Daily Healthy Sex Acts

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    Dr. Pacik


    “To live in faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you.”
    ~ Christian D. Larson

    It’s a leap of faith to trust someone, and if that sours we tend to regret our faith. We’ve all asked life for something and experienced disappointment. But it’s crucial to recognize when past disappointment seems to spell out inevitable doom and disaster, because holding onto disappointment through resentment and fear makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whenever you doubt your partner’s attitudes and motives, take a leap of faith and assume the best, secure that you will be guided at the right time toward the next right action you need to take. Because the only way we can synthesize past experience is with right action. We do the right action with an open hand and with the knowledge and belief that the solutions to our problems are out there. Life is an invitation: We invite the right path for us, the right solutions for us, the right partners for us.

    To cultivate healthy sex, we practice what we learn and perceive with intentionality and dedication–regardless of the results we are getting just now. We do so in faith that eventually a psychologically mature eroticism will emerge. Faith demands that we let go of impatiently measuring results, yet faith requires full participation. You can’t make the miracle happen by yourself, but you must show up to take the next right action. Have faith that there is a heart-affirming reason for all hurt and rejection, and do not let sorrow keep you from partaking of life and love with an open heart and mind.

    • How have you handled disappointments? Standing or seated, notice your bodily posture and energy. Now carefully summon the biggest disappointments in your life while observing the energy flow in your body. Release any energy blocks to restore your bodily posture to its starting state.
    • Summon your greatest breakthroughs and achievements. Notice the effect of these thoughts and feelings on your body. Take a leap of faith and let your body return to this exalted state often throughout the day.
    • If a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, what single right action can you take right now to move closer to your heart’s desire?
    From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book
    The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss

    Dr. Pacik

    “If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he, and I was I.”
    ~ Michel de Montaigne

    It’s not often that we ponder precisely what we find sexually attractive in another. Usually, human beings are stirred by that mysterious force we call “chemistry” when it comes to sex and love. And yet, learning what characteristics make up sexual attraction for us is a necessary part of adult sexuality, albeit one we find challenging. Think about what attracts you to another person, whether a friend, lover, teacher, dentist, or medical doctor. We have to feel some sense of attraction in order to trust those around us. What qualities of attraction move you toward someone?

    Attraction is a law of nature that makes entire processes and systems come together to birth something new. What attributes do you possess that you think others find attractive–your intelligence, sense of humor, physical appearance, or something else? When you’re open and feeling attractive, you’ll attract what and whom you need in your life in order to birth something in you. Whether that something is literally a child or the creation of a new business, the inspiration for a work of art, or to be the best you can be, something new and beautiful will be birthed when you’re in a state of attraction.

    • Take time today to write about what you find attractive in a partner and what you find attractive in yourself.
    • Make a commitment to yourself to change your unattractive qualities in order to deepen your self-esteem and to attract the kind of partner or energy you’d like to have in your life.
    from the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book
    The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss

    Dr. Pacik

    “No one is more arrogant toward women, more aggressive or scornful, than the man who is anxious about his virility.”
    ~ Simone de Beauvoir

    We’re awestruck by the virility of nature unimpeded, as in the ocean or a raging river. If we understood virility as that living, natural power, we would all love to feel so forceful, hearty, and virile! When you think of virile people, even fictional characters, you probably see this quality as inherent in them, independent of external factors. Since true virility doesn’t depend on an outside source, sexual potency doesn’t get depleted.

    But many sexual dysfunctions, and often sexual addiction, spring from a wounded virility. Some upbringing can be sexually minimizing, even castrating or sterilizing. Negative body image–the exaggerated sense of our physical imperfection–is common, as is pubescent anxiety over sexual aptitude. Later overcompensation for such wounds can themselves inhibit virility, as we see in the person who bluffs and blunders through endless sexual situations to hide emotional blocks. If someone uses sex to stimulate–or to simulate–a sense of virility, s/he will lose that sense of power at the moment of orgasm and have to build it up again.

