The more whole we are as sexual beings, the more fulfilled we are as human beings. Author and world renowned Sexual Empowerment Coach Amy Jo Goddard speaks directly to the enormous segment of smart, creative women who, despite other successes, are frustrated about their lack of desire, lackluster sex lives, and disconnection from their bodies and pleasure. In this excerpt from her latest book WOMAN ON FIRE: 9 Elements to Wake Up Your Erotic Energy, Personal Power, and Sexual Intelligence, Goddard compassionately explores one of the elements at the root of women’s lack of sexual confidence, body image—and provides an accessible and prescriptive guide to overcoming it:
“In my Women’s Sexually Empowered Life Program, we spend an entire weekend on the body. I ask the women questions about how they feel about and experience their bodies, and they line up in the room along a spectrum in the place that identifies what they think and feel. Ask yourself where you currently place yourself on this spectrum:
AGREE > > > DISAGREE:
1. I like my own body.
2. I often give my body negative energy.
3. I intentionally hide parts of my body in the clothes I wear.
4. I spend a lot of time on organizing, primping, and fixing my appearance.
5. I have made decisions about relationships because of my body or my feelings about my body.
6. I have made decisions about sex because of my body or my feelings about my body.
7. My feelings about my body have restricted my choices.
8. My treatment of my body has put me in risky sexual situations.
9. It’s hard to let go of how I feel about my body when I am having sex or being physically intimate with someone.
10. If I felt differently about my body, my sex life would be different.
11. If I felt differently about my body, my relationship(s) would be different.
12. A partner has said things about my body that have made me feel bad about it or have hurt my feelings.
13. Family members have said things about my body that have made me feel bad about it or have hurt my feelings.
14. If I could, I would trade in my body for a different one.
15. I am working on loving my body more.
16. I accept my body just as it is.
I remember in 2013 asking a group of women whether they agreed with those statements. I was struck by the vast amount of energy they spent disliking, critiquing, trying to improve, or beating up on their bodies. I listened intently and took in the mass negative energy they had toward the temples in which they lived, how betrayed they felt, how dissatisfied and distraught some of them were about their magical bodies. In that moment, I realized that this is perhaps the single most effective and pervasive reason women are denied their full personal power.
Here is a ritual you can do in order to release some of the body negativity you have and bring in more acceptance and love.
1. What body lament are you ready to end? Ask yourself what messages or expectations you are ready to let go of about your body. What would it mean to really accept your body as is? To step into that place of radical acceptance?
2. Write down the messages that you have taken in about your body and how it should look, feel, perform, or function that are no longer helpful to you. Write down every thought about your body that you have internalized, every harmful message you are ready to let go of. Get it all out. Scrawl across the page.
3. Read it over and acknowledge the painful ideas you’ve been carrying and believing. Decide to let these messages go. When you are ready, ritually burn the paper and verbally state that you are releasing these ideas about your body. Watch them go up in flames.
4. Then take a ritual bath or shower to rinse those ideas away. If you choose, you can prepare some mud or create a mixture of milk, honey, and flowers to anoint your body with. As you spread it onto your body, enjoy the process with great intention. Take time to anoint and then rinse. Appreciate running your hands over each part of your body in the water, and give gratitude and blessings to each part as you do. Include the scars, the stretch marks, the rolls, the blemishes. What do you appreciate or embrace about each part of your body? How will you treat it from now forward?
5. Finally, when you find yourself lamenting again in the future, what will you do to snap out of it? Make a list of five to ten tools you can use to help yourself feel better and not get stuck feeling bad about your magical temple. Keep that list in a place you can easily access when you need the reminder.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amy Jo Goddard is a Sexual Empowerment coach and coauthor of the ever-popular Lesbian Sex Secrets for Men. She holds her Masters in Human Sexuality Education from NYU. Amy Jo has dedicated her life to sexual education and empowerment, and her workshops, individual sessions and speaking engagements have helped thousands of women discover their sexuality and deepen their personal relationships over the years. She lives in Napa, CA.
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