The old adage- "all sex is good, but some is better than others"- is a bunch of hooey. After all, if every day is a good day, how do you know a good one from a bad one? For some "great sex" is a rarity or something they've only read about. Others think they have great sex all the time. For still others, "great sex" is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. There is such a thing as bad sex. Just ask a teenage girl fresh out of the back seat of a dirty old car after 3-1/2 minutes of wham-bam-thank-you-mam-style high school affection.
On average, Western sex practices yield roughly ten minutes of bliss. However, in India and parts of the Far East, sex is practiced as a form of spirituality called "Tantric Sex," enveloping its practitioners in ecstasy that can last hours. Call me pragmatic, but if you're going to go through all that trouble to bump uglies, why not spend a few hours riding the wave, instead of 10 minutes? If it were that easy, we'd all be chronically late for work, wouldn't we? It's not just about drawing out the process; some women might actually be glad their men are 10-minute wonders- any more plain humping and they might be tempted to file their nails.
Studies show couples are struggling to reconcile their high expectations of sex with their inability to express their sexual needs. A Details magazine survey found that 85 percent of respondents believed "perfect sex" exists. However, far fewer were having it. Only 38 percent of men and 45 percent of women reported they were "very satisfied" with their sex lives. Many couples are banking on Tantric techniques to better these odds.
There's been a lot of discussion in recent years about spiritual or sacred sexuality and the use of ancient techniques in love-making. Those involved in teaching sacred sex draw mainly from the Tantric tradition, which has Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist influences going back almost 20,000 years. Tantric sex goes well beyond the physical realm and, much like building your body, requires technique, devotion and practice to achieve enlightenment, and it doesn't happen overnight. But, Tantric sex is not your average roll in the hay. The path to enlightenment is one hell of a trip!
While sexuality touches every part of our lives, it is unfortunate that this most pleasurable life-affirming phenomenon is today marred by fear, abuse, exploitation and general negativity, especially as far as most Western religions go. Tantra is the only spiritual path in which sex is sacred, not sinful, whether in a marriage or not. Tantra also goes against most religious codes by transcending procreation to an explicit search for enlightenment through hours of ecstasy. In Tantra, the act of love is thought to be a natural vehicle for exploring altered states as well as greater levels of intimacy. Achieving a state of sexual ecstasy is also viewed as a way of communicating with the Divine.
It's interesting that for over 20,000 years there has been a culture unafraid and uninhibited enough about sex to dissect its components so completely that you can actually build your sexual prowess much like you can build your body- or even your mind- and in so doing, please God rather than respond to the devil. From these beliefs, we can today reap the rewards of incredibly satisfying and intensely pleasurable sex.
Tantra is a spiritual tradition that embraces sex as a vital part of human nature. According to sex expert Margo Anand, an exponent of modern Tantric practices and author of The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, Tantra originally developed as a rebellion against repressive, moralistic codes of organized religion, particularly the asceticism of the Hindu priesthood in India. It branched out and influenced Taoist and Buddhist traditions and influenced Western religious history through the ecstatic cult of the Greek god Dionysius around 2000 B.C. Today, many people have been exposed to the use of energy for healing, as with Chinese medicine, Reiki, Touch for Health, etc. Yet, few- except for Taoists- use the body's most powerful energy center- the sex center- for the achievement of divinity, immortality and enlightenment.
So there's your bit of history. I can't just cut to the chase and give a regime for the two-hour woowah, can I? There are indeed muscles that can be worked to make sex better, but before I go into that, in all fairness to a 20,000-year philosophy, a little background helps. After all, the uninitiated can't just mosey into Gold's Gym, whap off a set of bench presses and walk out with a heaving pair of pecs.
