Pleasure in Tantra Massage
I recently posted this quote from Tantra, The Supreme Understanding by Osho on Instagram and for me it sums up my attitude to pleasure in tantra massage.
“When you come to me, I accept you in your totality. I am not here to help you deny anything. I am here only to help you to rearrange, to get a center of all your energies, to converge them to a center...If you only eat salt then you will die. Salt is needed in proportion, absolutely needed. Remember this.”
But embodying this attitude in practice is not so straight forward. This is the topic I am exploring below and also inspires my next two posts which were both born out of my exploration of pleasure.
Firstly, what do I mean by pleasure?
On the one hand there is whole body sensual pleasure that is revered and actively encouraged by those who practice tantra.
Concepts that are commonly associated with tantra are delayed ejaculation and delayed gratification. Tantric traditions describe a whole body orgasm as the unifying of heaven and earth through the physical body, the ability to access higher dimensions of consciousness resulting in a feeling of being connected to oneness/source. This is seen as a higher order pleasure which engages all the senses and chakras and leads to an expansion of consciousness.
On the other hand there is genitally focused pleasure and in men, the domain of erections and ejaculation. This is what is commonly thought of as an orgasm, lasting 8-12 seconds on average. It is a very corporeal, base, root chakra kind of pleasure.
This distinction is often made by practitioners for valid reasons I will explore below but for me the very division of pleasure into two categories with one being preferable to the other is fundamentally contrary to tantric principles. There is no right or wrong, good or bad, only what is.
Why the distinction then?
Whilst I am not providing a sexual service, tantra massage can involve genital touch which may be pleasurable and even orgasmic. The problem I, along with other practitioners are facing is how to distinguish what we offer from sexual services and the so called ‘tantra massage’ given at a city centre massage parlour, the kind where happy endings are available for an additional fee.
The only distinctions on the face of it are my professional and lengthy training, my detailed contracting process, and the requirement of explicit written consent at the start of a session involving genital touch. I know that the energy of what I am providing is very different but how do I encapsulate that so others, including prospective clients, can understand?
I have been tempted to impose conditions on my new clients to try to create a greater distinction, to screen them, label them and pick those who seem to be on a more ‘worthy’ journey. But thankfully I have seen the error of this way of thinking. (For more on this see my post: Serving The Wounded Masculine).
Not only would I have been judging and analysing these clients, based on rather scant information which goes against my person-centred values, but refusing to offer genital pleasure adds to the negative attitudes and conditioning about pleasure that is already deeply entrenched in our psyches. This flouts the very tantric principles I am seeking to uphold.
Who am I to judge my clients?
Who am I to judge your experience of pleasure?
It is true that clients coming to me seeking to explore sensitivity or energy feel altogether less threatening than those coming for sensual and erotic touch. But this is my fear and as yet it has not been founded in experience. It is merely a signal that I need to put additional measures in place to ensure my safety and listen to my gut instinct, but this needs to be on an individual basis rather than on the basis of any box I have arbitrarily put a client in.
The benefits of genital pleasure.
Many clients seek out tantra massage as they desire sensual and erotic touch leading to genital pleasuring and ejaculation or orgasm. For some, their ability to experience this in their everyday lives is severely limited. Wilhelm Reich originally wrote about the powerful healing potential of the orgasm reflex almost 100 years ago and I have no doubt about its validity.
For me, pleasure is pleasure, however we are able to access it. It offers us powerful healing potential. I do not judge one type as being more worthy or acceptable than the other. If a disabled person is unable to self-pleasure, a lingam massage given with an intention of providing pleasurable stimulation could be incredibly beneficial on many levels.
I set out on this path, because I felt passionate about providing tantric touch in these circumstances as I believe in the healing power of touch and the dis-ease that can occur in our bodies when we are disconnected from it and when our sexual expression is limited.
For so long patriarchal conditioning and religious traditions have condemned sexual pleasure along with vilifying women as temptresses seeking to divert men from their righteous path. This has instilled feelings of shame and guilt deeply into our individual and collective unconscious.
As a tantra practitioner I believe that slowly unravelling this conditioning one client at a time, is my work to do.
How do I navigate the subject of genital pleasure with clients?
As a practitioner when I hear your request for genital pleasure, I celebrate this expression of your authentic desire. I honour your bravery, your vulnerability and your humanity.
But as a practitioner I owe you a duty of care and as such I will feel into whether this will support you on your journey of exploration or healing. For that reason, my boundaries around giving genital pleasure are not black and white.
For example, a man may come to me who has not experienced an erection for some time due to age, illness, medication, mental health reasons etc. He has expressed an intention of exploring what is possible for him now. This is a clear example of giving touch with the intention of exploring the possibility of pleasure and arousal for an overall healing/therapeutic purpose. But there isn't always such clarity.
When considering whether to offer genital pleasure I consider the following:
My client’s initial intention for coming to see me and their intention for this session.
The level of comfort that the client has with me, with touch and with nudity.
Whether I feel the client is ready for this, the possibility of trauma reactions occurring and my ability to keep the client within safe limits.
My intuition of what I feel would support the client most today and on their exploration of their bodies, their pleasure and their tantric journey.
Creating a paradigm shift.
As a society we already have enough shame and guilt around sexual pleasure, as sex-positive practitioners I hope that we would be the ones to start reversing the impact on our clients and the collective unconscious by writing a new story.
I have a powerful vision of the ancient temple spaces where master tantrikas of all genders welcome disciples, offering to them a different possibility from the outside world. Offering experiences of touch, pleasure, intimacy, sensuality, as well as education and rites of passage. Offering Freedom, Choice and Liberation. These temple spaces are desperately needed now in our time of chronic disconnection and isolation. It is my desire to provide this space energetically for my clients.
To sum up, the key things that differentiate my work and Transformational Tantra Massage are not so obvious to an outsider looking in.
It is the attitude and intention that is different.
It is the reverence with which I offer this work; my connection to the divine guiding me on my path; my commitment to following my highest path and purpose.
It is the respect, care and unconditional positive regard I have for my clients and myself; and my overarching intention to provide:
Clarity where there is fuzziness,
Pleasure where there is pain,
Sensitivity where there is numbness and
Expansion where there is limitation.
My work is sacred.
As my client, I humbly invite you into my sacred temple space, where nothing is off limits, mutual consent is the only boundary and you are free to explore possibilities. But rest assured that if I feel you are perpetuating existing patterns that are not serving you or if you are seeking to avoid the real work that you came to me to do, I will push back.