How do I know what I want when I always know what I ought to want?

John’s talk from the sex lectures series held in Manchester.

Introducing the Wheel of Consent

 

The Wheel Of Consent, through touch based exercises, both alone and with partners, gives you an experience of 4 ways to touch and relate, within a conception of consent which is clear, enthusiastic and in the moment.

These 4 ways are:

Taking for your own pleasure – you do what you want – while respecting the giver’s boundaries

Allowing another to take from you – they do what they want- with your permission – while maintaining your boundaries

Serving another for their pleasure – you do what they want – within your boundaries

Accepting the gift of another’s service – they do what you want – while maintaining their boundaries.

 

The work is excellent for:

Waking up sensuality – feeling and following pleasure

Making choices – learning how to choose for yourself

Understanding the dynamics of giving and receiving

Gaining skills of empowerment and communication – having the courage to ask for what you want, and feeling safe enough to receive

Please note that the work focuses on intention, conscious choice and autonomy.  Participants will remain clothed and there is no sexual touch.

Wheel of Consent Workshop

The workshop will take place on Saturday 16 March 2019, 2-6pm at

Yoga Healing
Studio 7
22 Mansfield Street,
Glasgow
G11 5QP

Cost £25.

The workshop will be facilitated by John Fraser.  John is a sex coach and zen teacher.  He has worked extensively with Betty Martin, the originator of The Wheel.  For more information about him see:
www.loveandsexcoaching.co.uk

For more information about the workshop, and to book, please contact John at: johnwebberfraser@gmail.com   07545 707751

John and I have recently been reflecting on our ethos.

 

We see lots of different kinds of people.  We meet couples who love each other but are distressed that their sexual life together appears to have stalled, people who have suffered sexual trauma, people who experience sex as superficial or unsatisfactory and long for more, people with sexual anxieties, and lots more besides. But what the people we work with have in common is a view of sex that isn’t titillating, or purely physical, like an itch that needs to be scratched, but rather something which is a deep and fundamental aspect of themselves, which needs to be attended to.

 

If we were to formulate our ethos it would be this: sexual expression is a fundamental aspect of human dignity.

 

It is for this reason that we call our work ‘Love and Sex coaching’. We’re not primarily interested in sex as performance, or sex as recreation.  We think of sex as a crucial aspect both of self expression and deep emotional connection with others.

 

And we try to reflect this ethos in our website. Obviously, we’re both mature people. We make no attempt to be sexy or to glam ourselves up.  We don’t put photos of attractive young people on the site.  We try to speak to people as honestly as we can, in as human a way as we can. Because we want to be available for everyone.  We want people to be able to see us and be listened to, and have their issues addressed with love and compassion. We’re not sex workers or escorts. We don’t engage with our clients sexually.  We don’t allow our clients to touch us.  What we do is engage with people from a position of love, and that sometimes involves touch, sometimes involves talk, and sometimes involves giving information.

 

Here’s another crucial thing: people are so shamed around sex. They’re shamed about their desires. Or their lack of desire. About their performance. All kinds of things. Think about journalistic staples: they all involve shame. So something that should be part of the joy and beauty of being alive is often a source of shame, awkwardness and embarrassment. That is what is shameful. But it isn’t the individual who should be ashamed, but our society, which allows an epidemic of unnecessary sexual unhappiness to go unchecked.

 

We are proud of our work. But we are aware that we operate in a society which, although apparently very sexualised, does very little to ensure that this fundamental aspect of a human being can be fully and joyfully expressed. So we are grateful to you for supporting us, for helping to tell people about us, because how else are they to know?

 

Thank you.

Every Body Loves, Hummingbird and Flower

We are delighted to offer this wonderful Feminine Embodiment Women’s Workshop Saturday 13 October with Kay Balavanes.

About Kay

Kay is an Embodiment Mentor and teacher of the Feminine Arts based in Bali who works with women in Asia, Australia & Europe. She applies her trainings & initiations in Yoga Therapeutics, 5 Element Meridian Wisdom of Chinese Medicine, Taoist & Tibetan Healing Energetics & Bodywork, Womb Awakening and Embodied Mindfulness in her classes, workshops and retreats.

Workshop Intentions

This will be an experiential movement class for our female anatomy to address the impact of modern life
The aim is to gently unravel some of the stress we are all carrying.

We will explore embodiment practices to move beyond the barriers to being fully in our bodies as women
This may include breath work, Shakti banda and womb receptivity cultivation practice.

What this means in reality is starting with the denser feelings in your body and moving to subtler layers of feeling as we journey into the womb.

