For those people who think that sex is ‘natural’, sexual intercourse will be deemed the most natural. Surely that’s the point of it all: underneath the fog of human complexity, sex is procreation. Everything else is just scene setting.

And it’s natural in its specifics too. It’s obvious that a reliable erection is a prerequisite. It’s obvious that thrusting is involved. It’s obvious that, once started, it’ll continue until orgasm. Until the little death do us part.

Is any of this true?

In Gramsci’s view, hegemony isn’t that one idea is more successful or better than another. Rather, it’s that it’s not thought of as an idea at all, but as how things are.

And that’s what intercourse is. And the hegemony is so strong that often, all we feel we can do is tinker with the pace or with the position.

Consider the first assumption, that an erection is a prerequisite for intercourse. This is an idea that causes tremendous unhappiness. Men’s shame and anxiety around their erection often causes them to initiate intercourse too early, to become disassociated from their partner and to focus on their ‘performance’ rather than on the connection. It’s  most often the direct cause of intercourse becoming increasingly boring and repetitive, and eventually ceasing altogether.

And it’s false. Many people – The Taoist Masters, for example – have known for millennia that it’s perfectly possible to initiate intercourse without an erection. Once you’ve verified this for yourself, ideally with sufficient quantities of quality lubricant, you might want to ask why such an obviously false idea came to be thought of as unquestioningly true.

But to ask the question is to answer it, because, just in the asking, the whole patriarchal scenario hoves itself into plain view.

The erection conjures up the second assumption: a person acting, from desire -the man- and a person being acted upon, and having desire thrust upon her – the woman. The initial thrust affirms this, begetting the succeeding ones. Which in turn takes us up the speedy funicular of arousal.

Even if there is only one person on the train.

And the third assumption is equally damaging: the obligation of orgasm. People -particularly men – will often tell me how they feel obliged to conjure up some image to make them come, which they then feel guilty about. When I suggest to them they could just stop, and resume later if they wanted to, it’s as if I’m suddenly speaking a strange language. But it’s their internal language that’s in Desperanto.

Imagine what intercourse would be like if none of these assumptions applied. What would it look like? What would it feel like?

You will have your own ideas, but for me, it would be primarily  creative and feeling and expressive, rather than the performing of someone else’s script. It could go in multiple directions, rather than just the predictable one. Or it could just stay within a beautifully intimate meditative space. It would be a spontaneous act of co-creation, rather than endless repetition.

If you can imagine it, you can start to dream a new world into being.

 

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The most obvious idea we have about our sexual bodies is that they have a structure. And if we know that structure, then we are on the way to acheiving sexual happiness. In fact, it seems so obvious we don’t really think it’s an idea at all, it’s just reality.

In Sexological Bodywork, there’s a technique called ‘Genital Mapping’. It’s a way of working with the body to bring the structure of it into consciousness. It is empowering to know, for instance, what part of your labia is being touched so, as it were, the sensation can find a home in your consciousness. You can get a sense of the structure of your genitals, and in consequence you can be more empowered with regard to your pleasure, to the touch you give yourself and -crucially – to the touch you ask others to give you.

Sheri Winston’s wonderful book ‘Women’s Anatomy of Arousal’ maps out, in a lot of detail, the structure of women’s genitals. The G Spot, obviously, but lots of less known areas too. It has helped me tremendously, and many other practitioners.

So it seems churlish, as well as nonsensical to say that I think the idea is wrong: our sexual bodies don’t have a structure, at least not in the way we normally think. And not just wrong: harmful, inimical to the profound happiness and connection that we can experience as sexual beings.

How so?

The idea that our sexual bodies have a structure derives from the more general idea that our body overall has a structure. In turn that rests on a fundamental mind/body duality. Our Self, what makes me ME, and our consciousness, are mental qualities, and our body is a sort of container, housing this. The idea was first expressed in its modern form in Descartes ‘Meditations’ [1641]. And this in turn was grounded in the practice of anatomists, who gained their knowledge of human bodies through the dissection of corpses, rather than, say, the observation of living beings.

