My name is Anne-Marie Clulow and I’m an Intimacy Coach & Neo Tantra Teacher. In my practice, I use the term “self-pleasure” because masturbation tends to have negative or sometimes even shameful word associations.

I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t feel guilty about pleasuring yourself, especially sexually, because every part of your sexual programming since you were a child has already ensured that you do. What I am going to tell you about is sexual honesty and desire, and how opening up this vulnerability in your relationship has enormous impact.

Many male clients say to me that they want to pleasure their partners, know what they like and be shown how they want to be touched in a way that really works for them. Plenty of female clients say “I don’t even know what I like as I’m too shy to really pleasure myself beyond the occasional vibrator orgasm in secret”. Somewhere in the middle, pleasure and deep intimacy between self and partner gets lost in translation.

There are practices in Tantra and Taoist Conscious Sexuality that involve pleasure in the same room that doesn’t move into intercourse and is designed to ignite desire and energy that can then be channelled and used elsewhere in day to day living as well as rev up levels of libido. Unfortunately, these ancient practices are hard to teach to people who are stuck in patterns of not being able to own their own pleasure, past guilt and shame.

So, my question to you is: How do you move into pleasure without the patterning of shame?

  • Often, it’s by consciously understanding why the pattern of shame has been triggered, and by making a decision to be more vulnerable and therefore more open to joy and love.
  • Having a conversation about pleasure, whether that’s with your partner or even with yourself.

Being able to be with yourself in your partner’s sexually energetic space, not as a fantasy or performance, is one of the most vulnerable spaces in relationship that you can be in. It can transport pleasure and intimacy into the stratosphere and open up your soul into a new space of love. This level of communication involves being honest, and willing to be fully yourself.

Everybody’s journey is different – sometimes this journey can start with bringing a toy or vibrator into your shared pleasure space, or reflecting on how willing you are to allow yourself pleasure. Sometimes it’s just being willing to talk to someone you love about pleasure.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, what step are you taking into more intimacy, love and pleasure in your life?