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.

I noticed in your other interviews that those couples usually take 3 or 4 hours and devote that almost exclusively to Tantra, with just one period of meditation at the beginning and one or two short breaks. But Marla and I tend to think of Tantra less as a sexual marathon and more as just part of a complete spiritual, meditative experience.

So when I say that we regularly set aside eight hours for Tantra, I don’t want you to image that we’re spending eight hours boffing in the tall grass. It’s more like maybe a couple of hours of actual Tantra embedded in eight hours of meditation. The sex is an intrinsically important part – an essential part – of it, but it’s only part of the whole.

Marla: On a typical meditation day, we start about eight hours before sunset, because that lets the sun be our only clock and it lets us end our meditation as the sun sets, which we both really like.

Let’s take that as a typical day, and we’ll assume the weather’s good. So say we’re up and about by 8, doing chores, answering email, having breakfast, fixing food for later, cleaning the spa, checking the pH, and running the heater if needed. (It usually isn’t. The solar panels are usually enough to heat the reservoir.) Around 10, we come out and take a leisurely shower and get into the spa. And at first we just splash around and talk about little stuff, clearing away any loose ends. But soon we wind down and get a proper seat and start to meditate.

Cabot: After about, oh, 30-45 minutes, we’re starting to stir a bit. I’m going to have to guess on times, because we don’t have clocks out there, but let’s say it’s around 11. I’ll sit on the lower level there in front of Marla and she starts working me over, doing my shoulders and upper body. Then if I lean back against her, she can do my chest and arms. Then we get out and dry each other off, and move to the massage table inside.

All told, and not rushing at all, my massage takes about an hour. She does a pretty thorough job on the muscles and the lingam massage for me always takes at least as long as the yoni massage for her. Surprised? Well, us old guys take longer to come. It’s why we’re such great lovers. Hah! I wish!

Anyway, when I finally do climax, Marla keeps right on at max intensity until I beg for mercy, and it’s often a string of three or four orgasms, sometimes more. Occasionally I goof and there’s an ejaculation at the end, but usually I control it and there isn’t. The reason I avoid it is that if I ejaculate at that point, I might have trouble getting an erection later.

Fortunately, not having an ejaculation doesn’t really seem to matter much to how it feels. It feels great either way, and the important thing is releasing all that accumulated energy. When we were just starting out, I had times when I lost concentration and never finished and it felt … well, it wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either, and it took at least an hour for that congested feeling to go away.

After that, we take a break for a light lunch and about half an hour of walking meditation. I like the path around the perimeter and Marla usually prefers the mandala, but sometimes we switch. Sometimes we sneak in a short nap. So it’s maybe 1:30 or 2 o’clock when Marla gets her massage. Sometimes we go back to the spa, and if we do, I tend to do most of her body massage in the spa and only move to the table when we’re ready to heat things up a bit.

Marla: I’ve read what the other couples said about Tantric massage, and one thing we do that might be different from some of the others is that when I get that aroused I really want to have four or five endings. So Cab’ll bring me to the plateau point and try to keep me there while I’m meditating and moving the kundalini energy all the way to my topmost chakra. I’m guessing that it takes me a good 20-30 minutes, which is a long time to spend at that level of arousal. It’s tricky too, and I used to have more problems keeping control, but Cab has gotten really good at keeping me right there on an even keel.

But when I finally slap the table to tell him I’m ready, he usually brings me right over the top pretty fast and I go off with a bang, and then I may take anywhere from a minute to two minutes to recover, with Cab stroking my yoni and clit the whole time. When I start breathing fast again, he goes back to full speed or does oral and I come again. And so on.

Any one of these can be a continuous string of orgasms instead of just one, though if that’s going to happen, it’s more likely to be the last one. But whether it’s single or multiple, each of those is a separate peak. I don’t know, was that clear? If I have 4 or 5 orgasms in a row that are just like ten seconds apart, that’s still only one peak. But if they’re one or two minutes apart, each one feels like a separate peak. And what I like best is to have at least four or five separate peaks, regardless of how many orgasms that adds up to.

