Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Rejection or Blessing in Disguise?
Many of us have to wrestle with this potential "demon" on a regular basis. Some careers, like mine for example, are especially prone to challenge us in regard to how we deal with rejection. If you are a service provider, an artist, a performer, in business for yourself, or in any line of work that involves selling a product or a service, then you probably know exactly what I am talking about. Today I am prepared to be transparent as I share with you a personal story of rejection, in the hopes that this may inspire you to perceive any potential rejection that comes your way in a better light; with a measure of grace, humor, and perhaps even some optimism. Yes, I know it may be hard to believe, but even "goddesses" have to deal with rejection, from time to time.
I think it is just human nature to want to be liked. We want to put our best face forward when we are meeting someone new. Especially if we are getting ready to go on a job interview, or perhaps meeting someone from an online dating site for coffee, which is a lot like a job interview if you think about it. Then if the coffee date goes well... who knows, maybe a "real" date. I know that as a woman, getting ready to go on a first date with someone we think may be special is a really big deal. It might even involve shopping. We want to pick out the perfect outfit to accentuate our best features, and get our hair, nails and makeup just right. It can be a whole ritual that takes a few hours; trying on different outfits, figuring out just how to wear our hair; up, down, pulled back, falling softly around the face, curly, straight... Although the typical man may not spend quite as much time as the typical woman, I imagine most thoughtful men put some time and effort into how they groom and dress themselves for an important first impression as well, and I think we all appreciate this extra effort. I don't think there is anything wrong with trying to look our best, and being on our best behavior. First impressions can be lasting and crucial! On the other hand, pretending to be someone we are not, or creating a fake personality is never a good plan.
If you have ever tried Internet dating, you may wonder if all common sense has been lost. Perhaps you have noticed that not everyone adopts a policy of honest self portrayal, which is really silly, if you hope to get past a first meet and greet with anyone. Are people simply in denial? Have they been avoiding looking directly into a mirror ever since they left high school? In their own distorted minds perhaps they still look and feel just like they did 10 or 15 years ago, or before they gained all those pounds. But I think mostly people just don't think far enough into the future when they choose a plan of action that involves misrepresentation.
This shortsightedness goes beyond using outdated pictures. In an effort to appear more interesting and exciting, people will sometimes make up phony careers or describe themselves as athletic when in reality they just like to watch sports on TV. People sometimes fain an interest in hobbies or activities that they don't really care anything about, all just to impress whomever they are meeting. Even if it works at first, it will only lead to many more hours of having to fake it, until some point when you just can't take it any more, and either little by little or all at once, the truth comes out. The only really sane behavior is to be authentic and honest right from the beginning, even before a first date.
We need to be honest with ourselves first, and remember that what we really want and need is to attract people into our lives who will love and appreciate the real us, just as we are. Being really authentic often takes some practice and a healthy does of self confidence. However, once you get the hang of it, I believe you will notice that it really cuts out a lot of potential heartache and rejection. It also really helps you to attract like minded people who value the same things you do. However, even authentic gods and goddesses will experience rejection, at least every now and then, because this is part of real life. People will disappoint us at times, no matter what we do. We should not blame ourselves every time someone doesn't call or doesn't show up when they promised they would. Not everyone we interact with will be as evolved, clear and honest as we would like. Sometimes people just lie to save face, change their mind, or don't really know what they want to begin with.
Often times what we first may interpret as a rejection, is really dodging a bullet. I prefer a clear "no" over a disingenuous "yes" or a wishy washy "maybe" any day. The clear "no" doesn't waste my time. It frees me up to move forward, to be open to take advantage of an other opportunity right away, or to connect with someone who may be a much better fit. This has been my experience many times in my life, both personally and professionally. In fact just this week I had such an experience. I will tell you about a wonderful example of what first appeared to be a rejection, but later turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
I believe that these principles of authenticity should not only be applied to dating and romantic relationships, but to our professional lives as well. If the service being offered is not accurately described, or the provider has misrepresented themselves in some way, naturally this will not lead to happy customers or repeat business. Because I value authenticity, and recognize its value for reducing the frequency of rejection, I have made an effort to include recent photographs of myself on my website. Of course, like most people, I want to put my best face forward. I select pictures that I think are flattering, wearing colors that look good on me, showing a warm inviting smile on my face, yet hopefully these pictures are an accurate representation of what I look like today. I do not wish to create an unrealistic expectation that I am some kind of twenty year old super model. I would rather have my clients arrive for a session with an idea of who to expect, and be happy to recognize me as the woman they saw in the photos.
If you have taken the time to read the content of this blog or my website then I trust you see that I share who I am, as well as my overall healing philosophy quite openly. I have filled this blog with heartfelt content. My intention is to share quality information, and to extend good faith to my potential clients by modeling the kind of open communication I would like from them. I have done all this quite intentionally to attract the type of clients that want and need the healing services I offer, and to help weed out those who would not be happy with who I am or what I am offering. My etiquette page is very helpful clarifying just how I expect to be treated. Typically my methods work well. However, on rare occasions someone slips through my radar.
The other day I had a new client. From the moment this client arrived, I could tell something was off. He did not smile or look me in the eyes. He seemed distracted and nervous; fidgeting with the change in his pockets. Normally I am able to put people at ease right away, but this time it didn't feel like there was anything I could do to connect with him. He didn't appear receptive to a hug hello or even a handshake. He stood awkwardly in the middle of my treatment room. I had to invite him to have a seat twice before he finally sat down. However, it was only a few seconds before he was saying something about how he forgot his cell phone in the car.
I touched his hand and looked him right in the eyes and said,"you seem a little nervous, is everything OK?" For a split second, I felt a connection. He took a deep breath and let it out. He finally made eye contact with me for about 3 seconds. He looked like he wanted to share something real, but then he looked away and said "everything is fine" and went right back into the phony cell phone story. So I said, "Sure... go." I knew this was an excuse to get out the door, but I did not try to stop him. A moment after he got into his car I could hear the engine start up, and then him driving away.
