Eros Energy

Our sexual energy is commonly also called erotic energy.  The word erotic derives from the Greek god Eros.  Eros was the god of love but it is the love of life that he celebrates.  The word erotic has come to be reduced to meaning sexual but its true meaning is far broader.  Since the term “erotic” has too many modern cultural limitations I prefer to call it Eros energy.

To the ancient Greeks, Eros energy was wild, passionate, fiery and fierce.  Eros It was the raw power of life force itself.  That power may express itself in many ways, of which sexuality is only one aspect.  When we allow our bodies to dance without limitation, when we roar with joy at a sporting victory, when we throw ourselves into any physical activity with our totality, this is Eros energy.  When we are total in our lovemaking, this is Eros energy.   Eros energy gives rise to pleasure.

When we feel pleasure we feel it in our bodies.  It is this Eros energy that we are feeling, whether it is sexual pleasure or simply the pleasure of some delicious food or the pleasure of having done some really good exercise.  These pleasures are of the body, felt and experienced in the senses, which we may feel as sensual or sexual, depending on the nature of the experience.

However, pleasure and the accompanying Eros energy can feel dangerous.  They may feel uncontrolled or unpredictable.  Eros, for the ancient Greeks, was something to be embraced cautiously, mindful that it could get out of control.  The raw potency of uncontained Eros energy could be disruptive and destructive.   It became important then to contain and control this energy, to ensure that stability and order are maintained in society.  Too much Eros energy and too much pleasure could mean that people do not go to work, they do not honour their relationships, they become focused selfishly on their personal hedonistic pleasure without thought of others and their boundaries.  So the pleasure principle and this Eros energy were suppressed.

This is one of the primary functions of civilisation as it has developed – to cut us off from our primal instinctual behaviours.  If we surrendered to our Eros energy, we would no longer be useful, functional members of society.  We would become self-indulgent and too raw and uncontrolled in our emotions.  These twin energies of sex and anger that have been outsourced in our culture.  Sex (desire) is projected onto objects.  Our yearning for the latest gadget, this season’s handbag or top, all sold so often with sexual imagery, is the displaced projection of our sexual longing.  The “stuff” of modern life that we all accumulate becomes in effect a set of fetishistic objects onto which we project our desire.  “If only I had this handbag/watch/new iphone, I’d be happy.”

Anger is projected out onto “the dangerous other” – until 25 years ago that was the Soviet Union (although now Russia is taking up that role once more, so far as the West is concerned).  More recently is has been Al Qaeda, or ISIS and the Islamic State and so on.  So our primal urges are displaced and made “safe” within our culture.

This displacement comes at enormous cost.  We become disconnected from our bodies and unconsciously disown our sexual drives, allowing ourselves to be satisfied with the scraps of desire that we feel are permitted to us. 

It is even more so in sex.  Too often we tell ourselves that we couldn’t express that desire, because it wouldn’t be understood, it wouldn’t be acceptable, we would be rejected – and we would feel shame for having the desire in the first place.  Our culture so deeply suppresses free sexual expression that we so naturally internalise this that by the time we are adults we barely need anyone to judge us, we simply do it ourselves.

The problem with “Masculine” and “Feminine”

In the new world of relationships and the new age sex and spirit movement, the terms masculine and feminine have been co-opted to apply to a range of behavioural characteristics.

This new approach, often arising from tantra and Taoist traditions helped to broaden out many people’s understanding of traditional male and female roles by using spiritual language. In tantra the masculine principle is depicted as Shiva, the feminine as Shakti. Shiva is said to be consciousness, direction, purpose, stillness. Shakti is defined as energy, flow, emotion, movement.

So to be in your Shiva (masculine) means to be conscious and have direction. Many in those circles would say that it is about having a purpose or mission in life. David Deida, a popular writer on this topic writes “Your purpose must come before your relationship”, and “if you’re playing the masculine role in the relationship it’s your responsibility…to make decisions”.

The problem is that these characteristics sound a lot like the old paradigm of “the man must make the decisions, the woman must follow him” or “men do the thinking, women are emotional”. A lot of qualities of the new age view of masculine and feminine relationships simply mirror the old paradigm with new language, masking a kind of male superiority behind a veneer of spirituality and reverence. On the surface this appears to be a respect and honouring of the feminine, but at a deeper level I feel that it perpetuates the sexist stereotypes of old school thinking about men and women.

