validation and […]