So we've finally made it to the last, and I'm guessing, most intriguing subject of this series on the three pillars of health (and happiness)! Yes, it's time to talk...sex!
The Ayurvedic view of sex is both simple and complicated (probably no surprise to anyone who's ever been in a relationship).
The simple part is that sex is an integral part of the lifestyle factors that create balance and harmony in our lives. Our sexuality is as uniquely ours as our eye color, height, and shoe size, and so is the way we express, experience, and share it.
Where it gets slightly more complicated is working out how to get the right amount and quality of sex in order to feel truly happy, healthy, and whole (just ask anyone who's ever been in a relationship!).
In order to do this, we must come to grips with what sex really IS for us, how it contributes to who we are, and how it can support us on the path to living our dharma.
Sex as Nourishment
One of the key principles of Ayurveda is that everything we come into contact with has the potential to feed us in some way...or not. By now for example, most of us understand the potential health and lifestyle impacts of eating mostly junk food.
Sex is no different. In order to truly nurture ourselves and our sexuality, we've got to do the same thing we'd do for any healthy diet: avoid fast, cheap, and easy in favor of relationships and sexual experiences that nourish the mind and spirit, as well as the body!
In other words, we've got to promote and engage in “whole” sex. “Whole” sex begins as an act of self-love: a belief in our own worthiness to be loved. And from there it only gets better. It's a mind, body, and soul endeavour that nurtures our self-worth and our most intimate connections.
It also boosts the immune system, eases stress, and improves our chances of getting a good night's sleep!
Sex as Surrender
Surrender is a concept many of us have lost touch with (or given up) in order to chase the illusion of control.
We spend a lot of our time and energy holding things up, holding ourselves in, and holding things together, rarely experiencing the freedom that becomes available when we truly, madly, deeply embrace letting it all go.
Surrender gives us a window into our souls and an understanding of who we're capable of being. It's the one thing that allows us to know ourselves at the deepest levels.
“Whole” sex is an experience of surrender that liberates us from the past or the future and from who we think we should be (even if only for a few minutes!). It opens us up to share who we are, utterly and completely.
Sex as Connection
Oh, and speaking of sharing, I'm convinced that underneath everything we do is a deep desire for a little thing called...connection. Seeing and being seen, supporting and being supported, this fundamental drive is sewn into the fabric of what it means to be human.
It's our way of understanding and embracing our place in the world, and our sexuality is at the center of it, in part because we all have our origins in some form of sexual encounter, but also because sex is one of the deepest forms of connection there is.
More than just something to do on a Saturday night, it's a merging of energies that expands our potential for love, compassion, kindness, and bliss.
The Do's, Don'ts, and Logistics of Sex, Ayurveda Style
Ayurveda wouldn't be Ayurveda without a few suggestions about what to do, and when and how to do it. Here's a simple Ayurvedic guide to having balanced sex.
1. Timing is everything.
Ayurveda suggests that the best time for sex is between the hours of 10 P.M. and 11 P.M. (pretty tight window, I know). This timeframe straddles the border of kapha time (6 P.M. to 10 P.M.), when our stamina is at its highest of the evening, and pitta time (10 P.M. to 2 A.M.), when our passion starts to heat up!
2. Digestion makes a difference.
Having sex on a full stomach is a perfect example of a body at cross purposes. Best not to do it. Give it a least a couple of hours after a big meal so that your mind, body, and digestion are all well rested!
3. Wait ‘til the coast is clear.
Ayurveda also recommends avoiding sex if you're ill, fatigued, angry, or hungry (further tightening the window of availability).
This in part because it's tough to be fully present when you're physically depleted or mentally somewhere else, but also because sex in a compromised mental or physical state can actually make things worse!
4. Make the effort.
We all know that sex is about more than just the physical experience, don't we? Ayurveda suggests that we embrace the “wholeness” of whole sex by making it an experience for the mind and the senses, starting with an environment that looks, feels, sounds and smells...inviting!
5. Take the middle road.
If you've ever wondered whether it's possible to have too much of a good thing, the Ayurvedic answer is...yes!
Believe it or not, sex in excess depletes the body and the tissues, and it can mess with your mind too! Finding a healthy medium in the amount and intensity of sex is THE key to ensuring that it supports the care and feeding of your mind, body, and life!
So, how well are your sexual experiences feeding you...and vice versa? Reframe the way you see and experience sex—as a vital part of the process of nourishing your mind and body, accessing your authentic self, and connecting more deeply with the world around you—and you'll be that much closer to living your bliss.