362. Somatic Experiencing, Birth, Sex & Trauma w/ Kimberly Ann Johnson

Kimberly Johnson

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Somatic practitioner, educator, and author, Kimberly Ann Johnson, helps us come to terms with what we want by tapping into the vitality, sexuality, and wildness coded into the human body and showing how women can connect to their inner-Jaguar to live an embodied life.

Kimberly Johnson is a sexological bodyworker, somatic experiencing practitioner, yoga teacher, postpartum advocate, and single mom. Working hands-on in integrative women’s health and trauma recovery for more than a decade, she helps women heal from birth injuries, gynecological surgeries, and sexual boundary violations. Kimberly is the author of the forthcoming book Call of the Wild: How We Heal Trauma, Awaken Our Own Power, and Use It for Good, as well as the early mothering classic The Fourth Trimester, and is the host of the Sex, Birth & Trauma podcast.

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

This enlightening conversation with somatic practitioner, educator, and author, Kimberly Ann Johnson, explores the depths of the human body. From the nervous system to the genitalia (and the mental mechanics in between), how are we triggered to respond to external cues?

More recently, I've been on a mission to rewire the traditional – perhaps outdated – narrative of striving for a parasympathetic response that can lead to a numbness disconnecting us from the innate wildness we should be able to express. Kimberly was an incredible springboard to explore masculinity through the lens of the animal kingdom and our connections with predator/prey identities. Her most recent book, Call of the Wild, focuses on helping women learn how to forge a relationship with our primal power (the inner-Jaguar) and live a life of pleasure without guilt, shame, or expectations. 

As the collective stumbles out from the emotional and physical wreckage of last year, Kimberly's work invites us to reanalyze how we find and interact with our community, and pivot the eternal question "What do I want in life?" into "What does life want from me?"

05:54 — Unpacking “Call of the Wild”

  • How women recover from trauma differently from men
  • The nervous system debunked
  • Fawning vs fleeing and activating the inner-fighter

15:04 — Somatic Experiencing

  • Privileging the body over the narrative 
  • Self-censorship and self-advocacy 
  • The steps you take before forgiveness 
  • Finding community and working through gender fears
  • Heart-centered masculinity 

42:30 — Approaching Shadow Work + Living for Pleasure 

  • Addiction to intensity and leaning into pleasure 
  • Why it’s OK to feel good (even if others are suffering) 
  • Looking for love and community 
  • The works of Gay Hendricks
  • What does your life want from you? - VIDEO CLIP 58:17
  • Learning how “to be” without pushing and striving 

1:11:01 – Influences on the Nervous System

  • Collagen, elastin, and your nervous response
  • Switching communication channels and moving away from default patterns 
  • Why a parasympathetic response is not always good for the nervous system
  • Trusting our wildness and not being afraid of healthy aggression 

1:36:03 — Attachment Styles and Healing Within Your Relationship

  • The island (avoidant), the anchor (secure), and the wave (love addict)
  • Knowing who you are and sharing your code with your partner

2:04:32 — Let’s Talk About Sex

  • Power-based, hot sex
  • Sympathetic and parasympathetic trajectory
  • Moving toward “warm sex” and the arousal wave 

More about this episode.

Watch it on YouTube.

[00:00:00]Luke Storey:  I'm Luke Storey. For the past 22 years, I've been relentlessly committed to my deepest passion, designing the ultimate lifestyle based on the most powerful principles of spirituality, health, psychology, and personal development. The Life Stylist podcast is a show dedicated to sharing my discoveries and the experts behind them with you. Thanks for coming out to Austin, Kimberly.

[00:03:56]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Thanks for inviting me.

[00:03:57]Luke Storey:  I'm so pumped for this conversation. I don't know how, I think I might have come across your work through Alisa Vitti, friend of yours? Did I get that right?

[00:04:07]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah. She's a friend of mine. She wrote the foreword to the first book.

[00:04:09]Luke Storey:  Oh, cool. Okay. So, she knew that I was—the show always follows the things that I'm selfishly interested in. And right now, parenting, birthing, all of that stuff is at the forefront, because I have an amazing woman in my life and we got a home. And that's what you do, I think. So, I did a show with her about female hormones and all this stuff, which I, of course, like slyly try to get my lady to listen to. She's like, I'm fine.

[00:04:38]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  I love that, because usually, it's the other way around.

[00:04:41]Luke Storey:  Oh, no, I'm like, I'm going to be the doting husband, that's like, honey, should you eat that? But it's something I've had to work on, because I have a tendency to be like in other people's business that's not mine. So, actually, we could talk about that later. It's an interesting balance when it's the woman's body and it's her journey carrying the baby, but you're also a participant.

[00:05:00] So, where does your line of authority, for lack of a better term, begin and end? Anyway, so your publicist sent me your book, and I'm like, oh, God, another book to get through, and I started reading it, and it was just very compelled by the whole framework of it. And then, as I said earlier, listened speedily through the audio book, and I'm like, this work is just so great, so I'm super excited to talk to you.

[00:05:26]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Me, too.

[00:05:27]Luke Storey:  Yes, ma'am. So, give us the gist, the boiled down of this book, and then we'll get into some of the nuts and bolts of it, but give us your kind of elevator pitch on it, and then we'll use that as a framework to kind of shape the conversation.

[00:05:43]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Great. So, what this book does is explain why women heal differently from trauma than men do. It explains why we can think, and think, and think, and have a narrative about what's happened to us, and we can still be very frustrated and discouraged, because our body is still acting in ways that feel confusing for us. And essentially, a lot of what you read about the nervous system everywhere, there are two things that are a little bit incorrect.

[00:06:14] One of them is that our sort of, most people learned in middle school or high school that the sympathetic nervous system is fight or flight, and the parasympathetic is rest and digest. That's already a little confusing, because sympathetic kind of sounds good. And so, people are like, wait, sympathetic, fight or flight, oh, yeah, I don't want that. Okay. Parasympathetic, great, does rest and digest.

[00:06:35] But that's actually comparing apples to oranges. And so, in 1994, Stephen Porges authored a theory called polyvagal theory. It's really complicated. The books are really hard to read, but it's very important to understand some of the nuances that he brought forth. And basically, it's like this, when we feel safe, our sympathetic nervous system, it's what makes us up in the morning. It's the accelerator of the car.

[00:07:00] It's what gives us energy. And when we feel safe, the parasympathetic nervous system is like the braking system. It's what slows us down. Every inhale is a sympathetic arousal. Every exhale is a parasympathetic down-regulation. And then, there's a whole other tier of the nervous system called the social nervous system that only mammals have, and specifically primates and human mammals. 

[00:07:24] It's not that animals don't have super complex social networks, because they do and there's so much intelligence there. But this is a bonding system that was developed through facial expressions, through vocal tone at about an 18-inch distance of a mother to baby dyad. When we feel safe in the social nervous system, we feel like we belong. We feel like we can be different and unique, and we're still part of something. Then, there's the flip side of when we feel unsafe in these systems. 

[00:07:55] When we feel unsafe in the social nervous system, we have a tendency to fawn, which is to be super extra nice, to tolerate, to appease, or to fit in, which is like camouflaging ourselves. And then, in the sympathetic system, we have the fight or the flight, which is what most people know about. And then, in the parasympathetic system, we have the freeze or the collapse response, like when an animal plays dead. So, that was a lot, and I hope everyone's still with me.

[00:08:22]Luke Storey:  No, it's good. We'll tease out a bunch of this stuff.

[00:08:23]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah, we'll tease it out. But the thesis of the book and why there's a Jaguar on the cover of the book, that's a long story, too, but the short story is for most people who are in positions of less structural power, and in this book, we're talking mostly about females, our tendencies, because of estrogen in the social nervous system and the bonding system are to do those fawning and fitting in behaviors, or to doing the fleeing and the freezing behaviors, and how we heal is coming into a healthy fight response.

[00:08:56] So, coming to terms with our inner predator, coming to terms with the Huntress and activating those instincts. So, that's a lot different than what we normally hear about, which is like hum, and take warm baths, and do all these things to help yourself rest and relax. But for most females and many other people as well, we actually need to be able to learn how to tolerate more activation so that we're not collapsing into those default responses.

[00:09:27] And ultimately, one of the reasons I was so excited to talk with you and was like really excited just about this language being available in our culture is that we really have a lot of more morality and ideology these days that's trying to override our physiology and our biology. And so, what happened for me was I watched a scenario of a wolf and a rabbit. And I was watching that wolf stalk that rabbit, and all I could think about was rabbit, oh, my God, get away, rabbit, rabbit, rabbit, no, escape, the wolf's coming, what are you doing?

[00:10:04] Get out. Can't you see? Can't you feel it? Go, get away. And then, when that demo was over, the lights came up in the classroom I was on in and everyone was asked to relate to the wolf, and in my mind, I thought, no one would be that jerky, no one's that big of an asshole to relate to the wolf. And 30% of the people's hands went up, and that was an aha moment for me, because I already liked those people, I already knew them, so I couldn't just dismiss them.

[00:10:30]Luke Storey:  They weren't sociopaths?

[00:10:32]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Exactly. They were actually really kind, cool, interesting people who I would be friends with. And at that moment it was a huge aha for me that so much of my life, my vegetarianism, my activism, the harm that I had—like the most harmful situations in my life had all been because I was overidentified with the rabbit. And my journey since then has been how to reclaim what, for me, feels like jaguar energy, but for other people as wolf, or a cougar, or other kind of predator energy.

[00:11:06] Not so that I can walk around the world as a predator. It's a loaded word and a lot of people have a lot of associations with that word, but so that we have the knowingness in our system that we can protect ourselves. And when we can, we actually can really relax. And jaguars, like they hang out on branches and sleep on trees. And every once in a while, they hunt every couple of days and it's the females that hunt. And then, they spend some time in the proverbial cave. But once you know that you can protect yourself, you don't actually walk around hyper vigilant in the world. It's just you actually have more safety, and groundedness, and stability.

[00:11:48]Luke Storey:  Oh, that's beautiful. Yeah. There's a couple of things in there that I think are interesting. Well, just about the book in general, as I was reading, and then listening to it, I related to just about everything. And unless you're talking about ovaries, like specifically, I totally relate. And I've heard you tell that story about the wolf and the rabbit, and I'm like, 100%, rabbit.

[00:12:11] And that's something I've actually observed, because I was a vegetarian for many years, and then elected not to for various reasons, and recently went on my first hunt here in Texas, and really grappling with the karmic implications of causing harm in order to sustain one's life and all this. And I was thinking about that predator and prey thing, and I noticed about myself, and I was like, oh, and you said that in the book or in another interview, my whole life, when I've watched Nature shows at the Sahara or whatever, I'm always rooting for the prey.

[00:12:46] Meanwhile, that lioness is trying to feed her cubs, what about those poor cubs? Right? And a couple of days ago, Alyson and I were on a walk right down the street here and we came upon this huge dead snake. And Alyson, she's animal shaman, she's very tapped into animals, and she was so sad. And I said, well, maybe there's another way to look at it. Let me do something here.

[00:13:10] So, I grabbed the dead snake and I put it out in the middle of the lawn, because I knew that some vultures would likely come by. And we take a walk, we come back, and these vultures are stoked. They all came around and they're just decimating this snake carcass. And then, I thought, well, now that vulture is going to take that piece of meat and fly it back to the nest, and it's kind of just the way of things, right? So, from that perspective, neither party there is right or wrong. It's just like a symbiotic-

[00:13:40]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  They're in a relationship.

[00:13:41]Luke Storey:  Yeah. They're in relationship to their nature. And within each of us, whether we be male or female, we also have within us both of those. And I guess it's sort of akin to maybe masculine and feminine energy, which is something at least most men I know are really conscious about finding balance of those, and finding the use and the appropriate time and place to exert those. So, the word predator to me in the context of this makes perfect sense, and I think many more men than we might think listening to this conversation and what's about to unfold will relate and find value in it. 

[00:14:15]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Totally.

[00:14:16]Luke Storey:  Because we're also sort of down-regulated from expressing aggression, right?

[00:14:23]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yes.

[00:14:23]Luke Storey:  Be a nice little boy.

[00:14:24]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  And arousal.

[00:14:26]Luke Storey:  Yeah, totally. So, it's like I know so many men that are way too predator and destructive in their nature, but I think I know more maybe, because I'm just running in spiritual circles, where people are just super chill and like myself, don't like a lot of conflict. And so, I think identifying these within us is so, so important. So, beyond that, there was another thing I wanted to say, too, but that was already too long. I want to hear more from you.

[00:14:56] Tell us a little bit about somatic experiencing. This is a term that I've kind of heard over the years and it's one of the thousand things that are out there that I just haven't tried yet when I think I've tried everything. But I know your work is largely about the body and the nervous system, and you have a great history in working with clients and helping them really attune to their physicality. So, maybe break a bit of that down for us, too.

[00:15:22]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah. Somatic experiencing is a form of therapeutic work that was founded by Peter Levine. And what was happening at the time, so he's a structural integration practitioner. He trained with Dr. Rolf. Some people know it as Rolfing. And at the time, in the early '70s, a lot of psychiatrists were sending him people—he was working with hypnotherapy, he has a Ph.D. in, I think it's medical physics.

[00:15:48] And so, they were sending people to him, who were having panic attack, situations like that, and he was working with this one particular woman. And so, he thought, okay, I'm going to help her relax. So, he started to take her into a hypnotic state. They didn't really know why she was having panic attacks, but she was in grad school, so they just figured she's super stressed. And so, she has a lot of exams, she's busy, she's having panic attacks.

[00:16:13] So, he started to get her into a relaxed state. And instead of getting more relaxed, her heart rate started to go and she started to get really super accelerated. And at that moment, he was afraid, and like, oh, no, I'm going to send her into like a cardiac event. He had a shamanic vision of a tiger jumping out of the wall, and he just instinctually said, there's a tiger coming after you, run. 

[00:16:36] And so, for the next period of time, her body would go through cycles of running, and then pause, and then her limbs would move, and then pause, and then eventually, her system settled. Neither of them really knew exactly what happened, but she never had any panic attacks after that. She came back for a few more sessions, and in those sessions, she had memories of being young. And I don't remember if she had, I think it was dental surgery or tonsillectomy, something where she was under general anesthesia in her early years.

[00:17:09] And so, at the same time, there were being some discoveries made about wild animals and why wild animals don't experience trauma, but humans and pets do. And what they were noticing was that the wild animals went through these full cycles of sympathetic activation, and then parasympathetic deactivation, or if they were the prey, and they had been collapsed and frozen like a deer or a possum, then they would also go through their cycle to restore their complete circuitry.

[00:17:37] And so, they realized that when your body is under anesthesia, sometimes, I feel like these talks should come with a warning, because whenever I'm talking, like people who are listening, you start to remember your own experiences, you start to put pieces together, and there can be sort of unexpected emotions or sensations arise. And if that's happening for you right now, just remember, you can look up and look around, like if you're watching Instagram, or you're watching Facebook, or you're listening, to look at the horizon level or beyond, and just kind of open up your vision, and also just know that that could be a good thing, that your body's giving you some information. 

[00:18:20] But in the case of somatic experiencing in this piece of work, what evolved was Peter Levine slowly elaborated on that process that happened in that room and started understanding, how do I help people complete these processes? How do I notice what's happening in the present moment and what your nervous system is telling me and you through the way that you're breathing, your heart rate, your posture, the content of what you're saying. Could be your pupil's dilation, all kinds of things that your body is telling me that you might not be noticing. And how do we bring those to completion? So, there's a lot of different kinds of somatic therapies, a lot of them emergent of that in that same time, Hakomi, Feldenkrais, ways that we privilege the body over the narrative.

[00:19:12]Luke Storey:  Wow. That's so interesting. The idea around wild animals not experiencing trauma is really interesting, because when you think about a predator-prey interaction in which one of them is injured, or terrified, or on the run, you would think, well, surely, the prey is traumatized and maybe even the predators to a degree if they don't get the target like, ah, but it brings something to mind that I've experienced myself, and that is in going back and really going down the wormholes of early childhood trauma that, I don't know how to phrase this, I'll do my best. It's almost as if in my subjective experience, the trauma wasn't necessarily the event when said thing happened, it was the lack of ability or support to process that event. And maybe that's the difference between us humans and the wild animal. Ducks do their little shaking thing, they all have their thing.

[00:20:13]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  That's exactly right.

[00:20:15]Luke Storey:  Is that it?

[00:20:15]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah. It's not exactly what happened. It's what didn't happen.

[00:20:19]Luke Storey:  Right.

[00:20:19]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Because you and I could go through the same thing, and there's no residue at all in your system, and you go on, and you never even think about that day or that event. And for me, every time I drive by that same street corner, or every time I smell that cologne, or every time I see a certain color, I'm right back in that old place. So, that's exactly right. Trauma's not a thing, it's on an event, it's the way that our system is able or not able to metabolize it.

[00:20:49] So, one way I like to think about it is like a trauma is like if a whole cake is put in your mouth, you didn't slice it in pieces, and then eat one bite at a time, and then be able to chew it, it's like the whole cake came in, and now, your body's trying to figure out, how does it go? Where does it go? How do you assimilate it? But the amazing thing is that the flip side of trauma is healing. 

[00:21:14] So, I like to destigmatize the word, because trauma is like a really big word, so big, I kind of almost didn't want to put it in the title, because I wanted everyone to have these nervous system skills. But part of being a human being on Earth is that we experience things. And I think of it like a record scratch. We come in with our vinyl whatever, your specific song is your essence. And then, we go through life, and we get scratches, and the record skips on that scratch.

[00:21:44] And sometimes, that scratch piles up with similar things, and it's called an associate of stack. But the amazing thing is, is that your body and your physiology will always give you another opportunity to repair that. We tend to interpret that as punishment. We tend to interpret that as we loathe ourselves, we blame ourselves for like, where I'm having the same relationship dynamic or like I did this again, but our system is looking for a repair, so it's going to offer us a similar situation so that we can cycle up, and then smooth out that record, and then hear our song again.

[00:22:22]Luke Storey:  Oh, I'm thinking of so many situations that I found myself in. That's so true in relationship, right? And I think, I don't know, with some thoughtfulness, and perhaps, a broadly open mind, one could look at even what they consider to be a bad relationship in hindsight and really see that that dynamic that was in play was not even your doing or they're doing, it was just the key fit the lock, right?

[00:22:49] Because there was still a lock there for your key to fit in. And I look back on some of those experiences, and I think, man, it was difficult, but thank God it happened, because then, it instigated that inquiry within me to go, well, why was there a lot there in the first place? And then, you kind of go back and hopefully find some tools to, I guess, get that trauma out of your body in the case of your framework.

[00:23:15]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Well, also, interestingly, we often choose nervous system templates that are opposite ours. So, the more parasympathetic you tend to be, like in parasympathetic, the emotions that go along with it are like confusion, and disorientation, and sort of flexibility, and lack of boundary. And the more sort of hesitant we get, sometimes, the stronger the energy on the sympathetic side of demand. And so, we tend to polarize in our relationships as well. The important thing is that most people listening to this podcast have done a lot of personal work, right? They've just done a lot of things, they've tried a lot of things, like you said.

[00:24:02]Luke Storey:  I don't think they would be listening if they hadn't. They'd be like, what are these freaks talking about?

[00:24:06]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  They're really doing their best. Like the people that I work with, the people who are listening, like they care a lot. They care a lot about health, they care a lot about the world., they care about a lot about each other. But sometimes, because we live in a top-down world, and even in the spiritual world, it's like make do your affirmations, like, well, your intentions aren't strong enough if this is happening, like there's always something to learn, oh, take the point of view of the other person, you should look at it from their point of view.

[00:24:36] Like every major religion has some parable about like walk a mile in the other person's shoes. A lot of times, that's working against our nervous system repair. It's bypassing and it's creating a narrative that very well may be true and could be helpful, but it's not going to help us understand what's actually happening in the body, because taking the point of view of someone else, and this is sort of what you mentioned at the beginning about like, what's your domain and what's the other person's domain?

[00:25:07] If we spend too much time and the other person's domain, we're not in our own domain. And most of the people that I work with, including myself, it is very easy for me to understand other people's point of view, very in depth. Like my ex-husband, like I really felt deeply for his trauma, for his patterning, for why he was the way that he was, and it harmed me in doing that.

[00:25:31] It's not that that understanding isn't even probably something someone would praise me for, but ultimately, I was harming myself and sticking with that instead of advocating for myself. So, that self-advocacy, that is our number one responsibility. And our culture looks outside and assigns blame, and this is also something I wanted to talk with you about, because there's not that many places I feel like I can talk about this without being interpreted in certain ways.

[00:26:09] But the times in my life that I've been the most—the most difficult times in my life have been as a result of a lack of self-advocacy. So, the culture interprets that as like, oh, well, the world should change, because like you're a woman, and you should be protected, and every people should interpret. For instance, if I'm in a freeze response, you don't necessarily know I'm in a freeze response, right? This is what we saw in the Me Too movement a lot. 

[00:26:42] A lot of people expressing situations from the past that they then realized, I wasn't okay with that then, but I couldn't express myself. As I mentioned earlier, that's a physiological process and it's not a rational choice. Our mind's not controlling what our nervous system does, and yet we find ourselves in relationship. And my assumption is that we all need each other. So, I know in a lot of circles, even ones that I'm in, like The Goddess Community is basically like kind of done with men, and like we're just going to like goddess out, and like the men can come in and serve us when they need to.

[00:27:19]Luke Storey:  Serve you grapes?

[00:27:19]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah, exactly.

[00:27:22]Luke Storey:  What do they call that? Palm front.

[00:27:23]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Send me with the front. But I'm operating from the foundational level that we all need one another. And that 90%, this is a bullshit statistic, but in my mind, it's like 90% of people are trying to do the right thing, there's 10% of like psychopathy, but that's not that's not usually what I'm working with. When I'm working with people, how do we come together and have the conversation about when I've abandoned myself? 

[00:27:53] And I could have perfectly good reasons for doing that, right? Like there could be a pattern of an associate of stacking. There was, in my case, of ways that I was helpless, and powerless, and overpowered, but how do we come together there so that I'm not taking more responsibility than is mine, but I'm also not aware of what I'm generating from where I stand?

[00:28:22]Luke Storey:  Powerful.

[00:28:23]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Does that make sense?

[00:28:24]Luke Storey:  Absolutely.

[00:28:24]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  I hate the word responsibility. It's a totally loaded word, so I don't like that word.

[00:28:30]Luke Storey:  Well, because some people associate it with blame. Like I'll take responsibility for putting myself in a position to be harmed by a perpetrator, right? So then, maybe people hear that as a self-blame or kind of a shame-infused perspective, is that-

[00:28:45]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah. And also, like I felt it, even in the way that you said it, even that sounds like it could be sort of false forgiveness, you bypass, because there's a lot of steps before forgiveness. Forgiveness is not—for me, gratitude and forgiveness are not good practices. Like those are outcomes. They're outcomes of activating right relationship to usually anger, that there was a boundary that you could not set, you could not make at the time, whether that's because you were young and you couldn't, because of the family structure you were in, and you need your caretakers, whether that's because your social nervous system got involved, and told you, you should feel safe even though you weren't safe.

[00:29:31] And of course, there are many cases of egregious violence and boundary violations. And those are in a bit of a separate category, right? I'm still talking about the gray area, where every day, we overstep boundaries and our boundaries are overstepped. When I was talking about the wolf and the rabbit, for me, it was like, oh, okay, so the rabbit, I'm clearly very identified with the rabbit, I love the rabbit, my favorite movies are all like, I freaking love the movies, where like the underdog, like people fight for the underdog, like Hurricane, like just freaking give me the movies, where people are like, they'll do anything to get someone out of prison or like fight for what's right.

[00:30:13] I still love those things. That didn't change. But if the rabbit is good, and most of the time, women are rabbits, then women are good, and then men are predators, and predators are bad. So, men are bad. Where does that really leave us in terms of how we're going to come together to the next level of mutual respect and organization? And to me, that's what the book is about. It's giving us a language that's beyond morality. It's not saying good or bad.

[00:30:42] It's saying, we're swimming in this soup all together ,and how can we swim in the soup in a way that's mutually respectful, where we have right relationship to power? Because what I hear you saying is like the men in your circles are really damning their power a lot, because they're not really quite sure what to do with the power. And we're really afraid of that. And I'm afraid, like it's funny, because I'm really into ice and like ice immersion, and one of the reasons I got into it-

[00:31:10]Luke Storey:  You know it, sister.

[00:31:11]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  ... was because there were so many men. And since I work in the universe of pussy, basically, I was like, and I have a daughter, like I'm never around any men, so I was like, I better do something where I'm around men. So, I started doing ice immersion and some Wim Hof breeding. And when I was explaining to them like how much gratitude I had to be in the circle of movement and breath, and like non-verbal support and communication with men, a lot of the men said the same thing, they were like, yeah, I was afraid of men before I did this, too. They were afraid of each other. So, I think that as a culture, it's not just women that are afraid of men, it's also men that are afraid of themselves. So, it's like, now, what?

[00:31:59]Luke Storey:  Yeah, that's very true. I was just talking to my friend, Cal, on his podcast about that, and I think for those of us men that didn't have models of balanced, healthy masculinity, you're either going to mirror that, and become an unconscious, aggressive dick, or you're going to retreat, which was what I did, retreat from it entirely, and just get into art and music, you know what I mean? 

[00:32:33] And meditate a lot, do yoga, and kind of go that route. And not that there's a right or wrong within that, but we were talking about how he has this Wednesday workouts we all do. And it's a bunch, it's like 40 guys. And most of them are Herculean fitness dudes, and like, I'm not a gym guy, not really a workout guy, do it on my own, that's a lot of testosterone. But in this particular group of men, there's no competition, there's no ego, there's no like fronting weird energy at all.

[00:33:04] It's very heart-centered. And we were kind of marveling at how fortunate we are to be amongst a group of men that are strong, but also kind and loving. And like it's enriching. It's just like, I don't know, it feeds me, but there is still a part of me that's like, whoa, whoa, whoa. Like too many dudes is scary, because my interpretation of male or masculine as a kid was terrifying. God bless.

