Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Another link...

- one of the many therapeutic approaches to tantra.

You might note that in the video on the "Exit Massage" technique, the narrator shows a lot of humour - aaaalways a good sign!


Tantra is the opposite of perfectionism.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Tantric History, Part 2

In the first days of august, 2011, I had what you might call my "initiation".

I was in my holidays, and I was back on one of my infrequent, unscheduled intervals of non-ejaculatory experimentation. And for some reason, I decided to do what I had not done in years: Grant myself a real tantric massage applied by a professional.

I decided on a rather high-priced offer - mainly because I wanted to know whether the price made any difference. And also because I liked their webpage, and the lady who owned the place seemed rather attractive (even though they have to hide their faces and obscure their real identity, because tantric massage is legally considered prostitution in my country).

When I called, I didn't reach the owner, but talked to a woman with a very deep, rich, very erotic voice. I was slightly disappointed to hear that the boss was out of town and I would get a session with the lady from the phone; I still went for it, because I knew that if I hesitated now, it would take me forever to get back to a point where I would grant myself this expensive, somewhat forbidden and time-intensive pleasure.

The studio was in a faraway corner of the town, tugged in between a major train station and the economic university - both aren't exactly friendly buildings, but the street was slow and small, and ironically, a fundamentalist christian friend of mine lived nearby, so I could count on some spiritual help, should things get ugly.

There was an extra door beside the main entrance to the building - a door obviously leading into a below-street level apartment. A stained-glass door. I was a bit nervous when I pushed the nondescript button for the doorbell.

The lady with the deep and rich voice opened the door, wearing only that colourful cloth that they always wear in tantra seminars and the like. She warned me to behave as silently as possible, because another session was in process, and showed me where to leave my shoes. Then she silently led me to the little room where my tantra massage was to take place.

I am happy to admit that I was overwhelmed.

The room was only dimly lit by a few electric candles flickering some red light on the luscious fabric that covered all the walls, and a wide mattress on the floor. There were several cushions of different shapes and sizes on said mattress, there was a chair for me to undress myself, and there was an already-heated pot full of massage oil.

The lady, whose name was Michelle, asked me if I had any questions - which was a bit odd as a conversation opener, but I figured that her education was in erotic massage, not in communication, and politely declined, since I already knew the basics. I was told where the shower was, and was left alone to undress, proceed to said shower (wearing one of those stylish tantric cloths... which I can never get to really stay on my body by themselves, so I always have to awkwardly hold them with one hand), and make myself comfortable on the mattress.

So then I was there, properly cleaned, and didn't wait long until she came back, sat with me on the mattress, bowed before me and gently put my hand in hers, telling me to relax completely.

I will not go on to bore everyone with the long-winded narration of every single stroke. I will say as much as the following: She did use her hands. She did use clothes (the same tantric... I think). She also used beads. And she used her whole naked body covering me, which must have been one of the most intense experiences I've ever had in a setting like this.

This is the usual way: you first get your back massaged, and then the real fun starts - it's a classic dramaturgical trick that works every time. So when she asked me to turn around, and I was now lying on my back, it became increasingly difficult to stay in the completely passive mode that is required of the recipient of a tantric massage.

I lived through some rather wild fantasies, and I believe that, for just that little time, I was utterly in love with this person.

In the end, she brought me to orgasm, and by her breathing along with me, I had the impression that she did enjoy this part - perhaps not as much as I did, but this was definitely not a handjob deliverd by some professional sex worker who wants to get things done and pick up the money.

I shall also say that the orgasm itself wasn't really the important part. I'm quite serious here. It was a nice addendum, but I could have done without it. What really mattered was the buildup, and what really really blew my mind was the intense feeling of touch, especially when she had covered me with her whole body. It's relaxation and intense erotic arousal at the same time - maybe this is really the secret of it: doing away with the stress of "getting the job done" or "achieving orgasm".

Coming to think of it, I would really like to share a tantric experience where the orgasm actually is not the goal - neither for the giver, nor for the receiver. I think this is one thing I shall pursue in the future. And I'm also fairly certain that this is not to be found in a professional tantra studio. I somehow cannot imagine that this would work for the masseuse, even though I'm prepared to give it a try... next time.

