The Light & Shadow of Love & Sex
We might imagine that everything we do in the name of love or pleasure is “good”. On the flip side, we might also imagine that anything someone does to ignite love or passion in us has “ulterior” motives. Both are extremes in thinking, in consciousness. Some are so fearful of love, intimacy and passion that they run away from it. Others run towards love, intimacy and passion as fast as they can… imagining those will heal all that hurts (loneliness, self-rejection, failure, disappointment, abandonment, and the like.)
In reality, very few of us operate at the extremes when it comes to love and sex… and looking at those extremes can help us see where we might have limiting, unsupportive, or even shadow sides to our approach.
So what is the light and what is the shadow? It reminds me of a teaching of the Buddha about the Middle Way. (I’ve written more about it here.) The middle way, is the path of the “light”… in it’s simplest form, the middle way is the place where we’re not grasping or resisting. In other words, it’s an experience of life where we are simply “being” and we’re not trying to get anything (love, passion, attention, success, respect, etc) and we’re not trying to get away from anything (failure, rejection, abandonment, unworthiness, guilt, etc.) So if we’re not grasping or resisting we are free to be in and experience the truth of the moment.
Let’s look closer at how the shadow (the grasping or resisting) might show up… Women often grasp for connection, affection, intimacy… and they might offer themselves sexually in a way, or at at time, that if they had all the love, affection, and intimacy they desired, they would otherwise say “no.” This is the shadow. If we go along with another’s demand or desires so that they will like us or love us, or so they won’t reject or abandon us, that’s the shadow. If we use any “tactic” we can to get sex or if we have loose boundaries around sexual expression or interaction, if those are in any way an attempt to grasp at pleasure, lust or even ecstasy (vs. letting the ecstasy arise naturally) that’s the shadow.
A recent situation reminded me of how true it is that both our shadow and our light can show up very easily, sometimes even confusingly. In this case, I was looking at another person and observing, or probably more accurately, projecting what I saw as this person’s light and shadow. Now do I know there is light and shadow in this person? Absolutely. It’s in all of us. And, can I absolutely know what’s going on in that person? Absolutely not.
We might feel like we can see another person’s shadow more easily or frequently than we can see our own. Although it can be true that it’s easier to see another’s, it’s MUCH more important that we’re aware of and in touch with our own shadow… the ways that we unconsciously try to manipulate life and others to get more of what we want, crave, hunger for… This is not an easy invitation and it will change every relationship you have and experience you have in life for that matter.
It’s not my responsibility, or even my right, to judge someone’s expression, “light” or “dark”. And, it’s important, especially in our society today, with all the judgement, challenge, fear, fighting and hatred, that we each look to see and reveal our own shadows. They are much less “dangerous” when we bring them out in the open. As a matter of fact, once we bring the light of our awareness to it, the shadow dims.
So I invite you to take some time in the next day or two, whenever something feels awry or off in any relationship (including the relationship with you), to see what unconscious grasping or resisting might be lurking in your shadows. As you see these aspects of shadow in you, be honest with yourself (AND very compassionate), as you acknowledge areas where you can bring more of your confident, authentic, and truly extraordinary nature forward into your life and your relationships. The truth in you are lacking nothing (there is nothing to grasp) and no feeling can hurt you (there’s nothing to resist.) Feelings may not be comfortable but they are not even remotely as dangerous as we imagine them to feel.
So begin to reveal your shadow to you and if you want to grow in authenticity, intimacy and ecstasy… reveal aspects of your shadow to another.
In love, light and ecstasy,
*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.