In Nick Roeg’s film ‘Insignificance’, there’s a great scene where Albert Einstein and Marilyn Munro are in bed together. It’s striking, because we don’t expect people like Einstein (geniuses who live in their head) to be any good at sex. They’re just good at thinking.

 

But here’s the thing: in sex, if nothing else, you are Einstein. Most of us are trying to figure everything out in our heads. Except, instead of thinking new things, we’re all thinking the same things, over and over. Things like, could I be doing better, is this working, what can I do differently and so on. But If you go with the idea of creating relaxing connected pleasure, whatever form it might take, you’ve got more of a chance of a surprisingly loving, appreciative, connected and sexy time.

 

Here are 7 tips to take yourself away from the anxiety of performance and simply be where you are:

 

  1. Connect to your breath. Breath is the best sex aid. You can use it to slow down and relax or speed it up to raise your arousal. Also notice if you hold your breath. Try to breathe deeply. Share breath with your lover: shared slow sexy breathing is very erotic and connected.
  2. Connect with your own body as well as your lover’s body. Notice the sensations all over your body. Where do you enjoy being touched? How do you like to be touched? Can you sense sensations on your thighs, collar bone, hips, back of the neck? Your skin is the biggest erogenous zone and the place you can take in the most pleasure. Learn to feel more.Be mindful and give attention to small gestures, feel textures and enjoy scents. Notice everything. Throw your attention wide open.
  3. Slow down. And slow down again. Slow your touch and your breath.
  4. Get more skilled at sensual touch. Slow stroking with the palms of your hands is better than grabby mindless touch. Slow scratching down a mans back, gentle nuzzling around a panty or bra line, gentle hair pulling, a gentle squeeze on a hip or slow finger tips on that sexy line between the bottom and backs of thighs…
  5. Learn how to gently ask for what you want and give appreciation ..please kiss my neck…mmmmm that feels good. We all like praise, be generous with it as it guides our lover with appreciation and helps us relax
  6. Learn how to connect with your own sexual energy instead of focusing on someone else’s. Taking your intention to being fluid in your hips and pelvis really helps in this, a bit of slow writhing or gentle grinding can be very sensual
  7. Eye gazing is beautiful. Before you begin take 10 mins to sit opposite each other and look into each others eyes. Without touching each other, simply through your eyes, connect as two humans who are going to embark on a shared intimate experience and really see each other with a loving gaze.

About a month ago, a friend circulated an article about married people having affairs.  The article was a bit Radio Times, but buried in it was a very questionable assertion dressed up as indisputable fact: women’s libido goes down significantly after menopause.

 

Why do so many people believe this?  It’s possible that we make an unconscious link between fertility and libido, but I think it’s a false inference drawn from something which is true.

 

The bit that’s true is that women have less lubrication after menopause.  That might make the vulva feel less luscious and more brittle. It may make intercourse uncomfortable.

 

But none of that means that desire decreases.

 

Imagine that men, when they reached a certain age – fifty, say – found that their lips became drier than before, and kissing became painful. I don’t imagine an idea would grow up that men would go off kissing after 50. We’d see it as a problem of lubrication. Someone would make a lot of money inventing a lip balm for men.

 

And it’s like that for women too. But here’s the thing: if your vulva feels less comfortable than before, wouldn’t you like something to help with that? And not just during intercourse.

 

Vaginal dryness after menopause is caused by the body producing less oestrogen.  Lubricant is usual recommended, but the focus is too much on intercourse, and on the vagina alone, rather than the whole vulva.  The focus needs to be more on making the whole area feel great.

 

A lot of women post menopause experience the skin quality of their labia change.  It’s as if the lips become drier and more fragile, and the whole area can feel itchy and irritable, particularly to the touch.  And this is an issue that goes way beyond sex.  If you feel uncomfortable and awkward there, how are you going to feel relaxed and sexy?

 

Rather than focusing on lubrication during sex, how can we make all of the vulva plump and juicy?

