We were sitting in a sushi bar (of all places), when my friend points out an A5 poster advertising healing vaginal massage for women. The practitioner, Bonnie, refers to it as Yoni Mapping. Yoni, for those of you who haven’t ever heard of such a thing, is Sanskrit (Indian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jainist, take your pick) for vagina or womb. The wording of the ad was intriguing for a woman of the flesh such as myself, and I knew before reading most of it that I would be doing it. Tomorrow. The ad talks about letting go of sexual guilt, blissing out your vag and discovering the ‘magical superpowers of your vagina’. Oh hell yes I wanted that. To give this some context, mine is a long history of being intrigued by and enamoured with sex, getting naked at any opportunity, and boring my friends endlessly with talk of genitals, body parts, and excretions. It was a natural step for me to want to get my yoni checked out by a (very qualified) hippy in Byron Bay, Australia. Before the appointment, I was thinking about what this yoni mapping might entail. Was she going to make me come? Was part of this mapping having a stranger coax one out of me to prove a point, like how open and spiritual I was? I was apprehensive. And kind of excited. Bonnie’s studio was set up at a house in the bush, where she had a pretty, airy room set up with mats on the floor. I was nervous, and to my dismay giggled, mostly because I was really, truly petrified about what Bonnie was going to do to me – like most women, the only experience I have with the touching of my vagina, besides by me, has been in a sexual or medical context. Come what may, I dived in. Well, Bonnie dived in. I just lay back and enjoyed the ride. I am a sucker for new experiences, but felt stupid for being so nervous. I am a grown-up lady; open-minded, curious and, I like to think in situations like this, cool as a cucumber. Not so. I may as well have blushed. We chatted about the process: she explained what her utterly pure intentions were with my vagina and delicate soul, then asked me about my relationship with my vagina, which turns out is a pretty hard question to answer. It stumped me. What is my relationship with my vagina? I didn’t know how to answer her, and all I could say, as by brain scanned its plethora of answers to weird questions, was “I don’t know.” I then repeated this several times, as if every time I said it, it would help to explain where I was coming from. But, I don’t know. I have never thought about it. Knowing she wanted some kind of answer – what’s the point if I can’t talk about it? – I explained to her that I have always been a fan of sex, I have not been sexually abused in my vagina, I don’t feel (much) shame and I don’t have (much) guilt. I have amazing, deep orgasms, and apparently I’m quite in touch with my yoni energy. I’m one of the lucky ones, she tells me, and goes on to say that although all women have vaginal baggage, it doesn’t have to be as drastic as rape or vaginal pillaging. It can be as simple as having sex when you don’t want to, which let’s face it, we’ve all done. It came down to this: have I always totally respected my body? Definitely not. And so, my vaginal soul needed work. Bonnie explained the process to me. She would massage my body – all of my body – to relax me enough so that she could put her fingers into my vagina and give me the equivalent of a friendly gyno exam, checking out all the different walls of the vagina, my cervix, and pointing out my g-spot and a new one, the a-spot (which I had never heard of). I asked her if I was going to have an orgasm, and she said that sometimes that happens, but it isn’t the norm. That whatever happens during the session just needs to be able to happen, which I am, as a naturopath and massage therapist, very much a fan of. Now that I was on the other side of it, however, I had to shut up and let it happen. This is hard when you are used to being the boss, and I had to make a conscious effort, including delaying our professional interview until a later date, to stop trying to control the experience. I had to just wait and see what this had in store for me. The first thing she did was ask me if I was ok nude (yes!) and once naked, to lie face down on the mat. Once lying down, she gave me a lovely – good pressure, didn’t miss bits – whole body massage. I’m used to cajolling my boyfriends into massaging me, but they always miss bits and they tend to lose interest when I fall asleep. This intimate massage with no sexual pressure, no matter how slight, was a relative first, and I found it wonderful. She wasn’t looking at my body as a feast, but just as a naked body that was hers to care for. The areas avoided by almost every other massage treatment due to their intimate overtones are numerous, and don’t just include the genitals. There is the crease of your panty line, your bum (which holds you up, more or less, no matter how much we may or may not appreciate it), and the breasts, which have a multitude of muscles criss-crossing beneath the nipple and mammary glands. There is a constellation of pressure points in the pelvic area, and if your massage therapist leaves these bits out, how are they to ever have their tensions relieved? The short answer is, they don’t. This is why this type of massage is so interesting and useful. The vagina, uterus, cervix, bladder, ovaries, and their threadings of tendons, ligaments and other connective tissues support the bottom half of our bodies – everything else sits on top of these organs, yet nobody ever inspects their structure or positioning or levels of tension. (Except a pelvic physiotherapist or an osteopath, for example, but this is not the norm.) Are they knotted? Shifted in the wrong direction? There is so much that none of us ever think about, even as health practitioners, let alone as women. I was surprised to find that, despite my focus on vaginas as a vocation, when it came to the actual inspection of the inside workings by someone other than my doctor (who is brief, gentle and polite), I was kind of ignorant. Bonnie has had her hands inside hundreds of vaginas, and has the kind of wonderfully close working knowledge that I could never hope to have. A good relationship with healthy vaginas! The treatment was three hours long, split into three sections that bled into each other. First we talked, then she massaged me, then came the vaginal massage. Bonnie rolled me over onto my back. She