Navigating Sexual Aversion

Triggers are powerful

Sexual aversion is a powerful somatic strategy for protecting oneself from unwanted sexual contact. In short, sexual aversion is a trigger state.  Triggers arise from experiences in our past in which our capacity in that moment to cope was overwhelmed. Triggers are, in effect, our brains and bodies caught in the past, although it can seem like the catalyst is in the present. Triggers always exist for a good reason, even if they have outlived their usefulness.

Our triggers can ask us to live small lives as we try to avoid being triggered. Sexual aversion is a trigger that can very much inhibit our expression of our sexuality. Shifting any somatic trigger is a process that requires commitment, attention, learning new skills, and practice.

It can become challenging when you want to have sexual contact with a partner and aversion is present. It is important to remember that the aversion has a reason for existing, and it comes from a wise place.

Impact on partners

Dealing with sexual aversion can have painful impact on you and your partner. It’s common for partners to feel rejected. It’s also common in couples dealing with sexual aversion for sex to become an area of high conflict, whether spoken or unspoken.

As with any somatic change, shifting sexual aversion requires a commitment of both partners to practicing a new narrative, new behaviors, and new choices. This means that both partners commit to finding a way through sexual aversion, together. It means that if as the partner of someone dealing with sexual aversion, if you feel rejected and shut down, you commit to your own work of tending those parts of you that are needing love and care.

What is healing? 

Rather than expecting sexual aversion to go away as part of a healing process, success entails learning to work collaboratively with your body, allowing all of the sensations, emotions and experiences to exist, without judgment.

Exploring the trigger of aversion in a safe, supported and structured manner can help shift the experience, with practice and over time. When healing trauma, it’s important to learn how to stay within a a neurological window of tolerance. This means finding the sweet spot in between your own neurological edges of not-enough and too-much activation.  This is where somatic learning can happen.

Somatic Commitment

Before beginning an in-depth exploration of a somatic trigger, it is helpful to establish the new narrative that you are shifting towards. This is called a commitment. A commitment is a powerfully-worded truth, written in the present tense, that names the somatic shape you are consciously creating. It is worthwhile to take the necessary time to create the most potent commitment.

For example, in the case of sexual aversion, a potential deisred shift might be having more choice and freedom in terms of your sexual expression. A possible commitment might be “I am a commitment to freedom in my sexuality.”  Using the phrasing “I am a commitment to…” creates an embodied statement.  The commitment statement becomes the new narrative you get to practice.

As part of the commitment process, it is crucial to know why you are doing what you are doing. This is the “for the sake of what”. In this case, it might sound like “For the sake of freedom, I am a commitment to self-compassion for my aversion trigger.”

Lastly, the conditions of satisfaction are worth enumerating. “For the sake of freedom, I am a commitment to self-compassionate exploration of my aversion trigger. I will know I have achieved this when I am consistently kind to myself when I feel averse, and allow myself the full range of my humanity.”

Practices to explore and shift aversion

After you create the new narrative, the next step is to consider the practices that support the new narrative. Triggers make us feel like we have no choice, and it is powerful to begin to reclaim our choice as a practice.

One choice might be how we engage with ourselves around our aversion trigger. Do we speak harshly to ourselves? Do we blame our partners? Do you give yourself permission to make a decision based on the amount of bandwidth you have in the moment? Do you move towards or away from the trigger?

The great thing about aversion is having opportunities to try different practices, notice what happens, and collect data. The following is a collection of practices and choices you can experiment with when your sexual aversion trigger gets tripped!

Acknowledge what is

Acknowledge what is happening, preferably out loud, perhaps even to your partner. Acknowledging what is is a powerful practice of being with truth. Shame often tries to silence this needed acknowledgment. Having an agreement with your partner ahead of time that you will share with them when you feel the aversion trigger can help them take it less personally, and be more available for loving support and connection.

Create Safety

Often people with sexual aversion have had experiences with unwanted sexual contact. Re-establishing personal boundaries and an internal, felt sense of safety is absolutely necessary.

Being safe means having the capacity to act on one’s own behalf. Safety is an internal felt experience that folks with trauma rarely have as embodied experience. Part of the return to sexual sovereignty is coming to trust that respect for one’s own boundaries will be honored. Choosing to not participate in unwanted sexual contact affirms a sense of self-trust.

