“I then really understood the importance of being one without all our layers in nature. I had thought about how drab the landscape and sky seemed that day, and was a bit disappointed it wasn’t a green, leafy, bright blue sky sort of day. But once I saw the women and their skin against the earth they seemed to fit in perfectly, it allowed their beauty to be the focus. It was like they were the first flowers blooming this spring season.” – photographer Meghan Mickelson
At each of my Bodysex Saskatoon retreats the women have the option of getting Nude in Nature photos taken of them. For the women who choose to have them done, the rest of us support them by watching and encourageing – letting each woman know how we see her. We pay attention to and admire their unique beauty – the contrast of a dark nipple against the back drop of the sky, the soft and inviting curve of a waist, the strength of the muscles on someone’s back, the sexy expression on a face, the presence or absence of pubic hair. We adore each other, we laugh, we cry and we carry the shared vulnerability from the circle, into the photo shoot.
Here is a small glimpse into what was captured that day :
*** All photos captured by Meghan Mickelson and shared by the women with enthusiastic permission.
And…… having fun showing some different poses 🙂
Sometimes it’s difficult for me to write about Bodysex retreats because I feel a responsibility to honour the other women through my words and yet, just like in the circle, I can only speak for myself. I find that each retreat peels another layer off of the armour that I wear and, with that, the mirror image that I see reflected in the women’s eyes becomes more clear. Seeing myself with more clarity — and less armour — frees me to be me. I can only hope and trust that this increased freedom to be me, gives the women the freedom to experience themselves in their full expression as well.
I came into last weekend’s retreat grieving the end of a relationship that was and is very dear to me. I felt heartbroken and tender — yet at the same time excited and curious to be amongst a new circle of women. As soon as Patti and I got to the retreat space and began setting up, my body — remembering the familiar smells, sights and feels of the space — began to settle and soften. Body sex is home to me.
The next morning while we waited for the women to arrive, I laid down naked on the couch for some quiet time while Patti and Justine sat across the room doing henna. In between answering texts from nervous women, reading quotes and drinking tea — I touched myself. Connecting to my body through pleasure always grounds me — bringing me into me. Pleasuring myself in the same room as them, while they were experiencing pleasure in their own way, didn’t seem at all strange. When I orgasmed Patti looked back at me and smiled, then went back to discussing her henna design with Justine. I smiled too in recognition of the freedom I felt experiencing this kind of intimacy — in full acceptance and non judgement — by women that I’m not sexually intimate with. We eat, we sleep, we orgasm, we don’t orgasm, we cry, we share our darkest secrets and deepest shame. In all of it there is no hierarchy or relative importance between these things and I couldn’t help but think that this is how I imagine the perfect love affair.
That feeling of freedom stayed with me the entire weekend and I can honestly say that I felt free in a way that I have never felt before. I loved being naked and felt completely at home and beautiful in my body. Even outside in the cold I’d pull up my dress so that my pussy was exposed and free. In this freedom my vulva lips bloomed and opened up to the world as if to say “this is me in my abundance and I’m not hiding anymore!!!!”
The freedom showed up in my ability to empathize with the women’s pain but not wish I could rescue them from it. Knowing that this journey is hard, I felt less responsibility for everyone’s experience and yet somehow trusted that they were having the experience that they needed. I was able to reach out physically in ways that I haven’t before — trusting myself and the women that it was welcome. I’ve always felt like I’m too much and because of this I’d hold back. Feeling free in the way I express love and compassion, I held a woman in a fully naked body hug, as she grieved a loss of her own.
In this freedom I realized that Bodysex represents a unique and beautiful dichotomy of self growth and self pleasure while at the same time an experience of deep interpersonal connection. In the contrast of these two things, we find the common connection of vulnerability. Each of us in the circle travels our own path, expresses our own shame, feels our own pain, and celebrates our own pleasure, yet we are never alone for any of it. We do so being witnessed and witnessing in a circle of sisterhood. Body sex is the ultimate love affair.
With this very difficult and vulnerable piece of writing, another layer of armour falls off and once again my mirror image is more clear. This freedom isn’t only in Bodysex. This freedom is in me.
