How to Awaken Our Inner Animal by Restoring our Nervous System with Kimberly Ann Johnson


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I first met Kimberly when she was the co-creator/co-teacher of the magnificent STREAM – Scar Tissue Remediation and Management training.  Her first book, The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality had just been published and between her revolutionary book, the training, and our rich conversations, I was invited to explore new realms of expertise for how to support clients and resolve issues specific to postpartum/post-birth care.  We soon became fast friends, colleagues and collaborators on the path of supporting clients to awaken to the full embodied resource of life force and safety that comes from re-regulating a previously dysregulated nervous system, and awaken to the organic nature of sexual pleasure and power.  Apart from our shared experiences, it’s also been a joy witnessing her beautiful daughter, Cece, evolve from a precocious intelligent girl into a radiant and empowered teen-ager.  


Today’s Guest: 

Kimberly Johnson is a Sexological Bodyworker, Somatic Experiencing practitioner, yoga teacher trainer, postpartum advocate and single mom. She helps women heal from birth injuries, gynecological surgeries and sexual boundary violations. She is the author of the early mothering classic The Fourth Trimester, as well as the upcoming Call of the Wild: How We Heal Trauma, Awaken Our Own Power, and Use It for Good.

We explore: 


“We can talk about healing and we can think about healing, but it’s really the body that has the story to the healing.”


How learning to use her whole body to convey a sense of authority provided a greater sense of safety and mastery in the dynamic with her young daughter. 


How working with a male somatic practitioner invited opportunities for transference to explore ways her embodied prey could feel its resource and ability to respond to predator energy in more expansive ways, as well as re-condition new empowering stories within her body’s memory of engaging with a perceived male threat. 


How teaching Activate Your Inner Jaguar, Kimberly’s signature course of understanding and re- regulating the nervous system, confirmed the collective impact and elevated learnings available when re-regulating as a group. 


How a new world understanding of our nervous system, that is not cerebral but visceral, empowers authentic intimacy for real sexual pleasure and relationships. 


How “fawning” is the nervous system’s survival strategy for getting close to a perpetrator in order to survive a threat and how this plays out in real life situations. 


How the nervous system is the “Motherboard” to all the body’s systems and how re-regulating it, as The Call of the Wild invites, layer by layer, is also a journey for restoring one’s healthy sexual embodiment. 


How waking up to our own power individually is what leads to real collective change within our larger societal power structures.  


How expanding our capacity to receive erotic charge and financial abundance is related to embodying safety with our inner predator energy. 

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 bodyworker and creator of Somatic Sexual Wholeness. In today's podcast, we welcome Kimberly Ann Johnson, whose new book, "The Call of the Wild: How We Heal Trauma, Awaken Our Own Power and Use It For Good invites an experiential embodied exploration of nervous system understanding, intimacy, and re-regulation via the senses through a carefully sequenced series of somatic experiences. We discuss her journey of somatic embodiment and reclamation as a mother, as a teacher of her popular Activate Your Inner Jaguar series and how she rebirthed this as an author into its book form as a vehicle for both nervous system self-regulation and sexual reclamation and empowerment.

Rahi: So today's a special day. I'm very, very excited, thrilled, and happy to be inviting Kimberly Ann Johnson to the podcast. A very dear and special soul - she's been a teacher, a mentor of sorts and a trusted friend in my life's journey. Kimberly's body of work has been informed by a wide range of somatic experiences and modalities and practices - as a dancer, as a yoga teacher, as a birth doula, as a sexological bodyworker, a somatic experiencing practitioner, a structural integration bodyworker. She is mother to the wonderful CeCe, author of The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions and Restoring Your Vitality and the upcoming experiential book, which is really an invitation to inhabit, befriend, and embody your nervous system. And it's called The Call of the Wild: How We Heal Trauma, Awaken Our Own Power and Use It for Good. It's a wonderful guide to restoring, reclaiming and realizing the full freedom of our nervous system and its authentic life force. Kimberly, thank you so much for joining us today.

Kimberly : Thanks so much for having me

Rahi: Such a pleasure. Kimberly, I love the book. I hesitate to call it a book because it really is more of an experiential listening, and I love that it is that. I wanted to start by asking you, you mentioned in the book, your own journey of responding to the call of the wild and inhabiting your inner Jaguar and inner predator. And I wanted to, because it's such a kind of instrumental and pivotal experience that you offer to your audiences, through your Activating the Inner Jaguar course, as well as in the book. And I wanted to start by asking you about your experience. What was that like for you to inhabit and embody your inner Jaguar, your inner animal?

Kimberly : Thanks for asking about my book. This is one of my first podcasts about the book. So it's exciting. And it's also exciting that you felt that you were listening to the book, even though you were reading the book because obviously reading is a Neo frontal cortical activity and it's.... What I teach and how I learn is very much through the body. So it was a big challenge to, you know, figure out how to invite someone into the experience because the entire framework is that we can talk about healing and we can think about healing, but it's really the body that has the story to the healing. So without engaging and perceiving the book through all of our senses, we probably won't get as much out of it as if we're willing to endeavor some of the practices. My own introduction to the Jaguar was that I was having, I thought things were actually pretty okay with my daughter, but I went on a vacation with some friends and four of the adults wanted pizza and my daughter wanted sushi and she somehow convinced all the adults to have what she wanted.

