Because I’m just back from my women’s sensuality retreat in Mexico and about to go off to Costa Rica to lead another, this question is really up.
But why does it matter?
Even more importantly, why should you care?
We’ve had many women interested in our “Discover Your Sensual Self” retreat in Costa Rica, but several have told me they heard the word “sensual” and immediately got scared – is this what Mary offers, some kind of kinky swinger’s sex retreat?
So I decided to have some fun clarifying what this retreat — and my work — is really all about, and why sensuality and pleasure are so central to your health and happiness as a wise and mature woman.
First of all, what is the difference between sex and sensuality?
Sex is a looooaded word. So much baggage attached to these 3 letters! So let’s stick to this definition: sex means the act of sexual intercourse.
Sensual, as we use it here, is defined as connecting with the senses. The way I see it, it’s the pleasure of being in a body – of being embodied. Sex may be a part of the picture, but certainly not the whole picture.
The practice of attuning to your sensuality is simply focusing your attention on your senses — the passion, the creativity, the vitalizing enjoyment they create — in order to become more deeply connected with your body and the pleasures of living.
Is the pure pleasure of being in your body something you can relate to?
I understand if the answer is no. By the time we hit our 40’s and 50’s, most of us are worn out, stressed out, burnt out — and feeling good in our bodies seems like a thing of the past.
And we’re so overwhelmed by our responsibilities that we rarely make time for purely pleasurable experiences outside of eating and drinking. And even these are often hurried, unconscious, and guilt ridden.
Or, somewhere along the way we forgot that sensual pleasure is healthy, self-respecting, and a source of energy to sustain our lives and work.
The story you’ve probably heard is that it only gets worse from here, and that the best you can do is slow down the wrinkles and the weight gain by denying yourself the few sensual pleasures you get from food and drink.
Who wants to do that? You need more pleasure, not less!
Here’s why you need to connect more fully with your senses and get real pleasure – you will experience:
- Remarkably lowered stress along with feeling calm, centered, and joyful
- Greater mental and physical energy and vitality
- Easier weight loss, more self respect, love, and compassion
- A mind that looks for pleasure instead of struggle
- More enjoyable sex (yep-sex is a sensual pleasure also)
What foundational lifestyle habits do you practice to refresh, to revitalize,
to engage – sensually – with life? What do you do to truly be embodied?
Why go all the way to Costa Rica?
To sense. The lusciousness of the jungle, the warm perfumed air, the abundance of flora and fauna, all combine to put you at ease in your body, which is the first step to connecting with your sensuality.
To pattern break. Being in a new and unusual environment helps you to let go of old patterns and rituals that undermine your experience of daily pleasure. You create a new template of practical easy-to-integrate practices that easily translate into your life back home.
To connect. Being in tropical nature helps you re-calibrate your nervous system. It’s easier to release all those worries and mind games when you return to your body. You remember that you are a part of nature. You’re revived and rejuvenated, and even feel surprisingly safe. Far safer than you’re likely used to feeling.
To ditch winter. We spend most of our lives within four walls, in cars, and in winter, covered with layers of clothing. There is a unique pleasure in being outside in the open air.
To feel better than you have in forever. New place, pattern break, warm, rich tropical air. All good, great vacation. But this trip is an opportunity to learn a language of sensuality, to learn different techniques and practices, from qigong to yoga, and to discuss and explore them with other women.
What will you come back with?
- Relief! A renewed connection with self and your intuition.
- A new joy in living in your body, no matter its size or shape.
- A more thorough knowledge of your body’s pleasure pathways.
- Practices that revitalize and sustain you.
- A kinder, gentler way of relating to yourself and your body.
- The ability to find pleasure and connect to your sensuality when you most need it.
Katherine Miller and I will be guiding you through simple practices to restore trust, vitality and harmony so you can start having fun in your body again: Qigong, Jade Egg, connecting to pleasure in eating, music, meditation and yoga. And this is just the short list!
“I can’t believe how different I still feel 4 months after the retreat.
Little by little I’ve dropped the critical voice inside that hated my body.
The more I tune into my senses, the more I enjoy my body and my life,
beyond all my lists and responsibilities.”
Imagine the possibility of being excited to be in your body, in anticipation of the pleasure you will experience each day…
That is my definition of an embodied woman. This is what this retreat is all about – coming home to yourself through the sensual enjoyment of your environment – what you eat, drink, feel, smell, touch, sense, and hear.
Even if you feel totally out of touch or completely at odds with your body, you can learn how to fall in love with it again, by tuning in and creating an environment that supports that.
And, you can come to Costa Rica where we have a whole program designed to fully support your journey into the realm of relaxation and sensual pleasure.
There is still time to register and get a ticket, but don’t delay, there are just a few spaces left and the retreat starts March 3rd!
I’d love to hear what you already do to connect with your sensual self. What’s your all-time favorite, sure-thing way to connect? I’m taking a survey… so leave your wins here.
