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  • The Wisdom of the Womb, Part Three: Do Men Have Wombs too?

    November 22, 2011
    The Wisdom of the Womb, Part Three: Do Men Have Wombs too?
    People who are born biologically male may not have wombs in the medical sense of the word, but do they have wombs in any other sense? Most of us think the word “womb” applies only to that aspect of anatomy in which a baby grows, but some envision womb as a gender-neutral energetic reality.

    For instance, Sri Kaleshwar details a set of teachings and techniques in The Holy Womb Process intended to purify and strengthen the Womb Chakra. The Womb Chakra is seen as something both men and women possess and a crucial nexus of the human soul: the most sacred place in our body, a supreme source of spiritual energy, clarity and power.

    While you may not wish to take advice from a self-professed guru, the fact remains that humans have envisioned energetic aspects to the human body for millennia and many of these ancient teachings are finding new applications in our modern world, some of which provide sexual benefits.

    Any discussion of energetic centers in the body requires at least a cursory understanding of chakras. Wikipedia explains Chakras as a point of biophysical energy in the human body and a part of many philosophical and spiritual traditions, as well as therapies and disciplines such as Yoga, Acupuncture, Shiatsu, T’ai chi and Qigong which focus on balancing the energy meridians that are an integral part of the chakra system. In the West, the subtle energy of the chakras is explored through practices such as Aromatherapy and Reiki.

    Although there are a multitude of variations, Western teachings usually envision seven chakras: Root Chakra, Sacral Chakra, Navel Chakra, Heart Chakra, Throat Chakra, Third Eye Chakra and Crown Chakra. In addition, some refer to the Womb Chakra, which is between the pelvis and the navel for people of any gender.

    I had the pleasure of blurbing Amara Charles’ latest book, The Sexual Practices of Quodoushka, which is an excellent resource for anyone serious about activating their sexual expression energetically. Amara, who incidentally lists ten chakras in her book, invites us to slow down during sex so we can sense the energy that flows between lovers. According to her, sexual dissatisfaction between partners is always due to something missing in the energetic connection and learning to feel into the chakras can add a whole new dimension to sex.

    Sheri Winston refers to the Sacral Chakra as the Sex Chakra in her book, Women’s Anatomy of Arousal. She also stresses the importance of breath to pleasurable and orgasmic sex: “ . . . when you get turned on, you breathe faster as your arousal pulls your breath along behind it. If you want to use your breath consciously, you can do so by flipping the sequence and having your breath pull your arousal along.”

    Barbara Carrellas agrees. In her July 2010 article for HealYourLife.com, “Want Great Sex? Just Breathe!,” she says there are three things you need to know about breath and sex: 1.) Changing the way you breathe changes the way you feel, 2) sexual energy travels on the breath and 3) the more you breathe the more you feel. Affirming the importance of learning to apply conscious breathing techniques to sex, she intones “When you want to stay in the excitement phase of lovemaking for as long as possible and enjoy extended orgasmic states, it is your breath, not your genitals that will hold you in the totality of ever-increasing sensation.”

    For a few individuals, breath holding can lead to more intense orgasms. But for most of us, holding our breath causes our orgasms to be genitally focused and this is usually perceived as being less satisfying than full body orgasms. Learning to incorporate conscious breathing into your sex life, whether you are going solo or playing with a partner, is a great way to postpone your orgasms so the intensity can build.

    When I worked as an escort, I devoted a great deal of my focus to teaching my clients how to employ conscious breathing and experience chakra energy. I often began a session by massaging their back and inviting them to breath into the massage. By placing my hands over their heart chakra while engaging in conscious breathing, I literally breathed energy into our connection.

    Slowing the sexual interaction and delving deeper into sexual energy centers through the breath and chakras, enabled me to provide most of my clients with peak sexual experiences. As I became more aware of my own energetic body and began to translate that to bigger and better orgasms for myself, I was able to share those skills with my clients.