Kimberly : And then my friends told me afterwards, one of them in particular, who I respected a lot, you know, you really you're raising an authoritarian child and if you don't get a handle on it, it's really going to be a disservice to her and it's going to be a disservice to you. And because I'm a single parent and it was mostly just my daughter and I, I really hadn't recognized that pattern cause I'm very flexible in my preferences. So it was easy for me to just go along with what she wanted. And I didn't realize that she was getting dominant. So at the suggestion of that friend and it hurt a lot to hear that feedback, as it usually does to hear feedback about your children. I decided that I should talk to a somatic therapist about it. And when I did, in the process of also, I also was working with a male therapist for the first time I realized that I had worked with for tens of years, like 15 years, I'd only had, I had one creepy male therapist, one time in high school who eventually was actually had his license taken away.

Kimberly : But since that time I'd only worked with women and I realized that there was just something about that. I was like, there was some kind of fear about working with a man. And I knew that I needed that transference to be able to do my next piece of healing. So I brought the feedback from my friends to this practitioner. His name is Do-Do Ezchevez, he lives in Rio. I'm going to have him on my podcast, but he doesn't speak English. So I'm going to have to do a Portuguese episode. It doesn't feel right to have my book come out without presenting him as well as he was such a huge piece of the healing for me. So at the time I explained to him, I'm feeling sorry for myself. I feel like I have to be the unconditional love and the discipline. And it's so hard to be everything and legitimate single mother concerns.

Kimberly : But at that moment, he just looked at me and said in Portugeuse, [inaudible] - you're a Jaguar [inaudible] - I'm from the Amazon. And this is actually true. He was from the Amazon.. kind of strange, first person I ever met from the Amazon, even in Brazil. And he said, look at you, you're golden. And you're spotted, you know, have all these freckles. And the mother Cubs teach the Cubs to hunt. The mothers, teach the Cubs to hunt. It's not the fathers who teach the Cubs to hunt. So go watch some Jaguar films and see how the mothers are handling the Cubs and start to imitate that with your daughter. So at that time, he also reflected back on to me that when I would get angry or I would try to hold a boundary, I would use my eyes a lot.

Kimberly : I would bulge my eyes. I would raise my eyebrows and lean my head forward, but it wasn't having the impact - that like my daughter wasn't paying attention to that level of assertiveness. And so he started to teach me how to use my whole body to convey that sense of authority, which ultimately, you know, my, the idea of being democratic and not wanting to be authoritarian, not really understanding right relationship between the right hierarchy - right? Because we really, I think most of us kind of balk at that as a culture we're in this period of trying to figure out how we want that relationship to be. I was just being much too verbal for a child of her age to understand. And as I started to physically dominate her in play - rough housing and playing different games, she began to feel much safer and listened the first time and, you know, stopped sticking her finger, her hand up my shirt when I didn't want it there and really understanding what the rules were.

Rahi: Yeah. So it sounds like really embodying that authoritarian kind of MamaJaguar energy and physicality gave her a sense of confidence and assuredness - safety and respect. It sounds like. Kimberly in your work with Do-Do,, From what I recall, it sounds like some of that involved, actual physical engagement with him as well, where you got to feel, feel your predatorness rather than being always in the prey.

Kimberly : Well, at first I was in the prey because by default I would go into prey mode. So even the first time I went into his office, even just saying, I didn't even know what I was really saying. I just said, I'm here to work on limits and boundaries with men. I just started crying and didn't stop crying really for the rest of the session, without telling any stories, without explaining any narrative of it. And then slowly he started to stalk me. So at first it was like, can I not freeze? And can I get away? And can I, can I move and dance with that energy. Of course, in a titrated way, but I feel that sometimes in like how I'm seeing trauma work being done now, it's either super cathartic or so, so, so slow that there's not enough happens in a session or too much happens in a session.

Kimberly : Whereas he really wasn't afraid to push me. He chased me around one time with a broomstick - could I get, could I get under it? Could I get around it? You know, of course I knew on a meta level what was happening, but he was big enough and strong enough. And he could occupy that predator well enough that I was - I did feel scared, but I needed that challenge to my system so that I learned to hold my ground. And so that I would stand my ground instead of move away. And then eventually, I don't think with him, I ever did occupy the predator. I did that myself with my daughter and then eventually with my clients, realizing that when I offered them to be the predator, they would automatically become the prey and realizing, Oh, I need to teach women how to be the predator. But of course that's a little different cause it's woman to woman rather than male to female. Right. It's like a different dynamic.

Rahi: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, so it sounds like you arrived wanting to work on your experiences of boundaries with men. And so you chose specifically a male practitioner.

Kimberly : That's right. I felt like I'd come to the end of the road with what I could do with female practitioners viscerally - physically.

Rahi: Yeah. Yeah. So really replacing those old stories with new stories, by working with a male embodiment - a male energy.

Kimberly : Yeah. I never really looked at it like that. So I also picked someone who was very somatically oriented because even within somatic practitioners, there can be people that are more polyvagal, dynamic oriented or people who are more movement oriented. So I chose someone who had a strong movement background and who also could top me, right. Because I'm a practitioner myself. I am, you know, whatever, a super smart person. So it's easy for me. I'm a Wiley client. And I, so I chose somebody who I knew could top me. It's the most powerful work I ever did. I could, I couldn't have done it another way. And I know that because I tried a lot of other ways. I think it's just like if perpetration happens through touch, I think you usually need touch for healing. If perpetration happens with men, I think often you would need healing with men.

