I have talked about consent, the idea of finding your yesses and nos, and generally how to look out for your mental and physical health. The trouble is, though, that even if you find your limits and respect them, there is something to be said for growth, and growth always involves stepping over boundaries and experiencing something new.
Is this a contradiction in terms? At first sight it is: how can you respect your boundaries, yet overstep them at the same time?
There is something to be said for being careful with maintaining your boundaries, and in most cases this is absolutely true. However, if you want to make sure you don’t get stuck in a ‘same old same old’ situation, you’ll have to take some (calculated) risks on occasion.
It is important to keep in mind that risks are NOT your enemy in terms of your limitations. Taking risks and stretching yourself is part of spiritual growth. The challenge is to find ways to explore new things in a safe container, and thereby expanding your safe zone towards the new thing you want to experience or find yourself attracted to.
For example, if you are curious about bondage, you may want to explore this with someone you know and trust, who has experience in the matter, and who understands where you usually draw the lines. Not only will this put you at ease, but it will feel a lot better to you. It is not a good idea to simply walk into a BDSM dungeon where several dozen strangers are playing out their consensual fantasies, but who do not know you.
You can see, there is a bit of sense to what you might classify as your personal ‘insanity’. Be told that there are other people out there who have experience in new aspects of human sensuality. And many of them are willing to share those skills with you.
accept boundaries, but don’t get stuck on them
It’s important to understand that in tantra, the physical element is a means to an end, the end being a more intense connection with the person in front of you.
Yes, of course the physical (tactile, erotic, sexual) side of tantra is important and has been featuring prominently on everybody’s mind ever since the emergence of neo-tantra in the West. However, looking at the practice as a whole, the sexual side is really just one of many elements used to bring our minds closer to bliss.
Enlightenment aligns with the more mental disciplines of tantra, where bliss seems to sit close to what you would identify as a feeling of orgasm. Don’t be misled by the word “orgasm”, though: if you have ever had a dry orgasm, where you body reacted just like you had an orgasm, but there is no ejaculation, or even physical signs of arousal, you get an idea of what constitutes bliss.
In physiological terms, bliss would be a state of the body reacting to external and internal stimuli, leading to a moment where the body is in such a heightened state that the mind is dragged along into a place of wonder and images that form a vision of sorts.
This state can be achieved through physical interaction, but is enhanced and made easier through a mental connection with shared breath, touch, massage, shared visualisation and other elements. If you have been part of a choir, or maybe line danced, you may have experienced moments where suddenly everything falls into place and everyone works in unison. In such moments, something shifts and you all are aware of it. Bliss is very similar to this state of shift.
Think of tantric sex as a tool to achieve bliss, and you’ll be one step nearer to achieving it.
bliss is achievable in many ways
Whenever it’s time to start a tantric experience, I’m confronted with a particular issue on a regular basis: my students believe they come prepared for an experience, and are ready to embrace yet another physical encounter. But as soon as it becomes obvious that the practice involves a good level of personal connection, emotional interaction, and spiritual alignment, they freeze up!
While they are perfectly happy to get naked in a sauna and think nothing more of it, this more intimate environment makes them rethink their stance. There is an underlying element of shame that does not surface in a non-committal environment, but becomes very overwhelming here. Besides the fact of BEING naked, tantra experiences often involve having your clothes taken off, a situation that most people never found themselves in since they were kids.
If this doesn’t pose any problem, the next classic instance of shame tends to surface during practice, when it comes to telling your partner what you like and want them to do. Most of us were told very young that you don’t ask for things, and it feels shameful to do so. Add to this the thought of asking for something sensual, erotic, sexual that you have to admit liking, and you’ll be in troubled water. Besides, you might be affected by the though that what you ask for is uncomfortable to the man you are working with.
Whatever you think of asking might seem too audacious to bring up, you might feel silly or embarrassed for asking. Then again, you may find that the other guy is totally into what you are asking, and was ashamed to propose exactly that or something very much like it.
Shame is one of the biggest reasons why things don’t become valid options for interplay between partners. Ask yourself: what are you ashamed to ask your partner to do for you?
if you don’t ask, you won’t get
Do you consider the sense of smell as something important and worth exploring more?
Most of us think of our noses and the gift of smell as something we only really use in relation with food. But then there are those who excel at using smell to their own advantage: applying perfumes or using grooming products like beard oils or hair gels to enhance their appearance to others, or burning incense sticks or using dispensers of scented oils to brighten the room.
And then there is that whole industry that deals with body odours, removing smells from our environment. Notice the obsession with washing ourselves and our belongings that really is a relatively new development of the last couple of centuries. Before, it was all about covering up smells rather than removing them…
This being said, smell plays a huge role in our attraction to other people: pheromones are at the basis of this effect, of course, but we often find ourselves attracted to someone’s choice of perfume, or lack thereof. Bodily odours are not necessarily a bad thing: what makes it smell bad is the bacteria braking down our sweat and producing the undesirable odours. Fresh sweat is not entirely unattractive to many of us. If you ever have been attracted by a sweaty person, don’t automatically assume it’s the look of them: it could be that you were enticed by the sweet smell of a fresh batch of sweat.
Next time you encounter someone – on ANY level, be it business, social or erotic – make sure to take a moment and gauge what they smell like. You may just find that the people you instinctively like or dislike have a distinctive odour that your subconscious has been reacting to. It’s worth considering using smell as a tool in explorations of the body as well, but that is the subject of another blog post.
make use of ALL your senses, always
These are my own thoughts on aspects of my work I feel strongly about.