Pelvic Heart Integration Level 1 & 2 coming to Portland, Oregon

PELVIC HEART INTEGRATION

ACTIVATION Level 1 & 2

with Gwenn Cody & Isis Phoenix

Level 1 Jan 20-22, Level 2 Feb 18-20

10854925_10204939604106655_7604903888879642289_oPelvic Heart Integration is a unique and powerful synthesis of neo-Reichian breathwork, somatic release bodywork, psychodrama, trauma work, body reading and Tantra for understanding and harmonizing the whole person particularly in the areas of relationship, love and sexuality. This system was developed by Dr. Jack Painter and continued by Dr. Deborah Anapol. It has been called “the most potent integration tool for sexual harmony” by highly experienced sexuality trainers and workshop leaders.

The Pelvic Heart Integration system increases our awareness and gives us tools for healing developmental issues of childhood to the physical, emotional, interpersonal and sexual issues confronting us as evolving humans including those beliefs and patterns from our ancestral lineage.

IMG_2715PHI Level 1 explores:
The Four Genders – their attributes and their shadow qualities
The Four Part Breath Cycle to harmonize the energetic flows of yin and yang, masculine and feminine and giving and receiving energy
The Parental Triangle to recognize past parental and social beliefs that are limiting our fullness of energetic expression
Inner Man and Inner Woman – Finding and Cultivating the Ideal Harmony within

PHI Level 2 (NOVEMBER 11-13) explores:
Understanding and releasing body-armoring,
Transforming negative relationship beliefs and patterns from the Ancestral Lineage
Deep Somatic Release Bodywork for increased awareness and the harmonious flow of energy

By focusing our attention on the dynamics of the core duality of male and female within our own bodies, we give ourselves leverage to find unity much more effectively than when we blame others and try to change them. We also discover how to release the characteristic breathing patterns, thoughts, emotions, beliefs and body amour that block the free flow of our life force and inhibit our capacity for sensual pleasure and orgasmic release. When the polarities merge and come into contact, whether within one’s own body or with another, sexual excitement results, eventually culminating in full body orgasm if the natural flow is unimpeded.

Cost: $425 each weekend, $800 when paid together (Includes dorm style lodging in beautiful home in NW Portland) Catered meals additional.

MORE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO REGISTER CONTACT GWENN CODY gwenncody@gmail.com (503-230-0518) OR
ISIS PHOENIX sensualshaman@gmail.com

Open to both singles and partners of any gender or sexual orientation.

IMG_6437Gwenn Cody, MSW, CET, CTE and Isis Phoenix are two of only a handful of Pelvic Heart Integration teachers certified in the world.

Gwenn is a body-centered therapist and sexuality educator in practice since 1988. She is certified in Core Energetics, a spiritually focused Reichian therapy model and trained in Tantra and Sexuality with some of the best-known luminaries of the last 30 years including Jack Painter. In addition to individual and marital psychotherapy, she has been offering relationship counseling for non-monogamous individuals, dyads and groups for over 10 years. Contact her at www.gwenncody.com

Isis is a sexual somatic bodyworker and a teacher of sacred sexuality and temple arts for over a decade. She works professionally with individuals and groups desiring to create transformation in the area of sexuality, intimacy and relationship. She is also the creator of Naked Yoga Alliance, an International information and resource network for the transformative and healing practice of nude yoga.

“Stretching Her Wings” Isis in Florida

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Private Sessions at Sacred Haven, Orlando, FL. Feb 2-10, Feb 16-28.

MidWinter Naturist Festival @ Sunsport Gardens. Loxahatchee, FL Feb 11-14  – workshops ~ Pelvic Heart Integration, Nude Partner Yoga, Naked Church.

Pelvic Heart Integration Workshop @ Sacred Haven, Orlando, FL Feb 25 7-10pm.

Email Isis: sensualshaman@gmail.com or call 646-460-9397.

 

 

Karen writes… “vaginal intercourse makes me feel like I have to pee… Advice?”

