Course Book Lesson 16: Inhabiting Our Bodies – Audio & Text

Lesson 16: Inhabiting Our Bodies

Last week, we explored the mindfulness practice of self-compassion. We noticed how self-compassion can help us reframe the way we view the world. Instead of seeing things as black and white, good or bad, right or wrong, we can begin to see the beauty in our own unique journey of healing and growth. Instead of blaming ourselves or anyone else for our perceived struggles, we can learn first to understand and make space for the felt-sense of exactly what is. There is no need to make anyone right or wrong. Each situation simply is, and with God, we can make room for “this, too.” We can pause and create space to get present and curious, stepping out of our mind narratives and focusing on the sensations we feel in our bodies. From this emotionally detached, neutral space, we can more objectively identify and address our unmet needs.

Healing starts simply by answering our need to be heard and lovingly tended to. Practicing attentive compassion can help bring us and others back to our Highest Selves. Let’s take comfort in trusting that our Higher Power knows our heart and is the One most capable of filling our needs. As we grow in connection with this Beloved, let’s trust that every hurt can be healed, that not one of us is a lost cause, and that life is meant to be an exhilarating ride, complete with occasional bruises and skinned knees.

Let’s also remember that bruises and skinned knees are experiences we feel in the body; they are visceral, physical, and real. Our Daily Practice continually reminds us that our bodies are the sacred vehicle for our life journey. Mental, emotional, and spiritual healing happens in and through the body. Perhaps we are already learning how to tap into our body’s wisdom through daily meditation to uncover wounds and joys that we didn’t even know were there. This week, let’s lean into our experience thus far, trusting our body as a loyal friend and wise counselor, and work towards inhabiting it more fully by exploring the lens of our innate sensuality.

Sensuality can speak to all of our senses: our physicality, our ability to feel things, our earthiness. When we connect with our sensuality, we can enjoy all physical pleasures more fully, from a delicious meal to a walk on the beach to our daily practice of movement and breath. Deepening our sensuality can also bring mindful presence to our sexuality. When we truly inhabit the body, it can become a portal for the Divine to awaken all aspects of our lives. Our sexuality is no exception.

As we approach this topic, let’s recognize that our personal past and our cultural, religious, and family conditioning about sex will likely fog our glasses from the start. We might take a deep breath and ask God to bring awareness to any sexual baggage we may carry. Our heartfelt surrender is essential here because to fully embrace our whole selves, in and through the body, we cannot leave our sexuality out. Our sexuality is an essential part of who we are and how our bodies are divinely designed to move through life.

But this is often a complex and challenging aspect of our identity, complicated by a culture of confusing sexual messages. Infused into all forms of media, sexuality is rampantly marketed, leveraged, skewed, and promoted in damaging ways. Past trauma, cultural conditioning, and our own insecurities can profoundly affect how we experience, embrace, or push away this sacred part of ourselves. So this week let’s consider: “How can I safely open myself to feel sensuality and sexuality? What roles do these parts of my nature currently play in living my fullest life? What different roles could they play?

Again, let’s remember to drop into the body and find the present moment; this is our consistent portal to the Highest within us, in any given situation. Presence connects us to the air we breathe and the subtle sensations that move in and through us, whether physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or sexual. When we practice feeling our feet and fingertips, we are training ourselves to reconnect with our sensuality. We become attuned to our own energy and the energy of the world around us. When we mindfully inhabit the body, we can deeply know what it is to be alive. As we practice, let’s become like little children, reawakening to the miracle it is to simply exist in physical bodies. We are retraining our minds to stay with the magic of what is happening inside us right here and now, rather than escaping to fantasy, to-do lists, or greener pastures. This simple practice can be the key to discovering the full power of our embodiment, including our potentially mind-blowing sexual power.

Last week, we practiced self-compassion by considering and attending to our needs. Daily, we may find that our loudest and most obvious needs revolve around surface-level logistics. “I need someone to unload the dishwasher.” “I need 5 minutes to myself.” “I need everybody in bed by 9:30.” As women, our thought patterns might revolve around coordinating schedules and juggling demands. We may even discover we have been programmed to ignore ourselves. Perhaps we force down the volume on our own mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical intuition. Or maybe, we believe that pleasing others is our job and makes us more attractive and desirable. We may find that we feel more comfortable asking what others need or want than considering our own needs. We might genuinely insist, “All I want is for everybody to be happy.” It’s possible that we are overly attuned to the wants and needs of others and not in tune with our own.