1. This will be a fully clothed, gentle session of focus on our body’s as women led by a experienced practitioner in bodywork and movement for women from eastern traditions
2. We will be an intimate group of 8 women participants so we can benefit from sharing and being supported in our sisterhood
3. If you already have a deep practice there is no need to amend your practice, This can be a stand alone experience for your body
4. If you do not have any practices you may learn a few processes that you chose to continue in your life if you find them beneficial

Kay  is passionate about practices tailored to the female form to awaken the potent & intelligent energy centres of the body.  Her teachings merge eastern and western wisdom teachings, with modern science & and psychology to educate, empower & inspire every woman to deepen intimacy with herself & her life.

Workshop Details

The workshop will be in Hyndland Glasgow on Saturday October 13  from 14.00- 19.00 and costs £50.  If you are interested and would like more information or to reserve your place please contact Karen for more information.

The emotions that most pervade a society tend to operate in the shadows. For our society, envy and jealousy are pervasive yet unacknowledged.  But the most insidious emotion is shame.  Shame destroys self-confidence.

It’s peculiar crippling, far worse than guilt. Guilt is the belief that you’ve done something wrong. Shame is the belief that you are something wrong.

In our work, we come across sexual shame a lot.

For men, the shame is often associated with performance.  Men who lose an erection, or can’t get one, often suffer crippling shame.

For women, it’s often expressed in a sense of not being ‘normal’.

One of my teachers said that the only cure for shame is courage. That’s half true.  You need to have courage to see the shame and name it, and decide to do something about it.  You need to have courage to see people like us.

But what cures shame isn’t courage: it’s connection.

Shame is like the amputation of our adult self. We feel helpless and isolated.

So the way to address it is to build a relationship of trust, warmth and connection, and that’s what we try and do in our work.  And that relationship is both between us and the client, and also within the client, reuniting body and mind and reclaiming the autonomy and dignity of the body.

So, for instance, if we’re working with a man suffering from erectile dysfunction, we don’t focus on a technical fix, we explore the alienated perspective he might have of his body: the idea that his body is like a machine which isn’t working properly, rather than that he is his body.

Or, if we’re working with a woman with a belief that her body is broken, or worthless, or ugly, we work to restore attention to what is actually being felt, the richness of actual experience, rather than some idea of how things ought to be.

Shame comes in myriad forms, but it always involves a suppression of the rich life and multifaceted experience of the body.  Our work is to restore that, and thus to restore the dignity and beauty of the person.

In Nick Roeg’s film ‘Insignificance’, there’s a great scene where Albert Einstein and Marilyn Munro are in bed together. It’s striking, because we don’t expect people like Einstein (geniuses who live in their head) to be any good at sex. They’re just good at thinking.

 

But here’s the thing: in sex, if nothing else, you are Einstein. Most of us are trying to figure everything out in our heads. Except, instead of thinking new things, we’re all thinking the same things, over and over. Things like, could I be doing better, is this working, what can I do differently and so on. But If you go with the idea of creating relaxing connected pleasure, whatever form it might take, you’ve got more of a chance of a surprisingly loving, appreciative, connected and sexy time.

 

Here are 7 tips to take yourself away from the anxiety of performance and simply be where you are:

 

  1. Connect to your breath. Breath is the best sex aid. You can use it to slow down and relax or speed it up to raise your arousal. Also notice if you hold your breath. Try to breathe deeply. Share breath with your lover: shared slow sexy breathing is very erotic and connected.
  2. Connect with your own body as well as your lover’s body. Notice the sensations all over your body. Where do you enjoy being touched? How do you like to be touched? Can you sense sensations on your thighs, collar bone, hips, back of the neck? Your skin is the biggest erogenous zone and the place you can take in the most pleasure. Learn to feel more.Be mindful and give attention to small gestures, feel textures and enjoy scents. Notice everything. Throw your attention wide open.
  3. Slow down. And slow down again. Slow your touch and your breath.
  4. Get more skilled at sensual touch. Slow stroking with the palms of your hands is better than grabby mindless touch. Slow scratching down a mans back, gentle nuzzling around a panty or bra line, gentle hair pulling, a gentle squeeze on a hip or slow finger tips on that sexy line between the bottom and backs of thighs…
  5. Learn how to gently ask for what you want and give appreciation ..please kiss my neck…mmmmm that feels good. We all like praise, be generous with it as it guides our lover with appreciation and helps us relax
  6. Learn how to connect with your own sexual energy instead of focusing on someone else’s. Taking your intention to being fluid in your hips and pelvis really helps in this, a bit of slow writhing or gentle grinding can be very sensual
  7. Eye gazing is beautiful. Before you begin take 10 mins to sit opposite each other and look into each others eyes. Without touching each other, simply through your eyes, connect as two humans who are going to embark on a shared intimate experience and really see each other with a loving gaze.

One New Year I met a fencer.  I was very young, and knew nothing about sex.  But that night I was in a particular mood so I came, far too early, probably when she was undressing or something.  But rather than curl up and die with embarrassment, I decided to be brave and joyful.  And most importantly, to just keep going, to be as affectionate and loving as I could for as long as I could.

 

At some point that night, she ejaculated.  I didn’t know anything at all about female ejaculation at the time.  I didn’t do anything technical.  I didn’t even know about her G spot, far less stimulate it.  I was bracingly unfamiliar with the Skene Glands, the female prostate.

 

It’s different now of course. Porn has got hold of it. As has that loathsome man, The Technical Lover.  You can watch videos showing how to induce it in your woman.  There’s lots of books. Something traditionally thought of as sacred has become something in one’s repertoire.  It’s unbearably sad.  The UK Government even chose to ban depiction of it in 2014, as they wrongly thought that female ejaculate was urine.

 

A society always gets what it believes.  We don’t believe in magic, or the sacred, or that each one of us is intimate with everything, but we do believe in expertise.  And so, everything sexual can become the object of that expertise.

 

I remember massaging a client anally, and she ejaculated, and said “How did you do that?” as if it was a trick. But perhaps it’s easier to believe in expertise than to believe that a woman’s body is a miracle, not a set of buttons.  A miracle.  Whole and entire.

 

It shouldn’t be necessary to say this, but it is. The thing which is unbearably sad is that this -like the presence or absence of pubic hair, it has become one more way to shame women. It’s one more thing that you’re expected to do, one more thing to feel inadequate about.

 

You could say that Primal Woman holds up the world. If we can’t see her in each woman, then we might all fall into oblivion. Think about that, Technical man.

About a month ago, a friend circulated an article about married people having affairs.  The article was a bit Radio Times, but buried in it was a very questionable assertion dressed up as indisputable fact: women’s libido goes down significantly after menopause.

 

Why do so many people believe this?  It’s possible that we make an unconscious link between fertility and libido, but I think it’s a false inference drawn from something which is true.

 

The bit that’s true is that women have less lubrication after menopause.  That might make the vulva feel less luscious and more brittle. It may make intercourse uncomfortable.

 

But none of that means that desire decreases.

 

Imagine that men, when they reached a certain age – fifty, say – found that their lips became drier than before, and kissing became painful. I don’t imagine an idea would grow up that men would go off kissing after 50. We’d see it as a problem of lubrication. Someone would make a lot of money inventing a lip balm for men.

 

And it’s like that for women too. But here’s the thing: if your vulva feels less comfortable than before, wouldn’t you like something to help with that? And not just during intercourse.

 

Vaginal dryness after menopause is caused by the body producing less oestrogen.  Lubricant is usual recommended, but the focus is too much on intercourse, and on the vagina alone, rather than the whole vulva.  The focus needs to be more on making the whole area feel great.

 

A lot of women post menopause experience the skin quality of their labia change.  It’s as if the lips become drier and more fragile, and the whole area can feel itchy and irritable, particularly to the touch.  And this is an issue that goes way beyond sex.  If you feel uncomfortable and awkward there, how are you going to feel relaxed and sexy?

 

Rather than focusing on lubrication during sex, how can we make all of the vulva plump and juicy?

Help is now at hand. The remedy is [cue trumpets]:

Castor Oil

 

Indeed. It’s a wonderfully rich, lubricious oil.  Just warm and apply liberally.  So why don’t we hear more about it.  Well, apart from women’s comfort and pleasure being a matter of little importance throughout most of recorded history, nobody stands to make money from it, because nobody owns it.  Like aspirin.  So nobody has a monetary incentive to encourage its use.

 

But we have an incentive.  Love.

 

One of the often reported symptoms that women experience after menopause is vaginal dryness, caused by the body producing less oestrogen.  The recommendation is that lubricant is used, but the focus is too much on intercourse, and on the vagina alone, rather than the whole vulva.  The focus needs to be more on making the whole area feel great.

 

A lot of women post menopause experience the skin quality of their labia change.  It’s as if the lips become drier and more fragile, and the whole area can feel itchy and irritable, particularly to the touch.  And this is an issue that goes way beyond sex.  If you feel uncomfortable and awkward there, how are you going to feel relaxed and sexy?

 

Rather than focusing on lubrication during sex, how can we make all of the vulva plump and juicy?

 

In our experience, regular massage with warm castor oil is the best thing.  The oil really soaks into the skin, plumping it up and reviving it, enabling it to welcome touch, rather than find it an irritant. And the warm lubricious heat relaxes and opens the whole area.

