I hinted at my trip a couple of weeks ago when I talked about daring and trusting the journey. I wasn’t sure quite how I would talk about my experience so I needed to wait. I’m still not sure how to discuss it, so for today I’ll give you a glimpse at where I’ve been and the journey I’m still on.
I’ve had a wide range of experiences in my life—some planned, some terribly impulsive, some very difficult. This ranks as one of the boldest, bravest things I’ve ever done. I went on a 5 day, 4 night retreat with 4 other women and 3 facilitators. Called Back to the Body, the program, now a year old, is designed to help women get in touch with their bodies and their sexuality. Each woman goes on this journey for her own very personal reason.
My reasons? Professional curiosity and a desire to learn more, to embrace my erotic energy, and to move beyond seeing myself as a sensuous woman only in relationship to a man (more on that one later). So, off I went to Canada to meet 7 people I had never laid eyes on. Pamela Madsen, Will Fredericks and Ron Stewart run these retreats and worked with the five female attendees.
Pamela, Ron and Will are certified Sexological Bodyworkers. I was to work with Will during the retreat. I had a skype session with each of them beforehand to talk about my expectations and intentions. It was clear that Will was going to be the best fit for what I hoped to discover about myself in the one-on-one bodywork sessions.
So I know you’re wondering what a Sexological Bodyworker is and what he or she does. Right? Here’s an official definition. They are somatic sex educators, providing a wide range of teaching around sexuality–which may include coaching, conversations and hands-on work.
The retreat presented us with a variety of experiences, from our sumptuous meals, daily yoga practice, conversations on body image and sexuality, to work ‘on the table’. Each day we had a 90 minute session on a massage table with our designated Bodyworker. They are fully dressed and not acting as a ‘partner’ but rather as guide and teacher of each woman’s erotic experience. There is no sexual intimacy in the traditional sense–the worker is not there as lover or sex partner. He or she is not engaging in sex with us, but helping us to do our work. Five women-five different experiences. We shared a lot during those 5 days but our particular group of women didn’t talk much about what happened during our sessions. So I can only speak about my experience.
My emphasis was on claiming my body, my sexual energy, and my power as a woman. I could have had my sessions with clothes on but I wanted to see myself clearly—in every sense of the word (one day I actually had the table placed under a full length mirror on the ceiling!). As you might know, if you’re a regular reader, I am comfortable talking about sex and most intimate matters. I am pretty content with my capacity as a sexual being and am at ease with my body, for the most part. But I wanted more. I wanted to let go of the life long preaching that I am nothing without a man, to erase that ‘mother-tape’ and my past history.
I wanted to embrace the idea of myself as a Goddess, a woman ripe with erotic and creative sensuous energy. Beautiful and alive in that knowledge, regardless of body size or physical beauty, partnered or solo, at my age. I told Pamela that I suspected a wild passionate woman lived in my body trapped by convention and 59 years of worrying about what others thought of me. (We each had our own coffee cup to use for the week; mine was a wolf howling at the moon!) And, through my experiences during those five days, I did indeed tap into the fullness of who I am as a woman.
Each moment of the retreat is designed to help women embrace their bodies–with an emphasis on all that makes us sexual. We came face to face with our sexual selves during this retreat. This isn’t something we normally do in our daily lives. We tend to walk around detached from our own bodies. We may be uncomfortable with nakedness and we don’t fully understand our erotic power. Daily meditations and exercises were two of the tools used to remind us that our pussies, if you will use that word, are pulsating with energy and life. The Back to the Body retreat supports and encourages women in changing how we look at ourselves, and how we ‘show up’ in the world.
I’m still processing all of my experiences and trying to figure out how to incorporate my new awareness. I learned a lot about how we live our lives, or don’t live our lives, as women and I want to share that with you. My journey is just beginning in some ways. Who knew that at my age I could have such an epiphany?
The accompanying photo was taken by the photographer, David Fulton @ www.lornagale.com, who did our personal photo shoots at the retreat. Me, untouched and fully present—though a little self-conscious in front of the camera—half way through the retreat.