A young female client of mine who is newly introducing vaginal intercourse in her life reached out recently with a question concerning pelvic discomfort she was experiencing. 
.Hi Isis,
I hope you are well. As I have been experimenting a bit more, I was wondering about one thing. When I have sex, I like everything but the penetration itself does not feel pleasurable. I mostly feel like I have to pee and would like it end rather sooner than later. Do I just need to get used to it a bit more or does this mean I am not aroused enough?
I hope you will be visiting the city sometime next year.
Blessings for the holiday season!
Karen
My Response:
How lovely to hear from you. First of all congrats on getting to know your body and also being really attuned and sensitive to her feelings and experiences. It sounds like you’re getting to know what your body likes and also what it doesn’t like. Your body will also keep changing as I’m sure your lovers will. It will go through its own seasons. The sensation in your vagina will change as well in different phases of your menstrual cycle. Sometimes the uterus will be lower other times higher which will effect the sensation in your vagina. Sometimes if will be full of blood and be heavier and press on other organs like the bladder. Women have pound for pound as much erectile tissue as men and things swell. They just swell on the inside. Sometimes you may retain fluid and other times you may feel quite dry. Also feeling like you have to pee during penetration also sounds like your G-Spot might be getting stimulated on the inside and you might be moving towards ejaculation and not urination. This is just a thought and something to explore you might want to watch the DVD Divine Nectar which is a beautiful rendition on female ejaculation.
Any pressure on the anterior wall of the vagina might feel like you have to pee so why not try an experiment. Empty your bladder before self-pleasuring and try inserting your fingers during your self-pleasuring ritual. In addition, toys like smooth crystal wands of rubber dildos can work as well. I would recommend becoming stimulated to an extent where your vagina actually communicates to you that she would like stimulation. Another option is to have your current partner give you a yoni massage where you can guide what you like and decide in the moment what you don’t. The likes and dislikes will change over time. You could also consider going to experience a sensual massage from a provider where you can speak about your concerns. If you would like some recommendations you can let me know. 
Wishing you all the best in your erotic adventures!
Love,
Isis

New Possibilities After a Diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction

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When I met Peter, he, like many older men, was struggling to embrace a new sexual identity. He had been referred to me by a sexuality therapist who felt that he needed a direct, interactive, hands-on approach to assist him in his quest to create an initiation into this new sexual identity.

Peter was in his sixties, a twice-divorced veteran recovering from a brain injury that had left him clinically diagnosed as impotent. Over the decade prior to his injury, his erections had become infrequent, and when he did have them they lacked the gusto of those of his twenties and thirties. After a cerebral hemorrhage in 2011, his erections ceased altogether. In spite of this, he remained optimistic that it was possible to recreate what sex was and could be for him. He was ready to empower his sexuality, rather than to see himself as diminished or victimized by circumstance. Inspiringly, he viewed his situation as an opportunity to create a sexual renaissance for himself  – a new golden age as he entered his golden years.

He confessed to me that, over the course of his life, he had never truly enjoyed sex. To some extent, he had seen it as a responsibility or a duty, one more thing he had to perform or achieve in a certain way to prove himself. As a result of this pressure, sex had been unsatisfying and he was uncertain whether he had ever been fully present for it. Sex had been angry and rage-filled at times. A military veteran, he held close the experience of war in his body and suffered from emotional, physical and spiritual numbness and PTSD for decades. Peter mentioned that anger felt like the only emotion he had been truly in touch with until his brain hemorrhage in 2011.

“Early trauma and war left me angry all the time. Anger was safe. I knew anger. It was almost a friend,” he told me. “But when I had my brain bleed, my entire life changed. Something shifted for me in my brain chemistry that affected my emotional body. I was able to access the places of emotion I used to have as a boy before trauma set in. Places of freedom, joy, wonder, curiosity, happiness.”

As he spoke, the excited young boy who had been lost since his early youth began to emerge, playful, curious and ready to engage.

From a place inside of him that had seen too much war and trauma, he told me: “Part of me for years was ‘Missing in Action’. I believe this brain injury has actually brought me into a state of grace. It gave me access to parts of myself and a wholeness that before was completely inaccessible. The brain injury also left me without access to the direct flow of energy to my genitals that make erections possible.”

“What a gift,” I said. “It looks like you’ll have the opportunity to expand your pleasure to your entire body. Most people never make it that far and their pleasure often stays trapped only in their genitals.”

His eyes twinkled.

“That’s why I’m here,” he said with a big smile.

“How do you want to feel in your sexual expressions, play and experiences?” I asked him.

“Free, connected, expressed … present. Like I don’t have to work. I want to play,” Peter told me sincerely.