And that has an obvious hierarchy: the Mind acts on the Body. And when we are touching another, our Mind acts on their Body. The Mind is active, the Body is passive. Do the right thing, and the Body will respond appropriately. Find the G Spot, rub it long enough, and arousal will happen.

I think not.

In my experience of giving genital touch, this isn’t what happens. How I experience it is not giving touch and getting a response, but rather that the touch itself is relational. I do think the genitals have a structure, but not in the way that a building has a structure. Rather, when I touch someone’s genitals, it is as if I am encountering a person. And the touch is a kind of conversation with that person. And as a consequence of that, the apparent fixed structure of the touched part changes.It’s not -or not primarily -that the change is from non-arousal to arousal. Rather, the change seems to be from structure to fluidity.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t, for instance, a ridged structure on the upper wall of the vagina which people identify as the G Spot area. There plainly is. I don’t want to deny the obvious, just to say that we misunderstand it: our bodies are waiting to be engaged with like persons, not engaged with like buttons. And if they are engaged with like persons, something remarkable and beautiful can happen.

Let me give an example.

I’m meeting regularly with my friends and fellow sexological bodyworkers Katrina Clark and Lucy Iredale. We are planning to give a sexuality training for next year, and when we meet we always do some bodywork together. Recently, we were exploring the clitoris.

Like the G Spot, I think it’s fair to say there’s a clear idea about how the clitoris should be touched.You focus on the head, like a magic button. We did something different. After a slow and connecting general massage, we placed a finger slightly to the side of the clitoris, and waited for the relational connection to arise. And when it did, to our surprise, we found a whole fluid texture which felt as if it was underneath the visible detail of the clitoris, and which was full of feeling and sensation. The touch felt internal to the vagina, but wasn’t.

This was completely new to us. It wasn’t that we’d found a deep structure to that whole area, although there might be the temptation to say that. Rather, a different way of touch had revealed how that area was: dynamic, fluid, vividly alive.

And this raises the possibility of a whole new perspective on touch: a move away from the where of touch to the how of touch. From a doing to to a doing with.

We’re continuing to explore this perspective, and I’ll write further about it as we do.

What is the relationship between orgasm and emotion?

When my dad died, 22 years ago, I felt emotionally blocked. I was upset, but I couldn’t cry.

I’d recently split up with my girlfriend, but because she was a very kind and generous person, when she heard about my loss she wanted to comfort me. And as we were having sex, I remained aware of my emotional disconnection, but vividly remember that when I reached orgasm, a wave of grief, like electricity, jolted through me, and I cried out, then started sobbing.

That’s often how people think – if at all – about the connection between orgasm and our emotions. Orgasm disinhibits us, so emotion can come flooding out. But – so the view goes – emotion doesn’t have any impact on whether we orgasm or not: that’s a matter of arousal, which is physical and energetic, not emotional.

But I wonder if we have it precisely wrong.

When I work with people who have issues with orgasm, what’s most apparent is their focus on orgasm as the goal of sexual pleasure. And the tragic consequence of this is that they often experience neither. So my focus when I work with them is to take them out of this self defeating future orientation, and start feeling more what’s actually going on in their body. In this way they can relax into pleasurable experience, and within that experience, they can find arousal and orgasm. I don’t ask them to have a particular focus on what they’re feeling emotionally, although that’s part of it. I’m equally interested in what they’re experiencing imaginatively, or somatically.

Before I do the bodywork part of a session, I discuss with the client how they are feeling and what they would like from the session, and afterwards they will say what they experienced and noticed, but often, the prior talking part can be quite brief.

I recently met with a client who wanted to talk quite a lot before we started, and I fretted I wouldn’t be able to give her a long enough bodywork session. To my surprise however – and her greater surprise – quite soon into the bodywork, she had an orgasm.

When we reflected on it afterwards, we agreed that the difference between that and prior sessions was that this time, in our talking, for the first time, she’d been freely emotional, and felt completely accepted by me in her emotionality, in all its ebbs and flows, its sometimes abrupt changes and transformations. And because I accepted that, she could accept it too.

