6 Steps to Reclaiming Your Sensuality

a mind of your own adi shakti confidence forgiveness ikigai joy kelly brogan kelly brogan md radiance sat kriya self-care self-love sensuality spirituality surrender vulnerability

Think about the last time you had a huge zit on your face. Do you remember how your energy contracted and you wanted to honor your invisibility by avoiding all social contacts? How this experience of yourself was literally the opposite of radiant and bold let alone sexy and sensual? This phenomenon is all the more disabling when we are plagued by complex illnesses like digestive distress, pain, and fatigue. But when our bodies are in harmony, our energy expands and our desire to connect is amplified.

As my patients move through the process of physical healing, the side effects look like an infomercial– shinier, fuller hair, effortless weight loss, improved libido, clearer skin! But the effects are show-stopping. These women, quite literally, wake up to themselves, like so many limbs that begin to tingle with the sensation of having been asleep.

What if we can have it all? Soulful Sexy.

When I speak of the gifts of transformation and feminine embodiment, some women may be wondering, “yeah, yeah, but what’s in it for me?!” Spiritual goals sound great in theory, but most of us want “real life” shifts too. Living in the real world includes loving our capable, attractive, sex-ready-and-worthy bodies. It involves moving through the mundane experiences of life with grace. It involves getting things done and it involves having fun.

So many spiritual mandates ask us to focus on cultivation of our higher centers and abandonment of our physical selves. Organized religion has supported the divorce from our “sinful” bodies in favor of our pure souls, but that thinking no longer serves. We need to be everything all at once, now. We need to soulify our bodies and sensualize our souls.

The Japanese call having it all from purpose to prosperity, Ikigai.  Kundalini yoga, too, is predicated on bringing “heaven and earth” into alignment. The householder’s yoga, it promises to keep spiritual seekers from years spent meditating in the solitude of a cave to attain enlightenment and freedom. Instead, you live your life, and you get past your own blocks while doing it. Transcend and then do the laundry. It celebrates sexuality, femininity, and aesthetic adornment while being a technology of unconscious healing.

Own Your Body to Get Free

While my patients want their symptoms - depression, anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, or even destructive behaviors, and impulsivity - gone, they also want to come into themselves. They want a new chapter. We all want to feel self-possessed and this includes, perhaps is even defined by, feeling possessed of our sensuality, beauty, and radiance. We want to feel the gaze of adoration tracking us. We want to feel desirable, even irresistible, to everyone we encounter. But, somehow, efforts to get that bikini body, attract that perfect guy, and get rich in 30 days seem to leave us feeling more dependent on gimmicky promises and an endless pursuit of getting better, being better, doing better. It turns out that saying is true – beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

If you don’t fall in love with yourself, others will only hold a mirror to your self-loathing, rejection, and attachment to external validation.

But what does that old trope even mean – fall in love with yourself?

Ugh, right?

Loving Yourself: How to Get There

Loving yourself has a couple of discernable steps from what I’ve observed:

  1.  Walk the walk of self-care: until you do, act like you do. Commit to a discipline of self-care. Take it seriously. Just do it.
  2. Forgive yourself: Understand that we act from the totality of who we are at any given time. You have done what you knew to do, and as you know better, you will do better.
  3. Integrate: Turn over every stone, look for your blindspots, examine what you are resisting. Make sure that what you believe, say, and do are all the same thing.
  4. Allow for the shadow: Forget being “all love”. We are everything including our blemishes and our flaws. Haul it all out into the light. Laugh at it. Love it. Own it.
  5.  Find your gift: What are you here to give? What is your unique offering to the community of humans. If you don’t know, you will when you’ve gone through steps 1-4!