Orgasm on Hold
The most significant difference between Western and Eastern views of sexuality lies in the goal-oriented approach to orgasm. In the Tantric tradition, there is no beginning or end to sex, while in "ordinary" sex, the act is largely over with male ejaculation. In Tantra, the plateau of pleasure is extended over time by putting off orgasm- especially male ejaculation- in order to build increasing levels of sexual energy for both partners. With meditation, certain breathing techniques and the practice of ejaculation control, a heightened state of ecstasy is achieved.
Tantra challenges many traditional ideas and assumptions about sex. Genitally-focused sex, while important, is regarded as one stop along the way to achieving an ecstatic state. The importance of breathing and relaxation techniques, vocalizations, focus on certain energy centers of the body called chakras, as well as emphasis on touch, all contribute to making Tantric sex a much more slow, meditative experience. Ultimately, says Anand, it teaches you how to go from the explosive release of genital orgasm to the implosive orgasm of inner expansion. Yeesh!
Tantric sex involves a lot of ritual. Setting the scene for lovemaking is very important. Candles, incense, scented oils, plus a harmonious, calm and comfortable environment are all necessary. Devote an entire afternoon or evening (not just one hour) to practicing Tantric sex. Taking the time to really pleasure each other (rather than focus on who will have the first orgasm and how quickly) is a great way to learn exactly how and where your partner enjoys being pleasured. By strongly emphasizing the pleasure of the body, Tantra also helps people overcome negative cultural conditioning about body image and sex.
Although Tantra challenges common ritualistic and religious views on sex and sexuality insofar as your partner need not be your mate, studies show that the best sex is had in long- term monogamous relationships. I can't imagine delving into such intimate practices with some bimbo you just picked up. You really need the closeness of an exclusive relationship to reap the true benefits of Tantric sex. When I first started looking into Tantra, I thought- hey, a few exercises, a little meditation and I'm off (so to speak). But, I've found that Tantra is more involved than that. Tons of books and videos expound the Tantra tradition. The overall dimension is vast and couldn't possibly be fully recounted here. A list of titles you can explore will appear at the end of this piece.
From Tantra, I have been able to define several exercises that Tantrics use to heighten pleasure. From a purely physiological standpoint they have merit. Perhaps once you see their relevance to human physiology, as well as to human sexuality and extended pleasure for you and your mate, you may want to give Tantra a try. In the meantime, lets uncross our legs and start sexersizing.
According to the book, Sexual Energy Ecstasy by David and Ellen Ramsdale, sexercises are designed to maximize sex muscle strength and control. While your arm muscles do their job fairly well because you use them daily, your sex muscles are rarely used in daily life. You use them to hold in urine or feces until you can get to the bathroom. That's about it.
The main sex muscle is the pubococcygeus (pew-boh-cox-uh-jee-us), or PC muscle. This muscle contracts at the rate of once every 0.8 seconds in both sexes during orgasm. The contemporary rediscovery of the great value of this muscle is credited to a Los Angeles physician, Arnold Kegel, who developed the famed Kegel exercises in the 1950s to ease childbirth and stave off incontinence some women experience from pressure on the bladder during pregnancy. However, these muscles also have a profound effect on the intensity of orgasm for men and women.
Kegel exercises are, in fact, a rediscovery. Effective sexercises have been practiced in China and India for thousands of years. The Eastern sexercises were developed in cultures that placed less emphasis on the genital orgasm. Currently, sex experts tout the development of the PC muscle and other sex muscles as a way to achieve, intensify, prolong and control genital orgasm in both sexes. Given the endless emphasis on exercise in this culture, it's surprising that exercising your sex muscles isn't more in vogue.
An Important Find
Before you start your PC muscle workout, it's probably a good idea to know where Mother Nature hid it. It is important to locate the exact muscle involved. The PC muscle stretches between your legs, from genitals to anus. It is part of the pelvic floor in both sexes. The standard way to find it is to stop and start the flow as you urinate. Try it several times the next time you're in the bathroom so you can make the mind-muscle connection. A man can stand in front of a mirror and make his penis move up and down as he squeezes his PC muscle. A woman can place a finger about one and a half inches into the vagina and squeeze. She'll feel the vagina grasp it.
