Spirituality and Sexuality (2) taken from Forty Days: The Diary of a Traditional Solitary Sufi Retreatby Micahela Ozelsel

Even from the scientific point of view, various approaches to investigating the connection between spirituality and erotic experience are increasingly being explored.

Arya points out that physiological conenctions with the nasal breathing cycle:

According to the classic Yoga literature, both durign orgasm and in the deepest meditative state of samadhi, both nostril are open. The ecstasy of this kind of meditation is a consequence of the upward-directed implosion ….. of Kindalini ….. which makes  celibacy easier  and more pleasureable than sex (quoted according to Rossi, p. 166).

Further indication of a possible physiological basis for the erotic experiences in trances induced by spiritual practices are  drawn from investigation of altered states of consciousness during sleep. By now there is more and more extensive research literature on the subject of the mind body relationship between the limbic- hypothalamic system, the process of dreaming and sexual activity.

Under certain circumstances the brain’s ACTH-endorphin system appears to be able to cause a shutting-off or shunting off of the higher centers of the brain, so that the organism operates under the control of the evolutionary older mid-brain centers …..This shutting off appears to happen during episode of acute stress, and the shunting off appears to happen during REM sleep (that is the dreaming phase). REM sleep is characterized by sexual arousal (Stewart, quoted by Rossi, P. 254)

The trance states opf clinicla hypnosis are used to gian access to and to modulate the same complex of stress, dreams and sexual functioning. Particularly interesting in this connection is one of Erikson‘s most spectacular cases of psycho-sexual rehabilitation. In the course of hypnotherapy a woman who had been a paraplegic for more than ten years because of injuries to her spinal cord learne dto relocation her orgasmic reaction to her breasts neck and lips. This case is often cited to show what psycho-neuro physiolocial changes are possible with the help of hypnotic trances. It is conceivable that Erikson in this case might have activated physiological mechanism similar to those thare are at the root of the non-genital-centered orgamisc perception of a trances induced by spiritual practice.

Systematic interdisciplinary investigation of these physio psycho- spiritual  phenomena are urgently needed to bring these various interesting but isolated results together into integrated theories or models.



Psychobiological investigation of clinical hypnosis show a correlation of the nasal cycle with brain-hemispheric activity. Wernstz, for instance, demonstrated experimentally that the ultradian rhythms of hemispheric dominance are  related contralaterally with similar changes in the nasal breathing cycle (quoted according to Rossi, Psychobiologie, p. 164).

 M. Erikson and E.Rossi, Hynotherapy,1979


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