The 12 Steps for Everyone [Step One]

Hola mi Gente,
I realize there are many people who see the 12-step movement as a cult, as misguided, or as a failure. That’s fine. I have no interest in debating the merits of NA/ AA or in trying to convince anyone to join. What follows is my experience as someone who’s been free from active addiction for 26+ years. I do, however, believe anyone can benefit from practicing the principles that form the foundation of the 12 Steps…

Every first Sunday, I will post my attempt to translate these principles for the general public. Also, if you’re suffering, please know that there is hope after dope… There are links to resources at the end of this post.

Stopping the War

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We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.
— The First Step of Narcotics Anonymous

 

I was once told that these spiritual principles were as a bridge back to life. What I didn’t know then was that this bridge is built on the very bones of those who came before me. This series of posts is an attempt to honor that lineage.

The First Step confronted me with two problematic words: powerless and unmanageable. I also didn’t notice at first that every NA step begins with the word “We.” I was a loner; “we” wasn’t a word I used much. Everything was about me. They say an addict is an egomaniac with low self-esteem, and that contradiction in terms perfectly described my state of mind.

Let me just say that 12-step recovery is about action — it is an experiential approach. Every step involves growth, exploration, and some measure of action. I think people who have never attended a meeting have misconceptions about 12-Step Fellowships.

People in recovery like to say that the first step is the only step you have to get perfectly. I disagree, recovery is an ongoing process, and my understanding of the first step expands and deepens as I grow. However, there is a level of acceptance necessary for the integration of this step. But I get ahead of myself…

There are several powerful psycho-spiritual factors at work in the First Step. Primarily, there is an admission. Admitting to a problem has become a popular notion in our culture that first came to prominence in twelve-step fellowships. The act of admitting touches on the first spiritual principle of the first step: honesty. However, admitting means nothing without acceptance. For example, at one point in my life I had no problem admitting I was an addict; I could be honest about that. But that admission and $2.75 got me on the train, which is another way of saying that admitting by itself it is worthless. It wasn’t until I embraced another core spiritual principle of the first step, acceptance, that I was then able to make changes in my life.

The more NA meetings I attended, the more I heard my own story being told by others who were honest about themselves. I began to see that I had a lot in common with these people when it came to my addictive behaviors. On the other hand, it took me a long time to come to grips with powerlessness. I was raised to think of myself as powerful. I was taught that if I exerted my will on any issue, that I could overcome anything in the world. If I had enough cojones and worked hard enough, I could have power over anything.

Besides, it wasn’t my addiction that was the problem, it was everyone else. At least that was what I told myself. If only other people got their shit together and external situations in my life corrected themselves, I wouldn’t be in such a fix. The problem with my thinking was that it involved exerting willpower. The problem with my willpower was that it was warped. The more willpower I exerted, the more I fucked up. I tried everything: using only on the weekends, snorting instead of using intravenously, drinking instead of using other drugs, using only certain drugs in certain combinations, etc. The irrefutable truth was that no matter what I tried, I always ended up in the same place: all fucked up.

Imagine a machinery part that was made to perform only one action, or to move in only one direction, or in one specific way. No matter how much you oil that part, no matter how much you try to make it more efficient or move faster, it will still perform how it was meant to function. If a part was meant to move back and forth, for example, no amount of lubrication will make it move sideways. Similarly, if the only tool you have is a hammer, then everything begins to look like a nail. My will was fucked up, meant to move in a specific direction and no exertion of that will could bring about lasting change. In fact, my will often brought more destruction.

Simply put, I came to the realization that if I wanted to change, I needed to develop new tools, to come to terms that will alone wasn’t getting it done. And what that really meant for me was that in order to begin my journey, I first had to surrender. In fact, as I look back now, the whole process of recovery is one long, beautiful, liberating process of surrendering.

The First Step is like the beginning of a hero’s journey. In the archetype of the hero (or errant knight), most heroes begin reluctantly, clumsily, and then forces beyond their control propel them past their ordinary lives into a journey of personal change and renewal. Like most addicts, I was unaware of aspects of myself — my feelings, for example, and the wreckage I was creating. The first step freed me to begin my quest for self-knowledge and transformation.

Admitting to powerlessness was a long and slow process; accepting that admission brought me to the gateway of healing and sanity. That was also about another core spiritual principle: willingness. Instead of willfulness, what I needed was willingness. It’s part of what is often called the HOW (honesty, openness, and willingness) of recovery.

