Friday, December 27, 2013

Cabot and Marla: Senior Tantra, Part 2

As we returned to the study, I asked Cabot & Marla to describe a typical Tantra experience.

Cabot: When we first came across Tantra, we were still really learning the basics of being better lovers. Marla has done yoga and ballroom for years, and she managed to convince me to take classes in both. In addition, we began to get quite serious about meditation. We worked on it on our own and with a local teacher, and of course Marla had been doing some basic meditation as part of yoga for years. But then we invested in a week-long meditation retreat at a Buddhist monastery in 2002, and I’m really glad we did. Among other things, everything I’ve read and heard about Tantra indicates that it’s sort of pointless to even try to learn Tantra if you don’t already have some degree of meditative control or mastery.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cabot and Marla: Senior Tantra

Sexuality for seniors seems to be finally coming out from under the covers. Even ten years ago, this was mostly a subject for crude jokes, as if there were some kind of taboo on discussing it, but the boomers are getting up there in age, and as a generation they’re not used to being quiet about anything. Sex is no exception, and now that they are getting to be seniors, sex for seniors is suddenly a hot topic!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hans & Anna: Young Love

To give you a better sense of how Tantra differs from one couple to another, I’m going to describe three more couples' experiences. Although the next two couples do happen to be among the youngest and oldest couples I interviewed, that’s not the only reason I chose them. As you will see, they are also different from each other and from Cammie and Don in a number of other ways.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cammie and Don: A Tantric Couple

Starting today and over the next several weeks I'm going to be posting summaries of the interviews I did with four experienced tantric couples.  The four couples I chose are alike in how passionately devoted each person is to their partner, and I'll talk more in a later post about why this seems to be true of all 59 of the couples I interviewed.  But that's about the only way these couples are alike, and I hope my choices will give you some sense of how diverse this group really is!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A NOTE TO READERS

Dear readers,

I thought I was going to be able to get at least one couple profile written and posted this week, but that now looks doubtful.  It's going to take me a few more days to go through all my notes - over fifteen hundred pages! - and identify the couples whose profiles would be most interesting and most different from each other.  Then I need to spend some time creating narratives from my notes on those couples.  And on top of that, my partner and I will be traveling to see both of our families next week, so it may be a while before I resume regular posting.

In the meantime, I would love to hear from you!  Please feel free to post any questions or comments you have below.  If that's too public for you, you can write to me at:
shaktiamarantha ( at ) gmail.com.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Sources: The Tantric Couples

I first began to think that Tantra was being mismarketed when I realized that almost all of the experienced Tantrics I met were partners in long-term, loving relationships. I met blissfully happy young couples. Boring old married couples. Funky, odd, edgy couples. Stodgy, unglamorous, salt of the earth, incredibly normal couples. Childless couples, parents, and grandparents; PTA members, bikers, opera lovers, marathoners; churchgoers, mystics, and atheists; young, middle-aged, and retired couples. But in nearly every case these were people who came in pairs and were deeply attached to each other.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Using Kegels to Create NEOs

[this is the last of five posts on male multiple orgasms, starting here]   

Let’s take a second or two to review six ways to delay an orgasm:
  • The Squeeze:  Squeeze the blood out of the head of the penis for 30 seconds.
  • The Tug:  When the cremaster muscle pulls the testicles up against the base of the penis, tug the scrotum and testicles down again and away from the penis.
  • The Push:  Like pushing out a bowel movement, but more gently.
  • The Spread:  Spread your legs very wide (like doing the splits).
  • The Clench:  Clamp your PC (Kegel) muscles as hard as you can for 15-30 seconds.
  • The Poke:  Use the tips of your fingers to press hard on the spot in the middle of the perineum where you can feel a small depression.  (NOT recommended!)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Natural" Multiple Orgasms for Men

[fourth of five posts on male multiple orgasms, starting here]   

I mentioned foreshocks and aftershocks in an earlier post. An aftershock can be a second ejaculation, but that’s rare.  It’s almost always a dry or mostly dry orgasm that can occur with continued stimulation of the penis in the aftermath of an ejaculatory orgasm.

This can occasionally happen during vaginal sex if the penis stays firm enough to support additional thrusting and, especially, if the woman is having a powerful continuous orgasm with intense contractions and a lot of vocalization and pelvic movement. The desire to help her continue her orgasm is often the motivation for continued thrusting even as the penis gets softer, and the exchange of reinforcing signals between the two partners can often provide a great deal of non-physical stimulation, particularly with a couple who are deeply connected and aware of each other’s reactions and sensations.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ways That Men Can Be Multi-Orgasmic

[third of five posts on male multiple orgasms, starting here]   

This topic can get confusing in a hurry because there are several completely different ways for a man to have multiple orgasms, and a lot of people just lump them all together. So it’s probably a good idea to spell out the different types and approaches separately. I’m going to start In this post by clearing the decks of the two hardest.  Then tomorrow we'll look at the ones most men will actually be able to experience.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Multiple Orgasms for Men: Some History

[Note:  this is the second of a five part series on male multiple orgasms]   

For many men, the hardest thing about learning to have multiple orgasms is believing that it’s possible. The link between orgasm and ejaculation is so strong in our culture that it’s hard to believe that it’s arbitrary and that it can be broken with a bit of effort. For this reason, I’m going to take a detour and walk you through a bit of the research and the process by which a few people managed to document the real situation and dispel some of the myths.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Multiple Orgasms for Men

[Note:  this is the first of five posts on male multiple orgasms]   

For most men, alas, having multiple orgasms isn’t quite as simple as “just keep going.” It’s true that most men who practice tantric sex will experience multiple orgasms sooner or later, quite naturally, and some men can pretty much count on having one or more additional orgasms after ejaculation during lingam massage. But few men can be consistently and intentionally multi-orgasmic unless they have deliberately learned how to have an orgasm without an ejaculation.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Multiple Orgasms for Women

Having one orgasm is great. Having many is even better!

