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
“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
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 her
Because 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 illusion
Or 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 kids
It 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 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”