Kimberly : It's not, I also always want to make the caveat. It's not that I wasn't having great relationships with men. Even at that moment, I was having great relationships with men. It's just, there was something underneath it that I felt that was still, there was still some kind of fear, insecurity, lack of trust - that I needed to do in that space. And I just had that intuitive knowing, and he's also big, he's a big guy. So I chose someone also in physical stature that was similar to my perpetrators. So it was like, I knew that too, because there were we're human animals. If somebody is actually stronger than you and bigger than you, you, there's a reason to be scared. Sometimes even if they're a decent person, right. You know, you can be overpowered. If you were to get into it, you would lose.

Kimberly : And he also worked with my daughter, actually, she had a challenging relationship with her dad and I felt like it would really help her to have a male practitioner and have her have a male practitioner who was willing to deal with some of her anger and let her have her anger. So he was able to repair and allow her without talking about it because my daughter is also very verbal and has been from a young age. But underneath that, when you're feeling, and she had an incident of bullying where she actually got hit in the face, so he was able to help her really mobilize some of that fury and anger that I don't think would have got - it wouldn't have been gotten to in a different way. So it was a way of positively using transference.

Rahi: So it sounds like for both you and CeCe, it was, feeling the resource within your own nervous systems to respond in situations that maybe in past circumstances you did not, or, or didn't feel like you could respond and the way you did with Do-Do that started expanding your reclamation of your system responses.

Kimberly : Yeah. I think there was a lot of things that got completed that maybe I know what they are. And then there's probably a lot that got completed that I don't even know what they are.

Rahi: So I would love to. Um, so you know, the activate your inner Jaguar course that you've been offering for years now, it's in its eighth iteration. Did you just complete the eighth round? on 10th? That's a lot of people. So I'm really curious how, well, one, I'm curious about the evolution of the courses over 10 rounds, but I'm more curious about like, what has teaching the course taught you ?

Kimberly : Teaching the course has taught me that my impulse to expand the way that I learned trauma healing was right on. I was really afraid to move beyond the one-on-one model with something as delicate as trauma and as delicate as sexual trauma. But as you know, once me too happened, or the second iteration of me too, in 2017 and my wait-list got so big, I just realized like I have to be able, there has to be foundational material here that I could teach many more people at one time, because I would venture to say almost every single person needs help with embodied consent and really understanding where their nervous system is - especially with all the gray area about some of us starting to understand what fawning is, starting to understand,what freeze is, hearing stories about fawning and freezing that's becoming, you know, there's like movies out now, like Bombshell.

Kimberly : That's really all about fawning. Then there's Aziz Ansari - where pretty much the woman was in a freeze state and then he's to blame. And it's like, well, we can't actually, unless all of us have nervous system information, how can we expect someone to read someone else's nervous system disposition and then respond to that? So I had men calling me and I had women calling me saying like, here's what happened? What do you think about this? Was I at fault? And it's like, we are, we're all in this soup that's so much more nuanced than any of the dialogue that I see out there, that we're questioning ourselves. We're questioning how we're doing things. Are we getting what we want? And over the course of teaching this class, I've just seen that. That's like, my hypothesis is true. That really unshaming this information, doing the healing as a group, sometimes is even more impactful than doing one-on-one work.

Kimberly : People learn from hearing other people's stories. They remember little fragments that they didn't remember before, they hear a wording of how someone asserts themselves. And they think, Oh, I could say that. I just didn't know how to say that. And there's all this positive mirroring that goes on in the process of slowly gaining new skills. My course is called Activate Your Inner Jaguar: A Real World Understanding of Your Nervous System and Embodied Consent. It's about sexuality, but it's about sexuality as an extension of how we're managing our life force and our energy. So sometimes at the beginning, people are like, okay, when are we going to like talk about the sex part? But it's like, unless we actually can identify when we are in a freeze and communicate that, we're going to, we're going to continue to have interactions where we have blind spots or we continue dissociating, or we drink more alcohol so that we can just get past the inhibition.

Kimberly : We're going to repeat those things because we don't have, we don't really know where we are and when we don't know where we are, we don't know what belongs to us and what belongs to the other person. So it just ends up being the soupy thing of like, well, yeah, I didn't really want it, but I thought you wanted, no, I didn't want it. I wanted it because you wanted it. Wait, what are we even doing? So I really want as many people as possible because I do believe that a new, a newer world where all voices are respected, depends upon this, that this real world understanding of our nervous system, which is not theoretical, it's visceral - becomes something that we all have language for.

Rahi: Mm mm mm. Yeah. So the benefit of a group dynamic where people can really recognize not only themselves in each other, but learn the differences of how nervous systems can respond and can be embodied, you know, both limitations and freedoms. So it's almost like in the group experience, you're not only learning about your own nervous system, but the range of possibilities of how nervous systems can be inhabited and respond

Kimberly : And people personalize. I mean, as you know, it's like, it's so gratifying when people come out of the spiral of self judgment and self-loathing, and they realize, Oh, this isn't like a personality flaw. This is a physiological response. And when we know it's physiological, it's like, there's not really blaming us. It's just kind of like, Oh, this is what's happening right now. I, sometimes I give sessions during the course and people can watch the sessions. And it's awesome because when you watch a session, you get a lot of your - when one person gets regulated, everyone's getting regulated. Now of course, there is a possibility to get dysregulated too. If you're getting pinged with someone else's information, but hopefully I'm doing a good enough job at the session that that's not happening. But there was one session I gave where the person was just in a very, very deep, freeze state.

