We all have them—sexual taboos. And usually, they’re our biggest turn-ons. Why is “The Forbidden” so erotic? Taboo rules most religions; it’s launched wars, divorces, and probably some of the best sex you’ve ever had. Acclaimed sexologist, Eva Clay and, spiritual teacher and therapist, Tobin Zivon unravel the allure and share their perspectives on how to playfully (and skillfully) incorporate taboo into a relationship so you keep the turn-on, but skip the damage. Learn as we explore how to turn the parts of ourselves that we’re afraid of and nervous about into power.
154: Sexual Taboo: Tapping Into Your Authentic Self
This is Six Vulnerable Conversations Season Four, Episode Two with Eva Clay and Tobin Zivon. Two great educators out there in the world, doing some magic with men and women sex-relating. This show is around the concept of taboo as turn on. How we can turn the parts of ourselves that we’re afraid of and nervous about into power. It’s so much fun listening to Eva and Tobin describe how you can do that in this show. For more shows, please visit RobertKandell.com.
We are back in action. Juicy, crazy, and scary conversations that we can’t help ourselves to our scary edges and going for it.
That’s pretty much what this is. It’s that juicy, edgy, and scary conversation all about taboo. We’re talking about taboo as turn on and why is the forbidden fruit so erotic.
This is like an entry point into this rare, explicit magic that you embody so powerfully where two ends of the spectrum that often are polarized in our culture. We’re either good people, in integrity, kind, and often cut off from a lot of our power, passion, magic or zest. All these qualities that you embody or there are people who are inhabiting these more taboo, alive energies, but they’re not so in integrity. They’re not so clean and trustworthy. How we bring an opening invitation for all of our aliveness, both our deepest integrity, our highest turn on, and juiciness as human beings to come alive. That, to me, is why I love this topic.
That makes me so happy when I hear you say that because I love this idea. It’s like marrying the shadow. It’s like how can we bring those shadow aspects of self into integrity and into play inside of our relationship?
Inside of our own life even. To me, the entry point is through our sexy behind the scenes times with our partner or our lovers or whatever. If we open these doors wide and find these pumps of our own essential energies, then it becomes a way of life, a way of being. It informs our entire existence. That’s the positive qualities of our essential nature that are buried in our shadow that are often buried in these kinks. We might call them kinks, turn-ons or taboos where we’re like, “No, I only do this behind the scenes. I do not want this known by the rest of the world that I do fill in the blank. I like fill in the blank. I want fill in the blank or this turns me on so much.” I want to turn it over to you at the beginning to hear your take on all this because I know this is a topic that’s so alive for you.
How do you know it’s alive for me?
You talked about how excited you were to do this.
In my clinical perspective being a psychotherapist, a sex therapist, and a sex educator, I hear a lot of stories. I hear about sexuality all the time and I hear about shadow sexuality because people confide in me. I love to hear it because to me, I always say sex is an ever-expanding universe. There’s so much infinite variety, beauty, and poetry in it. Over years of doing this, I collected a lot of anecdotal and it’s married with some academic understanding and some somatic understanding, which I want to geek out on. If you’re a somatic geek like I am and a neuroscience geek, then please stay with us because I’m going to get into that and hopefully, Tobin will indulge in my science side. I want to begin with this question. Why is taboo such a turn on? Why does something that’s forbidden tastes so good?Sex is an ever-expanding universe. There is just so much infinite variety, beauty, and poetry to it. Click To Tweet
Why does being bad feels so good? It often has this little tinge, “I’m being a little bad, but that’s what feels extra good.”
Why is that? I want to invite you to constantly ask that in yourself. There might’ve been times in your life, whether it’s with sexuality, with food or with anything, any area of your life, I would love it if we could riff on a couple of ideas around us.
One of my main theories is that our culture and where our conditioning and what we’ve grown up in this world is there is so much shame. It’s like a cloud envelops us from day one. Don’t let your sexuality out. It is bad and wrong, and it inherently feels good. If we didn’t have that ball of shame put on us that this is bad or wrong, we would grow up feeling erotic, feeling alive, feeling in our body, feeling sensual, feeling connected to the yummy deliciousness of being in a body. Even if the wind blows on your skin, or if you dived in the ocean when you’re a three-year-old you’re like, “This is yummy.” Without that cloud of shame, it’s yum.
