The Multiamory crew is excited to welcome Jessica Graham, meditation teacher, mindfulness coach, and author of the new book Good Sex: Getting Off Without Checking Out. Jessica answers all of our questions about mindful sex, ethical porn, naturally boosting your sex drive, and much more.
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Jase: On this episode of the Multiamory podcast we're talking about mindful sex and how mind-blowing it can be. That's a cool play on words there. We're doing that with Jessica Graham.
Dedeker: You're so caught up in your play on words you forgot who you're even talking to.
Jase: I did. I'm talking with Jessica Graham today. Jessica is a meditation and mindfulness teacher and coach in Los Angeles who leads classes, workshops, and retreats. She also works with individuals and couples in the realms of spiritual, sexual, and creative awakening. Her book Good Sex: Getting Off Without Checking Out will be available one week from today from North Atlantic books and everywhere the books are sold. we're really excited to have her on the show.
Dedeker: Let's get to it.
Emily: Here we are with Jessica. Thank you so much for joining us. Your book was magnificent by the way, I really, really enjoyed reading it. I read my section and I think the first five chapters in one sitting, it was great. Something you touched on immediately is that meditation is a way to awaken your most fulfilled sexual being. That's something I never really thought of before but it makes so much sense. You speak about it a lot in the book but can you talk a little bit about your journey so that our listeners can have a preview of that.
Jessica: Sure, thanks for having me. It's good to be here with you guys and thanks for reading it. I was always a really sexual person. It was always had a high priority in my life. What I didn't realize is that I was very limited in how I was able to express sexually and connect sexually. Really connect at all but certainly sexually. When I started meditating about whatever that was 10 years ago and I started meditating regularly on a daily basis. I started to taste the food that I was eating and smell the air that I was breathing and feel the sensations at my body and notice the thoughts.
I started to have this full sound and color experience whereas before I was really living from basically the neck up just thinking, thinking, thinking and quite miserable and suffering a lot as a result. As I settle into this new way of being with myself, being with the world and as I've started to have big shifts and awakenings in my whole paradigm of living. I started to think, "Hey, wait a second. This should work for sex too".
At that point in my life, there was not a lot of sexuality going on. I had intentionally decided to really commit and to physically commit and also to emotionally commit and not to engage with anyone else in that way. It was a very specific plan and I felt like I needed to do it.
I'm glad that I did because it was actually quite healing for me but it wasn't my natural-
That's not really how I operate. The partner I had was not really interested in having very much sex with me. Let alone sex that was spiritual or even just that was more connected. I have a lot of compassion for that especially now that I teach around this topic because I see just how much hurt there is in sexuality for so many people.
Jessica: Yes, but at that time I didn't really have any way to test it out. I basically started just working on my sexuality, with myself in inquiry-based way. Just exploring who am I as a sexual creature and what does that look like. Pretty quickly, I grew out of that relationship and ended up in another one shortly after that was day and night as far as sexuality goes.
The guy's never had an experience where I just stared into my partner's eyes and we basically had a spiritual experience during sex. It was a direct result of other parts of me waking up. That's the thing with waking up, it will spread to all different parts of your life. If you try to block it, then you end up really suffering.
That's part of what this book's about. It's about why are we going to leave that stone unturned in spirituality because all that's doing is causing suffering.
Dedeker: Yes, I want to pick up on that and take a little side path here to talk about the fact that I think that it's culturally there's one corner where meditation and mindfulness lives and then sex lives in the opposite corner and the only way we could bring spirituality or mindfulness to that is through tantra. That's where all our minds immediately go. Okay, we'll save that for the tantra manuals.
I think that's what I love so much about your book is you do touch on tantra techniques a little bit but I want our listeners to get cleared that this isn't just a tantra manual. That is actually making mindfulness during sex and around sexuality much more accessible even if you don't want to start doing the whole yoni, lingam chakra balancing. [laughs]
Jessica: I don't like that lingam. I don't like that word lingam at all --
Dedeker: I don't like either, honestly.
Jase: I don't like either of them, no.
Jessica: I would never say what's called my vagina a yoni but the lingam just makes me like -
Jase: It's like, "Oh yeah baby. Take that lingam".
Dedeker: Don't bring that lingam near me.
Emily: Now, I'm sure some people do use those words and that's okay too.
