The Art and Practice of Self-Pleasure: A Guest Blog by Lila Darville

Known as "the Director of Pleasure", author and relationship coach Lila Darville is on a mission to elevate sexual consciousness and amplify pleasure. Visit her website and follow her on Instagram for more!

This blog was written to address cisgender women – but we think Lila's ideas can be inspiring for anyone.

 Picture of Lila Darville

Running her fingers up and down the insides of her upper thigh, she adored and praised herself for the softness there, and thus, became softer. 


Let’s go there. 

Take a breath, and read the word again. 


What’s your relationship with this practice? It is a practice, you know. A neverending, artful love affair. Can you feel it?  

The word ‘masturbation’ elicits almost as many variants of reactions as there are perceptions of its definition. For many, no matter if their practice has been artful or perfunctory, masturbation has become a wham-bam substitute for not getting any. For others, it’s sad or even shameful. Very few of us really indulge in a playful, nourishing relationship with our own self-pleasure. For this reason, I’d like to invite you to take another breath and dive into a space that’s open to redefining, or at least expanding, the possibilities of this juicy, limitless practice.

Imagine a space curated especially for you – soft and sexy music fills a room of your favorite colors, the light is dim, and a euphoric scent fills the room. Whatever you’re wearing fits you in all the right places and allows you to feel the sweetness of your inner thighs as you chasse towards the bed. Laying down, you feel the textures of the blankets and pillows gather up around you. A smile graces your gorgeous face as you let the fuck go. 

This, lovely ladies, is a perfect start to a ritualistic, inquisitive, deliciously illuminating self-pleasuring practice session. Step one always involves letting go, arriving, de-armouring. 

What is de-armouring, and why is it important? 

Imagine walking onto a strange street late at night. You don’t have far to go, but you don’t feel safe. What happens to your body? It becomes tense, your breath shallow, your fight/flight/freeze responses ready to do what is needed to keep you safe. This useful protective mechanism is your armour. Now imagine a dear friend is with you, trying to engage you in an in-depth, heart-felt conversation. There is almost zero chance of being present for anything other than survival when we don’t feel safe. Our systems are not built to exist in parasympathetic (chill) and sympathetic (run) states simultaneously. Before we can engage in any sort of sweetness, we need to de-armour. We need to get ourselves to a safe place, have a cup of tea, some deep breaths, and maybe a foot rub. Then, we will be open and ready to show up. 

This same system of self-protection also exists within our vaginas. We store past hurts, insults, violence, fear, and even ancestral memories within the muscle tissues and fibers of this delicate and strong place. Just as we needed that foot rub to relax before we could be fully present for our friend, it is important we be patient with ourselves and give ourselves all the time we need to feel safe, supported, and deliciously open before we begin our masturbation ritual. Once we are open and receptive, the magic and the healing can begin. 


Here we go again with that word and its myriad meanings. Let’s get away from the traditional ‘getting-off’ for a minute and explore some more of this ‘limitlessness’ I mentioned earlier. 

When we experience stress, our body responds. If we resist feeling or expressing this stress in a healthy way, our body will store the stress as trauma in our muscles and bones. Many of us have had the experience of receiving body work, doing yoga, dancing or having an orgasm and suddenly becoming overwhelmed with strong, unexplainable emotions. This is stored trauma leaving the body and is to be celebrated! Because, as womb-bearing women, so much of our emotional body is expressed in and through our vaginas, there is much to be explored and released here.  

As I mentioned before, step one is to create a space – internally and externally – where you feel safe. Now, take it a step further and invite deliciousness. Stroke your legs, your face, tune in to your breath… build an intimacy with yourself. Once you feel you’ve reached the point of letting the fuck go – the place where dearmouring is possible – you can begin with a process of pleasure mapping. 

What is pleasure mapping, and why is it important?

Pleasure mapping is one of my favorite ways to touch myself. You can start anywhere on your body, simply taking note of all the places that feel good and of those that don’t. The practice assumes nothing is the same today as it was yesterday. In this way, it keeps inquisition and interest in your own body alive: her rhythms, juices and moods. Pleasure mapping is masturbation as a courtship and nourishing exploration.

As you explore your body and move eventually to your labia and – if you’re feeling it – the inner walls of your vagina, there will be a consistent checking in. Never move further or faster than what your body is asking for. And if your body begins to crave the same old quick climax you’re used to, play with it. Slower your breath and tease yourself as a lover might.

This is a (feminine) practice unlike most of the (masculine) sex being had in the world. There is no objective other than curiosity and intimacy building. Explore any energy being built within you and try to move it throughout your body with your breath. Remember, this is a playful practice. If you’re not feeling it, feeling too much, can’t help yourself but cum… smile, enjoy it, and keep playing.    

Eventually, as you begin mapping the pleasure within your vagina, you may come across places that are numb or painful. This is normal and actually quite beautiful. It is in these places that we can offer ourselves support. As always, check in. Does that point want to be touched? If not, save it for another time. There is healing in acknowledgment and safety in being left alone when asked. Moving on, another hurt or numb place might want some love. Only you know what you need.

If it feels right, I suggest soft, loving touch. Waken the numb places, invite pleasure, massage the tension, and allow whatever emotions arise to be felt. Over time, rough edges will smooth, sensation will return, and sore spots will transform to sweet spots. This sweet inquisitive exploration is, in itself, deeply healing and de-armouring.

Remember, just as a traditional massage releases tension from your back, a proper de-armouring, self-loving masturbation ritual can release trauma, invite play, and be a treasure chest of liberation exposing and opening you to pleasure points you never knew possible! The information and potential stored here is invaluable, and often mysterious. 

So, let’s explore!!  

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