God as thou

I spent this past weekend doing a Body Electric workshop called Celebrating the Body Erotic. I had been curious about their teachings since I read Reclaiming Eros: Sacred Whores and Healers a few years back, and at one point contemplated traveling to the bay area to study with them. A friend told me they were going to be doing some workshops in Austin, and I managed to get in. I wanted to go both to know myself better and also to add some skills to my repertoire for my own work. I was not disappointed on either count. I am still in the process of integrating the information I gained into both my mind and body, and have no doubt this will continue for a while. I don’t remember all of my dreams, but their direction seems to have changed a bit, and they feel like my subconscious mind is making adjustments based on my wishes and desires for how I want to be in the world.

I cannot say much about the actual things we did, or the life stories and courageousness of the other participants (many of whom had traveled a great distance to participate) but the one thing that resonated for me during many of the exercises was the concept of God as Thou. I have thought about this a lot over the past few years. It is something Ken Wilber talks about in his book Integral Spirituality. He said that we often discuss God in the first person (I am great and powerful!) and third person (that dude in the sky is great and powerful!) but we rarely look at God in the second person (the person who stands before me is great and powerful!). The word Namaste, on the lips of many in yoga classes around the country, touches on it (I bow to the God in you), but how often do we forget it when we walk out the door and are forced to encounter those who are doing their best to survive in this world and oftentimes not doing it gracefully? Do we offer the same level of respect to the mother of a screaming child, store clerk or homeless person as we do our peers? Sadly, the answer is often no.

I think this lack of respect falls harder women in our society, especially as they age. It used to be that elders were valued for their wisdom and knowledge, but these days, it’s all about youth and innocence (or youth and sluttiness, but that’s an entirely different story). It is true

When you move to the right side of the photo, you become invisible.

When you move to the right side of the photo, you become invisible.

that many women are worshipped (more or less) for their beauty, but that is only if they conform to acceptable beauty standards. On the shadow side, women’s bodies are scrutinized mercilessly, and I often see public conversations about the merit of their minds and talents deteriorate into a criticism of their appearance. There is no worse insult to a strong, powerful woman than calling her fat or old, especially when it’s done in the public media. If a woman isn’t in the tiny zone of homogenous beauty, it is much easier to discredit and ignore her, or attack her if her voice demands attention.

This emphasis on appearance weighs heavily on public figures, but it can be much greater for those who have never been considered beautiful. We are often our own worst critics, and it’s easy to internalize the message of unworthiness based on dissatisfaction with our looks. Many times we can and do accomplish amazing things with our families, our work, our art and our activism, but these talents can be underscored by a sense of unhappiness that surrounds our physical appearance. Hiaspicoctile . 20 years ago in her book “The Beauty Myth,” Naomi Wolf discusses how the backlash against feminism has been to imprison us in our own bodies, a prison from which we never escape. Said prison can become more desperate as we age, leaving us feeling trapped, bitter, ignored and dissatisfied.

Religions that are grounded in the intellect often talk about the need to transcend the body, and Christianity has made shame and guilt around having a body one of its central tenets, especially for women (see: the story of Adam and Eve). In days past, gurus, monks and hermits (usually men) would dedicate years of their lives to mastering their bodies, ignoring and denying bodily functions, and especially pleasure, as sinful or distracting from the goal of becoming more spiritually evolved. places of visit . These days, though, it’s nearly impossible to find a cave where you can go sit and get away from the world. And while some would say that the soul doesn’t exist, life on earth is experienced in the body. So how do we make our bodies feel safe, welcoming, inviting? How do we treat them as a temple instead of a prison?

This past weekend, this was accomplished by honoring others’ bodies, regardless of where they were on their journeys, what horrible things had been done to them in the past or what scars and wrinkles they had acquired. There is so much power in realizing that we are not alone; we are not the only ones who have felt ashamed, embarrassed, hurt by the way we’ve viewed our own bodies, or the way said bodies have been treated by others. It’s a huge switch in the dominant paradigm of isolation and guilt, and watching the change on women’s faces over the weekend as they were able to relax more into their bodies was amazing. The message was clear: you have a body and you live in said body. Your body is valid, beautiful and worthy of feeling pleasure. Enjoying your body is a right, not a privilege and it need not be reserved for those who look a particular way. Each and every one of you deserves pleasure.

What might the world look like if we approached self-love from a physical level first of all? What if women were taught from an early age that pleasure was their birthright, and that what’s important is how we feel, not how we look? What if we did away with the guilt, shame and fear around having a body, and learned to love and accept said bodies, whether we chose to share them with no one at all, one person, or many? What if those choices we made were truly honored, and our boundaries respected?

What if, indeed.

The Pleasure Principle

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about pleasure. It’s been on my mind – quite literally. It must be good for me – and the world – to experience orgasm for 30-60 minutes at a time. I can’t help but think that this forges new neural pathways in my brain. It’s certainly improved my outlook on life; this morning, I told a colleague of my boss’s that I was feeling fantastic in response to his standard, “how are you?” pleasantry. He said he thought I was the only person he would encounter today who might say that. Too bad more folks don’t feel that way.

I’ve also been trying to analyze, wrap my head around the powerful sexual connection I have with my new boy. Is it mere chemistry? The way our bodies fit together? Is it stamina or skill? Desire? Or is there something more spiritual to our connection? We have yet to figure it out; all I know is that it feels amazing, better than any dick I’ve ever had inside of me. It has continued to improve, every time we have been together. I hope this bodes well for our future trysts, and that it doesn’t fade away a few months down the road. I can’t help but compare to past lovers, but I know that I will do everything in my power to appreciate and nurture the times when we’re lucky enough to be together.

