Yoga Makes Sex Better! 5 Top Reasons to Practice and Teach.

Via Julian Walker
on Jul 12, 2011
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Why is yoga powerful, why do we practice, what should we teach?

As I prepare to teach the Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind teacher training in Venice, Ca. and 5-day retreat to Esalen with my favorite friend and colleague Hala Khouri, I find myself asking the above questions.

The standard answer usually starts with – “Well, Patanjali says….” But I am not so sure Patanjali’s Sutras speak directly to the experience of modern American yogis. I mean, how many yogis do you know who are engaging in long hours of concentration meditation, seeking to dis-identify with the world, their bodies and minds and make contact with a transcendent God that exists outside of Nature?

So I want to share my 5 top reasons to practice and teach the powerful transformational discipline of yoga:

1) Yoga can be a beautiful way of getting comfortable in your own skin, coming home to your body, becoming more alive and aware, energized and open to life and love. Rather than seeking to go beyond the body, yoga is for most of us a way to reclaim an awareness of the body itself as sacred.

2) Yoga makes sex better! Yeah, you heard me – I said it… Yoga systematically makes us more aware of our sensations and trains us in the art of using breath to open into our experience rather contract away from it or attempt to clamp down and control it. This makes us more available to the dance of intimacy, plethora of sensations and waves of pleasure that can turn sex into a mind-blowing form of embodied spirituality – or just make it more satisfying and rich, which as far as I can tell is really the same thing..

3) Yoga gives us time and space to connect to our inner lives. Sensations, emotions, the accrued layers of stress and anxiety, questions we carry about our choices, actions, intentions, desires – all can be meditated upon as we use the ritual of breath and movement to focus the mind, connect to the heart, listen to the body and reflect upon how we really want to live our lives.

4) Yoga can be fantastic physical therapy. In both a healing and preventative way, yoga can be used to promote healthy flexibility, strength, and range of motion. Practiced with intelligence and taught with anatomical knowledge, yoga just works!

5) Yoga can be an integrative vehicle for self-healing. More and more information from science and psychology demonstrates the healing benefits of yoga and meditation. Somatic psychology research and new data from neuroscience show the importance of mindful present attention and body awareness in rebalancing the nervous system, processing through unresolved emotions in the brain and healing from trauma stored on the body. This is real transformation.

In addition to the deep human need to come together with community and engage in meaningful activity around a shared intention, to connect and experience together in safe spaces that allow us to open up and grow and heal and see ourselves reflected in our tribe, the above five reasons to practice and teach are central to what I feel makes yoga powerful – what do you think?

Oh wait, what’s that? You are wondering why the emphasis on sex in the title of this piece… Perhaps it is merely sensationalist?

Well,  if you think about it: healing traumas, keeping your body healthy, strong and flexible, being in touch with your inner life, and being comfortable in your own skin all make you more able to be present in your own body and connect with empathy, intuition, passion and playfulness with your partner’s body. Seeing as how our sexual nature is a core (and I would suggest innately spiritual) intimate aspect of who and what we are, all of this indeed makes sex better. In turn better sex is an expression of healthier relationships in a more integrated, open, authentic and ecstatic human life!

We also haven’t even touched upon the exquisite transformational possibilities of learning to work with what are traditionally thought of as Kundalini kriyas in the kinds of prolonged full-bodied sexual, emotional and deep physical release that make even a non-theist Buddhist cry out “Oh God!”

I’ll save that for my next article…

{A quick note for those thinking of taking the Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind training: don’t worry, Patanjali will get his due, but alongside the beautiful tantric Radiance Sutras, training in Buddhist  meditation and tools from somatic psychology and brain research…}


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About Julian Walker

Julian Walker is the founder of http://www.yogateachergradschool.com/ where he supports new and established yoga teachers in living their dreams through business development. He is a writer who has been teaching yoga since 1994, and co-teaches the Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind Yoga Teacher Training in LA with Hala Khouri.Julian's writing is featured in the book 21st Century Yoga available on Amazon.com. www.julianwalkeryoga.com

Comments

97 Responses to “Yoga Makes Sex Better! 5 Top Reasons to Practice and Teach.”

  1. athayoganusasanam says:

    You say you are "championing a contemporary spirituality", but what can you possibly consider to be "spirituality" if there is no connection to the Divine, to spirit?

