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By Mikaya Heart
This is the last in a series of articles by Mikaya Heart on how sex can help us to understand the nature of reality, first published on cherrygrrl.com.
In the first article of this series, I mentioned that women tend to have ambivalence about allowing sexual energy to flow freely. I believe it is common for women to have a troubled relationship to sex which they don’t talk about either because they haven’t acknowledged it to themselves or because they think there is something wrong with them. Most commonly, ambivalence is manifested by lack of desire, particularly in a longterm relationship, and it can also be manifested by the inability to have an orgasm (both of which I have personally experienced). Human beings are extraordinarily different, and so what I am about to say may not apply to everyone. However, a great deal of women’s lack of ongoing desire occurs because we are trying to avoid inappropriate feelings coming up. Even if we have not personally suffered from rape or sexual abuse, that fear is deep in our cultural subconscious. So it’s understandable for women to have feelings of anger or antipathy coming up along with sexual arousal, and those who have never had this experience are fortunate. In order not to deal with the anger, we cut ourselves off from arousal; after all, it can be very uncomfortable to find yourself feeling murderous towards your lover in the middle of a love-making session. Yet the ability to feel one’s feelings, which is very much a feminine quality, is a tremendous source of power and wisdom.
Sometimes the feelings that want to come up have nothing to do with sex – but they are stored in that place deep in our psyches where we hide all the inconvenient truths that our body knows and our minds wish to deny. When the energy of orgasm rushes through our body, it reaches down into those deep places and pulls up everything that is hidden there. It may not even be an experience of a particular emotion: it may be simply such a sense of power that it’s alarming and overwhelming. If we want to step into our power on a daily basis, we need to get used to it, and we can get help by talking with our partners beforehand so that they are prepared to handle it and know it isn’t personal. Sadly, that isn’t always possible.
Feelings of any kind, apparently related to sex or not, are another form of energy flowing. The word emotion literally means moving through. Feelings want to flow, and they will flow through us fast if we allow them, but we often block them because we are afraid of them. Yet, when we learn to pay attention to them, they are a glorious source of information, telling us everything we need to know about what is true and right for each of us. This flow of feeling is often called intuition, and when we are a clear vessel (when we are no longer storing and blocking old feelings), it is a physical sensation that never lies.
Feelings are not factual, but they affect people very strongly—usually much more strongly than facts. No feelings (as opposed to expression of feelings) are right or wrong—they just are and need no justification. Trying to rationalize them (“Well, you did blah blah, so I have a right to be angry!”) is pointless, although many people do this in order to justify behaving badly because they have not been able to control the expression of an emotion. However, feelings do always arise from something, and if a negative feeling is overpowering, it’s sometimes worth finding your way back to the place or time where it first arose, in order to help to resolve it. The resolution of a feeling is always about allowing the flow of energy which manifests as the feeling. Frequently it is not even necessary to label a feeling, just let it pass.
The place where those feelings first arose is often our childhood when we were forced to try to ignore them in the process of trying to be an adult. Denying feelings requires tremendous energy in the long run (and many people deny them for many years). Holding our bodies tightly so that the feelings won’t flow is a major source of stress, and trying to block the flow is rarely one hundred percent effective, so unexpressed feelings leak out in unpleasant ways, which usually makes a person unpleasant to be around. The extraordinary thing is that even the most difficult feelings will transform, often very quickly, when they are expressed – allowed to flow, that is—and the sense of freedom that suffuses us when we do that is unparalleled. Learning to express emotions as they arise, without dumping them on others, is an important aspect of what being adult really is about. It is an art, and not an easy one to learn. Yet the importance of learning that skill–of allowing one’s body to express itself, of being demonstrative without being violent–can not be underestimated.
Once we’ve learned to pay attention to our feelings and respond to the feedback they are constantly giving us, we can take charge of our own lives, and we can choose how we react or don’t react to what is going on around us. No one is ever responsible for making anyone else feel anything. One person may facilitate certain feelings in another person, and that can be pleasant or unpleasant. If it’s unpleasant, getting out of the way is a good idea.
