Think of dance.
Dance is particular form of creative expression that is fundamentally different from writing, painting, composing or playing music. You can cry while you are creating poetry, painting or playing music, but you just can’t cry while dancing. When we are crying, or in any kind of pain, our body becomes contracted and we can’t dance in such a position. And so – when we dance, we are opening up a different channel, a different energy, a different mood. We develop a sense of freedom yet we are completely in our body; we feel both safe and playful.
To find this aliveness within you, this so-called eros creativity – just dance.
This is eroticism.
It is a desire. It is a freedom. It is a boundlessness. It is mysticism. It is life itself.
Eroticism comes from the Greek word “eros” meaning “desire”. In Greek mythology, Eros is the Greek God of love and desire who falls in love with the beautiful girl Psyche, whose name means soul or breath of life. Their story reminds us to breathe life into the desires of our soul; a story of soul meets body, for the purified true love capable of transcending time and space. It is a reminder of the importance of trust and self-love first in order to raise the vibration to be resonant with such higher consciousness to be experienced through the physical body/reality.
Their love story reminds us to fight for love, to fight for what we feel and trust it even when we can’t see it, to stay true to our values and true heart’s desire, and to do things because of how we truly feel and not because of some external validation; to nourish love once we get it and to never ever get lazy with our love. Their story reminds us that love really does conquer all – if we let it and follow its path.
In some paintings Eros wears a blindfold, while Psyche herself stayed in a dark room. We need to learn to see through what we feel. Learn to trust yourself in the dark. Learn to know how you feel in the dark. To follow the path of love is to go beyond the “personality” and the physical self. To follow the path of love is to hear the still tiny voice within us and notice the whispers in the tree’s leaves. To follow the path of love is to trust beyond the boundaries of our eyes.
To breathe life into the desires of our soul.
Eroticism is the antidote to death.
The ancient mystics described eroticism as aliveness, vibracy, vitality and ecstasy. It is a transgressive force negating the “known” to break the boundaries of reality and take us outside of the limitations of life.
Prayer itself a deeply erotic act. Our entire body opens to experience the extraordinary beyond the explainable, to surrender into the blind faith and trust of the unknown and unseen. We let go of the mind’s rational explanations and reach out with trembling hands for a tender hope in the light of our blackness.
Love also demands such a surrender and transcendence beyond the known.
When we start to fall in love, we begin to desire to connect more deeply, to build intimacy, which is to essentially close the gap that exists between us by bonding, by accepting, by being vulnerable and by seeing our true selves. This is how lovers meet after all; when one has the courage to unveil their soul and the other has the humility to unveil theirs also.
Each relationship goes through its phases and while passion may fade with time, our bond is no less beautiful, no less “passionate” – it just takes on a different form yet remains deep and meaningful as the first time. Love is wild and unpredictable, turbulent, intense and emotional, and often speechless and unseen. And often times, love is a mystery because it transcends definitions, shoulds and should-nots.
According to Belgian psychotherapist Esther Perel, the greatest paradox of life is that the more intimate and connected we are with a partner, the less desirous they become to us as the years go by.
When it comes to love, we long to connect deeply; to close the gap that exists between us by intimacy, by vulnerability and by bonding. Yet desire demands space – because it is about “wanting” and how could we want something, which we already have close? Desire, by its very nature, needs a space to thrive and a distance to explore.
Perel who explores in detail the topic of erotic intelligence says that the inescapable fate of desire is that intimacy lowers its strength. There is a fundamental tension between the reconcialiation of these two needs, closer yet apart, within each relationship.
Think about the time when you felt desirous towards a partner. It is when we see them in a new light like when we go on a vacation, or see them from a new angle from across the room, or when we see them laughing at something new – or in other words, when we see them playful or from a distance, in surprising ways outside of the expected monotony.
It’s a looking without eyes.
When comfort and mystery, known and unknown momentarily meet, when the person we’ve known for years suddenly is at just enough distance to surprise us in some mystical, elusive way – is where the desire is found once again.
So how can we close the gap for love yet open it for desire simultaneously? Fire needs air. Often times because of our insecurities and need for stability, we will get frightened by distance and react anxious to it, instead of embracing it. To have our sense of stability we want to know everything and be everywhere – and we get so entangled that we start projecting everything on the other person, no longer seeing them and accepting and appreciating them as their own person, who is ever changing just as we are. There is a delicate dance between freedom and security.
Eroticism is about freedom; it is a dance.
Eroticism is about imagination, curiosity and creativity; no matter how long we’ve been together in a relationship, it’s about surprise and cultivating the aliveness, it’s about not taking someone for granted and assume that we’ve won them in the beginning and now the sensual courting and effort are gone, it’s about owning our wants and desires – because when we actively pursue, it means we have a healthy attitude for the idea of sex, and having a healthy self-esteem knowing that sometimes they may not feel want us as much. In fact, managing rejection is how we learn to become better lovers and better seducers. Lack of curiosity shrinks us. We resist learning and exploring because we are usually afraid of failing; because we want to look like we know it all. But this only keeps us stuck and limits us, not just in our personal relationships but in our relationship to life itself. We need to remain humble and open, with a willingness to be curious. It is the aliveness of our curiosity that is the answer to most questions and problems in life; we become more conscious communicators, more aware and more empathic, we design better solutions to solve worldwide humanitarian issues, and we build more fulfilled, long-lasting intimate connections.