Cabot: When we finally finish on the table, we move right to the mat. Having Marla go off like the 4th of July almost always gets me hard, and she’s still hot and all lubed up, so we slide right into yab-yum. Usually she takes a few minutes to catch her breath, just hanging onto me, but I keep moving very slowly, just barely enough to keep both of us warmed up. When she’s recovered, we start trading breaths and really concentrate on exchanging energy for as long as we can. Finally, when we’re both ready, I lean back or lie all the way back, and let her take charge. I help out as much as she wants me to, but she sets the pace.

Marla: By the time we get to this point, we’ve been meditating in yab-yum for about 10 to 15 minutes, so I’ve had a chance to recover some energy without ever cooling down down there. We used to take a rest break between my massage and yab-yum, but that just doesn’t work well for me. Besides, as wiped out as I am when I get off the table, I still don’t feel finished without some old fashioned wrap-myself-around-my-man action, so we started skipping the second break and going right to the Lotus.

By the time we’re rocking along again, that long period with him inside me has me all re-primed and hot, so I usually start pushing the pace. We keep eye contact and try to match our breathing as long as we can. I alternate up and down and fore and aft, and I’m greedy! I’ll take as many climaxes as I can get before he comes!

Cabot: When I do come, again, I might or might not ejaculate along with it. It’s actually hard for me to tell the difference, so sometimes I find out only when we’re cleaning up afterward. Because we usually sit up at the end, it’s easy to tell. She used to be much more concerned about it if I didn’t make a mess until I convinced her that it doesn’t matter.

Something else we should mention that’s age related. I often lose a full erection at some point while we’re sitting yab-yum. It doesn’t collapse, but it does get softer. When it first happened, it was startling and we sort of panicked and got out of Lotus. Marla did some oral and massage to get me hard again, but it took a while and we completely lost the connection. After this happened a few times, though, we figured out that it’s better to just sit tight and keep the breathing and meditation going. Sooner or later, the warmth and pressure of Marla’s yoni will get my guy interested again, he’ll perk back up, and we’ll be back in the game.

Marla: It’s like the Brits say: “Keep calm, and carry on!”

Cabot: Exactly!

Marla: At the end, when I feel Cab starting to come, it’s kind of a trigger for me too, and I can usually squeeze one last orgasm in. Like he said, we generally go back to a sitting position and just hug tight while we come. I agree with that other girl [Anna] who wanted to crush her guy to her. I hate any separation at this point. Unless something went really off course, I’m feeling totally wiped out by love and orgasmic overload, and I want to make it last as long as I can. A lot of times, we’ll go right back into Lotus, and even as he relaxes down out of me, the head of his penis usually stays just inside my yoni, which is enough to keep a little extra feeling of connectedness. And we can sit like that for another, oh, 20 minutes, just sitting there, hugging each other, breathing each other in and out.

Cabot: That’s about how long it takes my legs to go to sleep!

Marla: Poor dear! But yes, it’s that, or we get hungry, or someone has an itchy toe. Anyway, we finally get up, clean up a little, open the wine, eat the rest of the food, and come back a little way into this world.

Cabot: After we eat and get a stretch, we sit facing each other, looking into each other’s eyes and do a couple’s meditation for a while. Then we do a walking meditation hand in hand, and by then it’s probably time to move the mat to the west side of the patio, which is the best place to sit and meditate as the sun is setting.

And that’s our day.

I asked how often they have a Tantra/meditation day.

Cabot: We don’t have a set schedule. Since we moved out here, I’d say the shortest interval has been 4 or 5 days, and the longest 3 weeks, but a long break like that only happens when we have family visiting or something else that really takes a lot of time. Normally, though, I’d say about every 10 days.

Marla: Nine or ten days is probably just about right, because we usually have one or two normal bedroom encounters in between. Well, if you can call them normal!

Cabot: What Marla means is that we always start with some meditation and yoni massage. Not the full body massage, unless she’s got sore muscles from dancing or gardening or something, but usually just the final part. Call it really extended foreplay, if you like. This works better for us because these days I can take a long time to get hard if we just hop into bed. But massaging her and giving her some screaming orgasms really helps get me in the mood. And it’s faster than the full yoni massage, because she’s not trying to meditate and delay things.

Marla: Doing it this way is better for me, too. Not only do I get more O’s, but I’ve gotten pretty dry and tight in recent years, and if we just have sex without a long warm up, it can really hurt, even with a ton of lube. We started occasionally doing a yoni massage before sex a long time ago, but we switched to doing it every time about 8 years ago, around the time we moved in here. Menopause made the entrance to my yoni shrink and it made the walls thinner as well as drier, so if Cab doesn’t take the time to get me completely hot and get everything down there really pumped up and juicy, then it’s too tight and tender to be fun.

But it’s not just about the menopause problems. Remember I said I had never had an orgasm from vaginal sex before Cab and I started Tantra? Well, the truth is, I still haven’t ever had one only from straight vaginal sex. It only happens for me during regular sex if I’ve had at least one orgasm just beforehand from something else. It can be oral, or massage, or a vibrator, it doesn’t matter, but vaginal sex works for me only if I don’t cool down between the two. That’s the real reason we take our lunch break between the massages instead of after the second one – I need to go right from massage to yab-yum and into regular sex in order not to dry out and lose my readiness.

And if I do come down a bit too much during yab-yum, we can always have a three-way with “Dr. Hitachi”! We’ve got this old Hitachi Magic Wand, a big clunky vibrator that I bought back when I was single. It runs on wall current, not batteries, and boy is it strong! Anyway, after yab-yum I always start out on top, so if I’ve cooled down too much and it doesn’t feel like I can come, I just lean back a bit and hold the Wand against me until I get going again.

Has Tantra made regular sex better too?

Marla: Oh, honey, you have no idea! It’s like night and day! For me it used to be just okay. I guess ‘pleasant’ would be a good word. It was like a quick cuddle that gave him a lot of pleasure and me a little bit. We were so clueless back then. Now… well, now there’s no comparison!

I mean, when you get right down to it, if we had just kept on as we were, if Cab hadn’t said anything to start us down this road, we probably wouldn’t be having sex at all by now. It would have dwindled away, and when I hit menopause and it started hurting, I’m pretty sure we would have just stopped completely.

So “better” doesn’t even begin to describe the difference. Without Tantra, we wouldn’t know what to do to get me really ready and able to enjoy it without any pain. Without the knowledge of each other that we’ve gained, and the trust, and the ability to sense each other’s arousal levels and orgasms, I don’t think we’d be able to have sex at this point, normal or otherwise.

Cab, you described Tantra as “part of a complete spiritual, meditative experience.” Can you tell me what you mean by the spiritual part of it?

Cabot: Hmmm… That’s hard. Look, you don’t get to where I am in my field without being a pretty logical, skeptical, rational-thinking sort of person. And when we first started meditating, I had trouble even getting started. In fact, one reason we switched from classic Zen meditation to mindfulness meditation is that there’s a lot less metaphysical baggage that goes along with it.

On the one hand, I’ve read all the research that shows what meditation can do in the lab, in controlled settings. So there’s something objectively pretty interesting happening there. And on the other hand, David, one of the people I trust most on this, is a math professor, and he kept telling me that refusing to let go of a rational frame of mind was going to prevent me from ever getting anywhere with it.

So eventually I just decided that I didn’t care whether the spiritual part of all this is true or not. If the White Queen can believe six impossible things before breakfast, so can I! So I made a conscious decision to stop being skeptical and just accept whatever images and ideas make it easiest. If it means believing in some sort of invisible energy flows, fine. Maybe Kundalini energy will turn out to be this Dark Energy the physicists are chasing these days, and they’ll discover that we’ve been carrying it around in our butts all this time!

But the point is that the spiritual experience is real. You really do experience it, even if there are no spirits, no spiritual planes, no Chakras, and no Kundalini energy involved in it. And if the only way to have that spiritual experience is to stop disbelieving in those things, I’m fine with that.

