“The largest, and to some, the most beautiful flowering plant is the giant water lily. It floats gracefully on the water and blooms a large fragrant flower. What we don’t see is that the root is anchored in gross, dark mud. For something beautiful to blossom, it has to draw nutrients from the undesirable, the hidden, the decayed. I think that we are like that. The nutrients drawn from tough experiences contains the plasma that builds petals. So don’t shy away from jamming rootstock into the heart of the riverbank.” Mark Andrew
Reflecting on this past weekends Bodysex workshop, I can’t help but notice how the stages we pass through perfectly mimic the stages of an orgasm.
The beginning can be awkward as we tentatively seek to get to know each other. Like sex with ourself or another, we are often shy and nervous yet hopeful and hesitantly expectant that the experience will be the release that we need. I have never seen so clearly how layers of shame can cover us as I did this weekend. How even when we are completely naked we can remain hidden. As the initial awkwardness of our nakedness becomes the norm, we unintentionally find new ways to hold back. We cross our legs or arms, we hide our eyes, we over talk or talk too little – carefully constructing what we want to share, all the while knowing that there is so much more to uncover. The amount of energy that we put into covering what we are afraid others – or ourselves – will see, is tremendous and exhausting. It is also a barrier to our pleasure.
The beginning circle was almost like the dance of foreplay, getting to know each other, learning our curves and edges, and by the time we reached the show and tell – opening up our vulvas in front of each other, marvelling at our anatomy, and noting with fascination the differences in colour, shape and size of each of us – we began to feel more bonded. We held hands and blessed each woman’s vulva with a name – sending love and acceptance to her in her uniqueness. I have never been more touched by the power and necessity of this ceremony as I was this weekend.
When I am building my orgasms I often hold back, sitting on the edge enjoying the ride – not allowing myself to fall in until I can’t hold off any longer. In this sense I went through day one of the workshop as if I was edging an orgasm. Building up, wanting to surrender, but feeling the need to hold back until I could fully trust the experience enough to let it happen.
On day two I went in early to the workshop space and laid there filling the room with my orgasmic energy before the others arrived. These two orgasms, while satisfying, were like small shudders that happen before the huge release that I was building to. I knew that I was holding back and it was time to begin letting go. Knowing that I cannot aspire to the highest with one part of myself while denying it in another, I stared my own shame in the eye and saw that it was a question of me or it.
I opened the circle with a story that I had been holding in – afraid that I wouldn’t be accepted if they knew it yet so badly needing their acceptance. As words flowed out with my tears, I reminded myself of Betty’s reassurance that “The sisterhood will always carry you as long as you carry your honest I’’s” and when I looked around the room I knew that she was right. I saw love, understanding and acceptance and with my sharing done, the woman beside me went into the deep mud of her riverbank and shared her story. As we looked into her eyes and showed her our love and acceptance of all that she is, another woman spoke up followed by another and another and another and another. Stories of abuse, grief, lost love, infidelity, hopelessness, struggling to find our voice, yearning, reproductive trauma, rejection, redemption and aloneness poured out of us. Like water lily’s anchored in “gross, dark, mud” we drew nutrients from these experiences and our petals grew as we shared them. We cried and we laughed, holding hands and expressing our love for the realness, the authenticity and the muddy roots.
After the shedding of clothing, finding understanding in our physical bodies, and sharing our vulnerability we were now ready to surrender to our orgasms and celebrate our pleasure. We lay back and began the erotic recess with moans, soft and loud, filling the room as each woman “edged” her orgasm for the last time. Having shed so many heavy layers of my own shame there was no part of me to hold back or avoid. I was so aware of the sensations in my body that each bead of sweat down my back felt like the touch of a lover. Surrendering to orgasm after orgasm I heard and witnessed uncontrollable peals of laughter with the release of a laughgasm, shouts of “Same time next Sunday!?” and “Oh my GOD!” as we experienced the indescribable joy of sharing our pleasure waves and our beautiful petals with women who had also seen our muddy roots.
Like any great sexual experience, it should always be followed by touch. So with our bodies softened and defences down we began group massage with each woman receiving 10 minutes of loving touch, over her entire body. The reverence in this experience cannot be downplayed and if it is the most amazing thing that I ever give or receive in my life – it will be enough.
To end this fully orgasmic weekend we sat in a circle holding hands, tearfully looking into each others eyes and saying a word that encapsulated the experience for us. The words we spoke were free, connected, transcending, acceptance, warm, amazing, released, lightening and life changing. Then we raised our hands into the air and sent our orgasmic energy out in to the world in thanks to Betty Dodson who paved the way for this circle of sisterhood.
Thank you also to my sisters:
It is the day before my second Bodysex workshop and I can’t pretend I’m not nervous. The same familiar questions of self doubt run through my head each time I prepare to enter this sacred circle. Will they still accept me when they really see me? Am I worthy of this role? Am I ok?
