What is a Warrior?

warrior

[Much of this article is paraphrased from a long chat about the Warrior concept I had with my sister. Credit where credit is due – she is absolutely amazing. Photo Credit P. Migdal]

[TRIGGER WARNING – BDSM Piercing/Needle Play. Please do not attempt needle play without first ensuring that your play is Safe, Sane, and Consensual, and please practice Risk Aware Consensual Kink. Find someone that knows how to engage in the practice safely, and be sure you understand all risks first]


Recently, I did a thing – a BDSM skin piercing warrior initiation ritual.

So, a typical day in the life of a sexologist – open to new ideas and experiences, and curious what would come of it. I wasn’t suspecting at the time, but it wound up being extraordinarily powerful, and it has led me to ask the question:

What is a warrior?

We’ll come to that.

So, what is a BDSM skin piercing warrior initiation ritual? Is it piercing like body jewelry?

Kind of, a similar idea. But in this case, it was just the needles through skin. It brings about pain and a release of endorphins, from a scientific perspective. From a more esoteric point of view, skin piercing is said to pierce the energy body and to open the heart to giving and receiving love.

So, of course I had to try it! I wanted to gain an understanding of what the practice was about, for my own personal development, and to better understand clients who engage in or are curious about the practice.

I have been calling myself a Warrior Woman for some months now because this speaks to something deep inside of me, and something that I seek to help others to find within themselves. I’ve been in the background, puzzling over exactly what a Warrior is.

It was in this way that I chose to make my piercing experience a warrior initiation. Suspending my otherwise dominant left brain, I went with it and surrendered to the primal part of humanity that responds to ritual.

It was powerful, in ways I never thought it would be.

Most of us have a wall that we’ve built up over time. Our hearts are wounded, by both those that mean us well and those that wish us harm. We experience pain – the pain of fear, of vulnerability, of loss, of betrayal, of abuse. And, brick by brick, over time, we construct a barrier between ourselves and others – between ourselves and feeling.

In my case, I had built a pretty kick-ass Titanium-level wall of impenetrability, buttressed at times by alcohol, or food, or by following the siren song of flight.

Literally. Like, I would get on a plane and get out of dodge when something came too close to unlocking the Fort Knox of my emotional self, my truth.

Turns out, a Warrior isn’t fearless. A Warrior isn’t some pastiche of strength.

I got pierced, and I looked into the eyes of my initiator. With the first needle, I cried. With the next 3, I growled and felt my power building. I felt my aliveness. I felt every cell of my being and it called out with a voice in unity – Here! Now!

And, for a time, during this ritual and immediately after, I felt so strong. I felt like I was glowing, positively reverberating with energy. Food tasted more intensely. Colours looked more colourful. And I felt a deep strength, and a deep peace, and a deep knowing.

But then I couldn’t put my wall back up. This steel cage was suddenly absent. My attempts to summon it failed. This scared the absolute shit out of me. Following the feeling of strength, I felt pain that paled in comparison to the very temporary physical pain of the piercing itself. Imagine lancing a boil, draining an abscess, watching a dam break, and you’ll have a fairly accurate picture.

Our fears and vulnerabilities dwell deep within. Sometimes, realizing our power and having the experiences we want can only be achieved by going beyond our comfort zone. It can be rewarding, but it’s also challenging. You have to decide if it’s a risk you want to take; if it is discomfort and fear you want to put the work into pushing through.

For me, what poured out with my wall down, at first, was fear and shame. And I didn’t know what the way through was.

I reached out to my support network and I asked these questions. I shared myself, in a way more vulnerable and more true than I would have dared had the coffin around my heart remained intact.

The question became – why do I feel shame? Is it because of values I believe in? Or is it something external? And then, if it is because of something I agree with, my own values – how can I move towards reconciling my actions with those convictions? If it is external, and not something to adopt into my own values, then how do I work on rooting out those impositions?

Our power can only take root if we till the soil, do the work, and remove the rocks.

