The phrase “tantric massage” has become synonymous with a massage with a “happy ending”. As much as any well-meaning tantrika will try to shift the current consciousness about this, it’s as futile and pointless as trying to turn back the tide.
As anyone who has studied Tantra will know, there is no such thing as tantric massage per se. Tantra is not about massage or even sexuality specifically. Rather it’s a philosophy of authentic living and set of spiritual practices which embrace all experience and encourage us ever more to a direct awareness of the present moment.
So why is it that Tantra has become so closely connected to sensual or erotic massage?
One of the most vibrant ways to connect with present moment experience is through the body. Usually we are going around stuck in our heads with our mind continuously worrying about what happened in the past or anxious about what’s going to happen in the future. When we move fully into the body, these concerns often drop away. You will know this if you’ve done some kind of physical activity, such as running or playing squash. Or perhaps even yoga or swimming. You know that blissful feeling you get afterwards when you are profoundly relaxed and you feel at peace with the world? This is you experiencing yourself in the present moment. No worries of the past or future, simple resting in the “here and now”.
Massage can be a profound way to experience this state of bliss. Particularly for a man where it gives him an opportunity to experience his body and sexuality in a new way. Under usual circumstances, put him in a room with a woman and he usually feels that he has to “do something”. Men are given lots of messages about taking the lead, being in the initiator in sexual encounters, or maybe also carrying some stigma around being a predator. How relaxing can it be to let all that go and just surrender to the touch of a goddess? A skilled tantric practitioner can take you to a place you may never have been before – a return to yourself.
There is another reason that Tantra has become connected with erotic massage – and that’s to do with embracing all of ourselves.
Many people in our society have a dissatisfaction or even disgust around their bodies and their genitals in particular. Also many people carry a sense of shame around their sexuality or a disconnect from their true sexual nature (if you need fantasy or a particular image or a single way of doing things in order to feel aroused, this could be true for you).
One of the great gifts of Tantra is that is it welcomes every single part of ourselves. Whereas conventional massage ignores the nether regions (covering it up with towels which subtly reinforces the idea that our sexuality must be kept under wraps!), a more tantric approach is to holistically include every part of ourself – and that means the genitals too. No part of the body is ignored or disowned; all is celebrated. The nakedness in a tantra-oriented massage arises from a desire for acceptance, rather than a desire for arousal. There is an innocence and vulnerability in it.
Unlike most religions or spiritual practices, Tantra accepts sexuality as an integral part of being human. Many of us in the Western world grow up with the idea that sex is a sin. Or something dirty or to be hidden from others. Tantra has the opposite view and celebrates our sexuality as a potential gateway to divinity. This is particularly true when we connect to our orgasmic potential.
So, let’s talk about the non-ejaculatory full-body orgasm. Firstly, neither ejaculating or not ejaculating are ‘tantric’. Having an awareness over the different possibilities and the capacity to choose consciously with your mind, body and heart are.
Most of us have a strong connection between climax (ejaculation/coming) and orgasm. However, the two experiences are actually different. Climax is experienced primarily in the genitals and is usually concluded with a drop in energy. For many men sexual play is over the moment you come. So there can a really enjoyable phase of building the sexual energy and then suddenly – pop – it’s all gone! Orgasm can be felt in the whole body, is not limited to genital touch, and can be a continuous experience that energises and charges us up.
The main reason for opting for non-ejaculation is the conservation of energy. Imagine instead of releasing your sexual energy, you harness it. Men can also become multi-orgasmic, experiencing wave after wave of pleasure and bliss without becoming depleted. One of the key proponents of men’s multi-orgasmic potential is Taoist teacher Mantak Chia (yes celebrating sexual energy is not just a tantric thing!) and he believes that the energy you conserve in this way can be integrated so that you can juice up your entire life!
Moving towards non-ejaculatory full-body bliss is, for many men, a practice. Some men are more naturally adept at it and for others it takes time to re-programme the mind/body to a new kind of sexual experience. The question is simply whether you feel ready and willing to explore this less-well trodden path to pleasure and vital wellbeing.
So there are three key reasons why Tantra has become associated with erotic massage – a focus on the body as a gateway to ecstasy, an acceptance and appreciation of our sexual nature, and specific practices for harnessing orgasmic energy and opening to blissful pleasure. However, the point still needs to be made that erotic massage is not necessarily ‘Tantric’.
In the end it’s better to accept the fact that Tantric Massage has come to mean something different from actual Tantra. Most service providers are simply following what they see working in the world and may not even know what Tantra actually is. If a client will pay for it, then it’s seen as successful.
For clients seeking a genuine Tantric experience – rather than a sensual massage with a handjob – it’s vital to do your research and suss out what right for you. It’s like anything else in life! If you want to buy a new car you work out what you want and what’s best for you and your budget. You look around at different dealerships, you talk to friends, you test drive a few and finally you decide on the one that’s right for you.