This is the first of a 3-part series, in my personal exploration of the feminine archetypes that shape Embody.
My sensual, strength, and silly.
My pleasure, power, and playfulness.
My beauty, bold, and bliss.
These are parts of myself that I repressed, as I have tried to mold myself into a more acceptable and uneventful version of me, and I’m wondering what I will find.
As we do in an Embody class, I’m starting with my sensuality.
It’s not easy for me to do this. I have so many stories in my head that make me question if it is even right for me to discuss this publicly. And by right I mean ‘Godly’. And by ‘Godly’ I mean, “Will the church approve?”
I found it easier to start this exploration with a timeline, marking key events that have shaped my relationship with my sensuality into what it is today. You may want to try this for yourself and see what you find.
At 4 years old, I was told to keep my hands above the covers where they could be seen. There was fear in my mother’s voice as she noticed my hands somewhere on my body during our bedtime reading.
At 6 years old, I was invited to be Queen of the Schoolyard, the counterpart to a self-proclaimed 6 year old King. I had my own fear; would this mean we would be married forever?
At 12 I experienced my first orgasm. My cousin recited a riddle to me that, whether or not it was supposed to, turned me on. For the first time in my life my body was aroused and had complete control over me. As pleasurable as it felt, the ensuing guilt was greater. I had no idea what just happened, but I did know I was not supposed to have sex until I was married. This felt like the closest thing to what I imagined sex to be. This must be wrong; therefore I was wrong and out of control.
At 16, my church friends told me I had nice legs and my school friends confirmed I had a nice ass. While some might respond to those compliments with delight, I started to question whether or not it was true. If it was true, I was confused. If I had such nice legs and derriere to match, then how come the only guys interested in me did not have bodies to compare? My so-called assets, were not doing me any favours.
At 18, I and my freshmen cohorts were initiated into the women’s cross country team by dressing in the sexiest/sluttiest outfit we could find, and then were instructed to dance in front of the men’s team to the Divinyls ‘I Touch Myself’. This felt wrong, so wrong, but apparently it was right, so right.
At 20, I had what I suppose counts as a #metoo moment. My ass was grabbed by the college mascot in front of a stadium of ice hockey fans as I was doing my job cleaning off the ice at half-time. He was doing his job of keeping the crowd amused. Confirmation that the attractiveness of my body was only good enough to be a disrespected piece of meat.
At 21, I would dance in bars and clubs to music that rippled through me, electrifying my soul, and again, the only guys coming up to grind me were not my type. Older. Creepy. With a look in their eyes that repulsed me. And so my sensuality repulsed me.
At 24, I was invited by a male colleague to go swimming with him at 11pm while we were on a work trip. That did not feel safe. I did not go. I was once again confused; he’d only ever seen me in suits and boring work shirts. My body was always neatly covered up in front of him, my hair usually tied back in a not-so-sexy frizzy bun. I never tried to ‘look good’ in front of him, and yet there was an invitation to reveal even more.
Forbidden. Dangerous. Repulsive.
That is how I have related to that God-given part of me that emanates beauty and a divine power from within.
It was never a conscious choice, but as I transitioned from girl to woman, I fell into the role of ‘the sporty one’. It was easier this way. I could get away with going out with wet hair, because I had just finished up at the gym. Loose cotton t-shirts and boy-jeans with sneakers finished off the look. They were also a lot safer (and more comfortable) than clothes that accentuated my body.
I learned to cover up my physical self, because all it seemed to do was bring me negative attention.
Yet at the same time, I was craving attention and acceptance, and so I thought my body might also be the answer. If I lost more weight, was thinner, more toned, then FINALLY I might ward off the creeps, and actually attract the attention that would legitimize and validate that part of me that radiates, glows, and pulses my own unique exotic beauty into the world.
Yeah, that didn’t work out so well. (You can hear more about that here.)
I remember a few months after meeting my now-husband, I had this primal craving inside me to let my sensual self be seen. Not that I used those words. I think what I said to him was, “You make me want to look beautiful for you.”
For the first time, I wanted to not just feel pretty, but BE a magnetic force. From a posture of stillness, stealthy and healthily allow my prowess to swirl around me. With a raised eyebrow, a smirk on my lips, and my head held high, flick my hair behind me as I sashay across the room. Not trying too hard, not hiding my shine. Just that deep inner knowing and owning, that I’ve got this. And all because I am DOING nothing, and just BEING this subtly explosive, sensual and erotic creature that I am.
For the first time in 28 years, I had a sense that this was in me. Like that tiny spark that lingers on the end of a candle wick, just before it goes out.
Since noticing that spark, a gentle wind has started to blow, breathing life into the flame.
I started buying more ‘feminine’ clothes. Skirts. Things with textures and ruffles.
My wardrobe is less racist. No longer just black or white. I now wear all the colours of the rainbow.
My movement practice has expanded to include hip circles and full body rolls instead of just the linear repetition of running and cycling.
I’m paying attention to my body. Noticing the sensations that turn my body on and off.
I’m slowly giving permission for my body to be turned on. Accepting the fact that pleasure is not a sin.
I’m beginning to feel more comfortable touching myself in private.
I’ve started celebrating my body through touch at Embody; in the safe cocoon created with other women. And this, with the lights on, sober.
I’ve even let my husband watch me dance.
This has been, and is, my journey of fully embracing and embodying my sensual self. Your story may be similar or wildly different. Either way, I want you to know, It’s OK.
This primal, exotic, and erotic part of us.
Our sensuality was given to us.
We didn’t ask for it. We didn’t choose it.
It’s a gift.
It connects us to nature; our bodies reflecting the contours of the land.
It connects us to others; and for all the harm and negative messaging surrounding our sensuality, it is not our sensual self in and of itself that is bad.
It is our sensual self, our body, our physical self, that connects us with the divine. Through sight, sound, taste, scent, and touch. Through both pain and pleasure, suffering and awe, we experience the pain and pleasure of God.
Our sensual self is GOOD.
Not sinful, evil, or slutty. Not something to fear and run away from. Not something to be repulsed by and on a mission to force into a linear straightjacket.
It is time to accept our beauty as our birthright.
Forgive the harms and hurts that have left us fighting to protect ourselves.
Release the shame that has left us covering up, or overexposing, our bodies.
Uncover the lie that tells us a mask is better than who we truly are.
This power that lies within you is not of you. It is to be revered, respected.
And just because we ourselves did not create it, let us not be so prideful that we choose to reject it.
Let’s be curious. Nurture intimacy with this part of our self. Create safe places in which we can remember who we are.
Erotic and exotic creatures, made in the image of the divine. Vessels to let the pain and the pleasure of the divine flow through us.
What if our pain isn’t just ours to carry?
What if our pleasure isn’t just ours to enjoy?
What if our bodies and our senses are here to serve as guides? To help us navigate towards the highest good for all? To help us navigate towards Love.
Perhaps this sacred sensual self, is the secret key to set us free.
Want a space space to explore your sensuality through movement and music? You’re invited to attend an Embody dance class near you. In the UK and don’t see a class nearby? Get in touch. I am looking to connect with ambassadors to help bring Embody across the UK.
Photo Credit: Elephant Journal