Much love to all of you: Bambi, Bunny, Aloha, Turtle, Kiki, Ginny, Sage, Marina, Rosa, Sasha, Roxy and Liberty.
**special thanks to my dear sister Patti who’s encouragement as I wrote this meant the world to me and without it I could not have shared it. You are a gift.
** photo credit to the talented Meghan Mickelson and shared with permission
This past weekend I led a Bodysex retreat away from home for the first time in the 3 years that I’ve been facilitating these circles. I dreamt of bringing Bodysex to other places even before I began this work, but have always held back from actually doing it — with old stories of self worth and insecurities coming up. Encouraged however by the loving support and confidence of my lover who continually invited me to bring Bodysex to Quebec, I began opening to the idea. He introduced me to Marika, my wonderful sister who offered her assistance and perfect womb like home for the circle, as well as a talented vegan chef who seemed very excited at the prospect of nourishing our pleasure with his food. The combination of support and encouragement felt to me like I was being welcomed into a loving mama’s bosom and reminded me that I’m never alone in anything. As the registrations began coming in I felt both humbled and afraid of the depth and honour of what this meant, all the while reminding myself that my staying small doesn’t serve anyone……
Each body sex circle seems to have it’s own theme that develops organically and somehow, like providence, the theme often seems to match the needs of many of the women in the circle. “I’m here because of my lineage” said a woman across from me as we took turns sharing our stories of physical and sexual shame. Softly and lyrically alternating between English and French she explained that she wanted to heal the pain of the women who came before her — to honour them and also so that she doesn’t have to carry their shame and pain anymore. “It ends today.”
It’s common in Bodysex circles to hear women talk about wanting to heal so that future generations don’t need to carry this shame, but this was the first time I’d heard spoken the intention to heal for the ancestors who came before us. Touched deeply by this I thought of my own mother, my grandmothers, aunts, and women I don’t even know the names of. I wondered what their stories were, what pain and joy they held deep inside their bodies, under their clothes and between their legs. What lived and unlived dreams did they have? Had they ever felt safe to cry in shame or to cry in pleasure? I envisioned their shame like a heavy but invisible burden, attached to their bodies, their wombs, the lips of their vulvas and their silence. In what ways I wondered, do I still hold this invisible weight and in what ways am I passing it on silently to my children?
As the weekend went on we bonded over our shared stories, time in the hot tub, laughter, fantasies, eating delicious vegan food and being loving witnesses to the beauty of each other’s bodies. We took turns opening our vulvas, expressing adoration and wishes in recognition of this valued part of our body that is so often ignored or forgotten. Different women spoke of visions of their ancestors or nameless women in their dreams and I felt the power of our experiences extend far beyond the walls we were in. When it came time to celebrate our orgasms together we were quiet at first but, as our pleasure built, our sounds carried through the ceiling to the kitchen where the chef was preparing our plates. I couldn’t help but think of how symbolic it was to have a man come to the house — solely to be in service to us — while we celebrated our bodies and our pleasure on our own. Just WOW.
Full of sexual energy and inspired by the visions and sounds of women in pleasure around me, I brought myself to orgasm over and over. As I did I imagined the women in my lineage with their secret stories of shame and pleasure and I lifted the stories for them, like weights hanging off of my body, and threw them up into the air to be released with my orgasmic energy. I came again and again with this image in my mind, physically and energetically cleansing my ancestors and myself of their shame. As I did so I acknowledged the honour of being able to live the path that I do, the strength that I have to do so, and felt absolute gratitude for the women before me who led the way. “I’m here because of my lineage, and It ends today.”
Thank you to my new sisters for sharing with me: Angel, Ananda, Phoenix, Rayon de Lumiere, Secret Island, Avalin, Esmerelda, Natasha and Porte de tous les Possibles.
*** stay tuned for my fall Bodysex Quebec date
The beautiful share comes from a woman who has sat in the Bodysex circle with me 5 times. This is Bodysex.
I now see humanness in every woman.
