What Excites Us

Episode 21: Melody Joyce – Pleasure is Healing

Episode 21: Melody Joyce – Pleasure is Healing post thumbnail image Episode 21: Melody Joyce – Pleasure is Healing

Somatic Sex Educator and Sexological Bodyworker Melody Joyce joins me to discuss why Pleeasure is Healing on this episode. We talk about what somatic sex education is, and why it’s not woo-woo but based in science. She shares her healing process and why she wants to help you. She also goes over some simple ideas to feel more embodied that you can practice right away. We talk about the vagus nerve, the connection between the jaw and the pelvis, the five tools she uses, and so much more.

To learn more about and schedule a chat with Melody yourself please visit
Her email is bodysouljourney@protonmail.com
Or you can go to the Association of Sexological Body Workers at https://sexologicalbodyworkers.org/

We also mentioned Betty Dodson’s book “Sex for One” as a great book, Betty Martin’s Wheel of Consent, and “The Body Keep The Score” by Bessel van der Kolk


Gwyn 0:00 This is a show about sex and sexuality. While this episode isn’t explicit, it is still intended only for a consenting adult audience.

Gwyn Isaacs 0:18 Hello, and welcome to What Excites Us! the podcast that discusses sex and sexuality throughout time and place, including the here and now, to help you feel good about your interests and desires. Shed light on what might be troubling you and help you learn new ways to make it even better. I’m Gwyn Isaacs, a certified sex coach and educator who fully believes that if we are more satisfied and content, we will be less likely to be a big jerk to our neighbors. This time, I’m chatting with Melody Joyce, a body based sex educator who is passionate about helping people lead happier, healthier lives through safe exploration of embodiment and pleasure. She knows that having a feeling sense of our bodies and noticing and responding to pleasure helps us grow and heal from shame, judgment and trauma. Because she has experienced kind, compassionate support with attention and skill in a safe environment. She has learned that it is possible to unwind old patterns that no longer serve. That sensation can dawn where there was only numbness, which makes it easier for us to build loving relationships with our bodies, and then other people. Somatic sex education changed Melody’s life, and she knows it can change yours. Her work and somatic sex education is infused with and influenced by ongoing studies in neuroeffective touch, energy medicine, hypnosis, and years of experience in kink and music. Hi, Melody.

Melody Joyce 2:25 Hello

Gwyn 2:27 How are you? What a delight?

Melody Joyce 2:29 Yes, I’m so glad to be here with you.

Gwyn 2:31 You are a somatic sex educator. Is that the title that you use?

Melody Joyce 2:38 Yes, yes, that’s one of the titles that I use.

Gwyn 2:41 Okay

Melody Joyce 2:41 training as a somatic sex educator also encompasses sexological body work, out of which somatic sex education grew. It’s sort of an expansion on sexological bodywork. But all of it goes back to the 1980s when Joseph Kramer developed sexological body work, as well as founded the Body Electric to provide safe experiences for gay men during the AIDS crisis to receive erotic touch. So now it’s really expanded to encompass all genders. I studied with Caffyn Jesse, Captain Snowden and Corinne Diachuk, who are out on Vancouver and off of Vancouver in Canada. All three of them studied in San Francisco, I think with Joseph Kramer, and then kind of added on layers around mindfulness of privilege, the intersectionality of different dimensions of privilege that affect people’s access to freedom of sexual expression. And just a real mindfulness around the impact of trauma on the work. And the work has tremendous opportunity and possibility for healing from trauma, as well as just inviting in pleasure as a huge resource for not only healing but just expansion of presence and being in your body.

Gwyn 4:09 Definitely want to come back to that especially, it’s so important right now. But let’s take a step back for a second. And can you explain to us sexological bodywork somatic education, like these are words that not everybody is familiar with?

