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!

 

The Discomfort of Calling In

My dear friend and colleague in the revolution Rain Crowe’s inspiring words. A hefty read.

rain crowe

Recently, a good friend and I shared a conversation in which they revealed a recent personal instance of public shaming. Unfortunately, the phenomena of being “called out” is all too familiar to me, and to so many of us, and as we worked through their feelings and thoughts about it, I realized how many similar conversations with others I’d had in the past many months.

As a mediator-facilitator of groups, I find the phenomena intriguing and have attempted to map out some of the social variables that contribute to these instances. As an educator about group formation and adaptive healthy functioning, it seems important to be able to articulate a meta perspective that embeds these situations in the context of contemporary culture, both recent past and presently expressed. And as an organizer, within many intersecting alterna-cultural groups, I am concerned by the pervasiveness with which respectability politics play out in…

View original post 1,101 more words

La Pocha Nostra Performance

NEW BARBARIANS 3.0: 

A Pocha Nostra X-treme Fashion Show & Photo-performance karaokeSaturday,

September 13th  7:00 PM.

420087-250

On Saturday, September 13th, I will be performing in this.

La Pocha Nostra’s two-week residency at Fort Mason ends with an exciting evening public performance in two-parts.

Part one will include a live “photo karaoke” session in collaboration with maestro RJ Muna in which artists and audience members will create live images on-site for the camera.

Part two of the evening will include an “extreme fashion show” featuring the work of the participants that has been developed during the residency.

Buy Tickets Early!  It will sell out!

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/851937

Calling Queer, Magickal Musicians for submissions to Eco-sexual Film Project

Are you a queer magickal musician or song-writer?

Are you up for a radical community project? Do you feel called to work in a sacred way, an erotic way, and allow Spirit to guide your music?  Would you like to compose a song for a film that supports liberation of the Earth and liberation for our fabulous, queer sexy selves?

Two summers ago, two collaborators and I shot an erotic film documenting a queer Eco-sexual ritual that celebrates the liberation of magick, sexuality and the Earth.  You can read the project description here. Performers of many genders, sexualities, bodies and abilities donated their time and energy and allowed their intimate explorations with Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit to be captured on film. The result is a sexy cacophony of nature-based pleasure.

Currently, I am editing the film with Carol Leigh, a.k.a. Scarlot Harlot, an award-winning film maker, sex work activist and erotic artist in her own right.  The film is unlike anything Carol or I have ever seen.  The magick imbued in the process is unique and once you see it, you realize why it must be in the world.

What we need now is original music for the score. In the spirit of including the magick of many artists and making this a film for community by community, we are asking for your support. 

We need seven original pieces of music: one for Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Spirit, Pentacle of Queer Eco-Sexuality, and credits. We invite in your erotic creativity. All musicians will have artistic agency in their musical portrayal of their erotic relationship with the element of their choice.

You will receive fame and glory with your name in the credits, a copy of the film, and an invitation to our screening party when the film is complete.  All participation is voluntary, and no financial recompense will be given for participating. No on’es making money off of this project: the proceeds of this film will be used to support Free Cascadia Witchcamp and other projects that are in alignment with our eco-sexual values.  The deadline for submission is August 18, 2014.

If sharing your music in this film calls to you, please email me to schedule a time to discuss your desires and how we can collaborate with you!  Please forward this to your musician friends!

What happened at Geography of Pleasure? One man’s experience (guest post)

The circle of trans guys holds usThe Circle Holds Us

By Marcus, a participant in the “Geography of Pleasure” workshop. 

After the last day of the workshop, I was driving home meditatively, feeling the edges of my being. Not clicking from one radio station to the next, and blasting my senses with distracting stimuli. I wanted to allow myself to feel.

When I arrived at my place of residence, I thought, ‘I am home.’  I was feeling in my body and holding myself in a pleasant, nonjudgmental observation. My awareness of self was for once not about boundary patrol against shame, fear, or violation.

Two days before, I arrived at the workshop space in a daze, overwhelmed by the feeling of  being around other people. I had become so used to the security of isolation and shutting down before I could be rejected. Alone, I could (unsuccessfully) pretend that I was all the things I wished I could be, and remove myself from reminders of failures and inadequacies.

I tried to relax into the comfortable seating, dim lamp lights, and the circle of anxious strangers, only to find myself comparing my body to others and listing off all the ways I lacked qualities that I admired in others and so wished for myself. The expression of trans masculinity became ever so in focus. I began to irrationally perceive my body to be physically smaller and smaller and uglier and uglier, as I unrealistically assumed perfection and invulnerability in others.

Though it was my intention to stay and not run or hide, my body sure wanted to run as we began to take turns speaking in the first of many circles. I was suddenly morbidly afraid of looking and sounding funny, and not being taken seriously. Amazingly, these divisive views between myself and others were gradually broken down, in a way I never thought was capable… I will now attempt to describe some of my most groundbreaking workshop moments.

eyeSustained Mutual Eye Contact:

This scared me a lot, as I have long experienced this as mutual invasion of private space. While it is a common expression of wanting to know and be known, sustained eye contact was something I only normally used within the following contexts: romantic interest, aggressive challenging, or conversations. I felt extremely exposed because it was as if I were ‘caught’ seeking an inappropriate level of closeness. There was little excuse for me to stop looking, because the activity did not allow for typical distractions. It was very unsettling to feel that emotional nakedness that I reserved for almost no one. By the end of the workshop, I no longer felt such reservations once I understood seeing and being seen to not be a threat. Instead, it can feel so loving and fulfilling!

Body Observation

When I allowed my body to observe and be observed, I was overcome by the emotions of others and the energy of the room. When I felt loving, gentle gazes caressing my body’s surfaces, I realized the toxicity of my self-directed gaze. I never extended to myself the same kind of understanding and acceptance I aspired to give others.

Movement/Body Expression

Moving to music felt awkward. I was confronted by my body’s lifelong reluctance to express itself. Interacting with space around me felt dangerous compared to stillness, which felt so safe and contained. My initial line of thinking was that I don’t know how best to move, so I might as well not.

Though I had a blindfold on, I still felt a critical gaze upon me, the kind that has long held my arms down, my torso stiff, and my legs frozen. Then I realized no one was laughing, and others were similarly focused on their own movements. I had nobody to apologize to for my movements, as no one could see. This activity allowed me to ponder the following questions. What am I holding back from, when there is no one to please but myself? What is possible of myself, when no consequence will arise from honoring my impulses?

It was difficult to surrender, and I don’t think I fully could yet, but I willed my mind to allow my body to interpret the music how it pleased. I allowed myself to enact my varying emotions: playfulness, exploration, loneliness, calm. To stand and shuffle and wave and swagger and sit the way the music called my body to do.

Healing Ritual

Healing another, watching the healing of others, and receiving my own healing all were magical moments. It was when shame, anger, and grief looked startlingly beautiful in all their ugliness. When I realized we needn’t harden against it all. We could all face and absorb the immense shame and trust that our existence would not be smashed to smithereens.

For me, the ritual felt like bones being reset, and being allowed to heal with alignment and clarity. I had to dig really deep, because I had buried so much of my shame. Entering the circle forced me to verbalize what was holding me back from the happiness and pleasure in life that I desire. I found, and released fears, inadequacies, and traumas that my body was holding despite my amnesia.

Eros field trip 

(NOTE: Eros is a men’s bath house (very trans-inclusive) in San Francisco that generously donated admission for anyone in the class who wanted to go and check it out on Saturday night.)

I had reservations about going to a men’s sex space as a straight man with no prior inclinations towards having sex with men. But, I am really glad I went, as it was exciting to explore a new space with unfamiliar dynamics, all while feeling so safe because my amazing friends from the workshop were around!

I discovered I was actually physically desirable to some individuals, and the context of the men’s space really made me feel validated as a man. (Though I do worry about assumptions being made, based on my body type.) I also realized I still have some work to do about feeling ok and not guilty when enforcing my boundaries.

I did not discover any desire for sexual interaction with other men, but I now yearn for more access to intimate men’s spaces. This hasn’t really been open to me as a straight man, and I have, for a long time, adopted a normatively competitive gaze towards other men. For me this has fostered more feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and jealousy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABull Kelp Meditative Embodiment Activity

We were invited to sway to nautical music while imagining ourselves to be bull kelp. The idea of being rooted and just o.k. with my existence while swaying with the movement of the water was strangely profound. When we were invited to return to feeling the edges of our bodies, I could not help but weep from the sensation of viewing myself with non-judgment and comfort. It shook me to observe how long my body has been deprived of my love, and how long I have gone without noticing!

Anatomy Lessons

 I appreciated both lessons on the chest and the genitals and the fact that they were presented in dysphoria-reducing language. I have had some bottom surgeries, and am eager to understand my genitals. Tissues have now been rearranged, rendering some parts more accessible, and others less or not at all.

Despite having pored through countless anatomy articles and diagrams, I learned a new term and site of pleasure: the perineal sponge! This knowledge has helped me gain a better understanding of how to best stimulate the nerves that I thought were no longer accessible.

magic touchTouch

I felt extremely soothed, and so grateful feeling the love and care of the two people working together to bring me the release from muscle tension I desired. They were eager to comply, and I grew in my comfort to be able to ask for how I wanted to be pleased. For once, I experienced the joy of trusting another’s desire to please me. It was liberating to not feel guilty or burdensome

My body felt extremely honored by their touch, and I had never known that comfort and love could accompany such vulnerability. Who knew that exposure doesn’t need to be just about shame and embarrassment and instead could feel so delicious and freeing? I didn’t.

