June 9, 2012

Cirque du Sexual Relationships & Santosha.

Photo: Saraiva Angela Maria

Welcome to the show.

The three ring circus has begun. You are in one circle, your partner is in another, and right in between is the circle of santosha (contentment). The only thing missing in this circus are the clowns.

Santosha in yoga does not mean “happy” as we might be betrayed to believe. It means instead, the deduction of the presence of emotional or hormonal ups and downs. It is a mental steadiness that invites a state of peace to remain in effect for our sympathetic nervous system.

So how do we take two seemingly opposed concepts and find balance? Sexual relationships bring about heightened emotions and hormonal exchanges. Santosha asks us to “let go” and ease up on the “fight or flight” reactions.

Just as it is on our yoga mat, when we free the mind of obstruction and create a flowing sense of stillness, there is a balance involved in our sexual relationships with our partners. Of course, with the yin comes the yang; with balance comes imbalance.

Each of us is walking our own tight rope of balance.

In our circus, we have to take weight into our hands and find a balance somewhere in the middle while we walk the line.

In my life I’m constantly moving that weight a little to the left and a little to the right, much of my focus on finding my center.

Unfortunately for me, seeking santosha is much easier to do on the mat then it is in my relationships. I think part of the issue of this balance is also one of control.  When we are on our mats, there is just us, just one mind to try to control. In this respect, a disciplined practitioner can explore pratyahara (sensory withdrawal), pranayama (breath control) and dharana (meditation).

When it comes to our sexual relationships, we cannot control that second individual.

They arrive in their own clown car filled with drama and the only control we retain becomes reaction.

My partner believes sex is everything and it is nothing. Sex for him makes the relationship, erases the flaws or at least takes the observing or intuitive eye off of those flaws. In the same flash, for him, sex is just sex. I wonder if he has found his own state of santosha through his thought process- but then I think of his mental conflicts and know this cannot be possible.

Like most men I’m sure he feels sex should be twice a day but where is the balance? Is it in intimacy, romance, friendship, shared experiences? A little hint to all my gentlemen yogis out there—sex is not the balance.

I’d like to think that the talent of walking these tight ropes for multiple shows a day comes, in the search for contentment, in the relationship. Compromise, respect, mutual understanding, problem solving all offering their matured wisdom to the relationship and each of us invested in it

Some days the balance may rest more on one individual but the idea is that over time there is a shared amount of peace. Each day in the relationship should offer less conflict over time instead of more.

Reducing the emotional and hormonal ups and downs decrease our levels of stress which has been linked to both heart disease and cancer (the number one killers of adults in America). Reducing the stress in our relationships can diminish the trigger of unhealthy habits related to stress including: overeating, drinking, smoking and/or addiction.

If we are able to bring about some semblance of santosha into our sexual relationships then we increase not only the chances for longevity in the relationship but longevity in our physical lives as well.

Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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