Melody Joyce 4:27 Right. A lot of people don’t even know what somatic means. It refers to the whole body, even the energy body and the soul as it were, but it’s somatic sex education, and sexological body work, embrace healing as a resource for pleasure. They include real mindfulness around the role that the nervous system plays in keeping us safe. As humans as animals. We have our biological wiring which goes back a long way. And so working mindfully with the nervous system using tools that activate the vagus nerve, which is a nerve that runs from the brainstem, all the way through different body organs down into the pelvis. And it keeps us safe. It also keeps us connected to other human beings. And so we work with this through sound because the the nerve runs through the voice box, through movements, such as rocking or clenching the muscles and relaxing them. These are also really good for self soothing, humans have been rocking one another and themselves for millennia. She just kind of calm through touch, of course, touch is the one sense of our five senses, which is absolutely necessary for survival. And we do not thrive if we don’t receive touch. I think COVID really brought that home to a lot of people who are finding themselves touch deprived, and then all of the difficulties and anxiety that comes along with that. So we use a lot of touch real mindfully, especially with consideration around safety, boundaries and consent. Also, we use imagination, which also engages our energy. Lifeforce energy, which can originate in the pelvis, can be moved by thought, energy follows intention and attention. So somatic sex educators work with people to engage their imagination, in conjunction with conscious breathing, which is a huge tool for working with the nervous system, as well as with energy and deepening presence in the body. And people come to somatic sex educators for all kinds of reasons. It could be trauma healing, it could just be getting out of the head and into the body could be expanding their own capacity for pleasure, or focusing on a troublesome or problematic issue. And, in general, there’s a reframe around troublesome and problematic issues. You know, we see them in behaviors, protective, adaptive behaviors as creative ways to try to get by, in a world that’s not always safe. And so we kind of come at it from the perspective that your body is full of wisdom, and it has been protecting you your entire life. Some of the behaviors and bracing patterns may not be conducive at this point, to really healthy relationships, and pleasure. And so we work to increase access to those through the really gentle use of these five tools, with mindfulness around boundaries, consent, and awareness of the role that privilege plays for all of us.

Gwyn 5:05 That’s a lot.

Melody Joyce 7:46 It’s, it’s pretty huge.

Gwyn 7:47 Yeah. I mean, it totally comes through on your webpage, but talking to you brings out the gigantic nature, for lack of better language, of this type of work that you’re doing way more inclusive than what I do as a talk-only sex coach, which absolutely, everything has its place, and everybody is comfortable in different modalities. And it’s good that there’s somebody for everybody, which I fully believe,

Melody Joyce 8:15 Absolutely, and talk of all kinds is so valuable. Telling our stories, being heard being witnessed. And the body holds everything, you know, one of the foundational books is called the Body Keeps the Score. And so working with the body, often in support, perhaps with a talk therapist or a talk coach, we can help the body to actually let go of what it’s holding on to. Which doesn’t have to be accompanied by a story. It doesn’t have to be painful, it can be kind of gentle. And pleasure can be a resource for healing from what held in the tissues.

Gwyn 8:54 I was talking with a friend last night about how we aren’t like deer who can sit and shake it off when we have trauma, and we don’t die. And we experienced there’s no human that doesn’t have some trauma. There are certainly some humans who have way more trauma than others. And none of us have a way that is socially accepted to deal with that in the immediate terms. And so then it really does get lodged somewhere in us.

Melody Joyce 9:25 Yep, there is this huge wave now of awareness. And as we’re learning more about neuroscience, and ways to release the trauma. TRE, and other sort of modalities that help us shake it off, along with things like somatic sex education, or somatic experiencing. You know, I think there’s a growing movement, even within the therapy community of the value of touch. And the neuro effective touch that I’ve been studying is a fusion of talk therapy. and some touch. Kind of honoring the fact that with both together, tremendous healing can take place.

Gwyn 10:07 Do things come up as you’re doing the work together, that they feel comfortable sharing?

