Lessons from 6 Months of Conscious Celibacy
Lessons from 6 Months of Conscious Celibacy
I remember the conversation Dennis and I had that night it all started - sitting in the hammock at 4 o’clock in the morning, in the middle of the Amazon in Brazil in one of the villages of the Yawanawá Indians. We had just finished a beautiful ceremony with a group of Indians whom visited from another village. In the ceremony, Matsini, the spiritual leader of that village, gave Dennis the opportunity to open a 6 month Dieta under his guidance. For a while now, the topic of a 1 year Dieta has been present in Dennis and I’s relationship; it’s one of his dreams to complete a certain1 year dieta, which involves swallowing the juice of a snake’s heart. The Indians told Dennis that to prepare for the 1 year dieta with the Snake Heart, he first had to prepare with a 6 month dieta taking the Saliva of the Snake. So, when the opportunity arose to begin a 6 month Dieta on the path of beginning a 1 year, Dennis and I knew the time had come to speak about the practicalities of making it happen.
If we said “Yes,” the Dieta could begin in the next days; as soon as the snake was found. The 6-month dieta involved swallowing the saliva of the snake, so it was up to the snake when the Dieta would begin. Lying in the hammock after that ceremony, Dennis and I spoke about entering into the Dieta and what that would entail for each of us. At the time, we were both in a 1 month dieta, and hadn’t been intimate for 2 weeks, sleeping in separate spaces of our Jungle House. The process of individuation had already begun. As we spoke about the 6 months, I cried. Not because I didn’t want it to happen – no I fully wanted it to happen. I wanted it to happen for him, but also, I really wanted it for myself. I wanted the space to focus fully on my dreams, without the energetic distraction of intimacy and being there for my lover in whatever way I could. The tears were tears of grieving the feeling of closeness, of kisses, of feeling him with me – a taste of what was to emerge in the next 6 months. A Dieta is a period of going inward, and limiting external stimulation to support such – no sweets, no pure water, spending time in the jungle, working with the sacred plants of the forest, and most importantly, celibacy. For us as a couple, it meant going our separate ways energetically for the duration of the Dieta. Sleeping in separate rooms, and focusing on ourselves as individuals, to then come together at the end of the time as a couple, rooted in Self and stronger together.
Sitting in the hammock discussing the logistics of the 6 months, our individual processes were beginning. Dennis was starting to plan and organize his schedule to spend as much time in the jungle during those months, and I was preparing my own schedule – first to be alone in our house in Peru and then to head to California. In the hammock that morning, we both said YES to these 6 months. If it was meant to be, a snake would cross our path, and we would move forward into these 6 months, together. Separate, but together.
And so we did.
What prepared us for navigating these 6 months as a couple was the 1 month we spent together in the Jungle, both in Dieta. This time together was very strong, especially the beginning weeks. Normally in a Dieta, you are in an isolated experience, keeping your process to yourself, and working with your own energy. For Dennis and I, not only were we each going through a Dieta (and for me, my first), navigating the relationship with the Indians and making sure a group of 6 people were fed and taken care of, but we also had the additional component of living in the same hut. I had the front deck and he had the back room. Every time Dennis walked to his room, he walked through my space. To be in this sensitive and challenging space of the Dieta, while living in the space with your partner is a very strong combination. You quickly become aware of what is inside of you, by what is being reflected to you through your partner.
In the first week, after a bit of a learning curve, we spoke about respecting each other’s space. Only when we both opened the space between us, would we speak and share. For example, if Dennis walked in the hut to go to his bed, and I was lying in my hammock, we wouldn’t just begin talking. Unless we opened the space, we let each other be. What a learning experience this was! To witness what arises in the silence and how easy it is to project any heaviness of our inner experience onto our partner was both challenging and profound. I became aware of how easy it is to speak from a place of emotional urgency, and how our words carry a charge, which is our own and no one else’s. If we remain still, take responsibility for what is arising, and respond from a place of stillness, peace continues to exist in the space. Or if necessary, a conversation exists within the space of peace, rather than of charged emotions.
With that, I also learned how I feel when my space is not respected, and more importantly, how I feel when I don’t state my boundaries around what is supportive for me. These are themes and words I was very familiar with before, but this experience of being on Dieta, having the space to notice my internal landscape and reflect on it, while also being in this sensitive situation with my partner was an amazing opportunity to really experience and watch it.
I would say that the two big themes that emerged during this time of Dieta, especially in the context of relationship were: Responsibility and Respect. Taking responsibility for my own experience and personal process, and taking care of myself. Doing my part to show up in the world with a smile and do my personal work, which means starting my day off from a place of self-care and self-love, and taking responsibility for my actions and my words. From that place of Self-Responsibility, comes having Respect for others and their own space and process.
This experience of really having respect for the other’s process was the foundation of navigating these 6 months together as a couple. Taking a step back from the inner workings of your life together, and seeing, truly seeing your Beloved for all that they are. Respecting the steps your beloved has taken, and is taking, in his or her life. Respecting them for all the challenges they’ve endured on the Journey of being a Human Being here on Earth. Feeling the warmth and compassion you would feel towards a dear friend. Recognizing that everything else that isn’t LOVE is yours to work with in this life, and to transform and evolve. And what a gift your Beloved is sharing with you, by allowing you to see all of these things.
So often in relationship, we view getting closer, or exploring ways to spend deeply intimate time together as the way to walk forward in relationship. This Dieta showed us a different type of way to grow together and experience deeper love for the other. Growing closer by allowing the other space, growing stronger individually, and feeling deep respect and appreciation.
Sexual energy is a very powerful energy. It is the energy that creates life after all. For myself, as a woman, this time of conscious celibacy within the relationship created a space of which I could more deeply cultivate my own sense of self, work with my own energy, and refocus on my own life mission without the distraction or thought of anything relating to sexuality... or even having the thought, "oh shoot, we haven’t made love in a while!"
Now, I write this not to promote conscious celibacy, but rather just to share my experience. May we all remember that there are many different ways to rise in love and they are all perfect. Just as with the ebb and flow of life and of love, what is sometimes supportive is to have time and space to focus on yourself. And that is perfect, too.
To all the different ways that allow us to reach higher and grow together!
To love in all forms ~
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