Help is now at hand. The remedy is [cue trumpets]:

Castor Oil

 

Indeed. It’s a wonderfully rich, lubricious oil.  Just warm and apply liberally.  So why don’t we hear more about it.  Well, apart from women’s comfort and pleasure being a matter of little importance throughout most of recorded history, nobody stands to make money from it, because nobody owns it.  Like aspirin.  So nobody has a monetary incentive to encourage its use.

 

But we have an incentive.  Love.

 

One of the often reported symptoms that women experience after menopause is vaginal dryness, caused by the body producing less oestrogen.  The recommendation is that lubricant is used, but the focus is too much on intercourse, and on the vagina alone, rather than the whole vulva.  The focus needs to be more on making the whole area feel great.

 

A lot of women post menopause experience the skin quality of their labia change.  It’s as if the lips become drier and more fragile, and the whole area can feel itchy and irritable, particularly to the touch.  And this is an issue that goes way beyond sex.  If you feel uncomfortable and awkward there, how are you going to feel relaxed and sexy?

 

Rather than focusing on lubrication during sex, how can we make all of the vulva plump and juicy?

 

In our experience, regular massage with warm castor oil is the best thing.  The oil really soaks into the skin, plumping it up and reviving it, enabling it to welcome touch, rather than find it an irritant. And the warm lubricious heat relaxes and opens the whole area.

 

We generally do this as part of a more general massage, waking up and re-sensualising the body, and it fits into our general philosophy: the quickest way to feel differently is through pleasure, and the quickest way for your body to feel different is through bodily pleasure.  Try it.

If you ask a heterosexual man what bad sex is, he’s likely to say it’s when sex is boring. He’s unlikely to say, for instance, that bad sex is painful sex, or unwanted sex, or humiliating sex.

 

Yet, that is often women’s experience.

 

At least ten women friends have sent me an article by Lili Loofbourow, ‘The female price of male pleasure’, which goes into this in considerable, painful detail. You can find the article here ( www.theweek.com > articles > female-price-male-pleasure )

 

One of the points the article makes is that we frequently still have a bizarre idea of what consent means. It doesn’t appear mean active, enthusiastic participation. Rather, it seems to be everything short of determined refusal. Oh, Sir Jasper!

 

Who does this serve really?

 

I am doing brilliant new training later this year with Betty Martin. She’s most famous for inventing The Wheel Of Consent, and it’s particularly helpful as we try to negotiate a more fulfilling, satisfying notion of sex, leaving behind a Harvey Weistein entitlement without falling into a new Puritanism.

 

Her work is vital for these times, but consider this: how easily can you answer these questions:

 

What would you like to do to me?

What would you like me to do to you?

 

Simple questions, aren’t they? But very difficult to answer. Maybe I feel that I couldn’t ask for something unless I knew you were going to enjoy it. Maybe I couldn’t ask for something unless I knew you secretly wanted to give it to me, and you’d be thrilled to do so. The questions can get really tangled up with not knowing what we want, wanting to please our partner: myriad questions.

 

But unless we can actually answer these questions, we’re always going to have bad sex, because clear communication is impossible. We’re always thinking of the other person, and are resentful they don’t seem to be thinking of us, or if they are, they’re pretty clueless. It’s a real mess.

 

So, we can’t really separate sex, bad or otherwise, from more general issues of power, autonomy and communication. And you want to address that, don’t you? Me too.

One of the main complaints that people seem to have is that sex is boring. Not usually at first, but after a while. I remember one friend, talking about monogamy saying “ Not many people can put up with the boredom of having sex with the same person for 20 years”

 

And yet, in other aspects of our life, we take boredom as a sign that something needs to change. But often, this doesn’t apply to sex. The attitude seems to be that Bad Sex just is, like a wet Scottish summers.

 

One reason for that is that we lack a language to talk about sex. But there are languages. Lots of them. Here’s one language for Sexual Exploration:

 

When I was exploring tantra, I came across Quodoushka. This is a type of neo-shamanistic teaching on sexuality claiming to originate in Native American Indian spirituality. It’s most famous for classifying 9 genital types for both men and women, which, to me at least, is very liberating, because it gets us out of ideas of “normal”, and I intend to write about this further, but for now, I’d like to talk about one of their other teachings, The Wheel Of Sexuality.

