Three weeks ago I facilitated my 14th Bodysex retreat — the third one in Quebec with Marika. Each retreat I’ve led this past year, I’ve noticed my level of comfortableness and confidence increasing. I’m less concerned about doing it “right” and more able to be present with and for the women. Being more present means not only hearing the women’s stories, but feeling them in my body— even when they’re speaking a language I don’t understand. Feeling others in this way connects me to them on a level that can be limited by language, and reminds me of the beautiful moments in sexual intimacy that involve only eyes, hands and mouths.
As I opened the circle I shared my journey into Bodysex and how it began 20 years ago when I witnessed girls I loved being circumcised in Kenya. One of the women pointed out that in Kenya a woman’s power is removed physically through the cutting of her clitoris, and here it is removed mentally by not talking about or acknowledging her sexual genitalia and right to pleasure. When we don’t talk about something, it’s as if it didn’t exist in the first place. I believe that a way to honour the women who’s pleasure has been taken from them, is for the rest of us to exercise our right. The right to look at our vulvas, touch them, understand them and pleasure them.
And we did!!! The weekend was a beautiful display of vulnerability in the sharing of our stories, our bodies and our pleasure. Never has a workshop gone on for so many hours each day and yet it still felt as if there wasn’t enough time for all we wanted to share and do.
What struck me most though, was how many layers of shame I still carry. I’m comfortable in my body now and I don’t find it difficult to be naked, show my vulva or masturbate with other women. Yet without fail it seems, an old story of mine comes up, and the thought of sharing it makes me feel sick to my stomach. This physical response is a good indicator to me of what holding it in is doing to my body, and I know that the answer is in sharing it. Knowing this doesn’t make it easy to do, and I battled in my head wondering how they’d feel about me once they knew it. Reminding myself that I can’t ask anyone else to show up and be vulnerable if I’m not willing to do it myself, I shared my story.
Letting go of shame is the best release ever and almost immediately the space it was occupying inside of me, felt free — free for more pleasure, more authentic relationships and more me.
As we spent time sharing pleasure during the second day, I kept my eyes open and focused them on a spot on the ceiling to keep me present. As my pleasure built I heard giggling from a woman in her 60’s, only a hands width distance beside me, and looked over to see the flush rise up her neck as she orgasmed. Giggling more she continued on — 2, 3, 4 — more times and I thought how beautiful she looked and how lucky her lover is to see her in this way. What an honour. Looking back at my spot on the ceiling the wood began to blur, and my pleasure kept building. The ceiling became the sky and I alternated my breath from high in my chest to low in my belly so that I could stay in that place of ecstasy. At the point of no return I opened my left hand into the air to receive energy from the women around me and felt their love, acceptance, pain, joy, shame and pleasure along with my orgasm — like stars falling down upon me.
This circle and the vulnerability of all the women in it, reminded me that we do this hard, brave work not only for ourselves, but for women who can’t or couldn’t. It’s not easy, but it’s an honour and a right and at times like these I know that the affect of our opening extends far beyond the walls of the workshop space.
To every woman who has had her pleasure removed physically or mentally we do this for us and we do this for you. <3
To my sisters in pleasure:
Zaia, Ananda, Esmeralda, Sao, Red velvet, Mia, Rosie, Mariposa, Xochitl, J’Ouvre, Hot, Kali
Those who know me, know that I love story telling and fantasy. As I sat down to write about last weekend’s Bodysex retreat, I kept seeing the images from it in my mind like some grand fantasy. No matter how hard I tried to stay focused on writing a “proper blog” the images wouldn’t stop. So I gave up trying and here it is.…
Once upon a time there was a woman who loved to be naked. She was in her early 40’s — a mother — who looked regular on the outside yet felt like a goddess of fire on the inside. Sometimes the fire inside her burned so hot that she imagined there was a pot sitting on it, bubbling upwards and outwards from her vulva. On days where the pot would bubble higher — she wondered, in both fear and excitement, what would happen if it boiled over.
This woman enjoyed being naked and pleasuring herself so much that she decided to invite other women to spend a weekend with her, celebrating in nudity and pleasure together. Not surprisingly she discovered that there were many other women like her — regular on the outside yet goddesses of fire on the inside — longing to celebrate their heat fully.