These positions are justified by saying that the masculine and feminine qualities occur in both men and women (what about transgender persons, I wonder?) New ageists would argue that by removing the construct of “male” and “female” and relabeling them as “masculine” and “feminine” they free the stereotypes from their gender identities.

The problem is that nothing that we think can arise from beyond the episteme in which it occurs. Our thinking is always coloured by the social soup in which it arises, influenced by endless years of social ideas about what it means to be “male” or “female” and so on. As soon as we apply labels that we understand to derive from a gender-based paradigm, we instantly apply all the social constructions we have about those roles to them, no matter how consciously we try not to.

So why do so many continue to assert the importance of these masculine and feminine roles? It seems to me that the significance of these constructs comes from the potency of polarity. Masculine and feminine (irrespective of gender) are understood to be opposite energies and like the poles of a magnet create a strong resonance and mutual attraction. 

If we throw out ideas of masculine and feminine aren’t we risking ending up with a soup of sameness that denies the power of this attraction? My response to this is that polarity is indeed a powerful force for attraction – but we need to separate it from the gender-associated constructs that have been applied to it.

So, polarities like stillness and movement, dominance and submission, wildness and “domesticated” (think Beauty and the Beast) are mutually exciting. Let’s not lose the passion of polarity but split it out from the meaning-laden terms of masculine and feminine.

It is only by identifying the importance of the polarity in its own right without applying thousands of years of gender stereotyping to it that we can begin to move beyond the old paradigm that has created such conflict and mutual suspicion between genders.




Slow down, you move too fast


Our whole culture tells us that we should do more, do it faster, do it now – not just in sex but also in everything we do. All these messages may lead us to feel that we should speed up and that packing in more experiences, more work, more play is good. In sex the opposite is more often true.

Instead of speeding up we would suggest that you would benefit much more from slowing down. Fast sex has a certain type of energy that can feel delicious on some occasions but overall we have found that slowing things down leads to much deeper and more authentic sex.

If we focus on speeding up sex we are in effect getting it over with as fast as possible. It is a strange contradiction about sex that whilst many people spend a huge amount of their time thinking about sex, when they are in a sexual experience most rush towards orgasm, which is actually the discharge of that sexual energy. It is as though they cannot wait to get rid of the sexual energy and stop feeling it in their system. The impulse of sexual desire seems for many people to move as fast as possible and therefore have sex end as soon as possible. This does not arise from fact these people are not enjoying sex, but rather because they feel unable to hold greater amounts of sexual energy.

You might imagine this as though a person’s sexual energy is like water. Imagine that the person has a container to hold their sexual energy. The container can only hold so much energy. Once it is full any extra energy would spill over and could not be contained. Most people only have a very small container for their sexual energy. If the energy they hold becomes more than they are used to, they may feel that it is “too much” and start to edit it or discharge it by having fast sex or by releasing the energy through orgasm and ejaculation, usually in the case of men.

Part of the process of learning to have more meaningful and authentic sex is to increase the size of your container. Size matters – but not the way you learnt it did from pornography! Do you know how you feel as you begin to allow more sexual energy into your system without rushing to discharge it? Again by being present with what is there in each moment you can become aware of more subtle sensations.

The tendency for most people is to chase orgasm and to get to that place as fast as possible. When we do this we feel the euphoric release of orgasm or ejaculation but if we have rushed to get there, the amount of pleasure we can feel will typically be small compared to what is possible. Imagine a balloon being filled with air. If we burst the balloon after a few breaths into it, when it bursts there will be a small pop. However if we fill the balloon to it capacity before bursting it, there will be a satisfyingly large explosion since more pressure and tension has built up in the balloon.

The same is true of orgasm. The faster we reach orgasm, the less intense and satisfying it will be. By slowing down we give ourselves the possibility to increase the erotic tension and this will feel even more pleasurable when it is released. Building sexual energy slowly over time not only gives us more intense pleasure but also creates a heightened sense of anticipation.

