Week 3 Upgraded Sex Ed
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What You Need to Know
There is some bad news that comes along with all of this sexual exploration. You’ve been at this long enough to know about it. At the beginning it’s important to stay positive, because sex is FUN! It’s a good, good thing and too often we feel anxious, timid, or upset about sex due to a history of shame, guilt, or desire.
Now that we’re taking sexual research one level deeper, I want you to know some of the less savory, grittier parts of the truth of expanding your sexual experiences.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
I often teach my clients about it like this:
This is the Feminine Operating System.
Let’s say this is the range of what’s possible to feel and experience during sex—all the highs and lows that happens when we stop trying to control our sexual experiences, and instead create the conditions for letting go and allow them to unfold. We start to feel more and increasing our perception of that inner “sunset” we talked about way back in Level 1: the perfect experience that’s occurring inside of us during every sexual encounter.
As you start feeling sexual sensations through noticing your body and fully experiencing what you feel, you will begin to feel more—of EVERYTHING.
Half of what you experience will be incredible—ecstatic, delicious, connected, beautiful, profound, sexy, hot, thrilling—better than anything you’ve ever felt in your life. And the other half… won’t. In fact, if you continue with this work, you will most likely feel more uncomfortable sensations than you have before. Waking up our senses and our nervous system to everything that’s possible means we experience more of EVERYTHING—the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the agony.
I tell you this now so that you know the power of the substance you are working with. Our sexual energy and connection is one of the most powerful energies on the planet. It heats everything up. It stirs up our vitality, our creativity, and our emotions.
It takes guts to live turned on because the sensations we feel in our bodies when we’re fully alive, aware, and risking sexual expression aren’t always enjoyable. They are, however, what provide us with the fulfillment and satisfaction we’re seeking.
Think about it. True relationship or sexually intimacy aren’t forged through everything going perfectly all the time. True intimacy, for me, is knowing that I can show up at any location on this wild map of the Feminine OS—that I can let go and allow my body and my experiences to unfold—and connect with my partner right there.
I’ve personally found the truth depth of intimacy I’ve longer for my whole life by allowing the complete range of sexual experiences to occur in my body and in my relationship. When I let go and allow, I also enjoy more intimacy with my partner.
In order to get that depth, the first step was to abandon my interpretations about what I was feeling and what I thought it meant, and instead focus only on the bare bones, physical experiences I was having in the moment. That’s what we’ll be exploring this week in research.
*WARNING* Turn On Ahead!
We often think of being “turned on” as synonymous with feeling sexy and aroused. Turn on is much more encompassing than that.
Essentially, getting turned on means heating up our system and allowing more juice to flow through. Think of it like turning up the lights on in a room.
Let’s imagine your body is the room and there is a dimmer switch on the ceiling light. Most of us are conditioned to live mostly in the dark—with the lights on very low. When the lights are on low, we feel less, see less, and can explore less. We know only a small portion of ourselves.
Getting turned on means we’re turning up the dimmer switch so that more light is shed into the room of our bodies. This means we will see and feel things that are normally hidden. They were always there—we just couldn’t experience them before because they were in dark.
The symptoms of getting and feeling turned on aren’t like you see in porn. They’re much less “sexy”—and much more interesting—than that:
- Sweaty palms
- Pounding heart and swirling stomach
- Dry mouth
- Inability to think as logically as we normally can
- Swelling in our genitals or lips
- Feelings of heightened focus or concentration
- The darkening of our eyes
Many of the physical symptoms of feeling turned on—fuller lips, darker and bigger eyes, rosy cheeks—are what makeup tries to mimic: the facial look of a woman who is turned on!
You might be thinking: “A lot of those symptoms sound uncomfortable. That’s how I feel when I’m scared.”
It’s true that fear and turn on are closely linked. Studies show the similarities between the feeling of anxiety and excitement. As Robert Heller said, “Fear is excitement without the breath.”
The simplest way to get turned on is to step outside your comfort zone. That’s the only real place turn on happens—when we aren’t quite certain of what’s going on. When we illuminate the “room” of our bodies more and step out of the comfortable darkness.
What does this mean in your life?
Getting turned on for me happens a many ways, sexual and otherwise.
I get turned on when I take a risk, such as speaking up at a meeting when I’m not totally prepared or talking to a stranger on the street. I get turned on when I reveal something true and vulnerable about myself. I get turned on playing music. I get turned on peeling the sticker off my latest purchase at Ross in one piece.
As we get turned on, the lights inside get brighter and we become more aware of our experiences. We often feel things in a heightened way—and we also become more attractive. We become the flame that moths flock to.
The more challenging side is that when the lights come on in your inner room, you can see what’s in disrepair. You can see the dirt you’ve let accumulate, and the rodents who have chewed through the wall. You can see in greater detail, which can be enlivening but also scary. When the lights are on, we can’t hide as easily who we really are.
It’s up to us to decide if we want this or not. The benefit is we a get more rich and complete life, more mind-blowing sex, and more personal understanding. The cost is we must face completely who we are, what we want, and what we avoid—and we must be willing to let go of control.
The Case for Asking for What You Want
I would never have attained the levels of sexual pleasure I experience without doing something completely counterintuitive: exploring the opposite of what I thought I liked during sex.
