I talked to my Zen Group the other week about the language we use when we talk about the body. In that context, I noted that in ordinary language, we tend to use the word “body” to refer to the body below the neck, and the word “head” to refer to the neck (along some unspecified boundary) and above. And we identify ourselves with our ‘head’ rather than our ‘body’, viewing the body as a vehicle, or, worse still, a recalcitrant servant, who refuses to do what he’s told.
Until our body breaks down due to ill health or age, or both, the part of the body where our ‘servant’ seems most uncooperative is usually our genitals. They often resolutely won’t do what we wish or expect them to do.
And so you come and see someone like me. But here’s the kicker: it’s not just the physical. Of course, we can teach you things that are helpful. If you’re a man, I can help you with premature ejaculation. If you’re a woman, I can help you with genital numbness. I can help with lots of things. But it’s not just physical.
Just as a therapist can do something about your neurosis but can’t teach you spontaneity and joy, an approach solely based on the body (as we normally conceive it) has significant limitations.
In my experience, I can work with a client and get them into an orgasmic state quite easily, but something is still missing. What is that something?
An example: quite early on, I remember working with a woman and during the session, she became very orgasmic. After a while, this became too much for her, and she asked me to stop. She then just rested on the massage table. I understood that what was needed was for me to lie on the table with her, holding her. When we were talking after the session, she said, “What was that amazing technique you were using? I felt so much!” I thought she was referring to the bodywork part of her session, but she corrected me and said, no, it was afterwards, when we were both lying on the table.
This is the amazing ‘technique’: connection, heartfulness and love. But also, more prosaically, if the touch we experience from ourselves or others is only given with the intention of arousal, then our experience is incomplete.
Another time, I was working with a very sexually active man, who couldn’t get erect other than by progressively greater physical stimulus. A lot of people are like that. They touch themselves accidentally as children and get aroused, and just keep going with much the same pattern, but over time, the effect fades, so the touch has to be harder, faster, stronger. And eventually, it only gets you part of the way, and then, not at all.
I touched this man’s genitals as I would have touched a wounded person, forced into servitude and injured and hurt by that: touching with respect, enquiry and tenderness.
Every part of us is all of us.
Bear this in mind when you next read an article in The Daily Mail about vaginal massage, or you read about techniques on how to be a better lover: it isn’t that it’s wrong, or not useful, but it’s incomplete.
In Sexological Bodywork, we talk about ‘Genital Mapping’. A fellow Sexological Bodyworker, Beck Thom, describes this:
” many of us are disconnected from our genitals for a range of cultural and social reasons, and because of our socialisation and experiences. When you go for a regular body massage, your genitals are diligently ignored. Your mind creates a map of your whole body, it’s sensations and pleasures, with a big gap in the middle where your genitals are! If we mindfully include the genitals, your mind will map this part of your body’s landscape too. Do it over and over, and your mental pleasure map will become richer and more detailed. You’re enhancing your pleasure pathways and making new ones, which can only be a good thing. You deserve to feel yourself as a whole human being”.