I’m a “Tantrika”. In case you don’t know what that is, it means that I have trained in various esoteric practices that involve meditation and breath control to…um…reach various “blissful” states.
Tantra is confusing as it means different things in different cultures, to the Buddhists it is about death, to the Hindus about life and the body and to the West – sex.
In some respects, it helps to have a sense of humour about it. Especially when attending classes and workshops. It does attract a wide range of people (and a few weirdos) but it’s not an orgy and no-one actually has sex. It’s all in the mind and the theory.
There are some groups where more ‘open’ participation takes place, but I haven’t been courageous enough to attend those. “Juicy women” groups are an example, where one ‘celebrates’ one’s ‘yoni’ (i.e vagina) with a small group of other women and a coach. It works like one of the original 1970’s female consciousness raising groups, knickers off and hand mirrors to explore your own nether regions. I’d die of embarrassment and/or get a fit of the giggles – so perhaps not. I don’t think any of my female friends would want to cum with me.
Another movement is the Sex Positive group with “OM” meditation. This consists of building a nest of cushions with a partner, then using lube, indulging in a 15 minute (it’s timed) masturbation or oral sex session (with the man doing all the work) and once this is learned, you are supposed to do it every day. Chance would be a fine thing!
One of the most unusual groups is ecstatic BDSM, that combines bondage and S&M with tantric techniques to push your boundaries sexually and open yourself up to new experiences. There are private sessions available, but most of the activity takes place within groups, with various ‘specialists’ to tie you up with ropes, stick needles in you and give you various forms of corporal punishment.
The difference between this and standard BDSM is that it involves deep mental states and emotional connection, so it is aimed at couples. Apparently, it’s very popular in parts of Europe and they hold private ‘festivals’ – a sort of Glastonbury of sex! Wonder if it’s muddy?
All of these unusual activities are happening in and around London, as we speak and it seems to be a growing movement during times of austerity. After all, staying in and having adventurous sex is very budget conscious entertainment!
As for amusing, I have to tell you about the first Tantric Workshop I attended, because it was funny and not erotic at all. I learned a few things, which I have saved in my brain for the future, but at the time it was one of the strangest days I’ve had for a long time.
It was a Sunday morning and we were in a photographic studio, sitting on yoga blocks on a padded floor; 12 men, 12 women, the ‘guru’ plus one male and female ‘helper’. There was a wide mix of ages and nationalities, from very young, painfully shy, guys, to women and men in their fifties and most ages in between.
Apart from two girls in their thirties that had that ‘smug yoga look’ the beatific smile, tie-dye hippy garb and a tendency to wear very little in all weathers; all the other participants looked petrified. I was in one of my “So what” moods and was approaching the scene with a mix of cynicism and curiosity.
We started by being paired off randomly, male to female. I got a doggy eyed Italian man, who looked twitchy and nervous. This didn’t improve as we began the exercise, which was to match our breathing rate and stare into each other’s eyes for 10 minutes.
I just took it like one of those staring competitions from school days and just smiled and looked right at him. It was weird, but not a big deal, all I felt was an ache in my jaw because I had a smile stuck on my face, which set rigid as I realised how bothered my ‘partner’ was getting. His eyes were darting everywhere but towards my own, his jaw was clenching and he was biting his lips.
After a while, he started to shift from foot to foot and beads of sweat broke out on his forehead. His breaths became shallow and fast and I was getting tense trying to keep up with him and doing my best to slow him down. I kept smiling, I hoped kindly, although I was staring, I was doing my best to soften my gaze.
By the way the poor man was squirming, I might as well be beaming death rays out of my eyes. 10 minutes lasted forever. Well, reader, the Tantric Goddess of Medusa (to mix myths) must be strong in me, because my ‘partner’ then left the building, never to return! I don’t usually have that effect on people. Honest!
I was then paired with the male ‘helper’, who looked like a young, blond version of Richard Branson, all beard, teeth and patchouli. We had to continue the breathing/staring thing, this time for five minutes then we had to move to the right and ensure we ‘met’ every opposite sex member in the group in 3 minute increments.
The reactions of my male counterparts ranged from hysterical high pitched laughter (the helper), to one of the young ones that gulped continually like a turkey, the elderly Jamaican man, with the gold teeth just stared back warmly and the really creepy Greek man (who looked just like a satyr) made my skin crawl. The others were sparkly and flirty or like small bunnies in headlights.
I learned that I seemed to scare the hell out of at least half of them. Note to self, don’t stare at strangers. My mother was right.
The next exercise involved walking around to some music and getting into our ‘female energy’ which meant holding our bodies softly, concentrating in breathing into our heart chakra and greeting the others in the group as we passed. This was an easier exercise, as everyone relaxed, I felt the urge to greet people with a smile and a touch on the shoulder or arm; which is how I tend to behave naturally, if I like people, I’m automatically tactile, unless I sense it makes someone uncomfortable.
This was followed by ‘masculine’ energy, where we all swaggered about like lads and nodded curtly at eachother, while breathing from our root chakra (based in the perineum!) which had more than a few of us laughing. Interestingly, no one touched. That’s male energy for you.
The morning was spent in various exercises like this and breathing along to drum beats and through various energy chakras. It was easy and fun and by lunchtime, everyone was energised and we were connected as a group.
Lunch was, of course, a vegan affair and we ate outside at tables in the courtyard. I got talking to the guru, a bald ex insurance salesman, who had been made redundant, took off to India to ‘find himself’ and ended up at a meditation retreat. He took to it, changed everything about his life, including his name and set up a school of spirituality that held various groups like this on a regular basis.
The problem was, he was very literal and somehow quite an innocent, when one of the girls was joking with me about what the male and female energy would be like in a threesome and I said I’d let her know as I had one every other Saturday; he took this very seriously and asked why every other Saturday? I had to gently inform him, we were joking. He looked very confused.
Of course, the afternoon got weirder. Two of the exercises particularly stand out. One was the “flower and the bee” that consisted of all the girls standing facing outward, with eyes closed in a circle and the boys had to be bees visiting each flower.
They could touch us in a non sexual way and we could say STOP to any wandering hands. We didn’t know which man was the bee. I got a lot of hair stroking and some inept shoulder massages and someone tickled my neck in an annoying way, but that was it. A most peculiar experience.
When the girls were the bees we were much more adventurous. I was having fun making men shudder by breathing on their necks or stroking their spines lightly and one poor chap had the confusing experience of me and another girl tickling him and giving him bear hugs from behind. It was all quite innocent, like being children, not erotic at all. Maybe it was because I wasn’t in the least bit attracted to anyone.
The breathing exercises got more complicated and we had to pair off to do them. Everyone eventually got paired with everyone else, the soundtracks got weirder, the drumming more intense and we were supposed to learn to breathe ourselves through an orgasm, without the orgasm. Yup. That was odd.
The two ‘yoga’ girls, that I mentioned earlier, seemed to go into full “Meg Ryan in the Deli” mode with much screaming and moaning. Definitely fake though and owed more to a dodgy porno soundtrack than Tantric bliss. It made everyone else laugh and we discovered later they had been specially invited to make up numbers.
So I learned a bit and continued with further discoveries. I’ll tell you about that another time. Suffice to say, I have a lot of theory, but lack practice, but you never know when I’ll be able to release my “juicy female Goddess forces” …..