Monday, January 30, 2012

First tantra course experience

So, I attended my first tantra course.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. I met a lot of very friendly, gentle, very nice people, and a few who didn't particularly spark my interest.

A few things stand out:

First off, I will never forget the moment when that gentle, therapeutic tantra teacher, seated behind his stereo mixing the music, suddenly burst out "shit! fuck! stupid cursed stereo!" and so on, because the stereo had suddenly stopped working.

Yes, the moving the pelvis and breathing deeply helps a great deal.

Next, I never knew what a great dancer I am. And what a great lover. And what an excellent priest.

And also, once you realize that you're dealing with gods and goddesses, or queens and kings, you can play any role you like - romancer, firy lover, macho man, priest... it doesn't matter, as long as it's grounded in mutual respect.

It is so necessary to learn how to say "no"! You cannot ever really say "yes" before you've learned how to say "no".

And of course, the most important part: Getting a "no" from someone else doesn't kill me. It's a no to that one touch, it's a challenge to find another way perhaps - but it has nothing to do with me as a person.

And "chakras" still don't exist in reality. They're just a somewhat useful metaphor to help you focus on specific aspects.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weird dream


Very weird, very funny dream tonight... and actually, the first erotic dream in years (literally), and I find that awesome because I've always liked those.

So, I was in an office that seemed to be mine, in a bunk bed on the upper bed. I was Captain Kirk. And at the same time I was William Shatner. I was ... ahem... with... a crew member who was female, but not quite - some kind of alien in a way. We were both naked and fully clothed at the same time. And then I noticed that the rest of the crew was watching us through the windows, so after a little panic attack, I used the remote control to pull down the blinds.

And that's it. I mean, hurraaaay I was Da Shatner! And I... WAAAAAS... thefriggincaptainoftheenterprisethebeststarshipintheuniverseatanystardatewhatsoever!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Let me now solemnly declare:

Should I ever become a "spiritual teacher" (which is, ironically kind of likely), then my first sentences in every lecture or seminar will invariably be the following:

There is no such thing as a spiritual teacher, as nobody can ever be more advanced in spirituality than any other person. There is no such thing as "spiritual levels" or "spiritual achievements". One can have more experience with a certain method or technique; one can be more compassionate, or more wise, or more intelligent, or better at delivering roundhouse kicks. But one can never be the spiritual guide, or teacher, of  another person.

"How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body"

This New York Times article seems to have created quite an uproar among yogis worldwide.

I think a little story about a Qi Gong master and his new student explains it best.

The student approached the master, asking him, "How long will it take me to master Qi Gong?"
"10 years," said the master.
"Ohh", said the student. "That's a rather long time! I will practice as much as I can, as often as I can, as hard as I can - how long will it take me then?"
The master smiled that somewhat sinister zen smile those masters always have, took his time to stroke his long white beard, and then replied: "Then, my friend, it will take you 20 years."

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Disclaimer

I'm obviously into meditation. I dig it. In fact, I dig it quite a lot. I like the feel of it, and I like the calm that  it gives me. I feel that it has improved my life, helped me focus better, and so on and so forth.


No, meditation is not the answer to everything. We will not achieve world peace by meditating. You will not learn how to fly. It will probably not give you magical powers, the ability to melt snow or become invisible.

My personal mantra is to never trust one single method completely in every regard. Do stuff, try stuff out, and don't get hooked, that seems like a much more reasonable approach to me.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What's wrong is wrong

It is a distinct misunderstanding of tolerance to believe that everyone is right in some way, so one can never criticize other cultures or times. (And I will never remember the correct spelling of "criticize").

If someone claims that the rabbit is a ruminant, then this person does not have "another kind of knowledge" or "another cultural background" - that person simply holds a wrong belief about a positive, provable, objective fact. What is wrong, is wrong, plain and simple.

And pointing this out does not mean any disrespect to said person. To the contrary - letting people believe bullshit just to be polite or not touch on any sensibilities means not accepting the other person as a grown up, self-responsible being. Whenever I do so, I'm not really protecting the other person - I'm just protecting myself from her anticipated reactions.

It is necessary that we let go of our attachments to belief systems. And for that, we need other people's criticism. Otherwise, how will I ever realize how attached I am to a belief? And how will I ever find out when I'm wrong?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sanal Edamaruku's "Tantra Challenge" to Pandit Surender Sharma

It seems that some people arrive here when looking for Sanal Edamaruku's "Tantra Challenge" to Pandit Surender Sharma. So for convenience, here are a few links about that challenge, in which an Indian tantra guru was challenged to kill a skeptic, and of course failed, much to his shame.
Here's the youtube video's description (the video itself is in hindi or so, so I can't understand it): "Sanal Edamaruku, president of Rationalist International, challenges tantrik Pandit Surendra Sharma to prove his claim that he could kill anyone with magical powers."

Please don't blame me if you think any of those sites to be biased, subjective, uninformative, or in error; I'm only providing the links here for convenience, and personally have no strong opinion on the subject.

The Shell

In the beginning, I peaked out of the shell. Not too far - just... enough.
I found that I was vulnerable. I got hurt, way more than I could bear - scorned by my peers, treated as a therapeutic case by the doctors.
So I started using the shell for strength. Stronger, harder, tougher. I made it as thick and impenetrable as possible.
Over time, it became a prison. One that I could no longer break out of - either the walls were too strong, or I was too weak.
Now I slowly, gradually, remove the shell. I solve it, dissolve it from the inside. I let the acid of self-love and bliss eat away at it.
I work at becoming vulnerable again. Vulnerable and strong.

The irony of it all is, of course, that we have all read and heard those very lines, time and again, in various forms, by any number of authors; so have I; and have laughed it off as naive or moralistic or just plain stupid.

But it's not.

The "balloon pump" exercise

This exercise is a synthesis of a few tantric and taoist exercises that I've read in several books, so if you're a purist of one specific brand of tantra, or if you're opposed to the neotantra craze, you'll probably not want to try this.

You have been warned.

It consists of the usual basic tantric elements:

  • breathing into the pelvic floor
  • using the PC muscles
  • directing the breath/energy upon exhaling
  • visualisations
Now, the trick here is WHAT to visualize, and WHERE to direct the energy.

If you're a beginner, it's probably best to first train each step before putting them all together.

  • Best practice seated. It seems to be easier to stay focussed that way.
  • Use slow, mindful strokes on your cock, so you don't hastily go into ejaculation.
  • As always, be sure to caress your WHOLE cock, not just the tip.
  • When you INHALE, relax the muscles and direct the breath into your scrotum. (the taoist "scrotum breathing" technique)
  • Imagine your scrotum as a balloon that inflates (as much as you like) when you inhale.
  • When you EXHALE, clench your PC muscles, deflate the balloon and direct the breath/energy directly from the scrotum, one by one, into...
  1. the pelvic floor itself
  2. the anus
  3. the prostate
  4. the lowest vertebra of your spine
  5. and so on, up and up your spine
  6. up the back of the head
  7. the crown chakra
  8. the third eye
  9. the mouth
  10. the neck
  11. the chest
  12. the belly
...and so on until you've reached the pelvic floor again.

Of course, it totally depends on you what "steps" you take to direct your breath, and where you direct it. I usually aim to make the steps as small as possible - ideally, I want to cover each vertebra separately, though I never manage to do so.

It is certainly beneficial to "rest" upon each separate spot for a few breaths - until it feels "filled" or starts tingling... the criteria here are a matter of practice. I just get the impression that it's enough for this one particular spot, after a while, so I move on. (Or I simply grow impatient, but that wouldn't be "spiritual" enough, so I never said that and you have no idea I did, okay?)

When I've reached the belly, it often feels like an intense flow of love and strength emanating from there.

I also make a point of including the arms and legs - on the soles of the feet, this feels almost like a foot massage; and I figure that, since my knees sometimes feel a little sore, they can only benefit from this kind of care.

And by the way, when I first tried this, I tried to separate the left extremities from the right, but I didn't manage to do so, so I gave it up and just go both at the same time.

So, that's it - balloon and pump away! And be sure to give me feedback after a while!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A poor experience

This is a post from a (professional, it seems) tantrika, about a session gone sour... I believe it is good to keep an eye out - just because it's "tantra", that does not imply that it is all good and fine, roses and wine, all the time...

Two specific points of interest:

"When I practice massage, I am the giver and my own sexual feelings have no role in the room. " 

Hmmm... I'm not sure about that. If "have no role" means that they shouldn't drive the action, I wholeheartedly agree. The fact that they're there... well, if tantra is about accepting things as they truly are, then the presence of sexual feelings shouldn't be denied.

Of course, that kind of acceptance can only arise (pun intended) in an emotional and physical safe-place. Both parties have to feel completely at ease for this to be possible. Given that the receiver was a woman, and the practitioner was a total stranger, well - I can certainly understand her unease about the situation. Sad as it is, women have to take additional precautions in that case. I'm afraid that receiving a tantric massage from a stranger is simply a no-go for a woman. Of course, everyone has to decide that for themselves, but as much as I enjoy the fantasy of practicing my skills on a strange woman I picked up from the street, I very much doubt that it's ever going to happen. Of course, I wouldn't dream of doing anything bad - but how would the woman in question know it?

This also raises the question of whether the roles can be switched. My impression is that for most tantrikas, you're either the giver or the receiver in one given session. Well, I haven't experienced it enough, but as it is, this seems like an incredibly inflexible model to me. Assuming the right circumstances of course, then if the "receiver" starts "giving", it ends up being not-quite-tantra? No, doesn't feel right. Or rather, well then so be it, who cares about the labels anyway.

"Assuming that I had suffered some negative sexual experiences, he said past sexual abuse was blocking me from moving forward in the massage."

That one kinda reminds me of my first encounter with tantra enthusiasts. At some point, one of the guys told me that I "have lots of blockages that need to be loosened." I think it was because I had doubted that tantra was anything but a thinly veiled attempt at group sex, or something.

This kind of ideological hogwash drives me up the wall. That one comment kept me from looking into tantra for years.

As a practitioner of anything - ANYTHING, from psychoanalysis to christianity to NLP or tantra - you never, never, EVER blame the recipient/client/convertee. If they're not open to whatever you're doing, then that is their frakkin' right. It's not your job to theorize about their inner processes. Doing so is rude, it's a form of violence, and on top of that it's mostly ineffective - it won't get you one step closer to your goal. Except, perhaps, if the person in question is highly insecure about themselves. (Which might just be the assumption behind the attempt, and if that is the case, it doesn't make it any better. At all.)

Quite apart from all that - even assuming that she suffered abuse and is blocked by it - then it is still not that guy's frakkin' job to decide when it's time for her to work on that blockage. Or whether she's ever up to it.

Did that guy have a degree in clinical psychology? Duh.
By the way, that kind of blaming is a technique frequently employed by cults. When that guy said that, it made tantra look like a cult to me. All the talk about lingams and yonis, the soft voices, and the excited spark in their eyes didn't help a lot, either.

See? It drives me up the wall, and into writing walls of text.

"Tantra is..."

Definitions are often to be mistrusted; especially in the vast field of psychology and, even more virulent, esotericism and religion. We rarely ever manage to really give an accurate and exhaustive enumeration of all factors. Thus, it is more accurate to say, instead of "X is...", that "Some aspects of X are...".

The problem with that is that it doesn't sound all that catchy.

So... here's a list of things that I have found tantra to be (which will be expanded later):

Tantra is...
  • training in relating to yourself in positive and productive ways
  • a way to help you deal with negative emotions
By this, I mean that it provides you with a method of creating bliss almost instantaneously, anytime, anywhere. That bliss gives you a safe-haven. You can then start "inviting" the bad stuff, and encounter it in the safety of your bliss. This will make it easier to face the problems in your life, and take responsibility, or, as they say, "own up to" them.

Update, 30th Jan 2012:

As the word "tantra" is currently used, it seems to simply mean "a practice of integrating sexuality".

Two important questions remain open in this definition: "Integrating it into what?" and "What exactly do you mean by sexuality?".

That's why tantra is such a vast and diverse field. Some people want to integrate their sexual energies into their spirituality without ever doing a lot of physical stuff. Some people want to integrate physical sex better into their partnership. And some just want group sex.

I guess the major lines, here in the west, are

  • the therapeutic one, with a strong focus on self-acceptance and setting your boundaries
  • and the "recreational sex" one (aka "spice up your love life") with a strong focus on - well, sex.

Both have their place. For me, self-love and personal development are the primary goals, so I go with the therapeutic bunch.

Of course, there are also fringe groups that one should be very wary of. Some groups seem to force people into sexual practices they don't necessarily want, or shoot photos of participants in intimate positions and the like - all in the name of "openness" and "acceptance". Sadly, wherever there is some kind of freedom, it can and will be abused.

So it makes sense to take some time to check out the credentials of any one tantric teacher. Are they trained as a therapist? In what therapeutic method? What do you know of that method? Ask them whether you will have to get undressed - in a setting that I prefer, they will always place huge focus on respect, and people will be actively encouraged to say "no" if they don't like some practice, or simply not take part in it.

It might also be wise to check out the location. Will you be able to drive home at any given point, in case you don't like what's going on?

(to be continued...)

Friday, January 6, 2012

"One of the most profound weaknesses in the way massage therapy is commonly taught, is the very strong taboo against including erotic touch in the massage."

--  Importance of Erotic Massage (Ben Haggard - Part 1 of 7) - New School of Erotic Touch,

I couldn't agree more!

Taoist, Tantric, Confusion

That massage I received today... it had been advertised as a tantric massage. The ad was laden with esoteric stuff, but also seemed like a sex ad, so... I just gave it a try.

I'm *pretty* sure that it was actually a taoist massage á la "Dr." Stephen Russell. The masseuse herself was convinced that it was tantra. My indicators: There was no "lingam massage", no happy ending, but it was a fairly forceful thing with lots of full body contact, the like of which I haven't yet seen in tantric massages.

So, there are three kinds of very similar, yet subtly different massage types, AT THE VERY LEAST: taoist massage á la "Dr." Stephen Russell (no junk fiddling, no ejaculation, no prostate massage), taoist massage á la Dr. Joe Kramer (maybe junk fiddling, maybe ejaculation, I don't know about the prostate massage), and tantric massage, where all three are optional, but the somewhat-hindu ritual isn't.


No, I don't mean to complain about my lack of cumming today. The experience was totally awesome actually.

I just kinda wonder: If I were to ask followers of all three disciplines WHY they think that one method is best, or at least what criteria I might use to decide which one to take... does anybody here seriously think that I would get any useful kind of answer?

Because I seriously don't.
A few weeks ago, a friend stayed at my place for the night. At one point, he complained about his lacking performance in bed. In short, he felt that he didn't have enough lasting erections.

My reaction was so immediate, it almost surprised myself. Erections come and go. They're not necessary for anyone's satisfaction. Sure we should have them... sometimes. But not always. If you do a tantric ritual... hey, you cannot honestly expect yourself to be hard for two hours straight! And quite apart from that, a soft penis is way more sensitive than a hard-on.

So I tried to explain just that to him. The next surprise, to me, was HIS immediate and rather intense reaction. He said that that was what sex was about, after all... penetration, and therefore erection.

I couldn't really convince him. But I feel sad for people like that... and of course, this means that I feel sad for about 75% or so of the males on this planet. And for their partners, male or female.


But of course, I feel proud of having gotten out of this destructive mindset (at least partially). It was a long and winding road, I can tell you that! It was all worth it, of course.

And after all, who knows, maybe I said something that my friend didn't yet understand, but that will come back to him in some form later on. We are all entitled to doing things in our own way, and in our own timing.


Last week at the spa, I had a very interesting and instructive experience with shiatsu.

Passive stretching and that specific style of massage feels extremely good. Not a big surprise there, but an excellent reason to grant myself some more regular shiatsu sessions. The movements have a relaxing and activating effect at the same time. And besides, the flexibility and agility of those masseurs is pretty impressive.

Now about the "energetic" part. Shiatsu is not meant to be a simple stretching exercise. It's meant to work on your "meridians". Now, this specific practitioner did something very interesting: She predicted that, since she had worked on my "bladder meridian", I would probably have to use the restroom more often the following day.

Did I? I have no clue. For one, I was sweating all day in the sauna, and therefore drinking a lot; secondly, I really couldn't tell whether I peed more than usual; and thirdly, she gave me the suggestion beforehand, so in case there was an effect, we can't tell whether it came from the massage or from the suggestion.

But in hindsight, another thing stands out. Imagine a western doctor treating you for... whatever, a nosebleed. And at the end of the treatment, said doctor says, "Oh by the way... I gave you something for your bladder, you'll have to use the restroom a lot these days."

Wouldn't you be a bit upset? I, for one, can imagine suing that doctor all over the place. I rather like to know beforehand what I will be up to, or if there are any side-effects to a treatment. That is because I like to take my decisions myself. Strictly speaking, this is an invasion of my privacy and physical integrity.

Of course, I wouldn't do that with a shiatsu practitioner, and I don't think anyone would.

The reason for this is shockingly simple: When a western doctor gives you a prediction, you can bet almost all your money on that prediction coming true. When a practitioner of some eastern massage technique does the same, you can bet that the prediction will come true in exactly 50% of all cases.

Now, I don't even want to claim that there is literally NOTHING to meridians. I'm perfectly convinced that those old chinese (or, in the case of shiatsu, those not-so-old japanese of the late 19th century) knew a bit about the human body.

But I am equally sure that their metaphysical, "energetic" explanation kept them from developing their knowledge to its full potential.

I would bet that because the "energetic" explanation is unfalsifiable, and therefore utterly useless. You cannot disprove any specific part of a theory like that, therefore the theory cannot be expanded upon or improved.

In other words, the "bladder meridian" will most probably have an effect on the bladder in some cases - namely, those cases where they hit on an actual nerve center by chance. In all other cases, nothing will happen. Or perhaps, something entirely different from what the practitioner expects. Happily, since our body is constructed to withstand outer influences to a large degree, most effects will either be beneficial or insignificant. That is, in my view, eastern practitioners' real competitive edge.

And of course, because eastern medicine never ever claims any actual effects - it's only ever for prevention, never for healing - you cannot decide whether there is something to it or not. If the desired effect does not appear, then there's always some explanation for that. And even that practitioner at the spa only said that it would "probably" happen.

I will definitely go on with shiatsu. I will ask the next practitioner to refrain from giving me their predictions beforehand. One week later, I will ask them, and then compare notes.