Are Negative Patterns Causing Emotional Pain in your Relationship?

Negative patterns within us sometimes evolve for very good reasons. For example, growing up in an alcoholic and/or abusive environment may create a wall around you for protection. This type of defensive behavior helped ensure your survival emotionally and physically through challenging and threatening times. Years pass, however, and these walls and other defensive mechanisms may sabotage our personal and professional lives. The wall is no longer needed yet it remains. It has become habitual. The first step is to become aware of what we have built around us. What stories do you continue to tell yourself to fortify the wall (consciously or subconsciously)? Stories from the past live on in us long after the cause or effect is gone.

As we grow these negative, protective patterns outlive their use. Then as maturity comes, we seek to create new, healthier patterns. It’s not that the negative patterns leave, they simply go dormant, and the new healthier patterns take over, as it were. It makes sense to accept this and have compassion for not only the old negative patterns but for our selves as children or young adults who needed them at the time.

Only when old patterns, which no longer serve, are released can new ones emerge. Sometimes new, healthier habits must be in place before releasing the old ones. Sometimes, it takes working with a skilled, compassionate therapist, to be along side you during this journey.




The eclipse is a potent symbol of transformation. meaningful change requires transitioning from what was to what is.

Transition though change is often filled with what Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist in early 1900’s, would call facing your “shadow.” The shadow is the part of us that we may have disowned in ourselves but see projected onto others. According to Jung, it is the process of bringing these disowned parts of self back into the light, rather than trying to cut them off, that brings us back to a place of wholeness.

Take the ocean for example, clearly, we see how the water is one Whole body of water, yet, it takes many forms and can only be seen, at times, as it’s parts. Drops of water, spray, waves taking different forms, stillness at the bottom, while storm is raging above Yes, the same water, all together is Wholeness.

In therapy, we work together to gently, nonjudgementally dive and swim in your ocean: to see the light and the dark. To uncover and unearth and mostly to heal and move forward.


Couples Therapy – Helps Break the Fight Cycle and Restore Connection

A fight cycle might look like: “If they would just not get so emotional and critical, we would get somewhere” | “Well, if they would talk more and not just shut down, we would get somewhere.”  We need to feel connected, yet our fight cycles disconnect us and push us farther apart. Our loved one (partner, parent, sibling, or close friend) can be our shelter in life. According to Dr. Sue Johnson, when this person is unavailable and unresponsive, we are assailed by a tsunami of emotions — sadness, anger, hurt and above all, fear.

Fight Cycle

This fear is wired in. Being able to rely on a loved one, to know that they will answer our call is our innate survival code. Research is clear, when we sense that a primary love relationship is threatened, we go into a primal  panic.

Couples therapy helps you find a way out of the cycle and into deeper, more meaningful communications and ways of relating to each other.

Self Love, yeah right

Marketing experts want you to think there is a formula to loving yourself.  That’s how they profit from you. You will continue to buy makeup, expensive clothes,  phones, cars, memberships at their gym, etc.  And while none of those things are inherently bad, they do become dangerous when they’re attached to a message that says This is the key. This is the answer. This is what has been missing from your life. This is why you are not good enough. This will fix you. 

You cannot be fixed. Because you are not broken. Maybe you feel broken. Maybe you’ve been through things that almost broke you. Maybe you’ve been through some serious, horrible things that were beyond not fair and were definitely not your fault. And that seriously hurts. But you’re still here, you’re still breathing. You are evolving, growing, fighting, hanging on (even if barely), daring yourself to keep going.

Understand that loving who you are is a process, a lifestyle, a way of looking at the world. It’s not something other people can beat you at. It’s not a race, or a place you’ll get to with your next promotion, your next accomplishment, your next significant other. Loving yourself is a state of being. It’s not about being immune to criticism, doubt, rejection, judgment, or insecurity. It’s about learning to keep going in spite of those things.

