“Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.” ~ Woody Allen
I’m no stranger to solitude.
For a good deal of my life, it has been a constant companion. While I celebrated my inner lone wolf during all that self-time, I also learned a very important lesson: there was going to be a point when my unique, vibrant, and essential sexuality would begin to demand my attention.
Some single folks deal with sex by casually taking lovers when they wish, sort of like cleaning out the bathroom sink trap. (Guilty.) If you’re married or co-habitating, your partner is right there at your disposal most of the time. Certainly, consulting your little black book or making time for intimacy with your partner is one way to address your sexual needs.
I found that another way is to be your own lover. Developing intimate self-love is not mutually exclusive of the other ways to get your sexual needs met. In fact, it’s the first step toward a more fulfilling sexual life.
You Can Be Your Own Lover. How Cool is That?
If “self-love” sounds New Age-y and weird, it isn’t. Think of it this way: Before you can be a good lover to anyone else, you need to be a good lover to yourself. It’s that simple. What else can you bring to a sexual relationship but what you are willing to offer yourself?
When someone asks you out to dinner and lets you choose the restaurant, how do you know what flavors appeal to your palate unless at one time you made the effort to figure it out on your own? Sex works the same way.
The more at ease you are with your own body and your sexual needs, the better equipped you are to share sexual energy with someone else. It’s not difficult to begin developing a sense of your unique sexual identity.
You can begin a solitude practice to discover and encourage it in a number of ways:
Take a warm bath.
Luxuriate in the heat surrounding your body. Let the smells of your favorite bath oils fill your senses. Breathe deeply. Great bath oils to use are lavender (stress reducer), frankincense (anti-inflammatory; anti-depressant), neroli (relieves depression and anxiety; rejuvenates cells), sandalwood (promotes inner unity, calm, acceptance), amber (meditative, sensual), or ylang ylang (balances male/female energy, restores confidence).
Buy an outfit in your favorite fabric.
Something loose and flowing and comfortable. (I’m a fan of linen or ultra-soft cotton.) As you wear it, be present in the way it makes you feel. Think of this outfit as a power source, filling your body with self-adoration.
Take a dance class that focuses on sensual movements.
Belly dancing is a fabulous choice for women. Bollywood/Bhangra dancing is great for men and women; it’ll get your hips moving in ways you never thought were possible. If dance isn’t your thing, try yoga (Vinyasa Flow, for example) or even Tai Chi and Qigong classes. Or take a rigorous spin class at your local gym. There’s something deliciously primal about sweating with strangers.
Get a massage.
Having someone else caressing your body and rejuvenating it with touch is a wonderful way to meditate into your own pure sensuality. But don’t zone out! Work with your massage therapist by concentrating on the area being touched. Make a point of mentally directing soothing, sensual energy to the skin and muscles being worked on.
When you’re ready to move on to more concentrated sexual self-love, try this: Find a full-length mirror in your house. Get naked and stand in front of it. Even if you’re not thrilled with your body right now, or if you’ve spent months avoiding mirrors at all costs, try not to be nervous.
Now comes the fun part. As you look at your body in the mirror, don’t view your body with your own eyes, but use the eyes of an imaginary lover—perhaps your Highest Self, who already thinks you’re a real knockout. If looking at the whole of your body is too much at once, focus on one part of your body—say, your neck.
Say something nice about it. How soft it is, or how kissable it looks. Keep in mind that you are not talking as yourself; you’re speaking as a lover.
Keep going. Compliment as many sections of your body as you can, even the ones you dislike—especially the ones you dislike. Finally, give yourself an overall comment of admiration. What would you tell yourself if you were your own lover?
Of course, there’s no need to stop there. If you’re so moved, continue the admiration physically. Just remember that it is the imaginary lover/Highest Self who is making love to you. It’s likely one of the hottest role-playing sessions you’ll ever have.
When you take time for yourself in solitude, you have a tremendous opportunity to develop a strong sense of your own sexual identity.
In this way, you are better able to share your sexuality with a lover, should you choose to have one. Regardless of whether or not you have a partner, a well-developed private sexual life will help you to exude a sense of majestic self-worth.
Your Sexual Top 10
Create a list of 10 things you like about your sexuality. No one else needs to read this list, so consider aspects of your character that even a lover might not know about you.
If you need a jump-start, try answering these questions:
1. What is a first sexual memory?
2. When did you first discover your own body, sexually?
3. How do you honestly feel about sex?
4. When was your first sexual experience with another person? Was it positive? Negative? Are you indifferent? Why?
5. What was the best sexual experience you have ever had? What made it so?
6. What does “sexy” mean to you?
7. Would you say that you are a sexual person? That is, do you consider sex an important part of your life? Why or why not?
8. How satisfied are you with your current sex life?
9. What are your top three strengths as a lover?
10.What are your top three weaknesses? How can you turn them into strengths or eliminate them entirely?
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Editorial Assistant: Pamela Mooman/Editor: Renee Picard
Photos: elephant journal archives