[00:33:34] My adult male caregivers, they did the best they could, of course, but there was a lot of trauma there as a result of that. So, within that, you're so right. Many of us men are afraid of men, not because they're men, but just because they're unconsciously out of balance, and totally out of touch with their empathy and their ability to harness emotional intelligence, and just be chill, and not, too, like egoically wrapped up in their machismo and things like that.

[00:34:03]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah. I mean, I heard what you said before about like going on a hunting trip here. And I went on a hunting trip last year, too, my first one.

[00:34:11]Luke Storey:  Oh, you did?

[00:34:11]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah.

[00:34:11]Luke Storey:  Wow. You really go for the edge, huh?

[00:34:14]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Well, yeah, I do. I've also learned a lot to live within my edges and not push my edges so hard, because part of my trauma response was to like really throw myself off some cliffs. Like I was sexually assaulted in college, and then in order to prove to myself that I could defend myself, I went to India by myself for two months. And I say a 10-day Vipassana sit when I was 19, and I had zero meditation training.

[00:34:41] So, I went like headfirst into 14 hours a day. So, I've learned how to take it in smaller doses. But yes, I appreciate the way—because for me, ice, breath came with community, so I can't really separate those three. And for me, that feeling of community was as important as the ice and as important as the breathing. But with the hunting trip, I had an apprentice come from Montana, I was living in New York at the time, and I had a practice of doing internal pelvic floor work with women, which is originally how you heard of me, because people used to call me the Vagina Protector, which is just a name someone made up to try to help people understand what I was doing.

[00:35:37] But I help women heal from birth injuries, and sexual boundary violations, and gynecological surgeries, and just other kinds of pelvic sexual gynecological questions. And so, I had someone come apprentice me, and in an old-fashioned apprentice model, I didn't really want to charge money for that experience. And she's been hunting her whole life and she's from Montana. And so, every year, they set up a wall tent in Montana.

[00:36:03] And so, I asked to trade to go on a deer hunt, because I was also very afraid of that. I was a vegetarian for 20 years. I told myself if I ever ate meat at some point, I was going to have to come face to face with that experience. And for me, healing my body after having a baby, a lot of it had to do with that, with acknowledging that I needed animal products in order for me to help heal.

[00:36:27] So, I really wanted that experience of, I'm like, alright, so you can write the book on the metaphorical jaguar, but can you get out there with your .22 and look that animal in the eye? Like let's see how far this—you're going to write the book, you better like put yourself in the situation. That's how I felt at least, because really, that's the promise of the work, is coherence on a deep level, is what I say, and who I am, and how I conduct myself in the world in alignment without me having to think about it.

[00:36:59]Luke Storey:  Let's talk about your perspective on the precursor to doing the trauma healing, and that many of us, I think those of us that are really committed to growth, we want to just go for the deep, dark stuff first. Like let's get in there, clear that out, live happily ever after without having the experience and practice of our nervous system of actually learning how to experience joy, and bliss, and fulfillment, and you spend a lot of time in the book talking about that.

[00:37:33] And I thought that was really interesting for a number of reasons, one of which being the first time I entered an ayahuasca ceremony, it was four ceremonies, four nights in a row during the week. And the first two nights of that, I was just in absolute bliss and hysterically laughing the whole time. I mean, it was just the best ever. And I saw that in hindsight, in the next two nights, there was a bit of work, but I saw that in hindsight as the intelligence of the medicine, or God, or whatever, kind of going, hey, because I was ready to go in and do the deep work, like, okay, let's look at the dark shit, let's get it healed, and the medicine was just like, no, we're going to teach you how to be free within your being, and to trust yourself, and to trust me, and to trust God.

[00:38:25] And we're going to set this template of actually experiencing complete oneness and joy within you. And then, a couple of nights later, we're going to go into the vortex, into that moment, the one, we all have the one, or a few in some of our cases. And it reminded me of that in your book, and I thought, oh, that's so interesting, because in that experience and some others, the natural progression has been to kind of break that upper limit, and learn to experience myself as a joyful person, and then kind of have a safer route to go in some of those shadows and crevices without getting stuck in there or kind of reinjuring myself from not appropriately approaching those memories or sensations in the body. So, maybe break down a bit of that.

[00:39:15]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah. So, we're kind of talking about two things there. One of them is our addiction to intensity. So, just as a culture, we're really addicted to intensity and it's kind of not our fault in a way, it's sort of what we've inherited to this point, inherited and created. So, we just have incoming stimulus and messaging all the time, unless we're very consciously aware of how we're going to shut out what's happening outside.

[00:39:47] But so many of us have so much agitation and unresolved activation inside that we're looking for an outside experience to match what's happening on the inside or we're looking for an outside experience to wake us out of the deep numbness that we feel. And there is space for catharsis. I mean, throughout human history, we've always had ways of cathating. The degree to which we've done it has really changed and like the frequency of it has changed these days.

[00:40:23] But our nervous system, like for real repair that's going to be lasting and foundational, it really works in a very small bit by bit type of way. And that's why so many people have these big experiences, and then they feel so disappointed by regular life and there's not a lot of integration that happens after them, because it's like we don't really have a cultural context to digest them.

[00:40:49] So, we live in a culture, and by culture, I live in the United States right now, and I mean like the White over culture that's fairly grief-illiterate, where we don't have processes of communing to dance, to grieve, to be with—right now, we're sitting here. It's June 2021. We're coming out of a huge rite of passage. I hope we're coming out of it. It seems like we're through some of it. I have no idea how long it's going to last, but we're coming out of a period of a lot of immobilization that has set in motion a lot of flee patterns, which are migration patterns.

[00:41:25] You've moved. I've moved. Many other people have moved, lives that we thought that we were going to have in March 2020 are no longer. And here we are in June 2021, and maybe in different relationships, whether those are friendships or romantic, many people, who parents have been full time at home with their kids, the way they thought their kids, we're going to grow up and the way they are growing up is totally different.

[00:41:52] So, we have to give ourselves a lot of space for just how much we've been through in the last 15 months. And when we have intensity, we tend to think there's something wrong with me, there's something wrong with me, there's something wrong with me, so I'm going to choose something of the intensity that will like exercise the thing that's wrong. And what you're mentioning is this capacity to be with joy is like a full flip.

[00:42:25] So, instead of looking for what's wrong, we are just with what's right on a very elemental level. So, it's not Pollyanna, it's not bypassing, it's not, look on the bright side of things, Luke, you should just be happy for the house you have, not the one you lost. It's really like, well, what's just pleasurable right now? Like, oh, I can feel my—like from my upper hips down to my mid-thighs in the chair and kind of warm, the brighter kind of light, but I can still feel like—feels kind of good to be warm along my sides.

[00:43:06] Here I am in Austin after two attempts, like just what is right. And the word pleasure can be very difficult for people to hear. Some people love the word and want a lot of it. Some people are like, no, if I get a little, I'll want too much, pleasure is scary. I let myself feel pleasure before and I got hurt. But like how can we just pay attention to what is right and what is working at any given time? 

[00:43:39] And it's a pendulation. So, most of our nervous systems spend a lot of time in what's wrong, and then we dip into what's right, and then we're back into what's wrong again, and then a little bit into what's right, and then what's wrong. And as we heal, we can go into what's right and stay there for a little bit. And then, okay, we go back over there, and then maybe, oh, stretch it, and then eventually, we just are noticing what's right more of the time.

[00:44:05] So, it's like the Dalai Lama, right? Sometimes, when I think things are impossible and I think how could anyone freaking accept this culture that we're in and be happy about it, I think about the Dalai Lama who lost his entire country, a lot of his religious culture, and yet he laughs, and yet there's joy, that there's just something about being alive that's enough to be right. So, it's going to be different for everyone. And it's a real hard sell, to be honest, Luke.

[00:44:36] People love Chapter Four, which is the chapter that's about this, but people are also very doubtful, because we live in a puritanical culture that says like, you got to work hard. And if you're not working hard, what the heck are you doing? And lazy, that's about the worst thing you can be. Like what do you have to show for yourself? And so, this idea that it's okay to feel good even when other people are feeling bad, even when there's inequality, even when those things, right?

[00:45:06]Luke Storey:  Yes. The thing that comes to mind in that is sort of like, I don't know, for lack of a better term, a survivor's guilt of celebrating the joy and success of your life, if you're someone who has, by and large, I guess, comparatively speaking, had more opportunity for success. It's like, well, God, so many people in the world are suffering, can I show people on social media or on my podcast how awesome my life is?

[00:45:33] And I just bought this house and everything is going great in the middle of this mess that we are currently facing as a species. And I'll sense sometimes, like wanting to tone down my happiness or success for that reason, it's sort of like, well, I don't want to make anyone else feel bad, because I'm super happy and so many people are losing their shit right now. So, that's like another element of that, too. It's kind of a side angle of the upper limit, right?

[00:45:58]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  It's kind of funny, though, because this world that we live in, like what you're expressing is like feeling it and showing it, because it's like never in a time would there be this time when all of a sudden, everyone would then need to know. Like it's one thing, you're like, yeah, you have your beautiful house, and you're getting a new fireplace, and you have the love of your life that's with you, and now, you're contemplating this like new phase of life maybe, and just the excitement of even contemplating.

[00:46:24] But we're living in this time, which is the social nervous system, where it's almost like that doesn't exist to us unless we're showing it to other people, because the declarative nature of that, it's where we're looking for connection, because we're starved for connection. We need connection as humans. We are mammals, we are social mammals, and we need proximity with other bodies, and we don't have it. And so, we go searching for it. And how do we search for it? Well, we think, well, maybe it'll be on the phone like. 

[00:46:53]Luke Storey:  That's so true. That's so good.

[00:46:56]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  So, it's like feeling pleasure there, I mean, you could have some phone calls with your friends to talk about it, but that's really different than like showing everyone. And it's not a right or a wrong, it's just that it has to do with exposure and it has to do with what our nervous system, the capacity that we have for what is seen and unseen, because social media, there's a falsity to it, right? It's happening on another layer than this physical reality, and we could never—I think anthropologically, it's kind of insane, but it's like anthropologically speaking, we can only maintain about 150 connections.

[00:47:40] But now, like I mean, you probably have 100,000 people on your thing and I've got 35,000, whatever. And those are all tethers going out and tethers coming in, and there's a real cost to that. So, I'm just noticing that, because I know so many people are going through that. And when we talk about the social nervous system in this, I mean, we all want belonging. Like you say that word to anyone, and they're all, yes, like where do I belong? Like what is my belonging?

[00:48:11] Everyone, we all want that, and yet we go these places to look for it that the flip is happening, all these fitting in and fawning behaviors. And what you're talking about is, do I fit in? Well, I'm stretching myself, because some people can't buy this big of a house and they can't do this or they can't do that. And so, sometimes, we don't fit in, like you're saying, because we think, oh, can I tolerate the bad things that happen to me? But it's really like, can I tolerate the good things that are happening?

[00:48:40]Luke Storey:  Yes, that's the tweet. If I used Twitter, that would be it.

[00:48:46]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Me, too. I don't have it either. We'll get on there to Tweet that.

[00:48:48]Luke Storey:  I have it, but I'm like these people are way too snarky for me. I can't take it. Maybe it's just the bad accounts I follow. But yeah, are you familiar with the work of Gay Hendricks?

[00:48:58]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah.

[00:48:59]Luke Storey:  Okay. So, the upper limit, that's where i—what's the name of that book?

[00:49:01]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  The Big Leap.

[00:49:02]Luke Storey:  Yeah, The Big Leap. Amazing book. But that was hugely informative for me, because I mean, I'm reading that book, and holy shit, every time I hit this new level of success, whether it be inward or outward, I can't stay there very long, so I got to go back to being unsuccessful at this, or that, or at this modicum of satisfaction, but I can't be blissed out. And I guess one of the reasons is that that social nervous system is like, well, I don't want to stand out.

[00:49:34] I don't want to make other people jealous. I don't want to attract haters. I don't want to make somebody feel ashamed of themselves, because they're not feeling that way, or achieving this or that, but that framework of the upper limit to me is just huge if one can start to attune to when you're doing that, right? Because if you just hear it as a concept you read in his book or in your book, and you're like, oh, yeah, I kind of do that, makes sense, and then you forget about it.

[00:49:58]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah. It also helps to have other people kind of tell you, right? Because like I'll call you, maybe you and I, we can talk in six weeks. And I can be like, how's that fireplace going? Because we stretch ourselves, and I just had this book came out, and I had a big party, and it was kind of like a wedding. I've never gotten married. Well, not really. I've never had a wedding. And it was like all these people from my whole life like came to celebrate.

[00:50:23] And that's like a lot of energy to take in, right? Like seven hours, I'm celebrating not only the book, which is like the culmination of pretty much my life's work. My daughter's there. She sings and plays guitar at it. I mean, it was like this really big thing. And then, it's predictable that there's going to be like the big wave crashes on the shore, and then the tide goes out. And it's like you need your people around you going, okay, yeah, you're not feeling that great, but you think it might be an upper limit problem?

