Erotic Hygiene: Because Our Bodies Were Made for an Erotic Life
Art Photography Katerina Plotnikova
The erotic life, don’t we want it? Alluring, yes, the word ‘erotic’ itself, only uttered, commands attention, stirs a longing. But how does living a life become erotic? Is the erotic life in finding more to read about ‘true eros’, learning more about how to think of the erotic, to have an up-to-date opinion about it? Is the truly erotic to be found in ever braver explorations in the bedroom?
You are right: It is not that, although you and I both may feel tempted to search for eros in books and lectures, and under the sheets. What then? Is eros in the carving-out of pockets of time when we get to feel spaciously sensuous? When we get to meditate on our senses or do a ‘sensuality practice’? Better yet, isn’t the erotic life to be waited for, on a warm day in the spring, with delicate weather and just enough breeze to tickle our skin while the new jasmine dazzles us to our core? Isn’t eros in those rare moments when we get to meet the world with the whole body, to glimpse and cherish our sensuous merging with it all, our unmistakable aliveness?
Yes, those coveted glimpses of the erotic are deep and real–– and what’s not to love about eros finding its way into me, into you? After all, eros has been my word for god for a long time, and such visitations cannot be undervalued!
But then again my shoulders, or yours, hurt from leaning toward the computer for too many hours, and then again your body moves mechanically in the kitchen and something deep and tender is lost while you, or I, stuff down a sandwich while scrolling down the “news” feed of Whatever. When the erotic is not woven into our next “ordinary” moment but is put instead on the shelf until the next time we “practice” or the next chance encounter–– this is what I’ve come to think of as poor erotic hygiene. What I am saying is that unless the erotic, as best as you and I know it on the interior of our bodies, becomes a measure for how well we live every inch of our life–– unless the erotic becomes the pivot around which our being centers again and again, unless it infuses the way we work, eat, gesture, move our bodies through space and turn toward to meet those we encounter, unless our voices spill toward someone in deep notes that have the power to caress from a distance–– unless the erotic is lived as the fabric of our moments, our lives are not erotic, and, oh, what a loss!
The erotic is of the body, and in a world where flat screens are the way we reach for connection and knowledge, and Productivity is the silent ruler, erotic hygiene becomes truly essential: The discipline, the powerful boundaries, the warrior commitment that it takes to clear out the robotic and the habitual in our life structures, to heal from the busyness fever, to tame our constant reaching for the next distraction, the next blurb, message, or Instagram photo that feed our attention but do not nourish the soul of the body, nor its erotic capacity to center us on aliveness, on being!
Erotic hygiene is to create and to keep good erotic habits: To walk in the world with an open, sensitive body and a heart that is tuned to this openness. To take pleasure in all things, yet to not suffocate the body’s aliveness with overindulgence in the pleasures we find. Erotic hygiene begins with the making of space–– deep, slow, bodyfull space from where we can turn to life in each moment again like we would to a lover. Life is erotic, sensuous, deep-bodied, tender, excruciating, and our bodies are its match made in heaven. Our bodies are designed for this––to meet life as a lover, to savor pleasure and ache, to speak in a voice that trembles with the vulnerability of living as human, to reach for skin to skin love that isn’t restricted to the sexual touch. The body is made to open deeply and greatly to the world it belongs to, to be ravished by a simple birdsong, or by the way a stranger’s silhouette moves against sunlight. The body is made– cell, pore, and tissue!–– to participate, to be part of the moving symphony of earthly moments, to risk its own death for a dance with life!
Our bodies have already agreed to death, from the get-go, all for this––a chance to live unquestionably, erotically.
HERE ARE SOME OF MY EROTIC HYGIENE PRINCIPLES IN PRACTICE (And no, I don’t always…)
Slow down. Way down. Earth time has nothing to do with clock time.
Practice real solitude, in which you are alone yet together with the animate life that surrounds you, without distractions.
Let yourself go to true, deep rest, the zero point of the body.
Take an honest account of what addictions and habits keep you from the erotic life: Screen time? Chair time? Social media endless buzz? A social life that keeps you spinning? Develop more erotic habits, slowly and with persistence. Be an erotic warrior about this! The erotic thrives in rest, play, sensuality, art-making, forest and ocean visits, full-body adventures, vulnerable and honest relationships and connections.
Share your feelings and thoughts with those around you, honest to the bone. Risk yourself. Let your voice tremble. Exposing your vulnerability and need for others is truly, deeply erotic.
Put your heart on the line. That's what hearts are for. A broken heart is deeply erotic. Armor is not. Raw emotion is eros moving. Shared emotion is eros met.
Put your heart and your sex in the same place. Unless they go together, the erotic is absent. Nuff said.
Feel the body, honor its life, its requests. If your body is tired, restless, achy, stop! Pause. What do you, as body, need? Honor the request.
Respect the seasons of the body, as you feel them. Go with the body’s season.
Empty your cup so it can be filled in a good way again: Make space to become empty of thoughts, plans, projects. Curl up close to the earth. Dream. Listen. Imagine. Long. Draw. Hum. Stretch. Paint. Craft. Make love slowly.
Create a sensuous space to be in: candles, incense, dimmed lights, a fragrant bath. Indulge.
As you go through your day, notice what makes you purr, like a cat. Purr! Purrrrrrrrrr.
Will you add here your principles and measures of erotic hygiene? Please let me know in the comments!