People don't typically come for sensual bodywork to connect to their grief.
We come to feel turned on, loved and enlivened. We want to feel lighter, happier, more confident and relaxed.
But grief is sneaky. And sometimes sadness bubbles up in the midst of ground-shaking pleasure.
Over the years of giving and receiving sensual bodywork, I have found that paradoxically and mysteriously, pleasure and sorrow are often intertwined.
As we connect deeply to pleasure, our bodies may suddenly feel the pain of years of not feeling pleasure. Only once we begin to taste the sweetness of sensual pleasure, are we made aware of all the holding-on or touch starvation or bad touch we’ve endured up until to that point. What a relief to finally feel pleasure. How painful that it took so long.
I also have clients come for sensual bodywork when they are in the midst of living through intense losses, such as the death of a parent, the end of a relationship or the loss of sexual intimacy within a marriage.
In the absence of opportunities to express our grief, our bodies may tighten to protect us from feeling pain and armour us against our sorrow. When we are touched in sensual massage, we reawakened to sensation and our bodies receive the message that it's okay to feel.
Sometimes, only as our sensational capacity comes on board, do we actually feel the impact of the contraction, pain, sadness and armouring we’ve done to protect ourselves from loss. And so we hurt. If we welcome our tears alongside our pleasure in a bodywork session, both can flow freely and we actually experience more intense pleasure, joy and aliveness.
Just as pleasure can be an opening for grief, I have also found that sadness and grief can be an opening for pleasure. Sometimes when I’m receiving sensual touch and I want to open to my pleasure, I’m surprised and frustrated that I feel numb and disconnected, rather than turned on.
I’ve learned that this feeling often comes when I’ve been avoiding feeling some sadness. I’ll tell my partner, "I think I just need to cry a bit and then I can be present to you and my body". Without interrupting the sensual flow of our connection, I can then intentionally tap into my sadness, which softens my body so that pleasure can sneak in.
You may be experiencing loss, grief or numbness and want to make more space in your life for pleasure. Or, you may be in the throws of ecstatic pleasure during a sensual massage and suddenly feel your sadness rise up from nowhere. Let that come too. Welcome any crowd of sorrows who sweep into your house for, as the Sufi poet Rumi says, they may be clearing you out for some new delight. From Rumi's poem The Guest House:
This being human is a guest house.