I spent a night with my friend and Bodysex® sister on the beach this summer. As soon as we found a quiet spot — we got naked, made a fire, cooked dinner, practiced peeing right where we’re sitting, shared stories and talked about how vulnerable it can feel to follow our hearts and really own it. This blog is inspired by her and my Bodysex® experiences:
Bodysex® reminds me of the sacredness of my own pleasure. That it’s my right as a human being to feel pleasure. Bodysex® reminds me that in the absence of a partner, or if I’m with a partner who’s unwilling to fully support my pleasure — I know my own body and can pleasure myself. That with this tool I never have to live a pleasureless life again — never have to have pleasureless sex again. That it’s okay to want a partner to be as good as I am (with myself) in bed.
Bodysex® reminds me of the familiar softness of a woman’s body and why it’s beautiful to look at and to touch. It reminds me that we all look better without clothes on, that the jiggles are super hot and fun to play with, and why our lovers are lucky to touch and make love to us. We feel so good. We, as everyday women, are goddesses.
Bodysex® reminds me of why women were persecuted for being “whores” and “witches.” That in our embodied pleasure we are magical, mystical beings that would obviously cause fear in insecure men. When we realize our magic, we can no longer be oppressed and, for those brave enough to love us, we share our magic with them.
Bodysex® reminds me why I need in person connections to feel seen. I’m a multidimensional woman and I want to be seen as that. I’m sexual, yet not just that. I’m motherly, yet not just that. Sometimes I do great things, but I’m not only that. Sometimes I do shitty things, but I’m not only that. I’m like a quilt with many different squares and colours and sections torn and frayed while others are intact. I want to be seen as all of that.
Bodysex® reminds me through stories, body language, eyes and sounds of our pleasure that we are all of these things. Sexual, soft, magical, multidimensional, goddess, witches. What is better than that?
With Covid, decreasing I feel confident to set some dates for Bodysex retreats this fall! Here is the info for my Saskatoon one if you’re interested in booking. I cannot wait to be in circle again!
Having more time at home with my family this past year has given me time to reflect on my life, values, the work I do and my reasons for doing it. This time of reflection has strengthened my resolve to wait for in person workshops to resume, rather than converting them to online delivery. It’s also reminded me of the value I get from my work that doesn’t come from the fee, but from my experiences with the people I work with. I do this work for reasons that online formats and money can’t provide me.
I do this work for…… the initially awkward and distant couple who is struggling to bridge the divide between them. For the moment that one of them softens, turns towards the other, looks up into their eyes and shows them — sometimes for the first time — that they are willing to do their part to break through their divide.
I do this work for…… the people who are afraid there is something horribly wrong with their body and that no one would ever love them if they see it. I do it for the moment that we show each other our bodies and they realize that just like me, they are okay as they are — exactly as they are — and that someone who loves them will think so too.
I do this work for…… the middle aged married woman who brings herself to orgasm for the first time in her life and, through her tears, cries over and over “I’m normal!”
I do this work for…… the seemingly cocky man who ends up admitting that he needs help because he’s scared in intimacy, can’t relax enough to get aroused and is so afraid of making a mistake that he can’t even listen to his partner. I do it for the moment he learns what relaxation feels like in his body and that arousal happens naturally when he takes time to allow it. I do it for the emails he excitedly sends after sessions telling me how he was able to hear his partner for the first time and that he allowed himself the time to become fully aroused in sex.
I do this work for…… the moments in Bodysex retreats that happen after workshop hours are over. When I see Justine lovingly adorn a naked woman’s scars with henna, cuddle piles in different corners of the room, shared laughter over stories and experiences of women from different ages and walks of life.
I do this work for……. what I learn about a Counselling client from the moments they break eye contact with me, look down at the floor, shift their legs, say “ummm,” start playing with their hair, bite their lip or fold their hands across their stomach. I may not know what any of these necessarily mean for them, but I know there’s something there. By being present with them, I can notice and ask them about it.
I do this work for…… the child with ADHD who feels completely misunderstood and doesn’t understand why they’re in trouble for something they did. I do it for the moment they tell me why they did it (which most often makes perfect sense) and the recognition and love on their parents face as they understand for the first time.
I do this work for…..me.
I love my work and miss the group workshops, and more in person interactions. And yet, I also don’t want to do it any other way. So — just like edging an orgasm — I’m patiently enjoying this time as a gift for what it’s showing me, and will fully celebrate the groups( and the orgasms) when they happen.<3
Preparing for last weekend’s Bodysex retreat, Betty Dodson was at the forefront of my mind. Currently in the final stage of her life — Betty is heading towards what she describes as the “greatest orgasm of all” —death. I felt tender thinking about her and vulnerable at the thought of carrying on her work after she’s gone.
Because of covid -19, it had been over a year since my last Bodysex workshop and, aside from sadness about Betty, I could hardly contain my excitement at being back in a circle of women. Bodysex is always the best “reset” for me and I longed to see and be seen by the other women in the circle.
When I attended my first bodysex workshop 6 years ago, the most vulnerable part of it was letting my body be seen. I was so focused on my physical shame that I don’t remember much thought of being vulnerable in any other way. As time went on and I felt more connected to myself and comfortable in my body, I realized that when I exposed my physical shame it almost always uncovered a deeper underlying emotional shame. Shame about my cesarean scar signified shame that my body failed at giving birth. Shame about my stretch marks represented a fear that I’m undesirable to men unless I look a certain way. Shame about my voluptuous vulva lips reminded me of my shame that I’m too much for others. Exposing myself physically was like peeling an onion and, the more layers I peeled, the more layers I found. When it became less vulnerable to be naked in front of others, I learned to find the words for my shame that was less obvious. With each circle I became more and more naked, and alternatively more and more me.
Sitting in the circle naked at this retreat, I felt no vulnerability in letting my body be seen. I was menstruating heavily and felt comfortable free bleeding on a towel with my legs open. It’s hard to express how wonderful it is to feel that comfortable. I felt vulnerable to be seen in other ways though, and struggled at times to name my insecurities and longings in certain areas of my life. It felt vulnerable for me to recognize how much I wanted to be seen in my entirety and vulnerable to acknowledge that I’m afraid that if anyone fully sees me, they will be disappointed.
As we took our turns sharing through words and through self pleasure, it struck me how much our fear of being vulnerable holds us back from the intimacy many of us long for — within ourselves and with others. If we feel unable to let our body be seen (by our self or by others), let our vulva be explored, stimulate our clitoris during penetrative sex, say that sex is over when we have both orgasmed, say no when we don’t want something, say yes when we do, learn what we actually like and don’t — how will we ever have the intimacy we desire? Intimacy IS Vulnerability. Without vulnerability it becomes sex. Sex is great too if that’s what we are choosing and seeking. If we want something else though — why are we accepting something different?
Sharing my stories and listening to the other women’s stories, I was reminded how much we potentially lose out on in life if we don’t step into that vulnerability — something that each women in the circle was doing simply by attending. Becoming more in touch with what I actually desire these past couple of years — and feeling confident in it — I’ve come to realize how many times in the past, I violated myself with other peoples dicks. By allowing penetration that my body wasn’t relaxed and ready for, saying yes to sex I didn’t want and by not feeling confident in admitting what it is that I really do want — that involves much more than penetration. Sitting with the women, I felt affirmed in the life I want for myself and in showing up with my words and my body for those uncomfortable conversations that are necessary for me to continue living and seeking that life.
Years ago Betty told me, while I sobbed on her lap, that to do this work I would need to get thicker skin. As the pioneer of Bodysex it’s difficult to imagine the struggles she went through blazing the trail for us women today to learn to accept our bodies and own our pleasure. I don’t know how she could have done it without having thick skin. In many ways I’ve learned to care less about what others think and, even when I do, to continue on the path that is true for me. And yet,I still feel like my skin is as thin as the peels of an onion and that being vulnerable will likely never be easy for me. When it seems to get easier in one area, I feel more exposed to my vulnerabilities in another.
I know it’s worth it though — in the moments of intimacy where I see my true self under the next layer, or each of the women in the circle under their peeled back layers. Those moments connect us as human beings in all our beauty and all our imperfections. Those are the moments I long for and I hope that Betty will feel proud of me as I carry on her humbling and powerful work, with my soft, vulnerable skin.
Thank you to: Sing, Honour, Vi, Ishtar, Jewel, Betty, Joy, Turtle and Bilquis for allowing me to see you in your vulnerability and seeing me in mine. <3
Due to covid-19, I had to cancel 3 of my spring Bodysex retreats. I am happy to say that I have new dates for retreats in Saskatchewan and Quebec for September and October!
In keeping with the Sask. provincial guidelines currently in place which limit group sizes to 10, I have reduced my number of participants to 8 (plus myself and Justine). My September Sask. retreat is full, but there is still space in the October one, as well as 1 space in my October, Quebec retreat. If you would like more information or to book, please contact me. https://natashasalaash.com/bodysex-workshops/
During this time of isolation I am even more grateful for my self pleasure practices which keep me connected to myself and also remind me of the importance of touch and intimacy in my life. <3