By Susanna Medecin
It Takes Two to Tantra
We slept late–was that an accident?–and our “homeplay” was perfunctory. We didn’t have time for the scene setting; the languorous perfumed bath, and the sensual music. But we did have our Aloha massage oil and our Astroglide. My lover began stroking me. The instruction Charles had given him gave a sureness, and at the same time curiosity, to his lovemaking. He was confident in his ability to please me and watchful toward my responses, I writhed under his fingers as he first stroked my clitoris, noticing that the silky oil was the perfect lubricant outside, while the water based substance was better within. As he’ went inside, I pressed toward, feeling deep chords of pleasure gathering within me. As my excitement heightened, I heard him telling me, “Breathe”-and as I gulped in the air I started to come. He stopped stroking and held me as cries continued, and then slowly started again. The second time I came quickly, and as I lay languorous in his arms, he said, “It’s time to go now.”
It was Sunday morning and everything we’d learned over the weekend had, pardon the expression, come together. Starting Friday evening, we’d been soaked in sex, thinking about it, talking about it, and flexing all our sexual muscles just for this moment.
Our “homeplay” had certainly paid off. Two orgasms in a matter of minutes and I wanted more . But now Keith was reminding we we didn’t want to be late again, and half-reluctantly, we drove back to class.
Thirty-five couple sat on the floor in various stages of embrace, as the more uninhibited told the group what the previous night had been like.
We were gathered for a weekend workshop in Tantric Sex in California’s Marin County. “Marin,” as it is familiarly known around the San Francisco Bay, is famous for its high rate of singles, BMWs as well as its laid-back New Age life style. The crowd in the room, ranging from university students playing hooky, vestigial hippies in tie-dye, and more corporate types in suburban clothes, had the healthy, warm, California look of people interested in sex.
Marin may also be the country’s capital for tantric sex, a collection of sex techniques from the East, often clothed in the language and aura of New Age spirituality. There were a number of noted “Tantrikas,” as practitioners are called, in the area and numerous workshops spread the practices and brought practitioners, together. Perhaps the best-known gurus of this esoteric but ever-more popular tradition were Charles and Caroline Muir, who ran Tantra Source School in Hawaii and made frequent visits to the West Coast and Mexico.
We arrived Friday evening to find Charles and Caroline sitting cross-legged in yoga position of a low bed-like platform between to vases of red roses. Charles was a graceful six-foot-four bunk in white Levi’s, and a blue silk shirt that matched his eyes. Caroline was a lithe, leotard-clad blond in her early 50’s. “We all have the ability to release unlimited sexual energy-to have wave after wave of glorious, easy release,” Caroline told us that first evening, and Charles promised the men he would teach them how. “Inside every woman’s vagina is a ‘sacred spot,”‘ he told the group. “If a man is willing to take the time, he can learn to touch this spot in a way that will pleasure and heat his woman.”
We separated into mixed groups of three and each spoke for three minutes about our early sexual experiences. A man in my trio confessed he’d been a Catholic priest for 15 years, but had decided that he needed to develop his sexuality to proceed spiritually. When we were asked to “share,” with the rest of the group at large, one threesome described themselves as “recovering Catholics.” Others talked about early abuse or punishment. The most common theme voiced was the desire to bring love and sex together in their lives.
From talk, we proceeded to touch. After rolling up our sleeves and first caressing our own arms, we practiced different strokes-pinch, knead, tap-in different degrees of yin (feminine, soft) and yang (masculine, hard). Then we were asked to choose partners. “In Tantra, women always do the choosing,” Charles told us, and asked us each to pick a stranger across the room and to take turns doing the exercise with him. As the receiver lay on the floor, eyes closed, the giver followed Charles through the various strokes.
Next, we returned to our seats and learned how to isolate our “PCs” or “love muscles,” as Charles and Caroline called them, and were taught how to do the exercises I knew as Kegels. I’d known that they could help women enhance or trigger orgasm, but now I learned that men, too, could use them to enhance orgasm or control ejaculation.
Towards the end of the evening, as we sat in our seats, we practiced putting the breathing and Kegels together. “Your orgasm can ride the wave of your breath,” Charles told us. “The key is sound. Keep the sound going as you breathe, breathe, breathe. Start to breathe in about halfway into the peak of your orgasm. The ‘building up’ feeling of climax will continue for as long as you can sustain the inhalation. Then release the breath with as much sound as possible. Really sing out. With practice you can keep the orgasm going for more than one breath. I’ve had one that went as long as nine breaths. And every couple of weeks I have another ‘best ever”. No, I did not have an orgasm sitting in my seat, though I’m not sure no one else did. But I was beginning to think these people were on to something.
We closed the evening with a puja, a Hindu word meaning worship, forming circles of eight or nine couples, women on the inside. We performed a brief ritual-eye contact, an embrace, hand to the back of the heart, a bow-with each man before moving around the circle to the next. At each stage, there were different instructions. “Look into the eyes of your partner,” said Charles. “Women, look into his eye and ask him, ‘what are you afraid I might see?’ The whispers buzzed around the room: “I’m afraid you might see my insecurity. I’m afraid you might see my fear, my pretension, my dishonesty.” Then Caroline told the men, “just be the receiver. Just be there. Picture the women in your life who weren’t there for you in the past. Let the priestess in her run that energy through you. You don’t have to give back; you’re just being
held.” At this phase, two men broke down and cried in my arms. That night our homeplay was to repeat the touch exercise with our own partners; singles could practice stroking themselves. Caroline and Charles wished us a “good night.”
The word tantra, as contemporary teachers are using it, refers to techniques-including meditation, breathing, chanting and visualization as well as specific sexual practices developed centuries ago in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism to increase ecstasy in spiritual practice. The purpose in tantric sexual ritual was to stoke both male and female sexual energy to the highest level-men withholding ejaculation-to reach blazing states of “bliss” or “clear light.” Women were worshipped as essential to awakening the powerful life energy called “Shakti,” and women were seen as earthly embodiments of goddesses.
Tantra is woman-centered, perhaps because women owned property and therefore had high status in Himalayan cultures. Ancient Tantric texts focussed on female sexual pleasure. In fact, some of the texts were written by women, and women passed on sexual initiation to both women and men. Tantrikas, as practitioners were called, knew all about the G-spot centuries before Western science in the form of Ernst Grafenburg, the male gynecologist for who it’s named, ‘discovered” it. Tantric Buddhists called it the ‘Southern Pole.” Recently neo-Tantric have taken techniques once used in esoteric spiritual practice to fill western goals of healing and educating. “It’s really sex education dressed up in fancy clothes,” said a psychology writer who attended the Muirs’ seminar.
Caroline is crouched leopard-like on the podium when we arrive on the second day. There is a distinct rise in the temperature. She is holding a pink wineglass sideways. This she says is her “yoni,” the Sanskrit word for vulva. Charles brandished a wand-like swizzle stick he called his “vajra” “It’s necessary for both man and woman to view the vagina in a new way,” he says-“a special place, a temple, a pleasure palace. It’s a gateway to the energy of a woman that is holy and healing. “With the swizzle stick, Charles indicates a point inside the upper curve of the glass corresponding to about an inch inside the vagina. This, finally, is the Sacred Spot. “In the yoni is stored a conglomerate of mixed energies,’ says Charles. It may feel bruised, it may feel burning. There may be emotional tension as layers of fear and guilt come up. This is an energetic entry point which enables people to access, in a very easy way, their past, the experiences that caused them to close down their sexual energy.”
Then he finally told the men what to do: “use the third or fourth finger,” he said. “Palm upwards, reach into the vagina and curt the finger towards you in a kind of “come hither” gesture. First just hold the contact without movement, letting the woman’s consciousness meet your fingers. After one minute begin linear stroking, experimenting with yin and yang qualities. Gradually proceed to all the other strokes – pulsing, tapping, vibrating – using a circular motion or going side to side. After trying all these strokes in their yin and yang expressions, make a dance of all of them.”
But first you had to find the spot. Male sex scientists, in the 70s and 80s, had questioned the existence of such a spot as if it were a mythical Loch Ness monster, but many women know it from personal experience. Enough, anyway to provide a market for the G-spot stimulators sold in women’s sex stores and catalogs. Sometimes called the “urethral sponge,” it is an area of tissue that swells when stimulated. I knew it well from masturbation and from the surprisingly powerful pleasure when my lover’s penis thrust against it in intercourse, particularly in woman-on-top or rear-entry positions. But never before had I heard it explained and anatomized in such specific detail.
It is obvious, though seldom mentioned, that each woman’s vaginal geography is different, so the spot does not lie in any one position. But most women have no trouble identifying the erotic sensation when a partner simulates it. The spot often feels like a small bean, and in some women swells to the size of a silver dollar.
The trip for a woman during sacred spot massage, Charles explained, might be as varied as a roller coaster ride, a mix of great pleasure and energy, and then a little orgasm, and perhaps a burning sensation, and then laughter, and tears. “And all that,” he said, “can happen in three minutes.”
Now, Caroline took the women upstairs, while the men stayed behind with Charles. “It is our sacred right to receive as much orgasmic pleasure as we can,” she told us, We women should feel free to revel in the experience, to feel we deserve this devotion to our pleasure. Everyone knew what she was talking about – the voice in the mind that said: “Isn’t his hand getting tired? Do I really need this?” Caroline was here to tell us,we did. “The real question,” she said, “is how much pleasure can you stand?”
Among the women in the group, I was most intrigued by Samantha, a woman with a straightforward sensuality dressed in a T-shirt and a wraparound saxong, who mentioned that she was very orgasmic and by two women in their late twenties, Linda and Louise, who had come to the workshop together-with one man. The three of them were considering doing Sacred Spot massage as a threesome.
My mate later filled me in on what had happened with the men. “Don’t pick a fight on your way home,” Charles told them. “Make this night a special night, like no other night before. Tonight you will be giving in love-without expecting anything back-instead of giving for love. Make this and exercise in your giving to her: to honor her, to serve her, to heal her, to let her know how much you love her. You will find that your beloved’s Shakti (life force, spiritual energy) is also empowering you, filling you with energy and creativity. You will also find that the sexual appetite of a woman once heated and awakened is usually much greater than that of a man, And a woman who finds it easy to orgasm and to experience great pleasure is very open to sexual sharing on a daily basis.”
Charles had told us not to fight and we didn’t-out loud, About it was already 9:30 and we hadn’t had dinner. And when Keith announced he had to go home to feed his pet rabbit, I felt my Shakti fading. It was midnight when we got back to my house and we were both exhausted. We agreed to save the homeplay for the morning, although we were due back in class at 10 am.
When we arrived late, again, Sunday morning despite ourselves, we began with the group sharing what had happened to them the night before. “It’s being able to trust yourself to trust somebody else,” Samantha was saying, “to go to a new deep level.” Her partner was a tall, older man with long hair, who seemed wise and sympathetic. “I
started off with a burning sensation, but then I remembered Caroline talking about how that might happen and that if you breathed into it, you could get past that,” she said. “I was really nervous. He said,’I’m here for.’ I said, ‘Are you sure?’
“We kind of relaxed into it. At first I thought,’what’s going on? I’m not really feeling anything.’ As he moved his finger to different spots, I started to get excited. I had a small orgasm, and I said to myself, ‘ok, I’m used to multi-orgasms, I’ll go with this.’ I started coming and I started crying. Then I started screaming. He started screaming with me. OK, we both started screaming. At one point, he put his hand on my butt and I thought, Oh my god.’ He kept going. I kept breathing. I started thinking, ‘how can he go on so long?’ And then I let go of that and just kept breathing. Then I started getting chills through my body, a tingling through my whole body as if I was a tuning fork. All of a sudden, I reached this crescendo. My body went into such vibrations I started coming like that. He started bringing his hand out from my body and I felt like my orgasm was extending out a foot from my body. I was, like, in awe. He was in awe. We were looking at one another, like, Omigod. He was very happy for me and I could see that. Like, “Yes!”
No one besides Samantha reported levitation, but there were other extraordinary stories. Several women told about reliving and releasing experiences of sexual abuse. One couple had come to the seminar before and were taking it again as the prelude to their wedding. “For the first time I felt like I really, truly trusted him,” the bride-to-be reported. “All the way.”
