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Archive for the Devotion and Desire



in this vein of how you do one thing is how you do anything …

… if someone observed you making love or in orgasm, what would they infer for how you lead your life?

by O, orgasm i mean, yes, sexual arousal and sensual expansion, but i also mean: your pleasure, your bliss, your ability to relax and receive.

which sounds most like how YOU do the DO?

THE RUSH JOB:

* how long is this going to take? i don’t have time for this!
* can’t we do this later?
* oh, ok, i’ll do you a favor.
* now i’m taking too long.

THE PRINCESS:

* you’re here to serve me, right?
* how do i look?
* am i doing this right?
* not sure how that was for you, but at least i got mine.

THE RENUNCIATE:

* sex? orgasm? pleasure? what’s that?
* oh, i gave that up for lent 7 years ago.
* feel good? i’m too busy feeling bad so i can deserve feeling good.
* enjoy myself? i’d rather not. it’s rather messy and i might look stupid.

THE MARTYR:

* YOUR pleasure might matter, but mine? not so much.
* oh, well, if we must, i’ll “think of england.”
* don’t worry about me, i’ll be fine.
* la-la-la-la-la (fingers in ears)

why exactly do i care about your sensual pleasure? as much as i want for you plentiful and heart-expanding Os, what i really care about is that you as a woman are sensually expressed and sensually filled up.

you, sensually expressed. you, sensually filled up.

WHY? because that’s when your feminine genius struts her stuff.

that’s when you’re naturally shining brightest. tapped into your calling. brave, clear and full of moxie.

that’s when you are your tail-wagging-est, largest-hearted, sassiest self.

now, i’ve known this without a shred of doubt for years.

and over the past months, i’ve been diving into some ground-breaking medical and scientific research that can now document the PHYSICAL connection between a woman’s PLEASURE and her CONFIDENCE.

let me say that again: not just the EMOTIONAL connection (which i bet you can feel, right?), but PHYSICAL connection. on the level of nerves, chemicals and hormones.

the exceedingly brief reader’s digest version is that the physical experience of pleasure for a woman causes her brain to release (among other chemicals) dopamine.

dopamine = sass, sure-footedness, zest for life.

want to be confident? you need to be a pleasured woman.

i’m obviously obsessed with the exact potent combination of understandings, practices and ways of being that have women IGNITE and be the brilliant badasses we truly are.

it’s partly because i’ve been happily and myopically focused on my high-level mentorship program, which will be open again for 2014 applications in a few weeks.

it’s a cauldron in which i’ve combined ALL of those potent ingredients that truly blossoms our WomanNess.

turns out, your sexual energy is the same as your creative energy. and, where you might have blocks sexually and sensually, there are often parallels to where you might be blocked creatively.

CREATE as in make art, make love, make business, make babies, make friends and make a home.

most women think pleasure is worse than a four-letter word. most women pattern their own sexual energy from of man’s:

1. get hot quickly.

2. come as fast and hard as possible.

3. done.

but listen: it takes the average women around 20 minutes of playing around to even START to get aroused. straight up intercourse doesn’t yield climax for over 80% of women.

we often have no idea what pleasures us uniquely, that it might be a different beast from his altogether. (and any other woman’s for that matter).

men and a lot of women learn about what sex and pleasing their partners should be and look like, through porn. which is a lot like studying a paper menu and trying to recreate the meal from the black-and-white words on the page.

bottom line: for most of us, it’s an outside-in job.

i say, our sensual lives should be an inside-out job.

i’m all for the fabulous quickie. hard and fast Os aren’t a problem in and of themselves.

but when it’s ALL you know, when you aren’t on intimate terms the vast sensual landscape that is your birthright, when you don’t take your pleasure seriously – in and out of the bedroom – then i take issue.

i say it again: want to be confident? you need to be a pleasured woman.

the degree to which you are sensually expressed and sensually full-filled is the degree to which you feel truly alive. it is not only fun and pleasurable, it’s the key to your juice and brilliance as a woman. (like ‘er? feel free to tweet ‘er)

so maybe you’d go instead for guidelines (for sex and for life) along the lines of:

THE SAVOR-ER:

* savor.

* stop. breathe. feel.

* reach up and into sensation in order to feel more.

* notice urges and impulses as they come up, share them (boldly, kindly and exuberantly) with the knowledge that if you were thinking it, likely they were too.

* remind yourself: it’s good to feel good. your hunger is holy.

* this is a great spot. let’s linger here for a nice, long while.

* the more I’M having a pleasurable time, the more HE is and THEY are, too.

* how can we make this the most fun possible?

* there’s as much (or more!) enjoyment in the journey as in reaching the destination. (ever notice how much more fun it can be to get ready for the party than the party itself?)

* let’s widen the aperture of our senses to drink in more of life.

