The Wisdom of Wounds

I often remind clients that they are indeed the leading character in the mythology of their own lives. That everything that happens to them is most usefully viewed from their own perspective; from within their own unique life view.

Sometimes we have extended ourselves so far towards understanding the others in our lives that we have lost the anchor of being the central focus of our soul work. We end up bending over backwards to try and figure out the unfolding events- when all we need to do is again plant our feet in the center of our own path. By dropping the back-to-front perspective of “she said- he meant- -they-didn’t” we can simply ask ourselves what is happening for me right now? How do I feel? What flavours, textures and subtleties are showing themselves in my experience, from my perspective? What can I describe and notice right now? What do I need?

Giving ourselves permission to actual have our own experience is a useful re-calibration. We can stop explaining and analysing others and get back to living our truth. There is time to consider other viewpoints, to stretch our self perception by looking at ourselves in the mirror of others feedback- but in my experience we spend more time distanced from ourselves in our challenges than refuting feedback honestly given. Start simply, start with where you are at and move slowly and carefully towards what is less clear.

And breath, notice and feel each moment of that process for that is where transformation really happens.

Transformation from the inside out!

2nd International Conference for the Empowerment of Women: a community with heart

I was fortunate to join my favourite spiritual community, The Inner Circle, for their 2nd Women’s Conference in Cape Town last weekend. As with all Inner Circle events, the heart is touched deeply, and the mind is encouraged to seek its own freedom in finding deep truth. So I am still processing a deep, powerful and challenging weekend.

My eyes were further opened to the reality of the patriarchy in all our lives. We examined the impact of Gender Based Violence (GBV) and I was startled at its lifelong impact in my own life. I wonder also how consciously the sacred sexuality community is addressing this on a social level. A beautiful effect of doing this work in a muslim queer community is how we begin to tease out the subtle and not so subtle threads of patriarchy, culture, religion and social conditioning. Because of the atmosphere of love and unconditional acceptance we are able to examine more closely our own wounds and limitations- there is never need for defensiveness or shame. Because we can look inward with compassion we are also better able to enquire into our community wounds and deficits.

I have many notes to go through and my mind is very full of new ideas, new priorities and possibilities. I will share the learnings and challenges that come from this extraordinary conference in a series of posts here. I look forward to sharing with you.

Why Sessions? Why would someone book an ‘intimate’ session with a man or woman who is not their lover?

A client asked me this recently, and at the time I listened only to the emotion of her answer- didn’t try to frame a motivational response. The question has stayed with me, though, and I have a number of good answers:

1. Creating a new reference point: The purpose of a counselling (or bodywork) session is to facilitate supportive change. In other words not just to talk about newness or other perspectives on a problem, but to experience a new way of being that has not been felt before. Talking about the love a non-abusive father has for a daughter is very different to simply being held lovingly and appropriately by a male healer, while grieving the hurt of the past abuse. A deep energetic impartation occurs which the client can carry with them, compared to a conversation.

2.Experiencing skill and mastery from a partner: Professionals have worked hard, and worked deep with themselves to bring artful skill to the session; we have learned technique and we have learned presence. Think of the difference between a massage from your partner, and a massage from a touch therapist!! They do not compare.No matter how lovingly your partner tries to get that headache trigger spot behind your head, it’s not the same as having the professional find it, work on it and fix it. Trust is a big factor in removing guardedness in the body- and the amount of gentle skill that one brings is as important a factor as willingness and kind enthusiasm.

3. A personal, sacred session space: A session is ALL about the client. It is one of the few times in life where you can relax into your own experience and awareness; drop the need to ‘take care’ of the Other. Letting go is so much easier to learn when the roles are clear. After 5 minutes you are not worrying that the Other is bored -they are completely intent on being available to you. When you can focus on your own process, you can go deeper into it. Giving yourself permission to feel and express can begin with session experiences of how healing and ‘right’ that allowing can be. Moving this newfound confidence into your relationship is then easier.

