Listening with the Body

June 26th, 2009

“For women the best aphrodisiacs are words. The G-spot is in the ears. He who looks for it below there is wasting his time.’ -Isabel Allende

Recent studies have found high correlations between the music that teens are listening to and the onset of sexual activity. Teens who listen to highly sexualized lyrics were twice as likely to engage in sexual activity than teens who didn’t listen to that kind of music. While these kinds of studies can’t really explain if the correlation is coincidence or causal, the fact that there is a link leaves us to ponder what kind of listening affects us sexually. How do one’s listening skills and habits influence intimacy in all ages of life development?

One of my favorite lines by James Joyce is 'Men are governed by lines of intellect, women by curves of emotion.' This might explain why most women need to both be heard and to hear loving remarks from their partners in order to turn on their sexual feelings, and why many men don't get it. Twenty five years later, I am still training my husband around the kinds of comments and endearments that I would like to hear before, during or after sex. But it is no longer a deal breaker for me because I have realized that his failure to say these things is not a reflection of how he feels about me.

I have often compared the act of making love to a physical conversation. Recently I have been practicing what I have learned about listening in my bedroom as well. The results have been surprising and heartening. Perhaps the most powerful way we can listen to the people we love is not just with our ears and our mind but with our whole body. The concept of generative listening which trains us to listen for what is beneath the words goes to the very core in a physical conversation where words are  language communicated with sweeps of fingers, backs relaxing into a caress, a pelvic tilt becoming a shudder.  
Our hands can feel vibrations as much as they can tactile sensations. Let them lead the way into a new kind of listening in your intimate life. The practice of laying on of hands, which has biblical references to its healing powers, is a simple but powerful technique that can provide real insight into the body. Things inside me literally shift under the steady weight and patient attention of my husband's hands and he can feel it too. What is more tender than soft hands across a tired forehead or a finger tracing a heart?
If you're not sure how to start this, the tantric traditions of sexuality are a great place to learn more about whole body listening. For many serious devotees, tantric techniques are not about mind blowing pleasure, but about the deep connectedness of souls. Here is a simple exercise where you are likely to get some of both. It requires that both partners first agree to the meaning of shallow and deep penetration. Once the parameters are set, the partners agree to breathe and count together in cycles of 10 shallow- 1 deep, 9 shallow- 2 deep, 8 shallow-3 deep,  and count down to 1 shallow � 10 deep.   Finishing a cycle at the same pace you began it should be the goal and repeating the cycle in the other direction is for true aspirants. 
Thinking of our lovemaking as another form of listening is I think as close as we come to hearing deep into another person's soul.

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