On touch, or why Somatic Sex Education?
Sexological bodywork is a subset of somatic sex education. It is hands-on guidance that allows people to actively learn more about their own sexuality. It is a tool in the toolbox that helps people move to a more embodied sense and knowledge of their erotic self, which we then integrate into the whole self. Touch offered from practitioner to client is the educational and healing tool.
Sexological bodywork is designed and intended to help clients become more in touch with their own erotic self, without the complication of partner engagement or expectation of reciprocation. The focus is on receiving guidance, experience, and on learning how to make direct requests. The hands-on bodywork aspect offers guided touch, consensually agreed upon, to help people create a better relationship with their genitals, tissues of arousal, and sexuality. Information, connection, experience, time to directly experience and metabolize sensation are the first steps towards learning, integrating, and creating new meaning about sexuality.
The key to this touch, as with any kind of touch, is to discern two things: who is the touch for (who acts and who receives the benefit) and what is the purpose of the touch. While it may seem like a false dichotomy in social situations, or in a partnered sexual engagement, in a context with practitioner and client, teacher and student, it is discernment that gives clarity. When touch is unidirectional, for the benefit of the person receiving, it becomes more clear.
It starts with talking. Having a safe place to talk about sex and sexuality, the range of our experiences, question about genitals, health, pleasure, what we actually do, what we think we should or shouldn’t do, is the first offering of spaciousness in a tight world. We then work with the body through breathing exercises, meditation, movement and nervous system self-regulation. These offerings are ways of tuning the instrument of the body. Finding ways to remain present through the cycles of relaxation and arousal are part of the learning, too.
Many of us have never learned to name parts of our bodies. Specificity offers us a freedom. Being able to articulate places that can give us pleasure gives us power. Power over how we access, ask for, and share pleasure with others. If we never learn the names for our parts, some aspect of our power is truncated. Mapping pleasure, through touch and naming at the same time, connecting that cognitive knowledge to sensation, creates new neural pathways. Knowledge, when combined with touch, translates to deep somatic understanding.