Dr. Brandon talks with Vibrance Associates, to view the videos click here
Dr. Marianne Brandon, co-author of “Reclaiming Desire” with site Medical Director Dr. Andrew Goldstein, is the author of a new book, Monogamy: The Untold Story. Here is the introduction and excerpt from the book. See Dr. Brandon’s brief bio at the end of the excerpt.
As a clinical psychologist and sex therapist, I have devoted many years to helping people open and feel alive, both emotionally and physically. I myself have walked the same path I assist others in traveling every day. It is clear to me that when we are disengaged from any part of ourselves, including our sexuality, our hearts and bodies close in response. When we close, we stop evolving, and we no longer live and love to our fullest potential. Our lives lack creativity and joy, spontaneity and humor. As a culture, we have supported this unfortunate process in each other by ignoring the realities of our sexual instincts.
Consequently, we are disconnected from the core of our sexual selves. It is because ofthis widespread and heartbreaking effect of our cultural misunderstanding that I have chosen to write about monogamy. I have witnessed too many couples descend into self-criticism, blame, and closure because they misunderstand their sexuality.
Monogamy, as we understand it today, is not necessarily a natural state. At least, not for everyone. Embracing this truth does not have to be frightening. In fact, my hope is that it is liberating. After all, it is an unavoidable fact that the better we know ourselves and understand our motivations, the more control we have over our behavior and the more powerful we are in the world. Obviously, the alternative— self-confusion—is never a place of strength. Plus, it is only in understanding our instincts that we can learn to use them to our advantage.
Monogamy: The Untold Story does not imply the end of marriage as we know it. It does not mean that lovers cannot bond for a lifetime, nor does it mean that a happy and sensuous long-term commitment is impossible. It does not mean the demise of the family unit. And it certainly is not an excuse for men and women to act out sexually in ways that are hurtful to themselves, their partners, or their children. Instead, Monogamy: The Untold Story suggests that we recognize the limits of our current understanding of adult sexuality; we honor the truth of our animal heritage; we stop shaming each other for natural instincts and inclinations and we adjust our understanding of modern-day intimacy to accommodate these realities.
In this way, we encourage each other in evolving our feminine natures as well as our masculine sides, we support our biology as well as our intellects, and we embrace rather than pathologize our instincts. It means that monogamy is a choice, not an indisputable fact between lovers. As humans with powerful logical minds and advanced neurophysiology, we don’t have to blindly follow our mammalian impulses. We can rise above our more animalistic drives. However, it is only in taking into account these more basic realities that we can stop blaming ourselves—and our partners—when sex loses its luster. We can cease feeling ashamed because of a “low libido.” We can put an end to blaming our lover’s sexual style for all that’s wrong with our sex lives.
Monogamy: The Untold Story provides an alternative explanation for these practically inevitable challenges of intimacy. With this understanding, we can approach relationships from a new mind-set, armed with powerful techniques aimed at supporting a satisfying sex life over time. In sum, Monogamy: The Untold Story is an exciting invitation to actualize your truest power, and your deepest gifts of love. When we manifest our potential, in touch with our loving hearts and our instinctive physical drives, men and women feel satisfied and joyful.
It is from this place that we become able to offer our lovers the most succulent juice of life. And it is here that we are ableto experience the sexual bliss that is our birthright. Living well, joyfully, and passionately is all about loving well. In doing our best to love well, we can only benefit everyone we interact with. For most of us, myself included, this is a lifelong practice of unfolding.
Please note that the concepts in this book are universal, in that they apply to both heterosexual as well as homosexual partnerships. Human beings are quite similar when it comes to these very basic laws of Mother Nature. I also want to note that the stories in this book are based on fictional characters that represent composites of patients. These people do not exist in real life—although, in a sense, they live in each of us.