And a person I know…Like the woman who walks in all beautiful to the gym with her long curly hair.First instinct is to judge herBecause she’s obviously done her hair for the gym.But then her body type and hair reminds me of this other woman,one that I went to Bodysex with.And suddenly I’m not judging her anymore,because she has sat in circle with me.Or a totally groomed lady comes in with her fancy mom hair and I see a woman I sat with in Bodysex.So I don’t judge because I know what might be happening behind the illusionOr a young single girl comes in and I think “you have it so easy, no kids. No responsibility.”and then I see the girl from body sex who wants nothing more than a committed relationship and kidsIt goes on.There is a connection to be had with every woman and each of us has a story.I feel so much more open to other people’s stories now,Because the common themes of wanting love and struggling for acceptance and all of it come together.We are all the same body.
******* The following quotes and photos are shared with permission by women who have attended at least one of my Bodysex Retreats. Thanks to all of you for showing up and allowing me to see you in your full light and beauty and for you seeing mine.”
“I really see it like a womb that allows for recreation of what we want to be in our lives at this moment,
plus offers the gift of being brave enough to do a scary thing, which empowers us to do other scary things. “
“Recognizing patterns and connections between all aspects of my life and past experiences.”
“Through the multiple trips around the bodysex circle I am coming to find that I – all of what that is – do belong, everywhere that I am. Even in the scariest places to Be KNOWN, like, in my family. Because I am ok with me, and I guess that’s all I really needed to know.”
“Do right by yourself, jump like a frog, and fuck the fuckers. “
“Not being able to hide behind my clothes and daily roles didn’t just allow others to see me, but allowed me to see myself”
“I’ve learned to trust my intuition. To listen to my body first and let it be my guide”
“I understand myself better and accept my need for down time more than I used to. It started with me paying attention to my shift in hormones in relation to sex, but it affects every aspect of my life too, the days I’m creative, the days I feel like cleaning, the days I feel like resting. As women in a patriarchal world, we push ourselves to do so much and we need rest, and to listen to the wisdom of our bodies. Body sex helped me grasp that concept on a more full level than intellectually because of the circle of women, their acceptance and mirroring.”
“I’m now so tuned into my body and nervous system responses, I have so much faith in myself that I can feel into it and make good decisions with no regret.”
****** The following quotes and photos I’m sharing with permission by women who have attended at least one of my Bodysex Retreats. Thanks to all of you for showing up allowing me to see you in your full light and beauty and for you to see mine. <3
“ Bodysex helped me to accept not only my physical body, but my bodily functions. I’m no longer ashamed of my bleeding and have learned to (when life permits me) allow my blood to flow out of me instead of plugging it to avoid seeing it. Watching it drip out is like wow this is fucking cool shit here! I bleed to create life.”
“This is me and I’m okay with me”
“My skin is all of a sudden saggy in many places it wasn’t before (hello 35!). rather than feeling bad/weird about that, i’m fascinated and in love with it.”
“Even more than body acceptance i’d say honouring of my body and all it is, does, has done for me.”
“Physical and emotional comfort in my own skin”
“The permission to adore and care for and nourish my body has stayed with me.”
“I hold my physical space in the world differently now. I historically have curled my shoulders down to conceal a large bosom and also protect my vulnerable core. Now, I lead with my solar plexus, my power, which makes my tits jut out, but i feel strong, not ashamed.”
“I’m so comfortable in my body that I hated and kept hidden for so long, that I have to remind myself that I can’t just be naked all the time. “
“Sex used to be lights out face hidden and now I’m lights on, legs spread “This is Me!”
“Masturbation has been a way for me to heal my body shame. By touching myself – and I mean my whole body – I have become more compassionate and less judgemental about the parts that I thought were ugly.”
When I work with clients of all ages, I often invite them to create a wheel identifying the different elements or spokes that make up themselves. I’ve learned with time that it’s best for people to choose their own spokes, centre and circumference of the wheel. I often share my own with them to give them a sense of the exercise, but it’s much more powerful when they make it unique to themselves.