  2. yogijulian says:

    there is a connection to the only divinity or spirit that has ever existed – which is a symbolic concept, a metaphor in the human mind that represents our highest aspirations and potentials.

    not only is it not necessary to have any kind of religious faith in a literal supernatural realm or being in order to have a spiritual life – i think it actually gets in the way and stunts one's growth beyond a certain level….

    the audacious proposition is that spirituality has to do with our humanity, our awareness, our capacity for compassion and insight and personal transformation – and that none of this is in any way dependent on believing unreasonable and outdated superstition based largely in an untenable mind/body dualism and supernatural mythic literalism.

  3. Thaddeus1 says:

    "there is a connection to the only divinity or spirit that has ever existed – which is a symbolic concept, a metaphor in the human mind that represents our highest aspirations and potentials."…now that's a claim for which I would personally like some proof…how does one go about showing this through science, without merely claiming the absence of its opposite as evidence?

  4. yogijulian says:

    a compelling argument indeed! ok – you're right spirit is spirit because it's spirit and you don't believe me.

  5. yogijulian says:

    thaddeus, i am afraid have missed my whole point if you think i am saying that every claim has to be empirically verifiable. this is not my position at all and i have said it several times! 🙂

    i am putting (a la joseph campbell and i think anyone who takes the study of poetic symbol and mythic image seriously) the concept of spirit in the interior, metaporical, symbolic category rather than the literal, exterior, empirical category…. this makes sense to me, because there continues to be zero evidence for an empirical, externally located, literal "spirit" but nonetheless a very real and beautiful symbolic, metaphorical, interior place for this concept as an experiential signpost that points toward compassion, beauty, awe and wisdom.

    why would anyone have a problem with this observation – and what is it that needs to be "proven" about it?

    do i have to "prove" that unicorns are constructs of the mind, or are we comfortable agreeing that horses with wings do not exist outside of the imagination?

    do i have to prove that demons and angels are metaphors for energies, feelings, aspects of out inner selves, or are we comfortable agreeing that there are no horned evil beings that mean us harm or winged beatific ones that mean us good?

    i am baffled at how this stuff is difficult to accept for educated people in our times.

  6. dan says:

    You are championing materialism- nothing new or contemporary about that. Are those four an admission that the curious tangents you take are to avoid criticism and instead focus on your pet-peeves, namely the lack of control you have to make people share your beliefs? I know lots of stupid people, can I have a gold star? (yes, that's snark)

  7. dan says:

    So, you like it because it doesn't have to be proven- that's called faith by most.

  8. yogijulian says:

    hmmmm – so 1) what would the opposite of "materialism" be – and 2) what is the one major criticism you feel i am avoiding dan?

    in order not to be a dreaded materialist does one have to believe in a spirit world, disembodied consciousness, pantheistic universe, mind-body dualism, life after death and invisible god – all on faith?!

    being a "materialist" is simply observing the nature of reality, but this includes the fact biology does give rise to consciousness, love, beauty, meaning etc – and this is not denied by recognizing that no matter = no mind. that this is still controversial blows mine!

    in terms of the mind-body problem i think john searle gives the best account of how to relate consciousness and biology – like him my position is that consciousness is a property of the brain, but that the ontology of consciousness is entirely unique.

    i think this whole debate (and everything related to it in a spiritual sense) turns on the mind/body problem and we cannot have an intelligent integrated spirituality until we catch up with the vast majority of scientists and philosophers in letting go of pre-20th century ideas of mind/body dualism….. unfortunately the nature of the brain's evolution means that we are all innately dualists until otherwise educated (as with our sense of the flat earth, the sun moving around us and a bag of feathers falling slower than a rock of the same weight) as to the incorrectness of our intuitions.

