In these times, more than ever, our practices become what sustain and nourish our resiliency and our capacity to resist, without collapsing from fatigue. Our practices are our freedom; we choose where we place our valuable attention. Through practice, we become the artists of our own lives, refusing to subsist only on a diet of despair and powerlessness, instead practicing what deeply feeds us; joy, kindness, forgiveness, boundaries, pleasure.
Consciously choosing what we practice is how we liberate our lives, personally and collectively, from the tyranny of the over culture. It is my professional opinion that making certain our bodies are feeling pleasure is a radical act of resistance, and a necessary act of self-care.
Sexual liberation can be understood not as a state, but as a series of practices. Practices which support the commitment to freedom in one’s body, on one’s own terms. Choosing the erotic as a path to freedom takes tremendous courage, willingness to resist most of what you are told you should and should not do, feel, know and experience as a sexual being. Erotically liberating practices are countless, and wonderfully diverse; if the path of the erotic calls to you, choose one practice and follow it with avid curiosity as you discover what is true for you.
Here are five practices of sexual liberation, created for your delight and reflection. One does not need to do all, or any, of these practices while pursuing freedom. Any practice (no matter how small) repeated over time, can lead to big changes in your sexual freedom.
I do not invoke sexual liberation lightly; I understand that it is the path for some, and not all, and also timing is key. No judgement if this is not your path, or not your path right now. No judgement that the erotic is the best path. As Rumi wrote, “there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” But if practicing sexual liberation supports your wellness, my blessings on your practices!
Without further ado, practices that support Sexual Liberation.
Shamelessness: the practice of desiring, touching, and communicating with innocent abandon. Throwing off the repressive yoke of shame to embrace an inner attitude of freedom. How to practice: Notice when shame arrives knocking at the door. Usually, shame is attempting to control our speech, actions or requests. Once you notice that shame is in the house, imagine throwing it off of you. Shake yourself free (metaphorically, and even physically), take a big breath, and do or say the thing. You can name that you are feeling shame, and acting anyway. By practicing shamelessness, we free ourselves of the constriction of shame.
Lustiness: the practice of commitment to experience the world through the lens of lusty vigor. How to practice: Notice during the day when you have sexual feelings or thought. Perhaps someone hot crosses in front of you when you are stopped at a red light. Perhaps you wake feeling aroused. Once you notice the erotic stirring within you, bring your breath to it. Breathe into the feeling, and see if it wants to expand a little bit in your body. Allow yourself to slip into feeling lascivious. Instead of stopping lust when it happens, follow it for awhile and see where it leads.
Permission: the practice of wanting what I want. Allowing the space in my life to want new, surprising things. How to practice: To give yourself permission to do something, you have to first notice when desire for something arises. Perhaps the impulse towards something you want is quite brief, and the inhibition of the impulse occurs almost immediately. Start by paying attention to those small desires, those moments where your desire surprises you. Notice what happens in your body when your impulse, and then inhibition, arise. Now experiment with telling yourself you can have whatever it is, if you really want it. Notice what happens in your body when you do that! If what you want is within the realm of harming none, and brings you pleasure, try actually following through on giving yourself permission.
Celebration: the practice of celebrating sex, your body, body diversity by cultivating an attitude of raunchy joy, loud and raucous praise for the sensual and the sexual, and lip-smacking wonder and delight. How to practice: Savoring and Celebrating both require your attention. Talking with friends about the great sex you had last night, or praising your lover’s many delights out loud to them. You can cultivate gratitude for your erotic encounters, and remember them with relish and in detail in the day or so after they finish.
Erotic Self-confidence: the practice of moving your body and making moves on your playmate without fear of rejection. How to practice: Athletes often use the power of their imagination to practice winning the game or meet. They go into great detail, forming a neural pathway in their brain that has already HAD the experience they are preparing for. Erotic self-confidence is similar. You can practice ahead of time, in your imagination. Of course, an erotic encounter will go how it goes, but preparing your brain for a confident experience will help. Another part of practicing erotic self-confidence involves practicing feeling confident. This can be in any situation. You tune your internal channel to the “I am a sexy, confident beast.” And you practice feeling that, and believing it is true.
