How to Feel Beautiful

How to Feel Beautiful

The ancient Goddess and Earth Religions understood the sacredness of the body; they worshipped nature and embraced the cycles of birth, life and death. They saw beauty in the bloody mess of menstruation, sex, birth and death.Before Tantra came on the scene, most of the main religions were not body positive at all. 

An example is body mortification within Catholicism: “Those who belong to Christ have crucified nature, with all it’s passions, all it’s impurities.” (Galatians 5:24).

Or the Buddhist practices of meditating on how disgusting one’s own body is, with that hope that if you don’t like your body, you are less likely to reincarnate and get stuck in one next time.

Yoga also started as a dualistic path. The idea was that humans and the rest of the natural realm are separated from the promise of eternal bliss because of our gross animal nature. Yoga was a way to transcend the trap of physical reality, to ‘become enlightened’ and transcend this world for something higher and more ‘Godly’.

The ancient Goddess and Earth Religions understood the sacredness of the body; they worshipped nature and embraced the cycles of birth, life and death. They saw beauty in the bloody mess of menstruation, sex, birth and death.

Tantra bought these world-views together. There was a deep reverence for the Feminine Mysteries; they understood the Goddess as embodied divinity- living as creation. They used the body as a divine vehicle for merging with the transcendent, the un-manifest. Their journey was one of going through the Mother, to reach the Father. They realised there is only One. 

A main tenant of and one of the most beautiful aspects of the Tantric path is the notion of Transfiguration. ‘Trans’- means ‘beyond’- so transfiguration is seeing ‘beyond the figure’- seeing the divine nature inherent in every single thing.

“Everything I see is nothing less than God.”
“Everything around me is a manifestation of the Divine in form.”
What a stunning way to live your life!

The beauty of the natural world is for many people a window into a peak state. I know I’m not the only one who has gazed out to sea, watched a sunset or stared up at the stars and had tears stream down their cheeks- experiencing a mini-awakening, a glimpse into the true nature of reality.

Tantric practitioners make this part of daily life. A beautiful teacher of mine- Les Dyer, was talking about Sacred Space. He told me that his local rubbish tip is Sacred Space, because to him, nothing exists that is not part of God / Cosmic Consciousness / Great Spirit. There is nothing that can be excluded. 

So here is the practice: when you get served at the shop by someone rude, on the day when you especially needed a little bit of kindness, remember that God just served you.

When your partner is short with you and you’re about to snap back at them, remember that God stands in front of you.

There is a transfiguration practice where we make a circle, those who want to hold the masculine energy sit in a big middle circle facing outwards, and those who want to hold the feminine energy sit before them. For 2 minutes we gave into each other’s eyes and meditate on the concept that this person is a manifestation of Shiva (God) and Shakti (Goddess), then a bell rings and the outer circle moves to the next person and we continue all night until we get back to our original spot.    

Self Practice:

Stand in front of a mirror, (either a face mirror or stand naked in front of a full length mirror), close your eyes for a few moments and meditate on your own divinity. If this seems hard to do, remind yourself that if Cosmic Consciousness is truly ‘All that Exists’, i.e. if you really believe in ‘Oneness’, and out of the formless Oneness came all of creation- then logic suggests that nothing can exist that is not Divine. To remove yourself from this equation would be the height of arrogance.

When you feel this truth in your heart, open your eyes and look into your own pupils. 

Meditation upon yourself in this moment without going into story. 
See; ‘Who you Really Are’.

I suggest that you might find nothing less than the miracle of life staring back at you!

Feel the Oneness with Everything That Is. Really experience deeply the truth that this exquisite moment presents to you. Hold your own gaze without blinking too much. After a few minutes, it is not unusual to have tears come. To really see yourself- your beauty, without the usual judging or stories about ‘you’ as a person and to see beyond can be a truely touching experience. 