The longer gratification is delayed the better it feels when we finally let ourselves go there. Long slow periods of bodily caress and foreplay build erotic tension. Focusing on the whole body and its pleasure moves the energy away from the genitals and incorporates the whole body into the experience of pleasure. Slowing down touch on the genitals themselves allows us to increase the erotic energy there before we let ourselves discharge it.

Slowing down not only increases the amount of erotic energy we are holding in our system but also gives us awareness of new and subtler levels of sexual feelings.

Sensual vs Sexual Energy

Sex is such a variety of activities, that the only thing they have in common is the energy that arises in us; the felt experience. As suggested, this energy can move from not being felt at all to a highly charged state. How does his happen? How do we create the flow of desire that allows us to experience sex as a process, happening over time? The clue is to look at the difference between sensual and sexual energy.

Sensual energy refers to the experience arising from our senses; from smell, touch, taste, sound and a felt sense. Sensuality is a whole body experience in the sense that all body parts and all senses are able to experience pleasure, and a sensual experience is defined by creating a general sense of wellbeing. Because sensuality arises from the senses it is experienced in the moment, and it is an experience with no urge to ‘go anywhere’.

This is why we can be sensual, ‘cuddly’ with our friends, pets and children, where sexual energy would be inappropriate. In relation to others, sensual energy is therefore first and foremost a connective energy. It brings us into embodied presence with the other, which creates a sense of wellbeing. Neurologically, our parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which makes us feel relaxed, loving and open.

Sexual energy is different. Although sexual energy can be felt in the whole body, it has a specific focal point that gives it a particular quality. This focal point is mainly felt and experienced in the genitals, and even though other body parts can be stimulated, the main focus keeps returning to the genitals. Also, it is innately charged with an increasing intensity. Sexual energy gives us the feeling that it wants to “go somewhere”; it wants to peak in the orgasm and discharge the energy.

Compared to sensual energy as embodied presence, sexual energy therefore feels much more goal oriented. In essence it is a drive. It is the life force energy that wants to express itself. Connection and pleasure of the moment thus becomes secondary to this urge for the ultimate pleasure. It can feel like something, the energy itself, is taking over. We surrender, ultimately, to the orgasm; and in that we surrender to something greater than ourselves.

Fulfilling sex consists of an interplay between sensual and sexual energies. It is embodied presence with the other as well as life force energy wanting to express itself in the ultimate surrender. If we think that sex is about genital contact until we orgasm, we get trapped in a reductive idea of sex. This is very much the reductive focus of pornography. Ultimately this deprives us from the pleasure and energetic connection that is authentically experienced in the moment. By consisting of sensual and sexual energies, sex can be a full body, connective experience of flow. For this to happen we need to allow both sensual and sexual energies to arise and be expressed. Sensuality gives us the connectivity, and sexuality gives us the urge to surrender.

In understanding our desire, thus, we need to understand that sensual and sexual energies are both part of our sexual expression. Which one do we feel comfortable with, and which one would we like to express more fully?

Birthing trauma

As I continue to work with female clients, I have noticed how many have been effected by some form of birthing trauma. I’m beginning to realise that this is a significant and often unspoken issue in our society.

Statistics show that 25% of women will miscarriage at some time in their lives. According to the UK’s Department of Health, a further 200,000 women have terminations every year in the UK. Even the act of giving birth successfully may lead to trauma, with many women experiencing physical scarring and emotional difficulties afterwards. Many women have painful episiotomies or internal tearing as a result of giving birth which can effect sensitivity later as well as how they feel about themselves sexually.

Sometimes, partners see a woman differently after she has given birth and find it difficult to reconnect with their sexual desire for them. The woman herself may have difficulty in filling the role of mother whilst at the same time being sexual with her partner. In addition immediately post-partum the body is undergoing a massive hormonal shift and readjusting to its new situation.

The more I work the more I realise that this is a huge issue which many women are carrying without openly discussing it or seeking help to resolve it. I have repeatedly found when I perform bodywork either on the abdomen or internally (intra-vaginally), that a huge amount of grief is often stored in the body as a result of birthing trauma of one kind or another.