Choose one of these practice and try it out, if it brings you joy. Explore it to the edge. The practices of Sexual Liberation call you home, set you free, and nourish the revolution.
I’d love to hear about your erotic practices. What works? What have you explored? How does your erotic practice nourish you? Please leave a comment below! It makes me happy to hear from you.
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It’s good to talk about the nuances of a pleasure revolution, in particular for those of us with sexual trauma.
And yet pleasure can be complicated. Or maybe it always is.
What is pleasure? How do you know it when you feel it? What’s your capacity for staying with it? Can you bear it for hours? Do you let pleasure absorb deeply inside you, defining your embodied existence? Does pleasure validate your worthiness? Or, like most of us, do you gulp down the delicious meal, rush towards orgasm, or in other ways try to escape from feeling sustained pleasure?
I work with many folks with sexual trauma. I struggle to not let their heartbreaking stories become my normal; to allow myself to feel the impact of each and every violation of each client, without becoming swamped in despair.
The suck-ass truth is that for those of us with sexual trauma, we bear the burden of working through it. It’s not fair. It’s so not fair. And yet, without our own personal work navigating towards sexual freedom, we remain stuck in a sexuality that is not our full expression. And this is of course an okay choice, but it is not the one I nor my clients are making. We want pleasure.
I sit with my clients through the weeks and months and sometimes years as they fight for their right to feel pleasure, and as they build their capacity to stay with it
While listening, it raised a question I’ve been feeling into ever since. What is it to live in the world, completely dedicated to expressing the thing you are here to express? To give yourself completely to that thing? That even trembling with fear, flooded with overwhelm and suffering pain you just throw yourself into yourself, and pour yourself out again? To allow inspiration to have its way with you, and to focus focus focus your expression in the way that only you could ever do?
I am committed to developing my full erotic expression in this lifetime. There are moments when I am able to allow pleasure to completely ride me, moments when my body exists inside of me!
But more often are the complicated pleasure moments. The times I’m using my strategies to stay present, to explore what’s possible in this body in this moment. The days where my libido caught a train to Detroit, or I’m distracted by the books I need to read for my lit review. Or I’d rather just get off quick and nap, than do the work of feeling deep pleasure.
My erotic practice is about practice. My erotic practice is about Practice. Like learning to shape a voice made for rock and roll, or hone muscles that can powerlift heavy weight, or learning the art of feeling the trauma of my clients and letting it move through me instead of getting stuck, I am devoted to my art of subtle, nuanced erotic feeling.
This is my pleasure revolution; to develop sensitivity to sensation, to develop the capacity for feeling, in the face of trauma that says ‘No, don’t feel. You don’t deserve it!’ or ‘It’s not safe to feel that!’
Through practice I’ve learned to fuck harder when shame strikes. To remain soft and open to receiving pleasurable touch when tears come. To speak hard-to-say truths in the middle of beautiful moments. To continue erotic energy when my partner is triggered. To receive erotic energy while I’m triggered. To pause, reset, and continue. To explore how to hold pleasure for a long, long time, through all the bullshit that comes up.
Almost all of my clients long for easy pleasure. Pleasure without tears at the end, or having to stop in the middle. Pleasure that doesn’t require explaining to one’s partner that the reason they can’t touch your left thigh has nothing to do with them, but could they please try and not? Pleasure that is just simple. However, that’s not the hand they are holding. Instead , erotic expression involves work and practice and willingness to experience the grief/rage/anger/sadness/numbness, again and again beyond boredom, ad nauseum. Trauma legacy.
And yet. I’m not totally convinced that complicated, hard-earned pleasure isn’t just a tiny bit more worthwhile. I’m not actually convinced that ‘easy pleasure’ and ‘deep pleasure’ ever coexist. It’s a revolution because it’s an overturning of the false dichotomy of the ‘haves’ who get pleasure and the ‘have-nots’ who don’t. Pleasure for the People! Committing to full erotic expression after trauma is a seizing of personal power in the face of hegemony and shame.
