Have you ever thought about practices of pleasure that expand beyond the human? What opportunities for pleasure exist in sensual connection to the More-Than-Human world?
We’re joined by Jess Lieu on this special bonus episode of Slutty Activism to talk about the uncommon pleasure you can experience by developing a practice of ecosensuality.
Jess is a Somatic Pleasure Educator who focuses on body-based practices of pleasure, desire, and consent.
We explore what ecosensuality is, Jess’s journey with ecosensuality, and practical ways you can explore ecosensuality for the first time, including an example practice you can try out today.
I really enjoyed this conversation and am so grateful to Jess for generously sharing this wisdom and for indulging all of my curious questions, as ecosensuality was pretty new to me!
In this episode you will learn:
1) What ecosensuality is
2) Practical ways to explore ecosensuality
3) How queer ecology challenges the systems of oppression that we live under
About The Guest
Jess is a Somatic Pleasure Educator who focuses on body-based practices of pleasure, desire, and consent. The intention of her practice is to hold space and guide people within safe enough containers to trust, value, and express their body’s desires. She believes there’s a galaxy of ways to express and experience our erotic nature and that through the altar of our bodies we are able to access our innate wisdom, integrity, and ecological belonging.
Here’s where you can learn more about Jess online:
If you enjoyed this episode, you’ll love being part of The Union!
If you’re ready to experience more uncommon pleasure and be a part of the community that fosters it, join The Pleasure Union today!
And to connect with other like-minded people, come join us in the Slutty Activism Podcast Community group at SluttyActivism.group
Produced & Hosted by Sarah Martin
Cover Art by Nik Gothic
Music by eFly Production
Hello, everyone. Oh, my goodness. I'm so excited to be here with you all today because I have an absolutely incredible guest here with us to speak on an incredible topic. And for those of you who are seeing the video, you might see a smiling face with lots of beautiful plants in the background. Everyone, this is the wonderful Jess Lieu.
And let me tell you a little bit about Jess before we get started. Jess is a somatic pleasure educator who focuses on body based practices of pleasure, desire, and consent. The intention of her practice is to hold space and guide people within safe enough containers to trust, value, and express their bodies desires. She believes there's a galaxy of ways to express and experience our erotic nature, and that through the altar of our bodies, we are able to access our innate wisdom, integrity, and ecological belonging. Jess, thank you so much for so generously spending some of your time with us today.
Is there anything else you would like to add about who you are? Yeah, I would like to add where I am coming from. I am currently residing in Chojagi, which is colonially known as Montreal. And, yeah, I want to take a pause of gratitude to the Kenya Kinhaga Nation for being the caretakers of the land and the water that I'm on.
Jess, thank you so much for sharing that land acknowledgement with us. I think that's really important, and I appreciate you bringing that into this space. So, listeners, friends, the reason I'm so excited to have Jess here with us today is that Jess has a practice of ecosensuality. And here in these bonus episodes, we're talking all about uncommon pleasure. That is, ways to access and experience pleasure that you may have never thought of or considered before, to open up new pleasure pathways for everybody who's engaging with us.
And just for the folks who might have thought, what on earth is ecosensuality? Could you tell us a little bit about what it is?
Yeah, so I actually still feel like I'm a beginner and discovering a language to this ecosensuality that I have always felt deeply into and knew that it was true, and now I'm just discovering language around it. But essentially, when I think and feel into ecosensuality, I think and feel that we are experiencing life through these bodies that are designed to sense and through our senses. We are in this direct relationship to the world around us. Our bodies are designed to be sensuous, and through these relationships to these larger wholes, to each other people, the more than human world, the admin world, we come into a wholeness and a belonging that is inherently pleasurable.
That's juicy. And I'm curious, so I definitely feel the sensuality piece. And I'm curious a bit about the eco piece, as I am thinking about you have an extraordinary Instagram account, which, by the way, everybody go follow Jess on Instagram. The handle will be in the show notes and will also share it here towards the end, you have these beautiful images of you with plants. And even I look at you now and you're surrounded by these beautiful living beings.
And I'm wondering, do plants play a role in ecosensuality?
Yeah, for me, definitely. And I think for us all, we are always in relationship to the more than human world. And I find just being in proximity and around my plants, their aliveness and their beauty reminds me of my own. Yeah. Beautiful.
And I'm curious, Jess, could you share with us a little bit about the journey that you went on to arrive at this practice of ecosensuality? How did this come to be?
I think this journey to like, coming home and really like, occupying my body and my flesh and all of my feelings started actually in a Buddhist meditation course called the Passena, where I was getting really into discovering my own spirituality. And so this vapasana course, really the technique of it is just observing the body sensations. And so that led me into this whole like, spiral into like, what is the body? What is the body?
And then from there, I just have been exploring movement, contact improv, like, forms of reform movement, ecstatic dances. And then it led me to the world of somatics where did some training and body mind centering. And then I have been studying at the Institute for the Study of Somatic sex Education.
