I am sitting spread-eagled in a chair, my feet up against the walls either side of the mirror I am staring into, vulva exposed, tummy lines creased, boobs sloping to the sides. I am crying as something inside of me says aloud to myself “Your sadness is beautiful… Your loneliness is beautiful… What a magnificent gift to know what this heartache feels like.”
I am laughing while sobbing while talking to myself as I would my little sister, my clients, my best friend, my partner. I am caring for myself with the same love and intention as I would everyone else in my life… And doing it all while I’m rubbing my inner labia softly in a circle and using a vibrator to vibrate my calve lightly, just because it feels good.
I can only imagine it sounds like I’m attempting to describe the world’s worst porno… “Sad Girl Laugh-Crys Masturbating While Saying Mantras in a Mirror”.
It’s about 7 PM on a Tuesday. The deep and penetrating love I found for a human who lives on the West coast happened less than two weeks ago. This cellular, woven-into-the-air sort of love that filled us both with Lightness. In a threesome we had at the end of our time together, the third told us after watching us kiss, “I usually don’t particularly enjoy watching people, but watching you two is like watching you breath each other’s souls.”
I am sad because for the first time since part of my heart left to go back home, I feel the immensity of my longing for him. I am alone at home; I am not lonely, I am the opposite of lonely. I have just spent three full days with other people whom I love, I am Ecstatic to be alone. The thought of seeing anyone feels downright exhausting. Yet, here I am, alone on my couch and then I notice he is gone. And Oh Does It Make Me Feel my body. I feel my centre-brow release tension while my head gently sways slightly to the side and back, and there is this o-shaped hole in my chest that pulls outwards beyond me; the loneliness of heartache hits.
The sensation of my heart reaching out in every which direction and not finding what it is looking for; a waywardness; like trying to attain a goal in a dream and being wholly confused as to why it seems to be unattainable.
As I found myself melting into my couch, foreseeing the pattern of managing of this heartache with mindless staring into the abyss of my phone (infinite distraction that never quite leaves me feeling fuller) and also the ceiling. I am not enjoying this; it both feels like I am having a feeling and not having a feeling… In a state of non-feeling. So I run through my mind with the newly accumulated knowledge I have gained in my summer of Becoming Embodied.
- Let the body have it’s experience. So I sit and look at myself in the mirror and tell myself: “These Feelings Are Beautiful. Look at How Deeply your Heart Can Love! What an incredible and powerful feeling to feel this sadness. What a blessing it is to know this love in this lifetime.” And out come the tears as I speak these mantras of assurance to myself (and then also laugh at how hysterical the whole experience is).
- I am fully capable of self-regulation. I know that if I purposefully set aside time to be in a place of genuine and authentic pleasure and care that I am able to give my body, my brain, my nervous system the natural hormones, chemicals, neurotransmitters that will allow for me to come into a long-term place that equates to feeling as calm, steady, restful, reflective, flow-state as I usually do for the short-term space of being post-orgasmic. I am who I have been looking for.
The practice of mindful masturbation has endless positive effects on my life. In saying this I would first like to remove the relegation of masturbation as genital touch to orgasm. I would like to reframe masturbation as deep and committed self-love. The self being the body from toes to crown, the emotional and psychological capacity contained within this body, and whatever framing of consciousness or soul you are privy to.
My mindful masturbation is sometimes just me dancing in the sun at the park for 30 minutes with myself. Sometimes it is pouring myself a coconut oil and lavender bath and gently massaging my entire body for an hour in the dark. Sometimes it is moments on the bus when I am feeling dis-embodied and will just lightly touch my arm, my leg, my face, to bring myself back into myself; to come home to myself. And then yes, sometimes it is a wild adventure with every toy in my toy box, sexy music and animalistic sounds and movements.
There’s this neat new science out that talks about how we are naturally pre-disposed to negative experiences (here are the references from the book I got this info from). The way our human brains have evolved are to be like velcro for bad things; we notice them, we feel them, we become immersed in them and our brains fire off a bunch of neurotransmitters that form pathways that, over the course of time forge deeper and deeper ways of existing. Positive experiences to our brains are more like throwing ping-pong balls against a wall. They hit, they make a sound, you may even notice that it has happened, but they don’t make any sort of lasting impression.
Rick Hanson’s book “Hardwiring Happiness” talks endlessly about our capacity and ability to create and notice positive experiences in our minds and our bodies using the acronym HEAL:
“Have a positive experience: Notice a positive experience that’s already present, such as physical pleasure, a sense of determination or feeling close to someone. Or create a positive experience for yourself. Help these ideas become emotional experiences; otherwise it’s merely positive thinking, which is usually wasted on the brain.