If shame gets put on there, we bury this, but we can’t get rid of something so authentic to us, which is it feels good to be in a body. It feels erotic, it feels alive, it feels juicy. It can usually get buried and stuck right in our sexual center. We couple it with sexuality. Even in the most innocent of lives, we do this, but then if you have any trauma or active stuff, it gets buried even more intensely. It gets compounded down there like gunpowder, so it has extra charge. When it finds the right outlets, it comes up with extra vitality, which we call our kinks or are taboos or our little hidden yummy zones. That’s one of my theory is that it’s so crazily shadow-imprinted in us from day one that we can’t help but bury it, and yet we can’t bury it so far that it goes away. It leaks out in what we call our taboos, our kinks or our little hidden desire.
If I’m hearing you correctly, the shadow aspect of self holds a tremendous amount of vitality and life force and life energy. When something is relegated to the shadow, it’s like we lose some juice of our life force and our vitality. When we touch those shadow places that restores, whether it be in the bedroom or on the beach or in the water, it gives us this vitality back. I have some science that corroborates that.
I’m longing for you to bring in the science. I’m like, “Why is this?” I’m so curious about it. I think we all have these hidden shadowy places in everyone. Then I’ve also watched it. It feels to me like women, in particular, have this thing like, “It feels so good to be a little bit bad.” I’m curious about that. Is there a science behind that? Is that everybody or is that just women?
I’ll tell you it’s everybody, but your question about women is spot on. For us, it’s more sociopolitical. It’s more about gender roles and what’s been normative for us. If you’re reading this, contemplate within yourself how you grew up in the environment of slut shaming and the environment of what makes us worthy and acceptable and lovable as women. There’s more adventuresome and more exploratory part of our sexuality that we have to modulate how much we express it. To get to do that in an environment with a partner that’s encouraging and supportive is, even more exhilarating in our nervous system.If we didn’t have that ball of shame put on us, we would have just grown feeling connected to the deliciousness of being in a body. Click To Tweet
I was dormically oriented for a long time. Spiritual practices that were mindfulness-based and more on pristine we’re doing it from the heart awakening. Only through my dance, then later in Tantra. I found some high-level Tantra teachers who I dove in deep with. One of them was the South African Tantra teacher named Shakti Malan. I was on a ten-day intensive with her and one of the practices there that we did was, “What’s your most taboo, scary to admit fantasy? In front of these twenty people admit it, bring it out and let’s go there and explore it.” Still to this day, one of the most powerful entry points into a development of my being that is informing me. It’s informing my existence. It’s allowing my relationships to have that much more empathy, love, compatibility, and sweetness, but it’s also edgy. I wouldn’t even share it here online.
I don’t mind sharing that with anybody but it’s my living edge and she’s so artfully blocked me to it. I remember feeling cringy. Like in my skin just crawling. It might be these other ones. I said, “It could be one of these three.” Everybody was like, “No, that one.” I was like, “No, not that. Anything but that.” It became this entry point into a huge aspect of my wholeness as a man, my heart as a man, my ability to love, and dance through life in the live way. It’s been an incredible journey because of that hidden taboo thing. I was like, “No way could I ever admit this to anyone, not even myself barely.” On almost a daily basis, I bathe in that quality in my partnership, I go there. It’s so alive and yummy.
It was because you were able to tap into the trapped vitality that was inside of that taboo for you.
That teacher was so artful and like, “Why is there some trauma on top of it that’s burying it?” How do you work with it and unleash in a way that then informs your evolution? To me, it was what I needed because I do not have the propensity where it would be like, “This could become a kink and I could just play it out.” I watched people do that in a way that in some ways is liberating, but in other ways seems like a pattern. If we don’t work with this well it can be a repetitive pattern that isn’t that much of interest to you. I’m interested in unpacking the evolutionary potential within there that catalyzes our life to change.
I did the same ten-day retreat with the same teacher. I was in her very last retreat before she passed. I feel very blessed to spend time with her. I also did that exercise. You’re right, when our taboos are layered, we have these textures of trauma. I’m always interested in who are our audience and how can we serve them. The first thing is getting in touch with what your taboos are. Sometimes the taboo feels so normal. It’s a part of our being in a part of our growing up and our culture that we present. It’s qualitative and it’s subjective. I know when I did that work with her, I also healed.It feels good to be a little bit bad. Click To Tweet
It’s like I healed the story and I know where the kink, the taboo comes from. Instead of it being a turn on for me, I feel the appropriate feelings that I should feel within that narrative, within that storyline. It corrected that for me. I was displacing erotic energy onto a situation that was a trauma. I think that’s what you’re alluding to with getting, like getting glitched on your kink, getting stuck in your kink. A kink is great. Do your kink, but don’t get stuck there. Keep going. Keep expanding your kink.