 

We generally do this as part of a more general massage, waking up and re-sensualising the body, and it fits into our general philosophy: the quickest way to feel differently is through pleasure, and the quickest way for your body to feel different is through bodily pleasure.  Try it.

I have a client who’s been coming to see me for about a year.  When we started working together, he seemed to be carrying a lot of shock in his body.  If I touched a particular part of him; his belly, for example, it seemed to set off quite violent shaking.  As we continued working, this gradually got less.  He seemed able to be much more present in his body, and able to tell me where he would like me to touch him, and how he would like to be touched.

 

When we had our checking in after a recent session, he told me that while he’d enjoyed our sessions a lot, he’d enjoyed that one a lot less. He had an odd sense of being touched, and not knowing if he liked it or not, and feeling a bit strange.  Nonetheless, he remained able to direct me to where he wanted me to touch him.

 

Rightly or wrongly, I thought this was a pivotal moment in our work together. I surmised that the shock in his body when he came to me was because he had lost his power to choose.  He hadn’t been able to say no to contact, or to determine what that contact would be, and in consequence, had become dissociated from his body.  His body then held onto the memory of the undesired contact in the form of shock.  Because our work was safe and collaborative, his body had felt it could go back to that point, that fork in the road, where you either exercise sovereignty over your own body, or disassociate.  This time he could choose to take the other fork in the road by exercising his autonomy in directing how and where he wanted to be touched.

 

I think this shows the absolute centrality of consent in healing the body from past trauma. Consent is being able to choose but that choice is based on what you feel, not what you think you ought to do, or allow someone to do to you.  Because we are not telepathic, that means we need to be able to communicate what we want to the other person.  Consent isn’t a once and for all thing.  You’re always in choice, because consenting is always in the present moment.  You can always change your mind.

 

I hope that as part of the MeToo campaign, we can re-think our understanding of what consent is.  Too often, there’s an idea that it’s like inviting an army into your castle.  Once you lift up the drawbridge, you’ve somehow agreed to everything that can happen after that.  But, apart from narcissists and psychopaths, that doesn’t work for anybody.

 

The whole body dissociation that my client experienced is one response to unwanted touch, but there’s also a more specific form.  Sometimes part of the body just goes numb, or becomes painful, or closed off.  If the person is unable to protest the lack of consent, the body will. Except that once the body does protest in this way it will continue doing it, unless the original transgression is processed somehow.

 

How do we do we process the original transgression?  Through consensual touch, through dialogue, through giving voice to the feelings which come up.  Sometimes, underneath the numbness, a physical discomfort emerges.  Then with that discomfort an emotion, often anger or irritation, arises. After this that body part seems to reintegrate with the rest of the body and rejoin the whole body in feeling and responsiveness. The critical thing is the active, moment to moment consent.  It changes everything.

If you ask a heterosexual man what bad sex is, he’s likely to say it’s when sex is boring. He’s unlikely to say, for instance, that bad sex is painful sex, or unwanted sex, or humiliating sex.

 

Yet, that is often women’s experience.

 

At least ten women friends have sent me an article by Lili Loofbourow, ‘The female price of male pleasure’, which goes into this in considerable, painful detail. You can find the article here ( www.theweek.com > articles > female-price-male-pleasure )

 

One of the points the article makes is that we frequently still have a bizarre idea of what consent means. It doesn’t appear mean active, enthusiastic participation. Rather, it seems to be everything short of determined refusal. Oh, Sir Jasper!

 

Who does this serve really?

 

I am doing brilliant new training later this year with Betty Martin. She’s most famous for inventing The Wheel Of Consent, and it’s particularly helpful as we try to negotiate a more fulfilling, satisfying notion of sex, leaving behind a Harvey Weistein entitlement without falling into a new Puritanism.

 

Her work is vital for these times, but consider this: how easily can you answer these questions:

 

What would you like to do to me?

What would you like me to do to you?

 

Simple questions, aren’t they? But very difficult to answer. Maybe I feel that I couldn’t ask for something unless I knew you were going to enjoy it. Maybe I couldn’t ask for something unless I knew you secretly wanted to give it to me, and you’d be thrilled to do so. The questions can get really tangled up with not knowing what we want, wanting to please our partner: myriad questions.

 

But unless we can actually answer these questions, we’re always going to have bad sex, because clear communication is impossible. We’re always thinking of the other person, and are resentful they don’t seem to be thinking of us, or if they are, they’re pretty clueless. It’s a real mess.

 

So, we can’t really separate sex, bad or otherwise, from more general issues of power, autonomy and communication. And you want to address that, don’t you? Me too.