Your motivation can be as simple as that, and for most women it is. Fortunately, for most of us, once you’ve learned how to have one orgasm, there’s no special trick to having multiple orgasms. Just keep going!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Anal Play: A Very Sensitive Subject

Several ancient illustrations of Tantric sex clearly show anal stimulation, and perhaps for that reason, it has often had a featured role in the way various gurus have taught modern Tantric sex, even though the topic is controversial and turns many people off.

I was interested to find that roughly a third of the couples I interviewed do incorporate some form of anal stimulation or play into their routines. However, I’ve left it out of the instructions until now because it’s clearly optional and it does trigger some very negative reactions.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Vibes and Toys - A Tantra Taboo

Okay, after yesterday's historical digression, I'm going to go back to variations on the Tantric theme.  When I began interviewing experienced Tantrics, I didn't know what to expect.  I didn't even know if there would be general agreement on the basic outlines of the Tantric ritual, and was a little surprised that most people stuck fairly close to the same general plan of action.  

On the other hand, there are some things the gurus say so forcefully that you expect most people to go along with them, so it's always interesting when they don't.  And on no subject did the "just folks" ignore the "experts" more than the topic of sex toys!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Same Sex Tantra

One of the most obvious variations on tantra is not age, or weight, or disability, but changing the number or gender of the people involved.  This has historically been a problem for a lot of Westerners interested in Tantra, because the initial teachers of Tantra in the West were mostly men from extremely traditional and homophobic societies like India.  

These gurus insisted that tantra, to be spiritually sound, MUST involve a man and a woman, because the spiritual energy supposedly created through tantric sex must come from the polarity of male and female, yin and yang, sky and earth.  How could one celebrate the mystical union of Shakti and Shiva with two Shaktis?  Or three Shivas?  Or two Shaktis and three Shivas?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Tantra with Physical Limitations

One common problem that comes up while learning Tantra is that not all of us are shaped alike or have the same capabilities, and sometimes that requires some adjustments. The couples I talked to faced a variety of challenges and came up with a number of creative solutions that I’d like to share with you.

Accommodating Long Refractory Periods

One of the most common effects of age for most men is a gradual increase in the time it takes to recover after one ejaculatory orgasm before they can get another erection and resume sexual activity. If this so-called “refractory period” is typically more than two or three hours, the couple will normally have to choose when during the Tantric ritual the man will have his one-and-only ejaculatory orgasm.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Variations on a Theme

I’ve decide to postpone doing a mini-history of the origins of Tantra, as well as the write-ups of the interviews, since both are longish and will take me some prep time. So the theme for the next couple of posts is going to be the differences in how my interview couples arranged their Tantric rituals and how they adapted Tantra to suit their needs, limitations, and preferences.

Scheduling Alternatives

Not everyone is able to make as much time for Tantra as they would like. Several couples have to skimp on the preliminary meditation and severely limit the full-body massage in the interest of time. They start with lingam and yoni massages and proceed from there without a break. All say they much prefer to take more time, and do so whenever they can.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Upcoming topics

Coming Up

I'll be back to blogging on Tuesday.  In the meantime, give some thought to what you'd like to hear about next.  Some of the items on my list are
  • Origins:  what we think we know about the history and pre-history of Tantra
  • Introducing the Tantric couples:  excerpts from the interviews
  • Variations:  what some of the couples I interviewed did differently.
  • Multiple orgasms for men:  how to learn how to do it.
  • Enduring passion:  how long-term couples use Tantra to maintain desire
  • Bonding:  the evolutionary basis for the Tantric bonding effect
If you want to vote for one of those topics to have top priority, or there are other topics you'd like me to address, or you have any questions about what I've written so far, stick a note in the comments down below, or email me at shaktiamarantha@gmail.com.

Thanks, and good loving!

Shakti

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Tantric Couples: Intoxicated by Love

In yesterday’s post, I said that none of my couples thought better orgasms outranked the importance of emotional bonding.  However, that doesn’t mean that better, longer, stronger orgasms are just a frill that is irrelevant to the bonding process. We’ve discussed oxytocin and its twin, vasopressin, but we need to go back and revisit two important classes of brain chemicals. Remember this? 
  • Phenethylamine, endorphins, and endocannabinoids block pain and increase pleasure; they’re literally intoxicating – when they flood the brain, we get high.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pair Bonding's Emotional Effects

Just for the record, I am oversimplifying the biochemistry here. For starters, as I mentioned earlier, there are two very similar chemicals involved, oxytocin and vasopressin. Oxytocin is believed to have the dominant role in humans, but the verdict on that is still out, and a variant gene for vasopressin receptors in the brain may be the reason some men have difficulties forming secure attachments. In general, when I say “oxytocin,” I mean “oxytocin and/or vasopressin.”

