Let’s talk about touching ourselves. You know, down “there” in that place where it feels SO good and yet for so many of us, we really don’t spend all that much quality time on our own selves. Let’s talk about touching in beyond the surface, feeling things perhaps we’ve never felt before. Let’s talk about self-pleasure, and how that is not one and the same as masturbation.
I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “masturbation” it doesn’t land for me as synonymous with the term “self-pleasure”. To me, there is something perfunctory and goal-oriented about masturbating, while self-pleasuring offers a spacious, sensuous invitation to explore our bodies. My past personal experiences of masturbation often included a vibrator and porn, focused on a peak clitoral orgasmic experience, and as soon as the release was achieved, the buzzing was stopped, the laptop was closed down, and I very quickly moved onto whatever was next – sleep, a conference call, a lunch date.
Sound like anyone you know?
I’m writing to you from the completion of a 21-day journey I’ve just undertaken into the realms of self-pleasuring. While not a new concept to me - it’s one that I’ve increasingly brought into my life throughout my more recent years of tantric exploration - I have never dedicated myself to a practice so earnestly and with such commitment as this. For 21 days I vowed to move beyond the world of clitoral stimulation and focus on a commitment to adore my vulva, awaken my cervix, be present with my yoni and womb and deeply connect with myself, making time and space each day for this practice no matter what else was happening in my life, inwardly or outwardly. I vowed that during these three weeks no one else would enter my sacred temple space but me and my gorgeous, hand blown glass dildo with a snake handle, dubbed Kundalini, that I’d gifted myself just for the occasion.
What a revelation!
To give a bit of context, I joined a large contingent of women across the globe for this journey, one that was lovingly, honestly and compassionately guided by Olivia Bryant and Shae Elise Allen (visit them at http://www.awakenthecervix.com to learn more!) and supported by interviews and insights from a wide range of experts on various facets of sexuality. You’ll find that every teacher in these realms is also a student. That is absolutely how I hold my path – evolving teacher and guide, eternal student and apprentice, and so I constantly welcome in opportunities to learn all I can. I also know from past experience that things like a specific start and end date, a forum for sharing and supporting in community, and plenty of juicy information being offered from engaging, respected sources are all fantastic motivators for me, so when I learned of this practice, my whole body cried YES!!!
A tad more context, because I really want you to feel where I was coming from to better relate to where I write from in this moment, about three months ago I uncoupled from my beloved partner of a year and we stopped being physical lovers. There was much heartbreak and awakening in the intervening months, and also a significant disconnect from my own physicality and sexuality. I’d grown so habituated to partnered sex rather than solo sex within our deeply erotic and spiritually focused dance together that it proved quite a feat to really come back home to myself. Yet another reason why my body (and heart, mind and soul) felt such a strong YES to taking this journey on. I was ready to rekindle the flames of love and the flow of juicy aliveness in my own self, and I knew it would not simply be a pleasure cruise even if self-pleasure was to be the practice. The support of Olivia, Shae and the whole community added a layer of safety and holding that the pieces of me still grieving and coming out of hiding really appreciated.
For the last 21 days, I have unapologetically and religiously spent time touching myself. Far from mere masturbation, this practice of self-pleasure included all the elements that bring us fully into erotic experience – breath, sound and movement – as well as engaging all my senses. And in keeping with the full spectrum theme, it brought up all sorts of emotions. While intensely pleasurable in many moments, there were also moments of pain and numbness, physically and emotionally. Here’s a glimpse of it from Beginning to Middle to End:
BEGINNING: As excited as I was, I was also really anxious and contending with deep-seated resistance to actually beginning on Day One. It took me pacing around my apartment with fantasies of an emotional eating binge that included a ton of pastries crossing my mind to finally sit myself down for a talk. I did exactly that. I sat down on the edge of the bed, tenderly caressing my body, wrapping myself in my own embrace, and began to speak to myself as if I were speaking to a friend or lover. I offered compassion and empathy, perspective and encouragement, to the one who was so afraid to feel the pain of grief and loneliness living within. I gave her [me] a space to feel and express all that wanted to come up and out.
I ended up in bed with myself, sparking alive all across my body as tears of grief mingled with tears of relief that fell as I gave myself the gift of my own attention and awareness. I delighted in the texture of my skin, traced the contours of my body, lovingly tended to my yoni and initiated Kundalini for the very first time. I made love to myself, which was precisely the medicine I needed.
MIDDLE: The second week dovetailed with an incredibly full schedule of in-person client sessions, working deeply in the realms of intimacy and sexual energy, holding space for others and finding myself with little free time during the day and ready to crash by the time I got to bed at night. On one such night, it occurred to me that had my beloved been in bed beside me, my energy would have surged at the opportunity to connect, so I got curious about what it would take for me to feel just as desirous of my own self.
I lit candles and pulled out some massage oil and created a sacred space to seduce myself. I took my time and called out the innate passion that I know is always there under the surface even when I’m too distracted to sense it. I gave myself permission and encouragement to drop any inhibitions and forget about the clock, to move and moan, to let my breath, emotions and sensations come on fully, and I ended up going in so deep with myself that as I emerged from the other side, the only word that seemed appropriate was euphoria. Yet even with such euphoria, as the journey continued I still went through days of little to no motivation or energy, moments when my yoni very clearly told me she had no wish for penetration, and I came up against a whole host of emotion that felt entirely overwhelming to face. And you know what? I persisted. I stayed the course. I honored my body every step of the way, adjusted my practice each day according to the needs of the moment and stayed available for the authentic unfolding of this journey without attaching myself to it having any particular outcome other than deepening in connection to myself.
END: As I bring the formal container of these 21 days to a close, I am inspired and motivated to sing the praises of self pleasure far and wide. So few of us have any idea what it is to truly be with ourselves, let alone make love to ourselves, yet we’re out there focusing all our resources on how to be with and make love to others. What are we thinking?!? There’s a growing level of acceptance that loving ourselves is an important foundation to loving others, and after taking on this journey, I stand even more convinced than before that the same applies to sexual and sensual pleasure. When we get to know ourselves this intimately, we are both prepared to be clear in honoring and communicating about our own desires, preferences and boundaries, which is one of the sexiest things out there, and to really meet the desires, preferences and boundaries of another.
Case in point - I got together with a man during the final week that I share a strong mutual attraction with, and my desire for him did not even cause a flicker in my desire to stay true to myself. I’d vowed that no one else would enter my yoni during this time, that still felt just as true, and so he and I connected in ways that genuinely felt good to my body and heart. It was deeply liberating, healing and seriously hot too. Being so attuned to subtle sensation in my body thanks to steering clear of peak orgasms in favor of bringing my full body online makes me so much more responsive. That then deepens my sense of fulfillment when relating sexually to another as well as myself. It’s a win in every direction.
So my dears, what I want to offer and encourage is that we all consider introducing self-pleasure to our lives in favor of masturbation, that we give ourselves space, time, patience and passion just as we’d give to a lover, and invite in the full spectrum of our emotional and physical experience so that orgasm becomes a state of being rather than a fleeting moment in time. I am here to support you, and I promise you, it is worth it!