Sensual Intelligence & Our Lost IQ with Shawnrey Notto

Welcome to LaidOPEN Podcast. This week we welcome sensual intelligence educator and author of The Lost IQ, Shawnrey Notto. She has created a set of sensuality archetypes for you to self-reflect and discover your own style of relating. We discuss a variety of topics centering around sensuality including how dance and embodiment have been a path of healing for us. 

Additionally, we cover everything from how to deepen sensual awareness, developing and refining attunement, consent culture, the difference between sexual and sensual freedom, healing sexual shame and abuse, and the importance of community in healing. As always, we end the episode with an exercise on attuning to our own sensuality. I’m elated for Shawnrey and I to help you tune into your sensuality.

Show Notes

Welcome back to Laid Open podcast. This is your host Charna Cassell. And my guest today is Sean Reno tow. Sean MRI is the Central Intelligence and embodiment guide, teaching and inspiring people to embody their joy, pleasure and self love. She’s the author of sensual intelligence, the last IQ, which I love, by the way, she blends 15 years of dance erotic poetry and mindfulness to connect mind body, spirit and pleasure. And she believes that we can change the world when we heal our relationship to our bodies. Welcome Shawn Ray. 

I’m so glad to have you here.

Thank you. So happy to be here.

And we we share that same value and belief, right now that it’s really a Darwin entry point for change. And, you know, compassion for the collective. Right, our bodies are a starting point out there a starting point. And we start with the individual and like, yeah, and we are a collective and as a ratio individually, we also heal the collective, we just can’t help but to do that.

So it’s a topic that I want to get into. And I’m also really curious, we were going through this collective global experience, when I believe you started to write this book. And so can you share some about what inspired that process? And if being in what I was imagining was you in more isolation and turning inward more and in deepening your central practices? And feeling like you were still managing to really take care of yourself? And then you figured, oh, my gosh, globally, this is really needed?

Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, I was one of those people who was left behind. And in a sense, I didn’t have a partner, my friends, they all potted up together. And so I was practically in the house, just me, myself and the cat. And it was, I really had to deepen into that practice, literally, in order to save my sense of humanity, my sanity, and also just to keep my keep my body and hearts alive. Because we absolutely, I mean, we need people. And I needed those connections. And at the same time, me having that central practice me deepening into that, that going into that journey, really was a was a beautiful tool that I know, that I can use in order to in order to let me go through that, that time period of isolation. Mm hmm. Yeah. And it’s something that I know that so many people were going through in some shape, form or fashion, because our normal, our normal lives are normal things that we use to distract us that we used to connect us etc, were taken away. And so everyone was like, forced to have a different kind of relationship with themselves with their loved ones. And I feel that because I had the Central Intelligence practice, I was able to create create more of a healthy practice in general, you know, during that time and moving forward Yeah, feel that I feel that it was a potential that was actually lost on some people I think initially it was like great like okay, we’re all connected. You know, we’re slowing down. But then as people were with themselves for much longer I think things kind of got weird because you know, the these unlooked at shadows these and investigated places start really start manifesting in really weird ways. So yes, I think I feel that sensuality sensuality and Central Intelligence is both was really a good practice to save my sanity and then also it’s going to be what is so needed in order to glue us back together and heal us back together.

Yeah, I mean, that that that collective trauma. It’s been intense as I mean, I think you know that I’m a trauma therapist and, and I already had a full practice. And I already had a waitlist for going into this, but it is so intense and the need is so great that it hurts my heart, you know, it’s to turn people away. But to usually I have people to refer people to, but everyone is maxed out. And it’s just, we really one of the hopeful gifts that you know, that can come out of this is people actually developing their own practices, and go in like, okay, so what book is going to help me do that what video is going to help me do that, but then turning inward and realizing how much wisdom is within us with some guidance. And so this is just really needed at this time. I know that you also, there’s a course that you created, that goes along with your book. And for everyone out there, there’s a quiz that you can take whether you get the book or not, to identify what you know, you have these, you’ve created a set of archetypes, different styles and approaches to central being, and I would love to hear you, you can describe more about how you came to those and what those are.

Yes, there’s seven, there are seven sensual intelligence types. And they are connected to what I call the central expressions. And essentially, like, the essential expressions are just different ways of being with ourselves and being with our bodies, and expressing ourselves. And, and related, I find that people tend towards, like one or two of them as like, kind of like their default way of being in the world, right. And it comes from you, it comes from, you know, just things in childhood, and just you just kind of like a little bit of like coping, so there’s nothing, there’s nothing wrong, there’s nothing wrong, there’s nothing wrong with any of the types, they just they just are, they just are kind of markers, and kind of give people a sense of, oh, this is kind of kind of how I’m seeing feeling centrally centrally operating in the world. And there are pros, you know, with each of those, and there are also some blind spots. And I find that when we have a relationship with all of our sensual expressions, then we just tend to feel more balanced and our, you know, our needs get met, we’re able to communicate better, you know, essentially, you know, with with with each other. And so that is an in knowing your central intelligence type just kind of gives you an idea of like, you know, where am I starting? What, you know, what am I working with? Hmm. And so I can go into the go into if what, if you want? Yeah, so

What I’ll say about that is, you know, so that there’s these kind of you can think of as not necessarily shadow or light qualities, but here’s your starting point. And in an evolved, if you’ve done your work, it can look like this, and if there’s more work to be done, these might be your pitfalls. Yes. And the one of the questions that came up for me that you can get to, once you’ve talked more about it is just thinking about them very much as layered. And that may be you might start out in one, but then, you know, maybe 10 years ago, you start at a certain sensuality type. And then after doing a certain arc of work, it really changes.

