How Our Developmental “Arcline of Touch” Influences Adult Sexuality & Intimacy Patterns

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I was first introduced to Dr. Aline LaPierre and her work via her wonderful book, “Healing Developmental Trauma.”  Soon after, I completed her Neuroaffective Touch training, and enjoyed it so much that I have since assisted her subsequent trainings for several years.  

Dr. LaPierre and her felt sense and neurophysiological understanding of our touch receptors – how they develop, evolve, are nourished, can be impeded, and also restored, inspires me.  

I could imagine no more fitting way to inaugurate the podcast than to explore this understanding of how our touch receptors and their conditioning influences our intimate relational dynamics with our own body, our genitalia and sexuality, and how this dances and interacts relationally with other bodies.  

Today’s Guest:

Dr. Aline LaPierre, PsyD, MFT, SEP 

Dr. Aline LaPierre is the co-author of Healing Developmental Trauma: How Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship now available in twelve languages. She is the founder and director of The NeuroAffective Touch Institute and developer of NeuroAffective Touch® specializing in teaching the integration of psychotherapy with the therapeutic use of touch. Dr. LaPierre is a graduate of Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, and The New Center for Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles, and is trained in many body-centered modalities. Past faculty in the Somatic Doctoral Program at Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, Aline is currently vice-president of the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy (USABP), and deputy editor of The International Body Psychotherapy Journal (IBPJ). A clinician, author, artist, and workshop leader, she maintains a private psychotherapy practice in West Los Angeles. 

We Explore:

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“From the moment we’re conceived, the body develops through pleasure… ” 

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How spooning with another body simulates how we are positioned in the Mother’s womb, soothes our nervous system, and communicates being loved & connected. 

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How the compression of our touch receptors, moving through the vaginal canal, awakens the touch sensors for relational skin-to-skin communication. 

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How the infant – having the time to find their own breath out of the womb before the umbilical cord is cut, can simulate adult sexuality when not enough time is given for the body to discover its organic pulsation and desire. 

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How eye-to-eye contact associated with deep pleasure and intimacy, as the body is nourished by the Mother’s milk and gaze, awakens the brain + heart connection.

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How our earliest genital contact outside the womb via diaper-changing plants seeds for our relationship with our genitalia.  

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How shock waves through the entire system can arrest the pleasure pulsation when our care-givers respond punishingly towards our self-pleasure, and how to restore the body’s natural pulsation.

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How couples can recognize, identify & support their partners to develop underdeveloped receptor pathways.  

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How these developmental influences affect our adult intimacy dynamics and how this plays out in our attachment styles.

Rahi: Welcome to organic sexuality, where we explore the restoration of pleasure, the reclamation of sexual sovereignty and the realization of our embodied sexual nature. An invitation to honor the pleasures of your body - by embodying the pleasures of your nature. I'm your host, Rahi Chun. I'm a certified somatic sex educator, sexological body worker, and creator of Somatic Sexual Wholeness. In this first episode, we explore the Arcline of Touch with Dr. Aline LaPierre. How do the initial touch imprints of our first breath, breastfeeding, diaper-changing, self-pleasuring, and adolescent sexuality blossoming, all influence our later adult sexual and intimacy patterns -with ourself and with others. At the end of the episode, Dr. LaPierre leads us through a somatic exercise for reintegrating disconnected parts of our embodiment. Enjoy.

Rahi: Today, I am really, really thrilled and honored to invite Dr. Aline LaPierre to the podcast. There are so many things I can share about Aline, but, on the kind of professional level, she is the director and founder of the Neuroaffective Touch Institute - where she teaches internationally a somatic modality that she developed called Neuroaffective Touch. She's also the co-author of "Healing Developmental Trauma" - and I feel like neuroaffective touch is like a culmination of so many decades of your experiences - certainly as a practitioner, as a senior teacher in the somatic arts, and Aline, I feel like it goes all the way back to - I feel like you're a movement artist and a visual artist and, really a listener for how life force wants to emerge. And I feel like all of that is really expressed in neuroaffective touch.

Rahi: Um, so a little background, about Aline is she was an artist in Europe and it's what brought her to Los Angeles. And then she became really involved in Continuum, which is a practice that invites a listening for how the authentic body wants to move and express itself. And I love that you were so body - just so attuned with your body, and then complemented that with your studies at Pacifica. It's a thrill to have you here. Aline, there's so much we can cover, but, having taken the neuroaffective touch training and, you know, I loved how clearly I came to understand the developmental journey of one's nervous system and sense of safety and embodiment and all of what that offers. I would love to start off by asking you if you can share the Arcline of our developmental journey as embodied beings and as embodied sexual beings - and how that develops from really - , from the very beginning.

Aline: Right, - from the very beginning. And this is the piece that I think is so important for us to understand. You know, when psychotherapy, when psychoanalysis started, Freud was talking about the sexuality of children, and of course it created this uproar and this, this absolute sort of black mark on psychoanalysis, but actually, from the body's perspective, there's something really important that happens in that, from the moment we're conceived, the body develops through pleasure, in other words, through feeling safe. And there's a really deep link between feeling safe and the body being able to go into an expansive state - that actually is very important when we come later on to our mature sexuality, because sexuality is about sensation in expansion in the body.