Melody Joyce 10:13 Yes, it’s actually amazing and humbling what people will share. I talk to folks, the first part of every session, actually, even before I ever see a client, we have a call together to discern, you know, if it feels safe, and it feels right, for us to work together to kind of give the body a chance to say, Yes, I’m on board with this, or maybe this doesn’t feel right. Because safety is a prerequisite for the work. I try to create a safe enough space. And part of that, is that having that chat in the beginning to just discern, oh, yeah, this feels right, or not. And then I share an intake form, which offers questions for reflection. And none of the questions are mandatory. Because first, for some people, it’s very stressful, and kind of overwhelming, having a bunch of questions being asked before we even really had a long chat. So very often, we just talk through it, when we first meet. Questions about personal history, self care practices, relationship, even with parents early on in life, and now. To kind of get a sense of perhaps the types of developmental trauma that occurred. And trauma doesn’t mean it was huge and horrible, like you said, all of us just by virtue of living, ended up with adaptive strategies and bracing patterns in our muscles that just helped us get through life. So I try and get a sense of those, talking with the person and also talking about like, what are your great sexual experiences or vision for those? And how’s your health? What do you long to bring into your life? What do you long for what do you want to let go of just to give folks a chance to tune into me, but also tune into their bodies and what they want. And then everything that we do in this session is going to guided by their sense of safety. And then their intentions for the session, we’ll do work around the five tools, breathing, movement, sound, imagination, and touch. And that may involve having experiential body based exercises around what a boundary feels like to set. What does it feel like in your body? To know that you really want something or that you don’t want something? What does a yes feel like, or a no? And that huge space in between of ambivalence and gray area, which most of us don’t feel into. It’s so easy to kind of override with thinking, or in service of staying safe and minimizing pain, we cut off contact to our bodies. Maybe we breathe shallowly, that’s just a fabulous coping behavior, or clench our muscles to kind of hold in what we don’t want to feel. So the sessions are just really gentle. They unfold as slowly as is needed. And they also honor the fact that erotic pleasure can be this wonderful portal, to feeling and to releasing and to healing and self discovery.

Gwyn Isaacs 13:38 Our culture is so brain based. It’s really hard for even people, well for me. who I am, I’m very aware of how important it is to be body aware, hopefully, maybe at some point centered. But even though I have that knowledge, it is really difficult to learn the skills to access that, to drop into my body, especially when I get stressed. And then I end up with all sorts of things where I’m like, why is my neck doing this? Oh, right. Because three days ago, I had a fight with somebody. And I still haven’t really processed that out.

Melody Joyce 14:25 Yes, totally.

Gwyn 14:28 I’m just in awe, frankly, of the work that you do. I think that this is fantastic.

Melody Joyce 14:32 It’s been my healing journey. Because I grew up very intellectually oriented. I became an engineer, a mechanical engineer. So really viewing the body as a machine and viewing life as a problem to solve and fix. And I also grew up in an Irish Catholic, religious household. And so there was a ton of shame, guilt and judgment around sexuality. And I like drank the Kool Aid. I did not touch myself, I saved myself. I didn’t know how to communicate about what I wanted, I didn’t have any, really, experience with my sexuality. And I sort of just expected that oh my partners would know what to do. But that didn’t work very well. So my early experiences, which weren’t that early, they were in my 20s. It wasn’t until after my divorce that I kind of set out on a conscious path, like, not following the rules, which obviously didn’t work that well for me, but like, what do I need, and I began to explore my sexuality in my 30s. And I was so shut down, I thought I was asexual, which is a valid sexual orientation, nothing wrong with it. But it wasn’t me. I was just shut down. And so I started out with Betty Dodson’s book called Sex For One, because I felt safe alone. And that was it. And then my journey led me through a bunch of different experiences that confronted the punitive, Irish Catholic guilt ridden beliefs. I explored kink, which I didn’t even realize I was kinky, I just thought everyone liked to be tied up. And that was normal. And maybe it is normal, because normal oh my god, I’m learning that normal is a shut down word. It’s implies judgment. And so I had to just come to embrace me and let go of comparisons, or other people’s judgments. And that took a long time, a long long time. And then I still hadn’t discovered embodied sex education. But I started studying sex education, because through my own journey, I became a kind of a safe person to be around, because I had dealt with my own judgments. And then in 2017, I took a workshop with a woman named Betty Martin, who’s amazing. And it was my first sort of embodied experience workshop. And I was like, Oh, this is it, I have to go do this! This stuff changes people’s lives. This awareness around how the body is responding, and also language for talking about it. That has made such a huge contribution to the field of sexuality and consent. She’s amazing. And I’m forever grateful to her.

