HOLY F*CK: HOW TO REACH ECSTASY

Want to have Divine on speed dial? In her latest Holy F*ck column, Alexandra Roxo reveals that experiencing ecstasy is the key to strengthening our channel …

People have been seeking ecstasy for a long time. Whether it’s through herbs and psychoactive and psychedelic substances, or through ritual, prayer, meditation, fasting, sleep deprivation, pain, sex, and extreme temperature baths, most cultures have rituals and celebrations that invoke deeply ecstatic states.

From Greek rituals involving mind-altering substances, to the Sufis’ dance into ecstatic bliss, and the tantrikas’ journey into oceans of “samadhi” (ecstatic union with God/Goddess), religious texts usually speak of this search. In Norse mythology, the berserkers would enter into an altered state to be able to fight. And even animals have sought out herbs and fermentation that brought about some sort of consciousness shift.

These exercises can allll produce states of BLISS that allow the participant to commune with “God” or the Divine. And, well, who wouldn’t want that? 

I’ll tell you who! A culture that DOES NOT want its people to be empowered to know the Divine on our own terms. That would prefer us to have to pay into the Divine via tithing (offerings), and bow to the leaders of a church. This being one of the epic reasons WHY ecstatic states became stigmatized in the U.S., specifically, and in the Western world in general.

Personally, I blame the Puritans for labelling seeking ecstatic states as scary, transgressive, or somehow shameful. If people, and women especially, had the Goddess on speed dial, than what would they need the church for?!! SO, they got the ax. Or rather, in the case of the Witch trials, when women would dance themselves into states of ecstasy, the noose.

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What exactly is an “ecstatic” experience? 
In my terms, it is an experience that overrides the default mindset, the internal and external conditioning, and allows for a mind/body/spirit connection that transcends the normal, the typical, and the everyday.

This can result in waves of bliss, with senses ablaze and alive, heart open to a massive flow of love. Where the normal perception and experience of reality is transcended and expanded into a massively blissful, joyful, and loving one that shakes you at the core.

I’ve been exploring this for many years. At age 12, I was attempting to speak in tongues and faint on the floor at Baptist Church camp. And I experienced my first waves of sexual ecstasy around the same time. Since then, I’ve experimented with meditation, prayer, fasting, ritual, dance, song, pain, sex, and psychedelics. Each produces a different type of ecstasy.

Now, I take other people on journeys in my work through ecstatic states that can reframe and contextualize trauma, release stored emotions, and promote a deeper connection to self. Within a safe space, this process of finding ecstatic states can be very, very healing. 

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A dating app for ecstasy? 
I am drawn like a fly on honey to people who know and experience ecstatic states without drugs.

A few years ago, I met two men who had participated in the Sundance ceremony, which involved piercings on the chest, and days of dancing and fasting. To me, these were the HOTTEST men alive! “Um, you spent multiple days with flesh wounds on your chest while fasting and dancing and singing, in the name of uniting with Divine energy and helping save the Earth?! Sign me up!!!”

There is nothing sexier to me than someone who sees and understands the value of finding ecstatic states on the regular without having to pop a pill. Someone so adept at meditation that turning their body to light is NBD. If there was a dating app for this category of human, it would make my life a lot easier!

It’s not Burner vibes. It’s not adventures with psychedelics. I’m talking about people with a thirst for ecstasy that comes from wanting to know the Divine. Wanting to know love. From a remembrance of a state that your soul knows, and longs for.

Anybody else with me on this one?

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5 paths towards ecstasy for the Modern Spiritual Human
**A disclaimer: When you enter into ecstasy, you are opening yourself up massively, so you want to allow for this shift in your reality, perception, and internal state to happen in a safe setting. If you enter into an ecstatic state in a train station for instance, you could get taken away to a mental institution. So set and setting are key! You want be in a safe space. Surrounded by people you trust. Or alone. Remember you are opening ALL the channels and you want to do this with care. Especially if you are new to it.

1// Start simply. If you want to start safely, you can explore ecstatic states through something simple like chanting or ecstatic dance. Many cities have “Ecstatic Dance” communities and classes. Places with DJs and it’s sober and you just shake it out.

If you’re a yogi, chanting mantras in Kirtan could produce these states. You can seek a Bhakti yoga practice. Many cultures and religions have their own styles of song, and some may take you into ecstasy. Some not. When I used to go to the Agape Church in LA, their gospel choir had me in tears and I sang and danced til I lost myself.