Yeah, yeah. Cuz it can really change or you can start or like, even like, your sense of, like, really identifying with one is just more it’s more fluidity. And that’s, that’s the whole, that’s a whole thing, why I call it like, you know, Central Intelligence, it is, you know, it is an intelligence of, you know, of knowing something of feeling and being. And so like the, the, as we know ourselves more, the more we are able to, in different ways express the fullness of our beings, which looks, you know, IRS can look different in at different times.

Right, well, and just like me, there’s so many different kinds of intelligences, which is another thing we can get into. And sometimes until until we’ve experienced something, we don’t uncover it, we don’t know, you know, we don’t we don’t really tell him what unquote intelligent we are, or we don’t know a certain aspect of our wisdom. And so how would you define sensual intelligence before we get into breaking?

Yeah, so the simple definition of Central Intelligence is the artful and body knowledge of feeling and being very simple, but those words are very, are used very specifically so artful, because it is, especially with sensuality, it is a creative interaction with our world. And so it’s not just like it’s not a right or wrong or a yes or no, it is creative. It is you know, it is moving into the light, artful knowledge like Got a kind of mastery of feeling, you know, the the emotion of being like your expression. And so it’s literally it also bodied. And so it’s very important that we are also getting this information and sharing who we are through our bodies. And so someone when we really are centrally intelligent it is, we can feel like we feel comfortable in our own skin, and enables us to like navigate navigate our world and our interactions in a present and body conscious way. That doesn’t mean that everything’s like, oh, no, no, no. It’s not that. I mean, that is something that you gain more access to. But it’s not pleasure. It’s sensuality. It’s like, oh, taste, touch, smell, sound, and being present with, you know, with how these things are in our bodies with how we are how we are in our bodies, how we are with other people in our environment.

Mm hmm. And I think again, that’s something we can come back to, we can circle back. But I do want to talk about that that distinction of how sometimes pain or trauma can be entry points for deepening our central intelligence, and that it’s not automatically sensuality is not conflated with sex or with pleasure, necessarily,

Right? Yeah.

So you, you were standing in a crossroads, and there are five different roads, and you can choose the path you walk down, what do you want to talk about? So many threads, so many, so many threads. I mean, we could I mean,

I still had a little pain in my brain is you want to talk about the Central Intelligence sites, I can go through that briefly. If that sounds Sure, I started off with the essentialist. And they are connected to the central expression of pleasure. So let me first actually go through the the central expressions, I think that because each central expression is connected to a type. So the expressions are all peas, so it’s pleasure, which is about delight and desire, Clay, it’s about curiosity, and openness and levity, pleasure, way, power, boundaries, and structure. Passion is the fire of the heart, and all those like big emotions, it’s a pleasure, play, passion, power. Philosophy, is the settler sexuality of, of the mind of knowledge and wisdom, psyche, which is of the spirit, spirit, and soul journey. And so each person, you know, when we have, we’re with all of these, these are all connected to different to different elements, and just different ways of being, and someone who tends towards being more of essentialist. And like being like, you know, it’s like, all about beauty and like taste and things, they are going to be what I call as essentialist. Their pros are like, they’re really good at being in the present moment being with beauty being connected with the senses. But on the other hand, they can also the tendency is to have, you know, always wanting to gratify the senses, and not necessarily be connected to the heart, it’s like this little bit, there can be like a sense of like gluttony to that essential intelligence type. And so each one of them has, you know, has a gift that they bring, and has a way of being in the world that is just so beautiful. Or even the philosophy when you have sent essentially intelligent, just called the intellect, the essentially intelligent intellect is one who is like, so like, loves data and information and has like this deep curiosity about how things work. Someone who’s who was essentially intelligent intellect, is going to get to the yummy, nitty gritty and, like, have all the details behind how this is working. And you know how this has come apart and has come together and have a way of articulating that. On the other hand, when it’s not, when it’s not integrated. The intellect can feel very confused, very heavy or judgmental and disconnected from the body actually, and that’s one thing that’s really nice is that just because one can be more so connected to the intellectual part of themselves, doesn’t mean that they’re not that they’re not able to connect with their sensuality. It’s just, it’s just the flavor of it,

Right? I mean, it’s kind of like when you say to some, it’s absurd on dating sites when someone’s like, you know, do you have a sense of humor? Or do you like to laugh? And it’s like, yeah, well, we call what makes people laugh is really different. There’s so many different kinds of sensitive humor, right? There’s so many diversity are things that we like to eat so many different things we like to eat. And so there’s just real really different flavors to the essential approaches and startups.

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I go through all of them but there’s like the the diva is the is the passion, you know, passion and the creative is the playful. centralist is the pleasure. The dominatrix of Dawn is the power. The mystic is the psyche. The empath is peace. And so those are, yeah, each when people buy in their central intelligence type, it’s really funny. They’re like, Oh my god, they’ll take the quizzes like, oh my god by, you called me out.