And I wondered if that was a more general issue: we repress, censor or modify our emotions because we think they’re not welcome. And that’s because they weren’t. But the effect of that is to suppress our aliveness, which has a major effect on our capacity to orgasm.

Let me use an example from my own life: my mum is a naturally optimistic, outgoing person. I’m not; I’m quite moody and sensitive. When I was like that as a child, it was obvious that my mum would have preferred me, understandably, to be happy, so I came to view my own nature as problematic, and suppressed it. But, of course, you can never be someone else, you can only be a more cramped version of yourself.

It took me a long time to understand that my sensitivity, far from being something to be sidestepped or covered over, was an essential part of who I am.

I think a lot of us have known something similar. Our emotions go from something natural to something that we need to monitor, adjust and modify, and that has a double effect. The first, which is clear from psychotherapy, is that we become distanced from our emotions. The second – and less noticed – is that we become distanced from our body, because our experience is all of a piece: if there is a something in my experience, I will experience it in thought, in imagination, in feeling and in my body, and all these are different aspects of the one experience. 

And that explains something that has always puzzled me: people who are freely emotional don’t seem to have an issue with not being able to orgasm.

And in turn, that suggests a way of working with the emotions. We don’t regard them as irrelevant to whether we can orgasm or not, we regard them as central, because the repression of any one part of us is a repression of the spontaneous functioning of all the other parts too. And just as we would have learned, when little, that certain emotions were not ok by a signal from [usually] a parent, and so they then became not ok to us, we can reverse the process: in your session with me, I can welcome your emotions, whatever they are, and, gradually you can welcome them too, and then something in you can become relaxed, yet enlivened at the same time.

 

 

 

 

 

What makes a massage Tantric? There are a number of elements, but these are the essential ones:

  • a lot of us have had massages which, although they might be done by someone with a lot of anatomical skill and experience,  somehow just touches our body. It don’t touch us. A tantric massage is touch which is in loving service to you as a person through your body, in all your uniqueness. Because this is so, every tantric massage is unique. ‘Tantric Massage’ is often a euphemism used by sex workers towards male clients, where it is understood to mean a very cursory touching of the body generally, swiftly leading to genital touch with the understood aim of orgasm. A real tantric massage is not like that. It may  involve genital or other intimate touch, that’s up to you, but there’s no aim. It’s not about evoking a particular response from you. It’s about deep connection, both between the giver and the receiver, and within the receiver. When you receive a tantric massage, you are completely accepted, and so can be completely accepting of yourself: everything you feel, everything you experience, is valid.
  • the giver of the touch is entirely in loving service to you, but in a particular way. Obviously, anyone could be in service to you too. Not to be funny about it, that’s the essence of capitalism. You want – or believe you want – something, a price is agreed, then that something is done. But this is very different. The giver of the massage is in service to you in the moment, is in deep communication with you through your body. And that allows something new to happen. Giving a tantric massage is an act of devotional love.
  • there will be a ceremonial holding of some sort. This varies amongst practitioners. The pre-eminent tantric massage practitioner in Scotland, Lynn Paterson [she’s in my Links page] has quite an elaborate ritual before the massage, I have very little, but the intention is the same, to create a sacred space where the giver is completely safe and completely accepted, and all experience is welcome
  • the giver will not sexually interact with you. The touch is just one-way and will be within the boundaries agreed at the start of the session. If you don’t want intimate touch at the start of the session, you don’t get to change your mind during it, because there needs to be a safe container. Practice varies among practitioners, some remain clothed and some don’t. But my practice has always been to remain clothed throughout the session.
  • the receiver is completely present and open to the touch, and does not have a specific goal, but is encouraged to have an intention. For example, to feel more, to be more embodied, to be open to whatever arises, and so on. It’s the opposite of the false “tantric massage”: there isn’t something to get, and because of this you can experience yourself in all your aspects: sensual, energetic, erotic, fluid, limitless
  • the essence is Yin, not Yang.Yang touch is what we’re generally familiar with. It is goal directed. It is intended to bring about a particular effect. It is focused on increasing arousal. As arousal increases, the touch is liable to get stronger and faster. The touch is very focused on the place of arousal, and tends to ignore the rest of the body, and the rest of the experience. It’s the kind of touch we’re liable to unthinkingly acquire when we first learn masturbation as kids, anxious about being discovered. Yin touch -tantric touch – is completely different. The aim is expansion and opening; spaciousness and exquisite feeling. And within all of that, pleasure and arousal occur, but arousal isn’t the point. With Yang touch, over time people tend to need more to get the same outcome. They feel they need to break through a glass ceiling, or force themselves over the finishing line. Yin touch isn’t like that at all. It is like creating a vast and changing land of pleasurable receptivity, which gets larger and deeper and more vivid the more you allow yourself to just be there, and which is characterised by wonder and surprise.