Understand that much of the time, loving yourself comes from facing the things that make you feel the insecure, scared, uncertain about yourself and any (or all) of your capabilities. The times I’ve felt the most uncomfortable and uneasy with myself (starting a business, doing standup comedy, public speaking, to name a few) were also the times in my life that I experienced the most growth, the most enjoyment, the greatest amount of contentedness in spite of my stress, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy. Accepting that you are an imperfect human doing the best you can with the gifts and talents you have is Enough. Love that you are Enough and go from there.

Life becomes a whole lot easier when you understand that you are not in competition with everyone around you, that they are no closer to reaching self-acceptance and self-love than you are – simply because that’s impossible, because self-love is not a place or location or milestone. Self-love is a point of view, a mindset; it is journey. You are Enough. You matter. Accept that and be set free.

Accept your natural gifts and talents and know you are doing the best you can. Set yourself free.

Accept your natural gifts and talents and know you are doing the best you can. Set yourself free.

Loss of a Loved One


Should I Seek a Therapist?

When a person’s grief-related thoughts, behaviors, or feelings are extremely distressing and unrelenting a qualified therapist may be able to help. Therapy is an effective way to learn to cope with the stressors associated with loss.

Each person’s experience of grief is unique, complex, and personal. Therapists will tailor treatment to meet the specific needs of each person. For example, a therapist might help the bereaved find different ways to maintain healthy connections with the deceased through memory, reflection, ritual, or dialogue about the deceased and with the deceased.

In addition to individual therapy, group therapy can be helpful for those who find solace in the reciprocal sharing of thoughts and feelings, and recovery results are often rapid in this setting. Similarly, family therapy may be suitable for a family whose members are struggling to adapt to the loss of a family member.

Stages and phases many experience:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Most everyone experiences at least two of the five stages of grief. It’s widely accepted that some people may revisit certain stages as often as needed.

There are also Four Tasks of Mourning:

  1. To accept the reality of the loss
  2. To work through the pain of grief
  3. To adjust to life without the deceased
  4. To maintain a connection to the deceased while moving on with life

People will invariably oscillate between the following two processes which encompass tasks of either loss-oriented or restoration-oriented.

  • Loss-oriented activities and stressors are those directly related to the death. These include crying, yearning, experiencing sadness, denial, or anger, dwelling on the circumstances of the death, and avoiding restoration activities.
  • Restoration-oriented activities and stressors are associated with secondary losses with regard to lifestyle, routine, and relationships. These include adapting to a new role, managing changes, developing new ways of connecting with family and friends, and cultivating a new way of life.



Couples: Does the same argument keep happening?

imagesWhen couples argue about issues like household duties, child-rearing, sex or money, the origins of these arguments are often some form of protest from one partner about not feeling connected, not trusting, or not feeling safe or secure with the other partner. When those we are attached to are not available, or are not responding to our needs to feel close or supported, we feel distressed. We may become angry or demanding, anxious or fearful, numb or distant.

These behaviors can become habitual modes of reacting to our partners which goes on in negative cycles causing  pain, injury and despair. Couples often come into therapy feeling defeated and wondering if their relationship might be irreparable. However, couples therapy focuses on these patterns (or cycles) and aims to  change these negative interaction cycles into positive ones in a non-judgmental empathetic environment. Gradually, couples begin to recognize and eventually express their needs for love, support, protection and comfort that are often hidden or disguised by the harsh words used in arguments with each other.

Once feelings of connection are re-established, couples are better able to manage conflict and the painful feelings that will inevitably arise from time to time in a close relationship

Stages of Grief following a Break up

You fought to hold on to the relationship to the point of being all-consumed  You don’t want to believe it’s actually ending. You can’t believe it. Even if the relationship was awful, even unbearable at times, the idea of living without it is unacceptable. Still, it’s becoming clear that the two of you aren’t going to make it. You are finally starting to compute that it’s over. You’ve gone from, “Don’t leave!” to “Okay, I give up.” But you still feel anything but okay. The moment you get off the phone with your ex, or the texting finally stops, or you leave each other’s space, you experience withdrawal, and you are hit relentlessly by the reality of the loss. It can be a brutal process, and it can take a long time until you feel deserving of investing in your own independent, reshaped life path.

