It used to scare me. It’s taken me fifty years to embrace my body and my own healthy, juicy sexuality. Abusive childhood sexual experiences, misguided religious education and contradictory cultural norms taught me no one loved a girl who loved feeling good and feeling sexy. She would be used, abused and left open to ridicule. Even now publishing Good Food: Better Sex – A Holistic Health Cookbook that brings sex out of the shadows and onto the kitchen table, has been an act of bravery. I know that talking and writing about sexual health has been deeply healing for me. Just like the #metoo movement it sometimes takes only a few people to speak of the sexual shame and trauma they experience, on a day to day basis, for a flood of recognition to take place in others.

Chinese Medicine’s understanding of sex has been a revelation for me. It explains its function without judgment. It’s just another aspect of life which has to flow and express itself, no different than breathing, eating, laughing or sleeping. It’s part of life and without it, we would not be alive.

Sexual energy creates worlds. It is the energy that grows all life. From the mix of Yang Sperm and Yin egg, splitting and reproducing cells until, 9 months later, a new baby is born, that will carry on reproducing cells; bone, blood and everything in between, as they grow through puberty, adulthood until finally reaching the grave. We are born with this automatic programming, to reproduce at a cellular level.

Just like the air we breathe and the food we eat sexual energy is an essential part of life. It makes the plants, the trees, the courgettes and the daisy’s, the fish in the sea and the birds in the air. All reproduction relies on sexual energy which means its pretty powerful stuff.
A plus is that sexual energy feels good. Nature has designed it that way so that we don’t die out. We are supposed to feel good, experiencing the pleasure of our sexual energy and being alive.

No-fail Corn Bread with Walnuts and Feta Cheese From Shiatsu & the Art of Conscious Cooking

In Chinese Medicine, that feel-good, dopamine-producing aspect of sexual energy applies to anything we create, whether that’s dancing, singing, painting, cooking, designing a house or anything we can conjure up and desire to make manifest. It’s an enjoyable expression of who we are. We have brought something into being whether that is a baby or a loaf of bread. In Chinese Medicine, the energy that drives the expression of who we are is also sexual energy. It is passionate and powerful, it creates life, no wonder it’s scary.

Because this energy is powerful, all sorts of people and institutions want to control it. Sometimes with the best intentions, information around sex only relates to the physical act or unwanted consequences. But this method of teaching is not enlightening or educational. It curtails our individual expression and our joyful exuberance of who we are or could be. For me it was like a part of me was suppressed. A part that was joyful and exuberant, that liked to dance in the sunshine and swim naked in the sea, feeling sunshine on all of my skin. However, the message from school and state was that this sexual side would bring me nothing but trouble. It was messy, unpredictable, and scary so better to keep it controlled and contained. If I didn’t monitor myself and my behaviour following the dictates of society, I felt I would be ostracised, rejected and never find love. However understanding and expressing my passionate, creative, sexual energy has allowed me to find my integrity, my own moral compass. I can trust and respect my actions, this is true love.

Sexual energy shouldn’t be dictated to – by the partner you choose, the religion you follow, or the society in which you live. If wearing a short skirt, red lipstick or stilettos while shopping excites someone else’s sexual energy that is theirs to feel pleasure from. I don’t have to respond, engage or take part in their sexual energy unless I want to feel pleasure, and share the experience with them.

dance like everyone is watchingBecause in Chinese medicine, healthy sexual energy is not tied to only sexual intercourse it has allowed me to find my voice around sex. I can now express myself as a whole person, not just the parts that are acceptable to my parents, religion or the society in which I live, and I feel like I have regained a limb. I don’t dance like no one is watching, I dance like the whole world is watching and they’re loving me.

This excitement can feel scary because it is unpredictable. Unlike the misguided teenager who just went anywhere to experience the thrill of it all, I know now whether my sexual energy is pleasing others or pleasing myself. I hold myself tip-top of the list, with self-love and safe boundaries but still willing to explore messy feelings. Just like cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and body mass index I can address my sexual health. I can talk about menopause, impotence, premature ejaculation and vaginal dryness without shame and embarrassment. I am a whole being, sexual and spiritual. The trauma I experienced around my sexual experiences and education was not my fault but healing from it is my responsibility. I didn’t know it at the time but that’s what writing the Good Food: Better Sex cookbook was all about.

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