Every year about this time, I set an intention for summer. Where do I want to put my focus? How can I grow? Summer feels expansive and certainly plays the extrovert to her introverted wintery counterpart. But! Summer can also be tricky. Pressure for the ultimate beach body, constant invites for social gatherings and the feeling you should be always LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE. This summer, I’ve decided to slow it down and get inspired by these three words – embodiment, erotic and educational.
I’m still in process of discovering what this means, so I’ve put together a little guide to how these three words beginning with ‘e’ can make this summer potent and empowering. And of course, you’re absolutely invited.
What is embodiment?
Embodiment practice stems from challenging the pervasive ideology of mind-body duality. 17th century mathematician and philosopher, Rene Descartes, believed that “The nature of the mind is completely different from that of the body, and therefore it is possible for one to exist without the other.” Mind-body duality also reached back to the 5th century with Plato and was certainly used as reason in religion to label the body as ‘sinful’.
Embodiment sees our bodies as a direct extension of ourselves. 20th century French philosopher Maurice Merleau – Ponty challenged mind-body dualism by claiming “We have a body, but we are also a body. There is no me without a body.”
In short, our bodies are a valuable part of the conversation with our emotions, thoughts and healing because there is no boundary between mind and body. Through creating a dialogue with our body, we can actually process pent up feelings and stress for a more grounded and holistic experience with self.
How to practice embodiment?
I’ve always struggled with slowing down or sitting still and just not DOING ANYTHING. As a simple way into embodiment, I’ve started a new morning practice. Instead of the coffee AND the phone AND the planning of the day…I just sit. I drink my coffee in quiet, check in with my body’s sensations and pay attention to my breath. This is certainly a crossover into mindfulness practice, but I find it very helpful in learning how to BE in my body.
Body scanning is exactly as it sounds. It’s the conscious practice of paying attention to the different sensations in your body from head-to-toe. Body scanning isn’t about judging or fixing, but noticing. What emotions or stress show up in the different parts or areas of our bodies?
However! The mind can (AND WILL) go into full on wander, critical mode. That’s pretty much its move. In practicing gently bringing the mind back to noticing sensations with consistency, our brains actually create new neural pathways!
The benefits of body scanning include:
- Decreasing anxiety and stress
- Improving sleep quality
- Helpful in reducing chronic pain
- Improving self-awareness
- Improving focus
Check out this beginner’s body scan meditation for an introduction.
Actively Listening to Your Body
The belief that ‘pushing through’ is a sign of a strong character pervades our Western world. Feel tired? Push through. Don’t want to go that party? You better just push through!
This summer, I’m going to practice asking my body what she wants. Yes, I gave my body a pronoun. I feel like calling my body ‘she’ helps create agency and connection.
Of course we can’t last minute ditch plans all the time, but why are we required to never say no if we said yes a week prior? And yes, I may well piss off some friends in this practice, but it’s my summer and my embodiment.
Pleasure practice, baby!
Ohhh yeah! My favorite. I’m no stranger to self-pleasure. However! Pleasure plus embodiment? Hear me out. Instead of pleasure just being the same line of ‘I touch myself here and then eventually, I orgasm’…I’m talking getting all my senses involved. And not always with a climactic moment on the horizon…
Really tasting and smelling food. Taking time to lavish my whole body in lavender oil after my morning shower. Giving myself a foot massage. I’ve also started face yoga which is really calming and very body interactive.
Since it’s summer, plan a day just for you at a lake, river, ocean or pool. Bring delicious bites and water infused with lemon, mint and cucumbers. Lather on sun screen like you would a lover, feel the heat build on your skin, smell the salty air or surrounding plant-life, wade into the cold water, feel your nipples harden, goosebumps gathering on your skin, dive in and feel your heart rate quicken…
You get the idea. Take the day home with you and into your self-pleasure experience. Maybe right into the shower? Or post shower?
Educational & Erotic Summer Reads
This summer, I’m getting my read on! I figure I can access both the erotic and educational by nourishing myself on books and maybe a workshop, or two, or five. I reached out to some of my favorite people in the sexual wellness and feminist space for recommendations.
Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski – A guide to understanding female sexuality and embracing pleasure without shame or judgment.
The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love by Sonya Renee Taylor – Both a guide and a workbook, Taylor opens up the power of transformation through challenging norms and fostering self-love and compassion.
Ethical Slut by Janet W. Hardy & Dossie Easton – Oldie, but goodie. Challenges traditional beliefs about monogamy while exploring ethical non-monogamy.
Revolting Prostitutes: The Fight for Sex Workers Rights by Molly Smith & Juno – Super thought-provoking! Dive deep into the global political, social and economic status and treatment of sex workers.
Bitch: What does it mean to be female? by Lucy Cooke – Challenges the stereotypes and expectations about femininity, while providing a new concept of womanhood.
Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – Super juicy read! Perfect for on the beach. Re-telling of the love story between Greek heroes Achilles and Patroclus.
Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence – Classic tale of love, social class and sex. For those who love a good period piece, this is for you!
Gettin Buck Wild by Zane – Collection of wildly adventurous erotic short stories to inspire and arouse.
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang – A romance novel that explores the journey of a woman with Asperger’s syndrome as she discovers love and sexual pleasure.
Best Bisexual Erotica: Vol 2 edited by Bill Brent and Carol Queen – Part two of a diverse collection of LQBTQI+ erotica, celebrating all constellations and desires.
If you’re more audio, visually or workshop inclined, then check out CHEEX. They offer a free 7 day trial for full access to their diverse collection of audio erotica, ethically produced porn and not-to-miss super educational Pleasure Academy. You can take workshops and join live tutorials on everything from yoni massage to living a sex positive life.
Good thing summer lasts a couple of months around here in Berlin. Remember, beach bodies are fine and all…but this July and August, I’m reaching for something a bit more…lasting.