It is often overlooked that our body does not stop going through transformations when we have gone past puberty. Of course, growing up is a big deal and the changes are dramatic, culminating in puberty and the ensuing years when the hormone-induced turbulence of our minds gradually calms down. This often coincides with the time when our brain is fully developed, more or less around the age of 25.
But why stop there? If anything, this is a clear sign that the body and the brain develop at different speeds. Is it too strange an assumption that mental and spiritual development might have different speeds as well? Maybe we should be looking beyond the obvious physical changes we go through when growing up and focus on the things that are less than obvious. Clearly, we continue to learn new tricks beyond the age of 25 (yes: I know that learning is easier when your brain is more pliable, but that does not mean it becomes impossible after that time!) so why is it so hard to imagine that besides learning things we could also be able to ‘change our mind’ on a range of intellectual and spiritual matters?
Spiritual development seems to be a bit of a stop-and-go subject: many people – even the ones actively looking for enlightenment – appear to get stuck for periods of time and then suddenly become aware of some element they disregarded and move forward in a big way. I like to think of this as ‘an idea whose time has come’, when all the pieces suddenly fit and the mind comprehends something it could not quite make out before.
This, to me, is the ultimate personal development: a sudden insight rather than a continuous learning activity. There is a lot of learning out there that anyone can pick up, but insight is something personal, that rattles your belief system, shakes you up to the core. Mostly, this is a joyful occasion that leads to rearranging beliefs and the material life forever in a way that no amount of learning could ever achieve. I believe that personal development of this sort never stops and can hit us at any time of life: from your teens to old age, there is a chance of sudden shifts in perception.
embrace that shift and make it your own in mind and spirit
Smell and taste
Let’s assume you have had some experience in the bedroom. You mastered the technicalities of sex and have lived to tell the tale. You may even have experienced encounters where foreplay has actually been the main event and sex felt like a minor side-kick to the whole procedure. Most of you, however, will probably have focused on the sense of touch. Of course, the eyes play a role when picking your partner, but once things get a little more juicy, touch plays a much more prominent role in your encounters. Some may get vocal, but sound is not usually a big thing except for crucial moments of ecstasy and the climax.
May I suggest a little extra? Have you ever thought of incorporating smell and taste into your foreplay routine? I’m not talking taking your partner out to dinner before making your move: I’m thinking of actually making use of the taste of taste/smell DURING your encounter.
You may wonder how you can do this, and you’ll be surprised that smell plays a crucial role from the first moment you encounter someone: there is good reason to suspect that we are much more driven by the effect of pheromones than we are aware of. But this is about experimentation with things that your partner can smell or taste as a surprise element that can heighten the excitement quite a lot.
It takes a bit of preparation, though. Not every food or smell are readily at hand in the bedroom and most need a level of preparation: it’s not particularly sexy having to wait for someone to cut those oranges or go and fetch the strawberries. Ice cubes have a nasty tendency to melt while waiting to be used, and you don’t want to spoil the surprise by having everything sitting right next to the bed either. Some smells need to be hidden by using the right containers, too. However, it’s certainly worth the effort, especially if your partner is of the playful sort. Remember, food can be shared, too!
A word of caution: be aware of food allergies and your partner’s preferences: you may be a fan of mango, your partner may not be! In the end, this is for your partner’s benefit, and whatever you choose, make sure it is pleasant for the both of you…
smell and taste are the twin brothers of vision, hearing and touch!
The nature of sexual energy
Tantra is about the sensation of sexual energy, being connected to what and who surrounds us in general. The funny thing is: these sensations, while generally a result of interaction with one another, are really not connected to the other person. Yes: you are with him, and the actions between the two of you lead to an increase in energy. Arousal, emotion and physical sensation may be shared amongst the two of you, but ultimately it is an experience that concerns each of you separately.
There is, of course, an element of mutual exchange of energy and we have all been aroused by actions that someone else has taken on us. A flirtatious look across a pub, that soft kiss on the neck when you least expect it, a massage in just the right place… all of those are means to create a connection and therefore rise that sexual or life energy we are looking for.
At the same time, this kind of energy can be present within yourself only, and you could as well have created that increase by visualising on your own. This is what happens when we are daydreaming or imagining scenes with other people or with just ourselves. Going further, this may involve a level of self-touch and – dare we admit it – masturbation.
Either way, we may find ourselves in a place where the energy we have been raising reaches levels that push us forward even more. Tantra teaches us that this rise in energy does not always have to lead to a physical climax! What if you were to store that energy or experience it in different ways? This sexual energy can be channelled into the most vivid of meditations, into other forms of physical experience. Have you ever felt like ‘shaking something off’ and you had one of those full-body sneezes where you just shudder and move on? That was an energy build-up! Or you are lying in your bed and your hands start to feel like fuzzy mittens, buzzing with energy. Yep: another energy build-up.
Sometimes it’s enough to feel the sand on the beach with your feet or even see the wind play with the blades of grass on a green hill. The important thing is to stay aware of the flow of energy inside of you. Once you can do that, just imagine what will happen if you connect with someone who can do the same!
energy has to exist before it can be shared
Transience of experience
If you are familiar with going into a sensual space and the experiences it brings, you may have found out already that whatever you feel at those moments, as ecstatic and blissful it may be, the feeling evaporates rather too quickly afterwards.
To some degree that is the nature of the beast: ecstasy can be expanded to a longer period of time than most people realise, but there comes an end to it nevertheless! Depending on who you are and how experienced you are in tantric practice, certain elements may linger for a while longer, but eventually they will fade. That could be a couple of minutes, or it could be several months down the line. Regular practice helps, of course, to replenish the energies involved and to hang on to them for longer.
Not surprisingly, the purely sexual aspects of tantra tend to be especially short-lived: we are, after all, used to a sharp drop in personal energy right after a climax. Nature of the beast, right? When it comes to erotic aspects, our mind tends to hang on to that imagery for longer, and as for the sensual and sensory elements … if you have ever had your skin tingle from that heightened sense of connection, you’ll know that this can stay with you for quite a long time. AND it can be reawakened easily if you know how.
The ephemeral nature of tantric experience is part of the deal. There is a lot of practice involved to deprogram how our sexual mind works, and to make it understand that there is more than physicality to making a connection with the other person. Looking at this idea from a more spiritual point of view, that ‘other person’ could easily be ‘another being’ or ‘the other’ in general. Tantra is, after all, a spiritual practice.
don’t hang on to it, experience it and remember
These are my own thoughts on aspects of my work I feel strongly about.