Once you have definitely found the PC muscle, start with quick or short Kegel squeezes. Contract the muscle 20 times at about one a second or faster, for one set. Do two sets your first day. Gradually build up to 75 reps twice a day. When you can comfortably do 75 quick Kegel contractions twice a day, add sustained or long Kegel movements.
Instead of holding the muscle contraction for a count of one, hold it for a count of three. Start with 20 per set, two sets a day. Build up to 75 reps each set twice a day. Take your time. Avoid straining. The PC muscle is just like any other muscle. If you overdo it, it will become sore. You may find that a tightening of the muscles in the stomach and thighs happens no matter what you do at first. This is common. Once you've completely isolated the muscle, these extra contractions will ebb.
Build up to 300 reps a day. Once the PC muscle has been strengthened, a maintenance regime of 150 per day in one three-minute session should be plenty. Make these focused, committed contractions, just as you would do for any other muscle you work in the gym. You've got to relax between contractions. Otherwise, the muscles will not respond as quickly. Relaxation is as important to your control as the contractions. If a man learns how to relax these muscles during intercourse, he can last much longer. It may help to breathe in time with your clenches or to count breaths. You may be holding your breath and not realize it.
Men can easily add weight training to their Kegel practices! After achieving an erection, place a small wet towel on your erect penis. Move this towel up and down by squeezing your PC muscle. You can increase the size of the towel. Some men in India even use sandbag weights!
Don't be surprised if the exercises arouse erotic feelings. This is part of the fun. Whatever your approach, develop your ability to focus your attention on your sensations for maximum results and enjoyment. Indeed, you may feel waves of bliss that have nothing to do with your environment at the time. They are not caused by an outside stimulus. They are internally generated. You are awakening your natural inborn pleasure potential.
The benefits of the Kegel exercises are numerous. These include getting more in touch with your genitals and sexual feelings, improving the blood flow to these areas and making orgasm more voluntary. Women can use them to firm up the muscles of the vagina after having a child. And Kegel exercises have enabled many non-orgasmic women become orgasmic. Muscle strength, sensitivity and control gained through Kegel contraction exercises are known to make genital orgasm during intercourse or masturbation more voluntary and more intense.
Strong PC muscles aid men in their practices with ejaculation control. But remember, guys, virtuoso status is achieved and maintained only by working out consistently. Once you get the hang of it, you can do "Kegels" just about anywhere. I've been doing them for the last three paragraphs and no one even knew! A solid practice routine should only take about five minutes twice a day. The benefits will manifest themselves in the strongest, most intense orgasms you've ever experienced, especially when combined with building to orgasm and backing off repeatedly. This has even led to multiple orgasms for men- you read that right- multiple.
In their book, The Multi-Orgasmic Man, Mantak Chia and Douglas Arava summarize research evidence showing that male multiple orgasms are equivalent to female multiple orgasms. The book's basic approach is steeped in the Tantric practice that men stop or change sexual stimulus while clamping down on the PC muscle just prior to reaching the point of no return. If done close enough to ejaculation, you may experience the muscular contractions that accompany what the authors call "contractile phase orgasms" without moving into "expulsion phase orgasm." Expulsion-phase orgasm is accompanied by ejaculation and the subsequent loss of your erection, while contractile-phase orgasm is accompanied by the normal feelings of "cumming" (including spasmodic PC muscle contractions) without ejaculation and without erection loss.
The Multi-Orgasmic Man suggests men "peak" to this contractile phase orgasm many times over the course of a lovemaking or masturbation session. After experiencing each orgasm, a man pauses for a few seconds, then resumes the stimulation in which he was engaged.
