Great Sexpectations (Part 1/3)
Admittedly, I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day; it feels forced, contrived, and somewhat superficial to me. Personally speaking, if it takes something like Valentine’s Day to spur you into action, show me how much you love me then, being frank, you can shove your card, flowers, and chocolates where the sun don’t shine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not averse to romantic gestures and, to borrow a phrase from the eternally sublime Joan Armatrading ‘a little love and affection.‘ I’m a sucker for flowers and weekends away in beautiful hotels à la Mr & Mrs Smith or über desirable Under the Thatch properties. But I’d really rather someone did something because they wanted to and for no other reason than they felt innately compelled. Spontaneity and surprise is sexy — spontaneity, originality, and genuine, heartfelt sentiment — especially as it’s particularly difficult to surprise me (my boyfriend calls me Miss Marple).
Anyway, just because I’m not into Valentine’s Day, doesn’t mean millions of others aren’t. So, regardless of my personal opinion I thought I’d get into the spirit of eros and share a weekend of tips to help others reconnect. To do this, I’ve cherry-picked some pieces from Val Sampson’s book Tantra: The Art of Mind-Blowing Sex (Be sensual with your body) and Barefoot Doctor’s Handbook for Modern Lovers (Being/feeling sexy and all excerpts thereafter). Before I continue, if you do plan on getting it on with someone/s new, play safe and protect yourself and your partner/s. I highly recommend French Letter’s fair trade condoms. So, without further ado…
Be sensual with your body (Val Sampson)
When you are having a bath or shower, be conscious of touching your body as you wash yourself rather than slipping into automatic mode and thinking about work, your children or the coat you have to collect from the cleaners. Buy a delicious smelling body lotion and as you rub it into your body, try to have a sense of doing this with love and with the idea that you are taking care of yourself. Being sensual with one’s body is very powerful. Just being conscious of simple pleasures allows you to get more in touch with your body.
As an exercise this is not difficult and it’s not even time-consuming. Another tip is to stand in front of a mirror and notice how you feel when you are naked. Look into your own eyes and observe your reaction to doing this. It might not feel comfortable at first, but the more you do it, the sooner you will start to notice changes in the way you feel about your body. Anything that helps you live in the present, rather than worrying about the past or future is helpful too. Dancing, meditation or Tai Chi are all good. Working with your chakras helps too, because that transforms you from the inside.
Being/feeling sexy (Barefoot Doctor)
What’s not sexy, except in the eyes of a complete deviant, is having a belly full of wind and needing to fart, being constipated, needing to pee badly, having bad breath, soiled underwear, dandruff, smelling generally foul, spitting on the floor indiscriminantely, vomiting, having visible bogeys in your nose or snot streaming out, foaming at the mouth, suffering from a herpes attack on either the mouth or genitals, or having smelly feet.
These and other examples of what is not sexy (to most of us) notwithstanding, being sexy, i.e. being perceived by others as being sexy, arises purely from feeling sexy. It may just be an old wives’ tale that the sexiest women are the ones who masturbate most, but I’ve personally always found it to be the case.
The more comfortable you are with your own sexuality, the more sexy you’ll feel and more sexy you’ll be.
Obviously, sexy is different for different people (at different times). But generally the way to increase your sexiness is to repeat as often as you can, and I can’t repeat this often enough, ‘I feel sexy.’ Say this to yourself over and over until you feel a subtle tingle somewhere between your upper thighs, or until you just feel sexy. Repeat this procedure on a regular basis for the next eighteen days or so. This is crucial, as feeling sexy is essential to partaking in truly satisfying sex.
Above all, be confident in your sexiness.
Making yourself feel/look attractive
It’s nothing to be ashamed of; sometimes you need external help in your quest for sexiness.
You may think it’s sexy to sport greasy, messy hair, with sleep in the corner of your eyes and grime beneath your nails. You may think you look more attractive in egg-stained clothes. But most prospective Os* won’t.
Give yourself a fighting chance. Boost the economy. Go out and buy a new outfit or two. Something that makes you feel grand when you wear it. Pay some attention to your hairstyle (not just on your head) and nails.
Don’t be shy of cosmetics. They’re not shy of you. Don’t be deluded into thinking it’s unspiritual somehow to make the very best of your appearance. You came here to shine and shine you must. It’s your duty as a human. And if from time to time you need a few props to help the show along, then so be it. Use them well.
Feeling like you look good, especially when you undress for sex, is an immeasurable boost to your confidence, one less thing to fret about, and it allows you to relax so you can enjoy the main event more.
Whatever your destination, a modern lover always leaves home ready to get laid.
