“I hold my skirt, sash untied.
And stand before the window with unpainted eyebrows.
Silk clothes fly open so easily.
If my skirt opens, I’ll blame the spring wind!”
Zi Ye, translated
“In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.”
Alfred Lord Tennyson
What is it about spring that leads people to think about sex? Is it the phallic nature of flowers as they push out of the ground? Is it the shift in temperatures that tempts us to shed our heavy clothing and expose our bodies to the sun? Maybe it’s our pagan heritage.
Tennyson speaks of a young man’s fancy. I want to expand the idea of spring as an aphrodisiac to include men and women, young and old.
About 10 days ago I decided to treat myself to 25 days of self-pleasuring after hearing another sex educator talk about her yearly practice. The idea appealed to me and fit my spring-induced mood. I planned to journal about my feelings and experiences, privately, and maybe write a little about the experience of self-pleasure as a daily habit. A habit that’s not unlike going to the gym every day or vowing to drink 8 glasses of water a day. I believe that sexual wellness requires us to focus on our intimate body parts and our emotional needs. Self-pleasuring, whether you’re in a relationship or not, is good for us.
I got started, then fell into the trap I often warn others about. I got busy and failed to make time for self-pleasuring. Here are some of the things I let get in my way:
I’m too busy
Waste of time…
It’s late and I’m tired.
This is going to take work to get in the mood.
I need to be focused; this will be distracting.
Is sex all that important?
Some of you are probably asking, why does sexual pleasure matter? Or maybe you’re patting yourself on the back and saying, “I already experience desire, why do I need this?” Or, “I have sex with a partner, why would I want or need to self-pleasure?”
Do we ever know all we need to know about something? Do we get to a certain level of mastery or satisfaction and then step back? Of course not. And, why would we not think ourselves worthy of our own focused attention? I learn more about my own desire with every experience. I find new levels of arousal. I discover new sensations. It makes me a better lover and it makes me happier. And, if a low libido is the issue, then taking time to be intentional about desire may help women feel greater desire.
Let me get a little personal and tell you what happened on those days when I devoted my attention to my body. On the first day I found myself in full arousal just thinking about this idea, partly spurred on by some delicious erotica that popped up in my inbox. I stopped what I was doing and turned my focus on my pleasure. It left me with a smile and a sense of well-being. I went back to work (I work from home) feeling more energetic. Later in the morning when I did my dry brushing before showering, I was more aware of the sensations of the brush stroking my skin. I slowed down, turning my attention to what I was doing and found myself again in a place of heightened arousal. My skin came to life, my body tingled and my mood lightened.
Day two was hectic and wasn’t finding the time for play, so I focused on the act of dressing—what did I want to wear, what would make me feel good. The smooth nude-colored bra or the black lacy one? Lace. The pleasure for that day was taking time to look at my body—to see and feel the way lingerie and clothes embraced my body and contributed to my uplifted mood. I found pleasure in what I saw in the mirror—I owned my sexiness in that moment. A different kind of self-pleasure.
I don’t know whether others set a goal for their 25 days. I want to be present to my body, my sexual moods and to expand my capacity for pleasure. Sexual desire is not as simple as flipping on the bedroom light switch. Female desire is complex; our desire and physical arousal build in delicious layers. When we’re not directing all our focus on our body, and maybe our partner’s body, we can’t fully experience all that sex has to offer. It’s like wandering out to smell the flowers wearing dark sunglasses with a stuffy nose, while trying to read emails on our phone. The opportunity for enjoyment is diminished if we fail to give it our full attention.
I’m back to my daily practice, actively thinking about my sexual pleasure during the day. For me the practice of self-pleasuring is not goal-oriented, it’s more of an acknowledgement of the value I place on sexual arousal. Each day can present me with a chance to be playful, to allow myself to feel new sensations, and to teach me something new. For the woman who experiences a lack of sexual desire this is a great exercise. In fact, it’s the focus of the book I’m writing on stepping into our sexual desire. Self-pleasuring is ideal for learning how to awaken the body, discover and explore erogenous zones, and increase your ability to feel desire. I’m committing to this practice and I invite you to add self-pleasuring to your daily routine.