I wished he had been able to just tell me directly that he had changed his mind, or whatever was going on. I did not allow myself to go down the whole road of self doubt. I resisted the impulse to call or text him to ask why. There was a momentary feeling of loss. This was certainly unsettling. He had shut me out before we began. I had gotten mentally as well as physically prepared to offer a healing session, but I hadn't gotten the opportunity to show my magic. Plus, I really could have used the money from this session. However, what I realized that I felt most of all was a sense of relief. I took a deep clearing breathe and simply let it go. Just then my phone rang. It was him, the same client who had just walked out my door! He called to apologize for leaving. He told me that he had gotten nervous and didn't feel comfortable. I told him that honestly it was a little unsettling that he just left like that, but I told him that his call made me feel much better. I thanked him for telling me the truth. I let him know that I thought it was a good thing he paid attention to how he was feeling, and I thanked him for taking care of himself. It was a short little conversation, but it gave me a deep sense of closure. I felt surprisingly calm.
Not even five minutes went by and I got a call from another prospective client who gladly answered all my screening questions, and said all the right things, but he was hoping he could see me right away, if at all possible. It felt like a gift from the Universe. Since I was all ready set up and prepared, and my schedule had just magically cleared up, I was able to do something I generally do not do. I booked an immediate session. In about twenty minutes, I was facilitating a wonderful healing session with a very charming, calm and receptive client. Everything felt perfect, as it should be. I was so glad that the first client had opted to leave so that I was available to meet with this new client. After our session was over, this client shared with me that he had been interested in coming to see me for awhile. He told me that he had read all the details of my website and was contemplating calling me maybe for a couple months, but hadn't gotten up the nerve until today. He said he just got what felt like a strong impulse that today was the day to call me and schedule a session. He also said that he was very glad that he had followed that impulse... that it was exactly what he needed and he made plans to return in two weeks.
My final assessment of this apparent "rejection" was that it was truly a blessing in disguise, and perhaps a gift from the Universe to reinforce my faith. Historically I have been a rather sensitive person and tend to take everything to heart. I could have easily let this experience dash my spirits but I didn't, and I didn't waist my energy wondering what was wrong with me and why he had rejected me? It was wonderful to see this all play out so quickly. What a lovely opportunity to experience how "non-attachment" can work magic. When I was able to graciously let go of the feeling of wanting to complete a session with a client who was really not ready to have a healing session with me, then I was open to fully receive a client who was ready to have a healing session with me. Now I am ready to see what other magic this practice of non-attachment will work in my life.
Friday, September 21, 2012
How to get the BEST possible massage.
Perhaps you have done your "homework" so to speak, and researched the prospective therapist and still cannot be sure. You have taken the time to read the advertisement or advertisements carefully, clicked on the link to the therapist's website and read every detail. You have even found and read reviews of other people's experiences with this particular therapist. You notice that most of them are very positive reviews, however, maybe there are one or two really negative reviews that seem to tell a different story. Perhaps it makes you wonder... Is it just a matter of taste? Different strokes for different folks? Or is something else going on here?
I have had several clients and fellow massage therapists share their massage stories with me; some quite humorous and some horrific "massage gone wrong" experiences where the client's expectations were not in the same ballpark of what happened. Over the years I have learned a thing or two about what goes into a truly satisfying massage experience, beyond what they teach in massage school, and have had several rather odd yet enlightening experiences to learn from. The good news is that you can benefit from the mistakes of others! I am ready to let you in on some wonderful secrets on how to change your luck for the better. You really can dramatically increase your odds of getting a great massage by following a few simple guidelines and suggestions. I know it may sound to simple to be true, but I have broken it down for you to the four Cs; Clarity, Communication, Courtesy and Cleanliness.
1. Clarity. First, before you even make that call to schedule an appointment, be clear what you are seeking in your own mind. Different therapists or providers have different specialties. You are going to want to pick a therapist who has the right set of skills to match what you need. I don't mean you need to be an expert in massage to get what you need. What I do mean is know what you want and need. Don't assume that precisely what you want and are seeking is exactly the same as everyone else. My experience is that massage can meet a wide variety of needs, preferences and expectation. Recognize that you are a unique individual. To get a truly wonderful massage, the intention of the therapist needs to be in line with your needs and expectations. I can't tell you how many times someone has said something that leads me to believe they assume everyone (or at least most people) are more or less like themselves and wants pretty much what they want. However, I have learned that this is not really the case.
My first recommendation is to check in with your body. Get some clarity about what your body really needs. What do you feel? Are you in any pain? Do you have sore, tight or achy muscles? Notice where you tend to carry your stress? Perhaps you are not feeling any physical pain, but are seeking emotional balance. You may have some mental stress you would like to release and really need some help to get out of your head. Perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed and your mind is racing. Perhaps what you really want and need is to be pampered. Make mental note of what you are feeling and what you would really like to experience. Massage means very different things to different people. Let me share with you two examples of clients, whose needs are completely different.
Example number one is a 42 year old man who is athletic. He has been pushing himself extra hard lately, working out at the gym and recently joined a community baseball team. Even though he is in pretty good physical shape, he is not as young as he used to be. It has been a long time since he played baseball. Perhaps he did not warm up enough or stretch enough or the activity was just outside his usual realm. Now his body is in pain, feeling the stress and strain of this activity. What he is seeking is a deeply therapeutic massage by a well trained massage therapist; someone who has not only been to massage school, but perhaps has had some advanced training, ideally someone who specializes in something like Deep Tissue Massage or Sports Massage. This client's highest priority is finding someone who has an excellent understanding of anatomy and physiology, knows how to recognize and tune into his body's therapeutic needs and will deliver an awesome restorative massage. His overall goal from the massage is to put his body back on the road to recovery so he can feel better and get back out there and play some more baseball.
Example number two is a 54 year old business man who is very touch deprived and stressed out from his demanding job. He does not currently have anyone in his life that fills his basic human need for touch, and perhaps is feeling a little lonely. The idea of a nice sensual massage sounds wonderful. He is not in any physical pain, but he is craving a relaxing and sensual touch experience. He would like to be touched, pampered, and cared for by a woman who is perhaps visually pleasing, warm, friendly, very attentive and eager to please. He may not be very concerned about her formal massage training, but does want to find someone who has a good intuitive understanding of the human body and knows what type of touch feels good. He knows that it is important to feel safe and well cared for. He would like to find someone who can connect with him and make him feel special. His overall goal is to find a massage provider that he is comfortable with, who is kind and seems to really enjoy giving sensual massage.
