“Reverence starts in the mirror. In other words, above and beyond all appearances, opinions and circumstances, know there is a light, a sacred Presence, within you. Recognize It, honor It, and revere It, and It will set you free.” Dennis Merritt Jones
In my December post, I proposed that making peace with our yonis (the Sanskrit word for our vulvas) was a condition of experiencing sensual and sexual pleasure. I actually think it’s bigger than that: when we are not at peace with our bodies, our sensual and sexual selves, we are separate from an integral part of ourselves. As Regena Thomashauer so aptly says in her book, Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts: “…the journey toward knowing yourself is not complete until you know and own your sensuality.” What we sacrifice when we are disconnected from our sexual selves is uncompromising self-acceptance, self-confidence and full empowerment. It is as profound a disconnect as if we cut off one of our hands.
Hopefully, with last week’s blog, you’ve begin to recognize how generations of negative input about women’s sexuality and especially yonis has twisted and co-opted our thoughts and feelings about something so personal. Today, I will suggest a few additional steps to help you reconnect with your yoni; next time around, I’ll add a few more steps.
Before we go any further, I urge you to make a deliberate shift in your attitude and to mindfully adopt an attitude of reverence toward your whole self. Reverence is “a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe, veneration.” Dictionary.com. It also means to honor and admire profoundly—with deference and respect. Reverence presumes an intrinsic merit. Shouldn’t we all view ourselves with a sense of reverence? If you can’t do this for yourself, who can?
In addition, it is important to shift your mindset about female genitalia in general and to recognize that each yoni is beautiful and unique—and they are all different. If you’ve never looked at books or websites like The Labia Project or GynoDiversity that tastefully display non-sexualized photos of yonis, you may find that to be a useful starting point. What you’ll discover is that there is tremendous variation in colors, sizes, shapes, labia structure and every yoni is beautiful and normal just as it is. Joani Blank’s Femalia is a wonderful print resource that emphasizes this point: all yonis are different—and all are perfect.
Second, I encourage you to take some time—perhaps over a few days or weeks—to look at and become intimately familiar with your own yoni through mirror play, remembering always that “reverence starts in the mirror.” With a beginner’s mind, an open heart and an attitude of reverence—and with ample time and privacy, spend some time looking at your yoni. Note what you see. Take in your yoni’s color, whether and how the color changes from outer to inner labia; yoni colors are gorgeous and can include fiery or soft rosy reds, rubies, pinks; oranges in sunset, salmon, peach; soft beige to browns and purples. Now look at your labia. Are you labia asymmetrical? That’s nature at its most normal and best! If you hear any critical voices, say to them: “I hear what you’re saying and I know you’ve been with me a long time. And at this moment, I’m making a new decision about my yoni. I see beauty I’ve never seen before. I love and accept my yoni just as it is.”
When we try to silence critical voices through anger and hostility, they tend to strengthen. Instead, affirm your intention to explore your body with an open mind and heart—and the intention to develop a new, positive relationship with all aspects of yourself—and especially your yoni. The critical voices of the past—of others—will abate over time. And a new voice—your own—filled with strength, reverence, tenderness and self-respect—will replace the critical ones, as you emerge—whole, complete and loving yourself, just as you are.
Jane Steckbeck, Clinical Sexologist and Certified Sex Coach