“Carry Out,” Timbaland Afro-Caribe Warm-up

Tonight was a sad night, my last to teach in the studio formerly known as Melonlight Dance Studio.  I get it–Dance studios are hard to keep alive, especially when they have to compete with big chain-gyms that offer fitness and fitness dance classes…  the privately owned dance studio sometimes just can’t keep up!

melonlightstudioBut we’ve had a good run in this beautiful space!  It was the first class I felt was truly “Mine” – not something I took over from anyone else and not a space I’m simply using under another company.  After Melonlight left, we had the space–US.  Afro-Caribe….  and we were making it ours.

I’m not sure exactly where we’ll end up but this dance form is something that is alive and growing!  And people are asking for it to be brought into other cities…  so please, spread the word, come to a class, stay connected and join in the booty-shaking, undulating, hip-grinding, sexy, fun dance form, Afro-Caribe whenever you can!  I’ll be sure to keep you all informed as far as where I’m teaching.  As for now, you can join me at Belliston Dance Academy at the Littleton location on Wednesday mornings at 9:30 and Saturday mornings at 9:00 (all except the 2nd Saturday of each month).

As for now, this is a warm-up we’ve been practicing, that my student and friend Jennifer was kind enough to record tonight on my iPhone for those of you who want to give it a try at home!

I’d love to know what some of you think and if you’re able to follow it all and practice at home.

Beyond that, keep shaking it and stay connected to the growing world of Afro-Caribe!  I’ll be sure to keep sharing here so stay tuned!

For the Love of Your Life!

Angie

Dr. Gabor Maté on Addiction

DrGaborMateI recently had the great fortune of experiencing a lecture of a brilliant minded physician, Dr. Gabor Maté, regarding addiction and it’s far-reaching effects, particularly in current North American culture.  In this following TEDx talk, Dr. Maté expands that message to “the addiction to power” and how it is passed down from generation to generation.

Dr. Maté speaks so eloquently, and shares such embodied knowledge, of addiction’s causes and manifestations, and the lack of integrated understanding we have—particularly in the US—for how to actually HEAL our collective collapse in treating it.

At the foundation of Dr. Maté’s passionate style is compassion.  In his words, we need to stop looking at what is wrong with addiction and, instead, look at what’s right.  What do people get from their addictive outlets that they’re not getting from life and relationship?  What pain and suffering do they embody, from which they escape, through their addictive substances and behaviors.  It is not the substances or behaviors that are the problem, right?

Alcohol and drugs are not inherently addictive—not everyone becomes addicted.  Just as food is not inherently addictive—yet to some people who are vulnerable to the soothing and escape it provides, it is. So what do addicts get from these things that help them to exist in the world and in their own bodies?

What is addiction?  According to Dr. Maté

“Any behavior that gives you temporary relief, temporary pleasure, but in the long term causes harm, has some negative consequences and you can’t give it up despite those negative consequences.” 

What is it that people can’t tolerate in regard to simply living in their bodies?  Why do so many people experience a sense of dread, fear, or isolation that lends so powerfully to addiction?

Dr. Maté states that people are afraid of death, other people, and their own minds….  And addictive substances and behaviors are one way that people can escape the overwhelm of their own minds.

In the following Tedx talk, Dr. Maté is speaking of fairly extreme drug use, indicating fairly extreme lack of attachment—consistent with abusive or neglectful early environments.  And this is true, as well, in more subtle abusive environments—where children are simply not receiving the love and attention they need to thrive.  The “emptiness” always goes back to what we didn’t get—what we didn’t feel—when we were small.  Our brains, along with our ability to manage our internal states, are literally “shaped” by our early environments.

Please watch and share the following, whether you or someone you know suffers from any variety of addiction.  This is something we all need to understand and for which we can all cultivate compassion. 

http://drgabormate.com/

Those who are truly powerful are those who want to teach people, not control people.  We cannot continue to look to “those in power” to change the world for us.  We need to find our internal power—our internal Light—if we want to transform the world.

For the Love of Your Life!

 

Angie

A Life Transparent

Mark-Z-imageIt would be an aspiration of Mark Zuckerburg, right?  To move toward transparency and openness, to have our lives displayed through social media sites and the like, available to all manner of voyeur.  And we are following his lead!

