I was sitting on the floor at a self-help workshop, women on one side, men on the other.
As an introduction, the speaker’s assistants gave strict instructions to the 24 of us in the room to sit up straight, pay attention, and use this time and him well. Basically, don’t futz around.
I was comfortably sitting on a zafu cushion and swiftly rearranged myself to a cross-legged position with my back straight, upright, with my attention out, alert, and ready.
The speaker was escorted into the room and sat in a chair in front of all of us sitting on the floor.
He invited participants to share why they signed up, “Why are you here?”
I raised my hand.
When he called on me, I shared vulnerably how my relationship had lost its erotic spark, and we were hoping to learn how to build our polarity again. We loved each other and wanted our sex back.
What happened next shocked me.
It was something like, “Well, look at the way you’re sitting, your shoulders are facing out in a square, you’re not showing the flow of the curves of your body. You’re not relaxed. You’re basically sitting like a man, do you think that’s helping?” This, delivered with patronizing flabbergastion. This, after being instructed to sit that way.
My nervous system got activated. I spent the next long days navigating it. I did not feel safe to say anything about it.
My vigilance was on alert, and I was bracing for another hit the whole weekend. And I generally play full out, so I did my best to engage fully anyway.
A part of me wishes I hadn’t kept quiet to be a good student, but I understand that I went into a bit of a freeze, and that’s why I kept silent.
I learned a lot about the kind of leader, teacher, and guide I wanted to be that night—for example: not the kind that starts a new student off by triggering them.
I also learned that great writers, thinkers, and players of life aren’t necessarily good handlers of people’s sensitive nervous systems.
I left that workshop with life-changing experiences and insights, both positive and negative. I found layers of myself that I hoped and expected to find.
It opened doors and an inquiry for me that I’m still deeply steeped in and passionate about—10 years later.
I also left with strong dogmatic imprints from a leader I respected, that in order to have my desires met, I have to be more feminine and less masculine.
It took a while (like multiple years) of playing this out for me to discover for myself that, that is a bunch of crap.
Cultivating the embodiment of both my feminine and masculine, in the ways that feel good and resonant to me, is more on the spot.
It’s not about making any aspect wrong, or trying to shift the ratio of how we express and engage our energies with the world, unless we actually desire to.
Enjoy, explore, and be you.
Here are some takeaways in my personal, ongoing inquiry into polarity, relationships, intimacy, and erotic energy:
Polarity and erotic dynamics aren’t as simple as they’re made to seem in the tantra and neotantra worlds.
In the most basic terms, in order for polarity to exist, it’s true that two people choose to occupy opposing poles to create erotic energy—one negative (feminine) and one positive (masculine) create electricity.
And, more importantly:
The erotic intimacy issues couples and partners have don’t usually stem from problems with polarity itself, but with the obstacles in the way of polarity.
>> Trauma: reenacting wounding that is still trapped in your system
>> Desire: the first step is knowing and owning what you like and want
>> Accord: agreements are the foundation for safe play
>> Sexual blueprints (for example, one is kinky and the other is not)
>> Conditioning: I am too much, too little, I should be…you should be…
>> Disowned parts/projection: I source from you rather than from me
>> Codependency: people-pleasing, nice guys, collapse, abandoning self
>> Attachment styles: avoiding, grasping, ghosting, and so on
>> Shame, shame, shame: I am wrong for being me
>> Communication: applying curiosity and deep listening, saying what matters
>> Love languages: giving your partner what feels like love to them
All these obstacles are the things we work on to heal, become whole, cultivate our skills, get our needs met, meet our partner’s needs, and serve the partnership as an entity itself.
Trying to navigate all of this without help leads to struggle, failure, and pain.
If you value relational and erotic intimacy, then reading books, participating in workshops, getting therapy, and hiring a coach are all worthy of significant investment (and, frankly, necessary).