    In the beginning, my logical brain resisted the journey. I had believed that sex was about rubbing sex organs - what I like to refer to today as “the friction model” of sex. But working with a more holistic and energetically centered approach expanded my experience of sex into something which I find to be much more enlivening, pleasurable and fulfilling. What surprises some of course, is that this enabled me to create a meaningful and spiritually centered connection with my escorting clients.

    Next month, I will explain that and more! For now, let me answer the question, do men have wombs?

    Yes, they do. If we see the body as an energetic entity, people with all types of genitals, whether male, female, intersex or transgender; possess a similar energy center which can be envisioned as a womb or a repository of the individual’s hopes, traumas, aspirations, emotions, spirituality and creativity. A sexual journey which entails healing and activating this energy center not only creates more pleasure and connection with our lover(s) but accentuates our ability to live life more fully and achieve our full potentials.

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  • The Wisdom of the Womb, Part Two: Healing Sexual Trauma

    October 18, 2011
    The Wisdom of the Womb, Part Two: Healing Sexual Trauma
    Sexual trauma often occurs in response to incest, molestation and rape; but other events can incur sexual trauma as well. Both necessary and unnecessary medical procedures can lead to sexual dysfunction if they result in damage to the sex organs or pelvic trauma.

    According to Dr. Jennifer Berman’s website, common causes of pelvic trauma include hysterectomy and medical interventions during childbirth. If your sexual response has been diminished by these procedures, Dr. Berman advises “It is important to seek evaluation and treatment from a doctor who is trained in diagnosing sexual dysfunction secondary to pelvic injury. You should be evaluated for blood flow, genital sensation, as well as receive a neurological work-up to determine the degree (if any) of nerve damage. Depending on the kind and extent of damage done, there are some treatments available including blood flow enhancing agents and devices, as well as creams that can help restore some degree of sensation and arousal.”

    Many doctors still insist that procedures such as hysterectomy and episiotomy result in little to no reduction in sexual satisfaction for women. However, research such as that of Naomi Miller Stokes who “interviewed 500 women from all walks of life and from all over the United States regarding their experiences in the aftermath of hysterectomy” paints a different picture. Of the women surveyed, over 95 percent experienced less sexual desire after their hysterectomy and nearly 80 percent lost their sexual appetite completely. [Reclaiming our Health by John Robbins, chapter 7, page 135]

    Addressing the physiological aspects of any sexual or pelvic trauma is very important. It is also important to heal the psychological and emotional aspects of trauma. While the culture grants a great deal of permission to grieve sexual trauma resulting from rape and molestation, individuals grieving a medical procedure may be hard pressed to find support for their emotional healing.

    Whether you have undergone a medical procedure out of necessity or due to unimaginative or fallacious medical practice; if that procedure has resulted in sexual dysfunction, you will likely experience emotions of loss or even rage. Recognizing your feelings, giving yourself permission to have them and seeking treatment for grief and anger are crucial for good mental health.

    Those who admonish us to “get over it” may mean well but such an approach rarely achieves the level of transformation most of us crave. Instead we are compelled to do the heavy lifting of discovering our deepest grief that we might be free of its lingering effects on our daily lives. That work can involve a variety of modalities including talk therapy, recovery groups, journaling and somatic therapies.

    As both a survivor of incest and rape, I have been engaged in a long, fruitful journey of sexual recovery for over twenty-five years. Leaving anorgasmia behind and becoming multiply orgasmic required that I dig deep into sexual trauma.

    In the beginning, I met with a therapist and attended several recovery groups. I kept a journal as well. While time consuming, giving my recovery my total focus netted me the dramatic, positive results I desired.

    Body centered therapy soon followed. I beat my despair and rage into pillows. I visited body workers for massage, acupuncture and Rosen Work. Gradually, the numbness which often accompanies sexual trauma was replaced with sensations of both pleasure and pain which I was unfamiliar with. At times it was totally overwhelming but I stuck with it and when I got to the other side, I discovered pleasures I had never experienced before.