The Circle Holds Us

We took turns in a circle being held and holding one another, before everyone stepped backwards together towards the center of the circle. How amazing it felt to be this stable entity of love, so unyielding in its solid hold of me, despite how fragile we may each feel in so many moments of our lives. In this moment I knew I was not the scared person I was on Friday who was eager to shut out the intrusive presence of others. Instead, I leaned into the warmth of our bodies, the life of our collective breaths, the energies of trans masculine brethren with whom I felt an unmatched closeness.

Culmination and Integration

This workshop was such a highlight of my life after so much anguish and pain. I have rarely cried so much and been so deeply moved. There was a ‘before workshop’ era of my life, and now the ‘after workshop’ time is only beginning. I left with the profound understanding that there are truly greater possibilities for really knowing others in a way that facilitates the closeness and healing that I so desire, yet have always been so afraid of.

After saying many goodbyes, I entered the elevator, alone. The loneliness was momentarily terrifying. I was so sad to leave the space, because the world outside will never be nearly so safe, with facilitators actively shaping healing vibes. But even as I return to my real life, where my physical and emotional boundaries are continually tested, I recharge and revive when I think of being in that circle of bodies, holding and being held. Even now, my heart is still overflowing with love for our capacity to heal so much pain. I revel in the memory of that circle. Emancipating Sexuality Calls us home to Erotic Wholeness

A Valentine’s Day Love Letter to My Fat Body

Love letter to my fat body

Dear Body,

I write to you from the garden of the home we share.  The radiant oranges and yellows of the nasturtiums splashing their outrageous beauty everywhere remind me of you.  I thought I’d write and tell you the truthful yearnings of my heart.

When I see you walking with your back straight, your chin raised toward the sky, rolling that big gorgeous ass, I think to myself, “You, YOU are a new paradigm of beauty.”

Your abundant beauty belongs to you.  All those curves and rolls and solid flesh. That way you disregard all the ways you are supposed to be beautiful, and make your own rules instead stuns me with delight. It is a miracle to witness you, to watch your strength and determination, as you live so fatly and fiercely. I know they said you wouldn’t.

I watch you, out of the corner of my eye. I watch as you dance and spin, cutting crazy moves on the dance floor.  I watch as you make raunchy love.  I watch as you gather children, lovers, friends and enemies into your embracing arms. Sometimes, you are so exquisite that I lose my breath.  My heart pounds like its gonna burst out of my chest with an explosion of love and glitter.

When I see you like that, I lose all of my fear. I feel full of confidence, knowing you are mine.  You have been so patient, waiting as I’ve come to know this.

When you pull your tight black tee-shirt over your head, fasten your studded belt around your thick waist, I know you are not concerned about what anyone will say.  Your flesh is molded into the shape of erotic luxury and perilous pleasure.  I love the way you own your desire. You are subversive and dangerous, just by your lines and shape.

You are ripe and delicious, like some rare succulent fruit.  When you let me cup your heavy breasts, stroke your skin with rose oil, and dip my fingers into your secret places that you only share with me, I know pleasure beyond any other.  Can you feel the breath of my adoration humming along your skin?

You are my miracle of beauty and life. I desire to dive deeply into you, to utterly lose myself inside of your wild, free form. Inside of you, I will find home, I just know it.

Big Fat Love,

Pavini Moray, Sexological Bodyworker

P.S.  May I suggest writing a Valentine’s Day love letter to your own body?  Send them to me, and I’ll choose several to publish right here on this blog!

The Choice to Listen

im-not-listeningUnfortunately, this resembled the scene over breakfast at my house this week, waaayyyy before coffee had kicked in.

Pavini: I need to say something, and I want to ask that you just hold it and not react.  It’s about me, and not about you, or you doing or not doing anything.

Pavini’s partner: uhhhh…okay.

Pavini: I am feeling controlling about the website.

Pavini’s partner: Oh, no big deal.  You can do the website.

Pavini: That is exactly what I did NOT want you to say!!

In the above interaction, I felt angry and triggered after my partner responded that I could do the website.  I did not WANT to do the website, and merely naming my feelings was super vulnerable.   I tried to take care of myself, by front-loading the situation and trying to ask for what I needed.  It didn’t work, and in fact I got the opposite of what I had wanted. Clearly, a communication fail.

Talking about the situation later, my partner told me that when I asked him to hold what I was about to say without reacting, he felt a great deal of nervousness and anticipation.  When I actually said the thing, he felt relief.  He then wanted me to feel better, and he assumed that I would since he was feeling relieved that I hadn’t told him something heinous over oatmeal.

Unfortunately, in conveying his relief, I experienced his communication as minimization of my own feeling.

What would have been helpful in this situation would be for him to have said something like “Do you want to say more?” or “Is there something you need around that?” You know, therapist speak.

There are times when we just need to say something and have it witnessed and held well.  Sometimes, that is all we need.  No one needs to respond, judge, fix, or filter it through their own experience.  Empathic listening is the technique when a listener stays present and attuned, without doing anything else.    

In working with couples and in my own couples therapy, I have often noticed that while someone may be fluent in communicating their own feelings, it can be super challenging  to just LISTEN to the feelings of their partner.  There is a conflation of listening with agreement.  Meaning, if I listen deeply to what my partner is saying, that means I agree with it.

However, I’ve learned that it is possible to listen to what a partner is saying, and try to hear and understand, without agreeing at all. In order to be able to truly hear, we can disagreement to the side, and promise to come back for it in a little bit.  When I listen from a place that is beyond agreement or disagreement, my communications often go much more smoothly.

Here are some different types of listening I’ve been researching:

Active: Listening in a way that demonstrates interest and encourages continued speaking.

Appreciative: Listening to something for pleasure, like spoken word poetry

Attentive: Fully engaged with what the speaker is saying, demonstrating attentive body language and inserting appropriate social markers of listening.

Biased: Listening through the filter of personal bias or belief. This short clip gives more info

Casual: Listening without obviously showing attention. Actual attention may vary a lot.

Comprehension: Listening to understand meaning

Critical/judgmental/evaluative: Listening in order to evaluate, criticize or otherwise pass judgment on what someone else says.  This can include listening to rebut listening with the intention of finding fault, to rebut, or to compare with ourselves.

Empathic: Listening from the heart, listening for feelings. Maintaining awareness of one’s own self, while opening to the feeling state of the speaker.

Reflective: Listening in order to understand, and then saying back to someone what you have heard them say, while clarifying for your own understanding.

Sympathetic: Listening with concern for the well-being of the speaker. Often paired with the communicationchoice to express one feelings or offer advice.

Therapeutic: Listening with empathy to help the speaker to understand their own feelings and thoughts.

My partner and I resolved our conflict. The next time I need to speak something aloud and only have it witnessed,  I will make the choice as the speaker to ask him to listen with empathy.  That gives him clear information in making his choice as a listener. 

As listeners, we have lots of choices.  We can choose what type of listening we are doing.  We can choose how our body language reflects what we are doing. We can be thinking about what we will say next, and zoning out to the speaker.  We can be thinking about how what the speaker is saying relates to us or our experience. We can be thinking about how to fix or solve or advise the speaker.  Or we can choose to simply be present and engaged, setting down as many of our filters as we can.

Active-listening-chart

Sexual Liberation: Calling Ourselves Home to Erotic Wholeness

Emancipating Sexuality Calls us home to Erotic WholenessLast week, a client said to me “Well, I know you have always been free sexually, but I’m not like you, I’m stuck.” I smiled/cried because nothing could be further from the truth. I was sexually blocked for years.  Right now, I’ve got an erotic energy block the size of a small city at my diaphragm that I’m working on.  And, even being able to identify that stuckness is a profound indicator of how far I’ve come.  (We are called home to Wholeness)

No, this sexual liberation that I’m always nattering on about is hard won, every single day.

Each day I traverse the challenging road back to the body, back to my breath, back to pleasure, back to trust and vulnerability and intimacy.  Just as a path quickly becomes overgrown without traffic, this liberatory road of the body must consistently be tread and reinforced.  I must continually reinforce the neural wiring I am consciously choosing for my sexual liberation.

It’s important to name that being sexually stuck is where my journey began.  Stuck in a sexless marriage, stuck with a limited potential for pleasure, stuck.  I was settling for a mediocre sexuality that I knew was problematic.  I didn’t know how to get out of it. I had no support resources.

Around me, I saw those who were going further and deeper into their sexual potential.  I felt tremendous guilt that my sexuality was so limited. Deep shame that I seemingly had no libido.  When my then-partner would try to touch me, I felt fear and confusion at my arousal process, and no ability to talk about it or seek support.

In that ho-hum Eoyore way, I was accepting that this was as good as it was going to be for me in this lifetime. (We are called home to Wholeness.)

In therapy for food addiction, one day my therapist gently pointed out that as I was healing my relationship with food, I must also heal my relationship with my body.  An important next step was to enter more consciously into my sexuality.  When a client comes to me and expresses how stuck they feel, or how blocked their erotic expression is, I completely get it, on a body level.  I KNOW intimately the aversion, the fear, the shut-down.  And, I also know the desire and innate craving for erotic expression that led me out of that painful morass. Ultimately, it has led me to playfulness and joy in my sexual exploration.

