How to Honor the Body’s Authority Within the Western Medical Paradigm with Dr. Jennifer Lang, OB/Gyn


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Jenn’s been a very dear friend for many years.  We first met after I spoke on a panel for a Sex Positive LA event years ago and since then, I’ve enjoyed hanging with her beautiful family, watching her incredible kids grow up, receiving her advice as part of my “Divine Feminine Council” guiding Somatic Sexual Wholeness, but most of all, sharing our heart to heart experiences as travelers on the path.  An ally for restoring the organic life force of our nature in all realms, and as a highly trained medical OB/Gyn, it’s also always been nourishing to explore inspired solutions for the holistic alignment of body, mind and Spirit.  


Today’s Guest: 

Jennifer Lang, MD, received her medical education at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, where she received the Dean’s Award: “Holding Promise for the Future of Medicine.” She completed her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Luke’s/Roosevelt Hospital Center of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, then fellowship in gynecologic oncology at UCLA. She practiced as a board-certified ob-gyn and gynecologic oncologist, specializing in integrative and preventative medicine, minimally invasive and robotic surgery. In 2013, she cofounded an international medical nonprofit that delivers cervical cancer prevention services to women in resource-poor countries. Since then, the nonprofit has grown to support 80 clinics spanning Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Central America. She is the author of The Whole 9 Months: a Week-By-Week Pregnancy Nutrition Guide with Recipes for a Healthy Start, and Consent: Every Teen’s Guide to Healthy Sexual Relationships. She is the Director of Health & Wellness at Range Media Partners and the blessed mother of three intelligent (and slightly precocious) kids who always ask the hardest questions. 

We explore: 


“Medical doctors come from one perspective and it’s one – it needs to be carefully considered and balanced and filled out with other voices to get a whole and complete picture…. And if something ever feels wrong, I really want to encourage every patient to pursue answers – to pursue knowledge from as many sources as it takes until you arrive at an answer that aligns with that inner voice….”   


How to listen to the authentic wisdom of your body whilst engaging with the Western medical paradigm.  


How Dr. Lang’s self-attended natural birthing experience radically changed her approach to obstetrics for her clients. 


How hypno-birthing invited her to get out of the fear/pain cycle of the brain, and drop into the present moment of what the body is actually experiencing – and how connecting to her breath allowed for states of deep relaxation and bliss during her births


How phenomenal midwives and doulas are as allies to honor the natural birthing process of the body and serving as a bridge with a medical system and staff. 


How medical doctors are undertrained in the entire realm of human sexuality – the body’s natural healthy sexual responses, pleasures and orgasms.


How medical doctors can be limited in the scope of their recommendations based on the parameters of their training and licensure.  


How “Consent” – Jenn’s 2nd book for teens and young adults was inspired, and how she reclaimed her own voice for consent whilst channeling its content.  

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.

Rahi: In today's episode, we invite Dr. Jennifer Lang, a highly trained Western obstetrician and gynecologist with a specialty in gynecologic oncology, to explore how we can listen and honor our body's authority whilst engaging and benefiting from the expertise of the Western medical paradigm. Jenn shares how surrendering to the authority of her own body's wisdom during her natural birth radically changed her approach to obstetrics. We discuss the vital role of consent - both in the medical setting, as well as an intimate settings, especially for teens and young adults, which her second book "Consent" addresses, and how channeling this book was a profound healing and reclamation of her own voice.

Rahi: Today. I'm very, very happy to invite Dr. Jennifer Lang to the podcast. Dr. Lang is a mother to three amazing human beings - they are precocious and intelligent and witty and creative and wonderful. She's also a trained obstetrician and gynecologist specializing in gynecologic oncology with a focus on integrative and preventative medicine, which resulted in Flow - a woman's integrated wellness practice. She co-founded an international medical non-profit delivering cervical cancer prevention services to women in resource poor countries. And she's the author of two books "The Whole Nine Months: A Week by Week Pregnancy Nutrition Guide" and "Consent - Every Teen's Guide to Healthy Sexual Relationships." Jen, thanks so much for being with us today.

