Originally posted April 9, 2012
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I’ve never been into the ‘Lent’ thing. Raised a semi-faking-it Episcopalian in a sea of Southern Baptists, I was never really forced to adhere to a lot of religious dogma and ritual (thank God). Plus, that black, ashy cross on the forehead was more a Catholic thing, anyway.
One year I told the youth minister at my church that I was giving up ‘boys’ for Lent. I was about fourteen years old and had only ever had one boyfriend (which lasted about a month) when I was thirteen. Plus I was too interested in making straight A’s and playing soccer to even care about the boys in my school (none of whom I was particularly drawn to anyway). It was a non-issue for me.
Over the years, I saw how letting go of something for a period of time might work for other people, but I never saw myself as having any tangible addictions. Yeah I could give up alcohol—but really, the few glasses of wine I have a week? Will that really teach me a lesson? I rarely smoked, so that was off the table. And food? Well, I tried to give that up for seven years straight, but that’s another story.
Honestly, I saw trying to find something to give up for Lent about as useful as abstaining from dressing up Chihuahuas in fuzzy sweaters (the former I do not own and the latter I vehemently abhor).
But this year, something felt different. I’ve been digging deep lately into the way that I manage my energy. Exploring which circumstances leave me feeling energized and which ones leave me feeling drained. Where do I put my focus and where I ‘check out’ on life. How I busy myself with a bunch of little crap instead of concentrating on what will move me forward in my career. How I make up a bunch of excuses as to why I am not ‘successful’ yet, as opposed to feeling my desire and moving from her wisdom. How I will say ‘Yes’ to things I don’t really want to do because I am afraid ‘No’ will make me look selfish or will help me accrue credit with another person that I can cash in on a later date.
Enter my financial situation. It’s my belief that the way we do one thing is the way we do everything, and money is simply one expression of the way I cultivate and utilize the energy within and around me. And for the past three years, I have been living on borrowed energy. Oh sure, I started off with a hefty little supply of cash. But over time, I have been spending, spending, spending (with the best of intentions) and have done very little to deposit, deposit, deposit. Granted, it hasn’t been all whores and crack (joke, Mom), but when I finally came face to face with a 5-figure AmEx bill, something inside me went, “Um, Candice…this might be a problem.”
I do have some savings in an emergency fund. A little bit of cash in investments. And a Roth IRA. But over six weeks ago, I estimated that I had only about three more months of savings until I dug myself into serious hole. And this hole was fucking up a lot of my best-laid plans. “I gotta buy that MacBook Pro and that iPhone and that Red Prius and get my ass to LA so I can be in the movies and bring Orgasmic Meditation to Hollywood.”
But the truth is, if I want to even have a chance at accomplishing any of that, I have got to get my energy accounting in order. Financial, personal, relationship, career…you name it. I like to spend, but am not so good receiving.
This is where the power of Orgasmic Meditation comes in to play. I know, many of you are thinking, “What the hell does making money have to do with my orgasms?” But stay with me for a moment. I am going to expand the definition of orgasm and I invite you to do the same (but only if you want to…you can always pick up the old definition on the way out the door. No obligations. No questions asked.)
Most of us equate ‘orgasm’ with ‘climax’: you work yourself up to a boiling point, discharge a large amount of energy and crash over a sharp edge. That’s cool and all…AND that is only one landmark on an entire map of orgasm. The way I define orgasm is that it is the creative life force that births each moment. Yogis refer to it as ‘prana.’ Acupuncturists call it ‘chi’. Whatever floats your boat.
Sometimes this orgasm is low and soft and sweet. Other times it is sharp and scratchy and acrid. There are infinite expressions of orgasm in the world—from the sunshine dancing off the warm, green buds of spring, to the muddy, sticky floor-beds of a swamp. Everything has its own orgasmic, erotic, creative expression.
