Friday, January 22, 2010

Awakening the Inner Tantrika - Part Five - Honouring the Body Ecstatic

Yab Yum - Ancient Himalayan Tantric Sculpture
Part One

After the unexpected depths and rewards of last months exercises, we delved into this month’s offerings with much more enthusiasm and curiosity.

A Note About What Follows:
Over the course of the last four months, I have found that Anand’s exercises can be a bit labour intensive. None more so than this month’s set which, if done all at once, take a whopping three hours! So I have split the chapter into two this time with the second half to come next month.

Honouring the Body Ecstatic
Tantric Masters believe that true beauty comes from the spirit. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that prizes Barbie doll beauty and youthfulness over just about everything, and so it is therefore unsurprising that we grow up without any real understanding of, or appreciation for, our own inner and outer beauty. Add to this the emotional wounding many people receive in childhood or early adulthood, which can cause us to cut ourselves off from feelings of pleasure or delight, particularly in our own bodies, and you have a recipe for low self-esteem and some pretty uninspiring sex.

Tantra prises open those places within us that have become sealed shut through shame or mistrust. It allows us to get our energy flowing again in healthy ways and ushers in deeper levels of self-love and self-trust. The following exercises will help us express and let go of the emotional energy that builds up and gets stuck in our bodies, preventing us from experiencing higher states of sexual ecstasy. Emotional and sensual fluidity is, after all, the language of lovemaking.

The Ritual of Purification

Note: With all of the following exercises, first set up your sacred space and then begin and end with both the Heart Salutation (HS) and the Melting Hug (MH) (both discussed in the Jan/Feb editions).

Throughout this exercise, which is designed to raise energy and to bring you fully into your body, try to bring your full attention to each thing you do and really nurture yourself. Sit quietly and alone for 10 minutes and breathe deeply. When you feel relaxed and ready, have a lovely hot shower followed by an invigorating cold blast. (Feel free to squeal in shock. I did.) Then massage your skin with sweet smelling lotion and really focus upon enjoying each sensation. You can, if you wish, combine this part with the affirmations and mirror work from the Ceremony of Recognition below. I found that worked well.

Seated Lovemaking - Himalayan Tribal Sculpture
The Ceremony of Recognition of The Body
In this ceremony we honour each part of our body in turn, treating our bodies as our temples.

Prepare your sacred space somewhere warm and comfortable. Place your favourite body lotion or oil in a bowl – you will apply it to each part of your body as you proceed. Allow about 20-30 mins for this exercise.

Stand naked in front of a full-length mirror. Do a HS to yourself. Breathe deeply and observe your body without judgement or criticism. Sitting or standing, lovingly apply oil to each part of your body, touching with great care and giving it conscious recognition. As you do so, repeat affirmations for each part of your body (including your sexual centre) using this example:
‘My feet are the vehicle of my spirit and I honour them.’ Finish with the crown of your head. Then place the palm of your left hand on the middle of your chest then lay the palm of your right hand over it. Allow the warmth to flow into your heart saying, “I have become conscious of my body as my temple and I honour it.” Repeat it until you have a really deep sense of the meaning of these words. Close with a HS.

NB: Initially, you do this exercise alone, however once you feel comfortable, you can do this with your partner – one giving and one receiving.

Kat’s Diary:
Here is a snapshot of our life. To save time, I started the ‘Ritual of Purification’ by taking a shower while my daughter was in the tub and my hubby washed up. I was ready to move on to the ‘Ceremony of Recognition of the Body’ but first had to wait for my daughter to put on her PJ’s and stop jumping on our bed. While Hubby pro-wrestled our toddler into her room, I ran around like a (naked) headless chicken lighting candles and incense and preparing the oil for the later exercises. In all honestly, I found the whole purification thing to be a bit of a waste of time. Standing in front of our full-length mirror I realised that I can look without too much discomfort on the top half of my body. I am still pretty and my boobs are less perky because they have nurtured and sustained life and I’m honestly ok with that. But from the chest down? Well that’s just the result of an unhealthy relationship with a box of Tim Tams and my natural aversion to anything even vaguely smelling of exercise. I experience a moment of regret as I realise that I now look exactly like the Venus of Willendorf. Funniest moment came when my disgruntled hubby came in from his cold shower and, in response to my request to write down his thoughts replied, “I think I’ll remember F*$k! F*$k! F*$k!”

H’s Diary:
The cold shower just made me angry, so I wasn’t exactly in the mood to then try gazing at my reflection saying stuff like, “my anus is a vehicle of my spirit and I honour it” (yes, that’s straight from the book).

The Art of Erotic Touching

The next three practices introduce you to the art of erotic touching (can I get an ‘Amen’ sisters and brothers!). Like the MH, these practices fulfil the desire for sexual contact independently of the goal of lovemaking. You will need about 90 minutes for all of them. Take longer if you feel like it.

Create your Sacred Space if you have not already done so. You will need some peacock feathers, some scented massage oil and some soft, sensual music. (We used Deepak Chopra’s ‘The Gift of Love’). Decide who will be Partner A (the giver) and Partner B (the receiver). Make sure your room is warm and comfortable.

Practice One: Feathering
Begin with a HS, followed by a MH. Partner B (PB) lies down and closes eyes. Both partners should breathe deeply throughout. Partner A (PA) slowly begins to stroke each part of PB’s body with the feather, barely touching the skin, starting around the shoulders and the throat and working gradually and sensuously down, then finishing with the head. Allow the energy of your heart to flow into the touching. PB just go with the flow – allow yourself to make sounds or to move your body to allow the feather to reach all parts of your body. After you have finished, switch roles.

Practice Two: Fingertip Stroking
PA, using your fingertips as you did the feather, lightly touch PB’s body all over. Be subtle, barely touching the skin. Touch everywhere – the erotic parts and the unusual parts – really explore your partner’s body thoroughly. Once you have covered the whole body, stand above your partner, straddling the waist and facing the head, lean down and with both hands and energetically sweep from the navel up across the chest and down the shoulders and arms in a unified flowing motions, inhaling and exhaling as you do. Then take a few steps back and do the same motions starting from the navel and sweeping down over the pelvis, thighs, legs and feet. Allow PB to rest for a few minutes then end this part of the practice with a MH. Sit facing each other and PB can share which parts they most enjoyed. Switch roles.

Practice Three – Slipping & Sliding
This practice offers a sensuous, full body contact. Enjoy!

You are going to be using a lot of oil, so make sure whatever surface you are on is adequately protected.

Take some oil and lightly massage your partner all over. Have them do the same to you. Standing together, slide your body around your partner’s with slow, undulating movements, explore every possible way of slipping and sliding around each other. Then PB should lie down while PA slides over them, letting the various parts of your two bodies slip sensuously over each other. Try using your hands, your buttocks, your genitals, arms, legs and back. Both should keep their breathing deep and their bodies relaxed. PB does not have to remain still – they can move in harmony with PA if they wish.
Change roles.
When finished, PB lies back down while PA massages their neck, scalp, upper back, shoulders and arms. Breathing in on the downward strokes and out on the upstroke. Switch roles.
End entire sequence with a HS.

Kat’s Diary:
In this case it really was better to give than to receive and far more erotic. A man’s body is not made for this type of body-to body-massage – it’s all hard angles and hairy bits. Given our enormous height difference it was also hysterically funny. I had vivid images of the hubby break-dancing on top of me and laughed until I cried. When he tried it front-to-front it looked as though he was trying to sneak up on me. But when he got back to massaging me with his hands… ah, then, then the hubby shines.
NB: We moved straight from feathering to fingertip touching (which I didn’t really like – it felt incomplete) before switching roles as this made more sense to us. I also felt that these two exercises were a bit unnecessary given last month’s practices.

H’s Diary:
I didn’t relax until after the whole peacock feather section, and then the following fingertip stroking didn’t really do it for me. But the final part, where I got a massage and had my wife oiled up and sliding all over me, now that was why I agreed to do this whole thing in the first place. But it didn’t really work the other way around – you can’t glide with a hairy chest.

Next Month: We complete our exploration of the art of erotic touching with some interesting tandem exercises.

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