If you have a loving partner, he or she may be able to support you to release those emotions. Make sure you are in a safe, relaxed setting with plenty of time. Go slowly and don’t have expectations. Let them begin by massaging your belly all over. It’s a good idea to use oil to make it a more pleasurable experience. Gradually let them move their touch to the lower part of your abdomen, just above the pelvic bones and a few inches to either side. If you or your partner is especially sensitive you may even be able to feel your ovaries there. By gently massaging them, you may get in touch with old emotions which have been stored there. The purpose of this massage is to help you release them.

However, I would offer a word of caution before trying this at home. I would recommend that you do this only if you are in a safe, loving space and with a partner who is able to deal with a strong emotional response from the woman. Touching these places on the body may lead to intense releases of feelings and should only be done in a supportive environment.

If this feels too much to attempt with a partner or if you simply don’t have one then I would recommend seeking out professional help to guide you though this process.

Whatever approach you take, my hope is that you will be able to let go of any tensions that are held in your body and that this in turn will free you to feel more confident sexually.

The Nature of Desire

In helping us understand our sexual selves we need to understand the nature of desire. The basis of all desire is that most fundamental impulse to seek connection. I see this as a two-stage process and I could include in this not only desire for sex but also any type of desire. We cannot desire ourselves, much as we might narcissistically love and enjoy ourselves. All desire is a felt sense of longing for that which is “other” than us. If we already have it we cannot, by definition, desire it. We may enjoy it but we cannot desire it. Desire arises because of how we imagine we will feel within ourselves when we meet the object or our desire, whether that is another person, an event or an experience. We might desire a glass of wine or a good meal – because of how we experience our tongue or taste buds when we meet this other thing. We might long for contact with another person because of how we feel when we are with them. This understanding of desire also applies to internal sates. If we are feeling tired we might long to rest. If we feel stressed we may yearn for calmness. This is because we experience ourselves in relation to the “otherness” of that object or feeling.

It is only through the experience of contrast, that is to say “I feel like this” and “You feel like that” that we can experience ourselves. We might say therefore that our desire for anything arises out of a desire for contact and from a yearning to feel the otherness of that contact. It is the space between us and the other which creates the desire, the longing to have contact with them or it. This is the first stage of the process of desire, that is, the experience of self through contrast with the other.

When we merge with the otherness, as it is possible to do in profound lovemaking, we cease to experience ourselves as unique individuals and we become one with the other. Our bodies move in rhythm, our breath synchronizes, our heart seem to beat as one. If we are lucky enough and in tune enough to orgasm together there may be a deep sense of melting into one another. This merging with the other is the second stage of desire.

So on the one hand the nature of desire is to feel ourselves through the contrast with the otherness and on the other it is so that the felt otherness dissolves and we become one with the other. Eating a delicious meal or drinking the wine we become one with it, making love to the other we merge with them. We long for the otherness in order to feel connection it, to experience the return to one-ness. This then begins to have a spiritual quality to it. Fundamentally all spiritual traditions say that “God”, the divine, whichever form the tradition imagines exist, created the universe in order to feel itself because being one with everything he/she/it cannot experience itself. The nature of the universe, say the spiritual traditions, is that it is constantly striving to know itself as its true nature (that is one-ness) and to return to that sense of one-ness.

This is the universal cycle – the rotation between separation and unity.

How much can you give yourself permission for pleasure?

When it comes to sex, a lot of our thoughts, feelings and desires get edited out. So of what gets edited out is due to how we imagine our desires may be judged by others. We may feel uncomfortable in letting our partner know that we want to try something new or even experimental. It can be all too easy to think that our partner would never allow this or accept that desire within us. Their non-acceptance of our desires may lead us to feel shame or rejection.

However much we may like to put the responsibility for that sense of rejection on the other, it is ultimately our own relationship with our desires on which we need to work. Our reticence at sharing these thoughts comes from our own self-judgment and non-acceptance of our own impulses. Ultimately any relationship is a mirror of our feelings about our self. If we can accept our selves, then that will be mirrored back by those around us, including our loved ones. If we still feel shame or guilt a bout our sexuality then that is what will be mirrored back.

In a sense the whole experience of external reality is a projection of our own beliefs about life and our place in it. We see in others everything which is within us and I would suggest that when we met non-acceptance of our sexual self in others, it is to our own belief systems that we need to turn to resolve the dynamic.