Kimberly : And it was taking her minutes to answer my questions. And of course I was waiting and I was checking in with her. And every once in a while, and I was, you know, watching how it was happening and tracking it. But the response after that session was so profound because people just had no idea that the reason that they couldn't have a back and forth conversation or the reason why they had to go away to come back to answer something was because it was a freeze state. And when they watched how I could just give time and space for that, and that I wasn't interested in pushing past it or solving a problem or giving an answer, it really changed how people, because theoretically people know it's different than therapy, but until you really experience, it's sort of hard to understand what goes on in somatic work.

Kimberly : We don't have a, you know, we have TV shows that show therapy and show group therapy, and we have kind of parodies of psychoanalysis in a way. And a lot of people have been in therapy. So they kind of know, but unless you've actually had a somatic session, you kind of are like, okay, body, but what does that mean? So watching that in real time, it just gave so many women permission of like, Oh, that's what's going on. And then if I can give space to it.. I'm always trying to say, you know, I legitimately, I'm not trying to solve anyone's problem. Like I'm not like excavating in there to try to put the pieces together for you. I'm just listening and reflecting back and having a conversation and your body is showing you, and you're putting those pieces together.

Rahi: Something you shared about - how the understanding of the nervous system allows people and their physiological responses or their emotional responses allows us not to take things personally or make it about the personality or the person itself. You share in the book about how understanding the polyvagal theory impacted your - not only work with trauma, but understanding of the nervous system. You know, for me, like once I got, once I understood the polyvagal theory, I just like, couldn't take people's nervous system responses personally, because there was such an understanding as to what's really going on, just because you kind of, it had an impact for you in the book of understanding the full context of really what's going on in a person and how to, you know, pendulate a client back from the red to the blue.

Kimberly : Yeah. So those are kind of two things. The polyvagal note, it changed a lot for me. I studied with Steve Hoskinson of Organic Intelligence. He was my somatic experiencing teacher, and then he went off and formed his own thing. But that was the practical application of polyvagal theory for me, because I realized when I was a body worker and a yoga teacher, really, because there's not a lot of back and forth dialogue as a Rolfer. I was just quiet the whole time I was working. And when clients would talk, I wasn't annoyed by it, but I was sort of just like waiting for them to stop talking, because I felt like when they were talking, they were just distracting themselves from actually sensing what was going on. So there's this real dynamic of I'm the expert. I'm going to do this thing to you.

Kimberly : And then, you know, every once in a while, there would be dialogue that seemed related to the body, but I didn't really know how to guide that dialogue. And I was very comfortable with the silence because I was very comfortable being in a freeze state, and a healthy freeze and an unhealthy freeze - sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. So, you know, I was in a sort of healthy freeze, but I wasn't in a relational space with the client. So when I learned with Steve, how to have, you know, kind of back and forth chit chat and to understand that my preference for deep intensity was actually an activated nervous system state. I was able to really start in a different way with clients. So that by the time we got to whatever the quote unquote problem was, if we did get to it, their system was already way deactivated because they were oriented in this space.

Kimberly : And because we had a rapport and I wasn't coming in as if I'm the expert or as if I were here to just solve the problem and solve the problem now, which is part of the problem itself is thinking we know what the problem is and not being able to zoom out at all from it. So that's how it worked in my practice - one-on-one practice. In the group field, what I recognize and continue to recognize, because we're all impacted by the social nervous system, but some of us are impacted by it much, much more. Women tend to be much more impacted because estrogen is a bonding hormone. So I realized with polyvagal theory that especially women are really prone to what I call like the shadow side or the default mechanisms of the social nervous system. So when the social nervous system feels safe, we feel like we belong.

Kimberly : We feel that we can be well-differentiated. We feel like I can be my like freaky self and I'm not going to be ex-communicated, I'm still going to be a part of my tribe. But on the other side, if we do feel under threat, then we have kind of two choices, and this is not so much straight on polyvagal theory as my take on it, based on all of the people that I've worked with - is that we can either fit in, which means we think fitting in is belonging. So that's where I don't really, I make myself invisible. I make myself small. I don't stand up, stand out in good or bad ways. I camouflage myself. I minimize and that's where we feel like imposter syndrome. Like I just, I don't belong here. Like I don't, everyone else belongs and I don't belong.

Kimberly : And literally, almost every single people in my course, when I interview them, after the course, I don't interview all of them, but some of them, they always say, well, I'm not like the other people in the course, like I'm not a yoga teacher or I'm older than everyone else in the course. And they're usually not right. Um, but they it's just so ingrained that. Like, I must not fit in here. I think just because of where we are culturally, that we've disintegrated. So many of our organizing social systems, further disintegrated by the pandemic, that we just don't even know where we do belong. So there's fitting in and then there's the fawning, which has become more well known, which is I go closer to a threat, I'm nicer to the threat. I'm more polite. It has more to do with power dynamics. If we're talking about race, it would be like code switching and Uncle Tom-ing.

Kimberly : I'm going to make myself more like the person who has power or I'm going to make myself, uh, amenable to this power so that I don't get hurt. And so that's the one that's usually really judged hard because it looks like, well, wait a minute, like you went up to the hotel room and you're the one who you went back to this guy who's been abusing you. And now we know that to be a survival response, which is - if I am the person who has less power or less physical strength, being closer to the threat is less of a threat than having a looming threat out there that might hurt me anytime. So I've really incorporated a lot of those pieces. I have a specific course just called limits and boundaries, which is about differentiation and about how to not fawn and how to not fit in and be able to claim your power and express yourself. And then really just creating a community of belonging where at least in the course, people do feel safe to express themselves in different ways and have different, you know, um, aspects of themselves welcome.

Rahi: Yeah, there's a section in the book specifically, I think called fawning and fitting in or fitting in and fawning that covers that. Kimberly, you know what I love to, I mean, there are many things I loved about the book, you know, because it is an invitation to experience one's own bodies, body and senses experientially. And because you do go kind of layer by layer, preparing the reader's nervous system, it's like, you know, introducing readers to tracking really to befriending our own nervous system responses, to inviting us to pendulate amongst the different channels of how we integrate and absorb information to, you know, to not stay stuck, to start to thaw out our different kind of conditioned and sometimes frozen, like nervous system responses before we even get to an invitation to inhabit the predator space. And again, that's just to inhabit more freedom within our nervous system responses so that we can be authentic in how we relate with others. What was the process like for you to go from teaching the group experience online to transmitting it through the book?

Kimberly : Well, I definitely think I'm a better teacher than a writer. I've heard that even though it seems easier to take a course and make it into a book. A lot of people say that's a very big challenge. I hope that as you mentioned that it's layered, I hope it's interesting enough as it's layered to keep people involved. I think in speaking it's easy because I can use different kinds of examples. Oddly enough, apparently books on sex don't sell well. So my publisher really didn't want to hit hard on the sexual examples. And, as you know, the last chapter of the book chapter nine is called More Freedom In Sex - is kind of the culmination of all of these principles and how they apply in sex. And that could just be its own whole entire book.

Kimberly : The process writing a book is just a really hard thing to do, no matter what, it takes a really long time. You keep thinking that it's over and it's not over, you read your own words and sometimes you think they're magnificent and other times you think they're ridiculous, and I think that all writers have a similar experience. So what I really care about is if you know it, if it gets good reviews, bad reviews, fine. What I really care about is if it helps people and that they can interface with it at the level - you know, I used to really pre pandemic and, you know, as a somatic practitioner who did bodywork and was in yoga studios with lots of bodies. It's very strange for me to all of a sudden start working online. Now, you know, four years, five years into it, it seems a little more normal.

Kimberly : And now, with the pandemic, it's been completely normalized, but it's a little bizarre to do body centered work virtually. But my hope is that some people who take the classes online, they say, I never could have done this in person. I would have been way too embarrassed. I would have been humiliated. I couldn't have shown up for it. So I hope that in the same way that maybe somebody gets the help from the book that they wouldn't get, because they can't even fathom signing up for a course that has the word sexuality in it. They could never tell anyone that they were doing that, or, you know, or even trauma that would be admitting they had trauma and they, they can't admit that, that they could just, it's a beautiful book. The cover is beautiful. Uh, it was, that was important to me. It was important to me that it wouldn't be someone like that. Someone will look at it and not be embarrassed to be reading it on the beach, that they would be like, no, I'm reading this thing and that we could normalize trauma that is just a part of our human experience.

Rahi: The book can be experienced in so many different ways. It could be experienced as you know, a guide to becoming friendly and becoming intimate with one's nervous system. I think it could also be experienced as a guide to reclaiming your sexual health and wholeness because all of the proceeding chapters, when we address reregulating and befriending our nervous system, we're really, you know, as you say, in the, in the book, it's the motherboard or the switchboard to all the other systems. And so, you know, I kind of, I finished chapter nine and I thought, you know, did she kind of laid all the foundation for restoring healthy sexuality in a body. I'm kind of amazed that there's still not such an understanding that the nervous system really is the switchboard, the command center, for how we experienced life itself. And I think in that way, it's just so returning to our primal foundational roots. Does it surprise you that the nervous system isn't as well understood as it should be because it's almost like the filter through which all of us are experiencing life.

Kimberly : Yeah. I mean, I like to say that we're all just big nervous systems interacting with each other, and we think it's like, Oh, I'm Kimberly and I'm a mom. And, you know, I am a dancer and I'm interacting with you Rahi. And, you know, you were an actor, and you're a somatic practitioner and it's like our personalities that are talking to each other, but really, it's our nervous systems that are sending all of these messages to one another and determining a lot of how we react. And if we want to move away from each other, if we want to move towards each other, or if we like or dislike each other, all those things. I guess in my world, I'm sort of in the world where the nervous system is the new black. And I feel like anywhere I turn, all I hear about is the nervous system, but from a mainstream point of view, it doesn't surprise me because of the entire underpinnings of our whole over culture, which is mind over matter.

Kimberly : So if your foundational belief that your religion is predicated on, that the country is predicated on, is that somehow our brain is more reliable than our body because bodies are matter and bodies are earthy and bodies are less pure than spirit and mind, then why would you pay attention to it? Because it's not as important. And so that's a fundamental juxtaposition that I'm trying to call into question in the book is like what if, what if our body does, you know, the neuroscientists -they think you don't do anything without your brain. There's no experience that's not filtered through the brain first, but what if, what if there is, and why, why do we have to be, why do we have to grip so hard onto this idea that it's all about our brain and our thought process - when that's not taking us to good places, not only us as human mammals, which, you know, my focus is on women's health.

Kimberly : So we're talking major reproductive. I mean, fertility now versus 15 years ago is a giant industry. If a species can't reproduce, it dies out. That's what happens. Like we've, we're losing the ability, these innate human abilities. Reproduction, you know, all of the variations of endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, you know, there's just so many things happening in female reproductive anatomy. Then we see what happens postpartum as a result of having no preventative care at all in place. So to me, it's like our bodies are the things that are telling us that the way that we're living is out of balance. And therefore our bodies might have some wisdom to offer us about how to come more into balance.