Unpack the kink. It’s literally like packed in gunpowder and it can either be a loop that you’re on, which can be fun if you find the right people to play with. If we go around in a loop like that, we’re missing out on that catalytic gunpowder potential to launch us forward in our lives. To discover that ingredient that’s in there that unleashes, it almost fills you up from within. You become brighter, lighter, and lit up with the quality that’s stuck in there. That’s the healthy shadow thing that’s stuck down.
You embody in such similar ways I do. We both dance when we teach. If this is true for you, it’s when you hear somebody say, “I need X, Y, and Z in order to orgasm, or in order to get turned on.” There becomes a checklist of things that they need. Maybe there’s a glitch there. Maybe there’s a stuck pattern that the neural pathway has been ingrained and it’s not evolving necessarily. Sometimes that’s what can happen when we play with taboo. Here’s a little bit of explanation about this. I’m going to create a bit of a metaphor and it’s like a shortcut with the science. We know, and you may or may not know this, there are two branches of your nervous system, sympathetic and parasympathetic.
There’s your relaxation response and then your stress response. Sometimes I call it safety and danger, two sides. Sexual turn on is a dance between these two sides of your nervous system of excitement and arousal and then safety and relaxation. We’re always in this eloquent ballet between the two of them. In any given encounter, there’s a lot of movement back and forth. Some people have a predilection are wired to experience sexual arousal a little more toward one direction or the other. Some people need higher levels of safety and relaxation than to access their turn on. Some people need higher levels of danger, excitement and edge to find their turn on. It’s changing all the time and it changes with your partner. It changes with your mood and where you are in your cycle for women.
What taboo does when we touch something we know we shouldn’t or is wrong is it adds a spike of adrenaline to the sexual elixir happening in your brain and in your body. It spikes the danger side. We literally get a different set of neurochemicals as a result of touching that taboo. It’s exciting. Talk to anyone who’s ever had an affair, in that classical sense of the affair. That part of what makes it so invigorating and enlivening is that they’re having a new encounter. It’s edgy. There’s mystery, there’s novelty, and there’s distance. There’s all this emotional drama that goes with it. When you add sex on top of that, it’s a huge rush in the body and it informs the psychology. It creates a filter on how we perceive and experience the lovemaking.Do whatever work it takes of deep discernment work. Click To Tweet
I feel like there is some concern about that. You can get hooked on that spike on that rush of novelty. I have some old friends in a former lifetime in sex-positive communities that will titrate up and up their level of kink or excitement or danger that they need in order to feel turned on until it’s so high that you simply blow out your circuits and you can’t reach it anymore through intimacy, through gentle lovemaking. In my process, I came to Tantra from a very sex-positive world, a very sex-positive life. Sexual Tantra titrated those levels down for me. I had to scale it down until it was so subtle and so fine. It was so eloquent where my turn on is now. I felt like I went way into taboo and then way back. It’s an exquisite sensitive place.
Would you say that the titrating it down that Tantra gave was the main ingredient that allows that to occur?
It’s awareness, embodiment, feeling, everything. It was subtle awareness. For me, I had to take a year of celibacy. My sexual awakening was through celibacy.
It inspires me because I get this sense of us, as human beings, where our conditioning, our culture, even our animal instincts often are to go this way or that way. It’s like a slippery slope in this direction or that direction. I’m either going to go towards that full-on kink or full-on open where I’m like, “I want that rush, I want that in aliveness,” or I’m going to be, “That’s too dangerous. I do things that I’m going to regret. It hurts people. I’m going to shut it all off.” My ongoing inquiry, because what I’ve seen every single time I’ve looked closely enough is that our essential nature, our authentic way of being, is this paradoxical combination where both can happen, where our “badness” is informed by the subtle and touch listening that is not even separate from anything.
It’s a oneness-based subtlety of integrity to the entire matrix we’re living in and yet we’re open to exploring those maybe more alive and out of the bounds, edgy experiences for ourselves in our own lives and in our sexuality. I always get curious, how do we find a way to live and dance, the most alive and the most integrous together?
How do you do it?Provide a devoted kind of listening for yourself. Click To Tweet
I do it with a massive amount of devotion to what you spoke to, but the deep embodied awareness is foundational. We need a devotional level I am committed to. It is of utmost importance. I am going to do what it takes to stay in this body, to stay close to my experience, to feel from within. Even when it gets difficult, even when parts of me want to skitter off or passion becomes so strong that it wants to drive me towards screwing over my entire life and hurting people I care about. My fears are so strong, I feel them to stay true to this deeper impulse that does come through when I’m willing to hear it and follow it. That’s my way.
