Archive | January, 2015

Sacred sensuality for guys.

Two weeks ago, I was getting work on the chest/side portion of my tattoo finished.
(You can see some of it in the b+w photo in this post. I promise pix when it is healed.)

It might shock you to know that my tattoo artist is not the least interested in boobs, so I was feeling intimate but not vulnerable. (Plus, my tattoo guy is just a nice person. He always takes pains to make me feel comfortable, which is why I go to him.)

We were chatting about sex, libido, libido management, and sensuality when he said, “I don’t know if I would even know what sensuality is.”

This didn’t really shock me. Men are encouraged to combine sensuality and sexuality and never pull the two apart.

It did sadden me, though, because sensuality makes life more full and beautiful.

I mean, that is what this site is dedicated to; it’s the path I’m following for the rest of my life.
Sensuality is a rare thing that is satisfying at all levels – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual – and no one should miss out on that.

I want that feeling for guys, too. Because it’s gorgeous.

So, this is for my dude readers: a first lesson in sensuality.

 man enjoying the pleasure of drinking a beer(It involves beer. Good, yes?)

Sensuality for Guys: Lesson One

If you want to learn about sensuality, and enjoy it, the first thing you need to know is this: sex and sensuality are not necessarily the same thing. They can overlap, but they don’t have to. Sensuality can be something you experience and enjoy without sex involved.

Might sound obvious, but check yourself: how closely are those two tied together in your experience?

Sensuality is about joy and pleasure. Again, Western society has also asked you to attach joy and pleasure to sex and physicality (primarily), but it doesn’t have to be that way.

I’ll ask you to think of some pleasurable experiences that were non-sexual.

Here are some I can imagine:

  • the taste of a cold beer on a hot day (especially after you’ve been mowing the lawn?)
  • the smell of your partner’s pillow when they are not there
  • the feel of holding your kids to your chest (remember, non-sexual; it’s the pleasure you feel from sensing the weight of them in your arms or against your body)
  • the shoes/hat/shirt that fit just right
  • a view you love (outdoors? snow? desert? lake?)
  • your favorite song played at that awesome concert
  • the smell of your favorite food as you walk in the door (maybe at your mom’s house)

These are all sensual experiences.

These experiences involve the senses (smell, sight, taste, touch, sound) and produce joy or pleasure.

When I first started down the path of sacred sensuality, it took a bit of work on my part to disentangle pleasure with touch. Touch is my preferred form of sensuality. It took time and practice to pay attention to my other senses and see what brought me pleasure in those other realms.

Paying attention is one key to finding your personal sensuality.

We (everyone, men and women) are rarely encouraged to notice our joy. And when we do experience joy, we may excuse it in various ways. But paying attention to what feels good – when you see, smell, taste, touch, or hear it – is what helps us notice and develop our sensual side.

Noticing our sensual pleasures helps us connect to the good stuff in life. As a woman, I am grateful to men for all that they do – the structures they build, the safety they provide, the care they offer through duty – but sometimes joy is not noticed (or worse, not present) in the daily activities of our men. Society offers sex and sports as an antidote, but I don’t believe that is enough. Sensuality can fill a man with happiness in the same way it does for women. And I believe men deeply need this.

Please, guy readers, begin to pay attention to what brings you pleasure and joy. Feel the pleasure and joy when it arrives. Seek out experiences (sexual and non-sexual) that bring you pleasure- it’s going to make you happier.

Enjoy your own sensuality- they are the joys of life that belong to you

 

 

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Your breath is your sensuality.

A few weeks ago I was talking with my sensuality coach about trying to stay connected to my sensual self. (It’s a problem I’ve written about.)

She, as any good coach does, offered me something brilliant. She said, “You need a new metaphor. Your sensuality is not something you have to reach out for. It is the glue of your life.”

Oh, those words hit home.
My chest warmed up, something deep within me opened up and accepted those words like food.
Deep nourishment for my soul.

Yes, I could imagine that my sensuality was the glue of my life.
I wanted it to be that way.

Over the last few weeks, I have begun to play with this metaphor – to live as if it were true.

In the midst of  the snowstorm this week, and an emotional funk, I held on to this metaphor for dear life. In my difficulties, I could trust that my sensuality would be part of my life.