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What do you pay attention to when you’re touched? Say, for example, as you are reading these words, you allow yourself to become aware of the touch of your clothes on your body. What do you notice?

If you pay careful attention, you’ll become aware of a number of things. You will be aware of how an item of clothing feels, in a double sense. You can feel it as a matter of sensation [warm, soft], and you can also feel it as a kind of emotional colouring: the warmth feels comforting. And if you keep your awareness, you’ll probably become aware of an imaginal dimension as well: the feeling creates images, or memories, or associations. Likewise, you will become aware of the alive, dynamic quality of your body: the interface between the fabric and your skin changes with the movement of your breath. And, of course, you’ll be aware of a constant or intermittent patterning of thoughts.

When I do bodywork with clients, I encourage them to experience my touch in the widest way possible so their body becomes like a living three dimensional world, where there is always something new to be discovered and experienced.

But what most often gets in the way of that unfolding depth is a curious question:

“Am I aroused?”

And behind that question is a persistent internal dialogue, which goes something like this:

When I’m touched in a sexual way, I don’t seem to be aroused. I should be aroused, but I’m not. What’s wrong with me?

or

When I’m touched in a sexual way by x, I don’t seem to be aroused. What’s x doing wrong?

Asking questions like this is like asking “Why am I not seeing elephants?”. If your attention is focused on what’s not there, you won’t be aware of what is.

Why do we equate desire with arousal? And what do we mean by arousal?

To ask the question is, I think, to answer it: in the heterosexual world, we commonly think of arousal in terms of the wish, preparedness or willingness for sexual intercourse.

And when you think in those terms, you suddenly realise the weirdness of a question we often ask ourselves:

“How do I know if I want to have sex?”

Why is this question weird? It’s weird because we don’t normally have to go hunting for our desire: when we want something, it’s – at least most times – clear that we do. I generally don’t have to infer my desire from something else.

But in sex we do. A woman might notice she’s wet and think something like “Well, my body is ready for sex, although I don’t feel I want it. But I supose I must really”. Or a man might think “I’ve got an erection. I’m supposed to do something about it. So I’d better”.

What are the assumptions behind this? Well, they include:

  • the point of sex is sexual intercourse
  • if our body appears to be ‘ready’ for sex, we should be too
  •  because our body is more reliable than our mind

No wonder there’s so much terrible sex. All subtlety and nuance is whisked away, replaced by the on/off machine analogy of a dimwit.

In our nervous system, sex is under the jurisdiction of the parasympathetic branch, rather than the sympathetic [‘fight or flight’]. And it makes sense. The parasympathetic is colloquially known as ‘rest and digest’ and ‘feed and breed’; it’s in charge of those activities we can do when we’re safe, and don’t need to mobilise our systems to deal with danger.

So, paradoxically, if you want to become sexually aroused, you should get more relaxed. But here’s the thing: if you’re anxiously scanning your system for signs of arousal, you’re going to become less relaxed, not more. You’re going to be more in the sympathetic branch. And that’s often why there’s a negative feedback loop. One of its most obvious manifestations is with erectile dysfunction, but it plainly applies in a more widespread yet more insidious way to female sexuality too.

When I was learning dance, in my thirties, I was taught how to jump. I imagined that to jump, what I needed to do was to will myself up. But in fact, if you want to jump, what you need to learn is how to relax, how to fall into the earth. And then, as you’re falling into the earth,  jumping happens.

