Untwisting through erotic work — Bodywork to release blocked orgone energy — a chargy topic!
In This Moment
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Marty Klein is one of my favourite sex therapists. I read his blog, and just downloaded the Kindle version of his book, Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want from Sex–and How to Get It.
Here, he describes "Normal":
"Normal" is an attempt to establish boundaries around sex so it can’t escape, acquire too much power, or hurt others. "Normal" is an attempt to make sex small enough that it doesn’t threaten us or even require us to grow. "Normal" is a recognition that eroticism resides in the unconscious, an untidy little junkyard if ever there was one."
Over the last two weeks, I’ve been describing a state I’ve dubbed "twisted." Tight. Locked. Held in.
I focus on the pelvis, as I said last week, because of my own wonky lower back. I was amazed, on Playa Samara, to see lots of teenagers and 20-somethings with the same out-of-alignment lower backs.
These three images are taken from movies. (I created a movie of the woman in the centre, and put it on the Bodywork section of our site. It’s about half way down the page.)
The images show: 1) me, tilted right at the pelvis, 2) a woman tilted high left at the shoulders, high right at the pelvis (her ribcage is compressed on the right, and 3) a woman with a level pelvis. Please note! The hips of all three people stay the way you see them as they walk!!!
I’ve told this story before, but one friend, who comes in irregularly for Bodywork, has some real "family of origin" issues. For 15 years, her pelvis /low back has been getting tighter and tighter, limiting her movements and activities. Lately, I’ve been getting her to rock her pelvis a bit, both during and after Bodywork.
When she does, her whole body relaxes, and she gets flushed. Her breathing deepens. The rocking becomes quite sensual. Then, she slams on the brakes, by talking about something someone in her family of origin did, or she’ll mention her husband. Stops her cold, and her lower back immediately slides out of alignment.
In Bodywork, we think of this as the persistence of body armour
(c) Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust
Bodywork had its start with Wilhelm Reich, a 20th century student of Freud. He identified what he called body armour / character armour — physical blockages to the free flow of energy.
He worked with his clients using bodywork and breathwork, as well as through talk therapy, as he realized that talking alone wasn’t cutting it as far as healing went.
He realized that trauma of any sort that was not resolved (through the release of the blocked energy) ended up "stuck" in the body
This is armouring – the actual tightening down of muscles, and other structures in the body – so that the trauma is "held in place." The longer it’s held, the tighter and more blocked the person is.
Reich equated limited lives to restricted energy, which of course also sounds like Chinese medicine. He dubbed the energy "orgone energy," as in orgasm energy. His idea, which seems way ahead of its time (the 30s, if memory serves,) can be stated this way: "If people learn to have full body orgasms, they’d never need psychotherapy."
Reich was not speaking metaphorically.
Here’s a quote from the Wilhelm Reich Infant Trust site:
Reich’s orgasm theory set him apart from his colleagues, because it indicated that the libido was a real physical energy that possibly might be measured quantitatively. Reich’s clinical work also led him to develop new therapeutic techniques to eliminate the patient’s character and muscular armor and allow for the flow and discharge of this bio-energy to achieve what he called "orgastic potency," the capacity for total discharge of sexual excitation in the genital embrace.
In the east, the full release of qi or chi or prana is described similarly.
The fire of this energy release powers through obstructions, and brings about balance and healing… this understanding stretches back to 2500bc and earlier.
Western culture, in general, doesn’t know what to make of, or do with, orgone energy
Our schizophrenic attitude toward matters sexual is readily apparent. Sex is everywhere – on tv, in ads, movies, etc. Provocative clothing is everywhere — and yet many people who wear revealing clothes seem to spend most of their time pulling on them to cover up.
Have a look at the black and white photo. I found it on the Ryhthm Before Unknown site, which reprints old photos. This 1926 ad seems to be for gas. Because, of course, all women suck hoses… Sex sells, so long was we wink and pretend not to notice.
Most people claim to be comfortable about sex, and yet have trouble talking about it or getting what they want.
From the back cover of Marty Klein’s Sexual Intelligence:
In his three decades of working with couples and individuals as a sex therapist and marriage counselor, Dr. Marty Klein has continually seen that although most people say what they want from sex is pleasure and closeness, that’s not what they focus on during sex. Instead, we’re preoccupied with how we look, what our partner is thinking, how we’re performing, and whether we’re “normal.” We do more thinking, worrying, and judging than experiencing. Sex like that can’t thrill us, can’t create intimacy, and can’t, well, feel sexy.
In Sexual Intelligence, Klein shows how to stop observing ourselves during sex, ending our obsession with sexual performance and sexual normality. “I don’t help people ‘function’ better during sex,” he says. “I teach people how to relax and enjoy sex with the body they have, the partner they have, in the situation they have.” Now that’s something we all want: fulfilling, exciting sex at every stage of our lives.