Gwyn 17:38 Her wheel of consent is fantastic. I highly recommend everybody just go look at the graphic, if nothing else, because it’s really life changing. So with your science background, how do you square the energy field, a lot of people feel that that is very woowoo. And you have a mechanical engineering degree. So explain how that works for us.

Melody Joyce 18:06 Well, once a geek, always a geek, I love science. I love understanding how things work, and studying energy through the healing touch approach, very science based actually. Studying physics, quantum physics, and just learning that it’s not as woo as you think. It’s actually science. And I’ve known even since freshman year, in my physics classes, I had this gut feeling that if we truly understood physics, there would not be any difference between physical science and spiritual. It’s really one in the same but it’s, it’s vast. And everything about energy is as real as the glass that I’m holding in my hand, that just vibrates differently. And perhaps we don’t understand the laws. I say, we I really mean me. It’s not clear. It’s not intuitive, perhaps, but it’s just as scientifically real. And I’m also learning a little bit about brain science. Neuroplasticity is the brain’s capacity to rewire neural pathways. And the brain science field, just from the little bit of reading I’ve done is really took off in the 90s when neural magnetic imaging became available and could really start to understand what was going on in the brain. And so somatic sex education draws upon that neuroplasticity and the knowledge we’re learning and polyvagal theory, which is the study of that nerve complex, the vagus nerve that runs through our body and keeps us safe. So I love to geek out on it and all of the things that I’m studying from somatic education, with its emphasis on brain science, and polyvagal theory. And I’ve even done some hypnosis which interestingly draws upon the same fields. Like our dropping into hypnotic states, where we can also access some of the body’s wisdom actually stems from the same kinds of brain science. It’s so cool

Gwyn 20:19 It makes perfect sense when you say it, but just hadn’t crossed my mind.

Melody Joyce 20:24 Mm hmm. And so hypnosis can be another tool in the toolbox for relaxing and calming the nervous system. But while also accessing our physiology, we had a pretty deep level, hypnosis can be quite powerful. And I found it a good tool for managing trauma, because I’m aware of trauma. But I’m not I’m not a somatic experiencing practitioner, or haven’t done super deep studies in it. But I want to be able to help where I can just in case, during a session, something really cathartic comes up. Hypnosis is one tool, along with the breathing and and the healing touch, for holding space for someone, regardless of their state, and to helping them recenter when necessary. I have very rarely had to do that in a session because I really try hard to attune and move at a really slow pace of safety. But the work can be powerful and cathartic. So one of the things I share with folks is a whole checklist of things to consider when working with a practitioner, one of which is a support network that you rely on not that a client has just me as a practitioner, but also has a support team.

Gwyn Isaacs 21:48 This episode of what excites us is brought to you by me, I’m Gwyn Isaacs. And besides being your podcast host, I’m a certified sex coach and educator. And right now I have some openings for text based clients. I love coaching over email and text. It allows you to be open and vulnerable in ways that may feel too difficult in person, which lets us tackle the concerns you have at your own pace. Very few of us were taught how to have sex, most of us are feeling our way through the dark, hoping we get it right, I can help you build skills in the bedroom and navigate your intimate relationships, I have two ways you can sign up to start texting with me right away. When you go to earthlydesire.com/coaching, you will find a weekly subscription for daily correspondence. And a way to schedule a live one hour text chat, visit earthlydesire.com to start on your path have more pleasure today, you deserve it.

Gwyn 22:54 I imagine that with this type of work that plenty of work happens in office with you and then continues to happen as they progress through their week.

Melody Joyce 23:04 Oh, that is accurate. And I provide for folks that want to do homework. And you know, suggestions for how to orient toward pleasure. That could be just as simple as pausing. Taking a deep breath, feeling where it comes into the body and looking around. And then maybe noticing five things that say are green. Or two things that are made of wood, or a thing that like Oh, that’s beautiful. It just gives me joy. But like really pausing to be present with that sense of sight. And you could do the same thing with the other senses. That could be homework for a person just to begin to integrate some of the practices in presence and noticing. I think that noticing is the primary skill.

