Healing Through Pleasure
Love and Sex: Expressions of Energetic Strength and Weakness
by Felice Dunas, Ph.D. L.Ac.
Ignorance of the necessity for sexual intercourse to the health and virtue of both man and woman is the most fundamental error in medical and moral philosophy.
-George Drysdale, The Elements of Social Science (1854)
Those who understand the nature of sexuality will nur-ture their vigor and prolong their life. Those who treat its principle with contempt will injure their spirit and shorten their life.
-Tung Hsuantzu, c. fifth-seventh centuries
Cursed by a wicked fairy, the princess falls into, deep, dark sleep. Trees, vines and thorny bushes grow around her castle, enveloping everything but its high towers. One hundred years later, while hunting, a prince notices the castle spires. He is told that witches live within the walls, that ghosts haunt the place that terrible ogres will eat anyone who dares to approach. But one withered old man tells him that a beautiful princess is asleep in the castle and only a noble prince can awaken her. That’s enough for a hero. Pushing aside all fear, the prince fights his way through the thicket. As he nears the castle, the tangles magically unfold. He enters and finds his way to a golden room where he sees the fairest sight he’s ever beheld. He kneels and kisses the sleeping princess. With bated breath he waits to see the effect of his kiss. Slowly she awakens. “Is that you, my prince?” she whispers. When he hears her voice, the prince’s heart melts and he declares his eternal love. The tale of Sleeping Beauty might sound old-fashioned in an age of gender equity, but it still strikes a chord in our souls. In its simplicity it captures something basic about men and women.
Essential feminine and masculine principles, termed yin and yang by ancient Chinese philosophers, are reflected in the storybook couple. Of course, the tale says nothing about their sex life, but I do know this: If Beauty and her prince used the ancient, erotic healing techniques of Oriental medicine in the royal bedroom, they would indeed have lived happily ever after-and healthier and longer as well.
In my practice I meet couples whose fairy tales are not coming true. I help them get back on track, physically, emotionally, relationally and sexually. Here is a typical example. Jenny and Johnson had been married thirteen years when they came to me for acu- puncture treatments. Johnson had injured his shoulder falling off a ladder, had chronic tension in his neck and occasional tinnitus (ringing in the ears); Jenny suffered from migraines, severe menstrual cramps and chronic yeast infections. They had come to me for relief from their physical symptoms, but they ended up with more than they bargained for. I witnessed their marital discord in our first meeting, when Jenny criticized her husband for making them late and continued to insert barbs throughout our conversation. Johnson held his tongue.
Later, I learned that when they first met, Jenny had been attracted to Johnson’s easygoing nature and composure under stress. Johnson admired Jenny for being outgoing and assertive. At first it was a goodmatch: Johnson calmed Jenny down when she needed it, and she invigorated and inspired him to accomplish his goals. This “pairing” of energetic traits, his ability to calm her and her presence as a motivator for him, is a typical dynamic between men and women. Here, the man acts as a yin-tonifying agent for a woman and theshe supports the yang in him. As is often the case, Jenny and Jacksons’s strengths became weaknesses. This is a core issue when considering behavior symptoms in couples. Energetic imbalances that cause attraction can, when those same imbalances worsen, cause those same two people to repel one another.
As years pass the positive attraction and tonification pattern can reverseitself. He weakens her feminine chi by not bringing his yang to support her and she hinders his yang by becoming overbearing. She extinguishes his fire. Jenny grew to resent feeling she had to be in charge all the time, but she feared that if she were to give up control, the structure of their life together would collapse. Feeling let down and abandoned, she belittled Johnson’s masculinity, criticizing him in front of others and demeaning his accomplishments. This is typical of a woman whose yin chi isn’t being nourished
in her relationship. Abandonment is the primary injury to yin energy and if a woman feels abandoned by her partner this can reflect in energetic imbalances. Yin energy deficiency is reflected as yang, hot, aggressive behavior. Women who become yin deficient in their relationships act with aggression, a controlling nature and hostility.
Though Johnson felt angry and exasperated, he swallowed his frustration and withdrew into a shell of indifference. This is typical of yang chi deficiency behavior in men. Rather than having moved towards his woman, setting boundaries and taking a stand for himself, he moved away. Johnson pulled away from sex as well. Jenny approached him frequently, only to be rebuffed. When they did make love, she worked hard to have an orgasm, but failed more often than not. She felt deserted and sexually frustrated, which only made her more edgy. What she didn’t know was that Johnson had not lost his sexual desire: he was masturbating daily, having found himself easier to please than his wife.
