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March 9, 2011

What to do when our sexual appetite wanes? ~ Yogi

Are you feeling like your sex life has become just another chore and that you want a change? Are you not getting the satisfaction you need from your partner?

Can you still have the burning passion after years of marriage?

Here is the simplified truth about happiness: in order for us to maintain our health and basic sanity, we must attend to the three main pillars of life: food, sleep, and…sex. Of course, there are several layers to the sex question, and god knows we could write a book on how obsessed and repressed so many of us are in our sexual lives. But here we want to address one piece of the puzzle, what all of us ordinary, good people have to deal with in long-term relationships: what to do when our sexual appetite wanes?

Photo: Tori Barratt Crane

First, we must know that this feeling is not only normal, but it is natural and therefore healthy. It is not problematic, though many relationships go to ruin over believing that something is wrong.

The problem only comes when we attach so strongly to the story: “Oh my god, I am not hot for Jim anymore!” There are countless shrinks across the country buying Porsches because we are convinced that we are suffering something either, A. pathological, or B., that is particular to our troubled relationships.  Because of the power that psychologists, self-help books, and popular media mags have over our minds, we actually believe that something is wrong. So, we create a self-fulfilled prophecy and cha-ching! We become the tuition bearer for our psychologists’ children and the sex column writers wet dream.

But, really folks, sex drive is a biological thing. Thus, as with all things in nature, it ebbs and flows, rises and falls, throbs and shrinks. If we don’t freak out when we are feeling a bit lackluster in the bedroom and we don’t buy into every bit of sexual marketing that is slammed down our throats, then we can just relax and enjoy the winter of our sexual desire. Sure enough, spring will come roaring in and everything will be abloom again. But by stressing out over this natural phenomenon, we will keep ourselves stuck in state of, “Sorry, honey, I have a headache.”

Photo: Auswandern Malaysia

It is typical of our culture to want constant gratification. But perpetual growth models are unreal and require that we exert unnatural effort (struggle) to maintain them.  In doing so we are eventually broken down by nature’s power, wisdom, grace and dominion. Even if we were able to experience constant pleasure it would actually then cease to be pleasurable. We enjoy beauty in our life because we can experience its opposite. Yet, we collectively fail to honor the whole of reality and pay respect and appreciation to the dark side of the moon. We want to perpetually reap the harvest, so we forget that there is value in death, stillness, winter, and absence.

In the common case of not feeling hot and bothered throughout all the years of a committed relationship, many say, “This can’t be good, what’s wrong with me?… What’s wrong with us?” Then we go to couple’s counseling, or we pick up some tips in a magazine, we may even start role playing, watching porn, getting more kinky, cheating, or inviting a 3rd party to the show.  Or maybe we just get divorced and go look for something new, fresh and exciting.

Now, I couldn’t care less if you are into any of this stuff. I think some of it more unhealthy and motivated by bigger problems than others, but really I have no moral judgments about any of it.

Photo: Jean Koulev

However, from the perspective of natural wisdom, if you start taking drastic measures because you are panicked that there is something wrong with you, your partner, or your relationship then I must disagree with your choice of strategy. If you happen to be incompatible sexually with your partner (i.e. you naturally have very different needs that must be expressed in order to be healthy), then that is another article.  But, otherwise, we are much better off adjusting our expectations, learning how to accept nature as it is, and cultivating our personal health, which includes a sense of detachment in the face of life’s normal ups and downs.

Short term, we might actually succeed in making some sparks fly by getting drunk and inviting the waitress to bed to join our mock honeymoon on our 21st anniversary. But, in the long run, we will be doing it for all the wrong reasons. Fixing things with a problem orientation will always results in more problems. Accepting things as they are and aligning ourselves with the cycles of nature via proper diet, exercise, meditation, rest, etc., may require some discipline and a fresh point of view, but it will always result in natural wisdom, which inherently includes health, happiness and an appropriate and satisfying sexual appetite.

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Yogi (Michael Boyle) is co-founder of Energy of Mind: A Sauhu Therapy, which offers counseling through the lens of yoga, ayurveda, meditation, etc. all within the context of psychological insight and understanding. Yogi is a graduate of Trika Institute’s, seven year, “Tantrik Yoga Studies Program” as well as JFK’s masters psychology program. He is a student to Dharmanidhi Sarasvati (Adi Yoga, Trika Instutitute)to whom he credits for anything worthwhile that he has to share with clients and readers.  Yogi works with clients online, in Bangkok, and at his home, the rural yoga and meditation retreat center in Northeast Thailand, Kailash Akhara.

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