Look at the places within yourself where you are not yet able to accept our sexual self? What acts or desires can you embrace and what do you judge as “wrong” or “dirty” or feel shame around? It is equally important to understand that any negative feelings about your sexuality arise in the first instance not from within but from what we learnt, usually as children.

Sexuality is, in essence, innocence. The sexual energy is our life force energy and is simply an impulse that yearns to be expressed. In childhood, we begin to express our sexual selves, either by exploring our bodies with natural, healthy curiosity or exploring the bodies of others (of around the same age) with the same attitude of enquiry. This is the most natural thing in the world. Problems arise when we experience the judgments of others (usually adults). “Good girls don’t do that”, “It’s not nice to touch yourself there!” and so on. Each of these comments, however well meant is a blow to our sexual freedom of expression and therefore to our sense of self.

To heal our sexual self and become whole once more, we need to regain our sense of innocence and to give ourselves permission to explore our sexuality once more with that childlike sense of curiosity and wonder that so easily gets lost. Once we can do this, we will heal the wounds of our sexuality which in turn allows us to integrate and express more of ourselves.

The miracle of life is that the more deeply we heal those wounds within ourselves, the more this is mirrored back from our partners and friends. Self-acceptance is the key is sexual freedom.

What is the hidden contract in your relationship?

All relationships are based on open and hidden dynamics. Part of why you are together is probably obvious to you – physical attraction, stability or excitement, making each other laugh and so on.  Most people have some sense of what it is about the other person which is attractive to them and why they chose to be with them. We could call this the Explicit Contract – it’s out in the explicit because both parties know it exists. There are many forms, but it might look something like this: “I’m with you because you make me laugh and I enjoy your company and in return, I will tell you how funny you are and that makes you feel good”. Another example could be physical attraction – “You’re hot and it makes me feel good to be with someone who is physically attractive or whom I find sexy. I tell you this and this makes you feel good”. Both people understand this is part of what the relationship is about and make an unspoken contract to abide by it.

However, what is more interesting is what lies deeper. It is these aspects, which I call Hidden Contracts that show up in abnormal situations and which can reveal a lot about the unseen dynamics within a relationship.

Let’s take an example to show you what I mean. A Hidden Contract might emerge when your man gets sick. If he is really ill, and unable to operate normally, the Explicit Contract might not be able to function normally – it’s not easy to be funny or sexy if you’re feeling at death’s door.

So what could happen to the relational dynamics in such a case? Maybe your man stops being “the provider” or “the strong one” and instead becomes a needy child, looking for his mother to take care of him. It’s probable that this was part of the relationship dynamic all along but other things could have masked it. When normal patterns of relating get disrupted is when these Hidden Contacts will pop up.

What if you man is no longer able to tell you how sexy you look or he is not able to make love to you? If part of your Hidden Contract is that you get your sexual sense of self-worth from you man telling you how hot you are and suddenly he is not able to do that because of illness, how does that feel? What if he isn’t well enough to have sex with you? What happens to your sexual needs then? If part of your Hidden Contract is that you relied on him to make sex happen or to make you feel good about yourself by these means, you may start to feel bad about yourself. You may blame him and get angry with him for getting sick.

However, when these hidden patterns show up, don’t despair. This is a beautiful opportunity to grow in your relationship and in yourself. Instead of relying on him to make you feel sexy, find the sexiness within yourself. Wear underwear that makes you feel good, maybe go and buy a new sex toy or explore erotic literature or other materials. Find the place within yourself that makes you feel good, and don’t rely on your partner for that sense of self-worth.

So, even though these Hidden Contracts can be uncomfortable when they are revealed, they are beautiful windows into a deeper way of relating. Explore them and you will move to even deeper ways of being with one another.

Inherited emotions and trauma

Have you ever wondered why it may be so hard to be happy? Why it can be so difficult to have a fulfilling relationship? It may be that part of the answer lies in our family history. Could it be that feelings of shame, insecurity or rage are inherited from our ancestors?

There is growing evidence that not only are biological traits such as eye colour inherited, but other less concrete characteristics are too. A recent study by the University of Zurich (April 2014) showed that early trauma in mice is carried to the following generations. Other studies in Israel on the effects of trauma (from a people whose history often contains the intensity of the Holocaust) have reached the same conclusion.

