Image of Candia Raquel and Robert Boyd at the Interview on How to Overcome Sensual Inhibition

#1 How To Overcome Sensual Inhibition — MS Robert Boyd Founder of Triangle Feldenkrais

Overcome Sensual Inhibition by not settling for what is!

In this opening episode, The Sensual Sessions presents:

MS Robert Boyd Mathematician, Feldenkrais Method® and InterPlay® Practitioner in this exclusive interview to help you know how to be more in control and more relaxed—to overcome inhibition and become sensually confident!



The Difference Between Protection and the Isolation of Sensual Inhibition 

Inhibition is something we resort to for protection. It has a limiting effect. Is like deciding ahead of time that we'll only do things within this box and the choices out here. We're not going to use those. For whatever reason that we've decided this is the framework that we want to stay with them. And while it can have the sense of protecting us, it also means that it keeps us from discovering other choices. That might be even better. And so one way that we experienced that many times is if we've stayed inside of some container for long enough it's very much like being in isolation in a prison.


Why Resentment and Anger Build Up

So our system develops a sense of deprivation, because we see other people doing things that are outside of our inhibition zone, and one of two things often happens with those, at least from my personal experience, what I experienced is that when I'm living in that kind of space, I see someone doing something and I either get irritated with them, or I get excited to see what they're doing and go oh, I wish I could do that. And I've discovered that the irritation is often related to some sense that I have that if that I want to do that. But I've made a decision that I won't. It's not that I can't. We often use the words I can't do that. But the truth is we've made a decision that we will not and we will not even consider it as a possibility. So then this tension builds up inside of us. It's not a it's not a good tension in the sense that it begins to well, honestly, it leads to resentment and anger.


"I Could Never Do That" Limiting Belief 

And then at some point, we don't even know where it's coming from. But it's all related to some need. We had we chose to stay in the box. So then you know and then the other thing is we see someone doing something fun or exciting. And we say things like "I could never do that". When the truth is I am choosing to never do that. Now there may be I mean there certainly are physical limitations that some of us have. That would be a problem for doing some kinds of things like someone who's paralyzed is not going to get on a trapeze and fly through the air. Without help. There are ways for people with those kinds of limitations to experience things that they tell themselves they can't.


How to Feel Sensually Safe

And so, from my perspective, as a teacher, my role is to create a space where people can experience feeling safe. Yes, experimenting in small ways, not leaping off a cliff, but to make small advances to go out to the edge of their box. At first and to discover that they can be on the edge without collapsing or some people talk about if I do that. I'm gonna cry, and I won't be able to stop crying. So to create a space where even those experiences can feel safe so that they can stay with it long enough to have an experience of experimenting.


How to Create a Safe Way Out of Inhibition

I think I think it's really about experimenting. Moving a little bit coming back home, moving a little bit further out. And you can see this was small children, when they're learning to move away from mother a good mothering experiences to allow the child to move farther away. And what you'll see in those interactions, you can see it in children and mothers every day, or on video. The child will go and they'll look back at the mother and if the mother is approving. They'll never a little farther. And this is and this is not about this situation where the child is just flying off running. You know, I've seen that too. Many children do that. But in this exploratory phase they they're looking to see how safe how far they can go safely without losing that connection as mother and of course later as we grow to adulthood, the challenge of parenting is to make it safe for the child to move completely out of the zone of being connected with home and to have their own ability to make home wherever they are. And it's that way too with this. This personal moving out of inhibition, because the inhibition has become home and I quote someone else Better the devil we know than the devil we don't. And there's so there's a sense of danger outside of the box. So the challenge is to create a safe way to open our soften the box to stretch it a little bit and then maybe let it slowly dissolve over time but it's not the kind of thing that most people if they have like a peak experience, where they're sudden where their box is just blown open. Many times they find themselves pulling back in afterwards. And then they're sort of wishing they could have another peak experience to get out of their box but they don't know how to open the box. It's like only the experts you know.