LIkewise with pleasure.

And the best way to relax and be present is to open up to the complete range of our somatic and imaginal experience. If you’re curious what that might be, I write about it in more detail here

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Almost every Couple I’ve worked with has been to Couples Therapy.

It’s not surprising, given the ubiquity of Relate and similar organisations, and the widespread belief that sexual issues within a relationship are best addressed by talk therapists.

As part of their therapy, the Couple will have been given Sensate Focus exercises. These would either have worked a little bit, or not at all. The Couple would have lost heart and discontinued the therapy. And then, through the dizzy mystery of the internet, they found me.

Sensate Focus was created by Masters & Johnson around 60 years ago. In essence, it takes heterosexual intercourse as a given and dramatically slows it down. Instead of focusing on the goal of intercourse and orgasm, the couple are encouraged to take turns to explore the body of the other in a sensuous way, pleasing to them and, at least intially, avoiding explicitly erotic touch and intercourse. The other partner is encouraged to say what they like and don’t like. It is specifically intended to reduce performance anxiety and stress around sexual activity, and to encourage better communication.

To the extent that it works, it’s completely unobjectionable, but often it doesn’t. Why?

We can understand better how it doesn’t work by understanding the ways in which it does.

It makes sexual intercourse less rushed But what if, for you, sexual intercourse isn’t actually that great? Your partner might enjoy it, and want you to enjoy it too, but what if you don’t? What if you never, or very rarely orgasm?

It encourages touch But what if this is problematic for you? What if you don’t particularly like how you’re touched, but you can’t seem to say what you prefer? Or you don’t even know? What if you lack a language of touch?

It encourages saying what you want But what if you don’t know what you want? Perhaps you only know what you don’t want, which makes your partner feel criticised and you feeling disappointed. Perhaps you have a vague sense “There must be more than this”, but don’t know what.

In other words, Sensate Focus takes a whole load of things for granted:

  • the point of [heterosexual] sex is intercourse
  • that’s what everyone wants, so long as there’s enough build up
  • sex is natural, so people don’t need to learn how to touch or how to communicate, they just need to let go of their hang-ups
  • sex is purely physical; it’s just  learning to do it at the right speed so there’s enough arousal and little anxiety

But what if none of this were true?j

When I started working with [heterosexual] Couples, one of the things which struck me was that one partner, usually the woman, would complain that it was impossible, or at least very difficult, for there to be any physical intimacy which didn’t have the expectation of ending in intercourse. If it didn’t, their partner would be annoyed or disappointed. In consequence of that, intimacy would often be avoided altogether. And often, when intercourse happened, it was more to keep the peace than because of genuine desire. The partner would still be annoyed or disappointed -just not quite so much – because they expected their partner to enjoy intercourse as much as they did.

A variation of this was that one partner, again usually the woman, would complain that their partner would avoid any physical intimacy, and they didn’t know why.. On enquiry, it was usually that the man had anxieties around intercourse, but didn’t feel able to share those.

And a very common complaint was boredom and repetition.

So what can be done?

The most obvious thing is to widen the sense of what sex is, and can be, and that widening can take a number of forms.

sexual styles. There’s lots of different schemas. For example, there is an idea popularised by David Schnarch in ‘Passionate Marriage’, that there are three sexual styles: trance, partner engagement and play. Trance is where our experience is very inner. We will tend to be quite still and fairly quiet. Partner Engagement is the opposite; lots of talking, eye contact, connection. Play is newness, experimentation, role-play. If you know your partner’s style, then behaviour which appears disconnected, or wanting approval, or insincere, suddenly makes sense. And if you understand your own, things might become a whole lot easier. I write about this more here. Another perspective is the idea of erotic blueprints. The American Sex Educator Jaiya has said there are five: The Energetic, The Sensual, The Sexual, The Kinky and The Shapeshifter. I write about this more here.  The thing about these topologies is to think of them, not as absolutes, but as useful lenses to see the sexual world, our own and other people’s, in a way which is inquisitive and expansive rather than blaming or shaming.