Having a real sense of clarity about your needs will help determine how you approach the next step, which involves asking the right questions, the ones that will help you determine if this provider is a good fit for your needs.
2. Communication. First of all, before you even call up the therapist, I highly recommend paying close attention to the wording of the advertisement. How the therapist describes the service she or he is offering can be very revealing. If this therapist has a website available, I recommend checking that out as well. What you are looking for are indications that this person is knowledgeable and skilled at providing the service you are seeking. You will likely still need to ask a few basic questions that will help you to narrow down if this person is offering the specific service you are seeking. All though there are many types of massage and bodywork available out there, most of them fit in one of two main categories; therapeutic or sensual massage. First you need to make sure you are talking to someone who offers the category of massage you are most interested in. The primary intention of each type is different.
A Therapeutic Massage is designed primarily as a treatment to bring about a therapeutic benefit or change. It may or may not feel good while it is happening. Although often times a therapeutic massage is pleasurable, its primary focus is to address physical issues such as releasing pain, correcting postural imbalances, or improving your physical state of well being in some way. A good therapeutic massage will help you to feel and function well when the massage is done or perhaps a few days later. Sometimes people may feel a bit sore after an intense Deep Tissue Massage or Structural Integration Session for a couple of days, but once the soreness wears off, they often feel much better. They should notice some type of physical improvement, particularly with regular sessions. However, a therapeutic type of massage does not necessarily need to be painful or even particularly intense. A Circulatory Massage is very soothing and relaxing. It involves a rhythmic medium pressure touch, and like the name implies, it is intended to improve the functioning of your Circulatory System. A Lymphatic Drainage Massage is a very gentle therapeutic massage designed to “unblocking” or speeding up the normal functioning of the Lymphatic System. A therapeutic massage may also go a long way to relieve stress, tension and help with emotional balance. But don't worry; you do not need to know the specific name for all the various types of therapeutic massages or individual techniques to get the result you want. You can leave all the specifics in the therapist’s hands. However, for the best results, you should be able to specify to the therapist what you hope to get out of your massage experience. For example, if you want to relieve stress, reduce pain, or want to know if this therapist can get the knots out from between your shoulder blades, just ask if this is something he or she can help you with. You may also want to ask them what their specialty or favorite type of massage is.
A Sensual Massage is intended primarily to provide the recipient with a deliciously pleasurable sensory experience. There are often many therapeutic benefits to receiving a sensual massage, particularly to our emotional and spiritual state of being, but the main focus is on sensation. A good sensual masseuse is a master of the senses and understands the art of touch. Often times a sensual massage functions to transport the recipient to a blissful, meditative, nearly trance like state of consciousness. The primary "sense" involved is the sense of touch. However, other senses may be incorporated as well, such as the sense of smell when essential oils are added. The true sensual masseuse also pays close attention to the music selected and the visual environment to create an overall positive sensory experience for the client.
Please be aware, the word "sensual" is very often miss used when it comes to massage. Now I am not placing any judgment here, either condemning or condoning the alternative use, but I am just trying to clarify what you might run into out there in reality, if you request a sensual massage. To be quite honest, many people, both providers and recipients, have come to use the word "Sensual" Massage, more or less, as a euphemism for an "Erotic" Massage, or a massage with some type of sexual release involved or "happy ending". In fact this alternative meaning has been so widely used, that the original meaning is often obscured or lost. Just for clarity, if you want to request a sensual massage that is non-erotic, I highly advised that you ask specifically if this provider offers a non-erotic sensual massage, or you might want to use different words to ask for what you are seeking, such as a blissful relaxation massage or perhaps a massage designed to awaken the senses.
Sometimes you may notice that the advertisement is very suggestive, and strongly hints at the real service being offered. If the masseuse is nude, provocatively posed or very suggestively dressed in the photo, than it might be pretty safe to assume that the erotic type of massage is what is being offered. Sometimes it seems that the more blatantly provocative the photos, the less real massage skills the masseuse has. However, if it is really not clear which type of massage is being offered, I would suggest very simply and directly asking if they offer the type massage you are seeking, and really listen to the answer. But keep it very simple and avoid getting graphic. If you are requesting an erotic massage session, I do NOT recommend that you ask if she or he will provide any specific sexual acts, or get into a discussion about how much extra they would charge you. If you try to engage them in any overt sexual talk, particularly in conjunction with money, this will very likely result in the masseuse hanging up on you, blocking you, stopping all communication. Please be aware that this type of talk puts the masseuse into a compromising legal situation. Even engaging in a conversation that involves any specific sexual act for a specific price may put them in jeopardy of being arrested. They may suspect that you are law enforcement trying to trick them.
You may like the picture that accompanies the advertisement, but this may not be enough to determine that this is the therapist for you. Although I personally think it is not ethical to misrepresent yourself, there are providers who use pictures that are not even of themselves, or maybe very old outdated photos from 20 years ago. If physical appearance or beauty is very important to you, be aware that pictures are sometimes very deceiving. The picture you see may or may not be a good representation of who you will be meeting with. If this is important to you, then I suggest that you ask if the picture on the advertisement is an actual up to date picture of the therapist you will be meeting with. If you get a bad vibe at any point while talking to a therapist, that they are not being honest with you, or don't seem to be a comfortable fit, then pay attention to that feeling and move on to someone else.
3. Courtesy. How you treat and interact with your provider makes a huge difference in the quality of the massage you will receive. Whenever I see a negative review of a massage therapist who I know normally gets glowing reviews, I suspect that the client may have actually behaved in such a way that they negatively affected the massage. Yes, they may have actually gotten a bad massage from a therapist that normally gives wonderful massages, because they (the client) did not behaved themselves well. As much as I try my best to give all my clients a fantastic massage, I recognize that I am only human. If a client is rude, insulting, demanding and grabby, or if they cross any of my boundaries, then I will be forced into a defensive mode. I simply cannot give a fantastic massage when I feel vulnerable or guarded. Please be respectful and polite at all time, and I assure that you will get a much better massage. If you are not certain about what the expectations are; what is allowed or not allowed, then ask politely before you do anything questionable, and then respect his or her wishes.