[00:50:49] And for those people who are listening who don't know what that is, you can either read the Big Leap, Gay Hendricks has a new book coming out at the end of June, it's called The Genius Zone. And he was just on my podcast recently and he said there's an hour practice in the book that everyone needs to know. So, shoutout to Dr. Hendricks. But it's basically saying that what he noticed is all the fights that he and his wife were getting into, if they trace them back, they could either look at the conflict and try to dissect the conflict or they could look and see that just prior to that, there was a moment of deepening, and intimacy, and connection, and their systems weren't able to hold that intimacy, and we're pushing them into conflict.

[00:51:28] So, once they stopped analyzing the conflict and just returned to the things that a thing that happened or like the way that they felt really connected, then they never had much conflict anymore, because they were seeing it as it's like, oh, it's the expansiveness that's actually stretching us, and making us feel snarky, or irritated, or picking at each other afterwards. So, we can notice it in ourselves like, oh, okay. And most of the time, most people, we're not afraid.

[00:51:59] I mean, sometimes, you're consciously afraid of like the good things that might happen, but mostly, we're conscious of the things we don't want to happen. And we forget like, oh, what's going to happen if someone writes me a check that's bigger than anyone I've ever gotten before? And like, how long can you just be happy about the big check before you're already like, but I owe this, and I owe that, and maybe I'm going to blow it, and maybe the check's not even going to get cashed. And maybe this is—that's the red. We just cycle back into the red. 

[00:52:27] And then, eventually, we're like, no, no, no, I'm actually happy about this, I'll just hold on for it, but we just swing. And that's the nature. There's nothing wrong with that. It's just like an infinity loop. Because they're part of each other, is like the Gibran poem about joy and sorrow. They go together, but we expand our capacity to hold one, we expand our capacity for the other. And ultimately, that's humanness. It's like our ability to hold the full spectrum.

[00:53:00]Luke Storey:  I think the upper limit piece is also, I think, a block for many people that are in whatever way they are trying to manifest expansion in their life, right? There's an underlying block there that no matter how many affirmations you do or how many freaking vision boards you make, there's a part of you that knows that you can't handle that capacity of fulfillment or success, so you just stay small and just stay where you are, whether it be in a tangible way or just an inner growth even. It's like to stretch outside of that sounds good, and your affirmations say that, and you have your goals and dreams on the wall, but-

[00:53:42]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  And you have the people who are helping you and motivating you, but I would flip the question, because I feel like we ask that question too much. What do we want? Right? That's like the bit. Everyone's like, what do you want? It's like, what does life want from you?

[00:53:57]Luke Storey:  Oh, I like that.

[00:53:59]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  That's what this work is about. Because I mean, I'm sure you're the same way. You're a creative person. It's like my intellect wants all kinds of things. I have so many ideas. I have so many things I want to do, things I want to express, people I want to talk to, ways I want to change the world, projects that I think are really super interesting and good, and then there's this human body. There's this human 47-year-old body that has a 13-year-old daughter who really needs me, but I got away for these 24 hours, graduating from eighth grade tomorrow. And this person needs something different than those ideas, that creativity, that intellect. Maybe our body doesn't want what our vision board wants.

[00:54:53] Maybe our body has something else and our body is also the voice of our soul. Maybe our soul has another message for us, but we keep putting this other record on, just like putting the record on top of the record, no, I want to listen to this one, and the other records underneath there, going, but I'm your song, I'm your song. No, no, play this one, play this one. No, but I like—so I think that in the self-developed—I mean, self-development in and of itself is an addiction. We have to be better. We have to do more. We have to clear ourselves out. There's something that's not pure enough. We can always be better. Why? Why do we need to be better, or do we? 

[00:55:38]Luke Storey:  Yeah, that's a great question to pose as someone who's constantly pushing the envelope, and also, I'm grateful to say humbly with some degree of awareness, and I often remind myself, like you already made it, you're good, you did the thing, because I've asked like, why do I have this? I think underneath it all, it's just this yearning for God. And I just want to feel more of that, experience more of that, and be able to share more of that. And there have been a couple of times where I have observed myself, why do I keep going for it, going for it? And the answer I got was, well, I want it all, like I want to go all the way. Like let's say enlightenment, that would be my most tangible, yet intangible goal in this lifetime.

[00:56:29]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  And how are you going to know when you get there?

[00:56:30]Luke Storey:  Yeah, that's the thing, because if you know, then you're not—especially if you tell someone, you're not enlightened.

[00:56:33]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  No, I don't think that's true. But I mean, seriously, like how are you going to know?

[00:56:38]Luke Storey:  Well, here's the answer that I got from that was that not that you already enlightened, but it's like the thing you're striving to get, you already have, like just stop, pause, and celebrate that you won the race, like you did it. So, now, begs the question, as you so aptly stated, what does the world want from you? And when you said that, I was like, oh, shit, that's up-leveling question, because what the world wants for me is likely a thing that is like outside of my comfort zone, quite possibly, right?

[00:57:16] Because maybe, for me, it would be like doing more content around spirituality, and going really deeper, and helping people find that in their lives versus talking about this amazing hydroshot drink that I love or biohacking stuff is like easy. There's no vulnerability in that. But I don't know that the world wants one or the other for me, but when I hear what is the world want, the world wants more heart, depth, love, compassion, empathy, like those things that just feel so good in my body. That's seemingly what the world wants. What I want is just what's fun and easy.

[00:57:55]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Is that really true?

[00:57:57]Luke Storey:  I mean, on a surface level. When I'm just like, what am I going to do today? I mean, of course, at the core of that, there's like, how can I serve more deeply? But it's a lot easier to just do kind of surface work that is fulfilling on one level.

[00:58:09]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Okay. So, what does your land want from you?

[00:58:12]Luke Storey:  The land here. I asked that question on my hunting trip, when I had the opportunity to really drop into this land, you know what this land told me? I said, why am I here, Texas, this boundary, this fake boundary we call a state? And it said, you are here just to be. This is the time in your life when you just be. It sounds simple enough, but then, of course, I posed the question, well, how do I get anything done if I'm just being? To which the answer arrived, it's not that you don't do anything, you just have to learn better to be as you're doing.

[00:58:51] So, you can be doing things or not doing things, but what's the depth of your presence in that moment? So, Texas for me, and I guess that's part of the wide open space here, is just learning how to just be. And that would also be indicative of the message that I got earlier, which is, you already won, you're already there, just celebrate and enjoy, instead of always having to be pushing and striving like, no, I got to heal this thing, and fix this thing, and move forward. It's like, dude, you're good. Like now, your cup is full. Now, the only thing that would perhaps bring any more meaning is just to share more freely of what you have.

[00:59:33]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  So, throughout time, we have a lot of models of male enlightenment and descriptions of male enlightenment. We have fewer descriptions of female enlightenment. So, I don't know if those look the same, depending on what kind of body you inhabit. I'm not sure. I've been around a few people in my life that I consider to be relatively enlightened, if not enlightened. But for me, what it is, is a complete proprioceptive map, so that I am fully inhabiting every cell that's in my body, that's contained within my skin, and that I can feel the sort of golden warm energy that travels through the channels in my body.

[01:00:23] But traditionally, male practice is pulling up out of the pelvis into cosmos, and female practice is like pulling cosmic energy down into the pelvis, so I'm not sure. I don't spend too much time, though, thinking about becoming enlightened. I think being a parent, I didn't spend that much time thinking about it before then, although I did do a lot of practice, but once I became a parent, it was more like, how can I be in service of this life as well? And any kind of ideas that I had about certain things that I thought I had resolved came-

[01:01:04]Luke Storey:  I hear this a lot.

[01:01:05]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  ... to the surface and it was sort of like the curtain of Oz opened up this whole other layer of devotion and acceptance of humanness. Like just real, true acceptance, instead of feeling like, okay, I have this way that I am and I would probably be better if I wasn't this way. It was like, you know what? This is just kind of who I am and not like, oh, I'm going to dig my heels in and never try to change it, but just like I can only be one kind of mom. 

[01:01:44] And the kind of mom that I am is like I'm really emotionally attuned, I'm really caring, and I have a lot of like physicality. I'm not an organized mom. I don't keep track of things very well about like events and stuff like that. I'm late kind of a lot, a lot more than I wish that I was. And it just stretched me to a point, where it's like, but you know what, like that randomness and that imperfection is also part of life, and like it's not like my daughter would be a better person either if I was different than that.

[01:02:31] I think when I was pregnant, I was thinking, oh, like, I'd hate to pass all this stuff on to my daughter, all these ways I'm so messed up. And then, I told a friend that, and she's like, Dude, everybody thinks that. It's not like you just had that original thought. I was like, oh, okay, because I was feeling so heavy about it. And it's like that, I don't know, that record song, what's my unique song, what's the fragrance that only I am? 

[01:02:58] If I was the other thing, I wouldn't be that essence. So, what is the tone when you ring the bell? It's like just that tone that's not 1% less or more, that's your specific tone or my specific tone. And I feel like the tools in the book are helping people refine that and be able to have the foundation. I set out to write a book about sex, because that's mostly what I work with, but I recognize that sex is not separate from every other way that we are and it's endemic to our nervous system.

[01:03:37] So, we needed these foundational tools of like, where do I end and where does the world begin? What is mine and what is yours? These very basic things. But all the time, I'm misinterpreting something that you say or some way that you are, and thinking it's about me. It's just what we do until we become so much more clear about, wait, no, this is actually mine, and this is my body, and this is my space.

[01:04:06] And a lot of the spiritual teachings are like, this is not your body, you're not your body, you're more than your body. They're both true, but in the process of healing, we really have to come home to the body, because if we're not in the body, there's no one home to do the renegotiation. And then, if we're not home in the body, we're not really joining with someone else. It's a bit of a hazy tumbleweed that's happening.

[01:04:32]Luke Storey:  Yeah, that's a perfect segue into, I don't know, there are two different directions that we could go here and we'll see what's better suited for the conversation. But as it pertains to relating with other people, and I guess more so in a romantic relationship, something else you cover is our attachment styles. And I know that's not like your teaching, but I'd be remiss to not kind of bring that thread in.

[01:04:58] So, how those relate to our relationships to others, and where I stop and you begin, and that bit, or we could approach it from the predominant nervous system type and how that blends successfully or not into other people's nervous system types. Do you get where I'm going with kind of as an option? I guess we could do both, but I think that you approach both of those in a really interesting way. I want to savor the attachment style thing, because we can get to that.

[01:05:30] But I know in the book you have these amazing diagrams, and this is kind of digressing a bit to earlier in the conversation, but I think more time could be spent perhaps on our nervous system responses to other people and how those often inform the way relationships work or don't work, right? And into the boundaries that we set and boundaries that we allowed to be violated and how we violate other people's boundaries from a lack of understanding of being able to be in tune with our nervous system and the way in which it communicates with each one of us.

[01:06:08]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Okay. Cool. I'm just going to look away for a second, just like look around the room for a second, sweating a little bit. So, one thing that influences our nervous system, that's a contribution of this book that I learned from my mentor, Ellen Heed, who learned from Vincent Medici, and also Kelly Brogan mentions in her latest book, Own Your Self, that she learned from Nicholas Gonzalez, is that we have native connective tissue density.

[01:06:42] So, our actual connective tissue, which is what is underneath the layer of our skin, and it's what gives us our form. So, we usually think that it's the bones that create our structure, but it's actually the connective tissue and it wraps our whole arm. And then, if you were to take that layer off, it wraps the whole upper arm, and then you would get the deltoid compartment, the biceps, the triceps, and then each deltoid all the way down to the cell.

[01:07:11] And the nerves travel through the connective tissue. So, the nervous system is made up of nerves. Sometimes, I think people forget that. So, like if we dissected somebody, you can see nerves. It's amazing. I've done it. I've done a prosection, so I've watched the dissection and looked at it. A sciatic nerve that travels, most people know that, because they've had some kind of sciatic pain before, it travels to your piriformis, so in your rear glute, and it looks like a muscle when you look at it.

[01:07:43] It's huge. So, the nerves are actually very big, these bundles, and electric currents are traveling through the nerves, through the connective tissue. All connective tissue is made of some composition of collagen and elastin. When tissue isn't needed anymore, fibroblasts come in and they macrophages, like eat up what's not necessary and eliminate it. Collagen is like a rubber bouncy ball, right?

[01:08:15] Most people know now, because it's gone super popular in the last couple of years, because people want more collagen in their skin, because it makes you have less wrinkles. And then, elastin is what's stretchy. So, all of us are born with a proportion of collagen and elastin in our connective tissue. And most of us have pretty much like a mix, a middle of the road mix, but some people have really collagenous tissue, so it's like a rubber bouncy ball. 

[01:08:41] Like if you pull up, it just springs right back into shape. And then, some people have really elastinous, which are people who have like—their joints dislocate a lot. Like for me, I used to teach yoga, so I used to stretch a lot, but I barely ever stretch anymore, because I don't need to, because I've stretched my hamstrings officially for my whole life. But if I just stand up right now, my hands will just go flat on the floor.