I remained connected to my sensual practices, but also just went about my day knowing, finally really knowing that my sensuality was intact, inherent.

What a feeling it has been.
It has saved my mood, my patience, and my sense of myself in the last few weeks.

cropped sepia photo of a woman with her hand over her heart as she breathes

Part of playing with this new metaphor has been to experience my sensuality in everyday activities, including spiritual ones.

Lately, I have been combining my usual practice of breath meditation with a tantric practice.

Breath meditation is a Buddhist practice that is simply about sitting quietly and focusing on the breath. Noticing the simple in/out flow from the nostrils and paying attention to that, over and over again.

The tantric practice involves using the breath to draw sexual energy up from the genitals and spread it into the rest of the body.

Basically, I sat and breathed (in/out, in/out) and let any sexual energy I felt move up through my body.

This was a very calming practice. But it also showed me something very beautiful and important: my breath is my most basic sensual practice and awareness.

I noticed the simple sensuality of the breath – how my ribs expand and contract, how the feeling of breathing opened my hips, my belly, my chest. How my breath just felt good.

I felt enlivened simply from breathing.

No matter where I go or what I’m doing, I can breathe and immediately feel my sensuality.
It no longer needs ‘connecting’ – it is just here.

The breath is the glue of our life (what are we without it?) and sensuality is the same.
How grateful I am to be alive and know this, with every breath.

 

 

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A picture is worth a thousand lifetimes.

Almost five years ago, I went to a weekend retreat and made this collage.

collage of many different faces, trees, paths, as a record of spiritual journey

Everything in it has come true.
I have walked dark paths.
Looked in on sacred truths.
Felt the joy of my own touch.
Much, much more.

A picture is worth a thousand lifetimes.

Of course, I didn’t know that would happen.
But now I believe in the magic.

 

I am currently in another collage (visioning) class.

The thing about collaging from a spiritual perspective is that it must be done by feel. It is one experience to have our ego say, “Oh, that’s a pretty picture; we like that!” and quite another experience to listen more deeply. To listen to places that can only speak by how a thing feels.

What you see below is about how it feels. Something deep in my spirit knew when the picture was just right. It is a picture of a deeper, subconscious knowing.

This subconscious knowing is guidance from a place that understands so much more than I’m usually willing to listen to.

Here is what I’ve made so far.

collage for a new office

collage about sensuality

(Indulgence yoga. Yes!)

 

the path of a woman collage - a woman's spiritual journey

 

collage about how to be spellbound

(The prompt for this was “How to Be Spellbound.”)

 

trailblazer made of stainless steel

 

collage of what turns me on

(Prompt: what turns me on. No surprise that skin turns me on.
That dude’s hair…I wanna flirt with him just to touch his hair…)

collage about my spirit guide

 

These are all about me. Places and voices within myself. Many of them I don’t understand…yet.

But I know what magic images can bring about.
These are my prayers, in visual form.
Many of them are prayers I didn’t know my soul had.

We shall see what comes of them. What answers.
What adventures.

 

 

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On being asked for forgiveness.

There is a common perspective about forgiveness floating around self-help circles in the last few years. It looks like this:

forgiveness is a reflection of loving yourself enough to move on

 

The point being that forgiveness is not so much something you do for the other person, it is something you do for yourself as well. Primarily so that you don’t feel weighed down by the person, interaction, or relationship anymore – so that you can move forward with less baggage.

I definitely understand this idea of forgiveness. I think it is a very important idea; that forgiveness is about more than what you can give the other person. Every relationship is a two-way street; so is forgiveness when the relationship goes wrong.

This lesson of forgiveness came up for me a few weeks ago when an old friend emailed, asking my forgiveness for something that had broken our friendship. I was surprised. And unsure of what to do.

I haven’t been asked for forgiveness in a long time.

Mostly, I have been the one asking for forgiveness.

Certainly I have made many mistakes. I have asked forgiveness for things ranging from forgetting a meal for a big party (for a friend) to causing deep pain in others lives through my own selfishness.

Asking for forgiveness is a humbling experience. It requires me to reflect on my actions and intentions. It means I must accept that I did something wrong, even something bad.

Understanding that we have missed the mark (sometimes by a long shot) is often painful. We see where we acted out of fear, anger, or selfishness. It is psychologically painful to know I’ve hurt someone else.