Transparent in the digital realm, however, is different than transparent in an intimate, fleshy, sensory, emotionally raw kind of way—like with the people in our direct life experience.

As much as I struggle with the façade of digital openness that tends to masquerade itself as connection, digital transparency is a start.  It’s a start that is whetting our taste buds, you might say.  It’s expanding our cognitive awareness of our need for greater, deeper, more authentic connection as well as our need both to be seen and to open our lives to those around us—isolation is killing us, on a multitude of levels.

One way I’ve come to utilize the digital platforms of Facebook, Blogging, and other forms of social media is to share my personal life—to an extent beyond what is comfortable for many; in an effort to share, educate, model, learn, to become more humble, to face my shame, to own my strengths, and to deepen my experience of being a “good enough” human.

…And what does “good enough” mean?  It stems from the practice of “good enough parenting” which asserts that it’s actually important to NOT be perfect—to not even attempt it! –To own our mistakes, missteps, and mis-attunements.  We need to make mistakes, as parents, and allow our kids to have the opportunity of witnessing us doing the necessary repair work.  Because how else are they going to learn how to do their own repair?

How else will they learn that mistakes are NORMAL and okay?  How else will they learn to be gentle and compassionate with themselves, if not for us?

In the same way, being a good enough human is my goal.  I’m far from doing anything with perfection—(though damn, I can organize like a mad woman when I’m stressed!)—But through my imperfections, coupled with my desire to share deep connection with others, I’ve strengthened my ability to step into some powerful repair in my relationships.  And it is through that repair that we truly change ourselves and develop intimacy with one another.

My sense is that we are all seeking something more—something beyond what we know—something that will fill us at a soul level.  And we (as a collective body) have not found it.  And I believe that “it” has to do with deepening intimacy with others—increasing our relational repertoire so to speak.  And like building a muscle, this will take awareness of “form and function,” first and foremost.  Then it will take focused, consistent attention and practice.

The Foundation

I grew up in an era that espoused neighborhood play time, gatheringssack-races on back porches, visiting with neighbors over the rose bushes and over afternoon tea, having constant friends in and out of the house, stopping by and simply sharing our space—children being raised by villages.  I grew up when we had little fear of our kids being “taken” or hurt by strangers, where our friends’ parents could discipline us as much as our own parents.  I grew up when people actually ran when the phone rang—they didn’t just check the caller ID and decide whether or not to answer.

I don’t want to romanticize our past—That can be a sticky place to hold to, the idea that it was “ah, so much better back in the day.”  There are things that I miss and things that I feel grateful for having learned, and surpassed.  It is sometimes our own unwillingness to progress that keeps us attached to “the good ole’ days.”

Greek-FamilyI do have it in my blood, however, to feel the strength of community, that certain network of connection, albeit physically—not digitally!  I know what it’s like to feel at home in the comfort of my village.  I also know what it’s like for the neighbors to hear my family bickering and sometimes share dirty laundry… to get unsolicited advice from all the relatives and feel the frustration of being confined to familial perceptions and the difficulty of stretching my wings.  And I know that I could always call my folks in a heartbeat if I needed a quick favor and that, no matter how messy my life ever gets or whatever mistakes I make, they’ll continue to hold me tight.

Some of that closeness—even the parts that remind me of the dysfunctional aspects of my “big fat Greek family”—I miss!  The pendulum has swung, my friends.  And it has swung so far into the land of isolation that people in our very own country are literally dying from loneliness.   I believe we are collectively suffering from Intimacy Deprivation.loneliness1

Our Digitized Life

This Intimacy Deprivation becomes apparent to me when “texting” or IM’ing with someone I don’t know well, in any number of personal or professional contexts.  I’ve noticed that the “intimacy” that I can project via digital communication cannot naturally transcend to the flesh—that when eyes meet and hands shake and bodies intermingle, we become shrouded in trepidation and constrained by the natural “pacing” that one-to-one dialogue requires.  Our neural networks are being rewired, and not in a good way!  Our connect-ability is being engaged via screen shots, rather than body language and tone of voice.

