Many of us have experienced a tumultuous and somewhat exhausting 2018. We’ve survived, and the holiday season is almost here!
Often our schedule gets crazy full – end of year socials, parties, family gatherings etc. Many women end up totally stressed out, and it doesn’t feel much like a holiday at all!
We might find ourselves in challenging family dynamics (there’s nothing like family get-togethers to bring out our inner teenager and mother wound!), racing to complete work deadlines, feeling the demand of school holidays, and running errands all over the place.
This time of year can be physically and emotionally exhausting. We might find ourselves triggered by old family patterns, or pushed into people-pleasing to keep the peace.
To maintain our balance, here are my top 6 tips:
– block out some time in your calendar just for you, at least a morning or an afternoon. Just knowing you have a chunk of free time in the schedule is a great stress buster and allows your nervous system to unwind!
– practice epic self care! If you haven’t already got your copy, download my free Self Worship Checklist. Pick one item per day to help you stay sane.
– switch up your normal environment – take a walk in nature, get some fresh air. Just go and do something different and spontaneous!
– meditate (a great way to keep sane and give yourself some headspace!)
– dance and move your body – every.goddamn.day!
– make pleasure your priority! Seriously, I feel like shouting this one from the rooftops. Remember, stress can’t thrive when we feel pleasure in our bodies, so focus on creating pleasure, rest and fun for you. Make oxytocin, not cortosil your drug of choice this festive season!
When we put our self care needs first, we create the space for the rest to fall into place. To thrive in 2019, we need to feel rested, recharged and rejuvenated. Happy holidays!
“I’m too much in my masculine”. It’s one of the most common things my clients tell me. Yes, I know that feeling well. All that focus on hitting those targets, reaching deadlines and basically getting shit done.
Yes- it’s necessary. But it doesn’t feel sexy, does it?
This feeling of being “too much in your masculine” often shows up as a gnawing, deep rooted feeling of disconnection and stress. And let’s face it, what we’re really saying is “I feel don’t feel fulfilled and sexy”.
When we finally switch off from work, do we feel radiant, sensual and alive? Or just plain old exhausted with nothing left in the tank?
Let me make this super clear. As human beings we absolutely need a balance of both our masculine and feminine. We need to function in the world- to give and receive, to act and respond, to fuck and be fucked. I’m not saying we need to achieve or do less- but many of us could use a bit more balance. And this has absolutely nothing to do with gender. I’m totally against the dogmatic stereotype that says “to be a feminine woman you need to wear a floaty floral dress and do what your man tells you” (believe it or not, some people actually teach that shit!)
The issue for us as modern women with careers, children and busy lives, is that it’s really easy to lose our balance. Many of us spend most of our working days in “doing” (masculine) mode- getting shit done, working on projects with linear deadlines and specific goals. It’s fine and necessary in the workplace, but operating in this mode all the time is really damaging. We exhaust our adrenals and stress becomes the norm, which in turn messes with our hormones. We miss out on the joy and juice of life.
We need to bring back our balance. We need to consciously make space for our feminine to flourish so we can feel our bodies, access our pleasure, rekindle our sensuality and awaken our desires.
Here’s my top tips to stop your inner masculine from taking over:
- Create a state change after work- have a shower and wash off the day, change your clothes- make it a real and conscious transition.
- Dance. Even just dancing for one song every day is awesome and seriously life-changing!
- Massage your breasts at least 3 times a week- go slow, use nice oils and breathe….it tunes us into our body, feels amazing and opens our hearts
- Worship yourself and put yourself first. Easier said than done? Download my Self Worship Checklist here
- Get your inner masculine involved! Create the structure for your feminine to flow by scheduling your self-care time, free time, massages etc
- Take regular time off- finish work on time, unplug at weekends. Don’t let the incremental stress creep up on you.
- Get out in nature– go for a walk, feel yourself expand and connect with your wild side
- Track your periods– when you understand the different phases of your cycle you’ll recognise changes in your thought patterns and energy levels and you can plan accordingly. One of my clients (a scientist) started doing this and said she’d been beating herself up for being inconsistent: ‘the only way I knew to make it work was to push really hard… and therefore be exhausted all the time”. Everything shifted once she worked with, rather than against her cycle (it’s not called flow for nothing!)
Remember it’s all about balance. If we’re only in our “feminine” mode we can’t function in the world. If we’re only in our “masculine” we end up stressed and exhausted, and disconnected from our pleasure. We all need this balance of yin and yang, and this is where we can truly experience harmony in all areas of our lives.
