Happiness Happens

Have you ever noticed how easily we feel happiness when we are around a puppy?

Research has also shown that owning a dog is good for your overall wellbeing—a dog never judges and is always there to listen.

A dog does not have requirements to give you love.  It simply does.  Who else becomes wildly excited to see you because you have been missed for the mere minute you left the room?

Each of my dogs (and sometimes cats… yes, it’s a bit of a zoo in here at times) greets me with soulful, loving eyes every time I look at them.  My dogs don’t care that I lost it 5 minutes ago, that I made multiple mistakes, or that I have put on a few extra pounds.

Their response to us is void of blame or needing approval.

Dogs are mirrors into our very soul.

Because dogs remind us, on a soul level, that which brings us to a state of utter happy-happy-joy-joy is loving ourselves wholeheartedly—no shoulda’s, coulda’s, woulda’s, or need for any approval or justification outside ourselves to feel happy.

Happiness: An inside job

 

Happiness is a state of being.  When we divert too far away from it, we will go through great effort to feel it again.

It feels good to feel happy. We feel light, carefree, and it feels so darn yummy to laugh!  Our endorphins and other feel-good hormones fire off and life feel so sweet in the happy-filled moments.

And, happiness many times is a shared event.  We are often in company of others having heart-felt connecting moments with them.   Even if life is not marching how we desire, when we experience happiness, it all feels good right there and then.

What we forget is that these moments open us to the state of happiness already inside ourselves.  We forget that it is always there waiting for us (just like my beloved dogs).  It’s not the person or the circumstance that provided our happy, it was us giving ourselves the permission to crack open and let it out.

When we practice happiness from the inside out, we open to knowing that we can access and tap into it at any time.  The key to this opening being Self-Love.

Self-Love being the practice of seeing ourselves through eyes of acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness.  We don’t judge ourselves for not knowing any better or making choices out of our ego’s need for approval or being liked.

We then derive happiness from accepting all our parts—the good, the bad, and the not so pretty.  From here, we also nurture integrity with ourselves—when what we say, do and even think, are in harmony despite what the ego mind demands.

“Happiness is when what you think,
what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” 

– Mahatma Gandhi

Our choices and actions are then based on love, not fear.  No worry about others accepting us or loving us more or less, because of who we are.

And, as a reminder happiness begets more happiness… love begets more love.  When we love and feel happy, we attract more of this from the world around us.

 

How to create more Happiness and Self-Love?

  1. Don’t believe everything you think.  Just because you think it, it doesn’t make it real.  The brain is the great creator and it will create stories that are not true.
  2. Forgive YOU.  You know that thing you did one time (or maybe a few times) that made you feel bad, embarrassed, or ashamed? It’s time to let that go for reals.  And, as a reminder, you did the best you knew how back then.  No Monday morning quarterbacking!  Everything is a learning experience.
  3. Release the need for approval.  Now this doesn’t mean you don’t consider the consequences of your behavior or choices have on others.  What it does mean is that you can be the sweetest, juiciest summer peach, and someone will just not like peaches.
  4. Let yourself feel it all.  It’s healthy and normal to feel unwanted and have negative feelings.  It’s all part of being human and all ways to practice acceptance and self-love.
  5. Reach out to family, friends, healers, therapists, coaches—whoever you need to help you through the tough times. You are not expected to go through them alone.  To ask for help is a huge act of love.
  6. Shake and move your miraculous body.  Moving our body helps the body relax, release toxins, and fire up the feel-good hormones.

Happiness happens.

Make sure it happens to you and that it happens often.

Love… and Happiness,

Jacqueline

 

PS:

Here’s how I usually start my daily pursuit of happiness.

Mornings with Lucy

Want to dive in deeper and get a little help making happiness happen?

For women

For men

See ya there!

Enlivening Pleasure Now: Using Mindfulness, Embodiment, and Movement For Your Sex Therapy Practice

Presenting at AASECT Conference 2018

Change happens by giving clients a new experience of themselves in the moment. Often, sex therapists hesitate to bring experiential work into the room.
This workshop discusses theories of body-focused psychotherapy and the application to sex therapy.
Movement, the use of deliberate physical movement to facilitate the emotional, social, cognitive, physical, and spiritual integration of the individual by assisting them in re-inhabiting themselves, bringing them back into contact with their instinctual wisdom, sense of self, and embodied sense of knowing while releasing habitual muscular holding patterns that reinforce shutting down. This is done by guiding clients through the use of breath, mindfulness and sensor-awareness techniques, and deliberate physical movement and in doing so, increasing awareness and creation of pleasure in the body.
At the conclusion of this workshop, participants will be able to: discuss the reasons and benefits for including the body, body awareness, and movement in sex therapy, couple’s therapy, and group interventions; integrate at least one body-focused technique and how it might expand their effectiveness in working with clients with diverse culture and languages to assist in increasing body-awareness and pleasure.

