RORY KELLY CONNOR: In other words, Anais truly lusted for ecstatic engagement, otherwise known as 'marvelous'. And nothing else and everything else just did not suit. As a writer and creative, as well as a sensual woman, she explored the sexual terrain of her desires and built erotica that lives on today to inspire and pleasure her readers’ imaginations.
In other words, she transformed her lust for sensual feeling into brave words that have transcended her own time and remain relevant for many today despite the exploded transparency and access to anything anytime landscape allowed by the Internet. Her lust became our permission to lust for that which we desire, a gain in many ways. And to choose to pursue our very own forms of ecstatic engagement.
What are you choosing to fill your need for ecstatic engagement?
The Truth May Be in the Questions
As I begin to work with both strategic and coaching clients, we start by discussing their goals and desired outcomes. Often, we need to dig underneath to see what they are truly trying to achieve overall. Many times the true goal is they want to experience or feel something. For instance, many people say they want to be rich. In truth, they want to feel rich. It’s a feeling, an experience.
Getting to that clarity and making sure that the true goals are included in the mix of making things happen in people’s work and lives, we start with some key questions. Inevitably, this question almost always comes up: When you were a child, what were the times when you lost yourself in ecstatic engagement, where you were so enthralled that you lost all sense of time and reason?
Ecstatic engagement is BEing in a state where all reason and self-control are surrendered, so much so that we become one with the overwhelming energy of what we are doing. It is a focused attention that transcends all reality. It’s intensely personal, can be deeply satisfying, and may feel overwhelming in the depth of its power and pleasure.
I have heard hundreds of answers to this question and each person‘s response is uniquely personal and experiential. Here’s a sampling: biking, writing, colouring, putting puzzles together, playing soccer, making crafts, baking, playing with toy soldiers, jumping waves, creating art, playing music, reading, playing with dolls, practicing trumpet…Often the answer(s) shines a light on the person’s childhood passion before they were muted or moulded by others’ perspectives and agendas. Translating those activities into opportunities for ecstatic engagement in the now is always a worthwhile endeavour.
The next question I often ask is this: Now, as an adult, what are the times when you lose yourself in ecstatic engagement, where you are so enthralled that you surrender all sense of time and reason, where you surrender to the experience in mind, body and spirit? Take a minute to answer this question for yourself. What comes up as true?
Interestingly, I often get similar answers, including sports, working out, painting, writing, building something, reading, watching TV, doing Facebook or social media, sailing, food, and spending time in nature, among many others.
What is even more interesting is that two of the areas of the most intense and ecstatic experiences available to us as human beings are almost always missing from the initial answers. Can you guess what these are?
What’s Missing is Sexy
Have you guessed? Yep, sex and God. Sex as defined by any sexual encounter with one’s self or another, either in person or virtually, aided by technology. God as defined as any religious or spiritual event experienced by a person or with other people in any given situation.
This is a significant absence as these two areas of deeply transformative and powerful ecstasy are overwhelmingly noted as areas where people report (when we dig a little deeper) having the most amazing and ecstatic experiences. In addition, these areas also make up the thrust of what has become billion-dollar-business machines operating around the globe. In addition, the explosion of social media and connectedness has made access to information and shared sexual and spiritual experiences more available and prolific due to the benefits of technology in our modern day world. Increased opportunities to experience ecstasy via sex and/or God, so to speak. At your fingertips.
So why are people avoiding sex and/or God in their lists of times of ecstatic engagement? Is it because they aren’t having spiritual and/or sexual ecstatic experiences? Evidence would suggest otherwise. Or is it because people have learned to separate the spiritual and sexual from their work and personal lives, putting them in a place that is either private/intimate or hidden/secret? At least in conversation, or publicly, or in how they think about their 'external-facing' lives?
As we all know and have seen, sex and God are everywhere. Sex or sexual play happens at home, at work, in churches, online, by phone, in media, in how we entertain ourselves and how we pleasure ourselves. The same is true of God, who is right there with us, with sex or without sex, as we search for the next opportunities to experience the ecstatic. God gets ecstatic. After all, She created us and, therefore, our ability to know it.
So the question remains: Why do so many avoid mentioning the most amazing ecstatic experiences they have ever known? I submit that the reason is a fear of lust, and a fear of even admitting lust.
While we are asking questions, what do you lust for?
I submit that lust has gotten a bad rap over the centuries. Originally, lust was defined as pleasure or delight, a personal inclination or wish, an intense longing. Over time, that definition was rendered 'obsolete'. Currently, lust is defined as uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite, lecherousness, an intense sexual craving. Big difference. So why did anyone feel the need to redefine lust?
The whole answer to that question is a separate article in and of itself. The short answer is there was a movement (by mainly religious persons) to minimize, destroy or control our desires and pleasures. To control our opportunities for ecstatic engagement. Leaders decided to allow one (under their control) and control the rules around the other. God and sex. And the impact of this control, this manipulation and narrowing of that which we are free to desire and lust after, shut down our ability to connect with ourselves and experience happiness, including the manifestation of purpose and knowing all that is possible that is both human and Divine. A big mess, huh?
Healthy Lust is Divine
Did that last headline make you cringe? Take a look at that and then read on…
I will be completely honest in saying that I have known lust intimately, both in healthy and very unhealthy ways, in darkness and in incredible light, as pertains to both God and sex. So, I see both sides of the lustful coin. I bring no judgment in my recommendations, only wisdom gained from my own experiences and the depth of work with clients who have also known lust.
Lust can be super sexy, as in seriously creative (versus destructive). It is a hunger, a craving for more of something, to create something, to feel a connection that we strongly desire. The ultimate goal of lust is times of ecstatic engagement. What makes lust healthy versus unhealthy is the degree of integrity and love, for ourselves and others. How we choose to manifest our ecstatic experiences defines who we are and whether we are gravitating toward darkness or our own special light.
For instance, healthy lust can motivate us to learn more, to manifest our goals, to love others well. It can drive us to achieve what we thought impossible and to create amazing beauty and solutions. It can also compel us to surrender ourselves to the experiences that give us pleasure in self-loving ways - where we are also choosing based on our love and respect for others in our lives and our world. Lust is desire exponentially exploded. When put to Go(o)d use, lust can be Divine. See? I sense you do. And that leads to even more moments of ecstatic engagement. How can it get any better than that?
For the purposes of this article, I am not speaking of lust as defined as one of the seven deadly sins or detailing the many ways lust manifests in unhealthy and destructive forms. I could write books on that subject, but will do so another day.
Instead, I will keep us in the light, thinking about lust and its value as a tool as it was originally defined. Lust as sexy and creative, loving and connecting, free and flowing, both human and Divine. As are sex and God.
Who knows? Maybe we can create a renaissance around the true power and meaning of lust that gives us permission to manifest our heart’s desires, our goals and dreams, our craving to surrender to all of the beautiful, healthy ecstasies we long to experience as we take this remarkable journey called life?
Desire. Surrender. Create. Manifest. Come…and lust with me. We’ll make beautiful things happen together, experiencing moments of ecstatic engagement all along the way. It will be incredible, I promise. And that is how you’ll make it happen. And that, my dear one, is sexy.