Client; I really needed to learn this stuff…but there is no way with my confidence and issues I could do this learning with a partner.
Me: I hear you.
I did hear them. For most people at some point in our lives, there is some (very) personal development crying out to happen. It can seem impossible to do this within a current relationship, or to find the right person, or to have the confidence to ask. The moment might pass and an opportunity lost.
It is one of the biggest myths that we don’t need to learn or practice sex. The assumption is that its ‘natural’ and hardwired. The fact is that we HAVE learnt how to have (and not have) sex, from a variety of sources and the culture around us, including a lot of rules, norms and taboos. No wonder so many of us end up having sexual issues that arise from lack of confidence and low self esteem, and not feeling good enough sexually. Not only can we ‘unlearn’ the unhelpful stuff we have picked up but there is always more to learn about our bodies, pleasure and sexuality.
What Sexological Bodyworkers (and other sexuality professionals) offer is a high quality and professional space to learn and practice sex. It’s a bit like a musician would practice in order to master their instrument. Without the pressure of the performance at the orchestra or gig! There is this great concept of ‘sexual jamming’.
However, I don’t believe that booking in with a Sexological Bodyworker is the only way and the cost and distance to the closest practitioner can be a barrier). You can create your own pleasure practice space. This could be with yourself, a partner, a lover, with a friend, or you can attend a workshop which offers practice opportunities with others.
Firstly, here are 3 things to leave at the door;
Romantic love, eye contact and ‘merging together’ experiences are all yummy and highly desirable for many people. However, these are not the aims of this kind of practice and you will learn more without the feeling/atmosphere of a ‘couple relationship’. Good people to do these practices with are professionals, open minded and curious friends, people in conscious sexuality workshops, or partners with a common goal of creating a distinct creative practice ‘zone’ in the week.
Two way touch and penetrative sexual intercourse.
Two way touch is wonderful, and also not really for practice space. When we want to become attuned to what our own bodies are telling us and to the vast universe of sensation and pleasure available to us, it’s helpful to not be distracted by what the other person is feeling and needing. One way first and this enhances two way, that’s the idea!
Fantasy and roleplay
It’s great to notice and bring into awareness any fantasies and feelings of being in a role that come up, but it’s not the intention of the practice space. Fantasy and roleplay tend to bring in external sources of stimulation, and we might be more ‘in our heads’ rather than us being in our bodies.
Here are 10 ingredients for your own practice space;
The people who plan to hold a practice space have a level of trust in each other and themselves to hold the space appropriately and to stick to agreements made. Not using drink/drugs is a must for creating a safe practice where lots of learning happens.
You state the intention of the practice session at the beginning. (e.g. I want to explore touch on my chest without my top on’)
One partner clearly assumes the role of giver and the other receiver for the agreed time. Practice space is all about focussing on your inner body experience and sensation, learning how your pleasure and arousal works. When you are receiving, give yourself permission to be in the moment and fully experience it.
This is vital. Each partner will be communicating what touch or experience they want and the other partner will be actively listening. This will happen both at the beginning and throughout the touch, including an instruction to stop if this is what the receiver needs.
This is the opposite of lying down and passively enjoying (or enduring!) a massage; you aim to stay active and communicative. The best state to be in is present and relaxed at the same time. Breathing can be a good way to relax before the session.
Boundaries and limits
You set a time limit for the whole session, and for each episode of touch/activity. Each person receives an equal amount of time if you are swapping. Any absolute limits can be expressed at the beginning (i.e. no genital touch, no touching my face).
Embodied consent is when the body says ‘oh god, yes I love that backrub’ plus the mind says yes too; the two are aligned. In practice space we are exploring the meaning of this and what real felt YES feels like and what its liked to express it.
An attitude of curiosity and openness is great for practice space, and wondering about how different things will feel (a bit like a child trying new foods).
Acceptance of whatever is there
You might notice that you tolerated a touch for a while before saying anything to your partner. This is valuable information about your process. If you are open to it, you are learning the meta communication and the process behind your embodied consent. Notice if you get bored and irritable or distracted. It is not supposed to be perfect, that’s why it’s a practice space!
Pauses between touches, pauses between partners, little rests doing nothing, are important parts of practice. Neuro-scientifically, when we are creating new neural pathways we need time to integrate the new information and experience before we move onto the next thing. Plus, pauses and slowing down help us to ‘read’ our bodies messages and have a stronger sense of what we want.
Want to know more? I recommend attending workshops or events in your area where people practice consent and conscious touch. Keywords to search for are; conscious touch, sacred sexuality, boundaries and consent, cuddle workshops etc.
I regularly teach tools and exercises and framework of practice space to individuals, couples and to groups. If you are interested in attending to get your own pleasure practice off to a great start, please contact me here.
Thanks for reading,