The Creators behind the Othership Intimacy Series

June 23, 2023
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We sat down with the facilitators who helped create the Othership Intimacy Series to learn more about who they are, their work in the field of intimacy + relationships, their creation process, and what intimacy means to them.
Explore the series + read on to learn more.

Dr. Cat Meyer

Walk us through your journey into this field. Where did you begin? How has your practice evolved over the years?

I started studying + practicing yoga at the age of 18. This was the first time I can recall feeling calm + relaxed in my body, where before I felt a lot of fear + anxiety. Two years later I became a teacher of yoga + meditation, practicing pranayama breath practices + discovering that resolving peace could be found in quicker practices.

Over the years, I dove into the art + science of relationships, getting my doctorate in relationship therapy, sex therapy, + ketamine-assisted therapy. I immersed myself in studies around the traditions of tantra + energetic psychology, discovering how breathwork was a powerful channel for amplifying energy + deep connection between lovers. Today, I teach erotic breathwork to individuals + couples all over the world through my online teachings + live in-person retreats. It’s such a joy to hear the sound of ecstatic pleasure blended with tears of release, joy, + love.

Why are you passionate about this work?

I’m so passionate about bringing people back into right relationship with their bodies, with pleasure, + with their own erotic power. When we are liberated to come into our fullest expression of self, we discover how powerful we actually are. A renewed sense of energy + aliveness find us + we can create a life + love that is not only sustainable, but something we desire to be in.

Tell us about your session creation process for the app. What was your inspiration? What approaches & techniques do you incorporate into them?

Because of my own personal breathwork practice, as well as, my facilitation of it + yoga  for others, I find the inspiration to come to me so easily. Each of these classes are inspired both by my formal training in yoga, tantra + energetic psychology; as well as, my own curious experimentation in teaching. I am also a poet + published author, so words + sentiments easily spring forward in my mind as I create the script. I believe that breathwork practices are a journey we get to go on + when we are held by the rhythm of the right mood in song, the right soothing + inspiring words, the right tone of relaxed vocal tone, + the right cues—the curated journey can bring us deeper into ourselves, into feeling, + into love with each other.

Which session are you most proud of?

My favorite session is the Erotic Breathwork Journey. Giving yourself permission to turn yourself on is so empowering. We remember that we can self-source our own arousal, rather than outsourcing it to people or things outside of us. When we take responsibility of our own turn on, then we remove the pressure + blame on our partner do be the one to do it for us. This reduces all kinds of sexual + relational dysfunctions. The music for this session + the words that flowed through me as I designed it feel so good to move + breathe + feel through.

What advice would you offer to balance the differing needs and desires of partners in a relationship?

Balance of needs in a relationship are not necessarily going to mean that each person gets the same things. We all have different needs, desires, + boundaries of availability simply by the nature of being individuals with unique individual life experiences. When we can honor difference as non-threatening + seek a win-win by negotiation, we realize no one needs to self-sacrifice in order to find both people met in love + sex.

Tell us about a time you witnessed transformation with a client through this work?

I had a client whose nervous system was stuck on “freeze” most of the time. She lived life in primarily a hyper-vigilant state, afraid that if she relaxed then she could be hurt. We had a few sessions of breathwork paired with the psychotherapy work that we did together. In the middle of our first session, she burst into tears + full body shivering as her body released the emotions + fear that were held tightly wound up. After the session, we processed what it was like for her body to come into a surrendered state + overtaken with emotion, while being held in a safe + present container with me. These sessions helped her to develop the reference point that it is ok to feel big emotions + she is able to hold herself through discomfort + be able to rise back up again afterward.

What does intimacy mean to you?

Intimacy is more than the stories about our past that are shared, but rather the moment to moment contractions, fears of enoughness, vulnerable bids for attention + affection, + physical surrender of our bodies into one another—all while being received by another with compassion, safety, curiosity, presence, patience, + love. Intimacy transforms past wounds, helping to create references points of safety for us to flourish from.

Steve Rio + Austin Austin

Tell us a little bit about who you both are and your journey into this kind of work.

Austin and I have lived many lives over the past few decades that led us to creating Enfold and doing this transformational work around connection and love. It truly feels like a culmination of all the skills, knowledge, and passions we’ve had throughout our collective lives: designing spaces and experiences, producing and performing music, live performances and events, coaching, therapy, parenting, intimacy work, deep self-enquiry, culinary mastery, wholistic wellness consulting, facilitation, meditation and mindfulness, trauma-based training, spiritual training and practice. It’s a long list of things that come together to make our work happen. 