WHY would we ever do this? After all, isn’t sex all about discovering what we like and then asking for it?
The answer is yes and no.
Most of us intuitively understand that asking for what we want is essential to getting it. For too long, we’ve expected our partner’s to be mind readers—especially our male partners. “He should know what I like,” has thwarted many relationships. This notion that men should know what women like without needing any hints or clues is born from our sexual shame.
We’re taught from a very young age as women to NOT know what we like and to NOT admit it or ask for it. When we’ve turned our attention away from our bodies, it’s far easier to ask him to deal with all this “desire” stuff. It’s easier because we don’t always know what we want. The reason we don’t is because having been looking away from our desire for most of our lives, we aren’t even sure what the options are.
Enter: doing the opposite of what you think you like
Asking for what we want is a big part of the picture. But many of us don’t know what we want. Since we don’t know what our bodies truly enjoy, we end up doing what we think we’re supposed to want or what feel familiar and comfortable.
You can most likely see the problem with this strategy already. What we’ve been taught feels good for women may not be what feels good for us personally. In addition, most of what we’re shown is a small slice of what is possible sexually. We end up stuck being touched in the same spot, with the same pressure, and not feeling as satisfied, uninhibited, and creative as we want to feel.
We also run the risk of becoming locked into our habits. Sticking with the same routine, even if it’s a good one, eventually has us itching for something more. This itch might occur as rigidity and entrenched positions about what’s right or wrong. It might occur as grumpiness or a general “blah” feeling towards sex. Or it may show up as clandestine scrolling at porn or searching through personal ads “just for fun.”
It’s healthy for your sex life to regularly try things you think you don’t like—and not just try them, but get off on them.
What do I mean by getting off?
The typical definition connotes having an orgasms. When we talk about get off this week, we’re not talking about orgasms. We aren’t even necessarily talking about pleasure.
I’m talking about our ability truly enjoy whatever sensation is occurring in our bodies.
What if, you might be thinking, the sensation isn’t enjoyable?
Let’s choose a different verb, then, besides enjoy. Because enjoy can sound too akin to “pleasure.” Let’s say, instead, getting off on whatever is occurring inside of means we:
- Relish it
- Are in awe of it
- Open up to it
- Fully experience it
- Become fascinated by it
- Enjoy it despite our discomfort
Let’s take a few real life, non-sexual example. Let’s start with roller coasters. Some people simply don’t enjoy them flat out. But many of us do. And for those of us who do, the experience is not pure pleasure. There is also panic, elated, terror, uncertainty all rolled into the experience of shooting down the track.
Most of us don’t know realize that in order to enjoy a roller coaster, we must possess the skill of enjoying sensations, emotions, and thoughts that are not necessarily “pleasant.” Otherwise, we would be overtaken by terror because we’d stop purposefully enjoying the sensations and instead succumb to true panic.
Comedy works in a similar way. I love stand up comedy. And half of the stand up routines I listen to make me cringe. Literally, my skin crawls, I’m wiggling in my seat, and I’m flushed with embarrassment. This is part of what I love about comedy. Take this away, and stand up is no longer funny. I cringe—and I love it.
Better Sex with a Lemon
Most likely, anything we love is at times elating, at times harrowing, and often somewhere in between—whether we love cats or coding, roller coasters or performing surgery in the ER, being a writer or being a parent.
Becoming a mother taught me one thing: how to surrender. How to let go of what I thought should happen and instead accept and make the best of what was happening. Without this skill, I would have lost my mind as a new mother—and even as an experienced one.
I did the same thing with sex, and you can, too. I gave up my judgements about what I liked and what I didn’t, what was good and what was bad. And instead, I focused on what was actually occurring in my body: the physical sensations. Regardless of whether those were pleasant or painful, boring or exciting, in line with my preferences or far outside of them, I learned to enjoy myself.
I wouldn’t liken it to making lemonade out of life’s lemons. That conjures a “rising above” it quality, which is not what I’m talking about. This isn’t, “Hold my nose until it’s over.” Instead, it’s fully enjoying the lemon for all its puckering sourness.
If you can’t picture doing that, here’s how to start: imagine licking a lemon. Picture how that tang would feel on your tongue. We might think, “Gross, yuck! I don’t like that.” And if you do like lemons, picture a raw onion instead—or whatever else makes you go yuck. Let’s talk about that “yuck” in terms of sensation.
What IS it, really? It might be prickly, stinging, biting, tingly, tangy, sharp, stabbing, aching, squeezing, hot, thick, sticky, burning, shaking, fuzzy, shiny. It might feel that way on your tongue, lips, the roof of your mouth, teeth, gums, eyes, or nose. And on each of these locations, there may be more specific places of sensation: the back of my tongue, my upper gums, inside my nose, the corners of my eyes.
The first key to the sexual liberation that comes from learning to “get off” of ANYTHING is to quit thinking about sexual touch in terms of “I like it,” or “I don’t”—to stop the “this is gross” or “this is bad” judgements, and instead simply FEEL and be in awe of the sensation that is happening.
Without this essential practice, I would not have the liberation, love, confidence, or pleasure I have today. I want you to have that, too.