When I launched the first round of Sacred Sexuality: A 40-day course for women to heal body shame and ignite desire in 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.
On January 15th, 2022, the 7th live round of Sacred Sexuality will begin. I can’t wait to see what emerges each time 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. You can sign up here and I look forward to meeting you there.
Note: I only run this course live once a year. In addition to receiving support from other like-minded course members, I am also an active support on the forum, and you’ll have opportunities to connect with me on the three group coaching calls. All coaching calls are recorded, so if you can’t make the live event you can listen to the recording afterward. Call times for this round are as follows:
Can you help advise if you think this course is right for me: I long for more intimacy and connection with my partner, although I do still desire him. I find him attractive and often initiate sex. Im the higher sex drive partner in the relationship. Ive done some reading on tantra but mostly its left me feeling confused and overwhelmed. I know that theres something “more” when it comes to love making but Ive been unable to find the right information to help move me and my partner in the right direction. Ive been in similar scenarios with a previous partner so I am keen do the work on myself- rather than just blame my partner. I do some of the self love practices in the tantra books and am grateful for my feminine body, I still catch myself “body shaming” myself sometimes but generally I think I have a good relationship with my body. Do you think this course could help provide me with the tools to have more fulfilling sex?
Without a doubt, Rochelle. The course offers tools but it also goes so much deeper than that and helps women connect to their own sexuality so that they can help guide their partner into a more meaningful and satisfying sexual relationship. It has much less to do with drive than with unraveling our faulty beliefs around sexuality and immersing ourselves in a sacred mindset, which will automatically overflow onto our partners.
I’ve read your posts for a few years now. This site came into my life when I was at my lowest and darkest time. My partner and I have been together for many years now and are in our mid 20’s. At the beginning things were exciting and I felt such strong desire for him. Fast forward to now and not only do I not feel comfortable about my older body, but we fight constantly and I have zero patience for him. He could be asking me a simple question or he chews his food the wrong way and I snap on him! We hardly ever have sex. We’re lucky if that happens once every couple of months. To say our relationship is strained would be an understatement. But we stay together. I can’t bear the thought of breaking up. Deep down underneath all of our issues I know I still love him. Several years ago I started seeing a therapist for my anxiety and to deal with past traumas. I haven’t been to therapy recently and I know that I need to start again. My pain, anger, irritation, sadness, and longing is constantly being projected on to my boyfriend and he is fed up. Basically he agreed to give our relationship one last chance but he won’t stay with me if we continue to fight all the time. I can’t say I blame him. Sometimes I feel lost and very confused. I’ve almost lost all hope but there’s something in me that tells me to stay. My anxiety tells me that I only stay because I’m comfortable. And because I’m afraid to let go and move on. After all this back and forth I’m left feeling numb. I wish I could push through and feel happy with him again. I wish I could feel the same “in love” feelings that I had at first. It’s so hard to know what my true feelings are and if I’m just lying to myself. That’s the worst part. I tell myself that I’m an awful person for constantly instigating fights and taking my anger out on him. How do I know if my constant irritation isn’t a sign that it’s just over between us? Do I really just not care about him? Could I really have fallen out of love? I have a lump in my throat and a deep sadness in my heart just from asking myself that. I don’t want it to be the end. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated Sheryl.
It doesn’t sound like this has much to do with him, A, and everything to do with you. I wholeheartedly support your instinct to resume therapy so that you can work directly with the pain, anger, sadness, and longing that you’re projecting onto him.
I think the fear of living a lie and “wasting time” so to speak is probably one of the scariest thoughts. That I’ll eventually come to the realization that I’m irritated by my partner because he’s not “the one” and we’ve fallen out of love with each other. So I’ll have to break his heart and leave him. Most days I get so annoyed and angry with him that it really does feel like we’ve reached the end. But the part of me that remains hopeful also begs the question of is all of this just a manifestation of my own fear, pain, sadness, insecurity and lack of desire?
Have you done my Break Free course, A? It will help you address all of this from the root. Also, most long-term relationships reach a stagnant point eventually, especially if you’re not doing your inner work.
Hi A- I just wanted to tell you that several years ago I could have written exactly what you just wrote. The “wasting time” worry weighed heavily on me constantly. I hated that I felt like I “knew” I would eventually just leave him and break his heart and all the years I put in would be nothing but a total waste of time. Check out the Break Free course that Sheryl mentioned if you haven’t already. It altered the direction my life would have taken had I not found her and her work. I ended up marrying that man that I KNEW I would break up with and I am so happy I did… I truly love him and I love the life we have together. I wish you the best!
Thank you for this article, it is empowering simply reading the responses you received from these strong women! This sounds like a course I could greatly benefit from, though I definitely want to participate in the Break Free course first. I am enjoying the content you provide in the sneak peek!
This past week (Christmas-New Years) has been filled with every fear story and every hook. It all came through, and though I didn’t succumb to the anxiety like I did a year ago, it was certainly a struggle. I wasn’t attracted to him physically, the little things (like a repeating cough) he did infuriated me, I was so irritable, I experienced short moments of a gay spike, the not good enough spike, I recoiled from his advances for sex, wondering why other people in relationships have it “so easy”. I even felt anxiety around our New Years kiss at midnight!
