Said to be the biggest sex organ, the brain has various levels of sexual consciousness. Many of us live in a restricted sexual consciousness, afraid of the shadows on the edges of our minds. It takes courage to deliberately bring those shadows into the light. Real integrity must include being aware of and accepting what is in those shadows.
That journey of discovery is more often associated with ancient societies and pagan religions whereas self-denial has been the method of more ‘enlightened’ religions. The quest for authenticity, which implies self-discovery, has lead many to challenge the repression of the more uncomfortable aspects of our animal instincts.
“No one man can, for any considerable time, wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one.” Nathaniel Hawthorne
The evolutionary path of human beings has resulted in the fact that we have a complex brain. The most primitive part is called the brainstem, which sits right on the top of the main neural highway of the nervous system called the spinal cord. It is considered a relic of our evolutionary origins and has been called the Reptilian Brain. It receives nearly all the sensory information that we live by on its way into the brain for processing.
The brain stem deals with the basic survival of the animal, hunger, safety, reproduction and the regulation of internal organs, called homeostasis.
Reptiles are impulsive creatures that eat their own young, amongst other things and this part of the brain expresses a raw sexuality. It is characterised by indiscriminate desire, often called lust. This drive for instant gratification is entirely self-centred and indiscriminate in that literally any body will do. I think we also experience it in the form of ‘sexual chemistry’ that often transcends opposites, such as a big game hunter and a committed conservationist whose relationship eventually failed when ‘the sexual chemistry died out.’
Does this also explain why devoted husbands can’t stop ‘noticing’ a pretty woman walking by, or nice women lose their composure and blush in close contact with an attractive stranger? Of course, this isn’t restricted to just heterosexual interactions, which makes it even more uncomfortable for many people and most societies.
Because this brain operates at a subconscious level it is less understood and less controllable. The easiest thing then is to push it all into the shadows and hope it stays hidden or goes away. When conscious control is weakened, however, such as with alcohol, drugs or even just opportunity, it can express itself in embarrassing ways.
“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” Sigmund Freud
The reptilian brain is responsible for our most bestial sexual behaviour such as rape and abuse. However, I believe it is also the spark that often fizzles out in committed long-term relationships.
Reptilian brains seem to be programmed for variety, danger, and novelty, which are all present as a relationship starts. But, as Esther Perel points out in Mating in Captivity, as relationships mature these often get replaced with familiarity, predictability and routine and the energetic edge in sex gets lost.
Keeping sex alive in a longterm relationship may require connecting again at this level and learning how to rekindle desire. For anyone caught in this trap or interested in learning more then please email me here or call me on 07933 709169.
Read about sex on the next level here.
(Inspired by a talk given by Ron Levine at SCU)