I have been more open in the last couple of weeks than I have in my entire life and each mask I take off, while terrifying, feels like a sigh of relief. It’s just me. It’s just me.
It seems that as soon as I feel this doubt, something happens reminding me to let it go. Yesterday the reminder came from one of the women in my last circle. She sent me this email and beautiful photo of herself that, with her permission, I’m sharing here.
Your second weekend is upon you. You are a wonderful, authentic person and you bring that sincerity to your workshops.How effing great that you get to promote the butterfly effect with all the women you teach. I know people around me have been touched by the changes in me. And who knows how they have touched other people.
I wish I could be there again. I’m almost envious of the other women. My experience was so life enhancing. And the women I met through you…I fucking love them all. Ahhhh!!! I’m so excited for you. I’m sure each group gets better and better. But remember, we popped your Bodysex cherry.
I love you Natasha!
Ps. I’m getting my hair cut tomorrow, here’s some fun pics my friend took of me yesterday. We were going for mermaid :). I can’t seem to stop being nude in nature!
And with this email and the tears that followed I knew that, just like Betty says, “The Circle of Sisterhood Will Always Carry Us.” I don’t need to be perfect – God knows I’m not. I don’t need to have it all figured out cause fuck I sure don’t! But as long as I take my place in the circle with my honest “I’s” the circle of sisterhood will carry me.
I look forward with immense gratitude to tomorrow and to each of the women who are bravely choosing to sit as sisters with me. I can’t wait to learn from them, to laugh, cry and orgasm with them as we celebrate all that we are, as we are -no more and no less – in the circle of sisterhood.
p.s. To the sisters who popped my “Bodysex cherry” and to all of the sisters who have sat with me in circles in NYC – My orgasms this weekend are in celebration of you!!! Celebrate with me wherever you are and we can light up the sky with our orgasmic energy! Wooo hoo!!!!! <3
A couple of weeks ago – feeling emotionally exhausted and broken – I felt an overwhelming need for elder women wisdom. I wanted support and words from those who have been here – where I am right now – and to know what they had learnt from this place. I reached out to my teacher Betty Dodson, my friend Celeste Lemieux, and primarily my own mother. In their own way each of the women gifted me with some of their strength, support and knowledge that it’s safe for me to be myself with them. It was however, by reaching out to my own mother in an open and very vulnerable way, that I discovered shamefully that I hadn’t really seen her before. I had never taken the time or energy to recognize her as a whole human being with physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual and sexual parts. The wall around myself meant that not only was it difficult to see in, but it was also difficult to see out. By finally allowing her to see me, I was able to see her and in looking discovered that my sexuality comes from my mother.
My sexuality is not separate from myself or my life, but rather a crucial part of my everyday way of being and how I relate to my body. In this sense it can only be truly actualized when the other parts of myself are getting care and attention as well. Looking at my life I could clearly see how my mother has had an affect on my physical, emotional spiritual and intellectual well being – all of which are also a part of and influence my sexuality. In fact it’s impossible to look at my sexuality without looking at these elements of it. It is holistic.
So with overwhelming gratitude I wrote this for my mom.
Thank you mom.
For giving me life.
For breastfeeding me.
For encouraging me to “colour outside the lines” when my doing so was questioned by others.
For feeding me healthy food even though I resented you for it.
For setting up my childhood to always include space for awe and wonder.
For the cross you traced on my forehead when you thought I was sleeping.
For seeking out and following your own spirituality so that I knew that the same was possible for me.
For showing and telling me that I could do anything that I want to in life.
For taking me travelling.
For encouraging me and my friends to be artistic in a way that was unique and authentic to us. You did this by giving us free reign to decorate the cold storage room any way that we wanted to and provided a rainbow of paint colours and tiles to choose from – never once suggesting how we should do it.
For letting me make a mess.
For making me clean up my mess.
For always being there but never hovering.
For being rude to the one boyfriend who was rude to me. I secretly loved it.
For telling me that following my heart is essential but will never be easy.
For saying that you’re proud of me.
For allowing me to make my own mistakes and not punishing me for them.
For teaching me frugality and that joy comes from living with less.
For letting me learn alongside you rather than you doing it for me.
For helping people without judgement of their situation.
For allowing me to witness you breaking down sometimes so that I knew it was okay when it happened to me.
For always getting back up.
For giving me an appreciation of the smell of sweet peas, the feel of bread dough, the taste of homemade cooking, the sound of classical music and the ever present vision of your hands creating, cooking, building, sewing.
My own hands have taught me that no matter what struggles I have, they are an ever present point of connection with myself – my whole self.
I am a man who has become dependent on porn. I can’t get off without watching it. How do I get past that? I don’t want this dependency to impact future encounters I have with partners.
