This valentine’s day I fell in love…

A long-love felt in a new way is coming home to the remembered deliciousness of a familiar favorite flavor. Just when I thought I knew somebody like the back of my hand, the truth is that I had taken a steadfast and strong relationship for granted.

This valentine’s day I fell in love…with my body, a reawakened appreciation made possible thanks to the Imbodhi-suit.

 

Previous Perspective

Before the bodysuit I was of the mindset that free movement required loose clothing, but found that the extra fabric caught on limbs, bound below bodies, tearing holes with audibly dramatic cartoonish rips. As I continued to expand range of motion through shrouding myself in layers I would always have a portion of my mind concerned about the state of my garments. This segment of my mind is constantly adjusting my movement to accommodate the limitation of the garb, this concerned circuitry reminding me to preserve the longevity of the fabric forms I robe myself in. This mental energy space fluctuates in size depending on the fragility and complexity of what I wear, and its evaluation consistently takes me out of the immediacy of dedicating myself completely to sensing the experience. For the first time in my life this voice was silenced in the Imbodhi-suit.

Embodiment Enhanced

The futuristic form and fabric functions as a tool for evolved embodiment. The makeup of the material allows me to slip, slide and squirm like an eel rather than sticking to surfaces, chafing, or sogging (soggy, sodden, sopping, waterlogged dragging) in the perennially pooling sweat of other textiles. The bodysuit breathes with me as I sweat, moisture rapidly evaporating and leaving me dry and spry. I am protected in my slippery smoothness, feeling my folds sailing across each other as in water. The seamless sensation of gliding in a bodysuit unlocks the ultimate extension of physical movement, naturally inspiring the explorative expansion of edges. Supple, I follow the full line through to complete rotations rebounding upon themselves – lengthening form flowing through tips of limbs. Imbodhied, I am liberated as distilled essence – a well suited somatic superhero. The bodysuit serves as an encouraging physical reminder to move – inspiring stretching through freeing flexibility in accessibility of diving low, as nothing drags on the ground even in a low squat/crotch crouch.

Body Bravery

I will bashfully admit I was shy putting the bodysuit on at first and did so alone and without a mirror – for as a second skin it reveals all – there are no folds to hide behind or clever tricks of design to conceal. Fortunately, the stretch of the bodysuit feels like a best friend highlighting assets – slimming and supporting through squeezing to create a streamlined waveform.

The suit made me feel safe to show my whole. Sure, I still had feelings of striving for more suppleness, slenderness, tone, litheness…but the bodysuit supported me in pursuing these goals through compressive presence - enmeshed in a full body hug. The suit was an accepting and supportive shadow, enveloping me in an embrace sans lines constricting or cutting across the smooth silhouette of my sinuous shape. I was surrounded - suffused in support, cradled in the fullness of my form.

I found freedom in restriction – through gentle compression and containment the possibilities of my movement were unlocked, and suddenly new realms opened to me in liquid limitlessness of limb. Stretching in ways that would normally tear seams, in the bodysuit movement is a dream. Rediscovering my personal physical playground, I explore the movement suited to my makeup, moving in the way I am made for – writhing, wriggling, and worming around entangled in a contact bodywork dance.

In my first flirtation with the bodysuit, I was initially hesitant about ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ as I am currently curvaceous. My first extended fling with the suit evaporated my fears during a marathon 12+ hour movement art event. As I sweated, inverted, twerked, and cavorted, all initial concerns about inadvertently flashing others and having bounding breasts reveal themselves were banished and I bared my heart openly.

Physical Philosophy

I become a different person in the bodysuit as my connection to myself, others, and my environment discovers (plumbs) new depths. The super-suit is a power up, and as I become activated in this attire, I unlock advanced forms of interaction and behavior. The suit is a minimalistic barrier protects from the grabby nature of skin on skin adhesion and the social baggage of nudity. Although in this garment I am nearly naked, revealed, nonthreatening, and vulnerable, I am simultaneously shielded in my slippery suit of amor armor (love armor).