This week, we might take time to get curious about the identities, boundaries, or lack of boundaries we have adopted around our care-taking responsibilities. Spending all our energy managing the needs of others can cut us off from our sensual grounding. We can lose touch with our sense of humanity in multiple ways—including losing touch with our innate drive for sex. It is difficult and unnatural to crave connection or feel the fire of sexual desire when we have muted every other need and want inside us. And when we use our sexuality as a tool to manage other people’s moods, to validate our worth, to keep the peace, etc., we transgress against ourselves, selling our souls short of fully experiencing a profoundly sacred, intimate connection. We can lose our natural craving for sex when we frame it as an obligation.

This week, let’s deepen our self-inquiry and explore: “What do I want? What do I long for?” in body, mind, and spirit. Applying “want” questions to our bodies might feel especially foreign. But when we cut ourselves off from our body, we can’t know what it wants or needs. This disconnection may be one reason so many of us struggle with food, sleep, or sex. Cut off from the body, we lose access to our innate ability to regulate these basic physical needs according to a Higher wisdom. Bringing mindful awareness and trust to our body is one of the primary practices of our program because with mind, body, and spirit aligned, we thrive in every way, including sexually.

It usually takes effort and mindfulness to discover what we want in regard to intimacy. Doing this work can be an empowering action step toward experiencing our fullest, most joyful life. Counterintuitive to our cultural conditioning, the power of our femininity is not about placating or submitting. Trusting in God, knowing who we are, and knowing what we want can empower every aspect of our lives—this week, let’s get curious about how this journey informs our sexuality. Let’s practice confidently moving toward connection and knowing that we are worthy of it.

Let’s contemplate what energy such a confident woman might convey: Does she seem dangerous to us? Perhaps we find her intriguing or powerful. Maybe we even find her sinful or immoral. However we may feel about her, let’s make space to wonder why we might hold these feelings. This kind of inquiry offers a unique and valuable opportunity. In this space, we can reflect on our belief systems around our sexuality and the body itself. We can ask:

  • What has sex meant to us? What change, if any, would we like to bring to its meaning?
  • How do we view the purpose of sex?
  • What traits make someone sexually desirable?
  • How have we defined sexy in the past? How would we like to define it going forward?
  • Can we see any traits in ourselves as sexy? Why or why not?
  • What role has sex played in our relationships? In our own identity? Can we identify where our ideas come from?

As we review our written thoughts, let’s talk with our Higher Power and determine how our views may need adapting. Let’s listen to where we feel called to deepen and explore our understanding of sexuality so that we can more fully inhabit our own body.

Mindfulness Practice: Exploring Sensuality, Sexuality, and Intimacy

This week, let’s consciously connect to our sensuality in every way. Let’s allow ourselves to at least consider the idea that there is nothing more attractive than feeling self-assured in our own skin. Even the way we sit or stand can communicate our self-love—or lack of it. Let’s notice our posture, pull back our shoulders, straighten our spine, and open our heart. When we move in class, let’s allow the music to move in and through us. The more confidently we dance, the more freely we move, the sexier we are—whether we perform the moves correctly or not. Let’s try to act like we adore ourselves, even if we don’t. Let’s “fake it ’til we make it” because sexy has more to do with our self-concept than our shape or size. The more we shift into this mentality, the more we can channel our energy into coming to know who we are and what we have to offer. From this place of self-awareness, we can find greater capacity and confidence to claim the full sensual capacity of our embodied experience.

We can explore this embodied experience whether we currently have a sexual partner or not. No matter our relationship status, we can practice opening to the innate pull of connection that lives within us. This power can be expressed in multiple ways. We can understand true intimacy as vulnerable soul-sharing: “into-me-you-see.” We can practice bringing presence to every intimate encounter, to every conversation. We can look deeply into another’s eyes and consider the immense mystery of who or what is beneath. We can take time to hold a hand and study each knuckle, each vein, each line on a palm. We can listen, with no agenda, to what another has to say. We can begin to let down our walls and share with an open and vulnerable heart.