    That pleasure was not just sexual. I also experienced laughter in a completely new way: from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I was elated and I became even more committed to a path of recovery.

    While many different professionals and resources comprised my recovery from sexual trauma, there exist today even more treatments and resources for anyone seeking sexual wholeness and joy. For instance, Staci Haines’ DVD, Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma uses dramatic enactments of specific techniques in concert with expert instruction to create a very effective learning tool for anyone wishing to move past sexual trauma and toward sexual satisfaction and empowerment.

    One section of the DVD addresses “triggers,” experiences which elicit a traumatic memory. For some this might be a specific word or phrase while others may find themselves flooded with feelings in response to a particular odor or visual cue. Most sexual abuse survivors battle a variety of triggers in response to certain forms of touch, whether sexual or otherwise.

    Staci Hanes outlines what she refers to as a “Trigger Plan” with specific steps to it:

    Trigger Plan:

    1. Stop
    2. Breathe
    3. Choose:
    a.) Change Activities (stop being sexual)
    b.) Sexual Healing (go into the trigger)
    c.) Center and Continue Sex

    According to Staci Haines, as opposed to avoiding triggers, this approach ensures that sex, pleasure and connection win out.

    After so many years of recovery from sexual trauma, it surprises some to discover that I am still recovering, still expanding my capacity for connection and pleasure. I suspect it will be a lifelong journey as I am not willing to settle for anything less.

    Today, I am delving deeper into my womb. But don’t assume that entails a focus on anatomy. I do employ stimulation of internal erotic zones such as the G-spot, the A-spot and the cervix. But my main focus when approaching my womb is on my heart and my emotions.

    I am discovering that much of my sexual history, both unpleasant and pleasant, resides inside of my body where the memories seem to be stored in the tissues but also in the energy centers. And this is an important point because whether you are a female with a womb or without a womb, and even if you are a person born with male anatomy who has never had a womb, the energy center associated with the womb resides inside of you nonetheless.

    Some refer to this energy center as the “hara.” Considered to be important to tantric sex practices, this energy center can be envisioned as an emotional womb regardless of your gender. By connecting with this energetic aspect of your sexual self you can embark on a journey of “sexploration” which can take you to the heart of sex, where sex and spirit meet!

    Next month: The Wisdom of the Womb, Part Three: Delving Deeper into Our Sexual Energy Centers

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  • The Wisdom of the Womb

    September 20, 2011
    The Wisdom of the Womb
    Womb isn't a particularly sexy word. A term for the uterus, womb also refers to a place where something is generated or an encompassing, protective space. Womb is where things originate and for the purposes of this column, womb is where orgasm and love can find their deepest expression.

    My legs were suspended in the stirrups of a gynecological exam table when I first saw my womb. The OB/GYN nurse administering my first pelvic examination asked me if I would like to “see” as she handed me a mirror. I was eighteen and had absolutely no idea what the interior of my vagina looked like. I would like to report that my first glimpse of this part of my anatomy filled me with awe but such was not the case. Instead, I became a bit fearful and a little queasy. What was that fleshy protrusion with the small hole in the middle? It seemed alive with a mind of its own as it moved and quivered with my every breath.

    Many years later I would find myself in line with about forty excited fans waiting to view Annie Sprinkle's womb. Known as the “prostitute and porn star turned sex educator and artist,” Annie's best known theater and performance art piece was her Public Cervix Announcement, during which she would invite the audience to view her cervix. At the San Francisco event I attended, a hush fell over the onlookers as one by one we took turns using a flashlight to peer into this rarely viewed inner sanctum of the female body.

    My (then) husband refused to look. He was concerned that seeing the interior of a vagina might dampen his desire to be inside of one. I believe this fear is fairly common. Some men take this to the extreme when they are afraid to witness the births of their children. We live in a culture where matters of the womb such as menstruation and birth are verboten, so both men and women tend toward embarrassment and avoidance patterns in relationship to these very natural functions of female sexual anatomy.

