|CAMPUS AND CULTURE
Practising the art of love-making
Practising the art of love-making
By Clare Elias
In a scene from the film Go, released earlier this year by Columbia Pictures, four men sit around a table and talk shop about sex.
One character leads the conversation, describing his ability to have sex for hours on end and last months without having an orgasm. In awe, his peers asked how he could pull off such a feat, as they "blow" everytime. He explained it was because of an ancient Hindu practice known as tantra.
This is a practice of love-making, which dates back 4,000 years and has its roots weighing heavily on the spiritual aspects of sex. As we approach the end of the 20th century, a move towards the mystical side of life is becoming increasingly more apparent.
"There's a spiritual thirst relevant today, where money and material objects are not giving enough satisfaction. Mysticism is one of the 'hot topics' and more and more people are pursuing studies in consciousness," said Ranjie Singh, a medical doctor who spoke about the benefits of mediating at The Healthy Living Show Saturday at the London Convention Centre. Singh is also an author, lecturer and research scientist of spirituality studies at Western.
With reference to an American Psychiatric Association conference in Toronto, Singh talked of spirituality acting as the new prozac for the '90s. While Singh's presentation did not discuss tantric sex, his beliefs in the necessity of spirituality coincide with the philosophy behind tantra.
"Tantra teaches people how to love, not just biologically, but with a focus on intimacy and sexual energy," said Charles Muir, an instructor of tantra at the Source School of Tantra in Maui, Hawaii. "Tantra has the effect of combining the physical, the mental and the spiritual into one. It makes people fall back in love again."
Tantra teaches the art of kissing in a tantalizing manner and encourages eye-gazing, which in turn produces trust and intimacy, Muir said.
He explained since people were never taught the rules to love-making, they began to do it without viewing it as an art form. "The '60s claimed our freedom and the sexual revolution gave us permission to make love, but there was never any education on how to do it.
"In the school, we teach sex education which makes sexual healers of us all and it awakens more energy within us," Muir said. "It changes the way we make love which changes the way we live."
The school has spread to other locations, including California and New York City. However, Muir said the West Coast seems to be more accepting of new ideas.
Dean Edell, a medical doctor and nationally syndicated medical reporter in the United States, said tantra does not purport any physiological changes. "That is nonsense, it is just wishful thinking. I don't believe in it as an energy flow," he said. However, Edell said he thinks positively about tantra if it brings couples closer together.
"The tantra we see today is a modern updated version to fit the needs of folks. It is not an echo of past tantra in South East Asia, but it does get couples making sexuality important," he said.
Edell pointed out that North American culture tends to hide sex and keep it buried, instead of openly discussing it, as in Europe. "We think we're a sexy culture, but North America is very conservative. We are sexually unhappy and we use sex as a selling tool. But in Europe, where sex is more open, there is a lower rate of teen pregnancies. I can't explain this difference," he admitted. "Maybe it has something to do with the Mayflower."
The increase of tantra schools and its interest lies in the boomers' ability to determine spending trends, Edell explained. "They're the ones with the money and now they are looking to alternative medicine to find a union of the mind, body and spirit."
Sue Johanson, sex therapist and syndicated talk show host, said tantra is not for everyone, as it involves a transformation of lifestyle from eating habits to exercise. "Most couples won't pursue tantra. It's for people who are very spiritual and who are seeking another way of living. In our society, we don't have time to do this."
Johanson has been questioned on the topic of tantra from her listeners, however, they are usually on the superficial level. "People call in wanting to know 'How do I get my penis bigger,' or 'How can I go for hours without having an orgasm?'"
There is the spiritual component of tantra which is a source of interest, however, the selling point is its ability to render the individual in control of their genitals, Johanson said.
At The Relationship Institute in Royal Oak Michigan, relationship therapist Jill Solovich MacDonald said difficulties with sex are usually the symptom of deeper problems. "Sex keeps people committed, but it is trust and safety which are the foundations of the relationship."
Solovich MacDonald explained the majority of people coming to the centre are those with previously failed marriages who are trying not to repeat themselves. "No one taught us how to date in a smart and successful way. The people who come to us are seeking healthy relationships and today the stigma attached to counselling is lessening. It's a tool we can use and it's more acceptable," she said.
Muir explained tantra can help with the future of marriages and relationships. "They end as a direct result of sexual lethargy. There's a chemical high to love in the first six months to a year and then resentments build, as well as boredom."
Muir also said it is typically the woman who needs more
intimacy, while the male
only wants sex. "Once
the man's no longer
hot and horny, you're
left with the roots of
the sex problems."