Peter’s brain bleed had also apparently bled right out the angry warrior energy that had previously filled him. I suspected that this inner warrior had finally gotten so angry he just exploded, perhaps on an actual physical level causing the bleed itself. This was a classic opportunity for a shamanic reset in the system – an injury, ailment or illness that becomes an ally and offers us medicine that we need on in the deepest levels of our being.

I escorted Peter over to my floor palette futon and we began with a simple sitting meditation, noticing where sensation was present in our bodies and speaking out loud the sensations we were experiencing. Next we checked in with our body’s desires and made requests to each other on how our bodies would like to be touched in a non-genital focused way for one-minute increments. The body’s desires are always changing so the minute-long increments gave a contained space to explore both immediate and changing desires. Because the genital focus in our interaction was off the table to create a new form of sensual relating, it opened up a world of new possibilities for touch, intimacy and sexual self-expression.

Each of us took turns making requests and unfolding the true desires of the body now that direct genital contact wasn’t hogging the primary focus. The body revealed all of these beautiful subtleties and we had the opportunity to explore not just where we would like to be touched, but how, what pressure, what quality of touch – like feathers, kneading, delicate fingernails, squeezing massage, deep or right on the surface.

We then explored the intention of how we desired to be touched – with love, with curiosity, with tenderness, with passion, with pure carnal desire.

This progressed to a gentle, “as if” role-playing game: touch me as if you were a mother cradling her newborn; touch me as if you were molding my body out of clay; touch me as if this was the first woman’s body you had ever seen; touch me as if the burning desire of the whole universe resided in your fingertips. Each ‘as if’ experience created a new and profound opening for both of us.

Next we stood up and disrobed in front of each other. I went first and asked Peter to simply be present and hold space for me while I did. I took off one piece of clothing at a time and we paused to breathe in between each one to notice what sensations we were feeling in our bodies and to speak on them. Then I invited him to disrobe as well. We stood and breathed. I then spoke what I observed about the story of his body in that moment, where my eyes were drawn to see and what they saw. Silver hair, warm twinkling eyes, hands that had held guns and babies, a stray hair here, a special freckle there, a long lean body trained both as an athlete and a warrior.  I asked him to mirror back to me what he saw, where his eyes were drawn to my body so that we could fully take each other in. Long brown hair, softness, rosy cheeks, large nipples, femininity. He did a beautiful job recounting what he saw. I received a new perspective for myself on being witnessed through his eyes.

We took turns now in longer increments sharing touch, only this time we focused on how we desired to touch each other. We asked permission with each touch and there was space to say no if it didn’t feel in alignment for us. We rolled around and played and laughed together for several hours as we explored how desire and sexual energy wanted to move through us.

As our sacred space came to a close, Peter confessed to me: “This is the most present I have ever truly been with a woman. I can actually feel the desire in my body and it can be expressed without the pressure to perform. I can’t recall ever feeling this free before. So much has just become possible.”

When the effort to move past scripts and ingrained patterns of touch and relating was presented, a new form of relating that is based on presence and authenticity has permission to unfold in the space shared between bodies. Our bodies are always changing and transforming and so are our desires and how they want to express themselves. When we work with the body’s true desire, we can be present to the possibility of expanding the pleasure palette within the body and its capacity for sensual self-expression.

Peter told me he is ready to actively pursue dating with renewed gusto and to explore the possibility of physical intimacy based on the new possibilities in sexual self-expression available to him. He is also complementing our experience with Western medicine, exploring possibilities for assisting his erections but also freeing himself from the imprisoning mind-set that erection with ejaculatory orgasm is the apex of sexual experience. There is a wide scope of supportive allopathic ways to just about guarantee an erection. What they can’t guarantee is any happiness from it. With Western medicine and the explorations into the possibilities of returning full erectile function, Peter now has a new space to play in – a penis that can maintain an erection with a template for presence and authentic connection.

The path of self-discovery Peter is on is one of enthusiasm and wonder rather than a quest to fix a part of himself that might be considered broken. Peter knows he can have new and deeply fulfilling sensual and sexual experiences and now erections can become a part of that experience with the support of western medicine and compassionate and caring health professionals. It was his commitment to creating a template to break scripts and old ways of being and to move into his authenticity that allowed for this to unfold. Peter wrote me a few weeks ago saying that he is having a marvelous time exploring penis pumps, injections and supplements to increase his erectile possibilities. He reports that they work and that every part of this journey continues to be a learning experience. He’s excited to explore all of these possibilities with his next partner from a place of presence and authentic connection when the right relationship comes along.

