Why Sex Should Be Treated As A Spiritual Practice
Mention the word sex and eyes widen and ears perk up. The strong reaction the subject arouses reflects the spicy nature of sexual energy. We may be at the gym feeling tired and depleted, but if someone we find attractive starts working out next to us, our energy level is suddenly boosted. That energetic intensification represents the activation of our Lower Dantian (energy center below the navel), which holds our sexual energy in reserve.
Pure sexual energy is as unstable as dynamite and just as explosive. It can transport us to sublime states of bliss and delight, or cast us into the darkest pits of anguish, terror, and depravity. The volatile and wild nature of sexual energy convinced some religious traditions to view it as an impediment to spiritual development, and to some degree this belief still continues to perpetuate in the popular imagination because of the confusion, heartache, and pain that sexual intimacy can cause.
To demonstrate this, rank the following three words from the most to the least spiritual: wisdom, love, sex. If we took a poll, the top position might be a tossup between wisdom and love, but without a doubt sex would rank last on the list. No one questions the connection between spirituality and love or spirituality and wisdom. But the link between spirituality and sexuality is a harder sell.
From the Qigong perspective, however, the notion that sexuality and spirituality are antithetical is misguided, because sexual energy forms one of the cornerstones of happiness. If we ever hope to secure long-lasting happiness in a loving relationship, we must heal our socially conditioned distortions about sexuality. We must erase the invisible line we draw with our minds around our beltlines, above which lies the greater part of human nature and below which lies the lesser. In essence, we must spiritualize sex.
But how do we redeem sexuality and elevate it to the spiritual status it deserves? How do we reconcile the square of sex with the circle of spirit when sexual pleasure is often responsible for so much shame, trauma, and pain? One place to begin searching for an answer to these questions lies in identifying the fundamental, seemingly irreconcilable differences between male and female sexuality. Those differences swiftly become apparent in the bedroom.
Stereotypically, male sexual energy flares up and is exhausted quickly, like a match, while female sexual energy boils slowly and remains hot for a long time, like a pot of boiling water. These different tempos are a source of shame for men who climax too fast and frustration for women who may not climax at all. This problem is then compounded by the notorious fact that when male sexual energy is activated men often become emotionally unavailable, and the other notorious fact that the female sexual experience is often laden with sentimentalism that men normally can’t relate to.
Obviously, we can’t alter our sexual instincts. What we can do, however, is use spiritual practice to overcome the limitations imposed by nature on our sexuality. In fact, we can transform the inherent mismatch between male and female sexuality into an incredible opportunity for spiritual growth.
Let’s begin by considering the way Qigong can help a man harness his sexual energy. When male sexual energy is aroused, it intensifies locally around the genitals and quickly flows out of the body. That is the natural pattern of male sexual energy. But men can learn to reverse that flow and direct their sexual essence upward, toward the Middle Dantian (energy center at located at the heart level). By doing so, a man accomplishes two goals. First, he diminishes the urge to ejaculate, and second, as sexual energy rises to his heart, passion blends with love and tenderness. A man who masters this skill is able to prolong intercourse indefinitely and deepen his emotional connection during lovemaking.
When female sexual energy is aroused, it naturally flows inward and upward from the genitals toward the heart. Stimulation of the breasts further activates the Middle Dantian (energy center at located at the heart level) and reinforces an emotional response. Unlike men, women don’t need to practice Qigong to integrate their sexual vitality with their love. These qualities mingle naturally, and in this respect, female sexuality is inherently more integrated.
But through spiritual practice both women and men can learn to integrate their sexual energy to even higher levels. Sexual vitality can be directed upward from the heart to the top of the head, where it becomes infused with the blissful quality of sacredness. And from there, sexual vitality can be circulated through the Central Meridian Meridian (the energy channel that unifies the three main energy centers — the Dantians) into the sky, where it is experienced as heavenly ecstasy.
Sexuality that centers on the genitals and the Lower Dantian (energy center below the navel) corresponds to passionate sex. Sexuality that integrates the sexual vitality of the Lower Dantian with the heart-centered energy of the Middle Dantian corresponds to intense lovemaking. Sexuality that integrates all three dantians corresponds to blissful sacred love. And sexuality that integrates the all three dantians and the Central Meridian corresponds to cosmic ecstasy.
Cosmic ecstasy is vastly more intense, pleasurable, and meaningful than even the most passionate sex. Comparing the two is like contrasting a bathtub with the ocean.
There is no surer way to bring long-lasting happiness into an intimate relationship than to ground it in enduring bliss.
Adapted from The Master Key: Qigong Secrets for Vitality, Love, and Wisdom by Robert Peng. Copyright © 2013 by Robert Peng. Published by Sounds True.
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