Our Complete Holistic Sexuality Quiz is Here!

Holistic sexuality is IMG_4795a balanced engagement of the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual components of sexuality. It’s about nourishing all of you through sexual connection, exploration, expression, and play.

Atacama Counseling has designed an assessment to help you identify what parts of your sexual self are nourished, and what parts could use a little love.

The complete quiz includes an introduction to holistic sexuality, a full assessment of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms of your sexuality, as well as suggestions for how to fully thrive in each of these areas.

We hope you find it insightful!

The quiz is your gift to keep forever when you sign up for our free bi-monthly email publication, Shadow Hieroglyphs: Writings on Creativity, Mindfulness, and Presence (…and if you don’t love it, you can unsubscribe at any point).

Get your Complete Holistic Sexuality Quiz Now! 

Fostering Intimacy With a Romantic Sanctuary

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The couples I work with all too often struggle with making time and space for sex in the context of the rest of their lives. When we have families and careers to juggle, sex all too often falls by the wayside. Yes, time and energy are at a premium for many of us. But there is also deeper level to this dynamic. We often find that juggling our different roles also makes it difficult to keep the fire alive. It is hard to switch from our role as a professional, or as a parent, into a sexual being. Instead, we may find it easier to numb, ignore, and starve our sexual selves.

The process of reintegrating this part of our beings can be a complex journey, one unique to each of us. And while it would be impossible to address the totality of this dynamic in a single blog post, I can offer you one of the starting points that has fostered intimacy for many of the couples I see, especially those with children.

Create a romantic sanctuary.

Have one place in your house that can transform into a space where your sexual self can thrive. Set the intention to spend time here a couple of times a week, whether or not you choose to have sex. When we build a fire, we need a physical pit or fireplace—a special place for that purpose alone. We also need enough space for air to pass through, and enough time to nourish the flame. So too with the fire within do we need space to breathe and time for growth. We also need to send it the message that it is an important part of our lives.

Here’s how:

  1. Pick a place in your home for your sanctuary.

The bedroom is the obvious choice for many, though it doesn’t have to be. If there isn’t one place that can be just for you and your partner (say, for example, you are co-sleeping with your child in your room), pick a place you can transform with candles, music, pillows, etc. when you and your partner want to connect. You could even add soft lighting to a bathroom and take a bath together. Wherever it is, make sure it is a place where you feel safe, comfortable, and confident that you will not be intruded upon.

  1. Let your five senses guide you in your transformation of space into sanctuary.

What smells turn you on? How does temperature affect your sexual enjoyment, and what is your ideal temperature? How do the fabrics on your bed or couch feel on your skin? How does lighting affect your mood? How about sounds? This is you gathering the wood to fuel your flame.

Consider adding candles, twinkle lights, or other soft lighting, a way to play music, or aromatherapy to the room. Leave your phones, TV, and other screens off or outside.

  1. Make sure you feel safe and comfortable to be yourself.

If you are worried about being seen through the window, make sure you to close your curtains/blinds. If you are concerned with being heard, try adding a white noise machine by the door.

  1. Set the intention to spend time together in your sanctuary fostering intimacy, whether sexual or nonsexual.

Make actual dates, and follow through with them, even if they are only for 15-minutes a night.

And if you are too exhausted/triggered/anxious/etc to have sex, spend time in your sanctuary anyway. Listen intently to your favorite album. Give each other massages. Take a bath together. Have a meaningful conversation. Create art. Enjoy a good glass of wine. Fall asleep in each other’s arms. Find a way to harbor connection to each other and to your sensory experience.

Have fun!

 

 

How to begin loving your body during sex.

IMG_2850Most of us consider sex to be fun, important, and deeply gratifying. So it can be confusing to find ourselves avoiding it. There are several reasons why our discomforts keep us out of bed with one another; at the top of this list is our uneasiness and embarrassment in our own skin. When we are unhappy with the way we look, nakedness can be intimidating at best, unbearable at worst. And when we are filled with these emotions, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to fully enjoy sex.

So what are we to do? One answer lies in cultivating love and compassion for ourselves, just as we are. Here are a few ways to begin:

1. Develop an appreciation for your body and your sexuality alone.

Spend time with yourself naked, and notice what insecurities come up. Observe your thoughts and feelings as though you are not only undressing your body but also undressing your anxiety, letting them both be there without any need to change them. Stay curious about what you are feeling; you may gain some insight into the roots of your negative feelings.

If this feels tolerable, you can also try looking in the mirror, or masturbating in such a way that allows you to explore your own body. See if you can discover your erogenous zones, the features you consider to be your sexiest, and the parts of yourself that may feel a little too vulnerable to be touched. Get to know yourself in this way.

  1. Consider sharing your discoveries with your partner.

If you feel comfortable, let your partner know what you discover during your alone time. Are there areas of your body that feel a little too vulnerable to be touched or kissed? Or do those parts crave some loving attention? Clue him or her in, and don’t be afraid to make requests.

You may also want to share which parts of your body you love, and ask for some extra affection in those places too. Don’t be afraid to adore your amazing butt, and let your partner tell you how much s/he adores it too!

  1. Listen to your boundaries.

Your vulnerability and insecurities will fluctuate, and with them, your needs. If you are feeling more insecure than normal about your body, check-in with your comfort level. Do you feel ready to have sex with this particular person right now? Maybe you want to be intimate, but aren’t comfortable turning on the lights quite yet. Your nakedness is a fragile being; venturing outside your comfort zone is part of healing, but pushing yourself too far or too fast can leave you feeling over-exposed and eventually closed off.