I wish for him presence, play, powerful penis pumps and new possibilities for relating as he steps confidently into this new identity of sexual self-expression!

Here is a closing piece of advice and comment from Peter:

Something I believe in so strongly is the act of getting support. Getting support from caring and loving sources. It is remarkable just how lonely and debilitating it is, processing the realities of impotence. What men need to know and understand is what I learned and frankly am still learning – unless you want to remain stuck in the world of feeling badly about yourself, you MUST reach out and trust. Men who are already in a loving relationship with a caring partner have in this regard a great advantage. Presumably that partner will be there for them and process with them the oftentimes painful truths that impotence brings to light. It is men such as me not in any such loving relationship who need to be reminded of this. Men who find themselves twisting slowly in the breezes, with not a clue, and nowhere immediately to turn. It is these men who need great comfort, and these men who need to know that the worst thing that they can do is to do nothing.  It is never easy and never over.

To those men reading this who might be embarking on a journey like mine, I’d like to say that there are no magical endings. There is much experimenting, much unknown to be explored, many turns along the way that will not be fulfilling. At its essence comes the willingness to commit to the process of healing and becoming whole.

 

 

“Secret Gifts of Beauty”

Image“Secret Gifts of Beauty” by Isis Phoenix

 

The stories of our body are painted all over us

In scars and cellulite

In sagging skin or stretch marks

In in-grown toenails and stray hairs

In the distended belly

In our scar tissue

In the subtle misalignment

between the right and left

hemispheres of the body.

It is these differences

the subtle anomalies that could be considered

Imperfections, flaws

that perhaps give us

the opportunity for more

Beauty to shine through.

The beauty of acceptance.

These imperfections are our humanness

and part of our human nature and human story

They are the secret gifts of beauty

Waiting to be anointed

With your acceptance

With your love.

New York Encounter Part Deux: MalloMars to Venus

New York Encounter Part Deux: MalloMars to Venus

MallomarsIt’s Sunday evening around 8pm and I am walking home from parking my car on the west side. I have a bag of groceries in one arm, a score from the an out of town trip with my theatre company. I’m an opportunist when the option arises to stock up on suburbia goodies for $20 when the same bag of groceries will cost you $55 in New York City. My husband’s favorite cookie Mallomars were on 2 for $5 which retail for $8 at the arm and a leg gourmet grocery around the corner. I felt victorious on my saunter home with my dirt cheap booty tucked under one arm. As I was strolling crosstown, a gruff sounding “Excuse me!” erupted from behind. Everyone’s in a hurry in this city. I moved to the side to let Mr. Bad-Attitude pass. A rotund black man with a 6” long beard who was missing his front tooth brushed passed me in linebacker fashion. We locked eyes. His stormy gate suddenly turned to slow motion.

“What’s your name?” he said to me, switching gears quickly from get-the-fuck-out-of-my- way to I’ve-got-plenty-of-time-for-you-babe.

“What’s yours?” I bounced back at him.

“Ishmael,” he said a bit lasciviously, looking me up and down again.

“I’m Isis,” I responded.

“Are you spoken for?”

“Very,” I quickly replied.

“He better hold onto you tight.”

I smiled. Ishmael continued “I’m just returning to dating. My sister is encouraging me to get out there.” Just then, his hardened player face cracked and I saw a wash of sadness sweep over him. His voice quivered for a moment. “My wife, I lost my wife.”

We both stopped in our tracks.

“I’m so very, very sorry to hear that Ishmael. What happened?”

“My wife died of breast cancer a year ago,” Ishmael’s gruff voice softened almost to a whisper. Tears pooledon his lower eyelids. “My sister tells me its time for me to start dating again. I’m… it’s so hard”

We stood silent for a few beats.  The sounds of New York City muted into the background and somehow I could hear only the sound of our breath. Two strangers simply being with each other in a deeply vulnerable and intimate moment.

“Ishamel, I am so very sorry for your loss. I know this must be very hard for you. You will never replace your wife. But you will absolutely find love again.”

