By Peter Ragnar, EnlightenNext
A close friend of mine confided an account that took place within a fundamentalist religious group during his adolescent years. One of his religious supervisors happened to catch his own daughter masturbating. The preacher then promptly marched his daughter to the woodshed where, despite her pleas for mercy, he chopped her finger off!
For so much of human history, most people were confused as to whether sex was a blessing or a curse. In the intimacy of a sexual encounter with another, our nakedness is far more than physical. Our basic drives and instincts are fully exposed. Perhaps it’s one of the rare times when a person becomes completely authentic. The experience of sexual orgasm, I’m certain you’ll agree, is a here-and-now event. You’re not “past-ing” or “futuring,” you’re absolutely in the moment. Hence, here lies a deep and potent pull, as strong as the biological attraction it offers.
Biologically speaking, we are simply here to pass on our genes and die when we can no longer fulfill our evolutionary job. But the passing on of genes is not the primary reason we have sex. What is it? Pleasure–sheer human joy!
I once asked a radical religious devotee about his view of procreation. To my surprise, he was candid and openly told me that he and his wife had sex through a sheet so that they would never allow their eyes to behold the shame of nakedness. I replied incredulously, “You’re joking, right?” Wrong! He wasn’t joking. For him, sex was a necessary curse. I personally concluded that such ideas about sex were tragic and unnecessarily guilt-generating.
For this man, sex was indeed a curse because our mental states have more power over how our glands secrete hormones than we often think. There are, for example, numerous psychological case studies of people who, after observing a tragic incident to which they have strong emotional ties, experience a sudden loss of sight. So could strong negative emotions involving sex actually lead to impotency? Is there any connection between seeing sex as a curse (in other words, believing that sexual pleasure is a vice) and the presence of abnormal hormone levels that lessen desire? That would be “convenient,” especially for one who has been conditioned to accept sex as a necessary sin. However, if sex was actually a pleasurable blessing, then its loss would be the real curse.
I recall a cartoon of two elderly men sitting on a park bench as a hot, sexy woman walks past. One says to the other, “Remember when we used to chase after that?” His friend replies, “Yes, but for the life of me I can’t remember why!” Senility, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, decline of lean muscle mass, and those little fat bellies that men carry around as they race to find somewhere to urinate seem to be the plagues of the day. While men are worried about prostate cancer, women fear breast cancer and similar woes associated with aging and decline in sexual function.
However, a decline in sexual function can occur at any age when guilt, shame, and the concept of sin enter the emotional scene. Why? It’s very simple: Negative emotions create anxiety and tension, which can override biological function even in healthy people.
Health and lifestyle also play a large role in sexual vigor. If you have peripheral vascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, low testosterone levels, or over- or underactive thyroid hormone production or if you’re taking certain medications, then any or all of these could lead to a frustrated sex life. Add to this high alcohol and tobacco consumption and you might wish you’d never heard of sex. Why? Because using these substances can also lead to sexual problems. High alcohol consumption affects sexual function because it sedates the nervous system, which is of course heightened during sexual excitement. Smoking interferes negatively with the vascular dilation required for an erection. Both lead to diminished performance and thus contribute to related psychological issues, since frustration can lead to anger, guilt, and fear of intimacy.
So why does this happen, and what can you do about it? First, it’s a function of aging. Nature realizes that once your hormone levels decline from youthful procreative levels, you (like all animals at a certain point) are no longer needed for evolution. Are you thinking, “Now wait a minute! I’m not ready to give up yet!” Good! Here’s what you need to keep in mind: The only difference between healthy, fully functioning youthful humans and old, decrepit humans who’ve lost their zest for life is their hormone levels. The blessing of restoring those levels can come through reigniting sexual desire, and the restoration of sexual function is a medical option available to all.
By age sixty-five, men generally have half the testosterone level they had when they were twenty. Women experience hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and aging skin as their youthful hormones decline. Suzanne Somers has written a book that will benefit both men and women: Ageless: The Naked Truth about Bio-Identical Hormones. Both men and women should eat less fat and strive to lower their cholesterol. (Swollen prostate glands are filled with cholesterol.) Everyone should eat more raw vegetables–especially the cruciferous kind, like broccoli, kale, and cabbage–and avoid red meat and dairy foods. And don’t forget to exercise. Also, never underestimate the need for humor in your life. Mark Victor Hansen and Art Linkletter put together a great book, How to Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life. With the right attitude, sex can be a wondrous blessing, not a curse.
A sixty-five-year-old man saw his doctor for a checkup. The doctor was amazed: The man had the body of a thirty-year-old athlete. “Just incredible,” the doctor commented. “How old was your father when he died?” he went on to ask.
“Oh, he’s quite alive; he’s eighty-five and pumps iron several times a week at the gym and goes skiing in the winter, and he’s in a surfing competition this summer.”
The stunned doctor next asked, “How old was your grandfather when he passed on?”
“Who said he was dead? He’s getting married next week, and he’s 108!”
The doctor scratched his head: “Why would your grandfather want to get married at that age?”
The patient looked up at the doctor and said, “Did I say he wanted to? Doctor, it’s a shotgun wedding.”
So, is sex a blessing or a curse?
Peter Ragnar is a natural life scientist, modern-day Taoist wizard, and self-master par excellence. A martial arts practitioner for over fifty years, he is renowned for his teachings on optimal health and longevity. He is the author of twenty books, including The Art and Science of Physical Invincibility.