I have encountered some so called "hobbyists" who actually make a sport out of trying to get a purely therapeutic massage therapist, who has clearly stated that she does not offer any erotic services, to touch them erotically. This so called hobbyist generally does not bring up their true interest until after the massage has already started. They may try to steer the massage down a sexual path in a subtle or sometimes not so subtle way. This behavior is disastrous on several levels. I could go in to depth about how potentially damaging this is to therapist, who may be constantly bombarded with sexually demeaning overtures on a daily basis. I could tell you about many potentially gifted therapists who have been discouraged and given up massage therapy as a profession all together over this issue. I could tell you about others who gave into to the pressure, but resented it and became bitter and cold. But more to the point, it is just not a good strategy for you to engage in if you want a top quality massage. You will most likely experience one of three less than optimal possible outcomes:
1. She may refuse to continue the massage altogether and send you packing on the spot (possibly without your money).
2. She may try to continue with a purely therapeutic massage, but the quality will suffer because she will be very guarded.
3. She may give in to the pressure. Even if you achieve some type of victory by wearing her down, if her heart is not in it, I can assure you the quality will not be good. Do you think a touch given begrudgingly, is really worth all the effort?
Another behavior that can diminish the quality of your massage is trying to haggle over the price. You may be able to politely ask if she or he is offering any specials, or ask if she or he offers a discount perhaps to military or senior citizens if this applies to you. But if the answer is no, you need to let it go. If you cannot afford the price asked, then I suggest moving right on to a different therapist who is already in your price range. If you continue to try to wear her or him down, this will not work in your favor. This is very insulting. It is extremely hard to give a good massage to someone who has just insulted you. I strongly suggest either pay the price asked or pick a different therapist.
4. Cleanliness. You might think this one would be common sense, but I can tell you from personal experience that more often than I would like to recall, I have had a client lie down on my massage table who was not hygienically savvy. Remember that in order for your therapist to do a good job, they are in very close proximity with you for generally an hour or more, with their nose all right up in your business. If you have bad breath, body odder, or dirty stinky feet, they cannot escape it. Please put extra care into your hygiene before getting a massage. It will pay off. It is extremely hard to do your best work on someone who is not clean or smells bad. If you take the time to brush your teeth, take a shower, use a little soap and deodorant, believe me, you will get a much better massage than if you do not. If you are unable to do these things before your massage because you are coming straight from a hot sweaty job, then please ask the therapist if there is a shower facility available to use on site. If the answer is yes, then bring your toiletries with you, use the shower before you get on the massage table and don't forget to brush your teeth.
Cleanliness also applies, in the broader sense of the word, to being drug and alcohol free. If you arrive intoxicated or under the influence of a mind altering drug, this is not acceptable. This puts both you and the therapist at risk. You are not only more likely to behave badly, but you actually are more likely to experience an injury when intoxicated. You are likely to be dehydrated and physically compromised in a variety of ways. You will have less sensory awareness and your perception will be altered affecting your ability to communicate your needs and physical limitations. This will adversely affect your judgment and your overall massage experience. If the therapist notices your altered state, she or he may ask you to leave.
To sum it all up; if you want to get the best possible massage, be aware that your behavior matters a great deal. First, do your homework. There are vastly different types of massages out there. You need to know what you really want. Don't just look at the pictures; take the time to read the words in the advertisement or website if one is available. Notice if what the therapist claims to offer seems to be in line with what you are seeking. Call and ask directly but politely if this provider offers the service you really want. If you get a bad vibe, or are suspicious that this therapist is not being honest, pay attention to your gut feelings and don’t go. Always be a gentleman. By all means, please do not arrive to your appointment smelly or intoxicated.
If you would like to schedule a massage with me, please take a look at my website, and then contact me for an appointment. http://www.angelstouches.com
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
The Tantric Art of Making Love
Tantra has been nicknamed "the science of ecstasy". Many assume that Tantra is simply the art of sex. Tantra expands our capacity for pleasure, yet it is much more. Tantra is about living life well and being more alive in the present moment. Tantra is the art of love.
Tantric sex is one part of a much larger spiritual practice of Tantra that touches on every aspect of life. However, it is understandable why many people are most curious about the “sexual” applications of Tantra. Sex is a very compelling force of nature. Tantric philosophy teaches us that everything is to be experienced playfully, yet with awareness. There is a sense of sacredness in every gesture, every sensory perception, and every action. The path of Tantra appreciates all of our senses and sexual experiences as a conscious meditation.
Sadly in today’s fast paced society; the default expectation is that our careers should be our first priority, and that our relationships should magically just take care of themselves. In reality this never works out well. When the majority of our time, attention and energies are focused on work, often times our love lives suffer by taking a back seat. What we sometimes forget is that relationships need to be feed and cultivated if we want them to flourish. Romance takes some creativity, but it is well worth the effort. Sometimes we act as if intimacy is a luxury, or an afterthought, but once it is gone from our relationship, we may start to recognize that it is a real need. Even relationships that started out as solid, loving and passionate suffer from neglect. In our minds we may be doing the whole high powered career thing for the sake of our beloved. However, if we don’t also budget some time for one another, the result is often a loss of intimacy. If we don’t continue to communicate, to connect with our partner on a heart level, and to kiss each other like we really mean it, the result is the deterioration of our relationship and a lack of passion in our sex life. Even with the most patient and understanding of partners, resentment may begin to silently build. Sometimes without meaning to, couples stop taking the time to look into each other’s eyes and stop touching one another. Before we know it, we may be living with someone who once was our lover, but is now a stranger. I am not suggesting that we all need to quit our jobs and make our relationship our full time focus. However, finding little ways to keep love alive, and keep the spark in our sex lives is worthy of our attention. Tantra gives us a structure to follow, as well as some practical tools and techniques to bring the focus back to love and passion.
Tantra is Transformational; teaching us to be open to experience more pleasure, to connect with the divine within us and the divine within our partner. When we apply Tantric principles to our relationship with our beloved, we make LOVE our top priority. We focus on heightening and prolonging that special rapport that exists between lovers during lovemaking. We elevate love making beyond the physical act to a spiritual experience. Through sacred love making rituals we celebrate the union of our bodies, hearts, minds and spirits. Every act of love represents divine union. The more we release the limitations of fear, the deeper we can open into the consciousness of love. The spiritual part of tantra is to use your sexual energy to merge ecstatically with your partner and through him or her to become one with the cosmos or god.
