There are parts of our own personalities that we love, and parts that we have learned to hide. As a newborn, we don’t have a set of rules defining which behavior of our selves we like and don’t like. It’s our environment, mainly our parents, who teach us what to express and what to put away in a box and store away far from our surface. Especially in our sexuality we experience a lot of those hidden boxes, which makes sex an amazing pathway into exploring our shadow side.
How is a shadow side created?
Children have no filter like grownups do. When a person tells a child that something is shameful behavior (like screaming out loud or expressing rage and sadness – “Don’t cry, it’s not so bad”), the child will register this as an absolute truth. An undesired truth which should not be shown, – or even be felt.
In this way shame and guilt enter the existence of a person. Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist, was the first one to name these repressed ideas, instincts, impulses, weaknesses, desires, perversions and embarrassing fears that we try to hide our ‘dark side’ or our ‘shadow side’. It’s our wild side, the chaos and the unknown.
Why would you want to explore your shadow side?
If our shadow side is containing all these fears, emotions, taboos and guilt, why would a person want to dive into this hell?
Because in the middle of hell lies freedom. Liberation. And shitloads of fun.
Every part of our person that we don’t want to show to other people and ourselves is a heavy load in our system. Just like rocks influence the stream of a river, so do hidden personal aspects influence our well-being. If you have a lot of anger stored that you have cherished and never released, you will probably feel irritated quite easily, but you will not be able to channel the feelings into a constructive direction. You might swallow and count to ten, forcing the anger back inside where it will be a time bomb, exploding at an unexpected moment. When you learn to express all the anger from your childhood in a safe space, you will release that bomb in a way that doesn’t harm anyone, including yourself. You can learn to let go of anger at the moment it arises, or use it in a constructive way (anger can be a very creative energy). Just as much as this works for anger, you can use it for grief, fear and other emotions as well.
Other things that keep us from shining our brightest light are shame and guilt. There are many things that we believe we are not supposed to feel or like. How free would you be when you have experienced for yourself that there is literally nothing to be ashamed about? Nothing to feel guilt about? Of course there are things in life that you would have done differently if you had the chance. You can appreciate those as learning moments. Shame and guilt are energies that bring you down and make you feel small. They never help.
Why sex is an amazing pathway into our shadow side
In our modern Western culture we have created a lot of shame, taboo and guilt around sexuality. There is of course a massive influence coming from different religions that for centuries have praised sex after marriage, abstinence, celibacy and that created fear for homosexuality, masturbation – and actually sex in general. It was there to make babies, but it’s sinful and dirty.
Other influences of enormous impact are the people around us, especially our parents. If you have a child in your surroundings, you will know that small children touch their own genitals. Like all of the time. They don’t care whether they’re alone or in the middle of their grandfather’s birthday party. But the parents often will mind, and tell their children to not touch themselves because they are not supposed to do so. Or – worse – that it’s a dirty thing to do. And so the first connection of a child and its genitals is one of sin.
When we grow up it doesn’t get better. Sexual education in schools doesn’t teach us more that how not to get pregnant and not to get sexual transmitted diseases (solution for both: learn to wrap a condom around a cucumber) by a trembling teacher who’s afraid of questions.
How many parents tell their children what sex is really about? How many parents hide their own sex-life from their kids? What about sexual assaults? How many women are so ashamed for being raped they will not tell anybody?
And so the main message a lot of people learn in their lives is that sex should be hidden, is dirty and a cause of diseases. This makes our sexuality a place where we can find a lot of shame, guilt, taboo and a deep well of hidden emotions.
In many traditions sexual energy is seen as life energy. Our most creative energy. When we are able to let our sexual energy flow freely, this doesn’t mean we will be humping each other all day. The main benefit of releasing our sexual energy is having access to this never ending storage of energy that we can use for our professional work, art, relationships, healing and wellbeing in general.
How to use sex to explore your shadow side
In order to actively use sex as a pathway into your shadow side, you need a couple of things. Although you can work on your own, a partner is preferred. Sometimes a lot of emotions arise. In those moments it is helpful to have another person around to provide you with a safe space. Someone who can hold a pillow you can hit, or hold you when you find sadness, or someone to fuck their brains out. You also need open communication, courage, time and space. Discuss hard limits. Which (sexual) actions are allowed to express within the safe space that feel good for both?
You can either have your own love-making practice, or have one person guiding the other. In the second practice the roles of guide and releaser can alternate within a session. You can decide who will guide first, or just let the session flow and unfold itself. Either way, scan your mind and body for tension. Question yourself constantly. Work for example with these questions:
- When you touch the other person, are there any body parts you avoid? What happens if you approach these body parts actively?
- Are there any parts of your body you don’t want to be seen or touched?
- How do you feel when the light is switched on?
- Can you have sex outside the bedroom?
- What would be the worst thing imaginable at this moment (e.g. you parents/children/neighbors watching you being fucked)?
- What is your darkest phantasy?
Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable is a sign you’re approaching your shadow side. This is exactly where you want to go. Remember: freedom lies in the middle of hell. There’s a good chance you will feel emotions arising. Fear, anger or sadness are common. Try to express them as they arise. Let it all flow through you without holding back the slightest bit. You don’t need to analyze or even understand the emotions. You can even see images in your mind, or suddenly remember experiences from the past. Sometimes I see images I never experienced. Whether they come from a collective memory, previous life or are a memory from something I saw on television doesn’t matter. This is what comes out of the box and I keep expressing whatever it is that wants to be released.
You might feel release and relaxation as the emotions flow through and out of your system. Another things that happens often, is that the emotions turn into a state of excitement. Horniness. Try to follow the flow of your body without judging it or holding back. Believe me, a (wo)man expressing true horniness is one of the most sexy things imaginable!
When you are guiding a person releasing old stuff, you can keep asking them what they feel. Can they express their emotions? Can they give words to what they see or feel? Stimulate the person you are guiding to allow everything that comes up to be there, but don’t interfere too much in the process. Don’t cuddle them when they cry until they ask you to do so. When you comfort too quickly, you only confirm that the stuff in the box is trouble. Simply hold space and enjoy what is happening for you see someone who is really true with him- or herself.
My body tells me where to find my shadow side by making me feel fear, pain or tightness. Allowing old fear clenches my throat for example until I scream out the anger and surrender to the emotions before it releases. After the release, intense life energy starts flowing as a state of complete surrender, laughing beyond control, as playfulness or plain horniness. I really enjoy it. It feels like a suppression that was there for such a long time is suddenly gone. Letting this energy flow freely makes me appreciate my body much more. It makes me aware of how sexy I am, how beautiful and how powerful. Most of all, it teaches me that all aspects of me are worth loving and nothing needs to be hidden from my surface.