The Imbodhi-suit is a woven wish - expanding potential in inner/inter-personal relating. This spell suit is a magi-vestment steering possibility in the direction of connection. Suiting up is a radical experience that lubricates the relationship between self/environment, expanding range of motion, and facilitating easeful dynamic play with others. In my suit, I am ready to perform at my peak, to adventure, to explore, and inspire others to join me. Sharing the gift of evolved embodiment within the safety of the suit allows us to collapse the barrier between self and other while maintaining protected personal body integrity. If you are seeking evolved embodiment equipment that potentiates play and plentiful possibility, get 10% off your soma-activation suit with the code ‘RAZBODHI’ at http://imbodhiwear.com/

 

general update ~

Current projects include : book / video series guiding ‘disembodied’ souls through the journey of connecting with intuition, personal preferences/boundaries, becoming fluent in primal communication/body language, connecting with others consensually (+advanced topics in consent), & unlocking body genius status ++ Documenting/translating/creating healing cultures, technologies, & trauma transmutation tools inside/out of the innovative membrane of the bay area bubble for worldwide access +++ inspiring others to live life as art through the prayer of playful presence & performance healing – for motivating morsels munch on

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Consent Writings & Workbook

Conversation seeds, recommendations, solo/group exercises, journal prompts

in the process of transforming into ebook // zine form - stay tuned ~

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Introduction – background / history

Why am I writing this?

I am driven to create this work as information I wish I had access to in my youth. I was sheltered and naïve in the realms of my own dis/likes and had near-zero sexual experience when my virginity was taken by rape at the age of 20. Releasing this work is my actionable wish for a future in which all interpersonal interactions (both platonic and sexual) have been enthusiastically consented to. Had I practiced these exercises in a low-pressure environment (before being alone with a man I did not know) I would have developed my confidence in defending my boundaries vocally and I would not have been violated. Post-rape I realized that I needed to develop internal understanding and confidence in communicating my boundaries in a clear, compassionate, and graceful manner.

I sought out exercises to practice consent and found the landscape lacking, as much of the content assumed a high level of self-knowledge about dis/likes, and a well-developed voice – neither of which I had developed in my sheltered bookish Midwestern upbringing. As such a developed a complete program that goes builds sequentially, starting with the foundational tools that many other teachings assume to be present. This also has the added benefit of unpacking cultural assumptions and gendered indoctrination we take for granted. Therefore, I have compiled and generated exercises that can be done outside the context of an intimate partnership beginning with the foundations of connecting to one’s body, knowing what you are not/interested in, developing your voice, and how to practice consent (with an emphasis on exercises being amenable to solo inquiry and situations with friends to provide an abundance of situations in which to practice).

Why the Workbook Format ?

We all agree that consent is important, and the public consciousness is gaining clarity about what is non/consensual (thank heavens!) thanks to material such as *consent media vault* .

I thank these consent pioneers for blazing the trail, and found a gap between the abstract understanding of consent and practicing this skill in-vivo before we need it in low-stress scenarios. I felt a responsibility to meddling in the timeline and providing those potential ‘future mirror selves’ with the tools to prevent predators from preying on their naivete.

Thus I decided to aggregate the most impactful exercises that have helped me in my development as well as designing some of my own when there was not an exercise that stressed the development of a skill I found essential to practicing consent or boundary regulation. A related, foundational skill to consent is not only knowing what you re consenting to through ‘risk aware consent’, but also what you don’t/want and dis/like. I found no program including this fundamental material – developing self-knowledge - knowing where your boundaries are so you can speak to them to another person who wants to play with you.

Below find the guide I wish I would have had inside (before being terrified…freezing…and being taken advantage of). Skip to the Consent Workbook Section below if you are primarily interested in jumping into the exercises *.

Why bother spending so much time on the body – what are the benefits ?

Our sacred task is to reconnect to our bodies so that we may understand ourselves (and therefore by proxy, others) more deeply. This increases the bandwidth of sensory/emotional/subconscious experience available to us and expands our physical play palate. In so doing we access increasingly profound levels of connection/understanding to self/other and in so doing exponentially multiply the love that we are able to give and receive.

