Day 31: Sustaining the progress from the bootcamp

Wow! Well done you on completing 30 days of the bootcamp! This is amazing! We have touched on so many things over the last month, I’m sure it was quite a ride! Remember to check back in and pick out the good parts that you feel were particularly beneficial for you. It would also be great to hear from you which parts you enjoyed most! New: urbangay now has a community function – so please take the time and share your experiences there!

If you haven’t checked out the next “30 day” programs, have a look. Each program will pick up one of the themes from the bootcamp and develop it in much greater detail. Check them all out here.

In addition to being freely available on urbangay.org while they are running, they will become available as PDF-workbook downloads after the 30 days. So please make sure you get them!

I hope the bootcamp has been a good 30 days and it would be great to hear from you! Please also remember to share the bootcamp with your friends.

Check out these free programs for mindfulness, happiness, tantra, sex and life http://urbangay.org Click To Tweet

Day 30: Relationships

Today is our last instalment of mindfulness: a last, quick glimpse of how mindfulness can enhance your personal relationships – with your lover, partner(s) and also friends.

While some of the activities in the last few days might have been challenging for you. Especially if you have completed them with your partner and you haven’t been normally openly talking about sex and intimacy. Many people going through a sexual ‘bootcamp” together as a partner find these activities very liberating, but also challenging. So it is perfectly fine if you feel a little unsure about your feelings at this moment.

But today is not just about “the one”, but about the role mindfulness can play in different relationships. While absolutely non-sexual, the activity today can be, nevertheless, challenging and liberating in equal measures. I encourage you to do this activity first with someone you trust deeply, maybe your partner. Once you feel more comfortable with the activity, you can repeat the activity with other people in your life.

The aim of the exercise is to bring you, and your activity partner, ‘in touch’ with your feelings and emotions towards each other. Often people have very strong feelings as a result of it, and that is expected.

To start the activity, stand back to back with your partner, touching only at your shoulders. Become fully mindful to the feelings and emotions this brings up. Remain standing like this, in complete silence, for at least three to four minutes. Just focus and observe your feelings.
After four minutes, both of you should take a step away from each other. Again, check in with your feelings, now away from your partner and without touching him. Repeat this another two times, remaining in pose for about three to four minutes each.
After three steps, turn around and face your partner. Look into his eyes, look at his body. At everything that you see and check in with your feelings and emotions. How does it feel looking at him? How have your feelings changed during different positions during the activity?

As I said before, many people have said this activity brings up many different feelings and emotions in them. Be open to them. You may have changed dramatically how you feel, you may have had different feelings about what you wanted to do, or want to do now. Embrace and acknowledge them.

As the final step in the activity, share with your partner your feelings. Work out where you both have very similar feelings. Maybe you have very different feelings in some aspects, that is ok, too. Share your feelings with empathy and kindness in the spirit of an open and growing relationship.

I hope this last activity is something both of you enjoy doing – and where you discover new ways of relating to each other. Tomorrow we will be taking a final look at where we go from here – after 30 days of mindfulness. Please remember: share how you have felt on this journey. Either by using the comment function below, or by using #ug30bc on Twitter.

Day 29: Mindful Kink

What are your (maybe secret?) fantasies? How can you make them reality? Today we focus on exploring those fantasies and your boundaries, using mindful sex as a guide.  “Kink” is really just another term for unusual… but what is “unusual” will obviously depend highly on your individual take on sex. I’m not trying to delve too much into the differences between kink and fetish at this stage, and I’m intentionally not trying to define what exactly is kink: for some fluffy handcuffs may be very kinky, for others kink just starts with a full latex outfit. Having sex outdoors is kinky for some, watching others have sex is kinky for others. Whatever it is for you, it is for the purpose of today. The focus for today is defining a kinky fantasy for you (and a partner or partners where appropriate), and to experience it with full mindfulness.

It is common for many people that when engaging kinky fantasies they feel uncomfortable or even experience shame. This can be a real problem, distracting much from the enjoyment of the fantasy they are acting out – or feeling remorse later on and regretting their actions. Of course, all fantasies acted out should be consensual, they should be safe and sane (often referred to as the SSC principle). And I ask you to consider this carefully beforehand.

