Sexuality is an interesting topic to teach on, especially in a public yoga class.
Sweat pouring down sculpted, scantily clad bodies—heat and humidity, breath and energy warming us “from the inside out”—well, you get it.
But as it’s one of very few topics that I have explored extensively, the honor fell to me naturally to broach this often unbroachable topic.
In a world where porn is a $97 billion business (ranking it higher than the yoga and pet industries combined in this country) our cultural unwillingness to open our own respective closets seems silly at best and shameful at worst.
So I decided to open mine—a bit.
I’m 34 years old and have been sexually active for less than half of my life (I lost my virginity on an air mattress at Lake Powell when I was 18). Since that time I’ve explored the world extensively and the body intimately, and have had sexual experiences with women, men, and everything in between. I’ve been in monogamous relationships and polyamorous ones—ones that had integrity and those that were far from it.
An exhaustive exploration that has left me—exhausted, feeling like I’ve left a piece of my heart in every bed I’ve ever been in.
I’m tired of it. I’m tired from trying to fill the hole inside of me with drugs, alcohol, and sexuality.
When a Grammy winning rock n’ roller looked at me and said, “You can’t ever get too much p*ssy.” And I looked back at him, shook my head, and affirmed the opposite—I knew that I’d gone pretty far down an unproductive road.
This is not to place judgement on those that still travel down it—quite the opposite, actually.
Somewhere along the way I picked up a piece of programming that said, “What it means to be a man is to sleep with a lot of women.” I remember the exact moment it happened. I was playing college basketball and my roommate asked me what was “the most women I had slept with in one day?”.
My small-self panicked—I had slept with two my whole life. In that moment, my mind said “That’s a man—go do what men do.”
Once the programming takes over, the critical voice of our consciousness is muted, the organic computer that is our brains is diluted, and reason flies out the f*cking window.
I spent much of the next decade trying to fill the void inside me with sexual experience, thinking—hoping, really—that every time I did, the hole inside me would get a little smaller.
In my exhaustive exploration of sexuality I have learned a few concrete truths:
One—if you don’t use protection you will get an STD eventually. Even if it’s a curable one, the experience is still a highly unpleasant one.
Two—even, maybe especially, if you’re not getting any, sexuality is still the single most dominant force driving humanity.
Three—sexuality seems to be the most significant source of shame in contemporary society.
And Four—no matter what you try to fill it with, that hole that’s inside only gets bigger until you connect to the bigger whole that flows through you.
I have, of late, been undertaking my single most interesting exploration of sexuality to date—abstinence. By abstaining, refraining, and turning in when my mind would shout “look for fulfillment out there”, I have been able to reveal some sobering truths.
Brahmacharya has got to be one of the least celebrated of the yamas. It can be literally translated as “going after Brahman”, and liberally practiced in a number of ways—each of them as physically unfulfilling as they may be spiritually uplifting. Ways that, in all of my days, I have never felt pulled to practice—until today.
Today I make a deliberate choice to delete this particular piece of programming that’s been calling the shots in this area of my life.
I don’t intend to be celibate forever—though some days “one day at a time” sure feels like forever—just until I re-learn what it means to be me authentically in this arena of life.
Sometimes as beings it seems the only way to find the middle is to visit the extremes.
I’m not an expert and I would never tell anyone how to live their lives. As a yoga teacher I only try to provide a productive reflection by revealing bits of my own continual struggle. Whether your experience of sexuality resonates with mine matters less than that we all take the time to consciously ask ourselves—
What am I trying to fill the void with? Is that me acting, or my programming reacting?
Is the hole inside me getting bigger by my reactions? Or is my being becoming more integrated through my actions?
The mind can turn anything into a dysfunctional addiction. Whether yours is heroin, compassion, sexuality, or attention, we might all be wise to simply consider that the hole inside of us can only be filled when we connect to the whole that surrounds us, to remember that consideration costs us nothing, but that its lack can cost us everything.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Justin Kaliszewski
Apprentice Editor: Melissa Scavetta / Renee Picard
Photo: Jasmin Porcic via Pixoto