How your Sexual Response shines Light on your Unconscious Emotional Life
In the couple of decades that I now have worked with men and women across the globe, I have seen this everywhere: People are befuddled by their sexual response, or stuck in a belief that they can do nothing about it. Why do I get turned on by massive breasts or by the idea of being dominated? Why does thinking about a past boyfriend arouse me more than being with the one I love now? Why am I open to intimate touch, but shrink or shut down when the body contact becomes sexual? Why am I always dreaming about or chasing after an unavailable lover?
These are fascinating questions, and they all point to the same answer. Let me explain.
We know that 95% of our brain activity is unconscious. Apart from automatic body functions, the unconscious in us is also the body memory of what we haven’t been able to process or fully feel thus far. Neurobiologist Candace Pert goes so far as to say that the body IS the unconscious. When something from our past – all the way from our birth till this moment – isn’t fully resolved in us, neurotransmitters that bind to the cells will keep sending signals to tell us that something needs attention. Our sexual body does so perhaps more insistently than any other system. I’ll illustrate with a few examples.
Sandy had a terrible birth experience where she got stuck in the birth canal. Consciously, she remembers nothing about this. But in her sexual relationships, she starts to feel intensely claustrophobic when a new relationship begins to ‘birth’ itself into form. Thus, she finds herself never able to commit, and chastises herself for this. If she were guided into the sensation in her body, Sandy would have an opportunity to meet that original claustrophobia with care, love and awareness. Her body would signal relief, and the chances are good that her relationship patterns would change.
Dirk grew up in an environment where corporal punishment was the only real touch he received. As an adult, he finds himself fantasizing about being caned, and the thought gives him an instant hard-on. If Dirk were given the conscious space to explore the sensation in his body, he would discover that there is an unconscious ‘coupling’ in is psyche of contact/affection and corporal punishment. To the mind, this doesn’t make sense. But to the body, it makes total sense. Only in being given the space to feel the arousal and what it evokes is Dirk able to finally ‘uncouple’ intimacy and punishment.
These are two of many examples I could quote. In every case, the sexual body and the arousal response (or lack of arousal) is a messenger attempting to connect us to a place in our emotional life that is unconscious and in need of our loving care and attention. In every case, the care that is needed involves entering into the experience in the body with love and spacious holding.
But where in our world is this particular kind of spacious holding available?
My Totality Therapy Training program is an answer to this question. In this 21-month professional training, participants will receive the support to dive deeply into all dimensions of their sexuality, from the unconscious to the superconscious/mystical. And through their own immersion, participants will receive the training to be able to hold this space for others.
On March 29 at 9am PT, I will be doing a free online talk in which I introduce the principles and practice of Totality Therapy. Please join me if you are drawn to this program for either personal or professional reasons – or simply to pick up tips for how to relate to the magnificent system that is your sexuality in a more conscious way. All genders, sexual orientations and ages welcome. The work is valuable to anyone who encounters the theme of sexuality in their work, e.g. doulas, bodyworkers, psychotherapists, or those intending to start a practice in the future.