[01:09:06] It's because of my connective tissue, not because of my muscles. Elastinous connective tissue is like a loose-knit sock, there's a lot of space where the nerves are traveling and where the electric signals are going. So, if you have a lot of elastin in your connective tissue, your tissue is more porous, meaning that the signals are traveling faster, you perceive them faster, and you literally don't have as tight of a boundary, whereas collagenous tissue, it's very densely woven.

[01:09:36] And so, it's hard for signals to travel. If you're a body worker, which I was for a long time, it's like working on someone with really collagenous tissue, like one time, I actually scaled a wall to be able to like really get enough pressure, where the person could feel it, whereas if you work on someone who's elastinous, it's like sometimes, you just barely touch it and their whole system starts reacting.

[01:09:59] So, those are actual physical things that determine how easily we express a boundary. We usually just think, like I had a client once who, this is sort of intense for the moment we're in, but basically got held up. And she was with her friend. And her friend grabbed her bag, fought back against the person, and said to F off. And she stood there and wet her pants. And the meaning she made about herself after that was like, oh, I'm really wimpy.

[01:10:31] Like I grew up, like in NorCal, and I'm like a Golden Retriever. Like I didn't really learn how to protect myself. And then, over time, she did the Jaguar course with me, and she was riding her bike over a bridge, and someone kind of came super close to her, and she was like, fuck off, and like yelled, and then kept driving. I was like, who is that person who just did that? Because she had restored this capacity, because if you have more collagenous connective tissue, you're more likely to have sympathetic responses, which would be irritation, frustration, anger, rage, or annihilation on a low threat to high threat register.

[01:11:14] And if you have more flights, you're more likely to feel worry, anxiety, panic. And if you have more of the freeze tendency, you're more likely to feel confused, disoriented, and helpless. So, those emotional signposts kind of help you figure out, well, how threatening, or when someone else expresses things to you. It's like when they're using words like terrified, you know, oh, their system is registering a really high level of threat.

[01:11:42] So, lots of times now, when people are listening, they're kind of self-diagnosing, that's normal, but the point is really to notice. Like in my case, after I had a baby, I had been a long-term vegetarian. I had a prolapse, which means my organs were below where they were supposed to be. I had scar tissue that wasn't healing well and I was feeling pretty depressed, but that was because of all those other things I just named. And in the healing process, I realized, oh, there's so much stacking in the parasympathetic department, because I'm already elastinous, and then my ligaments, when you give birth, you have a hormone called relaxin that makes everything super stretchy.

[01:12:24] So, if you're already elastinous, you're even more stretchy. Then, I was a yoga teacher, so I was stretching more. And then, prenatal yoga should only be for people who never do yoga, because if you're already a yoga teacher, you should never do what most people are doing for prenatal yoga, because they tell you to like do hip openers and all this stuff. The last thing I should have been doing was like stretching my hip flexors more.

[01:12:46]Luke Storey:  Oh, right.

[01:12:47]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  So, I wasn't really aware of that.

[01:12:49]Luke Storey:  Hence, the prolapse situation and just being to Loosey Goosey all over.

[01:12:54]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  That's part of it. And then, also just the weight of gravity, you should be off your feet for the first six weeks so that your organs can just go back to where they're supposed to be with some external supports. But I didn't know about that. That's why I wrote my first book. So, it is a way that you can put your own puzzle pieces together. And so, for instance, in my case, now that I know, okay, I tend towards freezing in my nervous system.

[01:13:23] I tend towards that based on some early childhood experiences, based on some bullying in high school, based on an assault that builds on that. But then, I was also choosing a diet that was also in that direction. So, I was also predisposing myself towards those reactions. So, to help myself, I can choose other things. I can choose to eat a more nutrient-rich collagenous diet. I can choose to not stretch a lot and do things that cause more tensegrity and fascial integrity in my tissue. 

[01:13:58] And so, I don't look at it as like a prescriptive thing, it's just a way of self-knowing that's also like, yeah, if your joints are hyperextended, it is harder for you to know where you're at in space. Your proprioceptive awareness is different than someone who's like extremely collagenous. And so, when we're talking about boundaries, that's just your skin is, and your fascia are your literal, visceral, physical boundary.

[01:14:30] So, we do a lot of just things like skin brushing, like firm self touch to really define like this is the contour of where I am. And then, in terms of relating, one of my students once went to Home Depot, and she was in there, and she said the guy was being like, so I used to go to Home Depot to get a little hit of testosterone, either to Home Depot or the motor bike people that lived at the—you could take a motorcycle up the hill where I lived in Rio, so I would be like, okay, I need like some male energy.

[01:15:07] I'm going to go get on with the motor bike just because they didn't care if you like squeeze and hugged on from behind. So, I was like, alright, I'm going to go hang out with those guys. But she went to Home Depot, this guy was just kind of being a jerk and she felt herself starting to wilt a little bit. She felt herself kind of being like, oh, God, and like why is he acting this way?

[01:15:24] She remembered the class. And so, how she described it was she kind of puffed up her tail feathers. She got a little peacocky and she just invited a little sass. In the moment that she brought a little bit more of that sympathetic energy, it just matched him, and he came down, and they ended up having a good interaction. So, so many times, we are not only taking things personally, but we're also into our default pattern, which lets the other person go in their default pattern.

[01:15:52] But if we can just come up a little bit out of what we would normally do, and sometimes, that also means what in the book I call switching channels, where instead of just trying to explain something to someone one more time, that you actually invite another channel of communication, whether that's movement, or emotion, or sensation. We tend to assume that the person's not understanding us. Sometimes, that's true, but usually repeating ourselves over and over is not that—it doesn't really work. At least, it hasn't in my life very well. So, we can invite a change of channel so that we can start to understand on a deeper level what's happening in ourselves and what's happening in the other person.

[01:16:36]Luke Storey:  So, I think something that's interesting within that, it's also in the book, is many of us especially I think that are spiritually oriented, we think that being parasympathetic is the goal all the time, like, oh, I got it. I don't want to be sympathetic. Like I need to be just chill, and rest and digest all the time, right? But some of us, and I think I would fall into that category, are just predominantly wired that way anyway. Like a guy like me, I go meditate for a couple hours. Like I'm great with not moving, chilling out, relaxing,

[01:17:11]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  It's a totally great self-observation, and that's what happened for me in the ice. The first time I got in the ice, I got in for two-and-a-half minutes. They're like, hey, you need to get out. I got out. I was like, I want to get back in, got back in for another couple of minutes. And then, within six weeks, I was up to like 15 minutes. And then, I was like, okay, there's something going on right now. And what's going on is you love the freeze response.

[01:17:35] I'm like, like okay, check, you're mentally tough, kind of like what you're saying, okay, like you made it to the end of the race, okay, like what's the goal? How long am I going to try to stay in there? Like I'm going to break Wim's record? Like what am I doing? I'm a mom. Like what the hell am I doing? But of course, I was getting high off of it, not even physiologically, just like, oh, my gosh, I'm so good at this. That's cool.

[01:17:58] There's nothing wrong with that. I enjoy the process. But once I got to that threshold, I was like, what's actually happening? What was happening was I'm really good at tolerating parasympathetic freeze. Really good at it. It's where I went when I gave birth. I just freaking honed that motherfucker in, and I was like, you could—I mean, anything could have happened and you would have not taken me out of that, like channel that I got myself in.

[01:18:22] But I wasn't actually doing well, I was just enduring it. I really needed something, but I wasn't able to ask for what I needed, because I was too deep in my experience. So, what I started doing in the ice was I realized, okay, I can tolerate the freeze, but I'm not very good at warming myself back up again. And so, I started going in, in short intervals, like go in for 90 seconds and I do the opposite of what everyone else does.

[01:18:47] Everyone else gets in there, and they're like, either they want to jump out or they do something kind of like dramatic, or they're like Zen master. Well, I was like Zen master from day one. So, I was like, alright. So, I get in there and I like act crazy, and like yell, and swear, and make myself emote. And if I feel like jumping out, I jump out, and I run around, and then I get back in. And then, I just actually let myself have the response that a normal person has. 

[01:19:13] If you get in water that's 35 degrees, you should have a fight or flight response. You should either really be mad about it or really want to get out of there. Like that's normal. But I did so many years of spiritual practice, where I completely trained myself out of preference. So, like this book, like we were talking about earlier, you have to know if you like something or you don't like it.

[01:19:35] My practice would be like, okay, so you feel this like black hole in your heart, I'm making a joke, but it was like something like that, and do you like that? And I would kind of feel mad about it, because I'd be like, what do you mean, do I like it? It's just there. I'm just sitting with it. It's neutral. Everything was neutral. Well, you're feeling this, everything was neutral, because I trained myself really well into equanimity and neutrality.

[01:19:59] But it turns out that's actually not a recipe for a regulated nervous system. It looks good from the outside, and people all the time were like, you're so mellow, and I just want to be around you, because you're so mellow. But that's not what was happening internally. So, now, I go in, in cycles. I go in, I warm myself up, I go back in, get cold again, warm myself up, so that I'm actually riding those cycles.

[01:20:22] And that's been my experience with so many people that I work with. It's not like this idea that they just want to—in fact, I taught a class today that was about rest, but it's like really, in 15 months, we haven't moved enough. And there's a lot inside that needs to get moved around, that needs a space to go, whether it's emotions, or sensations, or whatever it is. So, yeah, we need to develop our tolerance for activation. 

[01:20:50] And things like yoga practice, it's all designed to slow down your valve system. And what I'm talking about is like being able to accelerate your valve system. And when a lot of people want to talk with me about orgasms and multiple orgasms, that's a question of capacity and like how far the riverbanks of your system can stretch and hold all kinds of sensation, but it's also about how we can swing from activation and central sensation, genital sensation, into deactivation in peripheral, and be able to dance between those two.

[01:21:29]Luke Storey:  That's very interesting. And we definitely have to talk about sex before we go, because I think you have some very great content on that. I want to go back to that piece around having or not having preferences. And I think that in the world of spiritual growth and development, at least for me, I don't know, one of the goals has always been to really develop that neutrality. It's like the nondual, nonjudgment, learning how to just adapt to one's surroundings.

[01:22:03] And that's almost like a coveted goal is the ability to roll with life like that, and not label and judge, and be critical or think that things should be different, right? It's just that radical acceptance or living from a surrendered place. And that's served me personally for the most part, but that's kind of before I had the information that you're presenting here, that some people are just predominantly wired that way anyway.

[01:22:31] And so, when there's a need to come with more sympathetic energy, it's less attainable in the case of setting a boundary, or having a difficult conversation, entering into something in which you have to be more confrontational. And it's so uncomfortable to be that way, because you're so used to just this equanimity that is that, the seeming goal of it.

[01:22:54] So, I think that's really interesting, is that perhaps, it's not in just learning how to be cool with everything, it's, sometimes, going sort of against your nature. So, for me, being sympathetic, and super hyper, and loud, and like, I don't dance, I'm not really a physical guy. I don't like working out with all those guys, but I just kind of like edge myself into it, perhaps intuitively, to just lean into that other lesser predominant trait or way of being. Does that kind of makes sense?

[01:23:27]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Definitely, yeah. And I mean, when you're talking, what I also hear is just, and I'm sure you know, is that so many women, especially who are in this nondual spiritual world, which I was. I lived at the Ramana Maharshi Ashram for a while, that disintegration of boundaries, right? Because that's the practice. The practice is there's no me and there's no you, there's no separation, leads to a lot of abuse of power.

[01:23:55] And then, we're disarmed, and we're also not only disarmed, we're in extreme inner conflict. I almost had a psychotic break, because it wasn't just my morality, it was actually a deep rewiring of what is self. And ultimately, to be in connection with someone else, you actually have to have an independent self. And there's a difference between spirituality, and psychology, and sexuality.

[01:24:28] And we tend to think we want them to all be the same, and so the spiritual truth, then we think that somehow, that's going to work relationally. And in my case, and I'm still learning relationally, I have way more spiritual chops than I do interpersonal relational chops. I just didn't have to practice that. I practiced on my own mat or I practiced with my guru, and there was a huge power dynamic there.

[01:24:52] And so, for someone who already had pretty questionable boundaries, I grew up in a codependent family, both my grandfathers are alcoholics, not a very differentiated mom, it's always very easy for me to do the dissolution meditations. I actually love to be dissolved. It's very hard for me to congeal my energy. It's very hard for me. I feel like I walk in the world with my molecules very dispersed, and that's what people perceive as like relaxing, because many people are more condensed.

[01:25:28] But for me to condense, that's my path, because that's also material reality. I spent a lot of my life not really believing in material reality, thinking that it was kind of bullshit, not as real as the spiritual reality until I became a mom, and then it was all Earth booths, friend, Earth boots, let's give this a try. But when I came in, I was telling you how I watched this Floyd Mayweather fight last night, and I think for me, there's just these full expressions of fight energy, literally.

[01:25:59] I was in Holland with Kasper van der Meulen, who's one of my breath teachers, and he owned a gym there. And his brother is a weightlifter, like a professional champion weightlifter. And he was lifting while we were in our breath class, and I saw him, actually, he's in my acknowledgments, we barely even ever talked, but he just taught me something.

