** Photos by Studio Stiina
I came into last weekends Bodysex retreat in a super vulnerable state. The past 10 months of my life have been extremely difficult — supporting my son through a loss and learning to navigate parenting my children without another co-parent. The night before the retreat I woke up suddenly — feeling afraid and exposed — worried that my children could somehow get hurt by my work. A memory came flooding in from this summer when I was called a whore — because of the work I do — and I wondered if my continued exposure would just give him more reason to do so. I can laugh it off most of the time but sometimes, when I’m feeling especially vulnerable, it scares me. My work requires an openness that I welcome and yet sometimes, when I’m not feeling safe, it can also make me feel too exposed.
After Justine and I set up the circle in preparation for the women to arrive, I laid down naked in it and masturbated while she talked to me. Touching my body grounds me — like I’m entering into the safest, most comforting home — and doing so while seeing and hearing my loving sister and friend — was exactly what I needed. After orgasming a couple of times, I heard the first of the women arrive and went to greet them feeling relaxed and affirmed that this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.
From the moment of the first naked hugs to our goodbyes on the last day, the workshop flowed with the most exceptional ease. So much so that even while holding space for the other women, I felt like I was on a retreat! Never have I felt so comfortable being so naked, so open with my heart, my legs and the full expression of who I am. “This is SO much bigger than the 8 of us in this circle” said one of the women, holding her arms up in the air. Looking around the circle at the other women embodying their stories of joy, sorrow, pleasure and pain, it was easy to see she was right.
The 8 of us spent almost the entire weekend, in and out of workshop time, as one solid group flowing between sharing through our words and sharing through our bodies. No part of it felt forced or held back — it all just seemed so perfectly normal.
Through conversations in the nude about life, love, longings, loss, dirty fantasies, amazing sex, forbidden sex, bodily functions, needs, desires and never convincing anyone of our worth again— we laughed and we cried accepting each other as we are.
I always enter Bodysex weekends with the intention of removing armour that still delicately covers inner layers of my shame. I came away from this weekend though, feeling fully embodied in who I am right now — without feeling such a need to do something about it to make it different or better. Body sex gives me permission to boldly be who I am and helps me be less afraid when that doesn’t fit into societies standards for me. I was reminded in the eyes of each of the women that it’s okay that I feel better open than closed, that my path to self awareness, ecstasy, and self confidence begins at the soft spot right between my legs and that there is nothing wrong at all with thoroughly and ecstatically enjoying sex and pleasure with myself. Body sex gives me the freedom to be me. If that makes me a whore, I’ll take it.
Thank you to my dear sisters for meeting me so fully in the circle and reminding me that I’m okay being me.
I love you Turtle, Singh, Wizard, Ruby, Iridescent, Niko, Belle and Kitty <3
“We work on ourselves in order to help others and also we help others in order to work on ourselves.” — Pema Chodron
I was sharing with a friend recently some of my own challenges with intimacy — situations where I feel uncomfortable and scared. They asked me how I — who at times still struggle with my own intimacy — can help others with theirs.
It was an honest question and I didn’t mind being asked — yet I was surprised to be asked. I forget sometimes that there are people who believe that in order to help others, we need to have it all figured out ourselves. That would mean that a minister should never have moments where they doubt their own faith, a teacher never realize that their students know more about something than they do, or a counsellor never have issues in their own life that they don’t have a solution for.
I was drawn to work around intimacy because intimacy has always been a struggle for me. Because I have, in the past, found it difficult to look my partners in the eye, have hard conversations, allow my naked body to be seen, ask for what I need, acknowledge that I have needs, or be myself in sex. I chose this work because it’s the work I needed to do the most and because of that I’m always aware of and doing my own work in it. And because I’m continually doing my own work, I know that the answers for myself and my clients can be found right in the places we feel most uncomfortable. And because I recognize my own discomforts, I know them as my own and don’t assume my clients areas of discomfort will be the same.
When we look to our coaches, teachers, counsellors, ministers or practitioners as experts and all knowing, we fail to discover the empowering role we can take in our own growth. I think that a role in all of these professions is largely to be curious and provide a mirror — for the person seeking answers, back to the source — which is themselves. Otherwise the journey can become about some one else’s needs instead of our own. And wanting answers to come from someone else, or thinking that we have answers for someone else, are excellent ways to avoid the discomfort we feel in ourselves — which IS the source of all our answers.
I choose and seek out work that accentuates the residual discomforts in me and, through stepping into these discomforts with my clients, I continually support my own growth in intimacy. What is intimacy anyways if not sharing our most naked, most vulnerable selves with another? I do it because I’ve learned that beyond my naked, vulnerable outer layer is ….softness….an open door… light in a room that was dark. Each time I do it with you, I do it carried on my unconditional belief in your ability to go to your own source of intimate discomforts. I do it with you.
I’m very excited to offer something new that I’ve designed for people interested in exploring their sexual history to gain insight into who they are today, and why. This workshop series is based on the understanding that our sexuality involves much more than what we do with our genitals. It begins developing the moment we are born through our body image, sexual development/history, as well as experiences with intimacy/attachment and pleasure.
In order to have the sexual and intimate life you desire, it can be helpful to recognize how your past has shaped and influenced the choices you currently make.
Regardless of gender, sexual orientation or sexual history -whether you’ve had sex with hundreds of people or none, are in a relationship or not – this workshop is relevant for everyone. Click on the link for more details or pm me to register. A big piece of my passion and my heart is in this workshop series and I look forward to sharing with you. https://natashasalaash.com/roots-of-intimacy/