    m formulation is this : for reasons that are evolutionarily advantageous, the brain does not know itself as a brain – this starts all the talk of disembodied consciousness, which persists in spite of not a single shred of evidence for any such thing anywhere..

    i think you are not hearing everything i am saying about the value of the inner life, the power of metaphor and symbol, the spiritual journey that is possible without buying into make believe. i think perhaps for you – as for many spiritually inclined people this sounds cold and empty without the imaginary friend, parental deity or invisible animating intelligence made literal….

    i am saying that in the world we live in today these kinds of beliefs are not only untenable, but they require a profoundly split compartmentalization that forces an incongruent, irrational, defensive belief system.

    i am (as i have said throughout) deeply in love with and in favor of spiritual practice and the profound insights, compassion, healing processes and personal development they make possible – i just think we can turn off the flashing neon sign of paranormal promises and superstitious fantasy.

  9. yogijulian says:

    you're just trying to be clever dan. there are many things that do not have to be proven, and still do not fall into the category of "faith":

    the beauty of beethoven, the love between friends, the poignancy of a movie, the sublime nature of a deep meditation – it is only when one over-reaches these perfectly legitimate subjective claims into the objective domain that they require "faith" and are made nonsensical:

    if i say beethoven is so beautiful his music must have come been channeled from another dimension, or that the love between my friend and i can only be explained by past lives, or that the movie is so poignant because the film-maker was personally instructed by god – and in any of these statements you are NOT being metaphorical – why then you are making empirical claims that require proof.

    why is this distinction so hard to understand?

    it is a tired and slippery tactic that says – well there you say beethoven is beautiful or meditation is meaningful but you cannot "prove" this so therefore your argument about supernatural claims being unevidenced is a sham – where's your science now you irrationalist?!

    come on.

  10. Thaddeus1 says:

    First off, I would like to begin by expressing concern for fixation on unicorns. I'm not sure it is healthy for a man of your age and occupation.

    But seriously, fortunately or unfortunately, I think I understand your positions quite clearly. However, I'm not confident that I could say the same for you regarding the operative assumptions that make your positions problematic.

    You are absolutely correct in asserting that not all claims need to be empirically verifiable. But, if this was the whole of the story, you and I could be best friends and hang out together on Saturday nights.

    But your main contention is that when claims enter into the realm of the "objective", then they must stand up to the verification of a scientific inquiry. Thus, when you say, "there is a connection to the only divinity or spirit that has ever existed – which is a symbolic concept, a metaphor in the human mind that represents our highest aspirations and potentials," you are making an assertion about the nature of the world, which according to your own standards needs empirical verification. Now, your out here is to maintain that your above statement is merely meant to be understood symbolically or metaphorically, otherwise, at least for the sake of your own internal consistency stand up and provide your evidence. If I were to assert the contrary, you surely wold require the same for me, so what makes you so special? This, amongst other statements (including but not limited to that "biology gives rise to consciousness" and that the "brain does not know itself as a brain"), are going to require at the very least some argument, evidence and citation and not simple assertion.

    Now, if you can provide the above beyond an unequivocal doubt, I would imagine you stand a good chance of earning at least one Nobel prize in the coming year, if not at least a tenured position at some prestigious university. If not, then perhaps you should explore the limitations of scientific thinking in your own life, cause you currently are way out of bounds.

  11. athayoganusasanam says:

    in truth julian, there is no point arguing with you. reading over your previous wordy arguments what i feel most is compassion for you, and sadness that you have lived for so many years without grace and without an authentic and love-filled relationship to spirit. what a scary and lonely world that must be.

  12. dan says:

    I have no particular problem with people being materialists (that I demonize it is all you- your pet-peeve), though when they say their position is the only correct and intractable one, that Kundalini is metaphor, I know this is just a fundamentalist position, a fear tactic designed to limit experience, replacing "make believe" with metaphor. I am "hearing" what you say about your version of a valuable inner life, but in a materialist frame, such a thing takes on a different set of priorities and purpose than the texts you use to teach with do (the ys and vb), for as materialist, they become not something that unbinds time, or connects with some actual fundament of reality but a way to explore/enjoy "it" while "it" lasts. It fits your ideology, and of course any system can be made whole if it cuts off what doesn't work in it… you value what you value, but that doesn't make those values "true" No worries, kundalini is not metaphor in my own personal experience, [insert insensitive, divisive "sorry you ride the short-bus" joke here, to show that I too can be nasty and short-sighted, particularly when it comes to mental health and neurobiology].