In the past decade I’ve seen the good, bad and downright dangerous when it comes to Tantra retreats and workshops.
In one course a facilitator screamed at me: “go to your edge!!”. I overrode my body’s signals (assuming as she is the teacher she knows best). What happened? The next day I felt like I’d been hit by a bus. I got physically sick and emotionally shut down. I knew in my gut I shouldn’t have gone to that edge and felt angry, confused and bruised.
There’s a tendency for many facilitators to encourage a big emotional or energetic purge. Why? Because yes, sometimes cathartic release can be helpful. If we’ve been unable to access and express our anger for a lifetime, then sure, we need to let off some steam once in a while. But some workshop leaders feel like they have a duty to make you feel something (because you’ve paid good money to attend and you expect “results”).
But what if those experiences do more harm than good?
I’ve had private clients come to me who’ve been pushed so far out of their comfort zone that they’ve been retraumatised and it’s taken them months to recover. I also have some clients who are “advanced” in Tantra- they’ve travelled the world, done all the retreats and festivals and had big energetic awakenings… but struggled to integrate the whole experience.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a lover of intense experiences and they can be awesomely powerful and beneficial.
But there’s a lot to be said for going slow and tuning into subtlety.
When we’re exploring deeper intimacy, greater feelings and expanding our consciousness, slowing down invites a richer experience. Many teachers in Tantra focus on the big blow-out experiences but they’re not always easy to integrate and afterwards you’re right back where you started (and maybe even gone back a few steps).
Yes, you had a peak experience- but you haven’t actually made “progress”.
If your body and energy system hasn’t opened gradually over time- if you haven’t trained your system to expand its capacity to hold more– you risk blowing your circuits (what the yogis call nadis). You might end up feeling frazzled, ungrounded and emotionally chaotic.
Essentially you’ve taken one step forward and two steps back. It’s the same as going to a beginner’s yoga class and doing advanced breathwork techniques- you won’t get the benefit and you might do yourself damage.
If you’re in a workshop or retreat, what happens if:
- you’re paired up with someone to do an intimate exercise and you don’t feel safe?
- everyone else is screaming and going crazy and it makes you feel unsafe?
- memories of abuse or assault arise and you get retraumatised?
- that facilitator or support staff aren’t trained to spot your triggers/ trauma responses?
- you do an exercise and it shuts you down instead of opening you up?
- you “push through” because everyone else seems to be ok with it?
- you go into freeze? (a common response for women when feeling threatened)
- the exercise/workshop/retreat unleashes energy that you then can’t manage?
- you’re left feeling shaky, ungrounded and unable to integrate the experience?
- you go back to work (and “reality”) after a big weekend workshop/retreat and suffer a massive comedown?
This is the sledgehammer approach. It’s so tempting to throw yourself into such experiences, particularly if you feel “numb” or you have deep wounds to heal, and “everyone else is doing it so it must be good”. I see it all the time and much of my 1:1 client work focuses on helping women integrate such experiences.
Basically in these scenarios you’re being encouraged to tune out the subtle whispers of your body and your intuition right from the get-go. You’re overriding them. You’re tuning out your own sovereignty.
So then what happens in an intimate experience with a partner?
If we’ve gone for these peak experiences in workshops and retreats and take that into the bedroom, we’re missing out on a whole range of pleasure that comes from relaxed arousal.
We’re missing out on true intimacy.
What happens if we slow right down and take the goal off the table? What happens when we make every moment an opportunity for exquisite awareness and unique pleasure?
This is true presence. This is where the magic lies.
My suggestions, whether you’re male or female, in a workshop environment or with an intimate partner are:
- Go at your own pace. Particularly if you have a history of sexual trauma/abuse- move at the rate of the slowest part of you. Take the time to build trust.
- Continually check in– with yourself, with your partner. Does this feel good? Are we both on the same page? Are we still connected? Do I feel safe?
- Focus on your breath, take long, slow, deep breaths. If you’re with a partner- synchronise your breathing so you feel more connected.
- Slow everything down. Observe micro-sensations and become aware of every subtle movement
- Take the goal off the table– whether it’s a peak experience or multiple orgasm- you’ll have a much better chance of actually experiencing it if you stop trying to hunt it down.
- Trust your instinct– if something or someone feels “off”- trust that feeling. Even if all your friends resonate with a teacher and you don’t- listen to your inner voice.