A devoted student of Tantric philosophy goes through an extensive program of physical, sexual and mental exercises to heighten sensory awareness. The tantrika, or Tantra student, will gain an in-depth understanding about the chakras or energy centers of the body. They will learn how to open up these centers, release block energy and move sexual kundalini energy through their whole body. They will also learn how to connect and circulate this energy through their lover’s body while making love. Tantra involves a slow and thoughtful practice of lovemaking techniques. The student learns to comfortably extend the time of lovemaking. In this way they train themselves to be more aware of their own feelings and sensations as well as those of their partner.
What is special about Tantric sex? Tantric sex is to ordinary sex what gourmet food is to fast food. With tantric sex we relax, breath and let go of the outside world. We expand our awareness of all our senses as we gaze into the soul of our beloved. We tune into our beloved’s energy and celebrate our union. We make time for lovemaking, because it is a priority; connecting intimately with our partner, and renewing our love in the present moment. Making love becomes a type of worship, honoring and celebrating the divine within us. The connection is not only physical, but emotional and spiritual. We take the luxury of time to savor every sensation. Instead of rushing or focusing on the goal of reaching a climax, the whole experience of sensual connection is enjoyed and expanded. The energy of sexual arousal is allowed to build slowly and expand fully into a heightened orgasmic state of ecstasy that generally is not reached through ordinary sex. By moving and expanding our sexual energy up through all the energy centers of the body, we may experience an intense extended state of euphoria that some refer to as a full body orgasm.
There is a common misconception about Tantra that I would really like to dispel. Occasionally I hear people express a concern or reluctance to explore tantra because they have heard that during tantric sex, you are not allowed to cum. This misunderstanding naturally discourages people from wanting to explore Tantra because it sounds potentially frustrating and unsatisfying. Especially if you interpret this to mean you cannot have an orgasm. The good news is, this is not the case. Yes, there are some Tantric techniques that are taught and practiced among some tantrikas for enjoying sex without ejaculating. There is some real value in this practice, particularly in learning how to experience orgasms without ejaculating, because this opens up some interesting sexual possibilities. If this intrigues you, then I highly recommend giving it a try. However, these practices are not a mandatory part of Tantric sex.
Tantra is both a spiritual practice and sexual philosophy, yet it is not a religion or system that involves restrictions, denial or deprivation of any kind. In fact the practice of Tantra often encourages followers to explore and dispel taboos. Tantra is a practice of consciously saying yes to life and yes to new experiences. There really are no rules against anything pleasurable or mutually consensual in Tantra, especially no rules forbidding orgasms or even ejaculating. Tantra is practiced across many cultures, and in conjunction with various religious and cultural beliefs that sometimes get mixed up with the pure practice of Tantra. Sex without any ejaculation at all is a practice that I believe stems from a cultural / spiritual belief that is not purely tantric in origin, but rather a philosophy of longevity that is practiced by some Hindus and Taoists. There is a belief that preserving the ejaculation fluid inside your body preserves your life force energy and therefore prolongs your life. However, this is not a belief held or practiced by all Tantric lovers around the world. The majority of American and European Tantric lovers that I know do not feel compelled to practice a strict form of non-ejaculation with tantric sex. However, prolonging arousal or postponing climax to allow the energy to reach a higher level is often practiced as a way to expand awareness and orgasmic bliss.
The art of prolonging pleasure without reaching climax is described in the Kama Sutra, the Hindu sex manual written in the 4th century. "Karezza" is the term used to define a practice of the male pleasuring his partner and prolonging their intercourse by perpetuating his state of orgasm without actually ejaculating. With practice, he may experience a sensation of internal and sometimes multiple internal orgasms. Some people refer to this type of orgasm as a dry orgasm because it happens without ejaculation. A dry orgasm is pleasurable, yet still allows the sexual act to continue, prolonging the state of orgasmic bliss for a couple's mutual enjoyment. The art of Karezza incorporates breath control, meditation, work with postures, and finger pressure into the sexual act.
The Kama Sutra speaks about Karezza as a male practice; however, females can also expand their orgasmic experience in a similar fashion. Although ejaculation control is not a female issue of concern, many of the same basic principles of extending and expanding orgasmic awareness through breath control, meditation, postures and touch apply to the feminine sexual experience as well. Plus, females who previously have had difficulty achieving an orgasm during sex, perhaps have never experienced multiple orgasms, have never experienced internal g-spot pleasure, or female ejaculation before, can often open up their ability to experience more pleasure and a whole variety of new types of orgasms with a little practice and support from a patient Tantric lover.
There are some really good Tantric techniques for ejaculation control, or delaying ejaculation that you may want to explore to enhance your orgasmic experience. The point is not to deprive you or your partner of anything, but rather to allow for broadening your definition and experience to include more pleasure, and an expanded view of sexuality. Experimenting with ways to prolonging love making for your mutual pleasure is encouraged in Tantric practice. However, I personally think there is room in the tantrika’s repertoire for an occasional quickie. However, I would like to suggest that this not be the only option available to you, and would hope that you would make time on a regular basis for luxurious Tantric love making sessions with your partner.
Why Might Someone Wish to Experience Tantra? My first response would be in the form of a question. I would ask “why not?” Perhaps it would be to explore sensuality within a spiritual context, or to heal old sexual wounds or traumas that inhibit your full sexual expression. Perhaps it would be to build confidence as a lover or enhance intimacy with your beloved. One of the primary purposes of tantra is to awaken the Kundalini; a very powerful, intense and healing form of energy that can make us feel younger, more alive and vibrant. When kundalini is awakened, it can travel up through the spine, releasing blocked energy, igniting the transformational powers of each of the seven chakras. The result is higher states of awareness, improved health and often euphoric states of pleasure.
