There’s no denying Marvin Gaye knows a thing or two about making songs to get you in the mood. (If “Let’s Get It On” isn’t the ultimate sex song, I don’t know what is.) While we all know his thoughts on knocking boots thanks to his hit “Sexual Healing,” each individual’s experience surrounding the process is just that—individual. Whether you’re looking to reclaim and reconnect with your sexual well-being from past trauma, stress, or depression, you’re not alone. In fact, studies show that 40% of women will face some type of sexual problem over the course of their lifetimes. And we all unashamedly deserve to be our healthiest sexual selves. Enter: Alyssa Kuzins, an embodiment coach who guides women into their bodies to express, honor, and be who and how they are. Read on for her four tried-and-true practices for sexual healing. Spoiler alert: They’re as liberating as they are uplifting.
What is sexual healing?
We’re all unique sexual beings, and our sex drives are often dictated by personal events, relationships, and beliefs. Therefore, sexual healing is not a one-size-fits-all approach and can look very different from one person to another. But at its core, the concept centers around reconnecting with your sensuality. “I look at sexual healing as the necessary re-wiring of our nervous system back to our natural state of pleasure, ecstasy, feeling, and intimacy after a traumatic experience or chronic levels of stress,” explained Kuzins. “It comes from an inside out approach which focuses on first addressing trauma held in the body with somatic [relating] practices and then allowing the mind to follow.”
To undergo true healing and regain control of your sexuality, you have to dig deeper than the physical body and tap into your inner self. “Our brains are amazing in that they protect us from that which is too horrific to bear as we do everything we can to survive on a physiological level, but the issue is that we stay frozen in a disembodied trauma response moment in time,” Kuzins described. “In this way, you have to reverse engineer the healing process. If trauma takes you out of the body, then embodied healing brings you back in the body.” Bottom line: Kuzins assured us that you could heal from the inside out and reawaken your sex drive with embodiment exercises.
Practices to promote sexual healing
When in doubt, dance it out. Sure, it may feel silly or embarrassing busting a move by yourself in your apartment, but when you dance like nobody’s watching, that’s where the magic happens. (OK, I’m done with the clichés). “This isn’t about perfection. This is about releasing pent-up sexual energy and getting reacquainted with your body-mind and expression,” Kuzins said. “Trauma often makes us feel sluggish, but the body is built to move, so get moving! Try different styles of music depending on what is resonating with your emotions that day.”
2. Practice breathwork
Breathing is a natural, subconscious action, but when you bring your attention to it, you connect to the present moment and tune into your body and its sensations. “Breath is the human embodiment of life energy and a key way to a balanced nervous system in minutes!” affirmed Kuzins. She suggested trying box breathing. First, slowly exhale all the oxygen out of your lungs. Next, slowly and deeply inhale through your nose to the count of four. Then, hold your breath for another count of four. And finally, exhale through your mouth for the last slow count of four. No matter the type of breathing method you use, you not only activate the parasympathetic nervous system (read: the nerves that relax our bodies), but you also boost circulation, enhancing your sexual experiences.
3. Engage in self-pleasure
What better way to get to know yourself than to spend some quality time pleasuring yourself? Take matters into your own hands (literally) and discover what your wants and needs are. Discover what turns you on. “I’m a big believer that getting reacquainted with your own body first with embodied self-pleasure is one of the most powerful practices you can do to heal from the inside out,” Kuzins said. Play music, relax, and take your time exploring different ways of stimulating yourself. If you’re considering bringing a toy or two into the mix, Kuzins recommended choosing a crystal wand over a battery-operated vibrator to have more control over your touch. “Go at your own pace,” advised Kuzins. “Truly feel your body from the inside, literally. This can be helpful for women who feel numbness or pain, but just make sure it is done with gentleness.”
4. Be mindful of your environment
Whether we realize it or not, our everyday surroundings have a direct impact on our mood and emotions. “Your environment is stronger than your willpower,” cited Kuzins. She emphasized romancing ourselves and our lives: “Clean up your space, light the candles, buy fresh flowers just because, put on music while you cook dinner, wear lingerie to bed for yourself, put on makeup if it makes you feel good even if you’re just working from home.” Especially when you find yourself in the midst of a lull, pay attention to what you wear, how much natural light you’re exposed to, what your desk looks like, and the quality of the air you’re breathing in.
We’re all guilty of getting in our own heads, and our internal dialogues can keep us stuck in the past. Journaling can flip the script by helping you uncover and process your feelings, notice any thought or behavioral patterns, and regain your sense of who you are. “Journaling helps get our feelings out of our body and onto the page,” Kuzins suggested. Putting pen to paper allows you to confront any traumas in a private, safe space. Not sure where to start? Set a timer for 1-2 minutes and write whatever comes to mind, unedited and free of any judgment.
This article is intended to inspire you to live your best life, not to serve as mental or sexual health treatment. If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety, depression, or chronic stress, it’s important to reach out and get help. See your doctor, get in contact with a therapist, and/or talk to a close friend or family member. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or actions, get help immediately.