“My wife was so special Isis.”

“I know she was Ishmael. And she would absolutely want you to love again and she absolutely wants you to be happy.”

A soft smile cracked through the dark clouds on his face.

“I think she would want that, yes,” spoke Ishmael.

We stared at each other another moment.

“Thank you,” Ishmael bowed his head for a moment and then walked away.

I shifted my armful of groceries to the other arm and continued my walk home, a little slower, more present and filled with the gratitude of small miracles –  more love just opened on the planet… and Mallomars were 2 for $5.

Walking the Beauty Path

Walking the Beauty Path

 beauty path

Beauty – noun.

1. A combination of qualities, such as shape, color or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, esp the sight.

2. A combination that pleases the intellect or moral sense.

3. The quality in a person that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind and spirit.

4. Something which embodies an unmatched aesthetic, regardless of external influences. To be truly beautiful reflects an unparalleled sense of eternity, unchanged by events or situations, which might otherwise compromise this trait.

We are taught that beauty comes from within. New Age positive thinking teaches us we are all beautiful and that women’s bodies especially are beautiful. We are taught our souls are beautiful. This is countered with society teaching us that beauty can be standardized or exists within certain forms. We are taught that beauty is packageable, marketable, that only a few possess it naturally and that the rest of us must strive to twist, contort, or conform to what has been declared the ever elusive standard of beauty.

Recently, I have found myself in an inquiry of ‘what is beauty and what does it look like when one embodies it?’ As one who is walking and teaching a path of sacred sensuality, how could I not look at beauty and aesthetics as part of this path?

Now when I say beauty, I feel that little prickle in system of vanity traipsing in the wake of standardization. ‘You mean six-pack abs? Cosmetics? Body modification? False appearances?’ screams my inner angry feminist. No, I mean Beauty – the unique embodiment of the light of Source shining through us. Beauty has a tremendous power. It has been worshipped in most all cultures to some degree – hence Venus, Lakshmi, Aphrodite, and the billion dollar beauty industry, Hollywood. It has also been rejected, rejected as false, seen as a mask of illusion or a manipulator of the natural.

The inquiry has taken me into my own path of beauty, where I am actively inviting it in and also exploring those moments where I have been truly surprised by beauty.

Beauty and I have had a quite a journey together. I trudged through a morass of misunderstanding and rejecting the concepts of physical beauty for much of my life. Some of my earliest memories of aesthetics or rejection thereof include: my mother chasing me around the house with eyebrow tweezers and a mascara brush; my angry feminist stage in college of wearing my hair up in what others called my ‘angry scarf’ and sporting army cargo pants with a militant personality, because I was worried I would be objectified instead of valued for my mind; my late college years of discovering my sexuality and its power and subsequently overly sexualizing my body to feel powerful; and eventually my naked yoga years of stripping away all forms of exterior beauty to open up to something more authentically beautiful on the inside.

My herbal teacher and pioneering second-wave feminist leader, Susun Weed, is a card-carrying Goddess worshipper and universal lover of women. Aesthetics and beauty-based rituals, however, were not something she touted in her repertoire. Her fierce temperament and Earth worshipping ways are more aligned with Baba Yaga and Gaia than with Aphrodite and Venus. A model in her early days, Susun now has a hearty woodswoman body for functional farm work and sports tie-dyed t-shirts and bug-repellant blue jeans. Her trademark fashion is a bandana worn around her forehead that contains her otherwise wild wiry hair. Susun encouraged her apprentices to bathe no more than twice a week and generally avoided soap especially anything scented. Conditioner other than nettle leaf infusion was seen as unnecessary and I’m quite sure she never willingly applied make-up at any time during 66 years of life. This was a priestess of the Earth and aesthetics were not a priority, especially for one who embraced farm life. Not only was beauty non-functional, any cosmetic enhancement was deemed unnatural. But whether consciously or unconsciously, Susun distinctly expressed herself through aesthetic choices. Her simple, functional, Earth-based choice of personal presentation was, in its way, as much a statement of her beliefs as a conservative office-worker’s or a Fifth Avenue fashionista’s. In recent years, my own preferences have shifted to a slightly enhanced version of Susun’s aesthetics. More ‘Gaia to feed and heal the world’ and less of the sought-after invocation of Venus or Helen of Troy.

