Episode 35: SEX, DEATH & TRANSFORMATION with Jonia Mariechild
SEX, DEATH & TRANSFORMATION with Jonia Mariechild MA in Counseling, Non-Violent Communication Educator, Certified NLP Practitioner, Trauma & Recovery Consultant. Teacher of NVC to Iraqi war veterans and their families.
In this episode Jonia shares the connection between the Little Death of Orgasm, her own near death experiences, and living an ecstatic life. Learn how to embrace the changes, endings, transitions, and deaths in relationship, and life, with celebration. Discover the power of integrating traumatic experiences to create transformation and soulful meaning. Reclaim the importance of creativity, and the courage to embrace emotions as a pathway to celebrate loss and expand intimacy.
This program is intended for mature audiences only.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome to Sex, Tantra, and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex. I'm your host, Francesca Gentille, and with me today is Jonia Mariechild.
Jonia Mariechild: When we have unintegrated trauma experiences, we tend to have ourselves as a blueprint or map and then we go on to say and do things that aren't integrated.
Jonia Mariechild: Working with strategies to meet the need to grieve with celebration. We grieve because we really appreciate who that person was and what we had shared with that person and the preciousness that that life brought us.
Jonia Mariechild: Singing songs that we loved to sing or singing favorite songs of his or singing favorite songs of mine. Dancing, writing, painting; all the ways to also meet my need for creativity in response to the grief.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome to Sex, Tantra, and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex. I'm your host, Francesca Gentille, and with me today is Jonia Mariechild. Sometimes Jonia Mariechild. Who has an MA in Counseling, is grateful to be alive, who teaches nonviolent communication to Iraqi war veterans and their families, teaches to people who have killed someone. Who lives on Maui, who specializes in trauma, recovery, as a consultant for trauma recovery. Who focuses on transformation and who's also a certified neurolinguistic programmer. Welcome Jonia.
Jonia Mariechild: Thank you so much Francesca.
Francesca Gentille: I am so delighted to have you here with me today. I wanted to let our listening audiences know that Jonia is just someone who is very, very precious to my heart. My mother has died recently and it's been a delight to be preparing for the show with her and to receive her care, her empathy, just lovely. I'm sure that she's going to bring that to us as well. Because of the death in my own life and some of the things that Jonia's gone through, near-death experiences, working with people in trauma, working in deepening sexuality and conscious sexuality and sexual trauma for people. Today we are going to be talking about that place of life and death and sexuality and transformation and how do we bring our consciousness to that next level in our relationships and create newness, new life, new learning, out of some of the worst times in our relationship and our life.
Francesca Gentille: Jonia, you have a particular definition for the word transformation as you use it and how you bring it to these kinds of traumas, these kinds of deaths and rebirths that we have. What is that?
Jonia Mariechild: That's such a wonderful question and it raises my awareness to have a definition. What I think about when I think about transformation - I don't necessarily have such a clear definition and I'd love to go online and look it up.
Jonia Mariechild: What is the definition online of transformation? What it is for me is coming through these sexual trauma experiences, near-death experiences, death experiences of close beloveds: coming through these experiences. Transformation for me is when I'm able to integrate my body, my mind and my spirit, all together and really make meaning that's truly meaningful. That's transformation.
Francesca Gentille: I'm imagining that, let's say me, with the death of my mother, or someone else who's noticing that either the death of the relationship or sometimes if we are lucky enough to stay with someone for many years, or our life, the relationships go through many deaths and rebirths. Every time we have a child, the relationship changes, like one form dies. So can you give me an example of what a dis-integrated way of working with change and trauma is, and what is that kind of vision. Where do I want go toward - what does integration look like?
Jonia Mariechild: Yes. OK, so what I'm hearing your question is is a curiousity of when it's not integrated, if there's an example of that.
Francesca Gentille: Um-hm.
Jonia Mariechild: I would say an example of an unintegrated trauma experience would be for example somebody who experienced sexual trauma, a sexually traumatic event, who then goes on to repeat that trauma in their life in some way. Let's say they go on to repeat that behavior to someone else.
Francesca Gentille: Um-hm.
Jonia Mariechild: That's unintegrated.
Francesca Gentille: Or if we notice, why do I always end up with people who treat me so badly, and it just goes on over and over again. And sometimes we can find ourselves saying, 'I can't believe I did that,' or I can't believe that I said that.' 'I end up with people who bring out the worst in me but I'm not really like that.'
