Step #2. Self Exploration – The Fun Begins!
In terms of getting to know your body and the different sensations which can be experienced, we must practice by touching ourselves. These sensations aren’t new to you, but experiencing them mindfully with the intention of developing sexually will be different. The sensations could range from hot to cold, numbness, tingling, vibration, pressure (light to heavy), tightness, openness, achiness, and spaciousness.
Most likely, you will notice these sensations change with each new sexual experience depending on your energy, stress, hormone levels, and environment. Bring a mindset of adventure to exploring and getting to know your body’s sensations. Experiencing something new in how we use and feel our bodies continually brings us back to the ‘beginner’s mind’ mentality (find out more about the ‘beginner’s mind’ mentality on the Resource page).
Below are points listed as a means to begin the process of exploring sensation.These practices move from non-sexual to sexual in nature. As you become more comfortable with the experience, you can move to the more sexual practices. Take notes or journal about your experience, whether pleasant or unpleasant. Documenting your experience will allow you to identify patterns and find what you really enjoy.
Questions to explore while experimenting with the following:
- What do I enjoy?
- Why do I enjoy it?
- How do I enjoy it?
- Take a dry brush and lightly move the bristles over the entire orb of the head, moving to the face, neck, chest, belly, pelvic region, shoulders, arms, hands, upper/mid/lower back, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, calves, shins, and finally the feet. Pause at each location to notice sensations.
- Practice the Body Scan Meditation: This meditation moves concentrated awareness on individual body parts sequentially either beginning at the top of the head and moving toward the feet or beginning at the feet and moving to the top of the head. Find my 20 Minute Body Scan Meditation on YouTube @CaitlinHegwood.
- Experiment with watching, listening to or reading erotica.
- Change Body Position: sit, stand, squat, lay, or position yourself on hands and knees.
- Go over my favorite BDSM checklist by Latches. This is a thorough checklist, allowing you to define sexual boundaries including what is appropriate, acceptable, and desired. This is a necessary step before sharing this aspect of yourself with others. Find it under Resources.
- Use hands, fingers, vibrators, rings, yoni wands and/or eggs while releasing and contracting pelvic muscles, working toward orgasm. For purchase @ Boxatsantafe.com (find more information of vaginal mapping in the resources section).
- Practice daily or as frequently as possible.
If you would like to read steps #3-#7 order my book on Amazon by clicking here or go to her website www.Incorporate-Wellness.com/shop/
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If you have ever wanted to give up a bad habit (smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol, coffee, Dr. Pepper, eating ice cream, watching T.V., having sex with strangers) you know stopping can be more difficult than first anticipated. Not only are we driven my our habits, routines created over several years of doing the same activity, but our physical habits, thought patterns, and even our homes can lead us back to using, and abusing, a substance or activity. For this, we must be diligent about changing our mental, emotional, and environmental landscape.
Change Your Environment
A friend of mine who uses Feng Shui in her interior designing explained how the layout of a home is indicative of the layout of the mind. If one is going to effectively change a habit or behavior they must also change their environment. This made total sense to me and often where I see clients struggle.
Take for instance giving up a habit such as drinking coffee in the morning. If I am going to give up drinking coffee, I need to change the layout in my kitchen. I need to remove the coffee maker and replace it with a tea kettle, as well as give away the coffee beans I have in the pantry and replace them with tea. In an extreme attempt to interrupt the bed-to-coffee-maker pattern, I could place my yoga mat on the kitchen floors as way to prompt me to stretch to awaken my body instead of relying on caffeine. This alone isn’t going to keep me from drinking coffee, but the change in my environment supports my goal and makes it more likely to continue without coffee.
Another example, which I am working on currently, is getting back into a daily formal meditation routine by dedicating myself to 40 continuous days of practice. Many of you might be thinking, “Changing the habit of not meditating isn’t life or death like alcoholism or anorexia…”. On the contrary, meditation is how I discovered how to sit with uncomfortable feelings instead of numb them with food, alcohol, nicotine, and marijuana. To ensure my meditation success I didn’t just ‘hope’ to be able to complete the 40 days. No. I bought a calendar to put in the kitchen, marking down each day in the succession, which changed the environment, as well as placing meditation cushion and chairs in the living room for easy access and no room for excuses. I also enlisted my partner to be an accountability buddy, reminding one another each evening of the goal. And finally, created a plan to sit for 10 minutes for the first 10 days, 15 minutes for days 10-20, 20 minutes for days 20-30, and 30 minutes for days 30-40.
