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Sometimes we reach a point in life where we are exhausted by the emotional roller coaster of sexual relationships.
At this point, we’ve seen too much. There have been too many highs, too many lows, too many confusions, too much suffering, too many moments where we sacrificed ourselves in order to make a relationship “work.”
It’s in these moments when we may ask ourselves, “What is the highest aim of my incarnation? What am I here to actually do? What are my gifts and my unique service?”
When we start asking these kinds of questions, we have reached a juncture in life where it’s no longer about fulfilling our ego-based longings, or even about the thrill of breaking cultural norms. We know, deep down, that what we need the most is to follow our spiritual path more deeply, to serve and share in a more expansive way—but, thus far, we’ve been held back by our fears and insecurities. We have not been able to rise to the challenge of who we truly are because we’ve been too busy looking outside of us for validation.
It’s time to go within.
Saying Yes to the Calm, Quiet Love of Me
At this stage, a variety of paths present themselves. We could get in a car or hop on a plane and leave our home territory, retreating to a delicious seaside or mountaintop retreat, the physical distance helping us to temporarily dissolve the demands (and addictions) of so many potential romantic interests. We could join a monastery. We could dig into our current relationship(s) deeper, asking how we may surrender to the wisdom inherent within what already is.
However, there is another option available to us. It is definitely not for everyone, but those who come to it will know, deep in their bones, that this is the path for maximum transformation and healing.
This is the path of being intentionally single.
The path of being in the world, but not of the world.
Staying at home. Keeping life exactly as it is—except, we are single.
The path of calm, quiet self-love.
Maybe we come to this point after a divorce. Or maybe we arrive here at the end of an amazing love-at-first-sight but, ultimately, tumultuous whirlwind romance. Maybe we come to this moment after our children leave home and we realize that the soulmate that we married has now become a comfortable (or even a distant) friend. Maybe we come to this point after we’ve tried the wonderful freedoms and exhilarations of polyamory or nontraditional relationship styles.
But, no matter how we come to it, we finally come to it.
We reach this fork in the road, take a look around us, and we say, “Hey Universe, bring it on. I’m finally ready.”
Trying it all
Breaking out of traditional molds can be both terrifying and amazing. But, as a relationship pioneer, I’ve settled for nothing less. When others say “you can’t” or “that’s impossible,” I say—Awesome, thanks for inspiring my next challenge!
I’ve tried so many labels and had so many wonderful experiences. I’ve explored monogamous marriage to a soul mate, living in intentional community, a polyamorous quad family, a twin flame relationship with someone who lived three thousand miles away, and more. I’ve had girlfriends, boyfriends, fun summertime flings, a few tantra teachers, a few tantra students of my own, a BDSM master and submissive, and more.
I learned so much that I wrote a book about opening the heart and the possibility of enlightenment through the path of intentional relationship. However, I recently came to a threshold.
I’ve been practicing yoga for over a decade and recently concluded my teacher training. And what I’ve realized through this magical journey of movement and Sanskrit vibration is this: there is an ancient spark in my soul, a knowing that stems from previous lifetimes. This knowing says that it’s time for the awakening powers of the yogi cave.
Being Single—On Purpose
The yogi cave is the place where we meet God. Traditionally speaking, the yogi finds a literal cave on a mountain and settles there for a long period of time, perhaps the rest of their life. Here, with simply the bare earth beneath their bones, they have nothing, absolutely nothing, to distract them—from here out, it is only meditation as the aim, day in and day out. The yogi cave is a beautiful, earnest, passionate calling to drop the blurry confusions that come from everyday life in the city and to plunge into the cleansing fires of simple purity.
A few years ago, I left a long-term relationship and was settling into life in my very first apartment. It was the first time that I’d lived alone. And guess what? I was terrified! There was something deep in my subconscious mind that equated living alone with failure. Why hadn’t I been able to make it “work” with my partner, or with my husband prior to that? What the hell was wrong with me?
Around this time, I gave myself a challenge. I called it The Celibacy Project: a six-month journey of loving myself. I vowed that I would voyage into myself on a deeper level. I would keep all my delicious sexual energy swirling inside of myself. Yes, I would consciously use this energy to heal. I would meditate more. I would get to know the frequency of my own heart and learn to bask in it.
Through The Celibacy Project, I wanted to find answers to my deepest questions. Why did my heart always feel so empty? Why was I always disappointed by relationships? What was I here to do in this lifetime? What ancient twisted karma still lingered in my soul that needed resolution?
Those six months were the most transformative chapter of my life. Among other outcomes, I experienced the most intense kundalini awakening thus far, which basically felt like a three-day-orgasm! And, yet, as the weeks ticked off the calendar and I grew closer and closer to my intended stopping point, there was a whisper in my heart saying that it would be wise to extend the project to a full year.
But, I was scared. There were still parts of me who were terrified to look, really look, at all the ways that I wasn’t yet able to unconditionally love myself, wasn’t able to fully feel my inherent direct connection with the Universe. It’s almost as if I was checking off the days on the calendar, just waiting to dive into my next relationship. In other words, my heart wasn’t fully in it. I wasn’t totally surrendered. There was still a strong part of me that felt like love was “out there.”
My Yogi Year
This morning, I saw a woodpecker land on my roof. He watched me as I stood in warrior pose. Its head was the brightest red I’ve ever seen.
The woodpecker totem represents finishing up old projects. It’s been a few years since my celibacy period. And, right now, my heart is shredded. I’ve just ended the most powerful, deep, electrifying, and transformative relationship of my life. And I know what’s next. I am called to complete what I wanted to complete back then but didn’t have the guts at the time. I am diving back into my intentional singleness—this time, for a full year.
As Elephant Journal contributor Kate Rose has shared in her insightful book, You Only Fall in Love Three Times, a lengthy “time out” from romantic/sexual relationships is often the crucial ingredient that many of us need in order to fully heal from childhood as well as past life wounding.
Without this wonderfully challenging chapter, we cannot learn the lessons that will propel us to the next stage of our spiritual evolution. Without a time for focusing on ourselves rather than on sex or romance, we cannot grow truly comfortable in our own skin.
During her year away from romance, Kate Rose found the magic that we’ve all been seeking—which is to be at peace with who we are, regardless of whether we are in a relationship or not.
I’m at the very beginning of what I’m dubbing my “Yogi Year.” About a week under my belt so far. During the next 12 months, I won’t be scanning the nearby grocery aisles for cute guys. I won’t be browsing Bumble or fantasizing about former partners. I won’t accept a date, no matter how beautiful she happens to be. I will be fully dedicated to my evolutionary process.
For, as I look within, I find that I do not know. Who is this Anya Light character, anyway? What does she truly love? How can she connect with friends and serve the community in a deeper way? What shadows come up when she’s not distracting herself with the ecstatic (and sometimes addictive) chase of lovers? How can she make peace with the beautiful being that she already is and has always been? How can she meet her own sacred self—deep within?
If I’m successful, these questions will no doubt produce more and more questions. In truth, I hope the questions never stop.
In this dance of life, we keep on going, keep on asking more questions, better questions, finding out things, discovering, never stopping the fun and beautiful expansion that comes from allowing the Universe to lead us into the most frightening but necessary healing journey of our lives.