It seems like you have such a consistent way of being. Much of your message is about that deep embodiment and subtle awareness. I often feel like everything can come back to that. That is the core elemental truth of being a happy successful human. You have such a way of promoting the beauty of touching into deep truths. I want to ask you a question. What if tapping into your deep truth represents a significant pain for somebody else? How do you modulate? How do you balance your need or your curiosity with other people’s feelings to simply put it?
I’ve done that. That question has been alive for me. When I was in the first incarnation of asking that question, a very big, uncomfortable truth was presenting itself through me and it would be very hurtful to the person around me. I remember telling a friend, “I’m going to inquire into this for five years before I act on it.” Five years to the month later, I told my partner at that time I have to leave this relationship. I did my best to do that in a way that was listening for the truth-truth, not just an animal-based desire or a trauma trying to speak. I did a lot of discerning.
How would one do that?
I did it with therapists. I worked with a Diamond Heart teacher. I went on retreats with Shakti Malan, went on retreats, meditating for ten days straight, vision quests, and prayer. You name it, you do it. That’s what I mean by devoted. I’m serious about that word devoted. I don’t take it lightly, “I thought about it a couple of hours,” then decide to say, “Fuck this. My truth is I want to go sleep with a hundred babes.” That’s not the level of discernment I’m asking people to live according to. This gets tricky because it’s also happening in any given moment.
Let’s say these days in the context of my relationship, I have the freedom to follow these impulses. If they come and they’re true. I’m being asked to live indeed to a level of devotion to that integrity in the moment. Let’s say I’m hanging out with a woman and there’s a sense of a deep truth that is that we would cuddle or we would dive into a deeper space of intimacy. Then the question is, “Is that my truth?” It will hurt my partner, but you start to be able to tease apart hurting somebody from them feeling pain because they chose to be with you. If you’re in full transparency from the get-go and if you’re committed to this deep listening and deeply being transparent, then yes, people have feelings, but no one ends up getting hurt.You have to work through a lot of stuff off to be able to ask some limits. Click To Tweet
If you do this well, what ends up happening is even though we feel states of pain, grief or hurt, I’ll feel that when she follows her golden thread sometimes, “That’s scary to me. That’s intense,” but I’m willing to feel that to give her the freedom to follow those deepest, authentic impulses in her being. I trust her to do it from that integrous listening and body of place. When two people are dancing in that way, even though feelings occur, we overall sense can be one of love, of benefit, of inclusion. What informs me through over years of doing deep practices is a capacity that I am always humbled to and always battled to, I never want to get cocky about it. Something is informing my existence now that takes into consideration the whole.
It’s based on an authentic version of oneness at this point, more or less. At least the scales of tips so far in that direction that anytime I’m off that it gets corrected well and doesn’t end up hurting anybody. There’s a deep place in you so you can do this as a small, medium and big way. You do listen, you do whatever work it takes, whether that’s a minute, a millisecond or a year of deep discernment work. Then you follow that impulse and you’d be willing to do that with your heart, with the ability to include people in the process by being transparent and orienting people. Speaking and communicating well, and then it becomes a whole dance based in something that is including everybody’s hearts. It doesn’t mean people don’t get hurt, but it’s not like you’re hurting them. That’s called life on planet Earth in my experience at this point.
Do you ever fuck up?
Yes, I have fucked up. I’m having a pretty good track record for a while. I did fuck up and I apologized. It’s the yin and yang and I caught it. We worked that through. Even fuck ups, when they are dealt with well and your heart is on line and you have an integrity to the deeper impulse place, then even the fuck ups can become good if they’re not too big or drastic.
What made you fuck up? What was out of place in your personal world?When there's not love or genuine emotional connection through the act of the lovemaking, then it becomes more addictive. Click To Tweet
What made me fuck up was a remnant of what I call my inner teenager. My little teenager was very deprived of all the things he would have wanted when he was young, which as a man I can access if I’m having a good week. I could have what my teenager wanted. I was on a trip, I was away, and I was following my impulses. I was doing my best and it was overall from this place of authentic listening. One time, there was this little bleep, “I’m going to have that.” It was a little fuck up, a catch, a talk, an admitting, feeling crappy in my belly, a willingness to feel an authentic remorse that helps everything deepen instead of being based in shame. It’s based in that deep embodied willingness to feel subtle things that you’ve tried to avoid since you were a little baby. I often talk about this spectrum from the inner teenager to the person who’s in touch with the divine arrows.
