A few years ago, I found myself stuck in a rut and feeling sort of numb about everything. Trying to find a way out of this slump I read a book about how we often don’t truly feel our feelings – instead we block them and carry on – which allows us to avoid dealing with whatever intense emotions they may cause. The author encouraged acknowledging that the feeling is there, opening ourselves to it and bringing awareness to the core of the feeling. This, he said, allows us to be one with our feeling no longer seeing it as a part of ourself, but actually ourself. These words resonated deeply with me as I realized that I rarely – if ever – truly allowed myself to feel. I was extremely in tune to the feelings of my children and making sure that their emotional needs were being met. Yet I didn’t have any idea what pain, sadness or even joy and pleasure felt like as physical feelings in my body. I was experiencing the feelings from outside of my body instead of them actually being a part of me. In this way I realized that I was living unconsciously by existing and doing rather than consciously by being and feeling. Wondering what it would be like to be able to feel things on a more internal level, I began to pay attention to my physical body for any response that would indicate some sort of feeling. I started to notice that when I was afraid, sad, weak or ashamed I could feel something hard form in my stomach and I’d get out of breath. This happened before I had to speak in public, when I felt hurt by someone I loved or when I felt exposed and vulnerable. So I decided to open myself to these physical feelings through breath. Breathing deeply seemed to be the best way that I knew to be present in my body, avoid escaping and allow space for feelings. Space didn’t hold judgement of the feeling – it was just space. With practice, anytime I began to feel the hardness in my stomach, I would pay attention to my breath and make sure that it went deep inside me as I inhaled and that I fully let go on exhalation. Slowly I began to notice that this alone was enough to make the physical discomfort go away – which allowed me to be able to deal with whatever the emotion really was. In a sense breath helped me to enter the feeling rather than just sit on the edge of it. If I didn’t breathe and provide space for these feelings, they would stick in my body and cause pain until I did something to distract myself or push them down. This discovery literally blew me away and I wondered how I had lived for 34 years without actually realizing that my feelings could be felt physically. With more practice I discovered that the feelings I considered to be positive also gave me the same hardness in my stomach and shortness of breath. So actually the “good” and “bad” feelings showed up in the same place in my body but I had not allowed myself the space to really feel either of them. Feeling them led to experiencing the world in a whole new way. A way that allowed me to be an active participant in life rather than a passive bystander. I felt more alive and fulfilled emotionally and physically because of it.

Once I was more in tune with how my emotional feelings presented themselves physically in my body, I yearned to learn more. I wanted to feel this deeply in all ways – emotionally, physically, spiritually and sexually. I wondered about the depth of my sexual power that I had pushed deep inside of me because I had been afraid to really acknowledge it. Desire and curiosity to discover this power led me to attend a Bodysex workshop in NYC facilitated by, 85 year old sex educator, Betty Dodson. She designed the workshop with the belief that our primary sexual relationship is with ourself. Therefore if we learn how our own body works and best responds to pleasure, we can be our own greatest lover thus having a more fulfilling sex life alone or with others. Essentially she was suggesting that we look inside ourselves for the answers and to find the place where our sexuality lies. During the workshop we were taught techniques to enhance our orgasms and Betty explained that “Sex energy travels on our breath. So by holding our breath we are blocking something somewhere” therefore not allowing for all of our sexual energy to be released. “Breath” Betty said, “is the life blood of an orgasm.” She said that we often learn to orgasm through masturbation as children and because of the shame associated with it, we hold our breath and quietly tighten our body leading to what she describes as a tension orgasm. This often carries through as we grow older and, while a tension orgasm is an orgasm, so much of the feeling and energy is trapped in our held breath and tense body.

Breath had changed my life and made me feel more alive in other ways, so I decided to practice consciously breathing during orgasm and seeing what would happen. This wasn’t easy to do as I had learnt to orgasm by holding my breath and my natural instinct was to do so. Yet I longed to feel the intensity of my sexual energy and it made sense to me that it would come through my breath just like the my emotional feelings had three years before. Paying attention to my breath during the build up and release caused my whole body to orgasm – rather than just one area. Holding my breath had meant holding a part of myself back and not really surrendering to the pleasure. It was necessary to let go and give up control in order to feel the full power of my sexual energy. Breathing not only intensified my orgasms but I discovered that it could keep me in the build up phase of orgasm longer which, in turn, led to even more intense of a release. My orgasms were no longer something that happened to me – they were me. Once again I was amazed at the profoundly physical feelings I was able to experience from only providing space and air for them to be.

Desire for self awareness and something MORE led me to finding the power of my own breath. Through breath, I learned to feel deeply and create space for any strong emotion. Finding my breath and learning to make space connected me deeply to the emotional, physical and sexual parts of myself. Next weekend I will lead my first workshop on The Art of Self Loving, where I hope to, in part, educate and encourage women to use their breath to find the place in themselves where their sexuality lies.

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