The common misconception about the first step for those who have never tried to apply it is that it is defeatist. The first step is not about defeat. It says powerlessness, not hopelessness. Powerlessness is not uncommon, in fact, and if we open our eyes, we realize that we have no power over many things. Take the weather, for example. As we Northerners brace ourselves for a cold winter as I write this, I understand completely that I can’t stop the snow, but if you take the time to stop, look, and listen, you may come to realize that preparation is a lot better than trying to control the elements. Another thing we have no power over is how others act or think, yet we spend enormous amounts of time and energy trying to exert control over other people. Oftentimes, we don’t even have power over our own emotions, but we can learn to relate to them differently.

The first step is really about admitting powerlessness over living in the extremes. Try fighting the rain, or better yet, a hurricane, and you’ll get a sense of what it is to fight addiction. You have to surrender. You have to take refuge.

As part of taking the first step, you take an inventory of the consequences of your addiction. For me this meant documenting the jobs I lost, the people I hurt, and most of all, the harm I did to myself. In reflecting in this way, I could no longer deny the unmanageability of my life as an active addict. This was a hard nut to crack because I never wanted to admit my life was unmanageable. I had it together, I liked to think, I just went a little overboard sometimes.

I was also confronted with the insanity of an obsession that led to compulsion and how my fight would be futile until I surrendered. If you’re fighting an inner war, then someone has to lose. If you’re fighting an inner war, it follows, you, or an aspect of yourself, will always lose.

Taking the first step clearly showed me that my thinking had little relationship to reality. There were countless times during my active addiction, for example, that I would experience a blackout. A blackout doesn’t entail being unconscious or comatose. In a blackout, you can sit down one minute and the next thing you know you missed an entire episode of your life — while conscious.

A blackout is similar to what I imagine a time jumper would feel. One minute you’re in one time-space continuum and the next, you’re somewhere else and what’s horrifying is that you don’t know what the fuck is going on. One time coming out of a blackout, I had a whole house-full of people wanting to kick my ass, and I had no clue why. It seems I propositioned the bride-to-be (I was at an engagement party) and that kind of pissed a few people off. I once emerged out of a blackout in a different state and different year having lost track of several days. It happened during an extended New Year’s Eve celebration. Several days later, I woke up in a strange house, sleeping next to a strange woman and I had no inkling where I was or what day.

I used to laugh and brag about that (it’s still funny on one level) but it was a horrifying experience. Still I couldn’t admit my powerlessness. It wasn’t that something was wrong with me, I rationalized, it was that other people were too stuck up or rigid, and besides, I know that bitch at the engagement party wanted me. Perhaps you may have never experienced this extreme form of powerlessness, but have you ever had a situation spiral out of control to the point that you were at a loss?

Most of all, the first step is the beginning of the undoing of the karmic consequences of denial. I had to be brought my knees — from hopelessly addicted, being confined in institutions, and even close to death — and still I wouldn’t admit my powerlessness. There was definitely a lot of evidence of unmanageability in my life. Shit, I attempted suicide at least once. What “normal” person can say that?

More than anything, I realized as I became clean did the inner work, that I was addicted to insanity. If my life was going too smoothly, or things were going my way, or I had too many successes going on, I would find a way to sabotage that. I would pick a fight at a bar, or destroy an intimate relationship, or simply disappear. I didn’t know what it meant to have a measure of serenity or consistency in my life. I didn’t know how to cope with that.

Oh, and yes, I’ve kicked more habits than I can remember. The problem was that I just could never stay stopped. It was never hard kicking a habit. But addiction, I soon learned, was not merely about substance abuse. I would get “clean” and chill for six-seven months, but when I started again, it was as if I never stopped. My last day as an active addict, I had spent $300 after having been released from a Rikers Island jail for exactly fourteen days. I went from clean to a $300-a-day habit at the drop of a hat.

I would say that’s unmanageable…

However, there are other ways our powerlessness and unmanageability manifests in our lives. Whether it’s food or cigarettes, or relationships, I think we can all look where we’re being a little self-destructive or even slowly killing ourselves (cigarettes anyone?), suffering needlessly, or causing ourselves or our loved ones harm. I believe we all can identify with the compulsive need to exert control and the denial of powerlessness. I use my life as an example because the extreme manner in which I lived it makes it easier to illustrate my points, but we all have the dark places, the places that scare us.

Today, I apply the first step to many things in my life, especially in relationships and to certain behaviors. For example, in my job search one of the things that help keeps me sane is that I realize I have no power over outcomes. I cannot control how other people behave, or the decisions they make. My power is in the effort that I put in to my job search. Anything else, I have no power over that.