Rahi: Hmm. Yes. It reminds me of the organic pulsation of the protoplasm - from our training, that we are really, organically expanding. We're pulsing - our organic pulsation. And that happens from our, from when we're in the womb. And the pleasure you speak of it reminds me of images and articles I've read about - you can see a fetus holding onto its genitalia often, and that pleasure and the womb I'm just imagining it must be.. so, you know, orgasmic, not in a sexual sense, but in a life force, joy, and safety sense,

Aline: Right. In a full breath sense. So here's the thing - touch is really important in sexuality. You know, we make connection very much through touch and touch develops - is the first sense that develops in the womb at week six of gestation. So from - and it's called, of course, the mother of the senses, because it is the first sense to develop. So it goes really deep to the root of our nervous system, how we're touched. And of course in the womb, we're floating in the amniotic fluid and the skin, there's some little cilia all over the skin that stimulates the skin. And so then from the beginning, this sense of being connected through touch is really important.

Rahi: Yes. And I remember, in our neuroeffective touch training, how the image of the way the fetus is usually positioned in the womb - with its entire backside against the belly of the mother - just feeling that connection through those touch senses.

Aline: Right. Right. And, you know, like with a partner, how wonderful it is to spoon - which is basically recreating that full contact of the spine, and the back to the belly of our partner, and how soothing that is to the nervous system, and how it does communicate a sense of being loved, accepted - a sense of being safe, of being enveloped, that really allows the whole body to relax and open to the connection with the other.

Rahi: Yes, yes. And, you know, I'm imagining in the womb when our senses are so alive and pure, even the reverberation of the mother's heartbeat and the breathing and the sound of her voice, the way it's vibrating against our touch senses is a form of touch in and of itself.

Aline: It definitely is. Absolutely. And also this sense of floating, you know, we're in a liquid medium, the amniotic fluid. So we are floating as well as being touched. And that feeling of floating of becoming really light and outside of gravity is also very core to that sense of wellbeing and that sense of deep, deep connection.

Rahi: Yes. Yes. I don't want to go on too many tangents here, but it reminds me of a Watsu sessions that I received at Harbin where they warm the temperature of the pool to your body temperature and you are floating. And it does. I mean, it's astounding, what memories and what kind of lucid uh, dream space that can elicit. Um, so coming back to the arc, so from the womb, then there's the birth of the fetus of the infant.

Aline: Right. And so at birth, there's the compression - and we're talking about a healthy birth here. We're not talking about all of the things that can go awry, but - and that could be a different conversation, but it's nice for us to set the arc of what happens when everything develops as it should. So then through the birth, as we, as the baby goes through the birth canal, there's a compression that happens. And that compression sends a signal into the body - to awaken in a different way. It prepares us to be in the outside world. So then all of our touch sensors through that compression awaken in a particular way. And I have seen it like in, cesarian births, that there's a certain awakening of the skin that needs to happen, that that might not happen through a cesarian birth. So, then our skin is then ready and as the baby then, um, comes into the world, and is put on the mother's belly, then the relationship of the body is different because it's no longer being floating in an amniotic fluid. It's now coming skin to skin - and the skin has been awakened. And so the communication skin to skin begins.

Rahi: Wow. Yes. so the awakening that, that birthing through the vaginal canal, that compression of the skin, it is like waking up - or engaging those touch receptors in such a dynamic way that it wasn't used to, but it actually prepares it for the kind of bonding and connection it can then experience as, being out of the womb. And so once the infant is placed on the chest, then it, I mean, I've read incredible. I mean, I've seen incredible. It's just so intuitive how the baby knows where to go - in finding the mother's nipple.

Aline: Right. Right. And, and here's the piece about giving time, you know, because as the baby lands on the mother's belly, the cord will just slowly, you know, the baby has to learn to breathe in the real world and not get its oxygen from the umbilical cord. So then that takes time. The body needs time to acclimate. And that feeling of I have enough time to find my way, you know, is really important. Because when the cut, when the cord is cut too early, there's this sense of - I have to hurry up. I don't have enough time. And when the transfer of the breath hasn't fully completed out of the cord into the lungs, there remains in the body an activation in the nervous system of never even - never being able to fully drop in because there's not going to be enough time. And that sense of timing, is really important in sexuality. You know, that to give the body time, to find its way into a full breath, into a pulsation.

Rahi: Hmm. Yeah. I feel like it speaks to whether an introduction into life - is whether there's space to allow the organic expression to unfold, or whether there's an outer agenda imposed onto that organic expression. And that, that in and of itself occurs in sexuality all the time. Is there the space for the organic life force to feel itself, to feel its authentic movement and initiation, or is there an outer agenda

Aline: That's beautifully said Rahi. Yes, absolutely. You know, and so you can see that as we look at those early experiences that imprint the foundation of, of life force of what life can be like on the planet, right there at the very foundation of our nervous system. And from there everything builds.....if the cord is cut, the baby doesn't even flinch. There's like, it's, it's done. You know, and then after a little while, this is the most amazing thing for anyone who's observed, you know, a natural birth, you see the lips begin to have this little movement, like a little, just a little sucky and it happens spontaneously. And that, as that happens in the baby, in other words, now that that sucking movement begins to awaken, then the baby begins to find its way and look for the nipple.