When the Box that Contains You just Blows Away Suddenly

So, what happens when when the box that contains you just blow blows away suddenly does that mean that there is no like reliable learning or construct directly there's while those kinds of moments can be extremely invigorating and pleasurable unless we're working with someone who can be present with us in that moment and structure the experience in a way that sort of creates a well I just say the word safe container. For having that experience. Then we get left with a lack of understanding of how even though we've been through the experience the mechanism of emerging into that experience is I would describe it as mysterious. We don't understand what happened to us. It may take a long time to integrate what happened and what happens most of the time is that we returned to our routine. And then we collapse in again. We have this memory of a fantastic experience and we have heard this many times after church retreats. Or men's groups retreats, or therapy intensive. Why can't it always be like that? And that was a fantastic experience. I want that every day and or there's something we experienced during it that we want more of, and that's really the key is becoming friends with that part of us that knows we want more friends with that which tells that I want more, we want that once more, which has to do with knowing that you don't need to settle for what is.


Recognizing the Want to Pursue Desire

And this plays into so I mean, there's many things that inform us of things that are outside of our experience, and some things we see and we go, I would never want to do that. That has no attraction for me, but then we see other things. We smell things, we touch things, we taste things, we see things. We hear things and our senses feed into our brain and we have some part of us that recognizes that there's something there that our self would like to experience in some way. And yet, when we've had to for safety reasons impose these inhibitions then are what our illusion of control stops us from pursuing the desire. So what that does is it cuts off learning whether or not we would really like it or not.


How to Get Out of the Box Inhibition

So to me the the I'm sure there's many ways to structure doing this. And I know that people have these fabulous programs that do it different ways, but my personal experience is that it works better for me, and the people I work with to do what I would describe as incremental, incremental gradual exploration, so that that the person as the Explorer maintains a sense of being in charge. Yes, being that they can go forward or back freely without being pushed out into space where they have no framework for handling the particularly the emotions that come up when you're flying. Because really, when we go outside that box, we feel like we're flying with no, no ground under us playing outside of the apparently safety box of innovation. It's very interesting that you say because we we believe that this innovation of sensing of enjoying essentially the senses is separately and it can be but it can also be like limiting the ability of not only going for your fullest expression, but also to to remain safe because innovation can be confused with a home or safe place and if it's not examined through through the Explorer, you recommend in in gradual and incremental steps, then it can there's possibilities. So it's a it's a great invitation and to have experienced that.


The Apple Pie Story

Yeah, I've experienced this with food for instance. It's a funny experience I have from when I was a teenager. A friend of mine came over to my house after church one Sunday and my mother had baked an apple pie and after the meal she offered everyone a piece of apple pie and my friend refused it. Why? How come? Because he had never tasted it and he didn't know if he would. So okay, so better than the devil that you know that the one that you don't know so he decided to stay not now with the devil of not knowing the flavors. If after much persuasion of your Well, all of us, my whole family he must comply. Oh, it was terrible. We were if I had to do over again, I would probably approach it differently. I would. I would find some way to get him to take a teeny tastes. But now eventually he capitulated and he didn't tell us why he didn't like it until after he had some. He finally revealed that he had never had it and he was scared to try it. He had never tried it and he was afraid. Yes. And to me that is such a brilliant. It's a brilliant example of where many of us are with something we're inhibiting.


Why are we Scared of Experimenting Sensually

Yes, we are scared of what will happen when we experiment. Because we don't want to be overwhelmed with an unhappy experience or a happy experience that we don't know how to manage our emotional surge that might come from it. Because emotional surges like that. When when we grow up in environments that don't support us emotionally. Yes, we don't develop skill at containing ourselves when we have these strong emotional surges, and happy emotional surges are as scary as the unhappy ones. Because we don't have that sense of safety in ourselves. That I know how to be that big without blowing up.

How to Create a True Home So important to create that safe space as a true home instead of staying on the on the apparently home of innovation and I think it's that you mentioned the your mom's buy because it gives context to sensuality as as what we share and teach here in central color. That is the ability to sense with with your senses. Says in a pleasurable way because in a way we are source we are allowed by the society to feel bad. I mean if you've had a stomach ache, or or low back pain or shoulder pain, like you can complain and scream. And it's like oh boy, you or and at the same time like oh the hero because if that from working over time, it's like heroic. So we are allowed to feel we are allowed to feel bad and even praised for that bad feeling. If it's related to something like societally approved, but there's the sense sensing it as as I experienced it unless I believe it. It's the sensing of the self is fundamentally pleasurable as as an expression of health in the sense that if you pay attention simply being alive, it's basically pleasurable like breathing and feeling like swallowing food. When you really need to go to a toilet and you find fantastic relief or the physical sensations are pleasurable. And that sensuality it's it's the awareness of the pleasurable sensations that are a reliable indicator of health. In the same measure that pain is is an indicator of disease. I mean if you feel discomfort in in the body or in the motions or in whatever realm of your existence, you need to do something new.


Exploring as a Baby

Very important not to have some thoughts about the the exploring and learning , if you think about our natural exploring as a baby. People present us with food to taste and it's really obvious for an uninhibited baby when they're presented with something that disgusts them. They will make a face that is just ARRRGH and they'll spit it or anyway. And you can see that they're uninhibited. They're reacting to their senses and their senses say no. And on the other hand, you see them when they get something to their mouth that they like they want more of it. Even more, and they go for it. Yeah. So and another is touch. A baby exploring their own movement. At some point, if they're physically capable of it. Their hand will get to their mouth. Yes. And then they start exploring. Oh, that's kind of nice and find ways to get the hand in the mouth more often. And some people who don't understand what's going on, get upset that they're putting their hand in their mouth all the time, but it's natural, it's they're getting a sensation they like. To me, the important thing for someone being present with a child at that stage is to celebrate their discovery and support them. In exploring more sensation in a safe way. And so, another is a baby who has natural sight ability as their sight develops. In the early weeks of life they begin to engage more and more with what they can see around them and when they reach the ability to turn themselves over on their stomach to get the different perspective on the world around them. I just love I've seen both in person and on video. Children having that discovery moment where they're suddenly looking from their belly. And it's like, wow, look at this. And of course they're also having that visceral sensory experience of being on their belly and they did it themselves. So there's all this sensing going on, that makes for a very exciting time. But then they begin, you see them begin to pay more and more attention to the world around them. That they can see and they'll pursue getting on their belly again just so they can have the visual perspective as well as the freedom of movement that comes from the at some point as they begin to crawl. So to me begin beginning to support someone experimenting with loosening their inhibitions is creating experience helping them create experiences where they do small experiments and to give them control over which they already had, but to make it explicit, that they have control to say I like that. I don't like this.


Knowing What you Like and Don´t Like

And that's important in movement. It's important in touch. It's important in taste. Hearing, visual. I see this painting I like it. I see this one. Yuck. I don't know what the artist was doing but I don't like it. Yes, yes. Yes. And to to externalize, like and don't like Yes. I like when you're touching me this way. I don't like when you touch me that way. I like the when I touch this chair, but when I touch the stone that's too rough for me. I like the fur of this cat. I don't like the fur of this dog. It's too rough, or scratchy or something or you know to play with very basic sensing experiences of like and dislike these like like, like claim, reclaiming back the expression of discernment, because we always know in a physical level like okay, this doesn't taste good, but I am going or like to conform to social norms.


Regain and Reclaim Trust in Yourself

At a restaurant was my friends and they said I should try this. Yeah, I don't like it. But I'm with my friends and they said I should try it. It's not okay to say or it's not okay to say that. But it's not okay. It's not okay for them. But at the same time, it's what is okay with you. So it's, it's daring and I think that's that's the the the decision of sincerity of being first and foremost sincere with yourself and extend that authenticity and sincerity to your friends in the sense that you need to know what what you like and you don't like in a physical level. To regain and reclaim trust, trusting your body trusting yourself and trusting the world because from there you can tell your friend with with your hand on your chest, like either like your restaurant, or I am not liking this food. Maybe you say with better words, but you can always say I love that you like this and wanted to share it with me. And unfortunately, in my mouth, it doesn't taste good. We need to copy paste that script Robert. Have to say no, because that is also saying yes to yourself and going beyond that. Apparent home that is more of a day. of inhibition that refers you to past experiences that got you into that space and inhibited and limit you from from relating to this precise moment as it is on your fullest. capabilities. So I That's wonderful, and makes a huge contrast on the experience that your friend had with the delicious pie of of your mother. He is innovation blog from really getting getting to know not having a discernment of his experience because chances are that he didn't like it because he hadn't tasted which is like weird. He didn't relate to the pie or the experience or or the present moment, but just like to look in the past. And this goes for all the realms of sense abilities, sensing possibilities, and sensuality.


Control by Relaxing not Tensing

And you mentioned something very important about control that it's this discernment knowing I like it or I like it like the baby. Is is the basis like knowing that you're in control and and going incrementally only as far as, as, as do feel in in control and the relationship that I believe that there is like a cliche, a belief in our society, that control is tension. But in one of your writings you state that be more in control. And more relaxed. So you want to control with relaxation. How is that for me? That's breaking, like, like melting a huge world of fake belief on control through innovation. And control through tension. How come that put the need to control has to do with relaxation. So to me, true control. And you've alluded to this some before. True control is when we feel in charge of our own choices. We shouldn't charge on choices.

How to Do What you Want So and there's most I felt a crisis. Feldenkrais gets quoted for this one thing that he said over and over and over which many Feldenkrais practitioners repeat, and I love it still because it has so many implications. When you know what you're doing you can do what you want. Yes. When you don't know what you're doing, it doesn't matter what you do, because you won't know if you're getting what you want.


What Happens When You Don´t Know What You´re Doing

So there's so many things tied up in that. One of them is the thing about knowing what you want when we inhibit ourselves sincerely. And essentially, by implication, we don't find out what we want and what we don't want. What we're doing is we're prey deciding that we're not going to risk experimenting, finding out we're going to stick with what we already know. Regardless of how limited that is, because we feel that is better than risking disappointment, pain, disgust, danger, physical harm from going outside of whatever box we've chosen, and the rock that type of boxes can be many. I mean it can be as simple is my friend who didn't want to try apple pie or it could be much more complicated. Someone who doesn't want to let anyone touch them because it might stir feelings that they've suppressed because of something somebody did to them. Or it might bring back memories that they don't want to deal with because they don't have the support they need to process those burly that's like it, like realizing if you have an innovation that goes beyond your your means and that it's better not to touch it, but to go to a professional and seek help to solve to help unravel and overcome that situation because there are things in the body and the mind and everything that we are that doesn't heal with time. Just present like no, if you put your finger like chopping potatoes, it will in today's if you just as there are things that if you don't address them professionally they they stay there and you operate in the way that you found found in that moment to keep on forward. But that doesn't mean that it's them that you're healed. That you are like living fully and it's not to go there's nothing at the center of your experience. And do as much as you can to to live fully. I don't know how it is. We're just left but in the United States and in Europe where I have lived. There's a great tendency by people who I would say themselves have not had great emotional support, to be uncomfortable with someone who's having some sort of upsetting experience. The loss of someone or some injury and or breakup in a relationship. All these things what I hear people say is just get over it. And the truth is that that's not how we work. No, that's that's the outcome of a process. It's like when they tell you nah, relax and it's not like do click there relax, bottom. Relaxation, it's one hour and a half, being in the floor breathing with a professional.

