Category: musings

Exercise for Ecstasy: Five Simple Practises for Pleasure

If you wanted to enhance your wellbeing or get super fit, what would you do? Perhaps go to a gym, hire an expert personal trainer, watch videos, or ask advice from friends. You wouldn’t imagine that it would happen overnight. You know that it’s an ongoing practice.

So why is it that so many folks imagine having spectacular sex when they do little to cultivate their capacity for pleasure?

The belief that “sex is natural” is a great limitation on the imagination. It is true as far as being driven by the biological impulse. But let’s face it, most people do not engage in sexual acts for the purpose of procreation. You might be having solo sex, your genital match might not be baby-making, or you may be engaging in erotic experience for a whole host of motivations, such as connection and intimacy.

Credit: Forward bed – Illustration 90842899 © Benjavisa Ruangvaree | Dreamstime.com

Sex is natural and pleasure is available to every human being. Yet in a curious paradox, when you bring form to the practice of pleasure, it supports greater flow. You can exercise for ecstasy.

Currently I am on a writing course with the wonderful Eva Weaver. As we journey week by week, I am struck by the parallels between the creative writing process and erotic experience.

Popular culture suggests that inspiration just comes out of nowhere, and creative expression simply flows spontaneously. However, as budding writers we are encouraged to devote ourselves to our craft – making time and space for the discipline of writing. Sometimes it feels like there’s no time in the day, sometimes it’s boring, sometimes it’s downright frustrating. And yet I keep turning up. Tending to my writer self.

How could you tend to your lover self?

Credit: United – Illustration 102471568  © Benjavisa Ruangvaree | Dreamstime.com

Practising pleasure doesn’t tend to look like what most people imagine when they hear the word “sex”. No partner is required. Even if you have a lover or partner, it is valuable to develop your own erotic aliveness so that you have something to share with them.

The Rishi Isometrics* are an ancient practice for cultivating awareness of the subtle energy body, based on a principle of tension and release. Many folks are walking around in a state of chronic tension – physical and mental – without even realising it. Whilst it might sound strange to deliberately create stress in the body, when we do this consciously, it can become easier to perceive relaxation. You don’t know what you’re holding onto until you let it go.

 

Why not try it right now… here in this moment.

Take a deep full breath in. As you breath in, create a tension in your body by squeezing as many muscles as you can… scrunch up your face, squeeze your fists, clench your buttocks and tense your toes. Hold the breath and hold the tension. When you feel like you’re about to explode, release the breath and release the tension. Notice how you feel… track the sensations in your body… tingling, stillness, warmth, cool, whatever is arising for you… notice it. (If you don’t feel anything the first time, give it another go. It can take a few tries to feel it.)

 

You can download the written instructions here and do the exercises along with me on Soundcloud here.

I’ve shared this practice with many of my private clients and they love how simple yet powerful these five exercises can be. It only takes fifteen minutes to do the whole sequence. It might just boost your energy for life – and your lover. Enjoy!

* Gratitude to the lineage holders of Ipsalu Tantra for this practice.

 

What makes a practitioner “Tantric”?

On a regular basis at Tantra Massage Training we receive applications from folks who wish to offer Tantric massage professionally. Many of those folks are muddling Tantra with a primarily erotic or sexual service and think that learning a bunch of techniques will be enough to start offering Tantric massage. More alarmingly, a number state that they simply “fancy a career change” without ever having actually done any inner work or exploration of their sexuality for themselves.

Of course, there is a great confusion out there in the world about what Tantra is and isn’t. That’s a big conversation in itself. In this blog I’d like to focus on some of the elements that I consider essential for anyone offering or considering to offer Tantric massage professionally. It’s not exhaustive, yet it provides a starting point for any practitioner wishing to work with integrity.

I’ve shared the elements under two key areas – form and formless. “Form” is the tangible and measurable outer work required; such as specific qualifications to have in place as a foundation. “Formless” is the less tangible yet deeply sensed and intuited inner work that gives a particular frequency to your offering.

In reality these two are not separate as one flows into the other – like the symbol of yin yang. Yet it feels supportive to offer this kind of clarity to the different dimensions to consider. Many folks only consider the aspects of form as they have not yet come to know the formless within themselves.

Photo 35344559 / Yin Yang © Kwasny221 | Dreamstime.com

Form – The tangible and measurable outer work

  • You have a recognised bodywork qualification as foundation (e.g. ITEC massage)
  • You have walked the path of personal development / spiritual awareness / sacred embodiment for some years
  • You are committed to your professional development and accountability by engaging in regular supervision sessions – either with an individual mentor, group programme, or peer support.
  • You have engaged with some kind of trauma awareness training

In recent years we have become much more aware of trauma – individual and collective – and how it impacts someone’s capacity to be in their sovereignty; particularly when in the presence of sexual energy. Working in a “trauma informed” way is essential for all practitioners to be in integrity and minimising harm.

Formless – The intangible and intuitive inner work

The most essential quality of a Tantric practitioner is the depths that you have explored in your own being. It is only when you have met and befriended all the colours of the human experience within yourself that you can meet and befriend them within another. What you cannot meet and befriend within yourself, you will condemn or reject within another.