As the skill of saying no is practiced and learned over time, while learning there may be mistakes. It’s possible to start a sexual activity feeling a yes, and then have that change, but not be able to extricate oneself from the situation. In this case, it is important afterwards to acknowledge what happened, and one’s role in it, with deep compassion for the learning process. Self-compassion is deep safety.

Make a choice

Make a choice about the best way to take care of yourself, right now. That may mean leaving the situation. That may mean getting curious about your experience. The choice you make depends on how resourced you feel in that moment, and how willing you are to do the work at that moment. Realizing you do have choice is powerful, in and of itself.

If you choose to take care of yourself by leaving the situation, follow your impulse of what will establish a sense of safety. How can you act on your own behalf? Acknowledge the power of that choice, and honor the setting of a physical spatial boundary. Track what happens somatically as you come back to center. What physical sensations do you note?

Support the contraction

If you choose to take care of yourself by getting curious about what happens next, start by supporting the contraction. Supporting the contraction means  physically, emotionally and energetically giving yourself permission for what is. This may mean tensing the muscles of your body where you feel something happening, or moving your body into a protected shape.

Stay with the contraction as long as is necessary, or as is interesting. Pay close attention to what is happening inside.  The practice of somatic awareness means learning to place your attention on the inside experience of your body. This is a crucial embodiment practice.

As you support the contraction, you may begin to lean into the physical sensations you are experiencing. You may choose to name each, and express it aloud. You can also note emotions that may be present. If there are any stories that come, note these as well. Be on the lookout for the guardian emotions like anger and rage. Pay particular attention to the deeper emotions such as grief, powerlessness, and helplessness, naming each.

Staying present with yourself, affirming that whatever is being felt is just fine to feel. It’s interesting to pay attention to how our nervous systems return to regulation after being disregulated. It’s interesting to note how we come back into our bodies if we have disassociated. All of this is important somatic information; there’s no way to do it wrong. It just is.

Practice the new narrative

It’s also useful to practice the new narrative when you are not triggered. This can mean saying it to yourself, writing it down and putting it places where you see it, or any other creative means of reinforcing. Practicing when not triggered can support remembering the new narrative when you are triggered.

Imaginal practices

Practices using your imagination can be powerful. An advanced practice is to practice feeling attraction and desire for your partner, when they are not present. Start by placing your attention on your own body, noticing what you are feeling. Finding a place inside that feels neutral or positive is a good place to anchor. Allowing your attention to be on your own genitals, noticing what you feel or don’t feel.

Next, pendulate your attention to an imaginal gesture/thought/movement involving your partner. Finding the right gesture or thought is important: find something that is positive, and has a slight erotic charge. It could be something you are doing to them, or that they are doing to you. Importantly, Pay attention to staying well within your window of tolerance as you safely explore erotic content involving your partner in your imagination. With this practice, it is very important to not force or bully yourself into making anything happen.

Move your attention back and forth between your own body, and the imaginal erotic thought concerning your partner. Notice what happens. There is no “right” outcome from this practice, just allowing yourself to imagine your attraction and desire, while noticing what happens in your body, and staying safe, all at the same time.

Ultimately, it takes time and practice to shift deep-seated somatic responses. It can feel like no progress is happening, which can frustrate you even further.  A wise teacher said “To change everything, start anywhere.” I recommend keeping a log or journal of what you try and experience each time you find yourself in the midst of your trigger. Remembering to do even one thing differently can begin to shift the entire system. In reflecting on the experience in your journal, you can acknowledge the work you did, thus validating your practice.

Get professional somatic support

Additionally, having skilled and compassionate support is helpful. Erotic coaches, guides and even wise friends can assist you as you direct your somatic education. “In its purity, somatic education is self-initiated and self-controlled. However, somatic education has emerged during the twentieth century as a procedure whereby this internalized learning process is initiated by a teacher who stimulates and guides the learner through a sensory-motor process of physiological change,” writes Thomas Hanna in Clinical Somatic Education.