And the more I have become more intimate to this relationship to my body, I think the more I move to the world, the more I really noticed this really deep pleasure and grounding that I would experience in nature, in the more than human world, in the forest, in a garden. Yeah. So I really feel like this felt sense of yeah. Does that answer the question? It does.
I think it opens up this story about I love your saying, what is the body? Because I think there is absolutely something to that in terms of many of us have been socialized to become more and more disembodied and the way that we live within capitalism, within patriarchy, within the structures that we occupy, we're not often encouraged to spend time feeling or just being right we're meant to be doing. I have big air quotes for anybody listening and not seeing the video. And so what you speak to there is really important. I think sometimes people start down this pathway of embodiment through any number of ports of entry.
And it's so interesting what you lifted off. I've heard my own clients, some of them started off with contact improv and that's how they got to this place of going, oh my goodness, I have this whole beautiful sensing body. And it's a little bit overwhelming. So I think it's a great opportunity to acknowledge that it can be a little bit overwhelming at first. Right?
And then for anybody who's listening and not seeing the video. When you were describing that grounded sense of being in nature, Jess just exhaled and oh, her whole body relaxed and moved down towards the earth. And I think there's something very powerful in the visual as well as the sound, visual sound. We're talking about sensing and senses. And Jess, I'm curious, could you share with us how Somatics supports our sensuous bodies, these wonderful sensing parts of ourselves?
Yeah, when I think of this site of our bodies and Somatic practices, being these bodybased practices, sensing is such an inherent part of it. And it's this way of taking in the world around us through touch, through listening, deep listening through our ears, through visuals, through drinking and through our eyes and smelling. There's so much that we pick up in our noses that oftentimes goes under awareness.
And when I think of also Somatic practices, there's also this awareness of our internal world, the sensations that are happening inside of our bodies. And so when I think of ecosensuality, I really think of this like porosity and this interaction and this bridging of the two worlds, of this taking in external information through senses and then also this internal awareness. And then it's that dance, that interaction, that conversation. Yeah, and I think what you're saying here as well is so interesting because I imagine very many people listening when they hear talk of the senses, they probably think of the five senses, right? Touch, taste, smell, sight and sound.
But there's more than that. You're talking about this internal sensing. I think that's interception, isn't it? And then there's also the sense of where your body is in time and space. And I believe that one's called proprioception for the people who love the feeling of a weighted blanket that's really stimulating and working with the perprioceptive sense.
So putting basically scents all over your body of your right here. And I can't remember if there's an 8th one or not, but it's expanded view of what sensing is. Right. That's really cool.
So I am curious, Jess. So we've talked in sort of this more broad strokes way about eco sensuality and this sensing and somatic experiencing of being in the world, right, and interacting in the dance between the two. I'm wondering, could you share with our listeners some practical ways they could explore ecosensuality for the first time? So if this is all really new, but they're curious, where can they begin?
Well, there's so many different ways because we contain all of the elements in our bodies. So our bodies is this like, well, spring resource of everything that is around us, but also tuning into maybe what element your body might be craving. I know certain people have a really deep resonance with water. So even the practice of slowing down and being in relationship to water, like either being in the ritual of taking a bath and noticing the sensuality, really taking in the way the water feels against your skin or building a relationship, having a relationship to your house plants, that one I feel like is accessible to many people who have house plants. What could that look like?
So how would you or how could I, for example, have a relationship with a house plant that's encompassing of sensuality? Yeah. So maybe it could be fun to play with a plant that I have around me now. Yeah, that'd be awesome. Yeah.
So I have a friend here, and with equal sexuality, I think there's really this emphasis in really slowing down to feel. So just even though this part is lightly resting against my hand, I'm able to notice again, with my senses, the fizziness of its color and texture registering in my eyes. I noticed that there's actually some really subtle speckles on its leaves and that the edges of the leaves are rigid, that there's some ridging. And taking in with my other hand that texture of its leaves, the way it tickles my hand, I can notice the temperature of the leave. I am noticing that the leaf is mostly smooth, but there's a little bit of that.
There is some really soft ridging all along.
And I'm also noticing that it also tells me at which pressure to touch it. I know just by sensing and touching it that it's telling me not to touch it too hard or else right. Yes. And that is also absorbing the heat of my touch, that it's also matching a certain temperature.
And yeah. So that's just a little moment, a little sensory moment of just like, really noticing. Noticing. That's beautiful. Thank you so much for this example, for all of us, Jess, because I think one thing that's really important is you were talking before about the power of being in nature or in the forest and feeling that connection to the non human world.
And for those of us who live in cities or urban areas and are going, well, how can I access this? You showed us right here with no special preparation other than you have a plant that you're caring for that's living in your home. Because Montreal is a big city, right. It's not like it's situated in the forest, and yet you found a moment to become really fully present through the senses. So that's awesome.
That's really cool. And I noticed myself, my whole, like, my breathing slowed down, my heart rate slowed down, listening to you just describing the details that you notice. And I'm wondering, listener, have you ever stopped to take a look at your house plant in that way and have a feel of your house plant and the smell of your house plant and taste? You might want to be careful. Some plants don't like being nibbled on, and we don't like nibbling on some plants.
