By Lisa Meuser
It seems that sometimes our bodies have urges or desires that are linked to hormones and biology. The urge/desire to have children and have sex are two such areas that I’m particularly interested in exploring in the blog post.
Who knows why, but I’d always just wanted one child. There I was, a mother of one child. However, once or twice a year, after the initial sleep deprived years started to subside, I would find myself overcome with thoughts, images, and sensations that seemed to tell me that it was time to have another child. In those moments I experienced dissonance- on the one hand I only wanted one child (and felt particularly strong about it), and on the other hand I felt the desire to have another. Instead of brushing aside the desire to have another, or the want to just have one child, I explored this territory. I didn’t want to bypass this dissonance, this pull to have another child. I wanted to see what was there. Maybe I did really want more children, but was afraid, for example. So each time the urge would arise, I’d fully engage in the exploration. I’d feel it fully in my body- embody having another. About three days later, I’d come out of my exploration- and the desire would be gone. After speaking with other women, I found that they too had this urge, or desire. In fact, there was a lot of literature about it, and I learned that this urge/desire was considered to be a “biological urge” – an actual part of women’s biological instinct to have children. Ahh yes! It does make perfect sense that this desire, or urge would be part of the female programming – to ensure that the species furthers itself. Culture propagates this further, via media, and norms, and mores, etc. In fact, some argue that it is actually the culture that drives the urge, not biology. I don’t know which came first, just that that there is an urge, for many women, to have (more) children. And, like with any urge, it can be explored fully through inquiry.
It seems like all species are programmed to reproduce, but unlike squirrels, for example, human beings have the capacity to explore what comes into attention. I am not at the mercy of my biology, or my culture. We are not merely stimulus response creatures. I can question my thoughts, my beliefs, my wants, and my urges. I can explore all that comes with the urges in terms of thoughts, and images, and sensations and find that none of those things actually command me to reproduce, or do anything specifically. The ability to have self-awareness can be very useful. Can you imagine how many people would be on the planet if every woman who had the urge to have another child, followed through without question? That’s a lot of potential “who’s your daddy?” conversations to be had!
Most people can follow that it might be a good idea to question procreation urges, for a variety of reasons. But, how about using inquiry to explore sexual urges? Especially under particular circumstances, we don’t often bring these urges, or desires to the exploration of inquiry. Instead we unconsciously act, sometimes blaming hormones, or biological urges once again. For some, this leads to various forms of sexual addiction, including pornography, or engaging in unsafe/harmful/illegal behaviors. For others, it leads to unconscious activity or “empty experiences.”
For all but the most self-aware, the conceptual “sexual sensation” can seem to be commanding or compelling something – action, climax, anxiety, pain, and so on. Until conceptual sensations are explored, stories and beliefs continue to be thought of as “true”. In the work that I do with people it’s common to be facilitating someone who is experiencing a lot of “sexual sensations”. In such cases, lots of thoughts and images are attached to the sensations, hence making them “sexual” sensations rather than just sensations. It can be very expansive to slowly and gently explore the thoughts and images and unpack the meaning that has been velcroed to the sensations. Doing so helps release the conceptual overlay placed on the sensations, and so the sensations have less influence over action. It also allows one to directly experience that a sensation that seems to have sexual overlays is never actually commanding a sexual action or behavior. Patterns involving unsafe/harmful/unfulfilling behaviors can then be loosened, greatly increasing the quality of life.
Once the sensations are examined, those same sensations which were laden with concepts, become just sensations. Through this exploration, one can find that there is no actual command to do/feel anything with regard to that sensation. This is good news, in the sense that we can discover that we are not at the mercy of hormones, and biological urges. Through mindful inquiry, one can experience being free to consciously explore, or not explore, ones sexuality. If you are interested in learning more about how embodied inquiry can lead you to a healthier and more fulfilling life, please contact me