Both of these examples include a change of environment, crucial to the success of the desired habit change. Without these it would become too easy fall back into the unwanted habit or justify quitting the new and desired routine. If you are serious about changing your patterns, habits, and/ or addictive tendencies, you need to get serious by making changes in your environment. You can also ask for help from co-workers, friends, partners/spouses, or contact your local Feng Shui interior designer 🙂
For those incredibly brave, serious folks who are ready to tackle their habits which are getting in the way of living a healthy, fulfilling life, check out my resource Creating a Bad Habit Busting Recovery Wellness Plan, attached below.
If you need more support on this long, arduous, adventurous road to recovery, contact me!
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It is up to us to find out who we are, no one else holds that knowledge. Externally we find there are many manners in which to live and learn; There are teachers, religions, books, and ways of living which can serve as a guide. If we are able to use them as such, we can take what practices enable us to live joyfully and leave the rest. But if we look at another’s path as the ultimate path, we eventually find the path lacking in one way or another, not perfectly completing the picture of happiness and wholeness.
I have experienced this personally in my life as a cycle of inner-connection, growth, searching externally, suffering, and a re-connection and homecoming. Let me explain, In the times we feel most connected to the inner voice, the inner knowing of walking within our correct path, there is a deep connection felt, a synchronized movement and flow through life. This spurts growth. Then, we may find an outside source, someone we respect deeply, revere, or has something we want, be it peace, serenity, sobriety, or joy. Instead of sticking to our path and following our inner voice, we try theirs, as if trying on a pair of jeans or test driving a new car. We think, “Well, they seem to enjoy it so I might too”. Soon after we begin to walk this path, we realize this way of going about life didn’t bring us the same joy it did the other person. We tried, it didn’t work, and now we suffer. We suffer from living a life outside of our values, outside of what is most important to us. We are back again, searching diligently for what makes us happy with options of looking yet again to the external or diving deeply into what it is we find important. It is up to you to find out who you are. No one else knows. No one else can tell you.
Questions I recommend asking yourself:
- What is most important to you?
- What do you value?
- How are you spending your time?
- What would it look like to live in accordance with your values?
- What would it feel like?
- What is holding you back?
- What can you let go of? Possessions, relationships, behaviors?
- What behaviors are supporting you in living in accordance with your values?
- What people are supporting you?
Personally, this has been a long and arduous journey. As I move to a new place and create new habits and ways of living, I am looking seriously at my old, habitual ways of living and reflecting on these questions. I now have the opportunity to rid myself of the old and replace them with something different, something more, or possibly less, in line with my values. I feel drawn to follow the external easy path, which seemingly works for others. But will they work for me? Time and experience has shown that no, these external and contradictory behaviors which make others happy will not bring me the same happiness as they do others. So I must go about replacing these behaviors mindfully instead of at the will or influence of others. In doing this I become more of myself, pursuing my own interests and way of looking at the world while developing inner-strength. This is wonderful and also difficult. This path is unknown. There are no guides to show me what I must do next or what choices I need to make to be happy, healthy and whole. There are only reminders coming from within to continue defining what is right for me. All I have to do is listen and act accordingly.
It is much easier to look externally for answers; To trust others instead of your own inner-voice. Yet we know what is lost when the inner-voice is ignored: discomfort, agony, and suffering.
Keep listening to yourself, learning about yourself, and acting accordingly. This is the only way.
Self Reflection Bonus: Who Am I Compass
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My friend, spiritual guide, and favorite raw vegan chef (which I have stolen numerous recipes from and posted them on this website!) has written a new cookbook, Livity; Recipes of a Modern Living Foods Lifestyle.
A recipe from Mariah’s latest cookbook is below: Creamy Herbed Kale Salad.
Feel good and enjoy!
Her cookbook provides over 50 straightforward recipes for revitalizing juices, smoothies, nut milks, vegan cheeses and nut meats, nourishing entrees and decadent desserts that will tantalize your taste buds and sustain your body. Take charge of your health journey today by tuning into Mariah’s profound nutritional insights and harness the powerful energy of the Sun, captured in whole, living foods, to elevate your body, mind, and spirit towards brighter life energy.
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An excerpt from my latest book, Getting to Know Yourself Sexually; A Down and Dirty Guide
Relating to the instincts, physiological processes, and activities connected with physical attraction or intimate physical contact between individuals.
