So – What do sexuality, polarity therapy and healing have in common? The immediate misconception is that our sexuality (sexual behavior, sexual thoughts, internal visual images, sexual partner preference and choice, body-concept, arousal pattern, level of desire, etc.) can be separated from who we are, how we think and what is going on physiologically in our body. The second misconception is that healing happens piecemeal, that we can “heal” or change one body part or one aspect of our mind-body-spirit without affecting every other part. Our body is a hologram, every part affects and reflects every other part. The third misconception is that healing equals perfection (perfect health, perfect relationship, perfect finances, a perfect life). Our body is a metaphor, a physical representation of our thoughts, actions and responses, revealing to us what we need to pay attention to, change or learn. I remember hearing about AIDS patients, on their deathbed, claiming that they were “healing.” They were not healing their physical bodies because they were dying. Yet they were healing something – perhaps their relationships, perhaps their accepting the love that was always there, perhaps realizing their own loving potential, or perhaps healing or letting go of their sense of control and superiority as a mere mortal being.
Touch is the first sense to develop and one of the last to fade. Touch triggers the release of endorphins, hormones that help to suppress pain and make us feel good. In fact, there is one gene in our body, ornithisnecoborulase, that is only turned on through touch.
Numerous studies about the healing effects of massage, conducted by the Touch Research Institute in Miami, Florida and other locations, by psychologist Tiffany Field, Ph.D. and her colleagues, indicate that touch lowers stress hormones and increases levels of serotonin, which is just what many anti-depression drugs do. Massaging touch (15 minutes, 3 times per week, for 5 weeks) has been shown to relieve and manage pain, improve circulation and breathing, lower heart rate and blood pressure, decrease anxiety and stress, enhance flexibility, relaxation, energy, and body awareness, elevate mood, and even improve performance of mathematical calculations. Studies at The Upledger Craniosacral Institute in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, have indicated that craniosacral therapy can help clients to heal from post traumatic stress disorder, autism, migraines, and many other physical and psychological ailments.
In 1994, the 14th World Congress of Sexology adopted The Declaration of Sexual Rights, which declared: “Sexual pleasure, including autoeroticism, is a source of physical, psychological, intellectual and spiritual well-being.” (WAS, 1994. The Health Benefits of Sexual Expression, White Paper. April 2003. Published by Katharine Dexter McCormick Library, Planned Parenthood Foundation of American). Regular sexual activity has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, increase fitness and brain stimulation, lower blood pressure, relieve pain, improve sleep, enhance immunity, increase longevity, and promote peak spiritual experiences.
Normal sexual response depends on the interplay of sensual stimulation (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch) and vascular and neuromuscular activities, precipitated and mediated by hormones and neurotransmitters. Sexual attraction, desire, arousal, orgasm and tendency toward bonding result from a delicate and fragile combination of events.
Sexual desire is a mental-emotional-sensational event which may operate separately from our natural sexual functioning. In other words, our body may be able to perform sexually without our feeling desire or we may feel sexual desire without becoming
The significant hormones in the sexual response cycle are:
Attraction, Sexual Desire and Tendency Toward Bonding
o DHEA – androgen precursor to testosterone, estrogen and pheromones which stimulates limbic arousal in men and women
o Dopamine – located in the mesolimbic “pleasure center,” presumed to enhance sexual response, bonding and monogamy
o Vasopressin – a peptide hormone, released in the brain during sexual response, increases pair bonding and aggression by males toward other males
o Estrogen – keeps vaginal ph lower, increases number of lactobacillus (good bacteria, and increases blood flow but increased estrogen can decrease sexual desire
o Progesterone – balances estrogen so that oxytocin can be high but may also
o Testosterone – androgen, a threshold level is needed for sexual arousal
o Choline – precursor of neurotransmitter acetylcholine, essential for memory, muscle control and cardiovascular health, it transfers the sexual arousal messages to the genital arteries and releases nitrous oxide (necessary for
penile erection and clitoral swelling
o Epinephrine and Norepinephrine – stress hormones, increase during sexual activity
Orgasm and Post-Orgasm Tendency Toward Bonding
o PEA – amphetamine-like stimulant whose levels spike at orgasm and ovulation and mediate feelings of romance and love
o Oxytocin – the cuddle hormone, spikes at orgasm leading to post orgasm inertia facilitating attraction, touch sensation and bonding
*Note – Effect increased by estrogen and yohimbine and decreased by alcohol
o Prolaction – released after orgasm to give the body a rest, it inhibits appetite as well as sexual desire, arousal and orgasm,
o Serotonins – creates relaxing, dreamy, after-sex glow and sleeping better
*Note – serotonin can inhibit release of dopamine, decreasing sexual response
Drugs that increase serotonin are associated with anorgasmia and delayed ejaculation
o Endorphins – feel good hormones, relieve pain, stimulate immune system
Healthy sexual functioning involves adequate neural signals from the central nervous system and an optimum balance within the autonomic nervous system, fluctuating between the stress response (activation of the sympathetic nervous system) and the relaxation response (activation of the parasympathetic nervous system).
Sexual arousal (vaginal lubrication and penile erection) is a neuro-vascular event mediated by the autonomic nervous system. Adequate central nervous system stimulation triggers the male erection reflex at spinal cord segments S2, S3, and S4. Adequate parasympathetic stimulation triggers the relaxation of smooth muscles and blood flow within the penis as well as female vaginal tissue engorgement and lubrication.