The voice of shame was not my voice. It was external to me – it was someone else.

As it was someone else’s voice, why listen? Was it out of habit? Respect? Coercion?

These answers were not quick or easy. It was hard and it took time. What was valuable for me in holding on to this shame, in keeping it hidden behind this wall?

Shame is a social emotion – at it’s root, it is that feeling that “You are bad. You are not enough.” Based not on actions, but on the very essence of self. The fear underneath shame is expulsion – removal from the group. It’s easy to see why shame evolved, when being cast out meant nearly certain death.

The value in holding on to shame is to try to assert control over our ability to belong.

So, why then did I ask for this experience to symbolize the creation of a warrior?

Initiation implies gaining membership to a group. Initiation, on reflection, is an antidote to shame and a way to step into a new form of belonging.

The belonging I was searching for was to belong to myself. Not the old residue of cultural shames, but belonging instead to a new path where that fighting spirit could be my new emotional home. I wanted to feel all the time the way that I feel when I fight.

A warrior is strong, brave, courageous, and powerful. And that is who I want to be.

What I learned that night, with the wall down, was that the fight has to be in me and for me first before it can be for the world.

What I was really asking for in that ritual was for this warrior, who is already in me, to join me fully.

It is a terrible lie that fearless and courageous are synonyms.

You cannot be courageous if you are not afraid.

Courage is when you are scared shitless but persevere anyway.

And, looking honestly, I was not being courageous in much of my life. I was not courageous when looking at myself. I was not courageous in stating my wants and needs. And, to my dismay, I discovered that I was still holding on to shame about my sexuality – about who I am and what I like when it comes to sexual expression.

Desire is linked to sexuality after all – it’s also linked to standing up for yourself.

The shame that I was meeting in those moments was about love, and about what I want in relationship with other people. About having a voice and strengthening my relationship with myself.

I learned that I felt, deeply, that having a voice is not safe in relationships with people, especially in love relationships involving sex.

Why fear about having a voice in relationships?

Sometimes, having a voice means rocking the boat. Voicing concerns means risking loss. Voicing concerns means risking exposure – it means risking truth.

It means someone might discover who I am. If I voice wants, then they can have power over me. If I voice wants, then they can know exactly how to hurt me. And, if I voice wants, they might tell me that I am wrong, that I am bad, disgusting, awful.

It was a crucible moment, and the question that remained was this:

Do you value yourself enough to take those risks on your own behalf?

I noticed that my first instinct when I start getting close to a place and people in it, and then something gets difficult is to go to the airport and get on the first plane to anywhere.

Running can be brave, and it can be important and beneficial. But it is not the warrior’s​ role. And, it’s true that some fears can be ignored at times, but that embracing the warrior may not allow for this.

What is a Warrior?

A warrior fights for the people they love – including and most importantly for themselves and their comrades in arms – and their right to peace.

Warriors often defend and sometimes attack.

Sometimes, struggle involves casualties.

Sometimes, allies can betray you. But if you refuse to make allies, there’s a limit to the strength you can amass. It is a risk you have to take to meet certain goals.

Justice sometimes comes at the price of group belonging, if the group is corrupt.

A warrior accepts that they will become someone’s enemy. A warrior accepts conflict, and has to determine that what they are fighting for has enough value to fight for, with all that entails.

A warrior risks losing things, burning bridges. A warrior risks getting hurt.

But, a warrior takes those risks because what they’re fighting against precludes the healthy existence of what they’re fighting for.

A warrior burns bridges because the people on the other side won’t let them flourish as they need to. A warrior gets scorn because they stand on the inconvenient side of justice.

This can feel like creating conflict. But, the truth is that sometimes the conflict was already there, and you’ve just been swallowing the hurt. Sometimes the fight is saying that you don’t deserve to have to do that.

What is the fight for?

The fight is for YOU – for yourself, for your right to the best life for you, for space to flourish and for the peace and pleasure that you deserve.