Collectively, our relational intelligence is suffering.

textingpicWe can become hardwired to share ourselves digitally and forget that relationship—any kind of relationship—is very much a physical experience.  Via text, we have the leniency of spaciousness, taking all the time we desire for witty and intelligent replies and monitoring automatic responses prior to hitting “send.”

In the flesh, we must depend on our ability to authentically attune and engage—to stay present to our inner wisdom.  Yet we are wiring our brains to connect with one another in a world that not only doesn’t require presence and authenticity but negates the importance of our primary mode of communication—our BODIES—our ability to touch, be touched, our voices, our expressiveness, the subtle nuances of interaction that occur in the vivid space of togetherness.

Now, like most of you, I too get caught in this digital playground and find myself far too often holding onto my phone as a source of “addictive soothing” you might say.  And I’m concerned… I’m concerned that we are forgetting how to soothe ourselves, how to transcend our aloneness while in close physical proximity.  I fear that we quickly leave close interaction and come back to the comfort of our handheld digital pacifiers…

The Risk to Our Children

Most of us share some concern about the amount of texting and “digital time” kids-textingin which our children engage.  We see the “under the table” conversations and, at times, mental oblivion to real life.  And sadly, we usually blame our kids, blame society, rather than taking responsibility for the boundaries we set and the modeling we provide.  And it is through these paths that our kids learn to be in the world—how we model our own relationships, and the structure that we provide for guiding their relationships in the world—because that’s part of our job.

Our inner world is expressed through our bodies.  As infants, we learn to communicate not through words, but through eyes, mouths, touch—through yielding and pushing and reaching and through the impact that our physical expression has on others within the subtlest of exchanges.  Yet, if our early life is presented, in part, within this digital frenzy, that’s exactly what we’ll crave—that’s how we’ll learn to connect, to soothe, to share ourselves, and even to think.

Our kiddos world is clearly so different than our own early environment.  And we do need to support them in developing an evolving—yet mindful—relationship with current modes of communication and technology.  And ultimately, we also need to BE with them.  We need to set down our phones, look them in the eyes, touch them, play with them, get into life with them!  Because right now, we’re growing a generation of techies that are learning how to do relationship primarily with their thumbs.  Many of them have no idea how to truly BE with another person.  And considering our current relational trends, we just might be on a scary downward spiral.

(All this as I type on my mac!)

My “Why?”

Our lives are flying by with lightening speed.  And that search for something more is ever present but can become a mere dull ache as the deafening roar of everything else takes over.  But I’m paying attention—and I know that some of you are as well.  So what are we going to do, together, to quiet the nonsense and bring our attention to what matters?

My hope in reaching out to a willing and engaged collection of people—my growing digital community—is to initiate some dialogue around becoming more real with one another and hopefully, inspiring each of us to become more real and more engaged with our fleshy, raw, sensory, real life relationships.  And if I can connect with you—even digitally—in a way that both helps to expand our perspectives, as well as nourishes us, I feel that we have also nourished the collective human experience.

So here I am, reaching through a digital medium, to invite you into your body, into your relationships, and into your own life’s wisdom.  And I’d love to hear from you!

For the Love of Your Life!

Angie

Green Addiction

I just can’t get enough kale these days… it’s my new obsession (I fall into those sometimes.  WonderWomanThankfully, they’re all pretty healthy.)  I’m loving all greens really, though Kale is my favorite.  When I eat it, I have a bit of a super hero response, like I’m pretty sure if I spin around really fast, I might magically find myself in a satin cape, able to deflect bullets and all that…  (That childhood fantasy is still there!)

Greens can be the food that people respond to with, “I should eat them more, but…” and, “I know they’re good for me, but…” yet most folks simply just don’t get enough.

In a TedxTalk on “Minding your Mitochondria,” Dr. Terry Wahls talks about how necessary relatively massive amounts of greens are for the myelin protecting our nerves, for our brain cells, for our mitochondria, and of course for the rest of our bodies.

Greens are rich in vitamins B, A, C, and K, as well as minerals.  And Kale–my favorite! –has the most nutrition per calorie of any plant.

And knowing that… some of us still struggle, right?

kale3What is it about greens that has us shying away, even in adulthood?  too much limp, brown-tinted spinach as kids?  Whatever the cause, it’s time to develop a love relationship with everything GREEN!