Lastly, seeking expressions of sexuality that feel good to you and your partners. Often, when sexual energy is blocked in one area, like a river it finds its way around the obstacle. Where are you creatively expressing? Where are you sensuously enjoying? Working in collaboration with sexual triggers can require great creativity.

It’s a both-and approach: choosing not to live as small as the trigger requires, and simultaneously honoring the current truth and capacity of the body. It’s also true that we all limit ourselves with our habits and beliefs about what we define as sex. Can you and your partner be a team in exploring creative outlets for sexuality, that may look really different than either of you imagined?

In review

  • Create a somatic commitment statement, complete with for-the-sake-of-what and conditions of satisfaction.
  • Acknowledge and name what’s happening as soon as you become aware
  • Honor your own boundaries: Choose to not engage in unwanted sexual contact
  • Honor what’s working: where are you expressing your sexuality?
  • When triggered, assess your capacity in that moment, and make a choice about how to best take care of yourself
  • Notice sensations and emotions as they emerge whatever you choose
  • Offer yourself kindness and compassion for the experience
  • Keep a log of your practice experiences
  • Have support for your somatic learning
  • Be available for surprising expressions of sexuality between you and your partner that might not fit in the box of what you thought sex was!

If you or someone you love is experiencing sexual aversion, help is available. Feel free to reach out to me at http://www.emancipating-sexuality.com for support.

 

*I want to acknowledge the work of Meredith Broome, and Joseph Kramer, in informing this post.

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Personal and Planetary Liberation through Practice

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

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.

Also, if you haven’t subscribed yet to my newsletter (comes out a few times a year) I’d love to keep you updated on my various offerings and events. You can sign up here

 

 

Get on your knees baby, and suck my … politics of desirability

Erotic Liberation and Emancipating Sexuality

There are many exploratory erotic spaces that I want to be in. However, the specific spaces I want don’t usually exist. Often, that means I create them, because I want them to be in the world.

Erotic Experiments

Recently, I created two very different erotic explorations, Transexy and Black Velvet. The events had very different intentions and different results. In reflecting and contrasting the two parties, I learned that my desire can’t be separated from my commitment to good body politics, and in fact, I’m turned ON by spaces that actively deconstruct the dominate narrative of attraction! Maybe you are too?!?

The first space I facilitated was Transexy: a sex party for transmasculine folks, many of whom had never attended a sex party. There were probably 50 people initially in the room, as I led us through a series of warm-up games. Games that help you know what you want in the moment, and communicate it clearly to your partner. Games that teach about boundaries and consent, as well as non-verbal negotiation.

You know, the type of sexy education we all should have gotten as teenagers, except we didn’t. And in this particular demographic there’s a higher percentage of folks dealing with really intense stuff than in the general population: dysphoria, shame, trauma, internalized transphobia, challenges receiving touch and having sex at all. So this party was a Big Fucking Deal. Just being naked together was an act of solidarity and revolution in a society that says trans bodies are fucked up, wrong, and that’s often best case.

The second space I facilitated was Black Velvet: a sex party in the dark for all different types of bodies, genders, sexual orientations, races, ages, body sizes, political affiliations. The only thing in these bodies had in common was that they were somehow connected to me or my fellow organizers, and we trust them. This party was held, from start to finish, in the complete darkness. Consent, boundaries, negotiation, desire… all without any sense of sight. Yep.

Black Velvet is an event that a friend and I conceived a few years ago, as we lamented over not getting to be gay males in the 1970’s pre-HIV sex scene. Dark rooms, also known as blackrooms or backrooms, were a common feature of gay bars, where anonymous sex can easily take place. We decided to create an erotic experiment that would recreate the dark room space:

Question: What happens erotically, between a group of people in a completely dark, anonymous, anything-goes-but-consent-is-required space?
Hypothesis: Participants will explore their own erotic desires, curiosities, hang ups, and boundaries, and will move beyond who they know themselves to be as erotic beings.

Having conducted one Black Velvet several years ago, I wanted a chance to go deeper into the experience, and am doing so this fall with a series of three by invite-only events. Last Saturday was the first of the three.

