Seattle Bodysex Workshop had a difficult birth. After three other set dates that didn’t happen, and seven months later, Seattle finally received its first Bodysex Workshop.
Like everything else in life, it did happen just at the right moment. I had to grow and become the person who could lead such a powerful workshop. And growth takes time, patience, grit, and just a little bit of luck.
The luck piece was the epic event, Bodysex Summit, held at a buddhist retreat center in New York, to celebrate Betty Dodson’s life and work at an ‘early’ 90th birthday, just two weeks before the Seattle Workshop. The waves of encouragement, enthusiasm, sisterhood and empowerment swept me up and fueled me with the right confidence, belief and determination to make it happen.
I’ve had the ‘gear’ since before January: the backjacks, the magic wands, the barbells. All major pieces were secured. The last two weeks before the workshop got me into higher gear to prepare a beautiful, sacred space as the container for the safe, honest, vulnerable, heart and mind opening experience that is a Bodysex Workshop. I loved thinking about having all the right details, and physically going into action to make it happen, and this is what the space looked like in the end.
There were four participants and myself, the perfect size circle as the debut workshop. They all arrived on time, and that gave me even more confidence that all will unfold perfectly, that we’re all committed to the experience we were about to have. I opened the door for each of them and greeted them in my birth suit. I wanted to be as close to ‘just myself’ as possible, so I took off my jewelry except my Bodysex Vulvaheart pendant, and I took off even my nail polish. I welcomed them into the house, showed them around – this is the circle, this is the bathroom, here’s some water, you can take your clothes off and put them here, come into the circle when you’re ready.
We started by setting out the ‘ground rules’: agreeing to confidentiality, sharing in first person only, and asking for anything you need – I’m here to create the best experience for everyone. After lighting the center candle as the symbol that heightens and elevates our experience, and doing a few rounds of yoga breathing, we were ready to set our intentions for the workshop. Why did you come to this workshop? What do you hope to get out of it? What’s the best that can happen?
I opened the first round of sharing ‘How do you feel about your body? How do you feel about your orgasm?’ by laying out completely honestly my thoughts, feelings, and key context story elements that happened throughout my life around these two core components of my being: my body and my orgasm.
After opening up the workshop and doing my share, I felt like I’ve been talking forever. Some participants reassured me that it was all part of doing my job as the facilitator and I’m doing alright. How can you not love participants that encourage you and want you to succeed at your job? Ah, I was already loving the women there so much!
I was eager to hear their stories, thoughts, feelings, and witness them in a very safe, non-judgmental, healing space, leaving them feeling heard, listened to, understood. My intention is that we see our story just as that: a story that goes along with wanted and unwanted, pleasant and unpleasant emotions, and they’re all part of a universal and at the same time unique human experience, that it’s all part of life, that we’re all okay with both our glorious and gloomy parts. When we stand powerfully in owning both the light and the dark in us, it’s when we can make free choices for what we want.
Genital show and tell began with me showing my vulva, all its parts, describing it, saying what I like about it, what I like less about it, and how my relationship with it is evolving. The first woman that went after me made my job extremely easy. She talked about it herself with enthusiasm, and we were all fascinated to listen to her. I just had to be there to create space for it. Every woman’s experience was different, and it was just what each of them needed. One of them decided the experience was too overwhelming for her, and she decided to leave. I asked if there anything she needs and validated that all that she’s feeling is truly okay. I followed up with her and found out that even though she left before the end, she got out what she needed at the moment, feeling clearer about what she wants. I find this to be true in general, that we all get what we need from the experiences that we’re going through, no matter how that might look like at the moment. It was a powerful lesson to learn that nothing has to happen a certain way, I learnt even more how to let go and not have expectations, and that all is truly well and unfolding perfectly.
I added a few other elements in addition to the classical Bodysex Workshop. I planned for two: self breast massage with visualization of clearing out what no longer serves us, and magnifying the qualities we want in our life; and a ‘deep cleansing’ meditation practice that clears out past attachments and makes room for renewed attraction in our lives. I credit both of these practices to Layla Martin, another wonderful teacher. The third element was not planned for, but it flowed spontaneously and naturally out of our conversations. I showed my cervix with a transparent speculum, which I learned how to do in one of Amy Jo Goddard‘s workshops, ‘At Your Cervix’, which is a fascinating documentary. The participants were almost mesmerized by the experience, not having seen a live cervix before. Only the obgyn usually gets to see it, we only hear about it, and we’re left in the dark about such an important part of our bodies. Our menses passes through it every month, our babies pass through it if we birth, an IUD passes through it if we choose it as birth control method, it’s where we get our pap smears and it shows signs of our genital health state, and it’s where penises, fingers, toys can reach the end of our vagina if we’re choosing to have sex in that way. It’s said to store unreleased negative emotions and it can be painful. It can also be a source of tremendous pleasure and connection when we’re open, confident, in our bodies, and happy, which I wish for all of you.
The main part of the second day is Erotic Recess. It happened that all women in the group were already pretty open and knowledgeable regarding their sexuality. I sometimes wondered if Bodysex Workshop is bringing additional value for people who are already open and quite comfortable with their bodies and their sexuality. Each of them confirmed it really did, and as for myself, it was one thing to be in the circle as a participant, and it was quite another leading it. My levels of self confidence, of comfortableness, of trust that all is well, really had to rise at the occasion. And I’m so glad I did!
I leave you with some of the participants’ own words that describe their experience of the workshop:
“Self Pleasuring is something I’ve never thought to really truly talk about, be guided in, or let alone explore in the same room with a group of women. I’m so glad I did though! I had always associated self pleasuring with discretion mixed in with a sense of shame. This workshop, however, totally negated these associations and instead replaced them with a sense of healthy curiosity, healing, laughter, and sisterhood. I got to connect with my own pussy in ways I never have before (I loved viewing her with a mirror and giving her a name), I got to see a cervix for the first time ever which was astounding!!… and I had a big realization that pleasure can be an empowering tool to bond women together in ways that just aren’t possible or as likely when women use sexuality to compete with one another. It was truly an indescribable and amazing revelation that I now hold dear to my heart. I left the workshop feeling totally content and peaceful…rare feelings for me to fully experience.”
“[…] I’m pretty sure that before Bodysex, I felt […] my genitals were a separate entity. They felt foreign and shameful and annoying and uncooperative. When we were asked to name our genitals, I had to think about it and realized that I couldn’t do it. Because my vagina is part of me. My vulva is part of me. It is not separate. I am all one piece.”
“Irina puts herself out of the limb so everyone else can follow after seeing it’s safe, and she sets a beautiful, welcoming tone. She’s also a powerhouse of femininity, eroticism, and sisterhood–– all things that come into play within Bodysex. She congratulates each person on their vulnerabilities and strengths, their accomplishments, their process. There is not a moment with her when one must wonder if they’re doing the right thing–– but if you’re like me, and you do worry that maybe you’re not doing it right, hang in there; Irina will ensure that you get to go through your Bodysex journey your way. That’s what it’s all about.”
Next upcoming Seattle Workshop is Sep 30 – Oct 1, 2017. Want to be in or have questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.