Tag Archives: mindfulness

Quitting by doing it

I found a wonderful talk on TED today where the psychiatrist Judson Brewer elaborates on using mindfulness to break bad habits.

He uses the example of smoking. When building the bad habit of smoking we have propped it up with positive feelings, such as the feeling that we are cool when we smoke. As the habit progresses the rewards that we initially gained become all the more subconscious. It becomes an automated behaviour; a habit.

What I found was really interesting was the way he suggested to break the habit. He didn’t tell his clients “You need to stop smoking”. In fact he did exactly the opposite. He encouraged the client to smoke BUT to do so consciously. Since the habit is an unconscious act bringing in consciousness makes all the difference. When the clients began smoking consciously they themselves found all kinds of nasty things that they were not aware of. Smoking mindfully they began noticing how their body reacted, how they felt, how it smelled and many other things that they had been totally unaware of before. That in turn motivated them to quit or made them loose interest all together, sickened by the insight of what they were doing to themselves.

So next time you want to break a bad habit you might want to try something very different from what you usually do. Instead of trying to cut it off, bring in consciousness and go into the habit. You might find that the key to solving it is right there in front of you.

Photo: Smoke and Steve by Liza Agsalud on Flickr

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A New Year resolution to be true to

You can only control what you are aware of.
What you aren’t aware of controls you.

 

We often find ourselves being pushed around by such things like old habits that we are unaware of, past programming that is no longer relevant or blockages that we have managed to forget about. The only way we can change these old patterns is by first becoming aware of them. That is why raising awareness is at the very core of handling any change you need to do in your life. It is at the very beginning of the process and nothing can be done without it.

If you need to raise your awareness in order to work with change it therefore goes without saying that you should avoid drugs and medicines that numb you and lower your awareness. Common drugs that should be avoided are alcohol, opiates and pharmaceutical antidepressants. Caffeine, nicotine and cannabis are also numbing when used on a daily or close to daily basis. Junk food and sugar are also really bad for awareness.

Things that will raise your awareness include meditation, exercise, mindful sex, good food cooked from scratch, herbs, hugs and playing. This is of course also why psychedelic medicines are such powerful agents of change, because they drastically raise our awareness.

So do you want a tip for a New Year resolution that will help you immensely and that you can always find new ways of being true to? Promise yourself to be more aware this coming year. Instead of focusing in on one specific, such as exercise, see the bigger picture. It all comes down to awareness and you can become more aware in so many different ways. Give yourself a bigger promise this year, and at the same time make it one that you can keep.

Make 2016 all about awareness.

Photo: amber us by Shannon Kringen on Flickr

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Abuse and consciousness do not mix

When I abuse sex I do not see you. Instead I project my fantasies on you and actually have sex with myself. I only use your body.

When I am present in the caress and kiss, I am with you, and then the abuse stops. It is impossible to be present and to abuse sex at the same time. Unawareness is a trademark of abuse, whether it is abuse of a substance or of sex.

When I am aware I choose to be in the touch. There’s nowhere I’d rather be right then.

So the solution to my sex abuse is meditation and being consciously present.

Photo: Untitled by Joe St.Pierre on Flickr

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Rules of sexual engagement

Because of my past sex addiction it has become important for me to set up rules when it comes to sex. Here are some of the rules that I have found.

I only have sex with people I like.

This may seem obvious, but many have probably had sex with someone they don’t really like, simply because they lost control to sexual desire, because they were bored or because they felt sorry for the person. Liking someone does not mean I have to be in love or want to have more than a casual sexual contact. It simply means that I need to like the person. For me that rule is often easy to live by, since I usually find it easy to like people, but I have backed away more than once from people who I thought were incredibly sexually attractive because I just didn’t like them. In those cases it has been because they were racist, homophobic, ego manical, condescending or show other similar negative traits that put me off.

I do not have sex with people who use our sex to hurt themselves.

