Touch, Eros and WDS

by Julie on June 22, 2011 · 11 comments

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Touch

To touch hearts. To touch skin. To touch the moment with breath.

I love touch and I miss being touched. Just having left my relationship of seven years, I miss that day-to-day connection of the skin and heart: the morning kiss, the spontaneous sharing of a moment in the day, climbing into bed together at night, and the sudden swell of sweetness that arises from brushing my body against his in the wee hours as the night moved toward morning.

Touch is such a beautiful sense. In a most intimate way, through touch we can lose that sense of solidness and separateness that we so often think we experience inhabiting these human bodies. Through touch, we can begin to let go of the need ‘to other’ and realize we aren’t separate at all.

I recently wrote about longing for a deep and reverent kindness, a touch from my lover that transmits an aware, divine conscious seeing of self as self. Some of the most awake moments of my life have been in the midst of touching the body of another, whether it be lover, child, or friend.

WDS

with Desiree Adaway, someone I've looked forward to hugging.

I also recently attended a summit (of sorts) in Portland – The World Domination Summit (WDS) with Chris Guillebeau. I’m not a fan of the word domination, and I don’t know why the summit was titled this because my experience was far from what this might imply. My experience was one of connection, creativity, action, and joy. I was able to touch, physically touch, many of the people I’ve met and come to know online. When I arrived in Portland, I had no expectations for the weekend other than to see and hug my (up until then) virtual friends.

with Jen Louden

As the weekend unfolded, I became acutely aware of how important it is to be immersed in life, not virtual life but real life, and real life with friends and colleagues. It is so easy to forget this when I spend so many hours of my day on the phone with clients and on the computer writing and socializing through social media. I have never been fond of networking, but now I’m realizing an entirely different way to network, by way of touch – touching heart, and touching soul.

The first speaker of the weekend was Pam Slim, who spoke of roots, the power in greeting another with the Navajo greeting: Ya’at’eeh (everything in the universe is beautiful), and the understanding that a mother’s role is to prepare her children to be independent,

‘Giving them the feeling of no matter what happens, I have the capacity to get through it’.

Pam’s talk was beautiful, inspiring and heart opening. And, it was practical, in that she offered very real ways of rooting ourselves in life, in knowing our capacity to get through whatever comes. We touch another deeply when we know and acknowledge their beauty. In doing so, we also acknowledge our own beauty, and the beauty inherent in life as it unfolds.

Slithering

For me, the most experiential presentation of the entire weekend was offered up by Andrea Scher and Jen Lemen, co-creators of Mondo Beyondo, a wildly successful e-course. Drawing upon foundational coaching expertise, Andrea and Jen brought the house down with their ability to connect through the heart. They had us work with a partner to re-experience a peak experience. As a CTI trained coach, I’ve done this exercise many times in the past; yet, this time, the experience was very different.

In the past, when it comes to peak experiences, I’ve always considered things I had done that were successful, moments when I felt on top of the world, or had reached a dream I had longed for…some of the languaging that can be used in setting this experience up.

This time, however, it was different, perhaps because my awareness was on simply being with the very real sensations of connection and touch. As I shared with my partner, the peak experience was actually three combined. They were very similar in feel and sensation, and all involved touch, stillness, warmth, water, sun, skin, love, connection and the body.

As I relived these experiences, and then shared them with my partner, what showed up was nothing about success and achievement, but was all about being completely and utterly immersed in the erotic field of life, where sensuality and sexuality are part of the beautiful dance of being conscious in a human body.

At the end of the exercise, our partner spoke some of the key phrases or words that we had said aloud back to us. Then, we were to pick one of those and write it somewhere on the body. My word?

SLITHERING.

Yes, slithering.

Slithering doesn’t have to be about snakes, yet this is what I, and many others first think of when we hear this word. Seeing as how I have quite a fear of snakes, not nearly as bad as it used to be, but still near phobic proportions, I felt a tinge of ‘yuck’ when I considered writing this word on my body.

But, I also knew how clearly this word articulated something very important to me, because it is more about a way of being in life. There’s a sense of flow, of ease of movement, of softness and groundedness, and of feeling one with life, with the ground, with the sensuous nature of being alive…

moving

in undulating

curves

and rhythms

out of the water and

up onto the

sun-warmed sand

confidently and tenderly

loving life.

A snake doesn’t move with stiffness or rigidity. It moves with the land, propelling its body in connection to the earth.

A snake is powerful and has all sorts of baggage attached to it, especially with regard to women and apples.

As I moved throughout my day, wearing this word on my skin reminded me of those moments when I felt so at home in my body, so fed by the earth, water and sun, so close to my lover. It reminded me of touch, and of slow, delicious movement.

Eros

As WDS drew to a close, the last speaker, Jonathan Fields, asked us all to take what we’d learned over the course of the summit and put it into action. Yes, this is important; and, for me that action is important because of touch – how we touch others’ lives, and how we allow ourselves to be touched by people who are not different from us at all.

