Embracing sensuality isn’t just about better sex (although that can definitely be a perk). It’s about tapping into the sensory nuances of our daily experiences. Eating, laughing, admiring beauty — all of these experience can boost feelings of confidence, connectedness and overall presence. Learning how to own your sexual power is about learning how to truly live in your body.
A few months back, we began our Feminine Consciousness series with integrative L.A. doctor, Dr. Habib Sadeghi and co-authors of The Feminine Revolution: 21 Ways to Ignite the Power of Your Femininity for a Brighter Life and a Better World, Amy Stanton and Catherine Connors. Since then, the series has covered the mind-body significance of classically feminine qualities that are often misunderstood.
Let’s dive in to the teams’ perspective on women and sexual power…
Why do so many women hold back their sexual energy?
Amy: Now more than ever, a woman’s sexual power and how she uses it, is a charged and complex topic. From the beginning of time (Adam and Eve, even), we’ve seen examples of women (perceived to be) using their sexuality to the detriment of those around them. Sometimes this results in the downfall of their men, their lives, sometimes even impacting their communities or society as a whole. Bottom line: Women’s sexuality has been seen as dangerous and disruptive.
From The Feminine Revolution, co-authored by Catherine Connors: The very real fears girls and women have about sexual exploitation and abuse complicate this all the more. Women have been told for millennia that they are responsible for men’s sexual weakness, that they are the Eves to their Adams, the Delilahs to their Samsons, and that they must rightfully bear the consequences of men’s loss of control and efforts to reclaim their sexual power.
We have been taught that sexual modesty and prudence will keep us safe, even though research (and experience) tells us that they won’t. Study after study has shown that rape and sexual assault are more often demonstrations of power than manifestations of sexual weakness (that is, men don’t usually rape because they can’t control their sexual urges in response to sexually alluring women; they do it as an exercise of dominance). Given this deeply entrenched history, especially in the era of Harvey Weinstein and #metoo, how can we claim and own our sexual power? How can we use it in a way that promotes our emotional, spiritual and physical well-being?
We’re all aware of the double-standards around sexuality that exist: Men with sexual power are studs, women with sexual power are sluts (and btw, being called a slut doesn’t make you feel particularly powerful). But as the topic of sexuality may feel more complicated than ever, it’s actually quite simple: There are real, meaningful physical and emotional benefits to embracing our sexual energy. And as we’re looking at how women can truly step into our feminine power, nothing is more critical.
What are the repercussions of suppressed sexual energy?
Dr. Sadeghi: Energy must be able to move freely throughout the body in order for us to be well. Energy is what animates us and gives vitality to all our biological processes.
Energy moves along twelve pathways in the body called meridians, named for the major organs and organ systems they pass through. Ancient healing practices like Chinese medicine and acupuncture have used meridians in treatment for thousands of years. Finally in 2013, scientific research confirmed the reality of meridians in the body as the primo vascular system (PVS) that integrates the cardiovascular, nervous, immune and hormonal systems. Not only does the PVS perfectly match the meridian map of the body, but it also corresponds directly to all the acupuncture points as well.
When sexual energy cannot travel freely throughout the body as part of a healthy sex life, it stagnates on the meridian creating a sort of energetic roadblock. When this happens, we lose life force in the urogenital area of the body and dysfunction occurs. This can happen because of a wide range of reasons. Sexual abuse or trauma or even religious dogma can cause us to shut our sexual energy down. The resulting stress can cause us to unconsciously hold our tension from these experiences in the sexual region of the body, further hampering its ability to function properly in a phenomenon called emotional armoring, so termed by my late colleague, research partner and renowned psychiatrist, Dr. Morton Herskowitz.
Without vital energy regularly renewed in the sexual region of the body, people often suffer from sexually related conditions such as infertility, chronic urinary tract infections, chronic candidiasis or yeast infections, dyspareunia (painful intercourse), anorgasmia (inability to orgasm), prostatitis and prostate cancer, among others. For nearly a decade, I’ve consulted regularly with Jon Tabakin, PhD, FIPA, Training and Supervising Analyst for The Psychoanalytic Center of California, on effective mind-body treatments for psychosomatic sexual health problems such as these. I have a number of online articles readers can refer to where I address some of these conditions including difficulty with orgasm in women, and the importance of prostate massage and sexual energy flow for men.
How does one embrace their sexual power?
Amy: Embracing your sexual power can be as obvious and external or as subtle and internal as you’d like. Yes, the way we dress, how we communicate and express ourselves — these are contributing factors. But embracing one’s sexual power can be more subtle, more nuanced. Tapping into a deep sensuality in the way we experience our lives is an important and accessible way to source from the sexual well. How we enjoy food, how we experience nature, how we see the world around us: All of these can be rich sensual experiences if we allow them to be. Seemingly small moments and experiences can help us connect with our sensuality, and our sexuality as a result.
Embracing one’s sexual power is a consciousness, an awareness, an openness. It’s about allowing these parts of ourselves to be expressed versus repressed. This can be for or with a partner or it can be for or with yourself.