I know the reasons for my anxious thoughts: the expectations surrounding the holidays, A LOT of family time (including his family), eating not the healthiest foods, excessive spending, excessive travel, vacation from work (knocking routine and eating/sleeping schedules off balance), the first Holiday Season since my grandmothers’ passing and absorbing my mothers grief as well as my own, my childhood dog turning 17 years old and watching/thinking about her fast decline and the anticipatory grief that comes with it, and the simple act of 2017 turning into 2018 – the “starting fresh” concept. Resolutions. Expectations. Letting Go. Leaving Behind. Vastness. Opportunity, but also uncertainty.
All these root causes and projected effects that without this site, Sheryl, would have most definitely spiraled me into a pit of panic and despair. I am struggling, but I am hopeful.
This article partially pertains to what I’ve been dealing with. I am going on almost 1.5 years of battling anxiety that attacked my engagement. Now that I’m married (thank God and Sheryl’s work i made I️t to that point). Now with 6 months of marriage under my belt I’m still wrestling with “was that God telling me I wasn’t following him?” “Was that the enemy trying to knock me off track with what God wanted, WHAT WAS THAT?!” I remember the voices telling me “you can’t do this”. They weren’t soothing voices or nudges from God, they were screaming agonizing demons from the pit of my fear trying to ruin my relationship with the most steady, caring and loving man who is my best friend of 7 years + forever. Now I am just trying not to let myself fall back into deep anxiety & this affects my libido, my peace of mind and the ability for my new marriage to truly flourish.
Does anyone have advice on journaling techniques or something that helped you pass the wondering of what happened in the pitfall Of your anxiety? I want so badly to break through this & be ME again, but I feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel right now.
Are you on the forum, Brooke. A longtime member just came back to share her lifeline update and I think it might be helpful for you to read it.
No i am not on the forum 🙁
Sheryl, this is unrelated to the post but I commented a few weeks back detailing my story with my boyfriend of 7 years and the co-worker that liked me about 3-4 years ago. I did like the co-worker as well but it was never enough for me to leave my boyfriend even though we were disconnected in our relationship at the time, I never wanted leave. However, what’s plaguing me now is that I believe, at the time, I subconsciously fabricated somewhat of a fairytale romance that my boyfriend and I would eventually break up and something would drive me and the co-worker together or out paths would cross.
My boyfriend and I are very happy and truly always have been. Until the intense anxiety started 3 months ago, I’ve never had a feeling of wanting to leave him but I’ve noticed that anytime in the past that we disagreed, I would instantly chalk that up as intuition in my mind that we weren’t right for each other but I never wanted to act on it. We even broke up last year for a week due to being a little disconnected and distracted with every day Life that I immediately got frustrated and anxious and started a fight asking him if he thought we were ‘right’ for each other because we had different goals at the time. Of course I immediately regretted breaking up and fought to save our relationship and we were stronger than ever before. During the time that we were broke up, not once did the co-worker cross my mind, but even now, I’m starting to question that.
I’m so terrified that some force of “fate” is going to break my boyfriend and I up and drive me and the co-worker together. It even sounds silly when I say it but it’s a very real fear for me.
Also, I feel it’s important to say that these worries/doubts were never regular thoughts in the past. I was able to quickly move them out and not think twice about them. They’ve only become obsessive since the intense anxiety started 3 months ago.
The experiences from these strong and inspiring women, takes my breath away. Just amazing. I have never liked my tummy, I always covered my bulge lol ? it with loose tops. I feel ashamed of exposing my tummy to my husband. He said he loves me just the way I am. I do love my body, i love my skin, I love my legs, of course in my younger years I was slimmer. As we age our body changes and I am committed to accept myself as I am. I try to loOk after my diet to the best of my ability.physically and emotionally.
I am on the verge of registering for the course but I feel resistance. I ask myself: why are you resisting? I listen. Its fear of course: what are you going to find?
My husband and I have been together for a very long time and married for almost 11 years. 2 kids. We’ve had our ups and downs. Lots of downs actually…as I wrestled with learned patterns of behaviour and our anxious/avoidance attachment style. Much of this has been resolved after alot of therapy on my own as well as some couples. I am now much more confident, calm, patient, and secure. This is thanks to my beautiful therapist. But there is some aftermath for me to clean up and for some reason cannot go there with my therapist. Its too personal. Makes me feel too vulnerable. My lack of desire. Its almost as if I have cut this part of myself off. I dont know how to be “that” with this completely new mindset and way of living my life that I have, and have been for several years now. I know I have to go down this road. I feel the calling. But I dont know where to begin.
Do you think the course will benefit me? Or should I consider other courses/books?
Based on what you shared here, the course would be ideal for you. It’s a very safe place to explore and reacquaint yourself with your innate desire, and will give you a roadmap of where to begin. Also, exploring these tender and vulnerable places in the company of like-minded others is healing in and of itself.