(this article was first published in New York Spirit Magazine (October/November 2007) in my then column titled, Enlightened Sex in the City)
since i write this grandly titled column, Enlightened Sex in the City, i figure it couldn’t hurt to start by trying to pin down this slippery eel, “enlightenment.” the term for me is a bit like “carbs,” which includes equally a piece of Wonder Bread or a fresh peach, two very different animals indeed. as i see it, on one hand, enlightenment is a realization of one’s Self with a capital “S”, being awake to one’s nature, or an abiding realization of what does not die when mind and body does.
from this place, an “enlightened” one often exudes happiness, fulfillment and loving kindness. on the other hand, i hear enlightenment referring to a cultural and moral standard for behavior and comportment in life; as in it is more enlightened behavior to tell the truth, less enlightened to lie, cheat or steal.
for my purposes, i refer mostly to the first “definition” of enlightenment: a deeply personal realization of who you ARE, fed by your own direct experience. this can be different indeed from how you comport yourself in life. i am less interested in behavior, and most interested in experience, since your direct experience often dictates your behavior.
a while ago in an issue of “What Is Enlightenment” magazine, i ran across this quote by Leslie Temple Thurston: “Many years ago, i found myself asking Spirit what it would take to save the world. And the answer came clearly and immediately: a lot of enlightened women.” this doesn’t mean a lot of women ACTING enlightened, or behaving in the “enlightened” fashion de jour. this means a lot of women fed by the realization of who they ARE, awake to their nature, alive with the privilege of being a woman, turned on (sensually AND spiritually), turned up, full of light; and then living, acting and behaving from there.
how exactly are women the key to “save the world?”
i've spent most of my life throwing myself headlong into research of this seemingly elusive condition, happiness. one place that yielded incredible bounty was Morehouse, an intentional communal living collective, offering courses on communication, sensuality, man/woman dynamics and what they have found, in their 40 years of research and experimentation, it takes to have a happy, fulfilling, fun life.
in the courses i took, the dynamic and authentic teachers offered their observations of what works, and what doesn’t; they “describe” rather than “prescribe.” in their observation…
the health and viability of a group, whether that is as large as a culture or as small as a relationship, can be measured by the happiness and turn-on of the women in the group.
whoa. tweet that!}
and it is from here they start: when the women are happy, everyone is happy; when they women are unhappy, somehow no one else is happy for long. and if you look around in your own life experience, you’ll likely notice that most women around you are shut down and pissed off. maybe you’ve never even seen what a happy, radiant woman looks like.
it’s a good thing to define “happiness,” too. there is no universal standard; you know when you are happy and when you are not. generally, though, as defined by the veterans of Morehouse, happiness is a function of approving of what is, not what you wish to be so. when you find your life and your self good, right and wonderful, you are happy.
as many advances and liberations that women enjoy currently, we are still considered second-class citizens. our cultural, societal, economic, emotional, medical, sensual – and many spiritual – belief systems are all prejudiced to reference the male as standard. any straying from the standard is considered deviant.
so women, like other oppressed groups, have learned – as those considered to be deviants learn – that it is not safe to be as we are and that we are not welcomed as we are. we have learned that since the playing field is not equal, we have to lie, cheat and manipulate to make up for the unfair advantage in order to get what we want. we have learned that what we want is not important; we have learned to bury what we want – or we attempt to not want at all. The result is a bunch of royally pissed off women, swimming in a sea where we are constantly found wrong and bad; hungry and depleted at every level.
the remedy is simple. fill up the women.
as i practiced the simple, organic, generous philosophies of Morehouse, my heart and head blew wide open. IMAGINE: recognition of the anger i didn’t even realize i had; a system that saw me, appreciated me and invited me to do the same; actual tools to lead a happy life.
i took the courses to work out some kinks in my relationship to myself and in my partnership; and i began see all the ways i was doing a disservice to me and my relationships by focusing on what wasn’t working, since that put my attention on what was wrong or bad. there is an astounding universal law at play: you can’t move from bad to better, you’ve got to go from bad to good, and then from good to better. It’s just the way the progression goes: bad to good to better. no short-cuts. the magical thing is to start from finding good, right here right now.
and from this heart-opening, gratitude-overflowing place of what is already good, you can address what’s not working and help things to move toward better. whether in work with couples or an individual woman, this is where we start – from what’s already good. only from good, only from approving of what is so, not what we wish was so, can things get better. any person, but especially a woman, who can find her life and self good, begins the necessary process of filling up.
