Before we begin I would like to share a short interview I did with Helen Musset, who was on Leslie Kenton's Cura Romana and lost 20 kilos while on the program. I was lucky enough to interview her about her experience. You can listen to the interview here
. Now back to my newsletter.
Frequently discussed yet little understood in our post-industrial society is the value of ecstasy and the spiritually creative power of the erotic. For power, it is of an order that can be both frightening and tremendously creative. It is no accident that in all of the Eastern religions it is the erotic which symbolizes man's pathway to realizing the Divine. In our capacity to experience ecstasy at the deepest levels may lie both the key to our survival and our ability to create. Studies of the human brain and its interfaces with the body have for the first time in history begun to chart what takes place biologically when one allows oneself to enter fully into the erotic state.
PATH TO FREEDOM
The results of this research are not only helping us see just how important this can be to health and wholeness, they make us conscious of just how far away the so-called sexual revolution has taken us from our being able to experience true ecstasy. For the mechanistic approach to sexuality with which we have lived for the past four decades, with all its sex-manuals and all the advice on “how-to-do-it-better”—instead of leading us towards a state in which we are more able to plunge into the irrational, oceanic, all-trusting state which every ecstatic encounter demands—has taught us to intellectualize sexuality. We’ve made it into something which too often we do and watch ourselves doing; something that we learn about and something that we try to control. Yet right at the core of every truly ecstatic experience is a fundamental demand that we give up all control, so that for a time we allow ourselves to dissolve our boundaries and merge into a celebration of the body, of life itself. In doing so, we experience being fully present in the moment.
THE PRIMITIVE BRAIN
Each man and woman has not one brain but two: The rational brain or the neocortex, which like an immensely complicated computer enables us to make conscious choices and to collect, store and interpret the data we receive from our sensory organs. We also have the subcortical nervous system known as the primitive brain. This primitive brain is sometimes referred to as the “reptilian structure”. From an evolutionary point of view, it is the oldest part of our brain. Unlike our conscious mind, it can never be disassociated from our basic adaptive systems such as the hormonal system and the immune system, on which survival depends. Your emotions and your instincts are bonded to the activity of your primitive brain. The hormone control center area regulates the activity of all your endocrine glands through complex feedback mechanisms. When you experience joy, your hormonal functioning is better. When you grieve or when you engage in intellectual thought, it is subject to greater stress. This complex feedback network between our mind and body, mediated through the primitive brain, is often referred to as our primitive adaptive system. On the quality of its responses and how well it is balanced with the functioning of our neocortex depends how healthy we are physically, mentally and spiritually.
LOSS OF TRUST
But being human in the so-called civilized world is not always easy. In our culture, the neocortex—our rational brain—has become highly developed. It is this development which gives us the capacity to make rational decisions, to define what we perceive to be “reality”, and to consciously manipulate the outside world to our advantage. In a truly healthy person, the balance between the two brains is good. However in most of us, our rational brain inhibits the primitive brain. In truth, in our 21st century world, this neocortical inhibition of the primitive brain has been carried to extremes. So much is this the case that we have undermined our ability to experience ecstasy, diminished our capacity for creativity and joy and have forgotten how to trust in the wisdom of our instincts.
Take the experience of childbirth, for example. Instead of our being able during the birth process to give over our bodies to the event and trust that at the right time the appropriate hormone will be secreted to dilate the cervix and bring the child into the world. This leads instinctively to the desire to nurture new life at the breast and experience the oceanic love that comes with mother/child bonding. When we try to exert conscious control of the process, we undermine our natural, primitive adaptive processes. As a result, hormones shift in inappropriate ways and we lose touch with the ecstatic experience of surrender to the body, as well as with all the joy this brings. In short, Whenever we bring into play the rational brain at an inappropriate time we suffer for it. (So, incidentally, does the baby.) Then we experience ourselves as separate from what is happening to our body, and we feel pain.
THE PAIN OF SEPARATION
It is not our rational brain that is the problem, but the inappropriateness of allowing it to come into play at the wrong time, which results in an experience of separation and anguish. Human instincts, which need to be valued, trusted and allowed freedom to be for us to live in real health and wholeness Fragile things, they are easily repressed and inhibited, constantly changed and controlled by the power of the neocortex. So much is this the case in the majority of people nowadays these inhibitions have become so unconscious and habitual that they are not even aware of them—something which eliminates the possibility of choice. Quite simply, we have forgotten how to let go and trust to our body. We deny the power of our instincts. Then, instead of working for us they work against us.