We are called home to Wholeness.  In each new relationship, we are giving ourselves opportunity anew to heal our wounds, both from our past and from our lineage. I was recently in a group and there was a man there in his mid-seventies who had just come out as gay. He had spent his entire life taking the “easier path” (his words) only to find that hiding one’s erotic identity is ultimately a denial of one’s very life. I am grateful to have learned this truth at an earlier age.  But whenever we do decide that the pain of claiming who we truly are as erotic beings is LESS than the agony of trying to be someone we will never be, coming out allows us huge, instantaneous advances in our own liberatory process. 

This morning, I was reading Susie Bright’s lovely little book called Full Exposure: Opening Up to your Sexual Creativity and Erotic Expression.

Susie writes:

“Not many people are actually looking sexual liberation, at least not until they get to the end of a very weary road of dissatisfaction.  That usually takes a decade or two.  Liberation, per se, is not the sort of thing people count as tops on their to-do list.”

In my perfect world, we all feel and acknowledge the pull of liberation as an imperative of being human. I KNOW we feel it.  I KNOW we deny it. And I know we get ourselves stuck, with the very purpose of later being able to set ourselves free. 

One of the agreements made in order to attend Black Velvet, the erotic experiment in the dark that I hosted last week, was an agreement to reflect in writing on the experience.  We asked participants several prompting questions, including “What were the rules you found, that you made for yourself?” Many people noted internally constructing rules that were not implicit in the structure of the event, or that didn’t necessarily benefit their erotic experience or freedom.  Here is qualitative data about how we construct our own erotic limitations, our own sexual prison cells, often without realizing it.

One of my dear friends, a teacher of erotic education and sexual liberation, has said to me upon several occasions, “I don’t feel sexually liberated, most of the time.”  Ironically, it was my observations of the erotic life of this person that led me to decide I was worthy of sexual liberation, and that I could have it in this lifetime.  That person helped me to realize that the rules I had about arousal, desire, and lust were not mine: they were internalized cultural constructs, or internally created prohibitive rules, that were not expressive of my true erotic nature.

Sexual liberation is a process, not a goal.  For the rest of my life, I will be freeing myself from all of the rules that I have swallowed, either those that culturally constructed or those that are self-imposed.  For the rest of my days, I will be calling myself home to erotic wholeness.

How do we start that sexual liberation process?   How do we free ourselves of the limiting beliefs, constructed and internalized rules and codes about eroticism, sensuality and sexuality?  How do we take those first, scary steps into our own erotic authenticity? How do we call ourselves home to erotic wholeness?

One of my favorite sayings by teacher Liu Ming: “Resist as much as you possibly can.  Only do that which you truly cannot resist.” Ironically, resisting the process is a crucial first step.  (Read my blog post about Resistance) While we can live in denial for a long while, at some point, our own heart becomes our compass. The pull of the truth that resides in our hearts and our genitals may be a quiet truth, but it ultimately is undeniable. 

There is no wrong way to step onto the sexual liberation path you are already on. 

One of the most important things I learned as a Montessori teacher was that I never know more than my student about what they need.  I don’t know when a student is ready to learn something, or if they even need to learn that thing.  All I can do is watch carefully, and be present to offer support when readiness appears.  It’s a philosophy I carry into this work.  I stand in honor of your process, without judgement or agenda.

Whether you choose to put sexual liberation at the top of your list (as I have done, and you could too; it’s fun!) or whether you choose to ignore sexuality altogether, press your legs tightly together, and think of England, there is a biological programming inherent in your cells that compels you to move in exactly the right motions and rhythm for you.  There is something inside that knows exactly what you need for erotic wholeness.

Here’s a final thought for today: you are already experiencing sexual liberation.  Susie Bright again: “When you do finally get laid, and then it happens again and again and again, the confidence you acquire leads you to some new questions about the value of sex, about a lover’s companionship in your life, about your own sense of adventure and mystery in your erotic body.” Let us call ourselves home to Erotic Wholeness.

What is one thing you can do right now to honor your Erotic Self?

Have your commitment witnessed by writing it in the comments below.

Take Me Down Where I am Whole: Take me down, to My Black Velvet Sexy Soul

il_570xN.171899971Yesterday was the 27th anniversary of losing my virginity.  

In honor of the long road of my sexual life, I’m reflecting today on how it was to make that first decision about sexual engagement, and how it is as a sexual being 27 years later.

Last Friday night, my friends and I offered “Black Velvet.”  This was an intentional experiment in what happens to our physical attractions, erotic engagement and sexual behavior when we enter a completely dark space. What happens if we have an hour and a half to do anything we want, as long as we obtain consent from our partners?  In the numerous conversations and emails that have occurred in the days following, I have learned that setting down our sexual baggage both is and is not an easy thing to do. 

When I first made the decision to become sexual, it was about a year after I had visited Planned Parenthood for the first time.  At 14, my friend and I made appointments, without telling our parents, to have pelvic exams and to start on birth control pills.  I remember being so terrified of pregnancy, and so terrified of my own sexuality, that going on the pill preemptively seemed like a wise, mature choice.  Even in light of my current concerns about the effects of hormones on developing sexualities, I stand by that choice and have great respect for PP to this day.  I remember taking my first peach colored pill, and realizing that I was taking my sexual power into my own hands.

Friday night, when I entered into the black velvet darkness, I had a similar sense.  This was about my sexual power, my way.  I had no fear about being in that space, as I trust my own boundaries, and even more, I trust in my ability to recover from breaches to my boundaries.  No matter what could have happened, I felt secure in knowing that I could eventually handle it.

When I met Terry, first real intimate love of my life, we decided that we would have sex together, and share the loss of our virginity.  We set a date, wrote a contract, talked about how it would be, and what we wanted.  I don’t know where the consciousness came from, because certainly no one in either of our families had helped to guide us, but there it was.  We both wanted a connected, playful, supportive and joyous experience.  We both wanted a space free of gender obligations.  We both wanted creativity and exploration.  We both wanted something meaningful. And that is what we created for ourselves.

It strikes me that in crafting the Black Velvet space, how strongly these principles from my earliest sexual encounters continue to shape my values around sexuality.  Conscious exploration and experimentation are the premises on which Black Velvet rested. Freedom from gender assumptions was a dearly-held desire. Play, connection, joy and support were all ingredients we stirred into that cauldron.

The experiment that was Black Velvet was so many things, to so many people.

I’ll only speak here from my own experience, although I’ve been collecting data from others.  What I am able to say is a common thread I’ve heard in reflections: how difficult it was to leave assumptions at the door.  Whether it was feeling excluded from a dyad already in progress, or concern about violating someone’s boundaries, or an unease about not knowing someone’s gender or queerness factor, our fears, assumptions, beliefs and stories make it very difficult for us to have a pure experience. 

I think back to October 28, 1986, and to the purity of the encounter I had with Terry.  Joy and connection.  The utterly astonishing feel of someone’s naked chest against mine.  The pain at the most gentle of penetration. The exhilaration of finally opening my body to someone I loved. The pride that I had done it in the way I wanted, with the person I wanted, and not drunk at some party. The sadness, knowing something was forever altered inside… not having grown into something yet that clearly had a vast and limitless potential.  The not knowing how to operate the parts, the bits, and yet feeling at the same time the exact knowing of how it all worked.  The vulnerability of showing my arousal, my desire, my pleasure.  The rawness of naked skin, exposed genitals, and bared heart. 

Contrasting these feelings to Black Velvet, I see the effects of 27 years of sexual exploration with myself and others. I know how to operate the bits. I know how to touch, and listen with my being.  I now know a lot about pleasure, connection, and sex.

My encounters in the dark were both fulfilling and unsatiating.  I loved being able to touch people, without knowing who they were, or what they wanted, and having to trust my own desire as a barometer, as well as trust that they would uphold any boundaries.  Loved it, and found it completely challenging.  Hearing fucking and slurping noises, moans and what sounded like orgasmic moments made me feel surprisingly tender, and not erotic. I loved being playfully grabbed and roughly pulled, and being slowly seduced into a full body encounter.

That evening, after Terry and I made love for the first time, I felt full of meaning.  I felt like I had the most beautiful secret in the world.  Feeling the rawness between my legs was like a prize… the deep ache inside made me feel grown up, in love, and powerful.  It was less about my connection with Terry, and more about validating a deep unseen source of power, almost completely unexplored.  It’s like when you venture into something just enough to realize the magnitude of what could potentially be possible. 

Black Velvet was also like that.  Having had it once, I want it more and more.  I want to push more into that womb-like chamber, penetrate more deeply into the folds of its mysteries.  I want to know my assumptions, my filters, my lenses.  I want to know the way trauma informs my judgmental self.  I burn to understand sex that is purely about physical connection.  I am intrigued to comprehend how two people can be in an experience and have completely different realities.

Terry is still so dear to me to this day. Our sweet, queer explorations set a course of supportive experimentation which clearly I hold as a deep value.  How completely beautiful it is to me that on some level, my 15-year-old self recognized what my 42-year-old self would want and need. 

Black Velvet opens consciousnessThe most important revelation from the Black Velvet space is about time magick.  The potent knowing that this self, right now, is setting the stage for what my sexual self will want and need, far into the future.  Possibly 27 years in the future.  I am so grateful for the journey, the road, the hurts and harms and healings.  I am so grateful for the pleasure, the breathe, the community.  Our sexual healing begins the moment we step into it, no matter how trepidatious or cautious we are.  Thank you Terry. Thank you Black Velvet.  And Thank you Pavini.  

