We talked recently about how self-care isn’t selfish, and how it creates opportunities for profound healing & renewal. Part of this self-care can involve erotic exploration and the healing work of genital massage.
But before diving in to such profound self-healing, it's important to take a step back and consider one's intentions & approach. Where does authentic self-care actually begin?
Aware-ing is Caring
Real care for ourselves starts with the body. Our soft animal bodies are where we begin, where we end, and where we spend every moment of our wild, unpredictable time in between. The body is where we find ourselves: where we meet the reality of our sensations, our emotions, and our fundamental experience of being alive.
Our ability to care for ourselves starts with our ability to be present and aware in our bodies. If we can’t feel ourselves, we can’t know our own needs or how to truly fulfill them.
The greatest tool for becoming more present in our bodies is the cultivation of attention.
Attention Ain't In Your Head
Bringing attention into the body gets us out of our head, and this is an essential component of dropping the expectations and anxieties that can inhibit us and keep us caught in self-diminishing habits. In its purest form, attention is our greatest asset — the key to transforming our consciousness and completely changing our experience of life and the world.
How does this work?
How often have you been sitting at the computer or staring at your phone, and suddenly realized that you were so focused that you didn't realize you were slumped, or hunched, or squinting to the point of physical discomfort?
(Did we just catch you in the act?)
In our head-first, eyes-down culture, presence in the here-and-now doesn’t always come naturally — the modern world is designed to kidnap our attention with a steady stream of distracting input.
But being present in our bodies requires that we stop looking elsewhere. Presence requires stepping out of the hectic flow of activity, deliberately pausing — even for a moment — and bringing our attention back to where we actually are: in the body.
An Awareness Experiment
We invite you, right now, to go on a quick inner adventure with us. Find a comfortable place to sit down for a few moments...
Bring your attention fully into your body. Place one or both hands on your lower belly, below your navel. Feel your spine rising up out of your hips, let your feet rest flat on the floor (if you’re in a chair), and let your eyes close.
Without judgement of any kind (and that is often the hardest part!) notice any sensations that you feel — pleasant or unpleasant. Take a few breaths into the palms of your hands as they rest on your lower belly, and let time slow down, even briefly.
With every inhale, imagine or feel that your breath is gently warming your low belly, massaging the core of your body from the inside out. This warmth, this relaxed and delicious internal massage coincides with your attention — it's not thinking about your belly in the abstract, disconnected from you, but feeling the sensations in your real, living belly.
As you gather attention there, see if you can let it accumulate and expand — gently circulating through your whole pelvis and abdomen. See if you can feel your breath massaging your inner organs and your genitals from the inside, bringing warmth and relaxation to more and more of the body. You may notice your feet and toes softening, or a new relaxation in your shoulders, your face, your tongue.
Stay with this breath for as long as you like...
Whenever it’s time to stop, take a few deeper breaths and circulate all of the accumulated warmth and attention throughout your whole body, feeling it spread into the rest of your torso and into all four of your limbs, all the way to your hands and feet. Then, open your eyes slowly, and keep your gaze soft as you return to normal awareness.
Take note of how that felt to you. Was it easy? Challenging? Calming or stirring?
The place in your low belly into which you gathered your attention, or energy, is what the ancient Taoist masters called the “elixir field”, the center of deep inner power that leads to greater focus, strength, self-healing, and a truly juicy sexuality.
Gathering awareness & energy in this place and then circulating it within the pelvis nourishes body awareness at its root, giving you more access to effortless, pleasurable energy in every aspect of your being.
It’s also a potent antidote to being trapped in your head.
Any time that you feel tired, depressed, depleted, or isolated, come back to this simple practice. It takes as little or as much time as you have, and it costs nothing — getting easier and more interesting the more you practice.
You have every right to be here. Your presence in your body is the ground of your heath — mental, emotional, and physical. It is the foundation of your sovereignty and your freedom.