Gwyn 24:01 Sure I mean, that’s the first step in teaching someone how to meditate to is is just just notice. Notice when you are making a judgement about somebody else’s outfit or whatever it is. I’ve worked with a lot of young women so that particular one come up a lot. So in thinking about how stuff bubbles up again, I’m thinking about myself, I am a very slow person. You know in the tempo of humans, some people are faster some people are slower, I’m on the slower end of the spectrum. So if I have a massage, a particularly intense massage, I will feel sludge, basically, like sort of draining from me for days. And you know that could be okay you actually did move some lymph fluid around and there is physical toxins that are involved in that and they are exiting the body but I feel like it is also that energy field the, the brain body connection, that all of that. So thinking about what you said about a support network being really important. Because I could find myself crying three days later, and, and not really being able to pinpoint what that is,

Melody Joyce 25:20 Right.

Gwyn 25:21 So I really appreciate the way that you umm, it sounds like you help people sort of set everything up so that their work can be successful.

Melody Joyce 25:32 I hope so.

Gwyn 25:35 One thing I wanted to touch on a little bit for, again, for people who might be intimidated by some of these words, is hypnosis. A lot of folks, you know, think of stage acts as hypnosis. Or if you’re talking to kinky folks, they think about the kink and, and there’s some ethical issues that can get involved and tricky for people when you mention hypnosis. So when you’re talking about hypnosis, are you talking about a deep, intense hypnosis or more of a meditative state? Or can you just talk about that a little bit?

Melody Joyce 26:12 Yeah, I’ve noticed that a lot of people are very nervous when they hear the word, because they think they’re not going to be in control. And the truth is, our body keeps us safe, the person is always in control, so to speak, it’s an opportunity to have a conversation with the subconscious or directly with the body. So the way I work with hypnosis is I share some of the science behind it or like, here’s what happens. It is very much like a meditation. I provide a self hypnosis script, if folks want to do hypnosis everyday, almost like a guided meditation or a sleep aid if they do it at night. Because it just can be deeply, deeply relaxing. I’ll also talk about it as a means of accessing inner wisdom. So that they could go into a trance and kind of enter into a conversation with the wisest part of themselves. Also, let them know and reassure them that if anything ever happens, they’re always going to be safe, and that they can end this session at any moment. Hypnosis can really help influence some physiological symptoms. Because one way to use hypnosis is to go into a trance and sort of enter into the physiological control room and sort of adjust make adjustments to things like blood flow. So if a person’s blood isn’t flowing, say into their genitals the way I would like they would like hypnosis has been particularly effective for things like blood flow, so it can change actually their physiological response. I offered some free hypnosis during COVID, just as a way to support people. Where we would just go into a trance, or a number of trances, because when you go into a trance, and you come up, and you go back down into trance and come back up, it gets a little bit deeper each time. And but so people could get to experience in a really safe environment, and we did it over zoom. You know, it can be really helpful for shifting limiting beliefs, and letting go of pain, and sleeping. And for things like stopping bad habits or bad that’s a judgment word, but habits that you don’t want to have any longer. But yes, I agree that some of the things you see could raise some fears about it. But I have found it to be very different than the myths. So I do have a little document I do share with people. Here’s a little bit of the myth busting around hypnosis. And my teacher, for the Center for Integrative Hypnosis, Melissa Tiers, she’s also a geeky science person. So really grounded the training and the neuroscience behind the hypnosis and approaching hypnosis from a more science based perspective also made it seem less scary.

Gwyn 29:15 Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. How do you help people tune in to themselves? I know that we’ve touched on hypnosis and some homeplay stuff. But when you’re in session, are you teaching at that moment as well? Or is there segmented now we’ll do some physical work and then we’ll go back to teaching or is it all integrative? Basically, can you walk us through a session, I guess, is what I’m asking.

