Even momentarily concentrating on healthy solutions rewires psychological patterns to receive and share healthy sexual love in the present. Here are three meditations with the themes of defects, denial, and exaltation for you to ponder and practice this week.
Meditation 1: Defects
“We don’t love qualities, we love persons; sometimes by reason of their defects as well as of their qualities.” — Jacques Maritain
We’ve got every character defect under the sun, just as we possess every positive trait as well. This rich variety of our qualities creates a stumbling block for many who so fear judgmental “typecasting” that they are loathe to admit key characteristics, whether negative or positive. However, whatever enters our field of awareness is part of us, though we often perceive our own reality only when projected onto others. Early psychological differentiation involves defining ourselves in comparison with others. How many messages about unacceptable behaviors do we inherit along this journey! The ego emerges from adolescence with a definite set of attributes with which we identify, but this list is deceptive. If we were to catalogue all human character defects, we would each be able to recall at least one time at which we exhibited each attribute. And often, we are attracted to individuals whose over expression of defects that challenge us allows us to hide our own manifestation of the selfsame traits.
Recognizing the universality of every negative characteristic allows empathy and acceptance. The tricky part is to improve our character while accepting our faults. Denying imperfections to save face is counter-productive, for if we hide our real impulses to present an idealized version of ourselves, we’re not presenting our real issues and we’re avoiding emotional connection with others and our world. The reality of our inner thoughts and instincts can feel naked, shameful, raw or unwieldy. But exposed to the light with trusted others, these forbidden impulses underneath our defects become transformed. Then we can become integrated into a psychological wholeness. That great work is possible — to contain and reconcile dissimilar extremes, orientations and aspects without losing our essential, potential unity.
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Reckless. Insatiable. Deceptive. Clingy. Vain. Dismissive. Trivial. Violent. Tactless. Controlling. Impractical. Fearful. Think of one example in your past where you exhibited each of these traits. Whatever memory comes to your mind first will usually provide you with a clear illustration. Know that you have the capacity to exhibit all defects, some more easily than others.
Share yourself with your partner, who is probably more aware of your defects than you can imagine. Invite your partner to support your mindfulness of how and when your defects manifest, and allow all information received to bring your most hidden defects to light. Step into the light.
Meditation 2: Denial
“When we deny the spiritual dimension to our existence, we end up living like animals. And when we deny the physical, sexual dimension to our existence, we end up living like angels. And both ways are destructive, because God made us human.” — Rob Bell
Denial is an insidious habit that keeps us from learning painful truths. Whatever we can’t admit, ironically, engulfs our experience of reality like quicksand. We become the proverbial ostrich with its head buried in the ground, refusing to recognize realities about a situation or person. When we deny any part of our selves — past abuse, current problems or sexual identity — we split ourselves into shards. And this splitting is the life-force of addiction, essential for it to grow, metastasize and suffocate us.
Borne out of unbearable pain, denial is constructed of distorted pieces of our psyche convincing us to minimize, justify and rationalize reality. Together, these workings of denial shield us from horrific memories or unacceptable present circumstances. When life becomes too heavy to bear we may turn to substances or processes to mitigate the misery. What may start out under the guise of youthful experimentation can lead to excess and even addiction, until one day we realize that our ability to choose vanished long ago, and shackles manifest around a wholly unrecognizable self. Empty and adrift, we flounder without direction, grabbing onto grandiose ideas of what we would like to be or who we would like to be with.
Often, the only way we can awaken from the stupor of denial is by “hitting bottom” — experiencing an intolerably humiliating or near-death event. Waking up may mean we see that a toxic relationship we’ve been hanging onto must end. Facing the ensuing loneliness, along with the other unhappy realities of our life, is imperative for healing to begin. This process, sometimes called “withdrawal,” sees the denied pain of the past rise to the surface once the object of desire — person or substance — has gone. Exploring the pain with trusted others is the next difficult task that lets us breathe free.
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Do you find yourself minimizing, justifying, or rationalizing past situations or current people or behaviors in your life? If so, what are the distortions you tell yourself so as not to upset the status quo?
What one thing do you need to give up in order to step out of denial?
If you’re unsure about a relationship or behavior you’re engaging in, ask your closest friends what they think. Put down your defensiveness and listen with an open mind.
Meditation 3: Exaltation
“True love is a discipline in which each divines the secret self of the other and refuses to believe in the mere daily self.” — William Butler Yeats
Exaltation signifies a peak experience — functioning at full capacity in an elevated state. In astrology, a planet is exalted when it’s in the sign allowing its greatest expression (so, only one twelfth of the time). We, too, long for exaltation, but like the planets, our lives achieve it only rarely. In love and sex, exalted feelings can easily overpower other emotions and experiences — and thank the stars for that, since initial infatuation helps us overlook personal differences long enough for a loving bond to take root. We all have euphoric recall for our exaltations: when we hit the ball out of the park, when our words had meaning and were felt and understood, when our jokes made people laugh, when we thrived in joy.
Conversely, recalling peak experiences can dishearten us, convincing us that normal life is colorless or has passed us by. The vitality we feel one day to fulfill our potential can easily dissipate into doubt and despair. But the simple practice of acceptance is a great antidote for these fluctuations. True transpersonal exaltation is by definition bigger than any of us; it’s not a state we can will or manipulate into being. Still, while much of the work we do to grow our hearts is an inside job, and while the experience of exaltation cannot be commanded, it can be encouraged through a benevolent focus on others. Through affirming others’ potential with gentle, persistent knowing and support, we exalt the qualities we hold dear. And in time we will realize that we love in others exactly what we value in ourselves. Judgment or separation cannot coexist in true exaltation, which is the very best of us. And what’s the best of us? It’s all of us. Altruism is a distinct aspect of exaltation that we can all nourish and invite.
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Recall the exalted states and peak experiences of your life so far. Does the euphoric recall of your past inspire or inhibit your present?
If you were to invite exaltation, what part of your life would you most like to thrive right now? Exalt in others that which you most desire in yourself. Make room to receive from life by freely giving your time, your truth and your love.
Today, see the best in others. Imagine a warm, golden glow around everyone you meet. See beyond personalities to share in their spirit.
For more by Alexandra Katehakis, M.F.T., click here.
For more on conscious relationships, click here.