  13. yogijulian says:

    interesting points my (non saturday night hanging out) friend. i will think this through and get back to you… 🙂

  14. yogijulian says:

    actually i experience and introduce people to a powerful set of experiences involving phenomena that can be understood via kundalini, and actually require a great deal more courage and open-ness than most of what gets bandied about in the usually fluffy name of chakras – but i think it is wise to correlate the imaginal/mytho-poetic descriptions from various cultures about such phenomena with observations as to how this is a psychological, biological, physiological, neuro-endocrine process that is innate to the human body and transcends cultural lables and metaphysical overlays.

  15. yogijulian says:

    i understand that ancient formulations of yoga and indeed most spirituality include a pre-occupation with eternal life and ultimate divine beings – they include a belief in supernaturalism (which for my money is the only alternative to the materialism you decry) and frame the journey of spirituality in terms of discovering some hidden reality, meaning or transcendent truth that is beyond the material world.

    my sense is that in our times such beliefs are untenable – and that in fact contemporary spirituality can move beyond the superstition and misperception of pre-scientific, mythic literalist, magical thinking of cultures that didn't know any better.

    my proposition is that yoga and meditation still stand tall as brilliant systems of self-transformation without any of the cultural religious baggage that understandably surround their history.

  16. yogijulian says:

    i completely disagree and absolute take exception at the indirect/passive aggressive characterization of racism.

    it is not necessary for there to be a literal capitalized source or being in order for life to be meaningful.

    compassion, meaning, wisdom and the benefits of spiritual practice are completely unchanged by relinquishing supernatural beliefs.

  17. yogijulian says:

    you misunderstand me if you think i am saying it is all metaphor – i am saying there are powerful experiences that are being described metaphorically form a subjective, impressionist culture-bound, prescientific perspective….. what is being described is actually a neurobiological process and this makes it no less spiritual or profound, in fact it grounds it in reality and makes it more REAL.

    yes VB is non-dual, hence my interest in sharing it alongside patanjali's dualistic position. i go one step further in my position on non-dualism and attempt to integrate science and spirituality.

    you i feel are very committed to a religious belief in supernatural beings and paranormal phenomena – i think these are beside the point in a substantive and integrated contemporary spirituality.

    we can disagree and leave it at that – thanks for your time and energy.

    have a great day dan!
    ~julian

  18. harikirtana says:

    The fundamentalist tone of Mr. Portocarrero’s comments notwithstanding, I’m going to suggest the term ‘traditionalist’ as a more apropos moniker for those of us who defer to yoga scripture such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as an authoritative treatise on what yoga is and why one should practice it.

    So, speaking from a traditionalist point of view, although we may achieve short-term sensual gains from a humanist approach to yoga, I think something very valuable is lost if we discard Patanjali’s thesis as irrelevant to “the experience of modern American yogis”. On the contrary, I find the theistic orientation of the Yoga Sutras and other related texts, such as the Bhagavad-gita, to be very relevant to contemporary life in general and contemporary yoga in particular.

    Patanjali is proposing a solution to a problem, suffering, the ultimate form of which is death and its corollaries: pain, loss, and the prospect of non-existence. Humanist and traditional approaches to the problem of death are rooted in their respective assumptions about the nature of life. These respective positions are mutually exclusive world-views. Hence what appears to be life denying from a humanist perspective is life affirming from a traditionalist perspective and vice versa.