And I'm 100% positive that there WILL be a next time. This is far too pleasurable to not be repeated. It has proven tremendously "sexual healing" in the sense that it boosted my self-confidence enormously, and gave me a lasting sense of relaxation and energy that I have rarely experienced before. It actually enabled me to do some stuff that I was afraid of doing before. In the weeks since, I have had lots of overwhelmingly positive experiences, and managed to steer my general attitude even more in the direction I want it.

So, in summing it up, I can only recommend it. Have an open mind, stop thinking about outcomes, and enjoy.

List of possible topics

These are a few of the topics that Skeptic Tantrika plans to cover, explore and define in the clearest terms possible, at some point:

* Energy healing - fact or fraud?
* What on earth might sexual healing be, and does it even exist?
* So, what exactly is an energy orgasm?
* If Qi or Chi does not exist - what, then, goes on in an energy orgasm?
* Are Male Multiple Orgasms at all possible?
* The relationship of experience and interpretation, and what they have to do with science, religion, and spirituality
* How can western science claim to say anything about tantra, qi, energy healing, etc.?
* What do you know about female tantra?
* How can a scientifically minded skeptic not be convinced by tantra and other eastern schools of thought, once they have experienced energy orgasms and tantric sexual healing?

Please, do feel free to add suggestions or critizisms. This blog is a living entity, a complex, strange feedback loop!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A link

Because about.com is always a good place to start... the approach they describe is slightly different than the one I'm promoting here. But it's all about experimentation, and ultimately about feeling good!

BlogHub - Blog Directory And Search Engine!

Blog Directory & Search engine

Good girl!

Starting Point for an Explanation

So, assuming that tantra actually does something for its practitioners - a fact that many seem convinced of, so it cannot simply be disregarded - what is a non-mystical explanation?

Let's look at one classical instruction (for guys - it's actually the one I practice the most):

"Focus on your breath. Upon inhaling, breathe as deeply as possible into your pelvic floor. upon exhaling, clench your PC muscles and direct the energy from the sex chakra up the spine."

This roughly translates to: "Focus inward - feel your breath - feel its flow - breathe deeper and deeper now - and as you go deeper and deeper inside, disregarding conscious thoughts that only come in the way, relaxing and feeling those good feelings, notice how the energy flows..."

To me, this sounds suspiciously like a trance induction. I'd hazard the guess that that's what it really is. Shifting the focus around inside your body helps to abandon verbal thinking, thereby driving you deeper into the trance. And of course, clenching the PC muscles does have a physical effect and produces sexual feelings, because it massages your prostate, and because the anal area is an erogenous zone (even if many males don't like to admit that).

As an experiment, you can try focusing the breath on totally unconnected areas. I don't know about you, but if I inhale into my left leg, and then exhale into the right leg, I get pretty much the same results. If that's not quite as much fun, probably that's because focusing on the organ that is producing those delicious sexy feelings is the best way to intensify those feelings?

I think we might be on to something here. No voodoo involved, no hindu gods invoked, no transcendental energy fields presupposed.

It simply makes sense, that's all! I strongly feel that this practice makes me stronger, that I'm actually more energetic and have more willpower if I do not ejaculate, but practice tantra instead.

This factor remains unexplained, for the time being. I have no frakking clue why not ejaculating makes me more energetic. If I had to guess, I'd say it's simply because I'm more horny, and tantra is a clever way to sublimate this horniness into useful actions.

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Tantric History, Part 1

I'm not an expert in the field of tantra. Nor do I feel that the concept of experts is particularly useful in this context. These days, I'm often reminded of Shunryu Suzuki's book, "Zen Mind - Beginner's Mind". It seems to me like expert knowledge gets in the way of actual experience.

That doesn't mean that we shouldn't know things, of course... but I'm getting off topic, so let me get back.

How did I start out with tantra? It must have been in 2005 or so, and I remember I was extremely unhappy and unsatisfied with my job. I had read a little bit about tantra, had some vague idea of it being sexual and esoteric, and it was the closest I could allow myself to get to actual prostitution. I have actually tried prostitution twice in my life, but both times I wasn't even able to have an erection - the atmosphere of sterile professionalism was such a huge turn-off, and my knowledge about the violent circumstances surrounding it rendered the experience even less overwhelming.

Depressed as I was, I needed to show to myself that I was doing something good to myself. A sign of self-love, symbolizing my hope of self-improvement. So I looked through the classifieds in some small weekly magazine, and I dialled some tantra practitioner's number with trembling fingers.

It was a rather mixed experience. The lady practiced in her own flat, which was a rather shabby apartnment, on a mattress on the between her bed and her desk. She answered the door clothed in a cheap negligée. I had the impression that she had just finished some weekend course in tantric massage and was seizing the opportunity to make a little money on the side. It wasn't a bad experience, it was really what you might expect from classified ads in this price range - maybe the best description is "dedicated layperson". Yeah, that fits well. She was dedicated all right. And I was trying my best to relax. But something just didn't click. Maybe I just wasn't ready.

I forgot the whole thing. Other matters had to be taken care of, I switched jobs, had a relationship, and got into zen.

That whole zen meditation thing is worth talking about - it really helped me see things from a different perspective, and it taught me how to deal with some emotional problems that I had - on the other hand, I soon found myself getting into a somewhat rigid mindset: Zazen has  to be performed every day, you have to let go of your judgments, you have to stay present... and furthermore, there were frequent moments of seeming breakthroughs, sudden states of bliss that felt "enlightened", and every single time I thought that this time, it will stay with me - but of course, it never did. (Indeed, I am convinced today that it just doesn't. I think our brains are not made for what the buddhists call enlightenment. At least for the huge majority of people, this seems to be the case.)

So I let go of zen after a few years. I wouldn't want to miss the experience, and I can definitely say that it has improved my life in many ways - the ability to look into one's own states and feelings with a clear, nonjudgmental mind is obviously a treasure worth diving deep for.

In short, I <3 buddhism as a training of mindfulness and non-judgment, but I deeply mistrust the religion they built around it.

I won't go into detail here about all of the techniques I've tried. Some were more useful than others. Some are a bit more out there. Some are surrounded by huge marketing schemes. Some are huge marketing schemes. And some are just plain stupid.

I looked into tantra through the years, infrequently, with some entusiasm that usually lasted for a few days. I liked the idea of spiritual sexuality, I had an inkling that there were transformative opportunities in there, but I never really got into the whole thing.

Anyway, in the summer of 2011, I had 2 weeks of holidays, and I decided to give it another try. Only, this time, I went for a real professional (and rather expensive) offer. As it turned out, this was a wise decision. This really set the mood, or the topic, for the time ahead, and helped me with some emotional trouble I was going through.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tantra - Skeptic's Dictionary Entry

I'm really disappointed to see that the Skeptic's Dictionary doesn't deem tantra worth a real rant, calling out all the bullshit that well-meaning tantrikas such as myself have spewed out over the centuries!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Quick update

It is truly amazing to sit at a coffeeshop sipping on coffee, while at the same time experiencing glorious feelings of bliss.

I wonder why it happens so often that I just forget about this. It's so easy - sit down, relax, breathe. And yet, when you're entangled in your web of thoughts, you just don't realize that you could feel better right now, if you wanted to.

One word of warning - what it does NOT do is make me more sociable. It's a shame, really, and I would have expected it to - after all, if you're more relaxed and more easygoing, it should also become easier to talk to people. Instead, it makes me more calm - which is fine and dandy, but not quite what I came here for.

Anyway, it's not like somebody could force me to practice, or like I had no choice. The moment you feel that this is not leading you were you want to go - just do something else!

I Do Not Believe In Energy

Okay, let's be more specific here.

Of course there is energy. It is equivalent to mass times speed of light squared. It is present as electromagnetism, the weak and the strong force, as sunlight and movement, and of course, it runs through all of our bodies in the form of chemo-electrical nerve impulses and chemically bound ions, as long as we're alive.

What I do not believe in is chi (or qi), a mystical fluidum that cannot be measured or otherwise objectively perceived, but is still supposed to somehow "be there", ready to be influenced and manipulated by puny humans.

I think that there is good reason to only believe what is actually proven to be there. And there is also excellent reason to mistrust anyone who claims to be able to manipulate unproven mystical powers, even moreso if they make a big fat show of it and have a huge flock of followers.

Ever wondered about those qi gong "masters" who are seemingly able to throw people around the room against their will and beyond any physical explanation - just by focusing their qi? Well, duh... perhaps it's time to look into why those "masters" only ever seem to be able to demonstrate their magic powers on their own followers - and how, as soon as they are to work their qi on a non-believer, they always come up with the wildest of excuses. Like, "today is a bad day for qi gong" (lame), "It would be unethical to show this to the uninitiated" (really? why?), or my all-time favourite "I would hurt him so bad it's not worth it" (at least that one's funny, albeit unintentionally so).

So... no qi going 'round. And still, I'm an avid qi gong practitioner, and as the title of this blog suggests, I'm also into tantra... an awful lot, actually.

So how can I rationalize this obvious contradiction away?

Umm... *rolls up biblical sleeves* well, it's all symbolic, ya knows?

Naaah. Not symbolic AT ALL. Quite the contrary, actually.

I like to distinguish three seperate elements: a) my actual physical/mental experience at that moment; b) my conscious visualisations; c) my theory and interpretation of the experience

In other words:

I feel whatever I'm feeling while I'm consciously breathing and working my PC muscle; this feeling is there whether I can explain it or not. If I start conceptualizing this feeling, I can compare it to other things - it feels LIKE an energy flow through my body. (That obviously doesn't mean that it IS an energy flow; big fat conceptual mistake there! Our inner perceptions are obviously flawed, as our nervous system isn't very much equipped for that - ever had a wound in your mouth, and touched it with your tongue? It feels much bigger than it really is, doesn't it?)

By visualising this energy flow, the feeling gets even more intense. The line between the feeling and the visualization gets blurred and sometimes completely vanishes, and thus in my mind at that moment, the feeling IS an energy flow. My mind has no other frame of reference, and thus, this is what it will come up with.

Now, when theorizing about it later on, one will most probably turn to the philosophical framework one is used to: If you're a christian, you might interpret this as the Holy Spirit moving through you (though I highly doubt that there are many christians out there practicing tantra, but what do I know). If you're a taoist, you might call it the qi flowing through your meridians. The yogi might find her kundalini awakening. And if you're a materialist like myself, you will perhaps look for clenched and stretched muscles, nerves transmitting signals of relaxation, and the reward center in the brain getting activated.

In all those cases, the experience itself can only be beneficial. Your ideology or your interpretation really doesn't change the experience, at least as long as it doesn't keep you from having it. (I have already been tempted to teach a few past-middle-aged christian ladies how to breathe into their pelvic floors... believe me, resisting this temptation wasn't easy... NOT AT ALL EASY!!!)

So the interpretation doesn't really matter, there might as well be none at all... does it?

Well, yes and no. Sure, we can all just join hands and enjoy.

But for one, as the buddha taught, coming up with explanations is so deeply human as to be almost unavoidable.

And secondly - and, I think, much more importantly - if we can come up with a good and solid scientific explanation, tested with the utmost scientific vigour, then we can use this knowledge for even more pleasure, even more healing, even better orgasms. Of course the trap is to make a sport and a tournament out of it and thus spoil the fun - but this trap is there anyway, even the most "spiritual" people somehow manage to engage in contests of who is "even more spiritual" than the next person.

So, to sum it up: Enjoy the experience, and enjoy making up an explanation for the experience later on! And if you cannot find any explanation, don't worry - it'll be fun anyway.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

So... What Exactly IS Tantra, Anyway?

Let's start our journey by looking at terms. Otherwise, we won't know what we're talking about, and chances are we'll talk past each other.

Tantra is an old religious teaching deeply rooted in ancient hinduism. It poses that the world of phenomena is a world of dualistic oppositions - black/white, male/female, active/passive, etc.; and that beyond those phenomena, there is absolute, unspeakable unity; every word we use to describe this unity is inherently wrong, because words, too, are phenomena and thus subject to dualism.

Tantra, now, aims to achieve a state of enlightenment - i.e., as it were, unity with this universal unity - by various means: meditation, breathing techniques, visualisations, mantras. One of those means lies in the acceptance and transcendenc of one's sexuality.

