Published in Alternative Medicine magazine, August 2002
©Johanina Wikoff. All rights reserved.
The best lovemaking happens when we have gone beyond giving and getting, thinking and striving; when we let go of technique and agendas and are present in the touch, taste, smells and sounds of lovemaking. Yet, for many people the experience of making love is colored by an underlying agenda about achieving a goal. The pleasure of orgasm is a state so desired that a multi-billion dollar industry generates all manner of consumables: techniques, courses, equipment, lotions, pharmaceuticals, educational materials, clothing, vacations and gift items designed to set the stage and woo the mysterious orgasm out of hiding and into our possession.And while people are eagerly buying and reading books that promise easy to learn techniques for extending orgasm, the orgasmic state is as it always has been, both free of charge and not for sale.
The line from the song by Annie Lennox says it best: “Money can’t buy it.” Nor can technique. The seemingly elusive orgasmic experience — that wavelike release of muscular tension, body fluids, emotions, thoughts and all manner of boundaries — can be as subtle as butterfly wings or as strong as an earthquake. The streaming, vibratory experience we call orgasm can extend well beyond the first genital release, relaxing the body and mind, and producing a sense of well being within, and oneness with our lover and all of life. Or it may not include a familiar release at all.
When we stop labeling the sexual experience, we discover that orgasmic pleasure takes many forms because it is the ever changing, ever flowing great spring of life force energy. It offers itself to those who can let go of trying and relax into the here and now.
When my clients enter the room for the first time, I initially address the practical issues of intimate relationships, including communication, power struggles, money and sex. As time goes on, they often become interested in the spiritual side of their relationships. Of course, better communication and greater sensitivity will enrich any relationship. But the alleviation of one problem often makes way for deeper awareness of what is at the root of our frustrations. The tension, separation and isolation we experience in life are only temporarily relieved by lovemaking and we discover that what we desire is a happiness and fulfillment that neither money nor multiple orgasms can satisfy. Lasting fulfillment in sex, love and life requires a fundamental yet simple shift of consciousness. It is this shift in perspective that is cultivated when we approach every aspect of our lives with presence instead of a goal.
The spiritual perspective I bring to my work with couples is grounded in the Tantric tradition where rather than focusing on technique, the focus is on awareness and presence. In the sexual embrace this attitude becomes meditative. You become present in the moment, in the senses, and one with the reality of the experience. Being focused in this way produces a panoramic experience of sex, relatedness and life. Instead of being focused on the problematic aspects of love and life, a generous warmth and appreciation develops. And with this sex becomes an experience of opening to energy, feelings and sensations at a deep level rather than striving for ultimate satisfaction through the release of sexual energy.
A friend recently said, “I’ve noticed in your articles that you are not emphasizing coming. I like to get off when I am having sex.” The experience of “getting off,” or discharging sexual energy during orgasm, is what many people expect the goal of sex to be. Certainly, this is a wonderful experience that leaves you feeling relaxed and full of well being, albeit temporarily. But all too soon desire returns and you are craving more sex or something else to fill the hunger.
Techniques abound for extending orgasm, as if that would satisfy us more. But there is another choice. Coming, or orgasm, can simply be a release from desire for a while, or it can be an exquisite embodied meditation that the senses bring us to when we let go of our goals of being the great lover or having the ultimate orgasm. When sex is a meditation you ride the energy as a surfer does a good wave, as long as you can, experiencing joy and pleasure from the ride. When a Tantrika; a female practitioner of the Tantric art of lovemaking, makes love, she does so without an agenda, staying focused in her senses and breath as a way to be present in the moment.
This ongoing orgasmic flow, rather than peaking and discharging, leaves the body humming with the pulse of life. It is not something to get off of but to cultivate, as a key to aliveness and fulfillment that continues and is available in every moment. Sex is the doorway to an expanded way of being with oneself, with one’s lover and with the whole of life.
The supreme goal of the voyager is to no longer know what he contemplates. Every person, every thing, is an opportunity for a voyage, for contemplation. –Lao-tzu
You do not need to be a spiritual seeker to benefit from goalless lovemaking. On a practical level, sex without an agenda is easier and more relaxed and playful since you do not have to worry about being a great lover, responsible for “getting your lover off.” Nor do you have to be concerned about how many times or how well you orgasm. Taking the expectation out of sex allows a couple to relax and to enjoy each other, the sensations and the loving they are sharing.
Ecstasy is achievable. One glimpse or even the hearsay of it gets us looking and trying to get there. But we can’t get there trying. We can only get there by relaxing our grasp and our striving, by not working for joy, bliss or pleasure. These are all natural states that exist in us in childhood and are lost to our conditioning. We can reclaim our natural aliveness, sensuality and passion for life.
So the secret is simple: Relax. Stop trying. When you are present in the moment, allowing life and love to unfold, you will notice what you may have been missing–that bliss is present in subtle ways all the time, in the enjoyment of a sip of water, the wind against your skin, the first breath of air in the morning. These simple things, when you pay attention to them, give you access to your senses. And when you live in your senses you stand at the threshold of profound and enduring pleasure.
Being Present To The Senses
Try this simple and effective exercise, as practiced by the Kashmiri Tantrikas.
When you awaken in the morning notice your breath. For half a minute feel the inflow and outflow of your breath. In a relaxed and attentive way breathe consciously. Then go back to your regular way of breathing or let your consciousness withdraw from the breath.
A little later as you drink your tea or coffee, be very attentive, present to the first taste, noticing the feel of the liquid, the smell, sound and taste of those sips. Then let your attention withdraw. When you go for a walk, be aware of your footsteps for a few moments. Feel your feet, the ground, the sense of movement. Be as totally present as you can for the few moments and then let your awareness withdraw and go wherever it will.
Do this throughout the day. When you make love be present and attentive for a few moments. Be totally in your sense of touch, in the feel of the pleasure, in the smells, tastes, sounds of lovemaking. Then let your awareness go wherever it will. Again return to being focused and aware of every nuance. Continue with this practice throughout the day whenever it is convenient – and since it is subtle and no one need know you are practicing, you can do it easily.
You will discover after a while that the “practice” has become unnecessary and that you are more deeply aware of pleasure in every act. A joyful zest and awareness of the energetic quality of life will be present and you will be discovering what the Tantrikas have taught: a steady and enduring pleasure in presence in all the acts of life. This simple reality is the heart of the most subtle and refined spiritual philosophy. And it can be part of your daily life.