Maci Daye joins us today to talk about awakened intimacy and share some of the practices she uses with couples. This episode discusses awakened intimacy in the context of mindfulness, being present and attentive during sex. There’s talk of effective practices on how to use what happens to increase passion and grow in the face of challenges.
What is Awakened Intimacy?
Maci defines awakened intimacy as a willingness to expand your idea of sex to include aspects you haven’t tried before – pleasure, joy and even a little bit of suffering. We’re used to the assumption that sex is pleasurable, and it becomes easy to have that assumption. So when people have confusing and triggering experiences, as Maci says, it gives a window of an opportunity to learn from what happened to heal and grow. This is what awakened intimacy is – a transformational path.
Awakened intimacy for everyone
Awakened intimacy is not just for couples who want to overcome challenges in their relationship, but it’s also for people who want to love themselves better. Maci states awakened intimacy is useful because you want to be more compassionate, loving and wise. And sex is an integral part of it.
Sex & intimacy are a part of your healing process
You don’t have to put off resolving issues of your sex-life on hold while resolving issues of other parts of life. Maci says all of these are interlinked and sex is an integral part of it. You bring yourself into every experience in your life, and sex is an experience through which you connect the most with your partner. So, if you don’t include sex, no matter how much resolve and connect with your partner, it won’t transfer into your sex life and intimacy.
How does awakened intimacy differ from mindful sex?
Maci defines mindfulness as a tool to be used in the process of awakening. She defines it as a practice to modify your sexual process by including a “quality of attention that is present, curious and exploratory”. She also points out that other than opening you up to an awakening journey, mindfulness also improves your sexual functioning and genital health. Mindfulness also brings out the pleasure of passionate and attentive sex in couples who’ve been together for a long time. She suggests couples connect with their conscience to explore and discover new things while they’re making love. We’re wired to repeat patterns in life and in the bedroom which go unnoticed. With mindfulness, we can recognize these patterns in the bedroom and make changes to break the pattern. Maci calls it “updating your sexual operating system”.
Practices for couples facing a challenge in the bedroom
For couples who reach an impasse in the bedroom, should research their experiences during sex to examine and repair the wounds. Maci shares a three-step process she does with couples where they stop and share their experience instead of getting stuck in a repeat loop of avoidance. It allows couples to pause when they identify a trigger signal and research into the experience to recognize patterns and habits. ”The only place to heal a past wound is in the present, we can only heal wounds that are visible”, says Maci. While it’s difficult to describe these patterns to your partner, when met with support, you can move onto the next step of adjustment.
The next step is to make an adjustment by sharing your experience with your partner and together figuring out a solution to make changes. Maci also suggests rapid-fire interrogation attached with receptive curiosity and mindfully check in to make adjustments for a better outcome. Going a bit further Maci also suggests “co-designing” that went wrong in the past, with the added adjustments and mindfulness.
Advice for people unaware of their own experiences
Often people are not in tune with their experiences and power through their sex-life without checking in. For those couples, Maci shares an exercise where couples set a timer to pause and evaluate what’s happening in their experiences – their emotions, sensations and even thoughts. This allows a person to share what’s happening with their experience without directing the blame onto their partner. It allows a couple to really dwell on the moment and explore.
How to invite the unchallenged partner into the process?
In this process, it’s quick to shift all the attention into resolving the issues surrounding the person with the triggered experience. In that case, the other partner without a challenging experience could feel unheard. It’s important to note their experience in reaction to their partner’s experience. The unchallenged partner should also identify and share their needs and limits. It once again comes back to couples studying and adjusting by sharing their experiences. When couples recognize each other’s needs and emotions and start working towards them, that’s when they have a satisfying sex-life.
What is the EROS cycle in erotic attunement?
Couples who want to break out of having a routine or informed sex without any inside-out authentic pleasure can attain erotic attunement by following the EROS cycle. Maci describes Erotic attunement as the idea of being in the moment and in tune with your own body and your partner’s where you feel foreign impulses and you feel free to follow the to have unscripted sex. EROS cycle helps us achieve that. E stands for embody and attune, R stands for relating and relaxing our goals, O stands for opening to impulses and new directions and S stands for savoring pleasure. Maci also brings our attention to the struggles we may face in this challenging cycle such as, not connecting with your body, having a hard time trusting impulses, feeling safe to express those impulses or responding openly and even relating.
EROS cycle in attunement is part of what couples could do as they keep encountering difficulties. Maci urges couples to have an attuned embodied experience as they go through challenges.
Maci Daye is the Creator of Passion & Presence, a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Hakomi Therapist, and Certified Sex Therapist with over 25 years experience in social service, higher education and private practice. She holds graduate degrees from Harvard and Georgia State Universities and has completed the intermediate level Somatic Experiencing trauma training.
She operates LifeWorks Counseling & Seminars, Inc. in Atlanta, GA and co-runs Hakomi of Mallorca (in Spain) with her partner Halko Weiss. In addition to clinical practice, Maci is on the faculty of the Hakomi Institute and teaches in the southeastern United States and Europe. Maci has led sexuality retreats and training courses for helping professionals in the USA, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico and has presented at several conferences in Europe and the USA.
Resources and links:
Training video – https://jessazimmerman.mykajabi.com/video-choice
Sex Health Quiz – https://www.sexhealthquiz.com
The Course – https://www.intimacywitheasemethod.com
The Book – https://www.sexwithoutstress.com
Podcast Website – https://www.intimacywithease.com
Access the Free webinar: How to help your partner want more sex without making them feel pressured or obligated: https://intimacywithease.com/free-webinar
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