Here is my latest article for the woman’s start up company Nuelle on sexuality and body image.
Imagery Exercise to Improve Your Self Body Image for a Better Sex Life
Jaqueline Lapa Sussman M.S., LPC February 29, 2016
Sensuality is defined as the enjoyment and expression of sexual pleasure. Words associated with sensuality are sexiness, sensual attractiveness, sultriness and seductiveness. But, how many women today actually feel sexy, sultry or seductively confident? While giving a talk about sensuality to an audience of women, I asked the women to close their eyes and see a simple image in their minds, an image of an every day occurrence. “See that you are looking at yourself naked in front of a full length mirror. Look at your face and body. Are you happy with what you see? In an audience of over 60 women, only one raised her hand. I then asked, “How many of you dislike what you see? The rest of the women raised their hands. I was not surprised by their overwhelming negative response, even though I was looking out over a room of well groomed, attractive women in an affluent community. Women who obviously took the time to exercise and cared about how they looked. I then asked them to see another image. “Now see yourself naked in bed with your partner or lover? As you see this image in your mind, notice, how do you feel about yourself?” Again, the response was mostly negative. The women said things such as, “When we begin kissing, I am already thinking that I don’t want him to see my cellulite thighs.” “I feel totally self conscious about my fat.” “Ughh, my sagging breasts. Is he repulsed touching them?” These comments were reflective of the ongoing negative self-talk that goes on internally as a woman has sex. Rather than focusing on the pleasurable flow of erotic energy and love, feelings of inadequacy and self-rejection subtly play out in women’s minds leaving them feeling inadequate, at times depressed and thus, not alluring.
Sadly, women grow up in a culture that puts tremendous pressure on them, reinforcing the notion that their value is based on outer looks. There is little, if no emphasis, given to the power of her depths, the sensuality that emanates from her inner being, or of the beauty of her essence. Women are constantly bombarded with an incessant flow of media generated images that tell them that it is their youth, toned body and thinness, that are the measures of their worth. When simply going grocery shopping, women are surrounded by magazine covers telling them how to improve their make up, look better, thinner, younger, and get more in shape. TV ads selling toothpaste emphasize the need for a “sexy” smile rather than oral hygiene and of course, the ad features a beautiful young, thin woman—an image of the culture’s ideal. Is it any wonder that women constantly find fault with themselves and feel that they don’t measure up? This leaves them feeling hopeless and at a loss because no matter what they do, they cannot change their natural body’s shape or face to fit the culture’s ideal.
The field of psychoneuroimmunology studies the interaction of thoughts and emotions with the nervous, endocrine and immune systems. Extensive research on the hormonal and immune effects of chronic stress on women reveals that feelings of hopelessness, loss, and inadequacy causes dramatic changes in stress hormones and sex hormones. When a woman sexually interacts with her lover and feels that she is not attractive enough, her negative thoughts and feelings create stress chemicals such as, cortisol, oxytocin and vasopressin; chemicals associated with feeling hopelessness and loss, which directly inhibit the pleasurable flow of erotic love and passion. However, when a woman feels self-assured, she radiates an appealing aura of feminine assurance, thereby releasing euphoria inducing endorphins, self-esteem making serotonin, and oxytocin. These are known as the love chemicals and they enhance intimacy, trust and bonding. Clearly, the most important element in great love making is how a woman “feels” about herself—not what her body looks like.
In studying and working with countless men on what attracts them to a woman, it is interesting to note that it is not a woman’s breasts, buttocks or legs that first entices them to her; but instead, they are drawn by a ‘mysterious’ feminine force emanating from deep within her. This mystery in a woman is the embodiment of a compelling and confident sense of inner sensuality present within her. The most attractive women in the world are not those who have outer beauty only, but those that radiate an assurance about their femininity. Think of Sophia Loren, Tina Turner or Beyonce. They do have outer beauty, but it is their inner sensual radiance that magnetizes men to them. While outer beauty is compelling to men, if a beautiful woman is not in touch with her inner fullness, most men will not find her appealing. On the other hand, a woman who is less attractive outwardly, but who emits an inner confident knowingness about her appeal, is attractive to men and they experience her as beautiful.
The mating signals between men and women are based on the woman being the container of a deep sensual force of nature within her, as if a lush paradise exists within her inviting a man to both partake of her and rest in her. When couples make love and a man gets turned on when looking into the eyes of the woman, he sees her beauty. The woman gets turned on when she sees the man is seeing the beauty within her. She is the container of the desire. Yet, sadly in our culture, outer beauty is heavily promoted with no mention of the real source of attraction—a woman’s inner effulgent sensual being. Women who are in touch with this essence beautify themselves to express their inner fullness, whereas women who feel empty beautify their outer looks as compensation for an inner void. Thus, nature’s mating signals vastly differ from our culture’s erroneous notion that it is outer beauty that is the primary source of sexual attractiveness. Nothing could be further from the truth and this misinformation leaves women feeling unsure and insecure, which is precisely what turns men off.
For a pleasurable sexual life, it is crucial for women to shift from the self-perception that they are lacking, to a connection to their innate sensual lushness, which is naturally imbued with beauty, wisdom, strength and self worth. In order to facilitate this goal, I have utilized the work of Eidetic Image Psychology for over 35 years with countless women and found it extremely effective.
Eidetic Image psychology is a form of psychosomatic healing with a process that brings about emotional, physiological, and energetic positive change. It has been scientifically researched at universities around the world. It is a fast-moving, positive method that quickly identifies problem areas and generates shifts by using precise tools that promote insight and growth. Central to eidetic imagery theory is the concept of bio-latency. Bio-latency means that the complete genetic blueprint of our original nature is always available to us, encoded neurologically in our brains, and accessible through eidetic images. Thus, I have found that those who work with these images are often able to connect to the depth of their wholeness and essential sensual nature.
Below is an imagery instruction to help you connect to your untainted sensuality.
It will allow you to see how your negative body image gets in your way and gives you a tool to see your sensual wholeness. With your eyes closed or open, whichever feels more comfortable, allow the following images to be formed in your mind’s eye. Pay attention to the image that you see (do not worry if it is vague or vivid), to any sensations, feelings and meanings that come to you. Eidetic images can be seen as still, as in a photo, or animated, as in a movie, and can be re-examined for detail and for new emotional perspectives.
Discovering Your Sensual Self Exercise:
- Relax and clear your mind.
- See an image in your mind that you remove your clothes to make love with your lover. What do you see? How do you feel as you see this image? (Take your time to let the images form in your mind.)
- What thoughts and feelings do you have about your naked self? Allow your feelings and body sensations to come into awareness.
- See your lover. How does he/she appear? How do you feel as you see him/her?
- Whatever, your feelings of self are, now see wind come down from the heavens and surround just you. This wind is a gift from the gods.
- How do you feel as the wind swirls all around you?
- Now see another you jump out of your self-image. The “old you” disappears and you become the “new you” in the image.
- What is this “new you” like?
- See that this “new you” does or says whatever it wants. Let the image unfold.
- How does this “new you” feel? What are her qualities?
- Be aware that this is the authentic sensual you. Notice your attitude, energy and new feeling of Self.