And it is the golden key to your sexual evolution. When we are able to nourish ourselves, we are able to nourish each other — "having enough" means that there's enough to share.
For just a few minutes each day, cultivating your attention in your body will lay the groundwork for exploring your sensations, reducing pain, resolving injuries, and finding out who you really are — as an infinite sensual being, and beyond.
Wherever you’re starting from is the perfect place to begin. Not one of us is in this alone (and we at Foria are honored to support you on your journey of discovery, growth, and love.)
In our current cultural paradigm, one of the most radical things a women can do is to simply embrace her own body — exactly as it is.
Consider how much attention & energy we spend, as women, engaged with all the ways we DON’T like our bodies — picking big and small fights with what we look like, in a continual inner dialogue about how we have too much of this, too little of that — and it shows in so many ways, from sucking in our bellies and padding our breasts, all the way up to considering or getting plastic surgery.
There is nothing shameful in this whatsoever — the intense, ongoing criticism of women’s bodies is an overwhelming presence in our culture. We certainly don’t intend to add more fuel to those critical voices and messages by ridiculing or shaming ourselves for reacting to them. Rather, we seek to bring attention and tenderness to the parts of us that take criticism to heart; the parts of us that value unattainable standards of female beauty at the expense of our immediate health and happiness; the parts of us that feel like we’re losing a war we never agreed to fight.
The way each of us responds to criticism of our bodies is unique, appropriate — and it is worthy of our love, too.
What we are about to propose is NOT a stick to smack ourselves with — we’ve got enough of those already — rather, it is a new pair of glasses to try on as an experiment with a different perspective.
Imagine how much more energy would suddenly be available to us if we simply stopped responding to these critical, fearful voices and began engaging with all the ways our bodies are actually perfect, gorgeous, sexy, entirely loveable, as they are.
What would happen to our lives? What would happen to our WORLD?
Self-love is a revolutionary act for each of us: actively making the choice to not just see the flaws, but to enjoy the beauty and the strength of our unique female form.
It is a wonderful practice — and rare one — to look into the mirror with a loving gaze, to linger on the aspects of ourselves that we find adorable. What would the world be like if we stopped trying to look like somebody else, and simply celebrated being gorgeous just the way we are?
Even more than playing with the visual feedback of the mirror, it is an extraordinary experience to spend time simply touching our bodies. We often give this power over to others — whether a lover or a massage therapist.
But there is enormous power in making contact with our own bodies — allowing ourselves to enjoy the range of sensations we can provide simply by feeling and exploring what’s there.
Who has time for that?
Well — you do, if you choose. What could be a better priority than a practice of self-love that liberates you from the inside out?
The Sensual Spectrum
While most people associate self-touch with sexuality, and while touch can be arousing, our range of sensations includes much more than that. From the simple delight of sensation play with fingertips, to the muscular unwinding we experience with deeper stretching or self-massage — touching ourselves teaches us more about our own range of pleasures than almost anything else we can do.
Touching ourselves can also bring us into direct contact with any emotions we have that might be blocking our pleasure — and with the memories of experiences we’ve had that may fragment our sense of ourselves as whole and powerful beings.
Fortunately, if and when these feelings and memories arise, self-touch gives us a way to stay present and self-soothe when we might otherwise disassociate or stop feeling. Throughout the process of self-exploration, it is important to meet whatever arises with a spirit of permission and approval: potent tools of revelation.
Whatever your experience is, you are not wrong for having it. Please be gentle and tender with yourself.
Self-touch can happen any time and in any position — clothed or naked, with oil or without. Before you begin, make sure you won’t be disturbed. Make yourself comfortable. Let your eyes close. As with any great journey, no matter where you start, your first point of contact will be perfect.
As you touch your body with your hands, stay present as things come and go: sensations, emotions, thoughts. Touch your entire body, leaving no part neglected. Rest in the power and the pleasure that is your birthright. Feel free to follow your impulses, and allow your body to take you wherever it wants to go.
Written by: Pamela Samuelson