As I continue to grow and learn and get more comfortable incorporating parts of myself and my beliefs into my life and my work, I’ve started to feel uncomfortable using the word “heal” when referring to what I hope to help women achieve through my work. The definition of heal is “to become healthy or sound again” and to me that implies that we were once healthy and whatever we did or was done to us needs to be fixed so that we can become healthy again. I don’t believe that any of us need fixing. I believe that our pain, “brokenness”, trauma, and shame are just as valid parts of ourselves as our greatness. In fact often our greatness is a direct result of our brokenness.
I can see now that when I feel like I need fixing it’s usually because I’m waging battles — both consciously and unconsciously — with my stories and experiences that I deem shameful and bad. By not accepting or allowing them to be a part of me and my view of myself, I become fragmented — and a separation is created within me. It takes a great deal of energy to keep these parts separate and much of my energy is fed into hiding these perceived imperfections from others. Hiding and living in shame creates not only a separation within but a separation with out — and essentially distances me from the people that I most want to be close to.
I saw examples of this separation in my daughter whom we adopted as an older child. When she first came home she tried her best to be perfect and any time she made a normal mistake she would either apologize profusely or do whatever she could to hide it. The behaviours she used to cover her mistakes were often far more damaging than the mistakes themselves and after awhile trust between us became a problem. She seemed to be putting her energy into separating her “flaws” from herself and in doing so, was separating herself from me. Sensing that she felt the need to be perfect in order to be loveable, I began to praise her for making mistakes. I expressed my love for her “flaws.” Her spilled milk, forgotten lunch containers and messy room. Then I took things a step further and told her that I didn’t need her to be perfect or “fixed”, as adopted children often believe, and that it’s okay that she may always feel a sadness or brokenness about losing her birth family. I acknowledged that her wounds from this loss may never fully heal and that no matter what, I accept and love her as she is. I didn’t want her to think she “should” be anyone other than herself or that I needed her to feel better in order to love her. To deny the painful truths in her story would be to deny a part of who she is. I can honestly still feel her entire body sigh with relief upon hearing this.
I’ve carried this understanding with me ever since as a reminder to not gloss over or try to “fix” her or my other children’s pain or shortcomings, but instead to acknowledge and accept them as a part of their whole being. I don’t need them to be any “better” than they already are.
Through my work these past few years and in particular the shared vulnerability that happens within a Bodysex circle, I’ve learned to stop hiding in shame and acknowledge the parts of myself that aren’t so pretty to look at. In this acknowledgement and in the acceptance mirrored back to me from the other women, I’ve largely come to trust and stop fighting those parts of myself that I’m in battle with. When I stop resisting, the stories lose their power and — like a tapestry with many different threads — they become just another part of the intricate story of my life. They integrate into me. The meaning of the word integrate is “to put together parts or elements and combine them into a whole.” To be whole I don’t need to be perfect.
If you choose to sit in the circle with me or work with me in any capacity — I will not proclaim that you’ll be healed because I don’t believe that you need fixing. I don’t and won’t see you that way. I won’t pretend to have all the answers or that I’ve “arrived” at a place that you should also be. I will however, do my best to allow you to see me as a whole person with many curves and corners of both darkness and light. In the end, maybe healing is just realizing that in spite of my brokenness, I’ve been whole all along.
*** people who know me well know that I love words and their meanings and I don’t take it lightly which words I use. Just because this is how I feel about the word heal, doesn’t mean I think you’re wrong for using it. This is just what fits for me.
“Remember when we used to just have tea” I said to one of the women across the circle from me as I sat up post orgasm. We were in the middle of one of our many celebrations of pleasure and the reality of the moment just struck me. This is a woman who held my babies after they were born, bonded with me over breastfeeding and co sleeping stories, and was now sharing orgasms alongside me like it was the most normal thing in the world. In any direction I turned I could see more women, all now sisters to me, experiencing the pleasure in their bodies using fingers and toys, in every position imaginable. As one of us orgasmed others would watch or follow, cheering each other on as we would with any other great event in life. This Is Real Life.
When I set out to create last weekend’s Advanced Bodysex Retreat, my hope was that it would be a space that would encourage myself and the other women to feel more. I wanted to get beyond the thinking that orgasms are solely genital, and into feeling and exploring from within our whole selves. Because all of the women had attended at least one Bodysex workshop before, I knew that they’d have a greater level of comfort in being nude, trust in other women, be willing to go to deeper and more difficult places and a desire to experience feeling more in a way that I think many of us long for. My vision for this retreat was more of an experience rather than a place to arrive at, and I struggled with figuring out how to encourage that experience.
Sticking with what I know best, I decided to model the retreat after the path I’ve walked these past few years. Having “cracked myself open”, I aimed to create experiences that would encourage the women to crack open with me. Almost as soon as the weekend started I could see evidence of feeling more everywhere I looked and, even though these feelings weren’t always comfortable or easy, we were definitely feeling. Together in our circle we “created a safe container to be the mother, daughter, grandmother and whore.” Exploring our sexual history and it’s affects on our current sexuality, giving ourselves and each other sexual permission, examining our values, wants and desires, questioning our barriers to being present, gaining awareness of our breath, experiencing pleasure, sharing our fantasies, awakening the 5 senses, having our vulvas drawn, creating our wheel of wholeness and vulnerably unveiling our shame. Throughout it all we held each other with acceptance and compassion in the safety of the circle.
