I'd had the final session with my surrogate partner just a few weeks before. In that session, she had suggested cuddle parties as a way to get physical touch. A cuddle party is a place where adults can engage in platonic extended touch. I never did get to that cuddle party, but I had an experience that changed my life.
When looking for the cuddle party my surrogate partner had suggested, I found out about this gathering online. I showed up at a groovy white building with an indoor fire pit and talked to a man named Mark. “The cuddle party will start soon,” Mark said, and we got to talking about what tantra is. I thought to myself, “This feels like something I need to do.” Unfortunately, our female class member was unable to attend, and since a male-female balance is needed to practice tantra, ultimately, he had to cancel it. But I headed home with the tantra seed planted in my mind.
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No, Tantra Is Not About Sex
The word “tantra” means “woven together.” This “liberated mind” practice is about spiritual sensuality and sexuality. While any gender can practice with any gender, the practice is usually male to female. Our focus is for the men to be of service to the women. We are there to honor, cherish and adore. As the trust of women has been hideously violated in the outside world, we get to create a place of safety and love in our tantric practice. Both couples and singles are welcome—being in love with one’s practicing partner isn’t required. We don’t have to be in love to give love.
When I talk about tantra, the number one question people ask me is, “Isn’t that about sex?” No, it’s not. Tantra is not about sex or sex acts. It’s about sensuality and sexuality. Basically, it’s about love. While sexual acts can happen in the tantra practice, if both practicing partners want it, that’s not the goal or the focus. As Mark always likes to say about sex, “It’s a penis in a vagina, nothing more.”
The next class after the aborted cuddle session was about sensual massage. My goal for this class was to experience physical touch. I wasn’t sure about the massage. The idea of being sensual or sexual with someone I had just met made me feel uncomfortable at first. But then, we watched a series of videos about what we would be doing. “This is nice,” I thought, “the videos portray such a loving, sweet experience.” Mark told us about the optional sexual massage at the end. “OK,” I thought, “I don’t think I’m going to do that, but I’ll do the other stuff.”
After a round-robin introduction session around the fire, we moved onto our yoga mats. As always, consent came first. Consent is always required for a person to enter another person’s space and for them to touch someone. We also talked about how we must also speak up if something makes us uncomfortable and that we never have to do anything we don’t want to. It’s okay to say no. Then came our first exercise, called the tantra kiss. Mark paired all of us off. Each person put their right hand on their partner’s chest, and then we soul gazed, which is when each person looks deep into the other’s eyes.
The Spiritual Aspect of Tantra Started Making Sense to Me
As we went through one exercise after another, I realized how comfortable and safe I felt. I knew that I wanted to give to my partner in whatever way she wanted. I felt something incredible: A spiritual presence entered my body. I was now a vessel for my spiritual power. Then, Mark said, “Why don’t we take off some clothes?” Before I knew it, I was completely naked. I was so comfortable! I had known I wanted to try group nudity in some setting, but I didn’t think that would mean I would be so comfortable being naked around others. This was another level!
I felt no erotic thoughts whatsoever. I needed nothing. I felt a perfect abundance. All I wanted to do was give. I felt infinite unconditional love for my practicing partner, and as I looked around, I saw the same thing happening with the other practicing partners. I felt infinite unconditional love for them, as well.
As I progressed, I went into deeper levels of intimacy with my practicing partner as I gave her the sensual massage. Finally, near the end, she said she wanted the erotic massage. Known in tantra practice as the yoni massage, it’s when the vagina is massaged from the outside, providing sexual pleasure. After I had started giving my partner the sexual massage, Mark came by and whispered in her ear, “You can give back to the men, if you want.” She touched me sexually in return, and it was wonderful. As the class wrapped up, all of us sat cross-legged and nude in a circle, discussing how the class went. I announced to everyone that it was the first time I had been nude in a group. Everyone cheered. I felt a sense of destiny and belonging. I had found my family and my path.
A few months later, I had experienced a few more sensual massage classes, each one beautifully unique, and I was ready to move to a deeper level of intimacy. My practicing partner and I started our usual practice, and she told me exactly what she wanted, which makes my practice so much easier. I gave her a sexual massage, which was such a rewarding experience for me. She wanted to give back to me. I was both excited and nervous. She massaged my chest and stomach for a while, a blissful experience, and then she told me to lay down. It was time for the lingam, or penis, massage, which is like a hand job but slowed down to make the receiver stay present in the experience.
I hadn’t asked for the lingam massage before, because I was too shy. I was still working on asking for what I wanted, and the fear of rejection if the other person says no can sometimes be very strong for me. As she slowly transitioned from the sensual massage to the sexual massage, I got more and more excited. It felt so good, but I realized I hadn’t been giving feedback to her. She made the adjustments, and it felt even more pleasurable. The experience was pure bliss. All of a sudden, I realized I was close to orgasm and let my partner know. And then it was over. What an experience!
She then asked me what I needed, and I said I wanted to cuddle, so we did. My partner had mentioned earlier in the night that she had to leave by a certain time, and as I looked at the clock, I realized we had gone way past. When I asked her about it, she said, “I wanted to stay and give to you.” I’m so lucky to have a practicing partner like her.
Tantra Allows Me to Understand and Love Myself on a Deeper Level
I have now been to most of the classes that our group has to offer: the intro class, dubbed Tantra 101, where we learn the basics of tantra and do an introductory practice; the massage class, where we get to practice higher levels of tantra; and the nude acro-yoga class, where we practice nude yoga, plus some light acrobatic work with a tantric focus to get into our bodies with love and joy. I’ve had many platonic and sensual experiences and have enjoyed learning, on a truly intimate level, how to give back and knowing that I never have to do anything I’m not comfortable with. And as I am single, I get to practice with a different person in every class, choosing at the moment from pure emotional instinct. Sexuality doesn’t always have to be about having an orgasm; it can also be about developing a deeper level of intimacy and connection with your practicing partner, yourself and a higher spirituality. Sensual and sexual acts are really about developing a deeper level of intimacy with myself. In giving, trusting myself to support my partner’s needs, and in receiving, trusting my partner to support my needs.
This tantric journey has really made me open up more and find compassion, energy and love I didn’t even know was there. As I fill up in the tantra class, I get to take that love energy out into the world. Because, as we know, the world sorely needs this.
So if you’re reading this and you’re in the L.A. area, listen to this podcast episode to learn more. Come to be honored, cherished and adored. We’d love to have you.