What I learned that day, and what I initiated myself into through this BDSM practice, was a clear vision of the Warrior that I am and the Warriors I want to help on this path.

Our strength in the world, in relationship, and in sex and pleasure, stems from our vulnerability and our willingness to advocate courageously for ourselves, even though that is some scary shit. We are warriors when we jump into the fight for ourselves with zest and zeal.

We do it even with the risks. We do it because it is right, because it is just, and because we deserve no less. You deserve no less.

I was supervised and guided through my first needle play experience by two very experienced teachers, who I cannot recommend highly enough – Seani Love (http://www.seanilove.com/) and Rosie Hart (http://rosieheart.com/).
Want to unleash your inner badass? Want to be a Warrior? Want a life full of pleasure? I can show you how. Join my newsletter or contact me today.

What Does a Great Sex Have to Do With Weight Loss?

weight

Let me paint a picture for you. Is this something you can relate to?

You’re out on a trip with a great group of friends. This is something you have been looking forward to for so long, the adventure of a lifetime. You’re together, you love each other, and you are somewhere so painfully exotic and beautiful that you feel filled up with joy.

beach

That is until you learn that, on trip day one, you’re going for a 3 hour hike along the hills by the beach, in the warm, dry heat. You swallow hard and act excited – I mean, you came all this way and it makes sense to go out in the natural splendour all around you, right? It’s just, unlike your friends, you’re carrying around a 35kg bioorganic starvation survival kit that you are unable to take off.

So you go, and yes it’s beautiful, but that’s hard to appreciate when you’re struggling to keep up, your breathing heavy and ragged. You flush, both with heat, and with embarrassment. Instead of soaking up the vistas, your eyes focus on your feet. “Don’t let them see you struggling,” you think, “don’t spoil this hike for everyone else.”

Finally, you make it back to your hotel, relieved to take a shower and gulp down water. After the mental, emotional, and physical exertion of the hike, there is a pleasure in releasing that burden and sitting down to eat. The table is laid with foods you’ve never seen before, and you dive in with gusto. There is comfort there. You eat and experience waves of pleasure. You notice the soft, sticky buns are particularly moreish.

Finally, it’s time to head to bed. Through an unlucky drawing of straws, you have a top bunk. Bunk beds make you feel squeamish in the very depth of your guts.

You face the ladder, and start to climb. About half way up, you hear a sound, and time slows to a crawl. Suddenly you see the ceiling. “Is this really happening?” you wonder, just before you and the ladder thud to the ground with an almighty crack.

shame

Your friends rush over, asking if you are ok, crowding around you. You burst into tears. They assume it is because you’re hurt. Sure, your knees will be bruised, but that’s not why you’re crying. You’re crying in shame and humiliation. You’re crying because you broke a ladder. You’re crying because the hike wasn’t fun for you, but you didn’t want to disappoint your friends. You’re crying because the only joy you’ve felt in your body since you arrived was when you were eating at dinner, and that’s part of why you are in this position in the first place.

If eating is the only pleasure you feel in your body, then how do you change it? How can life be worth living without it?

This story is mine. That was me in 2004, in Cuba. I wish I could say that was my lowest point, and that everything turned around after that, but if I did, I’d be lying. It would be 10 years and a whole lot more weight gain before my turning point would come.

Let me save you 10 years. Here’s what I’ve discovered about great sex and weight loss.

I grew up in rural Vermont, in the United States. Sex, especially sexual pleasure, was pretty taboo, shrouded in shame, coated in a thick layer of awkward, bad, and sinful. If you, too, grew up in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s, I’m willing to bet that your experience was similar to mine.

As young women, our bodies were under constant public scrutiny. Bullying on one side, exhortations not to get labelled a slut on the other. Any moment where the body started to take charge and express itself – school dances, PE class, jumping for joy at an exam result – was an opportunity for the bullies to let loose with a barrage of abuse, teasing, laughing, and shaming.

