Alas, it’s a predictable scenario. You’ve been with your partner for years and sex is dull, or maybe never happens. Or you’re on your own, divorced or single, can’t find a partner but can’t get motivated to do anything about it.
Being jaded (long-term) is not the only the problem. More and more of us seem to be losing touch with our bodies and any needs beyond the basics of sleep, food and work.
Traipsing through a welter of shagging on TV, in ads and onscreen, we barely think about doing it ourselves. We just know something’s wrong, and that we’re cranky and unattractively bitter.
After all, sensuality in all its forms – being relaxed, vibrant and switched on to the pleasures of existence – is what makes life worth living. Start crushing that and you shrivel.
No surprise, then, that there’s a growing industry in sex counsellors and therapists, people who try to help us get more out of sex, and get a little more in tune with ourselves. One who stands out is Mike Lousada.
Getting switched on
Mike is a genial, well-spoken chap in Chalk Farm, north London, and is in a long-term, committed relationship. He could be called a pioneer in the field of sexual healing, using talking, ‘bodywork’ and Tantric healing (a style of spiritual practice) to help his mostly female clients switch on parts of them that, as you’ll see, other counsellors can’t necessarily reach.
As his website observes, the Sexual Advice Association says 50 per cent of women have some kind of sexual problem. I tell him I think a major contribution to this was the lads’ mag explosion of the 1990s, which re-established women as commodities, something we had broken away from in the previous decade.
Lousada agrees, but says that now “there is a growing movement for women to reclaim their power, in a more positive way”.
His clients range in age from 24 to 65, with the majority between 35 and 50. He says: “They are women who have put up with bad relationships long enough. They’ve put up with not experiencing orgasm, with not enjoying sex or being afraid of intimacy, and have realised it’s time they got more from their life and their relationship.”
Lousada’s clients also include women whose careers have made them feel too masculine to be with a man in a satisfyingly feminine way, and some who have simply closed down the subtle channels that let men know you’re available. “It’s all incredibly, tragically common,” says Lousada.
What can Lousada do to help?
After a consultation, he’ll mix his talking therapy – not so much counselling as relaxed, confiding conversation and ‘breath work’ – with a frankly controversial mixture of gentle holding and deep tissue massage.
Then, if it’s what’s wanted, there is full body massage including massaging the yoni (which is a Sanskrit word meaning a women’s sacred space, or genitals). It often leads to “therapeutically assisted orgasm”. Good Lord!
Do some women feel embarrassed? “I’m worried about the ones who don’t!” he says. “To have some anxiety is healthy. You’re in a strange situation. But women very quickly realise I’m not coming to this with any agenda.”
The make-up of a session depends on the client, and if and how much they want to be touched. Lousada believes that sexual and emotional issues like these are best dealt with psychologically and physically, in a gentle, respectful environment.
“I’m also acting as a kind of sex educator, a coach,” he says. “For example, a lot of women still aren’t aware they have a G-spot, or how to find it.”
Author and journalist Naomi Wolf has visited Lousada, and is a fan. During her session, she went as far as deep tissue massage and reported: “Within 30 seconds I was in a state of – yes – bliss.”
Lousada is acutely aware of the correct boundaries and is at pains to underline them. But his overwhelming concern is for a client’s growth.
“One of the things I love about what I do is that I get to see a real transformation in people. Our sexual energy is our life-force energy, and the more we engage with it, the more we can engage with life.
“So when people come here, they’re not just freed up sexually. They notice they are more relaxed, more aware of their senses. They enjoy food more, enjoy scents, enjoy nature.
“They feel more creative, more deeply female, and they have deeper relationships. Some even change their jobs. They feel empowered and, often, happier and more joyful.”
I’ll have what she’s having.
Further information on Mike Lousada. Courses include Regular Healing Sessions (with talking and non-intimate bodywork) to Intimate Touch (including, if appropriate, yoni massage). Price: £80-£100 an hour.
Next Wednesday: sexual healing part two
The other stories in our 12 from 2012