Melody Joyce 29:44 Absolutely. Yeah. Like I mentioned, before we meet we’ll have a chat. And then I’ll share the intake form with them so that when they come to my place, we may have a talk in the beginning where he just told me a little bit about what’s going on. and how their history has been what they love to get out of the work. And that can be something that they want to change something that they want to bring into their lives, something they want to let go of whatever it is, you know, what they really want to experience. And we’ll do some talking in the beginning again about that whole intake form is pretty extensive, depending on what they would like to share. And depending on their intention that guides the rest of the session. But I do like to at least introduce and begin to practice those five tools, breath, sound, movement, imagination, and touch. And depending on the mindset of the person, if they’re really in their head, we may geek out a little about the science behind each of these so that their mind calms down a bit and there’s more access to their body sensations. But we can also just jump right in, by doing some breathing together, usually I’ll start off session with like, let’s just take some deep breaths, you know, like, and maybe make a zoo sound on the exhale to extend the exhale. I found that it’s hard to have a really long, slow exhale, unless there’s some kind of sound with it. And the longer and slower the exhale, that immediately starts calming down the nervous system. So we may do some breathing, we may also just rock back and forth, and start to explore the relationship with our midline, you know, just sort of noticing, where’s my center, I’m rocking back and forth right now as we talk. But just kind of noticing, oh, when am I actually sitting in a way that I feel centered from side to side. And we can do that same thing from front to back, maybe putting the hands underneath the buttocks to get a sense of the sit bones, those bony points in the pelvis. And then again, noticing, am I evenly balanced on my sit bones from side to side, from front to back. And as we do these kinds of just, they don’t really seem like anything, but that’s dropping out of the mind, into the body. Practicing that skill of noticing which we all have, even if it’s a bit out of practice. The other hardest tool for many people is making sounds. You know, because so many people grew up with like, shush, you know, quick, quiet, get it over with, let’s say we’re talking about self pleasuring, without anyone hearing. And sound, because the vagus nerve runs through it, making sounds can help down regulate the nervous system. Also, there’s a connection between the jaw and the pelvis, basically, open jaw, open pelvis, the jaw is a place where we can hold a lot of tension, and just metaphorically, and perhaps energetically, by shutting down our self expression, it gets stuck in our musculature around the jaw and the neck and the upper chest. And so beginning to mindfully work with the jaw, and sort of mixing together these different tools, like maybe massaging the jaw while rocking, or taking deep breaths, or letting the jaw hang and saying, Ah, you know, we kind of dive in. Also, like I mentioned earlier, doing embodied practices around what boundaries feel like, you know, this could be an exercise where we stand really far apart. And then the control is always in the hands of the client That the client may get a chance to like beckon me to move toward them, and then practice noticing if anything changes in their body. I ask them to stop me from moving, so they can kind of sit with it, and listen to what their body’s saying, and maybe beckon me to move back, or beckon me to come forward or beckon me to stay, in getting a felt sense of what it feels like to make a boundary. This actually is really challenging for a lot of people, really challenging. I have had folks not make any movement at all until I like walk right up in their face, and then realizing, Oh, now I don’t feel safe. And so we slow it down again, if always going even slower, if needed. So we go into embodiment practices right away. Erotic massage, can be a part of a first session. A lot of folks have heard about erotic massage in terms of somatic sex education is a powerful tool. Wonderful tool, also a teaching tool. Because you know how sometimes in a massage, there’s like no communication, except maybe Oh, can you do a little hard tissue work here? But I have gone through massages. Oh, one time a guy had knee nails and it wasn’t that pleasant, but I didn’t say anything. You know, I just didn’t endured. And that’s not what it’s about. It’s a session. In a session, it’s all about communication, might even not be that we do our erotic massage at first, we might start with just exercises around touch, where we’re sitting on the couch. And we set a boundary, fingertips to elbow. But we practice talking about touch, I’ll use Betty Martin’s wheel of consent, which provides really clear language for asking for what you want. Recognizing that it is for you, also like exploring all those different ways that we touch, I can touch someone for their own benefit, which is what I do with clients, I can touch someone for my own pleasure. I can allow my body to be touched for someone else’s pleasure. Or, I can ask for the kind of touch that I want for me. So we’ll explore those different dynamics, again, with really clear boundaries. And that eventually might progress. Usually, there’s a progression. And the duration of the progression just totally depends upon where the person is, what they’ve been through, how safe they feel in their bodies. But the principles are the same, consent, boundaries, and really clear communication and noticing over and over and over again, noticing in response to say if I am actually giving someone a massage, I’ll ask them, How would you like me to touch you? And this in itself can be a question someone’s never heard. They might not know the answer. And we can experiment. And then kind of go from there. You know, I may work on a part of their body and just say, Well, this is like the eye doctor? Do you like it slower? Or does it feel better faster? How about more pressure, or less pressure? So that it’s a bit of a lab, in a sense, working with the body where they always where it safe enough. Clients get to experience Oh, okay, I like this. I don’t like that so much. And let me just practice asking or receiving and tweaking it and negotiating. So there’s a lot of talk that goes on, even during the touch part of the session.

