Counselling and Psychotherapy for
Body, Mind and Spirit

Ina Stockhausen, MTC

info@positivelifechanges.ca
778-558-8207

Ina Stockhausen R.P.C. offers spiritual counselling and body psychotherapy or somatic counseling in Burnaby and North Vancouver.

passion

Have you ever faked an orgasm? If yes, please take a moment and acknowledge to yourself why you answered the famous question “Did you come?” with a lie.

As a sex therapist and relationship counsellor I help couples address this questions and the potential surrounding anxieties in a way that is nurturing and supportive rather than anxiety provoking and frustrating. When the question “Did you come?” turns into a “But you didn’t come :(” or “Why didn’t you come?” the afterglow and positive emotions just shared are  often replaced with feelings of low self-esteem or thoughts of not being enough.

Frank and Susan have been dating for 3 years. Both divorced and in their early 50’s, they  have counted themselves lucky to find someone to love again who feels like such a good match. They both love to travel, play golf and be outdoors. Their children are mostly grown up, financially they are doing well… until they have sex and Frank doesn’t orgasm. While some men can struggle with premature ejaculation, Frank from time to time has delayed ejaculation. Frank doesn’t mind the occasions when he doesn’t climax. He derives great pleasure and enjoyment from touching and being touched as well as bringing Susan to orgasm. But Susan gets upset. Her reaction can range anywhere from wondering whether Frank is cheating on her to finding herself unattractive, not sexy enough and fat. All her fears about aging come rushing in. Frank feels embarrassed and frustrated. “Why does Susan get so upset if I am fine with not having an orgasm every time we have sex?”

Can you relate to Frank or Susan? Or perhaps the following scenario feels familiar:

Burnaby Marriage Therapist can help you rekindle your romantic connection

Mandy has been consistently lying to Jake and doesn’t know how to fix it. The couple had turned to marriage counselling because they felt stuck in a rut. They are a great team when it comes to managing their busy lives.  However, after 4 years of marriage their romantic and erotic connection had been replaced with a solid friendship and camaraderie. They wanted to rekindle the passion they once shared but couldn’t seem to move forward.
When we discussed whether they talked about sex and their sexual desires and preferences we slowly identified part of the problem. Both Mandy and Jake had been hesitant and less then forthcoming in sharing what turned them / satisfied them or what they would like to change. Mandy imagined that Jake would think her “too wild” or “dirty” if she were to be honest about some of the things she wanted to try in the bedroom. Furthermore, she had been feeling inadequate and ashamed because the way Jake had been pleasuring her, never brought her to a climax. Feeling vulnerable and not wanting to hurt Jake’s feelings had her faking orgasms from the beginning. Jake also had some negative self talk going on and had refrained from sharing some of his fantasies. 

In both of these scenarios (as in all examples, names and identifying characteristics have been changed) communication broke down because of:

  • self-esteem and body image issues
  • worrying about the partner’s reaction
  • feeling responsible or wanting to assume responsibility for the partner’s orgasm

Burnaby sex relationship counselling helps couples talk about sexIn a magical and ideal world every sexual connection and love making creates simultaneous pleasure for both you and your partner. In the real world, our bodies change – sometimes from moment to moment – and what felt amazing yesterday feels a little different today. What you wanted to fast and hard last week, you want to savour slowly this time.

Talking about sex can feel vulnerable. You both need to feel emotionally safe and may have some specific requests for each other before you start sharing such as: “Please don’t comment until I have finished.” or “Please remember that I love you and find you sexually attractive.”

But before you talk about sex you need to check your attitude and your boundaries.

Remember the following realities: 

  • the amount of pleasure you both experience will fluctuate from time to time
  • not every time you are sexual together will  you both climax
  • you are responsible for letting your partner know what you need or want to enhance your erotic experience
  • your partner is not a mind reader whose job it is to know what you want
  • there is a difference between being mindful of your partner’s feelings and feeling responsible for how your partner feels – you are not responsible for your lover’s feelings

Ideally,when you take your clothes off, think of offering your ego a chair to rest on for a time out while you are making love. Remember…making love is about connecting erotically and intimately with your lover. Hopefully you will both climax… but it is not the only way to feel fulfilled after sex.