There are many who use sex in a very destructive way, where they could just as easily have numbed themselves with alcohol/drugs or cut themselves with razor blades. Sometimes they have several types of these behaviors which make them easy to spot. If I consciously allow myself to be used by someone who hurts themselves with me, I hurt myself. Therefore I can’t have sex with someone who wants to use our sex in that manner, even if I truly like the person and have a different approach. With that said, it is of course possible to have sex with that person if the person is aware of the problem and wants to use sex to release and heal, but that is of course something entirely different.

I only want to do what you want to do.

For a long time I was so focused on my own fantasies that I almost nagged my way to experiencing them. Very unsexy, I know. Over time it has become quite obvious to me that I’m only interested in doing what my partner also wants to do. Everything else puts me off. I very much appreciate having a partner who wants to explore and who is willing to try things even when they aren’t of huge interest, but now I always respect a no, because why would I want to do something with someone who does not want to? It’s like going on holiday with someone who does not want to go on holiday, or go to the cinema with someone who does not want to go to the cinema. Chances are that it will be a completely miserable experience.

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In addition to the rules, I also have an intention to how I approach sex. It may vary slightly, and as with the rules they are not finished, but here are a few important parts.

I strive to be consciously present.

For me my sex abuse dissolved when I found mindfulness in sex, or meditation if you like. Therefore, it is something that I actively seek. As long as I am aware, it is quite easy, because all I really need to do is to consciously touch, massage or be very close. Then I’m there. I often connect through touch.

I strive to have sex that is more than enjoyment.

My best sexual experiences and my most stimulating sexual relations have made clear to me that sex can be so much more than just pleasure. Above all I’m very interested in exploring sex as a way to heal and grow. In this context pleasure sometimes feels rather like a lovely side effect and sex only for pleasure is easily perceived as somewhat flat. I definitely think that sex for pleasure is good too, but I find it very difficult to imagine myself in a longer sexual relationship where pleasure is the only purpose.

My sperm is my life force and I take conscious care of it.

There are spiritual traditions that focus a lot on that the man should not lose his energy by ejaculating. I respect that approach, but that is not the message I’m getting. I am instead being told not to waste my life energy, which I do if my partner doesn’t take care of it. Therefore it has become important to me that my partner takes care of my sperm. If my partner does not want to, or if it is assumed that I should cum in a condom or sock, I prefer to save my life energy by not ejaculating at all. In the past it was important to me to cum and it was something I chased in sex, but now it’s something I only do if I’m with someone who appreciates and takes care of my life force. My experience is that it is a transfer of energy.

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I would love to hear what rules, guidelines or intentions you have for sex. Please feel free to write a comment or send me an email if you feel it is too personal.

Photo: No name by Luis Hernandez on Flickr

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More on sex and pleasure

Sometimes I am so happy when I manage to find the right words to capture something important in just one sentence, that I do not want to confuse matters by adding more sentences. My last post, however, left behind a desire to hear more – at least in one of my readers. And in fact I was already thinking to do so when I wrote it. So here it is.

Having sex just for pleasure
is like having a relationship
just for security.

Had I sent that message back ten years to Daniel, 30, he definitely would not understand what it meant. We humans (I imagine that I’m not alone in this) often think quite simply about things and categorize them without investigating them thoroughly, so we are caught off guard when we understand that it can be more than what we have imagined.

Sex is such a thing for me.

If you had asked me ten years ago, I would have equated sex and pleasure. I would certainly be able to understand the combination of sex and procreation, but that wasn’t interesting to me back then. And of course, sex is great pleasure! In recent years, however, I have realized that it is much more than that. I no longer imagine that I know much at all about sex, but here are a couple of other things sex can be.

Sex as healing

Among the most special experiences I’ve ever had has been when we during the act happen to trigger some old trauma or blockage. Suddenly the door opens to work through it and in the midst of all the excitement we need to change our focus. If the trauma is in the other person I lead them into it and support them to get rid of it. It might take five minutes or two hours, but when it is resolved, all the excitement comes rushing back.

There is so much energy in circulation when you have sex, that it is a great opportunity to work to free yourself from blockages. However, it requires a conscious and responsive partner.

