Curated Readings and Resources for Cultivating and Honoring Pleasure
Following are some excerpts by Eric Francis, from www.Sexuality.org
If you want a revolution, liberating sexual pleasure is the place to start. And if all you want out of life is to be authentic, open-minded, creative and loving, opening up your sexual life-force is the heart of the matter. How do you do this? If you really want to be free, start with self-love. Learn to give yourself deep and satisfying orgasms, release your guilt and shame, and then watch what happens.
Guilt about sex is guilt about life. Guilt about your own sexuality and shame around your pleasure mean that you are struggling for life. Give up the struggle. Just come into yourself and be alive.
Many of us are in some kind of crisis, living in a state of overload or feeling out of control; many of us are looking for direction, and in response, we're seeking some form of spiritual enlightenment.
Virtually all enlightenment programs teach that love is the answer to everything, and many speak about loving yourself as the essential ingredient to this state of mind. The Golden Rule is to "love thy neighbor as thyself," but notice that nowhere is there mention of physical self-love and self-pleasuring. Of course, if religion let on that giving yourself great orgasms was the easiest way to find God, love and freedom, you would probably have reasons for knocking on your neighbor's door other than borrowing a cup of sugar.
Banning pleasure is a brilliant business plan. You feel sexuality as a natural part of being alive. Since (according to the priest, minister, rabbi, guru, independent counsel, or whoever) sexuality is very, very bad, you will naturally feel guilty and shameful. Therefore, you need religion or products to save you. And then you are under control, making regular donations, and spreading The Word rather than the revolution.
The formula is simple: If you want to control a person, control their sexuality. If you want to control a society, make sex a crime or a disease. If you're a modern business, such as a clothing, liquor, car or cigarette company, and you want to make a lot (I mean a lot) of money, tap into the endless well of deeply-ingrained religious repression, and sell people back an illusion of their sexuality. Use their insatiable desire, put a sexy woman next to the car or posing with the cigarette, and promise deep and total fulfillment. Then watch your stocks go up.
Advertising pumps out repetitive messages, called "memes." The one thing most memes have in common is the running theme, "You are not good enough the way you are. You are insecure. You suck. You are not popular / cool / hot / hip / beautiful enough. You smell, you're not sexy, you're really ugly and you should really hate yourself. But if you buy this product, you will be fine."
If we want a revolution, liberating our sexuality is the place to start. No matter what else people do to wage political or social rebellion - be it from oppressive governments, the psychology of advertising, racism, sexism, repressive religion, or corporations that are rapidly colonizing our minds and destroying the planet - any revolution that is not a sexual revolution at its heart will fail. Sex energy is the spark of life. It is the calling of eternity. Sex energy is the infallible compass within us always pointing in the direction of life and freedom, orienting us toward reality. Here are some simple techniques that have worked for me and many people I know.
No matter how old you are, no matter how much you have struggled or how hung-up you think you are, you can learn to feel yourself. I suggest you learn by yourself. I agree with Betty Dodson, the world's foremost (and perhaps only) orgasm coach, that it's better not to expect your lover to "give you" your first orgasm. This is your experience; give it to yourself, then, when you feel ready, share it with other people.
I've noticed that a lot of people withhold orgasm from themselves. This is the best way to become a control freak, and the experience is not pleasant. Orgasm, which is surrender, is the opposite of control. Control is what the church does.
Orgasms are fun, but they're valuable as more than just pleasurable. They are experiences of surrendering the tightly-strung conscious mind and remembering a much vaster, freer aspect of self. We can enter the space of orgasm and loosen our desperate grip on life. We allow change and flow into our lives. Orgasm seems to open up a psychic door to another sphere of consciousness, one that in my experience exists all the time, but which we only reach momentarily with each burst of ecstasy. If you want to be free and feel your human power, practice experiencing deep experiences of sexual surrender, and this place will not seem so far away.
Through the Looking Glass
One of the most powerful memes, or repeated messages of both religion and advertising is, "You are incomplete and you need another person." So, very early in life, we are cast off from ourselves and embark on an endless quest of finding the perfect other. And it turns out to be a pretty hopeless search for most people, wrought with endless pain and loss, which ferments into resentment and hatred. You will not find anyone outside yourself until you have found you deep within yourself. Our culture pushes the idea of monogamy, but we forget that "mono" means ONE. You are the one.
Mirror masturbation is a confrontation with your essential self, your uncluttered beauty and your most real sexuality. This is the basic exercise in authentic self-expression. It may seem shameful at first, and you may be repulsed by the idea. You may think, "Why would I want to do that?" or immediately conclude that it's stupid or disgusting; you may feel a shot of fear course through your body, perhaps the fear that you'll get caught, or that someone else will know. Or you may be thrilled at the prospect of such an adventure.
Masturbation is about being your own lover, and mirror masturbation is a very direct and obvious way to experience this.
The fact that so many people are repulsed or would never dare to talk or think about masturbating passionately and lovingly in front of a mirror is an indication of its power. The veil is shame. Shame is powerful; it is a door. Where you feel embarrassment, you are holding back energy, and you will release your strength as you do. Shame is the map to your strength.
Go through the door and find out what is on the other side. In any aspect of sexuality, the stronger the shame, the more pleasure and power it conceals. Sexual shame conceals a deeper shame of being alive. Often a great well of guilt is veiled as "a little guilt," and I suggest you explore this possibility. If you have any lingering traces of resistance or guilt around your existence, here is where you'll uncover them, and where you're likely to let them go - in front of a mirror.
Some people suffering from self-hatred in the form of "body image" issues, like not being good-looking enough, feeling overweight, awkward or otherwise unsexy, are likely to resist the most strongly, and, by no coincidence, find the greatest relief and healing.
We are taught that our self-image is something we put on. I would propose it's something that's far better taken off. All the bullshit loaded on us by religion and advertising and ex-lovers about how ugly we are can drop off like silk. You will feel better for doing this. Your life will change.
(These self-pleasuring experiences) will begin to make a lasting visual and emotional impression on your psyche, and you will start to see yourself differently and exist more comfortably and naturally. You will breathe more naturally within your own being. You will become more comfortable with change. Ecstasy means ex-stasis, or freedom from being stuck. We need this desperately. As you leave behind your guilt and shame about self-love, you will begin to let go of all other kinds of psychological resistances to who you are. You will start to feel who you are, and who you are is strong and wonderful.
It took many years for (the author) to figure out that guilt is useless, it is toxic and it kills us. These experiences will help you free yourself from the guilt of being who you are, and teach you about who that person is. Self-knowledge is a dangerous thing. People who know themselves cannot be bullshitted by anyone else. They are unlikely to fall for the sick preachings of religion. Once you have experienced life free from guilt, you will never want it again.
But remember guilt has a purpose: our guilt is the means by which other people control us. Self-disparaging people are easy to control. Being around other people who do not thrive on guilt and self-attack can take some getting used to, because they are free, and they challenge us to be free. And when we drop our guilt and can no longer be shamed, the people around us may initially react negatively because we're not leaving them any convenient handles to yank us around with. We give up our guilt; they lose their power; everyone is happier. So it goes on the way to freedom.
Excerpts by Eric Francis. Read full article at www.Sexuality.org