The practice of holding complexity

At the first party for transmasculine folks, I knew the space was radical. There were moments when the healing in the room was palpable. I looked around and could almost see shame constructs crashing through the floor, to be returned as power and pleasure in community. I knew without doubt how powerful and necessary this space was/is. I feel dedicated to continuing to create such spaces for folks with marginalized identities and bodies. And yet.

At one point, I looked around, and the bodies lying on the floor made a map of oppression. Central to the space were the young, white, able-bodied, thin more masculinized body with beauty privilege. Surrounding that central pile were groupings of folks with less desirability cred: the fat, the older, the disabled, POC, less masculine folks. I couldn’t see class status, but I’m sure it was also reflected in the space.

All of the privilege centralized, and upheld by the folks having to do the emotional labor of wrestling with their own self-worth and feelings of desirability. It broke my heart. And this map was somewhat my fault; I didn’t set up a critical space, or invite in the politics of desirability to be named and seen. I don’t think I even realized them so clearly, until this party.

Hey, where did my gender go?

At the second party, because of the absence of the visual, I have no idea if this map of oppression repeated itself. My sense is that it did not. It was a much smaller group, in a small space, and the edges of the space aren’t very far from the center. From the reports that participants submitted, there is no evidence to suggest this happened. While we can never erase oppression and desirability politics from our sex spaces, I’m curious if these become quieter factors when you just can’t see who you’re are messing around with.

Some racial features, and body size somewhat identifiable by touch, but in my experience, most touch started with limbs, where it was pretty impossible to discern the entirety of someone’s presentation. The space was designed to be scent-free, so that a participant with a disability around scent could participate, so again, that subverted some of the centralization of able-bodies, in terms of scent.

For at least a couple of the participants in Black Velvet, the absence of the visual was distracting from being connected to their arousal. I personally found the absence of the visual helped me to concentrate on what I was feeling and experiencing with each body I encountered. It’s interesting to me how the actual erotic energy feels with various folks.

I had significant erotic encounters with four different folks, and a variety of other encounters. Each time, the energy I share with my partners has a distinct quality. There is one person in particular who is running a low base note of Eros, and I lower my dial and feel the connection open like a slow, wide river… deep and sultry and timeless.

I know that I feel more desirable in the dark. I don’t worry about what the connection “means” or how I’m perceived, or if I’m wanted. It is clear that if someone is engaging with me, they want me. It really shuts up the dumb stories in my head about not being hot enough.

Of these two events, Black Velvet is the hotter erotic space for me. And in part, it’s because there has been some negation of the prevalent visual narrative that tells me who I’m supposed to be attracted to, and who is supposed to be attracted to me.

At Black Velvet, I found that I was attracted to all kinds of bodies in the dark. Bodies I would probably never engage with erotically were I able to see them, because they don’t go along with my narrative of who I am attracted to.

Yeah, but what’s this have to do with desirability?

Here’s the thing. We all think that our desires, who we want, what we want, is just mysterious magic. Like, isn’t it surprising that my desire trends towards everything that culture tells me is attractive?

While many may think of who we are attracted to as personal preference, those preferences are not developed in a vacuum. It’s impossible to separate one’s desires from the culture and society in which they were formed, so it’s important to think critically about it. ~Tristan 

There’s this thing called sexual capital. The more you are what culture centralizes as “good, normal, beautiful” the more of this sexually currency you possess. You get to trade it for things like dates, being asked out, make-out sessions, getting laid, etc. Yeah, all the good stuff! The problem is, that just like in other forms of capitalism, some folks have more access to sexual capital than other folks do.

As an older, fat white person with sags and wrinkles and a weird gender presentation, I have less access than if I were younger, thinner, and conventionally hotter. I have more access to sexual capital because I facilitate erotic stuff frequently, and have experience with touch, boundaries, etc. Sexual capital isn’t good or bad, it just is. But sexual capital becomes bad when we refuse to acknowledge the impact it has in radical spaces designed for sexual exploration, especially on those with less access to it.

I had a heart-breaking conversation with one guy with less access to sexual capital at Transexy, who sat on the edges of the party. When I enquired if he wanted my help integrating in, he said simply “I’m waiting to be wanted.”