Addictions like to migrate. One might be able to kick the heroin or the alcohol, but then you see people acting out sexually or financially. If you don’t do the inner work, applying these principles in all your affairs, then you’ll continue to be in the grips of addictive behavior. The first step stipulated that I was powerless over my addiction. Addiction is not about a substance, but a way of thinking.

Eventually, I began to conceptualize the first step as something similar to the concepts of Aikido or Wing Chun, two martial arts that stress the importance of never meeting force with force. In a sense, the first step is about learning to flow with the forces of life instead of fighting all the time. It’s learning to transform difficult emotions into opportunities for healing. It’s knowing that while you can’t stop the waves, you can learn to surf.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, please consider helping me out by sharing it, liking me on Facebook, following me on Twitter, or even throwing me some money on GoFundMe HERE or via PayPal HERE so I can keep calling it like I see it.

Resources

Addiction is one of the most pressing problems in our society — a society that actually encourages consumption at the expense of substance. If you think you have a problem, give yourself a break, and try something new, it just might save your life…

Alcoholics Anonymous: Official website

Narcotics Anonymous: Official website

Allione, T (2008) Feeding your demons: Ancient wisdom for resolving inner conflict. (click here)

Chodron, P. (2005) When things fall apart: Heart advice for difficult times (click here)

Note: The featured artwork is from Ben’h Usry.

The Friday Sex Blog [Riding the Horse]

Hola mi gente,
The holiday season is upon us, and with it lots of good cheer and partying. I wish you all the very best but, whatever you do, please — please: Don’t. Drive. Drunk.

Getting Comfortable in the Saddle

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Statue of the 11 century noblewoman, Lady Godiva, who reputedly rode nude through her town after her husband harshly taxed his tenants.

Alchemists sought to transform lead into gold. In the same way, we all have the natural ability to turn our moments of confusion or emotional pain into insightful clarity.

 

One day I went with a girlfriend horseback riding. I had ridden before, but my companion at the time warned me that we were going to ride “real horses,” real horseback riding. I was so intent on impressing her and I somewhat exaggerated my horse riding experience.

Big mistake. Out they came with this huge, fire-from-flayed-nostrils beast, and no sooner than I got on it and kicked, it just took off. No matter how much I pulled back on the reins this horse wasn’t stopping and we were headed straight to a fence that, it seemed to me, this motherfucker was determined to jump. Luckily, another rider was able to put his horse in the way, causing a collision that threw me off the horse. Fortunately, no one was hurt. As I lay there my ass and pride damaged, the animal just stared and I swear it was laughing at me. They asked if I wanted to switch horses for a tamer one, but I refused. I got some lessons that day on how to ride, but when I got back on that magnificent animal, I held the reins so tight it wouldn’t or couldn’t move. Cautiously, I learned to interact with the beast so that we were able to trot around the place.

Eventually, my friend taught me enough where I became a pretty good rider and over time I developed a close bond with that horse, admiring (while respecting) its spirit and strength.

Of course, you know there’s a metaphor in here somewhere, right? LOL!

Personal growth is like that: in the beginning we might find ourselves holding on to the reins, white-knuckled, hanging on for dear life, afraid of the full power of our emotions. But if we venture outside that comfort zone, we begin to explore the more meaningful, and infinitely more rewarding, emotional landscapes. We learn to relax in the saddle, to ride.

For most people most times, violent emotions are destructive. People fly into rage, for example, and say things they don’t mean and later regret (can I get a witness?). We may sometimes lash out and hurt someone, or when hurt by rejection, we mope and eat and lay in bed, our hurt festering in the murky waters of self-destructive depression. Most violence has its roots in a form of self-abuse that manifests itself outwardly.

Therefore, at the earlier stages of psycho-spiritual evolution or self-actualization, growth means cultivating compassion and less emotional violence toward yourself and others. My experience has been that the more self-awareness you attain, the more you are naturally motivated toward peace and harmony. At this stage, when upset or angered, you learn to take a few breaths and calm yourself. You try to practice kindness rather than hate, acceptance rather than judgment, joy rather than anger.

In this way, you can become harmonious — and frightfully bland.

In the stereotype of a harmonious individual, all joy and acquiescence, there is a loss of the depth of love power for the sake of a safe but superficial calmness. Yes, you may have progressed from irresponsible violence and poor impulse control to a practiced tranquility, but growth doesn’t stop there.

After developing the basic skills necessary to breathe through our emotional reflexes and to act graciously, there’s another world. There is a whole new experience, lover, out there waiting for you: you can learn to open as your emotion. Rather than striking out in self-destructive, knee-jerk ways, and rather than merely breathing through your anger in order to achieve calmness, you can actually use anger, or any other emotion, as a gateway to a deeper love, a deeper expression of truth and your lived experience.