Jenn: I am so happy to be here and I always enjoy our conversations and I can't wait to see where this one goes.

Rahi: That's awesome. Yeah, me too. Me too. So Jen, because the theme of this podcast is all about supporting people to restore, reclaim and realize their organic sexual wellness and vibrancy, I really wanted to invite a conversation with a medical professional so we can understand like, what are the limitations - what are the benefits... how can listeners navigate really benefiting from the medical expertise of their medical care providers, whilst really having the authority in listening to their bodies, authentic wisdom and guidance as well. And I thought a great starting off point would be to invite you to share about your first birth - your first birthing experience, because I find it fascinating that as a trained obstetrician, you pretty much kind of took it into your own hands. I mean, you really honored the authority of what your body was saying, you know, in the timing in the way Sheila was delivered and how you went about that.

Jenn: Yeah, I think it is a good jumping off point because for me, I think personally and professionally, it marked a transition, you know, in every way it marked a transition, right? Like becoming a mother is probably the greatest identity shakeup that I could ever imagine going through. But also as somebody in the field trained in obstetrics gynecology, I learned so much going through that experience myself and it radically changed my approach to birthing from then on. So, I guess just to tell the story. I'd been trained in a pretty normal conservative, labor floor, like a regular residency program in New York with the exception that the hospital I did my residency in had a birthing floor, like a birthing center, one floor below the regular labor floor. And that floor was completely midwife run.

Jenn: And so I did have the experience. We really didn't attend births down there. I'd seen, you know, the way they had a bed, like a real bed, like a bed you could imagine sleeping in as opposed to a hospital bed, you know, and it felt more like a home and everything was quieter and more relaxed. I'd been down there, but really my only experience of patients - where if they'd been transferred from the birth, the birthing center up to the labor floor because something had gone, you know - off in a way. So I never really got to observe a natural birth in a birthing midwife run. However, when I became pregnant, I went to an obstetrician, you know, an MD, and she was pregnant too. And she had referred patients to this hypno-birthing class with a wonderful hypnotherapist that we both know Alicia Tempori

Jenn: And I was six weeks pregnant at the time, but I was a big overachiever and I wanted to be prepared. And so I started hypno-birthing at six weeks pregnant. And I actually, during the course of that pregnancy, I took the class three times. I just kept, kept taking it. And the reason I did that was that I saw that hypnobirthing is a practice like a yoga practice. And, you know, the more you practice it, the more comfortable and natural the process becomes. So it's really about, I mean, my version of hypnobirthing is that it's about - getting out of the fear/pain cycle in the brain and dropping down into the body and into the present moment with what you are actually experiencing - not what someone is telling you you're going to experience or what you might be afraid you might experience, but what you're actually experiencing, and using.. connecting to the breath, in order to go into a state of deep relaxation and it worked so well for me.

Jenn: So I took the class three times and then on the night that I went into labor with Sheila, it was a full moon. And I was, you know, using my breathing and I love everything about hypnobirthing. I love the way that they changed the language so that they don't, they talk about surges, not contractions. And so I was visualizing like riding these waves, these surges of energy, and each surge was bringing my baby closer to me. And so I experienced this just state of deep bliss, and I've come to understand some people use the term orgasmic birth. I don't think I had like involuntary rhythmic pelvic contractions, but I definitely was in full on blissed out, you know, and I was swimming through my labor. So yeah, under the full moon. And all of a sudden I felt, you know, my intention the whole time was to go to the hospital and have a routine birth in the hospital.

Jenn: But I was so relaxed that all of a sudden, I felt rectal pressure. And I checked myself and I was, you know, eight centimeters dilated. So we went to the hospital and I was a fellow at the time, so I felt very comfortable kind of just, I mean, to be frank - giving orders, you know, I was in the mode where like I was the doctor that gave orders to people. And so I rolled into the labor floor and I was like, I want that. I don't want that. I don't want that. So I just, I refused the IV. I refused a blood draw. I allowed them to auscultate the fetal heart rate, you know, with a Doppler externally. And I heard a beautiful acceleration in Sheila's heart rate, during a contraction, you know, which is a great sign that the baby's tolerating labor just beautifully.

Jenn: And I said, okay, please, everyone leave the room. And I ran a bath in the tub and, you know, Cedar's doesn't do water births, but I got into that bath and I received her into my own arms. And it was - immediately to the breast and it was an absolutely beautiful, just quiet, calm experience. My doctor had had her baby a few weeks before, and she was back at work, but she didn't arrive, you know, at the hospital before Sheila was already in my arms. So, you know, it was a self attended. I mean, to be clear, there was a midwife who was present on the labor floor at the time. And she quietly came in and said, you know, I've been present at many water births. I'm here, if you need me. And then she stepped back and just allowed me to have my birth experience, which was so beautiful.

Jenn: And then basically I was, I was out of there in 12 hours, you know, and that felt right for me. And so when I, after living that experience and knowing that it was possible to have a painless, blissful, natural birth, and how comfortable I was at home, and really the only moment that I experienced any kind of stress was transferring to the hospital, you know, which was just like getting into a car. I wanted to stay in that beautiful pool under the full moon. So when I had my second and my third, I had planned midwife attended home births, and that was the way I did it. But after seeing that, that was possible after feeling that in my body, I really wanted to let my patients know that this was an option - that this was possible.

Jenn: So, you know, many, many patients, if they wanted to get pregnant, I would present the full range of birthing options for them, which would be, you know, from a home birth to a birthing center, to a labor floor. And really we would explore their feelings about birth, any concerns they might have, what felt right to them, what was their intuition telling them? And we would find the birth plan that felt right and authentic to who they were. And though I, myself as an obstetrician did not attend any home births, I did back up home birth midwives. So if they had patients laboring at home who needed some kind of medical intervention, I was happy to accept their care when they transferred to the hospital and try to continue the same ethic of the birthing experience.

Jenn: So calm, quiet... Not like revving up the stress levels, and even if they needed a C-section, I did something, I called Hypno C-sections where, you know, the OR was dark and we'd just have the one light over the baby. And when, as long as the baby wasn't in distress, she would go, or he would go straight to the mother's breast while she was on the table. And all of these things I felt were really important and also just part of the full range of options. And for me, the heart of what this conversation is about is I think is letting women know that they have a full range of options and that they are always the leader, the guide, the director of their experience. So never taking away their autonomy or authority, but rather working in partnership with each individual to find the experience that's right for her. And you know what, as I'm saying this, I realize I'm using female pronouns and I do want this conversation to be as inclusive as possible. And I'm sorry if I, you know, it's just old patterns that I'm trying to, but anyone with reproductive organs is capable of giving birth.

Rahi: That first birth - birthing Sheila sounds like it was so blissful, it sounds like it was so amazing and how, yeah. I love the way your body really took charge of the situation. I mean, you know, you were a Fellow there and it is your field of professional training, so you knew I'm guessing what was safe, what was within kind of the parameters of safety. But at the same time, you really did surrender to your body's authority and what it knew felt right.

Jenn: Yeah. And it's so interesting, the words you just used - surrendered to my body's authority, and, you know, we live in such a culture that is so like brain, it privileges the brain and we think of a separation between brain and body. Right. But there is a deep, deep, deep wisdom held in places in the body other than the brain, as, you know, as you experience in your work every day, and I knew, you know, I have a tendency to get really busy in my head and to make plans and to set goals and really birthing, you know, you kind of want the opposite of that. I needed to get out of my head and get out of my own way and surrender to the wisdom of my body that knows what to do. And I believe that all women's bodies know what to do.

Jenn: You know, unfortunately we have medicalized birth and we have, well, we've medicalized a lot of natural body processes and lost a lot of that wisdom. And we don't really talk about the wisdom of the body, the authority of the body. And in fact, even if you think about the language we use, like, Oh, who delivered your baby? Well, you delivered your baby. You know, so I dunno, I really think that there is a lot to be done to return that wisdom and authority back to the body where it, you know, has always resided really - it's not true that it ever leaves us. And we're told, we're told to take orders from other people. We need to remember that we need to begin here. And yeah,

Rahi: Yeah, yeah. Well, it sounds like the hypnobirthing and doing three rounds of it starting from six weeks. I mean, that was like, cause it's profound Jen, because it really kind of trains you to be with your senses and with your body and in being with your body, you were able to listen to your body so clearly. I wanna ask you about that. You know, given that, you know, we know that our body's wisdom knows beyond the mind and knowing that in situations of stress, we will become hypervigilant and leave our body and go into, you know, the mind. I'm just wondering in hospital births, when a client is feeling... I mean, I've just heard stories of like, you know, induced labor - C-sections are based on, you know, kind of the bottom line and efficiency in the way hospitals are run, you know, the cutting of the umbilical cord before the infant is really kind of used to their new environment and their way of breathing. Like all of these things feel like they are not honoring the authority of the body. What advice would you have for listeners who do have a planned hospital birth, or want to take advantage of the expertise of a hospital, but, also want to honor the authority of their body?

Jenn: Well, I think that for low risk pregnancies where there isn't a complicating medical condition, midwives are phenomenal. You know, midwives have a whole different perspective on birth. It is much more normalized. It is less medicalized. They treat it as a natural process that doesn't need to be messed with until there is a clear indication for an intervention, in which case, they're well-trained to recognize when those interventions are needed and how to proceed. But, if you begin with a practitioner whose entire ethic and training is about a respectful, nonmedicalized birth, chances are that things will proceed that way. And if you look at the C-section rates of, you know, midwives who have hospital births, they're lower than obstetricians who have hospital births, even controlling for medical complications, you know, and sometimes it's hard to compare the statistics, right? Because if you're separating out saying - all the normal pregnancies go over here and midwives take care of them and all the high risk pregnancies go over here, you're going to have a differential in your C-section rate, but even controlling for those complications, midwives have a greater success at vaginal births.

Rahi: Yeah. I've heard stories of midwives or of birth deliveries where the midwife is, I mean, it's really kind of playing the bridge or the go between the patient or the mother or the couple and kind of the medical staff or the doctor.

Jenn: Yes. They can do that. Also doulas can play that role and doulas are wonderful or can be wonderful at being that translator. And also so that the doctor using their medical terminology, which, you know, we tend to do, we're trying to get right to it. And we're also trained to look at a situation and assess the 10 worst things that could possibly happen and then start performing interventions. So that those things don't happen. That's how we're trained, but a doula can be the recipient of that medical speak and then in a way, shield or protect that patient from that high stress, you know, presentation and explain in a more calming, soothing way, you know, what are the choices? What are the options at that time? So I'm a big fan of doulas.

Rahi: Like had you decided to go to a hospital and do a hospital birth, what would not have been available to you compared to giving births to your second and third child at home?

Jenn: Yeah, so Nico, my second child, he was born and my labor lasted 90 minutes and it was a thunder and lightning storm - just complete deluge of rain. And he came into the world with that energy, just like, and if I'm thinking about it, if I had tried to go to a hospital, it would just, the pace of that birth would have been so rushed, you know, with recognizing that I was in labor and trying to get myself to a hospital and into a room and deliver him, you know, it would have been a very different experience, but because I was able to be,... stay relaxed and in my tub at home with my water and my candles and my relaxation music, I was able to just let that process again, surrender to the force of that process and receive him, you know, in a state of calm, which was wonderful.

Jenn: And then funny enough, Sophia, my third was also born on a full moon. So that was also a - quite a quick labor. And I did have some medical intervention with her birth, just in the sense that I had tested GBS positive. So I needed a dose of antibiotics, but again, if I had gone to a hospital, there would have been all kinds of protocols about GBS, and I would have probably had an IV placed, but, you know, with a midwife, I was able to just get the infusion and then be completely free and unattached to any poles or tubing so that I was able to move my body, get into the positions that my body told me I needed to form in order to allow her to pass through the birth canal. So, you know, I'm really, I feel very blessed that I had the training.

Jenn: I knew... I felt confident. Let's just say, I felt confident that I could relax and get out of my own way, turn the experience over to my body and also to the care of my wonderful, incredibly well-trained and experienced midwife who had, by the way, over her 30 year career, had delivered thousands of babies, many, many fold more than I ever delivered - just had such a deep wisdom and knowledge and understanding of the process and also of human psychology. She was really a master of just, with all of her patients, keeping them calm, keeping them centered and making them feel comfortable and supported.

Rahi: Mm. Yeah, it sounds like after thousands of deliveries, she was really a master at that space holding yeah.

Jenn: Space holding. That's a great way of putting it. And that's the role I think of - that's the role of a birth attendant is to hold space for the woman to have her process.

Rahi: So I want to ask you Jenn, as a gynecologist now, what are situations that you've seen over the years where a patient will assume that an OB GYN will know certain realms, like within their training, when in fact - that's not really part of their training, like I remember speaking with you once about sexual pleasure and arousal and how, you know, patients assume that their OB GYN can respond to questions about a lack of pleasure or orgasm, and that it's actually a very, very small part of the training.

Jenn: Yeah. I think that that is the prime example of something that OB-GYNs are and Gyn/oncologists are really under-trained in the entire realm of understanding human sexuality, human sexual response, pleasure, orgasm, all of those things. And it's just not emphasized, you know, we know the anatomy, but I'm not sure that we are given a full understanding of the complexity of the intersection between the anatomy and the psychology or the entirety of the human experience. So, and we think very mechanistically and very anatomically. So, you know, there are precancerous cells on the cervix. And so we think we should cut off, you know, the outer part of the cervix to remove the precancerous cells. And that seems very reasonable if you just think of the cervix as, you know, a potential cancer germinator. But If you think of the cervix, as, you know, some people call it like the X spot for an orgasmic trigger, maybe you're not just going to take a loop electrode and go cutting off a part of it. You know, maybe you are going to think more about the full range and spectrum of options to dealing with those pre-cancerous cells before you just go and remove them. And yeah, so, I think that there are a lot of things that we are really not taught in medical school, residency fellowship that are deeply, deeply important to the lived experience of our patients, that should be part of the conversations when we are counseling about risks, benefits, options, and alternatives for every single gynecologic procedure and condition

Rahi: Listeners who do want to receive the support in that kind of integrated holistic way. It sounds like the integrative women's clinic that you created with Flow was kind of like that model. And I'm guessing that there, I'm hoping that there are more models like that out here now than maybe there were just 10 or 20 years ago.

Jenn: Yeah. I think that there is an evolving consciousness within the medical community to look at, you know, integrative practice to consider more about, you know, sexual health. But I also think that there are just some things that allopathic Western medical doctors going to be good at, and some things that they're not going to be good at. And I think that there is a lot of room for complimentary practitioners such as yourself to be that in between - to be that translator, to help empower women, to advocate for themselves, to really support their voices in that conversation. So if there's any message that I really hope that our listeners today, you know, absorb it's that, you know, medical doctors come from one perspective and it's one, it's not the be all end all. And I do believe that it needs to be carefully considered and balanced and filled out with some other voices to get a whole and complete picture. And if something ever feels wrong, you know, I really want to encourage every woman, every patient to pursue answers, you know, to pursue knowledge, from as many sources as it takes until you arrive at an answer that aligns with that inner voice is so important. And that's what I always hoped my patients would do. I never wanted to feel like I was directing them or pushing them towards something that didn't feel fully aligned with who they are.

Rahi: Yeah. Yeah. So I have a technical question and that is, like last week I had Keli Garza on, who's the creator of Steamy Chck, the vaginal steaming company. And she shared that, kind of a turning point for her, like she recognized when she was, when there were a lot of articles by OB GYNs who were saying don't vaginal steam, it becomes a liability for a doctor to recommend something that is not under the auspices of, I guess, the AMA or.. And I just wanted to clarify that Jenn, if something is like, if a woman is having heavy bleeding, is a hysterectomy recommended because that's within the auspices of what OB GYNs are trained for and vaginal steaming is not recommended because that isn't part of their training.

Jenn: So she's absolutely correct. And a lot of doctors, I think, are afraid to be perceived as approving of, or advocating for, anything that isn't within their purview, you know, that isn't a part of what we consider evidence-based medicine. But there are many healing traditions that work outside of that model. And just because they are outside of that model, to me personally, I don't believe that it just automatically negates their value. Um, that's not the way I approach the world. So again, I know that, you know, I'm an MD, I am trained in one way and it is not the only way. So, whenever I'm considering, you know, I hear about something like vaginal steaming, I think of, you know, well, first of all, I don't really care what, I'll just be frank, like other MDs can think what they want to about me.

Jenn: It doesn't bother me. I have already stepped outside enough of that, you know, straight and narrow path where their opinion of me is - it's inconsequential. Yeah, so I feel kind of freed, liberated to give my honest and complete opinion on the matter I don't feel confined, out of fear, which is, you know, reasonable, if you think about it. Like if somebody has trained for decades to make money and support their family by practicing a certain way. And then if you lose your medical license, because you are determined to be, practicing outside of the scope of your specialty, or you lose your ability to support your family. So there's nothing wrong with that, but we just have to understand, you know, where physicians are completely free to, to give their honest and true opinion on something and where they will hesitate and tried not to stray into a realm where they could be accused of advocating for something that is not within the scope of their practice.

Jenn: We also have to remember that women are coming to healers with a whole lifetime history, sometimes of trauma - often of trauma. And, you know, if I really think about that one patient that I was just, you know, calling,, she had some trauma in her past and she had been retraumatized by doctors, so she was listening to her voice, which told her stay away from medical doctors, they will hurt you. So, you know, that's really unfortunate. And, I think something that we as medical doctors need to remember that, we haven't always been the gentlist. We haven't always been the most respectful, and there are many people who approach us with a lot of hesitancy and skepticism. And that's, that's just the truth. We have to have some ability that our profession has been, a part of some really unfortunate and sometimes even, brutal things. So we have to understand that there are many reasons why a woman might be very hesitant to come see an OB GYN and might feel more comfortable with an alternative practitioner. And we have to do our best to stop that cycle of trauma and to approach every time that we speak with a patient, touch a patient, that it is with active, informed consent at every step. And that hasn't been part of the training for many, many MDs.

Rahi: Yeah. Well, that brings us to your second book "Consent" - which I have right here.

Jenn: Oh, look at that...

Rahi: So consent - it's certainly within the medical profession is super important. I mean, I think people are so kind of used to doctors, you know, - I took my mom to a podiatrist and the podiatrist started like removing a callus on her foot without even asking her. I think there's this... so just like even beyond contact, like engaging in a procedure. But I want to bring it to your book, which is really guided to support teens with kind of the sexual education that we never got. And that teens today, I think, feel a real void around, especially, around consent and boundaries. I would love, because I know that writing the book was quite a process for you. Can you share Jenn, what inspired you to write this book on consent and how was the journey for you?

Jenn: Yeah, it was quite the journey and another one of those branching off points for me professionally. I was trying to actually launch a tech company at the time with a wearable that was trying to address the issue of incapacitation assault, particularly on college campuses. And this is usually related to binge drinking or, you know, blackout drinking with alcohol. And, you know, as I go into in the book, somebody who is in a blackout does not have, or unconscious, does not have the capacity to give consent for any sexual activity. So, you know, it struck me that here we are in the 21st century with no, you know, with all of modern technology and no way to know if someone is too impaired to give consent. And I just thought that is a real need, you know, we should have a way of knowing if we think somebody is giving us consent - to know, like, are they actually capable of giving consent at this time?

Jenn: Because you know, we all have had experience with drunk people. Some people hold it together pretty well, even though they are absolutely in a blackout, they will have no memory of any conversation that you're having with them at that moment. So I developed this wearable and during the course of my research, and I was running focus groups with many teenagers and talking to them about what education had they had on the topic of consent. And I was just appalled at... I was hearing that it was barely mentioned, and, just de-emphasized. Most sex ed in America - well, when you have it at all, because there are many States where there is no sexual education required in the curriculum at all. So even when it is presented, the focus is really on, how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, where for me, like the most important thing, the fundamental like beginning place for any sexual activity needs to be the consent conversation.

Jenn: And that will naturally roll into conversation about what birth control method are we going to use, or what barrier method are we going to employ to, you know, risk mitigate against STIs. So it has to begin with consent, but consent is rare. So rarely even mentioned. So hearing this, I was like, okay, what resources are out there? So I started looking at, you know, the textbooks on the subject, and I would find a paragraph in the midst of a 400 page book, a paragraph in the middle that talked about the importance of getting consent. And I'm like, no, no, no, you know, this needs to be the beginning. And so I wrote the book, but on a personal level, it was incredibly transformative for me because I, myself am a survivor. And I myself have had a lot of challenges finding my voice.

Jenn: So I am one of those people, you know, they talk about flight,, fight or freeze. So my nervous system tends to go into freeze and I lock down, I lose the ability to speak or articulate. And so for me, working through this in book form was so healing for my own internal journey of finding my voice and finding that healing, and we're talking about trauma that happened decades ago that I had held onto for so long. And through this work, I was finally able to release and let go. And so again, to your listeners, like it's possible, it's possible to heal after decades., I didn't know that it was going to be possible, but I can tell you that I am a different person than I was before I wrote that book. And it's funny, I felt, during the writing of the book, I almost had the sensation of it being channeled at some times, where I would see on my computer screen that I had written things that I knew were absolutely true, but would never have come to my conscious mind. It was as if it was the, exactly the message that I needed to hear and I needed to learn and absorb coming out through my hands. So I was a student as much as the creator of that book.

Rahi: Yeah. And it also sounds like in addition to being a student and the channel, the creator, it brought you out of freeze and you found your voice. I mean, you found in writing the book and voicing the book for all, you know, a teenage audience, you got to say what maybe your body has wanted to say for decades.

Jenn: Yeah. That's well put, I think that's exactly what happened. And you know, it's a book and a message that I so wish I had had access to in my emerging sexuality. And I, you know, I feel really blessed that the teens coming of age now have access to material like this. And it's one of, I feel like, this book was written shortly after the beginning of the me too movement. And I feel like since then, there's just been a flood of wonderful resources coming online, podcasts, television series that explore the topic. It's so much more a part of our cultural conversation than it was just a handful of years ago.

Rahi: Yeah, but coming back to your personal experience, Jenn, like when you share how you're a different person having written the book, what do you, I'm just curious, what do you notice within your behavior? Like what did you mean when you said that? Because in my mind, I'm like, okay,, in situations where she may not have asserted her consent and boundaries, now she has such, you know, it's like, it's in your bones now. There's such an awareness around kind of gray areas. Well, what maybe may have seemed like gray areas. I'm curious what you meant by... Like, how do you feel like you're a different person now and what situation,..

Jenn: I mean, in every way, but, uh, well, so I had, as you and I have talked about on a personal level, I've had experiences with massage therapists, where they have, they have crossed boundaries in the, in my past. And I went into freeze mode and I was unable to say something at the time that it was happening, even though it was very upsetting to me. And, you know, I would never see that therapist again, once that boundary had been crossed. Now have I been to a male massage therapist since? No. But I do feel like if I did, and I felt like a boundary was being crossed, I just know that I would say something, I know that my reaction would be different, that I would speak up and advocate for myself. And I would be like, Hey, you know, that, that doesn't seem right.

Jenn: You know, Stop. And before I was trapped in this feeling like, I didn't want to offend somebody, I didn't want to make them uncomfortable. I would often put my own feelings aside, kind of in service of their comfort, and, you know, I did this sexually as well. I really was disrespectful of my own wants, needs and desires. And I felt like often I had to kind of turn over my body to the service of somebody else's agenda. I just, I don't do that anymore. So that's a massive breakthrough for me personally.

Rahi: Yeah, that is huge. That is huge. I love that you channeled the book - that it came through you and that yeah. something, it's like, you found your voice, you know, as the book was being written and that it's resulted in this real change in behavior. And again, you know, coming back to really listening to your body's authority and putting it in the driver's seat of what it experiences.

Jenn: And it's really interesting, like, as I'm hearing you summarize like that, I just find it so striking that, you know, here I am a empowered, you know, highly educated professional who is used to giving orders, as I said before, you know, running an operating room, telling people exactly what I want and need, but when it came to my body and my own intimate space, I couldn't find that voice. So I think it's really interesting to look at - how we can have these completely different sometimes conflicting personas. And yeah, like being the boss in an OR did not serve me when it came to, you know, honoring the integrity of my own body in a bedroom, if that makes sense. Yeah. Yeah, it's fascinating, you know,

Rahi: It is fascinating. Yeah. It would seem like a dichotomy, but, like one is a professional setting and one is a setting that involves intimacy and the way our touch receptors develop in intimate contact is very different than the way our voices, you know, engage in a professional setting.

Rahi: And, you know, once again, it's so wonderful that you reclaimed your voice through writing this book.

Jenn: Yeah. And to kind of bring it back to, I'm just imagining, you know, a woman in labor on a labor floor, you know, I see this all the time actually, where women who are again, like educated, successful professionals who tend to get lots of different voices or integrate different sources of information in the rest of their lives when it comes to these incredibly crucial, important decisions about their own body, it's like, they go silent and they just turn it over to the professional. And I feel like there is a real conversation about how can we bring the consent conversation into those moments as well. So onto the first floor, into the GYN office, when we're deciding how to address something like abnormal, uterine bleeding, you know, it's about essentially respecting our own voices. And remember that this is always - must be an equal partnership, whether we're talking about the physician patient relationship or intimate partners, you know, partnership it's, there's no turning over. Yeah.

Rahi: Yeah, absolutely. And I would say in the medical scenario, I feel like what you described earlier, for example, of how you created a Hypno C-section environment where that calm and that soothing, you know, whether it's lights and sound, I mean, that has an effect as to whether a patient goes into a freeze response and kind of abdictates the authority of their body to the medical professional. Like what you described of your ... the waves, riding the waves with Sheila and being present in your body and being so attuned. I mean, it feels like your nervous system was so like down-regulated and present with the experience. And it feels like the medical setting can be one where like all these kind of opportunities for calming the nervous system are actually kind of flipped on its head.

Jenn: I agree. Yeah. Bright lights, loud noises, alarming machines, strangers entering and exiting your space. I mean, it all just puts you into the state of heightened stress response where actually for optimal uterine muscle contraction, we need the parasympathetic nervous system to take over. We need to be in a state of relaxation for normal labor to take place.

Rahi: Yes, absolutely. I mean just hearing you say that down-regulates, I mean, I feel like more relaxed just hearing you say that

Jenn: Good. It's night time. So maybe we could just like drift off to sleep after

Rahi: Exactly. Jen, thanks so much for sharing your experience and your expertise and your perspective with us. I really appreciate you being here.

Jenn: I've so enjoyed our conversation as always. And I hope that someone heard something today that speaks to them and is helpful. That's my wish.

Rahi: Notice how this episode is landing in your body... what sensations or feelings are present for you right now. If you've experienced pregnancy or birth, is there anywhere your body would like to receive a loving touch, caress, or acknowledgement from you? Or is there a story that this body area wants to share with you? If your body is preparing or wanting to experience birth, is there anywhere your body would like to have seeds planted of intentions, attention, or communication for a graceful and empowering experience? And if you're the partner of someone who has given or wants to give birth, what might your body need to receive in support for the role you've provided or want to provide?

Rahi: In the next episode, we invite Kimberly Ann Johnson to the podcast whose first book, "The Fourth Trimester" revolutionized our collective awareness of what is necessary for new mothers' healthy, postpartum recovery, and whose very exciting new book "The Call of the Wild: How We Heal Trauma, Awaken Our Own Power and Use It For Good" is an experiential journey and invitation for how to safely and powerfully self-regulate our own nervous system to reclaim our inner primal agency and life force. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, share with your tribe or leave a review. By subscribing, you will 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.