Rahi: Yeah. And in your work, it's, I love how you do have that bottom up approach, how you're really listening for the signs and the stories that the body wants to tell, rather than letting that, engagement be filtered through what the client thinks that the body wants to tell.

Kimberly : And even what we think sometimes as practitioners, because sometimes there's easy connections to make. Like I tell the story in the book about the girl who got the IUD, and then she started having, she didn't want to have sex anymore after she got the IUD. Well, to me, in my mind, I'm like, well, that's easy. That was probably a traumatic experience. Getting the IUD put in the doctor was probably a jerk. She probably is in pain and her body probably wants to remove the IUD cause I've heard that story a lot of times - bodies trying to expel IUDs because they don't want them in there anymore. But in this case, it was that she had an associative memory of an earlier surgery a knee surgery when she was 13. And it was when she put her hands on her low belly and started to breathe into her womb space, which was at my invitation, that her knee started to go numb and her whole lower leg went numb. And so her body gave us the breadcrumbs on the trail of how to do the repair. If I would have just gone through my mind, I could have given her a visualization about something or, you know, invented something, but it wasn't, this was actually what her body story was that to be attended to and completed.

Rahi: Yeah. So it's like going directly to the source, to the body, which is holding all of those stories and really guiding us as to what the root of the issue is. You know, I thought it was interesting that the first two examples that you share in the book were both situations where the client came in, assuming that it was a sexual trauma issue. And in fact, what the body had to tell was I think in both situations, instances where its own authority was interrupted or denied. Kimberly, I mean, was that very, very common in your years as a hands-on practitioner where clients came in assuming that the issue was sexual trauma or a sexual related issue, and the body, low and behold revealed that it was something completely different.

Kimberly : That's a really interesting point. I never thought about it like that. I really wanted to open the book with a story about either pregnancy or birth, because part of my mission in the book was to feminize the trauma world. In the trauma literature, it's almost all men and most of the examples are fairly extreme in the books if they are about sexual abuse and women has been my perception. So that was sort of the key of that story. I mean, for sure, I wouldn't say that people who know they've had sexual abuse and come in and want to work on that, that it ends up being something else. But there is in the last 20 years, there's been so much visibility brought to sexual abuse and sexual harassment, that there are many women who have symptoms. Let's say they have vaginismus where their vagina is very tight and closed and they don't know why.

Kimberly : And so they're assuming that maybe they were sexually abused, but they don't know. And maybe someone says, Oh, your body's acting like you were sexually abused, or you act like a sexually abused person. That has happened quite a few times, and then it would turn out, Oh, no, they had an abortion. And after the abortion, their body seized up or they had a cesarian, and their vagina seized up and they were confused because they had a cesarian, why would that affect their vagina? I get a little prickly when I hear you say it because I, there was in no way, am I trying to negate the frequency or gravity of women's sexual trauma. I was a little worried actually with the book because originally, I mean, does it, the title is not how we heal sexual trauma. So I didn't say like, I'm in help you heal sexual trauma in the book.

Kimberly : But I was a little concerned that someone who was picking it up for that reason might not have as much as they wanted in the book. However, as I mentioned from the point of view of my editors and wanting to reach large audience, if it was too heavy upfront with sexual abuse stories, people might not even make it farther in because it was - earlier versions of the introduction had more of like my own personal trauma history in it, which I am a sexual assault survivor. And I also had the very tenuous relationship with a guru that crossed a lot of different boundaries. So it actually wasn't that I wanted to reveal less about myself, it was that to walk someone into a process that I felt like was responsible without another practitioner there,... and my other experience though, for sure is that many, many people might have one event or more than one event that they consider to be highly traumatic, but the dynamics and iterations of that happen in many different ways.

Kimberly : And so they will even happen in the present moment. And if we work with it in the present moment, we actually don't have to go back to that earlier moment. So it's kind of a twofold answer. Number one, I hope people don't take that those examples are dismissing, that women have very real sexual trauma experiences and the renegotiation chapters, which are chapters five and six, do invite someone to go into a situation in the present moment where they could do a past repair and the invitation is open enough that they could choose a birth. They could choose a gynecological process. They could choose a miscarriage, they could choose a bad sexual experience or a violation. But the other main thing that I really want out of the book and that I don't know, also if thoroughly came through is that predator and prey are on a spectrum.

Kimberly : So as we were saying that nervous systems relate to each other, that means predator and prey don't exist without each other. So if we are highly wired into prey mode, the predator energy escalates and oftentimes approaches much more. And that doesn't, it's not law of attraction. And it doesn't mean like people deserve it or anything. It's just how it actually works. And we can observe it all the time. And so, I wanted to take this, what I considered to be like a 5% off feminist miss, which is this idea like hashtag believe survivors, which means anytime a woman feels threatened or expresses a grievance that we just hashtag believe it, because I think it, it takes out the relational part of this, which is that most women who are being perpetrated against a lot of times, the person acting out the perpetrator is not trying to perpetrate.

Kimberly : And, you know, in the social justice work, people would say, well, impact is different than intention and all those things. Okay. But if, especially, if we're talking about within relationships or dating, and we're not talking about stranger situations. What happened in the me too movement, - what I saw happen was that everything from being catcalled to having childhood sexual abuse got thrown in the same - and having it in the same bucket, you know, as a practitioner, as you know, we deal with those things very differently. Those dynamics are very different, how we would approach helping someone heal from that would be very different. So I'd never believe in premature forgiveness, which is to me, just a variation on spiritual bypassing. I absolutely believe that women, the whole book is about, we need healthy aggression. We need predator energy. We've said we've been in, we've been conditioned to be nice, to be polite, and we're expected to have collapsed or, panic responses.