Intimacy asks us to open ourselves and allow a safe other in. This kind of vulnerability can feel risky; our “other” may bumble through unskilled responses to our own clumsy attempts to connect. Chaos and arguments may even ensue. But with God at our center, we have a safe foundation to try—again and again. Let’s remember that this journey is not about how we are received. It is not about doing things perfectly or having a friend or partner who perfectly understands us. It is about making the effort to try and taking the risk to open. It is about doing the work that leads us to know ourselves and clearing the space to truly see another. It is about living life with our fullest, most passionate and compassionate heart leading the way.

Sexually speaking, our journey towards a more vivid, sensual life can feel similar to our other growth experiences: we must clear the rubble to find the goodness underneath. Let’s take time to self-assess, get mindful, and trust that our Higher Power can help us make room for a new way of being. If sex has become a demand we must meet, an obligation on our chore list, or an incessant treadmill we cannot keep up with, we may need to change how we engage with it. Perhaps we need to step back, say no, or vocalize our experience with our partner. If sex has all but disappeared off our radar, we may need to step outside our comfort zone and move towards vulnerability, sensuality, and desire. If we have previously hidden behind excuses or headaches, let’s instead embrace our responsibility to know what we want and need sexually. If we have habitually used sex, lust, or being lusted after, to validate our worth, cope with challenges, or feel powerful, we might need a sexual break to recalibrate. Wherever we fall in our sexual awareness, let’s practice simply bringing presence to our current situation and taking the next right step as God gives it to us.

Taking time to recalibrate may feel frightening or abandoning, either to ourselves or our partner, if we have one. There is no one right way to do this. If we choose to take a break, let’s be conscious and compassionate about these feelings. Let’s also be mindful that recalibration can be thought of as an investment in a deeper, more fulfilling intimate relationship. Such a break can help us redefine sexual success around shared intimacy and the quality of our experience instead of focusing on frequency or achieving orgasms. Wherever we are on our journey toward sexual awareness, let’s trust our inner guidance and talk with our Higher Power. Let’s remember to practice surrender, reach out for support, and use our voice to express our truth with kindness and authenticity. A period of time to feel free of sexual expectation can help us uncover the natural longing and desire that can be muted by expectations, resentments, and exhaustion. We can open ourselves to new ways to explore intimacy as we create space and distance from old routines.

If we have an intimate partner, it’s possible that they may not be on the same path as us. Part of our mindfulness practice is to accept and allow others to be just as they are while still creating space for our own growth. As we create space in our hearts to allow others their own path, we can consider how they have been a vehicle for our ongoing journey and awakening. We can be mindful of the things we do love or have loved about them. We can lean into that love and the gratitude that naturally arises from it. As we open our whole self to our partner and work to create a safe space to hear and be heard, we naturally foster a deeper desire to connect.

If we find ourselves in a troubled or unsafe relationship, it may be best to practice intimacy with our own heart, with our God, or even with trusted friends—rather than with an unsafe partner. After all, intimacy and connection, sensuality and embodiment, are not exclusive to sex and can be expressed in many ways. Whatever our situation, let’s work on creating space to accept and allow our lives and relationships to be just as they are. Let’s practice trusting that God is big enough to supply our every need, in His time and in His way.

This week, let’s practice intimacy as we explore the sensual and sexual energies that can infuse our lives with passion and aliveness. Let’s remember that our sexual energy has nothing to do with our appearance, our size, or shape. These energies are already within us as part of our divine birthright and are always available through our own courageous heart-opening. Passion starts simply with the mindfulness practice we have deepened through our Course: our own present-moment inner awareness. Let’s use this awareness to practice sacred sex as the physical embodiment of our deep longing for re-connection to Source, to home, to love, to another. As we frame sexuality in terms of sacred connection, let’s mindfully nurture deep connection on all soul levels to find deeper fulfillment in all aspects of our lives. Emotional, mental, and spiritual connection paves the way for embodied experiences that leave us truly in awe.

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