Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Birthing Pleasure

In a recent article (coming out in June) I explored the concepts of lasting sexual spark in long-term relationships, our erotic intelligence and shadow natures, and the link between pain and pleasure. And in the exploration I ran across something I'd heard about before, but never seen covered by mainstream news – orgasmic birth.

Childbirth: talk about a personal and cultural arena of our lives fraught with pain, shame, blame and shadow! (I believe it's Genesis 3:16 that says, "I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth children.")

Enjoy excerpts from my article as well as the ABC news story and a link to an extraordinary site on Orgasmic Birth!

When pain is transformed into pleasure…


Why is it that so often where there is the intimacy, love and familiarity of long-term and life partnership, the sexual spark seems to dim, flicker and perhaps fade altogether? What gives? Why is it when the pleasure of partnership grows, the pain of habituation and resultant boredom can also increase?

Riding high in my own partnership, I am neither blind nor impervious to the dismal track record of most long-term relationships. I set off on a preemptive search in the most light-filled and shadowy places for some guidance for keeping both the erotic zest and the sacred intimacy flourishing in sacred sex and life partnership. The search leads right away into the link between pain and pleasure.

We strive for intimacy: to hold nothing back from each other, to share everything. We strive for our relationships to be as pleasureful and pleasure-filled as possible. Yet sexual sparkle often feeds on tension, polarity, something yet to discover. And often past pains and traumas stand in the way of our path to pleasure. Arousal is a complex paradoxical cocktail: it requires some amount of adrenaline, some degree of excitement and danger, while also requiring just enough safety to open to the risk of the unknown, the new and the mysterious.

When we can unlock formerly locked doors of our pain and embrace what we have previously rejected in ourselves, the result is often more wholeness and a divine homecoming. As Dossie Easton, marriage and family therapist and co-author of The Ethical Slut puts it, “… the shadow, our personal garbage pit, becomes the gateway through which we pass to travel in realms beyond ordinary consciousnesses.”

Shadow aspects can be hot, exciting, intriguing. The taboo has simultaneous repulsion and appeal. Can our shadow – the very things we’ve decided have nothing to do with our best, most sacred selves have a place in our sacred sex and turned-on relationship lives?

When we dive into our past with consciousness, we get to rewrite the ending ourselves; we travel a familiar path, but come out as victors, rather than victims. And when it is injected with eros, with the very life force that sexual energy is, it is powerfully affirming – and we have created a new memory, now accessible in our consciousness. We turn our personal tragedies into triumphs.

Easton offers, “Lucifer actually means “light bearer”… the fallen angel who goes into unfathomable darkness with an unquenchable light inside him, and who carries the power of the villain and of the emancipator.”

But is going deeper into pain always necessary for its transformation? “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. But to penetrate the darkness we must summon all the powers of enlightenment that consciousness can offer,” says influential thinker and founder of Analytical psychology, Carl Jung. For some the healing process cannot bypass pain, and the “powers of enlightenment” have to bore directly through the dense center of suffering. Often, going through pain becomes the access to pleasure; it becomes a question of degree and the intention behind the exploration.

I admit to being rather skeptical, until I ran across an abcNews video story on orgasmic birth. Birth is considered to be one of the most painful experiences a body can endure, yet this showed many women having the same blissful, expansive sensations in birthing their babies as in sexual orgasm. One woman explained her process as re-interpreting the intense sensations of contractions and labor from painful to pleasureful. In fact, many of the same physiological actions occur in labor and birth as in sexual intercourse and orgasm.

We are all influenced, to one degree or another by spiritual lineages that have included shadow and pain in the quest for enlightened union: fasting, sleep deprivation, whirling dervishes, self-flagellation, walking uphill on the knees, etc. While many of these sought to punish and deny the body in order to get to spirit, others used pain as a transformative tool to lovingly unite the body with the divine.

Buddhist nun and author Pema Chodron reminds, “Staying with pain without loving-kindness is just warfare.”


To be notified when the full article is out in June in New York Spirit Magazine, join my mailing list and I'll let you know when it comes out:


News story on Orgasmic Birth:


Amazing site on Orgasmic Birth:


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Posted by LiYana at 11:40 am  Comments Off on Birthing Pleasure

Monday, April 27th, 2009

"You may picture fear as the child within you who is terrified of being unworthy of love, joy, abundance and laughter, doomed to abandonment, dying of a broken heart. As you hold the child to your heart say: "Beloved of my heart, I love you with every part of my being. You are not alone. We live in a safe universe, you and I, and together we are going home."