The role of mindfulness in sex is twofold:
On the one side, it enhances your enjoyment of the actual fantasy play. By being fully present, you avoid your mind wondering off and worrying about something else. In other words, you are fully in the fantasy and can truly observe, be present, when it plays out.
On the other side, mindfulness enhances your perception of emotions arising out of the fantasy playing out – including, crucially, your personal boundaries. Thus, mindfulness kink gives you the tool to avoid a crushing feeling of remorse later, as it should guide your experience of the acting out. This may mean that you feel emotions that tell you to stop or pause the fantasy. Listening to these is exactly the point of this exercise: if it doesn’t feel right for you (or your partners) I want you to mindfully stop what you are doing and examine your emotions. Don’t be tempted to continue beyond what your emotions tell you, don’t be tempted to be carried away. Listen to your inner voice.

As a first step today, I want you to sketch out the fantasy that you have. You can do this together with your partner(s) if it involves them. Don’t get too bogged down on details: give the basic script of the fantasy, not a minute by minute account. This should be enough to guide you (and your partners), but leave enough room to accommodate changes where necessary. Remember to check beforehand the SSC principle, and importantly make sure everyone understands what they are consenting to. Also be careful not to push your boundary too far with this activity: it is perfectly ok to stretch the boundary a little bit and see how you go. But don’t do something you are likely to feel bad about afterwards. It is better to act out a very small kink fantasy in full mindfulness then to take on a massive boundary pushing activity.
In the second step, you should start to act out the fantasy. To start it off, bring your attention to the present. The most simple way is to focus briefly on your breathing for a few breath at the beginning of the fantasy play.
During the fantasy play remember to be fully present: acknowledge and examine your feelings and any emotions that arise. Greet good feelings and emotions when they appear, and carefully examine negative feelings or emotions.
If you are playing with partner(s), remember to give them appropriate feedback as you are acting out your fantasy. Listening to your inner voice should guide you in this. Ideally, get to a place where you are communicating constantly with your partner(s): they let you know their emotions and feelings in an appropriate form – and you provide feedback and communicate your emotions and feelings. Pay full attention to this communication process.

After playing check back in with yourself: examine how playing mindfully felt. Maybe you acted out fantasies before and can feel a difference in the way it went. Maybe this is the first time you tried to verbally express a fantasy and act it out. Some thing might have been much better than expected, other maybe less so. That’s fine. The point is to communicate this and talk with yourself, and where possible with your partner(s), about this openly.

I hope you have an amazing experience with today’s activity. Of course, most fantasies feel better in fantasy land than in reality, but mindfulness can help to approach fantasy land as much as possible. Even if applied to more ordinary, vanilla sex, most people find that mindfulness, together with feedback and communication can really enhance the experience enormously.

Finally, of course, I would be really interested to hear how it was for you today. How did you feel during and after the activity? Let me know!

Day 28: Massage

For today’s activity we are delving into intuitive erotic massage, in other words, massage that is intentionally erotic and sexual, though it doesn’t really follow any ‘massage theory’. It is all about giving and receiving sensual pleasure.

Before we dive into this though, it is important briefly revisit “giving and receiving”. While some forms of sexual activity are generally mutual (e.g. fucking for example, where the giver and the receiver is receiving pleasure at the same time), sensual massage is almost always about one person “doing the work”, while the other one is receiving. This can raise a few issues. The most obvious one is that one person might feel that he is disadvantaged (by giving but receiving little in return). This is necessarily something that should be addressed between the two of you, so that both feel they receive and give.

However, some people also feel uncomfortable when receiving, too. Even if they have been giving previously. This is an important thought to recognise immediately, not least because it has the potential to become one of the toxic thoughts that can really fester in the corner of the brain.
After all, the giver is trying to give pleasure to the receiver. But by being distracted with thoughts about how the receiver can reciprocate, about aspects of his body or other thoughts which distract from the pleasure given, the receiver can (inadvertently) destroy even the best attempts of a giver to give pleasure to him.