Right. Thank you so much for that demonstration. That was really cool. Welcome. And, yeah, there's so many there's endless explorations when it comes to even your own house plans.
And it expands, I think, even more when you are in a larger, like, say, in a forest, where you can really, like, pick up dirt and really, like, smell the dirt. And yeah, there's endless explorations. And so where do you experience pleasure in these moments? So I'm curious because I think. We'Re.
Coming from a system that gives us a very rigid definition of what pleasure is and what it looks like. And so I'm curious when you're looking at that fern and noticing these small details and touching and feeling like you were also, for anybody who's listening, Jess was really smiling the whole time she was doing this. And I'm wondering, could you share something about how pleasure emerges from this practice which might be different than the way people think pleasure comes about? Because you weren't doing anything generally focused there. You weren't doing anything connected with erogenous zones, right?
It was pleasure through sensing. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Yeah, thank you so much for such a great question. I'm often thinking about queering masturbation, taking pleasure in so many ways in a galaxy of ways beyond just our genitals. And I often think of my hand, actually, as an erogenous zone because they're so sensitive. There's so many nerve endings.
So for someone who's new to sensual pleasure, how do they know when it's working? Right? How do they know when it's coming up? I can share. For me, personally, exercises like this in the sensual often create a sense of release for me, which is, like, tingling in my back and my shoulders, which comes from being extraordinarily present in the moment, which for me only ever happens through experiences of sensuality.
And I was curious if you had any insight to offer. So if someone's like, okay, I'm stroking my plan. I'm not sure if this is working, what might you say to someone with a question like that?
My question would really yeah. I think in approaching any of these ecosensual practices or somatic practices in general, is this, like, emphasis on curiosity? Not necessarily is it working or not working, but what are you noticing, just plain and simple? What is it that you notice in your own body? And it could actually be nothing, and that's a sensation, too, and everybody's experience or the ways that their bodies register pleasure, the sensations that happen in their bodies vary so much.
Yeah, there's no right formula or sensation to know if you're doing it right or wrong. And, yeah, there's a lot of beauty to be celebrated in that and I think reflects that really well, that there is no that these constructs of right or wrong actually don't even really don't exist in nature. Beautiful. Thank you. I love the advice for tapping into curiosity and noticing and, you know, like, what feels good to you.
So just I'm wondering, as we're coming towards the end of our time together. I also wanted to ask so to kind of pull the lens out a little bit and think about queer ecology for a moment. Could you share with our listeners how queer ecology questions cisgender, white, heteronormative patriarchy? Right. How does queer ecology challenge the systems of oppression that we're living under?
Yeah, there's such a dominant narrative in the ways that we talk about nature as if we are separate from nature or that there's this hierarchy of intellect or mind over body, that there is this idea, like Darwinian idea, that we need competition or like, dominance in order to survive. And I think queer ecology is this theoretical framework that inherently challenges it because it shows us within the more than human and animate world that there's like a whole galaxy constellation of ways that nature is reproducing, moving towards, interacting, being in relationship to each other. Like, there's fungi that we're still trying to understand. They're moving from place to place, the way they're communicating and being. So by drawing on this inspiration of this strangeness and that's so, like, expansive and beyond these binary colonial ways of thinking yeah, it can really inspire us to embrace a multiplicity, multiple ways of being and thinking and imagining and dreaming even, that is outside of these structures and confines of the systems that we're living in.
Wow, Jess, that's powerful work. And the practices you've shared with us and today are simple and yet deep. And I think there's also a great power here that you're sharing with people in terms of the liberation that is available through sensual pleasure, the body, and noticing our interconnectedness with the much wider world than this human world that we wind up so preoccupied with. Jess, how can people get in touch? How can people learn more about you, more about ecosensuality?
Where should the folks go for more? Yeah, that's a great question. I've been taking these online courses. There's actually the Institute of Queer Ecology. Wow.
Yeah. That I've been learning so much from. Been taking a course on mutualism that's been like, wow, so inspiring. There's also the Institute for Post Natural Studies that I've been harvesting a lot of inspiration from as well. Authors like David Abram and Sophie Strand are incredible writers that have busted my mind open to this world.
And I also want to note that this wisdom is indigenous. This wisdom is still carried by indigenous peoples. And it's really just like this remembering through our bodies. But anyway, so those are some resources.
And my Instagram is sensing, soma and I also have a website which is Sensingsoma.com, and I am taking clients. So, yeah, you can learn more about my practice there. Yes. So if any of this has resonated with you today, run, don't walk to follow Jess on Instagram and sounds like don't hesitate to reach out because you are taking clients. Is that in person or virtual or both?
I'm playing with both. I prefer in person, and I'm also open to online. Wonderful. Great. Thank you so much for clarifying that.
So it sounds like wherever you're listening from, there might be an opportunity to work with Jeff. So once again, thank you so much for giving so generously of your time today. You've certainly given me some things to think about. And to everybody listening, either watching the video or catching us on the podcast feed, I'm so glad you chose to spend some of your time with us today as well. Into the next one.