[01:26:21] He was listening to music, so I didn't know what he was listening to, but he was doing his sets, and then he finished, and he threw the weight on the ground, and he just like [making sounds] like growled at the weight, just like I own you, and like every cell of me just felt that like this is fucking mine, just like I did that. And in my body, I was like, oh, wow. I don't really know that energy.

[01:26:48] I don't really know what that is, to like trace the perimeter of a space and like proverbially like claim my territory. I did it instinctually while I was in labor. I paced my apartment as if I was making a map of it. I only realized afterwards that I was doing that. But I like went in all of the cracks of the apartment that I lived, and just ritually just like walked around it. I'm sure that's what animals must do when they're deciding where they're actually going to give birth. But we're so afraid of that, because we see power misused so egregiously. 

[01:27:25] And for many of us, we've been on the victim side of that, that we don't want to—or as a male, you're proving that you're not threatening. I'm going to prove to you by being good, by being nice or whatever that behavior is, because I don't want you to think I'm a threat, which makes total sense. But when we're integral with the energy, it's actually not threatening. It's when it's out of balance. It's a feral wolf that destroys a hen house. A wild wolf only kills what it needs to eat. Oh, interesting. And a feral animal is one approaching domestication. So, we can actually trust our wildness, it's just that we're afraid of it.

[01:28:04]Luke Storey:  Yeah. I like the bit about acknowledging the body, because then, as we were saying in so many of the spiritual teachings and practices, you're kind of discounting that. And I like how you were describing just being more etheric and less dense in your energy, and I feel a lot of the time, like there's a lot of me that's not here, you know what I mean? Driving in the car, and I just kind of can see myself from space and it's just all kind of illusionlike. And so, those grounding practices, I think, are super important for people that are-

[01:28:43]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  And I would say for people listening, because I mean, you and I just met today, so I only know what I know from a few podcasts. If you already have diffused energy, and you know that about yourself, and you already tend to be parasympathetic, then some of these huge experiences, like 10-day silent Vipassana sits or ayahuasca journeys, that could potentially be much more fragmenting than organizing, because if your cells are already far apart, it's going to send them farther apart.

[01:29:11] People always ask me about, do I do this and do I do that? And it's like I don't really need to do anything more than just live life, because there's so much going on all the time for me. There's just always so much happening. And just that like coming back to the land, coming back to the simplicity, and everyone's got their path and their trajectory, and how it works.

[01:29:32] We go through phases, and certain things work at certain times, and are really there to offer us something, but it is important to know, because it's oftentimes the parasympathetic dominants that are drawn to do yoga, that are drawn to do—because we're naturally already good at it, but it's maybe not the thing that's going to give you balance. And balance, not meaning neutrality, but balance, meaning potency. It's going to bring your system into its own power.

[01:30:03]Luke Storey:  Cool. Great information. What about people that are predominantly sympathetic nervous system types?

[01:30:11]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  I was really wondering about that. I was wondering if this book was going to work for them, because sometimes, I'm like, maybe someone needs to write, activate your inner rabbit. Like maybe that's going to be like the other side of the book. But to my surprise, and pleasant surprise, I have several people, many of them who told me they felt like they're predominantly sympathetic, and that it really gave them the tools to have healthy aggression rather than out-of-control rage, right? So, instead of flying off the hook, the principles that I laid down in the beginning of the book about orienting, and knowing what's yours and what's outside of yours, seeing low level activation happen before you go all the way to the highest expression, that it really did still help them come into that.

[01:30:59]Luke Storey:  Cool. And then, what about the relational attachment styles? I think that's really interesting stuff. And I don't know, there's an intersection somewhere there of the love avoidant and the love addict, if you're familiar with that kind of framework. And then, just through personal observation, I know that it's possible for someone to be either of those at different stages, and then for me personally, arriving at a place where neither one of those are really at play, there's just an incredible alignment and security. Yeah.

[01:31:43] So, maybe you could unpack a bit of that stuff, because I think it's really valuable, especially because as you've stated a couple of times, we really need other people. And there's this thing that we've taken on, I think both genders that I don't need any one, like I got this. And no, we don't. I mean, really, like I respect people that maybe at this time in their life, they don't choose to be in a partnership, and I've had those phases. They've been very valuable for me. But ultimately, people move to cities, we get together, we need each other, yet we have different ways of attaching. So let's unpack some of that. It's really cool stuff.

[01:32:21]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah, I've learned a lot from the attachment stuff and my resources are mostly—most of what I learned, I learned from Stan Tatkin, Wired for Love and Wired for Dating. And I love Amir Levine's book, Attached.

[01:32:32]Luke Storey:  Oh, my God. That's funny. I've read that, Wired for Dating. That's funny. I didn't even realize that was the framework of it at the time. Wow. Okay. 

[01:32:39]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah. So, attachment styles live within the social nervous system, because like I mentioned before, the social nervous system is our bonding system and it's the ventral legal system. So, it goes from our heart into our throat, into our face, and all the fine muscles around our eyes and our mouth. And it's literally how we learn to have mirroring. So, what our caregiver, if we're feeling distressed, they're showing distress.

[01:33:05] If we're feeling happy, they're reflecting that surprise or happiness. It's a co-regulatory feedback loop of how each person is and what's happening in response to each other and the environment. Attachment theory comes from something called The Strange Situation, which is an elaborate experiment designed by Mary Ainsworth in the '50s that she did in Uganda and in Baltimore.

[01:33:31] And essentially what it is, is it's a series of comings and goings. It's a series of a mother and a baby going in a room, and the mother leaving, and then a stranger coming, and then a stranger leaving, and then a mother coming back, and then watching how the infant and the mother respond to those comings and goings. And out of that grew adult attachment theory. I think you said love avoidance. Is that what you said?

[01:33:55]Luke Storey:  Yeah.

[01:33:55]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah.

[01:33:55]Luke Storey:  Like would that be the island?

[01:33:56]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yes. Love avoidant would be the island. In Stan's language, he calls securely attached is the anchor, the love avoidant is the island, and then what did you call the other one? 

[01:34:08]Luke Storey:  Love addict.

[01:34:09]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Love addict is the wave. So, now, again, we're human animals, we're not robots, so none of us fit perfectly into any categories, but I have found this framework to be tremendously useful. So, I'm a wave, a love addict, I guess, in this language. And a wave is someone who easily merges. So, in The Strange Situation, that baby was very distressed when the mother left and also very distressed when the mother returned and wasn't soothed easily.

[01:34:45] The avoidant baby, the island, basically didn't care much when the caregiver left, didn't care that much when the stranger came in and was actively rebuffed the mother, like turned its shoulders, rejected the mother when she returned. And again, it takes a long time to do one of these situations, so this is like a very gross, reductive generalization. The secure babies were a little distressed when the mom left.

[01:35:13] The stranger came, they were able to play a little bit with the stranger, and then they were happy when the mother returned. Maybe a little fuzzy, but happy. So, securely attached people, they have a lot of tolerance for comings and goings. If they didn't get a text message returned right away, they're not catastrophizing. They tend to be able to be with either any of the types fairly well, because they're not afraid that this is going to be a huge survival loss. People who are waves are really afraid of abandonment.

[01:35:45] They're afraid of losing that connection or you called it the addict. And people who are islands are afraid of being engulfed. They're afraid of being swallowed. They want their membrane solid. So, you could say that somebody who has a more sympathetic, intact system is probably, because it's a more contained system overall, the fibers between the tissues are closer together, now, this, again, is not a perfect map, but there's some correlations there. And then, an addict, or a love addict, or a wave, a wave sounds so much nicer than a love addict, I'm like, would I want to call myself a love addict?

[01:36:23]Luke Storey:  I want to clarify. I think pathology is the right word, but I think my interpretation of how those two intersect is kind of in the extreme and to the point of dysfunction, a love addict, just like obsessed on your phone, like did they text me back? Just falling in love with everyone, and that need, like that is the extreme of it. And then, the love avoidant is just like, I mean, I was that way for years. It was sad. I mean, it was fun at times, but also sad. No one's getting in, like never going to be engulfed, enmeshed, no attachment, nothing, never, it ain't happen.

[01:37:00]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  So, what I like these things for, those are extremes, but I recognize myself in one of them, and maybe you in the other. There's great things about each of these. Like the great things about the island are that they tend to be very self-possessed. They know what they want. They're not likely to compromise their needs and wants based on a context, whereas a wave is very likely to compromise, maybe not even know where they stand on something, because they're so flexible going along with whatever the rules the other person establishes are. On the other hand, waves are very creative.

[01:37:32] Waves are usually artists. Waves usually can see the universal. Islands tend to be very fixated on material, what's happening, what's in their world, preserving that world. They're preservationists, whereas waves tend to be very generous, right? So, none of these things are bad or good, they're just ways that we are as humans. And we can become more securely attached, which is what you are describing, and we can develop more capacity, which it really is. It's more capacity for comings and goings. And I always love it, because people, everyone who's not in relationship basically thinks they're securely attached.

[01:38:14]Luke Storey:  That's good.

[01:38:15]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Because outside of relationship, we're all, I'm good. Maybe you want one, but you're like, I'm feeling pretty good. And then, you get in one, and you're all like, uh-oh, here we go again. That's what the attachment theory has been so powerful for, is that in the '90s, couples therapy was really Buddhist influence, which is basically like you go to your corner, I go to my corner, we deal with our stuff, and then we come back together.

[01:38:38] Well, good luck with that, because like you might deal with it really well on your own, but you come together, it's like the springs are flying, right? This is just the nature. That's the transformative potential of connection. But to me, it's not about becoming something else, it's about knowing who you are, and then being able to share that with someone else. So, for instance, I had a relationship, and my boyfriend was super busy, and I'm a single mom.

[01:39:09] I'm a single mom, like a full-time single mom. Like my daughter's father lives in Brazil. He was parenting 100% of the time every other week. He had a full-time job. He was training for a triathlon, very sympathetic nervous system, I was writing a book trying to keep myself all together. And so, we didn't have very much time to come together and go apart, and I started noticing that I was getting really neurotic. 

[01:39:31] Like he had already said, like he's all the way in, he was doing everything right. But still, if I sent him a text and I didn't hear right back, it would just make me—I would just freak out. And I was driving myself crazy. It was so annoying. I was just like, I don't want to be doing this. And so, I was telling myself, you shouldn't feel this way, you shouldn't do this. And then, one of my friends said to me, well, what do you think you would need from him to not feel this way?

[01:39:57] And I was like, I immediately knew, but it was like not what I wanted the answer to be at all, because it was so embarrassing, what I needed. So embarrassing. I needed an attachment object. And in my mind, I didn't even know what that really meant, but it was like, I need a physical thing from him so that when I'm having this feeling, I have that physical thing. And I'm like, okay, so I'm going to go back to my boyfriend, and then I ask him for an attachment object. 

[01:40:30] Like we haven't been together that long, like maybe four months or something. So, the next time we're together and we used to get together for these like passionate lunches, but like after the lunch, he would go back to his law job and he would have like appointments. And then, I would try to like get myself back. We'd have this incredible, it's like merging cosmic sex, and then I would just be like—it would take me like hours to get myself back organized.

[01:40:53] But meanwhile, he's like back in his suit, back in his job. This is like typical of the elastinous type, is like it was just—finally, I had to be like, look, we can't have sex at lunch like this, because I can't get myself back together. Like it's amazing while it's happening, but then I'm just kind of like, you're back at work and I'm like trying to get back to my day that's not rigidly structured.

[01:41:15] So, we're like getting out of bed, and I'm like really nervous, and I'm like, so I've been feeling really bad about this thing and it's nothing to do with you, and I was thinking about it, and when I leave, I just feel really, really nervous, when I leave here, and I'm worried, and I don't know why I feel this way, and then finally, I just said, I need you to give me something. I mean, give me something, give me a gift, like have you ever? Like it's just like so humiliating. 

[01:41:48] This is like I need you to give me something. And literally, it maybe took 40 seconds. He looked at me, he went, he got a key, he opened this little safe, he got another key out of that safe. He went, he opened this other little thing, he got out this little object, it was a sundial. And he put it in his hand like this, and he came, and he just gave it to me. And he told me where it was from, and he told me who had given it to him, and he handed it to me. 

[01:42:14] And that was that and he went on to work. And it worked. From that point forward, when I felt that way, I had that with me and I didn't have that feeling anymore. So, I didn't pretend that I was cool, I didn't pretend I was an island, I didn't decide like, oh, well, I'm just going to pretend like I don't care about this, and I actually really took care of my waviness. And in taking care of that, I could be less of a wave.

[01:42:43] Because I was actually able, I call it like giving your code. I was actually able to give him my code, and say like, this is really embarrassing and I don't even know why I need this, but I just feel like I do. And I think that's like the gift of relationship is when we really can heal with each other, not by being perfect, and I think that's what our culture shows us, especially the millennials, especially the female millennials, their idea of empowered sexuality is like an old school version of like Sex in the City.

[01:43:12] Like I'm just going to be like a dude, and like not get attached, and just like, and if you're avoidant, anonymous sex actually can work for you, sometimes, because you actually aren't getting attached the same way. But ultimately, it's like, what are we doing here? And I think we can do all kinds of things with sex and relationships. But I think that care as a fundamental standard, it's a good starting point, because there's a lot less likely that we're going to have like clean up to do if we start out with that foundation of care.