North Vancouver Couples counselling can help you reconnect intimately

 

As a somatic psychotherapist and marriage counsellor I offer intimacy coaching to couples who would like to deepen their intimate connection and want to share a more satisfying sex life.

The number one practice and first, very simple step towards a more fulfilling sex life is body mind awareness.

In a world that is incredibly fast-paced and almost everybody’s day is tightly structured and governed by a schedule, most individuals spend a lot of  time “in their head.” And while eroticism and desire are governed by the mind and by willingness, without body mind awareness your sex life risks being limited to a quick orgasm rather than the enjoyment of a full body release.

There is often an erroneous belief that a bigger trigger creates a “bigger bang”, i.e. increasing stimulation of the genital area results in a bigger orgasm. It’s like driving a low horsepower vehicle and thinking that if you push the gas pedal hard enough it’s going to go faster, forgetting that maximum output is determined by horsepower.

If we transfer this analogy to the body, the amount of energy in your body is the equivalent of the vehicle horsepower. You need more horsepower, i.e. energy for a more complete orgasmic experience. How can you increase and build energy, specifically sexual energy? Since you can only change something if you have an awareness of the starting point and the desired outcome, body mind awareness is your gateway to building energy.

Exercising and maintaining a certain fitness level can contribute but don’t guarantee that you have body mind awareness. If you tend to exercise and multitask, i.e. watch TV, work on your computer or read while you’re running on the treadmill, you’re often distracting yourself from your body.

Cultivating a “breathing practice” is the simplest way and first step to increase body mind consciousness while learning how to move/raise energy in your body.

 When you bring your awareness to your breath and increase its volume, a number of beneficial physiological mechanisms are set into motion. More breath means more oxygen which is a key element in your body’s ability to produce energy. The website “The Healer within” is an excellent resource for variety of simple breathing practices that you can integrate into your daily routine.

Practicing to regularly tune into your body is the second step in mastering body mind awareness. How often in your busy day do you ignore the signals your body sends you?

Perhaps you’re familiar with these examples:

  • You have to go to the washroom but decide that you don’t have time right now and continue on with your day ignoring your discomfort
  • You skip lunch even though you’re hungry because you’re too busy
  • You overeat even though you feel full
  • You don’t drink water even though you’re dehydrated
  •  You have a cup of coffee rather than a brief nap when you’re tired

Learning to listen to and honor your body signals, slowing down and doing a body scan to bring awareness to your body,  practicing mindfulness, all these are simple ways that can enhance your body mind awareness.

Imagine lying in bed with your partner fully present in your body, acutely aware of the sensations touch is producing. Imagine engaging all your senses, smelling, touching, seeing yourself and your partner. Imagine breathing and deliberately changing your breath to increase and raise your sexual energy.

Now compare that image with lying in bed with your partner a part of you giving and receiving touch while another part of you is thinking about what you have to do tomorrow. As you go through the motions of “pushing all the right buttons” a part of your mind keeps wandering off.

Which intimate experience would you rather have?

 

 

Over the years of offering marriage counseling to couples, I’ve noticed that there are some recurring stories or themes that propel individuals to seek out couples counseling.

 

One such theme is “I’m not getting a lot out of our marriage/relationship anymore.” This statement is often accompanied with a sense of bewilderment, sadness or resignation.

There is a sense of loss that what used to be an exciting, romantic, sexy relationship somehow morphed into a well-functioning, predictable, loving companionship.

I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with solid, loving companionship. I would like to suggest however, that there needs to be a shift in attitude if you want to keep your marriage vibrant and exciting, an emotionally safe haven from the world where you continue to grow, heal and discover each other.

You are most likely familiar with John F. Kennedy’s statement “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” I would like to propose that you transfer this statement to how you live and participate in your relationship, i.e. don’t ask what your relationship can do for you, but what you can do for your relationship.

Like anything that is supposed to grow and flourish, relationships need care, attention and nurturing. But you can’t give from an empty cup. That’s why I believe that one of the most important contributing factors of lasting relationship bliss is self-care.