Sometimes the shifts we make internally and for ourselves have an impact on how we engage with others. For example, I have a lingerie obsession. I have for years. I love beautiful, sexy, lacy, sometimes frilly lingerie. Sure, it’s fun when my partner enjoys it. But it’s really for me. It makes me feel sexy and powerful. It allows me to tap into a part of myself that I love and a part that needs to be expressed. It sparks my imagination. It makes me feel free. It opens me up. And all of this has an impact not only on how I feel, but how I show up in the world.
We each have our own ways of embracing and expressing our sexuality. It’s all about putting the perceived rule book aside for a moment so that we can explore what those individualized ways are, and how we can best integrate them in our lives.
What are the physical benefits of embracing sexual energy?
Dr. Sadeghi: Embracing sexual energy not only helps us have better sexual health, it helps us have much better health overall, too. When our sexual senses become aroused, usually from the exposure to pheromones, cranial nerve zero (CN0) in the brain is activated. CN0 is one of thirteen cranial nerves that run from the brain through the body that govern all our senses and major body functions. When CN0 is activated, the neuropeptide oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone” responsible for pair-bonding, is produced.
Oxytocin reaches its peak during orgasm, and research has shown it has powerful healing effects for several reasons. It acts as a neurotransmitter that shifts body function from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system. In other words, oxytocin neutralizes our stressed out, preoccupied, anxiety-ridden mind that keeps us in fight-or-flight mode all the time and allows the body to function normally, free of the negative influences caused by our habitual state of mind. When this happens, the other twelve cranial nerves become synchronized because they’re free of our self-induced stress, and all the functions they govern improve dramatically. Basically, oxytocin gets our mind out of the way so that our body can do what it needs to do, mainly heal and rejuvenate. In fact, I’ve been invited to be a presenter at the 24th Congress of the World Association for Sexual Health on the healing power of oxytocin this fall in Mexico City.
Many studies have shown oxytocin has a powerful ability to reduce pain, including inflammatory pain. It’s been shown to improve gastrointestinal function and increase gastrointestinal hormones like insulin. Other research has revealed that oxytocin has the ability to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells in the breast and uterus. The healing benefits of oxytocin are far too numerous to list them all here, but the simple fact that research shows people with healthy, robust sex lives live longer than those who don’t pretty much says it all.
What are the emotional benefits of embracing sexual energy?
Dr. Sadeghi: As a certified sexuality counselor through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) with a master’s degree in spiritual psychology with an emphasis on consciousness, health and healing, I work extensively with my patients to heal the unresolved emotional issues that are at the core of their sexual health problems. When they can finally embody their sexual self, patients are empowered in a whole new way. They can engage in intimacy more freely and deeply in a world where they feel safe again. They understand not just the physical joy of sex but its sacredness and how to bond with others in a way that goes far beyond momentary pleasures. This adds depth to their relationships. Their self-esteem improves because they recognize their desirability and live with a new inner confidence.
Sexual energy is governed by the second energy center in the body or the sacral chakra, which is also the seat of our creativity. So when we embrace our sexual energy, we often find we’re more creative, and new ideas begin to flow.
Amy: There are so many ways to tap into our sexual energy and the emotional experiences around this are quite powerful. From the beginning of when Catherine and I started talking about the ultimate benefit of owning your femininity and feminine power, it’s always been about authenticity, because authenticity leads to feelings of confidence, freedom, alignment, connectedness. We feel the most ourselves. That’s what true sexual power is: feeling physically and emotionally connected to yourself and others.
Give us a few tips for owning sexual power?
From The Feminine Revolution, co-authored by Catherine Connors:
Practice the skill of erotic observation. Explore what it feels like to “love” a sunset or the curve of smoke above a fire — and cultivate connection to beauty everywhere you find it. Your erotic self is defined by its connection to beauty and spirit in all forms, so being in touch with your erotic —and, by extension, sexual — power requires practicing appreciation of those things outside the sphere of sex and romance.
Use your senses. Sexuality is a power of the mind, but also, of course, of the body, and so the practiced exercise of sexual power requires connection to the senses. But this isn’t restricted to the sexual experiences of the senses — on the contrary, honing your senses more broadly can only enhance more specific sensual experiences. Pay attention to what delights your senses. Is it the taste of fine wine or great chocolate? Is it the warmth of crackling fires, the feel of wind in your hair, the tingling of your muscles after a run? Do more of that. Find more of that.
Own your physicality. The way you sit, the way you walk — every movement plays into your sexual power. How can this work to your advantage? How can you express yourself intentionally through your movement? Pilates is a great way to get really specific with your various body parts and learn how to move and control them. Dance allows you to free and express yourself. Bring attention to how you’re walking down the street and how you feel.
Experiment. Try different ways of expressing and feeling your sensuality and sexuality. See how it feels. Play with it — visit extremes and fantasies. What feels right? Perhaps you’ll find you’ve been playing it too safe, and there’s room to indulge. Or maybe you’ll find that you want to dial it back. No matter what, the result is clarity and power.
What’s your perspective on embracing your sexual power? Head over to our Facebook group, The Chat, to talk it out with the community…