Seductive. . . . Flowing. . . . Juicy. . . . Alive. . . . Succulent. . . . Mysterious. The beauty of the feminine. The glory of woman. We admire her grace, her sensuality, and her ability to transform a moment into something magical. However, woman’s evolution has temporarily led her away from this part of herself, that is, her luscious, and more primal core. This chapter assists women in reconnecting with their feminine instinct. For a woman, finding this part of herself cannot be done by thinking alone.
Instead, it is realized through homework practices that open her up to her body and her sensuality. Women often find
many of these exercises vulnerable-making and uncomfortable. They find that talking about connecting to their core is easier than actually doing it. That is because experiences that push us further into ourselves often provoke anxiety.
First, we’re not sure we will like what we find there. Sometimes women feel like their feminine core is a bottomless pit of emotions, or a needy, empty space inside them. Plus, emotional experiences that involve our bodies and our sexuality can be that much more challenging. On the positive side, however, I have not met a woman who was sorry she did this work. As you learn to connect further to your feminine core, you’ll be better able to access sexual pleasure.
Many women find that it makes monogamy more interesting again, because they can bring so much more to the experience. And when they give more sexually, they get more for themselves in return. The bottom line, however, is that there is no right way to be a woman. Some women will feel more drawn to cultivating these aspects of themselves than others. That is perfect, because it makes for the beautiful variety and uniqueness within our species. However, it is also true that for those women who want more from their sexual experience, capitalizing on their feminine instincts is a powerful path to their goal.
Growing is hard work. Allowing our deeper, instinctual selves the opportunity to unfold is no exception. This chapter details the same path I use to guide many of my therapy patients. It’s a terrain I know well, and I honor the journey every time I have the opportunity to walk it with another woman seeking fuller expression of herself. I often suggest to women that they think in terms of finding the Aphrodite inside her. Aphrodite is the Greek goddess that governs enjoyment of love and beauty, sensuality and sexuality. She is a part of each woman, and can be cultivated and felt more intensively if desired. When women feel connected to the Aphrodite in them, they usually feel more connected to their instinctual feminine selves.
Unveiling your feminine spirit will take courage, strength, and a strong, solid will to care for yourself. In fact, approaching this path from any other place may take you to feminine energy, but not necessarily the kind you are seeking. Becoming passive, helpless, emotionally volatile—these are the dark aspects of woman. They are born not from strength but from fear. But we are reaching for a different feminine. The feminine we seek is not manipulative, helpless, or fragile. She is a strong, beautiful creature that is balanced in herself and confident in her radiance. So paradoxically, it will be the strength you derive from your masculine self that will enable you to find your shining and radiant feminine!
If You Don’t Have a Partner
Sometimes women think they can only explore their feminine core if they have a romantic partner. But that’s not the case at all. This chapter teaches a woman to connect with a deeper place within herself—partners are not required. In fact, a lover could even distract you as you learn to access and enjoy your own sensual, feminine gifts.
Why Are You Here?
Let’s take an honest look at what we can accomplish. And let’s consider what we aren’t going to do. What we are not looking to do is bring back old sexual patterns. We aren’t going to try and recreate a sexual connection you had with your lover in the past. Instead, we are seeking to explore the sexual woman you are now. We will work to develop your sensual capacities further, and ultimately increase your ability to give and receive love—emotional and sexual. We will find your juice—that luscious feminine life force that chaotic daily life, stress, and fear can suck out of you.
What we aren’t going to do is make you feel infatuated with your partner. Deep, meaningful love is not about infatuation. Instead, real love is about seeing your partner for the human he is, and loving him through that. It’s about presenting yourself fully to your man, in spite of the fact that you know he is like all of us—chock full of imperfections.
What we aren’t going to do is turn you into a sex machine. Female sex machines exist only in porn movies. What most women with healthy connections to their feminine core report is that they are receptive to their partner, though not necessarily always spontaneously lustful. Woman’s sexuality is very different from her partner’s. His isn’t a better version of sexuality, it’s just a different flavor of loving. Woman manifests the capacity to love profoundly—and when tapped, she allows herself to open deeply, taking her lover with her into the mysterious feminine realms. This is the place where the goddess Aphrodite lives and thrives. In learning to gift others with your grace, you will come to receive so much in return.