Sex as a journey of discovery

I have often had ideas about what I like and do not like, without really knowing. When I was 15 my girlfriend asked me what I thought of anal sex.
– No way! That’s just for gays, I cried.
I’m sorry about that. I was an idiot when I was 15 and knew no gays. A few weeks later she tricked me into having anal sex with her, and suddenly I realized that it was absolutely amazing.

I have thought so very many stupid things. I have thought that I would not like to give anyone a spanking. That I would not like to be dominated. That I would not particularly like feet. That I would not like after play. And every time I challenge myself to dare, I understand that my limit is not at all where I thought it was.

Sex as meditation

I wouldn’t have thought that sex would become mindfulness practice. It has been so very easy for me to lose myself in fantasies, but when I found conscious touch it was like finding my breathing anchor in meditation. When I touch, I would not want to be anywhere else. It is my focus.

To refer back to the previous point – I did not think I liked giving a massage. When I found the meditation through massage it all changed immediately. Touch. Intimacy. Being in the present. How could I ever want to be anywhere else?

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Pleasure is the most obvious, but also the most banal thing about sex. Just as security is the most obvious and banal thing about a relationship. Of course, there needs to be pleasure, but sex that is never anything more than pleasure feels flat to me.

I want to have sex where we challenge each other to heal and grow. I want to be fully present in the moment with you.

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Promise to be the one who loves the most

I think I was 16 at the time. We were having sex when she suddenly told me that she had been unfaithful. I was immediately turned on by the thought that she had been with another and asked her to tell me more, which she did. The details about how she had been to a party, where she followed this older guy to a barn, made ​​me so excited that I had never experienced anything like it.

Then I came.

And then my head turned inside out. Feelings of disgust and shame washed over me. An anger bubbled up in me that led to a fight, but a well-aimed kick to my balls left me curled up on the floor.

After that relationship, I promised myself never again to be the one who loves the most. I promised myself to always put myself first. I built a wall around my emotions, sedated myself with alcohol and even though I had intense loves even after that, there were always parts of myself that were shut down. After a while it all went on autopilot. I had several girlfriends who were unfaithful to me and I ruined relationships by being shut down and egotistical.

I didn’t think much of it all until almost 20 years later, when I came across a particularly tough energy block in the stomach area. At first it was really vague. I went at it with deep meditation, psychedelics, with sex and yoga. It has taken me several years to reach the point where I actually know what it is. It was last year that it really became clear, first in one very important relationship, and then in another. I have clawed at it, massaged, cleared and wished it away. And I have certainly made a lot of progress, but it isn’t completely gone.

It has taken me a long time to get here, but now I know what I need to do to remove it completely.

I need to activate the block, go into the trauma and choose differently. I need to meet up emotionally where 16-year-old Daniel was unable to do so. Enter the trauma and choose differently.

I think I know how it will play out. I need to have a relationship with someone I am deeply in love in. I need to hold her in my arms while she has sex with another. I need to feel turned on and excited, and then I need to come. When I trigger the trauma I need to keep my awareness and set a new reaction pattern to my feelings. I see that I will probably break down and cry, but when I have done so and when I have decided to always be the one who loves the most, I will be free.

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Trauma doesn’t lie in the event itself, but in our reaction to it. Our reaction in the moment of trauma is often unconscious. An extremely effective way to resolve a trauma is to trigger it and then consciously choose another reaction to it.

Photo: from Bertolucci’s film Novecento.

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A healing jerk off session in the shower

After having woken from my sex addiction I began observing myself. So I stood there in the shower one day and wanted to jerk off when I realized that my head was filled with internet porn. As soon as I began masturbating, my mind began projecting bits and pieces of all kinds of things I had seen. One might think that there were favourite episodes, but there weren’t. There was only a continuous flow of moaning and groaning and penetration, short second-long clips stapled on top of each other.

I stopped.
– How do I do this mindfully, I asked myself. How do I do this in a way that helps me heal?
The answer came back:
– This is meditation. I need a point to focus on; an anchor to return to whenever the mind wanders. One single positive sexual thought.

I found one specific moment with my mistress that I held on to.
– If I can keep my focus on her, a real person that I love, it is ok to pleasure myself.