Jessica: That's okay exactly. That's right. [laughs] I have a lot of friends and colleagues in that world and I will openly say this to them like, "I don't like that word" but at the same time tantric sex as it's known in the West is a really wonderful, powerful way to connect but it does require drinking a certain amount of Kool-Aid. So does orgasmic meditation, I love the One Taste organization I love what they're doing.
Nicole Daedone, I had the pleasure of spending a little bit of time with her recently and she's such a powerhouse. She's really a spiritual teacher and I love what she's doing but again orgasmic meditation, that's it's own thing and it's a specific technique. What I wanted to do is create something that it's not a thing. It's just like here's sending invitations and suggestions and things you can try see how it works for you and build up on that. This book is an invitation to start exploring.
Jase: I think what we're getting at is that the approach in your book is a belief in spirituality agnostic. You don't have to take anything on faith, it's just a practical mindfulness thing rather than being connected to any spirit or other stuff, right?
Dedeker: Believing that you're doing something with energy or-
Jase: This is much more practical and then whatever you believe, can go with it you don't have to drink the Kool-Aid, I guess, is what you get on that.
Jessica: That's exactly right and I'm glad that that comes across because that was really, really important to me. There's a book called, I think I have it next to me, there's a book called Waking Up by Sam Harris.
Dedeker: Good one, good one.
Jase: We did 10% happier too, right?
Dedeker: Did you?
Jessica: I think that was Dan.
Dedeker: Yes, I think that was somebody else.
Jase: Okay, got it. Sorry.
Emily: I don't know but Sam Harris Waking Up is.
Jessica: Yes, and he's coming from a straight up atheist perspective and then he started having spiritual experiences and he's like, "Well, I don't know what else to call this" and that's definitely been me. When I was little, I was really into meditation and I would always go towards spirituality when things were really hard but I rejected the whole thing in a way and certainly rejected any religion but then I started having experiences. I had to just go on my experiences. Again, this book is my experiences and the experiences of people I worked with.
Dedeker: Got it.
Emily: Going way back, just so something that you touched on briefly in your first explanation. We just had an episode about a month ago on sexual incompatibilities. Changes in sexual desire over time in relationships. Can you speak to reasoning why you think desire in a relationship can drop over time? To piggyback on that, what specific exercises would you employ for partners who are having a challenging time within their sexual relationships.
Jessica: Sure, I think in most long-term relationships are going to experience that. It's very, very few that don't. Usually they're going to experience it anywhere from eight months to three years in. The chemicals are going to change. I'm not a scientist but I do know the chemicals change. They go from the, we must make a baby chemical to the, we need to make a nest chemical. We need to make a nest isn't as sexy as we need to make a baby. This happens in same sex relationships as well. I don't know all the science around it but I do know that happens. That's a natural thing that happens.
It's often why you see some folks, myself included for a long time. I just jumped from one long-term to another long-term. The long-term was all in a year or two. Things would change. I wouldn't feel that thing anymore. There'd be resentments. There'd be lack of communication. Then I'd be like, "I'm out of here." You never get to work through this stuff that you're talking about. The actual, what do you do when those changes start happening.
My philosophy around this is that both your sexuality with yourself and in a relationship are a relationship. The sexuality, sexual connection needs to be fed like any other relationship. Me and my friend Stella if we never talk, then we're not going to have much of a relationship. We need to put energy into it to have a relationship. It's the same thing with sex.
I know even for myself I recently went through, still going through a stretch of not a lot of attention on my sexuality. Which is funny with the book coming out. When I have my attention elsewhere and I'm not consciously giving attention to my sexuality. It starts to fade a bit. All it will take is some attention. If you're in a pretty healthy relationship and there's a lot of communication, honesty. It's about doing some work.
It's about taking the time doing the thing that everyone hates. Planning to have the sex. Having the plan. Getting some new sheets for the bed that feels sexier on your body. Being aware of what art you have up in your bedroom. Watching some ethical porn together. Writing each other sexy texts throughout the day. To keep it alive. Bringing more play into sex.
Sometimes what can happen when we're on a dry spell, the play can start to go.