This is the process of coming into alignment with your feminine power, and trust me, it looks nothing like clawing your way to the top of a man’s game. It’s a soft strength, one that has taken me years to surrender to from my more righteous, intellectualized posture. This power is irresistible. It is, ultimately, the definition of attractive because we are most attracted by novelty, dynamism, and the unexpected. We may think we want domestic safety and certitude, but we are wired for untamed wildness. When we are in our feminine empowerment, we are open to what is, what comes, and what may be. We don’t cower under constructs, rules, and illusions of safety. We create and recreate ourselves the way that the natural world does. We become more process than person.

There are a couple of ways to invest in the return on your commitment to self-love, here are my tools:

Sensuality 101: 6 Tools for Inner and Outer Radiance

1. Put in maximal effort, then relax

I believe deeply in self-care. I honor the gift of this body in my daily routine, my exercise, my many appointments with healers, and my commitment to an early morning practice. I commit to an evolving roster of personal responsibilities, and then I do something important – I relax. I forget about all the vigilance so that my day is not a white noise of swirling loose ends and condemning unfinished to dos. I put in the effort, no cheating, and then I enjoy the freedom it affords. I believe this effort is particularly critical in the beginning of the healing journey. Walking the walk of this discipline is a great act of self-love.

2. Paint your canvas

I’m pretty sure that I was the only one in a room of 50 kundalini teacher trainees who put mascara on before our 4am sadhana. I’ve even been known to wear lipstick (EWG approved!) home alone. I love fashion, and I feel set free by my self-decoration. To me, makeup and clothes can be exceedingly feminine, or they can be the shackles of self-diminishment and societal oppression like some sort of Stockholm Syndrome. The difference is in the attitude of celebration and ownership.

3. What’s behind the curtain?

I have a big mouth and I love to talk. An oversharer, I can suffer from what Francis Weller refers to as premature disclosure. That’s why, when I was advised by multiple teachers and healers to get quiet, go inward, and cultivate secrets, I knew that they were on to something big. I knew that this was the road to a different kind of power and self-possession, one that didn’t depend on a need to be seen in order to feel real. This is different from hiding. In fact, cultivated allure is as different from private shame as fasting is from starving.

4. Vulnerable is new sexy

We’ve gotten messaging that sexiness comes from dominance, control, and power. Au contraire. Conscious exploration of our fears, shadow sides, and wounds brings us into an openness and a softness that is true femininity. This is the Adi Shakti – the balance of warrior and nurturer that renders women infinitely powerful and human in all the right ways.

5. You’ve got this

As you confront your shadow, sit with your grief, and move through intense challenges of integration without the crutches of our modern paradigm (meds, substances, self-sabotage) then you will develop an ever-stronger trust in yourself. When you trust yourself, you enter into any situation with a fundamental core confidence. You know, that no matter what, you’ve got this. In fact, even if it seems like you don’t and something funky goes down, you know that it’s all.going.to.be.OK. This dramatically reduces freakouts and the pressure that can render us social liabilities. Your ease becomes contagiously magnetic.

6. Cultivate joy

I love to dance. I don’t even care whether I’m good, but I will tell you that desire pours from my body when I watch a gifted dancer do their thing. Nick Gonzalez wrote me once, “warriors, in the highest sense, always love to dance.” When you make space for this kind of unbridled joy in your life, it radiates. Others feel it and they want a piece of it too. It’s this lightness and sparkle with the gravity of a well-examined life, deeply-held beliefs, and an open heart that adds up to true radiance.

We, as women, need to dip into our creative energy in order to fuel our rebirthing. We need to own, wield, and vertically integrate our sensuality. To supercharge this process, I often recommend the kundalini transformer, Sat Kriya. 11 minutes every morning, before dawn, for 40 days. That’s how you work it, girl. ;)

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About Dr. Kelly Brogan

KELLY BROGAN, MD, is a holistic psychiatrist, author of the New York Times Bestselling book, A Mind of Your OwnOwn Your Self, the children’s book, A Time For Rain, and co-editor of the landmark textbook Integrative Therapies for Depression. She is the founder of the online healing program Vital Mind Reset, and the membership community, Vital Life Project. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from M.I.T. in Systems Neuroscience. She is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. Learn More