En-joy it all,
P.S. Remember, the retreat starts in just one month, and you can still find great tickets out there! Check out details and register here.
All those shoulds just illuminate how disconnected we sometimes feel.
And yet social scientists say we’re interconnected beyond our wildest imaginings.
They have proof… And so do I.
Last Thursday eleven women who were strangers to one another just two months before
and vowing never to say goodbye.
When women come together for more than just small talk,
something fundamental changes.
I call it Sisterhood.
It’s what happens when we vow to stop the comparison and catty criticism.
When we choose to let down our guard and be vulnerable.
To be nakedly real and honest about what’s actually happening.
THEN instead of what we most fear – judgment and rejection,
we fall into a rare and precious state of Grace.
Women rarely feel this safe with one another.
Who doesn’t have a mean girl story from middle school, or maybe last week?
But there is a movement happening,
Women’s circle culture is blossoming everywhere.
It’s blurring the usual boundaries of age, race, and sexual orientation.
Because there’s no denying the truth that women have known for millennia…
The old patriarchal pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps, DIY culture never did work.
The truth is… we all thrive in connection.
We’re infinitely more powerful and purposeful when we work together.
It’s the feminine that circles us together.
(Actually I’m having a hard time remembering them now when I try.)
Our hearts have opened. Our minds and arms, too.
two already-too-busy women offered to help a third who’d been struggling to find a home.
“She’s our sister,” was all the reason they gave.
And Sisters, it’s our choice!
1) who are thrilled when I succeed …and help make it happen.
2) who will hold me when I’m wobbly.
3) who help me remember who I really am when I turn my mean girl on myself.
4) who stand arm in arm, happy to help, when any one of us needs a hand.
We let go of the comparison trap.
We lose the subtle put downs, of yourself or someone else.
We vow to see each person (including ourselves) in their highest.*
*PS… Ready to know what it feels like to have a professional show you your highest potential, and the step-by-step plan that makes your best life your new normal life? Click here, book a time for us to talk, let’s make 2018 your year.
A deeper turn-on? Huh?
It’s about pleasure in the body, most definitely..
But it’s more…
More than the momentary high of a great orgasm,
…though there are little-known practices that create the magic.
More than someone else’s slow hands,
…though that’s quite a delight.
Even more than all the best techniques in the world.
A deeper turn-on comes from learning to access the source of your turn-on.
And that is YOU.
You won’t find it in the perfect body you wish you had,
or some fabulous setting or future time when you’ll finally be ready,
or even someone who knows how to take you there.
(OK, so that is lovely,..)
No, this deeper turn-on is available right here… and right now.
In fact, you already possess the tools to bring it on.
I’m talking about what comes from living fully connected to yourself…
Your inner quiet.
It’s knowing how to more fully receive what is already there.
No working! No trying!
No walking on your knees through the desert for a hundred years, to quote Mary Oliver.
A deeper turn-on is just about remembering what we’ve never been taught.
It’s about cultivating the Feminine. And indeed, it is Divine!
But we’re constantly putting out and producing and trying to cross everything off our list. That, My Dears, is living in masculine energy. It exhausts us because too much of it is just not healthy or natural to our feminine essence.
A deeper turn-on comes from accessing the vitality and sustenance of your larger body, the natural world.
Nature is a seductress. And a good one. She knows her power but has no need to force herself upon you. She makes you think this little affair is your idea, that you made the first move. You can’t remember when she first caught your eye. She was just somehow there. And all you knew was that being with her felt fabulous.
You lay on the grass, she held you. You wondered at the stars, she mesmerized you. You splashed in the waves, she frolicked with you. Her breezes softened your tension. Her icy gusts slapped you awake.
She wasn’t always gentle. Nature made you stand up and take notice. Pay attention. She could be a formidable adversary to challenge your mettle, to draw out from you your best. But all along, no matter what she dished out, her tender comfort was like a balm to you.
Often you were distracted, forgetting her altogether. You could hide out in your mind, but she was there, too, of course. Or hang out on your screens, but she would wait.
It was easy to think of her as “other.” And not all that important, really. Not like your plans or creations. You thought they were all yours. Only she knew better.
You could come back to her whenever you wanted. Climb her hills, dip into her waters, soak in her rays. She let you think it was your choice, the tip of your hat to her beauty. Thank you, Ma’am.
It was only when you began to take notice, to see her for who she really is, in her full majesty – to feel her subtle allure and stand in awe of her seemingly simple presence – that she began to more fully reveal her mysteries to you. Only as you took her in your arms and heart, confessing your love through devotion and reverence, did she bless you with her fuller flowering.
Then the panic set in. You might lose her altogether. Everywhere she’s being lost. Forgotten. Ignored. Abused.
Or you could lose your freedom. Be forced to concede your dependence. Yield to a closeness that could leave you naked and defenseless. Relinquish your hard won control. Surrender to an unnerving vulnerability that incited peoples before you to worship her. Where would your precious independence be then?