The more curious we become, the more we bridge the gap of separation between us.
Eroticism is about the beginner’s mind. This is a concept used extensively by Zen Buddhists and also, by all people and creators of all kinds in all fields. For example, I first learned about it when I was taking my certification on Human-Centered Design and applied this to create meaningful, impactful solutions in both philanthropic and social entrepreneurial ventures. In the same way, I use the beginner’s mind every time I approach anything in my life, such as writing, recording, photography, and even making tea or taking a walk outside. The beginner’s mind is the devotion to live with wonder, live with awe, and to remain curious. Curiosity itself is a Godly trait – this is how we find God, because to find the unknown, to experience the mystical, we need to be willing to remain open to things beyond our perceptions. Many would agree that the most priviledged state of mind is the beginner’s mind because it approaches the world with curiosity, with a sense of unknowngness yet willingness to explore and to learn, with openness, as if it’s the first time. When people ask me why I started writing poetry, I said: because I wanted to experience myself in a different way. This is a beginner’s mind.
When we are free from our views, we are willing to re-learn, re-explore and re-discover. Ask yourself questions like “What is love? What is consciousness? Where did your life come from? What’s going to happen tomorrow?” And every time you come across a question where you answer “I don’t know” keep this “I don’t know” mindset because this is an open mind, a clear mind, ready to expand.
In our intimate relationships, when we rely on assumptions, we will lose our freshness and creativity. What we see in another person, no matter how long we’ve known them or lived with them under the same roof, is only a very small amount of their mystery. And their mystery, as well as ours, is ever-changing in every moment of every day. In many ways, we will never know another fully and we may never even know ourselves fully. Through the beginner’s mind, we learn to see one another mindfully and curiously, free from preconceptions and from views. And this is how we learn to listen more closely, more intimately, more deeply, and to be more playful too. As Rilke says, “For there are moments, when something new has entered into us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy perplexity, everything in us withdraws, a stillness comes, and the new, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it and is silent.”
When we have that sense of open-minded, willing approaching, we start to explore our partner rather than get stuck in the same old things. We explore them like art, because we acknowledge that we all change no matter how many years we’ve been living together. We also learn to pay attention – and the greatest lovers are the ones who pay attention.
Eroticism isn’t sex; it’s sexuality transformed through imagination and creativity. In a way, the crisis of desire is the crisis of imagination. We need to allow ourselves some space in which we can imagine the unfamiliar, and then allow this imagination to guide us towards more erotic pleasure with our partner. This space does not have to be physical; in fact, it isn’t physical. It is in us. Our imagination, our curiosity and our playfulness are found inside of us – in who we are and what we bring to the experience of our intimate relationships.
Eroticism is an inner thing. As such, the road to it may not be pretty for some people; it means we have to face our own borders and limitations, insecurities, self-image, judgments and emotional tensions. In other words, our erotic self has to first battle our inner critic, so that we can expand beyond our borders.
Eroticism is about being receptive, willing, open and responsive. And it is about noticing. Who are the best lovers? Those who pay attention to their lover, to their needs and the natural scents of their true self, and know to make love in so many more ways than just with the genitals. When we widen the realm of the senses, we begin to appreciate things as they are; and love is very much about appreciation and acceptance, which is what I write in “What True Love Really Is”.
What does sex mean to you? It is a place. It is a place we go to. Is it a place of tenderness, is it a place of authority, or surrender, discomfort, creativity, pleasure, criticism, obsession, shame? How do you enter this place?
There are so many ways in which we make love – eyes, lips, hands, words, gestures, touch, scent, movement, and on and on and on. Using only our genitals is quite a boring way to approach lovemaking. The difference between sexuality and eroticism is in the imagination. Exploring ourselves through our senses is a great way to learn to expand our imagination and experience ourselves differently and I discuss exercises on that topic in my article How to Awaken Our Sensual Self.
Everything in life begins with noticing.
While intimacy and sexuality have their own different languages, needs and desires – there is one thing they share and it is that exploring our own physical, mental and emotional depths allows us to experience them more fully and deepen our connections. When we do this, we’ll be more willing, more open, more responsive, more alive to the one we love because we would have overcome the boundaries of our own desires and have welcomed in the erotic, and the aliveness into our intimate connections.
Life is a choice. Love is a choice. Self-fulfillment is often a choice also. Our playful nature needs to be nourished and our creativity needs to be cultivated. We are in a constant state of renewal and reinvention of ourselves, whether we know it or not. Once we realize the dance we are dancing, the only question to ask is: will you choose to come alive?