SEX IN PERSPECTIVE
“Sex lies at the root of life, we can never learn to reverence life until we know how to understand sex” – Henry Havelock Ellis
Today’s sex saturated multi-media portraying orgasmic shampoos, phallic cars and arousing soft drinks would indicate that we are a sex obsessed culture, reminding us that this is our primal drive in life. According to research revealed in “Sex, A Man’s Guide,” the average American teenager views sexual encounters on TV 14,000 times a year. Despite the hard sell with sex not everyone is buying the assumption that sex is the supreme goal of life.The increased quantity of exposure to sex is matched by the declining understanding of quality loving sex and it’s implications. Despite the sexual liberation movement, Master’s and Johnson’s sex research, the Hite Report and countless magazine articles, sex, for many, remains a dissatisfying and loveless encounter, motivated by lust or loneliness, often sadly devoid of true love, intimacy and pleasure. A recent Oprah Winfrey show on libido cited statistics that 40 million American women suffer from low libido. The audience was full of angst ridden women who couldn’t match their partners desire for sex. Resorting to testosterone creams and HRT, it was an unspoken assumption that low libido was a disease that required treatment. Everyone had bought the multi media lie that we are less than human if we don’t have a voracious and insatiable sex desire. Does that mean Mother Theresa had a less fulfilling and meaningful life than say Hugh Hefner?
The Ancient Indian scriptures represented in Ayurveda help us to put sex in perspective. It advises judicious indulgence in sex. Emphasising our faculty of disrimination concerning quality and quantity. Sexual union is portrayed as an experience with more profound implications than pleasure. It instructs us how to make sexual union a sacred consciousness expanding experience that opens up our heart to love ourselves and all beings with increased passion. It also teaches that sexual desire is ultimately a yearning for an unconditional loving relationship between ourselves and the divine. A spiritual connection that will satiate all our desires.
YEARNING FOR INTIMACY
The frenetic preoccupation with sex that characterises western culture is often completely unrelated to sexual needs but more an expression of a thirst for intimacy, touch and tenderness. It is borne out of a need to feel loved unconditionally, as a baby is loved . This is reflected in lover’s use of ‘baby-talk’ and seemingly immature interactions.
Obviously love and sex are not mutually exclusive. You can have loveless sex and you can express sexless love. The negative practice of loveless sex is having a dramatic impact on our society today. Soaring incidences of rape, necrophilia, sadism, masochism, pedophilia and incest reflect the incredibly destructive influence of the promotion of loveless sex. Unloving sex is not just available but socially acceptable – brothels, inflatable lovers and promiscuity lead us away from intimacy and sensitivity, towards a dehumanised, impersonal sexuality of perversity. Sex is often used as a tool of domination and power by men whereas women may use sex as a means to manipulate a man or as a love substitute. The choice to remain celibate or a virgin until an opportunity to have a meaningful union with a loving partner is often judged as naive or a sign of mental illness. We have under-valued and under-estimated both the destructive potential of loveless sex and the creative force of loving sex. It is for this reason that many spiritual philosophies share the advice given by Ayurveda, that sex should only be shared by a loving couple as true satiation only arises from the union of emotions, body and soul.
In order to sustain the expression of love in a partnership a bonding relaxation exercise is recommended as a daily practice.
The couple lie together in the spoon position on their left sides to promote the flow of energy. The partner in need of the most nurturing should lie on the inside, enveloped by their partner. This allows the alignment of the couple’s chakras and the exchange of loving energy. Both partners’ right hands can rest over the inner person’s heart. Lying comfortably together, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Inhaling and exhaling together helps to create a harmony and synchronicity between one another. You may like to incorporate a soothing visualisation to enhance the experience.
Visualise a pink light flowing through your heart chakra and surrounding your bodies creating an aura of love and tenderness. This is to be done without any sexual interaction.
Benefits of this have been researched by sexologist Dr. Rudolf Von Urban who concluded that this practice creates a resonance effect called entrainment, an alignment of energy fields that triggers profound healing in both partners.
In tantra, sexual union is seen as a sacred activity whose ultimate goal is self actualisation. In the tantric tradition, sex is utilised as a means to raise the flow of energy from the base of the spine to the crown chakra thus re-awakening one’s dormant cosmic consciousness. This process is known as utsavam. (Ut meaning upward and savam meaning flow). Another concern of tantra is to integrate one’s inner masculine and feminine polarities. This corresponds to Jung’s exploration of our anima (feminine aspect) and animus (masculine aspect). The tantric tradition is very austere and requires strict discipline to follow specific rituals. True progress on this path can only be achieved under the strict guidance of a Tantric master. Translator of the definitive book on lovemaking for centuries the Kama Sutra, Alain Danielou said in regards to Tantric sex: “Only the ignorant attempt to learn mantras from books and practice rites according to what they read. It is necessary to follow the instructions of a genuine Tantric guru”.
Exploring Tantric sex without expert guidance can lead to a disturbance in one’s subtle body which may cause psychological and physical imbalances.
According to the Vedas, life can be divided into four main concerns : spiritual duties (dharma), economic development (artha), love or pursuit of pleasure (kama) and liberation from the cycle of repeated birth and death (moksha). Vedic literature states that the wise choose ways of acting that allow them to achieve the four aims of life without letting the pursuit of pleasure lead them to ruin. One is advised to practise all four activities at different times and in such a manner that they may harmonise together and not clash in any way.
With this aim in mind, Ayurveda advises one follow certain observances in order to gain the maximum benefit from sexual union and to avoid detrimental effects.
GUIDELINES FOR A QUALITY EXPERIENCE
“For the perfect love tryst Ayurvedic scholar Sushruta recommends a full moon night in a bower of flowers, soft silk garments, sweet and intoxicating perfumes, light and nourishing food and sweet music.” – translated by Robert Svoboda
- Choose a time when you are both relaxed and aroused. The best time for sex is before midnight to ensure sufficient rest is taken afterwards.
- Prepare a beautiful, peaceful and seductive setting that provides a feast for all your sense organs. Bathe in or anoint the body in essential oils of Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang, Patchouli, Neroli or Rose. Incense or oil burners with these scents also contribute to the erotic mood.
- Dress in attractive, clean attire and wear a fresh flower garland.
- A lubricant of equal parts ghee and honey may be used.
- Play special Indian musical Ragas for a romantic mood include: Mishra Telang, Mishra Ghara, Mishra Bhairavi.
- It is emphasised to take enough time and attention to pleasing one’s partner. Both the Kama Sutra and the Ananga Ranga outline in great detail the art of foreplay and emphasise the importance of satisfying both partner’s desires. The Ananga Ranga compares a woman to a fruit that only yeilds its fragrance after being rubbed with the hands. The Kama Sutra suggests that during congress the man should make a point of pressing those parts of the body on which the woman turns her eyes and greatly elaborates on techniques of kissing, nibbling, sucking, fondling the hair, caressing and embracing. This contributes to the partner’s ecstasy and satiation.
- After sex a cool shower, a rejuvenative drink such as warm almond milk with a pinch of saffron and 1 tsp of honey and new clothing are advised.
- Sex is not recommended during illness as it exhausts Ojas (the body’s source of immunity and vitality). Sex can be practised more frequently in winter than in summer. During pregnancy, menstruation and after a heavy meal sex is also to be avoided as it disturbs the natural downward flow of Air and Ether (Apana Vayu)
“Ojas is the sap of our life energy” – David Frawley
Ayurveda classifies the body into seven bodily tissues (dhatus) known as plasma (rasa), blood (rakta), flesh (mamsa), fat (medas), bone (asthi), marrow (majja) and reproductive fluids (shukra). Products of the reproductive system are the seventh dhatu or bodily tissue. The sperm and ovum are considered very important, as they are the end result of the metabolism of the preceding six tissues. In this way the reproductive tissue is the cream of all the body’s metabolic efforts. If the quality of the reproductive tissue is pure, then the greatest miracle of the body can be performed, that of creating a child. That same life-creating energy if directed inwards can facilitate renewal of our own body and mind.
The pure reproductive fluids (shukra) create the subtle essence called ojas. Ojas is not a physical substance but is more like the essential energy of the immune system. When ojas is strong and pure in our being we have a strong aura, bright eyes, strong immunity and mental clarity. Excess loss of sperm causes low immune function, weak digestion, lassitude and mental dullness.
Unrestricted sexual activity is regarded in Ayurveda as one of the acts most detrimental to health not because sex in itself is bad, but because it strains the nerves, exhausts the bodily tissues, increases vata (air and ether), thus creating dryness and irritability in a person and decreases ojas, the essence of immunity and vitality.
Eminent Ayurvedic physician Professor Subash Ranade shares a view held by Hippocrates when he stated: “Individuals who do not regulate their sexual impulses are more prone to loss of strength, weak immune function, and various diseases owing to depletion of vitality. Those who regulate their sexual energy will have increased memory, power, intelligence, health, and longevity”.
Dr. Satyavrata Siddhantalankar, an eminent Yogi, is an amazing example of health and vitality in his nineties, much of which he attributes to following the Ayurvedic guidelines for sexual activity. In his book “From Old Age to Youth Through Yoga” Dr. Satyavrata quotes “The Encyclopaedia of Physical Culture” concerning the impact of the loss of semen: “One ounce of semen is estimated by some authorities as being equivalent in energy to sixty ounces of blood.” Perhaps that can explain why men often collapse into an exhausted sleep after ejaculation, feeling sapped of energy. Author of The Tao of Loving, Jolan Chang agrees, ” When a man has ejaculated, it is like letting the air out of a balloon – he feels flat.”
If ejaculation is avoided for a long period of time the sperm undergoes autolysis, breaking up and reabsorbing into the body to contribute towards a more youthful, vigorous body and clarity of mind.
We can learn a lot from animals who regulate and moderate their sexual activity. Even those infamous breeders, rabbits don’t mate in autumn and many species such as wolves mate only for procreation, choosing a monogamous relationship for life.
TIPS FOR RETAINING SEMEN
With an aim to conserve and circulate energy through your body the following technique is used to prevent ejaculation. At the point of peak arousal inhale deeply, place the tip of your tongue on the root of your mouth and tighten the PC muscle. Press firmly on a soft indent in the perineum located between the scrotum and anus. Exhale, relaxing the anal and genital muscles. If the urge for ejaculation continues, squeeze the frenulum (behind the glans penis) with your thumb and forefinger until the urge subsides. Imagine drawing your sexual energy from your genitals to your heart. Gently stroking your genitals to your heart. Visualise a warm pink glow moving from your genitals to your pelvis and to your heart. You can experience an internal blissful orgasm through this process, leaving you energised rather than depleted.
The Ayurvedic system of classifying one’s psycho-physiological constitution according to the predominance of elements gives an interesting insight into our unique sexual behaviour. Our body-type can be determined by completing an Ayurvedic questionnaire or through consultation with an Ayurvedic physician. The three main body-types and their sexual characteristics are as follows.
Vata (air & ether)
A Vata lover tends to be erratic and romantic. Mental foreplay such as flowery poetry or stimulating discussion is the best aphrodisiac for Vata. Touch and sensuality is very soothing and relaxing for highly-strung Vata types. An oil massage combined with soothing music is the ultimate therapy to set the mood. Since Vata people suffer from dramatically fluctuating energy levels they are only interesting in making love when they have the energy, more often in the morning rather than the evening.
Vata types should avoid sexual excess as it depletes their energy and strains their nervous system. Since their body’s are drier than the other constitutions Vata types are advised to take regular reproductive tonics and rejuvenative drinks after fluid loss.
The best partner for a Vata Body -Type : Kapha Pitta or Pitta Kapha
Pitta (fire & water)
Pitta can personify the archetypical hot Latin lovers. They have a natural passion and gusto for making love. Their ego- centred desire for strong gratification and stimulation can result in a lack of sensitivity and tenderness with their partner. Sex can turn into a competitive display of prowess for Pitta as well as a vent for suppressed hostility. Pitta have to consciously tune into the needs of their partner and avoid dominating or rushing them. Pitta types always appreciate visual stimulation hence gentle lighting, nice garments and flowers will heighten their arousal. Pitta are the body-type most prone to impotence due to over-excess. They can avoid burn- out by channelling sexual energy into creative pursuits and taking cooling rejuvenatives and a cool shower after sex. Pitta needs to learn to redirect their emotions through their heart rather than through their genitals.
The ideal partner for a Pitta Body-Type: Kapha, Kapha- Pitta or Pitta- Kapha
Kapha (water & earth)
Ancient figures of the fertility goddess exemplify the qualities of a Kapha lover. These body-types are made for love. Embodying the ideal qualities of endurance, affection, sensuality and sensitivity, Kaphas can be both mother and lover to spouse. They have abundant fertility, making them “good breeders.” This explains why in India the chubbier body build of a kapha is a desirable feature in a partner. Calm, gentle and romantic lovers they can become boring and lazy if unmotivated. Kaphas are also the most likely type to become co-dependant and clingy. They need constant encouragement to develop their own interests, exploring new avenues of self-development.
The preferable partner for a Kapha Body- Type: Anyone with enthusiasm, passion and motivation