As spring returns to the Northern Hemisphere, our bodies respond accordingly; we are mammals after all.
The earth cracks open and green shoots emerge while we shed our sweaters and raise our winter-cracked faces to the sun, hoping for instant transformation. Think about your cat curled elegantly in a ray of warm sunshine–she knows how it’s done. But we humans, instead of taking pure, unadulterated pleasure in the most beautiful, basic sensuality of the season, tend to worry whether or not we’re “ready” for it.
We stress about pre-bikini season waxing, contemplate our recently boot-imprisoned toes in sandals, and wonder if our thighs will be toned enough for the teeny-tiny shorts we saw on the runway. We plan out our summer fun way in advance: securing our Hamptons shares, buying tickets to festivals such as Bonnaroo or Burning Man. Everyone I run into lately keeps saying: “I’M READY” with regard to spring’s earnest arrival, especially after the particularly horrid flu season we’ve had. But I wonder–are we, really ready?
I always say that Eco-Sex starts with your own body, because no matter how “other-focused” our sex lives tend to be, we’re nowhere if we don’t own our desire, full-on. And in a complicated world of extreme beauty standards, it sometimes feels impossible to find that sweet spot where you know what you want and how you want it, without comparing yourself to a Victoria’s Secret model.
Our concept of “beauty” comes not just via cultural and corporate conformity, but with a toxic price tag: achieving the look of the moment usually requires you to buy something full of parabens or petrochemicals. So, it turns out, we’re literally killing ourselves to be beautiful.
But what if this spring, it didn’t have to be that way?
One little trick that may help you worry less about what others think and tune into what you FEEL, is to slow down and pretend you’re your own lover. Now, you can do this in the obvious way (which I encourage), but that’s not what I’m talking about in this article. I’m talking about falling in love with your body and realizing that’s it’s ridiculously beautiful, and worth giving pleasure to every single day–in spring and every season.
Even if you have very little time, you can take a hint from Cleopatra and get your ritual on. If you’re going to spend the rest of the day incessantly swiping at your iPhone and running to meetings, it’s really worth it to wake up and have a truly meaningful meeting–with yourself. So, standing there in front of the mirror, before makeup, before the presentation, just be with your body for a few minutes. If you’re a yogini, you understand what it means to use the body to go beyond the body. In this practice, you’re caressing your body and feeding it what it craves in order to develop a deeper relationship with it.
Make sure you have the right tools available–organic, virgin coconut oil is my personal fave. Don’t just rub it in for its brilliant and varied functions, stick your nose in the jar and inhale. Then rub it in–slowly, like you’re giving yourself the ninety-minute Swedish massage you wish you could afford every week. Aromatherapy should NOT be an afterthought–nor should any of your other vital senses. This is about making time for touch, taste, hearing, scent and sight.
If there is no time for breakfast, or if breakfast is an apple or a banana grabbed on the run–make that fruit a part of your ritual. Take a bite, listening to the crunch, or feeling the soft texture, and seriously–I know this sounds woo-woo–but seriously spend a moment with the energy of Earth’s sweet delicious gift from a seed.
Once your get into the habit of incorporating intentional slowness and practiced sensuality into each morning, you’ll be more open to giving yourself pleasure after work too–and I don’t mean happy hour. Do you usually fall into bed with the television on, forgetting to turn off your phone? Try actually unplugging after dinner, if you dare. Run a bath, and drop in some sexy, stimulating ylang ylang essential oil. You may miss Jon Stewart’s company the first few nights, but there are better things to do in bed.
Whether you’re single, dating, or in a long-term relationship–all of this is still important. Before you can make time for anyone else–you have to learn how to make time with and for yourself. Slow Sex, like Slow Food, is all about the journey, not the destination.
Image: Ariadna Bruna
Stefanie Iris Weiss is the author of Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable (Ten Speed Press/Crown Publishing, 2010) and eight other books. Stefanie keeps her carbon footprint small in New York City, where she writes about sustainability, sexuality, reproductive rights, dating and relationships, politics, fashion, beauty, and more for many publications. Learn more about her at ecosex.net.