Valentine’s Day: An Invitation to Feel More Alive & to Relish Being in Your Own Skin

It’s that time of the year when we get flooded by images and messages of how to create more romance, how to be a better lover, or how to find your perfect partner NOW. Admonitions that the status of our relationship or the togetherness of our coupling is lacking something.

Let me remind you that you lack nothing. Sure there are things that are in process of being fulfilled or transformed. BUT you my darling lack nothing.

So this year, I propose that Valentine’s Day be a day of romancing yourself – A practice of embodying every inch of you.

Because our relationship with ourselves is a direct reflection of our relationship with others, when we can connect with ourselves more intimately, more genuinely, more authentically, we create greater doorways and paths to be able to do the same with someone else.

Romance is defined as a love affair, an attachment between people, a mysterious appeal, or a mysterious quality of something beautiful.

To romance yourself is a powerful way to embody you.

To romance yourself is a powerful way to embody yourself.  It is an invitation to feel more alive and relish being in your own skin.

Because when we do this, we deepen our intimacy, aliveness, and erotic connection without the push to make it about what we may or not be getting from someone or being alone or in coupledom this time of year.

Therefore, to romance yourself is at the very heart of Valentine’s Day.

Here are some ideas on how to romance YOU.

#1. S-L-O-W Down

Valentine’s Day is an invitation to live from the romantic, sexy and sensual parts of ourselves.  One way we can experience more sensuality is to slow down.  Many of us run around all day, mindlessly getting things done. How many of us have driven somewhere not recalling how we got there?

Slowing down is about being aware of what we are doing right now. One of my favorite way to slow down is to move as if I were moving through thick caramel (YUMM).  How I move my body becomes more deliberate and more mindful.

Slowing down turns on our proprioceptive sense which many consider our sixth sense. The proprioceptive sense is vital to our daily experiences and something that contributes to our overall body ownership.  Experts in this area share that without this sense our brains our lost.

When we slow down, our body feels more grounded and allows our mind and body to connect. Connection being the one quality that allows us to create deeper intimacy with ourselves (and with others of course).

#2. Presence

Most who have been in a romantic relationship say that they felt the most connected to their partners at the beginning of their relationship. The reason for this is because at the beginning of the relationship each person was completely present to the other.  Everyone attentively paid attention to every nuance of the other and most importantly the attention was based on curiosity.

You can practice presence by noticing the nuances of you and being curious about how you experience being in your own body.  Noticing the movement of your feet as you walk – is it heal-toe, or toe-heal? Do your hips sway or shuffle side to side? What about your shoulders? For women – the bounce of our feminine curves!

The biggest invitation to practice presence with yourself is through the breath. Paying attention to the feeling of your belly and chest rising and falling with every breath. Is there pause at the top or the bottom? Is your inhale or exhale longer?

#3. Mirror Mirror

In Tantra, Soul Gazing is one of the primary exercises taught  – two partner’s looking into each other’s eyes with hand over heart.

The invitation here is to practice Soul Gazing with yourself.

Gaze into your own eyes and share words of love and gratitude with yourself. Perhaps a little tough the first time, but I promise it gets easier. Besides, if we cannot admire ourselves, how can we ask that from someone else?

Forget about your hair, makeup, or any perceived imperfections.  Look into your eyes and get lost in the wondrous and brilliant creature you are. Look into your eyes, place hands over heart and say…

I love you

You are

…. a beautiful soul

… brilliant

… amazing

… breathtaking

… keep going.. What else can you whisper to yourself?

#4. Mindful Pleasure

One of the greatest things about Valentine’s is that it is all about stirring up and stoking the embers of pleasure.  Pleasure is everything and anything that feels good to the body.  Our sensual bodies innately know pleasure. It  is often our brains that get in the way with the should’s and should not’s.

Pleasure answers the question what feels, tastes, looks, sounds, and smells good to me?

For example, start your day by feeling your body by stretching it in bed, noticing what areas feel relaxed, and how the skin feels when being touched by clothing or bed sheets.  How about using a yummy lotion and taking the time to massage it into the skin?  Choose clothes that feel good on your skin or at least take your time putting each article of clothing on you. Drink your coffee by smelling it, taking a slow sip, and feeling the warmth of it in your mouth.

When we pay attention to what our body enjoys and how it derives pleasure, we feel better because we are feeding our sensual selves.  Let go of any misunderstanding that we can only do this with a partner. We open ourselves to pleasure and we give permission to receive pleasure. Having a partner has nothing to do with this.

#5. Shake Baby Shake

The demands of daily life often result in habitual tension patterns in the body and an overactive mind. Many of us adopt a freeze state of the body which many times is perceived as calm.

The problem is that this “freeze” state keeps up from experiencing ease and pleasure in our physical bodies because the body experiences “freeze” as tension.  Consequently, the mind perceives tension as the body signaling something is wrong and we don’t seek pleasure when something is wrong.

Allowing our bodies to continually move without imposing any specific movement or pattern, the body begins to experience itself differently and pathways to pleasurable embodiment are reinforced.

Put a song on and begin to move.  It is not about looking good or following a specific kind of dance. It’s about letting your body move you. Best way to do this… shake. Literally shake. Remember the “Hokey Pokey?”  Shake one body part at a time or shake the whole body at once.

 

So how can you further romance yourself as a powerful way to feel more alive and embodied, or share more of your embodied self with another?

For the women… Come join me at our next FEMME.

For the men… stay tuned… something just for you is on its way.

xoxo,

Jacqueline

 

 

Picture by Clay Banks

Love Loving Love … Holidays… Holy days

The holidays are here.  A time that for many of us is rich in traditions, rites, and rituals.  Gift giving, gathering with loved ones, lighting candles, and feasting with certain foods that help us celebrate and pay homage to our ancestors.

The holidays regardless of religion, culture, language, country, or ethnicity are high holy days because they serve as a reminder of the holy that is inside of us, that surrounds us, and that connects and binds each of us on this big beautiful blue planet.

The holy days invite us all to love and to love boundlessly. An invitation to love loving love – the practice of being present and loving for the sake of loving.  To love not because one shares a home, a bed, or bloodlines, but to love because each person on this planet has arrived through Love, seeks to Love and be Loved, and will one day return to Love.  It is a practice of loving fully in the now without asking or expecting anything in return.

For the threads that bind us are beyond borders and creed.  They all begin in the heart.  Love is the source of everything.  For Love is another name for the Highest that goes by different names – God, Allah, Spirit, Universe, Goddess, El Shaddai, Yahweh, Dios, and so many more.  No matter what the name, it all begins and returns to love.

2016 has been a very challenging year on so many levels.  So many opportunities to feel apathy, hate, and to shut down.  And as this year comes to a close, despite blue or red party, left or right, the particular name you call the Highest, wins or losses, all of it is an opportunity to practice love loving love.  Even the melancholy that many experience during this time is a heart summons to practice love loving love with self.

Practice it when you pass others on the streets. Practice it when you are looking into your beloveds’ eyes.  Practice it when someone cuts you off on the freeway. Practice it when you are with that one relative that challenges you the most. Practice it when you are the object of someone’s ignorance.  Most of all, practice it with yourself for you above all others deserve to be loved by you.

Wishing you the most beautiful holiday season.  May it be filled with bliss, compassion, peace, and a heart filled with love.

With all my love,

Jacqueline

 

 

Gratitude for ALL of it… the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful 11/25/2016

Don’t Be You 10/24/2016

You are not reading this wrong.  Don’t be you.

I remember being a little girl with my hair often a matted mess and frequently scabbed knees.  I was unstoppable.  I had scabs over scabs and I kept going.  Falling down and getting hurt did nothing to keep me from exploring.

I was Wonder Woman in the morning, Princess Leia at school (yes, I had my mother do my hair in those famous buns), one of Charlie’s Angels after school (“Kelly Garrett“ of course.  Jacqueline Smith’s character. We had the same real name after all), and somewhere before bedtime I was a doctor, President, a singer-dancer, and once in a while Batgirl.  There were so many flavors and textures to myself that every moment provided a new discovery and a new manner of expressing ME.

Then somewhere along the way, I lost it.

I lost my ability to try on new ME’s.  I lost the multi-faceted, multi-dimensional ME.  I forgot to test and experiment with my different parts.

I bought into the misunderstanding that I had to pick one flavor and stick to it.  In my innocence, I gave up the joy and gave into the “me” I thought would bring me love and acceptance from peers, school, family, and community.  I forgot the sheer joy of being all my parts instead of the safest one.  I turned off.  Pretty girls don’t have scabbed knees after all.

When one turns off, the ego, the small self, the whatever you want to call it, will do everything in its powers to keep you confined.  In its innocence, it convinces itself and you that your very survival on this planet depends on you staying constrained and fearful of testing new facets of you.

If you try, a 5-alarm fire goes off, you get tense, become anxious and depressed, and convince yourselves once more that you must remain turned off and give into fear.  This can be an endless cycle until the moment you remember multi-faceted, brilliant YOU.

Don’t be you. Be instead the variety of YOU.

Be the you that stops and smells the roses.  Be the you that shakes the bootie when a great song comes on or just because you want.  Be the you that is the dreamer willing to recognize boundless limits. Be the you that loves whole heartedly without asking for anything back.  Be the you that believes in pure imagination.  Be the you that is curious and willing to fail because staying still is even riskier.  Be the you that is playful and silly.  Be the you that lives a turned-on life choosing pleasure and bliss.

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Be the YOU that comes alive.
 
With all my love,  
          Jacqueline

sensuality vs sexuality 8/16/2016

Movement Is The Song Of The Body 7/20/2016

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Many times when I speak of movement, people automatically think that I am speaking of dancing. Of course dancing is movement, but that is not exactly what I mean.

We live in a disembodied world — sitting endless hours at our desks, commuting long-distance maintaining relationships through our phones and laptops, and leaning on our intellect to solve or get our to-do list under some kind of order. The result? Loss of authentic connection with ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.

Movement is the key to feeling more alive, generating creative solutions, enjoying growth, and connecting more fully and deeply in gratifying and enjoyable ways. Movement naturally generates more vitality, freedom, joy, and clarity in everything we do.  Movement allows us to embody and connect with ourselves in an authentic and genuine manner.  It allows us to engage parts of body, heart, and soul that we may have forgotten.  As we connect with ourselves, we also connect with our loved ones.

When one learns to slow down and practice movement, what occurs is the discovery of the magic and wisdom of your body.  It is not about performance.  It’s about learning and practicing movement that allows you to tune out the world and tune into your heart and soul.  Movement is an opening to feeling and hearing the nuances, the lyric and notes that your body, in alignment with your heart and soul, are writing for you.  The mind is a wonderful vehicle to decipher the world yet it is also a great story-inventor.  The body does not make up tales but helps us unravel them through tension, relaxation, and pleasure… the verses and rhythms of life.

As a therapist and coach, my commitment is to help my clients co-create the life and love of their dreams.  Having each of them sit and talk is reinforcing the pattern of being disembodied.  Many of clients know that movement, breath, and body-focused exercises are used often is sessions because these are the gateways to the authentic self.  Many times themes and issues are uncovered more gracefully than with talk therapy alone.

So what exactly does one move… any part of the body that inspires and whispers to you. Start with stretching your arms over your head as you twirl your hands, undulate your hips, breathe while moving your belly up and down.  Play your favorite song and move to it in ways that you normally don’t.  Do the Hokey Pokey… yes, the one from childhood, remember how much fun you had back then?

The body is a fountain of inspiration and wisdom. Move and let it sing to you.

All for now.

Love,

​Jacqueline

Movement…Tune in..Tune Out 6/23/2016

Time to Flourish! 5/24/2016

This is my favorite time of the year.  

The stillness of Winter giving way to the allure and grace of Spring making this season the perfect invitation to one of my favorite morning rituals — walking barefoot in my garden breathing in the blossoming roses, narcissus, and gardenias.  These blooms have also become my teachers schooling me in trusting that everything is taken care of, that there is a divine flow in life.  Nature does not worry or become preoccupied with stories after all. It simply is.

 

Being in my garden helped me feel more connected to my body as my senses relish the fragrant blooms, enjoy the mosaic of colors, hear the birds chirp, and feel the dampness of the ground under my feet (yes, I often walk barefoot).  My mind empties for a moment and becomes still long enough to be reminded that life can be beautiful no matter what is happening.  It is in these moments that I feel the most connected to myself and to the Universe.  It is also in these moments that I experience myself most embodied and most alive.

My invitation to you is to slow down and welcome more stillness even if for a moment. Pick an activity you are already doing.  Allow yourself to enjoy your sensuous body by opening yourself to tune in —  see, feel, smell, hear, and even taste what surrounds you.  Notice any shifts that occur in the body and let yourself follow your own inner compass to aliveness.
Be curious.  See what you discover. 


Enjoy the flourishing… inside and out…

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xoxo,

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body wisdom 5/16/2016

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I have begun to wonder.  Rather than asking, “How are you feeling?” is it be best to ask others to move their bodies?  Because the moment we are asked how we are, our minds turn on and story creation begins.

When we are asked how we are or what we are feeling, we begin to roll back over everything that has caused upset, and at times joy, and we begin to nourish the perspective that we most want reinforced.

As children we learn to tell certain stories that help us be seen and feel loved, something that as children is vital for our very survival.  Many of us are also told “stop crying,” or “there is no real reason to feel ___,” teaching us not to believe what we feel or to squelch whatever emotion rises.  We grow up not trusting what the body is experiencing or needing to create a story to give ourselves permission to feel.

The body doesn’t lie and creates only from the truth.

How we begin to feel is to slow down, relax, breathe, move, and to notice the subtle nuances in our bodies.  Emotion, after all, is energy in motion — always rising and flowing, tightening and relaxing.  Listening to the body is an invitation to letting every sensation inform you and move you by gently teaching the mind that it is okay not to make sense of everything because some things are beyond the comprehension of words.  To listen to the body means to practice feeling without judgment and trusting the body.  There is no right or wrong sentiment.  Although there are moments to learn from our feelings, this is also not about processing what we feel every time we feel, but an invitation to make space to be with it.

I am not going to lie.  It can be scary to feel.  It is scary to slow down and feel what rises, what is asking to move through us.  Because when we do feel, we are reminded of the parts of us that have perhaps not received much loving or have caused pain at some point, our sexual expression for example.  When we feel, we cannot deny our truth.  We begin to remember who we really are and question the stories we have created.

Change happens by giving ourselves the opportunity to experience ourselves differently in the moment.  

So here is my open invitation — perhaps the next time you are asked how you are feeling or feel energy rising, crank on a song and move.  Breathe.  Be curious. See what rises.  The body doesn’t lie.  It is telling you your truth.

Self-Care & Self-Love … A true Valentine’s Celebration 2/10/2016  

Self-care isn’t selfish. If anything, it’s selfless. It allows you to be a better mother, daughter, friend, feminist, boss, employee, partner, and more. You don’t run a car without filling it up with gasoline, so why would you run your body, heart, and mind without filling it up with some fuel? Many people believe that self-care is too decadent or self-indulgent. Women, in particular, are stretched thin from handling motherhood to marriage to work to friendships and everything else in between. Some even begin to believe that if she has not run herself ragged, she clearly has failed at something.

Self-Care is care provided “for you, by you.” It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. Self-care is a practice that helps fuel your desires and dreams because, at its core, it is about practicing integrity with ourselves. It involves actively setting intentions for yourself — being honest with yourself and others about your needs, desires, fears, and dreams.

Self-Love begins with self-appreciation, for if we do not value ourselves, how can we ever honestly honor someone else? Many women believe that loving yourself is selfish and narcissistic. Self-love starts by giving love, attention, and care to yourself, so that we can be filled to overflow with radiance and then be able to share that radiance with another if we choose. The flow of love and self-love is giving and receiving. True self-love is no where near selfishness and narcissism.

Why it’s important to start with self-love though is because ultimately we are the ones responsible for our actions, choices, and the outcome of those actions and choices. Self-love is a practice of filling the yearning from your soul because it is about practicing listening to what we desire, acceptance of it, and taking action towards it. Self-love is important because it is process of remembering where our genuine power resides. When we are in self-love, we say no to what does not serve us and are more willing to say yes to what brings us more aliveness.

Self-love is a practice of filling the yearning from your soul because it is about practicing listening to what we desire, acceptance of it, and taking action towards it.  This Valentine’s Day my encourage,went and invitation is to practice caring for yourself in a way that reflects LOVE.