If the need to withhold feelings is strong enough, it will prevent us having fulfilling and rewarding sex, because a part of us wants to stop the orgasm that would otherwise open the floodgates. Allowing feelings to flow through us freely, a process that sex can facilitate has enormous repercussions: it is a huge step in the direction of leading a fulfilling and rewarding life. It’s not that sex in itself is the answer to life’s problems (although research has shown that sex can alleviate a great deal of pain and illness), it’s more that it clears away blocks to what is possible. It opens doors to an absolutely different perspective, one that is free from worries and concerns, one where we are simply and fully who we are, and that is all that is necessary. What would happen if we lived from that perspective on a daily basis? The majority of the things that take up our brain space would simply fall away. We would see with very different eyes and hear with very different ears. We would marvel at the taste and texture of a piece of bread and butter. We would spend a lot of time appreciating the beauty around us, and our judgments of what is beautiful would change radically, as we interpreted our reality from the present moment instead of from our cultural conditioning. We would operate from a place that was free of judgmental preconceptions – and that is the ultimate definition of freedom.
A WISH AFTER MIDNIGHT
By Zetta Elliott
“When we contrast the condition of blacks in the 19th century with that of blacks living in the 21st century, we’re inclined to think the difference is like night and day. But speculative fiction reframes the past, creating a kind of literary lens that enables us to look more closely at the shifting definition of freedom. Have we really crossed the finish line? I think a lot of us still have a long way to go…”
Adapted from the interview with Zetta Elliott on Omnivoracious.com
Inspired by the work of Octavia Butler, the African American science fiction writer, as well as her favorite childhood book, The Secret Garden, debut novelist Zetta Elliott takes readers back to Civil War-era Brooklyn – and the draft riots – in her new book, A WISH AFTER MIDNIGHT (February 16, 2010; $12.95). Provoking the question “What if?”, Elliott’s characters yearn for what is possible in a tumultuous world.
A WISH AFTER MIDNIGHT gives readers a hopeful young heroine, Genna Colon, stuck in the confines of a tough neighborhood in 2001’s inner-city Brooklyn. Frustrated by the drug dealers in her building, her family’s cramped apartment, and her inability to compete with the cute girls at school, Genna finds comfort in her dreams of a better future. Almost every day she escapes to the peaceful haven of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and tosses coins into the fountain, wishing for a different life, a different home, and a different body. But when Genna flees into the garden late one night after an explosive family fight, her wish goes awry and she finds herself instantly transported back in time to the turbulent months leading up to the notorious New York draft riots. Facing the deadly realities of racism and class structure in Civil War-era Brooklyn, Genna must fight to survive, hold on to her individuality and rise above the hand she has been dealt in two different worlds.
With broad appeal for both teens and adults, A WISH AFTER MIDNIGHT is a thought-provoking journey, offering the chance to re-live history and re-examine our present with a fresh perspective.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Zetta Elliott earned her Ph.D. in American Studies from New York University and has lived in Brooklyn for the past 15 years, where she has become a student of its unique history. She is also a poet and playwright, and her picture book, Bird, was the recipient of a 2009 ALA Notable Children’s Book award. Learn more about her at www.zettaelliott.com or watch the book’s trailer at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SU54KOI05Fs.
AmazonEncore is an exciting new publisher that serves an important purpose in the world of contemporary literature, bringing attention to exceptional books that have been overlooked by readers or traditional publishers.
A WISH AFTER MIDNIGHT
By Zetta Elliott
AmazonEncore; Publication Date: February 16, 2010
Paperback; $12.95; 272 Pages
Zetta Elliott, PhD
writer ~ educator
“Zetta Elliott’s time travel novel A Wish After Midnight is a bit of a revelation…It’s vivid, violent and impressive history.” ~ Colleen Mondor, Bookslut. Learn more about A WISH AFTER MIDNIGHT here.
Zetta Elliott’s first picture book, BIRD, has “unusual depth and raw conviction… [the] child-centered narrative excels.” ~ starred review, Kirkus Reviews. Find out more about BIRD at http://www.leeandlow.com/books/176/hc/bird
Discover other titles by Zetta Elliott at www.zettaelliott.wordpress.com/rosetta-press/