As the soundtrack ended, and the sounds around me in that black velvet space gentled and slowed, one of my fellow organizers spoke a benediction.  They blessed our work, and our play. They reminded us that sexual exploration is our birthright. That while it may be up to us and us alone, it is indeed possible for us to create these spaces for ourselves to deepen our experience as erotic beings.  And sometimes it requires stepping into our own darkness, our own black velvet, to reach deeply for healing, truth, and liberation.

One of our feedback questions from the experience was about erotic experiments, and what ideas participants have for events they would like to see happen.  If you have an idea, please drop a comment below or email me.  Happy Samhain!

Fucking Science: Erotic Experiments in the Dark

sex_scienceQuestion: 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.

Before HIV, in the 1960’s and 1970’s, gay male bars often had something called a “darkroom” or “blackroom.”  This was a space, in the back of the establishment, that was unlighted and could be used for anonymous sex.  You know, stop in for happy hour on a Friday, order a Bud, go in the back and get a blow job, come back and finish your beer.  Does that sound good to you?  I have always wondered why gay males get a different kind of sexuality than everyone else. Why do they get glory holes, bathhouses, anonymous sex? That’s always felt unfair, and I’ve decided to do something to change that.  It involves my living room.

Today, as I’m writing, I keep glancing in there, wickedly imagining.  Come Friday evening, it will be magically transformed into an erotic pleasure laboratory. Four sexual “scientists,” together with an invited group of people, will participate in an experiment called “Black Velvet.”    

Consider this imaginary scenario, culled from the invitation:

In this Black Velvet space, although there is no light, you will begin to notice the presence of other bodies.   Slowly, as you crawl through the space, you bump gently into a soft, warm presence.  You reach out a hand to touch, and jump slightly as your own erotic energy becomes merged with that of another.  You don’t know who.  You don’t know what that person looks like, their name, where they work, or what bits they have.  All you know is whether you enjoy the energy between you or not.  

If you do, and if they do, you stay and explore being in bodies in the dark together.  If one of you doesn’t enjoy the shared energy, you move away, move their hand away, or whisper “busy.” There is no shame. There is no expectation or obligation.  There is no commitment, other than to the truth of the moment.  

 Consent is always necessary… and it is given by your potential partner choosing to engage with you.  Your boundaries are not negotiable, and indeed the entire group is responsible for creating safer, supported space that welcomes all bodies, genders, sexual identities, and desires.  This group holds as its most profound value that the decision not to engage with someone is a decision to trust our deepest knowing, and is therefore a gift to everyone.

What will happen in this Black Velvet Space?  That’s completely up to you.  You may leave after being deliciously fucked by a hot stranger.  Or, you may explore what it is to be in a space like this and hold your boundaries and not engage at all. Or a thousand other outcomes.  The only requirements for how you explore a space like this is your desire to know yourself better as an erotic being.  

Are you still breathing?  Does this sound intimidating as hell to you?  I know it does to me.  I am really pretty scared about Friday night.  My intention is to open my body in new ways, and I don’t really know what that means or how it will manifest.  What if I go too far beyond my boundary? What if I fuck someone I don’t want to fuck, but they smell and feel so right?  My control issues/needs make it really, really hard to imagine being in a space like Black Velvet, and just surrendering. 

However, I am on fire with conducting erotic experiments.  I am deeply committed to using my body as a pleasure laboratory.  I am ‘all in,’ for maybe the first time in my life, in my ongoing explorations of body, sex, spirit and intimacy.

I’m really quite tired of my erotic limits.  I’m tired of only seeking the kind of sex that connects, builds intimacy, and endures the test of time.  I’m tired of sensation and pleasure being limited by my own narrow capacity. I’m ready to push past the boundaries I think I hold, and find what lies beyond them.Erotic Experiments

How do I know what I am erotically capable of, unless I conduct experiments?  How do I know what I might like unless I try it out? What else is possible for my genitals to feel?  For my hands to learn?  What else can I do with my erotic energy? How can I use the power of my orgasm to make electricity that lights my house? What happens if I turn my bits inside out and stimulate them?  To what edge of beyond trust can I push myself, while still staying connected and compassionate with my heart?

Oh there’s that trust word again.  I will say it is pretty intense, to be on this erotic journey in such a public way. It’s crazy hard sometimes, to claim radical sexuality and pleasure in this queer, fat body.   I am deeply trusting my own process as alchemical. I hope it stands for something that is meaningful to you.  Learning to trust diving into the void of not knowing, and learning to trust that I will emerge, intact feels like my great work.

So what will be the conclusions of the Black Velvet erotic experiment?  Will participants explore their desires, curiosities, hang-ups and boundaries? Will we emerge from the darkness, with deeper and fuller knowledge of our erotic capacities?  And will we be able to make it stick, make it count, make pushing our erotic edges translate into more space in our whole lives?  Or will it just be a cool, I-live-in-the-Bay-Area-and-we-do-weird-sex-shit-like-this-cuz-we-are-so-hip kinda deal?

I do not know.  Participants have agreed to send me their reflections within 48 hours of the event, so there’s my data collection. I will write to you next Monday (are you noticing that posts come out every Monday?  You could *subscribe* if you never want to miss one again!) Next Monday, I will describe the event and my experiences, should you be so interested.  (I’m also teaching an Intimacy Technology class next Monday on trust: please consider attending.)

If you like this post, it would make me deliriously happy if you would consider conducting your own erotic experiment in the next week or so. Post a comment below telling me what will be, or drop me an email and tell me what happened.  I know I’m not the only erotic revolutionary here! 

What might happen on our planet if we build

a critical mass of erotic consciousness? 

Trusting Eros: Being Taken by the Fuck (in an alley)

Sex in an Alley“Can you take it?” Togan asked, his hands wrapped around my throat, as he stands above me, gazing down at my face. 

It was hard to answer: my pussy was being seriously banged by Dramal.  “That’s all you got?” I barely whisper, and watch as his face contorts with anger and pleasure, simultaneously.

Yesterday, I practiced being fucked in a filthy San Francisco alley. 

 I don’t typically have casual sex.  My trust issues prohibit it.  The sex I have is connected, meaningful, intimate.  I am incredibly selective about my partners, and tend to have sexual relations that span decades instead of minutes.  My relationships tend to depend deeply this kind of strong trust. Trust allows me to surrender, to open my body and my heart. This is how sex feels good to me.

And yet. There is a part of me that yearns to explore uninhibited, no-strings-attached sex.  The kind of sex where you have to pick the gravel out of your knees for days after.  The kind of sex that leaves the stench of garbage and piss all over your boots. The kind of sex that burns hot, extreme, and strikes like lightning.  Ironically, the kind of sex that is beyond trust. 

Erik Erikson was a psychologist known for his theory on psychosocial development of human beings.  If you’ve ever said “I’m having an identity crisis” you can thank him for that phrase.  He theorized that there were 8 stages of psychological development in humans, and that each stage allows one to master (or not) a crucial life skill.  If not mastered (because the needs around it weren’t consistently met) it can become a core wound, an area of your life in which you consistently experience challenges.

The first stage of Erik Erikson’s theory centers around the infant’s basic needs being met by the parents.  This experience leads to either trusting or mistrusting the world. Erikson defines trust as “an essential truthfulness of others as well as a fundamental sense of one’s own trustworthiness.”

My core wound is trust.  I am petrified of betrayal. 

This fear has haunted me in all of my relationships.  It has been prohibited me from exploring the full extent of my sexuality, because I seek to meet my need for trust in my sexual relationships.  Perhaps you can relate!  I am often suspicious, and can question a lover to the nth degree, until I find the betrayal I am certain exists.   This behavior is not particularly conducive to intimacy, and thus my sweetheart has requested me to examine when I am viewing through a situation through my betrayal lens, and I am attempting to comply, by finding situations where I can practice and be held with love.

This weekend I attended a Body Electric workshop called “Outside the Boxes.”  It was a time for queers and genderqueers of all flavors to explore body, sex and pleasure.  The intentions included to expand Eros through embodiment, especially using breath and pelvic focus.  To discover edges, and to deepen into living in one’s whole body. To participate in communal erotic ritual, in a container that is about presence and Self, as opposed to hooking up and Other. It is an amazing chance for us to do our personal work, in a supported, focused environment.

There were many interesting activities and rituals over the course of the weekend.  However, it is the last encounter about which I write today.  The culmination of this weekend was in giving and receiving erotic massages in groups of three. To tell you about this, I must rewind a few weeks into the past, and tell you about attending an event at the Center for Sex and Culture called “Perverts Put Out.”  Writers and storytellers ply their erotic crafts and share their work this juicy evening.  One of the stories that night was read by local writer Jen Cross, who conducts Writing Ourselves Whole writing workshops for survivors of sexual abuse and trauma.  The story she told pierced into my brain like an arrow shot through an apple, and has remained lodged there in the weeks that followed.

She told a kinky tale of mindfuck: a submissive boi being taught a lesson on manners and assumptions about power and gender. As if I were there, I saw it… in a crumbling alley off of Folsom… the three of them locked in a gritty urban embrace of filth and power.  In my mind, I watched the scene unfold: the boi choking and gagging, learning to deepthroat from a woman wielding a large silicone cock while Daddy watches on.  Boi assumes Daddy is in charge, and he’ll get to play with him if he tolerates the attentions of the skirt.  The mindfuck is that actually the Top in the situation is Mommy, schooling the ignorance right out of the boi’s disgustingly stupid head.