Frozen trauma requires psychic energy to maintain and guard. When we process and let go of trauma, this bound energy is liberated for used in service of constructive pursuits (such as expanding the bandwidth of sensation and being present to a greater depth of feelings).

How we got here – why are we so disembodied ?

There is a strong thread of disconnection from the body running through the dominant culture of the US deriving from a confluence of factors including – body as base, lowly, source of sin, to be transcended, inherently impure from birth. Some people have been traumatized at a young age and due to this have internalized the notion that their body is not a safe place for them to be (because when they are within it, they have been hurt or made to feel violated). Some people are in frequent or constant physical pain in their bodies. Some judge, critique, and compare their bodies with those of others and feel that they are lacking. Advertising reinforces this notion – that you are incomplete or inferior in some way, but that their product or service will correct that deficiency. Even if not blatantly negative or critical advertising still implies that you could be better and that you are not enough as you are in your current state.

We are taught that the body is base - the source of shameful impulses that need to be transcended. Many around the world have received an oppressive dose of religious judgement for enjoying physical sensations (‘catholic guilt’).

Female-bodied people are also culturally socialized to be self-sacrificing and demure, subservient to the needs of others – forfeiting their bodies to the desires of males.

Boundaries Philosophy

Children and Boundaries

Often, our boundaries are ingrained in an unconscious way – through well-meaning adults telling us that ‘no-one gets to touch us in our bathing-suit area except parents and doctors’. We model societal and cultural norms unquestioningly. Unfortunately, our society has room for improvement in the realm of teaching healthy boundaries and the consent that goes along with respecting the boundaries of others.

We are often taught that we do not over our own bodies at a young age – such as when parents tell their children to hug someone or give them a kiss. Often this person is either a trusted friend or relative of the parent/child however, the child may have good reasons for not wanting to engage physically with someone else at that time. Children are also often forced by adults to share their toys or play with other children even when they do not want to.

Philosophical Aside – From Whence Do Boundaries Come?

At this juncture, it is relevant to explore the underpinnings of boundaries, namely, where do they come from? Babies have no boundaries and only learn the concept of self as distinct from mother over time (or so goes the current party line in developmental psychology). In our current society boundaries are useful for long-term survival – knowing where I end and the tiger begins, but western personal boundaries seem especially rigid and self-focused compared with other cultures that are more group-focuses (for example eastern nations such as china and japan). This also extends to the sense of responsibility we feel for others situation, and why we espouse ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstraps’. Is it possible we would live in a more loving community-supportive culture if we were to care for our neighbors as ourselves? In this reframe we could also include the earth as our mother, treating her with respect, reverence, love, and gratitude.

There is yet another possibility in the formation of boundaries to consider – that perhaps a boundary primarily serves a protective function to defend an area of the psyche that was damaged in the past. In this model a person initially starts out as a blank slate – open to experience and others manipulation and effect on their experience – until the psyche is damaged by a certain action or viewing a certain piece of media. At this point the psyche shouts “I don’t want this to happen to me (again)” and a deflecting boundary is created to keep others from getting close enough to that sore, sensitive place to inflict pain upon it again. In this way a boundary is like a guard, taking up psychic or mental energy to be watchful for any potentially dangerous approaches.

In this way, boundaries only exist because they have been crossed in the past, resulting in registering a violation in the psyche and seeing up a ‘safe zone’ to cushion the blister from future irritation. Thus, the understanding encoded in the idea of ‘breaking all of your usual rules for someone’. Ideally, the subtext of this phrase means the other is reading you so deeply that they are in tune with the needs underneath the boundary (usually safety). Thus, if the needs which created the boundary in the first place are listened to, this removes their need to exist.  So, have hope! It is possible to unpack boundaries that no longer serve you in a loving relationship/partnership (such as therapy).

How Trauma affects the body

Although trauma can affect people in a diversity of ways, through my experience as a bodyworker I have found, as a coping mechanism, most people freeze trauma inside their bodies. For example, someone who has experienced a sexual violation may have very stiff hips that are closed off to the full range of motion. When receiving a massage in this area (such as the outside edge of the hip or the glutes) the receiver on the mat may have memories float to the surface or cry without knowing why. One theory as to why this occurs is that ‘in the moment’ of acute trauma the body/brain cannot handle and to ‘survive’ packs away the for a time of greater resources able to process the event.