Linda and Louise had indeed decided to do their homeplay as a threesome. “None of the three of us expected anything of what happened,” Louise told me. “Linda and I had known one another for a year; I didn’t know Michael well. On Saturday, the three of us decided we were going to spend the evening together. It was almost like being in a temple and going through a sacred rite. It was very healing. We all worked toward that. Part of the time I was holding Linda’s hand, part of the time, I was just sitting there. When it was my turn, I went through a lot of strong emotion and crying, which had to do with healing incest issues. We didn’t plan it, but it was very good for all of us. One of the results for me was that I decided I wanted to create a loving, monogamous relationship in which to explore this.”
Six months later I chatted with a few women who’d taken the seminar. I was surprised at how many described the experience as “wonderful” or “transformative.” One told me how she had an orgasm for the first time since she’d had a bad experience with a man at age 18. Another said, “the most profound thing for me was ‘a much greater confidence in my own intuitive desires. It caused a real shift in power for me, a shift in confidence and self-confidence. My boyfriend said to me,’when I was watching you, I realized you can do anything.’ I really do feel that. It’s changing my life; it’s opening me up so that I’m very empowered.”
One of the singles, a dance teacher named Allison, said, “I’ve always been single and I’ve never had a man take care of me in that way-really honoring the woman.” She’d chosen a man named Jeffrey as her partner “because he had a sense of humor and a Way Of moving that was fluid and flexible. Basically, I felt my whole feminine energy
being honored. The workshop helped you to get out of the victim posture in your mind. For the women it’s very safe. Jeffrey and I must have gone on for three hours. He was so sensitive and courteous. He gave me all the power. I thought all my old “stuff “-stored grief, various rejections, my father not treating me well-would come up emotionally and I would get stuck in a negative emotional space. It did come up, but it moved right through. It was a tremendous relief to have a man right there during that-not fucking you but really making love to you. Because it was a free gift, it healed.
“I cried and screamed a little but then I started to experience the energy rising through my body. First I felt it in my genitals and then in my solar plexus and then my heart center opened. It felt like taking ecstasy, like liquid feeling pouring out of my heart, sweet, sweetly pouring out. It went on and on. Jeffrey, watching me, was going into ecstasy.”
Finally, afraid that I’d been talking to a bunch of New Age converts, I called a woman corporate executive I’d met at the seminar, assuming she’d be objective about it. “I got pregnant,” was the first thing she told me. “But I did learn to view sex differently, not to be so inhibited, to have more fun,” She and her husband had been practicing Sacred Spot Massage regularly, and she couldn’t wait to go back to the intermediate seminar to learn more about Tantra.
To me, the most intriguing part of Tantra was the way sacred spot massage seemed to trigger emotional reprocessing. “My feeling is you’re getting right into the chakra where the energy imprint occurred to the psyche,” Charles told Me. According to Eastern tradition, Charles explained, “if you clear the energetic imprint it’s possible for emotional healing, as well as psychological healing. Let’s talk about it, let’s see if we can understand it, let’s forgive.’ That’ll bring about healing. ‘Let’s go into emotions, now let’s use emotional release, primal scream, breathing, whatever.’ That’s an entryway, Hands on is a very classic, traditional one. When going in and touching the sacred spot, you’re at the interface of where the physical and the energetic meet. I was finding that the sacred spot was a great gateway to pleasure, and for some women a great emotional release.”
The carefully choreographed weekend I spent with the Muirs, moved my sexual loving to a higher level. No matter where you started from, the total immersion in sex talk, intimacy exercises, PC contractions, breathing exercises-and lots of lubrication, both inner and outer-were bound to take you nearer toward ecstasy, There was only one hitch: the same experiences that opened you to your emotional life might reveal truths you hadn’t seen or anticipated.. I thought I’d picked the perfect partner, but in the end Keith and I couldn’t even get it together to give the “homeplay” the time it deserved. If you can’t have a good time at a sex workshop, when can you? Although I’d felt the orgasmic power that came from sacred spot massage, true Tantra would have to wait.
Some day my Tantric prince will (make me) come.