Bring Your Journal
Daily writing will aid your process of self-discovery. In fact, I ask all of my clients to journal every day. That is because, to grow and change a pattern that has probably been a part of your psyche for a while, you’ll need to focus on the issues daily. This is true for everyone. Women who journals get to know themselves faster and more deeply. It speeds up the process of self-discovery by leaps and bounds. Reading books can certainly help you understand issues, but reading alone will not change your behavior. The only way to change your behavior is to put the effort into doing things rather than just thinking things.
Journaling is one fabulous way to begin the process of doing. Your first journal assignment is a long one—perhaps the longest entry you
will make. Write your life story from the perspective of your own feminine essence. This task may feel strange and unstructured. But relax your brain and your analytical thinking for a moment. Your feminine side is a part of you, and has been with you all of your life. The fact that you may not feel her presence very strongly at the moment is not a problem. Just imagine. Imagine what she felt as a young girl. What was it like growing up in your household as a girl? What did your mother teach you about being a woman? What sort of womanly traits did she role model for you? How about your father—how did he react to your feminine side? Did that change at all as you matured into puberty? What did he “teach” you about yourself by the way he reacted to you then? And what about your siblings? Your friends? Your religion? The culture in which you lived? What feedback did you get from boyfriends about your femininity? What was your first sexual experience like? How have these influences shaped who you are now as a woman, and what you feel about your feminine self ?
Guide yourself through your sexual life story and explore your history. Most women learn so much about themselves this way. Often, women learn why they first put their Aphrodite selves into hiding. Your experience of your sexuality as a young girl and as you matured is pivotal
to the woman you are now. We can actually make that statement about all aspects of you. For example, consider your relationship with money. Your experience with it as a child directly impacts your experience with it now. If you didn’t have enough money, or if you had more than enough money, or whether or not you had to work hard to earn money—all of this affects your current experience of money on both a conscious and unconscious level. Your sexual self is no different.
FINDING YOUR STARTING POINT
If you are like most women, you have become so disconnected from your feminine core that you’ve lost touch with your current location on the path. So let’s continue by getting your bearings. The quickest way to do this is to journal your answers to a series of questions.
Question 1: What do you like about yourself sexually? What do you not like?
In my therapy room, it’s not unusual for a woman to report that she doesn’t like her current sexual self very much. But because she is so uncomfortable about her sexual concerns, for a while she may just ignore the problems. With time, her issues gain in momentum and she becomes even less likely to desire intimate connection with her partner. Rather than ignoring the issues, let’s take an honest look.
Question 2: Would you enjoy making love to yourself ? Why are you an enjoyable lover? Where is there room for improvement?
Question 3: If you were a man, what sort of woman would feel good to be around? What sexual style would you enjoy in a woman? Is this something you’d like to cultivate in yourself ?
These are tough questions. If you are like most women, it’s easy to critique your partner’s lovemaking skill and focus on his approach rather than your own. it’s oh so easy to see where he isn’t giving enough, or where he is rote and repetitive. What about your own bad habits? Rest assured that everyone has them. Where do you withdraw? Withhold? Close down and resist him? Imagine what it feels like to make love to you. And then imagine how you could be different. Everyone can work to love better. Even if you aren’t ready to enact any changes, thinking about these issues is an important step in identifying where you’d like to grow.
Question 4: What side(s) of your sexual identity are you not currently expressing?
We express many different identities throughout our lives. Major life experiences and transitions engage different sides of ourselves—such as wife, mother, and business woman. We go through shifts in our sexual identities over time as well.
Rather than wait for a new and improved sexual identity to find its way to you, you can make the conscious choice to bring on an identity shift.
Imagine the sexual identity you want to experience. What does she look like? Feel like? Set the intention to welcome her in all aspects of your life, not just in your bedroom. The more welcome she feels, the more accessible she’ll be to you, and the greater will be her gifts.
