Interview with Holistic Bodyworker Mareen Scholl

Holistic Bodywork is somatic coaching and trauma-sensitive body therapy with a holistic understanding of the interplay between body, mind, feelings and spirituality.

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You are an expert in "Holistic Bodywork". What exactly does that mean and how does it differentiates, or not, from Sexological Bodywork?

Holistic Bodywork is somatic coaching and trauma-sensitive body therapy with a holistic understanding of the interplay between body, mind, feelings, and spirituality. This means that as soon as I work with a person or touch a body, not only the body or only one level is touched, but all levels of the body are working simultaneously. By understanding how child developmental circumstances and trauma structures affect our body, personality, and relationships, the goal is not only to target symptoms. The goal is also to invite people to mindfully dig deep in themselves and to approach their inner core in order to bring about change or healing, from both physical and emotional challenges, as well as in realizing matters of the heart, visions, and transformational processes.

I did my training with Pascal Beaumart and his team. Today, elements such as somatic conversation are also incorporated into the Sexological Bodywork training, which I also teach. Sexological Bodywork and Holistic Bodywork have a very similar basic approach, in that the work is about connecting a person to their own capabilities and self-efficacy, so that change, growth, and learning comes from within themselves.
Both approaches know about the importance and wisdom of the body and the power of neuroplasticity, i.e. the brain’s ability to change its structure and functions through somatic anchoring and practice, and thus to change any pattern, habit, way of thinking, and behaving. The self-regulation of the nervous system, emotions, and states of arousal is an important basis. Concretely, I work with people’s physical and somatic experiences to help them be in touch with both their feelings and their sensations. To do so, I use both hands-on bodywork and hands-off somatic processes with mindfulness, breath, voice, (self-)touch and verbalisation.
In Sexological Bodywork it is also possible to work on the naked and intimate body, bringing the breasts, genitals and the anus into awareness, but also into the touch. Sensual touch, arousal, or direct stimulation can be an important part of connecting people to their sensual bodies, their sexual beings, and their emotions.

Very importantly, and unlike a classic massage, a session will always be about a learning and developmental theme which has been preliminary agreed on. Also as a coach, contrary to a tantric massage, I keep my clothes on at all times. In Sexological Bodywork, I accompany people primarily with issues related to the body, sexuality, intimacy, identity and relationship. We invite enjoyment, pleasure, and a fulfilling sexuality as a resource and a life force, exploring how to realize or what stands in the way of their potential for erotic sensual pleasure and loving intimacy. The intimate, erotic and sexual body is a big taboo in our society, it is functionalized, manipulated, and suppressed by power structures. Accompanying people to inhabit this body in an increasingly self-determined way can be a very pleasurable, but also challenging journey in which one encounters new pleasures but also a lot of pain and insecurities. Coming into one’s own power often also means encountering one’s own vulnerability. At the core it is often about somatic perception of one’s own desires, boundaries, and impulses and how to communicate those either verbally, or through physical contact and expression – both to myself or (a) partner(s).
It can also be about how to naturally integrate these very desires, boundaries, and impulses into one’s identity, and how this socially translates. This is very personal, but also requires a lot of political research and empowerment.

How did you get into this field of work?

During my studies and my job as a cultural worker, I studied social sculpture according to Beuys, concepts like the social organism and approaches of participatory and interventionist art and culture, especially in the field of sustainability. In the process, I became aware of the importance of the body and the holistic experience for personal and collective change. Furthermore I became interested in gender roles, social structures, and power relations, while at the same time reawakening my sexual explorations and love of humanity. This opened up the worlds of BDSM, kink, and sex work on the one hand, and that of bodywork and somatics, Tantra and Tao on the other. I have been walking this path for about 12 years now. There is still no end in sight. Only always a lot of change, new sensations, and unexpected depths and refinement.

What does a typical session with you look like?