Breathe and Concentrate
In keeping with the teachings of the Tantra, the first step this book discusses is learning about breathing. By breathing deeply and regularly (without hyperventilating) you can gain more control over your orgasm, and enhance your ability to tread on that thin line between the contractile phase of male orgasm and the expultionary phase, without falling over into the latter. Here's a little breathing exercise to add to your sex workout:
1. Sit on a chair with your back straight and your feet touching the floor about shoulder-width apart.
2. Place your hands over your navel and relax your shoulders.
3. Inhale though your nose and feel your lower abdomen expand at the navel area (below and around it) so that it bulges outward. Your diaphragm will also descend.
4. Keeping your chest relaxed, exhale with some force to pull the lower abdomen back in, as if you were pulling your navel back toward your spine. Also feel your penis and testicles pull up.
5. Repeat steps three and four 20 to 30 times.
Naturally, it would help if you didn't do this while the game was on. Concentration is the backbone of most Tantric rituals. Hence, the authors offer the following exercise. When mastering the art of concentrating, you also foster the vitally important ability to direct attention to your partner. In order to help focus your attention on the task at hand- or wherever- the authors proffer the following:
1. Slowly inhale (expanding your stomach) and exhale (flattening your stomach). Count each complete inhalation and exhalation as one breath.
2. Continue breathing from the belly and counting from one to 100, thinking only about your breathing.
3. If you notice your mind has strayed, start again.
4. Practice this exercise twice a day until you can count to 100 with ease.
Next the authors suggest you incorporate the aforementioned in practice masturbation sessions to bring yourself close to the brink and then back off. Repeat the process as much as you want until you experience exactly how breathing, relaxation and PC muscle contracting enable you to experience the non-ejaculatory orgasm.
If you manage to achieve contractile-phase orgasms twice or more in one masturbation session without losing your erection, you have become what many men dismiss as impossible- multi-orgasmic! Congratulations, you are now ready for your partner. The only difference is that with a partner you generally stop thrusting, or ask your partner to slow down or stop whatever she's doing, rather then slow down or stop your own hand. (Personally, I'd skip the masturbation session and head right into the bedroom).
The authors suggest that if regular intercourse is going to be part of this start/stop initiation into male multiple orgasms, it's a good idea for the woman to experience an orgasm or two first. That way, the stopping/starting doesn't drive her to dig the vibrator out of the night table. Besides, intercourse is generally more pleasurable for women after a couple of orgasms.
There you have it. Short of moving to India and living out the rest of your days in an ashram, I can't imagine any healthy, sexually liberated, head-over-heels-in-love couple not at least experimenting with some of the ways of the Tantra. The examples contained here don't even scratch the surface of Tantric sex; the path to enlightenment is a long and pleasure-filled journey. As hippie-leftover-‘60s-metaphysical-Woodstock-mumbo-jumbo-Grateful Dead-inspired-tie dyed-sounding waste of time Tantric sex may seem to some, all I can say is at least give some part of it a try. You only live once.
Tantric sex is filled with little special rituals, massages and exercises designed specially for women as well as men. But, guys, remember: All your great sexual conquests aside, the first muscle essential for great sex is the heart. Sex is an art that begins in the heart. It requires awareness, information, skill, an open mind and lots of practice.
If you think sexual enlightenment is something you might want to delve into further, the following resources may help.
Playboy's Making Love Series: Tantric Lovemaking (Playboy Entertainment Group)
Ancient Secrets of Sexual Ecstasy (Higher Love Video Series, Tantra.com)
Fire on the Mountain: Male Genital Massage (Joseph Kramer Productions)
How to Female Ejaculate (Blush Entertainment)
Magic of Ejaculation (House o' Chicks)
The Multi-Orgasmic Man, by Mantak Chia and Douglas Abrams Arava
The G Spot, by Beverly Whipple, Alice Ladas and John Perry (Dell Books)
Divine Sex, by Caroline Aldred (HarperCollins)
The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, by Margo Anand (Jeremy P. Tarcher)
The Pictorial Guide to Tantric Sex Positions, by Kay Parker (California Exotic Novelties Inc.)
Spiritual Sex, by Nik Douglas (Pocket Books)