  1. Adorn yourself

There are so many ways to adorn and celebrate your body. Try wearing clothes and/or jewelry that make you feel sexy on days or nights when you may anticipate having sex, or go straight for some lingerie that makes you feel smoking hot. Consider playing dress-up or trying out body paint. Try some home spa treatments to leave your skin extra soft and kissable before a date. Experiment with different perfumes/colognes, or even edible goodies. Let yourself believe just how yummy you are!

If you try out these things and your body image continues to block you from enjoying sex, there may be a deeper underlying issue or trauma that is contributing to your anxiety. Consider counseling as a way to explore and heal these feelings.

Why sex is a creative process.

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You, as a sexual being, are creative. You are creating and playing when you explore who you are as a sexual person. You may adorn yourself in lace, in body art, or in fantasy in the bedroom. You may choose to express your sexual self when you walk in the world as well: as flirtatious, as secretive, as erotically complicated. The way you whisper to your partner, the way you shadow your eyes, the way you dance—these are all expressions. You are expressing yourself just by being you, a carnal creature, completely unique.

Your desire is creative. Your body touched in a certain way. A part of you adored. A fantasy fulfilled—when you listen to your desires, you are listening to your imagination. You are holding a paintbrush to the canvas of your experiences and letting your inner creative run free, whether in collaboration with another or simply in your own fantasy. You are not creating because it’s logical or because it achieves a goal; you are creating because it’s what you crave. Because though it may not make sense, to ignore it seems to make even less sense.

The dance is creative. It’s where you bring your being and your desires to tango. To collaborate. To swirl with those of someone you love or like or just feel like creating with. You get to learn how to express yourself sexually, appreciate another’s expressions, and harmonize your unique rhythms to create a song unlike any other. This song includes attunement and compromise, which is all part of this beautiful process.

Your purpose is creative. Whether you are expressing your love or expressing your desire, you are expressing. If you are painting a memory or if you are conceiving a child, you are creating. Alone or with a partner, in your mind or in your body, when you awaken your sexual self, you are dancing. You are listening to yourself and to the world, and you are writing the story of what you hear.

Three Ways to Bring Mindfulness Into Sex.

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Mindfulness is a way of being—both in the world and in your own skin. ‘Mindfulness’ refers to the art of paying attention—to bringing awareness and compassion to our experiences and to the life surrounding us. It’s about staying awake to everything that is going on—our emotions, our sensations, the world around us—and enjoying the present moment to the fullest. I teach mindfulness to both therapy and coaching clients to help with a wide range of issues, and have found it to be especially effective in helping people find sexual fulfillment.

Mindfulness helps us to ground ourselves in what is happening in the here and now; it is an anchor to the present moment against the waves of thoughts and worries our mind creates. Sex is supposed to feel great. Its passion is supposed to dissolve the mundane world around us. It seems strange that in the heat of the moment we would become distracted. But we do. We think about how we are doing and what we look like naked. We wonder why we can’t orgasm or focus all our attention on holding in our orgasm. Our to-do list pops into our brain against our greatest efforts to keep it out of the bedroom. This is why bringing mindfulness into sex can be so helpful. Here are a few ways to start:

  1. Check-in honestly with yourself (and your partner).

Before the clothes come off, take your emotional and somatic temperature by mentally scanning your body. Ask yourself how you are feeling in this exact moment. Are there any thoughts or emotions that are blocking the flow of sexual energy? Where are your sexual boundaries at right now? What parts of your body are inviting sexual contact, and what other parts are asking to be left alone? Take note of your findings without judgment, and communicate to your partner any needs you have in this moment. This could look like saying, “I’m feeling really excited, and also kind of nervous. Let’s take it slow.” Keep in touch with your emotions and needs (and those of your partner) throughout sex. Practice differentiating between unnecessary distraction and your body’s communication of needs. Some things are important to think about (such as, ‘do I feel comfortable doing this?’). Listen to yourself and to your partner.

  1. Use all five senses to stay grounded.

Yes, all of them. Add in sensory experiences into your environment: dim lighting, candles, lacy lingerie, a hot shower, scented oils and perfumes, sexy music. Ask yourself what relaxes you, turns you on, and grounds you, and bring that into the bedroom (or wherever you are). This way, when your mind wanders, you can rest your attention on our sensory experience and ground yourself back in the present moment. Spend a moment noticing the softness of the sheets against your back, or the smell of your partner, or the warm glow of your shadows along the wall. Indulge in the sensory richness of your sexual experience.

  1. Enjoy the ride.

Our culture has a problem with looking at sex through a goal-oriented lens. All too often, we miss the best parts of our experience by moving our attention away from the moment and placing it on the future. Whether we are focusing all our energy on “getting to the good part” or keeping tabs on the frequency with which we are having sex, we are cheapening it. Set the intention to enjoy all parts of the experience—kissing, touching, whispering, tingling anticipation—for their own sakes. Challenge yourself to let go of a linear concept of sex and enjoy exploring, moment by moment.

 

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Página en español veniendo pronto! Para aprender mas sobre mis servicios, llame (720) 515-5184 o mande un email a rachaeluris@gmail.com.
Rachael Uris, MA, LPC is the owner of Atacama Counseling, LLC, offering sex therapy as well as individual and couple's counseling for issues surrounding sexuality, love, and pregnancy. All services are located in downtown Boulder, Colorado, and are provided in English and Spanish.
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