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.

What does this mean for us?

It means first that just slowing the whole process down and staying in the arousal phase for a longer period allows more time for adjacent areas of the body to be included in our arousal. Think back to when you were a teenager. Did you ever have a night when you and your boyfriend or girlfriend spent hours making out, kissing and rubbing everything that felt good, but never reaching climax? Do you remember how congested everything felt down there afterward?

When my partner was 15, he had a long romance with a girl who lived a few blocks away. He used to sneak out and meet her after their parents thought they were asleep. They spent hours making out, but she was adamant about remaining “pure” and he says he often walked home bowlegged with an agonizing case of “blue balls,” the result of allowing the pelvic region to become highly congested without relief. Many teens have similar experiences.

How Sexual Tension Develops and Spreads

When arousal begins, it happens first in the parts being directly stimulated (or in the case of mental arousal, in the most sensitive parts). These fill with blood, becoming tumescent. The penis and clitoris become erect and the labia become enlarged. As arousal continues, this spreads to adjacent areas. Tissues in the perineum, vagina, testicles, and anal area swell.

If arousal is prolonged without release, tissue throughout the pelvic region will become engorged with blood. Other areas will also be recruited. Nipples become erect, breasts swell, the skin may become heavily flushed around the face, neck, and chest, and the lips, nose, ears, and other areas may thicken and tingle as they become engorged.

This is caused not just by increased blood flow, but also by the spread of the hormones involved in sexual arousal. As they build up to higher concentrations in the genital area and in the blood, they have an increasing spillover effect on other areas as well. Adjacent areas are affected first, followed by more distant areas, and eventually the whole body.

If we allow ourselves to focus our attention on the genitals, this will tend to increase sensation in the genital area and slow down the spread of arousal to the adjacent areas. If instead we deliberately ignore the genitals’ demand for attention, we can apply the second part of our rule – attention increases sensation – to redirect the reinforcement process. By deliberately focusing our attention on a wider and wider area, we can greatly increase the level of sensation coming from that area, enhancing the spread of the arousal area instead of suppressing it. The more we direct our attention toward the wider area, the more strongly we will feel the growing arousal there.  The more strongly we feel the growing arousal there, the more that region will become aroused, and the faster the arousal will spread.

As you learn the trick of attending to the whole area that is involved, particularly the outer fringes of the arousal zone, you will be able to spread that feeling throughout your trunk, at least, and in time, your whole body, just by gradually expanding your attention and awareness to include more and more of your body.

Of course, this requires that you remain in this state long enough, without reaching orgasm. Fortunately, controlling your attention and deliberately not focusing on the genitals helps a great deal in delaying the “point of no return.” More attention elsewhere means less attention being paid to – and therefore less sensation from – the genitals.

Many people say that it is best to practice this first on your own, during masturbation, because you can slow down as needed while you direct your attention to wider areas. However, the problem with solo practice is that you need to pay attention to what your hands are doing, which tends to focus your attention back toward what your hands are touching.

Practicing with an observant partner, instead, can help enormously, because you will learn when to signal your partner to decrease or completely stop the stimulation for a while. Many people find it particularly helpful if, during those intervals, the partner uses one or both hands to stroke upward or outward on the areas of extended arousal. When you feel like your whole pelvis is filled with sexual energy and you’re ready to expand your focus to your abdominal area, signal for your partner stroke from your groin upward, almost to the ribs. This can help direct and support your attention to the abdomen. Later on, those strokes can be extended to include the chest and shoulders, and still later the neck and face.

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