    Without strong role models or encouragement by caregivers, peers, or society itself, our free-flowing, natural virility becomes stunted. Our culture recognizes virility only in the limited, stereotypical domain of “strong and silent” heterosexual men. But in nature, virility flowers free of such bias. With acceptance and support, men and women of all orientations, genetic make-ups, and physiological abilities may enjoy their natural, wholesome virility.

    You can encourage your partner’s virility as a healthy act of sex. The first step is just knowing that each of us is truly virile. That’s our native state. By inviting the flow of your respective energies, holding space for your intention, and containing the raw intensity in a secure and sober way, we tap into the restorative power of virility.

    • How do you judge sexual virility in others, and how does this match your current perception of your own erotic self?
    • Experience your virility right now. Take deep, strong breaths and feel the force of your livingness. Run your hands along your body, like a flowing river feeding all it touches. Invest this–your real, untamed current of energy–in everything you do today.
    • Affirm your virility and that of your beloved. Drop the verbal and mental accusations of weakness in yourself and others. Know that there is bountiful vitality behind all you perceive. Choose to know life.

    From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss

    Dr. Pacik


    “What is not brought to consciousness, comes to us as fate.”
    ~ Carl Gustav Jung

    In Greek and Roman mythology the Fates were three goddesses who presided over the birth and life of all humans. Each person’s destiny was conceptualized as a thread spun, measured and cut by the Fates. The events and course of one’s life were beyond human control, set by a supernatural force.

    Similar to fate, destiny can be seen as both a great possibility and as our inevitable death. When viewed as possibility, life seems dynamic and filled with potential, and we are here to realize what’s best in ourselves. Even if we think of destiny as death, we can see it symbolically and learn that some things in our lives must die or be discarded to be reborn, challenging us to cede control.

    What are your deepest fears about life? Do they impede attainment of your needs and desires? Stepping into the unknown conjures fear if we believe our fate is sealed. Even more frightening, however, may be the belief that it is not. Think about which belief you hold. If your fate is sealed, there’s nothing to lose, so live life with abandon! But if you don’t believe in fate, you are the master of your life. Your daily choices set your course. But don’t worry, if nothing is preordained, you can shift your karma based on better choices you make. Either way, spring into the void of the future today and see what awaits you!

    • Do you believe in fate or in destiny? If neither, what do you believe about your life’s course? Does anyone know what you believe?
    • Make a list of your unrealized hopes and dreams. What obstacles have been in your way?
    • Share your beliefs and dreams with a loved one.

    From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss

    Dr. Pacik

    “He loved her, of course, but better than that, he chose her, day after day. Choice: that was the thing.”
    ~ Sherman Alexie

    Being honest with yourself about what you need and desire in a mate is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. So choosing your partner is an act of self-esteem. Settling for whoever comes your way or criticizing your partner for his or her nature are both acts of emotional violence. By being in reality about the person to whom you’re relating, you are making a conscious decision to choose that person-warts and all. Once you make that choice, you’re no longer a victim, but an informed participant. When you stop feeling like your mate is doing something “to you,” then, and only then, can you love.

    When you make the choice to be in your relationship, you get a whole lot of other choices, too. For example, instead of complaining that your partner isn’t romantic or sexy enough, consider how romantic or sexy you can make yourself. Actually taking that responsibility not only empowers you, it makes a space for your partner to move toward you in ways you might find surprising. When you choose your partner and take responsibility for your sexuality, you recognize that, ultimately, only you can make yourself happy.

    If you’ve chosen your partner, and that person breaks vows you both agreed to, don’t deny your situation. Ask yourself if you can heal from the pain in order to choose your partner again, or if it’s time for you to go. Choosing after a betrayal can take time; be honest with yourself about what you need to be happy and whole.