[01:43:43] And then, we're actually giving our code as we go, even if we don't know somebody that will, because we usually think, oh, we'd really have to know somebody really well to like tell them something. It's not, you're not like dumping all your trauma on someone, you're just saying like, well, in this moment, I'm noticing I could use this to feel a little more comfortable.

[01:44:00]Luke Storey:  Probably the fastest way to build trust, really, because you see how one responds to you expressing your needs, however irrational on the surface they might seem to be. I think this speaks to something you talked about in the book, too, about that there's only so much personal healing or growth that can take place outside of a relationship, and this is powerful for me, because in my experience, it seems on the surface that I did all this growing and getting ready to meet my perfect person, and now, I have her and we're good to go.

[01:44:31] But I kind of forget that there were a lot of, I don't want to minimize these amazing Xs to a stepping stone. It's the wrong word for it, but say the relationship itself was just part of the path, a stop along the journey to get to a point of maturity or development, where I'm capable of having a healthy and integrated relationship. But just on its surface, it seems like Alyson and I each did all this individual work, and then we came together when we were ready. But there were a lot of relationship, I guess, lessons along the way that assisted in that.

[01:45:01] But to your point in the book, there's no way I could be experiencing the degree of love, intimacy, wholeness, healedness if I was still single as to what I experienced with Alyson from being in her presence, and having these types of dialogues and this level of intimacy and vulnerability, and having that vulnerability met with so much safety and unconditional love. It's like just being not even doing any work with her, just hanging out, I feel my heart being healed and expanding. And that's only possible, because I'm with another person, and a person that's also capable of meeting me there, I guess.

[01:45:45]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  I think in connection. Like I think that is possible outside of like a romantic relationship, but we need connection.

[01:45:52]Luke Storey:  Got it. Okay.

[01:45:53]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Because most of our ruptures have happened because of a severance of connection. And I would say the same is true of touch. If our ruptures happened with a touch violation, then oftentimes, touch is really powerful as the curative as well. So, I would hate for people to think, oh, well, because I'm single, then there's only like a certain amount of growth I can do. I think that, yeah, as I said, there's just the relational piece, there's a lot of different ways we can do that, and we need practice at it, because we don't get this like— in middle school, no one tells us like, hey, you're having a fight response.

[01:46:36] So, notice that in like, let's help you with that. Like, do you want to like push some hands? Do you have some words that you'd like to say and maybe you don't know why you want to say them, but like let's do that together, or like, oh, it looks like maybe you're in a freeze, like I'm going to come and sit side by side with you, and like, what would it feel like to you if I like put my hand on your knee? 

[01:46:56] And no one's helping us learn those renegotiations. No one's also helping us learn how to say, I feel so uncomfortable right now and I'm not really sure how to address it. But hopefully, these conversations, and hearing people modeling it and using some of the skills in the book, and my impetus is like I have a 13-year-old, and I want the world of, let's call it, I really don't like the word consent, but let's call it healthy relating or just humaning to be different for her, because in this culture, we have a very hyper-verbal approach to everything.

[01:47:39] We think that we need to do everything through words. And as animals, we have lots of other ways that we communicate in. I think some of us mammals, words are not our first language. And so, we're handicapped a little bit and that we have to communicate only through words. Yeah. So, I have a 13-year-old daughter, and she's Brazilian, so she lived the first part of her life in Brazil until she was seven. It was a really big shock to her to come to the US just because of the way that we communicate here and what's important to us. One of the first weeks of school, she came home, and she was like, Mom, I don't understand all this perfect, perfect, on time, perfect. I don't get how this works.

[01:48:24]Luke Storey:  Definitely not the Brazilian way.

[01:48:25]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  No. So, in this cultural moment that we're in, we're needing a lot of separation, we're needing a lot of differentiation based on identity so that everyone can feel safe. And hopefully, that will lead us towards this real social nervous system, where we can be different and still belong, and that in our affiliate groups, we'll be able to create mutual spaces, where we can all be together, because I find that that's why I was so excited to talk to you, because I feel like there's a lot of women's work being done and a lot of men's work being done.

[01:49:01] And it's not so often that the women's circles and the men's circles are coming together specifically about these kinds of topics, of power and sexuality. So, for my daughter, I'm just really wanting these skills of noticing what's happening in your body and being able to communicate that in real time without judgment, that that becomes just something that's normal to do. And we can, to me—and it's interesting to see a 13-year-old come of age right now, especially a girl, because she's a feminist, and she's inherited the cultural vocabulary right now, and she writes zings, and a lot of them are about like, back off, boy in the pit, like I belong here, too, kind of thing.

[01:49:55] But I want us to have unconditional, positive regard for each other. I want that to be the foundation of where we meet even when there are power differences and especially when there are power differences. And so, if we can notice when someone else is having a response that's not in integrity with where they're at right now, and be able to reflect that back, and that takes a certain level of maturity, and it takes a certain level of self-possession.

[01:50:27] A lot of people ask me like, well, what about collective healing? And that's how I ended the book in. It's a big increase of mine, because I've always been an activist and I've always really cared about social justice. And I don't know if I can guarantee that someone doing their own healing automatically makes them receptive to what's happening to the other mammals around them. But our bones are echo locators and we are part of this planet.

[01:50:57] We are nature, so we can perceive what's happening distant to where we are. And that collective nervous system, that shared social nervous system, in order that we have the resilience to become a part of that and to advocate for justice, we have to have our own personal resilience. Otherwise, we collapse. And then, what? There's no one home to do that work. So, we're always pendulating between those two. But I really want—I'm like, I guess at the bottom of it, like that's why I love hearing love stories, I think I want us all to love more, and to love better, and to be building the world that we want to belong to.

[01:51:44]Luke Storey:  Yeah, I think there's a lot in that, especially in the earlier part where you made a distinction between the necessity of having like a partner as the person that you do your deep healing with versus just connection, right? Because it doesn't have to be someone that you're necessarily sexually active with. But it's so true, I think, especially right now in the extreme lack of connection we already had, and then actually being physically prevented from that experience, that the vulnerability, and conversations, hopefully, like this one today and many that are going on now, I think, are opening up a space for people to be able to connect, and to help one another, and heal another in a way that is unprecedented in my lifetime, for sure.

[01:52:38] I mean, just the media that I see, independent media being produced, I'm shocked sometimes that the level of depth with which people are able to communicate ideas, the level of openmindedness, tolerance, vulnerability, it's like, from one perspective, things have never been more fucked. And I'm sure people that are subjugated and exploited at the moment, it probably still is. And I think we all are under that duress to a certain degree. 

[01:53:06] But it doesn't really matter where you fall on that scale, the way up and out is through each other, through one another, and that ability to share, and to speak your truth to someone, and have that be really held. And then, I guess this kind of the basis of some of the value in talk therapy and things like that, or a confession in a religious setting, where at least there's one person and you can tell them anything, and they're still going to hold that space.

[01:53:36]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Yeah. I mean, you're reminding me, too, because we've cast aside a lot of structures that used to be givens, right? Marriage, it used to mean something very specific, and it's all of these kind of ways of forming relationships. I mean, in some countries, it's all the same, but like people used to join families when they got married. That's part of why you did it, right? You joined families, you joined communities, you joined resources.

[01:54:03] And people are just wanting to do things really differently these days. Some people don't want to get married. Some people want to have three people that live in a household, five people, 10 people. Like I mean, I'm a single parent. I'm one adult living with one child. I'm dying to live with some other people, but it's really hard. I've heard a lot of people giving advice like, oh, we need to take advice from here or there, and it's like recreating culture is very hard and it's going to take many generations to do it.

[01:54:34] But it doesn't mean that we give up, it means that we keep trying, we keep connecting. We know the obstacles so that we're in this kind of purgatory. That's what my first book was about. It's like there's this period of time, the fourth trimester, after someone has a baby that's extremely important and that our culture just completely forgot about. And getting people, not just one person to remember it, but everyone who's supporting that person to remember it, that's a multi-generation job.

[01:55:03] So, instead of feeling bad that we feel exhausted, or bad that we need to grieve, or bad that we feel disconnected, it's like, yes, we feel disconnected, or yes, there is a lot to be grieved. This is part of humanity. This is part of being alive at this time. And if we're going to have different kinds of relating, which we already are, but like if we're going to continue on creating new kinds of relational structures and living structures, because how many people actually go to work anymore? Right?

[01:55:38] Like 40% of women are entrepreneurs or something that are working. So, we don't have a workplace to gather in. Nobody's been to the gym for a while. Like all these places that we used to come together, they were already kind of dissipating. So, now, how are we going to gather again? And I think that committing to gathering, even if it takes a lot of creativity and creating—I have one friend who's so good at this, and it's like, we're having a two-person book club right now. He's like, I love this book, get this book, okay, get the book. And then, we get together and we read to each other. And like we just have to prioritize that, because it's so important for our nervous systems, for our health, and for this collective regeneration.

[01:56:26]Luke Storey:  Yeah, it certainly is. Also, I like the part about, I don't know, I don't know if grapple, it might be a bit strong of a word, but I guess I ponder and kind of observe in terms of affecting this kind of change in the world, how much of that goes on within each individual and the tendency, perhaps, to bypass one's own work in an effort to "change the world", right?

[01:56:57] Like inherent in that is a likelihood of a lot of projection going on, because it's much harder for many of us to go inward, and to really address our needs and address the things about us that could do some healing. It's kind of much easier to go, in one sense, march in the streets with the fist up to change the world. Meanwhile, how about we call our mom? It's like heal interpersonal relationships and work on the immediate web of our life.

[01:57:29] And I don't know what the answer to that is. It's just something that I observe and kind of question. Like can we really change consciousness by elevating our own? Is that enough? And just by sharing whatever we discover and the ways, I guess, that I do my best to do. I'm growing, evolving, sharing ideas, sharing people's ideas in hopes that it generally lifts all the ships on the ocean. 

[01:57:56] But is that any more or less effective than being out, and really getting behind a cause, and getting my hands dirty, so to speak? I think I've leaned more toward the inner path, but I don't know. I don't know that there's a question there, but it just kind of sparked that idea from what you were alluding to earlier, of like, if we're looking toward this vision of how things could be, how much of that work is inside? 

[01:58:23] And how much of it is getting out there, and building new systems, and all of the kind of boots on the ground work? And maybe the boots on the ground work is just a result of the natural consequence of each individual doing their own inner work, where their reservoir is full enough and they're healed enough to actually be effective in making a contribution that's meaningful and create something new.

[01:58:44]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Well, I think these are the kinds of questions that we ask in this moment of time, where we are trying to—or at the beginning of rebuilding culture, because we didn't used to have these questions, because everyone would be very clear on what their part was to do. We didn't have to be generalists. We didn't have to do a bunch of everything. Like there was just one person that was really good at skinning animals, and there was one person that was really good at trapping them, and there was one person that had a lot of breast milk, and there was one person who didn't.

[01:59:14] And we wouldn't, one single person wouldn't, we wouldn't even have that concept of a singular, because we would be in a connected whole. So, I think that we are going to have those questions, because we're still trying to reknit this. And I think it's both, but if you know what your record song is and you follow what life wants from you, then you will know that direction, because an animal doesn't sit around thinking where water is, it knows where the water is to drink.

[01:59:46]Luke Storey:  Got, it sucks, because that is like the perfect mic drop moment to end this podcast. But I just would be remiss, because you don't live here, I can't just interview you next week. And I promised the audience earlier in this conversation to just touch on sex a bit, as it pertains to, as you said, the book was going to be about sex largely and ended up kind of morphing into something else.

[02:00:14] But when it comes to, and we don't have to go too deep into it in the interest of time, no pun intended, is that how the parasympathetic and sympathetic-dominant nervous systems relate when it comes to sex? And something else you talked about that I thought was interesting was the difference between hot and warm sex. I thought that was really compelling and it kind of relates to those nervous system interactions.

[02:00:47]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  In the social nervous system, the predominant hormones you're going to find there is, well, the very predominant one is oxytocin. And oxytocin it's the feeling, it's the hormone that happens when you see like puppy videos and like rabbits playing with puppies, or like those ridiculous videos, where like baby animals play with each other, the sensation that you feel is oxytocin. And that gets heightened about, I don't have a technical number, but a lot of percent like when you give birth. 

[02:01:18] If it's a physiological birth, there's a lot of oxytocin happens, because it primes you for connection. And these little human babies, we have to take care of them for so long after they're born that we need that hormonal soup connection so that we keep wanting to do that even when it's really hard, because we're so enamored by them. So, most of what we see in the world, in porn, in movies is power-based hot sex.

[02:01:49] So, it's adrenaline-based, endorphin hit-oriented, tends to be fairly fast and it sort of relies on a power dynamic in general. And that's really what most of us have seen. Like it wasn't until I went to sexological bodywork school that I ever saw any film of two people who actually loved each other visibly making love. I'd never seen that before. Yeah, it's pretty amazing. In what I was watching, the people were like not conventionally attractive at all, like they're probably in their 40s, or 50s, or maybe even 60s, but they were like really into each other.

[02:02:30] It was very illuminating. I never imagined how different that would be. I hadn't seen a lot of porn before that either, but a whole different thing. Like basically like nothing even at all in common between those two experiences. Like it just would be like watching a black and white documentary, and watching like a fiction film. It's like completely unrelated. So, as we get older, there's already a natural feminization of sex if we're going to follow physiology, right?

[02:03:04] Because the female arousal trajectory for a full vulvar arousal takes about 35 to 45 minutes. So, females have just as much erectile tissue as men do. It's just that male's are visible, because of the erect penis. And on average, full engorgement or arousal in males can be like 15 to a-minute-and-a-half kind of thing. And so, if you follow a male arousal trajectory, mostly, what it is, is it's like a sharp and steep climb to a climax, and then a drop.

[02:03:37] So, the stereotype is like you go harder and faster, and then fall asleep on the other side. So, I would be showing you like a very narrow capacity of a lot of charge, and then all that charge just vanishes. So, you go super sympathetic, and then super parasympathetic, right? So much so that you collapse, fall asleep. So, to build stamina would be to be able to stretch that margin. And the female arousal trajectory works like a wave, so it rises and falls, and rises and falls.

[02:04:07] Well, when it starts to fall, most of us are conditioned to not let it fall, because we're conditioned that like, oh, if a man gets soft, then like things are over, or that you're going to get blue balls, or all these things. And so, a lot of times, those waves are just ignored. But as we get older, and maybe on the male perspective, like the erection's not something that's happening in the same way all the time, and there's a degree of softness and hardness, the "natural trajectory" would be to go towards a female arousal cycle and also to just broaden what a sexual encounter would look like.

[02:04:43] So, warm sex is really based more on this oxytocin, and I interviewed Stan Tatkin recently, and he was saying, we can make love for our whole lives, but we might not be having sex like we thought it looked our whole lives. And so, I think that lovemaking is like being in that oxytocin. Now, I like hot sex and warm sex, so I'm not trying to make a ploy here for like one or the other, but it is good to have a capacity and a range for both. 

[02:05:13] Because there are times in our lives, and in one encounter, we could go between them, it's just that most people haven't really primed the oxytocin circuitry, and that's the circuitry that as a species is going to make us more loving. It is going to be, Michel Odent called it The Scientification of Love, is this ability to be in that oxytocin circuitry with each other.

[02:05:39]Luke Storey:  Wow, that's so cool. Yeah, I love that part in the book. I think reframing our expectations around what a sexual encounter is supposed to or not supposed to look like, especially as a man, because you're self-critical, more so than critical from the other party, but your performance is necessary for it to happen, right? Like if you're not erect, nothing's happening, and guys are trained that if that happens-

[02:06:07]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Okay. Why?

[02:06:09]Luke Storey:  Well, I'm telling you the narrative, like this is-

[02:06:15]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Oh, that's what you think. Okay. Yeah.

[02:06:16]Luke Storey:  ... the stuck framework, right? And also, many men, and probably some women, are largely unaware that just because you can't see the woman being ready, or prepared, or able to perform, as you indicated, she's not ready, maybe the man just doesn't know it, right?

[02:06:32]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Or she doesn't either.

[02:06:33]Luke Storey:  Yeah, she doesn't either, because she doesn't understand that arousal wave. But when you talked in the book about, in the middle of sex, like taking a break, it's like, to a guy, that's-

[02:06:47]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  I don't think I said taking a break, but I love how you interpret it.

[02:06:51]Luke Storey:  There's a dip in the wave-

[02:06:52]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  I think I said pause.

[02:06:55]Luke Storey:  Yeah, pause, okay.

[02:06:58]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Taking a break sounds like you're like, can we go for a drink? And like that could be, but like what I just mean is like this.

[02:07:06]Luke Storey:  But I think this is in the territory of the warm sex, is that we could explore letting go of our expectations on what that arousal peak, and the ebb and the flow of it is supposed to look like. And I think if you're with someone with whom you feel really comfortable and safe, and don't have expectations of performance from either party, and you can explore that in an openminded new way, it's really expansive. 

[02:07:32] Because even reading, I was like, oh, shit, I never thought of that. Like I would feel probably kind of awkward and weird if there was a pause, like if a woman was like, yo, I need to pause, even if it wasn't that jarring, or if I was like, hey, my thing's not really doing the thing anymore, I need to take a pause. I mean, I think at this point in life, I could kind of laugh it off, but I wouldn't really consider that part of the journey, it would be like, oh, well, I guess, let's just call it. 

[02:07:59] It's like I don't know that I would think about it in a way that's just the natural ebb and flow of a sexual encounter. I think that was really interesting to really approach lovemaking in that way and maybe even for those that are having more casual, unattached sex, even that, too. But there's so much programming from pornography and just, I mean, speaking as a man, the way that we've been kind of indoctrinated into it or trained into it, there's not a lot of room.

[02:08:29] It's like start [making sounds] , ramp up, peak, finish, then you're like, oh, I want to do something else now. I'm being extreme, too, but because your level of excitement, the hormonal cascade there for men, the level of excitement typically just drops off so much more. Like you could be [making sounds] super into it, and then you're like, okay, that's kind of-

[02:08:51]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  So, my question or challenge would be, what is the sex that you're going to have after the orgasm?

[02:08:59]Luke Storey:  Oh, that's good.

[02:09:00]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  So, it's not all about that, it's not all about basically the hormone hit and stress relief that you're going to get from just letting off, then what? And a lot of people have never even had penetrative sex that last 45 minutes, or forget about penetration, just like sex in general. And if we know that it takes women 45 minutes for full arousal, then that means you're pretty much having unaroused sex.

[02:09:31] And it doesn't mean it's bad, it's just there's a lot more potential that's available there. But I love the pausing for you then, because I can tell even the way you're describing it, that see, it's still very foreign. And it doesn't have to be a long pause, but it's a way for all of yourself to catch up with where you are, right? It doesn't have to be bad or good. 

[02:09:53] And from the female perspective, because I think the assumption is like, oh, then the woman is just going to be asking for pauses all the time, in my experience, it hasn't been like that at all. Like once I've asked for a pause, and it could be just because like I'm feeling bored, like I've just really lost interest in what that specific thing is, but I don't know what else I want, so I just want to like pause and see, like am I just kind of finished with this or is there something else that's interesting?

[02:10:18] And it could be just because I'm starting to feel like too much, that it's not leading me in a direction that feels really good. And so, I want to like wait and just see what's happening. But once I introduce it, almost always, my partner starts to ask me for that. And now, the first time that happened, that was like an ego blow. And then, I kind of got it from the reverse.

[02:10:39] Oh, this is what this feels like when you're totally into it, and you're like on fire, and then someone else is like, hey, let's just like take a minute. But it also was like really amazing, like, wow. So, now, we're actually going to have like moment to moment. We're not going to be acting out something. We're actually going to be attuned to each other and like really paying attention to what this thread is and what it wants. And then, there's just infinite potential.

[02:11:03]Luke Storey:  Yeah, I love that. There's a lot to explore there. I think also, that approach removes some of the transactional nature of sex. In sex, there's often like, well, you want to make sure everyone comes. There's a lot of this commerce kind of feel to it, because there's like beginning and end for each person that's kind of set within that framework versus just kind of-

[02:11:29]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  I would like that to never be the case.

[02:11:32]Luke Storey:  Right? Just a meandering through the experience and allowing it to just be whatever it is without any sort of judgment, and just being open to whatever that brings.

[02:11:42]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  And having experiences where it really is just about one person or it really is just about the other person. Like every single day doesn't have to be like a tic-tac-toe game where like you got that, so I get this, and wait, hold on, it took you longer over here. Obviously, there's some part of us that is doing that over a long period of time, but that's why I don't like a lot of the literature that's like, orgasm equality, because to me, of course, that's built in, because historically, women have less orgasms in sex than men do, but it's like it's not really about that.

[02:12:14] It's not like, oh, well, you got yours, so I want to get mine. At least, that's not how I want it to be. I know maybe that is how that is for some people. But there's also so much growth that's available. Like sometimes, you might just be like working on something for a little bit. Like some people are really curious about G Spot orgasms or cervical orgasms. And it's not really a trick, it's not like something that you learn, or squirting, like I'm just going to like learn how to squirt, but there's a whole psychoenergetic component to these experiences, and it's a step-by-step approach.

[02:12:52] So, there's a lot of healing that's available there, but that's like a whole other dynamic. Then, like we're just going to get in here and imagine that this is every single thing all the time is going to be as mutually pleasurable as possible. That's not really how it goes. It might start out that way. But after a while, like we have preferences, and maybe we have preferences with different people, and we need to get to know those and communicate them. We need another episode for this stuff.

[02:13:20]Luke Storey:  I know. Well, it's funny, because I think in my notes, which I haven't referred to, thankfully, at the end, I was like, what about the fourth trimester? Like break that down. I'm like, no, Luke, you got the sex part, okay, you're good. But I do want to get that book and I'm sure there's a lot of value in there. And as I said earlier, it's kind of my area of focus at the moment. 

[02:13:41]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  You are the doting husband or fiance, that is adorable that you want to get the book.

[02:13:46]Luke Storey:  Yeah, I do. Yeah. I read a lot of the lady stuff. You want to be part of the experience as much as one can. Well, God, I think we did it. Thank you so much. What an incredible download of wisdom, knowledge, and laughs, and all the things that I enjoy on this show. I got one last question for you. See what I mean? I've got one last question for you, though, before you're off the hook, and that is, who are three teachers or teachings that have informed your life and your work that you might share with us?

[02:14:20]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  So that people could go learn from them as well? Some people who are alive?

[02:14:23]Luke Storey:  Some people say, well, my mom and dad, and I'm always like, that's nice, but like they can't Google them.

[02:14:28]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  So, are you going to go call my mom? Dave Johnson, Microvision optical. No, three teacher. Well, gosh, I've been so blessed, I've had so many incredible teachers. I really incredibly admire the work of Lama Tsultrim Allione. She's a Tibetan Buddhist teacher. She wrote a book in the '80s called The Women of Wisdom, and it's about the Tibetan women in the lineage. And in the introduction of that book, she talks about—she's one of the only spiritual teachers that I had known at that time that was also a mom and she has four children.

[02:15:11] And so, for me, that was just a game changer. She also has four children with two different people. And it was like a person who had an actual life like I could relate to, but also was an esteemed spiritual teacher. So, I love Women of Wisdom, I love Feeding your Demons, and I love Feminine Rising, which is her newest book. I feel like under pressure to give like the most diverse answer possible.

[02:15:37]Luke Storey:  No, honestly, some people are like Jesus Christ, Buddha, and my mom. It's no pressure, whatever naturally comes.

[02:15:46]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  I love Sherry Winston's work. She was a midwife, and now, she's a sex educator. And she wrote a book called Women's Anatomy of Arousal. I learned a lot about what I shared today from her. She was recently on my podcast. And it's really just super interesting talking to people who are midwives. So many sex educators and midwives, like sex educators become midwives or vice versa. I feel like it's like being schooled in the feminine itself when you're with midwives. So, I bow to the midwives and I learn so much from all of the midwives that I've been in relationship with. Lama Tsultrim, Sherry, Winston, teachers. I mean, I do have to say, I guess I'm going to have to go with Ramana Maharshi for the third one.

[02:16:39]Luke Storey:  My favorite quote of his, and I'll paraphrase it, you might know the real quote, but something to the effect of, don't bother trying to change the world, because the world that you see doesn't even exist, something about that, in our projection of like how we think things should be, they're only the way that we see them to be, because we see them that way, yeah. And that's all I know about him. No. Thank you so much for joining me today. Super fun. We can find you at kimberlyannjohnson.com? Okay. The new book, we've talked about all day today, Call of the Wild: How We Heal Trauma, Awaken Our Own Power, and Use It For Good. Is there a separate site for that or is everything just on your home page?

[02:17:22]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  It's on the home page. If you want to read the first chapter for free, you can go to kimberlyannjohnson.com/chapter. And then, if you want to work the book with me, I teach a course called Activate Your Inner Jaguar, and you can find that at kimberlyannjohnson.com/jaguar.

[02:17:36]Luke Storey:  Cool. And then, your podcast?

[02:17:38]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Sex Birth Trauma. 

[02:17:39]Luke Storey:  Cool. Great name. Bet you're going to get a lot of downloads.

[02:17:43]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Well, when I saw you had seven million, I was like, well, I have 700,000, but I didn't know that was really good. And I was like, oh, that's good.

[02:17:52]Luke Storey:  That is good. That's a lot. I mean, relatively speaking. But yeah, in the podcast world, everything's about each download. Like that's what people, advertisers, and guests,and such is like, how many downloads do you have? Which took me a while to figure out. But then, you have your Tim Ferrisses, and Joe Rogans, and those people, they're like eight million per episode. You're like, alright, I'm not going to look at my downloads anymore. Like, okay, we're doing fine. But yeah, thank you so much for joining me today.

[02:18:31]Kimberly Ann Johnson:  Thank you.



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