Another common experience is that your face might start to morph (we speculate that perhaps you are seeing ancestors or past lives?). Just notice if this happens and continue the practice. 

Your body is finite- in fifty years or so (if you’re lucky) you have to return in and merge back into the Oneness…

But right now, you stand here as an expression of Divine Consciousness in form. Your body is a precious gift; loaned for a short time so that God can have an experience of forgetting that He is Everything, and therefore is able to experience Herself. See beyond the figure into your magnificent divinity. 

Celebrate for a moment… use your hands to feel yourself, or watch as you make small movements and marvel at the fact that you live, breath, cry, pray and feel. 

Try this with dedication for 3-5 minutes every day for a week and I promise that you will start to feel so beautiful that others will comment and the way you experience your life will change. 

I invite you to use a version of this practice as a powerful meditation that among other things, will help you to feel extremely beautiful.

Everyday Moments As Ritual

Everyday Moments As Ritual

I have a prayer for you, or really an invitation..

That you may deepen into the everyday moments- and turn them  into little pieces of ritual. Taking every chance to recognise the exquisite ecstasy available to us in this playground of existence.

Seize these little moments as mini-awakenings, snatched rememberings- a glimpse beyond the daily grind into the truth that we are literally made of dancing energy- and between these atoms of energy- just space!

A vibrating universe made of energy and space… made of love and of God.

Just take the little moments- make them tiny rituals… sitting by the creek, the way the breeze gently caresses the leaves til they so delicately dance, the water moving without compass- sparkling towards the ocean.. use it as an opportunity to reflect on the vibratory nature of the Cosmos.

Every meal

A chance to take a deep breath and for a moment consider the rays of sunlight sent from 150 million kilometres away to breathe life into the earth- bringing your body this nourishment.

 To take a moment to cultivate gratitude for all the many people & processes involved in your meal, and if you are so inclined- a moment to remember and thank Cosmic Consciousness for the unfathomable Gift of This Life. 

Greeting a Friend.

When you first greet a friend, a colleague or someone in the street- make a ritual of zooming out and seeing them as they truely are. For every Human Being is nothing but Divine Consciousness- Albeit incarnated into a limited form that has momentarily forgotten who they are. Forgotten so that the Oneness of Existence- the formless, limitless, unknowable, and boundless Love of the universe may experience itself- to play out the exquisite Cosmic Game of concealing and revealing this Mystery – to the rapture of the poets, the bliss of the lovers and the Samadhi of the meditators.

As you start and end the day, what tiny thing could you do to ritualise the end of one thing into the beginning of another?…

These sweet pauses – like the moment before the inbreathe becomes the inevitable out breathe…. can you fall into this infinity between your breaths?

 

When you lay down with your lover..

Does it start the same way every time? You do this, then they do that?

 What if you took each other’s hands for a moment first… took 3 slow breaths as One whilst gently meeting the gaze of this person who you love and trust enough in this moment to combine your energies with? And then to just let the energy take you… no routine, no plan… following the energy wherever it guides you?

A flower placed just so with presence..

A mindful breath between emails, a momentary tuning into the deep mysteries of nature and the workings of the universe  

These tiny moments, these little rituals, will take your life from routine and even boring, into a continuous play of heartfelt moments – moments that bring a tear to your eye, moments that make you so glad to be alive, moments where you feel so deeply connected to God.

 With love,

Ella  

Having a great sex life- Advice for Women, and People who love them.

Having a great sex life- Advice for Women, and People who love them.

As a Clinical Sexologist, I have the privileged opportunity to know the intricacies of many people’s sex lives.

Therefore, I can say directly that there is no ‘normal’ or right number of times a month or ways of being intimate that are right for everyone.

What is satisfying for each couple and individual varies enormously. Saying this, I do see patterns and there are certain things that people bring to my counselling room regularly that may be helpful for you to know a bit about.

Many women and people with vulvas / vaginas experience difficulties relating to sexual difficulties at some point in their lives.