When we moved to the small island that we live and work from now, the land spoke to us on the first night we were here. That was the moment we realized we were going to begin doing healing and facilitation work. 

What are your specific approaches to helping couples + individuals with intimacy?

To us, intimacy begins with safety — both physical and emotional safety. A lot of people seek physical intimacy before they establish a deep sense of trust and it doesn’t really work. You get the sexual polarity, which is exciting, especially in the beginning phases of a relationship, but it isn’t sustainable. Building trust and safety is a combination of communication, self-awareness and a shared set of values that ground the relationship. Communication is more than just words, which is why our work is somatically focused. How can we embody our values? How can we create space for our values to flourish? How can we show up and be present for one another, physically, psychologically, and emotionally? These are the questions we help people with. 

Why is this work important? Why are you passionate about it?

The quality of our relationships define the quality of our lives. Our primary relationship with a partner is one of the most important factors in a life well lived. It’s also one of the most difficult relationships to get right because the closer we get to our partner, the more we touch into our deepest vulnerabilities and childhood conditioning. All our early childhood and parental issues comes up in ways that we don’t experience with friends, colleagues, and other areas of our lives. There are core practices, skills, and values that can transform our primary relationships. Practices that help us open our hearts and connect to ourselves and our partners in way that enriches our lives. We do this work because we want as many people as possible to learn these practices and skills, and to experience love in this way. When we are able to open fully to our primary partner, we access our heart in a way that is life changing. 

Tell us about your session creation process. What inspired them? Which one is your favorite?

These sessions feature music that we created at Enfold specifically for relational work. The content of the sessions came together really quickly and effortlessly because they draw from the work we do in our couples retreats. I think we completed these in a matter of a few days.

We wanted to touch on some of the most important moments of relationships where intentionality is important. For instance, the idea of intentionally connecting before you part ways for the day, which we call “launching.” Or the last few minutes before you fall asleep. We also wanted to create a session that focused on gratitude, and one that touched on the idea of the Couple Bubble, a term coined by Stan Tatkin. These are all critical aspects of a healthy relationship and these sessions can be anchors for couples in their daily practice with one another. 

What advice would you offer someone who feels blocked or is struggling with intimacy in their relationships?

Start with emotional safety and move slowly. As a relationship deepens, you start to get closer and closer to your heart, which is where we encounter blockages and armor we may have built up through various events in our childhood and teens. The gift of primary relationships is working through all those blockages with one another and getting more and more “undefended” in your love. This takes time, trust, and security. It takes self-awareness, compassion, and a willingness to open to vulnerability.  

What does intimacy mean to both of you?

Intimacy is about establishing trust. Trust that your partner always has your best interests in mind, even when they make a mistake. Trust that you’re safe to express yourself and explore your thoughts and feelings openly. Trust takes time and intention to establish and it doesn’t happen overnight. Intimacy is a commitment and a practice of working to open your heart fully to one another. Intimacy is when you and your partner touch cheeks and you’re transported to another dimension where time stands still and everything is suspended for those moments. It’s the ultimate feeling of safety and relaxation. 

Nicolle Hodges

Walk us through your journey into this field. What inspired you? What led you to the work you’re doing today?