You may have known somewhere within you that this breakup was coming, even for months or years, and yet you are still blindsided. No matter how the lead-up has looked, now that the breakup is actually happening, you may be overwhelmed, immobilized and haunted by fear, loss and despair about life without this person. Following are some of the stages you can anticipate going through—they often occur all at once, or in varying orders at varying times during the process of letting go:

1. Desperate For Answers

The drive to know is consuming and can come at the expense of rational thoughts and behaviors. You must understand why this happened, maybe beyond anyone’s ability to explain it. You fixate on things your ex said at various times that you see as contradicting the breakup, and you hold onto them now as if they are gospel. Yet somewhere within, you have moments of clarity, too. You likely swing back and forth between foggy disbelief, the daily, moment by moment rediscovery of the magnitude of your loss, and flashes of painful clarity that of course it’s over. The pain, disorganization, and confusion can become all you think about, or talk about. But initially, you remain driven to understand what happened, at any cost. The desperation to make sense of something so jarring compels you to debate friends, family, coworkers, even strangers, about why the relationship ended, while you justify to them the reasons it shouldn’t have, as if convincing them it is equal to convincing your ex.

2. Denial

It can’t be true. This isn’t happening! You just cannot be without your ex. It feels like you’ve put everything you are into this relationship. It’s been your world, your life. You cannot accept that it’s over. You funnel every last hope into saving it, even at the expense of your well-being. You postpone your need to grieve its end, because it’s just too painful to face. In so doing, you temporarily derail the grieving process by replacing it with unrealistically inflated hope that the relationship can still be salvaged.

3. Bargaining

You are willing to do anything to avoid accepting it’s over. You’ll be a better, more attentive partner. Everything that’s been wrong, you’ll make right. The thought of being without your ex is so intolerable that you will make your own pain go away by winning him or her back, at any cost. Of course, you’re not logical at this point (and probably shouldn’t be operating heavy machinery). You are standing on the edge of what feels like an abyss, trying not to fall into the unknown. You cling to any hope you can, to prevent yourself from losing what you have come to depend on, for better or worse. However, during this phase, when you promise to fix all the problems between you, you are placing the entire burden of repairing, maintaining, and sustaining a relationship onto yourself. It’s as if the responsibility is yours and yours alone to make it work this time. Try your hardest during this phase not to lose sight of the fact that both participants in the relationship contributed to its end. You can’t possibly take responsibility for everything. Somewhere inside, you know that.

Bargaining can only briefly distract from the experience of loss. Reality inevitably comes crashing down, over and over again. Further, when you bargain, you are trying to take responsibility for why the relationship doesn’t work, which may give you the illusion that you have control over it, perpetuating the belief that it’s salvageable as long as you can just keep performing superhuman acts.

4. Relapse

Because the pain is so intolerable, you may actually be able to convince your ex to try again (this may not be the first breakup with this partner). You will temporarily relieve the agony of withdrawal. However, despite your best efforts, you will not be able to carry the relationship solo. I’m sorry to say, it probably won’t end well this time, either. Unfortunately, you may need to go through this process of breaking up and reconciling more than once before you’re absolutely convinced it’s time to let go.

5. Anger

Initially, you may not be able to connect with feelings of anger. Breaking up plummets you into the unknown, which can evoke immobilizing fear and dread. Fear, at that point, trumps anger. Therefore, when anger sets in, it’s because you have let go of some of your fear, at least temporarily. When you’re able to access anger, the experience can actually be empowering—because at the very least there are shades of remembering you matter too, of feeling justified in realizing that you deserve more from a relationship. Depending on your specific temperament, life, and family experiences, as well as your unique breakup, your anger may be directed at your partner, the situation, or yourself. The good news is that your anger, no matter where it’s directed, is meant to empower you, whether you choose to see it that way or not. When anger becomes accessible to you, it can provide direction and create a feeling of aliveness in a world that’s become deadened by loss. It can also remind you that you deserve more. Even anger at yourself, as paralyzing and self-defeating as it may be, is still part of the grieving process. The fact that you are on the trajectory of grieving the loss is a sign that you are working through. It indicates that somewhere within, you are creating enough internal discomfort to help shift your perspective about how the relationship has actually been, and it can compel you to make proactive changes, if you are ready to let it.