Jonia Mariechild: Yes. There's a wonderful book called 'Waking the Tiger' by Peter Levine about trauma recovery. What he calls these experiences of, why did we say that, or what are we doing doing this over and over again, his words are that it's a blueprint for repetition. That when we have unintegrated trauma experiences we tend to have ourselves as a blueprint or a map, where we then go on and say and do things that aren't integrated. One of the things that I like to hold as the gift in these experiences of 'Why did I go and say that,' or 'Why did I do that again where I'm in a relationship where I'm with the same kind of person that's doing the same thing again.' [laughter] What I like to hold, is I like to hold these unintegrated experiences also as a gift to help us see that we're attempting to integrate; we're attempting to become conscious about the aftereffects of what we've experienced and how we can not only transcend but transform.
Francesca Gentille: So this situation, this type of person comes back again and again because I'm really wanting to learn. I'm really wanting to figure out that new way where transformation takes place. I love how you're talking about the gift. This is very different, Jonia. A way of looking at, challenging the things in our life, saying 'What's the gift in this?' Could you give me an example of that in your life, where something happened, and it was hard, it was challenging, and then you were able to shift it because of that simple question?
Jonia Mariechild: Yes, oh yes. A couple of years ago I had a lover who - we were deeply in love. However, he was having a difficult time being honest in his sexual expression in our relationship, and I heard from a third party that he hadn't been being honest with me. When I approached him with, of course sadness and hurt and anger and also so much love that I had in my heart for him, he was able to be somewhat honest. I kept asking myself, 'I prayed to receive this experience as a gift.' Throughout the transition that we went through I kept saying to myself, 'I pray to receive this experience as a gift.' In that process I could really see the gift that I was holding, that honesty was a really important value that I had. It was also a really important value that he had, but he was having a hard time meeting his need for honesty. It came to the point where we decided to no longer be lovers, to preserve the friendship and the love that we had and to transition into being friends. And then two days later he decided to end his life. This was extraordinarily painful for me. I hold this deep commitment to recieving life as a gift, and I was having a very hard time finding the gift in that experience.
Francesca Gentille: Oh my god. I want to talk more, but that's a huge one - when someone - here we are, breaking up with someone, they've been lying about their sexuality, the relationship which we thought was monogamous. And then they're dead. Wow. I want to talk more about the practices that you used and how we can use them to transform trauma into learning, into a gift. After we come back from a word with our really wonderful, hand-selected, beautiful sponsors. And we'll talk more about transforming trauma into teaching.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to Sex, Tantra, and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex. With Jonia Mariechild who has an MA in Counseling, who's an NVC educator; certified in neurolinguistic programming, who counsels and teaches people who've experienced trauma. It really helps them recover and transform their lives after these amazing experiences. We were just talking about that - a trauma, a potential trauma or tragedy in your own life - you're in love, it's not working, there are some lies going on, you break up, and your partner dies. They possibly took their own life. How do you turn that from - most of us would beat ourselves up - how do you come out of that into the gift, into the teaching?
Jonia Mariechild: Um-Hm. Yes. In a sense it's working with the strategies to meet the need to grieve. To meet the need to grieve with celebration.
Francesca Gentille: Hm.
Jonia Mariechild: The week after he had passed -
Francesca Gentille: I think I might stop you for one second. How do you grieve with celebration?
Jonia Mariechild: Thank you! [laughter]
Francesca Gentille: I don't think our culture can even grieve, period, let alone grieve with celebration. We're not talking about an Irish Wake, are we?
Jonia Mariechild: Well, the Irish had it going on when it came to -
Jonia Mariechild: The party atmosphere. There's a way in which the celebration really honors what was. There's a way in which meeting the need to celebrate the grief -
Francesca Gentille: So, don't erase it, don't try to fight it. Really accept it as a - in a sense I'm grieving so much for this person because I love them so much, because of my own capacity to love and have passion. If someone died and I was like, 'Oh well,' then that would give me something to grieve about and not celebrate, because I would lack connection? Is that what you're referring to?
Jonia Mariechild: Yes, yes. I'm also referring to that we grieve because we really appreciate who that person was and what we've shared with that person and the preciousness that that life brought us.
Francesca Gentille: So really honoring, breathing in the memories of how special that person was; what they meant to us, what they gave to us, and celebrating that we had such an experience. Some people never had that, and we did.
Jonia Mariechild: Yes, it's true. It's true also in relationships, like all the mini-deaths that we experience staying alive in a relationship.