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2// Explore your blocks. 
Because it can take years to release your default programming and open to the ecstasy available through song and dance, many people reach for a psychedelic or drug—because it offers a quick way in! But that also means it may have the most emotional, spiritual, and physical hangover, since you are literally stretching into an expanded state very quickly, flooding your body, and then snapping out fast.

You can micro dose different plant medicines if you want to go slowly. But beware; before you are granted ecstasy, you will likely first be shown any blocks you have to ecstasy! If you take MDMA, for instance, you may be opened quickly, but will likely be asked to deal with some spiritual and mystical pain the day after from that flood of chemicals and expansion, and the ensuing lack thereof.

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3// Ease in with meditation.
It may take years before you get to ecstasy this way, but it will happen. Trust me! I’ve been meditating for 15 years and it happens often now. I feel like I am being made love to by an invisible force (consensual of course!) and it is amazing.

If you want to reach ecstatic states in meditation and not wait 10 years, you can try White Tantra or a Vipassana retreat. Both are in-depth practices and you’re likely to access ecstasy faster. But no guarantees of course!

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4// Get it on (consciously).
If you establish trust, a deep connection, and emotional and physical safety, you can achieve insane ecstatic states with sex. Again though, if you open too fast, without a safe container and the spiritual and emotional components, you will suffer the repercussions. Chances are, you will feel depressed, anxious and shitty for days after. Perhaps you will feel guilt and shame as well.

Conscious BDSM is an amazing way into ecstasy in a safe space. Set the intention to open to the Divine before you begin. Japanese rope bondage and suspension work in particular has taken me to great heights of ecstasy, and I led two retreats last year that took women into that space for transcendence, ecstasy, and healing.

Pain can be a tried and true portal to ecstasy. Again, within a safe container, an intense consensual pain session with spanking or flogging or whipping or caning can produce deep and ecstatic bliss. Some religious sects also used pain as a portal to divine and ecstatic bliss. Light spankings are a safe place to start!

You can also start a self-pleasure practice that opens you to ecstasy. It will take time. Practice. A safe space so you can let go and scream and cry and release. At dinner the other night with my two besties, I was talking about my magical rose quartz wand and the orgasmic bliss I have with it, and their jaws dropped. It’s profound!

Japanese “Shibari” rope bondage

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5// Remember that integration is KEY.
Integration means the time you take in between practices to process, rest, release, and allow your system to recalibrate. If you mix drugs and sex and pain and all of it you may go into wild ecstasy, but have a “WTF did I just do?!” the next day, feeling like you got hit by a train.

Unless you have stretched yourself internally to hold some levels of ecstasy over time, you will fuck with yourself psychologically, spiritually, emotionally and physically if you rush things. Seriously. I’ve learned this the hard way.

If you don’t have the skills or tools to integrate ecstatic experience into your life, you can blow a fuse, go back to exactly where you were before, or contract even smaller. But if you integrate your experience fully, you can allow the ecstatic experience to expand you. And you can STAY expanded, therefore experiencing levels of ecstasy OFTEN.

Begin by simply noticing when you feel ECSTATIC and take note. Breathe it in. Don’t zip by. As you notice, your capacity will grow. As you practice, you will stretch into holding more.

Rest. Be gentle on you. You’re re-teaching your system that’s its safe to feel this good. After centuries of being told that IT IS NOT. Write. Journal. Take salt baths.

Start slowly, but be diligent and don’t give up on finding this KEY and GIFT to your human system!!

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Stay tuned for more Holy F*ck from Alexandra. Over the next few months, she will be interviewing women who learned how to access deep healing and ecstatic states during her yearlong program. Learn more about Alexandra and her work HERE.

WHY RADICAL DHARMA IS YOUR 2018 “MUST READ”

Eradicating systemic racism is THE healing issue of our times. For anybody confused about your role in this, make Radical Dharma your must-read this summer …

 

Around this time of year, book stores and magazines are filled with suggested summer reads, the books the publishing industry has decided will best satisfy our yearning to escape into a good read. But you likely won’t find the book I am going to recommend as your “must-read” for summer 2018 among them. Because this year I am more interested in the notion of escape as it pertains to liberation.