Similarly, the same mechanism can be at work in the giver: by thinking not about the pleasure the giver is giving, but letting the mind wander, the receiver can equally undermine his own efforts to give full pleasure.

This potential issue is, of course, not limited to receiving and giving pleasure through sensual or erotic massage. At its worst, it can perfectly ruin any form of sex.

Luckily though, being mindful can remedy such situations. When the receiver is focusing on the received pleasure in the moment and the giver focusing on giving pleasure, true connection can happen. It is, therefore, really important to be mindful during any sexual activity, but especially so when the giving and receiving is not equal.

A different potential issue can arise through the lack of feedback. Again, this is not only something that can occur when there is a disparity between giving and receiving. It can happen during all forms of sex, but especially during massage.

Often people feel uncomfortable about communicating what they like, or don’t like. In my own experience, many people I had the chance to massage (or had other forms of sex with) were almost completely quiet. Again, this can spell trouble for both sides:

From a giver perspective this can be really frustrating. After all, as a giver, the most interesting part of giving a massage is to make the other person feel good. And nothing is more rewarding than an approving “oh yeah” or similar sound in that situation.

From a receiver perspective, not giving the feedback can be equally frustrating. It basically leaves the giver with no guidance as to what the receiver really likes. As pretty much everyone has his own pleasure points, this makes it difficult for the giver to give more pleasure. The default is then to do what the giver thinks is best, but that may not be something the receiver really likes. Hence, responsive feedback is really important. Basically, responsive feedback enables both to receive the most pleasure from what they are doing – and after all, that is what this is all about!

I could write quite a few posts on the importance of feedback (and why people sometimes seem to think they should be as quiet as possible), but this is not the point of today’s post, of course. But, please, bear in mind that feedback is massively important. To put it bluntly, yes, the neighbours may hear you. Let’s be clear: So what? What is more important to you? Your pleasure and rewarding the giver? Or someone who is probably more jealous of someone else sharing pleasurable moments with someone else.

So, for today, focus both on giving and receiving a sensual, erotic massage with a partner. Pay special attention to giving and receiving feedback and being in the moment. Don’t worry if, especially giving feedback feels a little strange at first (especially if you are usually more quiet). Just let it come out: the ahhhhs and ohhhs may feel unusual, but really, they are natural and rewarding to the other person.

Now a few words on the intuitive erotic massage: Don’t worry too much about following a script.
My own preference is to start with the bum, then work my way around the neck, the legs, the head, the face, the tummy, the chest and then the genitals. But that is no hard and fast rule.
Do, however, use oil and/or some other lubrication, especially when massaging the penis. You don’t need lots of oil for the body, just enough to make your hands glide. But for the penis, use as much as you can. It makes all the difference!
Try out different ways of giving a penis/genital massage: again, no hard and fast rules here – and bear in mind that everyone is different. Some people love to have their balls massaged. Others go wild when you gently massage their gland. Others feel best when you focus on the shaft. As much as there are differently formed penises around, there are just as much different varieties of massaging it. Go with the flow – and listen to the feedback. Experiment and see.

I hope you enjoy today’s activity and it gives you some good ideas. Tomorrow we will explore even more areas of sex where feedback and mindfulness are really important: kink. Please remember to let me know how you are getting on… your feedback is really important! Use the comments below, or use #ug30bc on twitter. Until tomorrow… and enjoy the feeling of giving and receiving pleasure today!

Day 27: Masturbation

Today we are venturing away from tantra to masturbation, or really how we should call it, self-love. Many men have an unhealthy attitude towards sex: they have grown up with the idea that sex is something to be hidden away. Sexual desires are something to be tamed and having sex “just for fun” is seen as animalistic*. Especially so, if men are doing it only with themselves with no other purpose than to enjoy themselves by themselves.

Following the philosophy that it is best to confront shame and fear head on, today I ask you to be daring when it comes to hiding your secret ways of having fun with yourself. Instead, share it with a regular partner. Please do not share it with a stranger (e.g. In a cruising ground), the explicit focus of today is to confront the shame often associated with masturbation.