6. Initial Acceptance

This is the kind of acceptance that, when it happens early in the process, can feel more like surrender. You are holding up your end of the breakup because you have to, not because you want to. Either you or your ex has developed enough awareness and control at this point to recognize that you are not meant to be. Over time, this initial, often tenuous acceptance becomes more substantive, as both of you begin to recognize, independently, that there are boundaries that at least one of you must maintain in order for the breakup to stick, because it has to. You are finally grasping that’s it’s just not good for you to keep trying anymore.

7. Redirected Hope

You were leveled by the breakup and have had difficulty letting go, in part because it shattered your relationship with hope. As acceptance deepens, moving forward requires redirecting your feelings of hope—from the belief that you can singlehandedly save a failing relationship to the possibility that you just might be okay without your ex. It’s jarring when forced to redirect your hope from the known entity of the relationship into the abyss of the unknown. But this is an opportunity to redirect the life force of hope. Regardless, hope is somewhere in your reserves and you will access it again as you continue to allow some meaningful distance between you and your ex.

The , and then switch around without warning, leaving you feeling without foundation, especially in the beginning. You feel alien to yourself or cut off from the world. However, like any emotional amputation, continuing on in life means learning to live without that part of yourself, and finding ways to compensate for its loss. Furthermore, recognize that there is a method, and a structure of sorts to this chaotic grieving process. Knowing that you are not alone can help you ride it out. Your grieving is part of the human condition—without it, we would not be wired the way we are to handle the many pains and losses that occur in our lives. As the grieving process progresses you will begin to see your way through to a point at which you can let go in a more proactive and self-protective way—a way that you may eventually come to understand as a new beginning.

Mothering your thoughts and transforming yourself

To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

It’s extremely simple and can be done anytime, anywhere and in virtually any circumstance.

Hanh teaches, however, it’s not the words that matter but our commitment to, and intention behind the practice.

Here are seven simple steps for you to begin your practice.

  1. Whenever you become aware of negative thoughts and emotions arising, rather than ignoring them, or setting them aside for later, gently (non-judgmentally) identify, acknowledge, and honor them.
  2. Become very clear on what the specific upset is by identifying the exact thoughts that are bothering you. Are they self-judging, bad memories, or anxiety about future events? Do you replay things over and over? Any thought that causes dis-ease in you, regardless of past, present or future is applicable.
  3. Next, indentify the specific emotions that arise in you as a result of said thoughts. What do they feel like in your body? Is there tightening in your chest? Is your stomach turning or is there a throbbing sensation in your head? Again, any emotion that causes dis-ease is applicable.
  4. Once you’ve clearly identified the thought(s) and emotion(s), and where you feel sensations, close your eyes and explore any imagery they create in your mind (once you’re familiar with the practice, you won’t always need to close your eyes—i.e., if you’re driving, or in public you can still do this.) Do the thoughts and emotions create colors, shapes, figures? Are they abstract or clear? The important thing is to let your thoughts and emotions create the imagery while you simply become aware of what they are. This takes practice.
  5. Breathe. We’re at the half way mark and I’d like to offer you a sincere congratulations on completing the first half! Our natural tendency is to suppress these uncomfortable thoughts and emotions, often telling ourselves that we’ll deal with them later—but honestly, does later ever come? Unfortunately for most of us, it never does. So even just by taking the time to become conscious of, and identify these unpleasant thoughts and emotions is a huge step! Let’s not stop there though – here’s where the really good stuff starts to happen.
  6. This step is where everything begins to change! Once you have the mental images of what your thoughts and emotions look like (and even if there’s no image at all, this practice still works), picture yourself holding the image (or lack thereof) in the same way a mother holds a newborn baby. Picture the image of your painful thought and emotion wrapped in a warm blanket, being held with very loving care closely to your heart, your chest, as you extend it very sincere compassion from your heart center. (You can also use the imagery of wrapping the thought/emotion in a warm blanket and placing it in a baby carriage, and rocking the carriage back and forth.)
  7. Next, mentally (or verbally) say to the image that you know it’s there and you promise to care for and hold it with compassion until it’s ready to go. Do your best to say these words from a very sincere place in your heart.

