Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Succulence and Sensuality

Over the weekend I was honoured to be part of a women's spirituality workshop on 'Succulence and Sensuality'. It came at just the right time for me, as I travel to transcend the beliefs I have about sexality and sensuality that are no longer serve me. Over the past six months I've had my beliefs about sex throw up in my face numerous times.

It started last year when I tried to read Linda Savage's "Reclaim Goddess Sexuality" as part of my preparation for creating the 'Sex After Birth' issue of Down to Birth. I read the word sensuality and realised that I've never thought of anything in my life as being sensual - least of all myself. I started to question and query how it could be possible that I could be 34 and have never consider life from a sensual point of view, never considered that sex was more than 'sex' that it had a distinct and important sensual element to it. So sensuality entered my life.

Writing the editorial for the issue was hard -because I had to face up to all the things that I'd been hiding from for the past three years ... and then I had to send it to Dave, for him to read it and OK that it went to print. Putting it all down on paper seemed to make it real, gave substance to the issues I had had. There is something to be said for not just putting something down - whether it be writing or saying it, but for having it witnessed by others. My editorial was witnessed by 300 other women who read that issue (and it's about to go to print again!)

About a month or so later, I picked up "Reclaim Goddess Sexuality" again. I got a little further this time and began the exercise on intimacy. Again, like sensuality, I wondered where my beliefs around intimacy had grown up, as I realised that almost all of my relationships in the past, have been light on in terms of intimacy. It came to me the following day. When I was eight I was in a pantomime, my first time on stage in a live theatrical performance. Over the two week period, I developed a close friendship with another boy in the pantomime. He was older than me, had a track record on the stage and helped to ease me through the worst of my stage fright. What started off as friendship, developed into more ... slowly and what I would consider now, quite innocently. Until one day he kissed me. The kiss was overseen and all hell broke loose. What I learnt from the experience was that intimacy was wrong and it was also dangerous - it got you into trouble.

Reflecting back now - all my relationships (with one exception) grew from one night stands or very short periods of 'getting to know you'. I learnt the lesson well at that tender age that intimacy was to be avoided at all costs. Now I find myself at 34 trying to reconnect with intimacy and find all kinds of walls being thrown up.

About a month back, I was invited to a 'Sex Party' ... something that really pushed my boundaries. I couldn't imagine sitting there discussing vibrators, lotions and potions - trying on lingerie. But I agreed to go - saying I would sit at the back and put a paper bag over my head. It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable afternoons I've had in years. The manner in which the products were presented made them normal - sex portrayed as pleasure! Afterwards we were discussing with the presenter how we all learn at a very early age that sex is dirty and dangerous. When you add that to beliefs around intimacy you come up with some potent barriers to sex.

In my last kinesiology session we went to work on my libido - what was wrong with me? There was nothing wrong with my hormones or my biology. What was wrong - emotional and intellectual issues that were blocking my libido. Jacqui cleared away the blocks and left me in a state to trascend my beliefs. Yeah right ... easier said than done.

Then came the workshop on the weekend with two ladies that I have been lucky enough to sit in circle with over the past three years, both body based psychotherapists. The workshop on 'succulence and sensuality' incorporated elements of the dance workshop that I attended back in February, invoked the Goddesses Hathor, Innana, Freya, Lillith and Lakshmi and provided much process work. The first part of the workshop was held Friday night, with a break over Saturday and then a full day Sunday.

Saturday we were invited to sit with all the things we didn't like, to look in an acknowledge the parts that were hurting or broken, blocked or hidden. What came up for me, is a hatred of my own body. This stunned me, but by the same token seemed to make quite a lot of sense to. When I began to cut Dylan's breastfeeds back to just a feed before bed last year, I started to stack on the weight. I had real battles with an appetite and metabolism that still ran at a breastfeeding rate, and I put on a lot of weight as a consequence. I've had people assume that I am pregnant -very pregnant, and although I've tried hard not to let it eat away at me, obviously it had.

I realised that if I hated my body - then I wasn't going to consciously or unconsciously treat it with the love, reverance and nurturance that it deserved. I realised that if I considered my body unworthy, then I was actually telling myself that I was unworthy. Neither were the type of self talk that I wanted running in a subterrean stream. Sunday I sat in circle and said all of this - and how I had felt tired and nauseous ... but how in the evening, going out to see live theatre and laughing, I'd felt exhilerated and free. Part of me was going up and part of me was going down.

By the end of the workshop, I felt succulent and I felt sensuous. While there is still many more skins to peel from the onion, I feel as though, for the first time in years that I've had a break through. I can think of sensuality, without sexualising it. I can ponder the beliefs I have held around sex - of sex being about power, of it being wrong, shameful, dirty and dangerous ... and now those beliefs just don't resonnate. They feel like shadows. I understand now that it wasn't having a baby or being a mother that 'destroyed' my sex life. Becoming a mother birthed me as an authentic woman, and sex has remained on hiatus while I have sought out and rebuilt a matrix that conforms with my new beliefs, experiences and world view as a woman.

And I've taken up dancing again ... but not in a class. I've finally burnt onto discs the music I downloaded of Gabrielle Roth's (the 5 Rhythms) and created space to dance in, and an altar of sorts. I've come to understand that I can't 'think' my way out of this, I won't transcend these beliefs mired down in circular thought patterns. The only way I will transcend is to (literally) move through them ... and the only way I know now, is to dance. My body feels alive, tired and sore as this layer of the onion skin is peeled and discarded. The journey continues ....

... But I love my body as I dance, the slow circular movements of my hips, the flowing movements of my arms, the way my head and thoughts quieten and I can just be in the moment. The way my heart quickens, the blood races and my body temperature rises. The freedom the movement lf dance brings with it. And I dance only for me and the Goddess ... and it feels rich and succulent, divine and sensual ... it feels like being truly alive.

Artwork: Sensuality (Lak and Ang) by Louis Parsons - art with soul

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