* let it in. let it come.

o, oh, O,

liyana signature M

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NOW IS THE TIME

liyana silver

Now is the time to know
That all you do is sacred.

Now, why not consider
A lasting truce with yourself and God.

Now is the time to understand
That all your ideas of right and wrong
Were just a child’s training wheels
To be laid aside
When you can finally live
With veracity
And love.

Hafiz is a divine envoy
Whom the Beloved
Has written a holy message upon.

My dear, please tell me,
Why do you still
Throw sticks at your heart
And God?

What is it in that sweet voice inside
That incites you to fear?

Now is the time for the world to know
That every thought and action is sacred.

This is the time
For you to deeply compute the impossibility
That there is anything
But Grace.

Now is the season to know
That everything you do
Is sacred. {tweet, tweet, baby}

~ Hafiz

if you don’t know of Hafiz, he’s the crazy cohort and inspiration of Rumi (the rather famous 13th Century mystic poet). Rumi’s the more well-known one, although Hafiz is the reason Rumi got all Divine-Love Crazed in the first place and couldn’t help but speak beautiful love haikus and epic devotional tales all about it.

i often think that if Hafiz was alive today, he might look (and act) like that guy with the really long dirty beard on the corner, spouting poetry enthusiastically at the pigeons, his grungy backpack his only possession. that guy, when you see and hear him, you might cross the street, just to be sure.

another contemporary of Hafiz and Rumi was a woman poetess who chose to wear no clothing, Lalla. he poems are just as feisty as Rumi’s and Hafiz’s, all about the worldly ecstasy of communing with the Divine. if Lalla was alive today, she might look like the dreadlocked, bare-breasted mama rocking out to the drum circle at the street fair. that lady, that in your head you might label either brave and beautiful – or a hussie.

in fact, if Buddha was alive today, in his pre-fame era, he’d be that weirdo nerdy guy in high school that didn’t say much of anything, and just sat … and sat … and sat … under the tree in the yard. and you might wonder, from your table flecked with safe comrades, if he was special or just sorta slow.

like Joan Osborne said, what if god was one of us? what if the seemingly weird, colorful, odd-ball and out there, were portals to mystical wisdom and wormholes to sacred love? what if they too were tattooed by the searing embers of the Divine?

maybe instead of crossing the street, keeping your distance, or letting your mind stop with the finality of its judgment (there are other options after judgment), you’d lean in close. you’d get curious for their story. you’d search their eyes for the stamp of All-Holy, because if god’s among us, and i’m sure she/he/it is, her/his/its sense of humor would indicate that she/he/it would show up in the most unlikely of places.

so, your mission, should you choose to accept it:

:: look the super market checker in the eye and beam love into his/her heart.

:: listen to the street poet’s words as if encoded with a message for you from on high.

:: shake your ass a little bit as you pass by the drum circle disco, and see if you can’t feel your own kundalini rising.

to Love in all his/her/its forms, and to your comment below,

signature-purple

 

 

 

 

PS: yeah, yeah, yeah, LiYana; love yourself and stop fighting with yourself, but HOW?

that’s the whole point of my mentorship program, Woman: The Embodiment Experience, my 5-month beaut of a high-touch program, which concludes this week. to take a look-see and be notified when applications for 2014 are open, click HERE, lovely.



“if a space is created
in which we are totally free
to reveal our walls
then those walls in time
will come down”

~ Marianne Williamson

If you are like most practitioners of enlightened sex and relating, you pour energy and creativity into your relationship. You get more connected, safe, trusting, intimate and loving the more time you spend together. You strive for sacred merging in sex. You negotiate the stuffs of daily life and domestic living to create life partnership. Often all this works true wonders: sustainable, hot, loving life partnerships.

But what about when it doesn’t work? Why is it that so often where there is the intimacy, love and familiarity of long-term and life partnership, the sexual spark seems to dim, flicker and perhaps fade altogether? What gives?

Riding high in my own partnership, I am neither blind nor impervious, however, to the dismal track record of most long-term relationships. I set off on a preemptive search in the most light-filled and shadowy places for some guidance for keeping both the erotic zest and the sacred intimacy flourishing in sacred sex and life partnership.

Couples therapist and best-selling author of Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel offers the first gem: “What nurtures love doesn’t always fuel desire.”

Long-term, loving relationships – as well as sacred sex – can become very comfortable, close and safe – in fact that’s part of the point. But when we’ve gotten all intimate, comfy and melded into one, we can lose the very thing needed for erotic vivacity.

And for some, love/intimacy are kept in separate places than the erotic/sexual – and never the two shall meet. Meaning, for some, as love and intimacy increase, the less access they have to the erotic.

