Chinese medicine has a long tradition, going back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220AD), of seeing sex as a spiritual practice and encouraging functional sexuality as a form of healing. This was known as HeQi which literally means “joining energy” and refers to the way, in a good sexual relationship, both partners contribute energy to each other. By doing this the Taoists believed that it was possible to use sex to increase lifespan. Interestingly modern research agrees with this. Scientists say that regular intercourse can cut the chance of a heart attack or stroke by 50%, significantly reduce the risk of prostate cancer, and give your immune system a boost. So both the ancient Taoists and modern experts agree that staying sexually active can increase both the length and quality of your life.
Yin and Yang
Chinese philosophy teaches that everything is made up of yin and yang in dynamic balance. Our bodies depend on yin for nourishment and substance and yang for energy and movement. Yin energy is what connects us to the earth whilst yang energy connects us to heaven. Sex is seen as a way of uniting yin and yang and thus connecting heaven and earth. During lovemaking a man gains yin energy by pleasing a woman and this yin energy is said to replenish his life force. Many people are surprised to see so much emphasis on female sexual pleasure in the old books on this subject. The reason is that men were thought to lose yin energy by ejaculating but gain it by experiencing their partner’s orgasm so it made sense to help her have as many orgasms as possible. When I explain this to my female patients they usually see it as a profoundly sensible piece of ancient wisdom.
This energetic exchange was seen to be a form of healing; sex is seen as vital and energizing and the Taoist sages developed detailed sexual positions to heal specific maladies. The emphasis is on touch as a way of healing body, mind, and spirit.
This joining of yin and yang was thought to have a spiritual dimension. By focusing on the dynamic balance of yin and yang, heaven and earth, passion, and intimacy- lovers were said to be able to transcend the self and experience connection to their partner, creation, and spirit.
So how does all this Taoist wisdom translate into advice for modern people coming seeking our help at the Yinova Center? Here is what we tell our patients: –
- Cultivate your own sexual energy. Take time to breathe into your pelvic area filing your lower abdomen with qi down to your pelvic floor.
- See sex as an energetic exchange with your partner. Sometimes this is lively and sometimes it is peaceful. Take the pressure to perform off yourself by seeing sex as one more way you and your loved one connect.
- Pursue the kind of holistic health practices that bring balance to your body such as acupuncture, massage, and meditation.
- Have sex. Make time to connect with your partner in this way. It’s good for your relationship, it’s good for your health, and if the Taoists are to be believed it’s good for your spirit.