And then I must be courageous and humble enough to reach out to the one I wronged and admit my poor choices and poor behaviors.

That takes a lot.

 

In the case of this person who contacted me, I had long forgiven them. There were a variety of reasons to do so, including the person’s level of development and my own desire to let it rest.

She was still asking for my forgiveness, though.

As I sat with it, I realized: she had not forgiven herself.
She was seeking forgiveness because she had not forgiven herself.

This, I think, is a part of forgiveness that no one really tells you about.

No one tells you that self-forgiveness is possible.
Or that it’s important.
No one tells you how exactly to forgive yourself.

Not that I’ve mastered it, either. But I know that forgiving myself has often helped me to really accept the poor choices I made and learn from them.

I have learned to forgive myself for making poor choices, even if that was the best I knew how to do at that time. This kind of forgiveness helps us grow into something better because we are no longer ignorant.

I have learned to forgive myself for making poor choices, even if I knew what I did was not the best I could do. This kind of forgiveness helps us grow into something better because we understand the consequences of not doing our best.

Self-forgiveness is about mending and learning from the relationship with ourselves. How what we do to others affects our own internal systems (psychology, emotions, spirituality, etc.).

It is important to bestow the gift of self-forgiveness on ourselves, for the same we reason we give it to others – so we can learn and move on.

 

I replied to the email of my long-ago friend and said what I wished others could have said to me, what I wanted and needed to hear when asking for forgiveness: that I hoped she could forgive herself for what happened between us, because that was the important thing. And also that I had forgiven her long ago.

 

 

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We must let boys dance.

My son, aged 10, is completing a dance section in his Phys Ed. class at school. He is enjoying it very much and was quite excited to show us the dance he had created for the class dance competition.

He asked for music and started to bounce to the beat. He was grinning from ear to ear. As he showed us the pattern he had created, he started laughing and clapping. His joy was so apparent.

After dinner he and his sister put together a new dance. It was one of the few times recently where they laughed and helped each other. There was a lot of “no, no no! I meant…like this!” in happy tones. (Usually they are fighting over Legos and sneering at one another.)

As I washed up the dinner dishes, I thought about the point in life where boys lose their natural ability to dance, to move with joy to music. Some boys have dancing learned out of them rather early (I am thinking of parents who say things like, “man up” to their young boys).

I think most boys lose the natural joy of dance around 12.
(I could be wrong, we haven’t gotten that far yet.)

As I thought about it more, I realized how important it could be for boys to dance.
To keep dancing.

Boys – who turn into men – are given so few outlets for their physical bodies.
Basically two: sports and sex.

They can play sports and roughhouse to express physicality and receive physical pleasure.
And they can have sex for more intimate, sustained physical pleasure.

But that’s about it.

“What a damn shame,” I thought. Boys lose (or, have taken from them) another way to enjoy their bodies when they lose the interest in dance.

It shook me to my core to think about how sad this was. The pleasure of just enjoying their body is lost to them when we discourage boys from dancing. The pleasure of expression. The pleasure of release and expansiveness. The joy of feeling connected to one’s body through pleasure.

I was reminded of working in a place where most of the men (and a lot of the women) were very repressed. Some of the women kept quiet and/or used alcohol as an antidote to the closing of their hearts. Some of the men found release in addiction, extreme sports, and extra-marital affairs.

For months after I left, I imagined inviting these people to take dance lessons with me. To dance and laugh and release. They never would have gone for it, but I would have like to have tried.

 

a pair of dancing feet, in sneakers and showing jeans

Dancing is a spiritual practice for me. So I revere it and protect it for my own needs. But I also believe it is important for all people. I am reminded of how many tribes in faraway places include men-only dancing (sometimes as a courtship ritual) – and how important dance is to the health of their men and their community.

I am lucky in that my husband still dances. He went clubbing in college and never stopped dancing. Today we regularly embarrass the children (in our own home!) by dancing in the kitchen. Slow and soft or wild and crazy – we still dance.

It may be time to make this a family ritual. I do not want my boy to become embarrassed by dancing, especially his own.

I want this joy for him, for his whole life.

 

[After I wrote the notes for this post, I found this on The Unbounded Spirit. It is a much deeper article on the need for men to take back their bodies and emotions- dance is just one way. It is a long article but worth the time.]

 

 

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