(*The story of O: To avoid clumsy repetition of such dull and lustreless titles as lover, partner, playmate, etc. to designate the other person/s you’re trying this stuff out on, the other person will, from here on in, be known simply as ‘O,’ but without the inverted commas, as in O.)
Never, however, allow vanity or self-consciousness to block your sexual flow of activity. Taking pride in your appearance is not the same as taking your appearance seriously. Your appearance is only that. It’s not who you are. You’re not even who you are. For who you really are is too big to fit in a (little) human form. All that shows is the tinest fraction of who you are: your local self. To take this local self of yours seriously is like the Empire State Building taking one of its bricks seriously. Which isn’t to say a brick shouldn’t look as good as it could. By all means shine, but remember it’s not you, your local self, who generates and provides the light. It’s your great (universal) self who does that, i.e. the Tao. (Veiled clue to enlightenment.)
Shall I be polite here, or just tell it like it is?
Tell it like it is, Doc.
OK. There’s nothing worse than going down on someone (male/female) whose genitals smell of various combinations of stale urine, rotting carp, Gouda cheese, this morning’s bowel movement and ammonia. It’s horrible.
Be free-flowing, not just with your energy but with the soap/shower gel too. Be reckless with the toothpaste and irresponsible with the shampoo. Wash carefully, especially before, and eventually after sex. Go right inside all the secret places, wash everywhere/everything. Don’t be shy of your own body. Merge with the soap/gel, be at one with the water.
Do not, however, take this as an invitation to fuel any compulsive obsessive self-cleansing/purging patterns you may be prone to. Don’t wash so much that you smell like a bottle of Wash ‘n’ Go. Simply show yourself and others the personal respect you would expect them to show you.
This is a touchy topic for most people. Everyone has their own angle on smell. The key is to find the right smell to augment your natural body odour rather than mask it.
Women in southern Spain traditionally rubbed a small amount of their own vaginal juices behind their ears and into their temples, mixed with delicate essence of jasmine, neroli, myrhh, ylang ylang or frangipani. They adopted this technique from the Moors who inherited it originally from the Taoist mistresses in ancient China, via the silk road.
Try if for yourself, gender permitting.
Wear scent sparingly to avoid O and others swooning unnecessarily. It can be unnerving to walk away from a tryst smelling like a perfumery.
Location and timing permitting, if you have the opportunity to do some set-building before commencing sexual proceedings, pay attention to clean sheets, subtle incense, ambient lighting with an emphasis on an absence of direct bright light in anyone’s eyes, an easily accessible supply of sympathetic tunes ready in a nearby hi-fi, unless you can afford a troupe of sympathetic musicians, in which case they should be discreetly sequestered behind a screen, and a ready supply of condoms, if appropriate, under the pillow.
Obviously, this is at your discretion, but for Taoist sex, the employment of any other props — tools, toys, bondage/entrapment equipment, instruments of pain, rubber/leather costumes, French maids’ outfits, fruit and vegetables, etc. — is normally eschewed, as the emphasis is on what goes on internally for both/all of you and not on external objects/fetishes. Not that there’s anything wrong with all that shit, it’s just that it becomes irrelevant and tends to clutter.
Stop performing and start feeling
As you may have noticed, it’s easy for sex to degenerate into a performance. You find yourself performing not just for O but for a greater (imaginary/internalised) audience.
Sometimes you may feel yourself moaning/groaning because it seems appropriate, rather than because you can’t help it. You may find yourself moving your body according to a script and doing things to O because you think it may be expected, rather than moving and doing spontaneously.
And if you’re doing it, you can be sure O’s doing it too, because nowhere do we provide such clear/precise mirrors for each other as when we’re having sex.
But that’s fine. Everyone does it from time to time, even if it is only momentarily.
It’s just that when you’re in performance mode, you’re not in feeling mode. When you’re not in feeling mode, you can’t feel what’s going on. You can see it, you can sense it through your skin, you can smell it and you can hear it, but you can’t feel it, because you’re removed, you’re in your head and not your body.
That’s why, when you do it as a performance, you need O’s feedback afterwards, like needing the applause, because you weren’t really there for the main event and are therefore left under-nourished.
Drop the performance, however professional your delivery may be and start feeling what’s going on from the inside. Then you can feel where your body wants to go next, rather than trying to follow an imaginary script.
This doesn’t, however, preclude the enactment of your fantasies in blow by blow detail, when appropriate.
(Click here to read part 2 of Great Sexpectations.)
Thea is author of the inspiring memoir Running into Myself. Buy a copy from Amazon UK, Amazon US or, better yet, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide). If you enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, you’ll love Running into Myself.