We strive for intimacy: to hold nothing back from each other, to share everything. Yet sexual sparkle often feeds on tension, polarity, something yet to discover. Arousal is a complex paradoxical cocktail: it requires some amount of adrenaline, some degree of excitement and danger, while also requiring just enough safety to open to the risk of the unknown, the new and they mysterious.

Therein lies the potential conundrum of sacred sex and partnership: meld, fuse and become one, yet remain separate, fresh and new to each other.

In embracing the conundrum, a closer look into the erotic is needed. Says Jack Morin, the author of The Erotic Mind, “Eroticism is the process through which sex becomes meaningful.” The erotic is “energized by the entire human drama, including the unruly impulses and painful lesson that no one – except those who retreat from life – can possibly avoid. No wonder the erotic mind conjures up images of debauchery as well as delight… eroticism is the interplay of sexual arousal with the challenges of living and loving.”

Erotic energy can be a life affirming and seamlessly integrated for some, but for many, it’s a source of pain, shame and guilt. For many, the erotic contains things we want but can’t admit we want; shadowy, dark, and confusing. For many, sexuality is connected to the overwhelming, the gruesome and the traumatic. We may desire things in our erotic lives we would never want in any other aspect of our lives – and this can be confronting to our identities. The erotic often intersects with our shadow selves.

Using the term as influential thinker and founder of Analytical psychology, Carl Jung, intended, shadow is the personal trash heap onto which we throw forbidden aspects of ourselves we deem unfit for respectable, everyday life. Anything we say is not OK, that we judge yet often desire, gets tossed in to the realm of shadow, usually latched tight.

And yet another conundrum: shadow aspects can be hot, exciting, intriguing. The taboo has simultaneous repulsion and appeal. Can our shadow – the very things we’ve decided have nothing to do with our best, most sacred selves have a place in our sacred sex and turned-on relationship lives?

Says sex advocate, educator, author and RN Nina Hartley: “Humans contain both light and shadow. Some people have a little shadow, some a lot. By not accepting our shadow we guarantee that we will explode. So much energy becomes available to us when we are not spending energy to hide or lie, when the shadow is included.”

When we can unlock formerly locked doors and embrace what was previously rejected, the result is often more wholeness and a divine homecoming. As Dossie Easton, marriage and family therapist and co-author of The Ethical Slut puts it, “… the shadow, our personal garbage pit, becomes the gateway through which we pass to travel in realms beyond ordinary consciousnesses.”

When we can get our attention off hiding and excluding aspects of ourselves – whether it is issues of body image, taboo, fantasies or past traumas – and simply see them in the light of day, we can not only discover new parts of ourselves but can also see and experience ourselves and partners anew. The fierce intelligence of the erotic and the power of the shadow can teach us about union with ourselves, union with another, and union with the divine.

Esther Perel adds, “The ability to challenge one’s own erotic blocks is vital. Does lust has a place in a home? Is marital sex only for procreation? Shame, guilt about fantasies, the desire for others besides our partners, our lack of self-acceptance … these all impede the sexual connection with our partners and ourselves. When we can bring it back into our partnerships, it can be very exciting.”

Reverend Goddess Charmaine is one such resource for both self and spiritual empowerment as well as erotic enlightenment. She includes the power of story and ritual as powerful means to bring shadow, sexuality and divinity into one. Author of The Sensuous Mystic, she offers gatherings, workshops and one-on-one work. “In funerals, marriages, high mass and Tantric rituals alike,” she says, “you purposely bring yourself into the embrace of others, and of the divine. Ritual delineates from the everyday, it becomes separate and special.” She goes on to quote Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I among them.”

Another gem comes in the role of our gray matter. In our midbrain (often called the limbic brain) reside our feelings, emotions and sensations. Our forebrain (rational brain) houses assessment, logic and reasoning. Our hindbrain (our “critter”) is our animal instinct, responsible for keeping us alive, safe and procreating. The erotic and shadow live in the mid and hindbrains. Our forebrains tell us how to interpret our erotic and shadowy natures – and that interpretation can range wildly from person to person, culture to culture.

For some, stepping into shadow is to explore the concept of receiving or to revisit negative body image, and for others it is far along the spectrum of re-enacting previous trauma. One person’s shadow is another’s sunshine-filled daisy field. In a family of thieves, the child who refuses to steal feels the guiltiest.

The rabbit hole of shadowy exploration can be long and dark indeed, and can lead to some pretty intense places. Not usually considered to be in the realm of sacred sex, sado-masochistic exploration is one area that deals directly and explicitly with shadow. However, the several experts I interviewed whose work includes it, are quite clear their work with it is sacred. Whatever exploration to which we assign value, to which we add intention, choice, presence and purpose, that exploration becomes elevated, meaningful, beautiful – and sacred.

Says Cléo Dubois, guide/initiator, ritualist, Kali priest and student in the realm of psycho erotic energy exchanges, of the shadow: “I want to explore it, on my terms. Be responsible for it. Reclaim it by going into the wounded places and putting light on them.”