And through the practice of Orgasmic Meditation, we learn (stroke by stroke) how to tap into the orgasm, feel each nuance inside and relax and expand our ability to hold more of that energy, while still maintaining consciousness in that expansion. Because the way we often operate is once we reach a certain level of energy in the body, we will go unconscious, move into habitual autopilot and do everything in our power to get rid of it. We drink it away. We fuck it away. We Facebook it away. We eat it away. We starve it away. Or we push it down until it sits in our bodies and festers into bitterness and resentment (this is how misers operate—alone in their mansions with no friends or meaningful expressions of their life).
And this was the trouble with my finances. Occasionally I would do the clamp-and-horde dance, but 99% of the time, I would reach a certain level of ‘havingness’ and then I would spend my money…money I often didn’t have. I didn’t know how to hold it. My excuses were valid: Holding that much is greedy; I’m not responsible enough to hold that much; If I hold that much, then how can I play the poor little starving artist girl to get the attention that I want? You get the idea. And the way I rationalized spending the money was just to put those big purchases on the credit card. The phone bill. The plane tickets. The retreats. Let it just sit there.
But the thing with credit is that you build interest, and the same applies with your energy. If you spend $10 worth of energy that you don’t have, you not only have to pay off the $10, but you have to pay off a little bit more to just turn direction from spending to depositing. It’s a game of diminishing returns, which, if you play every once in a while, can be alright…but if you make it a habit, it becomes unsustainable.
And so, I found myself looking at my credit card statement about a week after Lent began and noticed that the last purchase was on Fat Tuesday. “Bingo!” cried Desire. This is exactly what you are meant to confront: 40 days of only spending energy if I had the immediate funds to sustain such a purchase. OK, I admit, there were a few times I had to use the card within the 40 days. There was an iTunes purchase that automatically charged my card. There was a day I was out with a friend and, due to a miscalculation in my checking account (my mistake), I had to use the card to cover lunch. And yes, there was that one (just one!) time I had to buy a $3 cappuccino. But I was cold. And it was Sightglass Coffee. And I reeeeeeeaaaaaaaallllyyyy wanted it.
However, over the 40 days, I managed to put only $61.42 on the card (not including the $68.71 in interest). It felt like some sort of breakthrough for me! But the point of the experience was less about could I manage to get through Lent without using the card and more about bringing a certain level of consciousness to how I spend. Like I discovered that travel means more to me than new clothes. I learned that I often play innocent when it comes to big purchases and just hope that ‘someday’ I’ll be able to pay it off (I call this the ‘Rose-Colored Glasses Syndrome’—like that energy-draining, co-dependent relationship with the drug addict who can’t admit his/her problem, and if you wait around long enough, maybe someday he/she will come around and get the help they need). And that I spend about a quarter of my food budget on Kombucha alone (Yeah. I know. Leave me alone).
And with this new level consciousness, I am now free to make an informed choice about how and when I spend my money. I learned more about what I value in my life and can now make purchases that are in alignment with my personal integrity, rather than out of trying to run away from feeling the hungers within me. And with this level of clarity, I am now sitting in position of empowerment, rather than ignorance. I know what I want in my life and I am willing to do what it takes to have it. And if that means dropping into the murky, dark shadows of my orgasm to drop off what no longer serves me, then so be it (even if that includes Sightglass coffee and a few Hippie Festivals).
PS: Of course, I couldn’t write an article with the word ‘Orgasm’ in the title and not mention sex; so for those of you wondering if this kind of accounting helps your sex life, the short answer is yes. However, it helps not by teaching you some technique or fancy way of stroking, but by bringing your attention to the present moment, cultivating sensitivity in your body and learning to trust the deeper desires that arise. Great sex/orgasm/climax is simply the by-product of this level of attention and capacity to hold energy. It’s like those people who step into a yoga class for ‘a great body.’ Yes, you will get ripped doing yoga, but that is the by-product of learning to slow down, feel and honor the subtle wisdom your body has to offer. The same is true in Orgasmic Mediation. We take the ‘goal’ of climax off the table and create a space where you simply get to know the landscape of your orgasm. It takes a bit more time and requires a lot of patience, but in the end, it is the most sustainable way for you to bring that level of aliveness and turn-on into the bedroom and into your everyday life.