The divine masculine, somebody who has the ability to be listening deeply from a place of oneness as opposed to a place of division like me, you, I need to, I have to, I need to push and pull to get what I want. The more you work with these parts of you well through all of those means I was talking about before, prayer, good meditation, retreats, teachers, therapy, whatever it is. The more that that can metabolize into informing you as a being that’s living more from the divine feminine or divine masculine or whatever you want to call it, just a place of true embodied, healthy, and alive integrity, that process has been a long one for me and it continues.
This is what’s coming to my mind. We’re talking a lot about impulse ad impulse control and discernment and being anchored to that truth, into the golden thread, which is such a fine art and it takes so much incredible practice. My mind is like flipping back to when my partner at that time said that he needed to go to Burning Man and fuck a bunch of women. That was his truth or that was his awareness at that time. Everything in my body said this is like the teenager. This is something unfinished in him that was coming out and making that request. It wasn’t coming from a deeper alignment and it ended our relationship. How do we know when an impulse is coming from trauma or coming from a juvenile primal place that has the potential to create wreckage versus it being a true choice of something that’s productive and adaptive and that will enrich our lives? It’s such a taboo in a healthy way versus maybe a maladaptive way. How can we do that?
The answer is through a mature, healthy, and devoted willingness to ask that question from the bottom of your heart. Be willing to hear the answer no matter how much it disappoints yourself or somebody around you. It’s the hardest thing in the world, especially because most likely, most men who have that pendulum swing have been burying their impulses for so long that it’s like this tank of repressed desires. The teenager in them, like it was for me, it’s a powder keg waiting to explode.
If you attracted a guy with a powder keg in them and you happened to be on the front lines when it exploded, that sucks. That explosion is partly our culture’s and childhood’s fault. It’s partly the fact that we don’t have great support for men and women to be like, “What is your discernment?” Let’s say if he had a men’s group of twenty masterful, black belt type around him, they could’ve helped him right through that. They could have had conversations with you and him and found ways for him to listen. It would have been a different a dance that you did.You have to take those risks and go for it. Click To Tweet
We’re trying to provide that devoted listening for ourselves. You’d start to get a feel for it. This might take a little while, you can be ruthlessly honest with yourself and up the devotion to the curiosity and the willingness to hear, “Is this my truth? Is this my inner trauma, my inner teenager, or just a playful division?” Just asking that question with a sincere heart gets you at least halfway to the answer and you start to get a feel for the difference. They have different vibrations. They can overlap sometimes, so it gets tricky to discern. Other times the truth that you get is go fuck 100 women or never have that ever.
We have to be also willing about very small impulses for a while. That impulse might be go talk to my partner and do a session with somebody who’s masterful at helping us have these conversations. Let’s see where that goes. Let’s open up other possibilities. I’m good at helping people have those conversations in ways that produce that clarity. That’s one of my superpowers. You can call in someone myself to take that next little step and we do our best. It’s a messy business. There are no two ways about it. We’re humans and we’re in a messy dance called life on planet Earth.
If you can do your best and stay with it in this way, there is a wisdom to the overall journey that refines us. This thing comes online. It’s being taught how to hear notes and music at first would be like, “I’m not hearing that.” You can train your ear to hear more subtle things. That’s where those impulses are being felt, known, and followed. Then you have to work through a lot of stuff often to be able to act this out and live it like fears or big stuck desires that are in there, addictions. You have to work through that to be able to listen to this. It’s a mature path.
I’m glad that you brought up the word addiction. When we talk about sexual addiction or compulsion, we also touch taboo, we also touch shadow in that space, and how and why it becomes so addictive. In my career, I’ve worked with a lot of sex addicts and people in poly communities who are veiling sex addiction and not to poly communities, but there is some compulsion sometimes that’s hiding out there. That spike of adrenaline, that spike of dopamine is like crack in the body and the novelty.
I’ve worked with and known a lot of men who had this addiction to novelty spike. Ultimately, we’re seeking professional sex workers that were not healing in nature. They were finding women on Craigslist or accessing prostitutes because they were getting this dopamine spike. That dopamine spike of novelty when it’s not combined with oxytocin, when there’s no love or genuine emotional connection through the act of the lovemaking or the sexual engagement, then it becomes more addictive. Oxytocin wraps itself around that molecule and it prevents it from becoming addictive.Find your edge, lean, and have some fun. Click To Tweet
I want to talk also about maybe making a case for touching taboo. I also work with a lot of people, a lot of women, especially who might be more sexually timid. They might have taboos that they want to explore. How can they do that? How can they create a space in their partnership or a space in their own fantasy life? Their own imagination that makes it safe for them to expand as sexual beings and to play in that field. One thing I want to add, because we were talking so much about embodiment, is after the petals, the safety and danger thing. When you feel literally a rush in your body, it comes from the bottom up. It feels effusive, like this fountain of adrenaline rushing through your body.