“this unwillingness to recognize how love, fucking and whom we find attractive is political. It’s like we, as a society, have created this whole untouchable area around intimacy in our lives – and perhaps the most important area – the area I think could use the most critique – leading to this massive resistance around analyzing any decisions relating to love and sex. You hear terms like “preference” or “love is love” or “you can’t help who you like” and the conversation stops there.” ~Hari Ziyad

I mean, of course privilege and centralization of certain bodies occurs in these spaces. It occurs everywhere, and why would we expect radical sex spaces to really be any different?? I always say that there are no safe spaces, spaces where we magically leave all our socialization at the door and show up pure and innocent in our desires. Nope. Never gonna happen. But we can start to create sexual spaces for exploration that deliberately hold a critical lens, and strive towards inclusivity.

Mia Mingus talks about moving toward the ugly. Ugly folks and those deemed less culturally desirable have just as much chance to be good at touching and connecting as folks who hold the beauty bundle, maybe even more, because they are working to gain sexual capital rather than having it handed to them.

I learn that for an erotic space to turn me on, it’s gotta be reflective of my politics. Erotic spaces that oppress, no matter how well-intentioned or revolutionary in their own way, just don’t get my nut off. In this post, I’m publically making a commitment to never holding sexualized spaces again that don’t have an active lens of critique and desire to deconstruct oppression, as opposed to reproduce it unconsciously.

Lemme say that one more time: I’m committed to creating revolutionary, erotic spaces for marginalized bodies and identities that hold a critical lens around sexual capital. I’m committed to bringing my work to people who think inclusivity is the hottest thing. And I am pretty certain that my politics can get even juicer, even bolder. That my personal and professional approach to sexual arousal that lifts people up can expand and evolve. Now THAT’S a hot erotic experiment.

In the dark
We are all desire
There is no age
No race or gender
Only passion
In the dark
We are sweat
Tongues
Flesh
Hands
Hard
Soft
Wet
In the dark
We are delicious

~Jake

If you like this, gimme some comment love below?

Pleasure for the People: Trauma and Revolution

Feel more pleasure with Emancipating Sexuality

It’s good to talk about the nuances of a pleasure revolution, in particular for those of us with sexual trauma.

It seems like pleasure should be the most effortless of human experiences, yes? After all, it’s the state or sensation we are taught to pursue relentlessly. The abatement of pain, and the enjoyment of pleasure is the promise of all marketing, no matter what the product being sold.

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.

For folks with sexual trauma history, pleasure isn’t always easy to feel. There may be numbness, lack of sensation, pain. Not only that, pleasure can be triggering to feel.
Pleasure can feel not good; it can be uncomfortable, unbearable, or the bodily sensations of pleasure may cause folks to disassociate away from their bodies. Sometimes it’s easily felt, but remorse, shame and guilt are lying in wait in the wings, as soon as pleasure is done. Sometimes pleasure brings up unwanted thoughts, memories or associations.
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
Recently I went to hear the band Alabama Shakes at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. Brittany Howard belted out song after soul-wrenching song, no holds barred. This woman is so full-on, you just know she is born to sing, is here on Earth to bring this particular musical brilliance through her body and into the world. Holy fuck. Listen to this before you read the rest of this post, to have an embodied understanding of what I’m talking about.

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.

Upcoming online class for couples: Embodied Boundaries: Learn to say “no” without losing love

Boundaries for Couples

 

3 weeks of compassionate boundaries exploration and practice
for queer, gay, and lesbian couples

Starts Online April 5, 2016
3-part series, Tuesdays 6-8 PM Pacific
$300 tuition includes private couples session (value $185) with Pavini Moray, Somatic Sex Therapist

Boundaries for lesbians and queers

  • Is it sometimes hard to say “No” to your partner?
  • Do you say “Yes” when you don’t really want to?
  • Do you ever go along with your partner’s desires because it’s easier?
  • Do you feel like you’ve lost any parts of yourself in your relationship?
  • Do you ever wish for more space, more of your own life, but don’t want to lose your partner?​


Folks who don’t practice boundaries in their relationships often feel resentful towards their partner, or like their partner takes or asks for too much from them.

Well-practiced boundaries make your relationship feel safe enough to be intimate and vulnerable, explore your desires, and grow together as people. 