I’m going to pretend that we’re on a first date and you’ve asked me this question and I have to somehow summarize my entire life before you finish your beer, while being aware that I have to find a balance between providing formative details so you understand the gravity of the journey without overloading you with information. The narrative arc of my life has a central theme of shame: first, being entombed by it, then using it as a compass, and finally putting it on a leash. I locked my “sexuality” in a box (eroticism, ability to experience pleasure, fire in my…sacral chakra, let’s call it). I thought “sexuality” meant chaos and I associated chaos with my mercurial mother. So, I made the deal with myself at 15 that “if I do everything the opposite of her, I’ll be happy,” and that sealed the box. Flying forward on the timeline to the age of 28’ish (but if you look down, you’ll see the outline of a beautiful apartment in Vancouver, the career of my dreams, a lovely seven-year relationship), we land on the day that something pierced the impossibly high walls I had built: desire. I walked over to the hole in the wall that desire pierced, peered through, and saw a field of flowers. There is so much space on the other side of shame. To put it simply for the sake of brevity: I swiped my hand across the table of my life. I left it all. Quit. Moved across the country. Felt immense heartbreak when a friend and I parted ways. Went to Burning Man with one guiding question: What if everything you think you know about yourself is wrong? I had never done drugs (remember the ‘chaos avoidant’ promise) so I tried every single psychedelic I could get my hands on in a week. I felt the rising sun incinerate the shame in my body that had calcified over time while I was coming up on MDMA for the first time dressed as a heart and dancing on the deck of a submarine in the middle of the desert. Let’s zoom out and plunk down a couple of years later. I’m in the backseat of an Uber on my way to the airport to go to Berlin for the first time Googling “how to be a dominatrix.” I’m in this situation because the night before someone typed two words to me that changed my life: ‘Go on…’ I was being invited to feed something inside of me that had never been lured out of the box before, and it was a hungry beast. It would take too much time to explain the context here (and it’s looking like you need a refill) so we’re going to jump ahead another two years. But first I’m going to ruin the ending of the story by telling you that everything turns out perfectly. So, there’s a global pandemic and I decide to run an underground thing called “girls night ft. a sub.” That’s submissive, by the way. I watch the women transform as we continue to explore friendship within an erotic environment and the use of BDSM to help us get into our bodies and move through–you guessed it!–shame! For this next timeline jump, let’s pretend that we’re a stone skipping across a calm lake (picking up speed now!): I become obsessed with studying all aspects of BDSM; I test the concept of erotic spaces under the guise of my birthday party that year; it works; I host the first Garden of Earthly Delights (I charged $25 because I didn’t think anyone would show up), and when they do, I think, ‘so it begins.’ And it hasn’t stopped. Everything I have learned, everything that I am, everything that I came here to do is happening right now. And it’s perfect.

What advice would you offer to someone who’s interested in diving into this work, but is nervous to start, especially in the realm of BDSM?

When we approach any new experience, it is natural to feel some nervousness. Enjoy the feeling! I mean it. Once you welcome something in, it begins preparing you long before “the actual experience.” It’s like going on a big psychedelic journey: the medicine begins its work the moment you decide to take it, not once you take it. So, if you’re nervous, connect to that sensation in your body. We often try to rush through nerves or uncertainty, but the feeling between your decision and the outcome IS where the lesson is. Eroticism is that tension. So, it’s already working. Yes, read up about safety and consent and negotiation, tips for using different implements, and communication techniques–none of that is going to make you any worse off. And then ask yourself questions beyond the rational mind like what trust feels like in your body. What does an embodied NO feel like? What does your yes feel like? When was the last time you screamed? Does joy tickle you like a tongue in your armpit? What does it smell like in between your own toes? Are you willing to take responsibility for a no that turns into a yes after the planning is done or a yes that turns into a no or a maybe turned into a no or a yes at the end of an experience or halfway through the door, while you’re tied, right before a kiss? What are your boundaries and why are those your boundaries? Another key aspect of exploring BDSM is self-awareness and self-care. Take the time to check in with yourself regularly and make sure that you are engaging in activities that align with your values and bring you joy and fulfillment, which might look like the opposite of joy or fun or fulfillment at first. How do you care for yourself after a new experience? Do you have a supportive network that you can be honest with about your experience? If not, why? Remember, the path of exploration is not always easy or straightforward. AND…while BDSM can be healing, it doesn’t need to be for healing to be valid. Revelations might reveal slowly. Theophanies might look less like a burning bush and feel more like a burning heart. Epiphanies might come over time when seemingly unrelated occurrences finally form a recognizable constellation. Have patience. While BDSM can take us to dark places within ourselves, all of which allows us to explore desires that, taken out of context and trust, would be harmful, it doesn’t need to be any less joyful than other embodiment and meditative practices. Something unique about BDSM is that it IS relational. It requires interaction with others. It may involve challenges and renegotiations along the way. But if we approach it with an open heart and a willingness to learn and grow, we can discover new aspects of ourselves and deepen our connections with others. That previous sentence hurt to type because it feels so surface-level and pretty basic but I’m trying to remind myself that this is a question about someone who is nervous to begin their exploration of BDSM. I don’t want to mislead though. It’s true that it’s good to approach these practices with an open heart and willingness to grow, but also, are you willing to face yourself in a house of mirrors you’ve never seen? BDSM isn’t for everyone and if you think that’s gatekeeping, I need you to know that I don’t care. If you want to be part of something, it means that you see value in it, which ought to mean that you want to preserve its sanctity by making sure you contribute, rather than detract, from what makes it what it is. Otherwise, I would question your own intentions, if you’re capable of being honest with yourself. I suppose what I’m saying is, going back to the first part of my response, if you have a feeling that you are drawn to BDSM, sit with that, explore it, question it with compassion, and ask yourself if you’re ready and willing to welcome the possibility of getting what you want even if that means everything will change.