Aline: And so then there's a desire that awakens - in the lips for connection for the nipple. And that begins to awaken the whole lip area, the mouth, and actually the digestive system and bring pleasure - because as the baby finds the way to the nipple connects to the nipple and begins that sucking motion, the body, the body feels pleasure. It's pleasureful because that's, what's supposed to happen. And so it awakens the mouth and you can see how that later leads on to a pleasure at stimulating lips with kissing, with having that play around the mouth.

Rahi: Yes, yes and at that, at that stage of an infant's development, it's a whole body pleasure. It is instigated by this, the nerve endings and the lips and the mouth, but, I'm imagining the whole body is ecstatic and being satisfied.

Aline: Right. And where it leads to then is that as the baby's suckles, the warm milk comes in and awakens the whole digestive track. So it awakens that the belly, the stomach, that whole wellbeing, that can then happen in the gut, which is actually the first station of the vagal system. If we go deeper into the nervous system, and we talk a lot about the vagal system, it begins an awakening of the dorsal vagal, in the gut area and in the gut area and all the way down into the pelvic floor, because that sucking motion has a resonance in the pelvic floor in all of the diaphragms of the body.

Rahi: Yes. Yes. I was speaking to a colleague who really focuses on the throat/pelvic connection and how they're really interconnected and it starts from that very beginning.

Aline: Right. Right.

Rahi: So then, Aline, continuing on the, or on, on a healthy developmental arc, with an infants touch receptors, you know, in the chapter that you shared with me touch and sexual healing, I really loved some of the somatic exercises where in order to restore touch receptors that may have not developed organically, you are inviting that unconditional presence and attention, the intention and the focused attention. Um, these are, these are what nourishes - it's like watering the plant of the touch receptors in an infant.

Aline: Yes, yes. Right. Yes.

Rahi: And so in an infancy, the role that, that kind of touch and a variety and diversity of touch for the infant to, start identifying it's felt sense as it's felt self, as you share in the chapter, really speaks to so much of not only our embodiment, but our intuition identifying our body's likes and dislikes. It's really creating that language of touch, the touch literacy that you speak of.

Aline: Right. Right. You know, when I work with couples and sometimes, you know, they'll come in going well, you know, we're, we don't seem to be well-matched sexually. One of the first questions I ask is - do you like how your partner touches you? And usually there's sort of a silence and a bit of embarrassment, and both parties will say, no, you know, it's too, it's too much. It's not enough. It's too fast. It's too slow. There's not attention. There's like a lot of issues that come up around how we're touched. And the fact is that we have so many different sensors in our skin. Some are surface sensors, some response to deep sensors, some response to fast touch. Other sensors, like slow touch. And all of us have our preferences in terms of which touch receptors we like to stimulated. And so it's important to know how our partner needs to be touched in terms of what receptors are responsive or what receptors that person prefers to have stimulated. And very often couples don't know that there's so much exploration there - in terms of feeling met, in terms of feeling loved, attuned to, and aroused.

Rahi: Yeah. We're so we're moving into the restoration now, which is perfect. Um, you know, the somatic exercises that you offer in the chapter are really about it's, it's kind of, I mean, kind of, it's kind of like inviting couples or individuals to develop their inventory of what touches their body likes, doesn't like, responds to, maybe wants to explore. And it still surprises me how for a lot of them, it's the first time they've kind of explored a touch inventory of themselves. And so I can imagine with couples how that can be just revelatory.

Aline: Yes. So to come back to that developmental arc, there's a really important piece that we didn't go to, which is the eyes, which is the gaze - which is so powerful. And so then as the baby settles to suckle, the mother holds the baby, and then they engage in the eye to eye contact. And so then this eye to eye contact now is connected to these, this deep pleasure

Aline: Of warm milk going into the gut, the feeling held, the stimulation of the skin having been awakened. And now they look at each other and the baby starts to see the mother's love - that little Glint in her eye. And that awakens, I think, goes into, you know, the, the vision centers in the back of the brain that starts to awaken the whole brain and heart connection so that the brain then becomes involved in that sense of allowing pleasure through contact.

Rahi: It's profound to me how the infant is experiencing the soothing warmth of the breast milk and the aliveness of the whole body with the bonding of the eyes of the mother. And, you know, you started to speak about when that Glint may not be there, or when the feeding experience is combined with, you know, a preoccupied, mother figure, or maybe a disconnected or disembodied who is not so present. Um, you know, I wondered Aline - because there's another experience that can mirror a lot of people's adult sexual experiences, where the body is actually being stimulated with sensation, yet it is not met with an emotional receptivity or availability, you know, with the presence of the eyes and the presence of the body. And then, you know, of course, I wonder whether that wiring may also, associate the infant's up-regulated nervous system with pleasure, rather than a relaxed receptivity with pleasure, which can also mirror a lot of, our adult experiences as well.

Aline: Right. Right. Are you saying that we can have a physical stimulation, but it isn't accompanied in parallel with an emotional response?

Rahi: Yes, yes. Yes.