Kimberly : Whereas men are expected to have fight responses. And this is a broad overview that doesn't traverse every culture or every person's individual experience. But I do think that the terrain is vast and there is - we're in this period of re negotiation and redefinition. And I really want women to know what we do have the power to change. And that's why I called it our own power. I don't believe that until we occupy our own power, that we can change the larger power structures. I don't believe that the people who have the power, really care that much about the people who don't have the power. And so they're not, they're just sitting around protecting their own interests. They're not sitting around aggressively trying to put other people down, I don't believe. Um, but until as the people who don't occupy the structural power, wake up to how much power we actually do have, then that's when I think we get to the next level of collective change. And that's what I'm ultimately advocating for.

Rahi: Yeah. I think that's really clear in the book at the very end. And I want to reflect back to you Kimberly, that, I mean, having read your book, I believe that you, I believe that you satisfy your publishers desire not to make it about sexual trauma and sexual healing, but at the same time, it's very much about sexual healing. I mean, meaning that the practices and somatic engagement and the way you illuminate, how to change channels, create new neural pathways to somatic responses, how to expand one's capacity for erotic charge. I feel like all of those things, like if someone were to just follow the book, their sexual trauma would be invited to engage and integrate. You know, I mean, there are plenty of opportunities in there for previously stagnant charge to discharge without the reader really realizing or necessarily intentionally choosing to resolve that particular trauma. I wanted to ask you about, cause there's a section specifically about expanding and increasing your capacity to hold charge. Um, and I know you've been working with clients and audiences around their capacity to receive money. And I wanted to ask you whether you see it as being one of the same, whether it's simply a capacity to feel safe in receiving higher, higher, a higher voltage of energy, whether it's erotic charge or abundance in financial, material gain.

Kimberly : I think it's definitely related. I think some people can do it well sexually and can't do it that well with money. I think other people can do it well with money, but can't do it that well sexually. So I don't think it necessarily maps over. I do want to say that the majority of people who work with me, not all of them, but many of them are a lot like me in some way. So they're either a yoga teacher, Pilates teacher, BARR teacher, former dancer, sexological body worker. There are people who already have some kind of somatic awareness. They also tend to be parasympathetically dominant. So they tend to be more elastinis in their connective tissue, which is probably why they chose those activities in the first place, or at least part of it tend to be empathetic, tend to be highly sensitive, tend to really care about like really deeply care about other human beings and animals.

Kimberly : And therefore tend to be in the prey category most of the time and have a very and probably have been perpetrated against at some point, which most women have. So they tend to really this word perpetrator even is just deeply offensive to their system because they don't want to be associated with that thing that harmed them or any harm at all. That said the capacity to hold charge is like the willingness to pendulate into that predator space and see that as natural organic behavior, that's not inherently threatening to your identity - which then becomes the social nervous system issue. Can I be a midwife and not be a martyr? Can I have less or can I, well, can I have less than the rest of my family has? Or can I have more than the rest of my family? Has, will I be safe if I earn more than everyone in my family ever has, or if I buy a house or what, or what's my community, what's my nonprofit community gonna think about me if I write sales emails.

Kimberly : So I do feel like it does have to do both with capacity and with these primary identity issues of, you know, well, what does it mean if I say I like sex or what if it means that I say, I don't want to have sex right now? It sort of depends on what your, I always use a lipstick example because for some women wearing red lipstick is a really big deal and it makes them exposed and it, it sexualizes them and it invites attention. And they're like, Ooh, I don't know. For others, not wearing red lipstick is a really big deal because they've, they've used that to attract attention, and it's a bit of a mask that they have in public. So to not wear it feels overexposed, and they're not sure about it. So we expand capacity by figuring out what's a little bit in that direction and how we stretch into it.

Rahi: Yeah. Yeah. And I think that's the invitation that Call of the Wild really offers - is expanding your capacity to wear lipstick as much as you want when you want, and to be without it as much as you want when you want, but having that freedom and the authentic expression of how your life force wants to engage, experience, and relate with the energies around us.

Kimberly : I think the other thing I would add to that - is I see a lot in the sexuality world, these invitations for self-pleasuring - like do a self embodiment practice as self erotic practice as self-pleasuring practice. And these kinds of things like, well, wear lipstick for yourself. Like you decide don't do it for other people, or don't not do it for other people. I'm fully on board. I think self-pleasure practice is necessary. I think, you know, deciding what you want to wear and how you want to dress for yourself is also necessary. But I'd also like to say that there's strategy and strategies part of predator energy. So again, we don't, most people don't like to hear about strategy, but you know, like before we were going to talk, I changed my clothes. I was wearing a cashmere Brown sweater, super comfortable. I was feeling very lounge-y, uh, alone here in my apartment for the moment, but it's like, but hold on, like, I'm doing an interview.

Kimberly : And if I show up in bright colors, people are going to pay attention more. And I am, I'm not camouflaging. I'm standing out. Right. And on my website, I wear red lipstick. Do I wear red lipstick all the time? No. I do wear it when I want to wear it, but when I'm pre presenting something, I usually have a juxtaposition between like a high neck shirt and red lipstick or something that's portraying what I want to portray to the world. And strategy matters. If you want to make money and you want to have sexual autonomy, then there is an element to strategy and how we show up for things. And it's definitely my conditioning cause my parents were big on dressing up and dressing up for school specifically. Like in college, I wore suits to my tests when everyone else was wearing pajamas and college sweats.