What inspired the sessions you created? Who are they for?

They are for the person who finds them and feels like they’ve found what they had been looking for but didn’t quite know what that was until they found it.

Can you share a story of a transformation you witnessed while working with an individual or couple?

There are far too many, all with incomprehensible implications, but I can at least share the following image and say, ‘Every decision ever.'

Where can people learn more about you + your work?

Instagram: @NicolleDoubleL (this will lead you to Men Who Take Baths, Girls Who Say Fuck [where you can fill out the form for membership to the Garden of Earthly Delights–a community that uses BDSM as a way to heal our relationship to power, step into our unique leadership potential, and deepen friendships within an erotic environment], and soon, my Patreon, where you can have access to my brain).

What does intimacy mean to you?

Allowing yourself to be seen and asking without words for the one upon whom your gaze falls to have mercy.

Gina Marie

Walk us through your journey as you got started in this field. What led you to the work you’re doing today?

From a very young age, I was always fascinated by love and pleasure. And as I got older and found myself struggling in relationships and wanted to deepen my own connection and understanding of my sexuality. I learned that the world was not very equipped with quality education when it came to intimacy, love, relationships and sexuality. I've made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot - a lot of hard lessons. So what really led me into working in the field of sex, love and relationships was the healing journey I've been on and healing my own past traumas - through  really finding that deep inner self love and self trust I always knew was there.

Now, the work that I do as a sex and intimacy coach for women is supported by the twelve years I've worked in the mental health field as a clinician. And it's really my true calling.

Why are you passionate about this work?

To me, this never feels like work. Getting to coach women by enhancing their self love and intimacy and their connection to their innate sexual power -- what could be more amazing than that? I also believe the journey I've been on has been so profound -- like the heroines journey of going deep into my own intimacy blocks. Through that journey of finding my own power, I'm passionate about sharing this with others.

I really feel passionate about taking people on a journey to reclaim the parts of themselves they might have forgotten or lost. I see this work as my contribution in making the world a more loving and pleasurable place for everyone. Overall I really enjoy the creation process of meditations and guided offerings.

Tell us about your session creation process for the app. What was your inspiration? What approaches + techniques do you incorporate into them?

The guided sessions are about embodying your desires and creating an inner union within, which is inspired by the work that I do with my clients and the work that I've done for myself - to really come into the things that I have right now in my life, which is a really secure and beautiful, deep partnership and a self love that I used to only dream of. The approaches and techniques I poured into these sessions were informed by my training as a tantric informed and trauma informed coach. Incorporating breathwork techniques that really calm the nervous system and get people into a relaxed state allow listeners to embody and fully sense what they desire to call in and step into.

A big part of my sessions is also envisioning -- letting your body and your mind reinvent and create what you want. We often get stuck in just kind of writing down or thinking what it is that we want in love and intimacy. But it's another level once you start envisioning and truly feeling it inside of your body. The other fun part of the creative process is empowering people to access that deep love and inner union within, because that's really allows you become the best partner in an intimate relationship. Essentially, coming from a place of wholeness.

What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with intimacy in their relationship?

The first thing I would invite someone to do is really take the time to connect with what the need, which emotions are present in the struggle inside of their relationship, and really looking inward to examine where there might be some blind spots. Also really finding a way to communicate what you need or want in a compassionate way with a partner. I always bring things back to the individual and how they're showing up for themselves with self love. So, really learning how to give yourself intimacy and self connection in your own love language, and then helping someone else see how they can give you what you need in your own unique language. And vice versa. So that would be like a first step of advice is really looking inward.

Another piece I always recommend - bias aside - is that someone seeks out the support of a coach or an excellent skilled therapist around love and relationships, because so much of what we struggle within relationships have to do with some type of experience in the past. Whether it be our relationship with our parents, our siblings, or past partners -- often these things are unconscious, and we're often operating from an unconscious wound. So having some support outside of your intimate relationship to unpack some of those things can really bring awareness, acceptance, and further integration of any past wounds, so you can come into your relationship with fresh energy and from a more healed and whole place.

What does intimacy mean to you?

To me, intimacy is so much more than like sex and physical touch. Although pleasure and shared pleasure is a big part of intimacy for me, it's really being seen and known inside of a partnership whether it be a friendship or a romantic relationship or family. And for yourself, intimacy is, as they say, "into me, you see." Deep intimacy is really getting to understand who the person is that's sitting in front of you from a very loving and compassionate non judgmental place. Being able to see another person for all that they are - the light, and the dark.