Sacred Sexuality + More Heart Space in Your Sex Life

While modern religions have defined sacred and spiritual as being separate from the body, from nature, and certainly from sex, the ancient the roots of our language and history imply something quite different. 

Our collective history suggests that at one time there was a sacred nature to sex. 

Given the shifts in our current culture and news headlines, now is the time to reacquaint ourselves with this ancient wisdom.

Sacred is defined as that which is made or declared holy, revered, blessed, holy.   

Sacred is also understood differently by varying cultures. 

One example of this is how in many indigenous cultures, the concept of sacred is one of relationship—based on reciprocity and connection—rather than dogma or popular opinion. 

In these native cultures, humans, animals, plants, including Mother Earth herself, are considered sacred because everything and everyone are seen as an essential part of the Whole of creation.  Therefore, every living creature is recognized as inherently sacred because  each is part of the interconnected web of ecology and energy that births, sustains and carries life.

Sacred Sexuality is an essential part of many spiritual traditions and cultures.

Sacred sexuality implies an awareness that sex is the inception of life, of all that is, a powerful connection to Divine energy. 

It is no coincidence then that the word sacrum is also the anatomical term for the triangular bone at the base of the spine—the very place that Tantric traditions say is the seat of the sleeping kundalini or Shakti energy. 

When aroused through practice (e.g. yoga, dancing, hip circles, hip thrusts), the kundalini rises up the spine to awaken the spiritual centers in the brain—the place where many of our habitual mindless chatter also resides.  And when empty, the place where we connect to Source.  

And, here is where it is important to remember that without the sexual act, most of us would not be here. 

Sacred Sexuality therefore acknowledges that our life force and our sexual energy originate from the same source.  Once does not exist without the other, at least not for very long. 

Sex is sacred because of its role in bonding, connection, and staying present.

Mutually satisfying sexual exchanges naturally intensify bonding between people.  Of course, sex can take place without bonding.

But, if we are not careful and habitually have sex without bonding, without connection, this can eventually lead to heart closure or not seeing our partner as an equal in the relationship with equally important needs and desires.

Sex opens the heart only if we bring the energy up and we access our heart space.

The Tantric attitudes of slowing down, awakening all of the senses, tuning into subtle energy, letting go of judgment and blame, expressing gratitude for the gift of life, and savoring the present moment are wonderfully supportive tools for intimate relating.

When we take the time to remind ourselves of what we are really trying to create with our lovers, we become more conscious of the need to connect and create greater intimacy of the heart space. 

We attune and notice the nuances of our partner and co-create with them a safe space to talk about what we want and, as equally important, what we do not want. 

Sex then becomes more than the chase of the orgasm or performance. 

Sex becomes the vehicle with which all partners use their channels for pleasure to connect with themselves and their partner. 

This is how sex becomes sacred again because it expands our state of consciousness—we are fully present to the here and now in our own body and in that of our partner. 

Sex is sacred because of its role in accessing peak experiences of love, oneness, and healing.

Humans have an innate need for peak experiences of bliss, merging, and ecstasy. 

We also  have a deep longing for union with the Divine.

When we access expanded states of consciousness through sex, we validate our intuitive sense that sex can be worship and that worship can be erotic.

There’s a reason why in many moments of pleasure and orgasm,  the words that are moaned most often is “oh my God!”

Sensuality is the embodied alignment of body-heart-mind-spirit.

Sacred Sensuality integrates our personality, our soul, and our human nature.  How we relate to our world, ourselves, and others is done through the innate sensual body.

The paths of Erotic Spirituality teaches us to embrace and honor the body as a temple of Spirit, rather than trying to deny our natural sexual impulses. 

And when we begin to recognize our own body as a temple for the Divine, we also begin to see our partners through the same loving lens.

Because when we open our hearts to our own divine, sacred nature, we can then do the same for others.