She knew that celebrating in this way was not “normal” where she lived or anywhere really, but she was called to do this more than anything else in her life. She spent months thinking of the women before they came, wondering what their stories were, what they longed for, and if they too felt the heat of a rising, bubbling pot in their vulvas. She also spent a great deal of time preparing the weekend for them. She wanted them to feel like goddesses staying in a beautiful country, with a castle to sleep in and plenty of food to nourish them. She first found the castle — making sure it had plenty of space for the women to wander the grounds naked, then searched far and wide for a chef who could prepare delicious dishes to please their bodies and fuel their pleasure. Finally she elicited help from the goddess of art who also loved to be naked and found great pleasure in adorning the women’s bodies with her elaborate designs.
When the day finally arrived for the women to come, she blessed the space in the most sacred and powerful way she knew how. Laying down in the centre of it, she traced the length of her body with her fingers adding heat to her already bubbling pot. As the pot bubbled and her pleasure built ,the ceiling above her began to fill with colours and stars. Imagining that it was the sky above her— they came together, with the sky ejaculating a thousand tiny stars upon her body and the space around her. Content that the castle was now sacred enough for the goddesses to enter, she and the goddess of art, went to greet the women as they arrived.
One by one they came through the castle doors shedding layers of fabric that didn’t do justice to the bodies beneath them. Overwhelmed by the visions of such beauty, they welcomed the women into the space that had been so beautifully blessed merely moments before. As the goddesses took turns sharing stories about what had both dimmed and fuelled their fires, the woman realized with surprise that they all appeared more naked than before. She was sure that each one had removed their clothes upon entering, and that she herself had been naked all morning, and yet here they were taking off another layer of clothing.
As the day wore on, the women couldn’t contain their curiosity over what fuelled the fire under their pot and agreed that it was was essential to take a closer look. With mirror and lamp in hand, one by one, they spread their legs and opened their vulvas to each other — excited and nervous to see what they’d find. They were astonished to discover what appeared to be flowers growing out from between their legs. Even more surprising was that each woman’s flower was unique. Shiny, smooth, plush, rumpled, flowing, sleek, delicate, bold, dark, bright and a mix of both— each one different from the rest, like a field of wild flowers, and yet none more beautiful than the other. After exploring all of their flowers, both inside and out, the women marvelled at the lucky bees which came to taste the nectar hidden deep inside.
The women spent the rest of the evening and following morning sharing, laughing, being adorned with art, and noticing with surprise that the more they let their flowers open, the more clothing they shed.The opening wasn’t always easy and the women often felt conflicted with appearing one way on the outside and feeling another way on the inside. And of course they all wondered what would happen if the fire in their vulvas became too hot and their pots boiled over.
More naked still, and feeling brave from the deepened trust and connection, the women decided that it was time to play with the flowers that peeked out from beneath their legs and see what would happen to their already burning fire. Forming a circle they once again opened their legs and, with all of their flowers exposed at once, began to play. Like bees they buzzed and danced around the edges of their flowers — sometimes plunging in to taste the nectar — and sometimes teasing the petals, encouraging the nectar to trickle out. Their inner fires burned on and amidst the buzzing you could hear their bubbling pots rising higher than ever before.
All of a sudden, the clouds outside moved and the sun shone through the windows of the castle directly upon the flower of one of the goddesses who had at times, seemed slightly more reserved than some of the others. The other goddesses watched in awe as her flower opened up in full bloom before them. Crying and shaking in pleasure, her boiling pot spilled over the edges of her petals touching each of the other women. What they were touched by surprised them as it was not something you could feel with your fingers or see with your eyes. What came from her pot was simply more of HER. Her stories, her dreams, her hopes, her pleasures, her sorrow and her joys.
No longer afraid of their own pots boiling over, the other women let their flowers open wide and within minutes the entire room was in full bloom with each goddess spilling over the edges of their petals — being touched by the full celebration of who they are.
As they said goodbye the next day and left the castle, the women noticed that they no longer appeared regular on the outside and that, in fact, no one else appeared regular to them either. Could it be, they wondered, that we are all gods and goddesses with fires and boiling pots inside, simply afraid of showing who we are?
Dedicated with love to:Turtle, Princess tulip, Poretta,Maleficent, Becky, Beyonce, Lola, Pearl,Rapunzel, Boss lady, Unicorn, Coral, and all of the other goddesses I have sat in the circle with.
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.