Radical Dharma is a seminal work by Rev. angel Kyodo williams, a queer Black (her capitalization) Buddhist author and activist. The subtitle is “Race, Love and Liberation” and in it, Rev. angel, along with co-authors Lama Rod Owens and Jasmine Syedullah, PhD, (also both Black and queer) explain how genuine liberation means not needing to escape, because there is no longer anything to escape from. Means living free of the chains which seek to bind us, free to be unapologetically ourselves, unbeholden to any systems of oppression.

Published in 2016 in a rush ahead of the last U.S. election, in the intro Rev. angel writes: “We foresee an increasing collective anxiety about transitioning from the first Black U.S. president.” And in the 18 months since, this prediction has played out in every area of life. This time has been a period of awakening in which the notions of liberation and oppression have taken on extra weight for me—as they will have for anybody with so much as a toe in the healing, wellness, and self-help communities.

As a socially conscious person in a post-Trump era, I know I have not been alone in attempting to integrate the implications of my white privilege. A term that was barely on my radar two summers ago, and which, thanks to everything from Black Lives Matter to the voices of women like Layla Saad (among many others) has since become the lens through which I see the world. Meaning, through which I can no longer not see the world. 

To be more specific, in my case this also extends to my educated, mixed-class, hetero, married, cis-gender, thin, white privilege. Sort of like the opposite of rose-tinted-spectacles, through this lens I have been able to see how the circumstances of my birth and my upbringing have placed me within a system of oppression—in which my whiteness makes me the oppressor. Not that the ravages wrought on marginalized and indigenous people by “the system” is exactly news. What’s new is that my eyes are now open to exactly how insidious our acceptance of this has become.

During this time, I have struggled against my own conditioning (“but I’m not racist!”) to accept that alarming terms like “white supremacy” and “systemic racism” absolutely apply to me. As they apply to each and every one of us. I have felt my throat constrict as I have tried to swallow this jagged little pill, while simultaneously being made aware that taking time in silence to absorb and process this information is another function of my privilege.

I have also been slow to speak up on this issue because I am ashamed I didn’t get here sooner. Embarrassed. But I am also not surprised. After all, I was raised to consider the term “racist” to be on a par with “pedophile,” the knee-jerk reaction on hearing it applied to me to deny it, vehemently. And yet, on closer inspection, this does not reflect the world that I grew up in. A world where I can count the number of black and brown people in my school classrooms on two hands. Where I had not one teacher with darker skin than me. Where in 16 years working as a journalist in London, I encountered only one black colleague—who was subjected to subtle racial bullying.

Where every TV show, awards ceremony (besides those attached to sporting events), industry bash, and beach holiday has been predominantly white. A world, after moving to NYC, where nine out of 10 of the service jobs (as far as I can see) are performed by people of color. Where these discrepancies are routinely normalized to the point of invisibility.

Of course, as a white person, my life has been a procession of predominantly white spaces. We are a pack-oriented species, we move in groups, and we gravitate towards our own. Thing is, what makes a space “white” is not just the ethnicity of those occupying it—it is the entitlement, the education, the opportunities, and the affluence that are available. Confronting my own racist conditioning (the unconscious belief that I am somehow entitled to the privileges of my whiteness) has been like discovering I have been host carrier for a highly infectious disease, without displaying any symptoms. Having received my diagnosis, the work now is to eradicate it from my system.

Which has meant reading a lot of articles and watching a lot of TED talks (find a comprehensive list here). It has meant keeping following Instagram accounts which can trigger week-long bouts of internal gaslighting (“I am not racist … and yet my whiteness makes me racist”). Showing up for pot-luck discussions on the topic of “Race and Wellness” with others in my community committed to doing this work. It means that, behind the scenes, I have been engaged in a thorough inventory of my work on this platform, working with a diversity and inclusion coach to identify my blind spots and craft a content mission going forward that takes into account the implications of all of the above. Not to mention help me make sense of all that has been arising in me.

Rev. angel Kyodo williams

You may well be further along this path than me, and I acknowledge all those who have been the torch-bearers in this movement. For this is the literal raising of consciousness in real time. The whole point of all the healing and the personal development and the “self-love” practices. Rather than disavow or shrink from it, it’s thanks to the spiritual resilience I’ve been able to develop over the years building this platform, that I am now able to lean in to the shadow of shame and guilt and fear that has accompanied this part of my awakening. To not take each and every post and op-ed on white privilege personally and to accept responsibility for my part in our collective healing around race.

The reason I am recommending Radical Dharma as your summer must-read is that it’s the egg that has helped everything come together.