I am also simplifying the effects of these chemicals, which are often somewhat indirect, since they trigger the release of other chemicals, including dopamine, endorphins, and endocannabinoids in a chemical cascade that has some interesting effects. (If you are curious, Google away. This has become a hot topic in recent years, and there’s a lot of good info out there, along with the usual distortions and exaggerations.)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Oxytocin and Emotional Bonding

We've now discussed the science behind five of the "Six Remarkable Effects of Tantra" that I described in one of my first posts:
  • Prolonged and much more pleasurable pre-orgasmic phase
  • The “Tantric high,” a wave of pleasure verging at times on intoxication
  • Extended/repeated/different/better/more intense orgasms
  • Intense emotional bonding with one’s partner
  • Extension of the sense of self to include the partner/“becoming one person”
  • Transcendence of self/feeling at one with the world or cosmos
The fourth one, intense emotional bonding, got skipped because it's not related to any specific phase or technique, but rather to the whole Tantric ritual. To make up for that omission, I’m going to explore it in some depth over the next few posts. Once again, we will find some intriguing answers in the brain systems and chemistry that govern perception and the mind/body interaction.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Experiencing Cosmic Oneness

As we've seen, the body-sharing experience is entirely consistent with what we know about the human mind, so we have no need for supernatural explanations involving ESP or “the spirit plane.” But when I point this out to devout spiritualists, the answer I often get is two-fold: a supernatural answer is fully consistent with the ancient principles of Tantra, and my explanation fails to account for the less common, but more profound, experience of "cosmic transcendence," aka "oneness with the universe."

In some ways, however, this last point is easier to answer. As I described in the last couple of posts, the brain has systems that are devoted to maintaining maps of our bodies (including clothing, tools, vehicles, and other bodily extensions at any given moment), the positions of our limbs (including any tools we may be holding), and all of our internal states, such as pressure, pain, heat, cold, tumescence, touch, friction, and the deflection of hair follicles. These maps may have flexible boundaries, but they do have boundaries, which draw a very clear distinction between us and the rest of the universe.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Transcendence and Body Maps

The next part of our puzzle concerns the way the mind keeps track of the body and its location with respect to its environment. Here’s how Sandra and Matthew Blakeslee describe it in their book, The Body Has a Mind of Its Own:
Stand up and reach out your arms, fingers extended. Wave them up, down, and sideways. Make big circles from over your head down past your thighs. Swing each leg out as far as you can, and with the tips of your toes trace arcs on the ground around you. Swivel and tilt your head as if you were craning to butt something with your forehead or touch it with your lips and tongue. This invisible volume of space around your body out to arm’s length—what neuroscientists call peripersonal space—is part of you.
This is not a metaphor, but a recently discovered physiological fact. Through a special mapping procedure, your brain annexes this space to your limbs and body, clothing you in it like an extended, ghostly skin. The maps that encode your physical body are connected directly, immediately, personally to a map of every point in that space and also map out your potential to perform actions in that space. Your self does not end where your flesh ends, but suffuses and blends with the world, including other beings. Thus when you ride a horse with confidence and skill, your body maps and the horse’s body maps are blended in a shared space. When you make love, your body maps and your lover’s body maps commingle in mutual passion. [p.4]

Monday, October 28, 2013

Tantra and the Transcendental Experience

My last post, on maithuna, brought us to the end of my basic series on how to do Tantra, but it ended with tips on how to create one of Tantra’s more exotic effects, the strong sensation of merging with our partners and feeling what they feel while we’re having sex. This is one of two transcendental phenomena that get us into territory that until recently has been strictly the domain of mysticism and religion:
  • Extension of the sense of self to include the partner - "becoming one person"
  • Complete loss of a sense of self - "feeling at one with the universe"
We call these experiences transcendental because we perceive ourselves as transcending, or moving beyond, the normal physical limits of our bodies. Descriptions of these experiences have been reported across many different cultures for thousands of years, and the second one has been an important goal of religious practices in many parts of the world. But before we address the question of cosmic union, we need to look more closely at the blurring of boundaries between the partners, because that will give us some clues to the broader case as well.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Maithuna - The Grand Finale

Maithuna, or active sexual union, is the most variable, freeform part of the normal Tantric ritual. Although it is traditionally the time for normal vaginal intercourse, that does not have to be all or even most of what you do. It’s entirely up to the two of you to find out what works best for you.

