Embodied Boundaries: How to attune to your boundaries in life and sex
As much as we are spiritual we are flesh, blood, and feelings. We are goosebumps, beating hearts, racing minds, pulsing yonis, anxious bellies, flushed skin and shivers.
Woven into each of us are the present moment facts and archives that inform our personal limits – energy, instincts, intuitions, experiences, traumas, emotions. Not all ours. Not all rational.
Our boundaries are how we communicate and enforce those unique limits to the world.
I sometimes bypass these somatic signals with my rational mind. Doing and agreeing to what “makes sense”, or what I think is most accommodating for others, rather than what feels right in me.
Bypassing our limits to be pleasing is self-abandonment. When we were little, it meant survival and belonging, but as adults it is poison to self-connection and self-expression.
How do we stop adapting our capacity to what the world tells us it should be and instead honor what it actually is?
We start by attuning to ourselves. We let our body and nervous system inform our boundaries, in real time, by creating an embodied map of how we tend to feel and react when our limits are being pushed.
You can start to develop your boundary map right now. Take a few deep breaths into your yoni and read the following scenario, checking in with how it makes you feel:
Things are heating up with your new lover. After a minute of kissing they throw you on the bed and go straight for your yoni. They start touching your clit, and then quickly put their fingers inside of you.
While this is a more jolting example (and unfortunately how some men approach sex), you can do this embodied boundaries test with any scenario, from a colleague asking you to attend a last minute meeting during your lunch break to a stranger on the street asking for your number. How do you feel in the instant it is happening? Is your body saying yes or no? What is your mind saying? What do you do?
Do you feel hot, numb, anxious, angry, frustrated? Do you go blank and dissociate? Do you seek an escape? Do you feel an embodied no but go with the flow, justifying in your mind why you should, or it’s not a big deal? Boundary pushing triggers a stress response, however subtle, which means we tend to fight, flight, freeze or fawn (become overly cooperative).
Sexually, boundary crossing might look like feeling a surge of emotion during power play, signaling you to stop and move right to aftercare. Or freezing up at the moment of penetration if you are someone who needs to provide ongoing consent – i.e., you feel better if your lover checks in with you before proceeding to each next step. And if you tend to be the one escalating sex, it’s important to discuss whether your lover wants you to establish ongoing consent or to let you take the lead, in which case they should give you verbal affirmation that they will speak up if something doesn't feel good for them.
Determined by who you are and your life experiences, your embodied boundaries are unique to you and may change depending on a number of factors from how hungry you are to whether you feel emotionally connected to someone. They are not always rational or socially acceptable, but that does not mean you should ignore them. Your boundaries are a part of your story. Sharing them, when you feel ready, means sharing yourself, and the world needs more of you.
For more on boundaries and boundary mapping, click here.
By Allie Andrews, Wellness, Sex & Relationship Coach