Thanks for the awesome question!!! Porn addiction has become increasingly common and is especially prevalent in men and teenage boys. Behavioural addictions, such as porn addiction, share the same fundamental mechanisms and brain changes as drug addictions do. In this sense, addiction is one condition. In order to help you I need to give you a clear understanding of what is actually happening to your brain from continuously watching porn.
* Note – I do not think that porn is all bad. I think it has it’s place and can enhance a person or a couple’s sex life. What we are talking about here is how dependency on porn can affect real life sexual encounters.
When a person is sexually stimulated by something dopamine is released by the brain to send signals to other cells. This release causes a high – as sex stimulation produces far more dopamine levels than any other natural reward can. So the more a person feels rewarded or sexually stimulated, the more they will seek out stimuli which then increases the amount of dopamine released from their brain. In your case internet porn is hijacking your dopamine as it provides endless novelty, searching, seeking, anticipation, shock and surprise. When your dopamine levels start to drop, it takes only the click of a mouse to get the dopamine reward circuit going again.
While addictive drugs and foods have limits to the amount that they can be consumed, high speed internet porn is always at your fingertips and there are new genres and fetishes being introduced daily. When a person becomes addicted to porn they become dependant on this reward circuit for their sexual arousal. As constantly changing videos replace a persons’ imagination, the need for greater and different rewards to feel sexually stimulated increases. High levels of dopamine tell your brain that this activity is really valuable and that you should do it more and more, leading to desire for increased stimulation therefore becoming an addiction.
This addiction leads to sensitization or hyper-reactivity to the addiction. Sensitization occurs when the brain wires together sights, sounds, smells, sensation, emotion and memories associated with a big reward (masturbating to porn). This creates a pathway that inundates our reward centre and, when activated by anything associated with porn, causes intense cravings. This activation is so powerful that even turning on a computer can trigger it – similar to an alcoholic who can feel an intense craving when watching a beer commercial, or driving by a pub.
Sensitization then leads to desensitization which is a numbed pleasure response. This occurs with chemical addictions as well as with porn and involves chronically low dopamine signalling which urges the addict to seek out dopamine surging activities. The images that once excited the addict no longer gives the same “hit” of dopamine and the person will feel an intense craving for more. Desensitization leads to tolerance so higher doses will be needed to achieve the same effect. These doses will come in the form of shock, surprise and anxiety as porn users escalate to new genres. In this way addictions become the source of stimulation.
Everything else in the addicts life becomes dull and less exciting – including enjoyment from real life sex. This overwhelming desire to feed the porn addiction and boredom with other parts of their life is essentially what constantly drives the addict back to the source of the reward – porn.
When you are conditioned to internet porn, sex with a real person may not meet expectation and unmet expectations cause a drop in dopamine therefore killing erections or the ability to orgasm. The disparity between real sex and getting off to porn is huge. Real life involves touching, being touched, body scents, interaction with a person, emotional connection, it’s not voyeuristic and the action can’t be controlled. This real life situation is completely different from a porn addicts experience of sitting, touching only yourself, no interaction, no emotional connection, watching the sex happen and controlling the kind of sex you want to see. In this sense even if you think that the woman you are with is the hottest woman in the world, your brain has been programmed to seek out something different.
Hopefully after reading this you can understand what is happening to you to cause this dependancy. In order to stop the addiction you need to stop activating the porn sensitizing pathways and start building real people pathways. With time and disuse the porn pathways will weaken and, by building sensitization to real people, touch, intimacy and emotional connection you will make those pathways stronger. If you are dependant on porn for your sexual response it is essential to stop using porn altogether. This includes all porn substitutes such as magazines depicting any kind of nude or semi nude women. You have to stop training your brain to be a voyeur rather than a participant. For some men this also includes eliminating masturbation or reducing masturbation, while others are able to masturbate but train themselves to only fantasize about real people while doing so.
If you don’t have a current partner I encourage you to stop watching porn and masturbate fantasizing about sex with a woman that you are interested in or one from your past. It may take time and practice for you to learn to orgasm this way but it will happen. You need to be patient and understand that it takes your body time to change it’s previous pattern. You may even notice symptoms of withdrawal and be unable to get an erection or feel turned on. This too will pass. (Please email me again if you are noticing withdrawal symptoms) I also recommend you buy a “pocket pussy” or any toy that mimics the feel of a woman’s vagina rather than the feel of your hand. When I do orgasm coaching for women we focus on training to be able to orgasm during sex with a partner and not masturbation alone. Anything can be learnt with practice. Another thing that you can do is to learn to focus on the feeling of the stimulation on your penis(be in your body) rather than staying in your head. This can be done by learning sensate focus touch.
I hope that this helps you. Please don’t hesitate to write me again and let me know about your progress or if you have more questions. Thanks for your bravery in asking this question. I know that many men and women struggle with this same issue. For more information check