Ah, well…as with any love affair, there’s always the push and pull. When love is this deep, it’s unsettling. You succumb, only to retract again, afraid to lose yourself or be left bereft. Within her constant holding, it’s too easy to grow complacent. Easy to neglect her. You will abandon her again and again, lose touch with her rare beauty, so available is she to you.
Only when the void becomes too unbearable do you return, confessing in wonder that you could have forsaken such intimacy for the shiny trinkets that caught your eye.
So let your life be this dance with Nature. Be tempted to fall deeper into her love. Offer yourself up for a lifetime of entrancement. Why hold back? You know she wants you.
Give yourself to her magnetism. Let yourself be seduced by the delicate touch of her breath, drawn in by her bird song, entranced by her honeysuckle scent. Indulge yourself in her innumerable delights.
Receive what she offers. Why resist such bliss? You’re already lovers for life.
Let the seduction begin.
Why do I bother to celebrate the summer solstice?
Well, first, it’s a really big deal cosmologically… High Summer, as the Celt’s called it.
Our sun makes life possible, grows our food, lightens our mood,
and as Mary Oliver reminds us, keeps us from ever-darkness.
This is the sun’s heyday.
Every ancient culture, the wide world round, celebrated this event.
Undeniably, that experience is embedding in our collective unconscious.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, each of us is profoundly affected by daily, monthly and seasonal cycles, connecting us to the world and cosmos around us.
That’s why I create experiences for people to more fully connect with themselves and Nature
in celebration of these few remarkable days
… and why you might want to, too.
Why not design your own summer solstice celebration if you’re not able to get yourself to mine
— though there is still one empty bunk waiting for you (at the time of this writing, at least).
To find out how I’m celebrating summer solstice here in the Berkshires with women friends from around the country, click here.
Since sol-stice means sun-stop, consider stopping during the days surrounding the solstice, next Sunday June 21st. Stop even for a few moments throughout this liminal time to connect with the life that’s everywhere
– to take in beauty and the gifts your senses bring to you.
They connect you to what’s real, right now.
Let yourself be touched by the fullness of this sun-soaked season.
Choose to go slowly for a few days.
Find some wild, natural water to dip you feet into… or your whole self.
Allow spaciousness between activities.
Watch how these intentional shifts change you and everyone around you.
Or try this if you really want more intimacy with life!
Every day give yourself a quiet time of sitting in the same spot in nature,
just noticing whatever happens there.
When you sit for several consecutive days,
you’ll be amazed at how things have grown and changed from one day to the next.
Engage all of your senses…
- Watch the birds in flight; listen to their conversations.
- Listen for the loudest sounds and the quietest ones in all directions around you.
- Notice what moves, what’s still, what the sky and the clouds are up to.
- Feel your skin being touched by the breeze or humidity, the wood stair you’re sitting on.
- Be awake to scent. What spring over-the-top-ness is wafting on the air?
- What colors demand your attention and appreciation?
Over the years, marking the solstices and equinoxes
— flags of the earth’s cycles –
has become an essential part of my life.
We are all embedded in this matrix of life whether we pay any attention to it or not.
But it’s in noticing and really feeling our connections to the wider, wilder world
that we become fully human
and not just minds, lost in space.
It’s how we deepen our capacity to feel, to take in delight, to be fully ourselves
— and in that fullness, to be authentically intimate with others.
That’s why I’m celebrating the summer solstice next weekend, and why I hope you will, too.
I am still basking in the afterglow of the women’s sensual retreat I just lead – an entire weekend of remembering ourselves as feminine beings, bringing reverence to our senses and emotions, honoring our need for rest and connection.
In short, RECEIVING LOVE.
That’s my intention for 2015.
To receive love.
Maybe you’d like to join me?
Receptivity – this powerful element of the feminine – isn’t passive.
It’s active and intentional, yet open to the surprises of each day.
What if John Lennon was right, that “love is all there is.”
But perhaps that love is bigger than romance and even relationships?
What if every atom and molecule is love in physical form?
Is each flake of snow falling around me this morning a crystal of love?
Perhaps every breath I take draws in love as oxygen sustaining my body.
Maybe the sun’s warmth and light, essential for our existence, is simply love as sustenance.
CAN RECEIVING LOVE BE THIS SIMPLE?
We can choose to receive love as we perceive snow, air, sunlight.
What an elegant human design – that our senses are the conduits for delivery of this everywhere love.
How do we open ourselves to receiving each opportunity,
delivered to us through scenes of beauty, a kindness or daily synchonicities?
Isn’t our challenge to be more awake to it all?
These days I’m discovering that it all seems to be less complicated than before,
especially when I release my mind from the dramas it delights in and instead open to this moment of ever-present joy,
just waiting to be noticed…
When I choose to receive love from the orange of a persimmon,
the arc of a naked tree branch,
the smell of coffee,
the sound of my woodstove,
my son’s face,
the way morning pinks the sky.
Imagine into love being all there is. How would you join me in receiving all the love this day has to offer you?