How can we create safe sensual experiences? I’m Ki Bournes from erosha.com, and I’m going to talk about that today.
How do we create safe sensual experiences? Okay, before we talk about that specifically, I want to talk about the cultural contexts around sensual experiences and safety. There’s been a lot of press recently with the Harvey Weinstein stuff, with men in power sexually assaulting women. That’s everywhere around us, and it’s not ancient history, it exists today. There is a ton of work culturally that needs to be done teaching men, particularly men in positions of power, how to have consent with women, and not to abuse that power.
People are doing that cultural work, but what I want to talk about today is our own personal work… or how do I help my clients in their own personal work… because my clients are living in this culture and many of them are carrying the effects, the trauma, of many past abuses… where their autonomy, their space, their bodies, were not respected. That becomes a real barrier to intimacy, particularly in a situation where she might be in an intimate experience with someone who she does feel safe with, or who she wants to have a sensual experience with, but because all this old trauma is still at play, she isn’t actually able to connect with this person she wants to connect with.
A lot of that inability to connect… which is related to not feeling safe, being anxious, being afraid… a lot of it is unconscious. It’s happening, but below the level of awareness, or it’s just like this feeling… a kind of unease, an unsettled-ness. Often times people will use alcohol to overcome that uneasiness, or will just kind of override it in some other way… and in doing so they go into a place that’s a bit dissociated or disembodied… in that desire to connect.
What I’m doing in sessions with my clients is creating situations, games, which are kind of like practice, a little bit artificial, because there are really, really slowed down… where she gets to control her environment completely… and while being control of her environment she’s also in this mindful place where she’s tracking her sensations, emotions, and thoughts. This way she can get kind of a landscape, or a picture of herself, when she is in these intimate experiences, and notice how safe she actually does (or doesn’t) feel.
Okay, so maybe I’ll give you an example of one of these games that we play to give you a better idea of how this all works.
In any intimate situation, it’s very important for a person to have a strong sense of their “No”. Like, “I don’t want to do this, I’m not willing to do this, I won’t do this, and I am going to express that to you.” In session, we’ll have a very simple game called the “No game”, in which my client strengthens that “No muscle”. I’ll say something like, “Would you like a hug?” She will say, “No.” And, feel whatever response is there for her in her, thoughts, sensations and emotions. I’ll say, “Oh, can I stroke your hair?” She will say, “No.” … and then again feel what’s happening for her.
We’ll play this game a few times and then we’ll talk about what came up for her. In doing so she is building this knowledge of her relationship to “No”. She’s also gaining the experience of actually saying, “No.” She’s feeling and noticing any anxiety she has in saying No. For most of my clients there is a lot of anxiety in saying No. I’m helping them get over that anxiety, because when their No is strong, then their Yes becomes strong as well.
Another game, or practice, that happens in session with my clients, is about them having complete control of their personal space… like how close, or far away from them, I am. I start by standing on the other side of the room from them. Then they can draw me in closer, stop me, or push me away… and they can feel how their body is responding to these different spacial arrangements with very fine incremental control. They can feel, for example, that at four feet three inches they feel great, safe, comfortable, and at four foot one inches it’s too close. So they’re getting this fine tuned sense of their body’s wisdom, where their body is able to tell them, this distance feels good, and this distance doesn’t feel good.
And when they explore at their edge of comfort like, four feet three, four foot two and a half, and breathe into it, while having that sense of control, then the feeling of safety and relaxation grows. They start to feel actually safer, more at ease. It’s kind of like when you’re doing yoga and you’re doing a stretch, right… You just find that place where the stretch feels good, but you’re not pushing it too far, and you’re breathing into it, and then it gives a chance to the body to kind of expand and you can go deeper in the stretch. If you force it, and try to override it, what actually happens is the body gets tighter, and if you keep forcing it you get injured.
The same sort of thing happens in an intimate, sensual experience as well. In this desire to go farther, to have more intimacy, to be closer, you can actually be overriding what your body feels safe with. Then, that causes dissociation, which ultimately leads to less connection and intimacy.
In practicing finding the edge, and fine tuning where the edge is, based on like what your breath is doing, what the sensations in your body are, what your thoughts are, by slowing the action way down and getting very, very conscious about what’s going on, then you can fine tune your ability to find where you feel safe. Then, when you fine tune that, and keep working at that edge, then your sense of safety expands, expands, expands. And your capacity for intimacy and pleasure expands along with it.
I’m Ki Bournes from erosha.com, that’s a little bit about safety and how I work with my clients to find safety, and if you want to find out more check out my website, and please give me a call and I hope to connect with you soon.