In the world of sexual healing, your inner self and your sexuality are inextricably linked. For relationship coach Jan Day, part of the reason we’re switching off is the one-sided sex we’re surrounded with.
“In ads and on TV, healthy sexuality is rarely represented,” she says. “It is impossibly idealised and not at all connected to emotion. But intimacy has to come before sex.
“Before we can do anything, we need to be intimate with ourselves, connected to our own minds and bodies. When our partner is similarly grounded, then there’s the possibility of a dance between the two of us.”
When we close down our sexuality, other things often shut down too, like our enthusiasm and energy
Jan is a friendly, relaxed woman who runs workshops in London and residential weeks in Somerset to help couples and singles reconnect with their inner selves and their sexuality.
Who’s into this
So what kind of people attend the workshops? The age range is from 30 to 70-plus, with backgrounds including everyone from doctors and entrepreneurs to waitresses.
The couples’ relationships are hugely varied. “Sometimes there’s almost no hope in the relationship,” says Jan. “There must be a spark for them to have come. But they can be almost desperate.
“Other couples are quite content but have a feeling that there’s more.”
What they can learn, says Jan, is that they are able to say yes or no: “When they realise those boundaries are in their control, they learn to relax. When people relax, they can receive touch, and give it.”
That is something we’ve heard already in parts one and two of this series. “If people can connect with and start to love themselves,” says Jan, “they realise that they only need to give what they can give, and they don’t have to give to please, which can be a big problem. Then sexuality becomes very nourishing.”
When sex dies in a relationship, the result can be stress and may lead to depression – especially for women around the time of the menopause.
“Women sometimes use the menopause as an excuse to shut everything down,” says Jan. “But actually, when we close down our sexuality, other things often shut down too, like our enthusiasm, excitement and energy.”
Permission to touch and feel
So how can you get these back? “To be teased alive really doesn’t take much,” says Jan. “You can come back to life in a day or a weekend.
“We all need to be touched, and given permission to feel. When you put touch and emotion together in a safe space – well, it’s an experience many people haven’t had, and that’s terribly sad.”
Workshops include guided meditation, role play and dancing. “The dancing is great, because we move, we use our bodies and our breathing changes,” says Jan. Does the dancing make some folks feel a bit awkward?
“Sometimes,” says Jan. “But my job isn’t to make people feel comfortable. We have already narrowed our lives down to something boring and not very alive so that we can feel comfortable. Being OK with being uncomfortable is a way of growing.”
Tantra: the connectedness of sex, love and life
Quite a few of Jan’s workshops involve Tantra. But what is that, exactly? All many of us know about Tantra is Sting and his lengthy orgasms…
“Yes, in many ways Sting did us a disservice,” says Jan, smiling. “Tantra doesn’t just mean sex. It means bringing all of you into play, connecting sex with spirituality, truth, love, respect and tenderness.”
That’s the very thing, then, that all our practitioners have in some way been talking about and which, in our current pressurised world, many have lost touch with.
In Jan’s workshops, the sexual aspect is introduced slowly, at a pace everyone is happy with. It can wind up with some participants fully clothed and having their hands stroked, while others are happily buck naked.
Jan is keen to stress that it is not an orgy. “Everyone will be completely focused on the people they’ve been working with. Couples can work together or individually, but as a couple, you’ll take away something both of you have learned.”
And how might you feel at the end? “I hope people feel more in love; with themselves, and with life. To be in total friendship with ourselves, and whatever arises around us.
“And that they have got out of any rut they were in, and feel more playful, excited and inspired. In that state, you draw people in – and you just have so much more fun.”
Jan Day’s courses include: Living Tantra, where you progress through connected workshops; Passion, Power and Love, a residential course in Somerset over the New Year; Being In Love weekend workshops; and one-day singles workshops. Prices from £62
Part one in this series: The sexual healing pioneer
Part two: The intimacy coach
In a relationship? Take part in our survey on sex in your fifties