Following in my teacher’s footsteps, it felt natural for me to be make-up free, barefoot and visually unobtrusive when speaking with the plants during our herb walks. That was how my herbal teacher taught and I mirrored that. When we are exploring our options of personal style, we tend to try on conventions to see if they work for us. Likewise we may try something on that apparently rejects the whole concept of aestheticism, unconscious of the fact that this is, of itself, an aesthetic choice.  I felt part of my calling in connecting women to their sexuality was to bring them to the Earth, Earth wisdom and Earth orgasm, and to take us away from any aesthetic preconceptions we had around what we perceived as sexy, seductive or sensual.

On an herb walk I lead this past summer for Awakening the Sexual Shamanic Priestess Retreat, I looked around at the women gathered and did a double take when my eyes fell on Juliette. Juliette had her silky raven hair coiffed in an up-do, had bright, fire-engine red lipstick painted on to accentuate the heart shape of her lips, and her hourglass body was draped in a sleek black gown adorned with silver beadwork. Juliette wore this on an herb walk. Juliette was a sex-workers’ rights activist by day and a ‘by choice’ high-end escort at night. She owned her sex and her beauty. She was someone who had stepped in and embraced her sexual aesthetics and beauty fully and it was jaw dropping to behold. Juliet was the kind of femme fatale that wore gowns on herb walks, because why wouldn’t a classic femme want to be dressed in her best to meet and commune with the flowering plants that remind us to own both our beauty and sexuality with their shameless display of blossoming genitalia?

Nothing about Juliette’s beauty was contrived or false. While glamorous and deeply aesthetically beautiful, nothing about Juliette was standardized. This beauty was a direct reflection of her soul fully integrated in her body temple. Juliette is a femme fatale. Juliette is sex and beauty. For Juliette to wear bug repellant jeans and a bandana would be asking an orchid to dress like a dandelion. Nothing about it would be authentic or true to her nature. The day that a red lipstick wearing femme fatale went on an herb walk with me was one in which my relationship to beauty changed. Beauty could be authentic and a reflection of our inner state and could also look quite conventional. The difference was this beauty was not trying to impress someone or mold itself to fit a certain form, it just is was. Same as a flower is not trying to be beautiful, it simply is beautiful.

We make aesthetic choices every day. The question is what do you want to make a statement about? What is your beauty? Whose beauty team are you on? Beauty elevates the soul, excites the senses. Beauty makes life more engaging. It magnetizes us. I was very excited being in Juliette’s presence just as I was very excited being in the presence of the flowering herbs on our walk. Beauty meeting beauty.

Beauty can also be considered resting or sitting well in oneself, good health and vitality, being the full embodiment of one’s own unique characteristics and how they are meant to shine. Meeting Maple helped me understand beauty as ownership of one’s own unique characteristics and soul energy. I first met Maple when she attended the monthly Naked Church service that I co-facilitate. She entered the room quietly, a petite gypsy-fairy spirit. While everyone clucked around before service catching up on small talk, Maple sat very still, eyes closed creating both a deeply meditative and electric presence around herself. When she opened her light blue eyes, they glowed and held the wisdom of other worlds. Maple is someone who holds my gaze. I find her presence reminds me of visiting a museum and being struck with surprise by a painting you didn’t know you were there to see but stops you in your tracks. Maple does not shave her legs and has one long dreadlock coiffed to the side of an otherwise hipster haircut. Her eyes are deep pools of sparkling blue and hold many stories. Her soul holds two-spirit energy, equal parts masculine and feminine. Her dress often looks like a collage of found garments that have been woven together to create a beautiful folk art collage of gypsy beauty. Without clothes, she somehow holds the same quality. At the Sexual Shamanic Priestess Retreat, I had everyone bring a tennis ball for sitting on for pelvic floor release work. Maple brought a potato. Maple is the embodiment of her own beauty. She has what is that ephemeral je ne sais quoi. There is no convention or standardization in Maple’s beauty, but the beauty she possesses is undeniable, a beauty which radiates from every cell of her body.