Let it be funny. Let it be awkward. Usually, people that have a relationship where the communication is really going well, there's not a lot of resentment are not usually having so much of this problem. I think that happens over time is, we don't say what we need. We don't say what we want. We don't get what we need and we want. I can't tell you how many couples I've spoken to where they want the same thing. Neither of them are willing to come out and say, "This is what I'm wanting." Whether it's a certain type of sex. Whether it's wanting the other one to shave their facial hair a certain way. [laughs]
We're particular little creatures as humans. We have our things. I think because as a culture, we're not comfortable talking about sex. In relationships, there's not comfort talking about it either. You can be with someone for 10 years and they still don't know what turns you on because you're not telling them. Communication. There's a lot of tricks to charge up the sexuality. If the communication, trust and basic level of respect for each other isn't there, it doesn't matter how many sexy texts you send.
Jase: Quickly to go on that too. The sending sexy texts without having communicated beforehand that this is something you're going to do, can have the opposite effect. Where it's like if you're not in the space to receive it. Its where's this coming from.
Jessica: Then comes the tools of non-violent communication. When you get that sexy text and you're not feeling anything close to sexy, how you respond to your partner in that moment of vulnerability is going to shape your relationship. It doesn't mean you have to consent to something you don't want, if you're like, "Hey, that's not where I'm at right now." The way it's communicated and the place from which it comes.
If it comes from the place of, I want to make you feel small. Well then, it will have that effect. It will be harmful to the relationship. That's another piece that's important when there's a low desire partner. Both people are aware of how tricky that situation is. The person that feels they're constantly getting rejected and the person that feels they're constantly getting pressured.
Jase: Definitely. I'd like to steer us in a different direction a little bit. Again, this one is about a theme I noticed came up a few times in the book. It's about orgasms and specifically the mental pressure. Either to have them or not to have them too soon. How in both ways that focus on whether or not you're having an orgasm at any given moment itself can cause the problems or contribute to them? At least contribute to a suffering about them. This was something that for me in college, we had a sexual health center that had a library. Where you could check books out for free. They were all sex-based books. I checked out the multi-orgasmic man.
I guess it's similar in that it's a little bit tantraish based. It's more of practical. I guess, it talks a little bit more about energy and all that. Anyway, I found that for me, that had a huge impact on how I looked at my own sexuality. Orgasms and sexual pleasure and stuff like that, rather than it being something that you control by checking out of, thinking about baseball or whatever. Instea, it's about connecting to it and feeling it more. It's this counterintuitive thing. Anyway, I wanted to say that I appreciated you brought that up through the book. I was just curious to hear your thoughts on that. How that has changed your way of approaching sex, and what you've seen it do for other people.
Jessica: Yes. Yes. This is one of the areas where tantric sex really has something to offer which is to take the emphasis off of orgasm. Because when we think about it, orgasm, even if you're having a long orgasm. It's still not that long. It's only so long.
Then it's going to be over. If our whole sex life is built around this thing that lasts for, however many seconds. It's a shame we're missing out on a lot. Just like in life. If all we're focused on is, when will I get this much money. When I own that car. I miss out on everything that's awesome right now. I like that about tantric sex that they really take the emphasis way off orgasm. It's one of the most common things that people want to talk to me about.
Generally, women who have anxiety around having an orgasm. More often than not, men who have anxiety around being able to have an orgasm. You think I would get more of the other, men who feel they're going to orgasm too soon. No, I get e-mails from men who can't. Its interesting because I guess I never even thought of that as a thing. [laughs] Until I started doing this work. I always thought, "It's women who have the trouble and Men can cum whenever they want." I've been educated through educating others. The main key to move through that is to get out of the mind and into the body. This is also why daily practice is helpful. If you're practicing daily.
Putting your attention where you want to put it, regardless of what else is going on. You're starting to train that skill of concentration. When you're having sex, you can take that concentration skill. You can use it to focus on things other than what's happening in your mind. I, for many years had a lot of anxiety around orgasm. I would have to squeeze everything really tight. Think about certain fantasies which is funny because they don't get me off at all now but at that time, it was for years, the same fantasies. That's what would get me off. I'd be there with my partner but I'd be totally locked up and thinking about a dark alley. Am I allowed to say whatever I want?
Jase: Yes, Oh yes,
Dedeker: We have an explicit rating on iTunes, you're okay.
Jessica: Okay, I was going to say thinking about anal sex in a dark alley, while I'm there with this person that I supposedly love and nothing wrong with anal sex in a back alley, mind you. If that's all that could do it for me then what about everything else, all the other colors of my sexuality. This idea of having embodied sex. I discovered it before I was meditating but now it's a regular practice and it's just I'm just in the body and no more than everyone thinks I do with anyone. Often times it's mindful masturbation. Just getting in your body during masturbation, not doing all the things that you normally would do.