Aline: And, and, you know, the emotional response really happens very much in our organs. It's like our organs are the generator of the emotional response, which is the interoceptive sense of touch. And then the sensation is very much associated with the exteroreceptors, which are the receptors in the skin. And so we have, we have actually - we have three touch systems in the body, right. We have the exteroceptive - which is the, all of the receptors in the skin, the pressure, the warmth, the cold, all of that, that happens in the skin. Then we have receptors in our joints - that when those are stimulated, we get a sense of movement. And that's really important as well. And then we have what is called the interoceptive sensors, which are the sensors of the vagus nerve, which are the sensors in, in the organs, in the belly, in the heart, through the throat and vocal cords. And then through the face, the eyes, the ears, the sense of smell, the sense of taste, all of that. So these three systems ideally work together for a full experience. And so you could see that when, when some part of it is missing, we kind of try to compensate, you know, because the body feels it - there's a missing part. So how do we fill in, how do we compensate for those missing parts? And oftentimes we will put extra focus on a particular aspect, whether it's, it's, it's a sound, whether it's some more friction sensation, something to make up for the missing parts.

Rahi: So what I'm hearing is that when there is an absence of the emotional connection, which is the, interoceptive a lot of times that can result in the body kind of amping up the exteroceptive or whatever it is available. . Yeah. You know, it's really profound to recognize how, you know, when there is an alignment of those three receptors, there is a sense of wholeness and alignment and rightness. And when there isn't, how there is that disconnect with the inner, the inner sense, despite what's happening on the outer.

Aline: Right, right, right. And you will have some people, some individuals, who need to come into connection through the emotional, because the sensory is a little bit dulled or was never....um, and so then if they're with a partner who has an opposite where they need the sensory stimulation before they can activate the emotional, you have different mismatches or different needs, and those needs need to be recognized for people to really come together.

Rahi: Yes. And yes, so that it's not necessarily a mismatch of souls, - but a mismatch of receptors.

Aline: Well, yes. Yes. That's a good way of saying it. Yes. Yeah.

Rahi: And identifying, I mean, as you say, the assessment and the identification of that mismatch, can lead to, both people consciously realigning, and making sure that both receptor sets are really being addressed and met.

Aline: Right. Yeah, exactly. And so it's, you know, it's wonderful work for couples to do that, those types of healing parts together, you know, to recognize them, to identify them and for a partner to be interested in helping their loved other, to really develop those missing pieces. Because in terms of restoration, although the main window of development happens early on, we're still, we know now very plastic, and so we can heal and we can reopen those pathways

Rahi: And what a - exquisite opportunity of intimacy for beloveds and couples to revisit these wounds that the partner may just be discovering or realizing for the first time themselves.

Aline: Right. Right. Yeah. And usually when a partner is willing to do that, you know, there's a sense of gratitude that awakens in the person - like you really care about me. You really are willing to be with me where I need to be met and the, but not only is there an emotional, - wow, you really see me and you see what I need, but the body itself - down to the cellular level feels gratitude.

Rahi: Um, yeah. Gratitude. And I'm guessing also a deeper, it's almost like a window towards a deeper felt self for the receiver, and that trust will deepen the intimacy within the relationship. Um, yeah, that's really, really profound... To continue with the arc.

Aline: Um, yes.

Rahi: So you know we get to this really critical and interesting, touch experience of genital contact outside the womb - with diaper changes and, you know, eventually potty training. Right. And I feel like it's a rich, rich area and experience of whether, - of really kind of planting seeds for the infant's relationship with their genitalia.

Aline: Absolutely. Absolutely so much happens there. Yeah.

Rahi: Um, I think this happened during the, - Aline, do you remember at the, infant therapy training with Charlotte Grome. Yes. There was a video shown of a diaper changing - in a way that was not shaming, that was participatory, that was both present and really playful,

Aline: Right. Yes. Yes. And I mean, what can we say about it? You know, again, what's so important in any exchange with the parent, with the caregiver, is this feeling that the infant can trust that no pain will come, you know, or that the body - that's actually very much on their body level at that point, that the body feels cared for, that the eye contact is maintained like in that exchange. And if I remember, well in that exchange, the mother, or whoever is the caregiver, always talks to the baby, like - this is what we're doing, this is why we're doing it. Um, and what was striking about the whole relationship of the adult to the child is that even if the child didn't understand the actual meaning of words, still on some level, the child absolutely knew what was being told.

Aline: So then in terms of this diaper changing, we very rarely talk about it. You know, was it rough? Was the mother disgusted? Was the way that she cleaned the baby because of that disgust of the smell of the poop and all that ?It's like, and did the baby get that message that, you know, my genitals are not clean, they're dirty, I'm displeasing my mother. And then you begin to have all of these subtle patternings that are about distancing from genitals, feeling badly or shamed about, you know, pooping or wetting diapers, and then this sort of retraction and this very subtle constriction that starts to happen in the pelvic floor and in the genitals and genital area - and a splitting off like I'm going to pretend like it doesn't exist because it really displeases my mother or my caregiver.

Rahi: Absolutely. Absolutely, you know, in another interview, one of my guests shared that a Norwegian, a Norwegian study showed that by the time children are, I think, six or seven years old, there's already a fair amount of tension in the pelvic bowl. And, you know, I just have to wonder - the effect of that, it's exactly to what you're saying, you know, is it inconvenient - Does it seem inconvenient to the parent? Is it, are they, are they irritated to be able to have to do this again? Uh, you know, and I feel like, you know, when we're children, there's all this, you know, on the playground, there is a shaming of each other when it comes to peeing and pooping. And where is that learned? How is that learned?