One of the key qualities you must cultivate is self-awareness. You have done the inner work. You have invested significant amount of time and energy in your own personal growth. You know your shadows as well as your strengths. You have looked at your blind spots as well as your gifts. You have deeply explored your own relationship to sexuality before you try to guide someone in theirs.

As an adjunct to exploring sexuality through the portal of the erotic body, I recommend same-gender work (i.e. women and men’s circles) for deeper self-enquiry. There are many shadows between the sexes when it comes to attraction and intimacy and it is not healthy or helpful to be playing them out with your clients. If you are a man intending to work with women, it is supportive to have examined your relationship to women by understanding yourself as a man. If you are a woman intending to work with men, it is supportive to have examined your relationship to men by understanding yourself as a woman. If you are working in a LGBTQI+ space you also need to understanding your own sexuality and gender identity and how this informs your relationships and practice.*

Lastly, ask yourself these questions…

How comfortable are you in your own skin? In a culture that is body-shaming and pleasure-negative (despite sex being co-opted everywhere!), can you offer your clients an imprint of innocence, naturalness and sexual wellbeing? What is your relationship to the Sacred? Can you guide your clients beyond what they already know into an expanded experience of themselves through the awakening of sexual energy?

For many people, all the elements mentioned above are part of the evolving exploration of liberation and integration. You don’t have to wait until you are perfect. In fact you can’t wait until then. The world can’t wait till then! But you do have to perfectly awake to what you know and what you don’t know.

In essence, having a piece of paper with a qualification does not a Tantric practitioner make. Thinking that simply learning techniques without having done any inner work is dodgy and potentially dangerous. Tantra is not something that you “do”; but rather a transmission that emanates from your “being”.

Be in humility with your capacity and be in service to the Great Mystery.

*Gratitude to Rowan of Moon Hare Yoga who offered these words in reflection of their conscious massage offerings for clients of all bodies and genders

Birthday, Death, Re-birth

This week we’re celebrating five years of Tantra Massage Training. Yes, it’s our birthday!

Many times I have sat in front of a group, ready to share the gifts of Tantra through touch, and wondered “How did all this happen?” The truth is that I never set out to teach Tantra massage or run a school. Yet that’s what existence called me to and I responded. This is how I live… listening the whispers of Spirit, following the trail of cosmic breadcrumbs, and essentially doing what I’m told by the Big Boss (you could also say God, Divine, Source, or whatever works for you).

It has been over a year since we ran a Tantra massage workshop. In that time there has been much opportunity for reflection…

In the spaciousness that opened up when the world went into lockdown, I realised just how exhausted I had become through overwork. It seems somehow shameful to admit but even when you love your “work” and it’s your vocational calling, it’s still possible to do it unsustainably. Our whole culture is geared towards this – demanding more and more. Even the personal development axiom “Do what you’ll love, and you’ll never work another day in your life” can become an impossible standard. One that encourages us to over-ride the needs of the body and soul for integration and rest. I spent the first few months of Lockdown #1 in a state of grief and deep rest.

Since the start of Lockdown #2 I’ve been “back to school” and diving into education on trauma awareness, power dynamics, systemic oppression and the creation of new culture, plus some deep personal enquiry. It’s been one hell of a ride!

Even though there is a roadmap out of lockdown over the next few months, physical (social) distancing measures are expected to go on for some time, placing a big restriction on bringing people together with touch.

Yet more poignantly, we are living through a mass collective trauma. Not only through the presence of COVID but also the restrictions around contact, movement and how we can show up in the world. For many, it’s the most significant event to impact our lives. Regardless of your stance on COVID, vaccinations and Government guidelines – or even if you have flourished during these times – there is a shockwave running through the collective that cannot be ignored.

So much of the Western culture focuses on stimulation, high intensity and speeding towards imagined outcomes; as reflected in the standard story of sex. Even in the world of neo-Tantra, the promise of harder erections, better orgasms and juicier lovemaking feeds into the hunger for “bigger, faster, more”.

For me, there has been an invitation to look deep inside…

  • What is my part in all this?
  • Where have I perpetuated these paradigms?
  • What is the world in which I wish to live?
  • How can I tend to the new culture?

It is my intention to be responsive to and in integrity with this moment as fully as possible – knowing that this is an ever-evolving enquiry. This has brought me to some decisions about the future of TM workshops…

We will no longer offer weekend-long massage workshops, particularly for genital touch (lingam and yoni). Whilst healing and transformation has arisen in these spaces, the risks associated with offering such intimate work in this format no longer feels aligned.

The only Tantra massage training offered this year will be the “Tantra Massage Intensive” in October (10th to 17th). The residential format offers a deeper container of holding and consent/boundaries will be a strong feature of the training. The Intensive is only for those who have either worked with me previously (whether in a workshop or privately) and/or coming with a good foundation of Tantra/bodywork experience. Naturally there will be COVID protocols in place; though at this point we do not have a clear picture of exactly what they will be, as per the ever-changing Government guidelines.

It is possible to learn Tantra massage – individually, with a partner or in a small group – through private tuition at my home temple space in North Somerset. In these bespoke training and retreats the content and pace can be more tailored to your level of experience. COVID protocols are in place and bookings are from May onwards.

Something new is emerging… something new wants to be born… yet at this time I can only see a few steps ahead. This is how I live… listening the whispers of Spirit, following the trail of cosmic breadcrumbs, and essentially doing what I’m told by the Big Boss.

Blessings of grace and fortitude to you for whatever ride life is taking you on right now.

Big love,
Gayatri

Simple Rituals for a Sacred Life

One thing I have noticed in life, is that the areas I have the most resistance to, are often the places where there is rich treasure for personal growth.

Just a few years ago the very word ‘ritual’ had a powerful aversion for me. You see, I had developed the idea that doing rituals had to look a certain way, and I that I would have to become someone different in order to do them ‘properly’. (In particular dressing in swathes of black velvet and lace, wafting incense, and making strange incantations in a muddy field came to mind).

I was enlightened by the awesome Barbara Carrellas on her fabulous Urban Tantra Training. Through the training I discovered that ritual has nothing to do with concepts or performance; it has everything to do with the intention you bring to the moment.

We perform routines every day – from brushing our teeth in the morning to the special pants we wear in special situations. When we imbue our routines with meaning, and perform them with a specific intention, then they become rituals.

 

 

What do you give meaning to in your life?

 

Many people find themselves feeling disconnected or overwhelmed with the busy-ness of life. The dissolving of many of the old forms (family, church, etc.) has meant that we have lost our anchors and find ourselves lost at sea. Without connection to community, season and the celebration of shared experience, life can blur into an amalgamous mass where there is less differentiation between our days.

Rituals are those anchors that mark the moments of life. They connect us to the deeper patterns and purpose of existence.

Rituals do not need to be complex. They can be simple steps that generate greater awareness in the every day. Here are a few simple rituals for every day personal practise…

 

Give thanks before eating

The practise of saying “Grace” is rather out-dated, but why not get ahead of the curve and reintroduce at your meal times? Saying “Grace” nourishes your soul as well as your belly!

Doug and I like to ‘weave’ a prayer, meaning everyone at the table has the opportunity to contribute their words of gratitude and acknowledgement.

We start with the phrase “Blessings on the food” and then everyone adds their own “Blessings on the…” Often it gets quite comical as people find more and more things to bless. The sacred doesn’t have to be serious!

 

Take a breath

Before you start anything – and I really mean anything from eating to poo-ing, writing to speaking, and everything else in between – take a breath.

The sacred is simply a breath away and we call our awareness to it when we take a moment to connect back in with the source of life.

Everything begins and ends with the breath.

(Deep gratitude to Avanti for suggesting this practise to me. It has been tremendously helpful.)

 

Wash it all away

If you take a shower or bath as part of your regular routine, you can imbue it with greater significance than simply removing dirt from your body.

Water is a wonderful element for cleaning ourselves energetically as well as physically. As you wash your body, imagine yourself washing away all the stuff of the day (experiences, thoughts, feelings) that might be clinging to you, and you no longer want. Let them be released in the flow of the water so that your whole being becomes refreshed.

 

Consecrate your love-making

Whether partnered or solo sexual experience, inviting divinity into your love-making, brings it to a whole new dimension.

The Tantric ritual of ‘Namaste’, brings awareness to the God/Goddess/Beingness within each of us. Namaste – “I honour the Divine in you”. Namaste is a bow offered as a gesture of honouring.

Sit face to face (if you are doing this alone you can look yourself in a mirror) and gaze into the other’s eyes for a few moments.

As you breathe in, bring your hand together in prayer position in front of your heart. Connect with a feeling of love.

As you breathe out, you both bring your forehead forward to touch the other. Close the eyes and focus awareness in between the brows in the place known as the third eye.

Take a few breaths together in the space and feel the unity between you.

With an in-breath, again you part.

 

Start your day your way

Morning time, when we first wake up, is a rich time for setting our intentions and even ‘vibration’ for the day. So how do you start your day? What is the first activity you turn your mind to? Is this aligned to how you wish your day to unfold? Do you start the day your way or do the demands of others (whether physically or virtually) take over?

Over the years I have done many different practises of meditation and exercise in the morning. Sometimes I get stuck on the question of “What’s the right thing for me to be doing at this time?” “Is it yoga, or shaking, or silent meditation? Or should I be writing those ‘Morning Pages’ I hear so much about? Or checking my emails?” And so on, and so on…

Just recently I have come to the realisation that what you do is way less important than having an intention, showing up to do it, and doing it consistently! It’s the commitment and dedication to your own personal practise, your own unique daily ritual, that really makes the difference.

Currently my ritual is to read a lesson from “A Course in Miracles” whilst drinking my morning coffee. Then chanting the Gayatri Mantra 108 times. The intention I hold for this practise is deeper connection to the Divine. For me it feels like when I show up in that intention, it offers a clear and strong message to Life. And Life can show up to meet me.

What is it that you most desire to experience in your life? How can you call this in through your daily routines? What is one simple thing you could do to create a truly blessed existence?