Yeah, yeah. And if we had multiple hours, I would love to be like, then how did you determine the arc types and then create the quiz? Yeah, there’s so many things that I wanted, that I also want to talk to you about. So I would encourage people to go take the quiz. And then know that if you want to deepen your awareness, if you get really curious about it, and want to create more balance among all of them, that there’s a course and is it an ongoing course? Or Yeah,

So like, right now there’s like, there’s like an online course that just that goes with the that goes with the book that’s just like to have like a little, you know, little, a little, you know, with Sean Connery excitement in it, and have a central embodied writing course. And then later, so just like a central intelligence, deep dive course this live,

oh, super. So people feel inspired to create their own practices. Yeah. And in community because that’s also a really important piece. It’s like, not just in isolation, but being witnessed and yes, held by other and is open to men and women and,

and so right, right now, there’s, there’s, I’m starting off with women. And I will be having one that that’s that’s going to be mixed just because I mean, that’s that’s what I prefer, but just just just initially, the honestly, it’s like this, just this this just business wise, this was like your focus on, you know, on one demographics, because there’s like, there’s, there’s a whole host of different things that come up when I’m working with just one with with one demographic versus another. And so I’m going to start off with just women initially, but I’m loving and excited about working with, you know, working with a whole cohort of genders in my in another one.

And then And then in terms of in terms of like, sexual orientation does is it it’s wide open.

It’s wide open. Yeah. Yeah. This is it’s it really is about connecting, connecting with your body connecting with your heart, your body, and community. And I specifically make it about senses and sensuality. That’s that. sexless, that’s, you know, that’s, that’s beyond, you know, there’s, there is no, you know, it doesn’t matter what your genitals look like, what they’re doing is like, if you if you are in a body, then your central being, right. 

Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, in each each of the arc types also, and is connected to a different element, right. I mean, there’s some other things I think, included, not just elements, but I was thinking about you today. I was in Do you know what gyro tonics? Is? Yeah. Oh, my gosh. So I love gyro tonics. And it just for any of you out there, it’s, it’s a lot of dance. It’s more kind of in the dance community. And it really like elongates the body. And there was something new that clicked for me today. And I consider myself a pretty embodied connected to breath, all this kind of stuff. But I had a beautiful experience. And I was like, Oh, I have to tell Shomrei about this. So there’s a particular breath of an exhale that’s like fogging a mirror. But you can do it, you know, strongly or you could do it gently, and it produces a totally nuanced and different experience. And when I was going on the exhale, my whole upper body and so anyone listening, you can try this like really a gentle fogging, not like you’re fogging, and you’re being chased by a tiger or someone’s like, no shaking, you know, you’re, you’re just like a gentle like. And my whole, like my clavicle, my shoulders dropped. It also really connected below my belly button in in in a softer way than Pilates or gripping or a harder breath. And, and then I suddenly felt like, I just felt like I was moving through water for the rest of this whole section of time and all my movements, everything. When my teacher was kind of like holy cow, what just happened? And I share that because there are these ways there’s a subtle things that we can do to connect us to different elements. And then it produced a level of calm and peace in my body. And my archetype is peace, by the way. Yeah. And it just, it felt really, really good and And, you know, I just think that there are these little little things that we can do to shift our states. And that’s really what your book is, is a collection of practices, right?

That’s so beautiful to see. I mean, I thought when you when you read those, like, everything just said, just like, yeah, everything’s soft and it’s so beautiful.

And scooped in the lower part of the body scoops but in a in a, in a gentle way, not like a forcing kind of way. Right? Like pulling your belly buttons orders by not like yeah, yes.

Yeah, I mean, that’s why I love I love dance. I mean, for me, my background is is dance for that reason. But you know, also very, very specifically, these types of movements that, that are invitations to explore, rather than prescriptions to make you look a certain way. Because I’ve actually had a lot of clients who, who were dancers, but they use dance, it was it was in a very specific way. It wasn’t actually they weren’t actually connected to their bodies just like mind blowing, you know, yes, they weren’t connected, their bodies were connected to their hearts, because the movements were done in such a way to conform to a shape. And but what, what real art again, going back to the definition of Central Intelligence, artful, real art, like what you just described me, he’s talked about, like, you know, the, the, even the the fogging, fogging of the mirror, like soft, you know, softness of that. And that, that is, you know, you creatively just being body. Oh, it can do this. Oh, and what does it say when I do that? Oh, what has this feel and that is, what is possible in art and dance, this, you know, this expression, exploration, and then also a creation of beauty inside of your own inside of your own body. So I just love to share that.

Thank you. You know, there was a scene in your book that was really moving to me where you did your first dance. And so you’re 16. And so if I misspeak, please correct the story and continue it, but that there was a way that you you got you allowed yourself to, to move completely organically. And then please tell the story for our listeners.

Yeah, so this, this invitation to move anyway, that any way that I wanted to, and what ended up happening was I just really felt, I felt the music and I just rode the waves, the music and then also rode the waves of my own internal emotional experience. That was, I had so much rage and anger and confusion and just like shut down inside of me. And it just, and literally, I just didn’t have the words, I didn’t have the words to speak to anyone I didn’t know who I could speak to. But I could use my body to open my heart reach my arms out wide, to reach my body into a little ball and like tighten my Miss to leap to jump to even like they’re my teeth down. Like the the movement was not just with my arms and my legs it was with my face is with my heart. And through that dance, I found my voice I found my expression, I found a way to connect with and express and move through my body all of these emotions that I didn’t know where to put that isn’t No, there was no permission to have a relationship with you know, with these emotions, or this or this thing that happened. And through the body. It was it was primordial. It was primal. It was pre verbal, but that also allowed him to connect to that that those healing parts and yeah, I think you know, like the when trauma when something happens in like we’re, we’re taken out right of ourselves or taken out of our you know, of our connection. Right. And for me, using movement using dance in this way that was just for free expression was a way to create that reconnection without having to explain myself