Marla: I didn’t have anywhere near the amount of trouble he did because I’ve been doing yoga for years, and a lot of the spiritual jargon in Tantra is part of yoga, too. I learned long ago to just keep everything related to yoga in a mental room. While I’m doing yoga, I’m in that room, and everything my teachers have taught me is absolutely true. Treating it like that really does make learning it and doing it much easier, because you aren’t always distracted by this little argument in your head about what’s true, what’s a metaphor, what’s an analogy, and what’s just BS.

But when I leave the room, I close the door and all of that stays behind. I just don’t think about it at all. If I do think about it outside of that context, it makes it harder to believe in it when I get back there, so I don’t.

So when we started meditating, and then started Tantra, I just made another room. While we’re meditating and doing Tantra, everything I’ve learned about enlightenment and spiritual energy is absolutely true. And when I’m not, I try not to think about it at all. In fact, it makes me a little uneasy to talk about these things with you, right now, because expressing any doubts I have might make it harder the next time we meditate. So, beyond that, this deponent sayeth not!

Some of the couples I’ve talked to have mentioned feeling like they and their partners are merged together. Others have described having a feeling that they were part of the whole planet or universe. Have you two experienced anything like that?

Cabot: Oh, wow. I guess we didn’t do a very good job of describing what our meditation days are like, because that’s really an important part of it all. I don’t mean that meditation is goal-oriented, but one of the best things about it is that you sometimes reach that point of cosmic union. Tantra is just part of that. It makes it much easier to get to that point, but it’s not enough, at least not for us.

Marla: Maybe it’s because we were already doing a lot of yoga and couples meditation before we got serious about Tantra, but both of us had already experienced a bit of that blending-of-self-in-each-other feeling during couples meditation. So when it occurred when we included Tantra in our meditation, it seemed a natural extension of what we had already been doing.

Cabot: The thing is, Tantra lets us get that feeling of being merged every time, as a couple, instead of just sometimes and separately, and the shared feeling is much stronger when we do it through Tantra. What that other couple said about feeling like you can feel everything your partner feels, well, that’s naturally going to be much more intense when your partner is having a rip-roaring orgasm than it is when you are sitting quietly doing a normal couples meditation. There’s so much more to feel!

Marla: And it’s also true that there’s no better way to really, really get to know your partner’s body and senses than doing Tantric massage. If you pay attention, you’re in a perfect position to watch, listen, feel, experiment, and learn. And if you already have a spiritual bond – I’m sorry, I don’t know any other word for it – then you really do start feeling what your partner is feeling.

Cabot: It’s true. When I’m doing her massage, her orgasms are in many ways a more intense experience for me than my own are. Well, partly, I think that’s because hers really are more intense than mine, though I don’t know how you’d measure that. But certainly the pleasure I feel when she reaches climax is at least as great as the pleasure I feel when I do.

But even putting it in those words is misleading, because we’re not mainly talking about just physical pleasure. Most of the joy we feel in that process is precisely because it is shared with someone we love. If I had to choose between sharing her orgasms and having the most intense orgasms, the most perfect sexual pleasure I’m capable of achieving, but only while masturbating alone, there’s no question about it, I’d rather share hers. The physical pleasure of an orgasm is just a seed, a spark. It’s the smallest part of the joy we experience through sex.

Marla: And that joy in losing yourself in your partner also helps open doors to more. If I can experience that intensity and oneness with Cab, and all the joy we share, it helps open me up to more than that. That’s one reason we organize our meditation days around the sun. That closing meditation at sunset can just spin you out of yourself and spread you out across the hills and the sky.

When we finish with the last stage of Tantra, we take a few minutes to stretch and clean up, have a bite, and then we slide right back into meditating, first a couple’s meditation to rebuild our connection, and then a more general mindfulness meditation leading up to sunset. And I don’t know of a better way to achieve that sense of complete peace and connection with the whole universe and all other living things.

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