Enrich it: Stay with the positive experience for five to 10 seconds or longer. Open to it emotionally and try to sense it in your body, let it fill your mind, enjoy it… get those neurons firing, so they’ll really wire together.
Absorb it: Intend and sense that the experience is sinking into you as you sink into it. Let it really land in your mind.
Link positive and negative material: While you have a vivid and stable sense of a positive experience in the foreground of awareness, be aware if there’s something negative in the background. For instance, when you are feeling included and liked, imagine this experience making contact with past feelings of loneliness.”
When we make a dedicated effort to have, enrich, absorb positive experiences and override the negative ones, we are giving our brains a natural neurochemical bath that puts us into a calm, happy, blissful state of being On The Regular.
Here’s the kicker… In his entire book, the Entire book, there is not one single mention of the immense physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual pleasure derived from sexual and erotic pleasure. I’ve spoken to a few people who have confirmed that it is difficult to get hard science on this, as measuring sexual pleasure in the brain involves being strapped down in an MRI machine. BUT: IT MAKES SENSE. Take the most immersive pleasurable experience our bodies are capable of, ENRICH IT, ABSORB IT, and LINK IT.
As a culture so far we have just been coming to terms with Being Okay. Even in the brilliance of Gabor Mate’s “When The Body Says No” the focus is on what’s happening to our health when we ignore the body. My question to you is, what happens when we not only listen to the body, but treat it as lusciously and delectably as we would our idols? What happens When The Body Says YES?
This might feel overwhelming. Your cup may be past empty; it may be difficult to notice it filling. Like a bank account in overdraft; you may deposit $200, but if you are $2,000 in debt, it will be hard to feel the difference. You aren’t going to stop making deposits though, because even if it takes a long time, you will eventually hit $0 and the moment you make a $5 deposit you will finally begin to notice what it feels like to not be in debt; maybe even a whisper of what it feels like to have abundance, perhaps.
Your body, your nervous system, your brain may all be in overdraft; this is beautiful and okay. If the idea of sitting down and trying to find pleasure in massaging yourself is Too Much; amazing. Listen to that. Pleasure won’t be pleasurable if its not pleasurable; go figure. I learned and laughed many times when I realized I was quite frequently enduring my own touch because I thought I Had to do this (Who’s it for?!). Start small, but start noticing.
Here are the suggestions:
- Break your patterns. The goal is to create as many neurological pathways in our brains for understanding pleasure; the more pathways, the more normalized pleasure becomes in our brains, bodies and nervous systems.
- Seek out your pleasure; if something you’re doing doesn’t feel good, make changes to see if you can find what does.
- Practice mindfulness in your self-love. We practice presence with our work, our friends, our partners, our projects. Be fully present with yourself and your pleasure. If you notice your mind wandering, just be like “I see you, sneaky and playful monkey mind, I know that’s fun for you but let’s come back to this again.”
- Love the journey. It will be hard to break your patterns, frustrating even. How we feel about our feelings is the most detrimental to our growth. If you feel Sad, Feel Sad. When you feel ashamed or guilty about feeling Sad, the Sad can’t come out. A thought that has been useful for me here is: What a joy that I get to be completely aware and present for this discovery of my body, in learning what feels good in ways that I never knew before. What a wild ride it is to discover new erogenous zones as an adult, like Who’s Body Has This Been???
- The suggested practice is 30 minutes for 30 days. Just like, you know. Try it. And see. You can incorporate intentions, breathing exercises, movement (dancing/stretching), sound (music/your own voice), PC muscle clenches.
- End each self-love session with 5 minutes of stillness. Just like in yoga’s Shavassna, give your body the time and space to let these positive, glorious feelings imprint in your nervous system and brain.
I have developed a new practice of masturbating in a chair in front of this full length mirror. In the plan to break my pattern of needing to be lying back down, legs spread on the bed in order to masturbate, I had explored variations of positions, and this one in the chair, feet up against the wall, legs spread, staring myself in the eye has become one of my ultimate favourites.
This juicy self-worship that was almost Too Good for me to even do it; as soon as I started I had this overwhelming sense of “Oh, no, that’s definitely not allowed. I’m definitely not allowed to enjoy my own image, my own body, my own pleasure Quite This Much.” And then I noticed my thought and realized this is the sort of feeling I train other people to obtain, so I Lean Into It, smirking at myself in the mirror, lock eyes, and reach orgasm with the thought of self-worship. Wow wow wow. How powerful to be thinking about self-worship while fucking yourself to yourself. Orgasm is a POWERFUL REINFORCER.
You are who you’ve been waiting for.
Masturbation coaching is one of my favourite things to do. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to book a Skype or phone session.
If you are curious for more, here is a video of my journey with mindful masturbation: