I hear from men often in my counselling who struggle with anxiety around performance in sex which leads to difficulty becoming or staying erect. I feel so much empathy for them because our society places huge value on their ability to “perform” and “make a woman cum” and a hard penis is often equated (incorrectly) with that. I can’t imagine if I had to wear my arousal/fears visibly all the time, how exposed and vulnerable I would feel. These fears are common and normal in both men and women and there is nothing wrong with you if it happens to you. In fact I’d question anyone who told me they never experience performance anxiety during sexual intimacy. The great thing though is that there are solutions and this doesn’t need to continue to be a problem for you. Most of us were not raised in homes where intimacy (sexual or not) was modelled in a healthy and vulnerable way. This is one of the main reasons I created my intimacy coaching program. For more information click on this link https://natashasalaash.com/intimacy-coaching/
I’m on a flight to Montreal for this weekend’s Bodysex Retreat, and across the aisle from me is a mama with her 4 month old baby girl. After laying contently on mama’s lap, the baby is starting to fuss and cry and, being a mama myself, I can tell from the tone of her cry that she’s used to mama meeting her needs. Her cry isn’t really upset, angry or scared, it just sounds like she’s saying “come on mama I want some of your milk now.” The mama, possibly feeling uncomfortable about breast feeding on a busy plane, is trying to soothe her daughter in other ways — rhythmically rocking her and making soft “shushing” sounds in her ear. The baby calms for a bit from this, but after a couple minutes starts to fuss again. Soon I hear the crying stop, followed by a big gulp and contented swallowing sounds. Smiling I’m not surprised at all that mama listened to her baby’s needs and she’s now nursing.
Babies cries are uniquely designed to elicit what they need from their caregivers. If this baby wasn’t used to her mama responding to her needs, she would have skipped fussing and started right away with a full blown angry cry — knowing from experience that gentler cues don’t get her attention. What’s really interesting about this though, is that full blown cries don’t often promote an empathetic response from the caregiver. This is because the tone of the cry is harsh and angry as opposed to slightly distressed and in need of something. It is normal in fact, upon hearing an angry cry, to want to get away from it.
Thinking of this now it occurs to me how much this relates to adults in relationships and that we have similar ways of behaving when we have a need that is not being met. This need might be something that’s lacking in our relationship or it may stem from something that happened elsewhere in our life. Regardless it’s a need and in loving relationships we can manage many potential conflicts by simply responding in the way the mama did with her baby. Noticing a change in the body language of our partner — maybe they seem frazzled, guarded, sad or tense — and putting our arms around them to express our support, smiling in reassurance, or making them a warm drink — can have the same soothing affect as this mama does with her baby on the plane. These little gestures can make the difference between a full blown fight and a moment of shared understanding, empathy and connection.
I see in my work how difficult it is for many of us to reach out and meet the needs of our partners before their unmet needs come out as a full blown crisis. Many of us didn’t have mamas, like this lady, who paid attention to the subtle signs of distress in us and responded before they turned into misbehaviour or fighting from us. On the surface it may seem like she’s just stopping her baby from crying, but the reciprocity of their relationship actually provides the baby with framework for all her future relationships. She’s learning that it’s okay to have needs in relationships, to ask for them in gentle ways, and that when people love us we can trust these needs will be met. The mother on the other hand, is learning the beauty in connection that extends beyond words, relying on non verbal cues and body language to meet the needs of another human being. What excites me the most about witnessing this interaction, is the reminder that it’s never too late to treat the important people in our lives the way this mama is treating her baby. <3
Those who know me, know that I love story telling and fantasy. As I sat down to write about last weekend’s Bodysex retreat, I kept seeing the images from it in my mind like some grand fantasy. No matter how hard I tried to stay focused on writing a “proper blog” the images wouldn’t stop. So I gave up trying and here it is.…
Once upon a time there was a woman who loved to be naked. She was in her early 40’s — a mother — who looked regular on the outside yet felt like a goddess of fire on the inside. Sometimes the fire inside her burned so hot that she imagined there was a pot sitting on it, bubbling upwards and outwards from her vulva. On days where the pot would bubble higher — she wondered, in both fear and excitement, what would happen if it boiled over.
This woman enjoyed being naked and pleasuring herself so much that she decided to invite other women to spend a weekend with her, celebrating in nudity and pleasure together. Not surprisingly she discovered that there were many other women like her — regular on the outside yet goddesses of fire on the inside — longing to celebrate their heat fully.
She knew that celebrating in this way was not “normal” where she lived or anywhere really, but she was called to do this more than anything else in her life. She spent months thinking of the women before they came, wondering what their stories were, what they longed for, and if they too felt the heat of a rising, bubbling pot in their vulvas. She also spent a great deal of time preparing the weekend for them. She wanted them to feel like goddesses staying in a beautiful country, with a castle to sleep in and plenty of food to nourish them. She first found the castle — making sure it had plenty of space for the women to wander the grounds naked, then searched far and wide for a chef who could prepare delicious dishes to please their bodies and fuel their pleasure. Finally she elicited help from the goddess of art who also loved to be naked and found great pleasure in adorning the women’s bodies with her elaborate designs.
