This is a morning meditation based on Generative Somatics’ centering practice. I use sound, breath, and sensation to help us connect with our bodies and the world around us. We’ll ground in our healing journey, acknowledging our ancestors and our dreams for the future, coming into a clear sense of ourselves in the present moment.
The word “somatic” is trending hard in the therapy world these days, but many clients who could benefit from somatic work don’t even know what it means. Terms like this are often used as mechanisms of gatekeeping — if you don’t know the language, how can you access the healing? For this reason, I generally try to keep fancy language like this out of my practice. But the term “somatic” captures something that I’ve found no other term for in our society:
“[S]omatic . . . describe[s] the whole and indivisible nature of the human being. This means that it’s not so much working with the mind and the body as it is an implicit understanding that each person is the mind and the body, together–a holistic and global understanding of the biological, cultural, emotional, psychological, spiritual, energetic, and evolutionary functioning of the human organism.” – from “A Brief Overview and History of Somatics”
In western (colonial capitalist) society, we’re mostly taught that our mind is us (“I think, therefore I am”), and that our body is a sort of appendage that either weighs us down (aches, pains, illness, disability, aging, and death) or an object to be mastered (weightlifting, working out, dieting, fasting, eating disorders). Somatic healing recognizes that our body is us as much as our mind is — and that in fact, our mind can often get in the way of our bodies’ inherent wisdom.
Surrogate partner therapy and somatic sex education, the two modalities I call home, are both grounded in the belief that processing trauma and healing ourselves starts with hands-on, bodies-on learning. The way we reprogram old habits that have us stuck, scared, and alone is to try on new behaviors at a gentle, supported pace. Verbal processing, emotional reflection, and self analysis are all part of the work as well; rather than compartmentalizing these realms of healing, we integrate all of them into our sessions.
If you’re interested in learning more about somatic healing, I recommend checking out the following organizations and healing modalities:
Tuning into the breath is one of the most common anchors used in meditation, but as someone with a very scattered brain, it can often be hard for me to stay focused on such an automatic body process. This 15-minute meditation helps me bring awareness in a more focused way, directing the breath into each part of the body slowly and intentionally. This is one of my go-to morning meditations and is great for times when I need a quick fix to get grounded.
Are you interested in working with a surrogate partner but aren’t sure how to bring it up with your therapist? You’re not alone in feeling uncertain as to how to broach these topics — talking about sexual challenges can feel really vulnerable! Here’s a guide to discussing surrogate partner therapy with your therapist.
1. Build a trusting relationship with your therapistThe first and most important step is to establish a supportive relationship with your therapist, which usually takes time. Some therapists have concerns or confusions about surrogate partner therapy, and some have never heard of it at all. If a new client comes into their very first session asking the therapist to collaborate on this unfamiliar sexual healing modality, it may raise their suspicions: is this safe for the client, is it legal, am I allowed to collaborate on a case like this given the licensing board’s regulations? Take the time to get to know your therapist and allow them to get to know you. It may feel vulnerable, but share your sexual challenges, concerns, and history with them; they’ll definitely need to be able to talk about these topics with you once we begin surrogate partner therapy.
2. Tell your therapist you’re interested in surrogate partner therapy
Once you feel comfortable with your therapist and the two of you have discussed your sexual concerns, the next step is to tell them you’re looking into surrogate partner therapy. Ask your therapist if they’re familiar with surrogate partner therapy and what their opinion about it is. If they’re familiar with it, tell them why you think it would be a good fit for you and ask if they agree. If they’re not, they’ll probably want to do some research. It may take several sessions to discuss this topic, and that’s okay – surrogate partner therapy is a big commitment, so it’s good to take your time making a decision.
3. Be prepared to explain why surrogate partner therapy is right for you
There are a lot of sexual healing modalities out there, and most of them don’t require the involvement of a therapist. Your therapist will likely want to know why this particular modality is the one you’re seeking. Have you considered other modalities? What is it about surrogate partner therapy that draws you to it? Remember that surrogate partner therapy is a big commitment for your therapist as well, so take the time to hear their concerns.