Here are a few ideas:

Massaged Greens

Thanks to my friend Erica, who shared with me the somewhat therapeutic practice of “massaging” greens, I’ve come to use this technique almost every time I eat them!  It’s a great way to maintain all of the nutrition and still create a soft texture to chopped greens which can often have a tougher texture than other lettuce greens.

The idea is to chop the greens, put them into a large enough bowl that you can really get your hands into, add in whatever dressing, oil, or other complimentary items to, and dig in! …with you hands.  Squeeze, rub, work your way into softening the texture of the greens.  It really can be a wonderful sensory experience, along with creating a great nutrient-rich dish.

Here’s one of my favorites:greens5

1 bunch of fresh, organic Kale, chopped
About 3 Green onions, chopped
One large handful of raw pine nuts
One large handful of Goji Berries
salt and pepper to taste
About 1/4 cup Tessemae’s All Natural Lemonette Dressing (Found at Whole Foods).
A bit more Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and fresh lemon (just squeeze over the top to taste)

Massage the above together for a good 5-10 minutes

Then add:KaleSalad1
1/2 Avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 “cutie-sized” orange, sectioned and cut into bite-sized pieces
(optional:  1 serving chicken, cut into bite sized pieces)

(Note:  Chicken can be added prior to massaging, if you prefer your chicken to have an almost “shredded” texture, or added after, to enjoy more whole chunks)

KaleSalad2

Another way to enjoy greens is to put them into fresh smoothies. I’ve seen a lot of recipes lately for green smoothies, detox drinks, and the like. Here’s one I’ve tried that is so fresh, a little tart, and starts my day out beautifully!

 

 

 

GrSmoothie2

Green Smoothie

1 bunch of fresh organic kale
1/2 of a fresh lemon, peeled
1/2 of a lime, peeled
1/2 of a “cutie sized” orange, peeled
1 Whole Organic Banana
1/2-1 Cup organic plain (no sugar added) Cranberry Juice

Blend together…  if you have a powerful blender (like a Blendtec) you’ll get a smooth consistency fairly easily.  If not, you might need to add a bit more water, and pulse on and off for a bit).

I’ve also added a handful of fresh, organic strawberries to this mix for a bit more “sweetness.”

Citrus fruits are full of phytonutrients that support not only our immune response, protecting us from a host of potential diseases, they are good for our skin and our other organs, and help keep all of our systems working smoothly.

GrSmoothie3The thing is….  we need to nourish our bodies–we need to Eat to Live, not Live to Eat.  And when we choose to nourish through the consistent use of healthy, whole foods, our bodies begin to crave those.  The “reward centers” in the brain become activated, and that feels good!

So plant some greens, eat some greens, LOVE some greens… and then ask your body how it feels!

GrSmoothie4

 

 

 

 

For the Love of Your Life!

Angie

GrSmoothie6

An Evolved Woman

The following was excerpted from a social media post that crossed my digital path a few days ago, and I highly appreciate it.  It’s not insanely profound or life-changing. Just simple truths from one man on the path about what it means to be “An Evolved Man.”

As I read through, I began wondering how “An Evolved Woman” might compare–and I became inspired to come up with my own version.  Since this is the path on which I humbly stumble, it is helpful to acknowledge that this is a vision toward which I strive.

This is mine, anyway.  What’s yours?

10 signs he’s an evolved man

By Graham R White

1. He listens to and respects women: A gentleman never refers to ANY woman with defamatory language, because he has class.

2. He has the courage to ask for help and his ego is under control. He’s secure enough to do personal work with the support of those who can help him heal childhood trauma.

3. He is guided by a purpose and personal belief system. His decisions are based on a sense that something greater than his individuality exists.

4. He mentors youth because he recognizes the responsibility to share the wisdom of experience. As a father, a coach, a teacher or leader in the community he gives back.

5. His worth is determined by what he does, not what he owns. He looks after his financial responsibilities, but the lives he touches matter more than the buildings or businesses he builds.

