I could talk about some of the logistics of body sex. The fact that the workshop is done in the nude. That women come from around the world and strip naked as soon as they are greeted at the door of Betty’s apartment. That we sit in a circle and share how we feel about our bodies, our orgasms. That we do a vulva show and tell and literally open our bodies up for these other women to see. That we are told what makes our vulva unique and beautiful. That we cry and we laugh. That we bring ourselves to orgasm – embracing our pleasure in a circle of women. That we end the day with group massage. That it feels amazing to be loved and accepted by all of these women who were strangers the day before.
All of those things are true. But this weekend I realized the power of body sex as it means to me.
Body sex is about stories. It’s is about looking at the stories I have been told or that I told myself about who I am, my scars, my limitations, my pain, my pleasure or my lack of pleasure. Body sex forced me to let them go. To leave them in the circle. It is the ultimate vulnerability. I came in naked with nothing at all to hide behind. When I began to talk about my problems, I felt kind of silly. As Betty says “The present moment is the point of power.” I started to wonder why the fuck am I telling that story. Who is that story even about? Was it mine, or was it just given to me? I wonder if I needed it as much as it needed me?
But here, in this circle with women from around the globe, I am naked and vulnerable and that story that kept me from ever truly being vulnerable, no longer seems to fit. In that circle, I feel only acceptance, authenticity, love, truth and sisterhood. Those stories I realized, may be a part of me, but they aren’t me. They came off with my clothes at the door, with a smile from a woman beside me in the circle, with the recognition of another’s pain, with tears as I shared, with the acceptance of my vulva, with the cries of my orgasm, with the embracing of my pleasure.
When I am naked and accepted in my nakedness, I don’t need those stories to explain why I am this way. I just AM this way. And every woman in that space saw me just as I am. No longer defined by my stories. The mother, the good girl, the bad girl, the slut, the prude, the victim, the too much. I am just me. And when I left that circle, I realized that I can not go back to those old stories. They are no longer relevant to me. I am me, just as I am and that is fucking brilliant.
With love and gratitude,
I am extremely excited to be offering Betty Dodson Certified Bodysex workshops, for the first time,here in Canada! These workshops will take place in Saskatoon, SK. on May 30th and 31st. I will post more details and a list of common questions, that people have, over the next two days. In the meantime if you want to learn more, check out my blog posts, email me questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to Betty Dodson’s website http://dodsonandross.com for more details on what Bodysex is. I hope to see you in the circle.
(This blog post is best read while listening to “Bird Song” by The Wailin’ Jennys)
We opened the Art of Self Loving Workshop in a circle where I asked that we each share, in first person, how we feel about our body and our masturbation history. This weekend wasn’t supposed to be about anyone else in our lives – husbands, lovers or friends – only our own experiences and feelings. What emerged were intimate stories of touch, shame, masks, labels, boxes, fears, pleasure and loss. We all cried at different times – sometimes I was crying for myself but often it was for someone else who expressed feelings that I recognized all too well. This sharing is where we began to build trust and slowly extend our roots of sisterhood towards each other. We ended the first day by practicing a technique called sensate focus touch. The idea is to learn to touch ourselves lightly, while paying attention to the point where our fingertip meets our skin. Sometimes we aren’t at all present in our touch and it can feel almost mechanical on the part of the giver and the receiver. But in this practice we continually remind ourself to go back to the point of connection and, intuitively, our body tells us which part or parts seem to need it the most. Touching ourselves in this way is an act of love and compassion, and each time it is practiced our body stores the memory of the sensation so that the next time the pleasure is greater still. We left with a homework assignment to touch our whole body in that way. No pressure to orgasm, no expectation at all, just paying attention to the exact point of connection.