The more we tune into our own subtle cues, the more discerning we become and the better experience we’ll have- whether that’s in a workshop, retreat, exercise or intimate experience with a beloved.
There’s a whole other world of riches to be discovered when we take the time to slow right down and become aware of subtle sensations. We become deeply intimate with ourselves and truly sexually sovereign.
There’s nothing like a good taste of your own medicine.
When I launched Sacred School of Shakti in 2017 I got swamped by a tidal wave of applications- which was awesome! I moved heaven and earth to cram the interviews into my tight schedule. During those first 2 days of calls I’d left myself just 15 minutes between each call and actually forgot to leave time to eat ! My mantra was “I’ve just got to get it done”.
Yes, me- the passionate self-care advocate, teaching ways to balance our masculine and feminine in the very course I was selling! I’d basically broken all my own rules. Oh the irony…!
The crunch came when I woke up one morning and my body was completely locked solid- everything was clenched. It was scary as hell but also the wake-up call I needed.
But here’s the thing- yes I’d been pushing hard, but I’d still been doing daily yoga and meditation practice, getting weekly massages and floatation tanks. In general I thought I’d been taking care of myself. But I was close to completely burning out and hadn’t even realised.
I’d ignored the whispers from my body…….until she screamed at me!
It wasn’t just the result of those 2 days of back-to-back calls. Nope. It was years of “just getting it done”. Nerida Moorhouse, naturopath says “burnout symptoms may take two months, or two years to develop… most women do not think it could happen to them, as they have usually managed a complex work life balance for years, and coped to degrees, but it creeps up on them, and then it can be a single event (eg- flying interstate for a funeral/wedding/meeting/or get an infection) that makes the dominoes fall, and they are usually perplexed, and wonder where their energy, memory, and drive has gone”.
It’s a big issue for female entrepreneurs, managers, go-getters and change makers. There’s so many of us striving to make a difference in the world but often our wellbeing suffers as a result because wé’re not in balance.
No matter how much self care I was practicing, my yang masculine side was completely running the show. In the launch phase of a new project it’s pretty much inevitable. Everything revolves around “just getting it done”. Which often looks like eating take-out food on the fly (at the laptop), checking emails as soon as you open your eyes, and working 16 hour days non-stop.
I’m so grateful my body screamed when she did.
It was the perfect wake-up call at the right time. With a wonderful team of practitioners I not only healed but learned some deep lessons that have been invaluable to me and my clients.
I’ll say it loud and clear- if we want to be an amazing force of change in the world we MUST put ourselves first!
These top tips work for myself and my clients:
- Make sleep your #1 priority. “Even if you are eating very well, with homemade, high nutrient meals, and taking nutritional supplements, if you do not replenish yourself with sleep, you may be likely to enter the path of burnout”- Nerida Moorhouse, naturopath
- Get your blood checked annually– know your iron stores, thyroid levels, essential minerals. Empower your health by knowing where you stand.
- Rest. It’s absolutely crucial. We’re not designed to be in fight/flight mode 24/7. “When we run on overdrive (cortisol) then we deprive the body of going and making sex hormones. This leads to early onset menopause….resting never looked sexier right?” Dr Natasja Fox, Co-Director, Jing Holistic Integrated Healthcare
- Read fiction. Sounds crazy but it’s an amazing way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Firing up our imagination lights us up in all kinds of creative ways and switches us out of work-mode. Seriously, lying on the couch reading a good book is amazing.
- Embodiment practices– not going to the gym, but something softer, more fun- dance is perfect (and if you work from home taking regular dance breaks is an absolute godsend!)
- Prioritise pleasure- people laugh at me when I say the practice that makes me most efficient at work is breast massage but it’s true! When we prioritise our pleasure we activate wonderful hormones like oxytocin. We feel fulfilled and nourished. It’s a great way to start the day!
- Create impeccable time boundaries. It’s is a tough one when we have a never-ending to-do list but absolutely essential. Set a time to stop work and stick to it. Learn to say no.
- Stay offline in the morning. I have a golden rule – the first 2 hours in the day are mine and they’re sacred. The phone doesn’t get switched on until 10am. No more checking emails before even having a shower. Make technology work for you rather than being a slave to it.
- Get out in nature. Often. One of the best ways to combat stress is to give it back to mamma nature. Go for a walk or run, get to the beach- whatever works for you. It’s an amazing reset and it’s often when I get the best inspiration.
- Schedule your self care– use your Google calendar or put a reminder in your phone. Download my Self Worship Checklist and pick something every day.