Some couples go straight from yab-yum to slow intercourse and simply maintain that as long as possible before increasing intensity at the very end. Some are more active, but shift positions fairly often and include frequent interludes for clitoral stimulation by other means. (Usually, this is to give the woman a few orgasms while giving the man a chance to let his level of arousal decline a bit from the brink to prevent an early orgasm by him.) Some actually shift back into yab-yum, or simply hold still and cuddle for a while, doing this several times during maithuna.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More about Yab-Yum

After you’ve done both the lingam and yoni massages and you’ve taken a short break (optional), move on to your preferred version of yab-yum. My description of the basics last month was fairly complete, so I won’t duplicate it here, but just as a reminder, the yab-yum phase is a time for stillness and deep intimacy, for erotic connection without erotic friction.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Receiving a Yoni Massage

[part 5 in a series that starts here]

This post is for the women: you will soon be working hard on your meditation and on controlling your attention and your level of arousal during your massage, but as your partner is learning how to do a yoni massage you also have to communicate with him and learn some habits that will help him please you and keep you on track.

To repeat what I said to the men: Try to find words that will communicate without creating tension. Just saying, “Mmmm…” when something feels good provides a lot of feedback and encouragement and, if you are consistent about it, it lets your silence tell him that something isn’t working for you.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Yoni Massage: Happy Endings

[part 4 in a series that starts here]

All good things come to an end ... and hopefully end with a come. As you continue to massage her yoni, inside and out, mixing up your technique as much as possible, try to coordinate with her on a) keeping the build-up phase going as long as she wants it to, so that she can work on her meditation and visualization and spread the arousal area as broadly as she can, and b) getting her to as intense an orgasm as possible when she is ready.

There’s a certain basic conflict between these two things, but one of them will usually be harder than the other. Which one is harder is going to depend a lot on your partner, how comfortable and relaxed she is, and her previous experience with orgasms. The problem is that women, more than men, vary so much in the amount of time and stimulation they require. This puts a special burden on you in terms of reading your partner’s wants and needs.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Yoni Massage - Sustaining Arousal

[part 3 in a series that starts here]

In my last post, I talked about the importance of going slow and making sure that your partner is sufficiently aroused before going further. There's an important caution that I should add to that: many women will show all the signs of physical arousal even when they aren't mentally aroused at all.

This is really rare in a tantra setting with experienced couples, but it can definitely happen when you are first learning this together, particularly if your partner still has some reservations about doing tantra and perhaps some shyness about being exposed in this way with the lights on. So in addition to looking for physical signs of arousal, be sure to get some kind of confirmation from her before you go ahead. She can signal with her hands, push her vulva up against your hands, or say yes to your soft question, "Are you ready for me to move ahead?"

Occasionally, you might see the opposite situation. She may be ready and eager for you to progress to more direct stimulation even though you aren't seeing the physical signs of arousal. (This seems to be more likely to happen to women who are young and relatively inexperienced when they are learning tantra, and to women who start learning tantra after menopause.) In any case, if she says she's ready, take her word for it, use extra lube, and move forward.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Yoni Massage: Getting Her Warmed Up

[part 2 in a series that starts here]

The stereotype for women is that we take much longer to become aroused and to reach orgasm than men do. Although there is a lot of truth to this for the general population, it is much less true in the typical Tantric setting. My sample is anything but scientific, but every woman I interviewed says she warms up faster at the start of yoni massage than she ever did during normal sex before she started Tantra.

I’ve already mentioned the main reasons why women in general take longer to get aroused than men and are less orgasmic: tension and insecurity. In particular, women who have tight muscles in the lower back and pelvic area have much more trouble reaching orgasm than women who are more relaxed.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Giving a Yoni Massage

                 [This is the first in a series of five posts on yoni massage]

Okay, the women have been working hard, so its time for them to relax and for you men to take over! However, before you start, here’s another reminder to be sure your fingernails are short and smooth and that you have no hangnails or rough calluses on your hands before you begin any Tantra session. Touch is critical to Tantra, and your hands are supremely important. You want them to give pleasure, not pain!

The overall pattern of yoni massage is the same as for lingam massage, but there are some crucial adjustments that guys need to make. First, and most obvious, the vulva is generally less accessible than the male genitals, creating some positioning issues. Right at the start, you have the problem that it is mostly hidden in the face down position. Some couples like to put a pillow or bolster under the towel in the pelvic/abdominal region, just to lift her hips up a bit so you can slip your hand underneath. However, most women prefer to have their partner concentrate more on the buttocks and thighs and basically leave the yoni alone until the flipover point.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Receiving a Lingam Massage

[part 7 in a series that starts here]

I've mentioned before that learning to receive a good lingam massage can actually be harder than learning to give one. So, men, this post is for you. You will soon be working hard on your meditation and on controlling your attention and your level of arousal during your massage. Do take some time to review the other posts about attention control, visualization, and the various tricks for delaying orgasm. You are more likely to need the latter, especially, during the learning phase, since your partner won’t always guess right on the amount of stimulation you need without giving too much.

In the long run, however, it is just as important for you to learn to communicate with her, to help her find out how to please you and how to keep you on track on your orgasmic curve. Unfortunately, these things get in each other’s way while you are learning. Meditating, controlling your breathing, shifting your awareness, expanding your arousal zone, visualizing a growing pool of sexual energy, holding off premature orgasms – and finding the right words to tell your partner something?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lingam massage: Timing Issues

[part 6 in a series that starts here]

Some men, particularly young men, are so sensitive to touch all over their bodies, and so unused to being touched in that way, that they can have an orgasm the first few times just from the body massage, or from the body massage and the very beginning of the lingam massage. If he seems embarrassed about coming quickly, reassure him that it’s absolutely normal.

