Some individuals grow in every other way yet their sex lives remain in shambles or non-existent. We are all sexual beings yet we often overlook or dismiss our sexuality when embarking on a process of personal development. This may be due to a lack of awareness around the importance of sexuality, or due to the lack of available support, which is non-judgmental and sex positive. Or perhaps we have just grown up in a society that has caused us to disassociate from our sexuality, leaving us disembodied and confused.
Embarking on a journey of sexual exploration is a rich and enlightening experience that delves into our deepest longings and fears. It brings us face to face with our vulnerabilities and core themes in life, which often are around feelings of acceptability. Am I good enough?
Exploring sexuality also teaches us essential life lessons around values, communication, and the necessity of boundaries. Embracing our sexuality is said to be the key to self-acceptance. We learn to honour our own unique sense of sexuality and how we want to be in the world.
Sexuality is fluid and changes throughout our life. Just as there isn’t a right or best way to live one’s life, there is no right way to enjoy a sexual life. Every person is unique and we all need to develop our own awareness and appreciation of our sexuality. It is unrealistic to expect it to be great all the time. Most people experience sexual concerns at some point. Sometimes our sexual desire wanes and we feel shut down, whilst others times we may feel sexually frustrated or invisible. Sexologist Annie Sprinkle refers to sex problems as sex lessons. The key is to learn and grow from sexual problems and not fall into a sexual rut.
Our sexuality, like any other aspect of life, is like a garden. It may survive even if we neglect it, but it won’t flourish. It will exist despite the lack of water and the encroaching weeds, but it won’t be very inspiring. If we want a garden which is alive, radiant and beautiful, we need to devote energy to it and attend to its care. The more energy we dedicate to our garden, the more it will grow and flourish.
What are the benefits of attending to our sex life?
There is an interconnectedness between sexual health, physical wellbeing and emotional well-being. Sex can be a source of personal growth, enhance physical and emotional wellbeing, increase intimacy in a relationships and be a source of self-realization and spiritual nourishment. Sexual satisfaction is also a strong precursor to relationship satisfaction. However, the inner felt sense of satisfaction extends well beyond the relationship. Exploring our sexuality can help build sexual esteem, which has the potential to help people overcome body image concerns and other confidence issues. As we deepen our sense of awareness, self-compassion and inclusion in our sexual exploration, we gain a more enriching appreciation of life.
Sexual energy is life energy and has been acknowledged by many ancient spiritual traditions. In Taoism this sexual life force is called ching-chi and in Tantra it is known as kundalini. Sexual energy is inherent in all of us but often lies dormant or blocked by our emotional and physical processes. If we are forced to supress our sexuality, our overall health and physical vitality is impacted. When sexual feelings are suppressed, the chest and pelvis is often held rigid, especially in sexual situations, which prevents the flow of sexual energy and negatively impacts the health of the heart and other bodily organs.
Good sex begins with solitary sex. Masturbation can help us feel more at ease with our sexuality. It provides an outlet for those without partners and an opportunity for self exploration. Feeling at ease with our sexuality gives us a greater ability to give and accept sexual pleasure. Masturbation also reduces stress, aids insomnia, alleviates physical and sexual tension, and strengthens the pelvic floor muscles. For women, masturbation can help overcome an inability to orgasm or body image concerns, whilst for men, it can help with maintaining an erection or controlling ejaculation.
Good sex boosts the immune system, strengthens the heart, and reduces stress. Studies have shown that an increased incidence of sexual expression diminishes signs of aging, reduces the incidence of breast cancer, provides migraine relief, and helps manage chronic pain. From a mental health perspective, healthy sexual activity is correlated with a lower incidence of depression and anxiety, and an increased self-esteem.
A sex therapist provides clients non-judgmental and sex-positive support for exploring sexual concerns and supporting personal development. Even one session can be very beneficial. As a gestalt trained sex therapist, I use a somatic or body-based approach in therapy session. A body-based approach to therapy aims to release block emotions through increasing awareness using breath work, touch*, movement and sensory awareness. Through awareness individual can overcome fixed pattern of dissatisfaction and experiment with new ways of doing things.
With the right support, everyone has the potential to enjoy a rewarding and pleasurable sexual life.
* Touch between the therapist and client is not permissible in sex therapy. However breathing exercises, movement exercises and self-touch may be used in therapy to explore somatic experiencing and homework assignments with one’s partner may be recommended.