women are in need of nourishment, emotionally, physically, spiritually and sensually. ESPECIALLY SENSUALLY. a gratified woman is a unique and precious commodity; she is a fountain overflowing. giving from surplus creates more; giving from deficit creates anger and resentment, even if you are really good at hiding it or burying it.
a woman in sensual surplus is a delight and a gift to everyone around her. a hungry woman might just be the meanest thing around.
yep, that's another tweetable!}
research indicates that between 30-50% of women have difficulty or never experience orgasm or satisfying sex. sexual pleasure is mostly defined by penetration and orgasm standard as that of a man’s – but this does not necessarily take into consideration the physiology and make-up of most women. our religious legacy is that most of our problems started with the lustful, sinful nature of Eve – culturally we have a deep mistrust of women’s sexuality. many spiritual traditions define enlightenment and spiritual ecstasy from a male perspective – so often women try to fit themselves in to a model of spirituality that is passed off as a universal model, but is more a male model. it still costs more to dry-clean a blouse than a shirt, and a woman still earns about 77 cents to a man’s dollar. but regardless of how, why, when and where, you need only to look around to see women drying up and gasping for air.
how then to feed and fill up a woman?
women are accustomed to being overlooked, ignored and disregarded. or objectified for what's skin-deep. the simple and powerful antidote is to see us, TRULY appreciate us and to give us your full-hearted regard. we want to be noticed not as a formula or how close we’ve come to emulating a male model of success in business, spirituality or sex, but as a unique being. this may seem overly simple, but it is the profound start to a much-needed cultural shift.
women want to be radiant and happy, but we cannot wait around for guys (or people in general) to catch on and start paying attention to us. it starts with taking personal responsibility for our own happiness. it starts with a large dose of courage to find ourselves and lives right, right now. all this, i have noticed over 5 year of working with clients, takes a huge paradigm shift. it takes a level of understanding how you are wired and what to do with that. it takes a realization that if you are losing, it is by your compliancy. it takes the ability to communicate, to tell the truth, to be open and vulnerable. In working with women, this is where i always start.
women start to fill up when we find ourselves regarded no longer as second-class citizens; when we begin to realize we no longer have to lie, cheat or manipulate to get what we want; and when great value is placed on or happiness. only when saturated in our own goodness and rightness can we women awaken to our very nature; only from a place of surplus can we behave with loving kindness, compassion and radiant light.
it may take a long time of this to fill us up – our wells might be very dry indeed.
when you have to pick either the chicken or the egg – focusing on the happiness of the women or of the men – you have to pick the women. a happy woman naturally wants everyone else around her to be happy and get exactly what they want. this is not necessarily the case with happy men. a happy man is a GREAT thing, but he does not necessarily affect the level of happiness of the group, as does a woman. and often, what makes a happy man is that his woman is happy; if she worries about whether he’s happy, her worrying makes him unhappy.
it is not that men get ignored in this equation. it does no good for either gender to feel disregarded, unable to give their deepest gifts. generally what happens when a woman receives attention and approval from a man is that she wants more than anything for him to be happy and enjoying his life. a woman who is full and gratified is full of the very creative life energy that created us all. anything that is full overflows generously on everything that is in its path.
here we are, men and women alike, in the middle of our lives playing the game of love, sex and relationship, and playing it from an enlightened perspective. the founding father of Morehouse, Dr. Victor Baranco says, “If you're going to play the game anyway, why not win?” it would seem the winning formula is to start with approving of and placing attention on women, nourishing us in all our dry, cracked places. women also need to take full responsibility for our own happiness, not to delay our joy one moment nor wait an instant for our culture to catch up. and somewhere in the middle, the women get watered.
is a woman who is happy and radiant a fully enlightened being? i say YES. however, rather than speculating, let’s ask HER (aka YOU), shall we? and either way, i figure, a world abounding happy women, defining “happiness” by our own surplus and generosity, defining “enlightenment” by our own lit-up behavior, is a pretty great start.
to the FULL you,
PS: being a happy, turned-on woman means you are, well, TURNED ON and being guided by your sensual intuition. every time i mention this in print or in a live talk, i always get the retort, "yeah, i've followed my turn-on and my sensual intuition before, and i cheated on my husband or i gained 20 pounds or i quit my job and ended up in bankruptcy."
SO, does following your woman's intuition mean you end up fat, broke, lonely, demoralized, homeless and toothless?
i'll set the record straight in an upcoming article, and so i'd LOVE to hear YOUR story of how following your woman's intuition (especially the sensual longings) ended you up in a bad, bad place. email me directly or share your story in the comments below.