For many this means a re-visiting of past distress and anguish, an exploration of personal and cultural archetypes, boundaries, limits and thresholds of sensation – including both pleasure and pain. But what distinguishes this ritualized exploration of the shadow as healthy and sacred from simply re-opening the wounds of former trauma, making it potentially doubly traumatizing?

Dossie Easton explains when we dive into our past with consciousness, we get to rewrite the ending ourselves; we travel a familiar path, but come out as victors, rather than victims. And when it is injected with eros, with the very life force that sexual energy is, it is powerfully affirming – and we have created a new memory, now accessible in our consciousness. We turn our personal tragedies into triumphs. She offers, “Lucifer actually means “light bearer”… the fallen angel who goes into unfathomable darkness with an unquenchable light inside him, and who carries the power of the villain and of the emancipator.”

But is going deeper into pain always necessary for its transformation? “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. But to penetrate the darkness we must summon all the powers of enlightenment that consciousness can offer,” says Carl Jung. For some the healing process cannot bypass pain, and the “powers of enlightenment” have to bore directly through the dense center of suffering. Often, going through pain becomes the access to pleasure; it becomes a question of degree and the intention behind the exploration.

I admit to being rather skeptical, until I ran across an abcNews video story on orgasmic birth. Birth is considered to be one of the most painful experiences a body can endure, yet this showed many women having the same blissful, expansive sensations in birthing their babies as in sexual orgasm. One woman explained her process as re-interpreting the intense sensations of contractions and labor from painful to pleasureful. In fact, many of the same physiological actions occur in labor and birth as in sexual intercourse and orgasm. It is our infamous forebrain that instructs us on whether to assign the label of “pleasure” or “pain” to our physiological sensations.

For those exploring pain as a gateway to sexual wholeness, a stubbed toe is still painful.
However, purposeful, prolonged, strong sensation can bring increased endorphins and opiates – and increased excitement and exhilaration – moving us from our analytical forebrains into our sensate and instinctive mid and hindbrains.

Again I have to wonder, though, what separates all this from the sexual equivalent of sniffing glue?

We are all influenced, to one degree or another by spiritual lineages that have included shadow and pain in the quest for enlightened union: fasting, sleep deprivation, whirling dervishes, self-flagellation, walking uphill on the knees, etc. While many of these sought to punish and deny the body in order to get to spirit, others used pain as a transformative tool to lovingly unite the body with the divine. Buddhist nun and author Pema Chodron reminds, “Staying with pain without loving-kindness is just warfare.”

The word “surrender,” native French speaker Cléo Dubois reminds me, means, “let the weapons, guards and walls all fall.” Can we surrender to embracing the parts of ourselves we have previously been at war with? Like a kosmic koan, there is something divinely comedic about the oxymoronic task of embracing our erotic shadow in order to become whole and sacred. Yet in doing so we simultaneously embark upon an ever-unfolding discovery, which may just be the very thing to breathe lasting life into the sexual spark in our relationship lives.

What else can we do, in the practical day-to-day of our relationship lives? Dossie Easton advocates processing-free dates. Nina Hartley recommends for some to consider non-monogamy as a choice alternative to lying, hiding and cheating. Esther Perel and Reverend Goddess Charmaine encourage ever more awareness of what turns you on and off, making real time for sex and erotic exploration. Cléo Dubois urges us to explore our hind and midbrain’s instincts and feelings in consensual, intentional ways. Each encourages us to reveal to each other and ourselves the seemingly un-revealable.

When there is always more to know and uncover about yourself and your partner, the current of the erotic can stay cracklingly strong. When we can look at all of ourselves, shadow especially, as a form of worship, then we can come home. No ritual or exploration itself is sacred unto itself; it’s what we add that allows the divine to emerge.

Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver reminds, “You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”

13th Century Persian mystic poet Rumi adds, “There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

… please let what you read rest in your body for a moment, and then let me know what gems come to light. Claim your seat as thought-leader, wisdom-digester, and healing-balm disseminator by leaving your comment and leaving your mark.

I look forward to the verse you contribute,

LiYana



hello and welcome to 2013!

i am a bit of a thesaurus addict and dictionary devotee.

when writing this post about vows and commitments (good and worthy topics for the top of a new year), i found these definitions striking:

VOW:

:: to solemnly promise to do a specified thing; to dedicate to someone or something, especially a deity.