What was so remarkable to me about the scene and to give the readers or the listeners a context. You were this really good girl from a semi religious family. Where were you not in Oklahoma where Arkansas, Arkansas, sorry, Arkansas, and and you were in In a gifted program, you’d been matched with an old white man mentor. And he sexually assaulted you. And this repeatedly on a weekly basis when you saw him, and and then there was no one to talk to at home. And there was I don’t know, I’m imagining there was no one else you were sharing it with. And so when you say that you didn’t have language, it’s like, I was really struck by the, the feeling of responsibility, because you didn’t want this program to be shut down. Because there were so many other kids in need that also, you know, we’re getting benefit from this program. And then there was the promise of, of, you know, the future benefits that you could get from being part of this program. So there was so much at stake and you were, your hands were tied, you know, metaphorically speaking, and then in that process of dancing you, you, in a way not you didn’t literally untie, but you know what I mean? Like you, you got to speak and you and express and I was so curious, because it wasn’t shared in the book, I wanted to hear about the aftermath of that dance and how you were received and how you were supported. And yeah,

So after after that dad Zane. Like was everyone was there wowed by it? Because Oh, my gosh, we haven’t seen anything like that. He was obviously very, very emotional. They, they literally witnessed, yeah, they witnessed a liberation. And so for me, like, you know, that that definitely gave a shift for you know, for what dance could be in that class. And after that, I mean, you know, it was so much debate, it was so much I honestly have so much of an internal experience at that point. I don’t even honestly, I don’t remember, I just but I do, I do know that it was super important to have witnesses to have people there to see it. You know, it’s just, it’s just not that that’s what the community aspect is so important. It’s not the same. I mean, it’s it’s super important in in deep work to go through it by ourselves, one or 2%. And it takes it to another level, when we are able to, you know, share, share and be witnessed in that journey with community.

Well, and you know, a big piece of what contributes to the the long long term trauma, right is not having support. Right. And so in that moment, whether it was directly related to what was going on, you were getting a little support, you’re getting seen, and you’re getting held momentarily, and my hope was like, oh, I want that little one, too. Just like I really hope that there was at least one other teachers, somebody that was there for you. And I was curious about that. Was there? Who were your resources? Were there any?

Well, I didn’t I didn’t talk about that until much until much later. Yeah. And so it was it was a journey of like an FBI. I graduated from high school, a year, a year later. And then I went, and you know, and after that I went to study abroad in, in Venezuela. And so and so I, you know, so I did go from one thing to you know, to the other, so it wasn’t, so most so that’s why so much of that journey initially, was honestly, I didn’t do more, more of integrating journey of all of that until a few years later.

Okay. And and did you do any authentic movement? Are you familiar with authentic movement?

Yeah, I guess like I did. I’ve done a lot of ecstatic dance. Okay. Yeah. So I so I think that that’s, that’s authentic movement.

Well, so there’s a specific dance form that, you know, I discovered, like when I was 22, or something, and, and this is before I ever got into dance, I was very disembodied and uncomfortable. Yeah, but so authentic movement, my first experience of it was just like closing my eyes, you have one witness and just letting my hand say something to my other hand, you know, it was like, you could let your whole body but it was, I totally assumed and thought I was like, Oh, she has to have been into authentic movement. If not, it’s something I you it sounds like you’d clearly

Yeah, you’re you’re speaking about that, like, oh, yeah, that sounds like that. Sounds like what Yeah.

Right. Yeah. Like you came to it on your own. But that it’s a way that you know, there was so much communication that was happening just between my two hands that it gave me the courage to leave an abusive relationship. Right. It was like the body can’t can’t lie and it was revealing something that I wasn’t actually I didn’t have language for yet.

And that’s what you know, that’s what that’s what they that’s what these journeys are all about. I love what you said you know, these when I when I did these movements, I did this dance authentic movement. It it gave If we gave you gave you meaning it gave you understanding. That was, that was the honor that was before words. And that is something that’s so important for us to be able to allow ourselves to slow down and listen to our bodies. And so many, so many of us that we are going so fast, and so much in like the doing, and the accomplishing, and the producing, and that we actually never have a chance to just actually sit and be and listen to our bodies. And you know, and then like the and so I feel like, the more that we do that, the more we can actually hear the different the different voices of who we are, and get to know like, oh, there’s like, you know, there’s the scared voice and there’s the, you know, competent voice and there’s a discourse and there’s that place. So I talk about like, you know, just gaining a relationship with the many aspects of ourselves, right, that’s what is going to allow us to start making a choice, and also just start integrating, and seeing, you know, seeing and feeling who we are.

Mm hmm. Right. So just that we have all these different parts that have different impulses and different needs. And maybe even we have different like, coming back to the archetypal types, right? In one situation, there’s enough safety for a certain archetype to come forward and a different scenario. You know, another one takes another kicks in, but yeah, but what’s interesting is if we don’t have access to one of those archetypes, which is one of those expressions, I say, for example, the the expression of, of power, and even the qualities of power is boundaries instruction, someone who doesn’t have a relationship with that, or, you know, it’s either scared or whatever, will tend to go beyond their boundaries, right tend to, you know, to martyr themselves or to, you know, and, and, and that it’s not that it’s not that there’s anything wrong, it’s just like, when we it’s, it’s how do we allow ourselves to have our unique relationship with that aspect of ourselves? And when we don’t have it, then it’s just, we just don’t access it always. Like, it’s scary. It feels scary or weird, right? It’s like a tool that we don’t know, it could be there. But then it’s like, neither, we don’t know we have the tool, or we’re just like, ah, like really weird with this, because we’re just not familiar.