    Historically, women's wombs have been the battleground of gender politics, evoking efforts to suppress female sexual and creative power. At one time it was common practice to remove women's wombs [hysterectomy] to cure a litany of ills lumped together under the catch-all phrase, hysteria. Today, although hysteria is no longer treated with hysterectomy, the United States has the highest rate of hysterectomy of any industrialized nation. Hysterectomy is the second most frequently performed surgery on women, second only to cesareans, which constitute another medical assault on the womb.

    In Reclaiming Our Health, my close friend John Robbins advises “Regardless of our gender, the female body was our gateway to life . . . If we are to bring healing to ourselves, to our society, and to our world, we must regain respect for our bodies, and particularly for women's bodies, for it is women who are most devalued, and it is women in whose wombs and hearts future generations are shaped.” [Chapter 1, page 11]

    While our culture has eroticized the exterior of a woman's genitals (the vulva), we seem to avoid any awareness of the interior landscape past a cursory knowledge of its reproductive functions. However, the womb does more than make babies. It also generates pleasure and deep emotions. Author of Womb Wisdom, Padma Aon Prakasha, explains:

    “The Womb is the key generator of tremendous creative potential, vitality, sensuality, heart power and manifestation. It not only births children, but projects spiritual potential, personal healing and the depths of relating we all yearn for. It brings fullness, balance and loving power to your deepest relationships, and is the crucible for Sacred Union between man and woman. It is vital for men to know, understand and work with as the womb births the divine masculine.”

    Sex educator, Sheri Winston, details the importance of the womb to sexual response in Women's Anatomy of Arousal: “. . . the uterus is a player in the game of arousal and orgasm. As a woman gets turned on, muscle tension increases . . . This action lifts the womb up and forward while pleasurably tugging on the muscular opening of the vagina. As the woman's turn-on escalates, the womb is raised further and further up, like a taut bowstring being pulled way back . . . during orgasm, the uterus pulses up and down in a deep, slow, throbbing background rhythm that provides a bass counterpoint to the faster quivering of the pelvic floor muscles as they spasm. This pulsing adds emotional and erotic richness to the orgasm . . .” [Chapter 7, page 123]

    The womb is a second heart, holding our secrets and fears, the tears we have cried over betrayal and lost love. The womb is a seat of power containing the birth of nations and our own creative force. When we connect to the womb, we tap into our core essence, which is love. When we approach the womb with respect, she blossoms into the lovely flower of all our desires and deepest cravings for connection and wholeness. The womb is a portal to the past, the present and the future. The womb invites us to feel more than we have ever felt before and to know our own truth. Pregnant with possibility, the womb beats to the timeless rhythm of the universe while connecting us to each other and ourselves with love and passion. Simply put, the womb is a doorway to the Divine.

    A more holistic approach to our sexuality invites a blending of our emotions, passions and desires. Including the womb in our sexual landscape acknowledges the truth about female sexual anatomy - everything is connected! The clitoris, vulva, vagina, female prostrate, G-Spot, A-Spot, cervix and uterus form an awe inspiring whole capable of creating life, pleasure and intimacy. No wonder the ancients worshipped female genitalia.

    Next month: Part Two of The Wisdom of the Womb: Healing Sexual Trauma

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  • Does No Really Have To Mean No?

    August 16, 2011
    Does No Really Have To Mean No?
    Do you feel positive emotions when you hear the word “No?” If kink is your preference, you may have eroticized this word but taken out of the context of role-play, the word probably still causes you to wince. “No” signals that you may not get something you want and that is rarely cause for celebration.

    Disagreements affect a wide variety of life’s choices including those which pertain to money, religion, politics, relatives, child rearing — the list is literally endless. And nowhere are the emotions as volatile as when we begin to disagree about sex.

    Our initial reaction to a difference in opinion is usually disappointment. We hoped that we would agree. We were anticipating enjoyment and connection around a topic that now threatens to create separation and discord. If sex is the topic, then we might also feel rejected, judged, embarrassed, ashamed... or we might have bundled all of these vulnerable feelings into a package of anger.

