It can be hard to explain Somatic Sex Education. Do people really heal and learn through the experience of erotic massage, masturbation, play and pleasure? Perhaps this story of one special client will inform and inspire.
“A million thanks couldn’t begin to thank you enough. You have opened so many doors and taken down so many walls down for me. I have so loved this week with you.”
On her intake form, Melissa said she could not recall a good sexual experience. She had grown up in a religious environment where sex was sin. She had experienced the trauma of rape within a long-term relationship, and felt shame that she had not acted more powerfully to prevent it. Her self-pleasuring practice was desultory. She shrunk from possibilities for play and pleasure, because of her fears. Yet she had a sense that her journey to healing and wholeness needed to include sexual healing and wholeness, and she found her way to my studio.
Our time together began with conversation about her sexual history and desires. Then we explored with actual body experiences how she could learn to listen to her body – to feel and follow the inner yes, to trust and express the inner no. We practiced Orgasmic Yoga by masturbating together, learning to amplify sexual feeling with breath, sound, movement and imagination, and to give mindful attention to the cascade of body sensation that is generated by conscious touch. We considered genital anatomy and mapped our body parts, sharing stories of how we had been hurt, what felt good, and what we wanted for the future of our vulvas. We explored what stopped her from giving herself whole-heartedly to pleasure – as she felt into her distractions, shame, fear, and physiological inhibitions. We found touch that connected her with grief and fear she needed to express. As she trusted me more, she dared to share fantasies that seemed shameful, and we investigated how she might translate troublesome turn-ons into desires that could be explored in life-affirming, playful ways. We followed the question “How would you like to be touched?” in small 2-minute increments, and then expanded into longer sessions. Melissa had day after day of practice listening to her body, expressing desire, being listened to, following her joy, tracking her distractions, and feeling into how she was resourced and resourceful in this realm. A world of possibility could open up for her, because this was not theory. This was actual, embodied experience.
Somatic Sex Education practices are body-based, because we carry our life histories in our bodies. Experiences, anxieties and freedoms shape gesture, posture, and access to genital feeling. Somatic practices begin with bringing awareness to sensations, breath, body expression, body boundaries and moods. We learn to scan the body to find places of desire and resistance. We gain awareness of emotions and how they are felt as body sensation. We learn ways to breathe, move and use voice and gesture that help us become balanced and grounded. We gain the power to shift feelings of fear and habits of dissociation. We can witness and address self-limiting contractions, and develop more choice in our bodies and our being.
Erotic massage, masturbation, play and pleasure are employed on this journey, because they are life-enhancing practices. When used with knowledge, sensitivity and clear boundaries, these practices of Somatic Sex Education are what can guide us from embodying habit, constraint, and closure in our erotic lives. We can learn to actually live open lives of flexibility and expansion, wherein sexual energy is welcomed and cultivated as a wellspring of joy.
“You have opened so many doors and taken down so many walls down for me.” Melissa’s words tell me she has found access to her own courage and resilience. She can dare to explore and embody erotic freedom, even in a world that would shame and constrain sexual energy. She can draw on her lived experiences of play and pleasure, communication and boundary-setting. She has actually tasted her huge capacities for healing and delight.
More information about Residential Retreats HERE
If you feel a calling to become involved as a practitioner, I offer a Certificate in Intimacy Education program with a residency on Salt Spring Island. More information HERE
For more about Somatic Sex Education, see the video HERE