If you look back to a time when you felt you wanted to hit someone, punch a wall, break something, you will note the presence of an overriding sense of feeling trapped, restricted. Whether by your own limits or by external circumstances, you most likely felt imprisoned and loveless. Violence is always a dysfunctional attempt to break free, an unskilled effort toward greater freedom or love. Openness is freedom and love. Even the most violent or self-destructive emotions are based on our need for openness, to be free, to give and receive love.

When you are open, then you are able to give and receive love fully, and you are free. However, when you don’t practice how to be open, then you’re unable to live as love, then your chi, or vital power/ love-energy, backs up and roils as emotional mayhem. In this reality, there is a feeling of being trapped and alone, powerless, unable or fearful of riding that magnificent and powerful force, to ride free like the wind. You become emotional constipated.

Embraced skillfully, intense emotions can be a quick path to a deeper experience — to a more profound openness. Ever heard of “angry sex”? Anger can provide you with the sharp clarity and thunder necessary to awaken from moody distraction, if you can release and really feel your love that moves as anger.

Sadness, something we all try to avoid at all costs, can expose your heart, too. Sometimes we harden ourselves against sadness, in the process creating dead zones in our psyche and body. It’s as if in our fear of unleashing our full potential, we’ve numbed ourselves against feeling fully. We have the reins tight in our hands, and we’ll never let go, lest we lose ourselves, we think. Soften yourself and feel your sadness. Really feel your sadness. Softness is like the ocean, while it is yielding, it is not weak. Yield, surrender to your sadness without falling apart. Soften your belly, feel the tidal swells moving through you, the heaves of gasps for yearning. There’s an astounding depth of love released by sadness. Ever heard and experienced the raw beauty of the blues art form?

Love can transform all these previously destructive emotions into something powerful and alive.

People mistake my work in social justice for anger. But aggression for love’s sake is passion. Even the word protest uncovers some this: Pro means being for something. Test is to speak, as in testify, or testimony. To protest is to speak for something, to stand for something. To speak truth to power.

In order to take the next step, we have to come to the awareness that true spiritual and sexual passion demands your capacity to open as wild as the moment does. Just like with me and that horse. Sometimes the force of our emotions can scare us, and we need to be careful, to develop psychologically safe spaces. But to refuse to venture further is to deny yourself life.

Smacks and shouts and dark desires can wield love as powerfully as gentle kisses, mild-mannered moods, and pats on the back. And yes, this takes practice, and you might want to hold on to those reins a little tightly at first or until you feel safe. It might take years to open freely in this way, but until you do, it’s as if you’ve entered an amusement park but have refused to get on the rides.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, please consider helping me out by sharing it, liking me on Facebook, following me on Twitter, or even throwing me some money on GoFundMe HERE or via PayPal HERE so I can keep calling it like I see it.

Unreasonable Happiness

Hola mi Gente,
My default facial expression is a smile. I think it’s always been like that. Even photographs of me as an infant, you see that smile — constantly. In fact, laughter — often in the face of hardship — is something I learned long ago. Even that day when a court was offering me 15 years to life as an opening bid, after freaking out, I went back to Rikers and laughed my ass off.

Island Life

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The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.
— Carlos Castaneda

 

Imagine spending the better part of a year living on an island paradise living off low hanging fruit. For company, you have the most beautiful woman (or man). You go barefoot for so long, your shoes no longer fit. Sounds great, right? A dream, a fantasy come true. And it was!

Except for one thing…Wherever I went, there I was.

Let me start over. I have to say that I honestly have no regrets. In fact, if I had to do it all over again, I would make all the same mistakes again — only sooner. I know this sounds like a cliché (and it is), but it is true. This comes from gratitude. Gratitude is a kind of spiritual dignity. Everything I ever did, everything I have experienced, has conspired to create the man you see before you today. And for some time now, I have been truly genuinely grateful for who I am. It’s not ego. I meet plenty of people who say they love themselves, but what if what you’re “loving” is fucked up? LOL That’s ego, not love.

Every pain, every hardship, every mistake — all of it — I would do it all over again, and I have no regrets. Pain is a great teacher. I think it was the poet, Gibran, who said, “Pain is the breaking of the shell of your understanding.” Today, I try to welcome the negative, the ugly, the positive, and beautiful equally. Our feelings are our children and why would we abandoned the angels with dirty faces and keep only the well-mannered, socially acceptable feelings?

Back to the beach. There you are in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. You’re on an island untainted by pollution and modern technology. White sands, aquamarine water, pale blue skies smeared with occasional tufts of white cotton candy clouds. There is nothing but the moment and the attentions of a lover or friend. Paradise, right? But what if your state of mind doesn’t see it that way? What if you’re more concerned with ruminating on the past (memories) and chasing the future (fantasy) than you are in enjoying that island paradise?

What I’m trying to say is that people (the lover/ friend), places (the island), or things (possessions) are not the prerequisites for happiness. If you’re feeling fucked up right now, it wouldn’t matter where you were, no sooner that you become habituated and the novelty wears off, you will be back to feeling fucked up. The sand will be too hot, the humidity unbearable, for example. Happiness and joy is a state of being, not a place. Sure, it’s easier to think that you could do the happy dance faster if your ideal man or woman was feeding you grapes on some isolated island paradise, but that’s bullshit.

I know…

If you want to be happy (and let’s face it, some of us don’t), then all you have to do is create it. I am a sun worshiper, for example, and my idea of retirement would be to run a used bookstore on some tropical island (mate optional). Still, I have lived on that island all these years and you can too. Let’s try a quick exercise. Try to envision your concept of what you think will make you happy. What is your fantasy of happiness? For example, if my island fantasy is to your liking, imagine yourself there. How would you act? How would you look, talk, and walk? What would your frame of mind be like? How would you feel inside?

Got it? Hold it in your mind. Get all the details down, from your smile to your manner of dress, attitude, etc.

Now here’s my last question for you: what’s stopping you from living like that right now?

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

If you would like to support my writing, you can do so by clicking HERE. You can also donate via PayPal HERE.

The Friday Sex Blog [Orgasmic Meditation]

Hola mi gente,
This one takes a convoluted course… LOL

Orgasmic Meditation

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Recently, I came across a study that explored the questions: how do women know for sure if they are climaxing? What if the sensation they have associated with climax is actually one of the lower stages of arousal? And how does a woman know when if she has had an orgasm? Which led me to a company, OneTaste, that offers workshops on Orgasmic Meditation.

That first question, the science of how women know for sure they are climaxing, is one I would like to explore in the next sex blog post. For now, I want to simply present this Orgasmic Meditation practice. Let me just state from the start that I’m a little skeptical about all this. In the 1970s, when I first became acquainted with his teachings, the Tibetan master, Chogyam Trunpa, warned of the problem of ego sabotaging anything — “even spirituality” — to its own use. Some of what he predicated back then (e.g., brand name mediation cushions, prosperity spirituality, etc.) has come true, unfortunately.

From the admittedly little I know about it, Orgasmic Meditation (OM) seems to me like a Silicon Valley attempt to co-opt tantric practices. Or rather, it’s a stripped down version of it. In any case, I haven’t attended any workshops and have only read or watched videos about it online. Therefore, I have to suspend judgment. On the other hand, there seems to be something worthy about this project. For one, it’s part of the slow sex movement. Slow sex is about bringing an awareness or consciousness to love-making. It is similar to the slow food (versus fast food) model. It’s about being mindful and intentional about sexing.

So! What is OM?

According to OneTaste, OM is a 15-minute, partnered consciousness practice where a “stroker” stimulates the clitoris of a “strokee” for 15 minutes with no goal other than to feel sensation.

The people at OneTaste make an important distinction between climax and the orgasm state. Climax, they say, is a few seconds of physical experience, whereas the state of orgasm is continuous — presumably allowing OMers to access an optimal state of consciousness brought about from the activation of the sexual impulse.

Proponents of OM believe that when harnessed consciously, orgasm can enrich us as human beings. And there is some evidence in the emerging study of orgasm that orgasm can predispose people towards empathy, connection, and generosity. In my personal experience, orgasm magnifies and intensifies everyday experience not by altering it, but by revealing its true nature. Therefore the implications of conscious lovemaking for our health, happiness, and relationships holds potential.

The following are some personal impressions after watching OneTaste’s Intro to Orgasmic Meditation video and reading about it online. There is one particular video, a recorded talk by OneTaste founder Nicole Daedone, called The Changing Role of Men in Sex that I watched that somewhat resonated with my experience as a single man in New York for most of the previous 15 years. Especially the feelings of frustration, the avoidance, the aloofness, and the lack of any genuine talk about sex.