    Mutually exclusive world-views defy reconciliation and instead call on us to engage our power of critical thinking to ascertain which view makes the most sense to us. Personally, I find that the traditional premises of karma, samsara, and consciousness as a precedent to rather than a product of matter constitute a more sound and complete philosophy than humanism. Making the argument in favor of my position is obviously far beyond the scope of this comment, but the internal logic of traditional yoga illuminates coherent grounds for following a path of reasonable renunciation, for endeavoring to control rather than indulge the senses while constructively engaging with the world. When we dismiss the methods Patanjlai proposes, particularly those presented at the commencement of chapter two, without considering his underlying premises for recommending them, we risk loosing the benefit of Patanjali’s insight into the nature of the human condition and the rewards of the intersecting paths of grace and action that his treatise offers.

  19. yogijulian says:

    i disagree. truth transcends culture and ancient formulations of truth whether middle eastern, indian, european or south american have all had to be re-evaluated as human knowledge has progressed.

    mythic literalism, magical thinking and supernaturalism are common to all pre-scientific cultures and an intelligent and integrated contemporary spirituality has to be up to date with what we now know about reality.

    this includes relinquishing old world superstition and seeing through the regressive romantic relativism that associates spirituality with belief in the ultimate nature of ancient conceptions and suspicion of science, psychology and existential honesty.

    i am not a cultural elitist or racist – but an equal opportunity critic of mythic literalism, magical thinking and supernaturalism as it exists in all cultures and traditions, we just happen to be talking about yoga.

    i am no more in thrall to any literal belief in yahweh or zeus or qutzalcoatl than i am to shiva or brahman. (all of which have wonderful archetypal and poetic value by the way!)

    i am not seeking a new religion from any ancient culture, but am interested in which contemplative practices still make sense, are beneficial and can be integrated with what we know about the world we live in today.

  20. yogijulian says:

    what if one is a yogi and meditator but not a theist or dualist?

  21. yogijulian says:

    what if one is a yogi and meditator but not a theist or dualist?

  22. yogijulian says:

    what if yoga has myriad benefits with regard to anatomy, awareness, healing trauma, and transforming the brain and this is enough without claims of eternal life and hindu cosmology?

  23. harikirtana says:

    Traditionally speaking, atheistic non-dualist yogis merge into Brahman, which the theists see as the glowing effulgence of the Supreme Person, Bhagavan. Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan are qualitatively one and the same. The same substance is realized as impersonal Brahman by the students of the Upanishads, as localized Paramatma by the yogis, and as Bhagavan by the devotees. Less advanced students of either of the above schools sometimes argue in favor of their own respective realization, but those who are perfect seers of the Absolute Truth know well that the above three features of the one Absolute Truth are different perspective views seen from different angles of vision.

  24. Thaddeus1 says:

    Here's another empirical claim I would like to see supported…"what is being described is actually a neurobiological process and this makes it no less spiritual or profound, in fact it grounds it in reality and makes it more REAL." In addition to patiently waiting for your response to my above questions, I'm also dying to know "what we know about the world we live in today." In all honesty, the suspense is killing me (i hope it lasts)…(bonus points for character and movie in which the previous is said).

  25. yogijulian says:

    what about those informed by neuroscience, somatic psychology and buddhism who find hindu metaphysics unconvincing?

  26. harikirtana says:

    All good reasons to do yoga as far as I'm concerned.

  27. harikirtana says:

    "Whatever state of being one remembers when they quit their body, that state they will attain without fail." – Bhagavad-gita 8.6

  28. yogijulian says:

    i am about as impressed by that quote as i would be by a quote from the bible about not being able to attain eternal life except trough salvation in jesus.

    religious claims about spiritual practice as a way of ensuring certain rewards after death are all equally meaningless to me.

  29. harikirtana says:

    The quote only says that we go where our hearts and minds take us. It doesn't make any assurances about anything other than that when you leave your body, you go somewhere. Just because a book makes a statement is not enough reason to accept it; it either resonates with you or it doesn't.

