Like most women in Western culture, I grew up hearing the tale of "Sleeping Beauty." Naturally I imagined that one day, just like the sleeping princess, I would be discovered and saved by a handsome prince. As I became a teenager, my fantasy expanded and I also imagined that my Prince Charming would know how to awaken my sexuality and turn me into a radiant, adult woman. And I wouldn’t even have to tell him what to do…somehow he would just know….

This fantasy of a perfect man who possesses the key to awakening a woman’s sexuality is still embedded in the psyche of many women. Deep inside their hearts and minds, even very powerful and successful women are often still waiting for that special lover to come along and wake up their bodies to deeper pleasure and vitality. They believe that there is someone out there other than themselves who has the power to unlock the secrets of their ecstasy.

So what happens when, after years of waiting, the prince still has not shown up? Or what if the prince has shown up and, although he loves his partner dearly, he doesn’t miraculously hold the key to her pleasure? After years of marriage, this woman still finds herself feeling frustrated, misunderstood or neglected. Or even worse, what if an insensitive or abusive man has shown up, leaving the woman wounded and shut down?

If waiting for a prince doesn’t pay off for so many women, then why do they keep buying into this myth? Because we live in a patriarchal society where men generally possess more power than women and where the majority of women expect to be rescued financially, emotionally and sexually by men. And if, as a society, we want to move towards harmony and balance between the masculine and the feminine, women have to do their part in waking up to and owning their power – including the power of their sexuality.

A sexually empowered woman is a woman who is connected with her life force energy, her feminine intuition, and her compassion. Such a woman knows how to make love to herself, to her partner, and to the world.

Another big challenge for women in our culture is that it’s full of images of how a sexy woman should look. However, these images are mostly based on a male visual perspective. So many women find themselves confused and discouraged in their search for their own unique expression of eroticism. Instead they desperately try to fit into some unrealistic idea of how they should look or behave in order for a Prince Charming to pick them.

These and other forms of internalized patriarchy keep ringing in women’s ears. It’s the voices in their heads that keep saying: "I am too old; I am too fat; I shouldn’t rock the boat of my marriage; I am too wounded, I am too broken…." When they search for that perfect lover, they are really looking for someone who will not believe those voices in their heads and instead only see the infinite beauty in them, someone who will lovingly hold their hands, and show them the way within towards ecstasy.

The good news is that we don’t need a Prince Charming to heal us and awaken our sexuality. We can take responsibility for rescuing ourselves and awakening the Sleeping Beauty within. As we turn our attention deeply inwards, beyond the fear, shame and other places of holding, our erotic energy – our life force – is waiting to arise. However, for women who have neglected their sexuality for a long time, coming back to themselves can be a challenging process.

I encourage women to be patient and gentle with themselves and seek help if necessary. In my individual and group work, I assist women through all the steps of reconnecting with their natural eroticism. Then, when a special person does show up, these women are able to communicate what they want and need, enhancing the ability of the woman and her partner to raise sexual energy even further. This also takes pressure off the partner to awaken and heal the woman through imagined knowledge and skills. Then both partners have a chance to connect and explore the beauty and richness of their erotic energy together.

Awakening the beauty within us is a lifelong spiritual commitment to keep choosing life and remembering to be awake in our bodies and our psyche.

Through my work, I have observed again and again that the Sleeping Beauty inside is eager to wake up. No matter how old a woman is or how long she has neglected her sexuality or what she went through in the past, a woman’s inner beauty desires to manifest and shine through her eyes and smile again into the world.

Diana Soline is an artist, writer, group facilitator and consultant. She coaches women and couples on how to create a deeply satisfying erotic lives. In 2000 she founded Women's Temple, an international organization dedicated to helping women connect their spirituality with their sexuality. She recently moved to the Twin Cities from Northern California and can be reached at www.womenstemple.com or call 510.919.5350. Copyright © 2008 Diana Soline. All Rights Reserved.

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