The activity for today is therefore to invite someone to watch you wank.
This may seem a daunting task, but try to give it a try. Don’t try and integrate wanking yourself into any sexual activity today. Instead make the other person watching you the main focus of your sexual activity today. In other words, put on a show for the person. If this is a regular sexual partner for you, he maybe learning a few new tricks or areas where you touch yourself. Afterwards, remember to speak about the experience with him: what was surprising for him. If he hasn’t shown you himself wanking, talk about the differences. In other words, go all out and first show and then talk about how you make yourself cum, what you like, where you want to be touched.

I know this activity might push a few boundaries for you today. If you feel highly uncomfortable, explore your boundaries around the subject and ask yourself if there are ways you can overcome them.

Tomorrow we will explore gentle touches in a massage activity. You may want to invite the person you shared today with tomorrow again. Especially as you may have learned quite a few things about what that person likes!

* The idea that sex for fun is something animalistic is, by the way, a complete myth. The majority of animals don’t have sex for fun or recreation: the majority of animals have sex only or almost exclusively for reproduction. Sex as something enjoyable and re-creative is virtually absent from the animal kingdom.

Day 26: Orgasm, Ejaculation and the role of Breathing

Yesterday I briefly touched upon the difference of orgasm and ejaculation and the idea why many tantric practitioners prefer to not ejaculate (but do have orgasms!). This distinction is absolutely crucial to understanding tantric sex. Today we expand on this a bit more. To do this, first we look at conventional sex, before moving on to compare it with tantric sex.
normalplay.001
To visualise conventional sex, take a look at the image above. In conventional sex, sexual activity starts at the beginning slowly building up sexual energy. It increases and accumulates in a combined orgasm and ejaculation stage (for men). That is to say, the orgasm phase is very short, and just briefly entered before climaxing in ejaculation. Ejaculation is then immediately followed by a loss of sexual energy. All of this often takes place in a very short time: most people don’t take much more than 15 or 20 minutes when having conventional sex. From entering orgasm stage to ejaculation may take just a few second.
I also included in the above diagram premature ejaculation. You can see the frustration arising from it: it is reached before reaching the orgasm stage, but, just as all ejaculation, results in an immediate loss of sexual energy. The person needs to “recover” for a bit, take a break and then can start again.normalplay.002
As you can see from the diagram above, tantric sex is very different:
The first visible difference are the multiple orgasms that occur – without ejaculation, as that would lead to a loss of sexual energy. Instead, every time the tantric practitioner gets close to ejaculating, the play is gently stopped, brought back to just about before orgasm stage. It can then move back into the orgasm stage, normally with slightly longer time in the orgasm stage and a slightly stronger orgasm before the “danger point” of ejaculation is reached. In short, tantric sex “cycles” in and out of the orgasm stage, and keeps the person for longer and longer time in the orgasm stage. Full tantric sessions can last very, very long: experienced practitioners can have sex for several hours.
The second difference is that as sexual energy is never completely lost through ejaculation, it can always be quickly reactivated. Many tantric practitioners need much less time to reach orgasm stage than people who practice tantra only occasionally. More over, especially with appropriate mind-control (which we have trained so much in part 1!), tantric practitioners can reach the stage rapidly and remain in the orgasm/ecstasy zone without ejaculating.
Thirdly, sexual energy is preserved and can be quickly reactivated, including by more gentle play with body parts which would not normally be associated to ejaculation. If you have ever seen tantric practice, you can see how people seeming reach orgasm/ecstasy stage by simple touches – something that in conventional sex would not lead to orgasm/ejaculation.

Today’s activity focuses on maintaining you in orgasm stage – and discovering the difference between orgasm and ejaculation, and to control and delay ejaculation. To do this, we use two tricks (or techniques): breathing and an “emergency stop”. I’ll quickly explain both of them:

Breathing
Think what happens when you have a conventional orgasm: Most people realise they are reaching the orgasm phase, they start to breathe heavily at first – but then contract all their muscles in the body and hold their breath for a short while before ejaculating. The last bit is essential here: the full contraction of the muscles and the holding of the breath.
One way to avoid ejaculation is to continue breathing. This is a little easier said then done though, so I suggest you keep trying it a few times. To do this, when you reach the orgasm phase start taking deeper and deeper breaths. Focus on your breath at this stage, so that it remains deep and rhythmic and avoid accelerating as in conventional sex. You may find you feel a bit like you are hyperventilating, that is perfectly ok here. This technique should help you remain in the orgasm phase for a while. However, even with strong, deep and rhythmic breaths you are likely to edge closer to ejaculation and you will need to stop or slow down the sexual stimulus. When you reach that point, slow down for a minute or two before starting again. You should notice how you reach the orgasm stage rapidly and more intensely the next time.

Emergency Stop
There are two emergency stops you can use if you are feeling you are extremely close to ejaculation:
The first one is the perineum, the area between your testicles and your anus. While gently massaging it is a stimulus – pressing it forcefully can stop ejaculation.
The second one is pressing the head of the penis. To do this, locate the frenulum, a small skin-like piece of skin that connects the foreskin to the head of the penis. To press it, hold two fingers on the opposite side (the top side when looking down), and press the frenulum with your thumb. Practice this a few times to see how it works.

Ideally, you should not need to use the emergency stop techniques, as they quite harshly interrupt the flow of the session. However, they are useful techniques to know in case things have gone a little to far.

With those two techniques, try and cycle in and out of orgasm stages today for a few times. You can try this either with a partner (taking turns on each other) – or using masturbation. The latter has the advantage that you can more closely monitor which stage you are at.
If you are doing this activity with your partner, or on your partner, pay special attention to the breathing. You are basically now communicating through breathing, and with some training should be able to signal (or notice if you are the giver) the maximum breath the receiver before ejaculation.

I hope you are enjoying the activities. Please let me know how you feel and how you are getting on. Use the comment function below to share your experiences with other bootcampers.

And don’t forget to come back tomorrow – when we look more closely at masturbation. Have a fantastic day – and remember to breathe!

Day 25: Basics of Tantra

Today we are going to look more deeply at pleasure and connection. Not just accepting yourself, but creating and growing pleasure (and sexual energy) through tantra. There is a lot of debate out there about different ways of tantra, and actually if tantra should be called tantra, or neotantra etc., much of it could easily fill a few bookstores with books. Therefore, rather than debating the basis of tantra and how to do it, let’s try to experience it and then go from there.

For this activity, you’ll need a timer (egg timer or phone timer, whatever can count 10 minutes). Ideally you should complete today’s activity with a partner. However, this may not be possible for you, so I’ll describe an alternative approach after the activity. If you want to, you could, of course, try both approaches!

Tantra Activity with a Partner
For this activity, try to aim for 10 sessions of five minutes for each partner. You can work with fewer sessions (or more). But 10 is a good number to aim for (this would mean the full activity lasts about two hours).

1. Set the timer to five minutes.
2. Sit opposite your partner and look into each others eyes, focusing only on the breathing and looking at each other. This is the “connection” phase, where you are connecting with your partner.
3. After the five minutes are over, acknowledge your partner maybe with a kiss or hug, and move to the next session.

4. Set the timer again for five minutes.
5. Touch your partners arm. Caress it gently for five minutes.
For you, focus on touching the other person: be fully in the moment, acknowledging how you feel touching him.
For the receiving partner: use mindfulness techniques to bring your full attention to being touched.
6. After five minutes, acknowledge each other – then switch roles: so now the previously receiving partner gives the touching for the next five minutes.

Now repeat steps 4 to 6 for the rest of the cycles: you can slowly move around the body – use your imagination to where you want to touch next: legs, chest, neck, feet, ass, balls, penis, scrotum, prostate… (using lubrication as necessary).

Remember two points:
1. The aim of the exercise is not to ejaculate (but see below!). If the receiving partner is feeling he is coming to close, gently stop or become very slow and let the receiving partner focus on his breath for a while.
2. Don’t expect the receiving partner to have a constant hard-on during the session, even while you are touching intimate parts of the body. The focus of the session is on giving pleasure to the receiver – not on him achieving or maintaining an erection.