As a Bodyworker as well as a therapist, I’ve had to decide whether just talking about shifting perspective on the "orgone" side of the equation was enough, or whether to address this energy directly, using touch. I might say this: a freed body (the goal of Bodywork) is a chargy, alive, turned on body, so doing this work, and teaching breathwork and Qi manipulation, means the choice was obvious.
The first breakthrough for me was going to The Haven and learning Bodywork, this in 96. Another milestone happened in 98, doing Phase 3 at Haven. We had a discussion about "sacred intimates," people trained to use touch to help people learn to let go and open up through erotic work. Intrigued, I headed online.
I discovered a whole new world… and in 2000, Dar and I did a week long training event in Erotic Massage, through Body Electric
The week long event was amazing — there wasn’t any theoretical discussion — just technique piled on technique. But the gist of the training is that the genitals are just as easily "locked up" as any other part of the body. Giving oneself permission to touch and be touched is one way through the locking up.
As we listened to the stories of the other participants, we realized that men and women alike had unresolved issues. Some had experienced unwanted touch / contact. Many men had performance issues / anxiety. Many were sexually shy or awkward.
One exercise was this: in groups of 4, (nude, of course!) talk about your relationship with your genitals. Listening to others’ stories led to many moments of real clarity about what people were going through. And then, you’d hear a commitment to working through the resistance with presence, breath, and allowing the release of energy through touch.
Over the days of massage, more and more was released, and more and more comfort replaced the isolation that most had felt. What was clear for me was that our contact produced incredible closeness, erotic charge (great, heaping quantities of orgone energy), intimacy, presence, and… that was it. The energy, just as Reich taught, led to passionate encounter, not to anything remotely sexual.
Fortunately, the field of "sexological Bodyworkers" is blossoming. And many Bodyworkers are learning how to add "orgone" work to their repertoire. While some of you may find the idea uncomfortable, others are likely wanting to know more.
Of course, exploring this territory isn’t like buying milk at the grocery store. Qualified people are still somewhat rare.
This work is done by professionals, and is also taught at workshops, for those interested to master the skills. In a sense, you have to know what you are looking for, in order to find practitioners. Often, like my initial "sacred intimate" conversation at The Haven, you learn by personal recommendation, or word of mouth.
I’d like to suggest that this work is essential.
This is as deep as it gets, person to person. This is sharing at a really deep level, and a letting go of deeply held, often scary material. It only works when the recipient knows, deeply knows, that the process is in one direction — it’s a process without attachment on the part of the "giver."
A word on emotions
Let’s view the body as a vehicle for attunement with a partner, and let’s enhance your body’s tolerance for pleasure and intensity. Let’s make sure your body is responding to what’s present during sex, rather than having semi-traumatized reactions to old aggravating or painful experiences.
The whole point of doing this work is to find blockages, externally, and internally, and to let them go. The more you are able to breathe into what comes up, the easier it becomes to express it and let it go.
Interestingly, the body really hates blocked material. So, "stuff that is stuffed" is going to emerge anyway. I’ve seen this in my work with clients, and have heard: "During sex, I find myself bursting into tears, and need to be held. My partner doesn’t understand."
I described this scenario in my latest book, The. Best. Relationship. Ever.
For many partners, having one’s partner burst into tears, sobbing, agony, whatever, in the middle of sex, is not easy. Men want to rush in and help, or think they’ve done something wrong. Women partners are not quite sure what to do, what to say, and might pull away emotionally.
The key is to recognize that the g-spot for women, and the p-spot for men (the prostate gland – the tissues of both are similar) do seem to hold trauma, and radiate their holding into the lower belly and lower back.
In the East, releasing this blocked energy has been a goal of Kundalini yoga, the Microcosmic orbit (see last week’s article,) and Tantra. In each case, the energy feels stuck or dormant or blocked. In each case, through breathwork, Bodywork, or sexual exercises, the energy is helped to move.
It’s worth noting that the East has long identified a Northern and Southern pole for women’s sexual centres, which coincide with the clitoris and g-spot. Releasing and combining the energies of both is vital for sexual health, and for health in general.
I’m not going to tell you how to do this work – there are a million resources on line for that. If you have questions, though, add them to the comments, and I’ll be glad to answer them.
Lastly, Tim Ferriss, in one of his books, mentioned the 15 minute orgasm – a technique more properly called OMing. It’s a way for couples ( of for women with a coach) to slowly lock in to the feelings of contact, without feeling pressured. It’s an experiment in contact, and dialogue.
There’s a great video describing the process, right here, as well as resources for learning how to OM.