Back at the workshop, I’m asked what my intention is before getting up on the table.  The truth is, I want the kind of internal trust that would let me experience being that boi in the alley.  It’s not that I want his role, I don’t want to be someone’s boi, per se. It’s just that I want to be able to open my body, beyond trust, beyond safety, and know that I’ll come out the other side intact.

I choose my partners.  They are edgy, genderqueer and I’ve watched each of them get fucked in turn, both preferring hard fucking and not so much the lovey-dovey.  I haven’t met either of them before this weekend, and while I have an affinity with them, I’m scared as I walk towards them.  They are waiting, blindfolded, at the massage table, for us to make our choices.  Perhaps I should choose less dangerous types for partners, perhaps picking instead a gentle older woman or a young sweet femme. I head towards the tattooed and muscled pair, my hands sweating.  They uncover their eyes, and I see them appraising me, wondering how this will go.  I don’t expect either of them to turn down the volume of their Eros, I just pray I can open to receive it. 

I tell them the story of the alley.  I tell them my intention is to practice having sex in an alley.  I see the diabolical light enter into Togan’s eyes.  I know I am in a safe container to practice this, but it’s still scary.  Dramal’s touch is gentle at first, and I want more.  Each time he asks me, “Is this okay?” until I say that I actually don’t really want him to ask me… and he gets it quickly.  “I’m asking you once and for all, do I have your permission to Handle you?” he whispers scathingly in my ear.  My yes is weak on volume, but it will do.

Their touch is strong.  I fight against it, and the slickness of the oil and sweat covers us all as we wrestle and fight.  I’m laughing, mocking them into giving me more, making it more real.  I want them to Want to do this, want to force their touch on me.  My face, smashed into the table, searing hands around my throat, fingers slamming into me.  It’s not exactly pleasurable, but there is something here, something erotic beyond what I can name.  It’s brutal, primal.  I check in with my pussy: “How are you doing down there?” and my pussy screams back “Shut the fuck up!  This is amazing!”  I smile, inspiring more force.

I see the rats, smell the garbage, feel the rough pavement beneath my ass.  I use my imagination to practice being in this scene.  I allow myself to become that boi, taken and used. It is delicious.

Sex in an Alley

When it’s over, we collapse against each other on the table, panting, sweaty, spent.  I wonder how it’s been for them, if they felt the animal of Eros as I did, or if they were just good at crafting this kind of experience so that I could play with what happens in the space that is beyond trust.  They wrap me in sheets, and stand with their attention focused on me for the next ten minutes as I dream and fly.  Smiles and giggles come and go… I feel so happy, so free.  I have opened my body to two people I don’t know, and probably won’t ever see again.  I have trusted in my own ability to stay present.  I have travelled a new road of Eros, that was often beyond what I would have named as my desire, and found it exquisite and satiating.  It’s sex, but not how I’ve known it.

This is the kind of trust I want in myself.  I want to be true to all of my desires. I want to explore my edges and beyond, trusting that I will never fall into victimhood.  I burn with the need to expand my erotic capacity.  I like practicing.  I don’t know when I’ll be ready to enter that wretched alley and have that kind of sex.  I trust that I will know when I am ready, and I trust that when I do it, Eros will take me exactly where I am meant to go.

If you are interested in exploring trust, and wanting to learn how to expand your capacity for it, plan to attend the Intimacy Technology class I am offering on Monday, October 28.  We’ll practice trust skills in a gentle, supportive way (in my living room, not in an alley!) and you will be in choice about all activities we do.  You can register here for Terrifying Trust.  

Homophobic Deal Breakers, Gay Dads and Queer Power!

Der KussWhen was the last time you turned down a date with a cutie-pie because of their politics?

Last week, I received a lovely introductory email message on an internet dating site from a heterosexual cis-gendered man.  Since my profile clearly states that I am genderqueer and queer, I was intrigued.  This man had obviously read through my voluminous profile, and found it interesting. When I responded and questioned his sexual orientation, he replied that he was “flexible and exploring.”  Great, I thought.  He was cute, and we set up a date.  Before meeting him, I decided to read his answers to the questions the site poses.  This was a good thing.

There I found two deal-breakers.  “Do you believe humans share common ancestry with apes?” was answered in the negative.  Uh-oh, I thought.  He doesn’t believe in evolution. But the one that got me to break the date was, “Should gay couples be allowed to have children?”

In honor of National Coming Out Day Friday, October 11, I am coming out as the child of a gay parent.  I have a gay dad.

1979 was a monumental year for me.  I was in 4th grade, and I found out that my dad was homosexual.  My parents had divorced when I was a baby and, I have no memories of ever living as a nuclear family.  I visited my dad every Saturday, in his house about half an hour away from mine.

He lived there with a man named Lawrence.  (He still lives with Lawrence, almost 40 years later.)  When they moved in together, my dad introduced him as his “roommate,” and pointedly showed me Lawrence’s bedroom.

The day I figured out my dad was gay, I remember only this feeling of horrendous shock, followed by numbness.  Ironically, I was actually IN my father’s ACTUAL closet when the realization struck me. Astute like many kids, I had pieced together clues.  I had a marginal understanding of what this meant, and my fourth-grade self knew it was neither good nor normal.

My dad lived for most of his life as a closeted gay man.  Only a select few knew his secret.  With the knowledge of his gayness came the implicit responsibility of secrecy, and the legacy of shame.   I told no one. That secret became locked up in a tiny room I never visited.  The relationship with my father felt tainted.  I adopted the common playground vernacular of “That’s gay!” or “You’re a fag!” without a true understanding of the deep degradation I felt mouthing these slurs. 

Entering into adolescence, and my own burgeoning sexuality, the secret of my father became more problematic.  I was certain I was not normal because of it.  Thankfully, in seventh grade, I met Memma, my life-long dear friend.  With her, I was finally able to share this secret without facing judgment.  The recognition and dignity I received from her allowed me to start walking my own road of acceptance.

Valentine’s Day that year, I read the classified section of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, along with every other 7th grader in Cleveland.  Placing a classified ad with the name of one’s true love was the most romantic gesture we knew.  Scanning for my own name, what I found was this: “Larry, I love you, Chuck.”  Our dirty, shameful secret written in ink in plain view for all of my friends to see.  No teenager wants their parent’s sexuality broadcast to the world.  Add to that the layers of mortification and terror I felt that someone would find out and I would be ostracized, this felt like life or death.

As an adult, I once wandered into a bookstore in London.  The title of a children’s book called “Heather has Two Mommies” passed into my landscape.  The ground rocked and tilted: my heart exploded.  I sat down on the floor of the bookstore and cried.  And cried and cried and grieved me as a  teen who wanted to die from the shame.  I so wished I had had that book when I was growing up. I wish I had had PFLAG, or youtube videos telling me it is going to get better. While I have gratitude for evolving attitudes and visibility in terms of queerness, there is a hurt that those things weren’t there when I needed them.

Recently I was reading a book on healing sexual trauma, and the author Staci Haines stated how we need to give ourselves credit not only for having survived, but for having gotten through something so tough all on our own.  So in honor of National Coming Out Day, I want to own the power that comes from surviving not only sexual traumatic situations, but from shameful, homophobic situations.  I don’t believe there is any queer anywhere untouched by homophobia. 

Let us celebrate the fierceness and necessity of our queer love.  Let us queers recognize the strength it took to survive all of the stupid slurs, the callous cruelties we have endured.  Let us claim the power of being the Other.  Why don’t dating sites ask if heterosexual couples should be allowed to have children?  Claiming our right to exist, fuck and love who we want without justification is not nothing, my dear queers.

Queering my own identity has been in ways more difficult and less difficult because of my dad.  In college, I fell in deeply love with Keli, a talented, gorgeous and brilliant woman.  Our relationship was fraught with tumult; perhaps the result of the arrogance and superficiality of being young and in love, or perhaps the result of deeply internalized homophobia.  Maybe both. 

Silence = Death buttonThe process of extricating all of my homophobia is ongoing. I was recently in Florida with a queer sweetheart, and I had a flash of it as I wondered how safe it would be to walk in the streets of Miami together, hand in hand.  As I firmly wound my arm around my sweetie’s waist and went out into the hot night, I pondered  if I will ever be clean of it, no matter how queer I am.

Keli got married this past weekend, to a beautiful fat woman, and I cried and celebrated and felt so many big queer feelings.  The love of my early years was finally able to marry! And it wasn’t me she was marrying!  Snuggling in bed at night under our “Get Used to It” poster of two women kissing, we had dreamed of being able to marry, but it felt like such a far off reality.  I truly am grateful for the changing world, for reals.

Coming to accept that my queerness means I am never sure who I will be attracted to.  Being queer means to me that I can never predict in what configuration of bits, genders, sexual orientations or other identies I will find myself with lovers. It is such a relief to just let my attractions be whatever they are, without having to redefine my own queer identity each time I hook up or partner.  It is a relief that I can just be queerly hanging out, and feeling my feelings, and that that is just fine.  A relief that it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but me.  I could never explain my identity to you… it is ever shifting and changing. That feels just right.

So back to “Mr. Gays shouldn’t have children.” I regretfully  inform you that I have to cancel our date.  Because if gays shouldn’t have children, that means I wouldn’t be here.  My history is too long, too fraught and I have worked too hard to embrace my innate queerness to have to go back to the place of justifying my existence. That was 7th grade. I’m just not interested in educating you, or convincing you.  I am actually not interested  in making you be other that you are.  We. Are. Just. Different.