Tantra Activity without a Partner

1. Take the timer and set it to five minutes.
2. For five minutes touch your abdomen. Focus completely on the feeling you get from touching you.
3. After five minutes move to the nipples. Then the thighs. In the fourth round, move to the genitals: first the perineum, then scrotum, then touch your balls. Then your penis shaft, then your glans. If you can easily reach it, you can also include your anus or prostate (using lubrication as necessary).

Similar to the partner exercise, remember to avoid ejaculation (see below!). Similarly, don’t try to achieve or maintain an erection. Focus on the feeling you are getting from touching yourself.

A final word about orgasm (vs ejaculation). For tantric practitioners orgasm and ejaculation are two different things. If you are not an experienced tantra practitioner, both are likely to mostly appear at the same time. The idea in “real” tantra is that orgasm can be achieved (with some training!) without ejaculation. This is important, as ejaculation basically means that sexual energy is lost. To visualise this, just think of what happens when people “come”. Basically that is the end of the intercourse. Hence, the idea is to avoid ejaculation, and instead achieve an increasingly powerful series of orgasm without loosing the sexual energy.

To best try this out and train yourself, use the following activity without a partner (or simply try it on yourself): Masturbate as far as you can before you are actually ejaculating. Stop. And repeat. Don’t worry if you stop a little too early in the beginning. When you feel you are starting to come, basically stop. So you are edging closer and closer to ejaculation – but without actually coming. Relax and focus on your breath for a while. Then repeat.
It will take a while, but, after a few attempts you will feel the difference between orgasm – and ejaculation.

I hope you are having a lot of fun with these activities. Don’t worry if you can’t pack them all in in one day… maybe pause for a day or two. Tomorrow we will be back and focusing on breathing, orgasm and some more tantra… Don’t miss it!

And please remember to share how you are feeling with everyone. Please use the comment function below – or #ug30bc on twitter. See you tomorrow!

Day 24: Defining your sexual self

Yesterday we started with some sensual exercises and loving your body. I hope you had time to explore them and enjoy them. Today the focus is on defining yourself more closely. So today’s question is: Who are you when it comes to sex and sexuality?

Often the gay scene simply defines top, bottom or versatile, which, while maybe useful for fucking, is pretty one dimensional and really not very holistic. In fact, this focus purely on fucking has a lot of problems: Especially, as it assumes that all sex is somehow related to fucking – and if you don’t, then it is not sex (or even part of the sexual self). Such a focus is extremely limiting and really plays down the important other areas of sex and sexuality.

The idea for today then is to have a conversation with yourself: define yourself whom you are as a sexual being. What is it that you want out of love, sex and live? Delving deeper than just your position, define yourself with all the little contradictions, multiple facets and the great variety that makes you – you! Therefore, when considering the following questions, don’t try to give a single answer, unless you really feel that you can only answer one thing. Rather elaborate with yourself. Maybe you find that in different situations you prefer different things. Great! You may also find that things have shifted over time, or with different partners. Perfect. After all, why should we limit ourselves to do the same position, like the same sex or even have the same sexual identity for a long time? Let’s embrace our fluid self, that makes us unique.

Today’s activity is then to debate and define the sexual you. You can do this on your own or with your partner. If you currently have a partner, I would strongly encourage you to have this conversation with him. Share the list of questions with him and answer them briefly each on their own. Then you can share how you each see yourself. This is then a great way to open up the discussion about what kind of sex you have or would like to have with each other, for example.

1) What is your sexual orientation?
A) homosexual – attracted to only men
B) bisexual – attracted to men and women
C) pansexual – attracted to people regardless of their gender or gender identity
D) heterosexual – attracted to only women

2) How would you define your preferred relationship status?
A) single – not dating at all
B) independent – dating/in a relationship but largely independent
C) multiple – dating multiple partners without much commitment
D) attached – in a committed relationship with one or more partners

3) How “open” would you like your relationship to be?
A) full monogamy – completely monogamous
B) restricted open – open relationship but with rules (e.g. only play together)
C) open – open relationship without rules
D) poly-experimenting – relationship with one partner, but “dating” a third
E) polygamy – committed relationship with two or more partners

4) How important is intimacy vs “just sex” for you?
A) mostly intimate – you  prefer cuddling and kissing over sex
B) Intimate-Sexual  – you  prefer cuddling and kissing but like sex
C) both – you want both equally
D) Sexual-Intimate – you prefer sex over kissing and cuddling
E) Sexual – you prefer mostly sexual contact

5) What would you say is your preferred frequency of having sex:
A) asexual – you prefer not to have sex
B) demisexual – you prefer not to have sex only when you formed a strong bond
C) sexual – generally sexual (whatever you consider “average”)
D) frequent sexual – highly sexual with high sex drive
E) hypersexual – constantly sexual

6) How comfortable are you when discussing sex?
A) comfortable – no problem to talk about sex, preferences etc…
B) oblique – you talk about sex, but only with people you know well
C) noncomfortable – generally not very comfortable to talk about sex
D) avoidant – you try to avoid talking about sex

7) How forceful or assertive are you when seeking or initiating sex?
A) assertive – you know what you want, and you ask to get it.
B) versatile – depends on the situation or the person
C) passive – you are waiting for your partner(s) to make a move first

8) Do you prefer to give or receive pleasure?
A) receiver – you want to mostly receive pleasure
B) versatile – you want to both receive and give pleasure
C) giver – you prefer to give pleasure

9) How planned are you when it comes to sex?
A) spontaneous – no planning, just do it when it feels right.
B) situational – it depends, sometimes you plan.
C) planned – carefully planned.

10) What types of sexual activities do you enjoy?
A) tantric – slow sexual activities focused on intimacy and sexual energy
B) sensual – generally more sensual sex
C) ‘vanilla’ – whatever you think is “average”
D) fantasy – sex which includes some form of fantasy ideas
E) BDSM – domination/submission
F) fetish – sex involving particular objects (e.g. leather)

11) What types of sexual scenes are interesting or exciting for you?
A) voyeuristic – seeing other people have sex
B) private – you prefer privacy
C) Semi-private – places with a low chance of being seen
D) Open – places with a fair chance of being seen
E) Exposed – clearly visible/open spaces
F) Exhibitionist – sex while being watched by others

As the first step of getting what you want is knowing what you want, hopefully thinking about these questions has stimulated some ideas and thinking, either by yourself – or with your partner(s). The list is of course not exhaustive, and there are many other aspects of sexuality and sexual expression that define you as a sexual being. Keep thinking about you and your sexual self… take the broad categories above and refine them to suit yourself. Maybe integrate practices or positions into different scenarios. In other words, once you have an idea of what you like or would like to do, you will be much more able to express, seek and discuss this.

Tomorrow we start applying some of the principles to sexual practices, and learn more about why meditation, mindfulness and tantra are such a great combination when they are applied. We will start with tantra practice tomorrow. This requires some time, so please, try and have around 2 hours available.

If you enjoyed the activity today, why not share it? Or share in the discussion, by leaving a comment below, or tweeting using the #ug30bc. See you tomorrow!

Day 23: You are beautiful: Body Image

Before we are moving on from life in general, and look more closely at our sexual and relationship/love self, let us take a quick break and look at the body, your body. Survey after survey has shown that body image is a major problem for the modern man – of whatever sexual orientation. However, those that have looked particularly at gay men found that less than half are happy or fairly happy, and just a tiny fraction (less than 3%) are actually happy with their bodies. 81% have tried to change their body shape in a form or another, and almost 50% of gay men in one survey would die early to have a good body – and only 16% of gay men report feeling comfortable at a nudist beach. If you think about this, these numbers are truly shocking.

However, they are not really unexpected: from fashion to porn, from dating sites to going out – we are constantly being bombarded with some form of idealised body image. No wonder so few men feel uncomfortable (in varying degrees) with their bodies, or even want to change just that little bit here and there. But, as we have seen before, even small, seemingly ‘normal’ but definitely negative thoughts, tucked away in the corner of the mind, can become quite toxic.

