Serving the Wounded Masculine
This post follows on from my previous post – “Pleasure in tantra”.
The experiences of which I write are not necessarily gender based but I am describing my personal experience with male identified clients.
I invite you to again visualise the image of a sacred temple space in ancient Greece, filled with a cornucopia of sensual delights. A space where disciples are welcomed and accepted into a world within a world, where they can feel safe and held in their sexual expression by master tantrikas.
How do I create this in practice?
One way is by not judging one type of pleasure as more worthy than another.
Secondly, I make it clear that however your pleasure manifests itself on my massage table, it is ok with me (within our pre-negotiated boundaries of safety and consent).
I do not beat around the bush.
I go there.
How does this feel?
To be on the receiving end of my accepting attitude, to be treated with warmth, compassion and unconditional positive regard, has evoked powerful emotional reactions, even during brief discovery calls.
One client in particular, was so overcome with emotion that he needed time to process this before continuing our conversation the following day. From this I can only deduce that feeling accepted as a sexual being was a completely foreign experience for him.
I have experienced clients who are filled with shame around their sexual arousal and are so reluctant to ask for what they want for fear of being rejected or further shamed. Others are embarrassed about the possibility of becoming aroused by my touch and after much beating around the bush and several euphemisms, finally ask – is it ok to get an erection? is it allowed?
Perpetuating the old paradigm
Men often come with a surface level desire, requesting genital pleasuring and I must take care not to shut them down when they express this desire openly, for fear of perpetuating the patterns of condemnation I described in my previous post (Pleasure in Tantra Massage).
In my view, men should be forgiven for not knowing that other types of sexual pleasure other than genital stimulation, are possible.
You don’t know what you don’t know, right?
In seeking out tantra massage they are taking a brave step into a new world. Some part of them knows there's more.
Speaking to a host of prospective clients who identify as male, I am keenly aware of their fear that I will judge or reject them juxtaposed with their longing for connection. They are in desperate need of a space where they are allowed to experience themselves as a sexual being, to feel pleasure, where they are accepted, validated, welcomed and their needs are met with kindness and understanding.
And these are the brave ones, the ones who are seeking out professional support.
This is the tip of the iceberg.
If I said ‘No’ to giving genital pleasure in the contracting stage, I feel I would be doing men a huge disservice and this is why…
What do men really want?
I have had several clients who have been quite blunt about what they are seeking, almost to the point that I wonder whether they are really after a different type of sexual professional.
But what I hold in mind is that men may find it easier to frame their desire in terms of physical pleasure rather than reveal an underlying physical limitation or emotional need.
It is far easier for men to say, "I want a sensual erotic massage" than it is to say, "I have difficulty experiencing an erection".
It is far easier for men to say, "I want to feel relaxing sensual touch all over", than it is to say, "I want to feel safe, held and nurtured".
It is far easier to say, "I would like two-way touch" than it is to say, "I desire an intimate connection with another human being".
Tantra massage gives clients a language to use to begin asking for their needs to be met, but their messages often still need a fair amount of decoding.
I realise that expecting men to be vulnerable and talk about their emotional needs, especially at the very beginning of a client/practitioner relationship is frankly asking a lot. It seems to me that no matter how difficult it is for men to be explicit about their desires, it is a whole lot harder for them to talk about their emotional needs.
I suspect and choose to believe, that several of the men who have requested sensual and erotic pleasure will have some deeper emotional needs that become apparent in the course of our work together. There will inevitably be some higher purpose and the potential for learning and growth within our relationship, otherwise he would not have chosen to seek me out.
It may take time to create a safe enough container for him to begin to connect with his emotionality and for these deeper desires to surface, but I trust that the tantric energy will bring them to the surface if it is the right time for him.
We know that as a very general rule, women are naturally more able to connect with their emotions, to talk and be vulnerable. Just like men, they have a need for connection, to be seen and heard, to be validated and accepted exactly as they are, in the full throws of their emotionality, with their changing moods and fluctuating hormone levels.
A whole industry has been created to fulfill this need. The Counselling and Psychotherapy industry. (Whilst it is open to everyone, there are still far more women than men who seek out talking therapy and the gender difference is even more pronounced in those who go on to train as counsellors).
The aim of person-centred counselling is to meet a client where they are at and take a walk in their shoes, to allow space for them to express their emotions and slowly help them to reconnect with their organismic, real self. To increase their awareness of the conditioning and limiting beliefs imposed by society and their past experiences so that they can feel free to make their own choices and live more fulfilling and authentic lives.
That sounds a lot like my aims in offering Transformational Tantra Massage (TTM).
Freedom Choice Actualization
What if TTM is a more accessible way for men to connect with their true selves. To take off the masks and step out of the roles they have been given.
What if it starts by welcoming and accepting a man in his current expression of his sexuality, exactly as he is right now, knowing this is a gateway for him to connect to himself on a deeper level.
How is this achieved in practice?
The skill of the practitioner is to recognize what deeper needs are behind a surface level desire and to find a way to incorporate these into a session or a series of sessions.
As a TTM Practitioner my focus is on noticing patterns of behaviour and ensuring that I do not perpetuate these and instead, give the client a different experience. As with all therapy and coaching, the client needs to have a desire to change, without this, transformation cannot occur.
But it could take several sessions for the client to open enough about their experiences for me to hear this desire for change, and for the clients’ deeper needs to reveal themselves.
I guess the question is, how can we as practitioners encourage the expression of pleasure in all its forms, not discourage anything but instead invite opportunities to feel something different, whilst maintaining our duty of care and the safety of ourselves and our clients.
It is my job to balance the client's wants and needs by giving them an experience that they desire whilst at the same time encouraging them to try expanding their possibilities.
It’s about meeting the client where they are at with unconditional positive regard and acceptance.
I start there and see what naturally unfolds.
I choose to meet my clients where they are at on their pleasure journey.
Know that your pleasure, your arousal and your orgasm is welcome here.