 

The wheel has 4 modalities, North, South, East and West, and 4 intermediate modalities, North-West, North-East, South East and South West. Each of these corresponds to an aspect of sexuality.

 

North is Contract. South is Innocence. East is Spirit. West is Body. North West is power over/power under, North East is energetic practices. South East is conventional sex and South West is edgy, challenging sex.

 

It’s a map which gives us a means to look at ourselves, and what we might do differently. Shakti Tantra do a regular workshop on the Wheel, called Aspects, where you can explore the various modalities.

 

In my experience, some of these will be looked at more than others. The north east, for instance, isn’t explored so much, because it assumes a technical knowledge that the participants might not have, normally knowledge of the Chinese and Indian exercises for a couple to circulate energy between them, classically, Yab Yum.

 

My most vivid enactment of the Wheel wasn’t actually at a sexuality workshop at all, but when I was learning body mind centering. Part of that training is is regress to earlier stages of development, and on this occasion we regressed to the oral stage, innocently and openly exploring ourselves and the world around us through our mouth. We were blindfold. I found it incredibly erotic. There was no nudity or overt sexuality, but it was a revelation to me, just this taking of everything into my mouth.

 

The Wheel can also expand your sense of what a modality is. The easiest way to express North West is through fairly cliched BDSM stereotypes, but if you can stay there, other things can emerge, like fantasy role play, for instance, which opens up a whole other world.

 

Language plays a crucial role in our liberation. If we can talk about something, we can imagine it differently. If we have a map, we can explore. It’s one of the critical roles of a sex coach, replacing blankness with possibility.

Ages ago, before the internet, I had an affair with a woman who liked porn. We’d have sex, and while I was recuperating, we’d watch some of her porn. The only one I remember was one involving a vacuum salesman and a housewife. You can imagine. I can’t say it did much for me.

Years later, Karen and I were in Las Vegas, at a bizarre French themed establishment. There was a huge screen in our bedroom playing non stop porn. It was incredibly repetitive, just lots of shagging in various positions. I vaguely hoped they might speed it up a bit and play the theme music from The Benny Hill Show, for variety. I found it marginally less erotic than the Goverment’s economic policy.

When I was doing my Sexological Bodywork training, I spoke to one of the other participants about porn. I said that I needed to have a bit of a story and some characterisation. She said she’d fast forward through that to get to the shagging, which was all she was interested in. To each their own, but it did make me think that gender stereotypes about porn are rather patronising.

People often say that there’s no porn for women, but the more general point is why is the general standard so terrible? Is it because 100 years ago people got excited by the transgressive, and pornographers since then have just kept serving up the Old Fayre?

As it happens, there is now quite a bit for the discerning female customer. For instance, www.feministpornguide.com is a brilliant site, taking aim both against terrible mainstream porn and terrible mainstream feminist puritans, like Andrea Dworkin and Catherine McKinnon, who equate porn with patriarchy.

If you were interested, you could also have a wee look at www.erikalust.com and www.frolicme.com

When Karen and I were at that funny hotel in Vegas we attended – not as participants – the Porn Awards. It was like the Oscars, but more sincere. Somebody who had been awarded awarded Miss Rear Entry 2007 or something would tearfully clutch her award and say “ I’ve taken a lot of cock for this!” And everyone would cheer and applaud. Then they sung the national anthem. Very American all round. But again, all the material was as erotic as old socks.

Annie Sprinkle said “ The solution to bad porn isn’t no porn, it’s better porn.” She’s right. Happy exploring.

 

What do we really want sexually?  Imagine that we lived in a society where you could have sex with anyone, but conversation was strictly circumscribed.  You could only have conversations with your beloved.  The rest of social communication is conducted through some kind of bleep technology.  Imagine the sort of conversations that could come up:

 

“I thought you were just going to have sex with Doris.  I felt betrayed when I found out you were discussing French literature.  What’s wrong with my French literature?   I did night school classes on Proust. Bastard.”

 

Imagine further that in this society, instead of sex workers, there are conversation workers, who you have to make clandestine meetings in order to have a good talk.