That said, choosing full erotic expression as a trauma survivor takes the time it takes, and maybe that time is never. I’m not the pleasure police. It is a valid choice to focus self-expression in totally different arenas. There is no ‘should’ about feeling anything. Just choices about where we choose to place the limited resource of our attention. Living a life of hedonism and pleasure happens to be where I choose to rebel in the face of my trauma and upbringing.
Would I have committed my life to this personal and professional exploration of reclaiming pleasure without sexual trauma? I’ll never know, but I doubt it. My pleasure is earned, hard-won. It’s my art. It’s my practice. It’s my connection with self and partner and the Divine.
And truly, not today, but some days, pleasure really is effortless
If this speaks to you, please leave a comment below.
Last week, I suggested to my partner that they take a shower because I wanted to have sex before we went to sleep. Ari was tired, had to get up early, and was a bit resistant to my suggestion. I sidled up to him, all rubby-rubby-kissy-breathy and said that I believed he could find his way into feeling erotic with a little help. I wanted sex, after all. After a few minutes of this, he finally got up to take a shower, and as I lay in bed waiting for him, I realized that maybe my gentle pressure which I was framing as seduction wasn’t actually acknowledging his “no.”
When he returned, I asked him verbally if I had his consent to continue, and he said an enthusiastic “yes.” When I thought about this encounter later, I realized that a few years ago, I would have accepted his getting up as a tacit yes, and not worried too much about issues of consent. But because he’s been working hard at finding “no” and I’m working hard at listening for it, things are different now.
However, it made me realize how easy it is to assume consent, especially in a primary long-term-relationship. How easy it would be to violate boundaries, if I wasn’t carefully seeking them. How often I have probably assumed consent in the past, in absence of a verbal “no.” If it’s not a hard ‘no’ then it must be a ‘yes,’ right? It’s not violation if I participated, right?
Throughout our lives, I imagine that most of us have encounters we may later question. Did I consent? Did I get full consent? Because we’re not always clear what we want or what we don’t want, sometimes defining what was sexual violation, both for survivors and for perpetrators, can be murky. Our bodies can register trauma, even if our brains do not.
Recently, I’ve been exploring ancestral connections as a source of embodied wisdom and support, in particular how ancestors can inform resiliency and healing from sexual trauma, in individuals and in communities.
My ancestral research is ultimately in service of my dissertation. I’ve researched my own genealogy, scouring old records for information about my queer ancestors. I’ve attended family constellation workshops, read tons of books, and have been working to develop relationships with particular queer and trans ancestors (trancestors) in the creation of my new endeavor, The Embodiment Arts Collective.
Outside my office there are framed pictures of nine people who have passed through the veil, who were queer and trans rights and/or sexual liberation activists during their lives: Harvey Milk, James Broughton, Sylvia Rivera, Lou Sullivan, Alice B. Toklas, Leslie Feinberg, Larry Mitchell, Del Martin, and Chester Mainard. Each day I sing, pray, light candles, burn incense and talk to these fierce renegades who committed their lives to their passions.
Through developing these relationships with these particular ancestors, my goal is to create a container for healing for my clients here at EAC, that is supported by the physical, (space) the professional (my training) and the energetic (the unseen realms.) Okay, before you think I’ve been living in California WAYYYY too long, hear me out.
What are ancestors? Many cultures and traditions hold relationship with the dead as a crucial source of wisdom and knowledge. These are not traditions that I have learned as I grew up a white person of European descent, although I am convinced that ancestor worship is indeed a lost body of knowledge that my blood ancestors did participate in. Because it is lost, I am instead having to seek out resources and learning from outside sources, as well as listening deeply to my own intuition.
In the ways I am coming to understand matters of spirits, not all dead become ancestors. In order to become an ancestor, that person must be properly mourned at their death. They must also wish to return as a helpful guide, and have cleaned up any messes they made in their lives that “stick” to their spirit. Having been sexually violent is one such thing that can stick.
As soon as one steps foot into queer community, the impact of invisible yet culturally-sanctioned sexual violence and the ramifications of sexual trauma on the fabric of relationships and communities are striking.
For example, I hear frequently from my clients about sex they have had in the past that they weren’t totally into, but going along with it was the easier thing to do in the moment, for a host of reasons. What about the other person in this situation, the one that they’ve had sex with, who assumed consent? Does this make them sexual perpetrators? I’m starting to believe that since we live in a sexually violent culture, we all internalize some degree of sex as violence.
