I Did It For Science: Tantric Sex
HWSDI: How would Sting do it?
To enrich the sensual awareness, sexual well-being and pleasure of me and my partner, vis-à-vis the principles of tantric sex.
State your hypothesis in the form of a prediction that can be verified by the results of the experiment.
When I think "tantra," I think hokey Eastern mysticism, I think myopic retirees sporting kimonos and ponytails. I think instructional videos featuring people who look like your parents sitting cross-legged with their partners, smiling moronically at each other in the forest. I think of Ian from High Fidelity, I think of Steven Seagal. I think of gallons of unnaturally stifled seminal fluid welling up into the bloodstream of the tantric male, poisoning his brain and making him wear hemp and patchouli. Nevertheless, some tantra devotees look smug enough to make me think that maybe the stigma is a construct designed to deter weekenders like me. (I mean, how could a small minority of Californian fiftysomethings be wrong?)
Please list all the materials required for this experiment (including, if applicable, how they were obtained).
Tantra instructor (Italian, radiant)
In this portion of your report, you must describe step-by-step what you did in your lab. It should be specific enough that someone who has not seen the lab can follow the directions and recreate the same lab.
Sting, the rocker turned pompous Muzak god, famously boasted that he could have tantric sex for seven hours. I can't imagine what would be worse: being trapped under a sweaty Sting in a candlelit room, the sounds of pan-pipes heightening your senses for an afternoon — or listening to Fields of Gold on repeat for the same duration. Both could result in feelings of being intimately violated. But to his credit, Sting, in a rare show of humility, made one of the most memorable rock-star retractions of all time. Years later, he said those seven hours "included dinner and a movie."
I met my girlfriend, Erica, in early February. After swapping information about what we did for a living, the conversation swiftly moved, as it tends to, to weird sexual shit "that I really ought to try." Turns out Erica was curious about tantric sex. "Do you know about it?" she asked. I was about to launch into a routine about how utterly ridiculous — not to mention time-consuming — I thought it was, when she said, "I think it's so hot — just teasing the fuck out of each other for hours!" Now, bear in mind I was doing my best to get this girl's number. "Oh sure," I said. "I've been meaning to give that a whirl for ages."
So I got the number, we started dating, and soon I was on the trail of Tantra practitioners. One of the first organizations I approached was Butterfly Workshops, a.k.a. "The place where people fly." Its founder, Laurie Handlers, spent forty-five minutes on the phone with me, explaining tantra in the most abstract sense possible. She suggested I attend her "Ecstasy Workshop," a four-day extravaganza held somewhere in the ass-end of Virginia. There, in a cabin in the wilderness, couples harness their chakras and become "Gods and Goddesses." (In the email invitation, Laurie encourages attendees to bring their own "God and Goddess wear" like "Mayan pants, a vest, a headdress or a crown." Another cryptic suggestion: "We recommend that you take this time before the course to cleanse yourself. This is not mandatory, but staying away from some of your particular "hot button" substances might be a good way to prepare yourself for experimenting with no time, no space, no gravity.") As intrigued as I was by the prospect of defying time, space and gravity — while trying not to bust ass — as I talked to Laurie, it became apparent that no actual boning was going to occur. From the few bits of information you didn't have to be high to understand, I gathered that her course was about capturing sexual energy and using it for other stuff. Presumably vacuuming, yard work, advanced trig, etc.
My assignment was to have tantric sex. After a few more chats with Tantra buffs, I found an instructor based in nearby Queens: Carla Tara from Tantra New York . She offered me a discount for a two-hour session, with one requirement: that I be a "good, honest person." She would determine this, she told me, by looking into my eyes.
The next Thursday after work, Erica and I got on the train and made our way into deepest, darkest Queens County. We turned up a half hour early in a part of Queens so Irish, Conan O'Brien would be described as "swarthy" by the locals. After a quick beer to steady our nerves, we jumped into a gypsy cab for the final leg of our journey. Our destination: enlightenment. Even though this whole procedure was Erica's idea, she was starting to express some reservations. "Will she touch us?", she asked nervously. "Will we have sex right there in front of her?" As I understood it, the session would involve actual sex between me and Erica — not us and Mother Earth, Odin or any other heavenly deity. But other than that, I was pretty much in the dark.
Quantify the effects of the experiment.
We arrived at Carla's big brick house at seven on the dot. Looking resplendent in a flowing silk dress and shawl, she greeted us warmly. "Wel-cum, wel-cum!" she said in a charming Italian accent. There was something reassuring about Carla's mop of sensible brown hair and disarmingly wide smile, but what really struck me were her eyes. Almond-shaped and feline, they burned with a certain . . . je ne sais quoi . . . joie de vivre. She gave Erica and I a big hug and ushered us into her home, a.k.a. the Healthy Love Center.