Aline: Right. Yes, yes. For sure. Or is a child left in a wet, dirty diaper too long. So that, again, that retraction, yes. Where is it learned? And, you know, so many parents were themselves shamed or not cared for, so it is passed down through the generations.

Rahi: Absolutely. And this brings up like another fascinating topic for me. I mean, I, the degree to which our adult, unrecognized or unaddressed sexual issues get passed down - with the interaction of the child or the infant's genitalia through, through whether it's through potty training, or changing diapers, whether there's an aversion, whether there's a discomfort, a kind of contraction within the parent - that the child probably feels when, when those diapers, or when there's potty training or when there's contact with that part of the body,

Aline: Right. The pulling away, you know, when you said the word discomfort, you did this naturally, this pulling away, and we're talking about this, pulling away this dissociation from the area, so that it becomes, like you say, shameful or numb, or somehow there's a message that says that allowing consciousness to be fully present in the genitalia is going to be a source of pain and a source of rejection.

Rahi: Yes. I think that's like really powerful.

Aline: Yeah. That, that we, you, when we experienced some form of rejection early on for the bodily functions of the pelvic bowl, genitalia, excretion - that it's very hard to find one's way back. And particularly that there's no real attention given to healing that, you know, as practitioners, well, of course you, you really are in a field where you can start bringing healing to coming back into the pelvic bowl, the genitalia, all of that. But there have been - there haven't been, you know, ways of doing that. The only, like in my own training, which was years ago, like in deep tissue, you know, you, you would, you would go into the area, but it was always in terms of musculature, of allowing the connective tissue to, to release. It was never this subtle relational, emotional connection that was encouraged to come back. And I think that's what you're doing is this, like, how do we bring back this loving, caring, relational approach into the lower body, into the genitalia, into the pelvic floor?

Rahi: Well, honestly, Aline, I feel like, you know, neuroeffective touch does this brilliantly - in creating that dialogue between mind and body and inviting a listening for the body to tell its story, oftentimes, you know, stories that have been buried and this in the cellular tissues for decades, you know, I sometimes refer to the work I do as neuroaffective touch for the genitalia. Because it's the same principle. It is the same principle - like all the tissues and musculature of our body holds stories. And they, in order to re-establish that intimate relational dynamic between body and body owner, those stories, the trauma, especially the disconnect - needs the reparation and, you know, the genitalia deserves it as much as any other part of the body.

Aline: Oh, for sure. You know, for some reason this hierarchy has been created, you know where brain is at the top of the hierarchy and genitalia is sort of, I don't know, it's sort of,

Rahi: Kind of like absent or ignored

Aline: Worse. It's like, it's a bad, it's dirty, it's shameful. It's, you know, it's sort of been sent to hell in a way, and that needs to change because really, as far as the body is concerned, there is no hierarchy, any place where the body breaks down affects the whole body, no matter what, - what cell, what organ, what system there is no hierarchy in the health of the body.

Rahi: Yes, yes.... you know, - so, trigger warning because, when it comes to that kind of disconnect, I really wonder the effect of circumcision on young boys, because here, I mean, sometimes straight out of the womb, straight out of this incredible communion, an area of the body that's innervated in a particular way -so there's so much sensation and it's introduced with, you know, to this incredible pain and mutilation...

Aline: Oh, it is a mutilation - it's barbaric for sure. It is barbaric without anesthetics, you know,

Rahi: And I think there's been enough studies now to show that there is no medical advantage to being circumcised. I think that's finally come out now. I really wonder what that does to an infant's relationship with that intimate part of their body - and you know, kind of on another level, whether there is a sense of distrust or feelings of betrayal to the caretakers to allow this kind of experience to take place, or if the infant is too young to really register that

Aline: You're never too young to register. And, you know, that's the important thing to remember is that even if the cortex is not yet online, the body is, every cell is, and it is, it's a horrendous betrayal and it's not just, you know, we're not talking very much about energy right now. We've been talking about the physical, but it's a breach in the energetic field. And so I don't even sometimes, I don't even know how to talk about the energetic field without sounding, you know, way out there. But, ultimately that there's a pulse and there's an electromagnetic field in the body that can be measured. And when there's a breach in that field, something that there's a vulnerability that remains, it's almost like the field is a protective field and when you betray or when there's a breach, it remains open.

Aline: And so we have particular vulnerabilities as a result of these betrayals. It's also my sense, you know, I talk a lot about the shock to the heart, that any time there's a relational betrayal, which this is because that baby was not, did not give permission for this to happen. You know, anytime you even on a cellular level, even without saying yes, you know, that lack of permission comes in as a shock to the heart. Like what, like on the heart level, because the heart tracks the caring, loving, respectful, relation, relational aspect of - so when there's a betrayal, it's a shock to the heart. And so not only is there a physical numbing, you know, but there's also already a signal to the heart to not trust, you know, to not trust. And this is where, I forget her name.... Charlotte, this is where Charlotte was so brilliant is that she would talk to the betrayal so that the child, you know, could say, this is why this happened. And so that the child could sort of come back out of that shock of the betrayal - because every betrayal, no matter on what level, physical is... causes a numbing and a shutdown.