Just as in dominant culture, the same systemic oppressions of sexuality show up in queer culture. Butch-Femme violence. Fag misogyny. Violations of non-verbal consent in gay male cruising culture. Femme phobia. Slut-shaming. Unwelcome touch or verbal comments in environments designed for sexual exploration. Coercive sexual encounters between folks of all genders and orientations. As in my example above with my partner, sometimes situations that seem innocuous can contain subtle variations of consent violations that surprise us.
Another rift in the fabric of connection that I witness in some of my clients is how hard it can be to actually have physical intimacy and emotional intimacy with another person. When we have sexual experiences that we don’t want (whether we consent or not) trauma can get caught in our bodies, and manifest months, years, decades later when we try to connect intimately.
Sex and intimacy can become divorced from each other. Triggers around sex can yank us out of the present moment, and hurl us willy-nilly into feeling unsafe, terrified, frozen, furious. We can forget that the person we are with currently is not the person with whom those past experiences happened, and turn our blame onto our new partner.
The “trigger warnings” that are popping up on Facebook messages, email lists, social media are indicators of how close to the surface trauma resides, and to what lengths we will go to avoid feeling the feelings of helplessness and despair it engenders. Collective trauma is an ever-present reality.
Moving through the trauma that we hold individually and in community requires resiliency skills. How can sexual wounds of the living and the dead in our communities be healed? What is the role of the dead in supporting the living as we do our healing work?
So many questions!
- How can I (we) turn to the dead as a source of support for my (our) life and work?
- How can those who have passed help heal the wounds of sexual violation and trauma?
- How can those who have passed, and who committed sexual violation during their lifetimes, atone for their actions in a way that beneficially serves the present and future?
- How can sex-radical queers who have become allied ancestors be called on to support sexual healing for living queers?
- What impact does healing ancestral trauma caused by sexual violation have on current and future generations?
Samhain is a traditional Pagan holiday (also called “Halloween”) when the beloved dead are honored and remembered. Witches say “What is remembered, lives.” This year, in observance of Samhain, I am hosting an erotic ritual. Attendees are in full consent about their participation. The intention of this ritual is to raise erotic energy, and gift it to our dead and to our ancestors, those who wish to heal, and those that offer their support. If you feel called to this, drop me an email and I’ll let you know more.
I’ll be writing more on ancestral sexual connections in the weeks that follow.
Can you welcome yourself home to your sweet body?
2015 has been an ass-kicking year, for me and for many folks I know. “Relentless” is the word a friend used recently. When life is hard, and every day is a struggle just to get through, sexuality often gets relegated to the back burner. Our attention is scattered; our desire is seemingly non-existent. We may not think we have the time, energy or emotional bandwidth for deep erotic connection, with ourselves or others.
During these times, sex may be the last thing we want to do. Our masturbation becomes purely functional, or doesn’t happen at all. Actually living and feeling inside our bodies when we are suffering may be unbearable. And so we leave: we disassociate, check out, numb out, distract ourselves. We pretend that our sexuality isn’t hugely important. We forget.
While all of these coping strategies offer us the ability to just get through whatever the hard thing is, there is also a hidden somatic cost associated with them. The more we are absent from our own felt sense, our own sensations, the less we actually feel. Our capacity TO feel becomes limited. And even once the hard time has passed (as they always do) we are then left with diminished feeling and sensation. Joy becomes something that others feel, not us. Pleasure is elusive.
I’m curious about a loving cultural reframe. What if we experienced our bodies as a refuge? What if our sense of safety was held within, and we could choose to find a sense of embrace inside? What if sexuality was a space of home, of welcome? If we could nourish our hearts through feeling pleasure? What if, when our hearts were bruised and tired, we brought loving touch to ourselves?
Trauma tells us that we are broken beyond repair. That we are unworthy of love and pleasure. That the only safety is somewhere else, never here, now. Trauma tells us that suffering is our due, that swimming and muddling through the quagmire of our brokenness is the ‘real’ work. We believe we just can’t get this body thing right. This is not the way things are supposed to be. We are not damaged goods.