    • Have you chosen your partner or are you waiting to be rescued? Do you blame and shame your partner or do you accept all aspects of the choice you have made?
    • Do you need to adjust how you’re viewing things, or is it time to end the love relationship? Be careful about blaming and shaming yourself and the other. If you made a bad choice or no longer want to be in your committed relationship, stop torturing your partner and yourself, and move on.

    From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss

    Dr. Pacik

    “If your life is like a tragedy it is because you have been neglecting something — most likely yourself.”
    ~ Bryant McGill

    Neglect is more harmful than once thought, especially for young children. It comes in the form of disregarding or ignoring a child’s needs, whether emotional, physical, or psychological. Being neglected can wreak terrible damage on children’s sense of themselves, and therefore on their self-worth and esteem. These under-valued children may carry the baton of neglect into the rest of their lives. Many of us struggled from the supposedly “benign” neglect by our caregivers, which left us feeling shameful about our appearance, bodies, morals, or intelligence. We may heal ourselves from these wounds. But making such a fundamental change in the way we see–or don’t see–our true beings requires stopping and taking an inventory of the self-disregard we still tolerate in our lives.

    Survey your life: Take a look at your home, car, work environment, wardrobe, relationships, and spiritual state, and see what parts of yourself you may be neglecting. What has become shabby in your surroundings? In your appearance? In your work? Do you settle for neglectful, cavalier relationships with friends or your partner? If you show indifference to yourself, you can expect nothing more from potential lovers, friends, or bosses.

    If you’re neglecting your primary relationship then that “garden” won’t flourish and grow either. So often we assume that once we’re in a committed relationship it will sail on automatic pilot seamlessly into the future. Since no one ever put attention or care into them, persons neglected as children may have particular difficulty grasping that living relationships, like living beings, require tending, hard work, and love. Promise yourself to care for your relationship, and for yourself, and put those vows into practice.

    • Take a moment to look at your life and consider your most deeply desired vision for the coming year.
    • Do the persons and things in your life reflect that vision or are you tolerating scraps?
    • Remove all tattered or shabby things in your life and stop neglecting yourself.

    From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss

    Dr. Pacik

    “There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.”
    ~ Milan Kundera

    To have compassion for others in their full array of suffering evokes compassion for our own unknown suffering. To open our hearts to the brunt and breadth of all life bestows the gift of self-knowledge. Conversely, those who are most stuck in their past can’t realize their own past trauma–they can’t be present for it. Codependent, they try to get others to empathize so they can realize a bit of their own truth. In fact, they’re right: Sometimes just compassionately repeating someone’s story of trauma lets them see and hear it for the first time. Especially when their pain is walled off by dissociation, they’ve only been able to acknowledge it with emotional distance or intellectual fragmentation, as it always felt too distressing to look at with emotional and intellectual awareness. To have room and strength in our hearts for others creates a shared security.

    We all know we should have compassion, but it’s easier said than done. It takes a truly sober and stable heart to be emotionally present, to learn a reliable process for healing trauma head-on without minimizing or self-medicating. Compassion also requires that we let go of any residual shame and programming. Unhealthy, trauma-bonded relationships are fueled by feelings of empathy for one’s suffering partner. Similarly the manufactured intimacy of casual sex promises amazing breakthroughs of erotic compassion but, like a drunken frenzy, the shared experience of emotional connectedness rarely survives daybreak. Authentic erotic compassion can take place only in the vulnerability of genuine sexual and romantic feelings, in attuning to another’s internal experience within the context of true intimacy. And not as a means of seduction or enslavement or heightening your experience. Real compassion manifests only for compassion’s sake.

    • Today, show compassion for yourself. Look in the mirror, and feel for whatever you’re going through now. Remember where you’ve come from and the major challenges and triumphs of your past. Then, allow compassion to flow fully within your being. Feel this healing energy as a spark quickening your spirit.
    • Seek out current event stories by reading or watching the news, and practice feeling compassion for all parties. Whenever you would cast blame, remember that everyone has a back-story which, if known, would surely evoke your compassion. Today, grant all people a moment of your grace.