 

What sort of conversations would you pay for?  Would you pay to have your views affirmed, your jokes laughed at, your vocabulary favourably compared to your wittiest friends?

 

I think not.

 

My guess is that you would want to pay for a real conversation.  Not a safe and habitual conversation but one that has risk and uncertainty so that there is some new stimulation. Talking that would allow both seduction and rejection to be possible. Having a conversation that gives you success or failure.  Wouldn’t that be more interesting?

 

So turning to our world, what do people want when they buy sexual services?

 

Kant defined marriage as a contract for the reciprocal use of the other’s genitals, and in the common understanding of sexual services, the genitals and the wallet are in one place, as it were.  But the actual experience is generally joyless and dispiriting.  You know the other person is pretending.  You know it’s not real.  It’s pretend real.

 

Is that what we really want?

 

My dear friend Ali Grace thinks not, and to test it out, she has recently started offering a tantric escort service.  The idea is that initially you pay to meet up over lunch.  No sex is on offer, but you can agree certain other things.  It’s a kind of audition.  If she likes you, you take it from there.  There’s no promise of anything.  It all depends how you get on.

 

So far, it seems to be working very well, and I think she’s on to something, because she’s offering something both real and relational.  It’s fun and flirty, and as she’s a brilliant conversationalist, discussions can dip and soar like an exultation of swallows.

 

Her work is very different from ours in content and form, but both are rooted in actually meeting the other.  With her, the primary thing is excitement, and with us, it’s probably devotional love.

 

Different kinds of conversations: but both equally real.

I talked to my Zen Group the other week about the language we use when we talk about the body. In that context, I noted that in ordinary language, we tend to use the word “body” to refer to the body below the neck, and the word “head” to refer to the neck (along some unspecified boundary) and above. And we identify ourselves with our ‘head’ rather than our ‘body’, viewing the body as a vehicle, or, worse still, a recalcitrant servant, who refuses to do what he’s told.

 

Until our body breaks down due to ill health or age, or both, the part of the body for where our ‘servant’ seems most uncooperative is usually our genitals. They often resolutely won’t do what we wish them to do.

 

And so you come and see someone like me.  But here’s the kicker: it’s not physical.  Of course, we can teach you things that are helpful.  If you’re a man, we can help you with premature ejaculation. If you’re a woman, we can help you with genital numbness.  We can help with lots of things.

 

But just as a therapist can do something about your neurosis but can’t teach you spontaneity and joy, so an approach solely based on the body (as we normally conceive it) has significant limitations.

 

In my experience, I can work with a client and get them into an orgasmic state quite easily, but something is still missing.  What is that something?

 

An example: quite early on, I remember working with a woman and during the session, she became very orgasmic.  After a while, this became too much for her, and she asked me to stop.  She then just rested on the massage table.  I understood that what was needed was for me to lie on the table with her, holding her.  When we were talking after the session, she said, “What was that amazing technique you were using? I felt so much?”  I thought she was referring to the bodywork part of her session, but she corrected me and said, no, it was afterwards, when we were both lying on the table.

 

This is the amazing ‘technique’: connection, heartfulness and love.

 

Another time, I was working with a very sexually active man, who couldn’t get erect other than by progressively greater physical stimulus. A lot of people are like that. They touch themselves accidentally as children and get aroused, but over time the effect fades, so the touch has to be harder, faster, stronger, and eventually, it only gets you part of the way, and then, not at all.

 

I touched this man’s genitals as I would have touched a wounded person, forced into servitude and injured and hurt by that: touching with respect, enquiry and tenderness.

 

Every part of us is all of us.

 

Bear this in mind when you next read an article in The Daily Mail about vaginal massage, or you read about techniques on how to be a better lover: it isn’t that it’s wrong, or not useful, but it’s incomplete.

One of the clients I found most challenging when I started as a sex coach was a delightful young woman with cerebral palsy.  Let’s call her Rachel.

 

The challenge was threefold.

 

Firstly, there was a change in the normal way of setting up the contract.  I was contacted not by her, but by one of her carers, who sent me an email, as Rachel couldn’t type.  We set up a telephone call with the three of us (I’d normally have met up for a preliminary chat, but Rachel lived in Bolton, and I only visit the NW sporadically), and most of the conversation was with the carer, as Rachel seemed shy.

 

So, that was very unusual.  Normally the contact is just with the client, and it felt weird to have another person involved.

 

Second, because I try my best to be scrupulous about what I offer and what we agree to do each session, I really prefer to meet.  If that isn’t possible, I send a very detailed email outlining what we have discussed and agreed to do in the session.  But here, my correspondent wasn’t my client but her carer, so I was concerned that I would be going into a session without clear agreement.  What if her carer was doing something of her own bat, or was in some other way not acting in good faith?

 

And third, I was painfully aware that I hadn’t worked with a person with disabilities before, and I wouldn’t really know the extent of her disability until we met for our session.

 

In all of this, I was aware that I was reflecting some of the discomfort that our culture has with sex and disability.  The assumptions, often completely unconscious, that we have, include:

 

  • the unexamined idea that people with disabilities don’t have the same sexual needs as the rest of us

 

  • then the related idea that, somehow, the disabled are like children, and so, by extension, anyone like myself seeking to address their sexual needs is akin to a pedophile

 

  • and the strong idea that sexual matters should be private, and natural

 

Having at least some awareness of this reactivity, I tried to keep at the forefront of my mind, that I needed to see the person, not the disability.

 

Rachel had never had a sexual experience with a man, and this is what she wanted to explore.  The people around her were overwhelmingly female. She had a lot of experience of being ‘done to’ but none of receiving pleasure collaboratively and in dialogue.  So I decided that was where we would start.

 

I would have preferred if she had been able to make specific requests for our session, but as she didn’t – or, more probably, couldn’t.  So I structured the session by asking her permission each step of the way.  “Can I touch your face?”  “What does that touch feel like?”  “How could it be better?”  “This is what firmer/softer/slower/faster feels like, which do you prefer?”, and so on.  Sometimes, particularly for women, this dialogue can be annoying, as it can take them out of their felt experience, but here it felt absolutely the right thing to do.

 

It was necessarily slow, and in that slowness, a confident sexual person could gradually emerge.

 

It was a lovely session.

 

Where to go for sex and disability support

 

Rachel contacted me through a colleague in Liverpool who works with the Outsiders Trust (www.outsiders.org.uk).  They do wonderful work for people with disabilities. They offer a Facebook Clubhouse, local meet-ups and lunches, group chats and a Sex and Disability Helpline.  They also offer access to a wide range of therapists and workers in the sexual field.  More power to them!

I first encountered the jade egg on my very first Tantra weekend workshop many years ago. I became interested in Tantra when I realised that it was a way to harness the force and creativity of my sexuality.  It also values the sacredness of sexual expression and intimacy and connects us with ancient practices that hold hidden wisdom for the development of potency in men and women.  The workshop was an experiential introduction to Taoist approaches that showed me how generate and circulate energy around my body in a powerful way.

 

This centre also sold jade eggs. I had heard about this wonderful ancient practice of using a jade egg within the yoni as a daily practice to enhance muscle tone and stimulate energy, health and juiciness. It seemed too good to be true but here was the proof and I immediately bought one. At the time Mantak Chia’s classic book on female sexuality “Healing Love Through the Tao, Cultivating Female Sexual Energy” was available for me to teach myself but it felt a bit overwhelming to follow this alone.

 

It is not often that we can access a simple focused practice that contributes to our natural stimulation, yoni health and joy in life both by doing our daily practice and in keeping the egg in place throughout the day to continue to support our bodies just by its presence inside us.  Doing the practices arouses, warms and brings healing energy throughout the body.  Then as we end the practice we store the energy we have generated to continue to be available for us.

 

I have often met fellow tantra practitioners  in the UK and especially in the USA who are happy to pop their egg in and let it create it’s beneficial effects during the day without needing to learn more about how to cultivate their energy through focused exercises. But my personal experience has been that knowing how to manipulate my egg and how to visualize and direct the energy for the benefit of my whole body system brings my feminine potency to a much higher level than just inserting the egg and leaving it there.