Through bringing our attention to the image of our painful thoughts and emotions, and tending to it with an open heart, we’re doing the most natural thing we can—expressing love. Instead of ostracizing our uncomfortable thoughts and emotions and their unpleasant effects, we show them pure, complete and inclusive love. It’s a love they’ve never known before, and a love many of us have never known before either.

The thoughts and emotions will often subside very quickly. Sometimes, however, they aren’t ready to go so fast, and that’s fine. When we initially told them we’d be with them as long as they needed us, we were sincere in that intention. So if/when the thoughts and emotions call us on it, we honor our words and hold them dearly in our heart for as long as it takes.

So that’s the practice. This practice can be used on everyday minor things all the way to heavier memories of our most difficult life experiences. It’s all relevant, it’s all grist for the mill and it can all be healed.

Excerpts of:

Al Green – Love and Happiness (Live from Soul Train!)


Adult Siblings


Sibling Relationships

Sibling Rivalry

As modern cultural norms shift from extended family units to nuclear family units, sibling relationships have been overshadowed by relationship issues between parents and children. In many ways, troubling sibling issues can be more challenging to resolve than parent-child issues. Without a cultural mandate to stick together or a therapeutic road map to reconciliation, may siblings in strained relationships see no reason to create harmony. According to Psychologist Joshua Coleman, cochair of the Council on Contemporary Families, in modern sibling relationships, the ‘rules’ are quite unclear.

Therapy may provide an atmosphere for healing and re-establishing the family bond. Depending on the goals of individual siblings, reconnecting can relieve years of guilt and regret. Often when a sibling does the cutting off, regardless of how much it may be objectively deserved sill has serious emotional ramifications. Those who initiate the estrangement often feel deep regret later in life, according to Jeanne Safer, a New York City psychotherapist and author of Cain’s Legacy: Liberating Siblings from a Lifetime of Rage, Shame, Secrecy and Regret.




Body and Soul

Sex and Spirituality By Darlene Lancer, M.A., MFT

With the Sexual Revolution, a la “Playboy”, now behind us, as well as the Victorian attitudes which it rejected, perhaps we are ready for a new conception of sexuality, one not dividing, but embracing, both body and spirit. With few exceptions, such as the Tantric tradition, for centuries both Eastern and Western religious leaders have warned of the dangers of the flesh, and exhorted abstinence and restraint in the furtherance of spiritual ideals.(1) Particularly in the West, the separation of the body and spirit, and matter and energy, permeates not only our theology, but Cartesian philosophy, medicine and science. It is only in recent decades that medicine has become more holistic, and physics has acknowledged the interchangeability of matter and energy.

A holistic attitude towards sex would incorporate the body and spirit, the physical and the divine. It so happens that both the path and the experience of mystical bliss parallel that of lovers’ sexual ecstasy. It is not surprising that many saints refer to their relationship with Jesus as if he were a lover. I’m suggesting that the spiritual experience is neither exclusive, nor preferable, to the sexual, but that it is merely an individual choice as to whether one finds the divine alone or shares the experience with another. In fact, each such experience only enhances the other.

Freud was revolutionary in proposing that healthy sexual expression is necessary for healthy psychological and emotional functioning. Wilhelm Reich realized the opposite was equally true; that if a person is emotionally healthy, he will be able to express himself openly and spontaneously, and this will generate a fulfilling, ecstatic orgasm. He postulates that surrender is the necessary prerequisite for total orgasm, as opposed to a mere release of muscular tension. “Orgiastic potency is the capacity for surrender to the flow of biological energy without any inhibition…”(2) In order to achieve this, in the late sixties sex therapists began recommending non-demand pleasuring, warning that too much focus on orgasm only leads to performance anxiety, and the loss of spontaneity. Starting with the premise that the sexual response cannot be willed, Masters & Johnson introduced the “sensate focus” method in treatment of sexual problems. This therapeutic technique of mutual touch was developed “…expressly without pressure to `make something happen’ sexually.”(3) In fact, they discovered that removal of a goal-oriented concept in any form is pivotal for recovery. Thus, this method teaches the participants to: “`think and feel’ sensuously and at leisure without intrusion upon the experience by the demand for end-point release (own or partner’s), …without the demand for personal reassurance, or without a sense of need to rush to `return the favor’.”(4)