4. a place of no judgement: deeper than experiencing the focused attention of the facilitator is knowing that there is no judgement at all about you, what comes up for you, or how you choose to live your life. We have much experience of the shades of grey in life, and we embrace people’s experiences and challenges as meaningful and full of significance. The relief of being authentic is a delightful experience. Think of a midwife who can honestly say she has heard women make some WEIRD noises in her time. Well, therapists have seen and heard much too! You couldn’t embarrass, surprise or freak us out if you tried (Although, you are welcome to try !!).

5. Its been my experience: I have been privileged to both participate in and facilitate these experiences of trust, intimacy and vulnerability. Every single time has been illuminating, kind, helpful, deeply unifying and healing. I have fond memories of very magickal healing moments, and the beautiful people who I shared them with. Tears turning to pleasure, shame to delight.

I highly recommend considering opening the door on more than counselling…

Working with our resistances

Although my personal experiences over the last two weeks may seem on the surface to have little to do with orgasm or bliss, the startling truth is that they fundamentally do. All of my life does. My tantra teacher, Dr Shakti Malan, often asks us: How much Bliss can you stand? (She knows that fears and constriction must be moved through time and again)

Financial pressure, the loss of my cat, a house-breaking, needing to move, changes in parenting, crisis at my son’s school all took me to a place within that I had resisted for a long time. My friend and colleague, Stephen Tredrea, had encouraged me for a while to go into my fears rather than resist them.

He rightly knew that the universe would realise them for me as completely as necessary in order that I could ‘get’ this lesson and cross its threshold. He rightly felt that it was time to dance with the chaos rather than run from it. I was SO at my edge that it seemed my mind was holding on tighter than ever.

What changed for me? What support do you need for you to enjoy your shift?

I started with the fears. I started with expressing and ‘experiencing’ (by becoming aware of where and how they felt within my body and emotions) the fears with a supportive ally. I moved, with baby steps at first, towards the very thing that I so badly wanted to run from. Events began to unfold which took me further into those frightening possibilities. I abandoned myself at some point to the process. I consciously agreed with myself to enter into this unknown place within. I used process work tools to move through the places of pain where I had less awareness. I began to trust my own sense of knowing in my body and emotions. Instead of feeling like the external situation had all the answers I needed I began to use my own personal power to change.

Support came. I have been very much held by various people in the past few days. I experienced love and energetic support like never before. I was able to shake off (very physically and energetically) the trauma of the robbery and these changes through a sound healing session with friend and colleague Chris Tokalon. I could not have done it on my own. His mastery made the difference in that moment of need.

The wisdom of beliefs such as “So above; so below”, “First inside, then outside”, “As a person thinketh in their heart so are they” is more true for me today than yesterday. I felt the outer realm of the material shift as I let go on the inside. I began to find myself as a creative being again.

And then the material support came; suddenly I was aware again of being connected within the divine web of life: and the “doings” flowed with ease into my needs being met.

Where ever you find yourself today in relation to those things that you fear, that constrain you, that drain your life of colour- come and find the support you need to hear and then heal your life. It is painful at times. But more painful than resisting? Not from where I stand today…

Namaste,

Cathwrynn

5 ways for women to work with their own orgasmic potential

The following 5 simple practices can change your life because they are about you getting to know you. Developing the capacity for a love affair with yourself will help you in becoming more orgasmic or first-time orgasmic.But to be clear the goal is not orgasm; the goal is pleasure in whatever form it wants to take! 

The practices are not listed in order of priority. They also do not need to be done on a schedule. Rather play with these suggestions as feels good for you. They are not a complete list of practices by any means, nor is each useful for every person. Each example is only a start-up suggestion of applying these 5 practices to your life. Many others exist in each ‘category’- I may start collecting and sharing these on my site but few translate well to reading. Most are best learned with the support of a teacher or other seekers. I have not included any partner or group work because I think women need practices that they can do their own. We become orgasmic or sexually healthy not because of our lovers but through our own inner work. The se practices support a more loving and intimate relationship with your own person (and this includes your body) and that is where all transformation truly lives. Treat this as an experiment in getting to know yourself better, not a new set of tasks to be mastered.

 Meditation

When I met my current partner he quickly noticed that I was very much ‘in my head’ during sex (and not orgasmic with a partner). He gently suggested that learning to quiet my mind with meditation might help. I resisted quite firmly, believing that disconnecting further using a male-centred method of ‘switching off my mind’, was not desirable. Well. I was right and I was wrong. I discovered that many forms of meditation have been life changing for me and I am so grateful for his encouragement. Others are definately not for me.

The type of meditation that I suggest here works well for women. It does not need rigid discipline, steely stillness of the mind or battling with busy thoughts. It simply means being present for 10 minutes in the moment.

Find some time and space that is private for you. Walk around the space however you choose, relaxing into the movement as you go. Consciously set the intention of spending time exploring your own senses and enjoying time with yourself. Keep walking around. While walking (with eyes closed and ample space if you are easily distracted) press your thumbs to each of your other fingers in a regular, rhythmic rotation from first finger to pinkie and back again. You will now be walking and touching your fingers together as you go. After getting the hang of keeping both going, add the next sense. The next is breathing. Notice your breathing, notice your fingers moving, notice your feet touching the earth with each step. Notice all three actions as you walk.  Add the feeling of the air touching your skin and face, also notice your feet walking, notice your breath moving and notice your fingers touching. After a while notice sounds: cars, dogs, your breath, children outside. Keep noticing your feet, your fingers, your breath, your skin. Keep complete attention on each action in turn. Now add the taste of the inside of your mouth. Notice each sense again and also notice the taste. Now add sight as the last one and keep changing your attention through each of them until you feel able to flow through them with ease. Stop. Keep your awareness in your centre, in your body. Notice what has happened in you. Your mind will be still but receptive and present and your body alive and awake.

That’s it! Now go and do what seems like fun to you… nothing more complicated than that! Use it when you need to drop out of an agitated or worried mind and into your body. Use it before you make love, or are anxious to be seeing your partner after a period apart. Use it before self pleasuring or being otherwise creative. Enjoy.

(Thanks to Dez who used this exercised on the training course with us. I call it, after him, The Shamanic Walk)

Breathwork

We women have really been done a disservice, and in turn the men and women who love us. Before mothers where instructing their daughters to “lie back and think of England”, women truly shared their wisdom with each other in sacred spaces set aside specifically for these teachings. Here women were taught how to circulate sexual energy (among many other things!) with simple, effective techniques. One of these is the use of the breath to encourage relaxation, create unity between the heart, mind, body and emotions, and to move sexual energy upwards through the body. This aids arousal; it encourages being in your body and feeling more of who you are. There are as many techniques for breathing as there are cloud formations in the sky but this simple and not-too-out-there one is a good start. It is slow and gentle and can take a few minutes- 10 minutes of this and you will feel heavenly. Do not stand up suddenly when doing this- you may well be dizzy!!!

Breathing through your mouth, notice your breathing. Noticing means becoming aware of what something feels like, feeling where in your body you are experiencing it and allowing whatever is happening for you during the experience. When you are fully immersed in noticing- this will take a few minutes- allow yourself to take fuller (but NOT FASTER) breaths than normal. Feel your in-breath rise up through your base (this is your genitals and perineum), travel up through your body and out of your mouth in a long, slow stream. Repeat this until you really can feel the focus of your breath within your body and not just the lungs. Imagining it happening is the first step to feeling it happening. On the out-breath let any worry, anxiety, holding or tension go with it. If you feel heat and arousal in your base area allow that to travel up through your body with the breath. Your breath becomes the vehicle for the flow to move through you. After making a few cycles of in -and out-breath, begin to increase the experience by now working also with the out-breath a little more. Let your out-breath become a sigh, let sound move with it. Often an ‘aaaaaaahhhh’ sound accompanies the out-breath. Your body may feel softer and more relaxed with the breaths moving in slow, gradual waves through you. Let your body move with you however it wants to; sometimes the pelvis wants to rock or the shoulder and neck want to soften and sway. Enjoy the cycles of long, slow in-breaths moving from your base, up your body and out your mouth and then the long slow exhales of letting go. Keep going for at least 15 minutes to create an energy flow with yourself.

