Sense of the week
Train yourself and your partner to become more sensual. Getting more in touch with your senses will directly translate to a heightened level of awareness and appreciation of all things in and outside the sexual realm. As McCarter explains, “Our culture is very mind-oriented. We are overdeveloped mentally and underdeveloped sensually. We need to get out of our heads to experience our bodies, otherwise during love making, the lights may be on, but nobody’s home.” Try this at home: choose one of the five senses—sight, sound, smell, taste, or touch—as your focus for the week. If you select touch, wear only silk, satin, and free flowing clothing all week; wear a feather boa to bed and glide it across your lover. McCarter adds, “Buy your negligees for how they feel as opposed to just how they look, and make love with the whole idea of experimenting with touch.”
Speaking of experimenting, on the last day of our retreat, Holstein invited a henna tattoo artist to the circle to inscribe a design of our choosing onto our skin—a tangible symbol of our progress, or perhaps a reminder for the continued journey ahead. I had my husband’s name tattooed across the small of my back in an effort to learn to surrender, which is what I have the most trouble doing in my life. Having never entertained the notion of a tattoo, I went home feeling triumphant and bold. Henna ink is impermanent and my tattoo faded away; but my new outlook is written in indelible script, and I am forever changed.
Finally, an indulgence that actually makes you healthier: sex! Research shows that monogamous sex with a trusted partner offers many health benefits. The positive effect that sex has on virtually every part of your body warrants making it part of your regular regimen for staying healthy. Substitute a trip to the gym with a workout session in your very own bed! Here are some reasons to leave your sneakers in the closet…
• Sex offers a creative way to tone the body via the muscular contractions inherent in the act. Sex also improves cardiovascular health, as arousal increases breathing and heart rates in the same manner as aerobic exercise.
• Having sex at least once a week can ward off colds and the flu. Sex increases the production of immunoglobin A, an antibody that boosts the immune system.
• Sex can be both mind-blowing and mood altering. Psychologist Gordon Gallup found that semen contains a hormone called prostaglandin that adjusts female hormones when absorbed in the vaginal tract. This absorption helps stave off depression brought on by imbalances.
• Endorphins released during sex can relieve pain from arthritis, backaches, headaches, and menstrual cramps.
• Sex strengthens the bond between partners with the release of oxytocin from the pituitary gland, giving sex the amazing potential to provide an all-encompassing experience that touches body, mind, and soul.
We all own at least one. So, where are the sex books and videos in your house? Under your bed? Beneath a pile of dusty novels on the lowest shelf of your bookcase? Are your labels hidden from the perusing eyes of houseguests who might think you have to read about sex to know what you’re doing? Or do they rest confidently atop your coffee table for easy access? Whether you bought the sexy stuff yourself or received it as a party gift long ago, it’s time to shamelessly indulge in it as a true goddess! You can bet your body oils that as you educate yourself about sex, the payoff will far outweigh the taboo. The following resources are beneficial as you reside on Mount Olympus, at your sexual peak!
Good Vibrations Guide to Sex: The Most Complete Sex Manual Ever WrittenBy Cathy Winks and Anne Semans (Cleis, 1994)
Hats (and clothes!) off to Cathy Winks and Anne Semans for writing this unflinching, comprehensive, and matter-of-fact guide about sex. Good Vibrations is a useful map that points out both the glowing treasures and the possible pitfalls along the sexual journey. Conversational in tone, you’ll feel engaged and involved while reading this book, as opposed to a voyeur taking a peek. Further, the writers promote universality by looking at sex in a non-judgmental fashion. Sex is viewed a wonderful part of the human experience—no matter which experiences you choose to have.
The Great Sex WeekendBy Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., and Janet Lever, Ph.D. (Perigee Trade, 2000)
In a perfect world, the suggestions in this book (which include candlelit baths in a Jacuzzi tub, full body massages from your partner) would be the rule for everyone’s sex life, but for the vast majority of couples, these activities are the baffling exception. Enter Schwartz and Lever, who undertake the tall order of bridging the gap between fantasy and reality, mortality and goddess-hood by helping you create a weekend of bliss with your lover. In addition to leading readers to “great sex,” the authors wisely relay tips on resurrecting intimacy of the emotional variety between partners (go shopping together for frivolous home décor, take a nap in each other’s arms). These are the true gems of the book, as they can be done within the confines of your normal lives and without the backdrop of a hotel room.
The Better Sex Guide to the Kama Sutra(Sinclair Intimacy Institute, DVD)
With a title that translates to “aphorisms on love” this DVD transforms this ancient text into present-day lovemaking possibilities. Real life couples showcase twelve of the positions described in the Kama Sutra, which “aims at creating a symphony of beauty and relationship that last a lifetime.” Based more on the journey than the destination, this video offers alternative suggestions like bathing your lover before sex and exchanging sexual intercourse for prolonged kissing episodes. The positions demonstrated are varied in nature and skill level. Some of the more brow-raising renditions involve a swing and a bouncy ball; those less apt to turn their bedroom into that kind of a playground should try the “Pair of Tongs.” No additional equipment required, but women should be prepared to unleash their inner goddess.
Awakening Aphrodite at Miraval Resort in Catalina, Arizona. Upcoming 2006 workshops: April 2–6 and October 22–26. $725.00 per night, plus tax and service charges. This includes luxury accommodations, three gourmet meals daily, unlimited access to all programs activities and workshop events, three spa services—valued at $110 per service, and roundtrip transportation from Tucson International Airport.
Miraval Resort, (520) 825-4000, www.miravalresort.com