Who or what is served by all of your struggles against embodiment?
Imagine for a moment if there was a small dial, behind your left ear. You could just reach up, and change that channel of loyal suffering. Instead, you could choose the channel “I live in this body. It is my home.” And when things get so fucked up and hurty, and you are overwhelmed with it all, you find your fingers, rising of their own accord to that tiny place. Suddenly, breath fills your lungs, your belly. Your awareness drops down through the tissues and organs of your body. You feel your sex, resting and open and alive.
Your hands move down your body and find the places you know well, or the places you are only now discovering. The secret places of joy, where your body belongs to you and you alone. And your touch is that of an old, familiar lover, bringing care and adoration.
Is sexual liberation possible in this lifetime? Yes. If I commit myself to its practice, each and every day. If, when I forget my true work of freeing myself from all of my internalized oppression, I remember to touch myself and whisper “I am worthy of my love” and “I am safe in here.”
What do you think? If you’re curious about these ideas, please leave a comment below.
“What are you flagging?” Sie asks.
I follow hir green eyes down to the matching green bandana hanging off my belt. I’ve been camping for days on the gentle land of southwest Washington state, without giving a thought to the queer hanky code that relies on colored bandanas in one’s back pocket to signify sexual availability.
“Um, flagging pee rag?” I try for a mix of affronting honesty with irreverent humor to cover up the shame I feel at being caught un-queerly unaware.
“Daddy.” Sie says confidently. “You’re flagging Daddy. And receiving.”
The amount of math I do in the next half second is staggering. I’m flagging “receiving daddy.” This incredibly hot sexy genderqueer person just opened a door called “daddy” that I’ve been wanting to walk through for quite some time. Sie is a longtime friend, and I trust hir. We’re at an ecosexual convergence, deep in the woods, sitting at a picnic table with a bunch of folks who are exploring the lover relationship between Earth and self. I have permission from my primary partner to explore my erotic edges. I want Daddy. I want hir to be my daddy. I want to get fucked, in the woods, with hir as my Daddy. And it’s all possible, if I can just ask for it.
“Yeah, well, that’s interesting, isn’t it?” I stumble through the sentence, aware that the other four picnic-table sitters have gone quiet and are looking at me curiously. “So, I was wondering if you’d be down to fuck me?”
I can tell that sie is surprised, didn’t quite expect that full-on of a reach-around. It’s hir turn to do the math. I wait.
“Well. Hmm. That’s a thought.”
Not exactly the enthusiastic response that would set my pounding heart at ease, but not a cool brush off either.
Another beat. I wait until sie speaks. “What did you have in mind?”
And it’s on. We negotiate a scene for the next afternoon. I tell hir that I’ve never truly bottomed before, and that I want to be opened.
Truth, I’ve never been in a space where I’m not in control. I’ve been stone more times than I can remember. I’ve opened many people, had many hot erotic moments that I’ve driven. I’ve even surrendered to receiving pleasure from others many times. But this is different. This is turning over the power to another, someone I don’t know at all in their erotic personhood, someone who is powerful, fierce, ferocious. And definitely sadistic.
The next twenty-four hours pass slowly. I find myself excited by the ‘what-will-happen’ feeling. The winged insects are having a field day all over my inner landscape… it’s beyond butterflies into full on plague of locusts. I’m not scared exactly, I trust hir. I trust hir capacity to handle me, to be my Daddy.
When the time comes I’m showered and ready for our forest date, (which in the aftermath of a forest-floor fucking turns out to be kind of ridiculous.) We meet at lunch, and walk out among the Douglas Firs together, the unbelievable vanilla scent of the trees perfuming the warm Summer Solstice air. It’s the longest day of the year, and Daddy and I are going out under the trees to play.
I’ve brought the only thing I have to lay on, my lavender towel, which will become a sap-filled souvenir of “the time sie fucked me so hard I bled.”
Sie asks me to sit down. Tells me to call hir “Doctor.” Then tells me to remove my wife-beater, my belt. Sie wants it to be sexy. I get the unspoken subtext: this is not a strip-tease. Just be really hot for me, please.
