The most profound shifts can come from the most simple and obvious of realisations.
As I created my Inner Critic two days ago, and reflected on the process, I wrote that “My self-criticism crystallised as being from a space of others perceptions rather than my own true feelings.” This observation has become increasingly clear over the past few days, as I have looked up at my Inner Critic (perched on top of my bathroom cupboard, out of the reach of children’s playful hands) and felt at an ever-deeper level that, actually, when it just comes down to me and it, I love my body – in the same way in which I love those around me. I do not look at other people and criticise them; I accept and love them just as they are.
I remember, as a teenager, finding a pimple on my cheek and feeling quite certain it would disgust others. I then reflected that I carry no such judgement of my boyfriend, or friends, so why did I feel that they would of me? This awareness flits through my consciousness on the odd occasion, reminding me to be more gentle on myself, but until now has not shifted my conscious relating with my body in an ongoing way.
If I remove my perception of the theoretical judgments of others, I am entirely loving of and content with myself, just as I am. That somehow, suddenly, makes the task of more complete self-acceptance feel entirely possible, and indeed firmly within my grasp.
Following on from my reflections on my own body perception, the second exercise in ‘Sexual Awakening for Women – A Tantric Workbook’ involves using play dough to create a visual representation of my inner critic. The purpose of this exercise is “to trasmute the energy of the inner critic into that of an ally”. The instructions encouraged me to play around with images, and “see what starts to shape itself in your hands. Perhaps the shape will be a symbol, perhaps it will be an image of a person who is always critical of you. Let your intuition and the clay guide you in shape the object.”
After getting out my children’s play dough last week, and setting in on the desk in my bedroom, it has taken me a little time to actually complete the exercise. In fact, my children had fun playing with the dough all week, while I still hesitated. I was interested to notice my blockage around this, and try to gentle see where it came from. I realised, on the one hand, that while I have always loved creating, I definitely find it a lot harder to get started with externally creative tasks such as painting than I do reading or writing, which are my natural comfort zones. I somehow trust that with words I will always find a means of comfortable expression, whereas with painting, sculpture or drawing, it is a more hit-and-miss creative endevour. I also noticed that while I can read or write in almost any environment, with noise and distraction all around me, for painting I prefer quite an uninterrupted space on my own – not easy to create with a busy family and work life!
But I took the quite space after the children went to bed tonight, and took out the play dough. Continue reading
Sitting in the warming autumn sunshine, a gentle breeze setting the wind chimes singing and birdsong all around, I am looking out over a lush green valley all the way to the sea. Although twenty kilometers away it looks, through the crisp air, as if I could dip my toes in it. I am suffused with deep contentment.
Rather than spending the morning, as I usually would on a Saturday, running around getting things done, I made the rewarding decision to simply relax and make some time for myself. I slept late, only rising at 8am when my husband left for work. I rolled out my yoga mat for the first time all week, did some foam rolling and stretching, some gentle warm-up exercises, and then my first fully engaged TRE (Tension and Trauma Release Exercise) session in a number of weeks. This flowed naturally into four Qigong sequences, the conscious breathing continued and a deep awareness of energy and movement. All of this was interrupted multiple times by my young children, but I just let the interruptions flow in and out, and continued to hold my space and engagement.
I had a light and wholesome breakfast, and returned to my yoga mat – still bathed in sunshine – to practice Microcosmic energy mediation. I found that the interruptions become more difficult to manage at this point, and found I could only keep my concentration for a few minutes at a time. Being fairly new to meditation, I am trying to be fairly gentle on myself when my thoughts interrupt my focus, but would like to keep practising each morning.
I then moved outside into the full sunshine to continue reading Mantak and Maneewan Chia’s “Cultivating Female Sexual Energy”, which I have been finding very engaging. Continue reading
Two days after pondering my own feelings towards my body, as I work through a Tantric workbook, I began reading a notebook my grandmother left to my mother when she died, and has caused some inter-generational family conflict since my own mother died. One of the entries was entitled ‘Personal Appearance’, and felt strangely relevant even though so entirely different to my own experience and perception.
“When I was a very small child I once inadvertently heard my mother describe me as “no oil painting.” This was certainly true – there was my brother, an exceptionally beautiful boy, and there was I, plump, freckled, blob-nosed. It didn’t matter as I was well-loved and the “I” inside me had emotions and thoughts but no outward appearance at all. Continue reading
So, as I shared in my previous post, I picked up a copy of ‘Sexual Awakening for Women – A Tantric Workbook’ on Thursday, and tonight completed the first exercise in the first chapter, which is about loving your body.
Exercise 1: Discussing perceptions of your body.
Purpose: To bring awareness to your perceptions of your body.
You will need: Your pillow book, if you are doing this exercise on your own. Preparation: Make sure that you are in a space where you feel comfortable to talk about intimate matters.
Solo practice: Take time to write about your body. Write about the parts of your body that you don’t like, and the parts that you like. Spend some time reading what you have written, and reflecting on your experience of expressing like this.
Group practice: Take turns to share how you feel about your body. Be as honest as you can. It can be a great relief to speak out loud the shame and self-criticism that you have secretly carried. Then talk about the parts of your body that you like. Can you dare to appreciate your body in front of other women?
I spent quite some time getting settled, removing distractions and getting focused, then completing the solo practice by writing in my journal at some length. As I have specifically returned to this blog to fulfill the role of the group I don’t physically have around me, I am pushing myself through discomfort into honesty and posting what I wrote specifically relating to my body perception (removing some of the context I write within) below. Being fairly self-reflective by nature, there were no surprises in the writing – these are things I have thought over with awareness before. I find sharing the things that delight me about my body easy and comfortable; I have never felt ashamed of enjoying my physicality. However, sharing the things I dislike all in one go is pushing me far, far outside my comfort zone, particularly in a space in which I have previous shared on the best, most fun and sexy stories and photographs. Being ‘sexy’; being desired – these have become habits; habits I realise arose from deep fears about my lack of self-worth and a ‘need’ to be loved. But moving outside of comfort zones is exactly where the growth and learning comes, so here goes… Continue reading
Here truly begins the new era I was only beginning to imagine when I posted (a year ago tomorrow, I suddenly realise) about a paradigm shift in this blog.
Three days ago I procured a copy of Dr Shakti Mari Malan’s book ‘Sexual Awakening for Women – A Tantric Workbook’, which I dived straight into on the two-day, nearly 2,000 km drive home from a family holiday. The book is designed for use either on my own, or with a group of women, and as I pondered the fact that all the women I would not only feel comfortable with but would delight in asking to embark on this journey with me live on different continents, I eventually concluded that perhaps the best way forward was to try and find an online community of support and sharing, as I have in other contexts in the past, such as when grieving the death of my mother.
I once again faced the question of whether to start a new blog, or return to this one – and I once again decided to remain here in eroticexploration. This was, after all, a space I had originally envisaged as a space of sexual learning and sharing. Moreover, this blog is part of my journey and part of who I am – and I think it shows, in it’s own way, an important evolution of sexual awakening.
I am seeking companions, guides, and gentle souls for my journey, and I look forward to gradually connecting with them over time. As I dive into the exercises in the book, I will share my experiences and learning, and see where the journey leads me.