hung my knees over hers which was surprisingly comfortable. I was spreadeagled with my vagina directly facing her. She massaged my legs, and again, being in this vulnerable position with a stranger rubbing my thighs was actually ridiculously relaxing and not sexual at all, relievingly so. This operation requires a significant element of trust, and we’d only had 45 minutes to create that prior to me getting my gear off, but I liked Bonnie immediately. I figured she was more like me than not like me, which of course validates me in my own mind, but also I felt a kinship with her. She is about my age, has found a passionate interest and followed it down the garden path, and she seems intelligent, gentle and just an all-round babe. Obviously I like to think of myself a bit that way, so felt like we were birds of a feather. We talked like friends instead of as if I was the patient, which helped me with my control-freak problem despite it actually not being true: I am the patient, but it feels more like an experiment instead of the spiritual experience it potentially should be for me. This I like because it creates a separation that allows me to enjoy the experience and not search for greater meaning. Whatever comes out of it, I am open to, in true pseudo-scientific fashion. The actual vagina-touching begins with a labial massage. As a finger brushed my clitoris, and it felt good (gasp!), I became mightily afraid that in fact Bonnie was going to, eventually (on purpose?) turn me on and maybe this would involve an orgasm. It wouldn’t have been that bad, probably, just a bit weird, and I might have had mixed feelings about it – our social constructs do not delve into this so I had no precedent. In saying this, the idea of having a friendly orgasm during a vaginal healing session didn’t seem so weird after all. I’m sure Bonnie gives good hand jobs. But, having an orgasm by appointment, costing almost AU$300, wasn’t really what I was after. I got over that quickly, because what was to come was not an orgasm, but an honest-to-goodness poking around and a big chat. That little clitoris graze was the last of it, to my relief. The orgasm option was a bit too confusing for my little peanut brain to fathom, and was quickly forgotten. During the labial massage, Bonnie found one ‘poppy seed’ in my right-hand side labia minora, which I asked to feel myself because I had never heard of such a thing. It was hard to find, but these are little unknown entities, like knots or some other energetic blockage, that can be rubbed out with a bit of rolling between the fingers. Only someone who did this for a job would know what these things were. Poppy seed worked on, Bonnie went in. As the investigation proceeded, Bonnie asked me how each part felt. She explained what she was doing, where the area was, and what it meant. I was pleased when she said everything seemed to be in order, but I was curious as to what might be released. I have, after all, had two decades of multiple sexual partners, lots of dull, or painful, or confusing sexual experiences, and an absolute plethora of vaginal, urethral and cervical infections. While my vagina has served me very well, for the most part, it has taken a bit of a hiding over the years. I thought potentially there might be some hidden pain up there, but as she poked around, trying to access feelings trapped in my tissues, nothing happened. I didn’t cry (which I am prone to, especially when I feel vulnerable) which surprised me. I thought I very well might have; in my pretreatment state I was far more ok about crying than coming on her hand. As she worked, and nothing emotional was triggered, I felt pleased, simply because as a person interested in my own progress, I have worked hard to resolve, as much as one can, malingering issues, and feel that I am in a good place. Not having feelings spewing out of my vagina reinforced this in a satisfying way. We chatted through my fingering. My cervix points directly down, not out, as would be what Barbie’s might do in a perfect world. This just means that certain sexual positions will be better for thundering cervical orgasms, and will influence which positions I prefer, as the cervix is an orgasmic piece of flesh. This explains why women prefer some positions over others for deep orgasms, and these positions are heavily influenced by the shape, size and direction of a partner’s penis (or toy, finger, whatever). Bonnie also explained that the shifting of the uterus and cervix can be why some women are unable to get pregnant for no apparent reason. My vaginal muscles were a bit tense, and the first part of the internal session was a bit uncomfortable. As my muscles were massaged further, they relaxed and instead of discomfort, it was just a pressure on the inside. It didn’t hurt at all, but nor did it feel particularly pleasurable either. Bonnie said that my pelvic floor muscles were at about 80 per cent, with the muscles closer to the vaginal opening the strongest, which is common, but she advised using a jade egg to strengthen the muscles all the way up and improve tone and flexibility. It isn’t just about having strong muscles, but being able to actually relax them fully too – a critical component of any vagina. Inspection over, our three-hour session was brought to a relaxed end, and Bonnie withdrew from my body – carefully and slowly so as not to make me feel abandoned – and left me to reflect on my experience, naked on a sheet. She left the room to wash my vagina off her hands, and I lay there with my eyes closed to try to determine how I felt. I realised that I felt really nurtured, and as that dawned on me, I burst into surprise tears. The feeling of having a loving entity care for me in a way that nobody, ever, including myself, had ever done, was profound. Afterwards, the feeling of being nurtured trumped even the relief of the lack of ache in my lower back from spending years on a computer, more recently several days straight on the road on a motorbike, and two years of IBS. I just felt nothing in my pelvis, which is rare and a delight. I could focus on enjoying the crap out of my day, jumping back on my motorbike, wind in my hair, sun on my face, blue skies, and cruising up the highway to my next friend, who was going to hear all about my adventure with Bonnie Bliss. You can find Bonnie, a somatic sexologist, yoni massage therapist and karsei nei tsang (abdominal genital therapeutic massage) practitioner, at blissrevival.com.