the realms of sexuality. I believe there are eight dimensions of sexuality. I write about this idea here. Carefully curated exercises exploring these various realms is a wonderful antidote to boredom caused by a very restrictive idea of what sex is.

the use of the imagination. The greatest single failure of the Sensate Focus perspective is that it fails to take into account people’s erotic fantasy life. I have been developing work on The Erotic Imagination with the writer Rachel Connor, which you can read about here, but I find it very helpful to also use this in my private work.

challenging the idea “there’s something wrong with me”. An exclusively physical notion of what sex is, and an over focus on orgasm through intercourse, leads many women to think there’s something wrong with them. It is a human catastrophe, and entirely avoidable. I write about that here

If you’ve tried Sensate Focus and it didn’t work for you, then please get in touch with me to arrange a call. I set out the process here

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“Somatics is a field which studies the soma: namely, the body as perceived from within by first person perception. When a human being is observed from the outside..from a third person viewpoint, the phenomenon of a human body is perceived. But when this same human being is observed from the first person viewpoint of their own proprioceptive senses, a categorically different phenomenon is observed: the human soma” [Thomas Hanna]

Somatics is the belief that our body and our mind aren’t separate, and that everything we experience within our bodymind has value.

When I am working with clients, whether touch is involved or not, I am primarily interested in what they are feeling, in the widest sense.

But what does that mean? In our very psychologically orientated culture, if I were to ask you “What are you feeling?”, you would be likely to take this to mean “What are you feeling emotionally?” And you would probably have the supporting belief that there are, at any time, one or more emotions inside of you, persisting for a time which you can accurately identify and name.

So our exchange might go:

“What are you feeling?”
“I’m feeling happy?”

Rather than:

“What are you feeling?”

“I’m feeling a whooshing buzziness in my chest”

Before I left the psychotherapy world, I certainly felt that supporting belief: if we pay attention, we can identify what’s going on emotionally for us, and we can name that, and that’s the most important thing; everything else is just noise.

I don’t believe that anymore. And not just in the sense that people often misidentify their emotions, saying they’re sad when they’re angry, or vice versa, but that it devalues or ignores everything else which is going on, which has real consequences, particularly with our sexuality, because it tends to trap us in unwelcome and restricted positions.

For example, people might be aware of an overwhelming emotion: anxiety, for example, yet have no idea what to do with the emotion, other than try to work out intellectually what might be causing it, and hence what might be needed to make it go away. That tends not to work, so the temptation is to seek medication to deal with this “illness” of anxiety.

In her wonderful book ‘Call of the Wild’, the great Kimberly Ann Johnson [whom I worked with in 2015], describes the range of our possible experience with the acronym T I M E S

thinking

imagery/imagination

movement

emotion

sensation

Classically, people will tend to get stuck in one or more of these channels, so the way to resolve the stuckness isn’t primarily to resolve the content [although that’s the temptation], it’s to broaden the scope. And to change our focus: from interpretation to curiosity and exploration.

Take anxiety as an example.

The anxious person will tend to be stuck in their Emotion and Thinking channels, and will want to think their way out of their anxiety. Except, that doesn’t generally work. What does works is to pay attention to a neglected channel, Movement for example.

If I were to have an anxious client, I could get them to engage with the Movement channel. I could do this in a number of ways. I could have the client make movements, or I could have them focus on the breath, and how to change that. When anxious, our breath tends to become very shallow. We can go in two ways. The more common one is to focus on breathing from the belly, and to try and have a long outbreath, which tends to calm us down. The less common one is to assume that ‘anxiety’ is unachieved excitement: the excitement is trapped as ‘anxiety’ because we’ve restricted our breathing and gone into an anxiety/thought vortex. We can resolve that by dynamic diaphragmatic breathing, which then actualises the excitement.

Either way, this activation of the Movement channel in turn brings the Sensation channel into play; we’re suddenly aware of feeling a lot more in our body, and this itself is liberative, not least because we understand that our experience isn’t a fixed range of ‘things’, it’s a whole set of processes, all flowing into each other.