    When it comes to sexual disagreements, the numerous solutions at our disposal are rarely considered because our culture’s moral overlay asserts considerable control over this personal part of life. Many are the client who complain to me of the strictures of monogamy but lack the will or the courage to break free of compulsory monotony.

    Please skip the hate mail. I actually enjoy monogamy. I think it is great if you actively and consciously choose it. But most poor souls are sucked into the lifestyle, assured it will create bliss no matter what their individual preferences and needs. Throughout your lifespan, your sexual needs and interests will likely change or at least fluctuate, and change creates even more opportunities for disagreement.

    How can our partner adapt? If we are open to a few unorthodox solutions, sexual satisfaction in a long-term relationship is not only possible but can be a great deal of fun. There are several strategies you can employ.

    Most members of a couple attempt to engender interest in their sexual turn-ons by broaching the topic in as alluring a manner as possible. Phrases such as “It would be so hot,” “You can do whatever you want to me,” “You would look so good in this,” “Come on, it will be fun” are common. Unfortunately the all too common response is resistance if not outright revulsion because of the obviously manipulative intent.

    If we wish to foster connection with our partner(s), we must maintain an active and genuine interest in their happiness and well-being while asserting our needs and desires. Yes, this is a delicate balance fraught with pitfalls and potential problems. But the possible pay-offs are worth the effort.

    For instance, you might give your partner(s) sexual fulfillment serious consideration and make a list of pertinent questions to ask them about their interests and preferences. Are they harboring any unmet needs or secret fantasies? Is sex with you still creating the passion it used to, or is boredom and frustration taking its place? Is there something your partner(s) would like to try or have you try? For that matter, is sex still a priority?

    I recently overheard a woman say “I would rather fight with my husband than have sex with him.” Does your partner feel anything remotely similar to this? Find out. Investigate. And don’t react negatively. Just gather the facts to discover where you and your partner(s) are today. Remember, no matter how dismal the current state of affairs, things can always change for the better, but nothing will improve if you don’t know there is a problem.

    Ok, let’s say you and you partner(s) have come clean; stating your satisfactions, your disappointments and your desires. What next? Ideally, if you both feel drawn to the same solution(s), you simply try that new sexual position or sex toy, or schedule an appointment with a relationship coach or counselor. But what if the two (or more) of you cannot agree on how to rectify the situation? What if he wants to have a three-way and she wants to be the subject of a gangbang? What if one of you feels drawn to BDSM and the other wants to pursue Tantra? What if neither of you can see your way to a compromise?

    Choosing to open your relationship to other partners will afford you the luxury of relating to each other in ways that are more familiar and require the least change. This may seem counter-intuitive, but an open relationship allows you to keep your current relationship as it is, because you create the desired changes with someone new. You are both free to pursue your fantasies with alternate partners while retaining all the benefits and comforts of the primary relationship.

    Or you might agree to create a compromise. Compromise incurs a loss for both parties but rewards both participants with a win as well. You don’t get everything you want; you get some of what you want. The same is true for your partner(s). For instance, if the compromise involves BDSM and Tantra, you might agree to experiment with Dark Tantra because it incorporates elements of each.

    All of these are acceptable forms of problem solving with your partner(s) and you may choose to go for the ultimate in intimacy. If so, you will actively seek out your partner’s different perceptions and feelings with an eye toward how those different perspectives can enlarge and improve your world — even and especially your sex life.

    If you learn to welcome a difference of opinion as the opportunity it can be, you will discover the “Gifts of Disagreeing.” Instead of sighing into your disappointment when you hear the word “No,” let yourself breath into it with curiosity and a sense of adventure. Partnership can inform and transform us! Staying open to what we can learn from our partner helps us grow. Who knows, maybe your disagreements will lead to even more alluring opportunities than those you envisioned.

    Next month: The Wisdom of the Womb and Sexual Connection

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