Compounding the difficulty of unlocking frozen trauma inside the body is the tendency of some to dissociate and ‘remove’ themselves from their physical experience (such as through ‘watching from the ceiling’) when overwhelmed. I have a personal tendency to dissociate when I experience trauma, especially when it occurs to my body. When I lost my virginity to rape at the moment of penetration my consciousness dissociated from my body and I watched the proceedings from above. When I tore my ACL after falling down a ladder while being attacked by bees I also dissociated from my body.

Learning from animals -how do they handle trauma?

Seeing as we are animals ourselves, observing the rest of the animal kingdom and how it handles trauma is in service to broadening our understanding and provides potential models for clues as to how we can release trauma. When one of a pack of deer is killed, after the rest have found a safe space they shake to remove the remnants of the trauma of being pursued from their system. If you have house cats or dogs and they are reprimanded, you will often see them ‘shake it off’ with head motions.

The animal ladder of trauma reaction is often abbreviated as :

Fight/flight/fawn/appease/submit/attach

Safe Loving touch as human right

I propose that we make safe loving touch a human right. Touch is essential for growth, development, and life. This fact came to light when babies in an orphanage who were being well taken care of in every way but receiving touch were dying from the lack of human contact.

Your body is a gift to be enjoyed by the wearer

Pleasure is our bodily birthright. We are born sensate, sensitive, and wide open – but over time we close down, protectively veiling ourselves behind shells and masks due to the psychological blows of not being seen, met and supported as we are. We are taught that sensitivity is weakness, to ‘toughen up’ to the harshness of ‘real’ life and so we guardedly shut down in self-preservation. Your body is the sole thing that you can truly possess, and the ultimate playground of your sovereignty. Your body is yours to share with those whom you choose in the way that you choose. Experimentation and self-inquiry allows you to track your inner experience, what you do/not enjoy, and know your boundaries.

De-sexualizing Touch

Compared to other cultures, we do not engage in as much platonic touch – why is this? In western culture, platonic touch culturally acceptable is reserved for babies, young children and their parents, lovers, close friends, and massage therapists / healers. Oftentimes, although platonic touch is reserved for these groups many who have these relationships do not engage in platonic touch anyway ! Most touching we see occurs between those who are in a monogamous sexually intimate partnership. In this way there is a lot of ‘attention’ around touch, meaning that it is highly monitored because it signifies a strong (often exclusive) connection. Often any touch between peers becomes equated with sexual interest. Due to this insipid assumption, there are often implied or unstated (shadow/subliminal) intentions behind touch.

Dangers of Implicit Intention behind touch

When the intention behind touch is not made explicit, unconscious fears and assumptions create uncertainty and can allow manipulators the space to blame lack of specificity or speed for a victim’s violation. This smokescreen allows the perpetrator to distract rather than speak the damming truth and deny their disinterest in whether their victim was enthusiastically consenting to the acts in question. Thus, the accused can blame the situational context and lack of understanding for the gap that allows them to fulfil their selfish desires without consideration for the victim’s satisfaction or clarity. When the impetus behind the touch becomes explicit and the onus is on constant consent excusing nonconsensual behavior with “I didn’t know what they meant” or “it all happened so fast” will soon become a thing of the past.

Solving this pernicious problem involves encouraging communication frequency, clarity, and breadth. This can be done through encouraging constant check-ins (including verbal and physical communication (eg. pausing the action momentarily)), increasing the vocabulary and specificity of terms, and dilating receptivity / increasing attunement to encompass greater information density. The responsibility lies with all parties engaged in the touch – the giver to check in, monitor communication channels, and acutely calibrate / adjust and the receiver to express their inner experience with depth, clarity, and timeliness.

 

You don’t have to be a mind-reader, but your lover will think you are

If this feels overwhelming (constant check-ins ?!?) know that it is a skill set that can be learned and practiced like any other.