This class series is especially for you if you feel bad about the current state of your boundaries! 


In order to feel safe in relationship, we need to be able to set and maintain boundaries, and have them respected.

We can learn and practice the tools that can evolve relationships into empowered, nurturing and dynamic partnerships.  Embodied Boundaries is a 3-part workshop that supports you in identifying, articulating and maintaining boundaries that help you and your relationship thrive.

In this workshop series, you’ll learn how to :

  • say you can say “no” to your partner, while growing together in love
  • know and ask for what you really want
  • honor your partner says “no” while staying centered and grounded
  • Find deeper intimacy without losing yourself

The power of doing this work in a group

 You might think the best way of doing couples work would be in private with just you, your partner and a therapist. That’s how it is usually done.

My experience is just the opposite. The work is much more powerful when done with other people who are in the same situation as you, working in small groups some of the time and at other times all together.

It is easier to see yourself reflected in other people than to see yourself as you are. The same is true of couples. As each of the couples share their stories, you see your own story reflected. This may offer the opportunity to see it for the first time or to see it differently.

Empathy and understanding arise and it becomes possible for everyone to soften their hearts, not only towards their partners but towards themselves as well. Listening to the others gives you a completely different perspective on your own situation.

Class structure and format

Class 1: What are boundaries and Why are they important to our relationship?

Class 2: Knowing where my boundaries are, and how to articulate them to my partner and stay connected

Class 3: Saying and Hearing “No” as a intimacy practice

Each session will be a mix of teaching, experiential practice, group reflection, and integration and follow up practices for at home, during the weeks between sessions.

Included in this class series is an individual couples session with Pavini, focusing on boundary issues specific to you and your partner.

Dates: 
Online April 5, 12 and 19
6-8 Pacific 
We will meet online using zoom technology, which is like skype but better. 

Cost: $300 per couple

Tuition includes 6 hours of in-person online teaching, follow up activities, email support and a one-hour individual couples session (valued at $185)

Boundaries for lesbians and queers

Your Body Remembers

“I wish my body would just cooperate.” Mila says, deep frustration in her voice. “I’m having fantastic sex. Why can’t I cum?”

We’re sitting in my office, having a conversation we’ve had several times before. In fact, it’s a conversation I often have with my clients.

They are angry about something that their body is or is not doing, something that is preventing them from experiencing intimacy in the way they want. It might be not being able to come, or not being able to stay present during sex, or not being able to speak to tell their partner what feels good. Perhaps they physically block themselves from experiencing pleasure, or can only orgasm by themselves and never with a partner.

In every case, there is a disconnect between what the person wants and what is actually happening in their body.

What my clients usually come to understand is that there is a profound wisdom in the responses that our bodies have. These responses have developed over time, in reaction to the experiences we’ve had in our bodies. Our history is stored in our bodies.

“Is your body feeling safe enough to orgasm?” I ask Mila. Her eyes flicker away from mine, and her foot taps nervously, answering the question without words. She blurts out, “We’ve never processed our breakup.”  Mila recently started sleeping with her ex-girlfriend of ten years ago, and is hopeful for a reconciliation.

“But that was so long ago. Why would it stop me from cumming now?” she asks. She doesn’t like my answer: “Your body remembers.”

Mila’s situation is not unusual. She’s processed the painful breakup in therapy. She understands what happened between them. She has mentally forgiven her lover for leaving her. But until our painful and traumatic experiences are processed on a somatic level, body symptoms persist.

Her mind has moved towards healing faster than her body. Her body is reminding her to be cautious, to take her time, to build emotional trust with her lover (probably including processing their breakup) before surrendering bodily control (i.e. having an orgasm.)

Part of becoming a skillful, well-integrated human means attending to all the parts of ourselves, especially those bits we avoid.  Focusing our attention on our wounds with the intention of healing means acknowledging the adaptive survival mechanisms we have embodied. It means seeing how our bodies express old survival skills, even when our minds have decided that those skills are no longer relevant to our current situation.

