Here’s what I learnt about tantra the other day: It’s not about the sex. OK, well, not just about the sex. And then, when it is about sex, it’s not about sex with other people necessarily.
It's about a getting into a love relationship with yourself. Sound a bit fruity? Hear me out...
Two weeks ago I was sitting in a circle of women discussing why we’re not getting the sex we want. Could sound like any other Friday night with a bottle of wine and mates, except this time I was with a group of strangers, at the foot of the Anysberg, just after lunch time.
It wasn’t a weekly debriefing with the heart friends, it was a tantric retreat for women.
This is what came up about what makes sex kak for us: the pressure to perform (orgasm, orgasm, orgasm), clock watching (orgasm quickly before he gets bored or the kids wake up), the pressure to have a particular kind of orgasm (clitoral! vaginal! cervical!), looking ‘pretty’ and not ‘looking ugly’ (orgasm like a star, keep your butt-hole glamorous), comparisons (how does my arse/thighs/boobs/arms/legs/vagina compare to all the other woman in the magazines/TV/work/porn/his fantasies?) ...
With all that going on, it’s a wonder any of us orgasm at all.
No time for pleasure
It became clear that, ultimately, women are simply not selfish enough when it comes to exploring their sexuality and giving it the space and time to expand and evolve. We don’t think our pleasure is important enough to make a fuss about or take time for.
Not surprising really, considering we’ve not been taught to honour our sexuality or be kind to ourselves. Instead we’ve been taught to criticise ourselves endlessly – to look outwards, to man up, buckle down, put our war masks on. We’ve not been shown how to trust our gut with sex or choice of partners. We don't feel 'allowed' to say 'no', 'take time', 'do this' or 'fuck me hard' without a world of association attached to our desire (you're withholding, mean, frigid, too demanding, too loud, a whore, a slut).
We've not been taught how to savour the sensuality of our own bodies. Instead we are taught to criticise it always; to make it look a certain way and to make it move and respond to a prescribed set of sex manoeuvres – first ye shall kiss, then he shall go down on you, then ye shall experience intercourse in moves 1, 5 and 2, then ye shall make a sandwich.
(Or ye can bypass this all by giving him a blowjob.)
We’re in a goal-oriented world, and in sex the goal is orgasm and when this cannot be achieved easily, we try all means possible (creams, drugs, booze, in-flight fantasising) or accept our sex life flatlining at ‘ok’. Or worse, we zone out completely and ‘let him get it over with’.
So maybe it’s not so odd that one of the main things I took from my weekend in Tantra, the art of conscious bliss, was how to be selfish.
But that’s not why I went.
A vagina wants to play
I’d heard of Shakti’s ‘skydancing’, a term she uses to describe when sexual energy ‘wakes up’, through friends of mine in the circles.
(Shakti’s a tantric dakini and arguably South Africa’s most well-known.) This skydancing she does seemed to me – before I went on her retreat – a nifty party trick of giving herself a full-body orgasm.
Naturally I was curious to learn this ‘technique’. So I went, fully expecting to walk away with a DIY manual.
What I learnt instead was how to listen to my body and what it wants – how it wants to move, to breathe, to make noise – without presumption, without fantasy, without judgment. That my satisfaction, my sense of sensuality is my responsibility. That taking the time to ‘relax into sensation’ is first learnt by taking time to find that for myself.
It takes masturbation to a whole new level of wow.
I remember, at one point Shakti saying: ‘A vagina wants to play; it wants to linger in the pleasure. She’s in the chocolate shop and wants everything.’ It's such a delightful metaphor, but one we simply don't give ourselves enough time to really delve into. I can't count the amount of times I've had someone say to me 'But we/I just don't have the time! The kids! The parents! The work! The garden! The money! The war in Iraq! Brangelina!'
Enough. It's just enough. We're not children being chided by our ignorant parents anymore. Feminazism is over. Fashion has abstracted womenhood down to the point of absurdity and adolescent boyhood. Media touts the same lame caricature of women's sex – lips, tits and ass.
It's just enough now.
At least, it is for me. I suppose it has been for a while actually, but it was something else being surrounded by so many other beautiful women wanting the same thing.
I can't skydance quite yet; for now I'm more sort of lifting off. But it's fun, and in the interim I'm finding that foreplay with me isn't actually kak at all. In those immortal words of Buzz Lightyear: To infinity and beyond...
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Do you make enough time to explore your own sexuality or do you rely on your partner to satisfy you?