From Conventional Sex to Intimate Connection | Mark Whitwell

Not so long ago The Atlantic ran a piece declaring that much of the western world was in the grip of a “millenial sex recession.” Apparently, those born between the 1980s and early 2000s are having less sex than previous generations; and less are in engaged in long-term relationships.

Data from an American study showed that young people were more than twice as likely to have no sexual partner compared to those born in the 1960s and ‘70s.

So why, despite an unprecedented culture of permissiveness around sex, are young people having less and less of it?

Anxiety levels, economic pressures, academic stress, the ubiquity of online porn, dating apps, smartphones, a culture of casualness in relationships, environmental pollution, sleep deprivation and diet, have all been pointed to by experts as factors feeding into the decline of sex.

And studies show that social media use may have conditioned an entire generation to feel less and less comfortable in their own skin — with both men and women reporting a decline in body-image as a result of exposure to online images.

“As one might imagine,” the Atlantic’s Kate Julian writes, “feeling comfortable in your body is good for your sex life…Conversely, not feeling comfortable in your own skin complicates sex.”

Whilst all of these factors have a major part to play, what is missing from the conversation is the recognition that conventional sex is, by and large, simply not worth having.

In the normal sexual patterns of society, sex is scripted as a stress release mechanism in which energy is spilled from the base of the body. Sexual fulfillment has been pinned to success in orgasm; and both men and women have become caught up in the practice of sex as an urgent rush toward climax, followed by the ending of desire.

People find a temporary relief and sense of relaxation as their energy is emptied from the body only for stress to build back up again.

What’s more, many people describe how their partners have betrayed them during sex by becoming self-obsessed with their own pleasure; they report having being used for their partner’s private, self-involved sex-fulfillment.

Painful and unwanted sex is a common experience — especially for women — as the vulgar ideals of pornography play out in real relationships.

Specifically, patriarchal culture trains the life-quality of receptivity out of human bodies. The culture promotes penetration and force as the default, even unconscious norm of bodily relating.

Receptivity and its linked qualities of softness, feeling, the ability to abide in intense emotion, listening and surrendering, are qualities that are vital for human intimacy.

Conventional sex, an activity that is so often divorced from deep, feeling intimacy, is worthless — or worse: damaging and painful. It is best not to even bother which explains in part why the demographic of millenials are having less sex than ever before; it is a valid response.

Sadly, however, many replace the actual and natural need for sex with the vulgar consumption of pornography which reinforces the degradation of sex that turned them away from real relationship in the first place.

If we want to see a culture of healthy sex develop an alternative model is required: one in which sex is restored as the heart’s activity; as communion between two bodies that are capable of feeling deeply and caring for one another; as an expression of love within committed partnership; as an endless exchange of giving and receiving in which a partner’s pleasure is inseparable from one’s own.

Sex is for intimacy, in short: nothing more and nothing less.

This may sound conservative but in truth it is far from it, for intimacy is the greatest aphrodisiac and the depth of bodily and emotional feeling that we can go to within stable, monogamous partnership is far more valuable than the distractions of casual, depleting sex.

So how do we make this transition?

The means by which any person can move from conventional sexing to whole-body loving is through an actual Yoga practice.

Real Yoga, as it has come to us through Tirumalai Krishnamacharya and TKV Desikachar, is a discipline of intimate connection to your own body and breath. Specifically, it is the unification of the life-qualities of strength and receptivity in one’s own embodiment.

The inhalation is receptivity descending. The exhalation is strength ascending. The whole-body participates in this arrangement according to each person’s body type, age, health and culture.

These ancient disciplines of body and breath restore the body to its natural state of strength that is receiving. When we are intimate with our own embodiment we very quickly discover an intrinsic feeling-capacity for relationship and intimacy.

If there is restriction or pain in the body-mind that limits bodily intimacy; if there are false desires in the mind that have been imposed by unrealistic expectations from movies, porn and social media; if there is stress and tension in the body that demands release; Yoga will release these restrictions

Relationship is natural. It is how we all got here. It is how Mother Nature regenerates, nurtures and reproduces the next generation: which is her only goal.

It is not enough to give up sex entirely nor is it okay to carry on in depleting, unmutual, or casual connections. The way forward is to prioritise intimate connection: first to our own body and breath and then to another whom you like, love and lust.

At the same time, it is important to say that there is no requirement for partnership. If, for whatever reason, partnership does not arise then it can be considered as a state of grace — it is just you and the universe. You are spared the task of purifying the anti-relational karmas of society. It is simply to say that if there is a movement toward relationship, it is not to be ignored or bypassed.

These are the best of times and the darkest of times. The decline of sex among young people today is a sign that an entirely new approach is required. Yoga is the means of moving into the natural state of love, sex, and intimate connection.

*Join me and my friends in the new heart of yoga online studio for heartfelt conversations and practice.

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