    From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss

    Dr. Pacik

    “There is no good singing, there is only present and absent.”
    ~ Jeff Buckley

    Every mental absence represents a moment of life unlived. Habitual lack of presence has many faces: inhibition, negligence, preoccupation, delusion, disguise, or dissociation. We all know people who seem absent–who check out–and it’s easy to understand their behavior as having a historical basis. But the principle of projection expressed in the adage, “Takes one to know one,” tells us that, since we perceive only what we ourselves exhibit, the inattention we note in others reflects our own unexcused absences. But there’s a saving twist to the projection principle: By projecting deeper to perceive the divine presence of every moment, we make our own inner potential fully present. As life presents itself on many levels, so we may be present for life on many levels.

    We can all envision how we want to be and the quality of relating we’d like. So what’s stopping us? We might have certain blocks about the idea of being present, of showing up. People may hesitate to reveal true selves when past experiences didn’t go as planned. Always to function in full presence might seem to require too much effort, as if we only had a limited amount of energy at our disposal. And it will surely deplete us until we install a new working concept: Anything we want to become–to express in presence–we must first perceive. The fact that certain higher concepts exist in the world instructs us that higher truths are to be found within us as well. It is said that “nothing is ever manifested in an effect that is not in the cause.” Perhaps the truest desire is to be fully present, to recognize the livingness of the world in all we see, to know that everything reflects a higher order sparkling with connection and meaning.

    • Everything you perceive is your presence. Today, look deeply into every moment and perceive divine presence. Recognize each circumstance as having a particular bearing on your soul. Over time, this practice will bring you presence of mind and make manifest your own catalytic presence.
    • Strengthen your sexual presence with your beloved. Let your interactions be intentional. Rouse yourself from sleepwalking, from taking relationship for granted. Slow down, look deeply into your lover’s eyes, and let yourself be seen. Affirm your feelings with affectionate compliments and pause, letting your lover linger on your words as your find real ways to present your truth.

    From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss

    Dr. Pacik

    “Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.”
    ~ William Shakespeare

    Love is a relief. It’s a relief finally to find someone who matches our inner vision. We might not even have realized how lonely we were, or how nervous. We all have unknown stress–from not belonging, not sharing others’ feelings or interests, fearing that we’ll never deeply connect with another. To connect even for a moment on some level brings relief to swallowed stress, so we sigh. Art and poetry usually depict the lover’s sigh as a swoon, but it may just as easily signify sadness, regret, dismay, boredom, or futility. Where there’s a sigh, there’s a provocation.

    People who sigh during sex or in romantic embrace might seem to be in their own solitary experience. The slightest touch can release repressed tension that may be deeper than that of the current circumstance. Certain people, whether healers or seducers, have the ability to play people like a piano, touching more than skin–touching this life tension and releasing a cacophony of erotic sighs.

    What is it to exhale, and to accompany this exhale with a song? A sigh feels like it comes from the gut or the heart. It’s an intimate sound, a communication in a way, as if words were superfluous. Is it possible to sigh without feeling safe? Sighing signifies trust–a psychological seed that may sprout into articulation of ideas and thoughts, but is not yet at that stage. A sigh can be a way we express that we feel safe enough to share feelings or perhaps just within ourselves. It’s a space that we may create a lot of space around.

    • Listen today to the sighs and wordless sounds people make. Can you respond to the ringing trust that a sigh engenders? Notice the prosody of ensuing dialogue and try to elongate your emotional connections.
    • Give a good sigh. Practice expressing unknown, inexpressible feeling through sighs. At what point does it feel forced or annoying, and when do you feel comfortable and safe enough to share these subterranean feelings through the direct language of the heart? Today, discover right-sized sighing to free your inner song.