Each woman is a great deal more than her rational mind. To be whole, to be healthy, to live the power of her own individual truth, she requires a highly developed emotional and instinctive life as well as a strong rationality. She needs to learn to trust her body so that, at appropriate times, such as in childbirth or lovemaking, she can abandon herself to it fully. Then the highly developed neocortex—responsible for the development of culture and rational achievement—instead of working against our vitality, can help channel her instinctive and emotional life in exciting and creative ways. We become able to experience joy in simply being, the way a child can—a joy and a radiance which does not depend upon what we do or have, or on how clever we are, or how admired: We come to live life moment by moment, simply by being fully present to whatever is happening.
THE SERPENT AWAKENS
How do we rediscover this kind of trust in our body and our instincts? The answer is not simple. It involves experiment, listening, adjustment. Usually it develops slowly, in fits and starts, by learning to trust ourselves, by becoming aware when instinctive responses begin to take place and allowing them to happen. This is especially important in the experience of sexuality—a realm in which the primitive brain comes into its own more easily than in any other. The erotic, the ecstatic, has a power far beyond the experience of pleasure it brings. Ancient philosophical and religious traditions teach that the font of our sexual power, known as the kundalini, lies coiled like a sleeping serpent at the base of the spine. When aroused, this intense procreative energy, the most powerful energy known to human life, begins to uncoil and rise up the body, activating our energy centers—chakras—one by one.
There are seven main chakras in the body. These locusts are where life energy, which controls biological processes, interfaces with the physical body. Each chakra relates to particular endocrine glands and each manifests a different quality of powerful instinctive energy. For instance, the first chakra which lies near the base of the spine deals with our survival. The next chakra, located in the pelvis, looks after procreative energies. The chakra at the solar plexus is involved with our will, the heart chakra with compassion, the throat with our higher creative energies, and so forth. The seventh chakra at the crown of the head is known as the thousand petal lotus. It has long been believed to be responsible for man's spiritual development at the highest level. When fully activated, this crown chakra can emit a radiance which you find depicted in every religious tradition in the form of the halo around the head of saints, the Christ, the Buddha and all the rest.
The kundalini or life force is not something which can be aroused or activated through rational effort by the conscious mind. For its energies, being sexual in the very deepest sense of the word—a sense which encompasses self-expression and creativity in every way from giving birth, to art, to Dionysian celebration of the erotic in sexual intercourse—are irrational in nature. They belong to the realm of the primitive brain.
As such, they defy definition and elude any who would classify, categorize or try to control them. Since we belong to a civilization that places great value on classification and control—and which therefore has sought conveniently to ignore or dismiss as non-existent any part of experience which does not fit into whatever is rational and controllable. We often feel particularly unsettled whenever the power of these profound life energies surface. They can make us decidedly uncomfortable. After all, if we decide to follow them, we risk dissolving the boundaries of ourselves. Then we fear a loss of the very control which the overdeveloped rational mind so loves. The irony is that it is this very loss of this control that we most long for. Here’s the bottom line: Without an ability to live the instinctive as well as the rational, we will never experience our wholeness. Without this, the full creativity of our longings and our humanity can never be realized. For it is the inhibition of this ability to experience the ecstatic and to trust in ourselves and our bodies that bring feelings of powerlessness and meaninglessness which are now widespread in our society.
As black American writer Audre Lorde says, “The Erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling... As women we have come to distrust that power which rises from our deepest and nonrational knowledge... It has been made into the confused, the trivial, the psychotic, the plasticized sensation. But the erotic offers a well of replenishing and provocative force to the woman who does not fear its revelation, nor succumb to the belief that sensation is enough.”
Exploring the realms of ecstasy, the truly erotic in your own life, is a long way from experimenting with all the mechanistic sexual stuff you will find in the popular press which tells us how we are supposed to get more pleasure from sex by doing this or that to your partner. Sadly, instead of freeing us to explore ecstasy, the so-called “sexual revolution” has crushed our erotic power not set it free. When this happens, what is meant to bring ecstasy instead turns pornographic then our powers for creativity and freedom are truncated. It is time that we develop the ability to surrender ourselves to the realm of instinct, to trust our bodies and stop relegating our sexuality to the realm of the neocortex. To experience high level health and wholeness, we must find a marriage between instinct and reason. It is a union which like any marriage takes time to develop and grow, but a union which in terms of our wellbeing, self-respect and capacity for joy in day to day life can bear infinite fruit.
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Helen Musset, who was on Leslie Kenton’s Cura Romana lost 20 kilos while on the program. I was lucky enough to interview her about her experience in this short audio conversation. Many people find it hard to understand the transformation that occurs through out the Cura Romana program as it almost always seems to good to be true. I hope this sheds some light into this process from someone who has been through the program and experienced it’s powerful weight loss properties as well as it’s ability to provide tremendous personal transformation. I hope you enjoy.
Listen to Helen’s Interview