What if it was not just trauma which was passed on but a pre-disposition to any emotional state? My clinical work with family systems regularly shows that women who believe, for example, that “you can’t rely on anyone else” and develop an overly-strong sense of independence which creates barriers to relationship, often come from a long line of women who held similar beliefs, representing an accumulated ancestral energy.

I believe that we are in a unique position within our lineage to discharge those beliefs. Consider this – life up until, say, 100 years ago was hard. Most people struggled to make a living and to feed themselves. Survival was more a consideration than the luxury of emotion. It has only been in the late twentieth century that a standard of living enabled us to have the space to reflect on our emotions. As my grandmother used to say “we managed perfectly well without emotions in my day”. Now, no longer challenged with threats to our daily survival, we can instead explore less concrete pursuits.

When we are concerned with survival we will suppress emotions to get through what is. Thousands of years of suppressed emotion may have been handed to us at our birth. Since we are blessed to live in a culture which allows emotion, we may be the generations who are blessed – or cursed, depending on how you look at it, to release the trauma of millennia.

I believe that releasing emotion is an evolutionary phase. Until now our ancestors did not have the time or capacity to allow this. Nor did they have the tools. It was only in the late 19th century that from Freud onwards we had an understanding, outside of spiritual communities, of the nature of the unconscious and the therapeutic mechanisms to release emotions.

Current developments in therapy are leaning towards a more integrated body-mind approach which recognises the importance of the nervous system and the body in holding and releasing emotion. I believe this is also an evolutionary step.

Once we have released our emotional inherent baggage, we may then be able to move into a less emotionally volatile and more energetically sensitive state of being, which I believe is the next evolutionary step of humankind.

Wherever humanity goes next, we, in the current living generations, have been given the luxury of the time, the space and the tools to release our inherited emotional blocks. Use them wisely. If we release these it may just allow us to improve our quality of life and how we have relationships.

Own your desire

The majority of my work with women as a sex therapist is helping them give themselves permission to be the fully sexual beings that they naturally are. I believe that this is one of the most important pieces of work I can do with someone who has sexual issues and it arises from the suppressive nature of our male dominated society.

Our culture still tells us repeatedly and in subtle and not so subtle ways that women are allowed to be “sexy” – that is that they are permitted to evoke sexual desire (usually by looking a certain way which conforms with our society’s idea of idealised youth-centric beauty. Meanwhile, men are given permission to be “sexual” – that is to act out their sexual impulses and to express them. This is seen so clearly not only in pornography but in the media imagery around women and their bodies.

The sad thing is that men have done such a great job of suppressing female sexuality that most women have internalised the belief themselves. What, you may cry, not I! But ask yourself, do you really allow yourself to access your full desires? Do you dare to admit to yourself what you truly long for?

This denial of female sexuality means that both men and women suffer. When a women disowns her sexuality it is all too common to project that out onto others. Sexually active women become sluts and men become “only interested in one thing” or labeled as lewd, base, sex obsessed perverts or, at worst, potential abusers.

One of the reasons for the success of 50 Shades is, I suspect, that it gives women permission to get in touch with some of those long suppressed desires. It is only a relatively recent myth that men want sex more than women. Until 200 years ago, it was believed that women needed to orgasm in order to get pregnant. Sadly modern science in the 19th century disapproved that wonderful idea and with it the importance of female sexual pleasure declined and women’s pleasure assumed a less important role.

My experience is that when a woman truly gets in touch with her desire, it is stronger than in most men. As a man, unless you’re trained in Taoist or tantric practices of retaining your ejaculation (or you’re 20 years old) once guys have cum that’s usually them done for a bit. Women on the other hand, have the potential to have as many orgasms as they can handle.

This high libido caused men to fear the infidelity of their women and hence encourage the suppression of female sexuality. Most women have bought into this by believing that suppressing their desires to fit in a monogamous relationship is a fair trade for the supposed security it offers. Yet studies show that the numbers of women cheating in relationships is roughly the same as men.
The idea that women want emotional connection and men want physical sex is also a myth.
Women want sex for the sake of sex just as much as men, its just that they mostly don’t allow themselves to admit it. When they do, both men and women will be able to be more honest with one another and enjoy sex more!