    Pithy references to Yoga scripture aside, one thing that traditional yoga philosophy has going for it is inclusivity. Yes, it’s literal and it recognizes natural hierarchies as opposed to contrived equalities, and yes there are restrictions and observances that require some austerity on the part of the practitioner, but there’s no more of a denial of the material benefits of yoga than there is a requirement that yogis live in caves. Neuroscience and somatic psychology are, again, founded on paradigms that are contradictory to the causative assumptions of classical yoga, but if your objectives are material benefits like healing trauma and expanded awareness then that’s fine. I think that such empirical approaches to yoga offer short-term fixes rather than long-term cures (assuming samsara as opposed to a singular lifetime), but everything, including material science, can be used constructively in the cause of yoga.

    The thing I respect about your position is that you’re not trying to have it both ways; many modern yogis don’t notice the disconnect between classical yoga philosophy and the dominant paradigms of modern empirical culture, don’t think about how karma and the big bang don’t really fit neatly together to form a consistent world-view. Where I respectfully disagree with you is on the need for the creation of “a contemporary, humanistic, integrated, relevant philosophy for yoga today.” I think there’s still plenty of relevance to be found in classical yoga philosophy and plenty of ways to integrate it into contemporary life. What’s lacking is comprehensive understanding and appropriate application. It’s for this reason, along with a few others, that I agree with you: modern yogis should apply a higher degree of critical thinking about traditional yoga scripture than is currently the norm, though it appears we anticipate different outcomes for such applied intelligence.

    Thank you for stirring up such a nice discussion and inspiring my small contribution to it.

  30. yogijulian says:

    what if i do not buy hindu metaphysics based on mind/body dualism anymore than any other religious notion of being able to "leave the body?"

    ummm i think what you are referring to as "material benefits" are the only benefits we can really talk about… are you saying a single human life span is short term?

    i appreciate your respect and really nuanced, well-informed and kindly expressed position too.

    i am saying that mythic literalism, mind-body dualism and any traditional religious worldview is not particularly relevant today or integrate-able with what every other discipline tells us about reality at this point. i think this means that in today's world, all traditional religious worldviews have to create irrational, psychologically defended, faith-based compartmentalized beliefs that by definition cannot be reconciled with reality and keep spirituality delusional.

    i appreciate your intellectual curiosity and honesty.

    thanks!

  31. Thaddeus1 says:

    I'm still waiting…

  32. […] So you’re a single mother and you say you have no man, no sex, no double income, no respect, no ability to discipline, no energy, no time to exercise, no desire to put on make-up, no cash for clothes, no peace of mind, no freedom to pursue a new career or find a boyfriend, no child support and your ex is dating a baby-faced genius? […]

  33. yogijulian says:

    wow!

    do you completely deny the progress of human knowledge?

    i know it may seem as you say – but what do you think of the possibility that there are innate experiences that transcend cultural labels and metaphysical beliefs which can and should be reinterpreted as we learn more about the body, brain and cosmos than people who tried to explain such phenomena with their more limited knowledge at the time?

  34. yogijulian says:

    ah glad you are so interested thaddeus – thanks for all your time and energy – and thanks to dan too if you are still around and reading this!

    i understand your criticism, but as you might guess do not agree.

    i want to simplify the example to make my point:

    person a: i am making offerings to poseidon in the hope that he will spare us from the kind of earthquake/tsunami and nuclear disaster that happened in japan.

    person b: that's a little outdated don't you think, we know now that poseidon is not the cause of such phenomena – it has to do with tectonic plates and various other overdetermined geological forces.

    person a: well you can't prove that poseidon is not the cause.

    person b: i don't have to, poseidon has not literal external existence. he is an archetypal, make-believe human construct – a personification of the forces of nature that at an earlier time we did not understand.

    person a: that is racist toward the ancient greeks and besides i thought you valued science – can your prove anything you just said.

    person b: i don't have to.

    i really don't have to.

  35. eye-rolling guest says:

    if that is your version of empirical proof, you got a looooooooooooooooooooong lot of studying to do.