Queerly.

Happy National Coming Out Day.  In what ways will you come out this year? Drop a comment below, and you’ve done it!

Erotic Energy 101: Tools to maximize pleasure

Erotic Energy Emancipating SexualityLiving in Northern California, the term “energy” gets bandied about with quite a degree of frequency.  And in my field, that includes erotic energy.  We talk about “erotic energy regulation” and “moving through your energetic blocks.”  Now, admittedly, I’m pretty woo.  But sometimes I feel challenged by what exactly I’m supposed to “do” when playing with energy.  I feel it, I know it exists, but how to engage it in meaningful, and pragmatic ways?

Why work with Erotic Energy? 

Well, Neo-Tantra has claimed erotic energy as part of the branding.  Personally, I find it really distasteful.  But I’m not willing to let them have all the good stuff!  I think that everyone can have access to the skills of erotic energy regulation without having to subscribe to a vague ‘sacred sexuality’ doctrine.

Emancipating Sexuality and Erotic Energy
Oh Gross.

I work with erotic energy in different ways.  Deepening my understandings (like writing this piece) is one way; practicing and experimenting with things is another.  I work with erotic energy because I find that I don’t truly know the edges or limits of my own potential as an erotic being.  I am of a curious nature, and find that engaging energy in my sexual encounters provides deeply pleasurable and often transformative encounters.

 What is a working definition of “erotic energy?”

Dictionary.com offers the following definitions:

Erotic: pertaining to sexual desire

Energy: The capacity to do work, available power

Therefore, a working definition of ‘Erotic Energy” could be “The available power of sexual desire.”  Of course, I want to add “pleasure” to this definition. Thus, here’s my definition:

“Erotic energy is a resource available to humans at all times, and can be understood as ‘the pleasurable power of desire.’”

What are the tools to access and use erotic energy to maximize pleasure?

I believe there are different skills involved in working with erotic energy.  There are a set of foundational skills of embodiment.  Then, there are skills of creating, sustaining, moving and sharing erotic energy.  Many people have access to some of these skills, and can choose to develop others.

Foundational Skills

Aware of Body Sensations

Aware of the inner landscape of the body

Sensation is returned to areas of the body once numb

Lives fully in all areas of one’s body

Able to breathe fully into the belly: the belly is soft, and movements are smooth

Able to place one’s awareness in different areas of the body, and hold it

Able to move the “I” who is experiencing out of the head region, and place it into different areas of the body

Has a “pleasure map” of own body

Aware of own energy field

Can access own energy field at will

Erotic Energy Emancipating SexualityCreating Erotic Energy

Able to build sexual charge within the body

Able to turn oneself on

Can use tools of breath, sound, movement, touch, fantasy or visual stimulation.

Able to feel touch, whether self or other, through skin, eyes, heart love, life

Profoundly touched by the natural world

Profoundly moved by the capacity for beauty created by the human species

Sustaining Erotic Energy

Able to maintain a level of erotic charge

Training to increase capacity to sustain pleasure

Can ‘hang out’ in the Valley of the Orgasm

Able to hold erotic charge through orgasm, and retain

Sustains a level of consistency in libido, with natural ebb and flow

Moving Erotic Energy

Can pump erotic energy through the body through:

  • kegels
  • the microcosmic orbit
  • pelvic thrusting
  • hip opening movements and poses
  • exercise of the pelvis or pelvic floor muscles

Can allow sexual charge to move beyond the genitals and circulate throughout the body

Can allow the mind to soften, and embrace the slipping away of time and space

Utilizes both Muscular excitement (Constriction) and muscle relaxation to build charge

Sharing Erotic Energy

Able to dissolve personal boundaries

Can merge with another energetically

Can feel a field of erotic energy shared between self and others

Can allow own erotic field to open to include natural world

This list is about some of the energetic possibilities that we can access as humans.  It is not exhaustive, and while many people can probably access some of these skills, most people probably cannot access all of them, all of the time.  I know I can’t!  So not to be disheartened if this list seems overwhelming; it’s just potentials!

I will continue to write about erotic energy and its regulation.  If you are intrigued by your own erotic potential, I invite you to try this.  Masturbate to the edge of orgasm, and stop.  And pay particular attention to how you feel and what you notice internally for the next hour.  Then, masturbate again, and notice what happens.  And if you like, drop me a line at pavinimoray@gmail.com and let me know what happens!

Sexy in the Mirror

 Masturbating in the mirror is a powerful modality that takes a brave and courageous heart, but offers the potential for deep healing.  I’ve done this meditation a number of times, and each time am surprised by that moment when my own beauty takes my breath away.  Practice today included gazing at myself in the mirror as I masturbated.

It is interesting… I always find it hot to watch myself touch myself.  I even have a mirror at the end of my bed so I can do it.  But I rarely choose to use it!    Today, I sat up in my bed, and I used the mirror to heighten my own engagement with my touch, really focusing on following the movement of my hands as I brought a lover’s touch to my body.  I enjoyed watching my face (and sometimes felt slightly self-conscious.)  I did notice that as arousal grew, I wanted to close my eyes and sink into the experience, and staying present to my visual experience was a challenge.
Since orgasm is an internal experience for the most part in the body I have, I relied on visual cues as well as physical ones to track the onset of climax.  My face started to shift, my shoulders and belly would tense, and then I would deliberately relax them.  I played with kegels, and watched how doing them in an aroused stated rippled through my entire body.
When I came, I kept my eyes open as much as possible, and watched my face as my head tilted back, and my mouth opened.  I was surprised by how quick the orgasm was… when I am not watching they seem much longer. One of my favorite parts was watching my body as it settled from the onset of orgasm, and I moved and undulated with the waves of it.
It feels vulnerable to watch myself in this way, and to allow myself to see my own pleasure.  But I like it, too.  I like the permission I see in my eyes. photo-Jilling-Masturbation-Mirror-Reflection-809581985 (1)

This is super sweet and wonderful… I’d like some “Jam” with bread, thanks for asking.

Canadian sex educator Karen K.B. Chan created this video based on my essay Toward A Performance Model Of Sex from Yes Means Yes: Visions Of Women’s Sexual Power And A World Without Rape.  She brings the idea of a collaborative and nonjudgmental way of looking at sex to life in such a vivid and accessible way.

This.  This is terrific.  Everyone should see this.

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SQUIRT! Trans-Male (FTM) and Female Ejaculation!

Emancipating Sexuality will represent on a panel next week on female and trans-male ejaculation.

Come on down for a juicy good time! 

squirtsoda1

 

 

At Feelmore510 in Oakland, CA
Wednesday, 1/16/13
7-9pm
$5-10 donation

Always wanted to Ejaculate but don’t know how?
Curious about Female and Trans-Male Sexual Anatomy?
Want to explore this juicy topic?
Need some tips and techniques to get you started?

Then come on down and join us!

With a hot panel of cutting-edge educators and Sexologists we will dive into the myths, truths and possibilities of female and trans-male ejaculation.

Anya de Montigny, Madison Young, Pavini Moray and Ari Zadel will be discussing:

Tips and tricks to becoming a squirter

Female/trans-male sexual anatomy including the prostate, skene’s glands and g-spot

Answering the question: is it pee?

Debunking the many myths that surround this sometimes misunderstood fluid,

How increased testosterone effects ejaculation and sexual anatomy

and they will definitely be sharing their own personal experiences!

With film clips from Madison Young’s instructional video: Lesbian Sex Education: Female Ejaculation

Plenty of time for Q&A.

Enter to win free prizes!

Anya de Montigny is a Sex Educator and Intimacy Coach working with individuals, couples and groups to gain the tools and techniques they need to have an amazing sex life. Her business, Teach Me About Sex is dedicated to providing non-judgmental and accurate sex education. She has taught at the Pleasure Chest in Los Angeles, California College of the Arts, the Sunrise Center, Good Vibrations, and FEM Talks.

Madison Young serves as the Artistic Director of the forward thinking non-profit arts organization, Femina Potens Art Gallery. Young values sexual education in her work and has taught workshops, lectures, and acted as a panelist on the topics of sexuality, feminism and pornography, and kink around the world including at Yale University, Hampshire College, University of Minnesota, and UC Berkeley.

Madison’s instructional fim Lesbian Sex Education: Female Ejaculation takes place at a lesbian sex retreat and motivates 4 lesbian couples to explore their own ejaculation fantasies, demonstrating personal tips and techniques for ejaculation, new found intimacy, and demystifying myths surrounding the elusive g spot. Starring Coral Aorta, Sadie Lune, Maggie Mayhem, Nic Switch, Akira Raine, Dylan Ryan, Papi Coxxx and Lillian Alexander and featuring Sex Experts Madison Young and Dr.Annie Sprinkle PHD

Pavini Moray is a trans-masculine identified genderqueer sexologist and avid blogger at www.Emancipating-Sexuality.com, and www.emancipatingsexuality.wordpress.com. Ejaculation is a joyful and juicy part of Pavini’s erotic practice, and is characterized by deep relaxation and simultaneous excitement of the pelvic floor muscles and genitals. Pavini’s business, Emancipating Sexuality, is designed to serve queer and trans clients seeking to deepen sexuality, heal trauma, or expand intimacy.  Pavini works with individuals, couples and groups.

Ari is a is a queer transman & Doctoral Resident with a deeply curious nature that pushed him to explore ejaculation as part of his sexuality. Ari is professionally interested in work with Gender Creative and LGBT youth. He believes in real sex education as political activism and sexual liberation.