– Benjamin Disraeli

Posted by LiYana at 11:35 pm  Comments Off on

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Dancing Down Demons

Years ago, I was a professional modern dancer. I did fairly well in a hard field, making my humble living (mostly) dancing in Europe, Israel and in New York City. Until one day I realized I spent 80% of each day hating myself.

When I did the math, that meant 80% of my life devoted to self-denigration, and that was too high a percentage (!) so I quit dancing as a profession.

I wasn't raised religiously, but I know being a dancer from a young age took the place of Catholic school or a rigorous, constrictive religious training. In terms of working harder for less for promise of reward later. In terms of denying the body for a higher cause. In terms of becoming a vessel for another's vision. In terms of striving for perfection as the basis for simply being alive. In terms of self-loathing and joy being mixed up in the same thing. And also in terms of feeling a light shine forth from me and feeling a visceral connection with the divine as I did this craft I loved very much.

Last year, about this time, I created a dance piece, not only so I could dance and enjoy myself, but so that I could work out any leftover demons of dance roaming around in my psyche. So I could be free to enjoy this most gorgeous of arts, one I am blessed to be very good at.

And come up the twice-warmed demons did! (You can read old posts from February – May of 2008 to see to track my dancing with demons…) I have never been more challenged, more stretched to the bone to focus, show up, problem solve on my feet. I have never felt more shame at not knowing what I should know, but could only come to know by the experience of going through it.

They say you only get the courage to do something after you've done it. I do believe I'm brave enough to truly dance now.

Here's the piece, for your viewing pleasure.

on one side
our lives

discon nected
di/ssected & bi-sected
int er rupted by

misunderstanding @
our brutal


& on the other side
there lives
visceral connection:
beating heart (light!)
and red hot heat

she persists


Posted by LiYana at 3:13 pm  Comments Off on Dancing Down Demons

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

David Deida – dive in or run the other way?

This is an article I wrote for New York Spirit Magazine, Spring 2009. Three couples take on a Deida week-long intensive. I'm one of the couples. Only two couples survive.

Read on here, or use this link:

David Deida: Dive in or run the other way?

Enlightened Sex in the City takes a look at the work of a controversial spiritual master.

Best-selling author, powerfully insightful teacher, and provocative master of his craft, David Deida is arguably your man if you are looking to study sexuality as spirituality.

In addition to countless students, David’s work has inspired the likes of well-known achievement coach Tony Robbins, Ken Wilber of the Integral Institute and minister and spiritual spokeswoman, Marianne Williamson. For as many hearts he’s inspired to ecstasy and minds he’s blown wide open to divine love, there are just as many who’ve come away pissed off and disillusioned, hurt and burnt.

I first encountered David Deida’s work when my fiancée handed me the book, The Way of the Superior Man. Just the title set off alarm bells to my neo-feminist sensibilities, but I read it anyways and became hooked on Deida’s heartfelt prescription for erotically-charged harmony between the sexes. I’ve since read most of Deida’s books, heard him speak numerous times and have placed myself (and fiancée) in Deida’s masterful hands during a week-long intensive.

The heart of Deida’s work is about living your deepest truth and giving your greatest gifts, in the face of pain, broken hearts, confusing partners, and your own personality maze. He offers information, skills and energetic/body practices so as to be of service to the force of divine love in the universe, through your loving, love-making and relating.

In a moment, you’ll meet two other couples: Kendra and Decker and Bryan and KC, who have recently taken a week-long intensive with Deida. One couple finds their marriage deepening and opening; the other broke up as a result of the workshop. What is it about Deida’s sexual and spiritual truths that have the power to send two hearts more deeply aflame in connection, and for two others, sears their relationship to cinders?
Deida offers potent definitions of the essence of – and the interplay between – the divine masculine and feminine.

He describes the masculine as depth of presence; archetypically and energetically it is piercing presence, stillness, purpose and will, a penetrating force by which and through which the world and all experience is felt and known. The feminine is all possibility, all movement and dynamic creative energies; fire and fury, sweetness and comfort changing on a dime, the fierce beauty of life and experience itself. The feminine is attracted to depth of presence and the masculine is attracted to that which is flush with energy.