To end this exploration, let your breath return to normal and just feel your body  and its aliveness until you feel complete with the exercise. Any emotion or sound that arises is normal, any spontaneous movements in your body are normal and can be welcomed and appreciated.  You can of course use this with a partner while making love. You can do this by breathing together in rhythm or opposite to one another. You can also use it to focus more on your own body experience by breathing in this way on your own while making love with someone.

Movement

Creating opportunity for vigorous, spontaneous, creative movement is central to a woman’s expressiveness. If we keep our bodies from exploring, flowing or playing then it makes sense that sexual freedom and fun will be difficult for us. Shyness, fear of being undignified, contraction of our childlike exuberance are barriers to self knowing and intimacy.

Create a playlist that includes some loud drum-based music, some melodious female singing, some flowing, nostalgic pieces and some still and spacey songs. Aim for at least 40 minutes worth. Use the first few to stir up some juicy wildness in yourself. Stamp your feet, making wide open legs and tribal gestures. If you feel silly just keep going! Let the music take you on a journey to strange movements and mayhem that you have not enjoyed before. Sweat! Lots!

When the music changes to the next phase really let yourself express. Be the ballerina you never where, or imagine a story that you tell with your body. Allow, allow, allow. The body knows things that our minds do not- let it play and express- without trying to figure it out first!!  Let the sweet, sad music deepen your exploration: use circles and flowing movements to express the longings in your soul that have no voice yet. Let the last songs of stillness and quiet calm you and centre you- you may wish to lie down or just stand and sway.

Dancing is a feminine wisdom that yields change; I urge you to use it lavishly when you can. If you have like-minded friends dance together or find any of the meditative dance classes available. See this link for a Cape Town based dance class called BlissDance by Dr. Shakti Malan http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=94222169370&ref=ts

Self pleasuring

Ha! I am not going to say what you think I am here. When I say pleasure here I mean ALL pleasure  enjoyed through ALL the senses. Food, hot baths, trees in blossom, soft puppies, arduous mountain hikes, glorious music, hot oil massages, silk scarves, divine art, books that sing, sexy clothes, heart warming friendships that make you belly laugh, perfume, feng shui’d houses, good wine, outdoor festivals, chocolate, sunshine, blazing fires… I could go on forever. Pursue beauty. Especially if you are grieving or in a crisis or life sucks. Apply Beauty to yourself as medicine because that it really it. It is balm and nutrition for the soul.

Decorate yourself. Adorn yourself with oils. Pamper and spoil your body. Beating it into submission in the gym accomplishes some good but it can also turn it into an enemy; your body is not your enemy but a lifelong ally. Seek beauty every day and your eyes will open more and more until you find it is almost impossible to avoid. It damn near breaks down the door sometimes trying to get in!

A technique for seeing more clearly is called the Soft Gaze: it involves switching our habitual stance in the world from defensive seeing to loving sight. Try it in the mirror. Stand up straight and look at yourself in a rejecting, defensive way. Allow those negative, critical thoughts to rise up and fill your eyes. Stare at yourself as if those judgements were absolutely true. Reject yourself with your eyes; actively notice the space between you and your image in the mirror. Now stop. Close your eyes and become calm. Allow those thoughts to drain away through your feet and into the earth. Breathe deeply and as you do bring your attention to your heart- the centre of your chest. If you need to, think of someone who you love deeply or an experience you had in which you felt great awe. Feel where that emotion is experienced in your body- usually the heart area. Allow that feeling to expand through your heart. Revel in how loving you are. Now open your eyes and look at yourself with love and compassion. Think of all those endearingly cute and silly things you do. Remember yourself as a child, as a baby. Look deeply into your own eyes. Look with love and acceptance. Notice how beautiful you are. See the glow that your skin radiates when confronted with a loving gaze. Now drink your own image in- let the sight of yourself fill your heart. Look at yourself with the eyes of a devoted and utterly smitten lover. Smile and be smiled at. Communicate raw love with your eyes. Stop and close your eyes. Breathe a good few times deeply. Feel what has happened in you. Notice yourself.