Over time, experiences like this alienate us from our bodies. Rarely (though sometimes) is there a cinematic moment where we reject our bodies – instead, this is usually a culmination of experiences over time that teach us that being in our bodies is not safe. We learn that, in our bodies, we will experience shame.

However, while sex and pleasure were taboo, there was still one venue open for socially sanctioned, nearly limitless physical pleasure – food. Eating in the USA is a cross between a hobby, a sport, and an orgy. Huge portions, always something new to try, cheap, plentiful. Expressing overt pleasure when eating is welcomed – who hasn’t heard the appreciative grunts, moans, and sighs around the table at Thanksgiving.

sad

In America, taking pleasure in eating food is socially sanctioned behaviour.

There are several problems with this.

Is it a coincidence that America has the highest rates of obesity in the world, while also having one of the most culturally messed up views on sex? Human beings in human bodies are drawn toward pleasure and away from pain. Our society is constructed to make sexual pleasure and visible embodiment emotionally painful, especially for women.

The thing is, when we eat this way, we’re not eating out of hunger or a need for calories. We’re eating through a lens of pleasure starvation, desperately hungry for something other than nutrition.

And then we suffer for this – our health suffers, our self-esteem suffers, and our ability to experience the world through movement suffers, too.

The 3 Keys, My Gift to You

My turning point came in January 2014. That is when I first started exploring my sexuality and getting really curious. I’ve lost a total of 45kg (100lbs) since then. Here are the 3 keys to how I did it:

Releasing Sexual Shame

release-shame

The first step was to release years of stored up sexual shame, especially shame around my female body. I hate when people say “release XYZ emotion” in an article, because how the f do you do that? It takes time, happens over time, and the following steps can help in the process:

  • Read a lot and expand your definition of normal. By learning that there are others, like you, with the same desires, same struggles, and same filthy fantasies, you will come to learn that you are normal, and that you are not broken.
  • Find community and talk to people. I started going to MeetUp groups, women’s circles, and other venues where I could hear the stories of others and their sexual stories.
  • Take a look at your body, and focus on what you love. Spend some time in front of a mirror, naked, or if that is too much to begin with, draw yourself. Then, looking in the mirror or at your drawing, express what you feel about yourself, head to toe, honestly. Then, make a list of everything you love about your body.

Embracing Pleasure and Orgasm

pleasure

Once you let go of shame around your sexuality and your body, the next step is to embrace pleasure and orgasm. Shame tries to convince us that there’s something fundamentally wrong with us on a deeply personal level. Once that is gone, it is possible to believe that your body deserves pleasure.

One way to begin embracing pleasure and orgasm is to slow down, and treat yourself to a deeply sensual evening with yourself. Light candles, take a long bath, stroking your body. Slowly, gently massage lotion into your skin, focusing on the sensation. Set up your room in a way that feels romantic to you. Then, take a solid 45 minutes to self-pleasure. Invest in a new vibrator and explore the sensation available to you from your entire body. Then, make it a habit to do this regularly.

Use Sexual Energy to Support Embodiment

dancer

By releasing shame and embracing pleasure and orgasm, we can come to learn that our sexual energy is ours, it is powerful, and it is always with us (whether we’re in an erotic situation or not).

This is the single revelation that has changed my entire life. It is possible to direct your sexual energy toward many activities, heightening their pleasure for you.

A great way to get started with this is to take up an exercise class in one of the erotic arts – pole dancing, belly dancing, burlesque, lap dancing, or to take up a regular practice like Orgasmic Running or aphrodisiac cooking. All of these practices bring you into your body and tap into your sexual energy and eroticism to create pleasure.

With time and regular attention to these 3 keys, you can find that the increase in pleasure you receive sexually and through movement begins to lessen, naturally and without effort, the deep craving and drive to eat, as your body now has many ways to take in and experience pleasure, rather than one.

If you would like help and support on this journey, sign up for my free newsletter, and book your free discovery session today.

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