- Track your menstrual cycle. Get to know the phases of your periods so you can plan for energy peaks and troughs.
- Dig deep and check your self-worth. If there’s a part of you that doesn’t feel like you deserve success or amazing clients, then you’ll be using a lot more energy to get anywhere, kind of like pushing a large rock up a hill. “Proving ourselves” is exhausting. We need to make friends with that insecure little girl inside.
As women in business we absolutely need to prioritise ourselves like this because our hormones play such a big function in managing stress. I’ve seen this over and over again with my clients. I see it with my friends and colleagues and I see it in myself.
When we take sacred rest and put our health first we’re telling ourselves we matter– and we set an excellent example for our colleagues, employees, friends, sisters and daughters.
Accept nothing less- aim for long-term success because the world needs you thriving, not surviving!
The world of Sacred Sexuality and neo-Tantra. It can be wonderful and exciting….but also a minefield.
Learning about our bodies, becoming empowered, discovering the amazing potential of energy and intimacy is beautiful and potentially very healing.
But how can we make sure we stay safe and avoid the predators?
I’ve taught this stuff internationally for years but I’ve also been right in the thick of it. I’ve seen many women have their confidence and boundaries destroyed in the name of sexual healing and spiritual practice. It’s got to the point that I don’t actually like using the word Tantra at all, because it has such a bad rep.
The Tantra scene is full of stories of abuse in bodywork sessions. It normally goes like this – a woman goes for a yoni massage, lots of energy gets unlocked, the male practitioner engages in oral sex or penetration. The woman is frozen/confused and unable to say no.
This is NEVER ok.
So here’s the advice I wish I’d had way back in the day. I don’t regret any of the experiences that I’ve been through- I’ve learned so much about myself, my shadows and my weak spots.
As women it’s essential that we have ways to discover and unlock our power and pleasure – safely.
- Work on yourself first. Discover your body and your sovereignty so you feel empowered and confident in making good choices. And by “work” I don’t just mean self-pleasure (although this is absolutely crucial!). But also do your inner work. If you’ve got “daddy issues”, if you have a tendency to pedestal men in power, if you have patterns of choosing abusive partners- dig deep here otherwise you’ll project this onto authority figures and get stuck in playing out old wounds and patterns.
- Do your research. Ask around. Go by word of mouth recommendations (this is not foolproof by any means but it can be a big help). Use your intuition. If you look at an advert or website and something feels “not quite right”- absolutely trust that instinct. It might save your sanity (and thousands of dollars).
- Ask questions before booking in. If it’s a workshop- do they have assistants supporting? Who’s the facilitator trained with and how much experience do they have? What’s the format of the day? Do you have the option to step out of exercises if you feel unsafe? What are the workshop boundaries/rules (ie no nudity, no genital touch etc)? Is there opportunity for individual sharing/group feedback/questions etc? Is there a cap on numbers? Is there follow up support/after care?
- How does your body feel when you get the answers– do you feel relaxed, excited or contracted? It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous when stepping into a new space, and it can be really helpful to discover your “edges”- there’s a lot of growth potential there. But been pushed over your edges can be incredibly damaging.
- If you’re booking a bodywork session ask: do you stay clothed during the session? What’s your code of ethics? What’s the structure of the session? How do you establish consent and boundaries? What are the boundaries? How do I say stop/no/slow down? I can’t emphasise this enough- the container can never be too strong.
- If you’re booking a yoni massage– please- work with a trusted female practitioner first. Have several sessions with a woman before working with a male practitioner. Even so- ask plenty of questions so you know exactly how the session will run.
- You don’t need to get naked and be fucked by the teacher to be initiated into Tantra. You can unlock a shitload of stuff yourself. Work at a pace that suits your nervous system (and past traumas).
- You don’t need to be polyamorous to practice Tantra. Being poly doesn’t make you enlightened. If a teacher advises you to open your relationship I’d see this as a massive red flag.
- Always use protection. Some Tantric communities are crawling with Chlamydia. Anyone who tells you that condoms block the energy flow has seriously questionable motives.
- In some schools the teachers have sex with their students. Personally I think that’s an abuse of power. Be really clear how you feel about this before signing up.
There are so many amazing sacred sexuality teachers and bodyworkers out there, who have a wealth of integrity and depth of knowledge. The Tantric path can be incredibly healing and empowering. Take the time to choose your practitioner wisely and listen to your intuition. Practicing discernment is an essential component on this path and you can save yourself a lot of time, energy and money by listening to your inner wisdom.