6. He challenges himself and constantly seeks opportunities to develop his mind. His goal is not to win, but to grow.

7. Sex isn’t something he gets, but the result of the trust and connection his energy creates. He is not led by a ‘need’, and he doesn’t wait to be led. He’s absolute class in public and maintains discretion about his ravishing activities in private.

8. He lives without reservation and nothing to hide. His authentic life is enough that the praise about him happens when others are talking, not self-aggrandizement.

9. He looks for ways to make his world bigger, by developing friendships, travel and expanding his circles of influence to include people with different backgrounds and beliefs.

10. All things flow outward from his purpose. He is guided by a clear sense of who he is and while his vision of what he’s here to do may be audacious, it never comes across with arrogance.

That, is an Evolved man.

Graham R White

…and nowwomanshadow

10 Qualities of An Evolved Woman

By Angie Tsiatsos Phillips

1.  She has cultivated the ability to soothe her emotions—While she trusts herself enough to allow her own chaos, her pain, her anger, intensity, unabashed love to fill a room, she also knows how to return to her center.  She knows how to track sensations and thoughts with an observing mind, and honor the innate wisdom of her body.

2.  She has a respect for the unique perspective, and emotional body, of men.  She does not generalize and mock the differences in men and women—as society reinforces—but thrives and becomes further awakened by the polarities of masculine-feminine natures.

3.  She can yield completely into her emotional drives, without fear, yet trusts her developed moral compass to guide choices that affirm her integrity.

4.  She shares her natural strength in nourishing those around her—her children, her partner, her friends and family—because she is connected to God/Goddess energy and however it lives through her, and it emanates from the core of her being.  From a position of strength, she provides open arms and heart for others to yield into Love. 

5. Her worth is determined by the depth and potency of her relationships.  She is self-actualized, yet her self-actualization may be in a professional role, a mothering role, or any number of roles that engage her passion.  And in whatever role she exists, she deepens her experience, along with those around her, by her authentic and embodied presence.

6. She stands firm in her unique physical beauty, in whatever form that arises, but she does not value that more highly than her mind or her heart.  She attends to her body, mind, and heart through practiced self-care.  She is an advocate for other women to own their individual essence and power, and rather than shy away from them, she joins with them, knowing that when powerful women join forces, the world changes.

7. Her sexuality is alive in her eyes, in her hips, and in her movement.  She is comfortable owning her deepest desires and asking for all that she craves, physically, emotionally, and spiritually with an intimate partner.  She highly values the power of her sensuality and uses great care in sharing that energy.  She knows how to come alive to her man’s attuned touch and sink into the most primal language of her body.

8. She owns her space in the world—wherever, and with whomever, she is.  She lives fully awake and with integrity, consistently checking in and taking ownership of slips and trips along the way, but with gentleness toward herself and toward others.  She is able to pause… breathe, and sink into her deepest truth, even when life brings intense challenge.

9. She is curious, and she allows her curiosity and innate trust to guide her into attracting the next level of learning, the right people and experiences, from which she will ultimately expand her awareness as well as be able to express immense generativity to the world around her.

10. She speaks, moves, and lives from an internal source of love—her heart, mind, and body in fluid alignment and with transparency that opens her to the honest reflection from those around her.  She validates her own experience while strengthening her ability to open to the unique experiences and perspectives of others.

That is an evolved woman…  in my humble opinion

For the Love of Your Life,

Angie

For the Love of Lust: Part Two

(If you missed part one of For the Love of Lust, Click Here)  

We are built for bonding.  There is no doubt.  Whether we ever satisfy our relationship1innate need for deep connection is dependent on countless factors, but suffice it to say, creating meaning through our relationships is a prime motivator for much of what we do in life.

Could it be possible, however, that our desire for intimacy has a shadow to it?  Maybe that the moral laws that govern our fidelity do not coalesce with passion?  Could it also be that through our efforts to increase togetherness in our relationships, we simultaneously create an emotional barrier to eroticism?

Many partners will admit to waning desire that can become a burden to relationships, coming alive only in response to others or conversely deadening one’s spirit of Lust altogether, after significant time has past.  Most will simply describe this process as fact, as natural.  And while sex and eroticism can take dramatic turns over the course of time, to submit to these socialized beliefs can actually cause harm to these unions we’ve worked so diligently to forge.

