"He had a satisfied smirk on as he gyrated his hips towards me in a room of complete strangers."
“I want to feel again,” I told Lucy, a Toronto-based tantra instructor, on the phone. She had just asked me,“Now, Brianne: what brings you to tantra?” as naturally as if she was asking me if I liked sugar in my coffee.
Lucy had an “Introduction to Tantra” workshop coming up that promised a PG-rated (meaning no nudity, little touching) evening of “tantric energy” and “techniques you can use and bring home.” I was intrigued.
After a bout of terrible dates, an acquaintance of mine recommended that I try tantra. I had heard of tantra before, but other than images of Cirque du Soleil-like sex positions and Sting and Trudie and then Sting and Trudie in Cirque du Soleil-like sex positions coming to mind, I really didn’t know much about it. After some Googling, I discovered that “tantra” is a Sanskrit word that means “woven together” and is a pretty old meditational practice (it dates back to 5 A.D.). It attempts to unite spirituality and sexuality by using breath work, movement, visualization, chakra work and various exercises for sensuality, sexuality and intimacy. I consider myself a pretty open-minded spiritual and sexy person, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.
“You want to feel again?” Lucy repeated.
I don’t know if I simply trusted the sound of Lucy’s soothing maternal tone or if she had just caught me in one of those off-guard moments when only truth serum was running through my veins, but Lucy was hearing me, the naked me, speak.
“It’s been a long time since I felt something beautiful with someone,” I said. “I feel blocked.” I was blocked all right. For longer than I cared to admit, I felt like I was one of those magnetic resistant watches: nothing moved me, nothing attracted me. I was just standing still. Sometimes, in rare moments of movement, I attracted the wrong men, or the men I desired seem to be repelled by me. Nothing was working like clockwork for me. I needed my batteries recharged. Big time.
“I just want to be unstuck,” I said. “I want to feel something amazing.”
A few weeks later, at seven o’clock on a brisk Tuesday night, I found myself at a small, candle-lit studio space staring at a circle of couples. Some straight, some LBGT, and one who brought their own snacks and lawn chairs. Lucy had told me it wasn’t necessary to bring a partner, but even the single ladies in the room (tellingly there were no single gents in the house) had adhered to the buddy system. I was by my lonesome, but it didn’t really matter.
As Lucy told us in her introductory spiel, the evening was about connecting to how we feel about our sexuality as individuals. She briefly went over what tantra was and how she was first drawn into the practice (before tantra she apparently never had a real orgasm until she was in her 40s). Then she trotted out three of her “most prized students” who would be her assistants for the night: Long-Haired Dude in a T-shirt, Mousy Girl in overalls and glasses, and Goatee Guy in a silk shirt.
After the obligatory exchanging of names-that-will-never-be-remembered and reasons-for-being-here-that-are-too-personal-to-be-fully-understood, Lucy led us into some breathing techniques (basically sex noises that reverberate from your chest), visualizations (“Picture pink light entering through your back, straight into your heart”) and movement (swaying our hips side-to-side and up-and-down) to “open us up.” Then, Lucy said: “It’s time to feel even more.”
I could feel Goatee Guy’s breath against my face. He had a satisfied smirk on as he gyrated his hips towards me in a raunchy rhythmic motion that matched his intense breathing. The air felt sweaty. Like, sauna sweaty. It was that blissful banging sweat. You know: good sweat.
“Oh!” He gasped as his hips thrust forward. “Ah!” He sighed as they moved back. Goatee Guy and I were in the middle of a group exercise meant to raise our vibration to orgasmic levels. Lucy told us it was one of those activities we could “try at home” either alone or precoital.
Though there was no actual penetration, Goatee Guy’s Elvis-like pelvic thrusts shot energy right through me and it felt warm and tingling and, well, it felt pretty good. I tried to match his rhythm with my own pleasurable “ohs” and “ahs” beat for beat as my swirling hips paralleled his, like we were in some sort of dance. And then, almost seamlessly, magically, we were in sync. I felt my heart tremble against my chest, matching the pounding of the African drumbeats that rattled the walls. Electrifying sensations pulsated throughout my entire body. I felt my cheeks flush. Suddenly, I felt like I was floating. Up towards this intangible destination of euphoric bliss. I was almost there. Almost feeling something amazing. Almost.
“Now, slow it down everyone,” said Lucy, breaking our collective orgasm.
Goddamnit. My blissful state quickly dissipated along with the other “ohs” and “ahs” in the room. Hips became still, and the good sweaty air evaporated. I was back in the small room with the ten strangers I had only met two hours ago, but whom I knew more intimately than friends I had known for ten years. Especially Goatee Guy.
“Now,” Lucy said. “I want you to look into your partner’s eyes and tell them they are loveable. Tell your partner that you see them. Person A goes first.”
I happened to be Person A. I faced Goatee Guy and looked into his eyes. They were blue with green specks. Long eyelashes. Then, as I looked deeper, I witnessed some Oprah shit: I could see Goatee Guy as a child. A little boy who still craved the love and attention he didn’t always receive but so desperately wanted. The vision hit my heart hard.
“You are love,” I told him and his inner child. “I see you.” And then I could see my words hit Goatee Guy. His eyes rolled back into his head as a huge Cheshire Cat grin spread across his face. Honestly, he looked like I had just given him head. I took that as a good sign.
Now it was my turn.
Goatee Guy stared into my eyes, and almost immediately, I felt uncomfortable. It was becoming a habit in my life. I wanted to look the other way. I wanted to run. Thoughts of “What’s he looking at?” and “Stop staring at me!” raced through my mind. But, before I could look the other way, I saw Goatee Guy’s love stream out to me from his eyes. This wasn’t some Brita-filtered bullshit love either. It was pure, unadulterated love and I let myself drink it in. My initial reaction to run and not get involved was dehydrating me. It was then when I realized that no one was attracting me or moving me because I wouldn’t let anyone. It’s a lot easier to condemn something as broken than to try to get it fixed. But, here I was, recharging. Healing.
My eyes welled with tears and I felt an expansion of warmth and love and all the good tingly feelings. I finally felt something amazing.
At the end of the night, all the feelings of benevolence turned into business as Lucy outlined what the next step was: if you did an entire weekend with her, you’d “absolutely” increase your sexual energy even more, but you’d also pay a shit load of money for it. No, thanks.
“Are you sure?” Mousy Girl asked me as I was putting on my coat. “Once I did tantra, I’d just walk into a coffee shop and guys would be all over me.”
“I’m pretty sure,” I said. As I walked back to my car, those warm and tingly feelings resounded throughout my entire body. Even the next day, as I went to get my afternoon coffee, my body was still vibrating.
“I don’t know what it is about you,” a guy ahead of me in line said. “But I had to talk to you.” Then he asked me for my number.
It was official: tantra unstuck me.
Brianne Hogan is a freelance writer based in Toronto. She no longer practices tantra or keeps in touch with Goatee Guy, but she does bring a lawn chair and snacks with her wherever she goes. You can follow her on twitter @briannehogan.