I’m finding it impossible to put words to the experiences from this weekend and so, with permission from my sisters, I’m going to share a different kind of testimonial. Before clicking on the following recording, I recommend you find a quiet place alone, close your eyes and listen with all of your senses to what feeling more can sound like.
If you’re interested in “cumming for tea with me” my next Bodysex retreat will be April 20th -22nd. http://natashasalaash.com/spring-2018-bodysex-workshopretreat-date/
“Your partner can help you to have an orgasm but not be orgasmic. This is your responsibility. Because the actual quality of the orgasm depends on you, it is important to develop an awareness of how your body moves, how your muscles react, how the depth and rhythm of your breathing can help in the experience of pleasure, and how pleasure can be intensified and made to last longer. You become at once the giver and receiver………As you learn the techniques, you’ll strengthen your trust and confidence in yourself as a sexually attractive individual, and you’ll discover that pleasuring yourself physically is an essential part of loving yourself emotionally, bringing together your sexual energy and your heart. Self pleasuring makes your heart happy. “ – Margo Anand
Follow the link to register for the last remaining spot in this retreat:
I am getting so excited excited for my Advanced Bodysex retreat in November! Some women have asked if they are ready for an “advanced” retreat and basically the only requirement is that you have previously attended a Betty Dodson Certified Bodysex workshop. The reason for this is that I want everyone to know their sexual anatomy, and to have experienced being nude in a group so that it isn’t such a big fear. The focus of this retreat will be on self exploration and we will explore ourselves in many different ways. Physically through touch, movement and sound. Spiritually through breath and energy awareness. Emotionally and intellectually through examining old stories we carry regarding our sexuality, pleasure and shame as well as identifying what we want, need and desire for our sex life. We will explore through engaging our five sense and seeking to find pleasure in everyday experiences. Throughout the 3 night retreat we will practice self pleasure – pushing the edges of our comfort – so that we can grow and learn though our practice.
The inner work will begin before the retreat starts in the form of “homework” which you will not be required to share.
The retreat is half full and registration closes November 1st. A $200 deposit is required upon registering. The retreat is over half full. Email me to book or with any questions you may have.
Just over three years ago I flew to NYC to attend my first Bodysex workshop. At that time I was disconnected with myself sexually, afraid to cry in front of others, 10lbs skinnier and hated my body. I was terrified of my “ugliness” being seen and at the same time desperate for someone to see it and love me anyways. I wasn’t sure what I’d get from doing something that scared me so much, but I did know that I wanted to find a way through all of my insecurities and feel like I’m enough as me.
For a year before the workshop I’d been on an inner journey — trying to figure out who I was and where I fit into my different roles as mother and wife. So much of my time and energy was spent pleasing others and care taking. Somewhere along the line my self worth had become tied up in other peoples opinions of me and in seeking validation from them.
Today I am on a plane flying back home from NYC having just attended a Bodysex retreat with women from around the world, getting certification to lead their own groups. All of these women have done at least one Bodysex workshop and some, like me, already lead their own groups.
As I watched these other women throughout the weekend — and thought of how they live their lives at home as nurses, make up artists, healers, teachers, professors, realtors, lawyers, sexologists, labourers, mothers, wives and daughters — I saw me. I saw me in the way they connected to themselves sexually — masturbating side by side in a variety of positions, using vibrators, dildos and hands — like it was the most natural thing in the world. I saw me as I witnessed them encouraging each other to make whatever sound they needed to, or take as much time as needed to reach orgasm. I saw me in the tears that fell without shame —tears that represented understanding, pride, honour, respect, healing, joy, freedom and pleasure. I saw myself in all the different body types and characteristics — curves, rolls, stretch marks, freckles, strength and softness. I saw myself in the unapologetic way each woman carried her beautiful body — like they are living life from the inside out instead of the other way around. Embodied. Shoulders back. Tits out. Hips swaying.
Feeling so seen and so free with women, of whom most I had never met, I couldn’t help but feel such huge respect and awe for the common denominator we all share. Bodysex. A conscious and intentional circle of women sharing in both shame and pleasure. Naked, vulnerable and brave in a space where we don’t need to be anything other than who we are and we celebrate that.
These past three years have been almost like a continual birthing process for me with each day and each new experience that I choose for myself bringing me deeper into me. I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been incredibly hard and at times painful to come to terms with all of my discoveries. I don’t have all the answers or even half of them. Sometimes I still feel insecure about my body and sometimes my orgasms are just meh. Most of the time however, I feel orgasmic, alive, free, empowered and excited for all of the discoveries, pleasures and joys yet to come my way. I feel at home in my body as it is and with the safety of feeling at home comes a deep trust that I’ll be okay no matter what. I am enough.
Thank you Betty, Carlin, and all of my Bodysex sisters for allowing me to see you, so that I could be reminded of what I see in me.
I’m so excited to announce these upcoming Bodysex retreat dates including a whole new Advanced retreat! Details can be found under “services” but if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to share the circle with you. <3