Exploring the Connection Between Sex and Spirituality
It’s time to look at sexuality holistically.
For some, sexual and spiritual energy intertwine with one another to create a wholly sacred experience. Sometimes referred to as ‘shakti’ or ‘kundalini,’ the notion of sacred sexuality is based on transcendence, going beyond the physical and awakening the spiritual dimension within. There’s an innate connection between the two, and each one of us can strengthen this connection through practice and intention, becoming conscious sexual beings.
The Threads That Tie Spirituality and Sex Together
It’s important to rē-frame sexuality as a holistic act involving mind, body, and spirit — not to mention, heart and soul. “Sex is so much more than just physical. [W] hen we consider the spiritual aspects of sex, we are talking about what is happening in the unseen,” Sexologist Cheryl Fagan, founder of On Top, tells rē•spin. “What is the meaning of sex to you, what connection is happening in that moment, how is the sex that you are having? It includes the five senses, and it’s a space for a deep mystical experience. How you are spiritually will impact the sex that you are having.” She goes on to explain that sexuality is influenced by factors ranging from biological, psychological, and spiritual, to social, religious, and cultural. “We are holistic beings — mind, body, heart, and soul. There are different parts to our sexuality, and they all play a significant part in our sex life,” she explains.
She first started On Top out of her own desire as a young adult to find more constructive conversations around sex — and not just superficially. “While sex is everywhere, it’s hard to find meaningful, fact-based, relatable information out there,” says Fagan, noting that in many Western societies, sex is only perceived as a physical act. “I felt like the soul of sex was missing from traditional sex ed.” By acknowledging the sexual dimensions beyond the physical, it becomes a holistic experience that inspires many facets of the being.
To Fagan, spirituality acts as a blanket over sexuality — “The connection to our spirit or soul,” she says. She references the different layers and dimensions to sexuality, which she calls the Circles of Sexuality, including intimacy, identity, sensuality, health and reproduction, and sexualization, the shadow part of sexuality. “Because sex and spirituality are intrinsically connected, I believe that in some ways sexuality is spirituality embodied,” Fagan continues. “Think of a sexual experience and spiritual experience you’ve enjoyed and consider all the senses; what did it sound, feel, taste, smell, and look like? Do you notice similarities?”
The Intersection of Sex and Spirituality
Sexual energy is not limited to the bedroom, and the natural connection between sex and spirituality runs incredibly deep. When we talk of the chakras, or energy centers, the center of sexuality — the sacral chakra — also correlates to creativity. Fagan brings up the concept of libido, which in psychoanalytic terms is not simply the sex drive — after all, it’s the force that Freud considered to drive life itself. “Sex literally creates life, but beyond creating human life, libido is the life force energy behind almost all human behavior [including] sexual, social, creative, biological, psychological, and so on,” Fagan explains.
She also considers sex to be an inherently sacred act. She recognizes the need to protect this sexual energy as it plays a massive role in how we are able to relate to one another and influences our life choices. “We want to be conscious, alert, and aware,” she says. “For most, there has been a lot of shame through messages and experiences. And we need to be gentle with ourselves in working through and clearing that out.”
Achieving a Balance in Your Own Relationships
Your own connection to sexuality is another dimension of sexual wellness, including the spiritual experience. Fagan says that even if you’re not actively partaking in sexual encounters, the narrative and mindset that you have around sex can help show where you are on your spiritual path. Conversely, how you’re feeling spiritually will then reveal how present you are for sex and pleasure. The connection between the two is strengthened through intention and inner-work. To begin the process towards your own sense of sexual-spiritual wellbeing, Fagan recommends asking yourself one question: “What do you want from sex?”
When you envision this experience, consider all aspects of it — including how you want to feel after sex. Once you see your ideal end game, it’s time to begin exploring all of the ways that you can get there. Fagan encourages those who embark on this journey of thinking about sex spiritually and holistically to be kind to themselves and remain curious, as it takes plenty of intention, learning, and unlearning along the way. (And as for the pleasure aspect, an all-natural arousal oil can absolutely make the journey getting there even more enjoyable.)
Becoming a Conscious Sexual Being
“The process of becoming a conscious sexual being is one that will bring freedom, pleasure, and meaning,” Fagan says. “But, it may take time to get there. As we go inward we usually realize there are some things–beliefs, experiences, pain–that we need to work through.” To start, she recommends reading, listening to podcasts, and even enrolling in courses. Some ways to connect to what brings you pleasure include using a pleasure diary, asking yourself how you aren’t allowing yourself to enjoy sex, and exploring your upbringing and the values you were raised with surrounding sexuality. Part of the process is deciding what learned beliefs, thoughts, values, and judgments you would like to keep with you — and what you’d like to shed — in order to achieve a relationship with sex that will fulfill you multidimensionally. You can also talk to your group of friends or interested community to help recognize that you are not alone on this journey.
The connection between sexuality and spirituality is both personal and collective. On a personal level, there is plenty that we can do in order to understand our own sexual and spiritual selves. But this exploration also has a larger impact. Many of us grew up in a society overwhelmed by damaging, destructive messages about sex, so as we do our own healing, it can lead to interacting with others in a healthier manner. Fagan describes it as a domino effect, stating, “To heal the world around us, we must first heal ourselves.” Whether it takes one day, a single therapy session, or three months, Fagan assures us that the work it takes to be more present and free is worth it in the end.