Gwyn 37:22 How do you handle that when you’re working with Zoom clients?

Melody Joyce 37:26 When I work over zoom, we’ll talk about all the tools and we’ll practice, you know, like, we may rock together, we may also do things like mover exercises, which just again, focuses attention and creates the skill of noticing to create connection, but also to heighten that noticing how things feel. So I definitely can work with folks to, obviously, I can’t touch them. But we can do self touch, we can ask for touch and experience it. We can definitely work with sound, movement, breathing, and all of those and noticing and that could be noticing the environment, pausing being present, it’s about dropping into presence, noticing, it’s all really driven by person’s intentions, and what they’d like to work through. There are certain boundary exercises that can be done in the room, like physically setting up using things that are in the room, like rope, to draw a boundary and practice being in it or out of it. Or it could be a boundary like how close I come to the screen even. So there’s ways to work over zoom, to practice embodied feeling.

Gwyn Isaacs 38:44 Really intrigued by the concept of using imagination in all of this work, how does that come into it?

Melody Joyce 38:51 There’s a number of ways. One is, let’s say in conjunction with the breath. When taking a deep breath on the inhale, just imagine the energy flowing up from the base of your spine, all the way up your spine to the top of your head. That’s a long inhale with that imagining the energy rising, and then in the exhale, just imagine the energy flowing down the front of your body and pooling back down into the pelvis and then on the next inhale. Imagining there, the energy kind of rising up the spine, going all the way over the head, and then on the exhale, letting it flow down the front of the body. We could bring back we could bring movement in like squeezing the pelvic muscles, like say that muscle that you use to control the flow of urine. You could squeeze that muscle on the inhale and imagine it kind of pumping the energy up your spine over the top of your head and then lip relaxing the muscle at the same time as your exhale. Imagining the energy like a waterfall flowing down the front of your body. They call that the micro cosmic orbit, that running down from the base of the pelvis running, imagining energy flowing up the spine and around the top of the body. There’s even a certain spot, I believe, if you hold the tongue on the roof of your mouth, like you could imagine it connecting there, there’s some Chinese meridian points, I believe that acupuncture is kind of tied into some of these same cycles or circuits that we can envision and imagine. Hypnosis is another way of bringing imagination in, you know, like getting really deeply relaxed, and imagining a blank screen, and then playing out a movie, of what you really want for your life for a certain area of it. And really feel flushing it out, imagining the sense, imagining the sounds and dropping in and trying to actually, because our bodies, our brains, sometimes do not distinguish between something that we imagined. And something that’s real, this is why we jump in a movie, when something scary happens. It’s that same principle, the power of imagination, and it can have wonderfully beneficial effects. Unfortunately, it can have some terrible effects, because we may fear something that might happen, that actually is not real. One acronym I’ve heard for fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. But if in our brains, we are focusing on this fear, it generates all the adrenaline and cortisol, and we gear up and our nervous system is ready for fight, flight or freeze, and there’s actually nothing physical happening. So imagination is very, very powerful. We do it all the time. I’m just consciously doing it to help down regulate and access and orient toward pleasure rather than fear. Now, biologically, we preference fear, because for the majority of the existence of humans, we needed that for survival.