Here are some common ones and some things to think about if you or a loved one experiences any of them.

 Painful Sex

This is really common and there are a lot of reasons why this could be happening.

A non-exhaustive list is scar tissue, thinning of vaginal walls, tight muscles due to anxiety or previous sexual trauma or physical trauma from giving birth, STIs or infections as well as dryness. The first step is to see your GP, depending on what is happening for you they can refer you to a gynaecologist or pelvic floor physiotherapist to support you. Once any physical aspect is also being addressed, get some support to combat anxiety, tension and sexual aversion that may have developed due to the pain. There are also many wonderful devices and toys that can support you to experience sexual intimacy in different ways and without pain.

 

Lack of Arousal.

Bodies change throughout the lifetime. We change with age, fluctuating hormones, state of external life and relationships, illness and injury.

It’s unreasonable to expect a baseline level of arousal to remain constant.

But the good news is that good sex doesn’t depend on arousal and orgasms, a desire and motivation to be sexual is needed, then the fun can unfold in a myriad of ways.

If there is a willingness from all involved to be really present and just enjoy whatever sensation and experience is happening in the moment, without such a focus on orgasms or a certain type of activity you can still have satisfying and pleasurable sexual connections. Use a great lube to ensure any touch glides, there are so many different types these days.

 

Mismatched Desire

Ripping each other’s clothes off in a passionate flurry isn’t something that happens much outside of movies, at least not in long-term relationships.

And once that rush of honeymoon endorphins are over, couples are rarely going to both desire sex at exactly the same time. Each human has an amount of sex each day, week, month or year that feels satisfying.

Difficulty arises when there is a big mismatch, as one person will seek sex, the other feels obliged and pressured, or refuses and the other feels rejection.

Both people in this situation may need to adjust to a shared middle ground; talk about what that is in a neutral setting from a loving heart, remember more or less isn’t better or worse- it’s like food, some people just have bigger appetites than others.

For many women who experience less desire than their partners, it’s really common that the mental load they carry of the home, kids, work and partner is too overwhelming and not fairly split, and therefore they feel too exhausted and resentful to want to be sexual, this warrants a really frank conversation about shared responsibility and what feels reasonable.

You might also want to explore how to bring some ‘New Relationship Energy’ into your love life, as familiarity and comfortability are so cosy, but sometimes a spark is needed to reignite the sexual passion too.

 

Not feeling Connected

Many women and more feminine leading people really need to feel emotionally connected before they have any desire for sex or can open sexually.

If there are any trust issues, feelings of insecurity or perceived lack of connection in the relationship many women just don’t want to be sexual. Intimacy starts out of the bedroom. So do your best to connect through conversations, shared activities, laughter and play- this is often better foreplay than any kind of sexual advance.

 

Orgasms (lack of)

Many women don’t orgasm purely from penetration and need non-penetrative touch or oral sex before or after or added stimulation from a vibrator or a hand to reach orgasm during sex.

This is perfectly common and doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong. Learning and exploring slowly and playfully with a partner exactly what works is a wonderful experience and highly recommended.

Other people will have trouble letting go during sex and therefore find it hard to release, while others find they don’t build up enough intensity of pleasure to get to orgasm. Some medications prescribed for mental health issues interfere in this way, for others it’s due to being too ‘in the head’.  Learning mindfulness as a sensual and sexual practice can slowly build more connection to the body and the moment that can allow more pleasure. It can be frustrating not to reach orgasm but being with whatever pleasure is available in the body at a certain time with a sense of relaxation is something to enjoy, in and of itself. For some people and some bodies, toys and devices will be necessary to add the level of stimulation needed.

 

Happy Practicing!

Why scheduling sex is a great idea

Why scheduling sex is a great idea

Many people think scheduling sex sounds boring and makes it dull, however scheduling sex can have enormous benefits.

Sex often happens late at night when both are in bed at the end of the day. This can be lovely and orgasms can promote a lovely restful night’s sleep, but that time is not always conducive to being present, connected and engaged.

Many couples attend sex therapy with me complaining that they have less sex than they would like to be having.

They say that life gets in the way, kids are prone to interrupt and they are just too tired to fit it in.

During a session of sex therapy, barriers to more and better quality sex are explored, and these will be as unique as each couple that attends counselling, but a good tip is to schedule some time for sex each week.

Having this special time put aside means that you can prepare mentally and emotionally for intimacy. It can build sexual desire as you look forward to this time. It can take the pressure off one person having to initiate and then exposing themselves to possible rejection.

Scheduling sex also gives your partner the message that they are important and are a priority.

Couples I work with in sex therapy and relationship counselling sometimes have lost some of their spark and want some help to rekindle romance and sexual chemistry again. Scheduling sex can be a surprising way to do this.

During these ‘sex dates’, couples might bring a different game to play, such as a sexual communication game, or set up a certain role play or scene that sounds exciting. Different sexual energies such as playful, flirty, dominating or submissive can be brought in through intention, by wearing certain clothes or by bringing in certain objects. Couples might like to use this time to bring in some elements of Tantric Sex, such as starting with a short meditation, including more eye contact during the session and moving energy around their bodies during the love making. Other couples might be more drawn to explore a kinkier side, incorporating some impact play, role play or consensual power dynamics that can be eroticised.

Sometimes you might find that at the agreed time, one of you is feeling too tired, drained or just not available for sexual interaction for whatever reason. The invitation here is to still commit to the time together. Instead of sexual interactions, cuddle, stroke each other and talk.

Really dedicating yourselves to some sexy couple time like this will do wonders for your relationship, your health and your lives. Why not try it for a month and see?

What’s the difference between a counsellor, a psychologist and a psychiatrist

What’s the difference between a counsellor, a psychologist and a psychiatrist

As a counsellor, people often ask what is the difference between what I offer and seeing a psychologist.

 

Counsellors have been trained in the art of listening and supporting people. Counsellors do not put as much focus on mental health diagnoses or use as many assessments as Psychologists.

Counsellors can have anywhere from a 2-year Diploma Qualification to Degree level and post graduate training. (I have a Masters Degree as well as a Bachelor).

A good tip is to look for a counsellor who is accredited with the Australian Counselling Association.

Counsellors usually charge between $90- $180 for a session and many have rebates for Private Health Insurance but are not currently able to offer Medicare rebates. Many people prefer to see a counsellor as they do not need a GP referral, and some people don’t feel comfortable talking about their personal lives with their GP.

Counsellors use many of the same modalities as Psychologists. All Psychologists in Australia hold a general registration with the Psychology Board of Australia and have extensive training and experience as part of that registration, usually 6 years of training.

Psychologists are experts in how the mind functions and often assess people for different mental health and behavioural disorders.

Unlike Psychiatrists, Psychologists cannot prescribe medications. The Australian Psychological Society suggests Psychologists charge $260 for 50 minutes and Medicare rebate may be available (between $84 and $128 back.) People with a mental health diagnosis, disability, chronic medical condition, recent or current pregnancy and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can receive up to 10 bulk billed sessions per year.

A Psychiatrist is a medical Doctor who works specifically with Mental Health issues. They take comprehensive mental health assessments and provide clinical diagnoses and treatment plans including prescribing psychotropic medication such as antidepressants.

It takes up to 11 years of training to become a Registered Psychiatrist. Psychiatrists generally work with people with complex conditions such as schizophrenia, severe depression and bipolar disorder. Fees range from $300 to over $400 but Medicare will often provide a rebate so your out-of-pocket cost would be between $40 and $170. Some Psychiatrists bulk bill.

If you would like to learn more about Ella’s extensive qualifications and experiences see; https://ellashannon.com/about-ella.html#/