This can be particularly distressing for a guy who usually has pretty good stamina during vaginal sex. But the reason he usually has good stamina is almost always because he is concentrating so hard on putting your needs and pleasure first that he is paying very little attention to himself. As a result he has little experience with being the recipient of attention and with focusing only on his own sensations. Now that the focus is entirely on him, and he doesn’t have you to think about, the experience can be overwhelmingly intense.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lingam massage: Oral Hazards

[part 5 in a series that starts here]   

Oral can be a particularly big problem if he wants it and you’re reluctant. Oral sex can be a trouble spot for some couples, even some who don’t have any other conflicts or inhibitions about sex. Some women just hate the idea of something being thrust into their mouths. Often this will be the case for a woman who was traumatized by a former boyfriend who grabbed her head and pushed his penis in as far as it would go, hurting, gagging, and choking her. This happened to me when I was in college, and a lot of other women have told me about similar experiences that turned them off.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lingam massage: Happy Endings

[part 4 in a series that starts here]

When you first do a lingam massage on your guy, expect it to end suddenly in an unplanned way. That’s normal, and it’s pretty much the only way for the two of you to find out what his baseline sensitivity is where this kind of stimulation is concerned. Once it’s clear he’s about to come, unless he has asked you to take steps to stop the orgasm, just do whatever he likes best to help make it as intense as possible. Don’t be surprised if it takes some experimentation to discover what this is, since many men don’t know!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Lingam Massage: Tips and Tricks

[part 3 in a series that starts here]

Eventually, as you get better at managing his arousal level, you will want to be more forceful at the beginning, to get him up to a fairly high level of arousal in the first four or five minutes, and then go to a lighter and more intermittent touch to keep him there. In the terms of a popular scale, in which 1 is no arousal, 4 is a firm erection, 9.9 is the “point of no return” and 10 is an orgasm, the idea is to get him fairly quickly to a 7 and then keep him between 6 and 9 for as long as he wants the session to last. There are hundreds of possible things you can do and ways to do them that will keep him at that level without going too far. Here are just a few:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lingam Massage: Extending Arousal

[part 2 in a series that starts here]

Over time, his control will improve, the massage will last longer, and you will be able to provide much more stimulation without pushing him over the top. However, I can’t begin to advise you on how long this will take. A few couples said it took six months or more before the man got good enough at meditation and attention control to experience the Tantric high and anything stronger than a normal orgasm. Other men were able to have a true Tantric orgasm in considerably less time than that, but only because their partners were really good at rationing out the stimulation in a way that prolonged the arousal stage. Only a few of the men turned out to be “naturals” who really caught on to orgasmic control in the first month or so.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Giving a Lingam Massage

                [This is the first in a series of seven posts on lingam massage]

If you’ve been reading along with the last few posts, you now understand why the recipient of a yoni (vulva) or lingam (penis) massage needs to be able to get into a deep meditative state and concentrate their attention on the sensations coming from a gradually increasing area of the body. By now, I also hope you have had time to practice your couple meditations and to get very comfortable with giving and getting a head-to-toe sensual massage.

Note: I’m going to describe giving lingam (male) and yoni (female) massages separately. This series of posts is about lingam massage (or “lingam worship,” as it is often called in the jargon of Tantra), so I’ll be speaking directly to the man’s partner. I’m also going to assume that you have a massage table. If you don’t, it will require more effort to move around, but it should be fairly easy to figure out how to adapt these instructions to your own situation.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Arousal, Imagery, and Breath Control

Keeping your attention focused on the sensations in one region of the body for an extended period of time isn’t easy, particularly at first. It turns out that this is much easier if you create some way to visualize the whole process.

And, in fact, everyone I’ve talked to about Tantra uses some type of mental image of “sexual energy” to help guide their attention. Most people seem to visualize it as looking something like ball lightning, or a ball of flame, or a churning hot liquid, such as lava or steam. Geysers and volcanoes are often mentioned, as the hot liquid gradually fills the underground chamber (the body) and then explodes outward during the orgasm.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Attention and the Spread of Sexual Arousal

As I said in yesterday's post, there are two reasons for controlling our attention during Tantric massage. The first is obviously to help us control the pace of arousal by not paying too much attention to the sensations from the genitals themselves. But the second goal is to spread the feeling of sexual tension – and the base of the eventual orgasm – over a much wider area.

To do this, we rely on another bit of brain-body interaction: vascular and chemical changes that occur in one area of the body tend to spread to adjacent areas over time, and this can be enhanced by focusing our attention on the broader area.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Delaying Orgasm

It’s clear how creating an appropriate setting and doing the preparations – especially bathing, meditation, and massage – reduce stress and anxiety and contribute to being deeply relaxed and feeling safe and loved, but that’s the easy part. The big stumbling block for newcomers to Tantra is always the process of learning how to stretch out the orgasmic curve and delay the final orgasm. And, at least to begin with, this brings us back to meditation.

Controlling Arousal

The kind of meditation that is critical during Tantric massage, especially during lingam and yoni massage, is different from the more general kind of individual and couple meditation described earlier.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Tantra and the Chemistry of Sex

Sexual stimulation triggers the release of a cocktail of chemicals in the brain and body, including dopamine, testosterone, adrenaline, phenethylamine, endorphins, endocannabinoids, and oxytocin. At the risk of drastic oversimplification, here are some of the effects of each:
  • Dopamine and testosterone directly increase sexual arousal.
  • Dopamine focuses attention, increases motivation, and amplifies the mental effect of rewarding behavior.
  • Testosterone also increases optimism, aggression, and stamina.
  • Adrenaline increases the heart rate, prepares muscles for stronger contractions, increases fear, reduces trust, blocks pleasure and pain, and narrows the focus of our attention.
  • Phenethylamine, endorphins, and endocannabinoids block pain and increase pleasure; they’re literally intoxicating – when they flood the brain, we get high.
  • Oxytocin creates feelings of trust, empathy, pleasure, and emotional bonding.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Keeping Count

I asked the women how many orgasms they thought they usually had during a normal Tantra session. The answers ranged from “three or four” to “two or three dozen, if you count every orgasm in a continuous orgasm separately.” Half said seven or more and the average was a little more than twelve.

The average for the men is around 3.5, but that’s misleading because it combines numbers from men who are normally multi-orgasmic, who average 5 or more, with those who aren’t, and who average 2, so the combined average of 3.5 sits right between the peaks of a double-humped curve.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Men, Orgasms, and Ejaculation

Part of the curiosity about Tantra is the general awareness that Tantric sex lasts longer, often far longer, than normal sex and that it usually involves more orgasms. Both are true, but misunderstood. For example one of the myths about Tantra is that male Tantrics have extraordinary powers of endurance. Just look at the fascination with Sting’s drunken comment about having Tantric sex “all day long.” Even though he quickly repudiated it, it is still, more than twenty years later, the first thing that many people think of when the subject of Tantra comes up.

One version of the myth is the “ironman” – a sexual superstud, immune to sensation, maintaining an erection for hours on end, thrusting with never a pause or a climax, but providing his partner with an endless string of orgasms. The opposite version is of the sexual superstud who has orgasm after orgasm and never stops. There’s a small kernel of truth in the second one – about half of the men I interviewed have learned how to be multi-orgasmic – but both create a false impression of continuous, high-intensity sexual activity.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Types of Orgasms

In my last post, I mentioned that people have at times argued that some sources of sexual stimulation are better than others, from Freud’s attack on clitoral orgasms as “immature” to modern feminist attacks on vaginal orgasms as symbols of female subjugation. My own view is that the location of the stimulus is irrelevant as long as it feels good, and that politicizing body parts or telling people that one kind of sex is “better” or more “mature” or more “liberated” than another is pretty silly.

From our point of view as we try to understand what is going on during Tantric sex, it is much more important to talk instead about how orgasms differ according to their length, intensity, periodicity, and the perceived location or spread of the “accumulated sexual tension” that an orgasm releases. These are the different types described by the experienced Tantrics I interviewed:

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Female Orgasm

I mentioned in my last post that the raising of the testicles and tightening of the scrotum form a last-second signal that the male orgasm is near.  SImilarly, the last precursors to the female orgasm are often a distinct firming or hardening of the aroused nipples, a tightening of the outer third of the vagina, and the disappearance of the aroused clitoral glans as it is abruptly retracted under the clitoral hood.

As with the male orgasm, the female orgasm begins with intense electrical activity that sweeps across the brain, followed by stimulation of the pudendal and perineal nerves and their branches. In women, these nerves trigger waves of rapid contractions of the muscles in the pelvis and surrounding the anus, vagina, and uterus. Typically, these contractions last for 10 to 30 seconds, though they can last longer. Women can also experience extended orgasms that alternate roughly equal periods with and without contractions. (In one case recorded in the lab, these alternating periods lasted about 12-16 seconds each, and the extended orgasm lasted for an hour!)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Male Orgasm

Although an orgasm results in “rhythmic muscular contractions in the pelvic region” and other physical effects, the orgasm itself takes place in the nervous system.  As many young people discover for themselves, it is possible to fantasize oneself into an orgasm with no physical stimulation at all, and people with spinal injuries who have no sensation below the waist can still have orgasms.

Sometimes this is generalized to “orgasms happen in the brain,” but that’s not quite accurate. The parts of the brain involved in orgasms are richly connected to sensory nerves that extend throughout the body, and there is no neat barrier that says we “think” with the nerve cells in our brains and “feel” with the nerve cells in our bodies. In fact, they are all one system, and we think and feel with all of them, in a highly interdependent fashion. Just as there is a large and growing body of research that shows that we think with our bodies as well as with our brains, there is a great deal of research that demonstrates just how much we sense the world around us with our brains as well as our bodies.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Science and Orgasms

If there is anything that Tantra is popularly known for, it's bigger and better orgasms.  We love orgasms, but what are they?  How do they happen?  And what makes some of them different from the others?

Before we go into the science of Tantra, I think it would be helpful to answer some of these questions, particularly to describe the different types of orgasms and to take a look at the physiology of the male and female orgasm.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Learning Tantra: Massaging the Front

I start my front massage with the face, shoulders, arms, and hands, moving to one side and then the other.  I spend a fair amount of time on the hands and fingers, and then work back up each arm and do the pectoral and upper side muscles on that side, before switching to the other arm.

For men:  During the transition from one arm to the other, I suggest that you also oil and massage both breasts while you are standing at the head of the table.  Be very gentle unless your partner tells you to be firmer.   Breasts aren’t muscles and most of us don’t like having them kneaded or mauled!  Instead, brush your fingers over them and gently rub your palms over them in a swirling motion. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Learning Tantra: A Time to Give

Once you have begun incorporating some meditation and a slow beginning into your sexual activities, it’s time to think about full-body massage, the heart of the Tantric ritual. You can start with either person, depending on who feels more comfortable giving or receiving.

Before you start, warm up the massage oil and set up the table. (Or mat, if you prefer, but I’m going to refer only to the table in these descriptions, just for simplicity.) Adjust the armrests and face rest appropriately if they aren’t already in place. Cover the table with a large beach towel or bath sheet.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Learning Tantra: Yab-Yum

After you have done the introductory ritual a few times, pick a day when you have a bit of time, and begin to experiment with adding yab-yum after or instead of your standing embrace.  The first thing you need to do is find a comfortable position.

The classic position is for the man to sit cross-legged on a cushion, and for the woman to sit straddling his lap with her feet behind his butt.  This works for me and my partner, but there are all kinds of reasons why it might not work for other couples, starting with the fact that a lot of Western men can’t sit cross-legged comfortably for any length of time.  If you want to maintain the “sitting on his lap” element, the simplest alternative is for the man to sit on the side of the bed.  The woman sits on his lap with her feet on the bed behind him.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Learning Tantra: First Steps

Okay, you and your partner are sure Tantra is for you, you’ve got everything you think you need, and you’ve gotten a good start on meditation and massage. It’s time to experiment with Tantra a bit at a time!

There’s a lot to concentrate on at first, so to get the most out of experimenting without wearing yourselves out, I’m going to suggest splitting up the elements of the full Tantric experience and practicing them on separate days (or nights). This post will describe preliminary warm-up sessions, that you can add to your usual sexual activities. You can start on them while you practice meditating and get the other preliminaries done.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Couple Meditation

In my last post, I gave you some links for learning to meditate, but I haven’t been able to find a good link for couple meditation that includes practical tips and isn’t loaded down with religious language, so here's a brief description.

The purpose of couple meditation is to create a sense of calm, relaxation, trust, and communion between the partners. It can be as simple as doing your normal meditation side-by-side, facing each other, back-to-back, spooned front-to-back, or “zigzag” (side-by-side, but facing in opposite directions), but with your awareness consciously extended to include your partner.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Getting Ready to Learn Tantra

If you just get a book or go to a workshop and plunge right in to doing Tantra, you’re likely to be disappointed.  My interviews suggest that you are a lot more likely to succeed if you take a few weeks to a couple of months to get ready before trying to do the full Tantric ritual.  Here are some of the things you can do to prepare that take the most lead time:

Learn to Meditate

Do you and your partner both know how to meditate?  If not, start learning now! 

Many people think about meditation as a spiritual thing, or something only hippies do.  But, like Tantra, it is a practical technique that has been appropriated by many religions even though it really has nothing to do with religion or spirituality.  Its physiological effects and health benefits are real and have been demonstrated over and over again in laboratory settings and in normal life.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Is Tantra for You? (Part Three)

Finally, there’s the problematic case of new lovers.  Often they’ve been together for just a few months, they’ve gotten past the first awkward bedroom stage, they’re madly in love, they’re looking for new adventures to tackle together, and Tantra sounds perfect!  Ah, young love!

If this is you, I certainly don’t want to discourage you – a lot of veteran Tantrics started out in your situation!  I just want to caution you about the shift from the adrenaline rush of new love to the sybaritic pair-bonding delights of Tantra. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Is Tantra for You? (Part Two)

Okay, now that I’ve chased off some of the thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies and given the rest fair warning, I need to address the couples who may have the most difficulty with Tantra.

Motivation

Whether one partner is less interested than the other, or both partners are curious, but just not ready to commit to the amount of time and effort it takes to learn and practice Tantra, the common element is motivation.  And the answer in both cases is:  go slow.  Set smaller, achievable goals that will improve your love life.  See how you like it.  Don’t rush.  When you’re comfortable with one thing, enjoy it for a while before you start experimenting with something else.

Is Tantra for You?

Before you start to learn Tantra, you need to think about why you want to do it, and whether it is really something that is worth the considerable investment of time and energy.  In addition to the experienced Tantric couples I interviewed, I have also spoken to quite a few people over the years who have started to learn Tantra and have given up.  I have, of course, been interested in the differences between the two groups.  And one of the biggest differences has been in their reasons for being attracted to Tantra in the first place.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tantric Massage: Who Comes First?

In my post about Tantric massage, I had the woman give the first massage.  But when they first learned Tantra, more than half of the experienced Tantric couples I interviewed began by having the man give the first massage since that's the standard advice given out in many workshops and books.  Most of the rest of the couples I interviewed had also experimented at some point with this sequence.