Examples of those who have developed this skill set include : accomplished therapists, bodyworkers, empaths, parents with infants, animal whisperers and renowned lovers (either historical or personal).

Benefits to honing this skill sets include : people thinking that you can read their mind, understanding someone’s unspoken motivations, knowing when people are telling you the truth, increased understanding of babies / children / pets,  being an unforgettable lover.

 

When Over-communication becomes under-communication

One may think of this change as a shift in the current status quo towards a penchant for over-communication. What is currently considered ‘over-communication’ may indeed in the future be seen as laconic (especially when as we collectively reach the point at which we can mind-meld and communicate through consciousness itself).

Through expanding opportunities for communication we also increase our opportunities to practice this skill and in so doing gain the additional benefit of raising the general communication skill level of all. This common communication skill will serve us especially well when we are interacting with those whom we have not yet established rapport / patterns, interacting with those who challenge us, and when engage in activities in a small or compressed time frame (high speed/pace).

Everyone needs touch

All humans need touch to thrive. Babies even need touch to survive! An orphanage* was befuddled when their infants who were otherwise taken care of (food, shelter, warmth, etc.) ‘failed to thrive’ and were dying. Once the babies received physical affection each day the trend reversed and all the infants lived. Engaging in platonic touch releases endorphins and oxytocin (the bonding, love hormone) into the body, increasing feelings of well-being and connection. These compounds decrease stress allowing the immune system to operate at highest efficacy.

Today many people are touch-starved including most males and vulnerable populations such as the elderly and infirm. It is my personal belief that many ‘crimes of passion’, rapes, and violence against women is due to an unfortunate majority of males being touch-starved. *Men who travel on business hire prostitutes just to touch them lovingly.  The shadow of a touch-starved and touch-judgmental culture is dark, depressive, and deprives us of the potential of bountiful daily connections.

Teaching healthy boundary management

Unspoken beliefs around touch (such as ‘it is only appropriate within a monogamous sexual relationship’) constrain the situations in which people are socially supported in engaging in touch. With good intentions but negative unforeseen outcomes we have tried to protect vulnerable populations (such as the young) from manipulative or exploitative touch by making all touch with them suspect. A common example of this is an adult making a big deal of children wrestling or enjoying their bodies which instills shame in the children who had pure intentions rather than the perverted projections onto them by adults. The clear downside of this method occurs when a predator gets a child alone without the protective scrutinizing gaze of society.

A strong solution to this issue is teaching children (and all people) strong boundary management. This includes lessons on how to know where boundaries are, what common healthy boundaries look like, how to know if someone is respecting your boundaries, and how to communicate (vocally and physically) when someone is approaching a boundary and how you feel most comfortable proceeding.

 

Re-conceptualizing Touch - Touch activism

My purpose as a touch activist is to re-normalize platonic touch as a pathway to intimate connection and wellness. Touch activism bridges the realms of dance, bodywork, massage, deep platonic connection, physical communication, and consent.

My personal passions as a touch activist include : non-verbal communication, dance-floor consent, creating body-supportive spaces, translating the physical embodied realm of dance & bodywork into evocative / explanatory language, and developing new bodywork tools, techniques & styles (and engaging in bodywork { everywhere } ). As an educator I seek to make safe and consensual platonic touch supported in all spaces and expand our physical language to increase the range of ways that we can touch each other to mutual satisfaction.

 

Consent Workbook

 

Level 1 – Connecting To Self-Body

 

  • Boundaries

Boundary Flavors

There are three main types of boundaries : hard, soft, and conditional boundaries. Each term denotes the flexibility of the boundary based on context and comfort. Boundaries (aka limits) are discussed during negotiation with all participating playmates (more on negotiation later*). Within the context of this lesson, ‘bottom’ means receiver of sensation and ‘top’ means the giver of sensation.

Hard boundaries are never to be crossed and a respectful distance should be kept from even approaching them out of courtesy (eg. no penetration, not hovering your hand at the entrance to their intimate openings as if ‘testing the w