What if the way to have great sex and the way to have a good life followed the same principle?
While I am no Tantric sex guru, I have read and studied and trained enough to know that the kama-sutra-all-night-long-bliss-fest basically all boils down to this: learning how to feel more and more subtle tremors of pleasure.
As our bodies become more and more sensitive, the sensations that barely registered before become veritable earthquakes of good feeling; the ecstasy that we used to associate only with the briefest moment of climax becomes abundantly available throughout our lovemaking.
It turns out great sex isn’t about getting really good at what we’ve always been doing, but rather learning to become present to the things that we were conditioned to ignore or speed right past.
The more I teach about practical enlightenment and how to have a direct experience of truth in our regular lives, the more I find myself talking about what I’ve learned about how to have great sex—because it really is the same thing.
I lived 30 years of my life in pursuit of the climax I thought was the whole point of life.
It took different forms, as I am sure it does for other folks, too: the right relationship, more money, bigger muscles, positions of power…And so I sped toward the destination. I invested all my energy and time and life-blood in the hope that it would give me that sense of well-being and peace I most dearly wanted. I did not see or sense anything else.
And, well, you know, it’s just like sex. Sometimes we get there and sometimes it’s good, but then it’s over and we are right back where we started.
And sometimes we don’t get there. Or sometimes we do and it’s not that good.
And after a while we might start wondering if there might be another way, because climbing to the top of the mountain over and over again for mixed or fleeting results sure seems like a lot of effort for not much gain.
It seems to me we have two choices.
One is to try and find a way to stay at the top of the mountain the next time we get there. Good luck. I gave that three decades of my life. If there is a way, it seems to be for someone more skillful or spiritual or powerful than I am.
The other is to experiment with the possibility that we are actually swimming in the ocean of well-being we thought we needed to climb the mountain to get to.
Again, it’s just like Tantric sex. At first we don’t feel anything. We get bored. We might even get angry. We want to go back to climbing mountains because at least that felt like we were getting somewhere. But because we are stubborn, or faithful, or just exhausted by mountain-climbing, we decide to hang with it a little longer. And then, there it is. A flash, a glimmer, a spark. We feel something. And that one spark keeps us going til another one comes, and then another, and then another.
And this is the beginning of a wild ride of experience that just gets more and more wonder-full as you go. It’s just like life. In each crevice and crack of the present moment there are tremors of well-being and peace. One day we may find ourselves at the top of the mountain or we might find that we have wandered off the path to the summit completely, and that’s just fine too.
But how do we do it? How do we learn to attune to what we used to ignore or race past?
Here are three keys that have helped me:
First, learn to be in relationship with what is really going on in the moment. How? By simply starting to notice what the most conspicuous sensation is in your body. The tingling in your chest. The tiredness in your eyes. The clench in your stomach. Miracles happen when we don’t judge our sensations, but simply feel them. Say hello to the sensation that is here. There is always something. Go ahead try it right now. Breathe into it and out of it. Repeat.
Second, cultivate gratitude for the small things in life. Try this: take a piece of paper and write, “Thank you for _______” and find some part of your life you are already grateful for. Then write another sentence on the next line. And the next. Keep going until you can’t think of anything else. See if you can fill a page and if you can fill one, then see if you can do two. It doesn’t take long. Do the same thing the next day starting from scratch. Your experience of being alive will be different if you do this for a week straight.
Third, listen to your life. Every day ask yourself, “What gave me life today?” and “What drained my life today?” Start recognizing the events, people, and projects that give you life and the others that drain your life. Make choices that reflect this knowing and allow your experience of being alive to steer you into greater and greater joy and freedom.
Learning to live is a lifelong journey. I haven’t yet found the end of it. I hope I never do.
Author: Ernest Morrow
Image: s.h.u.t.t.e.r.b.u.g/ Flickr
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren