By Becky Price
Did you know that May is masturbation month!
Here at Shakti Tantra we prefer the term Self Pleasuring but what ever you choose to call it, we highly recommend developing a practice of spending time exploring and celebrating the innate pleasure of simply having a human body.
Many of us, we first become aware of exciting and/or erotic feelings within our own bodies when we are children. From touching ourselves in the bath, to noticing the feeling of pushing against a favourite pillow, these innocent explorations usually happen alone with no thoughts of involving anyone else.
Depending on our up bringing we can quickly feel ashamed of these feelings, becoming secretive and hiding this pleasure from others. Many girls stop all together whilst adolescent boys learn to bring themselves to ejaculation quickly simply to ‘relieve stress’. As we grow up our culture tells us that these acts of masturbation are second best to sexual activity with another person.
The age of the internet has bought unprecedented access to pornography and whilst there is nothing inherently wrong with watching the sexual acts of another, the habitual act of watching online porn can limit our sexual expression only allowing arousal when viewing specific acts, in the process becoming disconnected from the sensations in our bodies.
Studies have shown that most people masturbate at some point in their lives. Both men and women often continue to masturbate when they are in committed relationships. However, its remains one of the least talked about areas of sexuality with most of the conversation being driven by manufacturers of sex toys. In fact Masturbation Month was introduced in 1995 by the sex-toy store Good Vibrations;, allegedly in response to the dismissal of U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders who had suggested that masturbation should be taught in US schools as part of healthy human sexuality.
In Shakti Tantra we use the term Self Pleasure rather than masturbation and we have a couple of reasons for doing so.
- The purpose of Self Pleasure is to take time to explore what feels really good in our own bodies at that moment in time. This maybe sexual and include genital touch but it also might not. When we think of masturbation we often assume the goal is orgasm (or if you are lucky, orgasms). With Self Pleasure that may or may not happen, its not the focus. Instead we spend time exploration and experimenting.
- There are a few ideas for the origin of the term masturbation, one is that it comes from the latin manus (meaning hand) + stuprāre (meaning to defile). We see self pleasuring as a wholly positive act and not in anyway associated with ideas of defilement.
Key benefits to Self Pleasure
There are very real benefits to Self Pleasure that can support us in being healthy and happy human beings.
1. Its simply pleasurable
- Its free, healthy pleasure we can give to ourselves.
- We can feel good without adding calories, getting hangovers or spending money.
- It gives us opportunity to have quality time with our own bodies.
2. There are health benefits
It is thought that a regular practice of self pleasure builds the immune system and improves our general health. As we feel pleasure, our body releases endorphins the bodies natural pain killer. Many people use Self Pleasure to relieve insomnia (best known), period pains, headaches, backaches, common cold and flu symptoms.
3. Expanding the possibilities of sexual expression
It’s the time and place we can continue our self education, learning about our pleasure, who we are as a sexual beings and how that might be changing overtime. We can explore new territories of our sexual selves. New fantasies, ideas, delights and possibilities can emerge.
By learning about our own pleasure, sexuality becomes something that we can choose to invite a lover to share with us. Rather than being dependent on them guessing or magically knowing what to do to us.
4. Self Pleasuring can be a transformative process
- By practicing, learning about and becoming more confident in ourselves we can transform common concerns around sexuality such as; being able to orgasm; being able to have and/or maintain erections; feeling more appreciation and love for our own bodies whatever our age, size or shape.
- Sexuality and Self Pleasuring raises a powerful energy in the body, we can use this to release and clear stressful emotional and mental states therefore transforming out mood and outlook on life.
- We can intend our orgasmic energy towards healing a wounded part of ourselves, to cut cords, to heal relationships. We can also use it to visualize new possibilities for ourselves.
- Lastly and possibly most importantly in Tantra we learn to use our Self Pleasuring as a way to enter into higher energy states. We are building our sexual pleasure as a substance for meditation and consciousness.
So how do you Self Pleasure rather than masturbate?
Self pleasuring is something that we support and encourage in all of the participants on our programmes. Our teachers and practitioners also all offer coaching and support sessions on self pleasuring.
Below are a few ideas and tips that will help to get you going. Remember we recommend that Self Pleasuring becomes a practice. Its never about ‘getting it right’, instead its about making time to explore the pleasure of being alive and then seeing what happens!
Making time and space
- Rather than just ‘doing it’ because you are bored or can’t sleep or feel frustrated, set some quality time aside when you can be alone.
- Make your space warm, tidy and inviting, maybe using candles, incense and music to create a cosy atmosphere.
- It can be great to have a bath first, letting your muscles be more relaxed and body be more open
Types of touch
Experiment with touching your whole body, taking time to notice what each type of touch really feels like. Use different sorts of touch varying speed and pressure.
Be aware of your breathing
Often as people become aroused their breath becomes shallow and faster. Let your breath be deeper and use it as a way to remain connected to your body.
Let go of the goal
Treat this as your time to get to know you body better. Orgasms may or may not happen but don’t force this.
Pay attention to what is actually happening in your body ‘as if it was the most important thing in your life – because it is’. We spend our lives living in your heads, take this precious opportunity to pay attention to your body and what it may be telling you.
Give yourself time
When people masturbate or ‘wank’ they can spend as little as 10mins. We recommend that you take much longer, at least 30mins but preferable 1-2hours or even more.
Most of all, however you do it, don’t forget to enjoy yourself ❤️
Wishing you all the best for the (very merry) month of May