COMMITMENT:

:: to pledge, devote or bind to a certain course of action; to be in a long-term emotional relationship with

somewhere in the moment when 2012 became 2013, i made some simple vows to myself for the upcoming year:

* Be Oracle Led. (have my Sourced bodily wisdom, the deity that is in me, lead the way)

* Take My Full Share. (of the moment, of life, of love)

* Be Bold. (insert my wisdom into the moment, with exuberance)

for the ceremony in which i committed to these vows, i created an intricate dance performance – involving a projection of me dancing with my live dancing self, a beautiful musical score, to an audience of the most extraordinary humans i know.

here’s a sneak peek image from the performance:

and here’s my guideline for creating your own vows and commitment ceremony:

your own commitment ceremony (your vow exchange with You), need not be as complex as all that. it can certainly be involved, and include the goodstuffs of ceremony, or you can keep it simple and simply Hear Yourself as you make your vow(s).

all that stuff of ceremony (like candles, incense, singing, dancing, setting the space, gathering witnesses, etc) PREPARES you to step into the Sacred, Holy and True, but you don’t NEED any of it.

the moment your heart speaks the vow IS the moment of commitment, and that can happen anytime, anywhere, no bells, whistles or cathedrals needed.

the Divine is everywhere. the Holy knows when you mean it or not. and you know when it’s True. (if you liked that, feel free to tweet it)

so, your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Your Commitment Ceremony To You

1. create a vow (or vows) to You.

what do you solemnly pledge to do, be and uphold for yourself this year, even when you don’t feel like it – especially when you don’t feel like it?

(said differently, what course of action are you devoted to? what do you promise to yourself? what do you agree to uphold? who do you vow to BE, in rough times as well as smooth, in this long-term relationship you happen to be in, with Yourself?)

i say, come up with ONE powerful vow. or two or three. when you can remember them off the top of your head, you know you’re really going to do ’em.

2. plan (and do) your commitment ceremony.

it can be long or short. take yourself on an afternoon, a day or a weekend getaway. or grab 2 minutes of silence on the bus on the way to work. rent out a church, or do it on the toilet.)

it can involve real jewels and killer duds, or a gum-ball ring and your favorite sweats. however, i do recommend you have some item, like a ring, a necklace, a picture, or somesuch that acts as an anchor to remind you of your vow or vows.

(that’s the real reason we use a ring in a marriage commitment ceremony: to look down at your hand and see the daily reminder of your vows)

thazzit.

get Real, get Sacred, bring your vow(s) and your talisman and do the deed.

and of course, make my year by letting me know a vow or two of yours in the comments below!

welcome to 2013 and the You you are bringing into it,

LiYana



My husband sent this blog post by Arjuna Ardagh to me, quite a gift to receive from a man, to a woman. Enjoy!

* * *

A few days ago, after a particularly exquisite evening with my wife Chameli, I put this post up on Facebook before going to bed:

“I have had many, many great teachers in my life. A super abundance. No one and nothing comes close to the woman who is now asleep in the bedroom. My marriage has become the guru, the salvation, the muse, the crack through which the divine shines through.”

When I woke up the next morning, there were the usual offerings of people who liked the post as well as comments. One man had the vulnerability and courage to post this on facebook:

“Thank you Arjuna for this sharing, I feel like [I’m] in front of a choice which is between feeling envious of what you have and I don’t, or instead to decide that ‘I want that too,’ and, as you show, it is possible…”

I was touched.

Over the next days, I got several more messages like this from men: vulnerable men, honest men, rare and courageous men. They came in as private messages on Facebook or through our website, and they all said basically the same thing:

“I read your Facebook post. I want what you have. Show me how to get it.”

So, friends, here it is. The short guide on how to worship a woman, and why it’s the wisest thing that a man can do. First of all, lets pop a few very understandable doubts that you might have. I’m familiar with all of them.

1.    “I’m wounded and damaged in my relationships to the feminine.”
So am I, dear brother, so am I. My parents divorced in a messy way when I was four. I grew up alone with my mother. She did her very best to provide for me, but she was unhappy and insecure. By the time I started to have relationships with women myself in my early teens, I discovered that I had a mountain of resentments, fears, and separation in my relation to the feminine.  The conscious practice of worship can become a part of healing the wounds.

2.    “Arjuna, you’re lucky. You’ve got an incredible partner. I’m together with a woman who’s not like Chameli.”
I really don’t have the ultimate answer to that doubt or question. It certainly could seem to be the case that I’ve been lucky in finding a great woman, but here’s how it happened for me. I’ve had a lot of less lucky connections in my life. I’ve experienced my share of the manipulative side of the feminine: the victim, the rageful, the revengeful. And I have seen the ugly side of the masculine psyche in myself.  A few weeks prior to meeting Chameli, my wife, something deep and profound shifted in me, which I believe can shift for anyone in the same way.

3.    “I don’t have a partner at all, and I sometimes doubt if I’ll ever meet anybody.”
Being with a partner where worship is not flowing, or not being with a partner at all, are basically two aspects of the same situation: you’ve had an intuition or a glimpse of the possibilities of a deeper love, and you want more of it. The solutions are the same.