 

Jade Egg Teachers and Resources

 

Imagine my delight when a deep Taoist teacher of these practices, Saida Desilets, visited the UK and I was able to train in both her standard and advanced classes. She has been the inspiration for my practice for many years and her cd and manual are my bible. Her comprehensive guidance is available at http://saidadesilets.com and it is invaluable.

 

So knowing how much I benefitted from personal tuition I highly recommend Saida Deselits’ resources and it is worth checking out when she may be back in the UK on tour. Uta Demotis was one of my fellow students with Saida who was already a gifted Taoist tantra practitioner at the time and has since gone on to become a Doctor in clinical sexology and much more. Her jade egg manual and jade eggs are very accessible and she offers many services in London. Contact Uta at https://www.manawa.co.uk.

 

Anamata is a Taoist who is deep in the traditions of feminine juiciness and classic Chi Kung. Qigong and Kuan yin. In addition to running foundation and advanced training in jade egg and monthly jade practice circles in London she also offers an annual training in Edinburgh for my Scottish sisters see http://www.jadecircle.co.uk/jadeegg.html.

 

All three of these teachers are radiant, expansive and inviting.  They richly personify the womanly attributes that using the jade egg cultivates in us. It is great to see how these once secret approaches are becoming increasingly available to interested women across the globe. I love spreading the love with these practices and so I am also happy to support anyone in Glasgow and Edinburgh with your jade egg development or with any questions you may have.

In a recent blog, I talked about one way of opening out and revitalizing sexual fantasies, but there are other ways too.

 

One is a technique I learned from a wonderful friend and fellow practitioner in London, called Consensual Non Consent. It’s consensual because you agree boundaries with your partner beforehand, and you agree a safe word. If either of you don’t want to carry on, you say the safe word, and the game ends.

 

You work with a partner, and you take turns to imagine a scenario. In this scenario, one of you, the dominant one, has a sexual intent towards the other, but the other, the submissive one, is not (apparently) aware of it. The scenario is time limited and is relatively short. Ten minutes is a good length. You do this for ten minutes then switch roles.

 

You can imagine the type of thing. It might be a policeman, conducting an interrogation. Or a bossy doctor at a school medical examination. Or a Queen with a bracing sense of entitlement.

 

Adapted, it is a great addition to the possibilities a sex coach can offer.

 

And obviously, if I’m working with a client, we’re working solely with the client’s fantasies.

 

What scenarios would you have? If you were to imagine it for a moment, what would that be?  Would you be the ‘victim’ or the ‘perpetrator’? Would you be interested in trying both sides, or do you definitely prefer one role rather than the other one? What would the atmosphere be like in your scenario?

 

What’s the point?  Well, it’s expanding the field of sexual possibility, obviously, and it’s really helpful for people to get into their sense of playfulness, to lift the dead hand of puritan literalism and to lighten things up.  But the main thing is to try to find where the sexual charge is for you. For some people, it’s in the domination. For other people, it’s in the submission. But usually, it’s not quite as simple as that. What kind of domination works for you? What kind of submission? What feelings are brought out? It’s very illuminating.

 

Kink

 

You can see this kind of thing as an aspect of Kink. For most people, Kink means BDSM, which in turn means visions of ferrety men with bottomless leather trousers, people being spanked or whipped, and so on. For some people, this physical BDSM is fantastic, but for others, it has no charge at all, and seems formulaic and dull.  I’m in the latter camp.  I didn’t realize the field was much wider until I chanced upon Rose and Thorn, run by the wonderful Shakti Tantra, which is a kind of smorgasbord of kink. They give you a taster of everything.  I was unmoved by all the spanky stuff, but I really loved fantasy and role-play.  It was so sexy and such fun.

 

We are often stuck with one particular perspective with our sexuality.  A dominant attitude at the present time is for us is to think of sex as recreational.  So if we are given another perspective, say that sex can be devotional or spiritual, we might think that risible. But if we are just trapped at one or two points on the wheel of sexuality, it becomes boring and repetitive.  I’ll write more about the wheel of sexuality in due course.