Going straight to whatever your thing is but instead just getting to know your body, feeling sexual pleasure, and staying in the body. Not trying to quite the mind but just coming to the body and you try to get caught in it.
Dedeker: Right, right, yes. Something else that came up in your book that I really appreciated and I particularly noticed it in the section when you're about threesomes which is a very common fantasy for people. I feel like everyone who's a millennial, that's the thing you do these days. Everyone feels the need to check the millennials only.
I don't know about millennials only but I just feel people in my generation is everyone wants to check that box, right? The threesome box.
Emily: More of like been there done that. [laughs]
Dedeker: That's something that I really appreciated is you put this emphasis on threesomes are great but you don't need to hop at the first opportunity that comes along, if it's not the right person or everybody's just sloppy and drunk. It is okay to wait and actually try to find the best person to have a threesome with. That this comes up in many other parts of the book. You don't have to hop at the first opportunity to have sex, when you're wanting sex. You don't have to hop at the first opportunity to have a relationship, when you want to have a relationship.
I guess what I wanted to talk about is, that's all fine and good to say but then for people that I know who they've been in a dry spell for six months and they're going crazy. Or somebody who's very specifically has a threesome fantasy that they've had their entire life and they're just so excited to do it and they really, really want to do it. Or someone who hasn't been in a relationship for a while and feels really lonely and disconnected. It becomes harder and harder to not want to jump at those opportunities. I guess, I want to talk about what kind of mindfulness techniques or what have you found that has helped people who are in those situations where it can be so tempting to go after the first opportunity even if it's not the best choice.
Jessica: First of all, as long as you are consenting adults, you're not going to fuck anything up. You're not going to make the big mistake because being human is making mistakes. Having a good life and having a successful life and all the ways that that means, it takes making mistakes. Look, I have certainly made my fair share even not that long ago. Just like, "Okay, I'll do that" and then I was like, "Huh, why did I do that?" I didn’t really want to do that. There's a learning curve, right? The more we grow and evolve, there's parts of us that have to catch up. It's not the end of the world, first of all. Secondly, that's about self-love, right?
I think my other answer is also about self-love. The more that I'm in alignment with what's most loving for me, the easier it is to make choices that feel good. What I suggest to folks who are maybe in that situation is, how can you nurture and generate love for yourself? How can you give yourself what you need instead of feeling like there's a lack that you need to go out and fill. There's nothing wrong with casual sex. I would also say if you want to have casual sex, great but do it in a safe, consensual way and be aware of how valuable your time is. We don't have endless time.
I definitely had times where I've gone out and had a date with someone and then I'm like, "Huh, that was four hours." I could think of a lot of things I would have rather done with that four hours.
Not that anything's wrong with the person but just I have a full life. I have a partner who I really like to spend time with and I have a very full life. I think just recognizing that you are valuable, you are lovable. I think that's the antidote for that feeling of, "I need to go out and get something because I don't have anything".
Jase: Now, that makes sense. I think that with most things in life, approaching it from a sense of need tends to be a lot less empowering than approaching it from, "I'm fine but I would like this." There's that little shift. That's actually a little bit related to the next thing I want to talk about which is porn. I would just want to say first of all, that I loved it in a mindfulness book that you do talk about porn quite a bit and very frankly too. I guess just very upfront, thank you for having a chapter about that. I guess, to start out is just that you mentioned earlier already in this interview about ethical porn that finding ethical porn.
I know that there are some other people out there who talk about it but I think for a lot of people that it doesn't even occur to them because porn is something that we often approach as young people, that's shameful and something you have to hide. I guess even the thought that this could be something ethical maybe doesn't even occur to people because this is a shady, dark, secret thing. I was wondering if you could just briefly give us a little bit about that shift to seeking out ethical porn.
Jessica: First of all, what you just said is the whole reason why I wanted this chapter in the book is that most people are watching porn and most people are not talking about it. People that are Buddhist are watching porn. People who are spiritual are watching porn. Whatever, you're watching porn. The porn that's being paid for is raking in billions of dollars, let alone all the porn that most people are watching which they're not paying for. If we're not talking about it, then we're not talking about a huge part of being human. We're not talking about a huge part of our psychology.