In addition to the women I’ve met in my work and community who have inspired me to rethink beauty, I’m moved to consider women over history who have served as walking embodiments of beauty. In contemplating beauty and its icons of past, I am taken instantly to the age of the courtesans, artists who were paid richly to cultivate their beauty and intelligence. Inspired to know these aesthetic feminine embodiments of art more intimately, my research led me to the discovery that several of the most famous and successful courtesans were not what one would consider conventionally beautiful. Several of the most famous courtesans in Venice were not particularly attractive in any way, yet they were a breed of woman that was irresistible – sought after by every man and envied by every woman. What these women did not lack was confidence and the ability to maximize on their charms – the most basic of beauty tenets. I am reminded of the great Mae West saying: ‘What is important to know is that every woman can have her own kind of beauty, if she’s willing to look for it and try for it.’

Beauty pioneers are often women who have swept in and taken over a standard convention with a certain amount of ownership of their own grace. Perhaps there was no greater rebel of beauty’s standardization than designer Coco Chanel, a fashion icon who helped women find their embodiment of beauty by famously liberating them from the constraints of the corseted silhouette. She was also a woman who perceived herself not to have been born beautiful. Chanel famously confessed to a lover: ‘I’m not pretty.’ ‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’re not. But I know of no one more beautiful than you.’ Coco Chanel owned her beauty and her intrinsic style helped create an entry point for other women to own theirs.

Like the famous Coco, pleasure revolutionary Mama Gena says: ‘Ownership is the key to beauty. You gotta dig on down and have yours.’ It is every woman’s job as an embodiment of the feminine to discover and embody her unique beauty calling card and then to work that card and those traits to maximize their potential. Mama Gena cites one particularly eccentric experiment, which involved throwing out everything in her closet except what made her feel the most beautiful. She was left with five garments. I don’t recommend this drastic a beauty experiment, but it warrants some consideration. Why would a woman want to drape her body in anything other than that which makes her feel beautiful? How would her life be altered if she felt she was truly and unequivocally beautiful?

Slightly less radical than Mama Gena’s beauty wardrobe make-over, I find that my own personal embodiments of beauty are ever changing and are often determined by occasion, season and inner states. On certain days I find my most comfortable pair of faded jeans and a v-neck t-shirt are what makes me the most beautiful, on another day, a Charlie’s Angels purple jumpsuit, and on another day a flowy Goddess dress, mostly because where I have chosen to source my beauty is from inside myself. It takes a lot of personal beauty ownership and inner sourcing to wear a Charlie’s Angels purple jumpsuit … a whole lot.

There is an astonishing amount of beauty available on the planet. We are not in scarcity of beauty, though standardization would have us think that it only belongs to a few. Our gifts and talents make us beautiful. Everyone is born talented at something. A certain innate gift is bestowed upon us all that allows us to excel in a particular area, an area of our lives where the stars simply seem to shine on us and we are able to rise above others.

My dear friend Cindy, for example, is perhaps at her most beautiful in her kitchen, talking to ingredients as she bakes and licking batter off spoons as she seduces her ingredients into just the right balance to create extraordinary sensations on one’s tongue. My soul sister Lisa and her eye for space and altar feng shui transform any space into an aesthetic feast with a few simple repositions of objects already there. I marvel at her eye for outer aesthetics as I know it comes from an internally aligned sensitivity of her own beauty.

A Practice of Self-Love

In an honest inquiry with beauty, however, I am also brought to looking past the places where we shine into the places where we feel there is no beauty. I want to examine body features, aesthetic inadequacies, voids of Goddess-given talent that others seem to have but where we come up short.

In this inquiry and reflection on beauty, I am reminded of my own beauty insecurities at various stages of my life. In high school, I had small breasts. I hated them. I always thought they were too small, not even enough for a handful. My sophomore year of high school, during a grueling rehearsal schedule, I dropped fifteen pounds. My clothes became too large for me. My bras hung off my shoulders. My mother took me to Kohl’s for some new clothes. I will forever remember the moment I was standing in a Kohl’s dressing room trying to find a bra to fit only to discover that even the A cups were too big. The air conditioner in the dressing room was blowing down on me and it was coldcoldcold and my nipples and breasts shivered and shriveled even closer to my body. My chest look emaciated and like a boy’s. I left the dressing room in tears and my mother and I left the store. She took me to a Sonic drive-in and we ordered a limeade and she told me that plastic surgery could be an option in the future as prices for such work had in the last few years become quite reasonable. My mother, bless her, was trying to provide a fix to the problem. Breasts too small? Make them bigger! Thus buying into the conventional standard of beauty and creating an entry point for me to manipulate and reconstruct my breasts to meet that standard. What I really needed from my mother at the time, however, was to be taught self-love and for her to remind me of what about me was truly beautiful, as well as perhaps finding something that I loved about my breasts.