As far as I know, the "authentic" traditions of tantra put a lot of focus on asceticism. Which is probably not what one thinks of when one hears the word "tantra", but it does fit in well with the strong ascetic tradition inside hinduism.

It also used to be a highly secretive, esoteric system of stepwise initiations by a guru.

Somewhere along, or rather alongside, the "spiritual" re-awakening of the 1970s and -80s, the tantric teachings were imported into the western countries. Of course, the west in our times being what it is - far from "wild", but eager for money, and at the same time eager to fill the perceived spiritual vacuum that the eagerness for money brought with it, the teachings were sucked up, well... eagerly..., and at the same time were completely transformed.

Basically, what we did was that we stripped tantra of almost everything related to hinduism (except for a few words, which I will probably talk about in a later posting), specifically of the guru doctrine and the relations to the hindu pantheon, and on the other hand, we added a therapeutic slant to it.

While for the more spiritually-minded, a few "energetic" teachings were added.

The basic idea in all this was that a gentle touch can not only bring good feelings and strong orgasms, but also emotional healing, a better connection of body and mind, and whatever one sees as spiritual awakening.

Thus, neo-tantra was born: Adaptable to the needs of prostitutes and their customers (we shall have to talk about whether professional tantra is prostitution later on); but also appealing to the spiritually inclined esotericist, as well as the couple in their best years who would just like to rekindle the flames of their slowly burning-out sexuality. You can explore your intimacy in groups without ever running any risk of getting an ugly STD or (heavens forbid!) having to ouch another person's genitalia - or you can get a "tantric massage" with a slight smell of incense, a few candles and a very Happy Ending for your lingam, from your run-off-the-mill prostitute arond the corner.

Maybe this does sound a bit - shall we say "skeptical"? Well, it's probably not - at least not in the way you might expect.

You see, I happen to be convinced that pleasure in all forms is a good thing, as long as nobody gets hurt. And orgasms are probably one of the most intense forms of pleasure that we puny humans know. I also happen to think that roughly 95% of the male population haven't even begun to explore their full orgasmic potential (with women, it's probably different, I don't know - though my impression is that there's not a lot of difference there).

My experience has been that those intense tantric pleasures make me more peaceful, confident, balanced and energetic. So far, I haven't seen any bad side effects - that is, if we disregard the occasional sore PC muscles, the back pain from far too much lying on my back, and the blistered fingers (okay, just joking here...). All of which are, of course, very real dangers of the tantric practice, which I feel obliged to share with you, in case you meditate on walking down that path.

But apart from that, I simply cannot find anything even remotely bad in the idea of a practice that gives you almost instant ecstatic pleasures, while making you more aware of your physical sensations, getting you to lie calm for an hour or two - and all of that while you're own your own (completely free of charge) or with (a) partner(s) (free of charge if you find a willing partner). It gives me a tremendous sense of power to know that a little conscious breathing can make me feel better than I probably ever felt in my whole life. And the best thing is that nobody can take that away from me, except some serious brain damage or, obviously, death itself.

So, what AM I skeptical about?

Well, let's just say I find the religious overtones rather... misleading. I don't need to call my cock lingam just to feel more enlightened. In fact, I'm pretty sure that enlightenment in the strict sense of the word just doesn't exist. I find the idea of guruism and stepwise initiation based on the whims of another man's fancy disgusting - in fact, I think it's just a thinly veiled power game. (Please don't tell me I would have to know the hindu religion better to judge that - religious hierarchy is religious hierarchy and an abomination as such, whether it be the catholic clergy, tibetan lamaism or hindu gurudom.)

On a more general level, I'm really pissed off by the idea that only "authentic" tantra is valid, or that neo-tantra is somehow a watered-down, wishy-washy thing that does more harm than good. If you happen to be of this opinion: How on earth is it your business to decide what I like to do in order to feel good? How come you know better than myself what's best for me? If you want to make a point about spirituality, or why it's a bad idea to pay for sex, okay, make your point and let's talk about it. But please don't play the "authentic" card without ever having defined what you mean by "authentic", or why you think it's important. And also, please avoid words such as "superficial", "materialistic", or "western" as general terms of disagreement. These are overgeneralized, vague terms that don't actually convey any meaning, and thus my only reaction will be to kindly ask you to define what you mean.