The Good…

  1. The first thing I became aware of is the attempt to a better understanding of a woman’s body and how it works. Sure, pointing this out might get me awarded the Captain Obvious Prize of the Week, but it is an important consideration. Many men simply do not know what the fuck we’re doing. We live in a culture that shrouds the female anatomy in such mystery that male sexual education mostly comes from porn (and not good porn at that) and a few very patient lovers. OM practice allows a man (or woman) to sit at a woman’s side while she opens, revealing her genitals, and focus all their attention on what is happening at the point of contact between finger and clit for the next 15 minutes. It’s such a sensitive part of the body that everything is amplified. A “stroker” gets to experience immediate feedback from the woman’s body when a stroke is more resonant or less resonant, and that kind of attunement to a woman’s body has to have an impact.
  2. Developing the awareness of and increasing the capacity to hold sensation in one’s body. The OM practice is deeply intimate. Imagine the experience: asking for a partner, making sure one is properly prepared, getting into position for the first time. The vulnerability of the practice can help some to feel and hold a tremendous amount of sensation in their body for longer than previously accustomed. This kind of regulation can help in sex, in relationships, and even in having difficult conversations in our personal and professional lives. In any case, becoming more comfortable in being present with sensations, allowing that tension to build, and not needing to get rid of it right away, can lead to experiences that can yield new insights and feelings.
  3. Not feeling the pressure to “perform” or freedom from performance anxiety is definitely a benefit that can be derived from this practice. Many men will not admit it, but performance anxiety is a big problem for men. I mean, your dick has to get hard on demand regardless of the situation and “fast sex” is all about sexual acrobatics. Sometimes this can be overwhelming. And no, Viagra is not the solution. Your dick might get hard, but the psychological anxiety can still remain. Regardless, so much goes into meeting a woman and getting to a place where there might be the possibility of sex that, in the end, this pressure backfires. Intimacy, or sexing, should be an enjoyable experience free of competition and sexual agendas.

The Bad…

  1. But there are some drawbacks that I noticed. Most prominently, the language and practice is heteronormative and I think that’s problematic, especially considering the issue of power that will always come up in a sexual context.
  2. Also, I think the practice exposes women to a very vulnerable situation. I mean, who wants to lay spread-eagled as a stranger diddles her clitoris in a roomful of other strangers? I’m not sure how workshop facilitators address this issue because I’ve never attended one, but I think most women would feel very exposed. Handled correctly, this could be a powerful practice, but I have no clue how this is handled in an actual workshop.
  3. Finally, does Orgasmic Meditation really do what it claims to do? I’m not sure.

Still, I can see this as a powerful exercise with a willing partner or those of us who want to navigate sexual innovative practices in a safe manner. I think that it can be beneficial for both men and women and gender non-conforming people to explore their bodies and perhaps travel through sexual territories normally closed to us. Perhaps this can be one way to answer the questions of how do women know for sure if they are climaxing. What if the sensation they have associated with climax is actually one of the lower reaches of arousal? And how does a woman know when if she has had an orgasm?

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

If you would like to donate to this blog and support my writing, you can do so by clicking HERE. You can also give via PayPal HERE.

Sunday Sermon [F.E.A.R.]

Hola Everybody,
This election cycle is, among many other things, a reminder how fear-based living creates suffering. It also embraces authoritarianism and I’m not talking about the Orange One.

Feeding the Demon

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Fear: Fuck Everything And Run

 

The following is based on a true event, but it reminds of a story I read about a long time ago…

I took the train one night and, as is often the case on weekends, the NYC mass transit system (MTA) is a complicated mess. Most of the construction and structural upgrades occur during the weekends, so trains are re-routed, stations by-passed and it’s almost impossible to keep track. As a result, there are usually mobs of clueless tourists moving about aimlessly in our transit system. As a result, part of being a New Yorker is often adopting the duty of a de facto tour guide.

And so it was that night, when a tourist (don’t ask, you can tell) approached me for assistance. I assured her the oncoming train would take her to her destination (she and I were getting off on the same stop) and, as she struck up small talk, the train began to roll into the station.

As we entered, I immediately sensed something weird in the car. Everyone seemed tense and, sure enough, there was a person talking very loud, using profanity, and it had everyone ill-at-ease. As a New Yorker you learn to ignore such outbursts. Paying too much attention, or being obvious about one’s attention, often serves to encourage unwanted behavior. So being able to ignore unusual behavior becomes second nature to most New Yorkers. Unfortunately, Tourist Lady wasn’t a New Yorker and she committed infraction no.1: she made eye contact with the individual, who seemed especially belligerent. I took her by the elbow, guiding her to a transit map with the outward intention of showing her where she should get off. My real intention was to try to deflect the unwanted attention she was unwittingly inviting. I hoped that this would help sever the connection between Belligerent Subway Dude and Tourist Lady.