In Part One of this article, we spoke to the evolutionary advantages of Lust.  We spoke to the health and necessity; to the brain circuitry specifically designed to support it’s expression.  We also acknowledged the complexity of attaining a harmonious balance between Lust and Love.  (Again, if you missed that, click here).

Becoming Friends with Lust—Ours and Our Partners

Esther Perel, PhD, author of Mating In Captivity notes that lust doesn’t always play by the rules of good morals.  In fact, sometimes those rules are actually antithetical to the cultivation of lust and eroticism because, for that circuitry to be activated, humans tend to require a little bit of risk—something that our intimate bonds have a propensity to constrain.

When we consider the closeness that intimacy allows, the stripping away of lifelong emotional layers that lends to the foundation of relational love—the transparency that fosters safety—we have to wonder as to the other side of the coin.  When we have become so open, so able to yield into the transparent dance of togetherness, we leave nothing for our partners to seek out in us.  And our practice of seeking is related to another region of evolved brain circuitry that is necessary for us to thrive as humans.  Seeking feels good to our brains–it provides a sense of purpose and pleasure and forward motion.  When there is nothing left to seek out in our partners, the pleasure that comes from seeking must find another outlet for expression.

To destabilize our intimate bonds with behavior that many see as riskyfor example, to rekindle eroticismcan feel as if it opposes the exact behavior that is nourishing our relationship.  So often, our “lust needs” take a back seat to the cultivation of care and closeness

lust5And yet… as is clearly stated in Part One, we are hardwired for lust as well.  So while lust can quiet itself for a time, that particular brain circuitry needs expression and ideally that expression would be practiced in a way that supports our vision for an integral relationship.

Lust, for most people, tends to require a certain amount of risk—these two emotional constructs act very similar in the brain, in fact.  The question in the development of lust in an intimate relationship subsequently becomes, how do we RISK without risking too much?

Neurochemicals of Risk

The nature of risk is related to the emotion excitement, which is essentially a combination of hope and fear.  Excitement, on a physiological level, provokes a state of hyperarousal, where thoughts and body states are pushed to stretch beyond homeostasis—our natural state of equilibrium—to a palpable emotional experience that, while stressful, is also related to positivity.  You see, when we push ourselves just slightly out of our comfort zone, and we experience some resulting pleasure, the reward center in our brains lights up like the 4th of July!

Exciting experiences activate dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain’s rewardDopamine1 system that helps us experience pleasure.  The pleasure and reward center is housed primarily in the frontal lobe of the brain, and provides a “reward value” for experience.

For risk to be related to reward, our brains need healthy doses of dopamine and adrenaline, along with their available receptors.  And the culmination of reciprocated lust ignites serotonin as well—which is related to feelings of happiness and mood regulation.  Top that off with healthy doses of oxytocin, vasopressin and endogenous opioids and this neurochemical cocktail—if given to a skilled mixologistis deserving of a worthy name!  No wonder our drive to acquire, and experience, the rewards of lust are so powerful.

The fact is, even a one-night-stand can stir these potent neurochemicals into existence, which is why we can experience incredible closeness—the feeling of, anyway—after even a brief sexual encounter.  And yet, one-night-stands do little for the other driver of our relational circuitry—those connected to Care, Bonding, and Love. 

Cultivating the Sweet Spot

Our brains and bodies have evolved to the point of reaping significant benefits of both intimacy and lust—just rarely collaboratively.  The relationship between the two is complex and clearly non-linear, as we may have previously assumed.  Science has demonstrated that both are necessary to our collective evolution.  And if we are to thrive, individually and collectively, we need to stretch into new possibilities for these constructs not only to co-exist, but also, to inform and enhance one another.

The current marital trends are far from indicating a culture of happy unions.  With over 50% divorce rate (60+% in second marriages) it’s time we take a look at the deeper implications of a society that is known to deny the health of lust.  More importantly, we need to cultivate a more united vision of intimacy and lust working, and playing, side by side.

Practices

There are many practices that have been designed to deepen our awareness and experience of intimacy and sexuality.  I’ll focus on three that I believe, and that are grounded in science, as central to supporting a healthy transition into developing lust within an intimate partnership—whether you’re in one or not.