Rahi: Yes, I agree that, I mean, that is brilliant. Charlotte's work - Infant Therapy - the acknowledgement and the ownership, you know, it's like the adults are taking ownership and that somehow creates a relief in the psyche of the child.

Aline: For example, for this piece of circumcision, I don't know. I would imagine, like we could say - you know, this happened to you, you know, your, your penis was cut and it was painful. Your parents didn't do it because they didn't love you. They did it because they didn't know any better. And the doctor said that, but, you know, they're very sorry that it hurt you. And so there's an acknowledgement and there's a putting it in the context so that the child can let go of that feeling of betrayal. And you can see when that story is told, you can see the child actually relax and you can see their eyes connect a little bit more. And it's an amazing thing that telling the story, but acknowledging - and particularly this piece of acknowledging, it's not that your parents didn't love you, it's that this was the norm then. And the doctor said that you should, they should do it. And they wanted the best for you, but without knowing it, they hurt you.

Rahi: Yeah. I'm just feeling how that, how restorative that is to the heart contraction, you know, that you alluded to earlier, how there, the shock is not only to the nerve physical sense, but really the heart contraction and sense of trust and how that can really relax that heart protection and guarding.

Aline: Right, right. And you'll notice even as you feel that the heart starts to let go, there's a shift in the breath and the breath can come in a little more deeply and sort of come back into the diaphragm, back into the belly. And as the diaphragm relaxes, as a result, the pelvic floor will follow because the respiratory diaphragm and the pelvic floor, all, you know, there are a number of diaphragms, they sort of start to move together again, which then will shift how we can reconnect with genitalia,

Rahi: You know, Aline - I've imagined like how intimate and restorative this could be for couples, for the partner to hold space for the adult man. I've been to tantra workshops where the men will separate and the women will separate, and we will re-exam, we will go through, you know, - they will simulate a circumcision kind of ritual, but the response to it will be different to reimprint a new story, but to do that where your beloved or your wife or your girlfriend is there to really be supportive to the post circumcision experience with an intentional touch with their presence, I think can be - could be remarkably healing.

Aline: It's true. And that's where couples can do healing that no practitioner ever can do because of the love, because of the connection, because of the involvement of the heart. So to do that - that healing with an intentional touch, a very gentle holding touch, helps reestablish that fullness of the energetic field, and then moves back through all the way into the tissues.

Rahi: Yes. so I want to continue on the arcline again, because I feel like in infancy,, we get to a place where, you know, children discover how good self-pleasuring is. And, just so innocently and so beautifully. And the, I mean, in my intakes, I always, it's so many stories of people being caught and the response of being caught by a parent, it can range from like - I've heard of a parent like excusing themselves, you know, just to give the child some privacy and, you know, in a way really honoring that relationship with the body, obviously all the way over to not only shaming, but punishment and fear of damnation and going to hell and all of that, and the incredible imprint that, that has - stemming from just an innocent exploration of one's body and what feels good.

Aline: Right, right. Yeah. And particularly, I think there's a period, you know, between three, four years old, five years old, where sexuality awakens and then it goes dormant again until puberty. So I think you're probably, I don't know if you're talking about that period where it just awakens in the body and the child is receiving these amazing sensations. Right. And the body is learning to open and to move in a pulsation to allow the sensations to move through the whole body. And so again, when a parent either discovers or shames the child, it, it sends a shock this time through the whole system.

Aline: And we know that - what shock does, is that it arrests that natural pulsation in a freeze response, you know, in this case, it's not about fight or flight, but it creates a freeze right there in that pleasure pulsation. And then it becomes later on that since this doesn't get addressed, that freeze in the pleasure pulsation leaves the person who is wanting to be sexual, having to somehow always find a way through the freeze back to sensation. And then it's not that natural, organic pulsation, but it's a way of how do I get back into myself?

Rahi: Yeah, yeah, so that freeze response creates blocks both physiologically and emotionally, psychologically. So when we do get to the prepubescent and puberty stage, I feel like it's another really ripe stage in our development because here where, you know, our bodies are changing, our attractions to the, our classmates are changing. And I think something that's not talked about so much is how our parents' behavior towards our sexuality changing can be either celebrated - given space for, or be met with such discomfort, and a lot of times, like - I've had clients who, whose bodies develop, you know, early at 11 or 12 and their fathers don't know how to respond to their little girl or interact with them based on their, based on their own discomfort or unmet sexual needs.

Aline: Right. Yes. And you know, on this arc now, we're really following the arc of what happens inside a person's body. We haven't talked about what happens when there's abuse or sexual abuse and all of that. That's a whole other huge subject, but still has an impact, but it's true that even for girls, it's like when the menstrual periods start, you know, it's like that shift in the body. And again, it's like how a girl is introduced or ready or not ready for that. It's like so much then gets programmed there as well, but you were talking about how a father may retract from intimacy from being just open and spontaneous with his daughter and when she becomes sexual. And of course, you know, that is often taken by the young girl as a rejection of her femininity and of her sexuality.

Rahi: Yes, yes. And that can be, yeah, so internalized and confusing, when there isn't an open conversation or way to address what's actually happening in the dynamic

Aline: Or a father may go the other way and really, you know, make inappropriate comments or even inappropriate touch. And, you know, so again, it's like, do I - for the young is like, do I show myself as I am? Do I hold back? Do I retreat out of my feminine? Do I feel shame for my breasts? Do I start to sort of curl my body into, to hide my body's sort of flowering in a way.