How to Create More Heart Space in Your Sex Life
  1. Leave all judgments at the door… actually leave them at the curb.  There’s no room for any of it in the heart space.  When we focus on lack or what we are not getting, we are literally closing the heart space which makes it difficult to create and maintain connection.
  2. B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Sounds silly, but, yes, breathe!  It’s not about deep breaths to your pelvic floor (although that may help too, more on this in another blog).  Breathing is essential for us to relax, for the body to remain open and present. The more we hold the breath, the more the body tightens, the more the brain focuses on silly chatter leaving the heart to eventually close.  Breathe.  Focus on filling your belly and emptying.  See how it relaxes you and welcomes more softness to the front side of the torso. 
  3. Our NO is more important than our YES. The greatest lesson in any Tantra practice is knowing your “NO’s” because when you know them and express them, your “YES” is more heartfelt and genuine.  When we agree to something out of default, our body gets tense, and  so does our heart.  And, on the flip side….
  4. Listen… especially to your partner’s “NO’s.” Do not question, invalidate, minimize, or contradict any NO’s.  When you do, you are not present, you are not in your heart, and above all, you are no longer safe to your partner which always results in heart closure.
  5. Slow down.  Look at each other.  There’s a reason why most Tantric practices begin with Eye Gazing (aka Soul Gazing).  It gives us a chance to really see our lovers, feel their energy, and notice what feels good or not.

And, remember… this is a practice. not an event.

Most of did not get a chance to learn about sexuality in a sacred, holistic way.  So practice, be curious… and lead with the heart.

Love,

Jacqueline

The Natural Ebb and Flow of Intimacy

Intimacy…

plays an essential role in humans.  As social creatures and at the root of our humanity, is the craving for close, personal and reciprocating relationships with others.

Intimacy usually refers to mutual openness, sharing, and vulnerability.  Its lifespan can range from a single interaction to a long-term relationship of years or even decades.

It can exist in a variety of relationships spanning from close friendships to parent and child to family and even neighbors and co-workers.

But no other relationship contains the polarity of needs and interactions than that of our romantic relationships where intimacy also denotes sexual interactions because of the roles and expectations of these relationships.

Intimacy in a romantic pairing relationship is built over time.

At the beginning of a romance with hormones heightened and curiosity on overload (aka limerence which we will discuss later, so stay tuned), our attraction is high and we experience glimpses of intimacy.

New relationships might have moments of closeness, but the long-term intimacy that characterizes close personal relationships is a building process.  Because as we get comfortable and let our guard down, more of our “parts” show up and so do those of our partners.

There is also a natural, healthy ebb and flow to intimacy — a relationship might be highly intimate or be lacking in intimacy without anything triggering the rise or the fall.

The problem becomes a problem when people judge the quality of their relationships based on the depth of intimacy and the degree to which they feel close to their partner, or how they perceive their partner being intimate with them.

Then, because of previously unresolved issues, they shutdown, avoid, or run and blame their partner or circumstances for the state of the relationship.

The truth is that….

Intimacy is about being intimate with ourselves… Into-Me-I-SEE.

To create and practice real intimacy is to practice seeing into myself, recognizing old and new wants and desires, letting go of what is not really me, and then (huge here) allowing the space for my partner to do the same without wronging or taking what is being shared personally.

The reasons why infidelity occurs are many, but the common thread I have found in every couple that has sat across me, perhaps not verbatim but some version of this – I did not know how to practice intimacy with myself, so to discover and reveal parts of myself to myself, I went elsewhere. 

True intimacy requires trust and vulnerability…  and this is frightening when we are not comfortable with parts of ourselves.  We look to our partners to validate us, to make us feel accepted, to feel loved, and yet none of this matters if we cannot do it for ourselves.  

Getting emotionally naked

The healthiest and most passionate of relationships naturally have moments of high and low intimacy.   What keeps them going is that they know this and when the intimacy is low, there’s no blaming or avoiding what is happening.

Instead, they get emotionally naked.

They have the willingness to explore and then express deep sadness, hurt, fear, and love…oh, yes love!

And because they both get naked, there is no need to blame or avoid, because they recognize that when one of them disengages, it is not a sign that something is wrong, but that a new level of depth is ready to emerge.

And they seek moments where they can experience themselves differently.

Don’t get me wrong, many people struggle with intimacy, and the fear of intimacy is a common concern in therapy.

But sometimes, to allow ourselves a moment to have that spark of intimacy – to let ourselves be seen and while also having the willingness to see without intruding or pushing any agenda… so we can build from that in therapy, in quiet moments, and even in the loud ones.  (A little positive psychology always helps.)

Because contrary to popular belief, the couple who never quarrels and seems like the perfect pair is not necessarily the couple who has the greatest intimacy.

It is the couple who expresses themselves and their differences, who engage in their struggles and challenges in a constructive, honest way, who may perhaps from the outside look contradicting or too different, but who can also find ways to express their love that are truly intimate.

Want to experience a moment… perhaps that spark?

Come join The Art of Love, Intimacy, & Attraction Evenings.  An evening focused on the tending and nurturing of all your parts. Couples and Singles are invited to attend.

 

With all my love,

Jacqueline