When you are complete you may open your eyes and move around, letting the intensity go. Emotions are good; realising that you may have a way to go in loving yourself is excellent and valuable knowledge. You can get quicker at switching to this compassionate way of looking. If starting with yourself was particularly challenging then try this meditation again in this way:

       http://taoism.about.com/od/meditation/ht/Flower_Gazing.htm 

I wish you great joy and delight. Let me know what you find- and what finds you…

Expressing Feelings

No two ways about it, I am afraid. Pleasure and pain are good friends and seldom travel alone. When we spend energy blocking “bad” feelings like pain, sadness and anger we shut out joy, love and bliss too. And what’s more, most of us have never actually completed challenging emotional situations from childhood or growing up or hurtful relationships. Sometimes those experiences where so difficult that we disassociated during them- we shut down our feelings and our senses because we were overloaded with trauma at the time. Many women have learned to do this to varying degrees. It kicks in during the most inconvenient moments- like when the person we love is intimately pleasuring us or when we feel a rush of anger during a fight. We push the unwanted feelings away together with any pleasure that could have arisen.

The practice of expressing your feelings can take any form that you like. Typically we want to express in a way that doesn’t harm us, others or objects. The best forms of expression include movement, sound and the actual feelings. Let’s use this one: the temper tantrum. Give yourself permission to be completely irrational and immature just for a few minutes. Make a soft, padded, private space on the floor for yourself. You will need to be able to be noisy too. Lie on your back with knees bend and arms at the side, palms face down. Go within and find a trigger for the feeling of unfairness, disrespect or being overlooked. Bring the experience up and let the memory run through your mind’s eye. Breathe deeply through your mouth to bring up the feelings, making sounds on both the in and out breath. Let the sounds of frustration and anger come up that you have not yet expressed. You may shout and scream about all that was not OK for you and really voice anything you wish you had said! Let your feet kick the floor and your arms bang the floor (not hurting yourself) and let the rage and frustration and injustice take over. Make noise and be as wild as you wish!!! This is your moment to let it all come up. Memories easily shift to similar stored experiences so let your thoughts roam to whoever they wish and to whatever topic they wish. No need to hold back! Scream, cry, shout, vent, kick, roll around and let everything just go. When you are spent of all that energy just lie back and feel. Any emotions are welcome and who knows what may arise? Welcome everything with a curiosity to know yourself more. Allow the energy that has been dispersed to go fully and enjoy the aliveness and calm.

Regularly venting past and present emotions is one of the basic skills for becoming more orgasmic. Being able to source these emotions within yourself gives you the power to use them or share them as you desire. Awareness leads to consciousness which leads to choice and freedom. Without completing those things that have wounded us in the past we lose power in the present to live from the soul.

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These practices are simple but how many people do you or I know that do them? They continue to enrich my life; I know that they can in yours. I look forward to hearing comments or answering any questions that you may have about them…

touching possibility

The possiblities of touch are endless.

Many techniques are available to be learned and used. They vary considerably from energy-only modalities where the surrounds of the skin are worked on (ie the aura or energy body), light touch to deep tissue massage.

Awareness of the intent or quality of touch is essential: is it giving vs recieving or taking vs allowing? The same technique might be applied but a different intent infuses the touch with various qualities and creats a different experience for the reciever and giver.

How the experience of being touched is supported by the therapist is also an important consideration. Is the work done in silence? Is there guided meditation or coaching?  Can the therapist integrate verbal processing with her touch therapy? Is sound or breath work included?

The beautiful capacity of our body to be moved by touch is an area worth exploring with great reverence, scientific integrity and wisdom.

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