I'm definitely known to end up getting in a little bit of trouble with some of the stuff I put out there because I'm interested in looking at everything. I'm not interested in looking at it in a black and white way and that includes porn. I had my own personal awakening around porn when I watched Hot Girls Wanted. There has been some controversy around that documentary with people in the industry but for me, it was a real wake up call. It put a real person to these faces and bodies. I have looked at and objectified. It just changed me the same way that someone watching a PETA video could change them. It just changed what I was willing to view and how I was going to view it.
Basically, the number one thing that people will tell you is, people in the industry will tell you, if you want your porn to be ethical, number one, pay for it. Now, that's not to say that there aren't sites that offer free clips and some of my favorite ones do. To watch the full thing, to get all the goodies, you've got to pay for it because if you're watching porn and not paying for, then there's a very good chance you are not watching ethical porn. Certainly, those performers are not getting anything from your views. That's the number one thing. Also, just to do your research and I enlist in the book some resources for some different sites that I've researched to the best of my ability and they occur, at least at that time, as ethical.
These days it's not hard to find, you can google ethical porn and find stuff. Another great way to do it is, follow performers on social media and if they're saying, "Hey, just did this scene with so and so and it was so much fun." Most likely they didn't have some horrible experience. Most likely they weren't being treated awfully because they're willing to tweet about it. That's another way you can look into it. A lot of the girl next door -- a lot of it, it's girls that are being brought in and basically being used up in the sense of okay they do the girl-girl, they do the guy-girl, they do the anal sex, they do the BDSM, they do the gangbang and then they're done.
They've gone to all the places, they've made the money they can make which is not nearly enough and then they're more or less washed up and have to do maybe get paid, maybe do some and not get paid very well or maybe go home. That's what's illustrated in that documentary. Again, it's not black and white. I'm not saying that every girl that does a girl next door porn is being exploited or that she feels that she's mistreated, but there's a lot of that that goes on. I guarantee you [laughs] there are plenty of spiritual people out there who are watching this porn and who are getting off to it, and I was one of them. [laughs] I'm not anymore because it changed for me. I'm passionate about talking about it because two reasons. One, to end suffering, and two, to improve sexuality because porn is really hot and can be really even healing for people.
Jase: Yes. Wow. Thank you. [laughs] That was great.
Jessica: [laughs] I'm a little bit on a soapbox about this. [laughs] I'm sorry.
Dedeker: Fantastic. I love it. No, I think it is so important like you point out that it is something that when it is talked about in public, it is in these very black and white terms. On social media or in news coverage or anything like that, and it is really important for us to find the middle path as it were with porn usage and with what kind of porn we are choosing to consume and choosing to support.
Jessica: Yes, absolutely.
Jase: I'm going to change instructions again. This book covers so much stuff that I feel our questions are over the place, thank you for flowing with us here.
Jessica: Yes, totally.
Jase: This is about you have a chapter that's about safe sex being, good sex is safe sex, and also talks about consent. This is something that has been near and dear to my heart as someone who hopes to education, especially men, and that consent is a sexy thing, that it's a fun thing. I love that you address that a little bit in the book. I did want to talk about the safe sex thing in terms of the STI testing and stuff like that, that you talk about.
One thing that you mentioned in your book is about just the importance of getting tested for everything. I did just want to clarify though that getting "tested for everything" is not as simple as it sounds. I did want to bring some awareness to this that, when you go to a clinic or when you go to your doctor, and you get your normal STI tests, that there's actually a lot of stuff that this doesn't include. Most notably is HSV, is herpes, and that's something that doctors don't test for because most of us have it.
It doesn't actually affect our health very much, a lot of doctors won't test you for it. For one, probably to save the cost, but two, because people freak out when they get those results and they find out that 80% of us or whatever have at least one form of HSV. Anyway, I did just want to clarify that, and while that might freak a lot of people out, my hope is through awareness, for people to become more comfortable with that, they can have practical conversations.
That the STI conversation doesn't just go, "Hey, I'm tested and I'm clear of everything." "You too? Great, let's have sex." Which is how I think we're told it goes when people emphasize the importance of safe sex, they only give us that scenario. Instead of the scenario of, "Oh, hey. I have HSV1, but have never had an outbreak, but I did find out that I had that in a test. Or, I did have an outbreak, but it's been two years." Or like you talk about in your book, "Oh, I had HPV at one point, but it seems to have gone away and now it's clear on my paps." There's a lot of different ways that conversation can go.
