by feared. We are given strict rules around what kind of sex is okay and when and with whom.We are taught that sexual energy is dangerous and must be carefully contained.In many religious traditions, sexuality is
Sexual energy may be an expression of the divine within each of us. That’s one reason a mindful approach to sexuality is so important.
What if the very reason religion and sex have a tangled relationship is that sexual energy is an expression of the divine? What if erotic joy is God manifesting in our very bodies, in our connection with ourselves and each other?
In some branches of the goddess-worshiping Shakta Tantra traditions, sex represents union between Shiva and Shakti, God and Goddess, the divine masculine and feminine energy. This union brings together matter and consciousness, creating the universe and creating us. Sexual desire is the drive that brought these two energies together at the beginning of time, making our universe possible—which is also, of course, biologically true. Sex is, literally, the engine of our creation.
This energy doesn’t have to express itself in the physical act of sex, either. It can show up any time we are engaging with a passion, when we are accessing our creativity, when we are allowing ourselves to fully feel our deepest emotions. For feminist writer Audre Lorde, the erotic is an energy that gives us power. When we are connected to our erotic selves, we are connected to our deepest emotions and our most authentic selves. In a culture that cuts us off from this energy, Lorde argues, we are disempowered, not fully alive, unable to tap into our creative potential or what we truly want. In her collection of essays called Sister Outsider, Lorde writes,
“The erotic is a measure between our sense of self and the chaos of our strongest feelings. It is an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire. For having experienced the fullness of this depth of feeling and recognizing its power, in honor and self-respect we can require no less of ourselves.”
Erotic energy is powerful because it teaches us about our potential. When we have experiences of being fully connected to our bodies, our emotions, and our sense of power, we can no longer tolerate being disconnected. We can channel this energy into intimacy, certainly, but we can also channel it into our work, our creativity, our friendships, and the courage we need to move forward towards what we want.
Unfortunately, the way our culture generally treats sexuality distorts this empowering, creative energy. Lorde writes that sexuality
“[H]as been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, and plasticized sensation. For this reason, we have turned away from the exploration and consideration of the erotic as a source of power and information, confusing it with the pornographic. But pornography is a direct denial of the power of the erotic, for it represents the suppression of true feeling. Pornography emphasizes sensation without feeling.”
Being in an act of sex isn’t the same thing as being connected to our sacred sexual energy. The wrong kind of sex can actually suppress that powerful but tender aspect of ourselves. When we have sex to perform, to please, or to placate, we are not honoring the divine aspects of our sexuality. When we forget to experience pleasure, to follow our sensual energy deeper into our physical and emotional selves, we are not experiencing our sexuality as powerful but merely pornographic. We are doing a disservice to the divine within ourselves.
It can be difficult to see our sexual selves as divine when we have to wade through the cultural messaging about sex being sinful or dangerous, not to mention the fears and insecurities we have about our bodies not measuring up to the pornographic standard we’ve come to take as normal. We hold ourselves outside of the spiritual potential of sexual connection because we don’t think we’re good enough. We don’t know how to allow the flow of erotic energy to meet us alongside our deepest, most painful emotions.
Erotic energy is powerful because it’s not intellectual. It’s physical and emotional, and in the right context, it can take us into a state that is almost trance like. For some of us, this is as close as we can get on this mortal plane to touching the divine. When we allow our sexual energy to give us the courage to follow our honest emotions and desires, we may discover that the divine was within us all along.
Meditating with Erotic Energy
Sit in a comfortable position for your meditation and close your eyes. Place your hands on your low belly and allow your breath to move under your hands. Do your best to relax your belly and your pelvic floor, that net of muscles surrounding your genitals.
Breathe deeply into this pelvic region, into your genitals and your pelvic organs. Take a few moments to simply feel this area.
Now imagine your divine erotic energy as a form of light, curled up in the bowl of your pelvis.
Imagine its color and brightness. Traditionally the color of this energy center is a lovely sunset orange.
Imagine that your breath is gently encouraging this curl of energy to move and flow. Relax around the energy so that it has space to move and see where it wants to go.
Now feel the energy at your heart, right in the center of the chest. Imagine the color and texture of this energy center, traditionally a calm deep green. Place one hand on your heart, keeping the other at your low belly.
Feel these energies calling to each other and uncurling towards each other. Feel the energy at your pelvis and genitals drawing up toward your heart, and your heart energy moving down toward your genitals. Allow these energies to connect and intertwine with each other.
Enjoy the movement and flow of these colorful energies with your breath for as long as you would like.
Julie Peters is a staff writer for Spirituality & Health. She is also a yoga teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) and co-owner of Ocean and Crow Yoga studio in Vancouver, BC, with her mom, Jane. She is the author of Secrets of the Eternal Moon Phase Goddesses: Meditations on Desire, Relationships, and the Art of Being Broken (SkyLight Paths 2016) and the forthcoming WANT: 8 Steps to Recovering Desire, Passion, and Pleasure After Sexual Assault (Mango Media 2019). Learn more at www.jcpeters.ca. Follow her at @juliejcp.