"You're not at all how I imagined," said Carla, miming the act of fashioning a necktie. She surveyed my old Army jacket, worn-out jeans and beat-up sneakers. "But this I like." She looked into my eyes. Although she didn't vocally confirm my goodness as a person, she did flash a relieved smile.
I wandered into the living room. "Ah, ah, ah!" Carla admonished. "Please — no shoes." Of course. "This is an ancient Indian tradition I like to adhere to," she said, squeezing my arm flirtatiously. "It helps keep my floors clean." For the first time that evening, Carla unleashed her formidable laugh. Think Maya Rudolph's Donatella Versace meets Vincent Price. "Hah hah hah hah" — it seems as though she wouldn't stop — "Hah hah hah hah" — until she elicits — "HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH" — a similar response from you — HA HA HA HA — all the while — HA HA HA — it seems as though she's looking into your soul.
While I went off to take my last squirt as a regular Joe, Carla went around the room lighting candles, feeding her fish and straightening her altar. As Erica told me later, every task was made analogous to the ways of tantra. "Erica, see these fish? They have to keep moving, or else they will die. In a sense, this is very tantric because . . . Erica, see these candles. See how the flame reaches upwards towards heaven? This is like tantra because . . . Erica. See this pile of laundry . . . " etc. It's funny how all Eastern teachings are full of analogies so the diminutive Western mind can comprehend them. It's like Mr. Miyagi having that poor kid do all his housework instead of just fucking teaching him that flamingo kick. A little condescending. But still, Daniel-San whipped that blonde kid's ass in the end, right?
When I returned from the john, Carla ushered us into a back room festooned with silks, phallic imagery and little models of people doing it. "This is my inner sanctum," she said. "It is like a vagina, yes?" I nodded unconvincingly. I guess it was kind of like one: I mean, I enjoyed being in there. But following that logic, Krispy Kreme, the steam room at the gym and the Landmark Theater would be vaginas also. (Oh, just so you know, the tantric term for vagina is yoni; the word for penis is lingam. Literal translation: wand of light.)
First, Carla asked Erica and I to sit down and reveal our fears — in general and about each other. We both said that we never wanted to feel trapped, that we were "giving up a part of ourselves," or that we were "letting things between us deteriorate." (At this point, we'd only been going out for about eight weeks, so we were still firmly in the honeymoon period. What I really feared was Erica fucking some other dude or forcing me to give up quality time with my closest dude pals. I guess that's what I was trying to say, but it came out all airy-fairy. I suppose it was the influence of being in a vagina.) Carla processed this. Placing her right hand on my heart, she said to Erica: "Grant loves you with this. Not just with this," and with that, she cupped my junk with her left hand and gave it a not-unpleasant little squeeze.
Carla then taught us how to breathe, again with the help of some handy analogies. She asked us to lie down, side by side, in her giant yoni. "Does a jug of water fill from the bottom up or the top down?" she asked. "Er . . . well, the water is poured down into the jug," offered Erica. "I know this," said Carla, barely masking her frustration. "I ask you again, how does the jug fill up?" On "up," she pointed skyward with both index fingers. "Oh . . . from the bottom," said Erica. All was forgiven and Carla breathed a satisfied, "Yessssssss! Now, you must fill up the bottom of your lungs! I want to see your tummy come out when you inhale, breathe only with the mouth, synchronize your breathing, unbutton your pants!"
It was a lot to remember. Carla knelt beside Erica and put her mouth beside her ear: "When you breathe out, go, "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." In tandem, we replicated the sound. "Louder, more!" demanded Carla. She shook my legs and found they were jellified. "GOOD! GOOD! GOOD!" she enthused. "Erica, your man, he has it! This is very rare. He is so relaxed. Never have I seen such relaxation in a man on his first time!" Carla asked us to turn our heads and look into each other's left eye. "Erica, see how much he loves you? You are a lucky girl to be loved like that. The energy in the room is amazing!" she exalted. "Why don't you both take your pants off and get on the table?"
We stripped to our underwear, Erica in sheer bra and panties, me in fire-engine-red Underoos. Carla arranged me, pretzel-style, on a raised, padded table. Erica sat on my lap, her legs around my waist. Again, loud breathing. "You must relearn how to kiss," Carla instructed us. "Let your lips barely touch, and breathe into each other's mouths." We did so. "Don't kiss each other at the same time. Learn how to give and receive independently of each other. Grant, hold still and let Erica kiss you. Receive." It's weird being passive while somebody makes out with you. "Grant, now you must kiss Erica!" Carla critiqued me as we went. "Kiss under her top lip, this corresponds to the clitoris. Gently suck on her bottom lip, this corresponds to her G-spot. Good, good, good!" Carla then swept her sari over her head and stood before us in just a thong. "Do you mind my being naked?" she asked. "No, no, of course not," we replied.
