Saturday, June 14, 2014

Body Awareness

Body Awareness is important for a good sex life.  In this post I will be talking about body awareness mostly as it relates to sexuality, but will mention how it affects other areas of our lives, too.

Sexually speaking, Body Awareness includes:

+Your body image, or how you see yourself.

+Knowing your body's capabilities and being able to use them to their fullest.

+Knowing your body's limits and being able to challenge them.

+Your mind-body connection.


Let's examine each of these!

Body Image

Body image is important in the physical and mental health communities because having a skewed or poor body image can lead to several health problems.  Here's a quote from a health center about why body image is an important health topic:

Why is body image relevant to our work on health? There are significant health impacts as a result of our thoughts, feelings and beliefs about our bodies. Body awareness includes the thoughts, perceptions, and feelings that we have about our bodies. We make meaning about the value of our bodies through our interactions with family, friends, and peers and our culture as well as through food and fashion industries and media. In these interactions, we receive both corrosive and resiliency promoting messages that influence our health. 

Consequences of poor body image can include: 
  • Fear of intimacy in sexual relationships; 
  • Avoiding participation in enjoyable movement; 
  • People can attempt to change or control their bodies by: 
    • Restrained eating; 
    • Abuse of anabolic steroids; 
    • Seeking cosmetic surgery; 
    • Using skin bleaching products; 
    • Preoccupation with food and eating; 
    • Continuing to smoke because afraid will gain weight if quit.
    (End of quote, and here's a link to where I got this quote:  Wardenburg Health Center)

    As you can see there are many health and wellness related reasons we want to have a good body image.  But the first bullet point on the list above under "consequences of poor body image can include" is "fear of intimacy in sexual relationships".

    Having a poor body image can literally shut down your sex life.  It can make you not want to get naked or have sex at all.  Your mind will over ride your body's urges for sex with anxiety about your body.  So this is why the body image part of body awareness is such a big deal.  I talked about this a little in my post Would You Do You?  

    In that post, I suggested that if poor body image was making your sex life suffer, you should work on that.  Get counseling, get a coach, read books about changing negative mental habits...whatever you have to do, learn to love how your body looks and you will get a better sex life out of it.

    There were years when I didn't really want to look at myself naked.  In order to see my body as sexy, I only wanted to see myself in the best lighting with the best lingerie in the poses where nothing was saggy or baggy and no battle scars were showing.  I've come a long way since then.  

    Now I love my body and I consider it sexy even in the worst lighting and in the most unflattering position possible.  How did I accomplish this?  

    Really it became a matter of just wanting to have better sex where I could relax and not worry about how I looked, and actually even love the way I look.  Knowing that my husband is honestly always attracted to me helped a lot.  But he also lead the way for me by having an excellent body image himself, even though he has flaws, too.  He showed me that you don't have to have a "perfect" body in order to allow yourself to love your own body.  

    So I learned that I can give myself permission to love my own body and how it looks.  It doesn't actually matter what it really looks like, I still am allowed to feel however I want to about it.  When I really integrated that fact into my thinking, I was then able to choose to love my body.  

    A reminder then...If you don't love your body and how it looks, you should work on that. I guarantee you that sex is more fun when you look down at your body while you're doing it and you feel beautiful!

    Knowing Your Body's Capabilities

    You have your own personal sexual capabilities that are related to your body and how it works.  Some people's bodies do not work the same as others.  We don't all get off the same way, we can't all bend the same way, we are not all the same size and shape.  Most of us start learning what our bodies are sexually capable of in our early years via masturbation, and we continue to learn as we mature and have partnered sex and more experiences.  Over time we usually find "what works" for us and what our bodies can do.

    But to really push your body awareness to a higher level, you should keep exploring your body and how it works as a lifetime exercise.  The more time you spend learning your body's capabilities, the more you increase those capabilities and add to them.  

    You can learn about your body's sexual capabilities even when not engaged in sexual activities.  Kegels are a perfect example of this.  If you diligently do kegels (anyone of any gender) you will learn things about the muscles that are part of your sex organ system, and you can increase your sexual functioning and capabilities.
    There are other exercises and things you can do with your body to learn about it and improve your sex life.
    Here are some questions you can ask yourself about your own capabilities, just as examples.  Obviously this list could be very long, so I will just pluck a few fun ones:

    *Do I like rough, pounding sex?  If so, how long can I keep at it?

    *Am I good at giving oral sex?  Do I like it?  Can I improve at it?

    *Are my hands good at touching myself and my partner?  Can I improve the sensory feedback I have between my hands and my body or my partner's body?
    *Is my body very responsive to another's touch?  Do I enjoy being touched all over, or only some parts of my body?  Is my skin overly sensitive to touch, pressure or temperature, or not sensitive enough?  
    *Does my body feel good having sex in several different positions with a partner?  Which positions work best for my body?  Does this answer change at different times of the month or in cycles?

    Knowing Your Body's Limits

    Some common things that limit most people's body during sex are drugs and alcohol (making it difficult to achieve orgasm), exhaustion and fatigue, illness, excessive heat, and dehydration.  If you know exactly how each of these affect your body, then you can anticipate them and know when your body's sexual functioning can be optimized and when it cannot.

    Individual people also have their own individual body limits.  Knowing how much energy you can expend during sex before you run out of steam is very helpful information, and it will vary a lot between individuals.  

    If you are into sports or fitness, you know how not to injure yourself during this workout or game so that you won't have to suffer in your next workout or game...your goal is to keep improving and surpassing your own limits without injury, while keeping a regular workout schedule.  

    It can be the same sexually speaking.  If I know that I can only do a certain sex act for X number of minutes before my Y starts to cramp up, then I can anticipate this and not overdo it...yet I can also deliberately push that limit just a bit, and over time I can do the same sex act for much longer before something cramps up. 

    Practice and sexercise help you expand your limits.  

    Knowing how flexible you are and understanding how your body moves into different positions is also very useful.  Whether you are flexible or not, you really need to know what your body can handle.  Let's say your partner wants to throw your ankles over your shoulders, do you know if you can actually bend that way or not?  Know your limits and find out first!

    Mind-Body Connection

    Sexually speaking, the mind-body connection is how we create our individual eroticism.  Your body and your mind are unique and the only way to "know" them is to use them and learn how they work together.  Your mind can shut down your body, and your body can shut down your mind, so you need them to connect and work together.  

    In your mind you may be very sexual and erotic, but your body may not want to join in.  Or your body may feel lustful and randy, but your mind may not join in.  

    When we get both the body and the mind going after the same goal, sex is usually the most pleasurable and memorable.

    A lot of the mind-body connection in sex has to do with being able to stay in "the now" and experience it.  Sometimes our mind wants to escape from an actual sexual experience (including solo) and go to some other experience.  When this happens it is a sign that your mind-body connection has been interrupted. 

    This is not always a bad thing, because there are times during sex that our mind will float away for a bit or when we might have some anxiety or feel vulnerable and we may need a mental break from the physical world momentarily.  But generally speaking, to stay present with both your mind and body during sex will create better sexual experiences and ultimately can increase your overall Body Awareness.


    Body Awareness is closely related to another topic I previously blogged about, Sexual Self-Awareness.  

    When you combine the two, you can have some really rockin' sex.  When you really know yourself, you know how you can have the best types of sex for YOUR tastes and capabilities and body...so do whatever you can to increase that awareness and get yer sexy on!  Your body and mind will thank you.

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