4. Connect your therapist with the surrogate partner you want to work with
If you haven’t already, you’ll need to reach out to the surrogate partner you’d like to work with. After they’ve connected with you, they’ll want to have a one-on-one conversation with your therapist before the three of you formally start working together. Once your therapist is on board for collaborating on surrogate parnter therapy, send an email introducing your therapist and your surrogate partner so they can schedule a conversation.
5. Be patient
Surrogate partner therapy moves at a slow, intentional pace to allow our bodies to integrate what we learn. And just like the work itself, getting surrogate partner therapy started can be slow-moving as well. Ensuring the client, therapist, and surrogate partner are all on the same page usually takes several months, so bring patience to this process.
I’ve seen a lot of posts and articles lately about the different “types” of orgasms. These posts usually feature some sort of bullet list that includes clitoral, G-spot, “blended” or “combination” orgasms, and sometimes “coregasms” (orgasms that occur from sit-ups and other exercises that engage the core). I’m glad sex educators are talking about the fact that orgasms don’t have to come from only one specific body part, but why do we continue to try to squeeze sexual anatomy into binaries and categories?
The thing about orgasms is: they can come from anywhere on our body (or not even using the body!). We usually think about orgasms as being centered around the genitals, but that’s a pretty limited understanding. “All the science shows that orgasm is a brain-mediated event. We may know it being triggered by our genitals but it doesn’t mean it can’t be facilitated by anything else,” Dr. Mitch Tepper explains in this incredible video about orgasms after spinal cord injury. “With the right intention and the right attention, literally anything can become orgasmic.”
I have known folks who reached orgasm from all sorts of different touch: one person could come from nipple stimulation alone, another from having his thumbs sucked on, and someone I dated even told me she had once orgasmed from deep-throating a dildo (J E A L O U S).
If you’re used to orgasming from touching one specific place on your body (e.g., your clitoris or penis), it could be fun to experiment with expanding your orgasmic zone. For years, my solosex pratice focused on one part of my clitoris (the left vestibular bulb, to be specific). As I explored partnered sex in my late teens and early 20s, I discovered that adding vaginal penetration into the mix (aka “a blended orgasm”) deepened the sensation, and eventually that anal stimulation could lead to my most intense and satisfying orgasms. When I started training as a surrogate partner, I realized I could expand the orgasmic areas of my body potentially infinitely. These days when I masturbate, my orgasm usually comes from a combination of vulva, vaginal, anal, and sometimes armpit stimulation, along with a whole lot of body movement.
Here are some solosex ideas to try out if you’re seeking to expand your center of orgasm:
- Follow your typical masturbation routine. As you get turned on, start exploring areas surrounding your typical center of orgasm. If you usually focus on the glans of your clitoris, try touching further down your vulva, along the crura and bulbs of the clitoris, and/or the entry to your vaginal canal. If you usually use up-and-down motions on your penis, try extending your strokes to include your testicles, perineum, and/or inner thighs.
- Spend a masturbation session exploring an erogenous zone other than your genitals, like your ears, neck, nipples, anus, or toes. It’s unlikely that you’ll orgasm the first time you try this, so instead of focusing on climaxing, shift your focus to expanding your pleasure. You can also pair this touch with genital touch, which will start to build neural connections between your old erotic habits and your new erotic explorations.
- Experiment with movement: rock your hips back and forth, shake or wiggle your legs, send ripples of breath down your torso.
Don’t expect to have an orgasm the first time you try a new masturbation technique; it usually takes a lot of time and practice to build the neural pathways that lead to a deeper orgasm. Note how your body feels different as you try on new routines, and give yourself credit for small changes. Most importantly, have fun with it! Follow what feels good.
P.S. Strong rec to watch the entire “Sexuality after SCI” video series from Mount Sinai Hospital, whether you have a disability or not — this series was truly life-changing (and sex life-changing) for me!