Dialogue with Your Body
When I ask women to do this exercise, I get every reaction from amazement to disgust to curiosity. It is one of the more unusual exercises I will have you do. But, time and time again, women find it extremely helpful. What better way to get to know your deepest femininity than to actually talk directly with her?
Silly as this may seem to you, your next exercise is to talk with your pelvis. Specifically, write her a letter, and have her write back. This is not nonsense. This experience will actually help to create a link between your conscious and unconscious minds with regard to your sexuality.
Our unconscious minds don’t speak with us directly. But the unconscious holds all kinds of juicy information about us. In fact, it is estimated that over 95 percent of our behavior is motivated by our unconscious minds. 1 What this means to you is that over 95 percent of your behavior is not necessarily under your conscious control! Not such great news, I know. But, there are definite ways for you to improve the communication between your conscious and unconscious minds. And doing so only increases your self-awareness, and thus your power. Dream interpretation, hypnosis, drawing, and creative writing are all possible ways of exploring the unconscious realm. But, since you may not know how to interpret your dreams, and you probably don’t have access to a hypnotist (at least not in this immediate moment), creative writing is your next best alternative. So, relax and break open your journal. Know that you may feel silly at first, but go for it anyway.
If you’re still saying, “No way, I’ll just skip this weird little exercise and keep on reading,” I urge you to think again. When you opt out of any exercise in this book, you are saying, “I want some help, but not this kind of help.” This attitude is a mistake, because picking only those exercises that make sense to you will drastically limit your self-discovery. In fact, it is the exercises you innately resist that have the potential to offer you the most new and helpful information. That’s because these are the exercises that require you to step out of your comfort zone.
So, ask your pelvis some questions, like, “How are you? What do you need from me? How has your life been so far? What is making love like for you?” Then switch gears, and come back to your journal with the intention of expressing your pelvis’s perspective. Let her write back to you—in fact, start an ongoing dialogue with her. I’m sure she’ll have many interesting reactions as you read this book.
Find the Yes and the No in Your Body
Learning to tune into your body will help you become more sensual in every moment—erotic or not. This will translate into a deeper and more profound sense of who you are and what you are feeling, moment by moment. And this increases your power in the world. It just makes sense—more information about yourself can only serve you well. So, it’s worth the time to get to know your body better. This is a body meditation that will help you understand your desire to experience your soft feminine center, and clarify any resistance you have toward her:
Breathe slowly and deeply while relaxing your body. If you are anxious or pre-occupied, you won’t get much information from a meditation. So, allow your body and mind to let go. Think first about your desire to uncover your sensual self. Feel that softness in your body. If Aphrodite had an inner sanctum in your body, where would it be ocated? Imagine it.
And then feel her presence there. Feel your body’s yes in response to her. What does it feel like to have her there? Focus in on that space. What color would she be? What temperature? Imagining her in this concrete way will help you to call her out at other times. Just take a few moments to be with your yes to her. Now, seek out the no in your body. Where would your epicenter of no be located? What part of you resists knowing yourself more deeply, and resists showing yourself more intimately to your lover? What color would this part of yourself be? And what temperature? Getting to know your no as a more real entity will help you soften your resistance over time.
Before you finish this exercise, take out your journal and write about what happened. Or, make a drawing of your yes and no. The more familiar you become with these parts of you, the more available they are to conscious manipulation in the future. Thus, if your no shows up in a sexual situation and you’d ather feel your yes, you will learn how to make that transition in the moment.
Consider your yes that part of you that wants to grow and feel more sensual pleasure. Your no is that part of yourself that is frightened or overwhelmed by this mysterious part of you. Both of these aspects of you deserve your honor and respect. There is wisdom in both voices, and important information. Let them speak to you. If you are like most women, they have a lot to say.
Want to discuss this. Meet Dr. Brandon on our Bulletin Boards. Click here.
The next part of this excerpt will appear in four weeks. Keep track so you won’t miss this important and exciting information.
Who is Dr. Brandon?
|< Prev||Next >|