“Healing trauma, rather than  avoiding or managing it, is  possible through a somatic approach. Many people try to “understand” what happened to them, or “put it behind them” but to truly feel at home and safe again, connected to yourself, others and place, takes healing the experience through your psycho-biology. The body remembers and will continue to react from trauma, until this  is processed through the body/mind/spirit.” ~Staci Haines

In order to have the sexuality you want, your body must feel safe. If your mind and your body are at odds, there is no felt sense of safety.

What is safety?

A feeling on the inside, when I know I have the power to take action on my own behalf. Safety stems from knowing deep in our bodies that we can take skillful action to serve our needs.

How do I start to feel safe in my body?

Assuming that you are physically safe, beginning to practice a collaborative relationship between your mind and your body is where somatic healing starts. My body begins to feel like a safe place when:

  • I make consistent, loving choices that support my needs for food, rest, companionship, movement and work.
  • I am kind to myself inside my head, and stop thinking that I need to be mean to myself for motivation
  • I give my body all the time it needs to reorient to a new way of being (as opposed to pushing my body to accept change on some predetermined timetable)
  • I recognize that my body remembers and processes at a different (and usually slower) speed than my mind
  • I take a systematic and somatic approach (as opposed to a cognitive one) to address and renegotiate trauma that is held in my bodily tissues
  • I practice trusting the information that my body relates to my mind
  • I believe that my body is deeply wise
  • I give up my story of brokenness, and trade it in for one of healing and integration
  • I recognize that muscular contraction in the body is valuable information, and that “Just relax” while well intended, misses the point.
  • I allow my body to drive, rather than my cognition.

All of these tenets are available to you for free, right now.

And if having an embodied relationship with your body and your sexuality sounds fabulous to you and you’d like more support, hey, this is what I do. I help folks live pleasurably in their bodies and relationships. Drop me a note, and we’ll set up a time to chat and discuss how I can help. 

 

 

The Birds and the Bees and the Fucking in the Trees!

When you or a loved one is looking for queer, ecosexual porn to get you hot and bothered, where do you turn?

I know, right? 
If you are like most of us, your poor, sad inner ecosexual don’t get much loving in the media.
Nature is sexy. That’s why they call the big sex talk “the birds and the bees.”  You instinctively knew the sexiness of the Earth as a kid. And now.  You remember it now.
You feel the Eros of the sap as it rises in spring, pulsing through the tree trunks. You experience the subtle pounding in your veins, as the crashing waves of the salty sea are welcomed by the tender shore. You know the silky feel of the river sliding against your naked skin, the hot sun penetrating your pores. You remember the grit of sand against your ass, and the rising of the flesh as cool breeze brushes across your skin.

You know these pleasures. These are ecosexual pleasures.

How do we make love with Earth, our first and final lover? How do we celebrate the sexuality inherent in nature, and manifest it in our own spirits and bodies? Three years ago, I directed and shot a short film that attempts to capture on film our erotic relationship with the Earth and answer these questions. I made this film for you, for us, for all sweet and sexy Earthlings. 

Now, it’s me who needs your help.

Holy MILF Promo img
I’m at a critical moment in the birthing of this community produced and support DIY film, Holy MILF. We’ve raised 30% of our $5000 campaign. In order to complete the final push and get the film into theaters and film festivals for the pleasure of ecosexuals like you everywhere, I need your financial support.
Your contribution will support the final edits, color and sound corrections, and first DVD run. Without these things, Holy MILF will not be able to be shown in theaters.
Your gift is extremely important. Not only is it a way for you to support radical, queer art, it’s also a way for you to bring into the world the kind of erotica that turns you on.

Your gift of $40 will give you the opportunity to download and view Holy MILF,  before it is ever released in theaters! (or choose another hot-n-sexy perk!)

I am deeply committed to bringing to visibility queer ecosexuality for you, your pleasure, your desire and our planet. Saving the planet through pleasure is not something I can do alone, however.
The Indiegogo campaign is here, where you can watch the silly promo video, as well as the beautiful official trailer. Please donate what you can today. The campaign ends this Sunday, 2/22

Your donation will make a world of difference. I promise you.  Click on the link below to visit and donate to get Holy MILF on the screen.

View and Donate to our Indiegogo Campaign!
VISIT OUR CAMPAIGN!