Raised in a family and culture where self-love and alignment with one’s individual traits of beauty were not modeled, I traveled my own healing path of beauty embodiment by sourcing my beauty from aligning with the seasons and cycles of the natural world. In my journey of embracing beauty, my truest connection and sourcing has always come from my connection to nature and the natural world. The Navajo teach and practice a spiritual tradition that is called ‘walking the beauty path.’ When one is unbalanced or out of harmony with their beauty, they must return to the natural world to find it. To walk in beauty as the Navajos define it means to hold balance and harmony with all things, all people, all nature and all events in your life. When you achieve balance among the pendulum of polarities, you are ready to walk the beauty path.

I did not get a boob job. Instead I practiced and taught naked yoga and Earth-based spiritual traditions that consistently remind me and place me in right relationship with my body. In my late twenties as my body filled out, so did my breasts. As my body size naturally fluctuates over the years with different phases of my life, I have a developed a practice of loving kindness to my breasts in all their forms and phases. Currently, I massage my breasts daily right after my bathing ritual and infuse with them with visualizations of pink and green for the heart chakra. I do this as I sit in what I lovingly have declared the boudoir area of my bedroom that has a red cushioned chair, Victorian fans and a collection of vintage black and white nude boudoir postcards featuring women of all shapes who appear to be celebrating their bodies and their sensuality. Make no mistake, I don’t wake up every day and think ‘Ah yes, I will lounge naked in my boudoir and lovingly massage my body with scented creams.’ This is a practice. Like showing up to one’s yoga mat, sometimes we jump at the opportunity, and at other times we must drag ourselves through temper tantrums, pouty toddler phases, and I’m-not-worthy moments to practice self-love. The effects of a self-love practice, however, have very tangible reverberations. On a return visit to my hometown a few years ago, an old friend from college actually asked me if I had gotten a boob job. ‘No,’ I replied, ‘I practice loving kindness to my breasts.’

In my session work with women, I have the pleasure of witnessing women blossom and unfold to their true beauty. I have had the honor and pleasure of facilitating session work for a Hassidic woman named Miriam who wanted to explore deep sensual reclamation work. It is incredibly rare for a woman from such a conservative community and religious background to actively seek out session work that supports authentic sensual embodiment. Miriam was healing from childhood sexual abuse and was currently in an emotionally toxic relationship. We explored several simple movement-based practices and healing bodywork ceremonies to bring her into a safe, soft and sensual connection with her body. After our fourth session, she asked me: ‘Isis, does this work change your physical appearance? Because I am noticing my features changing, and I like them!’ Her eyes were becoming more open and her lips rounder and fuller. She was looking like a woman turned on, lush and alive! ‘Miriam,’ I told her, ‘We are all born beautiful. Sometimes life circumstances or situations cause us to forget this beauty. What’s amazing is that you’re open to returning to it.’

Today I find myself in a stand. A stand for beauty. I honor the beauty of my body. I honor the beauty of my spirit. I honor the beauty of those who find their own beauty and shamelessly flaunt and embody it. In my stand for beauty, I ready to walk the beauty path. On the beauty path, we return to balance, a state where we accept and are accepted, where we don’t feel the need to justify who we are or require validation from others, where we perceive our own beauty as continuous with the beauty in the world around us. Clearly perceived, beauty, so fragmented in our contemporary culture, is actually what can connect us to the larger beauty energies and mysteries of the universe. Each of us is a facet of a magnificently beautiful universe. To align ourselves with this beauty is to be one with it and to find it reflected everywhere we look and in everyone we encounter. Beauty is and you are a unique part of it. Walk the path.

The Navajo Beauty Way Ceremony

In beauty may I walk

All day long may I walk

Through the returning seasons may I walk

Beautifully I will possess again

Beautifully birds

Beautifully joyful birds

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk

With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk

With dew about my feet may I walk

With beauty may I walk

With beauty before me may I walk

With beauty behind me may I walk

With beauty above me may I walk

With beauty all around me may I walk

In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk

In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk

It is finished in beauty

It is finished in beauty.

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