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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

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