When I launched the first round of Sacred Sexuality: A 40-day course for women to heal body shame and ignite desire last June 2017 I had no idea what to expect on the forum. Would the members feel reticent to share their innermost fears, secrets, questions, and stories around this most vulnerable area or would they feel safe enough to write from a place of honesty around a topic that had remained hidden for most of their lives? What I delightedly discovered from day one of the course was the latter: the women simply blew me away. They shared and divulged, dug deep and explored. They cried together as they shared their pain and they celebrated each other as they shared their beauty around every aspect of their bodies and their sexuality. The following are just a few of the posts that caused a body-wide smile to bloom when I read them.
In response to a daily email and thread called “The Female Body”:
Sheryl, the most extraordinary thing happened to me on the way to my shower. I moved past a mirror I have in my bedroom and upon noticing my flash image, I decided to walk back and stare at myself and… I liked my body! I felt sexy. It wasn’t the slender body I used to have before my pregnancies but I liked my new body. I decided to stay with the image and enjoy it. I paid attention to every bit of what I felt was gorgeous. I’d feel shy to share what I liked but it was beautiful. I arrived at the shower feeling like a different woman. Today, when I went to work, I had an important meeting and I deliberately chose a pair of tight black leader trousers, a red shirt which I unbuttoned a little and a shiny long colourful necklace which has a beautiful khamsa.
For a few blessed minutes I stopped trying to change my body to fit my mental ideal or let’s say I paused the desire to make my body look like it used to be. I just surrendered to my body space. I’m writing this and a shower of tears is rolling down my cheeks. From a very early age as a tiny girl, I was put in a situation of struggle with my own nature. I never stopped to feel whether the struggle was right or wrong. I just mentally fought and fought and I did and did in order to get to that ideal mental place where I never got because even when I tried hard and I think I got to the finish line, I emotionally felt constricted and disappointed. It might be the visualizations we’re doing, it might be the self-compassion messages we’re receiving in the course, I don’t know – we’re stirring so much in our inner selves that just for a few minutes I felt the freedom to just be in my own body and it felt so good to be there. The shower was a blessing and I had another this morning. If you knew how much I cry with the pouring water running down every bit of my body. It’s as though we’re meeting for the very first time at 41.
In response to a daily email and thread called “Going Solo”:
What ignites my desire? Honestly, before taking this course, I would not have known how to think about this question. I might have thought something like, “Um, well, I guess kissing sometimes ignites my desire. I like it when my husband strokes my hair.”
My view of sexuality was limited to my view of sex, which was suffering from intense pressure and various misconceptions. I did not know that desire could be seen as the tiniest flicker inside. I did not know that smelling something delicious could arouse my desire. I had no sense that when I wade into the depths of one of Earth’s most nurturing mothers—water—that I am bathing in a pool of sensuousness.
Swimming in ponds is new to me. The lake in my childhood hometown was stagnant and sickly, given frequently to E.coli-induced closures. I did not grow up thinking that lakes were pleasant to swim in, but now…oh, now. Now I know the delight of swallowing a mouthful of cool pond water. Now I know the gentle cleansing of the sinuses it offers when you mistime your breathing. Now I know the joy of finding cool patches that slip into warm pockets that give way to gentle currents. Now I know the sublimity of sharing a body of water with snakes, frogs, lily pads, dogs, children, and herons. Now I know what it is to rest in the arms of the Great Mother’s womb, for I know what it is to swim in a pond in July. Nothing could be more arousing to me than this.
In response to a daily email and thread called “My Body is a Holy Temple”:
My body is a holy temple that has an altar belly. On it, there is a full blooming peonie rose with frilled petals breathing to the rhythm of the sun, and bees dance to its sensual call.
My body is a holy temple that has found strength and discipline, openings and contractions, challenges and spaces from 25 years of practising yoga. There is a stillness there. An ancient language of belonging and wisdom, like a beautiful old home remembered for all the wonderful gatherings and laughter there. A safe, whole, complete space.
My body is a holy temple that is sometimes – often – consecrated by the naughty child who likes to trash it with lots and lots of junk food and too much wine. But in that naughtiness there is a sense of wildness rallying against the tight discipline of “shoulds” and the layers of shame that have settled on it. A FUCK YOU attitude that feels powerful and dynamic in the moment but is chased by a dark shadow of regret and guilt. Every time.
My body is a holy temple that has deep pleasure secreted in its dark corners that I haven’t looked for. That I have, even, wantonly turned my head from. But that cavalier disregard isn’t real. It masks the fear that if I look I might never be able to find the secrets. Or worse, if I do discover those pleasures (for me and from me) I might not be able to live up to the magnificent power of my feminine allure. That it might engulf me until I disappear, a thin layer of dusty silt settling back into those same corners. Comfortably unnoticed again.
My body is a holy temple that was built in the image of wonder. I know it, but that image must be brought into focus again! For too long it has been occluded by neglect and a turning away, seeking that other image. Recognition by others.
My body is a holy temple whose religion went out of favour, but its undeniable beauty and wonder abide.
My body is a holy temple that holds galaxies of planets and burning potentials of new stars and milky ways, where, if I’m sitting very still and listening, stretches infinitely in all directions. Way, way beyond the skinline.
Six months later, I’m running this course again. I can’t wait to see what emerges this time around as I guide you gently yet thoroughly into this most sacred aspect of who you are and invite you to open the pathways and channels that lead to your aliveness, self-love, and desire.
The next round of Sacred Sexuality will begin on Saturday, January 13, 2018. You can sign up here and I look forward to meeting you there.