Jessica: Definitely, yes. Thank you for saying that. It is really important. I think my version of get tested for everything is everything, but that doesn't mean that every reader's version of 'get tested for everything' will be everything. I think that around that, the herpes virus I think specifically, it is really important to talk about. I know so many people who feel like they don't need to report if they have the oral strand, and feel like they don't need to say it.
When someone asks me, "Hey, do I have to tell so and so?" I say, "Yes, you do.[laughs] That's your responsibility." I'm somewhat hardcore about that like I say in the book. I've been getting told by doctors since I was 15 that I don't need to tell anybody anything because I have nothing, and I still do. [laughs] I still tell, "Well, when I was 14-" And that's me, that's my path. I'm not saying that everybody has to do what I do, but definitely, if someone asks me for my opinion on it, I say, "Yes, let people know. Let people know what's going on."
If you're dating someone or having sex with someone who is responsible and is aware of their body, they'll much more likely to be aware if they have a cold sore coming, much more likely if some sort of outbreak is coming. That's where being not having a bunch of drunken sex at the beginning. Getting to know each other sober and what's going on for this person. Do we trust each other? Are we on the same page? Do they love themselves? For me, that's a big one. Do you love yourself because if you don't, then there's a good chance you could lie, you could say something hurtful, [laughs] you could advertently or inadvertently hurt me in some way. I'm not interested in that.
Dedeker: I'm sorry. I just want to call a timeout because I feel like my dating pool is small enough as it is being somebody who's non-mongamous or polyamorous, but then to also try to find people who themselves, I feel it's like, "Oooo, that's a-" I mean, I 100% agree with you and I love that you make that observation also because it's so true. At the end of the day, nothing's going to work in a relationship capacity or a sexual capacity if somebody doesn't have some amount of self-love. It just I feel like people not loving themselves is such an epidemic. To a certain extent, that's why some people seek relationships or sex at all because they don't love themselves.
Jessica: Yes. I did that for a long, long time. I think that that's at the root of addiction. I think it's at the root of all kinds of things. We get these messages early in life. As I say in my book, I had a lot of early childhood trauma. It wires your brain a certain way. I have to tell you, a good almost 12 years since I've really been doing deep-dive. I started meditating about 10 years ago but I had started this work about 12 years ago. I mean, I'm still in the process. I think I will be for my whole life because I'm a human.
As far as self-love, like you said, some amount, all of us. None of us are perfect [laughs] but there's certain levels of self-love that I feel, its just required for me. Otherwise, it's just uneven because I love myself so much.
Jase: To bring it back to the importance of getting testing and having those conversations, that that is something that, even if people do love themselves and are becoming more mindful about this, that can still bring up a lot of anxiety. I was actually just coaching a friend through this while he was nervously waiting for some test results. The best I could tell him is, "Hey, everyone's [laughs] got stuff. Don't worry so much about it. It's going to be okay." I love that, in the book, you included a meditation specifically for STI testing. I thought that was a really cool inclusion. I was wondering if you could just give us a quick version of that for the people at home.
Jessica: Yes, basically, if I remember correctly because there's so many meditations in that book.
The idea is all of the worrying about what's going to happen is unnecessary suffering and non-functional thinking. You're going to get the test and then, you're going to find out. That's all you really need to think about it. Because we tend to be pretty caught in our minds and the mind tends to want to find a problem and solve it, it will keep working it over, working it over.
To take time before the test, during the test, and after the test to practice and focus on self, where you're noticing thought and you're noticing emotion. You're not getting caught in it. You're just absorbing it as thought and emotion and possibly, even greeting it with an attitude of friendliness, or love. If you start with that before the testing, then you can track it all throughout, and be like, "Oh, there's a thought. Oh, there's an emotion. There's a thought." This is especially helpful if you're already in the habit of doing a practice like this daily but you can start one anytime.
Then, also, I don't know if this is in there or not. The doing a focus on positive for yourself. Doing an, "I am lovable. I am whole. I am unconditionally lovable. I am unconditionally acceptable." Just offering yourself a ton of self-love and compassion and acceptance is also really helpful so that you're walking through that experience of getting the test and waiting to find out about the test with a lot of, again, self-love and acceptance. Also, with a lot of clarity. Then, you can take that, and take what you built there right into the conversation.
