“If you look for the light, the light is what you’ll find. And if you think about the light, the light will fill your mind. If you shine on the light, the light comes shining back on you. It’s an old, old story…….. ain’t nothing new.”
Lyrics by Joyce Dancer
I wrote the following blog post nearly 3 months ago yet haven’t had the courage to share it until today. Wondering what was holding me back I sat with it for awhile and realized that it isn’t that I’m afraid to be seen this way – that’s my old story. It’s more that I’m afraid that in sharing my feelings about something that has been this difficult for me, I might being dismissed. I’ve heard many well intentioned women say to me “God if I had your stomach I’d be laughing” or “I don’t know why you’re so hard on yourself – I wish my stomach looked like yours.”
Last weekend’s fall Bodysex retreat began with Patti and I greeting each of the women naked as they arrived, and asking them to undress. Having been a Bodysex participant myself – before becoming a facilitator – I understood very well the look of fear and nervousness on most of their faces. Arms crossed, eyes down and some holding back tears, the women made their way to the circle and sat down.
“Lastnight I had the greatest most vibrant orgasm.I can see clearly the correlation between vulnerability and orgasmic power.” – Anais Nin.
4 years ago I began a journey inwards by seeking out vulnerability. Seeing things that I held back from, feared and felt shame about, I realized how they limited the experiences I was having in my life. Making the decision to walk into the experiences, feelings and self touch that I’d been avoiding was terrifying, but each time I did it I discovered a new part of myself that had been blocked.
This is the story of a little girl shared with me by her mother who attended my first Bodysex workshop. There her mother learned about and identified the parts of her sexual anatomy, began to feel comfortable in her own skin and expressed this newfound comfort with her daughter.
She expressed it by taking better care of her body, not covering up while changing, showing appreciation for parts of her self that she had previously disliked and by sitting down beside her daughter naked. With the little girl watching, her mother identified and named all the parts of her vulva and their different purposes. Her daughter —fascinated by this — looked at her own vulva and did the same alongside her mom. A year later this happened:
This past weekends Bodysex workshop was held at Ancient Spirals Retreat Centre, where images of spirals were represented throughout the building and surrounding land. Spirals come in many different shapes, colours, and textures and to me each curve represents the unknown, anticipation of what is to come, darkness around unseen bends, and light when something new is discovered. It has been said that a person needs to travel deep inside themselves in order to find the place where their sexuality lies. I believe that this weekend’s Bodysex retreat helped each of us women on our journey inwards, to further explore the curves and colours of our own spirals.
A couple of years ago my son began struggling with anxiety over going to school. He became quiet, sad, withdrawn and extremely self conscious. Slowly this anxiety spread into areas of his life that had previously brought him joy – like hockey and parties with friends. To even set one foot onto the hockey rink made him become incapacitated by fear. Feeling overwhelmed and unsure of how to help him, I signed us up for a class that gives children and their parents tools to cope with anxiety. Anxiety I learned is the result of not dealing with, or allowing oneself to experience, certain feelings.
I’m laying in bed in Betty Dodson’s NYC apartment, drinking tea and looking around the room that holds the energy and stories of countless women who have sat in the Bodysex circle here. Just like me they shed their clothes, their tears, and their shame before celebrating their pleasure. It’s hard to believe that it was only a year and a half ago that I entered this same room for the first time as a participant in Betty’s workshop. Scared – yet excited I took off my clothes and found my place in the circle, having no way of knowing what a profound effect it would have on my life.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
I’ve written this in an attempt to describe orgasm techniques that I have developed from hours and hours of practice alone and during partner sex. When I first began this sexual awakening I found it difficult to understand techniques that were explained in technical terms. I knew that I was supposed to breathe, squeeze my vagina and move my hips and that there were reasons for doing all of these things, but it just didn’t make sense to me to look at my body and my orgasms as a machine and a product that comes from it. My vagina isn’t an “elevator” that needs to lift up and down as some doctors would say. I understand this concept and why this description may work well for some, but this kind of teaching breaks my heart a little bit.
I am typing this through a steady stream of tears after saying good-bye to the last of the women who shared the circle with me this weekend. Where do I begin? How can I possibly define the experience that I just had? I feel like I have taken the journey of a lifetime and yet I never left this city. It was a journey deep inside myself, and I am profoundly grateful to have experienced it alongside 11 other amazing and powerful women.
I’m in Betty Dodson’s apartment listening to her explain what is involved in Orgasm coaching. I have come to New York to defend my Bodysex certification thesis – which ended up not needing to be defended – and for Orgasm Coach training. Aside from running my own Bodysex workshops, I want to be able to provide one on one help for women who are unable to orgasm or who are struggling with their orgasms. Betty explains that the only way to learn to teach something is by doing, so she is about to coach me through my own orgasms.
Sitting here naked on the edge of my bed, feeling defeated after a hard day. Glancing around I look for someone or something to grab onto, to fix this feeling. But it’s only me in the room. Unconsciously I reach up to trace the lines along my forehead with one finger – all the way across and back.
These lines are etched into my skin from years spent under the Kenyan sun, and with the touch of a finger I am instantly there again. A young wife and mother, excited by all that was new – yet struggling to make sense of the struggle. I take a deep breath, and sit in that story, going back and forth over the lines that I notice every time I look in the mirror. They are a part of me now, just as much as my Kenyan stories are.
(This blog post is best read while listening to “Bird Song” by The Wailin’ Jennys)
We opened the Art of Self Loving Workshop in a circle where I asked that we each share, in first person, how we feel about our body and our masturbation history. This weekend wasn’t supposed to be about anyone else in our lives – husbands, lovers or friends – only our own experiences and feelings. What emerged were intimate stories of touch, shame, masks, labels, boxes, fears, pleasure and loss. We all cried at different times – sometimes I was crying for myself but often it was for someone else who expressed feelings that I recognized all too well.
"The roots of the word shame are thought to derive from a word meaning “to cover”; as such, covering oneself, literally or figuratively, is a natural expression of shame.”