Updated: May 19
How can self-pleasure be a form of self-care? It’s time that is just mine. I’m not taking care of anyone else or working on doing, I’m being. I’m being with myself. That’s such a beautiful space of no expectations, requirements, or to-do lists. I get to really be with my body and appreciate it and all the ways we can explore pleasure together. Self-pleasure as a practice is such a vital form of self-care, especially now when we, as a society, are going through this collective trauma. Everything is chaotic and different, you don’t have any semblance of consistency or predictability. We don’t really have that generally but we think we do, and now it’s becoming painfully obvious that we do not. Self-pleasure is one area where you can still exercise control over your world and your experience.
What about women who might not be drawn to self-pleasure because they can’t orgasm, what would you say to them?
I’ve been there. Although I’ve had a reliable pleasure practice for most of my life, for the past month or so I’ve felt cut off from my pleasure. My clit has felt numb at times. I’m sure it’s a result of stress. It was one of the first times in my life, except for a period in college when I was on antidepressants and didn’t orgasm. It reminded me of all the women who struggle. I had to take my own advice and that was: don’t get caught up trying to get off. The harder that you try to orgasm, the more elusive it gets. If you just breathe and ask: what can I do to feel good right now? Be loving and curious. I took a couple of deep breaths and a couple of drags off a joint, and I was like, okay, how can I come to my body with appreciation? And how would I want my lover to treat me if I was going through this with another person? Can I love you even if you’re not behaving how I want you to? It’s not the same kind of spike—a big, big climax and then the whoosh of release—but it can still feel good. And there is comfort in being able to make yourself feel good, even if the orgasm is elusive.
Your lines in the video were specifically given to you because it aligns with your own messaging. You said, “the one thing that’s true about pleasure, it’s better the less you feel shame.”
I loved that line. I was so happy I got to read that line. It is better the better you feel shame. Shame is such a killer of joy, and pleasure is about joy. If you are in your body and you’re like ‘I don’t like my stomach, my hair, the way I smell or taste’ or whatever you think makes you unworthy of pleasure, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy and it believes you and thinks OK THEN, and starts to shut down and retract. You don’t have to love every inch of your body. That’s a goal and a noble pursuit, but that’s challenging for a lot of people. If you can at least treat it with kindness and start to release all the voices that you tell you you’re not enough, that’s a good step. Forgive yourself for all your perceived shortcomings. There is peace that comes from that perspective.
What have your conversations been like when you talk to women about using cannabis to increase pleasure?
There is a little bit of hesitation, a lot of curiosity, and a fair bit of shrugging like ‘I don’t even know where to start.’ Much like sexual knowledge, people don’t get taught how to consume plant medicine in an intentional way to maximize good experiences. You figure it out over time. The way I like to talk about cannabis is that it helps address the things that get in the way of pleasure and simultaneously enhances the experience. Things like shame and pain are both barriers to pleasure. Pleasure can be pain-relieving too, but cannabis can also quiet the voices that get so loud—you have to do this, and what about that other thing? It dampens it to a dull roar so you can amp up the practice of being present with your pleasure. If it’s pain management, you can use topicals on a specific area. Or for people who have pain with penetration, being able to use something like Foria and let it soak in to reduce discomfort while increasing pleasure. Or taking a drag of a joint whether its 1:1 CBD/THC or something more intoxicating. Cannabis can click you into feeling more present and grounded. It’s a plant, it’s inherently grounding.
Ashley Manta is an award-winning sex educator and coach and has become a sought-after authority on mindfully combining sex and cannabis as part of her CannaSexual® brand. She appeared on the cover of Sexual Health Magazine in January 2019, along with the designation, "America's High Priestess of Pleasure." She completed her certification as a Bodysex® Facilitator after studying with legendary pleasure pioneer Betty Dodson. She is a brand ambassador for Sybian and Foria.
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