Sex, Yoga & Spirituality

PC: Energy is Everything

I woke up this morning thinking about sex. Er.. ok let me rephrase that.. I woke up at 4 and then after my 2 hour practice, chanting, japa, meditation, etc, I got to thinking about sex. I got to thinking about sex in a very objective way (with some subjective inputs, of course) but I started off with a few questions that I have asked myself and friends before and have very compelling answers (again, subjective input).. 🙂 but this is what I started with:

  1. Does one have to be naked to have sex? Can fully clothed sex – yes, your underwear comes off for this question – but can fully clothed sex be equally powerful?
  2. Have you experienced the mindblowing experience of a non penetrative orgasm? (not referring to manual or oral or any kind of mechanical stimulation)

As an anatomy educator and a yoga practitioner/teacher, I have explored this area in many ways – physically, and intellectually and also looked at the philosophical / spiritual dimensions of how this is approached.

Firstly, my answers to the questions above:

Ans 1. No, one does not have to strip completely for powerful and pleasurable sex. Some of the most intimately profound experiences can be had in most used and greyed out cotton nightgowns or sleep T-shirts

Ans 2. Yes!

So, this isn’t a post on my personal experiences (haha!) but a sharing of thoughts that arose this morning on the importance of the aspect of sex & sexuality in spirituality.

I’ll start with the second point of discussion – the non penetrative orgasm. There is a common myth that sexual stimulation needs an object as a precursor – someone we have a crush on, porn, our own long term partners/spouse, etc. to possibly even think about and then get on with the motions. The next part would be either engaging in the act with them or by yourself – regardless of foreplay…. until the goal of the activity, the big O is achieved – either simultaneously (if with partners), or at different times, or sometimes even not. (btw, an orgasm isn’t the end goal of great sex!)

The actual sensation of an orgasm is a deeply psychosomatoneurological response that cannot really be explained in words. although there are a number of physiological responses that show up.

In spiritual context, however, an orgasm is often likened very closely to the bliss and ananda of merging with the supreme consciousness, brahman – that experience of union when nothing else exists but for a sense of completion or purnatva – realised after coming out of it.

Some years ago, while exploring this idea, I had stumbled upon the practice of sexual awareness to the point of coordinating the breath of partners while making love. Interestingly, even if one partner would attempt to match their breath with the other’s, the experience was significantly more intimate and powerful. Ask me, I know. So, the coordinated breath along with all the other motions of sexual intimacy (communication, consideration, care and presence, etc) all allowed for a state of uniformity and synchronous movement of mind, body & breath – and a very closely matching state of consciousness. I didn’t keep track, but I would say the orgasm was usually deeply powerful and simultaneous and embodied a tremendously euphoric psychospiritual response.

In later years, I worked with this idea of breath with and without any objects of stimulation – with meaning, a mental image or an incident or a conducive mental environment; without meaning purely focusing on my own breath directed towards my body. Guess what? It was possible to replicate the same sensation! Not just once, many times over the years. No partner required! (erm.. no hands or external devices required either!)

I’ll let you do your own further research on that science …. and I’ll circle back to the spirituality of sex that I was thinking of today.

So, an orgasm is likened very closely to the feeling of completeness as in merging with Brahman. It is also a sense of union of two bodies (let’s stick to two for the sake of simplicity for now) – bodies that have a mind and sense of spirit too. The ‘sexual act’. then, becomes a deeply spiritual one – almost an act of worship – and not just one of carnal desire. It is the union of two bodies, minds and souls – the partners being the medium for each other to experience that blissful glimpse towards a deeper spiritual pursuit. The physical bodies and their actions stimulating, nudging and encouraging each other towards that experience.

Sexual intimacy, thus, becomes a sacred act of worshipping the Divine through out bodies and not an act to be taken lightly.

Orgasmic pleasure, however, can be very ‘addictive’, for lack of a better word, because it is a momentary glimpse into the purnatva (completeness) that we seek in moksha. Anything less than a feeling of wholeness may disturb us and an orgasm gives us that momentary satisfaction. However, this desire may lead some individuals to an addiction to sexual activity that may not always be available through one partner and may lead to sexual promiscuity.