I take off the thick black leather belt, and upon hir request, open my mouth to embrace the silver pentacle belt buckle. I’m not from Texas, but I know the importance of an oversize buckle. However, I pay the price for my cocky audacity when sie doesn’t just want me to tongue it, but wants me to receive the whole damn thing. I let the spit and drool roll out of my mouth, wanting to make apparent my commitment to abandon and submission.
“I don’t like pain,” I’ve told hir, and instead I’ve been told to be available for ‘sensation’ which may become more intense over time. Surprisingly, I am available. When sie pulls the dripping buckle from my mouth, the feeling of absence is an unexpected grief. Sie takes off my pants, and takes a long look. Sie tells me that sie likes my dick.
Without ado, Daddy begins to fuck me. Sie spits on my junk, and I feel the hotness of hir spit drip down between my legs. This is a fucking that will change my life, and I know it as I have it.
I’m sobbing. It’s profound gratitude for the queer labor of love we are both engaged in: this is work we can only do with each other in community. At first, sie is concerned and checking in, but I reassure hir that everything is so good, beyond good. That it is perfect and welcome and I want it all. My body turns and rises to meet this fucking, wanting every bit of hir inside of me.
My hands reach out and grasp the dirt, duff and detritus of the forest floor, pulling it into my fists to hold the fuck onto something, anything.
I call out to this doctor of love and redemption to make sure it is okay to touch hir back. I grab fistfuls of Daddy, brutally pulling hir to me again and again. I crawl into hir neck, kissing and nuzzling. Our mouths, come together open and wet. This surprises me, all the kissing. I tell hir I love hir, and I mean it, which also surprises me.
I begin to notice the sensation of deep relief. Beyond the pain and the filth, something inside of me feels so calm. To be the Doctor’s boy, to give myself to hir completely. Hir hand, dipping inside of me again and again begins to touch my heart. I move towards, rather than away from, the splitting pain of hir fist, creeping its way inside my cunt.
When I feel the tearing of my tender bits, there is a moment when I choose to find pleasure over discomfort. I choose the bright sensation, the ecstatic pulling and pulsing that is building in my dripping cunt, over the ripping and burning. Later, I will bleed. I will feel the dull ache of an empty lonely space inside of me, about the size of a fist. But for now I have it, hir fist, holding me firmly from the inside.
I call out to the trees, to the land. “Io Pan! Keeper of the woods and the beast of my body! Wild Love! Wild Love! Wild Love!”
I pray, and sie moans, “Here I am with you, praying. Here I am with you, inside your body, with you.” It’s the sweetest thing I’ve heard maybe ever. I’m not alone in my body. Daddy is here. Sie is here. We are together, sharing creation and prayer and song and delight, and my body is the container that is holding us.
The trees call back: “If you want wild love, practice feral sex.” Hir fist pounds into my battered front hole, again and again. Sie tells me how good I am at taking it, tells me I’m a champion for getting fisted for the first time, and bottoming for the first time, in plain sight of passer-bys to boot. When shame rises up, I fuck even harder. But really it is the Doctor who is my champion, championing my queer desire, my desire to fuck the shame and trauma away so that I can feel free.
Soon, I squirt and squirt all over hir hand. I am fucking crying praying squirting surrendering and time just stops. We both notice that it is 2:30 for a really long time. I want it to be over and I want it never to end. The only things I know in this singular moment are the trees swaying above me and the exact edge where they meet the blue sky, and this beautiful lover’s embrace that holds me tight right up against my pleasure and my pain.
I know I don’t want to get fucked like this every day. I can’t. And yet I need this. This is me getting fucked queer. This is me saying yes and allowing someone to fuck me in the way that SIE wants to fuck me. This is me, finding Divinity and Self and Home and World. This is mine.
There is mounting rhythm and pleasure. The Doctor’s not-quite-human face looms above me, gorgeous and open and brutal. I feel my orgasm approaching, and my eyes open wide and pour into hir ocean green gaze. Through my eyes I give every bit of my pleasure to this Daddy, my Daddy. I scream and come and shake, all at the same time. It goes on and on. From my healing heart, deep, wrenching sobs of joy and freedom.