Orgasm and ejaculation are neuromuscular events. They require adequate central nervous system stimulation to trigger the male ejaculation reflex at multiple spinal cord levels, receptors in the skin of the penis, firing of the pudendal nerve causing compression of the penile urethra and rhythmic smooth muscle contractions and vascular constriction as well as female orgasmic response, a similar but more diffuse response that may be mediated by the vagus nerve.
Polarity Therapy Heals
Dr. Randolph Stone developed a comprehensive system of healing, Polarity Therapy, that assists us to recognize, understand and implement the healing process from the inside out and the outside in. Dr. Stone travelled the world, gathering research and information about healing. He studied theories and practices of chiropractic, naturopathy, osteopathy, homeopathy, ayurvedic, Traditional Chinese Medicine, energy healing including meridians and chakras, astrology, Vedic scriptures, ancient Hermetic philosophy, and other esoteric teachings and perspectives.
Dr. Stone saw the body with all its aches and pains and physical problems as a manifestation of our thoughts and beliefs, “As we think, so we are.” He viewed health as freely flowing, uninterrupted life energy and disease as imbalance and blockage of energetic flow. He saw our bodies and our lives, in fact the entire universe, as a hologram, interconnected and mirroring, “As above, so below; as within, so without.” Dr. Stone taught that healing occurs when the necessary changes and transformations have occurred, first in the subconscious mind and in the most subtle and least dense aspect of the energetic field and then gradually, slowly stepping down into the dense tissues of the body and its organ systems. He taught about the profound effects and psychological meanings of the five tattvas or elements (ether, air, fire, water and earth).
Dr. Stone discovered that the human energy field is affected by everything that affects our senses (touch, sight, sounds, taste and smell) as well as the ways that we move or restrict our physical bodies and the ways that we interact with our environment and everything in it (plants, animals, and people). He also emphasized the continual expansion and contraction, yin and yang, manifested cyclically throughout the universe, within our own bodies and in our interactions with the world and the people in it.
As polarity therapy practitioners we know that our hands are energy conductors, that as we touch our clients’ bodies they respond to our touch and also to our consciousness, and that our clients’ mind-body-spirit has its own intelligence and self-regulating capacity. Our clients’ systems already know what they need in order for healing to occur. As practitioners, our task is to facilitate the unfolding of this exquisite knowing.
How Can Polarity Therapy Assist Clients With Relationship and Sexual Problems?
This article began with some comments about the profoundly negative effect researchers and therapists are finding as more and more people, especially men, become compulsively attached to internet pornography. Instead of dealing with current life problems, images of scantily clad bodies temporarily pacify the angst, restless mind, insecurities and anxieties, acting as a stimulus as strong as the most addictive drugs. At the same time, relationships are being neglected and undermined. Another epidemic in this country is the use of properly prescribed prescription drugs for almost everything, from relief of pain to reducing anxiety, to alleviating restless leg syndrome. For sexual arousal difficulties, men now have a host of little pills to take in addition to such paraphernalia as a vacuum pump and papavarine injections into the penis (regardless of the man’s state of emotional and physical health, the quality of his movement or the contents of his diet). Women are being offered surgeries for vaginal vestibulitis (vaginal inflammation) and the possibility of a new pill to improve sexual desire (regardless of the functioning of her body or the dynamics of her relationships).
Polarity therapy practitioners can have a profound and life transforming effect on clients who present with sexual and relationship issues. These clients usually do not understand the holographic interconnection among their thoughts, feelings, physical activities, dietary habits, emotional state and relationships. Beginning with observation of the body, the postural presentation, the tone of voice, facial expression, muscular tension patterns as well as the emotional content of the client’s story, the polarity therapist already has some understanding of the possible underlying energetic blockages. Following his or her intuitive knowing, the polarity therapist can begin the process of touching the client and allowing the energy to unwind and flow. This process will naturally allow the pituitary gland to reinstate a balanced flow of hormones and neurotransmitters as needed.
During this process, the client may reveal some significant past life or earlier in this life emotional or physical traumas, confusions or unresolved dilemmas. The therapist can discover which tattva is most out of balance or which chakra is blocked. By listening with full attention and honest intention to assist the healing process, the therapist can engender trust and openness in the client.
Sexual issues are very personal, private and often reveal a sense of embarrassment, shame, humiliation, distortion, cognitive dissonance or complete denial. I highly recommend investing in a few consultation sessions with a certified and qualified sex therapist to get a more comprehensive understanding of the depth of a client’s issues and how they can be handled. As a polarity therapist, you can also work in conjunction with a sex therapist, providing insight into the emotional and energetic underpinnings and assisting the client to open up enough in your sessions so that he or she can bring that newly uncovered material into a psychotherapy session for greater illumination.
Sex therapists usually do not utilize touch with their clients. They may encourage their clients to do some touching homework assignments with their sexual partners in the privacy of their own bedroom, but the touch is usually focused on sensual and sexual arousal. The touch utilized by polarity therapists has a different purpose and focus. Polarity therapists touch clients to assist the energetic flow throughout the client’s body. There is no agenda that this or that should happen. There is only touch, observation and allowing, sometimes encouraging, the energy to move and flow where it needs to go.
by Erica Goodstone, Ph.D.