I came to my spiritual and sexual awakenings at roughly the same time in my life, late 20′/early 30′s, and no matter how hard I tried to relate one to the other these pathways always seemed to represent a distinct dialectic:
My mindful spirituality (Buddhism) focused on the virtues of releasing physical and psychological desire,
while my erotic explorations embraced desire as if it were scripture.
These two highly influential belief systems, driving forces really, seemed incompatible…mutually exclusive…at odds with one another:
How can I be mindful and hedonistic?
And yet, therein lies the answer.
My evolution to mindful hedonism, came with time and much mindless behavior. It seems that one has to be completely open in order to later become focused and aware when it comes to desire. At any rate, the years following my obtuse view of sexual exploration (or impulsive hedonism) have been extremely rewarding…physically and emotionally.
My version mindful hedonism may not be what you would embrace as mainstream sexual practice, but I think that’s a bit too much to ask concerning anyone who values the erotic as much as I (or you) do; still, it is responsible…to my lovers…to me. It feels right.
The following passage inspired this reflection, and perhaps will spark some similar acceptance in presently disparate aspects of you as well…my hedonistic friend:
“French philosopher Michel Onfray said it best, ‘Hedonism is an introspective attitude to life based on taking pleasure yourself and pleasuring others, without [consciously] harming yourself or anyone else.’ This outlook seeks to utilize the full capacity of mind, body and heart in order to attain the highest experiences of sustainable ecstasy.
As long as we hold onto self-destructive belief patterns, actions that no longer serve us can be perpetuated in the name of avoiding the greater pain of confronting a painful memory or belief. On the other end of the spectrum, an individual may consciously take part in an activity that outwardly seems needlessly painful or “dark.” In reality, this unpleasant experience may free an individual from a parasitic belief pattern.
Sometimes the only way past it, is through it. This is where a conscious understanding of disciplined hedonism shines. Through experience, we learn that through embracing our whole being, highs and lows, we are capable of greater enjoyment and fulfillment. A symbolic closet-cleaning allows us to witness our experience of pleasure with newly liberated eyes.” (From Hedonism: The Pursuit of Happiness, by Sascha Kyssa on elephant journal.com)
The bit above about how not expressing these desires is in fact more harmful than helpful, while doing so can be ultimately healing…resonates with me. I have come to the belief that leaving aspects of ourselves unexplored (those darker less tolerable desires, for instance) only works against our ability to experience pleasure, and ultimately self-acceptance and love, and instead fosters shame and self-loathing.
So…explore, indulge, enjoy…all of your hedonistic tendencies, mindfully…and you may find that being bad, never felt so good!
(images by Shutterbugboudoir.com)