As always when I run my Sacred Sexuality course, I was blown away by the vulnerability and honesty on the forum on this last round. Where else do we share our deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings around sexuality, the ones we think we’re the only ones having, the ones that cause shame to fester in the dark, damp corners of psyche because they never expose themselves to the healing light of normalization that occurs when we share with others? There are many problems with the Internet, but one of the gifts – especially on private, secure, moderated forums – is that it offers a safe arena where people can begin to tell their stories. And there are few areas of story that need to be told more than around sexuality.

When I read the following post, I felt enlivened and enlightened by the vulnerability. The course member shared her deepest thoughts and her brilliant revelations, and while I know that these are archetypal, universal experiences because I’m privy daily to the inner world of cross-cultural psyches, the response from other members confirmed my knowing.

Whatever you’re thinking, feeling, or experiencing around your sexuality, you are not alone.

Whatever fears or insecurities you struggle with in this most sacred yet traumatized area, you are not alone.

Whether you struggle alone or in a partnership, you are not alone.

Let’s wade into these waters together, guided by the wise words of this course member. (Shared with very grateful permission.)

A New Definition of Desire
“I’m a bit late to this thread but as all of these ideas have been slowly percolating in me over the past few weeks, I was thinking about the idea of “desire”, or the myth of desire, or I guess what I’ve long absorbed from the culture of what desire should look and feel like. This is such a deeply engrained “should” that it’s hard to even dismantle it the tiniest bit, but I think that all of this information and work in the course allowed a tiny crack for me to see it in a slightly different way, and also see how I then use this to make myself feel bad, abnormal, not enough, cut off from myself and my partner.

“As portrayed in the culture/media, I’ve absorbed this idea that desire means a lustful, overwhelming urge to grab and take what you want. The kind of ripping-clothes-off hot sex that happens naturally and instantaneously. Well, I’ve never really felt that. And I’ve spend A LOT of time banging my head against the wall, feeling ashamed and like there must be something wrong with me if I can’t access that, which feeds right into my fears of being an imposter/a fraud, that I’m not really feeling what I should be feeling – which then REALLY feeds my gay spike.

“I have a story in my mind that if I accepted my true sexuality then I would feel the kind of desire I’ve been missing (since I do feel lust with same-sex fantasy, though I’ve never really experienced or wanted to experience it in real life). And then the next part of the story is that I’m afraid to let myself feel good, feel turned on, feel out of control, which is certainly true, but it’s also true that my anxiety doesn’t allow me to experience those things in the present moment, which is another way of keeping them out of reach.

“That is all a long-winded way to get to my new thought about desire. What if it is NOT what I imagine – something that is maybe only truly accessible in fantasy(?) – and instead, healthy/real sexual desire is more akin to how I feel and express desire in other parts of my life. I feel desire to write and create, which I’ve learned to honor more and more, leading me to pursue a career as a writer. I feel desire to tell stories that are deep and heartening. I feel desire to connect with and care for others. I feel desire to be out in nature, among trees and water. I feel desire to eat delicious foods. I feel desire to hike and do yoga. I feel desire to stay openhearted and to love, which can be challenging for me, but I’ve been learning more and more how to work with my periods of shutdown/closed-heartedness.

“I guess what I’m trying to express here is that these are all genuine, healthy desires I have that come from a soulful, body-based place in me. They are not overwhelming or lustful, they are not me grabbing and taking what I want. They are sweet and loving expressions of connection with myself, with a divine source, with others. They are give and take, reciprocity, flow. Could it follow then that true sexual desire may follow a similar roadmap? That it may be less intense/overpowering/automatic than I imagine it is for people who are “doing it right” or are “in touch with their true sexuality”, and more of a human and humble attempt for connection and for love?

“Desire has long been a spiky word for me. When it comes up, I immediately think to myself that I have no desire, that I don’t know what I desire, that I’m afraid to find out what I desire. Which in effect completely cuts off desire. Shutdown accomplished. Instead, I want to honor the longing that is there when I reach for my partner’s touch, when I feel held by his arms, when I feel calm and connected to his essence.

“Maybe a better definition for desire could be a “longing for life, connection and belonging.” Or an expression towards those things. Not this disembodied hypersexual myth that I’ve been treating as truth for far too long.”


There you have it. Are you smiling as big as I am? This is about as brave, juicy, alive, and real as it gets, and it speaks directly to the content that I cover in the course. This is the work. This is what unfolds and reveals itself when you begin to shine light on the long-hidden topic of sexuality. If you’d like to gather with the next group of passionate and brave learners as we gently wade together into the pools of sexuality and explode the myths, expectations, and “shoulds” that keep you stuck in an outdated paradigm of sexuality, please join my next round of Sacred Sexuality: A 40-day course to heal body shame and ignite desire. The course begins on Saturday, January 12, 2019, and I very much look forward to meeting you there.

Author's Bio: 

Sheryl Paul, M.A., has counseled thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, her bestselling books, her e-courses and her website. She has appeared several times on "The Oprah Winfrey Show", as well as on "Good Morning America" and other top media shows and publications around the globe. To sign up for her free 78-page eBook, "Conscious Transitions: The 7 Most Common (and Traumatic) Life Changes", visit her website at And if you're suffering from relationship anxiety – whether single, dating, engaged, or married – give yourself the gift of her popular eCourse