Francesca Gentille: What do you mean by mini-death in a relationship?
Jonia Mariechild: Pardon me?
Francesca Gentille: What do you mean by mini-death in a relationship?
Jonia Mariechild: Oh, like for example when you want to make love and your partner doesn't want to. That 'no' can feel like a little death. There's an expression that each orgasm we have is like a little death. How to celebrate the 'no', hearing your partner saying 'No I don't feel like it right now', how to celebrate that grief that comes alive in us, quite naturally of 'Oh, I really want to.' Part of the celebrating is hearing what your partner needs behind that 'no.' So maybe your partner needs rest or maybe your partner needs to grieve. Sometimes in the grieving process there's not much of a sex drive. For some folks there's even more of a sex drive in the grieving process.
Francesca Gentille: So a practice that, if there's a death, and a death can be a rejection - 'No, I don't want to do that', 'No, I don't want to make love to you', a death could be a literal death, a beloved dies, your pet dies, a friend dies, a family member dies; a death could be a very strong change, a job loss, or even having a child in a sense. The old relationship dies so a new relationship as a family can be born. In those deaths, to really breathe in the sense of honoring what is being given, honoring a sense of I heard you say if someone says, 'no' to making love, that it sounds like having compassion for what they're really wanting. They're saying 'no' to making love but there's something else that they're really wanting.
Jonia Mariechild: Yes. Yes.
Francesca Gentille: That's what you were doing when your beloved died, you were looking at that and saying, 'How can I honor what he gave me,' 'How can I have compassion for what is being given to me, even in the grieving,' is that what you were speaking to?
Jonia Mariechild: Yes. It's self-compassion and compassion for the others. Also receiving the gift in the experience came even deeper when I was able to think about strategies to meet my need to celebrate the grief. Strategies like singing songs that we loved to sing or singing favorite songs of his or singing favorite songs of mine. Dancing, writing, painting; all the ways to also meet my need for creativity in response to the grief.
Francesca Gentille: So this is really letting the emotions move and move you, and embracing them. This is really in a sense counterintuitive, or counter to what the culture teaches, which is 'emotions are dangerous, don't go there.'
Jonia Mariechild: Yes, yes, yes. Just keep busy and don't really talk about it. [laughter]
Francesca Gentille: Right. Don't ask people if people are grieving, don't ask them - it could upset them, and if they cry then you failed them. You know we want to keep people happy all the time.
Jonia Mariechild: We get to cry and laugh as easily - I love it that we can laugh as easily as we cry and we can cry as easily as we laugh, Francesca.
Francesca Gentille: Yeah. There's passion in there, there's richness in there. Now we're talking passion, now we're talking amazing lovemaking. When people have that capacity - I haven't seen you make love yet but I can say for myself and I'm guessing for you - that we're like making love on a storm at sea. It's exciting; it could be wild, it could be gentle, there's such richness in it. When we allow this opening up to the emotional life.
Jonia Mariechild: Yes.
Francesca Gentille: It takes a lot of courage, takes a lot of courage. Speaking of courage, that whole, 'the orgasm is the little death', and with you having near-death experiences, how that relates to dying and kind of an opening, a transcendence, a transformation in orgasm and life, in sexuality and death. I want to talk about that more after we come back from a break and a word from our wonderful, delicious sponsors. I want to encourage the listening audience - if you tend to support our sponsors, it is in supporting our sponsors that it allows these fabulous shows to keep coming to you in the world today. We'll be back in a few minutes.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to Sex, Tantra, and Kama Sutra. We're with Jonia Mariechild and we are talking about orgasm and death and the little death and transformation. I am so fascinated to find out how these things relate to you and your experience with near-death experiences. Please, let us know.
Jonia Mariechild: Yes, well when I read the quotes that said orgasm is a mini-death I got so excited because I really am fascinated having had near-death experiences and having death come so close into my life with close beloveds. I was like, oh how is orgasm like a mini-death? How it is, is that it is the space of expansiveness and of total presence. We're not thinking about the laundry when we're orgasming. [laughter]. Or the grocery shopping list. [laughter]
Francesca Gentille: Which I might be thinking about earlier in sex.