When psychotherapy was invented, it was revolutionary and liberating to have people give attention to their emotions. And for some people, it still is. But for a lot of us, emotional repression is no longer the issue, the repression has moved elsewhere, to the vast expanse of our experience which can’t be labelled as ‘thought’ or ’emotion’. Somatics isn’t anti-thought or anti-emotion, it just takes everything as valid, and worthy of investigation.

 

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The idea that sex is natural is one of the many terrible ideas which – alongside Revolutionary Terror and Totalitarianism – we can attribute to the appalling 18th century philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau. It’s the source of a lot of our unhappiness about sex: “If sex is natural, why is it so difficult for me?”

Fortunately, the ‘one size fits all’ model is now challenged by the emergence of a different perspective on sexuality: the idea that we have individual erotic natures, or maps.

Those of you that have seen Netflix’s ‘Sex Love and Goop’, which I highly recommend, will have come across the idea of erotic blueprints, the creation of the contemporary American Sex Educator Jaiya.

She says there are 5 erotic blueprints: The Energetic, The Sensual, The Sexual, The Kinky and The Shapeshifter.

I’ll write about this in more detail elsewhere, but I think you can immediately see how this can be useful. The Sexual blueprint describes the person whom our society would deem ‘normal’. The focus is on the genitals,  and on arousal leading to intercourse. Because sex is really straightforward for this type, they’re liable – in the absence of information – to think of the other types as weird or deficient. They’re likely to think of the Energetic type, for example, as very easily and peculiarly put off sex by something extraneous like the duvet cover or something, rather than appreciate the Energetic as having a much wider sense of what sexuality is; the capacity to have energetic orgasms, for instance, without any touch at all. The shadow of the Sexual type is that they can be somewhat limited and goal focused. If you’re the partner of a Sexual type and not this type yourself, you’re probably bored and dissatisfied, and they think you should get yourself fixed.

Our socialisation as men and women can mask our type. Because men are supposed to be Sexual, many men have to distort their natures. Likewise for women, who are expected to be Sensual or Energetic, when a lot of them might well be Kinky, or Shapeshifting.

When I started working in this field, a map I found very useful was Donald Mosher’s idea of three distinct sexual styles, popularised in David Schnarch’s ‘Passionate Marriage’: Trance, Partner Engagement and Role Play.

Again, this is very helpful in understanding and appreciating behaviour which is not your own. My dominant sexual style is Partner Engagement: I like a lot of eye contact, talking and heart connection. The problem for my type is being with one of the other types while taking our own type as being ‘natural’. The Trance style, for instance, is very inner: this style can often be very still, because they are focused on their own sensations and experience. But Partner Engagement people are going to think they’re something wrong: why isn’t the person reacting more? Maybe they’re bored, or not into me? Likewise, if I came across a Role Play type, I’d be likely to wrongly see them through my lens as emotionally shallow and insincere. And, like the Sexual type in Jaiya’s system, the Partner Engagement type is the one approved of by our society, so the other two are liable to be dismissed.

My own attempt at creating a map focuses more on the different areas of sexuality, rather than individual types, but within this map, I can position the maps of other systems. I call this map the Compass of Sexuality, and it breaks down the areas of sexuality into 8: Agreement, Energetic Practices, Tantra, Intimacy, Innocence, Risk, Body and Play. I particularly like using this in my Couples work, because it enables me to take people to lots of different places, but then for them to explore those places in terms of their specific natures. You can read more about this here

These maps should be treated as tools, or lenses, not reality. We shouldn’t cling to them too tightly, or identify ourselves too much with our type, but used fluidly, they can be tremendously useful in explaining ourselves to ourselves, and -crucially- getting out of this idea that there is something in us which is broken and needs to be fixed. You wouldn’t call a ziggurat a broken pyramid, would you?

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When you get in touch with me, you might be clear about what you want. You might want a tantric massage, for example, or learn about The Wheel Of Consent, or talk and explore. In that case, all we need to do is to have a telephone conversation so I can clearly know what you want and we can both decide if we want to work together, then we can just arrange our first working session.

