As mentioned before, a common misunderstanding that is much more prevalent in the West than in the East is this: Westerners believe that masculine = male and feminine = female! However, both masculine AND feminine energies are present in women and men, and in fact this is one of the most interesting aspects of working with energies, leading to many a realisation that we are all just part of a spectrum rather than one or the other.
In the Indian tantric tradition, Shiva usually represents the masculine, Shakti the feminine aspects and energies in partner tantra. You may have seen depictions of the divine couple in the yab-yum position, with Shakti straddling Shiva’s lap and both of them embracing. It’s a common depiction of the masculine/feminine union and very much in line with the yin/yang symbol we are all familiar with.
Where we often get the wrong idea is this: while Shakti and Shiva represent the male and female aspects through their gender, the masculine and feminine energies are shown in their extreme state of separation into two different persons. It’s an ideal, not the default, that both gender and energy coincide! Who says that Shakti isn’t the active/giving partner at this moment? Shiva might just be accepting her administrations, in which case their energies would be inverted: Shiva takes on the feminine, Shakti the masculine aspects.
It’s confusing, but for once as gay men we have an advantage: we do instinctively realise that both masculine and feminine aspects are present inside of us and we shift their balance according to the situation we find ourselves in. One day we may be very active and aggressive, the next day we take on a more passive, accommodating role. For us, that image of the divine union feels misleading as it associates gender with a particular energy.
use any opportunity to explore different energies
Did you ever stop everything to experience how your breath moves into and out of your body? If the answer is yes, when did you last do it? Chances are, your answer is either that you never thought about this or that it has been a while since you last made a conscious choice to experience it properly.
Just think about it: for as long as you live you will breathe, shifting air in and out, sustaining you with the oxygen that makes your life possible. If you are aware of the energy flow that comes with breath you’ll understand that energy flows much better through awareness of the flow happening. This means that breathing with intention will much improve your energy intake with your breath, where ‘just breathing’ does just about bring a little bit of that energy into your body.
Focus on breath as a daily practice can be beneficial to your general wellbeing: not only will you become aware of shifting energies in yourself, but focusing on your breath will normalise how you breathe, calm you down and balance the way you react to things that are going on around you and even lower your blood pressure! This focus could be your first resort whenever you feel overwhelmed by the world around you or the emotions within you.
On the flipside you can use focus on breath to extend states of excitement. You’ll be aware that your breath goes jagged or more intense when you are getting near a climax – be it a sexual or a mental one. Next time you get into one of those situations try this: focus on your breath and slow it down to a lower energy level. There is nothing better than prolonging that sweet spot just ahead of the edge of no return!
it's the energy equivalent of counting to 10 before you explode
When we were growing up, we were under the impression that relationships last forever. It doesn’t matter if you had a full set of heterosexual parents, a single parent of either sex, or a non-traditional couple as your parental role models: you probably lived in the happy glow that everything would stay like this forever.
It’s a good thing that in many cases that is true, but many of us will – at some point or other – wake up in a state of disappointment. Either our happy couple of parents had split up, you became aware they only stayed together for your sake or their relationship has undergone some other kind of shift. Either way, things have changed.
Much of this is rooted in the expectation of monogamy as soon as a couple has been formed, and for most of us it’s the model we try to achieve. This is very much based on practical reasons dating back to the dawn of mankind: couples survived better than singletons and family groups offered even more support.
With all the choices available today, monogamy has been eroded left and right, and alternative ways of forming partnerships have become more common, albeit still somewhat exceptional. Yet we all are still under the thrall of monogamy as it is made out to be the only stable option. If you believe that stable means ‘immutable’ that may sound just right, but stable can also mean ‘consensual’! That seems to me the more realistic interpretation: it allows for a change the nature of the association of the partners – after discussion and with proper consent.
This simple change in perception could open a lot of avenues and make so many lives happier and more fulfilled than the old monogamous approach ever did. Monogamy works for the happy few, of course, but it can stand in the way of personal development, trapping the couple in a stagnant pool of pent up emotions.
Although there is nothing wrong with multiple partners, I am most certainly not promoting promiscuity over monogamy. Monogamy is simply an impossible standard to uphold. It takes constant maintenance and one wrong step can lead to utter failure.
open up to variations on the theme of partnership and moderated monogamy
Let’s say you have met Mr. Right Now, he invites you to his place and things are moving along nicely. Assuming you have been clear about your red lines before things got hot and steamy everything should be pretty much smooth sailing now, right?
Well, in theory that would be the case, but things may change during sex, and suddenly things might happen that were not on the menu in the original setup: maybe you find your inner submissive or you discover his collection of drippy candles and decide to experiment. Now what?
In the best of cases, the parameters can be changed with very little discussion, but sometimes you may find yourself in a position with limited options already, what then? You could interrupt the scene but there is a danger of never getting back into it. What’s important here is that you don’t have to think about your own motivation too much to take a decision to interrupt. And that can only be achieved if you have thought about your own personal limits long ahead of time!
It’s useful to occasionally step back, take stock of your preferences: likes, maybe’s and absolute no’s, and then decide which if these are always yes or no, and take clear decisions about the all the maybe’s on your list. Some of them could turn into a ‘yes’ in certain situations or with certain partners, others may go the other way.
The important things here is to play out possible scenarios for each maybe in the heat of the night. By doing this when there is no time pressure, you’ll be ready to make a snap decision when the time comes. Without interrupting the proceedings too long…
being prepared has never been a bad thing
These are my own thoughts on aspects of my work I feel strongly about.