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 email@example.com <3
Standing in my kitchen in Saskatoon cooking dinner, I’m lost in thought. As happy as I am to be home, it’s hard to come back to real life after the the intimacy of a Bodysex circle. I miss the connection, sharing of stories, touch, laughter and pleasure that I felt in the Quebec circle only one day before….
“Mama look at what I learned to do in fiddle class!” says my youngest daughter as she runs into the kitchen carrying her fiddle and bow. Turning around and looking down at her sweet face, our eyes connect and I smile.
My mind drifts to an image of a woman in the circle looking into my eyes while sharing in french her stories of physical and sexual shame. I don’t understand what she’s saying — until Marika translates her words for me — but I do understand her arms crossed over her chest, her tears, and her pain. Our eyes stay connected and I breathe deeper, encouraging her to also do so, and we hold our gaze.
My attention comes back to the kitchen at the sound of feet running up the stairs. “Thanks for the money for my hair cut mom. Do you think I should get dreads?” asks my teenage son as he slips past us to get an apple. Looking up at him I see my boy, as tall and handsome as a man, with broad shoulders and strong hands that almost cover the entire apple he’s now eating. He came from my body and yet he’s his own unique person with stories and dreams of his own. I see him, and I see me.
Just like that I’m once again back in the circle, touching the women during the group massage. In their bodies, I recognize parts of my own body and I touch with curiosity at how it must feel to touch me. Their softness feels so nice and I’m drawn to the scars and lines on their skin and wonder about the stories that created them. I touch in admiration of their journey — the parts I know and parts I don’t — and in love and respect for their willingness to let me see them. I feel the shiny, smooth texture of their stretch marks and the pleasure in my finger tips as I weave them in and out of the pattern the marks create on their bodies. smooth, plush, smooth, plush, smooth, plush….
The bubbling of the water in a pot of corn on the stove catches my attention and I move to lift the lid off. As I’m standing there, my teenage daughter comes up from behind and puts her arms around me. She’s the quietist of my children but the one who’s the most cuddly, and I’m always grateful for her gentle and loving presence. Feeling her arms around my stomach I let go of the pot lid and put my own arms over hers. l feel seen, held and loved and it reminds me of a moment in the circle when one of the women asked for a group hug.
We went to her immediately and — wrapping our naked bodies around her — we held each other. Heads touching, our bodies formed a circle so small that looking down I could only see feet and stomachs below us. “How could anyone ever tell us, that we’re anything less than beautiful” we sang….
I’m brought back once again to the kitchen as my ears perk up to my younger son telling a “knock knock” joke from the other room. It’s awful as usual and we all groan and laugh while he laughs too — pleased with our response.
Smiling I drift once again to memories of us laughing as we wandered around the retreat house naked — reluctant to put our clothes back on — left our legs open when we sat down, orgasmed, posed for photos ass up and sprawled across a dining room table, told sexy and not so sexy stories and teased the male caterer.
Dinner ready I set it on the table and call my children to come join me. I missed them while I was gone and I’m excited to hear how their weekend was. We sit around the table and I realize then that, while the eyes looking back at me are different, the Bodysex circle is still with me. The circle is there as long as I’m willing to authentically connect, see myself in other people, share stories, touch, laugh and enjoy pleasure.
Thank you to my dear sisters…..
Ananda, Corazon, Water Lili, Dauphine, Aroha, Heavan, Mango of Liberty, Oceane and Delicia.
“I have been trying to put into words since I got home from your retreat, how it’s changed me as a woman, a mother and a lover. I have done a lot of retreats and always come home with little nuggets, but this one. Wow. My entire perspective of life has shifted. I am happy. I’m happy in my body. I’m happy with my vulva. I am so into being able to relax and enjoy the pleasure that my partner wants to give me. Sensual touch, both ways. Just being naked and close, whether it’s sexual or not.
It’s allowed me to be vulnerable and open in a way I didn’t think would ever happen – especially not in this body. But it’s 100% changed my marriage, for the better. Both of us have opened up and are able to communicate better, to speak our hearts and minds. Shame left me at the retreat, I came home different and everyone that truly knows me, sees it.
So thank you. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for being a fierce space holder and loving us through everything. Thank you for being open and embracing us all. Thank you for putting on such an amazing retreat. I took so much from it and I’m so happy that I came and can’t wait to do another one.”
– April Bodysex Retreat participant
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