This week, I’ve been reading Sacred Pleasure: Sex, Myth and the Politics of the Body by Riane Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade (truly one of the best books ever). She is looking at how sex went from being sacred, with pleasure (along with the role of women) a central concept, to a culture where sex is equated with pain and domination. So far I’ve been enjoying it, though I have to question where those of us who enjoy consensual BDSM fit in (I haven’t gotten to that part yet). While the subjugation of women is at the heart of much of the current debate around birth control and women, there is also a deep distrust/hatred of sex for pleasure, and pleasure itself.

Miss Jordan if you're nasty.

Miss Jordan if you’re nasty.

I wonder why we are so fearful about it. I can see how it would be a threat to the capitalistic, Protestant-work-ethic mindset – I know my boy doesn’t have much interest in going back to work after we finish one of our lunch-hour trysts – but what is the point of wanting others to have a miserable existence where sex is only used for procreation? Perhaps it’s about denying that connection often comes from physical sharing. It’s hard to hate, or even think of someone as other, when you’ve been vulnerable with them, or seen their vulnerability. Divided we fall….

Animals crave touch and affection: as I write this, my cat is climbing all over me, trying to push her head under my hand so I will pet her (or maybe she just wants me to feed her?). It is our natural state of being. I’m huge on washing or dyeing people’s hair, or shaving men’s faces – social grooming is something we used to do with each other, though these days it’s a solitary activity. (I do draw the line at picking/eating lice from people’s hair.) 😉 We never lose the desire to be held and cuddled, even when we’re told as adults that we shouldn’t want it. There’s nothing like the feeling of safety that comes from being in the arms of someone you trust. Hugs are a lovely exercise in simultaneously giving and receiving.  Why is this considered a bad thing?

One of the reasons love, sex and relationships is my avocation is that I want more pleasure in the world. I want to help other people figure out what makes them happy in the bedroom, and learn how to ask for it so that they can get what they want/need. I don’t know how or why sex has gotten so complicated…it’s an intersection of so many social, cultural, economic, religious, biological, evolutionary and gender issues, among others. It’s endlessly fascinating to me – I could literally spend all day talking to people about this stuff. But it’s obviously so necessary – above all, people want to feel accepted, to know that they aren’t freaks, that their desires, kinks and fetishes are normal. Seems so simple, but it is in very short supply in my corner of the world. Much easier to guilt people, demand that they suppress their desires and perpetuate models of relationship and sexuality that are unsatisfying, restricting and limiting.

Many religious practices believe the key to enlightenment is transcending or denying the body. Yet we are here, in bodies, and we can’t really escape them. Seems much better to work with them, embrace them (and other bodies!), care for them, and enjoy them. And apparently, that is a radical concept.

Me, myself and I

Over the years, I’ve gotten really good at getting myself off. I went through a period when I first moved to Austin, where I decided to be celibate, but I kept on with the masturbating. I got into some pretty powerful sexual spaces all by my lonesome, and am an expert on how my body works.

I know that many women have g-spots, but I must say that mine’s pretty spectacular. You can feel it from the outside of my body. It’s a ridge that runs downward, over my pubic mound, toward my clit. By stimulating it from the inside and the outside, I can give myself amazing, strong orgasms. I would even venture to brag that I’m the best lover I’ve ever had, though I’d much rather be getting off with someone else.

It’s a beautiful spring day, overcast and a bit rainy, mid 70s. Everything is alive and growing, trees and plants in bloom, somewhat like my libido. SXSW has finally ended, and I have my houses back to myself again. I was supposed to have a rendezvous with a lover, but he isn’t feeling well. Just because he’s unavailable doesn’t make me any less horny.

I walk back into the bedroom, and smile to myself. The dull, late-afternoon light falls on the bed. I’m very aware of my body, and the erotic current that is humming through it. I begin to take off my clothes.

I lie down, and grab my pyrex glass dildo from the nightstand. It’s a beauty, smooth and curved, with an egg-shaped head that hits my g-spot perfectly. It was my housewarming present to myself when I bought the house. It was an expensive sex toy, but breaking it down, the cost per orgasm is really quite reasonable.

I lube it up, spread my legs, and begin teasing myself with it. Slowly, I put it inside. I’m so hungry for penetration; I can’t get enough of it.  There’s a noticeable thud when the head hits my g-spot. I grasp the shaft, and begin moving it in and out, angled slightly upward, rubbing the head on my g-spot. salesforce service cloud . With the other hand, I begin rubbing over my g-spot from the outside of my body, making a circular motion. I can feel the tension start to build as my pelvic muscles start to tighten.

There is one particular spot where the orgasm looms, and it seems to move around, withdrawing deeper into my body, closer to my cervix, moving from side to side. I stroke myself both inside and out, faster and harder, trying to tickle that spot enough so that I can finally come.

X marks the spot - follow the map.

X marks the spot – follow the map.

My wrists begin to hurt; between typing and masturbation, my arms are pretty fried. I begin moaning as my pelvic area becomes tenser and tenser. i still can’t reach just the right spot. My arms hurt, but ain’t no way I can stop myself from chasing down that orgasm. My pace increases, I continue to go faster and harder until finally, I reach the top. Instead of being able to let the orgasm go and go, the spasm is so intense that my body stops, clenches but won’t keep going. No multiple orgasm for me today, but if I’m only going to have one, it’s a pretty good one….

I stop, breathing hard. I’m blissed out, lying back on the bed, exhausted and smiling. If I was still a smoker, I’d definitely have a cigarette after that.

The world is beautiful, but it’s also a bleak, harsh place. We’d all be much happier if we pursued pleasure on a daily basis, made it a priority. Spreading self-induced dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins through the brains of the populus will make us nicer, happier, more tolerant and willing to talk to each other. It’s sad that the old, white guys who run this country are so scared of the female capacity for orgasm. I honestly believe it has the capacity to change the world….