 

I met this person last week at NoLose and in this post they articulate things that I’ve felt all my life, and not been able to get out. Thanks for that.

Big Papa Fa'e

I live in a culture that has declared war with my body. This war is ingrained in every cell of me, has been in every bite of food, every article of clothing, every interaction with another person since as far back as I can remember. I was indoctrinated into it by my parents, teachers, the people on TV, radio, the computer, my friends, and every adult and child I met growing up. I helped to enforce it. Sometimes it still gets the best of me.

I am fat. I have always been fat, and I may always be fat. Every day that I am alive, I encounter cultural messages that tell me that my fat body is ugly, offensive, gross, unhealthy, wrong, a thing that needs corrected. A type of objectification, for sure, though not the typical kind. I — that is my body — is generally an object of…

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Vulva-licious

There’s been a lot of vulva in my world in the last 24 hours, and it merits a brief discussion and sharing of links.

Yesterday, I  looked at a book that documents  the Great Wall of Vagina project.  Over 400 plaster cast images of actual vulvas from actual women, collected over a five-year period, and depicting the abundant plethora of female genitalia, complete with piercings, transwomen, and a range of labias from the almost non-existant to the extreme.  I marveled about how cool it was that genitals look so unique and special, and so many different ways!!

Upon checking in with my linked-in profile this morning, a fellow sex educator had posted The Centrefold Project which encourages public debate about labiaplasty, a controversial cosmetic surgery that removes part of the labia for aesthetic purposes.  The tagline is “Labiaplasty: Anti-female pornification or empowering choice?” and the animated cartoon with voice-over from women who have had the procedure is thought-provoking.  Being in a love relationship with a transgendered person has helped me to think about cosmetic surgery as potentially life-saving, whereas before my feminist roots had a judgemental choke-hold when it came to body image.

The Vagina Bike Taxi created by Mimosa Pale of Finland,is an art project consisting of a giant vulva attached to a bike.  Clients can catch a ride inside the vagina, and be safely ‘delivered’ to their location.  The image is visually compelling, but even more interesting are the almost 700 comments facebook users have made upon seeing the piece.  Most comments reflect the feelings and stories of their authors more than comment on the piece, which obviously evokes tremendous response.

And for the last random vulva appearence in the past 24 hours, here’s a crappy picture, but the best I have, of a “Yoni Gate” I created a number of years ago for a ritual celebrating the Yoni.  I had to dig it out to send to someone this morning, and it kinda rounds out this odd collection of vulvas nicely.

I love my vulva.  I love other peoples’ vulvas.  I’ve not met one I didn’t like.  How do you feel about yours?

New Class Offering Friday, August 10

Just in case you somehow missed the awesome intimacy skills coursework you got in health class in 7th grade, we’re offering a repeat.  And yes, that was a joke.  We never got taught this stuff in school! Come learn intimacy skills with  H.R. Bremner and me, two awesome sexological bodyworkers and intimacy coaches.

Friday, August 10.  7-9 p.m. in San Francisco

Open-Hearted Intimacy Skills  for Queers and Friends
• Speak Truth
• Know and Express Desire
• Listen Compassionately
• Open-heartedness
• Vulnerability
• Emotional responsibility
You’ve probably heard these buzz-words in conscious relationship culture, but where are we supposed to learn these skills? How do we become truly intimate, when we don’t have the skills to do so?
In this class, we will practice these skills with practical, applicable exercises that build the intimacy muscle. You will leave the class with tools that you can practice at home and in your relationships, to create the connected, open-hearted love relationship you yearn for.
Ideal for singles and couples, this workshop is experiential, playful and connecting. Join H.R. Bremner and Pavini Moray, certified sexological bodyworkers and intimacy coaches, and get buff for the sex and relationships you dream are possible.

If you want to register, visit  http://www.emancipating-sexuality.com/upcoming-classes-and-events.html

Ritualizing the power of Communal Masturbation

This weekend I facilitated a “Queer Women’s Masturbation Ritual.”  Seven self-identified queer women and I gathered together to reclaim our bodies and have our self-love witnessed.  I want to share about that experience, with the intention of furthering this work in the world.

I’ve been leading masturbation rituals since 2009.  I’ve begun telling participants that they are walking the warrior’s path with this work the amount of courage and bravery it takes to show up with a group of people and let them see you pleasure yourself is immense.  It’s such a revolutionary act of self-love to reclaim our bodies in a communal erotic setting.  So simple, so profound.

Sunday’s gathering went according to my experience.  People gathered, nervously, and weren’t making eye contact.  Even the women who already knew each other were quiet.  As facilitator it’s my job to create a supported environment where people can be vulnerable.  I asked them to just notice how they felt in the moment, and to imagine how they might feel by the end of our time together.

We began by breathing together, and dropping our breath into the pelvis.  Squeezing the pelvic floor muscles to bring that part of the body alive, and moving our hips as our bodies were called to move.  The breathing together created rapport, and I felt the group’s energy shift, dropping from nervous and high into a deeper, more grounded place.  We stood in a circle, and agreed to support each other in this revolutionary work, and looked around to see who had the courage to show up.

Next, I facilitated a process using a Joanna Macy technology known as “milling.”  Participants move slowly around the space, listening to the sound of my voice.  After a bit, they find a person near them to partner with, and a brief facilitated engagement takes place.  This process is repeated a number of times, with each engagement being an opportunity to either witness, acknowledge or demonstrate something about themselves and their partner.  For example, the first pairing asked participants to “just look, and acknowledge, the tremendous courage this person standing before you has, in the fact that they showed up today.”  This milling process, which can be verbal or non-verbal and/or somatic, begins to build group intimacy and support.

We then deepened into a heart circle process, in which participants spoke from their hearts about their experiences with masturbation, and the feelings and stories they carry about it.  Having one’s heart-truth witnessed and held, and never fixed or advice given, is another simple ancient way of council.  I borrow this particular moniker from the Radical Faerie community, but many indigenous cultures have council practices.  The room was feeling quiet, and gentle at this point, as we heard many of our own truths and stories reflected in the sharing of the others.  Stories of excitement at self-discovery, fear of being caught, shame, blocks and the challenge of self-love threaded through the circle, binding us together.

While the overarching intention for the ritual was sexual healing, we then deepened into a time of internal searching, to listen to our body wisdom of what our bodies want for sexual healing.  Not what we “should” want or do or have, but the truth that arose from our somatic knowing of ourselves and our desires.  We recorded these personal intentions, and spoke them aloud.

And then we masturbated, heads in the center of a circle, our intentions held at center.  I guided us into explorations, and invited us to touch ourselves in new, experimental ways.  Enliven the surface of the skin, stoke a deeper arousal than usual, following the breath to an ecstatic state.  And ecstatic it slowly became, as women around the room began to engage their own erotic energy, and treat themselves as a lover.  Signs and moans and “oh yeahs” started to fill the space.  The sounds were enticing, and in the room the energy started to build.  Every time someone would orgasm, the group would respond with vocal support.  The energy passed through us in waves, sometimes high and intense, and at others quieter and stiller.  It did build to a crescendo, and I reminded us to send energy to our intentions, our bodies, and our loved ones in need of sexual healing.

The most amazing thing happened next.  It’s always an interesting challenge to know how to end the ritual.  This group started laughing.  Huge, rollicking laughter and belly roars filled the space, and lasted for many minutes.  We’d get almost done, and then someone would start again and we’d be off.  Again and again, orgasmic waves of laughter and joy cascaded down around us, weaving in and out of our intentions and our bodies.  Slowly, and eventually, we finished this big release and turned over to gaze, with new eyes, at the other Self-Love Revolutionaries on the path with us.  We greeted each other with joyful eyes, in awe of the erotic courage of us all.  After a quick debrief, we shared snacks and community space, before cleaning up and going back to our lives.

Before this ritual, I was contacted by an interested party who asked, “I am not sure how community masturbating is going to heal sexual blocks and or shame.”  I’m not sure honestly why it does work so well, but I have some thoughts.  Being held and seen in warrior community is powerful as one gather’s allies on the path.  Setting intention to reclaim the pleasure inherent in our bodies, and then taking action that is witnessed is potent.  And coming together communally, with the idea that we are worthy, that we do deserve more, and that we desire sexual freedom?  It’s almost like no socialization can stand up to that determination.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.  What do you want out of your self-love practice?

Holy Body/Whole Body Film Project

I am writing to tell you about a project I am catalyzing.  The film is called Holy Body/Whole Body.

The intention of this film project is to celebrate the liberation of magick, sexuality and Earth through the documentation of a magickal and erotic process.  The body has been so pathologized and colonized, and attempts to document the body in relationship to itself, other bodies and Earth are often fraught with these threads of patriarchy.  What we are doing is reclaiming our relationships with our bodies, each other, our connections with Spirit and the greater Earth body, and documenting this process so that it becomes a teaching/learning tool out in the world.

We understand that traditional documentations of sexuality are often oppressive, objectifying, and fragmenting from each other and our planet home.  We also understand that the adult film industry capitalizes on desire and the commodification of sexuality.  We seek to reclaim and queer the tool of media portrayal of erotic energy, and use it in ways that benefit all of us, in alignment with our shared values of egalitarianism, free choice, pleasure, respect and artistic freedom.