In my 2001 thesis on Spirituality and the Internet, I concluded with the understanding that even though the Internet would become such fertile soil for connection that couldn’t be made in the physical realm because of the limitations of space and time, the connections we make in the virtual world must ultimately serve to deepen the gifts we are here to give in the real world.

We can be touched online in very real ways. Our hearts can be opened.

Our souls can be seen.

Our consciousness can become more aware. And, our physical bodies still need physical interactions with other beings.

Biting into VooDoo Donuts, with Marjory, Tanya and Kate

I can get complacent about showing up in the real world, yet what I experienced that weekend in Portland by coming together in flesh and blood incited a joy in me that I only experience in the physical world. Looking directly into eyes, smelling personal scents, feeling skin to skin, hearing the sound of voices I’d never heard before, and even sharing VooDoo Doughnuts with Marjory Mejia, Tanya Geisler and Kate Northrup Moller are all experiences that come out of this erotic field in which we live.

Eros is so much more than the slim sense of eroticism our culture focuses on. Underneath the surface of speakers, break-out sessions and events, there was a field of connection and intimacy that underscored the WDS experience. Eros was sublimely present at WDS, and is in each moment of existence.

Serendipity was a big part of my experience at WDS.

On the evening of the first event, my friend Marjory and I were leaving the hotel to head over to WDS. As the elevator door opened, we were suddenly face-to-face with Jamie Ridler and her sister, Shannon Ridler. I’ve wanted to meet Jamie for some time now, and voila, there she was!

On the bus that would take us to the after-party, I met Veena Kumar, a kind Pediatrician from the east coast. We introduced ourselves and shared a little bit about what we do.

I told Veena the name of my site, Unabashedly Female. I asked her what the name brought to mind for her and she responded by pulling out a piece of paper. It was the post-it note from Andrea and Jen’s talk. They had put over 500 post-its with messages for each of us under our chairs. Under Veena chair was this note.

She said unabashedly female makes her think of the freedom to be yourself without fear.

This is exactly it: finding the true freedom that comes from being yourself fully, femaleness and all, without apology; enjoying the sensuality of a life lived in a human body, connecting with others without hiding your true nature; touching life fully in each moment.

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Jennifer Louden June 22, 2011 at 8:25 am

I loved slithering with you and seeing all the moments of the body that showed up You are my darling and you are amazing!

Cynthia Morris June 22, 2011 at 8:56 am

Beautiful! What a sweet way to share your experience. It was powerful for me, too, being in person with these people I’d known only online. It definitely made me want to spend more time physically with others and not just online.

Thank you for the reminder.

P.S. I love your site and its name. Last night a friend was challenging me, asking me, How can you be more feminine? Then today, you. Support at the ready. 🙂

Angela Kelsey June 22, 2011 at 10:15 am

Julie,
Last week for the first time I saw a snake in my yard–and then your “slithering” has shaped my thinking about the meaning of it, reminding me of its appealing and seductive erotic femininity.
Thank you xo

Amanda June 22, 2011 at 11:08 am

Best part of that last photo? You’re all part of my design family. Squee. <3

Shannon June 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Julie, this is such a rich and sensuous depiction of your experience…and for me, embodies so much of your gift as a writer, person and coach. {thank you for sharing it!}

A few weeks ago I did a shamanic journey to discover a power animal, and I was very resistant when the snake came up. {I kept asking for another animal and all the snake did was change species!}

I have been exploring snake energy since then. For me, I have found in it patient wisdom, a sensual delight in full body contact with the earth and a power that for me feels very feminine in its essential nature.

{you might be familiar with animal totems and symbology but if not, here’s one online reference about the symbolic nature of the snake:
http://www.linsdomain.com/totems/pages/snake.htm

This page talks about the snake being about wisdom, healing and intitiation…My experience of you is that you embody and share these qualities so beautifully.

And with your recent shedding of a relationship “skin” that no longer fits you…I’m eager to see what new wisdom and creativity will emerge for you.

Slither on, sweet sister.

with love and gratitude,
Shannon

wholly jeanne June 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm

well, i couldn’t be there cause i was here spending time with my brother who was home for a short R&R from afghanistan, but through posts like this, i can enjoy it vicariously! slithering – yes, i love that word, too. conjures such erotic movement, doesn’t it? and the snake – who’s actually my favorite character (okay, a co-favorite character with eve) in the creation story as it was told to me growing up cause that snake thumbed her nose at authority and said, oh go on, take a bite.

Ronna June 22, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Julie: As always, I love how you ground yourself in places, metaphor, and people – all equally powerful and potent. And…more than ever, ready for the hug and some long into-the-night conversations about those snakes. Maligned. Misaligned. Super-important to the female story. Love that you go there! Slithering, indeed.

Garrett June 23, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Beautiful, Julie, thanks for this, especially this: “We touch another deeply when we know and acknowledge their beauty.” And I love your slithering imagery and verse. And wonderful pictures from what looks like a fantastic event. You are all so beautiful. Thanks for posting.

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