Embodied Pleasure Heals
There are lots of paths to sexual healing. Coaching, therapy, journaling, sexual experimentation, learning about sex and pleasure, reading- all of these can help you understand your unique relationship to sex. But there’s one approach that you might not have considered that has the potential to help you create the sex life you deserve. Embodied pleasure is one of the more powerful and effective paths to sexual healing.
Embodied pleasure is the practice of tracking your felt sense of your pleasure, boundaries, desires, and needs. Rather than getting distracted by fantasies or external visual stimulation like porn, you focus your attention on what’s happening in your body, your heart, and your mind while experiencing pleasure. Similar to other mindfulness practices, each time your attention wanders, you gently and simply bring it back to the present moment and explore what’s there.
Sounds good, right? But it’s not so simple. There are a lot of reasons we get distracted during sex. You might not be receiving the kinds of pleasure you need. You might be more attuned to giving to your partner than allowing yourself to feel pleasure. You might not know how to listen to your needs and boundaries, especially when the energy is high. It can be like trying to hear a whisper in a noisy room. You might not know how to describe what you want to a partner. You might not feel like you deserve to get the pleasure you want. You might be so invested in a specific idea of what you think sex “should” be that you resist exploring other ways to do it. You might feel shame because of your desires or fantasies. And these are only some of the hurdles people face when it comes to sex.
There are also gendered patterns around this. Cisgender men are more likely to get caught up in performance-based models of sex, or to expect that sex requires an erection. Men often have difficulty shifting out of “doing” mode and learning to receive. It’s common for cisgender women to struggle with worries about body image, internalized slut-shaming, and fear about what it means to take an active role during sex by asking for what they want. Of course, many of these concerns aren’t limited to any specific gender, but there are some clear trends.
Fortunately, practicing embodied pleasure is simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. You move towards your pleasure and then deal with whatever gets in the way. You don’t need to have it all figured out first- that’s a common misconception that holds people back. Instead, you only need to deal with whatever is in front of you right now. Once you have, you take your next step forward and see what comes up there. You don’t need to worry about what might happen down the road- it’ll either show up along the way (in which case, that’s the time to address it) or it won’t (in which case, there wasn’t any reason to stress about it). You don’t need to have it all figured out first because embodied pleasure is how you figure it out.
Embodied pleasure has to happen within a safe container so that there’s room for whatever thoughts, feelings, and reactions that arise. The boundaries need to be clear and they need to be solid. One of the interesting ironies of sex is that strong boundaries give you more freedom to explore. And while romantic partners can often create that space, they aren’t always able to make it work. They might not have the tools they need to stay present and grounded when big emotions come up. They might not know how to offer effective support. And they almost always have their own needs and desires for the relationship. That doesn’t mean that partners can’t be helpful. In fact, their support and insight can be incredibly valuable. But sometimes, they’re too close to the situation to be able to maintain clarity, which can weaken the container that you need.
In my work as a somatic sex educator, I’ve witnessed the amazing changes that can emerge from practicing embodied pleasure during erotic bodywork sessions. Feeling deep pleasure while being held within a safe container is profoundly transformative, especially when there’s room for any reaction that might come up. There’s more space to lean into the experience when you know that you don’t have to take care of someone or worry about how they’ll react. And the nature of the client-practitioner relationship can hold the boundaries more cleanly than is sometimes possible with a lover or romantic partner.
I’ve seen how powerful it is to learn how to ask for what you want and receive it, without having to justify or explain it. When my clients learn how to bring these skills into their romantic and sexual relationships, they shine. Besides, how often do you get to do something that’s so life-changing and so pleasurable at the same time? So if you’re ready to discover new ways to tune into your desires and experience the power of embodied pleasure, get in touch with me and let’s make it happen.