I went home feeling calm about the day that had been and about what was to come tomorrow. I found space to do my “homework” but as soon as I started touching myself I realized that I was completely numb. Something was bothering me and it was inhibiting me from really being present in my touch. My self loving practice is rarely about just getting a release. It’s my way of connecting to my body, loving myself, being honest and discovering new ways to explore my pleasure. Frustrated I forced myself to go inwards for the answers to this numbness and, in doing so, discovered feelings beyond the mask of calmness. What I encountered was shame about not sharing enough of my own vulnerabilities with these women who had bared parts of their souls with me. I wondered if they thought I had it all figured out and that everything was perfect for me. I had asked them to meet me in the circle and show up prepared to do the work but I hadn’t really done the same because a part of me wanted to appear to have it all figured out. There was also a feeling of vulnerability about showing them my body. As part of a genital show and tell exercise that day I had sat naked on a rug in front of the group with a light shining on my genitals, opening myself to show them all the visible parts of my sexual anatomy. The purpose of this was to teach the functions, but also show other women what a real womans vulva actually looks like. In the Bodysex workshops, Betty guided each of us through this exercise with her loving hand on our leg and encouraged us with words describing the unique beauty of our pussies. Betty hadn’t been there to do that today and I wondered what they thought of me. Did they think I was ugly? Did they understand the purpose of this exercise or the power behind it? Sitting inside all of these feelings I decided to never do this workshop again. I would just finish my Bodysex certification, lead Betty Dodson’s workshops and if those didn’t work out I could blame Betty. (sorry Betty but its with brutal honesty that I’m admitting it) This workshop has parts of myself in it – namely in the emphasis placed on skin to skin touching of ourselves as a practice towards intimacy. Putting myself out there like that was terrifying. I lay there pondering the idea that all I had learnt and believed may be complete bullshit to everyone else while begrudgingly resuming the “homework” that I myself had assigned. Continuing to mechanically touch my body, while sitting in these feelings, I realized that I was rejecting myself before the group could reject me. That felt safer. Exhausted from the energy this took I needed a physical release. So I straightened my body, held my breath, touched myself – without any love – and orgasmed. Essentially on the night of my first workshop, I had abandoned almost all of the self loving methods I had learnt to use and was teaching this group. Breath. Movement. Loving touch. Then that voice in my head that I’m going to call Betty(smile) spoke up, reminding me that “The teacher is going to learn the most” and I thought “Oh fuck you can do better….. Stop running.”
I woke the next morning feeling energized. I had survived the “vulnerability hangover” and was ready to do the work, meeting the women in the circle – mask undone. Not only as the workshop facilitator but as a woman on my own journey of self love and acceptance who doesn’t have it all figured out. Sitting in the circle again and seeing all of the beautiful women eager to grow and learn with me, I shared my fears and the story of my failed attempt at the self loving homework the night before – right down to my half ass teenage orgasm. What I saw reflected back at me were accepting eyes, kind smiles and understanding nods. I like to think that it made me one of them, or maybe they always felt that I was – but in that moment I knew it too. As the other women took turns sharing how their homework went, I heard stories of looking in the mirror and opening themselves up for the first time, feeling erotically turned on by touching “non sexual” parts of themselves, orgasms, inner peacefulness that seemed to effect the others in their life that night, lust for self, asking for touch from another for the first time, vulnerability, and of difficulty at staying focused in the touch. All of my fears, while valid, were unfounded as the power of the workshop was happening in the ways it was supposed to. We cried together again followed by laughter as we ate popcorn and watched Betty’s documentary on orgasmic women. It was great to see all the different ways that women pleasure themselves and how no one way is right or wrong. After that I again took my spot on the rug and demonstrated types of touch that I use on myself as well as Betty’s Rock and Roll orgasm method. I shared parts of my own practice and encouraged taking the time to develop their own. I felt proud and beautiful in my nakedness and I knew that I was accepted as I am by each of those women.
The last exercise before closing circle was group touch. We divided into two groups and took turns touching a women on one or both sides for about 7 minutes. This, after a weekend of incredible sharing, vulnerability and sisterhood was unbelievable powerful. Sliding my hands over their bodies I could feel them at first hesitate and then melt into the touch. Tears poured down our faces as we felt and saw the effect that our loving touch had on every women. Clothing started to come off as external and internal layers were shed – allowing for more love to enter. I felt gratitude at being able to touch these women in this way and hoped, as I’d hoped when touching Betty a year before, that some of their strength and inner beauty would soak back into me. When it was my turn to receive I was struck by the power of their touch as soon as they placed their hands upon me. The closest way I could describe it is that of a high orgasm. It’s so internal it can’t be designated as coming from one place. It was as if they touched my soul. In an instant I was transported back to a year before, in the Bodysex workshop, when the women there touched me. This was a great reinforcement of what I had taught the day before about sensate focus touch and how the pleasure imprints in our bodies, increasing sensations every time we give or receive it.
To close the workshop we sat in a circle on the floor, invisible roots of sisterhood fully intertwined, holding hands and shared one word that encompassed what the weekend meant to us. Deliberately looking ,one at a time,into each women’s eyes the words that we spoke were: Open, Melting, Transcendence, Accepted, Connected, Empowered, Comfortable, Free, Loved and Vulnerable.
I look forward to sharing the circle with another group of women at my next Art of Self Loving Workshop http://natashasalaash.com/?p=19 on May 2nd and 3rd, 2015. Please email me at email@example.com for details.