Why is knowing yourself sexually important to you? Are you craving connection? Pleasure? A shared experience? Whatever your reason, you’ll find this book supporting you in getting to know yourself and help to expand your current thinking about what sex is and the role it plays in your life.
This topic is important to me because of my firm belief in getting to you know all areas and aspects of yourself; thoughts, feelings, emotions, motivations, desires, and sensations. Doing this sexually adds another layer of richness to life with ourselves and our intimate partner(s). To do this we must experience and reflect on life utilizing our intimate and sexual relationships as a tool. In doing this we become more comfortable with ourselves, which we bring to our intimate relationships and the world.
There is a process for getting to know yourself sexually, which I myself have gone through. Firstly, I began in isolation as to better identify wants, desires, and motivations (Steps #1 and #2). Then, I shared my ideas, wants, and desires with a community of like minded individuals (explained further in Steps #3 and #4). And after developing comfort and understanding of myself, was able to share with an intimate, committed partner.
Bear in mind these steps are not linear and may not, at all times, be accessible or appropriate. As you begin to move through them you might have a new experience, leading you back to Step #1 of the process. That’s great! This is a lifelong learning process. Repeating each step with a different intention or motivation will only further your understanding of yourself.
No matter your age, taking care of and getting to know yourself sexually is as important as finding the right career, group of friends, lifestyle, or committed partner. I encourage you to keep an open mind while reading and working through this process. Who knows? You might just learn something about yourself.
…a few things to note before we begin…
Sexual trauma can resurface five days, five months, five years, or 50 years after the event occurred. If you have had sexual trauma it is important to identify triggers which send the body and mind into a heightened, reactive state of fight, flight, freeze. It is equally important to have a discussion with your sexual partner prior to a sexual encounter which may re-traumatize.
Don’t wait until you are in the moment to have this conversation. Create a way to communicate about this topic before and during sex. Discuss it during a non-sexual, non-charged, safe activity (making dinner, driving, grocery shopping). My partner calls this Casual Conversations (more about this on Step #5). Practice this a few times, revisiting when/ if necessary. I have found once this has been identified and discussed, with a process created by which to communicate in the moment, re-traumatization is infrequent or null.
If sexual trauma is something you are beginning to uncover within yourself, research sexual trauma, get help with a therapist, and find out how you can heal. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) has worked wonders for me.
There is an abundance of shame surrounding sex.
“Sex is dirty – mouths, tongues, fluids, ewww!”
“You urinate from there, I’m not putting that in my mouth!”
“Sex is for the purpose of having babies only and is sinful to enjoy”
“If you enjoy sex you are slutty”
“You’ve had sex with HOW MANY PEOPLE?”
“Having sex before marriage is unacceptable, NOT OKAY!”
“Don’t have sex! You’ll get pregnant. And if you don’t get pregnant, here is the list of diseases you can get.”
Nothing is off limits. And don’t get me started on the shame surrounding genitalia shape, size, smell and taste!
“Smells like tuna”
“Tastes like soap”
When an initial judgement or feeling of shame comes into your mind as a thought, notice it before reacting and ask yourself the following:
Where is the judgement, or feeling of shame, coming from?
Whose judgement is this? Your own? Society? A past partner?
And most importantly, Is it true?
Remember: Sex is natural. Thoughts and judgments are natural. Reacting to thoughts and judgments surrounding sex is a choice. Only after full deliberation should one act. This takes time and effort. If you are dedicated to this practice of self-reflection, anything can be accomplished, including not shaming yourself or others based on sexuality.
Step #1. Self Reflection
No one knows you better than you know yourself. Having considered this, many of us do not know ourselves well when it comes to our sexuality. You may not have had the opportunity to explore these differing aspects because of the culture you grew up in, the relationships you’ve had, or the social group with which you interact. Using Self Reflection as a tool, one can become aware of beliefs and feelings toward sexuality. Ask yourself the following questions to uncover your beliefs:
-How do I define being sexual?
-What is my belief on the nature of sex? Its purpose?
-How do these beliefs impact my willingness to look at my sexuality?
-What taboos do I have towards my own sexuality or sex in general?
-What is my reaction when I think about sex? With myself? With others?
-What is the value of shared sexual experience?
a social or religious custom prohibiting or forbidding discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with a particular person, place, or thing.