Rahi: Yeah. I'm really struck, I have a niece who's a teenager now. And I'm struck by what you shared of that. You know, when a society does - places values on the external looks and appearance on women in a way that women are - feel a pressure to lead with that - and objectified. Yeah. The confusion, especially in our teen years, as to where is my value, what is my value? What am I being valued for? Um, yes. yeah, so I'm struck once again by the profoundness of that, because Aline, I got to say, you know, so many of the stories I hear when I do an intake, the teenage years are always - they often involve alcohol and peer pressure and unfortunately a breach of boundaries, because as you say, you know, no one teaches one how to identify what their boundaries are, much less advocate and voice them.

Aline: Right. Right. And, you know, so few of us learn how to be truly embodied in a way that really helps us develop a solid identity. You know, and teens are - at the teen years really ring in the sense of who am I and how do I fit into my peer group? And it's like developing our social capacity. It's a second birth of sort. It's like first we, we are born, you know, in our physical self, in our family. And then we have to be born socially. And so whatever happened in the early years, will be repeated in some way in our social birth. And that's why so often times teenage years can be so confusing or painful, or there's a lot of shame or it's like making one's place in a peer group, but with the missing pieces of whatever traumas happened earlier, it's very complex, particularly for teen has no support and no help.

Rahi: Yeah. I was going to say for those of us who lacked that secure presence of our caregivers and the developmental years, those, it is a rebirth, it is a, a rebirthing - but it can easily turn into the primary, kind of - sources of attachment for our identity. And, at that age, it's - we become very susceptible to the peer pressure because that becomes our primary family.

Aline: Exactly, exactly. Right. Right. And you know, a lot, and this is where, somatic work and body psychotherapy can be really helpful to a team to help them find, reconnect or connect with their bodies in a way that they maybe were not able to as, as children, but really it's not a field that's very developed yet. And so we, we taught, we have the teams talk about - we do very mental very well, but the teaching of how are you embodied, and how have your developmental years brought to who you are today, so that you can develop a healthy identity and choose your partners wisely?

Rahi: Yes. Yes. So here, we're talking about the real need for the restoration and reclamation of one's body's felt sense and felt self. And, you know, again, I want to refer to the somatic exercises in the chapter that you sent me. I felt like, I mean, there was such a beautiful sequencing of, and I find that, so many of my clients have never done this, essentially take an inventory of their felt sense of their body. It's like a body mapping of understanding what parts of your body feel good with what kind of stimulation, and how to give voice to that.. Um, yeah, in our teenage years, if that was part - if our sex education involved waking up those touch receptors as a way of connecting with intimacy as a prelude to sexuality, right. It would go a long way

Aline: As a preparation, right. Because that is, it's like all of these years of development are really preparing our bodies to come to this place where sexuality opens and where we're available for this beautiful connection that is intimacy and sexuality.

Rahi: Yeah. Um, yeah.

Aline: So I imagine that's a lot of the work that you do Rahi is helping people through these stages and helping them reconnect in a way where they can become available to themselves and to their partner.

Rahi: Yes. Yes. And that is why approaching the repairing of the ruptures sequentially, I find to be very, very valuable - going all the way back to, you know - some of my first questions are, what were the circumstances under which you were conceived because we know that's where it starts. Um, you know, if not before that, but to address those ruptures sequentially within the nervous system. And this is where, this is why I call it, neuroeffective touch of the pelvis or the genitalia, because it really does.... It's the repairing the journey of the, of how the nervous system develops organically - repairing those ruptures is very akin to... or is very instructive, I should say, of how to repair the ruptures of one's sexual embodiment and relationship with their own sexuality because they build on each other.

Rahi: Yeah. And then we get into, I mean, after the adolescent stage, when we start dating and getting into sexual relationships, I feel like, once again, if a lot of those ruptures are not addressed, we bring those patterns into our sexual dynamic and oftentimes, it's what's assumed as the norm. And you know, of course we magnetize - kind of the energy container that can handle where we're at. Um, and then patterns develop within relationships. And, as you mentioned, when there's a mismatch between the receptor sets of our, of our body, or a misalignment of our needs and our kind of love languages that developed, it can become a relationship of avoidance of that sexual intimacy. Yeah.

Aline: Right. Then we come into this whole field of attachment styles and, you know, some people want like a very symbiotic connection energetically and others are very avoidant. They still want... So these attachment styles, which are connected to that early development start to play out in what we look for in our sexual exchanges.