It turns out that these are precisely the instructions for the proper attitude in meditation, and in ones relationship with God or a higher power. Buddhist teachers counsel that enlightenment will not come by the effort of ones will, that one should sit in meditation for its own sake, and although a certain amount of desire is necessary for a disciplined practice, desire itself can be an obstacle. Trying to control or make something happen may yield fleeting pleasurable experiences, but is self-defeating in the long run. Focusing on techniques and goal, whether orgasm or enlightenment, only takes us further from awareness of the present and the joy of the moment. The writings of Tarthang Tulku, a Tibetan Lama of the Nyingma Buddhist tradition, could as easily be contained in a lovers’ sex manual: “So, during meditation, do not have expectations. Do not try to get anywhere or achieve anything…too much attention only produces tension.”(5)

“…Although we must make some effort in the beginning, once meditation is entered, there is no need for further effort…There is no need of will in meditation. The common idea of willing is to make an effort. Most people find it hard not to make an effort, not to do something in meditation. But will does not help…As soon as we try to force the mind, our meditation is disturbed.”(6)

Not surprisingly, Masters & Johnson come to the same conclusion, in describing the dilemma of impotency and being caught in the role of spectator: “Apprehensive and distracted by his fears of performance, he usually forcefully initiates some form of physical sexual expression, and immediately takes a further step toward total sexual dysfunction by trying to will his sexual response, thereby removing sexual function from its natural context.”(7)

The sensate-focus method is the sensual prescription for abandoning self-consciousness to the present for what Thartang urges in meditation: “Letting go of all thoughts and images, letting them go wherever they will, reveals there is nothing behind…not even a `me’…only an immediate, genuine present. In other words, there is no flow of time, no past, present, or future. Everything is in the moment.”(8)

“In meditation we make our closest contact with our experiential side, where enlightenment, higher consciousness, is found. When we pass directly into any moment, when we dissolve the forms or `clouds’ of concepts and yield to pure experience, we discover our great resource, enlightened space…This understanding is true integration, a genuine connection of our whole being with the reality of experience, with the `now’ which is unlimited by time or space.”(9)

Thus, it is in the giving up of control, not trying, nor willing – the shedding of the ego’s desire, and its opposite, fear, that the boundaries of self and other fall away; one enters an I – Thou relationship, whether communing with God or with the soul of another. Whether love making or in meditation, it is a physical, emotional and mental surrender and opening to this emptiness, moment by moment, with no holding on to the moment experienced, nor anticipating the next. Through such spontaneous surrender, one enters a timeless emptiness that at once becomes full of joy and ecstasy. Tarthang continues:

“Open all your cells, even all the molecules that make up your body, unfolding them like petals. Hold nothing back: open more than your heart; open your entire body, every atom of it. Then a beautiful experience can arise that has a quality you can come back to again and again, a quality that will heal and sustain you.

“Once you touch your inner nature in this way, every thing becomes silent. Your body and mind merge in pure energy; you become truly integrated. Tremendous benefits flow from that unity, including great joy and sensitivity. The energy flowing from this heals and nourishes the senses. They fill with sensation opening like flowers.”(10)

In the Christian tradition, when speaking of infused prayer, St. Teresa could be depicting sexual union, as she describes the faculties rejoicing without knowing how they rejoice – the intellect ceases to reflect and instead rests in the presence of God (or ones lover).(11) She also writes that we can do nothing to procure this experience, but that man must open his whole soul to God; total submission of the will is necessary for perfect union.(12) As in surrendering to a lover, she urges fully trusting and disposing of oneself to God, with an attitude of “I am Yours, I do not belong to myself any longer.” This represents the longing of the soul “to love, to be loved, to make love loved.”(13) In this state of immense depth and openness, God then unites man to Himself and in this intimate union expands and transforms him,(14) as lovers are transformed by their sexual union, when they have fully surrendered, as Reich advocates.