Right? Well, and there’s also, you know, what you talk about, and, and I relate to this, regarding the work that I do, because I work a lot with sexuality. But I see how we show up in the bedroom is how we show up outside of the bedroom. Right? And so what you were talking about, it’s like if you’re afraid of your own sexual power, or being able to have boundaries in certain ways, or sensual power, look at other aspects of your life. Where are you not having boundaries and other aspects of your life and your sensuality as a relationship to the planet to people to yourselves? And where could it use more structure and container? And where could it use more expansiveness?

Exactly, exactly.

There’s something that you said in the book about traumas, shame and conditioning or injuries to our sensual body. And so I was wondering if you could say more about how the essential intelligence made available during moments of pain? And how, and I thought about your dance as one of these moments, but how you personally or professionally have seen this show up?

How, and using central intelligence or how it shows up in areas of pain or shame or in these areas are?

Well, that it’s us. I think you’ve phrased it in such a way that it becomes more available during moments of pain. And I thought that was really an interesting way to phrase it. Because I’ve also thought about how trauma acts as a doorway to spiritual awakening. Right, that’s something that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. Yeah. And so I wanted to hear your, where that was coming from in you and what you’re seeing. 

Yeah. So a lot of times, especially, you know, pain is something that gets people’s attention. They want to get rid of it. And so it’s it’s the zinger. It’s like it’s a compass. Because people are like, it’s, you know, it’s very clear people want to get rid of it. And just on the other side of the pain is, is a need. That is not that it’s not being taken care of is yes, he’s a piece of ourselves. So that is missing, or VA, or somehow another being, you know, subverted. And so when you say when a client came to me and one of her pains was actually being seen, she’s like, people just seem to see me as a sex object. You know, I’m, you know, I’m physically very beautiful people consider me physically beautiful. But for her, her own beauty felt like, both a trap and, and something that attracted negative energy to her. And she went to create, she wanted to art and you know, and in having this very painful relationship with her body that other people saw as beautiful, but she felt as something that was a curse, we were then able to, you know, literally go into and have relationship have a conversation with have a sensual heart conversation movement. So we use movement and everything in order to actually take a moment to feel, feel the places that you know, that she that were the that were beautiful, and painful at the same time, and create and what, you know, what were the stories in her childhood that, you know, that created that created that type of relationship with herself? What was the story that she actually wanted to be? What, you know, how did she How was this body part really wanting to be seen or held or touched and, and so, and we use sensuality, we use the senses in order to do the excavation, as well as to create her specific blueprint for healing, for healing, you know, healing her, her beauty scar, that that pain that she had around around her own looks. So that is that’s part of how sensuality and pay come, you know, come together and how they’re used.

Right? And so much. I mean, you know, one of the things was looking at how sensuality and living from a place of Central Intelligence has been lost, right? It’s a lost art, and rooted in the history of colonialism, supremacy and patriarchy, and then looking at how it shows up differently with different genders, right?

Mm hmm. Especially with women. I mean, I think with all genders, but especially with women, like for her part of what needs to happen as well was, it was a decoupling of her body being wanting to preset sexualized and objectified. Yep. And that was part of what that was part of what was happening. And so in creating a sensual relationship and sensual intelligence, that because Central Intelligence is not, it is not sex, it can help with it, but it is not sex itself. It is it been you’ve used this word a few times, and I love this way, it allows us to have nuance with, you know, with our bodies, with ourselves, etc. And so, especially with you know, with women, being eight for her to be able to experience her own body, as you know, her sensual body, a body that is like, you know, in the world experiencing things in the world experiencing things for herself. That that was her reclamation, it was her being able to reclaim her body for herself for her enjoyment for her expression. And that you know, that would make her so objectified and made to be sexualized, then it strips it of all of all the other meaning and all the other other experiences you can have as just a frickin Cuban

There can be so much pleasure in, in the smallest act. You know, when I started doing somatic healing, I worked at good vibrations, which is a worker owned sex toy store but I just remember I was walking with one of my co workers and I love soft things. I don’t know if I was wearing like a satiny thing or a cashmere thing or they’re the circles that were raised on my shirt and I was touching it I still have this shirt that I love and she was like God it’s like you’re always making love to yourself or you’re always just enjoying your but it’s once you know you’re comfortable with your senses existing in a body that was once terrifying to be in can become so pleasurable, right? You know, just feeling that the air on your skin, right? So being in a female body in the world. Often there’s a level of looking over your shoulder going, how safe am I. And then if you’re a woman of color, there’s another layer. And then if you’ve had certain kinds of trauma, there’s another layer and, and so there’s all of that and your health. So you’re helping people really reclaim their bodies and being comfortable experiencing their senses. We’ve talked a lot about being in a female body, but then there’s this other piece of being in a male body where, you know, the opposite is true, where where attunement to your own senses, is, is frowned upon. So then how are you going to be able to tune to anybody else? Exactly,

Yes. Mm hmm. And that’s something that’s awesome, that I just loved, the base of the journey is actually having permission to connect with yourself, your senses, and to explore who you are. For me, I talk about this in the book, if you are gendered certain way there are these gender specific roles and genders ways in which you know, which is okay to express yourself and not okay to express yourself. And so we, you know, I talk about if we create a world, in which gender people who are gendered as boys are told to be hard, tough it out, don’t cry, and all these different things then, like, they literally told to desensitize themselves in order to be acceptable, as you know, as a man to be busy as a as a human. And of course, that leads to, but it leads to not, you can’t if you’re not able to connect with yourself, how can you connect with someone else? Exactly, then, and then like, you know, and then like, the, then like that, for them? Like the journey the journey is? Is? Is it okay? Is it you know, it? Or is it okay, at first? Is it even there? Are they because usually, they’re like, they’re there, like, it’s just like, the discovery to feel to feel their beings. And then later, is this okay? To be able to do that. And honestly, you know, the healing has to happen on all on all sides. Because we perpetuate, we perpetuate these stereotypes, we perpetuate these gender norms, if we have like standards of, you know, this is what a man is supposed to be and how supposed to do. And then if he doesn’t do that, then we put you know, then we put him down, you know that, that is so detrimental to the heart and it makes it it makes so that that they then feel that that’s what that’s what I need to do in order to protect myself. Because if I do show softness and vulnerability that I’m going to be you know, that it’s going to be frowned upon, I’m not gonna be wanted not gonna be desired. It’s so important that we all do this work and all do the self reflection, because it’s so easy to fall back into the, into this into this conditioning and to the patterning. And you know, you’re in the patterning, what is kind of like, you just feel kind of justified and righteous?

Well, it’s, it’s, you know, when you think about you take these different kinds of intelligence away, right, let’s take away emotional intelligence. Let’s take away Central Intelligence. And then it’s like, okay, you’re left with an IQ, right? And this is what’s upheld? And that’s what’s valued. Yep. And then, you know, one of the things that I was also moved by, in your book is the reference to your grandfather and what he created. So I felt like you were continuing this conversation. So and I may get this wrong, so please correct me. But yeah, so your grandfather evaluated IQ tests and look at the looked at the racial biases in them. And it was proven based on his findings. And so I was like, Oh, my God, I’m just getting shivers actually, right now thinking about the fact that you continue the conversation and you broadened it. And you included Central Intelligence. I thought that was really cool. It gave more meaning. It gave more meaning to the title, you know, and to what you’re working.

Yeah, it was. So it’s so wonderful. I was talking I actually talked with him about my book before he passed. And he was so excited. He was so excited that I was doing this book. That is amazing. Yeah. Yeah. And so his work was about it’s about racial justice and, and indifferent intelligence. And so he totally did the, you know, did the studies around the cultural bias around intelligence tests, and was able to prove that, that when black people were taking these intelligence tests, they were scoring very poorly, because there were so many, like cultural references that were being used in order to be standardized. It wasn’t standardized. It wasn’t standard. Right? Right. That he was the person who coined the term Ebonics. Yeah, yeah. And so he loved he loved language. So when I told him about Central Intelligence like, Oh, that’s so great, you know that, you know, it’s, you know, language is so important. And you know, so that, you know, he’s like he said, he can’t be bothered because he said, Ebony is Ebony phonics, put it together, you know?

It just really, really moving because not everyone gets to first of all, it gets to know their grandparents but gets to have like a rich intellectual life with their grandparents. You know, usually there’s like this disconnect generationally. So for him to get what you were up to and appreciate it is just so profound.

It really was. It was so amazing when I told him about it. Oh, it’s like, and he told me about some of his, he told me about what it is first experiences at Esalen. So he was he was one

that was naked in the tip.

Yes, I was like, Oh my God, it was like the last thing that I was ever expecting.

I’m like, I’m crying with laughter right now. When was this in the 70s was like the 60s 70s. And he said that he was the old he’s six foot five, six foot five, black professor. And he said, we’re all standing outside. He’s like, is majority white people and we’re all naked. And we’re like, you know, closing our eyes and like reaching our hands out. And like, you know, it’s like touching bodies, you don’t know, you know, what bodies are touching. Just

like He also said, it’s

just like, you know, it’s interesting, you know, interesting thing about, you know, his times and what, you know, what he’s experiencing as a six foot five, but like, man, yeah, he said, I wasn’t going to, you know, close my eyes, because he said, we’re also near cliff, he said, We’re near cliff. And so he’s like, I’m a black male. And there’s a bunch of white people here, going to, you know, completely close my eyes and just trust that they’re, you know, that someone’s not going to like, you know, trip. And like, you know, it pushed me pushed me off the cliff. Yeah, so it’s like, really, it’s so like, he was telling me that he’s, like, I’m so happy that you’re doing this book, because it really he said, it is like a continuation of, you know, of his work. And, you know, and it’s also I feel, it is a it’s a branch to branch of the work that he was doing, talking about intelligence talk and like, for me to be able to speak about Central Intelligence right now, is because of all the work that that you know, that previous generations have done and the things that we have, that we have overcome and things the conversations that we’re able to, that we’re able to have, and I’m creating this to, like, you know, so that we can have even more of that of that conversation. And that’s also why I write in the bucket to keep that reference to colonialization. And to, you know, to all of these different things, just so that we can really see the through line of how our relationships with our bodies has emerged, and how, you know, how something like Central Intelligence, you know, may have been pressed down, because it’s connected with the body connecting with the land Connect, you know, what, you know, what is that in opposition to is in opposition to like, you know, push, you know, push yourself. Yeah, ownership and pushing yourself for productivity and like, yeah,

It’s right, right. And you know, what I’m struck by and imagining your grandfather’s experience, in contrast to what you’re up to, is that there is total lack of safety around surrendering. And that hasn’t gone away. And so the courage that it takes for you to engage in this work, which is all about surrender, right? It really is, it’s about allowing, it’s about being present, and it’s about surrendering to what’s there and in the face of what still exists. Right? Right. Colonialism hasn’t gone away. Patriarchy hasn’t gone away. Racism hasn’t gone away and right, and, and what you have to be open to feeling right, you know, back to this piece of like, it’s all about pleasure. Yeah. When in order to open your body, Duff’s can arise that hasn’t been felt.

Yeah, and like this is something that like, one some things that make it to the books because they’ll you know, as to make it too big. One thing I find it’s very, it’s very important is for, for this conversation to come from many different body types, many different bodies, you know, from different histories, et cetera, because having that sensitivity and having that, you know, having that kind of shared history, it does create creates a sense of safety for people. It’s like, okay, I have the story, you know, you know, of my of my lineage that you know, that happened that if I you know, if I share in someplace, it’s not going to be understood, I’m not going to feel like it’s gonna be able to be held And so that, that didn’t make it, that it makes it the part of the reason why I really want to, you know, have you know, have my voice and also be able to encourage there to be more more diverse spaces and more diverse leadership in you know, in these different areas so that people can actually feel safe to, to go deep. Because, because like the you know, it’s like, just like, like the most the most vulnerable populations haven’t had, you know, it’s like leadership or you know, or spaces, where rights actually, where it’s like, okay, this is it’s okay for me to do this. Yeah. Okay. Okay, cool. And so, you know, it’s, and that’s where, you know, the understanding of, like, all black or people of color spaces are all female bodied spaces are all like, there, that there is value and importance before that. Right? Yeah. And I imagine that something that you will, hopefully guide and probably have,

I love guiding all, you know, all the different for me, my circles, know that I’ve loved the different dynamics that come up in the different in the different circles. So whether the, you know, my circles, the circles that are like all women, and then like, you know, let’s, let’s say a women who are like, you know, if it’s all diverse women, that’s, you know, that’s the, you know, the conversations that come up in that are rich and juicy. Like a if it’s a circle with all women of color, the conversations that are rich and juicy. And you know, and there’s different healing that is found in each of these spaces. And I think it’s it’s very, it’s very necessary to, it’s necessary to honor to honor that to honor every minute honored people’s place. So what are people’s journeys? Yeah, because they’re not, they’re not all the same. They’re a couple of things I felt were really important. So we don’t have consent without sensual. Yeah, he’s one of the things that you said in your book. And I, I feel like consent is a really important topic to talk about. And then it’s also regarding what we were just talking about, I was thinking about, there are so many spaces that are predominantly white, like ecstatic dance, etc. For people to practice, surrender, right? And that then that there can be this, there’s a scene in your book, where I think I’m assuming, I don’t know, if you specified that was a white man who came up to you and was like, I feel so connected to you. You’re doing the right thing, right? Like I’ve like, we’ve, I’ve been there. I know that experience, why I kind of can’t handle these that much. But I really felt like it was concise and well said which is that’s attraction, that’s not connection. And there was an assumption inside of that, and I would love for you to speak to that.

Yeah, so two things you talked about. So yes, consent, you can’t have consent without potential. Yeah, literally in the word is con, t o n with sensual concepts as well with the senses. So being able to be connected to your senses, to your sensuality, to your being is that is then what allows you to actually create a, you know, create a connection with someone and to you know, to further that conversation, speaking the difference between attraction and connection, I find that I find that a lot of what can get taught in some places that are you know, that about, you know, conscious sexuality, etc. And so sometimes what can actually get taught, it’s not, it’s not connection, indefinitely, not, you know, not connection to your connection to your body and also the connection to someone else’s, like, you know, an ability to feel, see that, you know, the nuance that you know, that is that is what connection is being drawn to someone is that is being drawn, that is being you know, that that is that is coming from you, the only way there’s going to be conection, once again, as with it is with consent, if the other person also joins you in that interaction, and, you know, joins you in their interaction with their words, with their, you know, with their body that you are actually able to read and that you are actually meeting your own body. Yeah, that is something that I find that when we ended up teaching this, like the tools that like, you know, how to make people come or how to, you know, it’s like, what about the tool of centering and connecting to yourself, giving space for the other person to actually be center and connect with themselves? Yeah. And then in that you have a connection And the connection can look many different ways. And that’s another thing connection to honor. Well, you know, I’m in your eyes like connection can be like, Oh, I’ve connected to you across the room. And that is great.

But connection, if there’s going to be,

Yeah, well, it’s it’s a fascinating thing. Have you ever gone to like, you know, doesn’t have to be a sex party could be a Cuddle Party? Yeah, these things where they introduce the concept of consent. And that can be mind blowing for some people. I had a guest on who’s a male who had it was his first time as a grown man. Like, I’m going, I get to say no. So that was mind blowing for me shivers was hearing that 

Oh, I know. But then that you take a step back and you go, Wait a second. I mean, this is also you name it in your book. And it’s my I feel the same way, which is, if you are not home, if you’re not in your body, and you don’t know what yes feels like, or no feels like, how are you going to give consent? If they’re not embodied? You cannot consent? No. And so let’s slow the roll. Let’s roll wind, and let’s get, you know, and people they want to, like, get it on, right? They want to go. And a big piece is being skipped over. And I think that’s where there’s so much confusion, where people go too fast, because they haven’t even caught their breath. And maybe they’re freezing past trauma, and suddenly, they’re in it with someone and they may feel assaulted, but they’ve crossed their own boundaries and allowed someone across theirs, right. Yep. Yep. We’re getting close to the end. Yes. And I would like to hear from you. What do you consider? Like what central freedom versus what sexual freedom to you?

Okay, well, one thing I will say that it it when it ships, it’s a shifting of intention. For me, very, you know, practically everything is going to be sensual is because I am you know, I am in this world, feeling, you know, feeling and being um, being present, the when it turns sexual, that’s that is that is that is a conscious, that’s an intentional shift of the energy that is an intentional, you know, honing or shifting my senses so that they are in so that they are in the creation of heightened arousal turned on to you know, titillation and you know, all the things that that are going to bring my body or my partner’s body, leisure and sexual gratification and connection. And so it’s more so, for me the differences like you know, where I put my where I put my attention and intention.

Mm hmm. Beautiful. So remember, you can take Shawn Ray’s free quiz to explore your relationship to sensuality and deepen your understanding of how to strengthen this essential muscle, at her website. Anything else you want to share with us before we say goodbye? For me, I’m

always like, you know, down and savor. That’s it and slow down and safer.

Lovely, I love it. Good tagline. Slow down and savor it was so sweet to meet you.

So wonderful to talk and connect. Thank you.

So some people who are listening may think they’re not sensual beings. They don’t define themselves that way. But the reality is they may just have the volume of certain senses turned down or trained to pragmatically function in certain ways. Like, I smell for gas leaks, versus using their sense of smell in a way that can invite them into a central space, where they will use their auditory senses to listen for their children crying, but they haven’t experimented with their senses simply for pleasure sake. The more you attune your senses and build your capacity to be with what you feel. You can literally live a sensational life. Yes, feeling more also means feeling hard things but you also get to feel more joy and pleasure. The ability to be with more sensation is an essential part of living a vibrant life. All experiences come with sensation floating down a river silky coolness on your back body, or hot sun on your front. having back pain that shoots a nervy burning sensation down your leg. Walking down a beach covered and rocks warmed by the midday sun. Each step offers reflexology intense foot massage and moments of excruciating pain. rocks that were soothing moments before become too hot and feel like they’re burning your feet. Whether that sensation is pain or pleasure our capacity to be with sensations means we don’t get as overwhelmed when we don’t feel well. When we’re in a fight with our partner or a variety of other possible scenarios, were able to cope with life and feel much more sensuality and desire and enjoyment inside this physical body that we exist in. Your primary known senses are sight, sense, taste, vision, and hearing. I’ve addressed these in addition to movement visualization intuition in my episode on pleasure as an act of resilience. Let’s revisit some of these. So go ahead and lay down or sit and close your eyes. As I described some of these scenarios. If you can go ahead and try them out directly. And notice how much you can feel in your own body. Does it feel good? Do you get shivers? Does your breath change? Do you wince or smile? Otherwise, I’m just bringing you through a series of reflective questions and visualizations. And if you don’t feel comfortable closing your eyes, you can keep them open and you can even journal while we’re going through this. Be conscious of how you move through space. Are you in a hurry. Even if you have to get back to work, give yourself the next five minutes to slow everything down. Moving slowly, as if you’re walking through water. Feel the air against your skin if you’re outside, or lay on soft sheets are a fuzzy blanket. And notice how it feels as you move your limbs. If you’re with a partner, try moving your fingertips way more slowly down the length of their bare skin. Or if you’re inside, someone move in and out, as if savoring time slowing it down with each stroke. What changes in your body as you simply visualize moving differently. Wear in your day or in your week. Can you apply this practice? And notice if you experience the world, and yourself in it as more sensual. Also notice how other people respond to you when you move more slowly. So rather than grabbing and rushing, let’s touch with grace and intention. How do you like to touch? How do you like to be touched? And what do you want to touch? When I harvest stinging nettles, I can choose to wear thick gloves and long sleeves to avoid the burning prickly feeling or maybe I want to allow it to sting me and bird me for therapeutic purposes of addressing arthritis.

I’m not going to stroke these leaves the way I would a lamb’s ear plant or my dog’s belly. There are times when I want to grab and be grabbed firmly. Listen to the moment. What is being asked for what feels good to you to your hand. But what also feels good to the other person if you’re with another person. Maybe it’s a steady unmoving, grounded kind of contact or maybe it’s a solid sharp smack. Grayson intention does not have to be gentle Mary. How can you show up even more in the way that you touch? Clap your hands. Five times. Feel the sensation sparking in them. Imagine you can breathe through your hands. Your breath moves in and out of them. Your hands may heat up. Turn them towards one another and feel the pulse between your palms. Run your energized hands up the length of your own body, your pets or your partner’s what can you feel when you’re eating How often are you slurping that sweet juicy juice from each bite of your peach? Are you just getting it down your throat to function as fuel so you can get on to your next appointment? Where can you schedule and more time to add sensuality to all aspects of your life? Brushing your teeth, feeling the bristles against your gums, slowly coursing it across your tongue, the cool tap water sloshing in your mouth before you spent really anything can be a practice whether you’re washing dishes, gardening, hiking, making love watching a movie Be, you can decide to feel even 5% More by putting your attention on it, putting your attention on a part of your body, putting attention on anything. If TV is a primary part of your life while watching, see what you feel in your own body as you watch each scene, when there is anticipation in a scene, is it exciting? Or is it anxiety provoking for you? Do you like this feeling? Do you want more of it? Or is it just a habit that you pursue and that you like the adrenaline and the not knowing where else in your life as you create this bracing, breath held state? What gets tight, what makes your breath speed up, or slow down? Living essentially increases gratitude, gratitude for fabric, for dirt, for food, for water for breath for skin. Even as I speak this, I can feel my own body vibrating. 

Remember, if something feels good and you want to feel it again, all you have to do is recall it and it’s right there in present time. This has been laid up in podcast with your host Charna Cassell. Please join us again next week. If this show feels beneficial. we’d love if you’d please rate and review it and share it with your friends so others can find us. If you have any additional questions around sex and trauma, please submit them at charnacaselle.com. Follow me at Laid Open podcast on Instagram and Facebook and read more about my work at passionatelife.org. Until next time.

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© 2022 By Charna Cassell, LMFT. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. MFC 51238.

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