Emily: You do that affirmation section right at the beginning of the book?
Author: Do I? Okay.
Emily: Yes. Just telling yourself that you are lovable and you are good.
Dedeker: I love that you also, though, address that if you read those things and your immediate reaction is to scoff or to be like, "I'm not going to say that," examine that, too. That's something to work with. I love that.
Jessica: Definitely. Whenever I have people do a Focus on Positive in one of my classes, even this past week, I'll say, "Okay. Now, everyone smile." I'm like, "I know you don't want to." Then, a bunch of people start laughing.
I'm like, "Do it anyway."
It's funny because the book I wrote, I started working on this book over two years ago. I wrote a draft. Then, a while ago now, I re-wrote another chapter of it added and I re-wrote some of the chapters. I ended up having this extended period.
It's funny. You guys are helping me realize that I need to go back. Even though I re-read it during the final editing, I need to get fresh on some of it because it's a little foggy at times because some of it was so long ago that I wrote it down.
Dedeker: I feel the same way, because in my final editing process again, I read it 60 times. I was like, "I don't want to read this ever again." Sine then, yes, I have clients who are like, "Oh yes, I remember you mentioned this in your book." I was like, "Heck yes, I did."
"I totally remember that part."
Emily: Even when we do an episode, it's like, "I don't remember what I said -- "
Dedeker: Oh, God no. We record an episode and a week later, I'm like, "I don't know what we talked about."
Emily: No idea what it was on, even.
Emily: I want to bring us, specifically, to the topic of non-monogamy which you do address. I'm always nervous about making it, non-monogamy or polyamory, sound like, "Oh, this is the more enlightened way to be" because that can be just as toxic and destructive and straight-up incorrect, also, in my opinion. I always try to avoid giving that impression. However, in your book, there was this great phrase that you use. You called exploring non-monogamy as "an extraordinary path to awakening for spiritual daredevils." [laughs] Can you just explain that a little bit about what you mean by that?
Jessica: Sure, I've really never been the monogamous type but I've tried to be. I think if I was younger, [laughs] I'd probably would have embraced non-monogamy sooner. I didn't really embrace that as a kid, as a teenager, because I didn't really know it was an option. Instead, I just slept with a lot of people and I cheated a lot. I didn't know that, actually, I could date more than one person at a time and it could be honest and it could be all up-front. I was always wired that way.
Then, when I consciously decided, I had been in some open relationships that were, but when I consciously decided to practice non-monogamy, I knew that what I would be facing would be a lot of jealousy. I knew that jealousy wasn't about my partner having sex with someone else. I knew, for me, that it was about abandonment. I didn't get angry and hysterical with jealousy because my partner was sleeping with someone else. I got insanely angry and freaked out because I felt like I was being left alone and I was a little kid. There were a lot of different ways that I experienced abandonment as a child. That was all deeply tied in with my jealousy stuff.
I knew that when I embarked on this journey, in a conscious awake way that I was going to come in contact with that. The spiritual daredevil said, "Hell, yes."
Because I know that if I go into territory where I'm uncomfortable, where there's unconscious stuff that hasn't been worked out that I'm going to grow. I'm a lot gentler on myself nowadays than I used to be. In the past, I'd be like, "All right. Let's go. This is uncomfortable. Let's do it." It really was. I think I talk about it in the book, I went on a several week just crazy-town ride, where I was just in and out of lucidity around the jealousy. "It's you, it's you, it's you." Then, I'd be like, "No, it's my stuff. Oh, yes, it's me." Then, "It's you, it's you." Then, back, "Oh, no."
Doing that, going into the fire like that, is not something that everybody can tolerate and it's not something I necessarily think everyone should do. For me, it was a path to some really big healing and really big awakening. It really changed the way that I am in relationship, monogamy or non-monogamy. I've been in and out of non-monogamy since then. I just have a really different way of operating. That was huge for me. I think, also, even just the topic and people beginning to be willing to even talk about it or broach the subject of, "Hey, I'm attracted to this other person." It does so much in a relationship. It just expands the intimacy if both people are capable of holding that.