Therefore today, the activity is to use mindfulness to caringly and with kindness look at your body and make friends with the body you have. I realise that looking at your own body is, in itself, often frowned upon or associated with vanity and narcissistic self-love. But self-delusion isn’t the aim of the activity. Instead, the focus is to reconnect with your body.

To start the activity make sure you have a bit of time to yourself. You’ll also need a small handheld mirror.

Now choose a pleasant environment: it could be your bathroom or bedroom for example. Make it a really pleasant space for this: use some candles to set the mood, or maybe some fragrant oil to make the atmosphere just like as if you would have a very hot and romantic date with someone incredibly hot whom you really want to seduce (hint: you do!).

When the scene is set, take the small mirror and start looking at yourself – first start by focusing on individual body parts. Put yourself in the mindset as if you are looking at the hot date you set everything up for. Slowly discover your body part by part through the mirror. Using mindfulness techniques, take a good look at your different body parts: admire and caress the different parts of your body. Be compassionate about each part you see and focus on the positive of this body part.

Once you have seen all parts of your body individually through the mirror, look at the whole you: see yourself glowing in the candle light. This is your hot date!

Be mindful during this activity that negative emotions or thoughts may appear. If they do, acknowledge the feelings and use mindfulness to shift your thoughts back gently to looking at yourself compassionately and with kindness. If the negative feelings persist take a short break, and use mindfulness techniques to examine your feelings.

Finally, once you have looked at yourself, and given yourself space to admire and caress yourself, thank yourself for the company.

I have tried this exercise with many people before. And many people find it very embarrassing or even strange. If this happens to you, stick with the exercise – don’t avoid looking at you. The vast majority of people who completed the exercise found it extremely empowering, even and especially if they hesitated at first. I hope you find this exercise equally empowering and it reconnects you with the most important person in your life. If it does, why not share your feelings? Use the comment function below – or tweet using #ug30bc … See you tomorrow, when we are going to get sexual!

Day 22: Mindful Exercise

Yesterdays food mindfulness example showed how mindfulness can become part of daily life. Importantly, mindfulness can also be incorporated into very active activities – in fact, it can really enhance both the experience of them as well as the performance. Today, therefore, we briefly touch on how to integrate exercise and mindfulness.

Yoga, walking, running or even machine-based weight exercises are potential partners for mindfulness. As long as the exercise doesn’t necessarily require you to pay too much attention to unexpected movements from others (for example during competitive sports), mindfulness can normally be integrated. Exercises where you are free to pay attention to breathing are especially ideal.

How you integrate mindfulness will, of course, depend somewhat on the exercise. But the basic function is easily explained using the example of running.

For mindful running, start to bring your attention to your breathing during your run. Please don’t use any music devices – and only do this on tracks where you can completely focus on the breathing (don’t do it, for example, while crossing streets or on uneven surfaces!).
Align your running with your breath: for example, three steps during breathing in. Two steps during breathing out (adjust this to whatever feels right for you). Repeat this pattern. Focus on your breath while doing this, acknowledging any other feelings or emotions, including any bodily sensations, such as your feet touching the ground, the wind on your skin etc. Regard them, acknowledge them, but focus on your breathing to keep you in the moment.
Most people find aligning breathing and steps as quite challenging, in fact unnatural in the beginning. This is perfectly normal. We are not trained to do this. If you find it very challenging, try and run on a straight stretch for just a short while – somewhere where you are not disturbed – to train the breathing and step synchronisation. After a few attempts it will be easier to do this. You can then try and practice it for longer runs.

For other exercises, follow the example above: align your activity with your breath. For example, inhale for one step. Exhale for the next while walking slowly.

With some practice, this will start to feel much more natural than in the beginning. You’ll probably notice how your mind quiets down when you use the technique: you can observe yourself doing the exercises, feeling more present.

Have you tried mindful exercising? Do you have some tips for when doing it? Share your experiences below. Tomorrow we will be moving on to more adult themes: starting with body acceptance before moving on to discussing how mindfulness can not just help living a much happier and healthier life… but can also make your sex life much more enjoyable!