When the day finally arrived for the women to come, she blessed the space in the most sacred and powerful way she knew how. Laying down in the centre of it, she traced the length of her body with her fingers adding heat to her already bubbling pot. As the pot bubbled and her pleasure built ,the ceiling above her began to fill with colours and stars. Imagining that it was the sky above her— they came together, with the sky ejaculating a thousand tiny stars upon her body and the space around her. Content that the castle was now sacred enough for the goddesses to enter, she and the goddess of art, went to greet the women as they arrived.
One by one they came through the castle doors shedding layers of fabric that didn’t do justice to the bodies beneath them. Overwhelmed by the visions of such beauty, they welcomed the women into the space that had been so beautifully blessed merely moments before. As the goddesses took turns sharing stories about what had both dimmed and fuelled their fires, the woman realized with surprise that they all appeared more naked than before. She was sure that each one had removed their clothes upon entering, and that she herself had been naked all morning, and yet here they were taking off another layer of clothing.
As the day wore on, the women couldn’t contain their curiosity over what fuelled the fire under their pot and agreed that it was was essential to take a closer look. With mirror and lamp in hand, one by one, they spread their legs and opened their vulvas to each other — excited and nervous to see what they’d find. They were astonished to discover what appeared to be flowers growing out from between their legs. Even more surprising was that each woman’s flower was unique. Shiny, smooth, plush, rumpled, flowing, sleek, delicate, bold, dark, bright and a mix of both— each one different from the rest, like a field of wild flowers, and yet none more beautiful than the other. After exploring all of their flowers, both inside and out, the women marvelled at the lucky bees which came to taste the nectar hidden deep inside.
The women spent the rest of the evening and following morning sharing, laughing, being adorned with art, and noticing with surprise that the more they let their flowers open, the more clothing they shed.The opening wasn’t always easy and the women often felt conflicted with appearing one way on the outside and feeling another way on the inside. And of course they all wondered what would happen if the fire in their vulvas became too hot and their pots boiled over.
More naked still, and feeling brave from the deepened trust and connection, the women decided that it was time to play with the flowers that peeked out from beneath their legs and see what would happen to their already burning fire. Forming a circle they once again opened their legs and, with all of their flowers exposed at once, began to play. Like bees they buzzed and danced around the edges of their flowers — sometimes plunging in to taste the nectar — and sometimes teasing the petals, encouraging the nectar to trickle out. Their inner fires burned on and amidst the buzzing you could hear their bubbling pots rising higher than ever before.
All of a sudden, the clouds outside moved and the sun shone through the windows of the castle directly upon the flower of one of the goddesses who had at times, seemed slightly more reserved than some of the others. The other goddesses watched in awe as her flower opened up in full bloom before them. Crying and shaking in pleasure, her boiling pot spilled over the edges of her petals touching each of the other women. What they were touched by surprised them as it was not something you could feel with your fingers or see with your eyes. What came from her pot was simply more of HER. Her stories, her dreams, her hopes, her pleasures, her sorrow and her joys.
No longer afraid of their own pots boiling over, the other women let their flowers open wide and within minutes the entire room was in full bloom with each goddess spilling over the edges of their petals — being touched by the full celebration of who they are.
As they said goodbye the next day and left the castle, the women noticed that they no longer appeared regular on the outside and that, in fact, no one else appeared regular to them either. Could it be, they wondered, that we are all gods and goddesses with fires and boiling pots inside, simply afraid of showing who we are?
Dedicated with love to:Turtle, Princess tulip, Poretta,Maleficent, Becky, Beyonce, Lola, Pearl,Rapunzel, Boss lady, Unicorn, Coral, and all of the other goddesses I have sat in the circle with.
I decided to create the Advanced Bodysex retreat when it became apparent to me that the women who keep returning to Bodysex, often do so because they want a deeper exploration. Thanks to Bodysex they are comfortable with group nudity, masturbating amongst a circle of women and have a more in depth understanding of their sexual anatomy. I believe that these things provide an essential foundation to help with confidence, self acceptance and being orgasmic, while also offering us the freedom to act independently and make our own free choices around pleasure. Once we become orgasmic and even up the orgasm gap between men and women, we often start asking the questions “what else is there for me to discover, experience and feel, and how can my orgasms encompass more of me?”