No dice…

Belligerent Dude, who was apparently drunk, sidles up to us and asks Tourist Lady if she needs some assistance with directions. Tourist Lady (who’s not drunk, merely naïve), answers, in what could have been construed as a snobby dismissal, that no, she didn’t need help (and I believe she even threw in a little eye-roll to boot).

This, of course, sets Belligerent Dude off who starts in on her, making comments about her that weren’t too nice. Naïve Tourist Lady, instinctively edges closer to me and realizes, too late, that she probably shouldn’t have paid any mind to Belligerent Dude because he’ drunk. Belligerent Dude thinks she is a snobby bitch and expresses that sentiment for all to hear.

Belligerent Dude begins talking about Tourist Lady’s breasts, her legs, I mean, he’s just going off on her, and I know she’s embarrassed. Out of the blue, from the other end of the car, a man yells out, “Shut the fuck up, already!” and Belligerent Dude, as if on cue, goes off on that individual. In fact, he threatens the individual, who I shall call Fake Brave Guy, with a severe “beat down.” Once Fake Brave Guy realizes that he will have to exert more than bravado in order to handle Belligerent Dude, he backs off a little, but Belligerent Dude, who’s also a big dude, gets right in Fake Brave Guy’s face and challenges him — actually calls him a “fuckin pussy,” adding that he will “kick his motherfuckin ass” for good measure.

Fake Brave Guy suddenly remembers the next stop is his and quickly makes his exit. Of course, I’m sitting there hoping Belligerent Dude finds something else to do, but fuckin Tourist Lady is still staring at him. So, Belligerent sits right across from us and continues his running commentary on Tourist Lady’s physical attributes. And I’m sitting there thinking that reading my ebook is all I want to do. And now, he’s starting to get on my nerves.

Finally, I tell Belligerent Dude, “Listen man, why you gotta disrespect me like that? Can’t you see she’s with me? I mean, how would you like it if someone talked about your woman like that right in front of you? That shit ain’t right… ” I added a few choice words of my own and stared right into his eyes, hoping that my once vaunted psycho-I-don’t-give-a-fuck-look hadn’t softened from lack of use, but it wasn’t working. Tourist Lady also chose this point in time to move away from me a little, apparently undecided whether I was the pan or the fire. In other words, my psycho look worked on her rather than on Belligerent Dude.

Belligerent Dude responded by informing me that he was, in fact, on his way to meet his woman, and if anybody spoke to his woman in the manner that he was speaking to Tourist Lady (now my woman), he would kick that motherfucker’s ass. It was an obvious challenge, but one I was determined to ignore.

I looked at him as if I was tired and before I could say anything more, an older man sat next to Belligerent Dude and, in a soothing voice, began talking to him. At first Belligerent Dude was hostile to the old man, but because the old man was non-threatening and seemed genuinely interested in him — asking him about his girlfriend and how she was — Belligerent Dude directed his focus from me and started talking to the old man.

In a loud voice, Belligerent Dude began talking about his woman, in the process enumerating all her great qualities, and how he couldn’t wait to see her. The old man continued in this vein, asking more questions, and generally managing to communicate the feeling that he was interested in Belligerent Dude’s story — in him as an individual. Eventually, as Belligerent Dude continued to vent and he disclosed more and more, he revealed that he hadn’t seen his woman in a long time, and that he wasn’t sure that she would see him, and with the old man’s prompting, Belligerent Dude’s tough facade cracked a little as he continued to talk.

He had just come out of jail, he told the old man, and he didn’t really have anyone. All he had, he said, was that he was headed to the last known address of the woman he loved, but he was afraid that she wouldn’t be there, or if she was, if she would even accept him.

As the train arrived at my stop and I got off (with Tourist Lady close behind), the last thing I saw was the old man comforting Belligerent Dude, who had completely broken down sobbing like a child…

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Sunday Sermon [On Fear]

Hola mi gente,
The overriding theme of the current election cycle is fear. In her attempt to make a case for herself as a viable presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton went the conservative route and went all-out to stoke fear. It was almost obscene. “Donald Trump” was mentioned more times than anything else. I guess the case for Hillary is, “vote for me because Donald Trump.” Disgusting…

Today, I bring back one of my favorite teachers, Pema Chödrön, who offers us a lesson on, yes, you guessed it: Fear

How to Battle Fear

07-31-16_ Sunday Sermon [On Fear]

Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear. “

— Pema Chödrön, from: When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

* * *

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

The Friday Sex Blog [Flowery Combat]

Hola mi gente,
I want to see the new Bourne. On another note, I refused to watch either political convention as, in my analysis, both parties are irrelevant. Both are as two dogs shackled to the same stake: capitalism. Fuck them…

Some of you will see this as sexist, it’s not…

Flowery Combat

07-29-16_ Sex Blog [Flowery Combat]

And how could I possibly have known
that all my martial arts
would fail me
against the flowers and the laughter
that were your forward troops,
the outstretched heart
of your army?