Kimberly : Yeah. But to me it also is about that. You know, people, people bad mouth heals a lot. I mean, I find them terribly uncomfortable because I never got used to wearing them. So I never in my life have I ever worn heels on a regular basis, so putting them on, like I had borrowed some from my mom the other day and I'm just like, Oh my God, I don't know how people do this. But when you put on heels, you feel powerful. It activates your back line, it pumps up your calves, that's a mobilization response. And so there's a purpose for an embodied purpose for doing it. So I just want people to take away from it that all of these little things are about understanding what's happening in our nervous system.

Rahi: Yes, to strategize, to go out - to wear the lipstick to.., Like it, it is predator. I mean, it does invite the full spectrum of what our nervous systems may want to engage in, express, and experience and what your book is offering, I think is an exploration and to play with that full spectrum so that there is no impediment, obstacle, or limitation to how we engage and relate with each other in our lives. Um, Kimberly, thank you so much for spending your time with us today. To close off, I want to ask, I'm wondering, I mean, there's so many somatic exercises and invitations for exploration in the book. Is there one in particular that you would like to share that would invite listeners to embody a deepening sense of sexual vitality?

Kimberly : Well, I like simple, connected breathing. I feel like it builds charge pretty fast and it's an easy way to see how your own system responds to that charge. So breathing to me is the simplest way, because you can, in a few breaths, you can invoke a state. And then from that state, you can see what happens next. For me, when I started learning connected breathing, I would start to yawn a lot right away, which is a parasympathetic downregulation. Sometimes I would just notice, I don't want to do it and, or my body would just spontaneously stop doing it. And I would go into a spontaneous freeze the minute I started building activation. So again, it's a way to like, not intellectualize and just practice. So do you want to try that? Okay. So I think we can just do 10 breaths and connected breathing is when you take in about 80% of your total lung capacity, and then you don't have pauses after your inhale, your exhale. So you just let the breath kind of turn into a circle. Almost like if you're riding a bike and you know, at first you have to pedal hard and then it just kind of gets going. So, you can breathe all your air out to begin with and we can do this through your nose or your mouth. I'm gonna do it through my nose. And then you can breathe into a comfortable level.

Kimberly : You hope you can hear me so that you can just kind of follow along and we'll do five more

Kimberly : And then we'll just slow it down a little bit, take a bigger breath, push it out. Another bigger breath, push it out. Last one, inhale, hold it at the top. And then just slowly let it drip out, but don't push it out - and then just pause. So you'll be like, it's like, you're kind of jumping on a cloud and you'll just be landing on the cloud. And so you'll feel that there's still some breath in your system a,s you pause. See if you can flick the switch of your brain and go dark, drop your attention downward and inward feel if your body wants breath first or your mind wants breath first - and hold for five, four, three, two, one, - breathe out a little bit more. And then a non panicked, inhale .Pause at the top. Feel what it's like to feel full, notice if you like that better or worse than the hold after your exhale. And then just let your breath go. Notice how you feel overall - zooming out to your whole body. Sometimes you'll feel spontaneous movements start to want to happen - like serpentine movement and send your spine. Sometimes emotions will come up or images. So I find this as just a way to get underneath our rational thought, right? We, and we kind of all know when we're driving ourselves crazy with repetitive thoughts and one way that we can shift out of that or build capacity for more arousal is starting to build more capacity for charge like this.

Rahi: Awesome. Thank you for that. Kimberly Ann Johnson, the book is available now for pre-release, but will it be released in April of this year?

Kimberly : Yes, April 13th.

Rahi: Okay. So April 13th, you can purchase it before that date to reserve your copy.

Kimberly : Actually a good idea. I mean, authors love pre-orders, but also publishing is in a very strange moment because of the pandemic. So it's totally possible that we might sell out a first run or that it won't be available. So it is a good idea to pre-order and you can do that in any independent bookstore, as well as Amazon. You can also - a great thing to do is just to ask your library to order it or ask your local bookstore to order it.

Rahi: Yeah. So it's called Call of the Wild and we'll have it in the show notes, along with Magamama, dot com where Kimberly offers an amazing podcast, as well as a whole range of different embodiment, trauma informed classes and courses. And is there a link to the breath collective on your site too?

Kimberly : Well I'm remaking my website, so it's going to be Kimberly Ann and then our breath collective, O U R, our breath is a breathing collective where there's about 180 of us who breathe every day at 6:00 AM Pacific time that you, but they're up all day. So you can read anytime Monday through Friday with us.

Rahi: That's fantastic. That's fantastic. And this is all, you know, all to serve a greater resource within our nervous systems, as well as other benefits, Kimberly, thanks so much for being with us today.

Rahi: We've been speaking about the nervous system today, but how is yours feeling in your embodiment, right now? Can you notice your breath, and how it affects your body, on its natural inhale, and natural exhale? And how present and aware you are of your body's sensations? What feels best in your body right now? And does bringing your attention there, to its pleasure, expand that feeling of goodness for you.

Rahi: In the next episode, we engage with Dr. Betty Martin whose pioneering work, The Wheel of Consent has revolutionized the ways in which hands-on practitioners and curious bodies distinguish our experiences of giving, receiving, taking, and allowing, and in her new book, The Art of Receiving and Giving: The Wheel of Consent, she further distinguishes the subtle terrains of embodiment, pleasure, voicing the boundaries and consent of the body, and the inherent intelligence that comes from these simple yet profound practices. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share with your tribe, or leave a review. By, you'll also receive additional insights from various episodes, as well as the free organic sexuality ebook. Until next time take good 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.