We use it in ways that benefit our Earth by reclaiming the subtle sexual relationship that we all live, as creatures dependent upon Earth for comfort, nurturance, sustenance, and life.  Making overt the erotic nature of our relationship with Earth returns us to the simple realization of our dependence.  It is our hope that this work inspires all who view it to tend the personal relationship with Earth with the sweetest and tenderness of a Lover relationship.

The reasons we are doing this project are thus:

  • Normalizing and being inclusive of marginalized expressions of gender, body, sexuality
  • Expanding the potential for sexuality, including a diversity of sexual practices,  including relationship with Earth
  • Documenting on film the intersection of erotic energy/magick
  • Using our bodies as activism
  • DIY economy in juxtaposition to the porn industry
  • Because witches are hotter than anybody else we know

All participants will sign a waiver, and will be in full choice about their participation in the project.  All participation is voluntary, and no recompense will be given for participating.  All participants will have artistic agency in their portrayal of their erotic relationship with self, other, Earth, within the context of the storyboard of the film.

The film will be made in a holy way, and will seek to capture the invocation/deepening erotic relationship between people and the elements.  For example, a participant seeking to demonstrate their erotic relationship with air might choose to be filmed climbing a tree, and making love with the wind, or with a beloved.   A participant seeking to document the erotic energy of fire might offer hot fucking with a burning wand, etc.  It will be up to each participant how they offer their erotic energy to Earth through that particular element.

This is the call-out to think about if you would like to be involved with project.  It involves reading and signing the waiver, envisioning/dreaming/conjuring your scene with the element of your choice, and being available for filming . If you participate, you MUST be 18 years or older with identification.  Participants will all receive a copy of the final film, either on DVD or downloadable, TBD.  Please know that we may not be able to include all footage, and final cut is at the editor’s discretion in terms of film quality.

So, perhaps you are wondering what will happen with this project, once it is filmed and edited?  Well, we first plan to have a hella screening party in the Bay, to which all participants are invited.  We intend to use this film not for our own personal financial gain, but to raise funds for things in alignment with what we are doing.    That’s our first thought, and the conversation is evolving around how we will distribute this film.  We feel committed to financial transparency, and to funding more projects that reclaim the master’s tools for our own use.   We also feel committed to this work NOT being commodified in ways that feel bad, and remaining a tool for the activist/witch community.

If you are interested in furthering your knowledge of Eco-porn, check out Fuck For Forestshttp://www.fuckforforest.com/ , and what Annie Sprinkle is doing http://sexecology.org/,

More on DIY subverting the dominant porn complex: http://gooddykeporn.com/new/

I humbly offer this project, and hope that you will join us.

Ten Tips for Better Orgasms

Want longer, deeper, more intensely pleasurable orgasms?  Sure, who doesn’t, right?  Follow these simple tips and you’ll come like a pro! 

1.  Take a long, hot shower or bath before masturbation or sex.  The heat soothes and relaxes muscles, allowing you to be more relaxed in your pleasure.  Betty Dodson, pioneer sexologist and author of the seminal (ah-hem) work on masturbation, talks about the different kinds of orgasms.  Most of us learned to tense our muscles to create sexual excitement, perhaps from fear of being caught.  Tense muscles, however, can restrict pleasure and movement.

2.  Stretch the hips, pelvic floor, and PC muscles.  Slow hip circles, yoga-style Cat/Cow postures, Bridge position, low deep squats.  Anything that awakens the muscles and brings oxygenated blood to the genital area will increase sensation.

3.  Deepen the breath, and use a “charging” breath to bring energy to the sex center.  Charging breath is a deep inhale that fills the abdomen, chest and throat areas, followed by a long, easy release of breath.  Try 10-15 of these to get the sexual energy flowing.

4.  Instead of reaching right away for the vibrator, use fingers to tease the creases of the legs, inner thighs, and genital area.

5.  Squeeze the PC muscles (kegels) 10-20 repetitions.

6.  Slow down the process.  Touch all areas of the body.  Bring energy and attention to the hands and feet, throat, calves, belly, ears.  Spend time exploring the entire body instead of going right for the jewels.  Good orgasms take time.

7.  Put on some sexy music, and build erotic energy by dancing, while maintaining connection with your breath and sex.

8.  Build and Build and Build the tension.  Touch a little bit.  Breathe a little bit.  Read some erotica, look at some porn, touch some more.  Get a drink of water, look out the window, and continue.  Build and when it starts feeling really good, stop and spread the feelings around the body with your hands.  Bring sexy energy towards the heart.

9.  When orgasm starts to feel close, again squeezing and releasing the PC muscles, and timing it with the breath continues to build the erotic charge in the genitals.  Bring it closer, stop, tease again, stop.  See how close you can get.  Hold your breath as you tease yourself, and feel the energy really build.  Stay on the edge as long as you can.

10.  Relax all of the muscles as you bring yourself over the edge.  Instead of pushing out or pulling in, see if you can just let orgasm happen.  And when it does, allow yourself to stay in that glowing, golden space for at least TEN minutes afterwards.  Let all the juicy health benefits of that oxytocin release penetrate the bloodstream and make you HAPPY!

If you try these things, and you are still challenged, give me a call.  www.emancipating-sexuality.com

I welcome your comments, thoughts and questions below!

Hedonistic Word Geek

Yesterday, I spent three totally pleasurable hours geeking out about words and language with my linguist friend.  Here’s something I gleaned:pleasure (n.) late 14c., “condition of enjoyment,” from O.Fr. plesir “enjoyment, delight” (12c.), from plaisir (v.) “to please,” from L. placere (see please (v.)). Ending altered in English 14c. by influence of words in -ure (measure, etc.). Meaning “sensual enjoyment as the chief object of life” is attested from 1520s.“Sensual Enjoyment as the chief object of life” resonates deeply in me, on so many levels.  It is through my senses I experience the physical world, and I know the thing we call ‘reality.’  Following this line of thought, it is sensual experience that informs my understanding of what it is to be human.  Here’s a little of what being human is like for me these past few days: The delight I felt when I embraced my friend today, and held on a moment longer than I’ve been taught is acceptable, telling her I don’t have enough time left to cut short my hugs. The pleasure I took yesterday in morning coffee and cream with my lover, in bed.  Stretching my waking muscles, breathing in the smell of cardamom and lavender, and later standing in the steaming hot shower spray.  The joy in my body when I danced Saturday to music that wouldn’t let me stop, with people around me who were laughing with glee.

Last summer I participated in an event  called “Queer Oily Action.”  A group of 22 people explored sensual (but not sexual) touch by rolling around naked together on big tarps, listening to a soundscape with our eyes closed, while covered in warm coconut oil.  I found again and again that fear kept my legs together.  Since then, I’ve been exploring all the ways I deny myself pleasure in my life.  For me (and I presume many of us,) seeking and allowing pleasure (aka “hedonism”)  has a negative connotation.  Hedonism commonly connotes debauchery, self-indulgence, lack of self-control, and lack of virtue.  Ironically, here’s what I found about hedonists.
hedonist (n.) 1822, in reference to the Cyrenaic school of philosophy that deals with the ethics of pleasure, from Gk. hedonikos “pleasurable,” from hedone “pleasure,” related to hedys “sweet,” cognate with L. suavis (see sweet). A hedonist is properly the follower of any ethical system in which some sort of pleasure ranks as the highest good. The Epicurian identifies this pleasure with the practice of virtue.Pleasure as the highest good? Ethical? Sweet? Virtue?  This all gives me pause.  What have I bought into without realizing it?  I’m starting to get a little suspicious, and beginning to deconstruct a paradigm that teaches me denial of pleasure is virtuous.  Because oddly enough, at the exact same time, my culture is condoning obsessive consumption and sensory over-stimulation.  Oh yeah, AND it’s attempting to deny or medicate pain in any form.      

I don’t believe pleasure or pain are the culprits.  Our bodies are meant to feel, designed to experience.  Right now, I don’t have the answers, but I recognize where the questions are taking me.  Exploring the line between pleasure and indulgence.  Finding balance between willingness to feel pleasure and willingness to feel suffering, each in its season.  Giving permission to us all to truly feel our pleasure, not candy-coated packaged for-sale versions of it.  Simultaneously supporting us in feeling the pain that is also part of this human path.  

I feel such gratitude to be alive with you today.  May our collective pleasure serve the highest good, and help us remember who we really are.

Starting out

Well, here I am, setting out on this scary, beautiful venture.  I feel so vulnerable and scared, but also deeply excited and in awe.  

When I came to the decision to start this business, it was so completely clear.  There is nothing else even remotely as interesting as helping others achieve sexual liberation.  I know for me it’s been the highlight of my life, coming home to my body and my pleasure.  

So why is it scary?  Well, for one because I’m admitting to the rest of the world that I actually have sex!  Duh, I have kids, so of course I have sex, but wowzers it’s hard to put this out here knowing my mom is going to read it!  And it seems I’m totally outing myself in many, many ways that would be easier to not have to do, as if my silence can protect me from judgment, though I know it doesn’t really work like that.  And, can I really make a living doing something I love so much?  Will I really be successful? So, scary.

What am I excited about? Well, since the revelation happened that this is THE way I want to expend my life force energy, working for the collective pleasure and liberation of ALL, it is all I’ve wanted to do.  I’m annoyed when I have to stop and eat, pee, or say hey to my lover.  I feel that passion welling up inside that only happens when I am doing the very work of my soul.  So, exciting.

And while things are getting clearer every day, it’s still a process of revelation.  So I am sitting in the fire, stirring the cauldron, and getting to witness as magick unfurls its subtle colors.  So, awe.