Rahi: Hmm. Yeah. And just to kind of like finish up the arc, Aline, something I want to underscore is, you know, I, I see a lot of people go through hormonal changes, you know, peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopausal, and, as well as men with their testosterone and, the body is still - touch is so important at any age. And always, always, always, I mean, that is our language. I mean, as you know, we kind of illustrated from our gestation period on. It's the body's language - It is the body's language. Yes. And just to, just to encourage a continual exploration, because as our bodies change, there's always kind of new terrains to explore in regards to intimacy through touch

Aline: Right. Right. And whatever happens, you know, in terms of this arc, it's like, whatever happens in... To our genitalia, it's also important to remember that orgasms are not just the domain of genitalia. It's like, we each, each organ, each part of the body is capable of its own orgasmic experience. And, you know, and that's sort of, I don't know if that completes the arc, but it's important to remember, particularly as we get older, to cultivate that capacity for the body to open up, because really an orgasm, is an opening and a sharing and a release of deep energy that, as we continue to develop, like part of what happens in older age is that if that is happening, then the body, you know, the focus is less on genitalia as a whole, as, rather than a whole body experience. Not that genitalia are not having their part of the orgasm, but there's a cultivation of this orgasmic pulsation through all of the organs in the whole body.

Rahi: Yeah. I feel like this gets back to the interoceptive and the exteroceptive receptors. Um, and it's almost like, yeah, as infants, I think we are, we're extremely

Rahi: Whole body orgasmic, not sexually, but in the joy and energy that we feel, and that this can be the case at any age, when, again, that focused attention and intention, and that unconditional presence is brought to the exquisite touch,

Aline: All the parts of the body. So to come back, it's like when all the parts are touched, they either, and, you know, continue that whole body orgasm kind of feeling, or we have to cultivate that so that our bodies remain alive. And I see it very much, as we get older and you can see it in older people, it's almost like their color changes. The body becomes kind of grayish, which is really a signal that, that pulsation, that orgasmic capacity, that life force is pulling out - has not been encouraged to really move through the whole body. And we call it, we call that aging, but I don't think it needs to be that way.

Rahi: Yes, yes, absolutely - so really an encouragement to speak our - to keep our primary language of touch front and center. Right - in our self touch, as well as our partner and community touch. Um, yeah, really beautiful. Aline, before we wrap up, there are five or six somatic exercises in that chapter - is that chapter available to the public?

Aline: Yes, of course. I'd love to make it available,

Rahi: Because they're so simple, but they're so profound. And I find that in the restoration and reclamation of sexual wellness, arousal, our natural stimulation responses -it calls for those kinds of guided practices to restore and awaken, yeah, those responses. But for our listeners who are listening and not going to the website, is there a somatic contemplation, or a somatic practice that you feel could really - nourish their sexual embodiment

Aline: As you sit and breathe, you notice a place where you are breathing. Like, if I breathe, I can feel, okay. My belly rises and falls. So I would put one hand on the place where I do feel my breath. And then as I take a few more breaths and notice that aspect itself, is there a place in my body where I don't feel I'm and I could feel it, like let's say here in my shoulder. So then I keep one hand on the area where I am breathing and one area where I'm not feeling that I'm breathing. And then I, I connect both and just breathe. And what happens is that the part that isn't breathing learns from the part that is, and you could do it, you know, from on my heart, I can feel I'm breathing here and I could put an, a hand over my genitals. And so that the, because in terms of restoration the body pulsates and opens with our breath. So we want to bring our breath to every part of the body. So connecting with the part where we feel breath and a part where we don't feel the breath and holding both together, then the part that didn't feel the breath is going to learn. And then there's a sense of - Oh, it opens up, and you can keep doing that through your whole body.

Rahi: Yes, that's wonderful. Aline - thank you. Thank you for who you are, your body of work and for sharing your light, on the planet. And, if people want to find you, they can go to the neuroaffectivetouch.com and currently, neuroeffective touch is being offered, virtually, all over the world. Is that, is that correct?

Aline: Right, right. Yes. And we, we are starting a training and it's mostly for professionals, whether you're a body worker, anyone interested in really bringing more awareness to the body and it's through touch. It's amazing how well the touch can be taught online. And so what I'm doing is we're doing most of the theory and self-practice, and that online, and as soon as it's safe, then we will do in-person touch master classes. But, there's a training starting in January for the U S, there's also one starting for Australia, and there will be an Oslo training for Europe as well. All are on the website is starting, beginning 2021.

Rahi: Wonderful, wonderful. Yeah. Well, great. Thanks for being with us today. Aline, it's great to see you.

Aline: Thank you. It's always such a pleasure to have conversations with you. Rahi.

Rahi: Notice how this exploration with Aline is landing in your body and whether your body may be inviting a deeper exploration of any stories it may be ready and wanting to share with you. In the next episode with Mike Lousada, we explore the safety necessary and the process for repairing ruptures,

Rahi: somatically, and how they're usually at the root of our adult sexual patterns, behaviors, and experiences. If you enjoyed this episode, please do subscribe, share with your tribe, or leave a review. You can also download the free organic sexuality ebook@organicsexualitypodcast.com until next time, take care.

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About the Show

We explore the restoration of pleasure, the reclamation of sexual sovereignty, and the realization of our organic sexual wholeness. We engage with leading somatic therapists, sexologists & sexological bodyworkers, and holistic practitioners worldwide who provide practical wisdom from hands-on experiences of working with clients and their embodied sexuality. We invite a deep listening to the organic nature of the body, its sexual essence, and the bounty of wisdom embodied in its life force.

Rahi Chun
Creator: Somatic Sexual Wholeness

Rahi is fascinated by the intersection of sexuality, psychology, spirituality and their authentic embodiment. Based in Los Angeles, he is an avid traveler and loves exploring cultures, practices of embodiment, and healing modalities around the world.