These practices are for individuals, maybe those who are deeply connected to a partner and looking to enliven a relationship; and also for those who are seeking to explore a new relationship, where lust is alive from the beginning, and remains a central theme in the developing journey of Love.   These practices are simply “some” ways to help reconcile our need for security and adventure, closeness and separateness, stability and risk, predictability and novelty.

1)    Honor Autonomy

autonomy1In our desire for connection, we can often forget that we are primarily individuals seeking togetherness.  We can become essentially “fused”—not knowing where we end and our partners begin.  This feeling can be incredibly soothing and seductive initially, as we can imagine we’ve found our intimate home and that, finally, we are met, deeply recognized, loved unconditionally.  However, becoming over-connected can, in reality, become a hindrance to eroticism.

For deep connection to be possible, separateness is vital.  While this may seem contradictory, the ability to step away from our partners as separate entities, the ability to self-regulate and practice autonomy, are necessary qualities for one to be able to move toward the other.  As Esther Perel states, “When people become fused—when two become one—connection can no longer happen.  There is no one to connect with.  Thus separateness is a precondition for connection:  This is the essential paradox of intimacy and sex.”

Find ways to establish—or reestablish—independence, autonomy, and separateness.  Nurture activities and personal interests as a means for strengthening not only your attractiveness and desire-ability to your mate, but your own internalized “attraction to self.”

Also, encourage your partner—or future partners—to do the same.  Honor his or her need, whether stated or not, for separate interests and activities.  When developing closeness, look to the future vision that you would like to create—where there are worlds yet unexplored within the context of your partner’s autonomy.

2)    Cultivate Mystery

It can be difficult to be lustful for someone about whom we know everything. synapse1
If nothing is left to the imagination, our minds become uninterested, lacking the tension necessary for desire to flourish.  And as science of the mind is fairly certain, our sexuality is more related to the space between our ears than the space between our legs!

Nourishing the mystery in our intimate unions can feel somewhat counterintuitive since some of the elements of lust don’t necessarily support the development of a harmonious, transparent relationship.  Clearly, lust and intimacy are on very different trajectories, and when they yearn to coincide, fears of the unknown can destabilize our inner worlds as well as our intimate journeys.

One place where we can always escape the confines of fusion is into our own minds—where imagination can take us anywhere, to anyone.  And when we honor the beauty of our minds, simultaneously soothing the innate fears that may arise, we are cultivating our unique mental wanderings that may inform us of what naturally excites us.

The question becomes, can we tolerate the anxiety provoked by our partner’s developing autonomy—by his or her intrinsic capacity to always escape into the sanctuary of the mind, to where we are quite possibly NOT the center of their attending neural processes?  When we can stand firm in our own sense of self, within the vulnerable “unknowns” of our partner’s inner mental territory, we give space to his or her unique exploration of self, grounded in the safety of an intimate home.

An important distinction to consider with this level of the erotic dance is whether or not we are utilizing our fantasies as fuel for our intimate partnerships, or whether we are escaping into the erotic, only to return to safety and stability with our partners, and leave the fantasy separate.  Part of how fantasy can serve to edify our relationships is to acknowledge and share at least part of what is occurring in that solitary space.  Risk bringing the erotic design of your own mental forays into sexual play with your partner—and be open for him or her to do the same.

Conversely, when our own imagination confronts what we assume about ourselves—the principles and experiences within our comfort and moral code—with new stimuli that forces us to question our truest desires, our integrity, and our natural wiring for lust, we have an opportunity to strengthen our sense of self and to share something new and different with our intimate partner.

Through imagination, we maintain a sense of freedom and personal wonder

that can bring new life to our relationships.  

It can feel intimidating to allow our imagination to wander and wonder, to consider what or who, besides our current partner and situation might naturally entice or excite us.  Through our development of safety and closeness, we’ve forgotten that our erotic mind needs to flourish as well.  So allow yourself to re-attune to your innate lustful longings, and then allow them to come alive with your intimate partner.