Unfortunately we all lead very busy lives, with long to do lists and self-care tends to land at the bottom of the list. Given that most people never get to the bottom of their list, and new items are added to the top rather than the bottom, self-care can easily fall by the wayside.

Why physical self-care is important:

Physical self-care means taking care of your body by feeding it nutritious food, New Westminter Marriage counsellor helps you rekindle passionexercising, refraining from abusing drugs and other addictive substances and getting enough sleep. If you don’t feel well in your body, it affects your mood. If you’re always grumpy, overtired and irritable it affects your relationship.
If you are disconnected from your body because you don’t exercise and regularly ignore the messages from your body, how can you expect to connect energetically and physically with your partner?

Why emotional self-care is important:

Emotional self-care means attending to your emotional needs. In order to be aware of your emotional needs, you need to practice mindfulness. You have to be willing to slow down and tune in to become aware of how you’re feeling. If you consistently ignore your feelings of hurt, disappointments or other emotional triggers rather than working them out in your journal, speaking to a friend, discussing the issue with your partner or seeking professional help, you risk being shut down, emotionally unavailable or exploding in unwarranted fashion when you reach a breaking point. If you’re busy trying not to feel certain emotions, or your heart is closed, how can you connect with your partner in an openhearted and loving way?

If you can agree that being available to yourself and honoring your own needs is the foundation you require in order to be available to others and potentially honor and connect to their needs, then it would make sense to put self-care at the top of your list.

If practicing good self-care is a commitment that you’re making so you’re able to nurture your love relationship, I invite you to stop and think about what would be helpful to you so that you can honor that commitment.

What are your challenges regarding self-care? Consider how you and your partner could support each other in practicing good self-care. What kind of agreements regarding accountability could you come up with? Remember that it takes consistent effort to move from the know-how to the do how…but isn’t growing and deepening your love relationship worth it?

 

 

In my Burnaby marriage therapy office, I often hear couples talk about their desire for a deeper intimate connection.

Perhaps you can relate to this scenario: Sex is mostly good or okay, but not as great as it could be, because of time constraints and scheduling problems, lack of connection or underlying conflict.

After years of working as a couples counsellor and somatic therapist, and from my personal experience, I know that how deeply we connect with others depends on our ability to be fully present in the moment.

Take a moment right now to stop and reflect. Where is all your energy? While you’re reading this, is a part of you thinking about the deadline of your project, or what you need to prepare for the kids? Or are you fully present in your body and with the process of reading this article?

Most likely, you’re energy is scattered; especially if you’re in the habit of multitasking. Don’t get me wrong, multitasking has its benefits, but none of them are relationship and intimacy enhancing.

Do you ever catch your thoughts wandering off while you’re making love or having a quickie? Nobody likes to admit that while they’re in the throes of passion a part of their mind is engaged making the grocery list or thinking about the laundry.

Here is a perceptively simple exercise which I like to call Skinergy. Regularly practicing 10 minutes of  Skinergy will help you become more present with your intimate partner, which in turn will create a deeper intimate connection.

Skinergy combines Skin with Energy.

One of the most effective ways to become fully present in the moment and with someone else is to become fully present in your own body.

  • Lie down together completely undressed, i.e. skin on skin ( you could stand but most couples prefer a horizontal position and support for their long torso).
  • Start with your eyes closed and connecting to yourself. Take several deep breaths and become aware of your body. What does it feel like? Are you tense, is there any pain, do you feel cold or hot?
  • After a couple of minutes, make eye contact with your partner (it doesn’t matter if you’re completely synchronized or not).
  • Now tune into the connection between you and your beloved. What does his or her body feel like next to yours? What do you see in his or her eyes?
  • After a couple of minutes return to your own body experience. This process of taking turns of being present with yourself and another is called shuttling.

Some things to observe and be aware of:

Notice your breathing. When you connect and look into each other’s eyes, does your breathing change? Do you lose connection with yourself? Do you get to a point of needing to look away or close your eyes? All your feelings are valid and welcome.

This entire exercise is about noticing. Breathing together and feeling each other’s energy.

You can touch each other – but in a non-sexual way. This is not meant to be foreplay, although many couples report that being connected and fully present and feeling each other’s energy creates and builds sexual energy or arousal. If that happens you may of course choose to continue with foreplay AFTER Skinergy.