4.    “I feel my heart is closed down. I live in my head a lot, and I wouldn’t even know what worship was if it broke into my house at 2 o’clock in the morning and held me at gunpoint.”
That’s where the whole thing starts for all of us, when we realize that we don’t yet know how to love. And that’s that the big question that you have to consider: “Is that okay with me?” Never mind how much money you make, or how many friends you have on Facebook, no matter how nice a house you live in, or no matter how big a car you drive, no matter how impressive your partner’s bust size, or how much you meditate and become spiritual… have you loved for real, in a total and undefended way? If not, and here’s where you have to be honest with yourself, is that OK with you? Is it OK to die one day without the heart’s gift having been fully given?

Eight or nine years ago, I came to that question in myself, exactly that, and I discovered that the answer was, if I was was raw and vulnerable and uncomplicated, that it was actually not OK. If I died one day without having fully loved, it would not have truly been a life well lived.

Many many years ago, I went to Bali for a vacation, on my own. I met up with some other young travelers there and we hired a Jeep to take us on a tour of the island. We drove up right to the highest point of the island, where Tourists don’t usually go. Our guide took us to one of the most sacred temples. It was surrounded by a big brick wall with an ornate entrance. After removing our shoes and wrapping scarves around our heads, we stepped together through this entrance. Inside, there was a short courtyard and then another brick wall with another entrance. After more preparations of lighting incense and giving offerings, we stepped through the second entrance. We were allowed to go through the opening in one more wall, but that was it. All together there were ten walls around the deity in the middle. Hindus could go beyond the fourth wall. Devotees of that particular deity could go beyond the fifth wall, and so it went on. The only people allowed to approach the deity directly were those who had given their lives completely and totally to its worship. Everyone else could come a little closer, a little closer, to the innermost beauty, but not all the way to the center.

I’m not a big believer of the worship of statues, but there’s a beautiful symbolism to what I saw there, because a woman’s heart is just like that. At the essence of every woman’s heart is the divine feminine. It contains everything that has ever been beautiful, or lovely, or inspiring, in any woman, anywhere, at any time. The very essence of every woman’s heart is the peak of wisdom, the peak of inspiration, the peak of sexual desirability, the peak of soothing, healing love. The peak of everything. But it’s protected, for good reason, by a series of concentric walls. To move inwardly from one wall to the next requires that you intensify your capacity to devotion, and as you do so, you are rewarded with Grace. This is not something you can negotiate verbally with a woman. She doesn’t even know consciously how to open those gates herself. They are opened magically and invisibly by the keys of worship.

If you stand on the outside of the outermost wall, all you have available to you, like many other unfortunate men, is pornography. For $1.99 a minute, you can see her breasts, maybe her vagina, and you can stimulate yourself in a sad longing for deeper love.

Step though another gate, and she will show you her outer gift-wrapping. She’ll look at you with a certain twinkle of her eye. She’ll answer your questions coyly. She’ll give you just the faintest hint that there is more available.

Step through another gate with your commitment, with your attention, with the small seedlings of devotion, and she’ll open her heart to you more. She’ll share with you her insecurities, the way that she’s been hurt, her deepest longings. Some men will back away at this point. They realize that the price they must pay to go deeper is more than they are willing to give. They start to feel a responsibility.  But for those few who step though another gate, they come to discover her loyalty, her willingness to stick with you no matter what, her willingness to raise your children, stick up for you in conversation, and, if you are lucky, even pick up your dirty socks now and then. And so it goes on. You’ve got the gist by now.

Somewhere around the second wall from the center, she casts the veils of her personality aside, and shows you that she is both a human being and also a portal into something much greater than that. She shows you a wrath that is not hers, but all womens’.   She shows you a patience that is also universal. She shows you her wisdom. At this point you start to experience the archetypes of women, who have been portrayed as goddesses and mythological figures in every tradition.

Then, at the very center, in the innermost temple itself, all the layers of your devotion are flooded with reward all at once. You discover the very essence of the feminine, and in a strange way that is not exactly romantic, but profoundly sacred all the same, you realize that you could have got here with any woman if you had just been willing to pass through all the layers of initiation. Any woman is every woman, and every woman is any woman at the same time. When you love a woman completely, at the very essence of her being, this is the one divine feminine flame. It is what has made every woman in history beautiful. It’s the flame behind the Mona Lisa, and Dante’s Beatrice, and yes, also Penelope Cruz and Heidi Klum. You discover the magic ingredient which has lead every man to fall in love with a woman.