3)    Practice Mindfulness

a.    In perception

Practice increasing your tolerance to the exploration of space between meditation1you and your lover.  When your partner feels distant, or when you are proactively choosing to strengthen your own autonomy, allow the emotions and the sensations that activate your nervous system to arise.  Welcome them, sit with them, yield into the discomfort of “stretching” your perception and tolerance.  Allow them to inform you of the long-standing patterns of anxiety and fear that tend to surface and cause discord.  Welcome that knowledge like a long-lost friend, here to help you increase both your ability to push the edges of your comfort as well as to strengthen your ability to track your natural sensation that ultimately will lend to deep understanding.

b.    In thought

Practice unconditional acceptance and presence to all of your thoughts from the perspective of an observer.  Practice noticing the thought, and letting it go, over and over and over.   Don’t fall into spiraling thoughts that trigger fear.  Rather, notice the thought arise, and witness it being released with each breath. Notice any impulse to create a story with your thoughts, to give deeper meaning to fear or insecurity.

According to Dr. Brent J. Atkinson, in his article, “Rewiring Neural States in Couples Therapy:  Advances from affective neuroscience,” we can easily “blindly trust” a feeling or thought, because our brains are hardwired for self-protection.  We often automatically attach ourselves to an emotion—as if the emotion is real, and the idea that someone else caused it feels just as real.  In all actuality, the automatic processes of the brain do this naturally.  Our “protective mechanisms” are designed for hypervigilance, first and foremost.  So if we feel fear, for example, we will seek out a source—external to us—that we can attach to the cause, and from which we can then protect ourselves.  This dynamic, while serving us in regard to our survival, can be toxic to our relationships.

Instead, practice simply noticing the thought without attaching it to any external source.  Allow it to exist solely, without spiraling out of control.  Practice being present to all that arises in regard to mental information, just as it is, without trying to dismiss, avoid, or change anything that may ultimately serve to bring awareness.  Simply witness… and let go.

c.    In body

Pay attention, nonjudgmentally, to the subtle signals and sensations of your body.  Reject nothing.  Notice in detail the sensations that are present—especially any tightness or tension that arises or that draws your attention.  Notice any small, seemingly automatic movements that could be related to a deeper emotion.  Allow those sensations to simply “be” without attempting to dismiss them or push them away.  Allow your sensations space to exist, and time to guide you to your body’s internal wisdom.

Also, nurture physical practices that help you touch into your own internalyoga1 resources—your body, your strength, the wisdom that resides in each and every cell of your being, along with your ability to practice new skills.  Experience your body in moments of strength, in times of vulnerability, though practices that stretch and push you beyond what you know.  Our physical selves help to shape our psychological selves, so be present to the shape and flow of your life.

Research has demonstrated that those people who enjoy physical practices, such as strength training, dance, cycling, running, or yoga, experience more excitement in their lives.  And as we practice risk by exploring new physical practices, risk becomes an integral aspect of our natural drive for learning and pleasure.  So the very practice of getting physical opens your neural pathways to experiencing more excitement, more risk, and ultimately more lust.

Embody Your Intention

We have an opportunity, individually and collectively, to transcend the inhibitions and fears ignited by longstanding ideas of lust, as well as our attachment to any historical meaning or power we’ve given over to it.  Lust is a natural, potent, necessary quality of human beings.  Like all other qualities intrinsic to our evolving selves, this specific circuitry in our brains needs to be understood and allowed space to breathe—to find it’s way out of hardwired constraints—in a way that helps us to thrive rather than has us cycling in a spiral of fear.

It is time we transcend the fears that bind our relationships, and allow our bodies the chance to expand their language repertoire—to own and practice our original language and deepen our understanding of the subtext, the nuances, the dialects of our own—and our partners—primary tool of communication.  It is time we work toward becoming fluent in our unique erotic style, allowing ourselves to fully embody the dynamics of seduction, and then share that energy with those whom we love and trust.

Through following the practices of presence, mindfulness, autonomy and mystery, we can begin to lay claim to our birthright for experiencing both the intense nurturance and love of intimacy, along with the fiery and erotic dance of lust—together.

If you’d like more tips for enhancing your intimate partnership, check out my !0 Rules For Intimacy, a free download with lots of juicy and challenging tips for Relationship Transformation.  And keep coming back and joining in the dialogue here!

For the Love of Your Life…

Angie