As with anything we are often drawn to the finished product, but I find that the awareness that comes from the process of creating the wheel is often more important. Was it easy to make or difficult? Were certain spokes harder to fill than others or were there some that you didn’t want to put at all? Were you critical of the way it looked or sounded? Did you struggle to see what already is and instead seek out what isn’t? Were pleasure and sexuality a part of your wheel? What makes your wheel turn and who or what is at the centre?
I love looking at the simplicity in my daughter’s wheel and being reminded that there are always “happy things that make us feel better” when we’re willing to look.
**** The following quotes and photos have been shared with permission by women who have attended at least one my Bodysex Retreats. Thanks to all of you for showing up and celebrating pleasure with me. <3
“Bodysex has been a long awaited sexual awakening. As we know by the #metoo most of us women experience some kind of sexual assault/abuse at some time in our lives. I now realize My way to deal with it was through anger and advocacy.
However that didn’t leave much room for me to be sexual. Somehow it felt wrong, something that men “did”to women. Bodysex has given me the permission to realize and celebrate my own sexual power as something sacred.”
“As a trauma survivor, I was stuck in a cycle of physical and emotional pain. Experiencing physical pleasure helped me learn that the path out of pain can begin with pleasure.”
“I turn myself on!”
“It’s given me permission to fantasize and enjoy my fantasies without feeling shame”
“Now I can have fun with sex! Be playful and dirty instead of timid and repressed. Sex should be FUN!”
“Until I attended BodySex, I had lived my life believing that sexual self pleasure is wrong and shameful. This base of shame extended into partnered sexual experiences, leaving me feeling shame rather than joy. Now I’m capable of examining those feelings of shame, dissecting them and coming into myself as a powerful, sexual woman. I know what I want and I’m not afraid to ask for it.”
“I felt shame and rejection for wanting more from sex – and more often – than my partner. I was ashamed of having a strong sexual desire, and the weekend helped me frame this in a positive and powerful way. I feel empowered to satisfy myself as needed- and it’s made sex in my marriage especially amazing (when it happens! Ha ha) because I’m giving more and focusing less on receiving. “
“I am totally independently orgasmic and it is amazing!!! I’m like a young teenager horny as hell…..building up my muscles, discovering new feelings, excited to have something to look forward to everyday with myself. I feel like I’m finally part of the club!”
“I’m open to sexuality and fun in daily experiences. For me, that’s strength, directly related to the normalcy that bodysex allows for sexy thoughts without shame.”
“Now I have sex for my own pleasure”
Bodysex is a transformative and undefinable experience for women, of all ages and sexual orientations, interested in the empowering freedom that comes from shedding the masks, roles and clothing that we hide behind everyday. The workshop is done in the nude yet it’s non sexual. It’s about raising consciousness, creating sisterhood, integrating body shame and celebrating pleasure.
Bodysex Quebec Workshop/Retreat will be held April 7-8, at a private home in Drummondville, east of Montreal. It’s the perfect place to relax, let go and just be. These retreats have a “slumber party” feel to them with catered meals and snacks provided. During down time you may visit with the other women, spend time alone, journal, read or just BE.
The two day workshop will include:
- Sacred circle where, in first person, we share how we feel about our bodies and our orgasms. This is the time to share any shame that has been holding us back from fully celebrating our pleasure. Through this, the roots of sisterhood will begin forming as we accept each other for who are. No more and no less.
- Group genital show and tell. This is a powerful ceremony where we display our vulva one at a time in front of a mirror, identify all of the parts of our sexual anatomy and recognize the beauty and diversity amongst us. Understanding of our sexual anatomy is the foundation of sexual pleasure.
- Learning methods to enhance our orgasms and our self loving practice. How breath, movement, sound and our pc muscle work to enhance our pleasure on all levels.
- Self loving, side by side, in the circle during “erotic recess.” Sharing our own pleasure, without expectation, with other women is one of the most powerful experiences that you will ever have. This is about learning to be our own lover, integrating body shame, letting go of sexual oppression and sharing in sisterhood. This is also an opportunity for me to help personally guide you, towards orgasm or increased pleasure if you have never orgasmed or are having difficulty and would like help.
- Group massage. This ancient practice is almost impossible to describe in words. It is a transcendent experience where we are able to give and receive loving, non sexual touch from the other women in the circle.
Location: Drummondville, Quebec (exact location will be disclosed to registered participants only)
Dates: April 7th, 10am — April 8th 7pm
Cost: $575 CDN. Included in this fee is the full Bodysex workshop, shared accommodations for 1 night, delicious catered meals, rechargeable vibrator to take home (value $100)
***$200 NRF deposit on registration.
Space is limited to 8 participants
Please advise me of any dietary restrictions
or email email@example.com for all enquiries.
Deadline to register is March 26th.
Natasha Salaash is a Betty Dodson-certified Bodysex instructor, Orgasm Coach and Sex and Intimacy Counsellor who believes that orgasm and pleasure — when practiced consciously — can serve as a gateway into self awareness and sexual awakening. Natasha is passionate in helping women explore their mind and body to discover their sexuality, build confidence, feel empowered, and live authentically. She believes that our primary sexual relationship is with ourself and that it is the base from which all other relationships can grow. Through her Bodysex Workshops Natasha provides a safe space and dialogue of shared vulnerability, where women are supported in shedding their physical and emotional masks, learning about and accepting their bodies, developing intimacy with themselves and celebrating their pleasure.
I’m the mom of 3 girls ranging in age from 7 to 15. I’ve told them the basics about sex in the terms of making babies but never anything about pleasure. Do you have any advice on how to talk to my daughters about pleasure? I don’t know where to begin.
Great question! The fact that you’re asking this says a lot to me about the kind of parent you are. 🙂
Having a conversation with our daughters about pleasure can be extra difficult because we’re culturally conditioned to think of pleasure as shameful and bad — especially in reference to females. It isn’t uncommon to hear a mother joke about her son who can’t keep his hands out of his pants. However if she said the same about a daughter others may think there’s something “wrong” with her, or that somethings been done to her to make her “that way.” The fact is that masturbating for pleasure is a part of our sexual development that begins even before birth.
“We recently observed a female fetus at 32 weeks gestation touching the vulva with fingers of the right hand. The caressing movements were centred primarily on the region of the clitoris. Movements stopped after 30 to 40 seconds and started again after a few minutes. Furthermore, these slight touches were repeated and were associated with short, rapid movements of pelvis and legs……. We observed this for 20 minutes.”
— The Story of V, Catherine Blackledge
So how do you start? Start by using correct terminology when discussing their sexual anatomy and avoid “dumbing it down” with terms like “front bum” or ”pee pee.” We use these terms to lessen our own discomfort and in fact they just feed the already imposed cultural shame around our genitals. If you don’t know the correct terms then please learn them before you talk. You can explain to them about their clitoris and how it’s the only organ in our body that’s sole purpose is for pleasure. I’d tell them that masturbating is normal and natural and that basically everyone does it and that it’s a 100% safe way to have sex. (only say the safe sex part if it’s age appropriate) I’d even go so far as to say that you and your friends masturbate so they know that you’re not just speaking rhetorically. This may feel a bit awkward to say at first but I think you’ll notice from their response that they appreciate hearing it. It also helps for them to know that pleasure through masturbation is normal at different stages in life. Of course discussions about masturbation should also include discussions about appropriateness and safety and you will most likely have a different conversation with your older girls than your younger one.
With your older daughter(s) I would also tell them that the pleasure they experience through masturbation can and should also be experienced in sexual experiences with others when they are ready. This bit of information was a missing link for me as a teen because I masturbated for pleasure alone and had sex with my boyfriend without pleasure. It didn’t even occur to me that pleasure had anything to do with sex or that I could have both at the same time because no one told me that was possible. I want my daughters to know this. Sex for my own pleasure was a completely foreign concept and I see this carry through with adult women who talk about “good” sex. When questioned on what this means it is often apparent that “good” simply means not awful and has very little to do with actual pleasure.
I hope this helps as a starting point for the conversation with your daughters. I find in my Orgasm Coaching practice that the best indicator of sexual satisfaction as an adult is if the woman masturbated as a child. If you have any other questions or would like some anatomy diagrams to print out please don’t hesitate to email me again. You’re a wonderful mother to be seeking this information for your daughters!