However, every couple I talked to eventually decided that the female partner should take the lead.  My partner and I do the same - I always give the first massage.  The idea that "he always comes first" sounds suspect, even quaint, and I’ve wondered vaguely if this was residual sexism or cultural conditioning, but other couples gave pretty much the same practical reasons we had long ago discovered for ourselves:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Tantric Ritual: Yab-Yum and Maithuna (Sexual Congress)

Yab-yum (literally “father-mother”) is a Tibetan term for the image of a god and goddess having sex.  Often, the male deity is shown sitting in lotus position and the goddess is shown sitting on his lap facing him, with her legs wrapped around him. 

Maithuna is the Sanskrit term for the part of the Tantric ritual in which the partners are joined together, with the penis in the vagina.  In Hindu art, maithuna is basically a Sanskrit synonym for the Tibetan term yab-yum.

So yab-yum and maithuna both originally referred to the same thing:  sexual congress.  However, most Tantrics I’ve met use these words differently, so I will too.  The distinction they make between the two terms is that yab-yum refers to vaginal insertion with relative immobility, a period of “connected stillness,” while maithuna refers to the following period of active vaginal sex.

The Tantric Ritual: Full-Body Massages


At the end of the meditation phase, get up slowly.  Many couples like to spend a minute or two in a standing hug.  This is a good time for neck nuzzling and murmuring sweet nothings to your partner.

[If you are still a bit shaky about the names for the various bits of genital anatomy, click on the tabs at the top right of this page:  The Glossary has definitions and the Better Sex guide has illustrations you may find helpful.]

Full Body/Lingam Massage


5.    Massage his back.  Ladies, you're in charge for this part.  Remove your partner’s towel or wrap, if he has one on, take his hand, and lead him over to the table, mat, or bed.  Have him lie face down with his penis tucked downward, so it points toward his feet.  

Warm and spread the massage oil and give him a thorough head-to-toe massage, working especially on any knots or tension in the long muscles of the back, butt, and legs.  Say hello to the perineum, scrotum, and penis (or “lingam” in Tantric jargon), giving them light, playful attention as you go by.  When you are finished with his calves, slide your hands back up his inner thighs and stroke his lingam some more until he has a partial erection.

The Tantric Ritual: Setup and Meditation

I’m often asked whether there is a standard “real” or “authentic” Tantric ritual.  It’s surprisingly hard to come up with a book or website that gives a clear outline, step by step.  Most of the descriptions you do find are vague, and even then they often contradict each other.  So it’s no surprise that people, even people who have practiced Tantra for decades, ask me, “Are we doing it right?”

My answer is always the same.  If it works for you, you’re doing it right.  Couples who routinely experience some or all of what I called the Six Remarkable Effects of Tantra are doing it right.  It doesn’t matter what some scribe said 1500 years ago, or what some self-appointed guru said last week.  Neither one is necessarily writing from broad knowledge of what real Tantrics did then or do today, or even necessarily from first-hand personal knowledge, and both are giving you a description of Tantra that has probably been shaped by unscientific religious theories about how it ought to work.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Five Keys to Tantric Sex

The five keys are:
  • Extended Time
  • Deep Relaxation
  • Prolonged Arousal
  • Controlled Attention
  • Intimate Knowledge 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Six Remarkable Effects of Tantric Sex

Tantra has a reputation for extraordinary sex, but what exactly does that mean?  In interviews with more than fifty experienced, long-term Tantric couples, six effects show up repeatedly:
  • Prolonged and much more pleasurable pre-orgasmic phase
  • The “Tantric high,” a wave of pleasure verging at times on intoxication
  • Extended/repeated/different/better/more intense orgasms
  • Intense emotional bonding with one’s partner
  • Extension of the sense of self to include the partner/“becoming one person”
  • Transcendence of self/feeling at one with the world or cosmos

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tantric Sex and "Spirituality"


If you cruise the Internet, you can find thousands of blogs and websites devoted to the principles of various Californianized Eastern religions, holding forth on this or that type of “spirituality.”  Everything from a kind of generalized Marin County mysticism-lite to blatant quackery like reflexology, magic crystals, and pyramid power is being promoted as part a spiritual journey that will unblock your chakras, enlighten your mind, empower your soul, fill your wallet, and heal your body of all its ills.

Unfortunately, Tantric sex has been nearly buried under this pile of homogenized spiritual goo.  The overwhelming majority of blogs, books, websites, teachers, and workshops that claim to teach “Tantra” teach it as part of an explicitly and dogmatically religious curriculum.  Tantric sex is, they unanimously proclaim, only a tiny part of “true Tantric spirituality.”

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Welcome to Extraordinary Passion!

Tantra has a well-earned reputation for helping people have much better sex. Unfortunately, most of the people writing about Tantra insist that "true" Tantra is an elaborate spiritual and religious tradition that governs every part of life, that Tantric sex is just a small part of that tradition, and that you have to take the whole package, not just the fun part.

That's fine for people who are into New Agey spiritualism and religion.  However, it unfortunately excludes people who are hard-headed, practical, science-oriented, and uninterested in changing religions or acquiring one.  For the most part, these are people who are actively repelled by mystical language and discussions of "spiritual energy."

This blog is for you if you: