Our fast-paced, microwaveable ass society often pushes us to our limits, forcing us to grind day in and day out to make a living and hopefully afford some of life's luxuries. It's common for many of us to juggle multiple jobs just to make ends meet while attempting to maintain balance within other areas of our lives, including our relationships, hobbies, school and oh yeah—me time (which often gets pushed to the back-burner up until we reach a point of exhaustion, forcing us to replenish ourselves).
It's that reason alone that we need to be more proactive than reactive when it comes to our energy. Most of you are probably familiar with the oh-so-popular buzzword, chakras. If this word is new to you, here's a quick crash course about chakras. In Eastern medicine, it is believed that the human body is comprised of energy centers that help regulate all of its processes, ranging from the way we digest food, how we process emotion, and even how we connect with God. There are seven main chakras, which include the root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, third eye, and crown chakras. Each chakra has its own unique vibrational frequency that is associated with a specific position on the body, color and functions.
So how do you know if your chakras need to be attuned?
Well, this imbalance of your energy can show up in different ways. The most common symptom of blocked chakras is extreme fatigue and a general sense of sluggishness. Other symptoms can include persistent financial issues, low self-esteem, hella toxic relationships, chronic anxiety, a lack of direction in life, and a whole bunch of other detrimental side effects that make your life way more difficult than it needs to be.
As the sensual creature that I am, I love to indulge in my senses—specifically smell because I know how quickly a scent can change my mood. Since I was a little girl, my parents were big on burning incense, especially on Saturday morning cleaning days. My love of incense eventually carried over into candles and essential oils as well. It has even been scientifically proven that fragrance can be used to "enhance health and promote feelings of well-being." (Yale Scientific Magazine)
Check out more information below on how to balance the seven main chakras using aromatherapy.
Mandala Soul Designs
The root chakra, also known as Muladhara, is located at the base of the spine and is one of the most important energy centers due to it being the foundation of your chakra system. It is physically correlated with the legs, feet, colon, and the adrenal glands. This particular chakra is associated with our sense of security and stability within the world. It represents your basic needs for survival (food, water, shelter) and it represents your physical body and experience. Think of it as your more primal nature.
When your root chakra is out of balance, you can experience feelings of fear, anxiety, and greed. Most of humanity is stuck operating from an imbalanced root chakra due to financial strain and feeling the need to compete for resources.
It's important to practice grounding techniques, such as earthing, to attune this particular chakra. Patchouli is a musky-earthy aroma that is used to calm anxiety, alleviate fatigue, and help you stay grounded when it comes to pursuing your goals. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way and adding just a few drops to your favorite carrier oil for a foot rub can be just what you need to gain a sense of safety within your body and the world.
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The sacral chakra, also known as Svadhishthana, is located a few inches below the navel and is associated with the emotions, creativity, and sensuality. Physiologically, this chakra is associated with the reproductive system. It represents the element of water and is known as a more feminine energy center. The way that we relate to others is dictated by how balanced the sacral chakra. Symptoms of an imbalanced sacral chakra include codependent relationships with people or substances, being overly emotional or completely numb to your feelings, overindulging in sexual fantasy, and even lacking a sex drive altogether.
This sacral chakra is associated with how we experience pleasure. For many people, there is a lot of shame surrounding sexual desire and even just enjoyment. If you have a hard time letting loose, you may need to bring this chakra back into balance. Ylang Ylang is a dense, sweet, floral scent known to be an aphrodisiac and is popularly used in many perfumes. This essential oil, paired with a carrier oil, can be used for womb massages to get the energy in your sacral chakra flowing properly. It can also be used to get you and bae in the mood for some sexual healing.
SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA
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The solar plexus chakra, also known as Manipura, is located in the upper part of your stomach where your diaphragm rests. This chakra is associated with digestive system and metabolism. Its element is fire and it is often associated with the Sun. The Solar Plexus governs your will power, confidence, and independence. Imbalances in this chakra can result in a misuse of your personal power through manipulative or abusive tactics (on the opposite end of the spectrum, this can manifest as a sense of helplessness and irresponsibility), a lack of clear direction and purpose in your life, and making a shit ton of plans that you can't seem to practically follow through on.
When this chakra is balanced, we are typically capable of achieving our goals more easily because we feel capable of doing so. Self-esteem is associated with the solar plexus and without it, none of your dreams will be actualized. If you find it difficult really going after what you want in life because the voice in your head is constantly trying to bring you down to size, you could benefit from balancing this chakra. Bergamot, a citrus fragrance, can be used to revitalize your energy and boost your spirit. I personally like burning this in oil in a diffuser or making a homemade spray that I can use whenever I need a pick-me-up.
Mandala Soul Designs
The heart chakra, also known as Anahata, is located in the middle of the chest. Physiologically, this chakra governs the lungs and cardiac system. The primary functions the heart chakra serve are compassion, forgiveness, and love for self and others. When this particular chakra is healthy, we have an easy time receiving and giving love to others. This serves as your sense of connection to the people in your life. However, when the heart chakra is out of balance, you may have a tendency to hold onto grudges, feel extremely jealous, and even completely withdraw yourself into isolation due to fear of being hurt or seen in a more vulnerable space.
This particular chakra is important as it serves as the link between the lower and upper chakras, helping us to integrate the spiritual and physical experiences more effortlessly. If you find yourself living in one dimension more than the other, this can signify an imbalance in the heart chakra. As you begin to balance this energy center, you'll feel more meaningful relationships due to your ability to look beyond your ego. When we are living from the heart, we transcend the limitations of our identity and recognize the common thread between all of humanity. This ultimately increases your capacity to love unconditionally. Rose oil is one of the most common scents used as the fragrant flower is often associated with purity and love. Put a few drops of rose or jasmine oil in your bath for the perfect self-love ritual. If you're feeling witchy, try doing this on a Friday (the day of the week associated with Venus—planet of love).
Mandala Soul Designs
The throat chakra, also known as Vishuddha, is located at the base of the throat. It is related to the element of sound, driving our communication and personal expression. This particular chakra is associated with the mouth, jaw, and thyroid and it's also linked to the shoulders and neck. Characteristics of the throat chakra include the propensity to express your truth, your ability to bring forth creative ideas to reality, and realizing your purpose in life. Both the throat and sacral chakras are naturally connected as the sacral houses the emotions and creativity, while the throat chakra actually gets it out there.
When this chakra is out of balance, it can manifest as dishonesty, shyness, and a lack of connection to your purpose. On the opposite end of the spectrum, this imbalance can result in an inability to listen to others due to excessive talking and not being able to hold water, as my grandmother would say. Peppermint oil can be used to stimulate this chakra while lavender can be used to calm it. Try making your own anointing oil by setting some intentions for how you would like to communicate. Whenever you have an important conversation, meeting, or interview, dab a little bit of your oil on your throat to help you express yourself clearly and gracefully.
THIRD EYE CHAKRA
Mandala Soul Designs
The third eye chakra, also known as Ajna, is located on the forehead between the eyebrows. It is commonly associated with intuition and foresight, governing the way that we perceive the world. This is probably one of the most well-known chakras, given its notoriety within various spiritual communities and conspiracy theorists alike. Physiologically, it governs the pineal gland which regulates our biorhythms, including both sleeping and waking times. This particular chakra is a key player in activating spiritual awareness and, in some cases, clairvoyance.
When in balance, this chakra helps us perceive the world beyond the veil, granting us access to deep wisdom and insight. It is often the guiding light when things don't make much sense in the physical world and it can serve as a powerful tool during times of transition or the unknown. When your third eye is out of balance, you may feel stuck in the mundane day-to-day activities of life with little to no capability of seeing the bigger picture. There may also be a lack of clarity and inability to tap into the vision for your life. You may also have a tendency to reject any and everything spiritual. When this chakra is overactive, you may fall into the trap of fantasies that easily classify as delusions. It's important that your lower chakras, particularly your root chakra, is stable as you attempt to open yourself up more psychically. Frankincense, commonly referenced in the Bible, is a woody aroma that can be used to activate your third eye chakra. You can either burn some incense or meditate with a chakra candle to help you develop your inner guidance.
Mandala Soul Designs
The crown chakra, also known as Sahasrara, is located at the top of your head. It governs your connection to higher states of consciousness radiating outwards into the ethers to receive insight from God/Spirit/the Universe. This chakra is associated with the hypothalamus and pituitary glands which regulate the endocrine system. Due to its placement, the crown chakra is associated with the brain and nervous system as well.
When in balance, we can experience the blissful ecstasy that is felt when we're essentially at one with God and all that is.
When the crown chakra is out of balance, it can manifest as being disconnected from Spirit and overly critical of anything not rooted in the material plane. On the other hand, an overactive crown chakra can result in being way too in your head and not grounded in reality. There could even be a bit of an obsession with spiritual matters, causing extreme disinterest in your day-to-day routines. Cedarwood is a rich, woody aroma that the ancient Egyptians used in their spiritual practices as it helps keep you grounded as you activate higher states of consciousness.
Featured image by Shutterstock
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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Featured image by Giphy