You have hit the particular side of your nervous system very strongly. What I always coach my clients around is when you’re working with taboo or beginning to work with kink is to touch that lightly and to touch that softly. You don’t want to go from zero to 60. Just flood the engine, hit the gas pedal, and go for it, to ease in so that your nervous system begins to recognize that act, that fantasy, and that thought as something that is safe and good for you. When we dive in so deeply and so quickly into some taboo, it doesn’t register in the nervous system necessarily as something that’s good for you. It then gets pushed into shadow land because you’ve gorged on something. You’ve completely indulged in something that’s so far beyond that stretches so far beyond what your current repertoire is. What advice would you have for someone who’s looking maybe for permission and to be allowed to explore these parts of themselves?
My main recommendation would be to call you. I’m so excited by your invitation. You are a living invitation with skillful exploration and open especially for somebody who has that authentic desire to bloom, to come out, and find more of their sexy passion and aliveness. You’re the perfect person. Call Eva, that’s my first recommendation. Listen to what she said and call her up and work with her. That’s the best thing you could do. The other thing is with everything you said, having that in mind, knowing that you don’t ever want to overwhelm, overload and over flood. This is an attuned process, but at the same time attuned and courageous.
Attuned and leaning past to what our comfort zone is. We have to go through, there is going to be this little edge, “This is uncomfortable. I’m being bad.” For a lot of people who are hovering over here and this side of the spectrum where they haven’t quite let themselves explore taboo or come into their zesty, sexy, alive, and exploring self, it’s like a little electrical fence, like those dog collars. It’s scary to go over there and it goes zap and you just stay here. In order to get over into this more exploring, edgy, alive place, we’ve got to be willing to feel a little zap of fear, a little zap of, “I’m being bad. This is awkward. This is weird. This is strange. I’m judging myself. I’m going to be judged. I’m going to hell.”Reach beyond the confines of your culture and find something that, in essence, is more authentic to who you really are. Click To Tweet
That’s what this barrier is made up. You have to be willing to leap right through it in order to explore. I’m not saying go way over here and do things you said. For most people who are hanging over here, we have to go, “It feels good, but I’m going to do it anyway. I’m going to take that risk and tell my partner, ‘Spank me. I’m being a little bad tonight. I’m going to wear this little skirt. I don’t want to get spanked because that’s being bad.’” You have to take those risks and go for it. You’ve got to feel a little awkward and weird in order to get over here where all the juice is.
As you’re speaking, Tobin, a new metaphor is coming to me that I’m going to use in my work. It’s better to not jump into the deep end of taboo because that invites shame and secrecy.
Which will ultimately traumatize you back into either being fixated on the kink or repressing everything again. We’ve got to titrate this. Find your edge, lean in, and have some fun. There is the other pamphlet for the people who are adrenaline junkies and out there in addiction land. The prescription is almost the opposite, titrate it back. Pull in, feel your body, be willing to get more in touch and more subtle in your awareness. Find the impulse that’s driving that old addiction. Transmute it with the willingness to burn, feel, and find a new pathway. That’s what I would tell the people over there, and then we’re going to find this healthier, dynamic, alive zone where we all get to be our Tantra alive selves.
One of my big mottos, I’m always working with clients around this, men and women in couples is subtlety over scintillation. When you’re feeling flooded, and your feeling that sense of scintillation. You’re longing for scintillation, know that it’s fine to reach for that, but it’s like eating a Twinkie. It’s like putting a Rice Krispies in your mouth and chewing on it. It will give you a rush, but it will nourish you. This is a neurochemical reality in your body. It’s not going to add to your perception, your intelligence, your wellness, and your vitality. It will be like a binge.
It will feed the cycle of wanting to get that again and wanting to get that even more. Then you stay an immature person getting a fix every once in a while, as opposed to if you learn this dance, then we become an evolving human being who deepens our sensitivity and ability to heal and transmute pleasure into a maturing and evolving existence that benefits not only you but the people that you’re dancing with along the way.