I designed this retreat with the focus on feeling more and expanding our pleasure through absorption that extends beyond our clitoris and vagina. Pleasure — unlike orgasm — is subtle, and exploring it is a non linear process that’s more difficult to define and much less goal orientated. To me exploring pleasure means abandoning the “traditional male model” of sex and thinking much more expansively. It requires being present in the moment and open to experiencing all that can be felt through the senses, visual imagery, fantasy, body awareness and a deeper felt sense of our honest yes and no in regards to what we enjoy and what we don’t. Just as pleasure isn’t restricted to the genitals, it also isn’t restricted to sex. It can be felt during mundane tasks in our everyday lives as long as we allow ourselves to open like sponges, absorbing and feeling more. Opening to absorb life around us, cultivates desire within us.
Facilitating this retreat was difficult for me because what I’m trying to help women explore isn’t the same “deep dive” as Body Sex where you enter terrified but know exactly what you’re going to have done when the weekend is over. There is no 1,2,3 step model for pleasure and because the barriers are less visceral, I think it’s easier for our mind and negative self talk to take over. Pleasure requires a deeper presence in our bodies and, as often happens in sex, our head can fuck things up. I work with people everyday who struggle to experience pleasure because they can’t stop imagining what their body looks like and think it’s gross, or believe that they shouldn’t feel too much because feeling too much is bad, or worry about how they measure up or don’t with others. I found it interesting to see all of these fears arise in myself and other women during this retreat. While I know the answer to all of these problems is to find ways to get out of our defensive mind (pleasure killer) and into experiencing our body (the source of pleasure) this can be easier said than done.
Betty Dodson says “The present moment is the point of power” and I think her words encompass exactly what I hoped the women could learn from this retreat. It is only in this moment right now that we can feel. We may have felt in the past and we may feel more in the future but feeling as a verb happens RIGHT NOW. I can’t make anyone feel, yet I can encourage them to do so by providing opportunities that invite them into the present moment. To do this I began by providing a framework for absorption which I defined as “the openness and ability to become deeply immersed in any experience that intrigues you,” and helped them identify ways that they currently absorb and ways that they could increase their absorption. It has been proven that the best predictor of intense sexual pleasure is a woman’s ability to become fully absorbed in the moment and that her enjoyment of imagery, fantasy and daydreaming (which seemed to go hand in hand with absorption) are also associated with peak sexual arousal. Women who are “high absorbers” and have an openness to absorbing and self-altering experiences, are women most likely to have “supersex” or “peak” sex. Going over and above (beyond ) orgasm to experience an ecstatic mind-body-spirit connection.
With this understanding in mind I provided opportunities for absorption through a partnered 5 senses exploration, creating fantasies through a “desire interview” and sharing the fantasies amongst the group. Breath work with our ideal erotic selves in mind, “mirror play,” boundaries exercises where we identified what yes and no actually feel like in our body. Partnered zucchini and finger exploration to help identify vaginal/cervical pleasure spots, proper breathing techniques and isolating separate pelvic floor muscles. Group orgasm edging practice where we repeatedly built to orgasm and grounded our pleasure with our breath until we finally let go, as well as having 4 structured masturbation circles and several other “diddles” whenever someone felt the urge. Only with Bodysex women can you be having a conversation and masturbate at the same time!
Because this retreat is of my own creation and is very special to me, it’s the most vulnerable one for me to facilitate. As the facilitator I’m always learning and growing and it’s a bit like opening up my chest and inviting the women to step inside. To do my best to stay in the present moment I kept coming back to the questions that inspired the retreat in the first place “what else is there for me to discover, experience and feel, and how can my orgasms encompass more of me?” My answer every single time is that it has nothing to do with “doing” but everything to do with “being.” Being in the moment when I’m naked with my lover (or in a retreat full of women!) instead of thinking how my body looks. Being in the moment when I’m being pleasured or offering pleasure rather than worrying that I won’t be able to reach a specific goal. Being in the moment when something arises that’s scary or uncomfortable and letting it be a part of me too. All of this being requires me to surrender. Surrender to the moment, to being vulnerable, surrender to feeling more, to pleasure, to love, to life.
This retreat weekend reminded me to carry the reminder of BEING with me everyday as I face myself, my sisters, the world and my lover with arms spread wide, legs apart — Open to absorb life around me, cultivating desire within me.
Much love to my beautiful sisters and a special thanks to juicy Marika who helped me co-facilitate
Sometimes things happen that remind me of the power of Bodysex and the interconnectedness of all who share this experience – even if we never meet.
A woman who has participated in 2 of my past Bodysex retreats has given a $200 donation for women who would like to attend but have financial circumstances which make it difficult to do so. (one income homes, single mothers, large families, students etc.) The money has been divided into two $100 “scholarships” for women who would like to attend the retreat in Saskatoon on May 3-5th. One scholarship has already been given, and if you’re interested in the other one please send me an email with a brief write up on why you’d like to attend. You aren’t being judged on your writing or on anything, so don’t worry about that. I just want to hear about you.
Here is a little note from the woman who donated the money:
“Come stretch and share your unique beauty with the group, and let them hold you in whatever way you need. And just cum, that’s the icing on this luscious cake!”
send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org <3