And when the paroxysm of agonizing pleasure is finally done, and the sobs are quiet, the world is irrevocably different. I am the trees, I am this lover, I am this Earth and this sky. I am this everything. Love is so present in this moment: rough, raw violent love, love that has fucked me free.
I’m lying on my bed, legs spread, my lover’s mouth on my junk. And I’m not doing anything.
Not tensing, not thrusting, not helping, not wiggling, not desiring. I am simply being, while my body is stimulated and pleasured. The sensation is exquisite. The pleasure builds and builds. As it builds, I feel each tiny movement towards increase. Meaning, as the pleasure increases, there are moments where I crave MORE pleasure. I move my hips a tiny bit, pushing my bits against my lover’s tongue. Or I tense my PC muscles ever so slightly, to increase the sensation.
All of my attention is focused on my receiving practice. Can I be still and receive? Can I just receive? Each time I notice my miniscule attempts to increase pressure or stimulation, I relax again, and remember my intention to just simply be and receive.
Recently, I learn that the name for someone who allows themselves to receive is disparaging; ‘turtle lesbian’ or ‘pillow princess.’ I’m grateful that I don’t have this framework, and that my practice of receiving can be free from judgment.
I practice and practice receiving. I practice Erotic Being, without Erotic Doing.
In my practice, there are moments of epiphany. For example, I realize the vast distinction between placing my attention ON something (like my genitals) and placing my attention IN my genitals. The difference is so subtle, and yet tremendous; it’s about living, feeling and being inside of my experience. My consciousness can dwell in tissues other than my brain tissue.
An old friend asked, apropos of nothing, “How do you make good decisions?” and I answered that I’ve been feeling into my junk, more and more. When I listen to the truth that is spoken between my legs, my decisions are good ones. My body does not lie.
In order to have more of what I want in my life, my capacity for RECEIVING more of what I want must be increased. I must build the muscle of having, of receiving without doing. Erotic practice is the perfect place to build this capacity. I ask my friends, “How are you good at receiving?” via text. Some respond, befuddled. Two write back that they receive when they get massages from their partners. One person responded that they pay attention to what’s going on in their body when something is being offered, and notices how their body feels different when they are open to receiving and when they are not.
In the spirit of celebrating of Erotic Being-ness, what follow are some thoughts on receiving. (And what I mean is the practice of receiving things we WANT from the world, not getting all the stuff we don’t want or need.)
- Receiving is an art. If you want to learn to receive, conduct an Indiegogo campaign. Make it count, make it meaningful. Put something you love out into the world, and ask your people to support it. This is a terrifying practice, not for the meek or inexperienced in receiving. This will shine the light on ALL of the shit you have about wanting, asking, and receiving. There’s pretty much no place to hide.
- Receiving can be cultivated. I can rest back in my body, pay attention to meeting the world from my back, choose to open my shoulder muscles. The more I receive, the better I get at receiving.
- Resistance to a thriving receiving practice can hide out behind egalitarian concepts like “mutuality” and “reciprocity.” Meaning, I am only available to receive if I believe the giver is also getting value from me. We are all so fucked up when it comes to gifting and gift economies, that we sometimes greet gifts with suspicion. We carry a lot of baggage around gifts that came with obligation, gifts that we gave out of obligation, gifts that mean more than just a gift. I can deflect receiving by not simply accepting the gift/compliment/pleasure/promotion/support… I can be overly grateful, or grovel. Not great receiving.
- Receiving is an elevated form of connection. Babies are held in “receiving blankets.” Offices have reception rooms, and receptionists whose job it is to receive you when you arrive. Shipping and receiving. Receiving dock. Receiving lines. And of course, the Hebrew Kabbalah, “receiving.”
- Receiving meets the offering with a full body presence, and an open-hearted welcome.
- We could choose to pay more attention to how we receive. How we receive others: their ideas, their words, their feedback, their gifts, their gestures. How we receive ourselves: our stories, our wounds, our faults, our gifts and talents and joys.
When all is said and done, here’s what I think. Receiving, that gorgeous practice of receptivity, is hard work. It’s a special kind of doing-not-doing. When I am receiving, I am BEING receptive. And that is the erotic self I’m striving towards, these days; the one that can fully receive the pleasure that is offered to me.