A session usually lasts 2-2.5 hours. In a preliminary talk we look at what the body and mind have to say about the topic and clarify the intention or practical agreement for the Bodywork. As already mentioned, bodywork can take place with or without touch or massage. Through guidance, somatic processes, expression, or self-touch, the theme and one’s own very embodiment can be explored. During bodywork we are in constant communication with each other, sometimes with more or less words, about what is happening, what is supposed to happen, how to support oneself, how it feels and what it does to you. In the follow-up discussion we reflect on the process and anchor the learning in our body’s consciousness.

You offer both individual sessions and group workshops. What is the difference in your approach and how can one imagine the sessions?

In workshops I mainly guide people and hold space for them to carry out their own research and make their own experiences both on their own and with each other. In an individual session I can focus more on the personal issue and go deeper with the client. For many people this is a safe space, where they can address personal challenges or deal with very specialised or advanced topics of potential and learning. I am an important companion and expert in this process. A workshop thrives on the diversity of the group and the collective learning field, which is very important when it comes to sexuality and relationships. This is where one’s own issues can become tangible and a new intimacy can be experienced. This is also suitable for difficult topics, but especially for people who feel like exploring and already have a certain amount of self-regulation, resources and awareness. The two can complement each other very well.

What do you particularly like about your work and what do you find difficult?

I love the variety of people and issues I encounter and what I learn from them. Working with the body and sexuality quickly goes into depth and people’s pain and power become visible. This is very touching and allows me to go beyond my own experience and to see behind the images that we all get from the media and society. It allows me to understand my own sexuality in constant change and to experience it anew again and again. Bodywork also brings calmness to my own nervous system. Over the years I become physically and emotionally more sensitive and permeable. This is indeed quite wonderful and magical, although it may be challenging at the same time, because it connects me to my own vulnerability, which takes a lot of courage. It also lets me see my clients, but also the people and the planet around me more clearly, which can be increasingly challenging in this day and age. While my work gives me great insight into all the pain and difficulties that revolve around sexuality, it also makes me feel more connected to it which is ultimately very satisfying and gratifying and so important in this world. 

I am always amazed by the erotic power, creativity and variety of bodies and how people live their sexuality. I am super grateful for these insights, I would not be able to have them if it were not for my job!

 

What are the most common reasons your clients pay you a visit?

Oh, it varies a lot. But the themes are often a lack of desire or dissatisfaction in one’s own masturbation and self-love, in a relationship or intimate contacts, curiosity about how these areas can be creatively explored and expanded, topics around orgasm, ejaculation and erection, orgasm training, sexuality and trauma, pornography addiction, dealing with fantasies and the erotic core theme, accompaniment with scars on body and genitals, sexuality after operations and illnesses, pleasure spots, questions about gender identity and sexual orientation, desires and boundaries, consensus and communication, challenges with one’s own body image and body experience, numb or hypersensitive tissue, anal discovery, touch and massage coaching, coaching in BDSM, kink and Taoist sexuality.

Charis from Cheex approached me and asked me. I thought it a great idea to combine modern sex education with erotic porn. The videos are appealing and diverse and invite young people in particular to watch ethical and more authentic porn, to live and explore their desire as well as to learn in a more practical way. This is very much in the spirit of Sexological Bodywork.

The guide describes a massage for a person with a penis. What was your approach and the process of writing for you? What experiences did you draw on for the guide?

While my main work is somatic coaching (with or without touch, but always in line with a learning and development theme), I have also been giving sensual and tantric massages for years. In fact I was giving an actual massage to a friend while speaking freely into the microphone. This is the easiest and most fun for me. It was not so easy to do it in such a short period of time, because a massage immediately puts me into a nice flow. There I had to concentrate on the essentials. It was also a challenge to describe the movements of my body, especially those practiced on the penis, with words exclusively. I have already done that live on video, but here you have to imagine a lot without being able to see it. I really hope that your listeners can follow it well and enjoy the massage. And the penises too, of course 🙂

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