    From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss

    Dr. Pacik

    “It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.”
    ~ Mandy Hale

    Self-care is like the airplane oxygen mask that in the event of an emergency we first fasten to ourselves before we can take care of another. If we don’t take responsibility for our own care, then really we’re not in a state to take care of anything. Many times it’s in the rush of personal and social interaction when self-care goes by the wayside. One of the key signs of codependency and addiction is self-abandonment. Are we eating right, getting enough sleep, grooming, exercising, cleaning home and car? How about setting appropriate boundaries, and pausing before reacting? We can have so many issues around these acts, especially if they weren’t effectively modeled for our unique autonomous development.

    Sometimes we abandon our own care to focus on others with the hope we’ll be inspired, blessed, or the person we save will return the favor out of gratitude. Cut out the middleman! The best any of us can do for others is to take care of ourselves, physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. When we feel spiritually healthy, chances are we’re better apt to define our genuine needs and goals. It can take time to learn to trust and not sabotage true presence of mind.

    One of the most important aspects of self-care is communication, knowing that each person you’re with is trustworthy. Sexually, self-care involves attending to your own sexual health and pleasure, and knowing when and how to say no even though your body might be saying yes, and vice-versa! If a past history of ignoring self-care has contributed to major problems you’ve faced, then an inventory of these issues might be in order. Not to punish yourself, which is the antithesis of self-care, but to truly understand your inclination. Why might you have an uncaring attitude toward your own needs? Where does your negligence originate? These are all substantial questions that you can explore, and are themselves a healthy part of self-care.

    • List the priorities in your life. Consider how each priority impacts your self-care. Address any discrepancies. See that you’re getting enough food, water and sleep each day. Usually if we think we’re saving time by ignoring our own needs, our lack of energy will create the opposite effect.
    • Do you need to discuss your unmet needs with your partner? If a partnership isn’t reciprocal, it’s not a partnership. State your needs, and listen to the needs of your partner. See any conflict through the lens of respective self-care.

    From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss

    Dr. Pacik

    “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.”
    ~ Robert Frost

    As time marches on, the accumulation of our experiences etch themselves on our bodies, minds, and souls. The physical body slowly but surely begins to lose its shape and form, while the wisdom of the soul expands and outshines what once was. How many times have you met an elder, perhaps in another culture, whose eyes radiated grandeur, beauty, and a life well lived that rocked you to your core? The weight of responsibility in life can sometimes feel crushing but, to judge from such elders, “What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.” The process of enduring, learning, and growing ultimately leads to a lightness of being. Often those same elders have a mischievous gleam in their eyes, an almost childlike quality that reflects back to us the look of freedom and peace.

    But aging with grace and dignity is no easy feat as our consumer culture consistently bombards us with messages glorifying eternal youth. Youth, however, is a state of mind and heart, grounded in happiness and gratitude and born out of a willingness to embrace our age and celebrate the privilege of growing older. Notice how much more experience you have today than yesterday, and how your changing face and body reflect your wisdom. Embrace all of who you are and let the lightness of yourbeing radiate forth to all those you meet. Take a risk during sex and make yourself vulnerable by letting your lover see and feel your inner youth and ancient wisdom, and together you’ll open to the ageless, timeless souls that you are.

    • Take an inventory of your entire body starting with your feet and going up to the top of your head. Notice the changes in the shapes, forms, and texture of your skin and hair.
    • Make peace with nature’s way, and remind yourself of the wonder and awe of being alive on this day.

    From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss – See more at: http://www.vaginismusmd.com/support/vaginismus-md-forum/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=1002#sthash.l6a2w7BN.dpuf

    Every day is worth celebrating!

    Dr. Pacik

    During my counseling session on day 2 of treatment I stress the importance of “Mindful Dilation”. Most women fear the dilation portion of vaginismus treatment yet this is an exceedingly important part of the program. Being mindful during dilation has been of great value to many of my patients.


