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.


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: