Wednesday, 14 May 2014
I had been looking for a way to connect with people for most of my life. Normally when I looked into the eyes of a stranger what would I get? Wariness? Mistrust? Assumptions? Insecurities? I knew it was best to be open and friendly when meeting people but somehow that was all just too fake for me. Rarely would I meet a stranger who inspired me enough to engage my attention, but why? Because I too was guilty of the same wariness, mistrust, assumptions and insecurities. People are mirrors to us after all, reflecting back to us aspects of our own personality, not of theirs.
So when I signed up for a course in tantric massage with One Heart Tantra in County Cork, Ireland, I knew that I was going to push my boundaries far beyond anything that I had experienced before. I had absolutely no idea what to expect but I knew it was going to be challenging.
I arrived at the venue early on Saturday morning, a small spiritual centre just outside Cork city, for the two day course. Soon I found myself standing in a whole room full of complete strangers, five women and five men including myself. The thought of having to massage any of these people in an intimate way was just incomprehensible, so I just busied myself with tea and chat, and tried not to think about it.
After a while we settled down in a circle on the floor and made our formal introductions before going through a meditation to ground us and make us all feel more relaxed. Then the fun and games started, we all wandered randomly around the room, and each time we met another person we would stop and hold hands, facing each other, just breathing deeply and relaxing, before continuing on to the next person. After a few of these encounters we made it more intimate by gazing into the other persons eyes, again just breathing deeply and relaxing.
Strangely I did not find this at all difficult. Nothing was expected of me, I didn't have to try to make conversation, all I had to do was relax and gaze. It was kind-of beautiful. All the assumptions that I'd made about people when I first entered the room seemed to melt away and I saw people for what they really were, just souls trapped in a human body.
After lunch we learnt how connect even more deeply with another person. Wearing our sarongs we each chose a partner and performed an eye-gazing ritual. We sat cross-legged facing each other, holding hands, with our eyes closed, breathing and meditating deeply. Once we felt totally relaxed we then slowly opened our eyes and looked up to meet the others gaze. It was a magical experience, all the masks that we wear every day were gone, I looked into a face that was totally relaxed and calm, she looked like different person, an angel, embodying compassion. I must have looked the same too. We gazed at each other for what seemed like an endless amount of time, there was no reason to stop, nothing else that we needed to do, it was just pure openness and love. We could have stayed like that forever, and somehow it seemed like we had left our material world and entered a timeless realm, the realm of pure spirit where everything is one. There was no separation, no duality, there was only this feeling of pure bliss and connection. I was love, this was love.
It's worth pointing out here that I'm not talking about romantic love, which is a fiction invented by our society, full of obligations and limitations on our freedom. This was pure unconditional love for everything and everybody. Pure trust, both in yourself and in the universe. The knowledge that underneath all our human beliefs and problems, no matter how distorted or disgusting, there exists a pure and innocent being of pure spirit. A soul that has been corrupted only temporarily by having to live this life on Earth. A soul worthy of your complete compassion.
So that was the eye gazing ritual! I had been taken to other realms and back again! I wondered what was going to happen next!
Well next was the honouring ritual, where instead of just connecting with another being it was time to honour them. My new partner stood facing me, and facing the sacred altar, eyes closed, before relaxing into a steady breath and then beginning a short eye-gazing ritual so that we could connect with each other. She then closed her eyes and I walked behind her. Ever so slowly, ever so gently, I ran my fingertips over the outline of her body, starting at the top of her head and down her arms, then from the top of her head down to her thighs, then from the top of her head, down her back, to her feet, which I held firmly to ground the energy.
I rose and placed my hand on her heart, and another hand on her back and held her there, sensing her energy and sending her healing. I then ran my hand around her torso before standing in front of her and resting my hands gently on her shoulders.
We were very close now, almost touching, my breath merging with hers. I touched her hair and ran my hands slowly down her front, mirroring the movements I had performed from behind, my every touch a gentle feather of electric energy and pleasure. I could tell by the expression on her face and her arousal at my touches that she was entering a state of bliss.
I laid my hands on her heart and her back again and then stepped behind her and just held her there, like a babe safe in my arms, feeling energised and loved.
She thanked me and then it was my turn. I received and experienced all that I had just given, the pleasure, the ecstasy and the compassion.
The next day it was time to learn about tantric massage! I guess we thought that massage was what we had come here to learn, but we had learnt so much more than that already! The massage would just be a continuation of what we had already been doing; connecting, honouring and feeling love and compassion for another person.
There were two new ladies joining us today, one participant and one helper, which made things a bit more interesting! Again we had to choose partners, which I always found awkward, but fortunately someone chose me before I had chance to think about it. I decided to receive first today, which meant that I would be the 'body' that my partner practised on. We started with the honouring ritual that we had learnt the previous day, and then she asked for permission to remove my sarong before I lay face-down on the massage table to be covered by the sarong again.
She laid her hands on my back and tuned in to my energy, and then walked down to my feet to remove the sarong, very, very slowly. She dripped oil on me and started to massage my back, too quickly at first, but eventually she slowed down and got into a more sensual rhythm. My neck, arms, legs and buttocks were massaged with the long, gentle flowing strokes that are characteristic of tantric massage. It was nice and pleasurable, and I lay there just enjoying the sensation of touch and caring. The final strokes of the massage, which slid up my inner thigh, across my perineum and between my buttocks, drove me wild, and the tingly sensations stayed with me for hours afterwards.
In the afternoon our tutor gave a demonstration of the full frontal massage to a willing subject which culminated in a lingam massage. So here I was in a room full of strangers watching an older guy getting his flaccid penis rubbed with oil. Interesting but.. not normally how I'd choose to spend an afternoon. The two female helpers opposite sensed my discomfort and smiled.
After that it was my turn to practise, but thankfully not on a man! We all partnered up and I stayed with my partner from the morning, returning the favour of her earlier gentle touches. She lay on her front and I copied as closely as I could what I had learnt throughout the weekend. I kept it very slow, very gentle and very sensual. I breathed a deep shamanic breath while I applied my touches and soon found her groaning with pleasure. Did I mention that I'd never given a massage before in my life?! This was good, I could really do this! I focused on my breath, on keeping it slow and gentle, on giving pleasure, on loving and connecting. At one point one of the female helpers joined in, so now my subject was getting a four-handed massage and really loving it!
After a while I asked her if she'd like to turn over and then I applied oil to her front before massaging her with long sensual strokes from her hips up to her neck, down over her breasts, up her sides, under her arms, over her legs and up between her thighs. She was enjoying every second of it and seemed like she was almost having an orgasm. What power I had in my hands! But I didn't pollute myself with such thoughts, I focused on my breathing, kept calm, and slow and sensual, and continued the long gentle strokes into the most sensitive of places.
Eventually I felt like I'd done enough, I hadn't been taught the yoni massage, so I didn't want to experiment there. I covered her in her sarong and when she'd recovered her senses she offered to massage me instead. During this and other brief breaks I had glanced around the room and there was a veritable orgy going on with bodies on each of the massage tables in various stages of ecstasy. A naked woman on the table next to me sat between her partner's legs and massaged his lingam, while a large lady on the opposite table was almost screaming in ecstasy (I later learnt that she ejaculated!) Down the far end of the room one of the female helpers was getting a six-handed massage, which later turned into an eight and then a ten-handed massage. She was literally rising off the table and moving energy in a way I'd never seen before.
Well, everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, I thought. I guess it's my turn! The massage turned out to be nice but not mind-blowing, we were just beginners after all, and as I was to learn, receiving a tantric massage properly requires almost as much skill and training as giving one. I hadn't really learnt how to relax into it yet. I was still in the mode of control and expectation, not surrender and bliss. I would learn soon enough though, when I returned later for part two of the course!
Once we were all done we donned our sarongs and performed a closing ritual before handing a rose to the person who had touched our hearts the most that weekend. We were all relaxed and happy. We all parted as friends.
If only the whole world could be like this, I thought! Giving unconditionally, loving unconditionally, with no expectations and no obligations. Making deep soul connections without all the obfuscation that we call our personality and our beliefs. Taking away all our social conditioning and just opening our hearts to love.
Now there's a dream! Could it ever happen in this world?
Well, I had just experienced it...