You might be intrigued by the possibility of exploring your sexuality, but where do you start? To orient you, I find it helpful to categorise my work with individuals in three ways:

Awakening the body to pleasure

This is for you if:

-you just want to have a loving, sensual experience

-you feel a bit disconnected from your body and want to explore and expand your capacity for pleasure

-you are suffering from something which substantially interferes with your happiness: an inability to orgasm or vaginismus, for example

If you know what you want, just get in touch with me, we arrange a telephone conversation and then we can arrange your first session

 

Sex Coaching

You may have a specific issue which you need some help with, for example

-lack of confidence, experience or knowledge

-a non judgemental space where you can be free to talk

-learning new skills

-exploring the various aspects of sexuality

Again, please just get in touch with me, we can arrange a telephone call, talk over the options and then arrange your first session.

Bespoke

As far as the Bespoke option is concerned, this is important because lot of the time I find that people are uncertain about what they might want from me. They can describe the issue -boredom with sex, lack of confidence or pleasure, body shame, inability to orgasm, for example – but they are uncertain about what’s needed to resolve it. And that’s not surprising. In our sex lives, we’re notoriously confused. Which is made worse by often thinking of our situation in unhelpful psychological terms [“I have attachment issues”]  or that there’s something wrong with us [“why do I not know how to do this?”], rather than “How can my deep need for pleasure and connection be met?”

If you know what you want to change, but don’t yet know how, I find it helpful to work like this:

You contact me and we arrange a telephone call. Please budget for at least 30 minutes for this call [which is free], as I want to get a good sense of the issues.

After that initial call, we will arrange a one hour in depth Exploratory Session, where I will give you an outline of the various ways in which we could work together, and we can talk about these in depth, decide what works best for you, then arrange future sessions.

 

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Our first point of contact will generally be one of you filling in my short enquiry form  giving me your contact details and I will then arrange a free Zoom call or meeting with both of you. Prior to the call/meeting, it would be helpful if you had a look at my articles, which give a good sense of my range and approach. You can find them here. You can get my perspective on my work with Couples here.

The purpose of this is for me to get a general sense of the issues and whether I can help, and for you to decide if you want to work with me. There’s no charge for this, and it usually takes around 30 minutes.

If you both decide that you do want to work with me, we arrange a further meeting or Zoom call. Prior to this, I will have had you both independently complete a detailed questionnaire, which will give me a very good sense where each of you are coming from, and how the relationship is:  both the challenges and the opportunities for growth and change.

In the course of the Exploratory conversation, I will speak to each of you separately, then together, and we will map out what the issues are and how we will work together to make the relationship more nourishing and satisfying. This usually takes between an hour and a half and two hours, and is chargeable.

How we proceed after that depends if we are working in person, on Zoom, or a combination of these.

Working In Person

If we are working in person, we will just arrange a date and time for our first session, which will be two hours. We will have agreed in advance what we will do in the session, but this is always flexible. After the first session, I will prepare a Google Doc for each of you, which will detail individual and couple exercises  to do between sessions. You will give me confidential feedback in the Doc so I can give further guidance, and we can carry all that into our next in person session. If you are only able to have an in person session once a month or less, to keep the momentum we will have a Zoom call between sessions to discuss progress, resolve issues and adjust and add to the exercises as appropriate.

Working on Zoom

If we are working on Zoom, at the Exploratory session we will agree the frequency of future calls. These will tend to be one hour long. In the call I will speak to each of you separately, then [sometimes] together. I will assign you exercises to do between the sessions, and you will give me feedback in the Google Doc. In the session, I will adjust, clarify and add to the exercises, as appropriate. The optimal pattern is to have the session every week. If that isn’t feasible,then we can work every two weeks. Less than that doesn’t work. My hourly charging rate [which also applies to in-person] is £75. The cost therefore is £300 a month if you have monthly weekly sessions and £225 a month if fortnightly, as I find with less frequent meetings the Google Doc assumes more importance and I allocate the equivalent of one hour per month to liasing with you each through that.

Zoom/In Person Combination

This is particularly suitable if you live some distance away, London say, but are able to come to Glasgow from time to time for a more intensive period of practice.

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