The entire exercise (approx. 10 min) happens in silence.  This is all about sensing yourself and each other. If you notice your thoughts wandering off (and they will) gently bring yourself back to the present moment – just like you would during meditation. Simply observe the thought without engaging and let it pass by like a cloud.

A regular practice of Skinergy will “train” you to become automatically more present with yourself and attuned to your partner and his or her energy. You will notice that your intimate connection will deepen naturally.

If you experience any challenges, or have feedback, comments or concerns, I’d love to hear from you! Please connect with me by leaving a comment or sending me an email at info@positivelifechanges.ca.

Here’s wishing you deeper and more fulfilling intimate connections.

Do you have a vision, a passion, a desire to do something? Do you have a Dream?

What are you doing to make your dream become reality? 

If your answer is “nothing”, because

  • It’s just not possible right now
  • It’s just a silly dream, it’s not realistic
  • I can’t afford to have dreams, I have responsibilities
  • I don’t have the time
  • It’s never going to happen anyway…

 I urge you to reconsider. Not answering the call of a passion that lives inside you comes at a price. If you always have to push down something that wants to come out in your life you will pay for it with your health. 

Ignoring a dream or sitting with a permanent longing is painful. While your rational mind may have reasons and your inner critic may have comments, you are living in inner conflict.

You are torn between a “I would really love to do this” and “I can’t”. 

This kind of inner conflict takes away hope.
Hope can be a soothing balm for an aching soul.
While one part of you may be busy extinguishing your dreams, another part of you is grieving. 

If you are forced to always push down an energy that wants to emerge, you risk suffering from depression at some point.

Furthermore, this kind of inner conflict is painful. It’s only natural that you’ll try to make the pain go away. If you repeatedly try to make the pain of unmet needs in your life go away either using a mood altering substance such as Alcohol, drugs (prescription or otherwise) or a particular activity you might one day find yourself addicted to your method of coping. 

In the beginning that shopping trip to the mall makes you feel better, or the thrill of the gambling table distracts you. That drink allows you to mellow and that pill may help you forget for a while.
But when the effect wears off, you will be right back in your place of conflict between the pain of an unmet need – in this case the realization of your dream and the rational voice that tells you it’s not going to happen. 

I invite you to set aside some time and explore:

  • What parts of you are you trying to ignore?
  • What parts of you have been overly concerned with trying to please others at the cost of putting your own pleasures last? 

As you contemplate the idea of making some changes you might get stuck in a place of black and white thinking or being overwhelmed by your inner critic. 

Try this exercise called a cost and benefit analysis. Take a sheet of paper and draw a large “+” sign creating two columns and two rows.

In the top left quadrant make a list of the benefits of not following your dream or giving energy to what you are not expressing. (e.g. being responsible, being “a grown up” etc.)

In the bottom left quadrant, write about the costs of not following your dream (e.g. depression, sadness, irritability etc.)

In the top right quadrant write about the benefits of taking action and following your dream (e.g. excitement and passion in your life, new opportunities, etc.)

In the bottom right quadrant write about the costs of following your dream (e.g. anxiety, people judging you, etc.) 

Sometimes it’s useful to enlist the help of a trusted friend or partner in this exercise, someone who can help you find your blind spots and/ or encourage you to look at the possibilities.

 You always have choices. Even when it feels like you don’t have a choice, you are still making one. Often just the reframing and getting in touch with your current choice and the need that your current choice is meeting can shift the energy. Rather than being powerless you become empowered. 

Your own dreams deserve the same respect and loving attention that you give to everything and everyone else that you love.
Allow yourself the thrill of your own passion…and breathe and ground thru the feelings of anxiety that can arise with that excitement. Don’t focus on all the what if’s. Instead activate trust in yourself. Activate your confidence in the possibility. 

A great way to do this is by creating a vision board. Here is a link where John Assaraf explains how to create a vision board. http://tinyurl.com/yagc5y6  

Give yourself permission to go for it. Allow yourself to dream.

It is thanks to the visions of someone’s dream that today we have internet, can take trips to other parts of the world in a plane and get x-rays ….just to name a few.

Here’s to Happy Dreams…