Carla is a grandmother. But although she was pushing sixty, she was in great shape, with enviable muscle tone. "Do you work out?" I couldn't help asking. "Only through tantra," she said knowingly. Now, I'm no stranger to seeing elderly people naked, chiefly because of a previous experiment in which I attended a nude beach on what must have been half-price seniors' day. But this was a totally different experience , a naked woman with almost forty years on me was talking about my cock and my girlfriend's cooter. It was a real mindblower.
Next, Carla demonstrated how breathing is related to our base chakra, where sexual energy is stored. She arranged us into the missionary position on the table. Our breathing, thrusting and gazing was synched into a kind of tantric dry-hump. I wondered if we were going to shag, full-on. "How do you like to have sex?" Carla purred. "Do you like to be on top, Erica?" "Umm . . . yeah," Erica replied. We ran the gamut of our sexual repertoire in dry-hump mode, each time employing the techniques that we had been taught.
I have to confess, I desperately wanted Carla to see a powerful erection tenting my underpants. I wanted to impress her, to see if a pronounced woody would kick the session into high gear — if, at that point, she'd want to see us in action. But with a naked stranger ten years my parents' senior barking instruction and Erica and I sounding like a pair of asthmatic seals, the moment didn't arrive. Erica looked more amused than aroused.
Carla had us sit back to back and synch up our breathing again, then let forth a corresponding bellow for each of the chakras. "LUUUMM, VUMMM, RUUUM, YAAAAHHHM, HUUMMMM, OHHHHHMMMM" — over and over, until we could feel each of the sounds resonating in the perineum (taint), genitals, stomach, heart, throat and cranium. Next it was time for a Tantric massage. Erica and Carla both worked on my back, and it was good. "I am going to pull your underwears down, okay?" asked Carla. "Oh yeah," I moaned. Carla exposed my bum and started kneading my cheeks, her hands greasy with oil. She put the palm of her hand flat against my bare undercarriage. With the other, she tugged at the hair on the crown of my head. If you've been paying attention, you'll have deduced that she was connecting the base and head chakras, thus forming the link between the sexual and the spiritual.
After Erica's massage, the session was over. As we were dressing, Carla showed us her collection of little wooden figurines , couples engaged in most positions of the Kama Sutra. She picked one up and held it to our faces. "Look at his little wooden balls! Ha ha ha ha ha!" I wondered if all the sexual paraphernalia gets put away in a cupboard when the grandkids come over to visit. I know that I'd have been altered as a kid if a trip to grandma's meant hanging out in a room with a vast array of erect porcelain cocks instead of ornate teapots and vases.
When we got home, we decided to test our newfound tantric wisdom. Now, loud breathing exercises are all well and good when you're lying prostrate in a learned instructor's "inner sanctum," but pulling it off in your girlfriend's bedroom while her roommate snores loudly in the next room is another story. We waited until he rolled over onto his side and gave it a good shot. I think we even lit a candle. We didn't have any sitar music, so we put on an old Cure record. Inhale, exhale. "Ahhhhhhhhhhhh." Giggling. Inhale, exhale. "Ahhhhhhhhhh." Giggling. We felt ridiculous. I had the brilliant idea of putting it in, then continuing the breathing/thrusting motions. We did this for about a second. It's difficult to have sex like that. For starters, it's noisy as hell. Second, all that going-slow-and-breathing malarkey just doesn't feel very natural. After ten minutes, we settled back into our old Western ways. Both too horny to bother with the brooding, sensual nature of what we had learned, we postponed the breathing and synchronized motion for another day. That day has not yet arrived. Right now, we're more into fucking than harnessing heaven or whatever.
Summarize your findings. Don't forget to attempt to identify possible variables that could result in different findings for others trying to recreate your test results.
Did you know that the people of the Indus valley didn't go to war for more than 3,000 years? Why? Because they were too busy mastering tantra. As we discovered, it's not something you can learn in an evening and immediately put to use, like knitting. It's a lifestyle , and not one that jibes with us right now. At time of file, we're young, hot for each other and doing it all the time. One of the objectives of tantra (at least as it's purported by the media) is to shag for ages and . . . well . . . we do that anyway.
Having a professional makeout coach was a trip and a little embarrassing. For days afterward, whenever I leaned in to smooch Erica, I could hear Carla saying, "Good, good, good!" In summary, I'd have to echo the thoughts of those kids from those TV abstinence ads: When it comes to tantric sex and the new Sting box set, it's definitely a case of not me, not now.
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