When you learn how to pay attention to the essence of the feminine in this way, you fall to the floor in full body prostration, tears soaking your cheeks and clothes, and you wonder how you could have ever taken Her, in all of Her forms, for granted even for a second.

http://arjunaardagh.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/why-it-is-wise-to-worship-a-woman/



Can there be devotion AND desire?  Can sexuality and spirituality coexist?  Could perhaps fully embracing both devotion to the spiritual and desire in a sexual sense, each draw you deeper into the other?

“Drop this antagonism toward sex. If you ever want love to shower in your life, renounce this conflict with sex. Accept sex blissfully. Acknowledge its sacredness. Acknowledge its benediction. Go on searching deeper and deeper into it, and you will be amazed that the more you accept sex with a quality of sacredness, the more sacred it will become. And the more you are in conflict with it, as if it were something sinful and dirty, the more sinful and ugly it will become. ”

~ Osho

Osho, in case you are not familiar with him, was also known as Rajneesh, an Indian guru, whose ashram still exists in Pune, India, a place I’ve been several times. Although there are plenty of quirks about Osho, the Ashram and his teachings, I do love his perspective, so similar to Vedic Tantrism.

Tantra, for most of us, conjures up Sting having sex for eight hours at a time.  Not a bad image for some of us ;-). but Tantra isn’t only about sex.  It’s actually a larger philosophy, and views on sex is one part of that larger philosophy.

Vedic Tantrics were the odd-balls of India, sort of like the mystic Sufis were to Islam. (Think poets like Rumi, Hafiz and Lalla). Vedic Tantric philosophy espouses that there is nowhere to get to, in your spiritual seekings.  There is nothing to transcend, no place to work hard to be let into, if you are good enough, right enough, pure enough, etc.

They assert that there is nowhere you could go that isn’t the divine.  You are the Divine. The Divine is having a human experience through you.

Sure does take a lot of pressure off to constantly struggle and strive to get somewhere else besides here, in order to be finally OK.  Whew.

They also say that anything you repress or resist has power over you, and so they  dive into the things they are resisting or repressing, like sex. One of the only spiritual teachings to INCLUDE rather than exclude sex, i take off my hat to the Vedic Tantrics.  Spiritual doesn’t have to exclude Sexual.

The best thing I could wish on any of you, and certainly myself, is to have “love shower in my life” as Osho says.  Here’s to your showers of love!



If you have five minutes for some unabashed, creative romance today, watch it:

Why did it make me cry like a baby?

Let’s see, I used to live in New York City for 12 years, 6 of those as a professional dancer. I used to work one block away from the park where this was filmed and I’m getting married in 6 weeks myself!

Now, all the romantic proposals in the world, don’t make for the stuff of “making each other happy every day.” Marriage doesn’t have a great track record, I don’t need to tell you. That’s why I do the work I do. To give people the keys to lasting love. They’re not rocket science. But it’s an education almost none of us got.

But a sincere wish to make each other happy every day, is a great place to start.

Have some thoughts on romance, lasting love and outrageous proposals? Leave a comment, my friend!



I go to these really hard, sweaty yoga classes where the teacher will get us into some insane pretzeled-out pose and then keep us there for what seems like an inhumanely long-ass time. I even get up really early, out of my uber yummy warm bed and go willingly to this madness.

If an alien were to visit, it might think it a touch odd to see all these folks like me brushing sleep out of their eyes and contorting themselves on purpose.  And perhaps ever more odd to see them staying in the contorted spots rather than heading back to bed.

Why, you might ask, just like the alien might ask, do I keep going back?

The theory is that when we consciously place ourselves in challenging situations where we have to practice opening, breathing and loving through and into the difficulty, we are then better equipped to do it for real when life throws us the big doozies.

The theory can backfire, however, if we, in the midst of the hard time (the long pretzel-hold, the anxiety attack, the insomnia, the broken heart), clench down, zone out, resist or grit our teeth to get through it any way we can.

The reason I keep going back to these early morning challenge-fests is that there is something powerful and palpable about, as the 13th Century Persian mystic poet Rumi puts it, “not moving the way fear makes you move.”

In the midst of challenge, to love.  Rather than contract, to open.  Rather than hold the breath, to breathe deeply and allow oxygen to carry some lovin’ to our red blood cells, on the conduit of our breath.

“As if you were soaking in an ocean of love, relax open your throat, heart, belly, and genitals to receive love’s saturation. Lovingly melt your heart and body open as the fullness of this moment. ”

~ David Deida

When we decide to notice it, we are indeed in an ocean of love, even during the contorted pose, the anxiety attack, the insomnia, the broken heart.

So, if you’d care to join me this week:

Open.

Don’t endure something that’s bad or damaging to you; but do practice opening into the ocean of love, even when you want to throw something at your yoga teacher.

And feel free to comment below — now or after you Open!

Enjoy,

LiYana




Let me speak to you of Devotion and Desire – a self-imposed challenge for 21 days.

