Sexuality and Creativity
Merle Thompson's journey through compulsive masturbation and pornography
Throughout history celibacy has been written about as a path to spirituality and a closeness to God. I am not interested in celibacy for itself or for purity, I apply no religious connotations to this, neither do I feel shamed, embarrassed, or contaminated by masturbation. I am however very interested in claiming this male energy, bringing it to its full power and focusing it, and using it to enhance my spiritual connection with myself, my partner, with other people, my higher power, and with life.
The sexual tension that men carry around as part of our lives, part of us, is built in to our being. And yet in our culture, we as men haven't developed the ability to share it with each other as something we have in common. We don't have the language or the comfort level to communicate what we learn to other men.
For many years I have struggled with this question: what do we do with ourselves when our own sexual energy, urges, desires, needs, wants, cravings, and feelings take up more room than is comfortable in our relationship? When we seem to have more than our share of this energy, when our desires and needs are out of balance with our partners, when we are not in a relationship and have to cope with this energy by ourselves.
Some of us are able to deny this, to turn it off, to shut out the fantasies and disassociate from the feelings that can take up so much space, feel out of control and get in the way.
Many of us use pornography and masturbation, as I have, to feed our imagination and relieve the pressure. This method sometimes made me feel a little out of control, sometimes lonely and often frustrated. What I really wanted was to share my sex life with someone else. I couldn't even talk about this for years. Men don't talk about this except in dirty jokes. In our silence we have nowhere to go with these feelings, no role models to teach us what to do.
Some of my role models are women and through their examples I came to realise that pornography is not okay for me to use anymore. I do not want to teach my daughter that this is what men want women to be like. I do not want her to catch me sneaking around with this stuff. I do not want to teach this behaviour to other men who look to me as an example of how to act. I have defended my use of pornography, as I have seen many other men do, so why would I never buy it where friends could see me? Pornography has never felt okay to me on a deeper level and it became time to get honest.
This was a great struggle for me. I had no role models to follow in this. I struggled with this for some time and although I did give up buying it and looking at pornography, I could not seem to turn off the x-rated fantasies in my mind. The pressure would build up and my mind and body would seek release.
I next tackled the issue of masturbation. I don't think masturbation is bad, or harmful, shameful, or even embarrassing (but of course I couldn't talk about it), but why couldn't I stop? Once the fantasies started to roll it seemed to feed my sexual obsession until release was inevitable; I couldn't just shut it off. I thought that giving up pornography would make this better but it didn't, it only became more internal.
Abstinence from masturbation was one of the hardest things I have done. I went for a couple days a few times, and then for a week a couple times. Each time I passed where I had been before the pressure would seem unbearable for a while and then would come and go, I was able to go a month more than once, and then summer came and I got too busy. This takes a great deal of energy, and attention and focus. My mind played all kinds of tricks - why am I doing this, doesn't that girl look good, anything to drag me back to the obsession.
I worked up my courage and talked to my therapist, who is a woman and a beautiful and intuitive person. She repeated what other women had told me, that I should turn my sexual energy into creative energy.
My problem was that I couldn't conceive of how this would feel, what it would actually be like, and there wasn't any one I knew who could describe this in male language.
Most of the really good personal growth that has happened for me has come from a growing self awareness as a result of mindfulness. By this I mean taking the time to feel, taste the moment, taking the time to notice what I'm feeling moment to moment on a daily basis.
About this time I began to notice a remarkable difference in my energy levels between the days I would choose to masturbate and the days I would contain my energy. I became fascinated with this and experimented with it quite a lot. Clearly the days I release this energy I was more laid back, less motivated, less energetic, less eager, and certainly less creative. I had known for years that releasing this energy took the edge off my sexual tension and helped me to be less aggressive and demanding in my relationship. Until this time I had no awareness of how much daily release of this energy took away from the quality of my life.
It was through self awareness that I finally realised what my therapist was talking about. I realized that when I started learning to contain my sexual energy I started learning to cook, and soon after that I began to write, sometimes with incredible energy pouring thoughts on to the screen. What an exciting realisation! And with this realisation came the understanding of how to do this consciously, containing my sexual energy while maintaining an awareness of it gives me the ability to channel creativity into whatever I'm doing!
Containing this energy while maintaining an awareness is an interesting process. The male genitalia, penis and groin area is a gathering place for our energy. For me, the scattered unfocused energy in my body gathers in the groin and creates tension, which I used to think of as a nuisance which needed to be released as soon as possible to take the edge off, not knowing how to direct or make use of this energy once it gathered. With a growing awareness I have found that through a combination of mind and touch (the same process I used to use to gather this energy to release it) I can now gather this energy from its scattered corners, sharpen the edge by bringing myself near orgasm but not over the edge and then breathing deeply, repeatedly, I visualize the energy centered in my penile area and breath it up through my body right up to my head, filling myself with vibrant energy focusing more on my heart and between my eyes. The feeling of neediness in the groin disappears.
By gathering and sharpening my sexual awareness at a focal point, the penis, drawing it up with my breath, and letting it consciously spread through my body, I am tapping into my creative energy source. Consciousness, awareness and practice are the keys. I do this in the morning when my energy is the most scattered and seem to be able to maintain an awareness of this energy through the rest of the day. Rather than gathering this energy and throwing it away I can now make use of it. Whatever I am doing has more zest, is more fun, and more creatively done and I feel more alive in my daily life.
Sometimes focusing my sexual energy and containing it leads back into obsession. I have come to understand that fantasy is a normal function of my mind and stimulates my creative process. It is when I can't let go of the fantasy that it becomes obsession. When this happens I focus my attention on what I am doing and visualise my energy flowing into that. This takes practice and of course sometimes I do this better than others.
Controlled masturbation also enhances my control during sexual intimacy with my partner. I have been several years in the study of this sexual awareness and self-fulfillment. As my ability to become self-contained, which means to me not dependent on someone else for my sexual happiness, intimacy and sex have improved incredibly in my marriage.
Sometimes masturbation was just for pleasure but often it was an angry statement, something I did to try to take the pressure off from not getting my needs met by someone else. For me being dependent on my partner was a self defeating way to live. No one can make me a complete person sexually, spiritually, emotionally, or physically. I can only do that for myself and that is easiest with help from other men who know how or are at least willing to share their own information honestly.
Merle Thompson can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reprinted from "Everyman" magazine with the permission of the author.
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