If you are interested in learning more about tantra, or would like to schedule a Tantric counseling session with me, please take a look at my website: http://www.angelstouches.com
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Salacious Shades of Meaning
I have been thinking about words lately. I have noticed that sometimes we humans treat words as if they have an intrinsic almost sacred meaning that is fixed in concrete, when in actuality the meaning of words is much more fluid. It helps to remember that every word that exists at one time was "made up" by us humans. How we use words and the "meaning" of words gradually (or sometimes rather quickly) shifts, shaped by our culture, interests, attitudes, and beliefs. Words that describe bodily functions or anything sexual in nature are particularly susceptible to shifts in meaning and sometimes multiple meanings, or shades of meaning. Sometimes so called "nice" words are corrupted and their meaning shifts after being used as euphemisms for things we think of as not so "nice". However, lately I have also noticed another trend. Words that have historically had a derogatory or negative meaning are being re-claimed and used to express something positive and strong. I kind of enjoy this trend. This feels empowering to me. It makes me smile when I hear someone refer to themselves, for example, as an ethical slut, a massage slut, or any kind of self proclaimed slut, when it takes on this beautiful meaning of being enthusiastic in their complete love, infatuation and appreciation for sex or whatever the chosen activity. Words can be so empowering and uplifting when used in a conscious way.
Once while I was completely enjoying kissing a particularly charming and delicious gentleman, he referred to me as “salacious”. Actually I think he asked me if I knew how salacious I was. Although he said it as if it were a compliment, I had not heard that word used in a very long time, and never as a compliment. The associations I had to that word were not altogether positive. This was a word I thought you might used to describe a particularly unappealing, perverted individual; scandalous, obscene, lecherous, pornographic, grossly indecent, and “slutty” (which is a word I still have mixed feelings about) is what came to my mind. He seemed to be anxiously awaiting my response to his assessment of me. I noticed that this triggered a bit of old insecurity in me, wondering to myself if I had been out of line in my outward expression of pleasure and bliss, so I told him that I wasn’t really sure what salacious meant (not an altogether untruth.) He proceeded to say something like: Inspiring of desire, highly sensual, arousing or appealing to sexual fantasy. Oh, I said with a sigh of relief. That sounds like a good word. I like that! It is kind of like a mix of sexy and delicious!
So this same word, with a similar yet different shade of meaning was now experienced by me in a whole new way. The main difference being the second definition came out of a more positive attitude about sex, than the initial critical judgmental attitude that colored my first impression of this word. I made a point of using this newly rediscovered word several times over the next few days.
I also believe that the meaning and power we give words can really hurt at times, in spite of the childhood rhyme to the contrary. Adolescence years are particularly vulnerable, confusing times for many. When I was growing up, there were many mixed messages out there about what appropriate behavior was, particularly when it comes to our bodies, dating and sex. There were clearly gaps between the expectations values and beliefs passed on by my elders and what was considered cool and embraced by my peers, but there also wasn’t really any clear consensus among my peers either, so it seemed inevitable that no matter what I did, or people imagined that I did, someone was not going to approve. I would be judged and I would be called names.
It was particularly challenging for me growing up as a girl. Society taught me that I should care about my appearance, and put energy into making myself attractive and appealing, yet somehow, as a “good girl”, I should not make myself too appealing. I should be friendly and approachable, yet never overly forward or easy. I should look cute, attractive, and sexy, yet not too sexy or slutty, or people might think I am a whore. This was not an easy distinction to make at times, especially for a teenager. I would often take an exceptionally long time to get ready to go anywhere. Putting on makeup was tricky. Sometimes it would take several tries of putting it on then taking it back off, because somehow I had crossed the line from tastefully accentuating my eyes the way the magazine described, into the realm of looking like a hooker. It was common for girls in my day to ask each other things like, how does this outfit look? Do I look cute and sexy or slutty and whorish?
My father was a minister for awhile, during these particularly vulnerable years when I was beginning to date. It felt as if the weight of responsibility about being careful how I dressed and behaved because I might inadvertently “cause” a boy to “sin” was amplified. I was given the strong message that somehow it is up to me, as a girl, to keep the boys in line and keep my virtue in tack. Boys, as it was explained, had “urges”. Hormones, I was told, coursing through their veins somehow made them a little crazy and unaccountable for their actions. Girls, however, seemed to be held very accountable for every action and even the appearance of an action. If a boy crossed the line, then it was just a boy being a boy, and you can’t blame a guy for trying. If a girl crossed a line, “gave in” to a boys advances, or god forbid, if she was so bold as to make advances, she would get a bad reputation and be labeled with harsh words. The message was always some version of be a good girl and some day you will get rewarded with a husband and a family. I was told that boys may pay more attention to the bad girls now but they do not “respect” them. They may play around with the bad girls but when they want to get married, for some strange reason, they suddenly want a good girl. Did it never occur to anyone back then that healthy girls, both bad and good, had hormones coursing through their veins as well?
As a girl, I was somehow supposed to suppress my own desires and keep the boys at bay. But it was more complicated than that. I also knew that if a girl was too guarded with her chastity, and not willing to play around, she would get called other names. These names were just as hurtful, if not more hurtful than the ones used for the so called bad girls. I tried to ride that thin line between good girl and bad girl, but it was not easy. I recall a time when I was only in seventh grade. I had developed early, so my breasts seemed to draw a lot of attention as well as to lead people to wild assumptions about my character and behavior. In the course of the same school day it was not uncommon to be called a slut, a tease and a prude without doing a thing other than to walk around with breasts.
As a young woman, I went to a Christian school. I remember distinctly watching a particularly disturbing film that the faculty had us watch; sort of as a warning to us young women to guard our virtue. Now it was the early eighties, but the film seemed to be set perhaps in the late fifties. The story focused around a young woman who had fallen head over heels for a young man. I can’t remember the names, but our heroin was a very cute seemingly happy and bubbly girl, so I will call her Joy. Joy and Mark were dating, spending a lot of time together. It seemed to be a summer romance, with walks on the beach and rides in a convertible. According to the story teller’s point of view, at some point Mark began to “pressure her” for sex. She seemed ambivalent, but did not want to lose him, so she was struggling over what to do.
Joy talked with a girlfriend, who seemed to be one of the “good girls” you hear about, a Sandra Dee type. Imagine the before version of Sandy on Greece before the makeover. That was what the friend appeared to be like, so I will call her Sandy. Sandy advised Joy not to do it. She told our heroine that if she went all the way with Mark, that the young man in question would not respect her, and advised Joy to wait for marriage. Well, she held out for a while, but she must have realized at some point that she really shouldn’t be taking advice about her sex life from her inexperienced, naive friend who obviously had no boyfriend of her own, so she “rationalized” that since they were “in love”, it would be all right to “go all the way” and she did. Although they did not show us the graphic details, it was somehow implied that they had sex.
It seemed disturbing to me that this character seemed to be more concerned about having sex as a way to keep her boyfriend, rather than for the sheer bliss and pleasure of it, but this movie was set in the fifties, apparently before women realized or dared voice out loud, that they liked sex. Well at first everything seemed to be going swell for Joy and Mark. They seemed to be having a great time together throughout the summer.
Finally the summer is almost over and Joy is getting ready for a very special date. Joy, all smiles, confides in Sandy that she thinks her boyfriend Mark might propose tonight. Mark was taking her to a fancy restaurant and he had told her that there was something important that he wanted to talk to her about. She was obviously excited as she sat across from him at dinner all smiles, in her perfect outfit that she spent hours picking out for this special occasion.
However, the story takes an unhappy turn at this point, and instead of proposing, he breaks up with her. She is crushed! He says something lame about how they were just having a little fun. To add insult to injury, he tells her that he is planning to marry someone else. Someone he has been involved with for some time now, but who he was apparently separated from for the summer. Although I can’t remember all the details, it was implied somehow that the girl he plans to marry was still a virgin. So I will call this mysterious fiancée Mary. Our heroine Joy comes home, tears streaming down her face, feeling hurt, ashamed, upset, and betrayed. You can just tell that her smug friend Sandy is dying to say “I told you so”, but instead she just gives her one of those piteous looks that says, “oh you poor dear miss guided slut, now that you are no longer a virgin you will probably never land a nice man”.
The story ends with Mark and Mary having a lovely wedding. Joy is alone and devastated, and sadly without her precious virginity. The story tellers paint her as someone apparently doomed to live the rest of her life alone and in shame. I had the feeling that I was supposed to learn a lesson from this film, but I couldn’t help but think that the lessons I gleaned were not really the ones intended.
I remember talking and laughing with friends about this silly film afterwards. The consensus among my friends was that we felt most sorry for poor naive Mary, not so much for Joy. Yes, Joy had a bad disappointment, but she dodged a bullet with Mark. He was an asshole! Joy had a fun summer fling. Yes, it ended badly, but now she was free to move on and hopefully find someone honest and loving. Poor Mary, who seems to be in the dark about the whole summer affair, and what kind of asshole her new husband is, is now stuck with this cheating lying jerk “till death do them part”! We joked about the possible future for each of the characters. Here is my version of the rest of the story.
Mark and Mary start a family right away; one boy and one girl. They seem to be the perfect little family. However, Mary started out the marriage being completely in experienced sexually, and is still rather reserved in the bedroom. No one every taught her about orgasms and how delightful they can be. Mark, not being a very patient or giving man, doesn’t do much to help Mary discover the pleasures of sex for herself. Mark grows impatient and bored with Mary, who was taught that sex was something you should only do to make babies. Now that they have their perfect little family, she is no longer interested in having sex. Dissatisfied with their sex life, Mark has numerous affairs with women who seem to like sex. Mark and Mary’s marriage falls apart. But it is the fifties and they have children, so they stay together in this loveless marriage for the children.
Joy, being not only sensual but intelligent, leaves her small town and gets out into the real world. She focuses on her career and gains a lot of respect for her work as a scientific researcher. She begins to see that there is more to life than she was first led to believe. She gradually becomes the confident woman that she was meant to be. She travels the world and along the way she meets many other interesting men before she finally settles down with a sensual French Artist named Pierre, who loves and appreciates a woman who knows how to embrace her sensuality. He has no hang ups about wanting a virgin bride and makes love to her enthusiastically. He loves to paint provocative picture of Joy in the nude, and they live happily ever after.
Sandy’s life took some interesting turns as well. She didn’t meet that special boy she had hoped to right away, but being the good Catholic girl that she was, she began to wonder if she had a special calling. Maybe she was supposed to marry Jesus. She became a nun and lived in a convent for a few years, and taught in a catholic school. But after awhile she noticed that it was pretty lonely being married to Jesus. She befriended a young priest named Joseph. It was innocent at first. Doing the Lord’s work together, sharing a pleasant conversation while feeding the homeless, but in spite of all their vows, they began to fall in love. All of their repressed sexual energy bubbled to the surface and they had a forbidden love affair. Their secret was eventually discovered. It was a big shameful scandal. They left the church, left town together and started life over in another city. It was pretty rocky at first because neither of them had many social life skills. Sandy, who had been a teacher at the Catholic school back home, eventually got work as a public school teacher. Joseph, although disillusioned with the church and the priesthood, he still felt a calling to help people and offer comfort and guidance. He got a job at a book store, and went back to school to become a psychologist.
I now recognize that this film was propaganda produced by those who wished to keep women repressed, subservient and out of touch with their sexual feminine desires and power. Luckily, in my case, it was not entirely successful.
I remember thinking after viewing this strange film that not all of us girls wanted to use our feminine wiles to manipulate and trap a boy into marrying us someday. We actually liked being sexual beings. When I liked someone, every impulse in my body said, “Just kiss the boy!” Perhaps the good girls had enormous self control and virtue, but it occurs to me that perhaps the so called good girls were simply repressed, stifled or damaged girls, filled with shame, not in touch with their bodies or libidos. Would they be able to magically turn back on all the repressed sexual energy they had worked so hard to contain once they said “I do”? If in fact they did get the good husbands, it might not be long before their marriage falls apart because of a lack of passion, and those same good husbands would be out there again seeking a so called bad girl.
As a young girl, I did want to find a good husband someday. I had all the little girl fantasies of the perfect wedding, but more importantly, I also wanted a good marriage, I pictured that marriage to be filled with passionate love, kindness, maybe children, a nice home, and okay, I will come right out and say it, I wanted to have great sex. I was a little unclear how I would know if we were compatible sexually if we never had sex until the wedding night. I never got a satisfactory answer for this one. The take in on faith line just never rang true for me.
The main point of my story, if I can pick just one, is that words are colored by our attitudes. If we have a positive attitude about sex, our bodies and ourselves, our language reflects that. The meaning and power of our words begins to evolve as well. When I was a little girl, being called a slut was a pretty devastating insult. Now as an adult if someone should call me a slut, I still might not initially jump for joy. However, I think I might find a clever way of using my words to define for myself the shade of meaning that suits me. I would be inclined to gently correct them by saying; yes, I am a slut. I am a sacred salacious slut. I embody the goddess, and my beloved is a god. If you would like, I could help you to learn how to be a sacred salacious slut too.
If you are interested is scheduling a session with me (or even just curious) please check out my website: http://www.angelstouches.com
Friday, September 14, 2012
Reiki, a Return to Wholeness
The Reiki practitioner functions a lot like an antenna. They draw healing ki energy from the universe through their body. This energy flows out through the palms and fingers of the practitioner's hands while they are touching the recipient's body. This energy also known as prana, mana, chi, and source, helps promote healing in all living things.
Remote Healing. Reiki can also be given at a distance. The Reiki Practitioner connects with the receiver energetically. Often the practitioner uses a "proxy" to represent the receiver to help focus the energy and direct it to the recipient's energy centers. Generally the practitioner and receiver agree on a time for the healing, and the receiver relaxes while the practitioner facilitates the healing energy on their behalf.
The level of reality where Reiki operates is the underlying energy structure of matter, as the physical matter we see around us is a solidified form of energy (Remember Einstein's famous equation which says that each unit of mass is equivalent to a certain amount of energy). At the level where Reiki functions, anything can be changed because all is fluid like and is very malleable. Emotional difficulties are just as healable as physical ones since emotional issues are present in the energy structures.
Healing is a return to greater wholeness. There is an Ideal form each of us has. This ideal form being the highest and clearest expression of who we are. Pain or disease comes from any deviation between the person's current form in the 3D physical world and this ideal form. Healing, then, is to bring this physical form into closer alignment with the ideal form.
Reiki is also a gateway shining pure love into the universe. It is this love, which allows us to transcend our wounds and help us remember our true nature.
What to Expect During a Reiki Healing Session. You will be asked to lay down on a massage table, couch, bed, or to sit upright in a chair. You will be fully clothed except for your shoes. You may also be asked to remove or loosen your belt so that your breathing is not restricted in any way. It is best to choose loose-fitting garments to wear on the day of your appointment. Wearing natural fabrics is best (cotton, wool, or linen). You may also be asked to remove any jewelry (rings, bracelets, pendants, etc.) prior to the session, so consider leaving these items at home.
Relaxing Atmosphere. Reiki practitioners will often create a relaxing atmosphere for their Reiki sessions, setting the mood with the use of dimmed lights, meditative music, or bubbling water fountains. Some practitioners prefer to be in a place that is completely silent, without distraction of music of any kind, to conduct their Reiki sessions in.
Healing Touch. During the Reiki healing session the practitioner will place his hands lightly on different parts of your body. Some Reiki practitioners will follow a predetermined sequence of hand placements, allowing their hands to rest on each body placement for 2 to 5 minutes before moving on to the next. Empathic practitioners will freely move their hands in no particular order to the areas where they "feel" Reiki is most needed. Some Reiki practitioners do not actually touch their clients. Instead, they will hover their lifted palms a few inches above the reclined body. Either way, Reiki energies flow where they are suppose to. Reiki is a smart energy that automatically flows where the imbalances are in your body regardless of where the practitioner's hands are placed.
Phantom Hands. Because Reiki energies flow to where they are most needed there is a Reiki phenomenon called "phantom hands" that you may or may not experience. Phantom hands feel as if the Reiki practitioner's hands are touching one part of your body when they are actually elsewhere. For example, you may be able to see that the healer's hands are actually placed on your stomach, but you could swear that hands are touching your legs. Or, you may feel as if several pairs of hands are on your body at the same time as if several people are in the room with you.
Reiki is traditionally taught in three levels or degrees:
First Degree Reiki is the basic course in Reiki. It includes four separate energy activating attunements along with complete training in the scientific use of the Reiki technique. The student is taught how to pass on the universal energy without depleting their own energy supplies. Specific instructions are given to the student as to how to apply Reiki energy to themselves, as well as to others who may wish to use it for treating a specific dis-ease or as a preventive or transformative technique.
Second Degree Reiki training can usually take place one to three months after the First Degree initiation (or when the student feels they are ready, both mentally and spiritually). During this training, the student receives two attunements and learns specific techniques for enhancing the flow of energy and for performing “distance” treatments. They are taught a special method for dealing with deep-seated emotional and mental problems, which can be used with either a physical or distance treatment.
Third Degree Reiki is traditionally referred to as the Master level of training, as those who receive this degree can then teach Reiki to others. This is an in-depth training, usually given over a period of several months, and sometimes includes supervised teaching time. Third Degree includes special energy attunements which enable the student to activate the energy in others.
If you are interested in having a Reiki session (in person or remotely). Or if you are interested in learning to facilitate Reiki, please contact me. My website is: http://www.angelstouches.com
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Have a Love Affair
There is often an assumption out there that having a love "affair" means the same thing as cheating on your partner. However, that is a very limited interpretation. People can get swept up in a passionate love affair that has nothing to do with cheating and everything to do with being completely enthralled with one another.
An affair is exciting, passionate and adventurous. Starring into one another's eyes as if your souls are entwined. Kissing and holding each other passionately as if to say, "I don't want to let you go", or "I want to soak up as much of your essence as I can... to hold me over until we can see each other again". Part of the fun may involve little secrets that just the two of you share. The excitement and anticipation of planning a special rondevu adds to the allure of an affair. The secret love notes and flirty texts that salacious lovers send one another can keep your lover burning in your mind all day long.
Putting our attention and creative energy into wooing one another can even magically turn a stalled relationship into a thriving affair. When making love is part of an exciting, engaging adventure that gets your heart pumping and your juices flowing, then you are having an affair. If you use this word "affair" to mean an exciting, passionate, sensually alive connection, that sweeps you off your feet and drives you to blissful distraction, then I hope we all can be so lucky... to have such a love affair. It is even possible to have a "love affair" with your husband or wife... no matter how many years you have been together, and I highly recommend it!
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