  36. Thaddeus1 says:

    Well, okay…me neither then…

  37. yogijulian says:

    hahahaha – you guys are funny!

    touche.

    look, the basic distinction i am claiming here is a simple one – even though i know we disagree on it:

    i am saying that interior contemplative experience tells us more about the nature of the brain and psyche than it does about anything outside the brain or psyche.

    poetry, dreams, mythology, archetypal formulations, altered states induced by spiritual practice or drugs, all have a metaphorical quality about them – they are not literal representations of the outside world, of beings in the outside world, of the nature of the universe itself etc…

    now you ask: well does this statement itself not require empirical proof?

    the answer is that i don't think so and here's why: it is a statement about the difference between literal and metaphorical language and about the difference between interior reverie and external observation.

    i no more need to prove that poseidon is an archetype with no literal existence than i have to prove that antonio machado's bee-hive in the heart where failures are turned into sweet honey and white combs by golden bees is not literally true.

    these are not extraordinary claims – they are self evident observations about the nature of metaphorical speech – and perhaps about the evolution of our understanding of myth making, metaphorical symbol and archetype.

    is it materialist? well i prefer the term "naturalist," and i might call the position i am espousing "spiritual naturalism" – that all spiritual experience has it's basis in the natural world, most notably the activity of the brain.

    the position that poseidon is an archetype and that archetypes are not literal beings with existence outside of the human psyche is uncontroversial – as it would be for quetzalcoatl, satan, the virgin mary, allah etc for most of us.

    the only way to really respond to challenges that this is "as unscientific" as claims that they are beings with their own independent existence would be to point to two things: 1) the lack of evidence for any such thing and 2) the history of comparative mythology a la joseph campbell.

    when we start to talk about the metaphorical nature of archetypes, mythology and poetry we are in the domain of the humanities – though i will grant you there is a naturalist underpinning that says these things cannot be literal and so how can we understand their meaning and value in other ways.

    from a kind of neurotheology/biological naturalist/evolutionary perspective the question becomes how do we account for such ideas, beliefs and experiences in terms of the brain.

    this gets us into a few things:

    1) dennett's explanation of "the intentional stance" – a philosophical hypothesis, similarly not empirically provable but based in some scientific observations.

    2) cognitive science's "theory of mind" idea regarding how we form an internal representation of the minds of others even though we have no direct access.

    3) ramachandran's experiments with temporal lobe epileptic patients and these implications for religious experience, prophecy, scripture, and ascetic renunciation of sex etc…

    4) sapolsky's observations (again philosophical and psychological, but not empirically demonstrated) about the probable origins of religion in schizotypalism and OCD – but in people with otherwise high functioning brains and an ability to modulate their mental illness effectively to gain power and influence.

    5) persinger's "god helmet" experiments, which demonstrate that most people can be induced into sensing a presence, having auditory hallucinations, reporting a sense of god or aliens and other phenomena by stimulating their temporal lobes with electromagnetism.

    6) my own observation that "the brain does not experience itself as a brain" and so therefore cannot help but imagine consciousness as somehow distinct from matter and biology etc…

  38. yogijulian says:

    if you are interested in links to any of these sources i would be happy to provide them……

    i really do appreciate all your time and know your position is a sincere and well-thought out one.

    ultimately we differ over something central that i doubt either of can change in the other.

  39. yogijulian says:

    haha! well played.

    so all epistemological claims are on the same level, there is no way of telling the difference between interior and exterior experience and literal and metaphorical statements are on equal footing and cannot be reasonably said to refer to different types of things?

    have a good day thaddeus..

  40. Thaddeus1 says:

    Personally, that's all a little too new-agey and relativist for my liking. I would say, having gone through all that we have gone through, that the world is real, always has been, always will be. Likewise, the Truth is always Itself….was, is and will always be. Our debate, at least for me, has centered around how and what is the best way to access, learn and know about this world. This does not in the least require me to accept all claims as equal and inviolable. Can we be done now, cause we're running out of room?

  41. […] Yoga Makes Sex Better! 5 Top Reasons to Practice and Teach. […]

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  43. yogijulian says:

    hey kim – yeah i think this is a common complaint! we have to figure out how to get more men into yoga, and i think part of the key to this is emphasizing the REAL benefits not just paying lipservice to the pious woo-woo stuff that makes yoga seem to airy fairy for most dudes….

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