    “Leave your front door and your back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t serve them tea.”
    ~ Shunryu Suzuki

    To be mindful is to be dead center in the present. Gurus and teachers from the beginning of time have pointed the way to this single moment where the past and present collide with the future, by reminding us to be here now. Infants and children model how to be present in the here and now. You’ve probably noticed that when a baby is hungry he cries, when her diaper’s wet she fusses, and when something catches his eye, he laughs with delight. Their capacity for self-referencing has not developed yet, so they have no choice but to express purely present awareness. To be mindful, then, is to tame the thoughts scampering through our minds every minute by focusing on what’s dead center in our immediate experience.

    Sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch are all portals to the present. Next time you’re watching a sunrise or seeing your lover’s face, really look. Make contact with the full essence of your being as if you’ve never seen the sun or those eyes before, and notice what happens in your body. Smell the nape of her neck, his hair and skin, and take in the effect it has on your arousal system. Listen to the sounds of pleasure that arise during your love-making and the feel of your lover’s body above and below you. Taste her tongue and let your tongues mingle, focusing only on that sensation. Concentrating on your body is a mindfulness practice designed to give you permission to experience your pleasure. And the key to mindfulness (perhaps ironically) is to get out of your head and to resist the rule of thought. Simple awareness of what’s in front of you–what you’re seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting or touching–brings you into the eternal now.

    • Sit quietly with your eyes open. Really see your surroundings. Now, notice your other senses, and how your noisy thoughts distract you from them. Be interested only in the sensations and senses in your body.
    • When you eat your next meal, do so in silence. Make it a practice to taste each morsel of food as you gently chew. Don’t chew your thoughts! Savor each swallow before going on to the next.
    • Treat your lover the way you treat your meal. Touch him or her carefully and deliberately, take him or her in, and savor every moment.

    From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss

    Dr. Pacik

    “Everyone suffers at least one bad betrayal in their lifetime. It’s what unites us. The trick is not to let it destroy your trust in others when that happens. Don’t let them take that from you.”
    ~ Sherrilyn Kenyon

    Deception, dishonesty, and deceit are painful to experience, whether we’re on the receiving or giving end. The more deeply we are in relationship with another, the more we open ourselves up to be hurt. In life, we inevitably hurt and disappoint those we love; this seems to be the nature of human relatedness. Yet when we deliberately set out to deceive another, we step out of our integrity, violate the other’s trust, and activate shame in ourselves. Betraying another is almost always the result of an earlier experience of betrayal in a cycle of abuse. Being betrayed by a trusted other, especially by a lover, is one of the most painful experiences we can endure.

    If you have betrayed another or have been betrayed, take stock of what you did or how you reacted. Then take the necessary time to forgive yourself or another. Whether the two of you stay involved in each other’s lives or part ways for self-protection’s sake, it can take years to restore trust or to forgive someone who’s betrayed you. There’s no prescription for how long these processes take, so don’t force or rush these complicated matters. Give yourself a break, take the time you need and as nature takes her course, you will naturally heal and become stronger.

    • Make a list of persons you have betrayed in your life. Have you made amends? Have you forgiven yourself for your misdeeds? Today, take one step toward repairing your wrongdoing.
    • If you’ve been betrayed, how do you protect your heart today? Betrayal trauma, a form of psychological trauma, requires healing–sometimes through professional help. Have you forgiven the betrayer? If not, why? Holding on to resentment, hurt, and anger is a form of drinking your own poison.
    • Let go today and let nature take her course.

    From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss

    Dr. Pacik

    I have treated many women who are disconnected emotionally and physically from lovemaking because of the pain associated with attempted intercourse. Though there is a high success rate using appropriate treatments, these feelings can linger for longer than desired. I thought this segment on empathy may resonate.


    “One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient.”
    ~ Charles M. Blow

    Through empathy we perceive and share the emotional reality of another in that living moment. To bear such witness requires releasing the desire to change another’s emotional dynamic, because wanting only to “fix” another’s pain may come from our desire to escape feeling it ourselves. Typical defense mechanisms we use to displace empathy include minimizing, maximizing, or distracting.