The Way to a Nicer Future So what my experiences and my teachers who are good at this teach is that the way to a nicer future is to fully experience what we need to feel and to have the feelings at a level where our nervous system feels complete. But sometimes the experience is so overwhelming that our nervous system is not ready for that. And it's rare with those kinds of experiences that we can open the bucks on our own. Because those kinds of experiences 10 until we've had enough practice. We don't know how to make that safe space for ourselves. Not to me that sort of a shortcoming of the educational process most of us go through growing up unless you have really good parents and teachers who know how to teach you too have these skills. We get to adulthood age. With no knowledge of how our psyche works, and how to create those safe experiences for ourselves. We don't know. For instance, how satisfying it can be to retreat into a corner, like with a stuffed bear or a pit and just hold ourselves to let the feelings pass.


The Importance of Interaction 

Sometimes a really important tool is to have someone with us there's some things that to process them to have the full experience we need to be witnessed. And witnessing ourselves is not enough. We need someone outside of us that witnesses yeah and so to me, learning, creating experiences for people to have that embodied experience of being witnessed is an important part of opening sensuality because when we have the experience of other people, accepting us with our likes and dislikes, yes, then that solidifies that structure in ourselves that says I am in charge of what I like and don't like. No one else can tell me what to like or dislike. And so if you think about the baby being fed food it doesn't like well some parents and caregivers for whatever reason think that a baby you should eat the thing that they're giving them and they will keep forcing it on them until the baby submit. And then that baby is making decisions for their whole lifetime about dealing with things they like and dislike. And so somebody in their 50s or 60s is still struggling with choices about food because they were taught not to be safe and trust their likes and dislikes.


The Challenge of Interaction

So to me is this there's this whole dance of interaction with other people that is complicated by those early experiences where we may have rules and decisions that were made before we were even verbal. Things about touch taste, comfort and discomfort in placement. Like a bed. That's uncomfortable or a piece of furniture. One of the most amazing things is to find a couch or a chair that when I sit in it, it supports me and comforts me just to be in it. To me that can be a hugely satisfying sensual experience. But if I've been taught to disown my own sensation, then when I sit in a place like that, I may not even reach the level of conscious awareness that wow this is a fantastic tear for me and to want to repeat the experience it so learning to deal with likes and dislikes is both a very private and a very social, yes thing. And so there's some things that we can experiment with on our own and discover things. But then there's other things that only happen in connection with other people. And so having developing that sense of it's okay for me to know what I like and what I don't like and to set limits with other people when I don't like it. That's a very critical skill to develop. If we don't already have it. When we reach an adult age. And a lot of inhibition can be tricky to those kinds of issues that we don't mean coming back to the the word control. Yes, real control is knowing what we like and dislike, yes, and then choosing what we do or don't do. There may be times where we choose to do something we dislike because there's something we want that can only be achieved through tolerating the thing we dislike there's extreme examples of the wilderness survival incidents where someone gets trapped and the only choice to stay alive is to damage their body to get out of the situation. But I mean that's really extreme, but it's a really clear cut example of they would never do that under normal circumstances. I think that's the key only. Only bypass your dislikes, when it's for an extreme circumstance not to place your Exactly. It if you if you need to hurt yourself, because that's the only way to survive. Yeah, well then, there actually there is not no more much choice but we give away our our sense of integrity for for smiling to the someone food and it's very important, I, I feel to to also give space for the experience of other people not being comfortable with our dislikes.

It's a real dance.

Yeah, that's real and it's wonderful!


A Short but Surprising Sensual Experiment

Now a Short but Surprising Experiment I appreciate so much that that you brings all these clarity on how to to decide not to settle with sensual innovation and understand control as being in charge and deciding upon our own likes and dislikes. And I wonder if you could share with us a small practice or experience that that we can all that we're watching here have of sensuality.

Okay, so I have a very favorite little experiment that I like to offer people that that's short, but it can be surprising. Yes, let's do it!

(This is a Surprise so please get comfortable, close your eyes and listen to it)


About MS Robert Boyd

Robert Boyd who is a founder and director of triangle Feldenkrais. He became a Feldenkrais practitioner studying with Yvan Joly himself.

He's also a dancer of the Deep End ensemble of Interplay dance improvisation, a Mathematician, Physicist and a Computer Science expert.

Connect with Robert Boyd at:



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