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Archive for the Fun, Funky Free Stuff



“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

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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



How do I make this the best year of my life? My newest expert video answer, use this link:

http://www.yourtango.com/2012126689/how-do-i-make-year-best-my-life-video

Big, Bold, Beautiful 2012 to you,



When you have the keys to how a man works, he gives you the keys to himself.

I have spent the last month interviewing a series of phenomenal men, asking them things like:

“What do you want most from a woman?”
“What would compel you to commit?”
“What makes you feel like a stud, a rockstar, a MAN?”
“What shuts you down and makes you want to leave?”

If you are anything like me, their answers will shock you in all the best ways, move you to your core, restore your hope in love – and make you piss your pants laughing at times.

Watch your email inbox over the next days and weeks, because I’ll be letting you know when the videos are ready for your viewing pleasure.

In the meantime, check out these choice tidbits … let me know your favorite moments from the video and WHY … and get yourself read for the Man Whispering video interviews!

Enjoy,



Courage (from the French word for “heart”): to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.

I got that from a fabulous Ted Talk with Brene Brown, which I have conveniently placed below for your viewing pleasure.

It will take 20 minutes out of your day, but it may just give you some courage to have real Courage.

“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.”
~ Brene Brown

Watch it here, and don’t forget to leave your thoughts below:



Next week, I’m in the Super Women Summit, a powerful posse of women entrepreneurs sharing our super secrets.

If you are in business for yourself, this may be right up your super-alley.

I’m offering a class titled, “Turn Your Sensuality into Business Power”

I’ll cover the four secrets of feminine energy so you can rev your business engines and stimulate your bottom line!

Things like:

• How to stay a woman as you’re making it in a man’s world
• What creative opportunities you may be wasting when you are cut off below the waist
• How your hormones can help (rather than hurt) your efficiency
• The #1 ingredient you need in every relationship – without which they are doomed
• How your unique brand of femininity can be your secret business sauce

Click HERE get in on the Summit yourself.

For a majority of my years in business for myself, I tried to be successful by ignoring the irrefutable fact I am a woman.

Surprise, surprise: that didn’t work very well.

I had to figure out, with a lot of trial, error and tears, how to stay connected to my body, my juice and my joy, even while in business!

It will be fun to share what’s been working for me, so I hope you’ll be joining.

Oh, and some other super women I highly suggest you listen in on: Anastasia Netri, Carey Peters, Jenn August and Alexandra Jamieson – Fabulous Femmes I know personally.

That link again to get in on the Summit, use this link: http://tinyurl.com/supwom

Enjoy, super duper woman,

LiYana



You know how it goes. The conversation starts out OK, but all of a sudden it is like someone lit a fuse and set off a fireworks display of defensiveness, blame, lashing out, accusation, icy silence or hurled insults.

Want to know how keep that fuse from being lit, especially around this holiday time? How to De-Fuse an upset or conflict?  How to cool it all down enough to restore some rationality, create some space for some real communication and connection?

I thought you might.

It is unchecked reactivity that is the highway robbery of connection.  Reactivity can sideswipe and derail any well-meaning communication. By De-Fusing reactivity, the other person will feel like you still “have their back” rather than have suddenly become the aggressor or their opponent.

Some of these 12 ways will work well for colleagues and friends, others for your partners and family.

They are generalizations, since all of us humans are different and unique, but for the grand majority, they hold true.

These will work at the first sign of reactivity – yours or theirs. And it goes without saying that none of these will work unless they are 100% genuine and from your heart.

12 Ways To De-Fuse, this holiday season:

Pick one, or try all 12!

(You can sing along, if you’d like: “On the 12th day of De-Fusing, my true love gave to me …”)

1.  Start With Appreciation: It may not always be the first thing on your mind, but make it a practice to have it be the first thing out of your mouth. Tell ’em what you honestly love about them, what they did for you, said to you, how they moved you, etc. You’ll not only activate your ability to be grateful, but you and others will rise in value and worth in your eyes.

2.  Be Gentle. A full-frontal assault on someone, all guns blaring is usually not that effective, unless your aim is a knock-down, drag-out fight. If your aim is healthy communication, start with some vulnerability, with your throat bared, so to speak. This will set the stage for you both to be kind and considerate to each other.

3.  Repeat It Back. What you hear is often a far cry from than what person intended.  Since language is an approximation, we all interpret the same words in often vastly different ways.  A good rule of thumb is to repeat back to someone what you think they just said: “So, here’s what I think I just heard you say. You are feeling/thinking…” Stopping to clarify in this way can save you so much of the pain that comes from the build-up of repeated misunderstanding.

Especially effective with men:

4.  Consider Your Timing. Can he focus on you right now or would you do better to wait until later?

5.  Acknowledgment. Tell him some way he has touched you, impressed you, something he has done well.  Thank him. This opens him up to let down his guard and hear you.

6.  Give Him Space. Sometimes guys need to take a long time to answer you, or they need to go away for a while and figure it out.  If you give him space, he will come back with something great.

7.  Give Him A Way to Win. Consider posing your communication in the form of a problem he can solve or you can solve together, rather than as something he isn’t doing right. Guys come in to their element when there is a way for them to “win”, to show up as a hero, and when there is something that they can fix.

Especially effective with women:

8.  Make Physical Contact With Her, like a touch or a hug. Physical contact is grounding and calming like nothing else, and reminds her of your presence. She will stop worrying that you are outa there, and will then be open to hear what you have to say.

9.  Remind Her That You Are Not Leaving. In a highly emotional and heated situation, especially if you walk away or become emotionally distant, women can become triggered and feel like you are leaving for good.

10. What Do You Love About Her? Is it the curve of her neck? Her rapier wit? Her grace? Tell her. Often in an upset, she may feel that you no longer love her (even if you said it earlier in the day), or that because you are angry, she is losing your love. Is there limit to the number of times you can tell a woman you love her, or what you love about her? Um, no.

And, for all humans, again…

11. Say It Differently. If someone is responding as though they haven’t heard you, no matter how many times you have said it before, THEY are not stupid, YOU have not said it in a WAY they can hear. Try using different words, tone or intention.

12. Go For Humour. For example, if your Aunt Mildred always badgers you about why you aren’t married yet, or why YET AGAIN you didn’t bring home a prospective partner, you can tell her something like, “Listen, I know you are excited to hear about the scores of marriage offers I’ve had to turn down this month and all the love letters I’ve framed on my wall. And I know you want to discuss what to cook for the eight suitors I brought, but let’s find something else to talk about, OK?” Adjust humour and content accordingly…

Enjoy – and for extra points, tell me which one worked best!

LiYana



This was sent from one of my readers and I thought it too cute not to share:

“And thus, dear students, we have arrived at the formula for understanding women”.



Can spirituality + sexuality?

Does spirituality + sexuality = non-duality expression in body?

Or should it be that spirituality – sexuality = the path?

Or sexuality – spirituality = more fun?

Have fun watching this video. If it turns you on, you’ll know you’re on the right track – or you’ll know you need some more math skills.

http://www.youtube.com/user/SOULSHAPING#p/a/u/0/AoJBD1T7oc0

Row



I ran across this Mary Oliver Poem as I was working on a segment of a class I’m teaching, to help women locate and live from their joy, from what they en-joy:

You are young.
So you know everything.
You leap into the boat and begin rowing.
But listen to me.
Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without any doubt, I talk directly to your soul.
Listen to me.
Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to me.
There is life without love.  It is not worth a bent penny, or a scuffed shoe.
It is not worth the body of a dead dog nine days unburied.
When you hear, a mile away and still out of sight, the churn of the water as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life toward it.