Episode 5: Creating Body Maps and Reconnecting with Pleasure
On this episode we are speaking with Tara Galeano a sex therapist who helps women reimagine and rekindle their sexuality. She teaches a course titled, “Rediscovering Your Body After Cancer Treatment” and she discusses how the relationship to our own sexuality is an ongoing process throughout the many changes we experience over our lives. Sex is an act, it’s simple. Sexuality is about how you are, your body, and how you feel about yourself.
Tools for Reconnecting
These exercises can be done at any time, but are especially useful for people who have experienced a life threatening illness as they allow for someone to return to their body from an experience that can be disassociating, or even feel like a betrayal of one’s own body. It all starts with the relationship you have with yourself.
1. Body Scan: This is an invitation to come back into your body. Begin at the top of your head and scan all the way down to your feet; feel your feet grounded in the earth. This exercise can help you overcome feelings of anger and disassociation and is great do to before going to bed, or when you wake up in the morning.
2. Body Map: This is an external image of the body which allows you to note the parts of your body that you want touched, or where you find pleasure, as well as the areas that you are not ready, or don’t want, to be touched. This exercise uses art as a form of self-expression and is incredibly intimate.
3. Shake: Trauma releasing exercises: developed by Doctor David Berceli. Cancer diagnoses and treatment can be traumatic experience, and can leave many women feeling objectified, which can result in trauma being held in the body. This exercise is about releasing of the nervous system and gives you’re the opportunity to come back to your body more comfortably. The App can be given by your doctor.
Don’t forget to check in with your body!
“If we are not comfortable in our bodies we are never going to have mind blowing sex, we are never going to be relaxed”
Creating a Language for Intimacy
Because many of us were not raised in a sex positive environment, as we age, we often find ourselves at a loss for the vocabulary to express ourselves fully. Most women have a sense of what they want to say but have fear because they have never said their desires aloud before. Group of sex therapy is a space that can help build the vocabulary so that we can articulate what we want.
“In Between” Language
“When I work with women in my practice, I like for them to do a self-examination of themselves so they can look at their vulva, look at their vagina, and figure out what words feel good to them.”
This practice relates to how we evolve as sexual beings. It’s dynamic and allows for women to find the language that represents their body and their desires.
Exercise: Body Map How To
1. Get a large piece of paper so that you can trace your whole body.
2. Trace both the front and back sides of your body. Recommendation: Do the front side first.
3. Using the image of your body - fill it in with the love that you feel for yourself. Note which areas you want to be touched using green.
4. Continue to fill in your body using green for Green for good, Yellow for sensitive areas, and Red for “don’t touch”. Feel free to add text and embellish your body in whatever way suits you best.
5. Share your body image with your partner and show them where and how do you want to be touched.
Extra: Have your partner complete their own body map so that they can share their desires with you to help create a conversation about your language of intimacy.
Make sure to listen all the way to the end when Tara shares a beautiful and hopeful story about sexual reclamation. Enjoy!