Whenever my mind wandered to the uncontrolled flow of dirty thoughts, I stopped myself and returned to the thought that I had chosen. I could no longer focus on coming, since I seldom got that far. My mind was continuously interrupting me with dirtyness, but with every return to my anchor I was healing.

Photo: untitled 11 by David Goehring on Flickr

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Mindfulness solved my sex addiction

I used to spend much of my time obsessively sex chatting with strangers. Like in any addiction I just couldn’t help myself. As soon as I got started, all sense shut down. All respect for my relationship, all respect for myself – it just shut down.

On my outings at fantasy land I was either in fantasies of what could be, a kind of mesh of all the porn I had ever consumed and what my mind had made of it, or I was in what had been, continuously reconstructing and telling others about earlier experiences. I projected my fantasies onto other people even when I had sex for real, which in hindsight feels like an advanced form of masturbation. Of course, many of the people I spoke to back then were also sex addicts. I can see that today. There wasn’t much genuine interest in the other. Sex chatting in that manner wasn’t as much a dialogue, as it was two monologues.

For a long time I denied having any problem at all. Then came a series of rude awakenings and eventually I understood that I had to do something to break my destructive compulsive patterns. First I took therapy. Then I went to SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous). Both of them helped me to start talking about my problems, but none of them gave me the tools I needed to overcome the addiction, so it all just carried on, to greater or lesser extent.

That New Year my mistress and I took a tapas (spiritual challenge) to meditate for at least 20 minutes a day. Approximately two months in to that practice we rented a hotel room to have a weekend of raunchy sex.

Drifting away by Carsten Schertzer on Flickr
Drifting away by Carsten Schertzer on Flickr

We were lying in the bath tub when my intuition kicked in. “Wash her”, it was telling me. So I asked her:
– Is it ok if you are passive for a while? I’d like to wash you, but I’d like you only to receive.
She nodded and I bathed her entire body with outmost care. Afterwards I helped her out of the bath and dried her off with a towel. I led her over to the bed, where I lay her down and with the same care I massaged her entire body.

When I was massaging her I realised that I was totally absorbed in the here and now. I was in the contact point between my fingers and her body, and I couldn’t be anywhere else at the same time. In that moment there was no room in my consciousness for the porn fuelled fantasies (future), or strolls down memory lane (past). There was her body, my body and the contact point between them, and there was no place in the entire world that I would rather want to be.

Then and there my addiction was solved. I was again directed to the simplest and most complex of all tools – meditation and mindfulness. When consciously having the choice to meet the other in fantasies (future), memories (past) or in the here and now, it all became quite easy.

– There is nowhere else I would rather be, than here with you, right now.

Photo: Drifting away by Carsten Schertzer on Flickr

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The therapists offer

The Venerable Buddha of Lantau by LASZLO ILYES on Flickr
The Venerable Buddha of Lantau by LASZLO ILYES on Flickr

– How do you work with your addiction today?
– Mainly by practicing conscious awareness.
– You mean mindfulness and stuff?
– Sure, if you want to call it mindfulness, so by all means.
– You see, mindfulness only goes so far. Then there’s psychotherapy.
– It took Buddha all the way.
– What do you mean?
– “Mindfulness and stuff” led the Buddha all the way to enlightenment and nirvana.
– Are you comparing yourself with Buddha?
– No, I said that the Buddha went all the way by following that path. But if you wonder if I think I’m big enough to compare myself to the Buddha, the answer is yes. I am big enough to compare myself with Jesus too.

Jesus crown of thorns - West Pier Brighton by Leonski Oh Leonski on Flickr
Jesus crown of thorns – West Pier Brighton by Leonski Oh Leonski on Flickr

– It’s easy to believe that anyone who compares himself with Buddha and Jesus is a megalomaniac.
– But then it is of course precisely the opposite, that those who believe themselves to be too small or insignificant to compare themselves to them are suffering from an inferiority complex. There is a Buddha and Jesus in every person. Every human being is a part of the highest divine and those who do not understand it, don’t understand the essence of the Buddha or Jesus.
– Well… [grumpy silence] Do you want therapy or not?
– With you?
– Yes.
– I think I’ll pass. But thanks for the offer.

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