SEXUAL INTELLIGENCE: YOU DIG?
“I have found that many women don't feel they have a voice in saying what type of sex they want to have, what positions they like, or even how to start the conversation,” -Founder and Director of Holistic Gynecology New York Dr. Eden Fromberg
So we asked her how to best break through the silence.
Exploring and getting to know your body is an ongoing, lifelong journey, and there are many personal and social inhibitions that can feel like roadblocks until you learn how to navigate them. The fact that so many of us are actually afraid of aspects of our own bodies or uncertain about the healthy development of our own personal sexual expressions is reinforced by a culture that emphasizes the visual and relies on selling us something to make us feel whole again. This cultural emphasis distances us from our own ability to feel and relate in relationships, and can contribute to sexual dysfunction and unrealistic expectations. It does not teach us about touch, help us to appreciate nuanced responses, to be comfortable in the dark, to improvise, or to follow the path of feeling to discover delightful new things that you didn’t even expect.
SO WHAT DO WE DO?
It is reconnecting with our innate vitality and potential that connects us with our bodies’ biological intelligence, the foundation of our sexual intelligence. Sexual intelligence refers to the healthy coordination and expression of our desires and drives for nourishment, pleasure, connection, and creativity, to tuning into and amplifying the expression of our life force. Beyond simply fulfilling our sensual desires, expression of sexual intelligence is an art form, and while what is “healthy” can vary for every individual and within every relationship, there are basic principles that are at the foundation of any healthy biological or sexual interaction. Because feeling, pleasure, and preferences may vary, and change over time, sexual intelligence requires sensitivity and care, testing while respecting boundaries. We can learn to ask without words, speaking the language of our bodies, we can learn ways to redirect or delay without rejecting, we can learn to use touch to communicate boundaries, and we can learn how to send cues that invite others to breach those boundaries when the time comes. Fluid sexual boundaries will quickly harden when the body experiences “too much,” whether speed, pressure, or intensity. Not enough time or space can shut things down. This occurs first on a nonverbal biological and emotional level, and this is often what is happening when we “freeze.” Communication with sensitive touch and gentle words can help the body and nervous system feel safer when navigating and responding to new and complex sensations and experiences. Giving things more time to be felt and integrated can create more space in which to experience.
The intimate spiral and fluid movements that formed our bodies when we were embryos are still available to us! These seemingly primitive gestures and developmental reflexes form the basis for how we move, heal, orgasm, and express, but can become elusive as the fluid embryo becomes the hardened, stressed out adult, and the prevalence of technology creates further challenges. The patterns of our minds and the patterns of our lives and relationships will share similar qualities via the basic orientation of our nervous system, and the creativity and potential necessary for healthy biological and sexual expression loses resilience and becomes stale when these patterns become entrenched and lack variability on any level. “Variety is the spice of life” is translated into the language of the body via touch, movement, sound, and breath, and it is through these portals of interaction and expression that we heal, learn, connect, and grow, at any age. This can make “spicing up your sex life” take on a whole new meaning, if not mission.
HOW DO WE NAVIGATE THOSE “FREEZES”
Exploring via various dance and somatic movement practices (a form of embodied mindfulness) can pave the way to greater sensual and sexual experience and expression. Connect with resources and a variety of methods and approaches via The International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association (ISMETA).
Even without any formal training, here’s how you can easily start from the comfort of your home:
EXPLORE YOUR BODY: You can do this on your own or with a partner. Close your eyes and using your fingers, a partner’s fingers, a feather, or silk cloth, begin touching different parts of your body. Tune in to how the touch feels on different parts of your body without judgment. Some places may feel uninteresting, while others may feel particularly heightened. Where do you want more? What makes it feel like too much? This is an exploration. Feel into it. Feel what activates and excites you. Feel what makes you suspend your breath. Feel what deepens the pattern of your breathing. Feel where you want to go next. You can move and stretch while riding the heightening of emotional and physical sensation as it arises.
IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOUR “SEX PARTS”: Expanding our concepts of sexual touch and experience beyond breasts and genitals expands our concepts of boundaries, agency, and sensual pleasure in ways that we may be surprised to discover.
NOT EVERYTHING WILL FEEL GOOD. THATS OK! It’s always ok to stop what’s happening and say “no” and acknowledge that your body doesn’t feel ready to go where your mind thinks it “should.” Never feel pressured by partners, friends, or any article you may read, to do what doesn’t feel right or hurts. There is a reason that your body is expressing this inhibition, and pushing through without awareness could actually cause you to shut down even more. If it feels like something is not right physically, go ahead and get it checked out so you can be sure. Honor your own process, and reconsider partners who put pressure on you and try to manipulate you by implying that you are too inhibited. Feel into it. If you can’t feel into it, you may need more time, or maybe try another time, or try something else.
BREATHE: Exploring different breathing techniques can deepen experience and assist you in navigating physical and emotional blocks. Breathing practices and working with sound can have a potent and direct effect on sexuality and orgasm, as the nerves leading to our reproductive organs, pelvic floor, and sexual arousal tissues pass through the core muscles that intertwine with our respiratory diaphragm, the muscle of breathing. Tightening in this area due to emotional holding patterns, stress, and sitting can inhibit orgasm, and lead to pelvic pain and other symptoms. If you are working with a partner, conscious breathing can be an additional opportunity to build essential trust via communication and connection. Simply paying conscious attention to deepening and expanding your breath, inhaling into organs like the heart and uterus, can get you started.
Sex is a dance in which some aspects may seem formalized or obligatory - such as certain positions - yet the truth is that sex, especially when you feel like you are still finding your groove, involves plenty of exploration and improvisation. While focusing too much on orgasms may inhibit their buildup, orgasms can be quite fun yet are extremely variable. They can feel like a mild release, along the lines of an extremely pleasurable genital sneeze, all the way to rhythmic, rippling waves and cascades of undulating energy loops involving the spine and body.
Wherever you are in your own sexual exploration, remember to be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with the care and tenderness that you truly deserve. There’s a Buddhist parable in which the student asks the master how to cultivate generosity, and the master tells the student to take a handful of stones and, gently, lovingly, generously, give each stone to the other hand. It’s obviously not about the stones, but about the intention, and how it is communicated. In the same way, sexual expression is very much about the intention, how it is communicated, and how it nourishes, inspires, and connects us to ourselves, our partners, and to life itself.
Dr. Eden Fromberg is a Holistic Gynecologist and Female Structural and Functional Medicine Practitioner based in New York City and the Hudson Valley. She also works and teaches internationally.