Some moments are so subtle they pass like pebbles under foot, stirring your memory as you sit on a beach dozens of years later, sifting through the abundant sands to find the one pearlescent stone that links you back.
Back to that grey chilly day you lost your virginity in a dry and unpleasant experience with a nice boy you barely knew because your dad was dying and your mom was checked out and no one really talked about sex except all your clueless friends.
Growing up can be a sleep walk, a dream state, responding to outer authority or cultural currents, moving with family obligation and social convention until that moment when you finally arrive at college, the kind of elite ivy-covered life no one in your family had ever experienced, and sit dumbstruck by the revelation that an economics textbook uses “she” as the protagonist.
That “she” could be powerful, make choices and decisions that impact not just her household but an entire economy cracks a calcified belief structure so enmeshed within my flesh that I bleed out the lies of subtle and systematic gender exploitation in waves that continue today.
Who am I? Who is she? And how is it that that we took so long to meet?
Up in the snowy peaks of Alta, Utah, former world champion skier Kristen Ulmer corralled a group of willing and a few skeptical adults to learn Big Mind Zen. Some wanted to ski better and many knew that skiing was just a tool for understanding ourselves.
She had us ski fairly straight-forward runs as the mind of different emotions (fear, anger), physical experience (athlete, death) or even natural elements (river, mountain). The human being is like a corporation, made up of thousands of mindsets that all have great wisdoms and great delusions to guide us. Fear is a very useful mindset if we find ourselves in danger. But if we are dominated by fear or in denial of fear, we can become immobilized or careless. Getting to know the major mindsets and “voices” that we utilize in our lives was the goal.
At the top of the run, Kristen asked us all to “shift” into the body. The technique is kinesthetic. When you shift your body just a few millimeters, you trigger a shift mentally that allows your conscious mind to experience the “voice” of the chosen mindset and the primary controller self becomes a passenger.
As my body took control, I was amazed by how quickly my form deteriorated. I was clumsy and uncoordinated nearly wiping out the group waiting at the bottom. I had not skied so poorly since I was a child. Confused, I asked Kristen to explain.
“Let me talk to the body.”
“Okay.” I said shifting again on my skies.
“Does she (meaning me) trust you?” Asked Kristen.
“When did she stop trusting you?”
“When I was a baby.”
Tears filled my eyes as I recalled long buried sensations of abandonment and fear as a baby in my crib.
I have never trusted my body. My body could get bruises and illness. My body could be molested against my will and nearly raped. My body could be ugly and unattractive. It bled and had cramps and did all sorts of embarrassing things. I could be judged for my body so I had to control it. I learned not to listen to my body but to outer voices of shame and judgment. Our bodies must conform to a narrow ideal and function.
The Crater in Homestead dips 65 feet into the earth, cradling warm and mineral rich waters. I hovered over her dark reflection trembling in inexplicable fear. She called me to dip into her waters but I resisted, afraid that I would simply sink and drown—an irrational fear of being swallowed by the earth waters by a lifelong swimmer.
I listened to the surfacing bubbles from two divers, peering through the slats on a submerged bench. In her eerie silent embrace, I stroked my arms in waves around my body, feeling the tiny CO2 bubbles forming a layer on my skin. A primal memory surfaced within me. Your womb is my womb. My body remembers her. Our bodies are her tributaries.
A sacred connection between the Divine feminine and humanity has been lost. She longs to return to us, to nourish and heal us. She lives within all but manifests in the female body. Like the dreamer who is being tickled by a downy feather, I am shifting in my slumber, bringing her essence with me through the cracks.
As we heal, we make space for our truest and highest expression. My long journey to wellness began with elusive allergies and depleted hormones. As Western medicine failed to offer me healing, I turned to alternative modalities. As I struggled to regain my libido after four children and the impact of modern stress, I discovered homeopathy and nutritional therapies.
At the same moment that I sought the healing that would free my body from heavy metal toxicity, the universe sent me a shocking message.
Get a vibrator.
My prim and proper friend, a businesswoman and veteran of libido crashing, slapped my knee and said, “Honey, hasn’t anyone ever told you?”
Not only had no one ever told me, I immediately dismissed the idea as something far too gauche for me, the controller mindset speaking, of course. I had been firmly conditioned to avoid the dogmatic shame of self–cultivation. Orgasm was good, but really only if shared and particularly if driven by one’s partner.
Self exploration? Please. As the body began to heal and feel insatiable arousal again, her invitation taunted me. My body had a secret it was giddy to share.
It was time to rediscover orgasm, female orgasm. My orgasm.
My understanding of myself, my body, the female experience in our culture, the Common myths and dogmas of sex all came into a beautiful crescendo. What I knew of orgasm was probably what beginner surfers know about surfing. I knew the thrill of the paddle and three foot waves but had yet to taste the majesty of really dropping in to a powerful rolling set.
And from what I have learned, this is true for many women because we are largely ignorant of our anatomies, having been strongly discouraged from exploring our vulva or clitoris at an early age. Given that close to 70 percent of women cannot achieve orgasm with penetration sex that means that most women are not dropping in to bliss on a regular basis. On top of that, we have pornographic mainstreaming of sport sex that leaves many of us feeling in adequate or unfulfilled when that is not our experience.
Rediscovering orgasm, for me, meant rediscovering the sacred divine power embodied within me and trusting my body to show me the way.
I have had practical and profound insights into my own body and the macro dynamics of feminine energies in the world. Restoring this connection has awakened and empowered me to take control of other areas of my life. I wonder if women took charge of their orgasm, they could also step into confidence and leadership in other areas of their lives? I experience greater intimacy with my partner as I slowly shed my fear and shame layers and stand confidently in my naked, powerful truth. As my health strengthens, my orgasm is fuller and more ecstatic which in turns floods my body with happy hormones that keep me healthy.
Women cannot ask for what they need, from life, from their partners, from themselves, if they do not know what is possible. And men cannot be expected to fully understand how the female body works when they do not own the equipment. We must teach them about us, sharing our ecstatic potential. Not the other way around.
Men are encouraged to take ownership of their sexual function but we sit helpless on the side of the road or feel hijacked by forces beyond our control. Knowledge is power, my friends. Self-knowledge is where it starts.
While our theaters fluster over the Vagina Monologues and the Senate debates our wombs, the Divine Mother has left us a beautiful gift with deeply layered wisdoms to share. The Vulva is the feminine flower of orgasm. Within her glorious petals and unique delicate folds lies a magical wishbone, a pulsing organ of 8,000 nerve endings that caress and hold space for us to blossom. She connects and weaves together our rich imagination, our compassionate heart, our deep longing and the roots of our beingness. She waits for us to return to the pebbles and the moment we woke from the dream just enough to see light through the cracks, and tear away the layers of shame, subjugation and abuse.
The complicated misogynist history that separated us from the gifts of our body can be set aside now.
My deepest wish for my daughters and all girls maturing into womanhood, is to know the truth of their entire being, to be fully empowered in mind, body and spirit. In a world where toddlers in tiaras understand sexual capital before they can read, every girl should learn about her orgasm well before she learns about his.
Access to orgasm may be the most intensely feminine right we never talk about.
In the bright snowy mountains of Alta, I decided to do another ski run in the body mindset. Only this time, I would allow my body to experience the run fully and freely. I observed her joy, her bliss, her playful ease and quick learning. When I let go and trust her, she knows exactly what to do.
She is beauty in motion.
L. Peterson is a writer, photographer, and mother to four precious souls. L. is passionate about the earth and human potential. In her treasure box are photos of loved ones, seashells, and mysterious keys.
Ed: Anne Clendening
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