Sexual experience is often said to leave an energetic imprint on sexual partners. Multiple partners, may dissipate the energy further – especially when emotional intimacy is lacking in the act. The search for spiritual compatibility / partnership / companionship may be missing completely from the encounters leaving behind a deeper sense of desolation and incompleteness…. opening the doors for a vicious cycle of sexual addiction and multiple partners in the search for completeness.

This spiritual idea has often been presented as a moralistic and virtue signalling calling for monogamy with the spiritual pleasure of sex subsequently devolving into to a mere perfunctory act – at best to procreate, at worst to violate, dominate and control another body.

The human condition, then, is still yearning for deeper answers. (psst – yes, the answers lie beyond our genitalia!) They may not always be in sex, for the pursuit of moksha, liberation, is one that we are all in for, even if we’re unaware of it. (Think of the number of times we’ve said that we wished all this pain & suffering we gone! Yes, moksha)

Shastras understood this. The Kama Sutra is not just a compendium of sexual positions. It is a scripture on the erotic arts! A scripture expounding the means for people to explore liberation through their sexual senses and organs – sexual stimulation being one of the strongest. Sexual partners were lovers who cared for each other so deeply that the entire courtship, foreplay, intercourse, ensuing pleasure and culminating experience of orgasm is a journey for them to explore together.

Further, think of the spiritual energy that we refer to the kundalini shakti, that we understand to be dormant in the mooladhara chakra – the root chakra – the point that can be stimulated easily enough in the female anatomy. The male body requires a knowledgeable approach to access the mooladhara. There is a reason why the Kama sutra gives the various positions. I believe it is a way to get the partners to help each other in raising the energy from the mooladhara through the anahata (heart chakra) and towards the sensation of a higher chakra / energetic experience (a.k.a. the Big O)

In fact, even Adi Shankara, after winning his debate with Mandana Misra, was left without answers to the quesions posed by Mandana Misra’s wife, Ubhaya Bharati, on the erotic arts and sciences! Knowing this to be an area that needed experiential response, Shankaracharya used siddhis to learn, comprehend & understand these and came back to her with answers that sealed his victory in the debate and also established the path towards spiritual knowledge, jnana, through overcoming the passion & lust. (You can Google for the complete story)

I didn’t have any objective for this post. It was just a putting out there of the thought process and multiple ideas that surfaced on the topic that usually gets a lot of eyeballs because it is the very starting point of our existence. Rational debunking of shastra at this point is not invited – simply because the study of shastras cannot be contemplated by a rational mind. It just is. The texts usually are highly poetic & symbolic with a style rich in metaphors and literal translations often lead to misinterpretation and an ignorant / unproductive debate that I will not engage in currently. I am talking about sex, which is much more interesting.

Hope you enjoyed a moment with the thoughts that go on in my head on random days. I just felt that this one needed some documentation even if it is just for me to revisit sometime in the future.

So…. let me know what you think! Open to comments, ideas, thoughts….

Strictly No Propositioning.

The Path Appears

My oldest turned 18 today. 18 years ago today a mother was born too. Today, I share, that I am reborn. Here’s what happened..

A few months ago, I observed that my swadhyaya was drawing me to different experiences. Initially, for lack of a better description, I believed it was my yoga. Turns out, yoga was just being the means to slowly clear the blur away from what was to be my path – my way forward.

Let me not make it sound more mystical than it already is.. because it is!

Over the past months, my study shifted to Vedic texts and scriptures – I was spurred by a deeper sense of inquiry. I was both curious and nudged with something inexplicable towards a newer and slowly evolving sense of faith & devotion – Bhakti?

But at the same time, there was a sense of ‘restless calm’ – does that make sense? Because this sense of calm happened all through the lockdown. So this entire period that we were in a lockdown, I welcomed wholeheartedly. I, who was always was out & about, with people, at events, at classes, lectures and sessions, welcomed the time alone with open arms.

Time withdrawal from activity gave me an opportunity to still myself and immerse fully into self reflection. Until, slowly, I started feeling myself settle more assuredly into the teachings of my lineage. This time, however, the teachings ran deeper, urging me to a better understanding.

I reached out to two people who knew me well enough to give a sense a direction and understanding.