Jase: I just wanted to bring up quickly because it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately is that balance between being willing to be a little bit uncomfortable in your life because that's how you grow and that's how you expand but also, not feeling like you have to be so uncomfortable all the time that you're miserable. It's finding that balance. If you’re always focused on being comfortable, you’re never going to grow and you’re going to stagnate and end up frustrated. If you’re always pushing yourself, you’re just going to be constantly freaking out.
Jase: Yes, finding that shall I say the middle path.
Dedeker: I already dropped the middle path. You can’t copy me.
Jase: Yes, it’s that. I love that.
Dedeker: Well, you used this term in your book that I actually hadn’t come across before. It’s spiritual bypassing.
Jessica: No problem.
Dedeker: It’s so interesting, because it is the opposite extreme where maybe you’re in a relationship and you just feel you’re so connected to yourself and you’re so conscious and you’re so mindful that you can float above the ground and nothing will bother you that there doesn’t have to be any conflict.
I’ve definitely seen people do this who’re exploring some new uncomfortable territories especially non-monogamy or this feeling like, “If I can just take the high road at all times, then everything would be perfect.” I say that because I did it in an entire relationship for many years. Anytime something goes uncomfortable I would be like, “I’m just going to go home and meditate for an hour." Then, I would feel better. I think that was the problem. It’s I would feel so much better afterwards.
Dedeker: There was a lot of feeling, a lot of growth there in that process. It also meant that things that were actual for instance, boundary violations or not healthy communication, those things slipped under the radar because I felt again I can just spiritually bypass all of this. It is such an interesting, tricky, balance to strike and to be aware of.
Jessica: Definitely, yes. I’m a big bypasser I know.
I do work hard. It’s just staying grounded with everything because I’ve certainly been called spock before.
I work, I definitely, one of my goals or one of my aims is, “How can I be more human?”
Jase: That’s a great way to put that, yes.
Dedeker: I like that a lot.
Emily: It is so enlightened, Jessica.
Dedeker: It’s so perfect.
Jase: It’s like you were saying before that it is a process that’s going on and it will probably go on for all of your life. One of my favorite things was just to remember words for meditation. It’s called a meditation practice and not a meditation accomplishment.
Dedeker: Accomplishment, yes.
Jessica: The same goes for any, I don’t really generally use the word enlightenment. The same goes for enlightenment. The same goes for any awakening. It is. You practice.
Jase: Yes, it’s not--
Jessica: It’s not just to say you can't, you can be struck in a moment with a peak state that shows you for example that everything is one or shows you the emptiness of everything or shows you the bliss and the love or shows you that there is no self. I know it can be these really sometimes flashy experiences and peak experiences and meditation. Those are just experiences. Then there’s the practice of integrating what you’ve seen, what insights have been uncovered into your life. That’s the practice.
You see people somewhat uneven because they only practice in one realm. Maybe they practice a lot in spirituality but they don’t see that going into their sex life or they don’t see that going into their money or whatever it is. It’s a constant practice. I think of awakening in that way. I don’t think that there’s the big awakening and then you’re done. Then you never really have to do any because that my experience hasn’t been the experience of anybody I talk to.
Dedeker: Right, wow. Well, I could talk about this for many more hours. We can only go on for so long. Thank you so much for answering all of our questions. Can you let our listeners know where they can find more of you, more of your work, more of your writing?
Jase: Where they can preorder this book?
Jessica: Yes. Okay, the book is called Good Sex: Getting Off Without Checking Out. It’s from North Atlantic Books and it’s distributed through Penguin-Random House. You can get it on the North Atlantic site, on the Penguin Random House site, also on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I think it’s going to be at Target and places like that.
Jase: They can preorder, right?
Jessica: They can preorder, yes. Those are that. Then you can find me, my new site it's going to be fully live soon. It’s yourwildawakening.com, your wild awakening. You can sign up for my mailing list. You can also pre-order my book through there. It will take you to the page. I'm on Instagram, it’s @jessicaclarkgraham. You can find me on all the social media platforms.
Jase: I will link this in our show notes, you can check those out to find more about Jessica. Thank you so much. Your book comes out on November 7th.
Jessica: That’s correct.
Jase: If you’re listening to this--
Emily: A week from today.
Jase: -Yes. If you’re listening to this, in fact, you can already get it. Go get it.
Jessica: [laughs] Thank you. Thanks for having me guys.
Emily: Thank you so much.
Dedeker: Thank you.