Presented as a series of essays and conversations dissecting systemic racism from a Buddhist perspective, the wisdom contained within its pages has helped me to feel fully seen and understood within the problem of my whiteness. Has helped me understand that racism (particularly as it relates to hyper-capitalism) is, literally, the physical manifestation of our modern “disconnection epidemic.” The pain of our separation from each other, from self, and from Source. That I am as deeply implicated in this suffering as any person of any ethnic background. Above all, as a person invested in helping others heal, it has shown me that we will never escape our suffering, as individuals and collectively, will never be truly free, until we heal THIS.

In short, in a year where the conversation about race has had me questioning my sanity at times, this book has helped me feel more whole. And I am suggesting that you read it because I know you want to feel this way too. Below, I have shared a few of my favorite teachings from its pages—and before you go ahead and finish this post, you can order your copy HERE.

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ON THE CONSTRUCT OF RACE
“Race is the ultimate delusion in that it both does and does not exist in reality. Somebody went on around and decided to come up with something so that they could sell folks that they could be ‘better’ than other people, and yet, because of the paradigm, because of the system and the structures, the impact of that creation, that projection, this is felt and experienced as suffering—not only by the people who are on the shit end of the stick but also by the people who are, often unbeknownst to them, continuing to carry that stick.” – Rev. angel Kyodo williams.

ON DECONSTRUCTING WHITE PRIVILEGE
“The lens of awareness must be placed outside of the construct. As a direct result of privilege, white practitioners (and teachers) have mistakenly entitled themselves to place the lens of awareness inside of whiteness, hence they are unable to see it’s machinations.” – Rev. angel Kyodo williams.

ON GETTING MESSY
“The tiptoeing around race and other forms of difference as if in fear of waking a sleeping lion is one of the most subtly toxic attributes of whiteness in our culture right now. Everyone fears making mistakes. For white folks, though, the coexistence of being historically lauded as the creators of what is right, making mistakes must be hard. We are all waking up. It is going to get messy.” – Jasmine Syedullah, PhD

ON ALLOWING FOR IGNORANCE
“We also have to demystify this notion that somehow people of color have all the information and know it all and white folks don’t, and that it’s just like Black and White. Because it just isn’t. We have to really allow ourselves to create some space for people now knowing, not understanding, and just saying stupid things. I mean stupid as in ignorant … we have to figure out how to create room for that, rather than policing each other, so that people can actually get into the conversation.” – Rev. angel Kyodo williams.

ON THE LINK BETWEEN RACISM AND HYPER CAPITALISM
“I have this theory that racism is required in order to keep capitalism in place … I’m not mad at trade and exchange and barter and all of that … but cancerous capitalism, hyper-capitalism, parasitic capitalism … requires a division of people so that we have people that consume, people that are producing what is consumed, and frankly, people that are consumed.” ­– Rev. angel Kyodo williams.

ON DISRUPTING COMFORT
“We have to disrupt spaces that are not seeking truth, that are not upholding our potential for liberation, because they are invested in their comfort. Usually that comfort means they are invested in perpetuating white supremacy … And not disrupt them by trying to figure out how to be on their boards and their diversity communities; we have to disrupt them by saying ‘I am out.’ I am not going to participate in this and letting them know why.” – Rev. angel Kydodo williams.

ON DISCOMFORT AS THE PATH TO LIBERATION
“If you’re going to any place of spiritual enrichment in which you are not meaningfully experiencing discomfort, not all the time, but meaningfully uncomfortable frequently, you are not doing your work, and you are not walking the path of liberation.” – Rev. angel Kydodo williams.

ON HEALING BEGINNING ON THE INSIDE
“I’m working to end racism, but at the same time I want to be liberated. I want to thrive. I want to be happy … I think it’s an immature view that believes ‘I have to do all the external conditions and have them change before I can be happy.’ I’m not willing to have my happiness wait for what might happen out there.” – Lama Rod.

ON BEING THE CHANGE
“If you are a really well-positioned member of a sangha (spiritual community), make sure you’re reaching out. If you’re a person of color in a sangha, make sure you’re reaching out to other new people of color coming through the door. Be the one who extends your hand and welcomes them and just talks openly. Model that kind of inclusivity for people.” – Lama Rod

Get your copy of Radical Dharma HERE and visit Angelkyodowilliams.com for more on Rev. angel and to find her upcoming speaking dates. You can also follow @lamarodowens on Instagram