This day four of 21 in a row.  Each day of these 21, I get up at 7:00am and meditate.  Vipassana-Buddhist-mindfulness-watching-the-breath style, with some of my own Pleasure Expansion breath circulation thrown in from time to time.  Then a sensual practice, which I’ve coined the Pleasure Expansion Technique.  Then exercise – dance, yoga, the gym, or a walk up the crazy hill I live at the base of here in the beautiful, hill-rich city of San Francisco.  Also, no refined sugar and no white flour products, and generally a vibrant diet made mostly by the hands of me or my fiancee.  And the most important yet least  tangible element of it is doing each moment with pleasure and love; being pleasure and love.  How I’m being in each moment is just as important as what I’m working on or creating.  In fact, the two can’t be separated.

That’s the challenge.  Mindfulness. Pleasure. Desire. All senses alive. Love.

First of all, why cultivate Desire?  And second of all, why capitalize Desire, like you would a deity, a proper noun or an esteemed elder? Just so we know what we are talking about here, Desire is defined as a strong feeling of wanting to have something or  for something to happen; it’s also a strong sexual feeling or appetite.  It’s what we want that we don’t have yet, it’s connected to our sexual, creative energies.

Much of Buddhism says the key to liberation lies in our cessation of Desire, and here I am cultivating it.  Rebel meditator! I take a bit of issue with how this important point of Buddhism is interpreted.  To be alive is to Desire, it is to want what we don’t yet have:  our next breath, food to sustain us, to give and receive love, our next creative gift to the world.  To live and to grow is to Desire.  And we are all created from sexual energy; just like our very bodies are made up of the food we’ve eaten over our lifetime, each of us were created from sex, created with sexual energy. Sex is the most potent, creative life force there is.  Without it, we wouldn’t have been made, and without it, we have no urge to make and remake – not only babies, but the rest of our work, gifts, creative endeavors, offerings, etc.

You know that Law of Attraction stuff?  Well, Desire is the first step.  What do you want? What calls to your heart? What do you long for?  Without cultivating our heart’s longing, we are cut off from step one of this pretty potent force of creation.  (yep, there are 3 other steps to the Law of Attraction, but I’ll have to get to them later, since that’s not what this blog post is about… a little teasing never hurt anyone.)  But the point is, if we are alive, we need to Desire to keep on living and growing.

The key here, is that you are cultivating your Desire from a place of already being full, rather than from a place of lack or emptiness.  The mantra is like this: things are good, and we want more and better and higher; rather than: things suck and I want something to make it better.  The latter never works so well.

Desire goes hand in hand with Pleasure, two magical forces, greatly misunderstood by the cultures most of us swim in.  OK, some of us have created micro-cultures and sub-cultures that are Pro-Pleasure and that go against the grain of our larger cultures.  But we still feel it in the air, watch it in movies, see it on billboards and in magazines, hear it around us and on the radio, etc – Pleasure is for later, after you’ve worked enough.  Pleasure is amoral and will lead you to ruin.  Pleasure, you don’t deserve it.

But Pleasure my friends, is a directive and corrective force. I’m not talking about getting carried away in hedonistic bliss to the detriment of other people or things.  It is possible to be in our Pleasure and still be caring, considerate and responsible.  Cultivating mindfulness and awareness (read: meditation) helps a lot. Pleasure is spoken as a YES through the body, and boy, to we need to know when we mean YES and when we mean NO.  Pleasure is meeting the moment as it comes, not wishing it to be other than it is.  Pleasure is following the urge of our animal body, whose instincts are intact, like a plant leans toward the sunshine.

And what I also know is that we can’t separate the process from the product. Who I am BEING while I am writing this blog post can’t be separated from the blog post you are reading.  When I’m full of love, enjoyment and pleasure while I’m writing this, you’ll feel it.  My mojo gets in there, like it or not.

I’m working to step out of my own madness around working hard and suffering to get through, to be able to produce something (like a course or a blog post or a meal) in record time.  I suffer while doing it, I am tight, uptight, hard, brittle and worried while doing it.  My mojo gets in there, like it or not.

So, today, as with each of these 21, my work shall be imbued with a slightly quieter mind, all my sensual senses on line, an energized body, a pleasured body and a heart alive with Desire and Love.

Devotion?  Well, doing what I said I would do, whether or not I feel like it, day after 21 days, is a form of cultivating Devotion.  You bet your booty.  Devotion to my word, Devotion to loving even in the HARD spots, Devotion to my body, to what makes it most alive and most able to live and love well.

And when the 21 days are up?  I’ll let you know then – and a lot more about how it’s going along the way – but I’ll probably follow the advice of my great friend, Todd, from Orgeon: “Everything in moderation; moderation in moderation.”
Want to join me? What’s your version of this challenge?  Just want to expound on Desire, Pleasure or Devotion?  I look forward to your comments below!