My teacher gave me a clearer explanation of his path and journey. It helped me understand who were before me, how the path was laid, etc.

And then, I spoke to my dear friend, teacher, and whom I call my Spiritual Wikipedia, Swami Yogaratna Saraswati and just blurted out what I was experiencing. I knew, I felt, I sensed, but some things I just couldn’t put into words. Yet, she understood.

I told her how I felt like the lineage, the sampradaya and the parampara felt like a homecoming of sorts. She just smiled and nodded away – both in knowing and in excitement. All she said was, “Write to Swami Satyasangananda at Rikhia.”

It took me a month to write to Rikhia.

Not because I was lazy, no! I thought about what I would write every single day. But I couldn’t bring myself to. I felt like it was intrusive, I felt like I wasn’t worthy. I just didn’t write that email.

On the last day of the Sri Lakshmi Narayana Mahayajna, while in meditation, I ‘saw’ & ‘heard’ Swami Sivananda, “Write to Rikhia now.” I had goosebumps all over then, and I have goosebumps all over now as I think of it…. So I did just that. I wrote to Swami Satyasangananda – pouring out my story – my past, my present and what I thought I saw for myself as a future…

I recognized that for all my exuberance, I was eventually, slowly but surely stepping on to the path of renunciation. My path had appeared from within my lineage – from right where I was.

My sadhana was taking me on my path towards sannyasa.

What followed over the next few weeks is quite hard to explain in words. One day flowed into the next. My swadhyaya took on a meaning of its own – every moment was alive – even when I was angry or frustrated with the demands of motherhood, the sensation was amplified – the awareness even more profound! Yet, I was immersed in spiritual activity almost every moment! I had my sadhana time, I had my swadhyaya, I had my teaching time and I had loads of learning opportunities.

And right in the middle of all that nurturing and energy, I was initiated by Swami Satyasangananda. Was it overwhelming? Not exactly… Was it exciting? Not quite so either… The whole experience is something I am actually at a loss to ‘explain’, but it gives me joy, it uplifts me and at the same time it gives me the awareness of a sense of responsibilty and accountability, because..

Swami Satyasangananda also gave me my spiritual name – a name that is on the lips of every disciple on the path of the self, a ‘word’ that has generated controversy over its inappropriate usage and a word that represents everything and nothing at the same time.

My spiritual name is Om.

I have spent the last 48 hours absorbing this – embracing this. Again, the feeling cannot be explained. It is an amalgamation of joy and overwhelm, deep respect, humility, a unshakeable sense of responsibility and accountability of action and everything… But I didn’t know how to really start embodying my name.

Here’s where Swami Yogaratna’s words came to the rescue.

“Just start using it!”, she said after sending me a screenshot of her phone contacts where she has already renamed my entry!

It helps, you see, having someone who’s on the path share their life with you. Swami Yogaratna is a wonderful resource & friend. I can be me and still get perspective especially when it comes to so many common experiences that it almost feels like she’s replying to questions I’m still processing in my head!

I’ll leave you this time, with this nugget from Swamiji to spur me on!

“I was given it when I got mantra diksha, around 2 weeks after entering the ashram. I took karma sannyas a few months later and poorna sannyas less then a year later, keeping the same name. I didn’t like the name coz it didn’t have ‘Ananda’ at the end like everyone else’s and coz it sounded hard to me, harsh sound . They used to call me yogarat and swamiji warned them that if they called me that, I’d become that so they stopped. Then I felt it’s a difficult name to live up to and only recently I’m beginning to realise it’s power and benefit.”

Swami Yogaratna Saraswati

So, this is my first step in owning my path. Here is where I share with you all that I am slowly embracing the significance of my name as if I’m wearing a new coat and buttoning it up with a sense of purpose. Measuring myself for walking the path and showing up in the truest sense of who I can possibly become with the grace.

To close, as Swamiji says, “It is such a fun & short name!” My mum said, “It is a spiritual name. I like it!” As my friend Shobhit said, “It will be remembered every time someone or even when I chant it. And as my other friend, Savira, said, “It has benefits for anyone who says Om!”

Yoga family, to you, I say, “Here I am. I am Om.”

Follow this blog for My experiences on the path.