Gwyn 42:23 There are no more tigers in most of the world that are out to get us. Right most most of the world, there are certainly places that they still have tiger issues. Yes. But yeah, but getting late to work will not actually kill you. But our bodies don’t know that.

Melody Joyce 42:44 Right? Yeah. And they respond. And even the television and social media, rehashing stressful moments, like pre our amazing communications networks that exist now, something would happen, a traumatic event, once. But how many times that people we see footage of say 9/11. And every time, it just brought it all up again. I actually had to stop watching TV, I was like, I can’t take it. Because it triggered me over and over again. And so we’re just harnessing that power, for benefit. When we work with the tool of imagination.

Gwyn Isaacs 43:26 Wonderful. I can see so many wonderful things from from this work that can help people besides healing. I’m thinking in particular about embodying power, becoming stronger within yourself.

Melody Joyce 43:44 Yes, they can really increase presence, self confidence, self appreciation,

Gwyn Isaacs 43:52 Which we are sorely lacking. Most of us are even many of us that are aware, are still struggling to feel good about who we are and where we are and what we’re doing.

Melody Joyce 44:05 Yes. And we come by that honestly enough. You know, North American culture was not founded in positivity.

Gwyn 44:13 No

Melody Joyce 44:13 You know, it’s founded in puritanism. And then the media thrives on making people feel badly about themselves, so they’ll buy stuff to feel supposedly better. You know, and it’s all about disconnecting from yourself. It sells things.

Gwyn 44:29 And that’s a whole other rant that I’m sure we could go on but we don’t need today because they’re a little bit traumatizing.

Melody Joyce 44:37 What I try and do is just create a safe place for people to discover and explore themselves. And disconnect a bit from all of that. Those stressful messages.

Gwyn 44:48 Yeah, which are everywhere. absolutely everywhere, even even if you are someone who does not participate in any of the social media or watch TV, umm, even if you live in Vermont, where there are no billboards,umm it’s everywhere there, it’s you, you can’t escape it. If you walk into a store, they are trying to make you feel badly, so that you will buy more things. So I truly appreciate the work that you are doing to help on a person to person level.

Melody Joyce 45:23 Oh, thank you. Yeah, it feels like my purpose. Right? Once I discovered it, I was like, wow, this is my healing. And I’m just so delighted to share it. How do people find you? My website is BodySoulJourney.com BodySoulJourney.com. And that’s the easiest way to find me. And my email address is BodySouljourney@protonmail.com. That’s protonmail.com. So folks can reach out to me there. I’m also found on the ACSB website. Let’s the Association of Certified sexological body workers. If you’ve seen sex, love and goop, they talk about sex logical body work, which is a huge part of my work. But I’m on their website as well as a couple others. But my websites easiest way.

Gwyn 46:20 Well, thank you so much for chatting with me. I can’t wait to share this with folks.

Melody Joyce 46:24 Thank you Gwyn for the opportunity. It’s really awesome to get to chat with you again.

Gwyn 46:35 Melody wanted me to be sure to share that the journey into presence, embodiment, and orientation towards pleasure is a revolutionary act. It is powerful, and it is challenging. It takes courage, support and safety. I would like to add that if you feel her compassionate approach of somatic sex education or sexological body work, or a combination of the two would be helpful for you. Please reach out to her and tell her you heard our chat. If you enjoyed this episode, please be sure you are subscribed and tell a friend. If you would like to learn more about working with me other episodes or how you can make this a two way conversation. Please visit whatexcitesus.com. What Excites Us! is produced edited and hosted by me Gwyn Isaacs, all music is used under the Creative Commons Attribution license. This week that includes The Vendetta by Steven Kartenberg, Harmony by PolyPlus, and this is Route 17 by DJ Ollie J. Tickle.life host this podcast and many others and they have lots of other great sex and sexuality content too. Thanks for listening. I super appreciate you! You got this!

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