    People who weren’t shown empathy in childhood may struggle to practice it as adults. Classic non-responses to childhood distress include, “Stop crying,” “Tsk, you’re okay,” or even, “Here, have a lollipop.” Lack of empathy stunts the reparative neurophysiological process that builds secure attachment, and substitutes an endless psychological loop from emotional stasis to disruption to dissociative lapse, over and over again. And it’s not just painful feelings that get stuck without the healing connection of empathy. Success may also have rarely received empathy–approval, but not empathy.

    It follows that a crucial tool in any relationship is self-empathy, especially as a parent or spouse. If we block self-empathy, especially during our bleakest moments, we’re certainly going to be limited in our ability to empathize with others. While empathy lets us see into others, self-empathy keeps us from being invisible. It can be as simple as checking in with yourself during any conversation or situation to voice in your mind, “This is difficult for me right now,” or “I am triggered,” or even “I feel joyful” in whatever tone speaks to you.

    • An elementary step toward empathy is reflecting back what we hear without inserting our own thoughts and feelings. Ask a willing participant to relay an emotional event from the day, and simply try to connect with that experience by repeating key phrases. If the person says, “I felt uncomfortable,” then simply repeat, “You felt uncomfortable” in a similar tone. Observe your capacity for bearing witness without trying to fix or distract.
    • How do you practice empathy during sexual and romantic times? Truly seeing and being seen by your lover can align bodily pleasure with emotional connection. Sexually experiment by bringing empathy to your bedroom.

    From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss

    Dr. Pacik

    “One real danger in love relationships is that most people secretly believe that they must control the love object in order to feel safe in loving and being loved.”
    ~ Christopher S. Hyatt

    Whenever we hit on the great idea of influencing our partner’s behavior or shaping how our relationship “should” go, we may want to pause and explore whether such thoughts are a sign of trouble. Trying to restrain another’s actions and emotions is a recipe for disaster, born from a need to orchestrate outcomes that’s itself born of insecurity. We’ve all heard and used the term “control freak” to describe persons obsessed with controlling themselves and others in order to command every situation. No one likes being around such a person, yet we demonstrate our own controlling traits when we react out of fear that we’re not going to get what we want.

    The opposite of control is surrender and sexual pleasure is, in large part, all about surrender. Women who can’t orgasm and men who have performance problems are usually unable to give up control and to surrender. If at any time during the sexual act you’re in your head agonizing about how your thighs look, your penis size, or whether you’re “good enough,” you’re struggling with control issues. Dropping your internal story about not being good enough and instead surrendering to pleasure is the greatest gift you can give yourself and your partner. Get out of self-consciousness and open your heart. Then you can dispense with your ideas about the outcome of your sexual experience and yield to the undreamt-of possibilities of its happenings that are beyond your control. Stay open and give way to the chance that something amazing, healing, and beautiful can occur without your having to direct or control the result.

    • Do you try to control the outcomes or circumstances in your relationships or professional life? If so, why?
    • When was the last time you tried to control your partner? How did it go? Do you need to make amends
    • Next time you make love, try surrendering fully to the experience by silencing the negative voices in your head and focusing on the sensations in your body.

    From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss

    With vaginismus women the other control issue of importance is their fear and anxiety of being penetrated because it is either impossible or there is intense pain. During counseling this is addressed and the partner is brought into the picture to teach him how to be gentle and understanding during early penetrative attempts. This can be very helpful in giving up control issues that relate to avoiding pain. This gets better but takes time.

    “Leg lock” is another form of involuntary control when the thighs close during attempted penetration as during a GYN exam. For women who would like to advance to intercourse we suggest using the “spooning” position or “doggy style”. In this way entry is from behind and leg lock is no longer a factor. A woman needs to go through a treatment program before attempting this.

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