Deida positions the romantic relationship as a means to understand and be in service of the divine feminine and masculine within your self and within your partner; it is a way of continually opening to more love and appreciation, and for sexuality to be divine prayer. Many people can misunderstand Deida’s work and assume simply that women should be more feminine and men more masculine. As Deida says in an interview with Bodhi Tree Bookstore, “We're multidimensional and fluid beings. There's nothing wrong with any of us identifying with more masculine or more feminine, more consciousness or more light at any particular moment except when it creates closure or problems because we're not using it wisely.”

Another important principle in Deida’s work is that of polarity. As with magnets, there is the most irresistible pull between distinctly different charges – negative on one side, positive on the other. Deida adds, “Any time one person is in their masculine and one person is in their feminine, it's like a magnet or electricity happens between them, and it doesn't matter if they're committed in a relationship or total strangers.” Much of Deida’s work is about cultivating polarity – with masculine on one end of the spectrum and feminine on the other, to maintain and deepen sexual attraction.

Another important aspect of Deida’s work revolves around his three stages of development: “Any time you're doing something for yourself, for me, me, me, it's the first stage. Any time you're doing something on the sense of equality and sharing making sure you’re both safe and okay, it's the second stage. And any time you're doing something for the sake of all beings, it's the third stage. You may die in the process. Martin Luther King, Jesus Christ, and Mother Teresa are third stage people, but we could all have those moments every day. All you have to do is be in a disposition of serving, regardless of the outcome to yourself, and that's the third stage.”

It was for this and more that we all came. Kendra and Decker, recently married, were well aware of the potential to get bored and take each other for granted over the span of their marriage and they decided to fix it before it was broken in 5, 15 or 50 years. The wanted to be able to continue to appreciate and truly know each other as well as deepen their sexual connection; they wanted to be able to have moments of tantric merging at will, rather than at random. The urging of their good friend and business partner, Bryan, was the deciding factor to dive in. Bryan is a coach and leads seminars for men – the Authentic Man Program – along with Decker and Kendra, and KC is a meditation teacher and sensuality coach. KC and Bryan decided similarly to do the workshop for similar reasons: a more solid relationship and deeper sexual practices. A long time student of Deida, Bryan wanted to receive the direct benefits and transmission possible through being with him personally.

The week-long intensive I attended with my partner was called the Yoga of Sex and Relationship. Obviously confused at the outset, we thought we were going to do a little yoga and learn some sensual and sexual practices that would amplify our connection. When we got there, we were all told there was to be no touching, kissing or exchanging bodily fluids for the whole week, not even with our partner. The next morning we found out that yoga in Deida-land doesn’t mean familiar stretchy, sweaty, feel-good asanas.

Deida draws a distinction between therapy, yoga and spirituality: therapy is past and healing-based; the whys and hows. To use a metaphor of a hole in a panel of stained glass, therapy is fixing the hole. Yoga – disciplined practice, a means and a way – is the polishing of the colored glass, regardless of the hole, making beauty out of the hole. It is the ability to take whatever you’ve got, whether or not it’s what you like or prefer, no matter how ugly, and transform it into art, surrendering to the divine, regardless. Spirituality? Well, everything’s perfect, as it is; there never was any hole in the stained glass. Deida defines his work as yoga with the goal of making art out of sexing and loving. Although it can be useful to at times go back and do some therapy on stuff, and his work does rub up against spirituality, Deida is about yoga. Attending his yogic workshops for most is like an interactive, intense, challenging co-creation of art – and a certain level of comfort can’t be your priority. At then end of each break throughout the day, I had to gird my loins to go back in and continue to do yoga and make art.

Relationship is as good a spiritual vehicle as any to experience divinity – but possibly the most challenging. For those of us who haven’t committed to being celibate monks and who choose relationship as spiritual path, Deida offers a map. In addition to a greater appreciation for herself, Kendra’s greatest take-away was to see how the masculine and feminine naturally clash and to not take it so seriously when it comes up in life. The problem isn’t over there with the opposite sex; your partner will continue to baffle, annoy, anger and disappoint you; it all comes with the territory. The feminine can often appear as volatile and unstable and the masculine can often appear as dense and inconsiderate. In a moment of humor, Deida says, “Ask yourself, is this the crazy bitch I want to be with?” or “is this the stupid asshole I want to be with?” Rather than bemoaning it, or assuming the next one will be less wacky or less of a jerk, the key is to learn how to dance with the essence of feminine and masculine, as an expression of your greatest truth in each moment.