That’s why I love this because it opens up portals and these doorways to such a rich experience. I love you bringing in this scientific because it’s like if we’re just going for the scintillation or the titillation, and it’s not wrapped in that subtle in touch awareness, which is where the oxytocin comes from. We can even have oxytocin with ourselves if you’re doing some self-pleasuring practice and you’re enveloping that in care, love and reverence. Almost like make yourself pleasuring a ritual instead of a shame thing, “I’m in my bedroom and it’s bad. I’m going for an orgasm. Then I feel bad about it, but I had this hit.” That’s an addiction cycle. Whereas if you do that very same thing, but it’s wrapped and self-love and grounded in touchiness, you’re inviting something that nourishes and informs your whole being from the inside out. It changes you in a good way.
I want to make a quick case. Why would one want to do that? What are the benefits? You and I are both living embodied examples of the benefit of having integrity and balance and subtle awareness in your sexuality. It literally chooses your body. It chooses your life. You’ll start to experience things like you’ll feel more focused, you’ll feel more motivated, you’ll feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. The quality of your relationships will begin to improve when you’re dropped into this subtle form. It’s a very balanced and integrated way of being a sexual being where you’re touching taboo, but you’re not drowning in it. You’re dancing with it, you’re playing with it, but you’re not ravenously indulging. You’re not gorging in it.
We can get a sense of, “Where am I in my journey? Where could I be leaning in one of these directions that we’re talking about either toward going for it and give them a little more risqué, a little more edgy and taboo. Could I be grounding some of my addiction cycles in presence, reverence, body, prayerful, and deep reverential work?” Finding that sweet spot for yourself. The reason one would want to do that is you pay the price of discomfort. The reason we never do that is because we’re in our comfort zone.
You have to pay a little price to get in this other zone, the general feel of your entire life will just feel better. Your relationships will feel better. Even your friendships will be more with intimacy, care, and authenticity. It juices up your whole life with something that feels better. When we’re doing these things, we’re cutting ourselves off. It becomes isolation barriers. It’s almost like a Saran wrap on our being that we are living behind. This is the way to dissolve that membrane and get out into the juice of life in a way that’s the sweet spot for you.Life is a dance floor. Click To Tweet
I love that analogy of living wrapped in Saran wrap, this membrane around us. It brings us to a final note. It is around the human need for freedom. That we need freedom, not always or necessarily in our behavior. There are codes, integrity and morality that go with that, but freedom in our ability and our permission to access all parts of ourselves. To me, that’s what taboo is, reaching beyond the confines of your culture and how you’ve been socialized. Finding that in essence that is more authentic to who you are and what you want to experience and feel.
It’s even reaching beyond inwardly, “What would happen if I reach deep into my own being?” Reaching beyond our normal, familiar race, that’s where all these possibilities come from.
Can you think of a taboo that you personally reached beyond and found a great benefit by doing so? Would you be willing to name that taboo?
I’ll name one. I was doing all those email meditative good guy Dharma practices for a long time and then, I realized I’m living behind a Saran wrap. This is not authentic to the wholeness that I am. I made a proclamation to myself and the universe. I started dancing at the time. I hadn’t danced much, but I had been to a couple of sweat your prayer dances. I made the proclamation on every dance floor from now on, I am going to not be concerned with doing it right. I’m going to be completely unedited and myself, no matter who’s there. I’m going to live right into that edge, which for me was a big taboo. It’s just to have fun, to be wild and crazy, to go 100%. I’ll be that alive and be very sexy. For a long time. I was very sexy on dance floors and I had wonderful goddesses who were willing to meet me there. Thank you to every single one of you who danced with me.
It was a gift and an honor and I am so grateful. I remember one time in the middle of a dance floor, I had three women in front of me and three women in the back of me. We were doing some of this tantric dance in the middle of the dance floor. I am so grateful. I was met there, but for me, that was a massive risk, in the beginning, to go out there and potentially be judged, shamed, and wrong for how sexy and erotic I am. That was a big place that I did my process, finding out where’s the sweet spot. It can’t do that much harm on a dance floor. You can, some guys do. I was mostly in the way in the integrity zones, but it was a place to start to listen for and feel for those deeper impulse, which for me was scary.
I love the disclosure of the taboos because what is taboo to you is no big deal to other people. I’ve been waiting to tell this story and like if you’ve stayed with us all the way to the end, you’ll get a treat. The very first time I ever saw you, Tobin, was on a dance floor. I didn’t know who you were. I think I had already sent you a Facebook message. “You’re a colleague. I’m here for a minute. What do you do?” I was at five rhythms or whatever, some ecstatic dance in Maui. I saw this man come in like a black haired man and then he took off his shirt and he had a giant tattoo across his shoulders. These flared leg black pants. It was like the king of the dance has arrived and I went, “Who’s that?” It was stunning. It was beautiful. It wasn’t until later that I realized that that was you. There was such a different energy that you brought to the dance floor and I felt like you had wings and you occupied your space in a very kingly way.