When they reached my office, neither was looking for marital support though, clearly, the couple was at an impasse. Jenny needed desperately to access her yin, the softer, more feminine side of her nature and to be more genuinely receptive sexually. Receptivity is the primary energetic trait of yin chi. To do so, she needed Johnson to assert his strength. In turn, Johnson needed to have his yang, masculine energy emerge and support Jenny. But for this he had to have Jenny’s respect, trust and encouragement. After years of consistent stress, their inherent differences, complementary at first, had exacerbated and were poisoning their marriage. As classically psychological as this scenario appeared, I had already come to see this kind of situation as an energetic problem that can be addressed without a direct psychological approach.
I treated them with acupuncture, herbs and diet with out ever bringing up the marital challenges that I saw. They presumed we were addressing thephysical symptoms which were their chief complaints. After about four months, Jenny’s migraines were less frequent and Johnson’s shoulder pain was gone. To their surprise, there were other changes as well. The seemingly intractable conflicts that had threatened their marriage began to appear solvable. Jenny became less of a shrew, so Johnson was less wimpy; he was less of a wimp, so she became less shrewish. I knew things had changed when, five months into treatment, Jenny told me that they’d had their best sex since their honeymoon. Johnson had felt comfortable enough to initiate lovemaking again, and the next day in my office Jenny was cooing like a dove.
At that juncture I proposed teaching them some sexual healing techniques, explaining that they would not only heighten their pleasure but could, perhaps, help heal their remaining symptoms and further the process of emotional healing in their marriage as well. I thought Jenny’s cramps and vaginal infections might be, in part, the result of sexual frustration, resulting in local chi congestion. As for Johnson’s tinnitus, in Oriental medicine it is sometimes caused by a weakness in the system that generates the body’s sexual energy.
From this perspective, Johnson’s daily masturbation habit was depleting that system. I suggested Jenny relax in bed and allow herself to be more sexually receptive. Telling her that she must have time for foreplay, I showed them ways to add variety and spice to that phase of lovemaking.
This would help solidify their fragile, new intimacy and give Jenny more time to warm up and open up, a requirement of healthy yin expression. Before long, she
became more at ease with her natural sexuality and was experiencing regular orgasms without great effort.
Her cramps lessened and her infections occurred less frequently. Seeing that he was able to please his wife, Johnson’s confidence grew. He cut way back on masturbating; even though he now had fewer orgasms, his satisfaction was more complete. The ringing in his ears subsided gradually, and the tightness in his neck eased as the tension between him and Jenny dissolved.
In essence, by addressing the underlying syndromes experienced by both of these patients, physical, psychological, sexual and relational symptoms were alleviated. For those of us in clinical practice, focusing our attention on the relational aspect of a patient’s life is, generally, not a high priority. Certainly if abuse or some other blatant challenge to physical health is involved the discussion of a patient’s lifestyle and circumstances may be important. But, as you can see through this example, much can be done to address a patient’s experience of life and love through manipulating the energetic weakness that allow for disharmony.
In essence, every aspect of life can be viewed through the ancient concepts that guide the medicine we practice. One can find solutions upon examining the underlying, energetic causes of psychological and relational disharmony as they manifest in relationships. No matter how contemporary we consider ourselves to be, there is a truth in the ancient myth of Sleeping Beauty. It is reflects the ancient theories of yin and yang and the lives, loves and bodies of our patients.
Born in Los Angeles and raised in a medical family, Felice Dunas, Ph.D., is an acupuncture industry founder, international lecturer, published author and executive coach. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology/International Health Care from UCLA, and her Doctorate degree in Clinical Chinese Medicine and Pharmacology from Samra University. She uses ancient principles of the body and human behavior to enhance the lives of individuals, couples and corporate executives. Having lectured in over 60 countries, she addresses health, vitality, interpersonal intimacy and sexuality. Dr. Dunas is the author of the best- selling book from Penguin-Putnam, “PASSION PLAY: Ancient Secrets for a Lifetime of Health and Happiness Through Sensational Sex”. For more into, go to: http://www.felicedunas.com