 

Dearest:

You are attracted to mutual sexual energy. Yes, it is true that you love your friends and family as well as your lover. But the unique aspect of intimate relationship is not love; its uniqueness is due to the attraction of the polarity between the masculine and the feminine — the yin and yang of sexual attraction.

Every man and woman embodies both masculine and feminine energies, although each individual’s proportion is unique. This proportion determines your sexual gifts. It also influences whom you will find sexually attractive and who will be attracted to you.

Let’s try this for a minute. If you had to choose, would you prefer sex with someone who is radiantly alive, fresh and juicy, longing to surrender to your loving — or with someone of deep integrity who sees through to your heart and wants to take you with confidence, passion, and total presence?

If you have more masculine sexual essence, then you will be attracted to a more feminine lover. By feminine essence I mean to describe the feeling of light, which feels as love and shines as all life. A feminine lover will spread open as radiance, full of life-force, yearning to open as love and to receive your deep love. A feminine lover’s smile can literally light up your life and inspire your heart. Most women and some men have a more feminine sexual essence. (And please: having a more feminine sexual essence has nothing to do with juvenile notions of manhood, or a lack thereof.)

If your sexual essence is more feminine, then you will be attracted to a more masculine lover. By masculine here I mean to describe the quality of consciousness. In this context consciousness is manifested as a deep and penetrating presence. A masculine lover will take and ravish you with deep and intense loving. A masculine lover can crack you open and expose the heart of a moment with humor.

If you are like most people, heterosexual or homosexual, then you don’t have a balanced sexual essence. Everybody has some feminine and masculine characteristics — especially on the surface. But deep down where it really matters, in the heart of your heart’s desires, your sexual essence is probably quite noticeably more masculine or more feminine. Deep down you desire to ravish or be ravished sexually, whether or not you have that opportunity to enjoy this depth of loving in your life.

The masculine and the feminine are the Yin and Yang of love’s play — they attract each other like magnets. Because of that, you will attract a lover whose essence is your polar opposite, a lover who, deep down, wants to take what your enjoy giving, who wants to give what you enjoy taking. And it is within this polarity that lies the delicious torture, this dance of love, this “flowery combat” of intimacy.

Yet the very thing about your lover that drives you to bliss, will also drive you crazy. The lover who really turns you out in your sexual heart will also frustrate you to no end in the more mundane, superficial parts of your life. For example, if you have a feminine essence, then your masculine lover’s confidence will turn you on, except when he or she is rushing like a bull in a china shop when discussing your feelings in a moment of conflict. If you have a masculine essence, then your feminine lover’s spontaneity and liquid sexual responsiveness will turn you on, except during times of psycho hysteria and unpredictable shutdowns.

In moments of deep connection and communion, the masculine and feminine open as an extraordinary gift — two facets of one jewel, two facets of one reality. But in the more mundane moments, the shallower, everyday-dust-of-life moments, their differences can clash. For example, when trying to communicate something verbally, the masculine wants to understand the problem and get to the point, looking for a conversation that will travel as straight a line from point A to point B and hopefully with a resolution when all is said and done. The feminine sees talking as it would a dance, as a way to connect to feeling, to be together, enjoying the currents of a shared life-energy.

What often happens, the more masculine partner gets frustrated by the feminine’s seemingly impractical style, while the more feminine partner is frustrated by the masculine’s strict adherence to a know-it-all matrix of The Way Shit Really Is.

Deep intimacy is based not on getting what you want, nor on compromising yourself, but on giving the deepest gifts of your sexual essence. Observe your superficial masculine need to solve a problem or your superficial feminine need to connect with your partner emotionally, and instead, offer your deepest heart and open completely to the moment.

If your feminine lover is babbling on about nothing in particular, offer your deep and unrelenting presence without turning away or zooming out; penetrate your feminine lover’s heart with your gift of absolute presence.

If your masculine lover has reduced life to problems, solutions, and projects, overwhelm your lover like a monsoon of liquid light, soak your lover in love’s deep waters.

The masculine: “I am consciousness, and you are mine, my bright bitch.”
The feminine: “I am light. Take me… if you dare!”

Manifesting as feminine radiance and attending as masculine consciousness, every moment opens as one conscious light. Play your differences with humor, opening as one, loving as two.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…