Her account of surrender is as sensual and arousing as is D.H. Lawrence’s:

“He took her in his arms again and drew her to him. It was gone, the resistance was gone, and she began to melt in a marvelous peace…and she felt herself melting in the flame (of desire)…and she let herself go to him. She yielded with a quiver that was like death, she went all open to him…she was all open to him and helpless! “…her breast dared to be gone in peace, she held nothing. She dared to let go everything, all herself, and be gone in the flood.”…heavier the billows of her rolled away to some shore, uncovering her, and closer and closer plunged the palpable unknown, and further and further rolled the waves of herself away from herself, leaving her…and she was gone. She was gone, she was not, and she was born: A woman.”(15)

His allusion to death and rebirth echoes The Prayer of St. Francis: “…And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

When lovers are fully present with each other, by putting aside their expectations and their fears, and are able to open their minds, hearts and bodies to the unknown of the moment, there is a surrender of the ego that occurs akin to death. In this empty and timeless space, absent of “self,” the energy flow from both souls merge in a union of love, described by St. Teresa and Tarthang, that is both expansive and euphoric. Such experience is restorative and transforming, whether occurring alone in meditation or prayer, or shared with another soul. Reich attempted to explain this commonality as an outgrowth of a functional point of view, as distinguished from a mechanistic one. From the latter, mechanistic and mystical thinking, and religion and sexuality, are incompatible. On the other hand, in functionalism the contradiction is resolved:

“…the common principle of sexuality and religion is the sensation of nature in one’s own organism…In natural religion, religion and sexuality were ONE:orgonotic plasma excitation…Functionalism breaks through the boundaries of the rigid splitting contradiction through the discovery of the common factors in emotion, origin, and essence of sexuality and religion.”(16)

Sex as a mystical experience is far from a casual encounter. It demands a new morality, one borne neither of rigidity nor indulgence, but of strength and vulnerability. It requires a strong sense of self to be vulnerable enough to abandon the ego. Additionally, in order to promote integration of body and soul, sex should be approached with integrity and compassion. If instead it emanates from selfish motives, solely to satisfy physical needs, or to possess or control another, it only strengthens the ego, and is destructive to the soul, which, as a result, retreats even further from reality. Valuable guidance is found in Buddhist sexual ethics. Here the emphasis is not on the sexual act itself; in fact, some schools even recognize passion as a means to enlightenment. In any case, ones motives must always be ethical; so that a Bodhisattva will take care to never harm or deceive another, thereby not harming him or herself in the process.(17)

Copyright, Darlene A. Lancer 1991
Published in Whole Life Times, Oct., 1991

1. Stevens, John, Lust for Enlightenment, Buddhism & Sex, p.23, Shambala Publications, Inc., Boston, 1990. (Gotama Buddha is reported to have said: “Brother, there is no real delight in passion; real delight is to be free of passion.”)

2. Reich, Wilhelm, Discovery of the Orgone, p. 79, Ambassador Books, Ltd., Toronto, 1967. (He goes so far as to posit that men who equate surrender and femininity will be orgiastically disturbed. Id., p. 82)

3. Masters & Johnson, Human Sexual Inadequacy, p.74, Little, Brown & Company, Boston, 1970.

4. Id., p. 73

5. Tarthang Tulku, Openness Mind, p. 114, Dharma Publishing, Berkeley, CA, 1978

6. Id., pp. 34-35

7. Masters & Johnson, p. 65

8. Tarthang Tulku, p. 122

9. Id., pp. 128-29

10. Id., p. 47

11. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., The Way of Prayer, A Commentary on St. Teresa’s “Way of Perfection”, p. 83, Spiritual Life Press, Milwaukee, 1965

12. Id., p. 112

13. Id., pp. 114-115

14. Id., p. 99

15. Lawrence, David, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, pp. 178-179. Nelson Doubleday, Inc., Garden City, New York (l928)

16. Reich, Wilhelm, An Introduction to Orgonomy, p. 301, Ambassador Books, Ltd., Toronto, 1961

17. Stevens, p. 140