The Western health care system is broken. Nobody can dispute this. This doesn’t mean Western medicine hasn’t made miraculous strides in treating acute trauma, saving lives during emergencies like heart attacks and strokes, preventing and treating bacterial and viral infections, replacing damaged joints and organs, and optimizing medical and surgical techniques to repair what is broken or diseased in the body. If I’m in a massive car accident, get me to a Level 1 Trauma Center . . . please. If I get a raging case of pneumonia, give me the antibiotic—STAT. On behalf of patients everywhere who have had their lives saved and transformed by such advanced technology, a huge thank you to those who staff these ER’s and offer such life-saving treatments.
I have mastered pain as a spiritual path. Throw conflict, trauma, and drama at me and I can alchemize it into spiritual gold. Sic a pit bull on me and I’ll milk it for all it’s worth, finding the fierce grace in every ounce of agony. Put me in the midst of people with life-threatening or chronic illness and I can help facilitate others through the most brutal physical challenges, supporting patients as they alchemize adversity into awakening. But pleasure as a spiritual path? I am in freakin’ kindergarten, people.
In 2010, my soul brother Nick Polizzi dared to take eight sick people who had failed to respond to Western medicine to the Amazonian jungle to put them under the care of three shamans. They filmed what happened in his documentary The Sacred Science. The trailer for the movie recapped the results (cue dramatic music)—“Five will return with real results, two will return disappointed, and one won’t come back at all.”
So much of what I’ve been blogging about, especially since the election times of 2016 and the aftermath of what has followed in our political climate, the #MeToo movement, and many other divisive issues, has focused on dissolving the story of separation and bringing us back together in love—not a “spiritual bypassing” kind of fake love, but the real love that comes when you’re brave enough to ask “What’s it like to be you?” and really care about the answer, generously listening in a way that opens your heart and evokes genuine compassion.
At the beginning of 2018, I was seriously considering entering a monastic phase of life. After three divorces and five years of messy relationships, I’ve become weary of the energetic exhaustion I associate with romantic relationship. Having ended my last romance in September, just before my mother died, I felt so heartbroken that I had a strong protector part making a very valid, rational case about why I should just accept the invitation of celibacy as the next phase of my spiritual journey. I was aware that it was likely that this impulse was coming not so much from my devotion to monastic life but from the trauma of repetitive heartbreak, a distrust of my own discernment, and a feeling of hopelessness. I also had a part that was making an equally good case for how the greatest growth edge of my spiritual journey lies in exploring my sexuality and radical emotional intimacy with a deep, spiritually mature partner who has experience with sexuality as a spiritual practice. I do not consider myself sexually experienced. Although I’ve had plenty of sex in my life, I’ve never really had a partner who was simultaneously safe enough and curious enough and spiritually mature enough and powerful enough to hold the kind of sexual and spiritual energy that can arise in the right partnership. I’ve tasted that intensity with two different men, but neither of them was available to explore that kind of heart/soul/genital connection in any sustained, reliable, deeply intimate way.