I aspire to hit and what I’ve lived into more and more and like what we were saying, I’m not hitting it all the time, but I’m cultivating that through being alive, engaged, taking risks, and being subtle. That is my dance and I do it very formally on dance floors and that to me life is a dance floor. I’m doing that all the time in my entire existence.
It was super fun to watch you. One thing that works for us and against us as friends and colleagues is that we agree, I disagree. I have a hard time finding anything to disagree with. It’s like, “What’s the big deal? What’s taboo to somebody?” It’s like their own personal property, they have propriety over their own personal taboos. For me, I wasn’t raised in any religion. My parents are Atheists. I have no spirituality in my house whatsoever and even though I’m a very spiritual being, I always went, kept on seeking it, and trying to find out like, “If I want to be a religion, what religion could I be?”
I made up religions for myself as a child. I didn’t have a lot of sexual shame. I grew up without any morality. For me, my edge has been in subtlety and authenticity and not performing. As a woman, many of us are subtly trained to perform sexually in a way that is pleasing for men. I remember that point that I felt that taboo that felt incredibly scary and edgy to me, to feel what I felt and expressed what I felt like expressing for me, and not even thinking about what would make him happy. That was like puncturing the membrane for me. That was when my sexuality dropped into a deeper expression.
The authenticity taboo, the taboo against being yourself is thick in our culture. We’re so taught to be the way that somebody will approve of, to get the right attention back instead of zip me down and here I am.
We don’t make love like porn stars all the time. It’s reality and it’s way better.
If you are reading this, you are dear to my heart. Thank you for being here. It was very intimate. I feel very exposed. It means a lot to my heart. This is an edgy thing. Being invited to come out here and have these unedited conversations and put them out there in the world. It’s my edge. I hope it’s serving in some way. I feel like it can and will and I also get this sense that we’re starting to find this. It’s like dancing. We’re starting to find the groove that could really serve going forward.
You can find this genius, beautiful man at TobinZivon.com . He works with men, women, and couples. He loves working with couples and he’s brilliant and serving couples who are seeking a more elevated dynamic.
For Eva, go and find her at EvaClay.com. You cannot go wrong, especially around sexuality. If you want your sexuality to go from wherever it is to way better call Eva. She is your woman. I highly recommended and it’s grounded and real. That’s why I’m so happy to be doing this with you. We are in alignment while I’m learning so much from how you show up and the way you embody and modeling of that beautiful living. She’s somebody who’s living what they teach. Until next time.
We’ll be back for another fucking, scary topic.
Thank you so much, Eva and Tobin, for an amazing show. Getting out there in vulnerability and passing some incredible wisdom out into the world. For more shows, please visit RobertKandell.com. Thank you so much. I love you.
About Eva Clay
Eva Clay, MSW, LCSW is an acclaimed sexologist, somatic psychotherapist and professional troublemaker whose mission for two decades has been to illuminate the ménage-a-trois of soul, sex and science. She’s helped thousands of people turn sex into a hot and holy practice. As a former professor of neuroscience, she bodaciously reminds us that smart is sexy. She offers sacred sexuality courses and coaching to women, men, and couples, and her work has been described as “an elegant marriage of the profound and the playful”. Eva’s work has been featured on media such as CBS, YogaWorks, Wanderlust, and many others. When she’s not teaching, you’ll find her making mayhem on a dance floor. See www.EvaClay.com
About Tobin Zivon
Tobin Zivon has been described as “The ultimate Guide… A rare, exquisite blend of spiritual teacher, therapist and Tantra master all wrapped into one.” His teachings are designed to not only help you access and experience your true essential/awakened nature in deeper and more fulfilling ways, but also to illuminate the nuances of what it means to actually LIVE and LOVE from this divinely infused center of your Being. He has been wholeheartedly dedicated to the path of embodied awakening for over 30 years. Tobin’s background includes five years working intimately with Adyashanti, 12 years in the Ridhwan School (under the direction of AH Almaas), 6 years in a Zen Center, a three- year apprenticeship with one of the foremost transpersonal psychotherapists in America, and training with the South African Tantra teacher Shakti Malan. He authored The Art of Mindful Living: “You Can’t Stop the Waves, But You Can Learn to Surf,” and has been teaching groups, couples, and individuals for 20 years. See www.tobinzivon.com