All of us who took the workshop are facilitators and coaches and represent a younger generation of teachers working with men and women who want deeper relating, the ability to truly connect with others, and greater authenticity. One of the things taught in the Authentic Man Program is how to cultivate connection, to really “get” where another is at, often called resonance. Decker walked away from the week with Deida with the profound distinction of polarity versus resonance. The choice of when to go for resonance and connect with another, and when to choose polarity in order to retain powerful presence and purposeful separateness, has changed his life, relationship, organization and marriage – forever. Rather than always defaulting to being intimate and close, he is grateful for the choice of being able to bring his best, no matter what ride his partner is on.

With tears in her eyes, KC attempts to convey the depth of gratitude for what she got from the challenging workshop and the fallout – her breakup: a space of profoundly valuing herself, the gift of opening heart and body to another, and an understanding of her “blueprint” for attraction. When we take things we think are ugly, dark and wrong and shine light and love through them, they have this miraculous effect of being able to open the heart and body. Deida’s work can be remarkably transformational because he isn’t afraid to go to the dark epicenter and make art by finding beauty everywhere, in every moment. And then we become no longer afraid of ourselves, nor of living fully.

Bryan left with a deep sense of what he is and what he is not; getting himself as perfect, yet wanting more for himself. The workshop compounded issues between him and KC and broke them apart. Although the type of solid masculine man of deep character espoused by Deida is something that Bryan aspires to, he realized it just isn’t him. It’s like going against his natural strengths of fluidity and movement. One of the unfortunate pitfalls of Deida’s work is that many try to become “Deida-bots,” adapting postures or behaviors, developing an exoskeleton (of the kind Deida is actually trying to dissolve), and never make it back to themselves. Although not totally Bryan’s experience, he still says, “For the month after the workshop, I was raking myself over the coals, trying to become someone I am not. I am still sorting through what is true for me,” After periods of mourning and grieving the year of being together with KC, he is still left feeling infinitely deepened. As he says, “Can you stay open in the face of some of the most painful emotional experiences you’ve ever had? The cup of your joy is carved by your sorrow.”

Although Deida’s workshops are not inherently unsafe or dangerous, it is up to each participant to honor themselves. It can be important to separate teacher from teachings, since some masters or enlightened beings still have a shadow side and could do with a little therapy themselves. Deida is the first to acknowledge he’s far from perfect. Deida has profound mastery of his topics, lives much like a social recluse and shirks any markings of being a guru. Whether or not participants make him into a guru is another matter. His workshops are designed as a microcosm of real life and relationship; they are designed to push edges, because this is really how it’s going to feel and be with your partner. If you are not strong and supple, upset in the relationship will just be another excuse not to love.

Looking back at the experience, we all agree: being in the room with Deida for a long week is inherently beneficial for anyone hungry, aware or developed enough to receive it. He’s the real deal. With a bent more toward rigor than compassion, Deida’s work is still that of a living master. It’s not for everyone. Most wouldn’t trade it, but there aren’t many who are clear they’d do it again. As KC puts it, “You have to be kind of crazy to do something like this, but crazy in a really gorgeous way, so hungry for the most beautiful, raw living – and that isn’t always what you think it is.”
Deida offers us an avenue to meet the dark stuff – that we all share, teachers and students alike – with love. It is about cultivating discipline and ferocious intensity, but for the ultimate goal of living in beauty and union, of striving toward the divine through sex and love.

Deida offers a way to open your heart, give your greatest gifts and love as fully as you can this lifetime. Yes, he’ll urge you to push your edges in yoga and in practices, when you have a week, weekend or hour set aside for it. But the rest of the time, he reminds us to make our lives as kind as we possibly can for this gentle soul we find ourselves in relationship with.

David Deida offers a demanding path to become strong – so that we can be sweet.


LiYana Silver, Relationship Specialist and regular contributor to New York Spirit, is a teacher, counselor and writer – with a reverently irreverent outlook and a true love of true partnership. She works primarily with women and couples in intensives, retreats and in individualized sessions. For upcoming events and more information, please visit her website:


To learn more about David Deida’s teachings, books and workshops, visit:
To learn more about the Authentic Man Program, visit:
To learn more about KC Baker’s work:


Posted by LiYana at 11:47 pm  Comments Off on David Deida – dive in or run the other way?

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