It’s been One. Whole. Year. Four seasons have passed. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, and funerals have all gone uncelebrated, or celebrated with a handful of people carefully spaced two metres apart, or alone in front of a screen. We’re tired, worn down, depressed. Even the exceedingly creative ways we’ve discovered to gather together or create some delight in our lives now feels disappointing—kinda like we’re living half-lives. It sucks. But for the friends, families, and colleagues of more than 2.5 million people around the world who have died in this pandemic, these are all mere inconveniences in comparison to their profound grief.
So, how I dare I talk about ecstatic anything, right? It’s like hearing someone rave about the banquet they attended last year while now all the grocery stores are closed and you don’t even have the makings of a sandwich. But stay with me, okay? I want to talk about a particularly timely flavor of ecstatic experience—Ecstatic Resilience.
My concept of an ecstatic life does not demand that I walk around in a constant state of bliss. My concept of resilience does not mean that I never feel defeated. Ecstatic Resilience means that I have the ability to access ecstatic moments when I want them, and that my regular practice of creating ecstatic experiences makes me more resilient. Even when things are difficult, painful, and upsetting, I know that I will ultimately be able to use the elements of whatever is happening to create an ecstatic experience, if not now, then in the reasonably near future. For me, living an ecstatic life means looking upon ecstasy as a spiritual practice.
The way I see at it, we all have a choice right now. We can tough out the next several months (or more), gritting our teeth and getting more and more numb and resentful. Or we can embrace some tools for ecstatic living that we can use to make life more joyful right now, and prepare ourselves for lives filled with joy, connection and ecstasy when the pandemic has passed.
Here are some tools that have been working for me. I know that some of you are going through extraordinary challenges right now and all of these will not be available/possible for everyone. Just try the ones that feel appropriate or adapt them to suit your circumstances.
Radically accept—everything. Radical acceptance is the practice of accepting things as they are with no expectation that they will ever change. Of course, all things change all the time, but by accepting things as they are with no expectations, and releasing your attempts to change them, almost any situation can be turned into an experience that—if not ecstatic in itself—can lead to a place of peace and no regrets, both of which contribute to an ecstatic life. Radical acceptance also provides the opportunity to find creative and ecstatic alternatives to the situation, and it paves the way for positive change.
Dissolve the boundary between your body and nature. Whether you live in a big city, a small town, or in the country, take a moment each day to establish a connection to a natural element. This could be as simple as taking a walk in which you lose yourself in the feeling of the sun on your skin, or feel yourself absorbed into the blue of the sky. You could hug a tree, listen intently to the song of a bird, or even spend quality time with your dog. A key aspect of ecstatic resilience is feeling connected to all that is. Consciously practicing this connection on a daily basis keeps that ecstatic channel open, even while isolating.
Live what you love. This is hardly a new maxim, but it’s essential to an ecstatic life. Do as much of what you love as you possibly can. Do as little as you must of anything you don’t like. The more you commit to what you love, the easier it is to let the rest be handled by someone else who enjoys it more. Pay attention to your intuitive energy meter. Remember to ask yourself: Do I feel an energy gain or an energy drain in this situation, or around this person? Eliminate or minimize your exposure to anything or anyone that drains your energy. Embrace that which feeds you.
Whatever you’re doing—do it whole-heartedly. Do not hold back. Give yourself over completely. Be bigger than you think you are. Be more than you’ve ever been. Be too much. Yes, even on Zoom.
Embrace and celebrate your inner teenager. What was your passion at age 13? Or age 16? How did you pursue that passion? What was your most compelling reason for pursuing this passion? How did you behave if people told you that your passion was wrong, silly, or a waste of time? Revisit your most ecstatic, stubborn, passionate, activist years. Take notes. See your inner teenager as a vital part of your authentic adult self.
Go to the edge. Fall off. See what’s there. Start a love affair with your own fear. Imagine your fear as your best friend. Throw a virtual fear party. Invite all your friends and all their fears. Make a fear playlist and dance with your fears.
Seize the moment—and stay in it. Slow down! Spend as much time in each present moment as you can. Time is such wibbly-wobbly stuff these days. Create meditative moments in varied areas of your life and stretch each one to its fullest. See how much ecstasy you can savor in each moment of the day.
Live in amazement. I am consistently amazed at life in all its weird and wacky permutations. I am amazed by the infinite kindness and courage of humanity. I am amazed by how much I’ve learned over the years. I’m amazed that I’m surviving the second plague of my lifetime. I’m amazed by how little I know and how much I learn every single day. Make a list of what amazes you.
Would you like some help and support strengthening your Ecstatic Resilience? Would you like to learn some powerful, practical, and fun ecstatic exercises that you can enjoy both now and when we can be with others again? Would you like some techniques to expand your sexual pleasure, even and especially if your only sex partner is yourself? Would you like to sit in a virtual circle with others who want the same things you do? Join me for my four-part series beginning 10 March 2021—Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-First Century—Online via Zoom in partnership with The New York Open Center You can register for the whole series or take individual classes:
10 March: Ecstatic Breathwork
31 March: Creating Tantric Connections
21 April: Sex Magic
12 May: Taking Erotic Risks