Jonia Mariechild: Exactly, it might come into our mind like 'Oh yeah, I need to get that laundry done for tomorrow's workaday.' [laughter] Yes and at the moment of orgasm we're totally present in what I like to call the beloved 'I am' presence. That's another aspect of near-death experience, also; is that there is this presence that is - oh, it's almost ineffable to speak about it. I noticed myself halting in finding words; that it's such an expansive space, multidimensional. It's a place that we are definitely here on earth when we're experiencing the orgasm and there's something else happening energetically. That we're able to access other dimensions - very much like near-death experiences.
Francesca Gentille: Hm. So you're saying there is, in your experience, there is this similarity in orgasm where we have, some of us, at times experienced being larger than ourselves, connected to more than ourselves. Sometimes the brain stops. In near death we're not being led by the brain either - the brain dies when someone dies, the brain waves stop. Then there's this expansion. What becomes possible for us, when we know this? Is it possible when we know this - is it possible to try to have more orgasms, do I need to try to have a near-death experience; is there a way for me to bring this into my day-to-day life? Or my day-to-day sexuality in some way now that I know that this state of being that's possible?
Jonia Mariechild: Yes, yes. We don't have to have a traumatic experience in order to have it. That we can have a joyful experience, by practicing. There's many spiritual practices have the actual practice of practicing dying. It was Joanna Macy's - one of Joanna Macy's books whose work I totally adore; she's done a lot of wonderful work in despair work - it was in one of her books in which she talked about doing this practice of practicing dying; saying, OK, just sitting down and practicing dying, almost like meditation. It's not that we actually die in that moment, though we practice.
Francesca Gentille: When you say that, I want to recognize that if I'm avoiding death - that if I don't want to die and I don't want to think about death, I'm avoiding life.
Jonia Mariechild: Yes.
Francesca Gentille: Something happens when I say, as the Native Americans used to say, how can today be a good day to die? How can I be so ready, so full of life that I'm ready to let it go. The Buddhists say that how we think, how we feel, that place of as we start the integration of the mind, body and spirit that I have at the moment of my death, will be how in a sense how the journey of my death will go, will begin or move forward based on that presence that I have when I die. So in practicing, it sounds sort of odd but in a way when I'm practicing in my mind about dying with peace, dying with compassion, dying with everything harmonized in my life, if I'm practicing that, that's going to spill over into how I live my life.
Jonia Mariechild: Yes! Yes. Oh, I wish you could see my goosebumps.
Francesca Gentille: Me too. And to be just a little bit kinky here, what about if we practiced that in our sexuality. What if I practice that if I touch you I'm thinking, 'What if this is the last time I'll ever touch you?'
Jonia Mariechild: Yes.
Francesca Gentille: What presence, what love, what compassion, what communication would I want to bring to you if this touch was the very last touch? And something will open. I guarantee that - is that something will open on a whole new level. When that life and death, that sex and death, that love and death are brought together as you said - a meditation, which is a consciousness or awareness.
Jonia Mariechild: Yes. Fascinating to think of the world coming together, people, lovers coming together and thinking what if this is the last touch? How would the quality of my touch be different if this were the last time I would be touching you?
Francesca Gentille: As I hear that of course I have tears because there is someone in my life who's not here for me, there to be alive for me to say that anymore. I did make a point from the last time I saw her to just keep telling her that I loved her.
Jonia Mariechild: Um-hm.
Francesca Gentille: I would say that, to our listeners today, is as you move into your life as you're listening to this - to just take that moment to think, if this were the last time with this person, what would I want to tell them? What would I want them to know about how I really feel about them? How would I want to touch them? I want to say to you, Jonia, to thank you so much for joining us today and for having the courage and the strength to hold this conversation, to 'go there.'
Francesca Gentille: I would say to you that you are completely precious and I feel very honored to have you in my life and feel love in connection for you. If I were to never see you again I would always celebrate the gift that you've brought into my life.
Jonia Mariechild: Thank you so much and it's so mutual. I adore you, Francesca. If I were in the studio with you right now I would want to touch your cheek tenderly and with so much gratitude for your being.
Francesca Gentille: Thank you, darling.
Jonia Mariechild: Um-Hm.
Francesca Gentille: I would say to our listening audience on behalf of Jonia and myself, and - I know all of our team - that you are precious. Although we know you not, you are part of our community. You are part of our community of spirit. You touch us, and we touch you. Thank you for listening to us and supporting us. If you were going to be winding out of our show right now and if you ever want more information about Jonia, about the show, to get connected with us, you can do that at www.personallifemedia.com. That's www.personallifemedia.com. Thank you for listening to Sex, Tantra, and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex.