urbangay bootcamp: Day by Day

With just a week away, here is a look at the day to day program of the urbangay bootcamp, which starts on the 1. March.  As you can see, the bootcamp is divided into two parts:

Part 1 is the “skills” section: in this part, daily activities and material will cover the basic skills of mindfulness and meditation in a no-nonsense and easy to follow way.
Part 2 is the “application” section: here the skills from part 1 are the essential tools to take a break, have a look at life and love – and discover a bit more about you.

As you can see… it will be a fun month of daily, small activities, which make you think, change the way you look at life, make you appreciate life more, that are sexy and enjoyable!

To join – all you have to do is come back to the blog for the new activities. There is no fee, no application but please let me know how you like the bootcamp and the activities!
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Part 1 Mindfulness and Meditation
Wednesday 01/03/17 Basics of the bootcamp
Thursday 02/03/17 What’s meant by Mindfulness, Meditation and Tantra?
Friday 03/03/17 Here come the #urbangays! A Manifesto
Saturday 04/03/17 Switching from autopilot activity to mindfulness
Sunday 05/03/17 Focusing on Breathing
Monday 06/03/17 Daily life as mindfulness practice
Tuesday 07/03/17 Awareness
Wednesday 08/03/17 Awareness (part 2)
Thursday 09/03/17 Body scan – the quick way to check in with yourself
Friday 10/03/17 Letting go
Saturday 11/03/17 Mindfulness Recap
Sunday 12/03/17 The basics of Meditation
Monday 13/03/17 Meditating for relaxation
Tuesday 14/03/17 Meditation as a tool for change
Wednesday 15/03/17 Meditation for sex
Part 2: Life, Love, Sex
Thursday 16/03/17 Checking in on life: nourishing and deleting activities
Friday 17/03/17 Using meditation and mindfulness as guides: life choices
Saturday 18/03/17 Using Mindfulness to develop your life strategy
Sunday 19/03/17 Training Empathy and Gratitude
Monday 20/03/17 Mindfulness and Meditation as tools for Stress Reduction
Tuesday 21/03/17 Food – nourishing you mindfully
Wednesday 22/03/17 Mindful Exercise
Thursday 23/03/17 You are beautiful: Body Image
Friday 24/03/17 Defining your sexual self
Saturday 25/03/17 The basics of tantra
Sunday 26/03/17 Orgasm, Ejaculation and the role of breathing
Monday 27/03/17 Love yourself without shame: masturbation
Tuesday 28/03/17 Sensuality with mindfulness: Partner massage
Wednesday 29/03/17 Mindful Kink – spicing things up
Thursday 30/03/17 Mindful Relationships
Friday 31/03/17 Sustaining Mindfulness

 

 

Why 30 days?

Why is the bootcamp 30 days long? You may have heard about the idea that new habits need 21 days to become established. Unfortunately though, this is a bit of a myth. The actual number is much longer, and depends on a lot of different factors.

The actual number would be 66 days  at least according to science. However, it can be shorter or longer depending on the individual – and the habit.

Thus, the obvious question would be: why not a 66 day bootcamp? The easy answer: it is really about getting started on a journey – not all at once, nor infinite; but a little bit every day. This is why the bootcamp is broken down into 30 days. But apart from this, there are actually a few good reasons for this:

1. Putting some time aside for a month to kickstart a new “you” is a pretty good start. Doesn’t a little over two months sound quite scary? There are some books out there that ask you to commit three months to learn and apply mindfulness. They do have a good point: mindfulness gets better with practice. But three months is a long time. Some others promise mindfulness in 7 days… very short to really explore the concept and apply it. And so the bootcamp tries to strike a balance here: something you can commit to but that is not overly long and complex.

2. You don’t need to follow the 30 days – every day. I’m asking you to commit to following the program, because I really think it will give you the essential tools. However, you can and should follow at your own pace: if you feel like redoing a day – do so. Maybe you feel like going back to something you have done a few days back… no problem. I’m asking you not to skip ahead, but be gentle to yourself. This is not a race against each other, it is all about you.

3. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect the first time round. If you feel like it, try a daily exercise again. Or maybe just move to the next day, revisit the exercise at a later day. Sometimes some insights grow with time and practice.

4. It’s not about 21, 30 or 66 days… I’m not hoping and not promising you that after 30 days you will be stress free, eternally happy and enjoying life forever. The bootcamp is the start of a journey… and I hope that after one month you feel it is worthwhile investing a little time each day into yourself. Wether it is by revisiting some of the bootcamp exercises, or exploring some of the areas covered in the bootcamp more in depth – maybe as part of the follow up programs. The program is ultimately all about you – and only you can decide what you want to explore and experience.

In short, I hope the bootcamp is a start of journey: a journey together, where everyone can explore themselves, as individuals and part of the urbangay community.

Body, mind, happiness: the urbangay way

I had no reason to be unhappy: everything was fine.
But I had a nagging feeling that everything could be amazing.

The idea for urbangay didn’t start as an idea to create a specific program or even a specific approach… In fact, it all started as a personal growth project … and grew from there. How?

A few years ago things didn’t really go well for me: not that there was anything specific wrong that needed fixing. I had a stable job at as a university lecturer, traveled a lot, owned a nice apartment with an amazing view over the Thames and the skyline of London, had a lot of friends, did lots of voluntary work and generally everything was just the way a movie writer would love things to be at the end of a kitsch romance movie. But there was a little problem, and that was I just wasn’t really feeling happy. Not really unhappy either… just not really happy. (If you want to find out a little more about me, click here)

the urbangay idea brings together lots of different tools,
for your body, mind and happiness

The issue I had wasn’t really that new to me: Part of my work and almost all of my voluntary work experience over the last two decades included different forms of counselling: listening to people and their issues and helping them to find solutions, coaching people or helping people cope with set backs in their lives. And while specific issues could often be fairly easily addressed, many people I have met over this time didn’t really have a specific issue. In fact, one could say, many had “it all”, just like me – yet they were unhappy.

As part of that work and because of personal interest, I used all kinds of different techniques to help people: From coaching models to counselling techniques, from meditation to tantra. Hence, I assumed that if anyone should have enough experience in the field to resolve this riddle, it should be me. After all I had spoken to literally thousands of people. I managed to make them feel better, surely I should be able to “help” myself.

the urbangay way is affirmative, sex positive
and as individual as you are

My first step was to start to look around to find a solution to feel happier and more content. I came across lots of different solutions: I checked out everything from trying out minimalism to reading how changing the food I eat would change my life forever. The problem was, that all involved some really big life changes – and a lot of commitment, usually immediately up front. And I just wasn’t prepared to throw away all my stuff overnight, or commit to never eating a burger ever again. So while these techniques clearly worked for many people, they were just not right for me – at least not for the longer term.

Other approaches meant signing up to a bunch of spiritual or philosophical beliefs. Often I agreed happily with many of the principles or some of the outcomes, but I just didn’t want to tie myself down too much. For example, I vividly recall how I attended a tantra training. It was really great, and I loved the techniques and the way it felt. There was no doubt, tantra was something I liked. After the workshop I went out with the trainer, and he told me how tantra saved him quite literally from the brink. The story was good, and I could see how a completely tantric lifestyle could do that – but the problem for me was that, while I really liked tantric sessions, I also loved traditional sex. I didn’t want to give up on all other forms of sex. Committing my life to only tantric practice was something I simply wasn’t prepared to do. In short, I wanted something that combined the best of all the things I worked with, but without the dogma!

the urbangay way combines ancient techniques, brand new research
and things that really work – without the dogma

The result was that I started to revisit my experiences working with others: Often, I concluded, that these  dogmatic measures were really good at helping people who had a particular big issue. But what helped people who didn’t have such a specific issue was not a dogmatic application of some form of life principle, but a collection of different techniques borrowed from different methodologies or philosophies. A dip in and dip out approach if you want: something like a smorgasbord of small nibbles or a big buffet of tapas: something where one could try different things, and that once all the small portions are eaten, actually leave you really satisfied. That in mind I started to experiment around.

Eventually more and more friends and people I met or worked with became interested in what I was doing.  They encouraged me to write up the tools and make them available to others. The result is the collection of different workshops, “30 Day programs” and books available here. All of them building happiness by doing something for a healthier body and mind. And encouraging you to discover more and become a happier you.

I really hope the all the different workshops inspire you, too. I know change is often hard and difficult… but it is worth it.

It’s great if you can say everything is fine.
And a hundred times better when you can say it’s amazing!

stephan

What’s the bootcamp?

I’m really excited: you probably have seen the stuff about the “bootcamp” around the blog. The bootcamp is something I have been working on – and I hope you’ll join when it starts in March. In this post, I’ll explain a bit about the bootcamp – and in the next post I’ll say a bit more how it came about.

In a nutshell, the bootcamp is a month long “program” that brings together bits of mindfulness, meditation and tantra specifically for gay men (although you don’t have to be gay, of course!). I’m a bit hesitant to use the word program, as it isn’t really a big thing “change all aspects of your life” sort of thing and it doesn’t require you to commit to a lot of time every day.

In fact, it is a small, daily doses kick-starter program: similar to a fitness bootcamp, just less work and more results. It brings together some activities that I have found to be really good to get more out of life: a collection of things that I have picked up upon or used over the years. Now I assembled all of it into a “meaningful package”.

The idea is that, for a month, you try out something different or think about a particular point every day. All of the points together, at the end of the month, give you a pretty good overview over your life, things you are happy with, identify things you want to change, and things you want to explore more.

I think the result is a fun month of daily, small activities, which make you think, change the way you look at life, make you appreciate life more, that are sexy and  enjoyable.

The bootcamp has two parts: the first part is learning techniques, basically giving you some activities to help you better control your mind to be present, and to do what you want it to do (you’ll see, that is not as easy as it sounds!). The second part, is applying this to life, sex and relationships.

In the first part, the bootcamp starts with mindfulness. Simply training the mind to be present in the present moment. If you are a bit skeptical about it… I totally see your point: I remember when I first heard about the technique, I thought it was really stupid. And simple. But after giving it a try a few times (and I needed a few times to get it right, because it wasn’t really that simple at all!), I realised what a difference it can make make to many situations.

The bootcamp continues from there: the next step is meditation. Not in a dogmatic way, but in a fun way! While the first part gives you activities to focus your mind on the now and present, this part trains the mind to focus on specific issues with a purpose. Meditation and mindfulness are then the techniques used for the second part of the boot camp, where it is all about applying them to enjoy life more.

The second part focuses on the application: first on life overall – and then quite specifically to sex and relationships. This is the real fun part, a you get to ask all the big questions, and use the techniques from before on them.

Careful though, this part is not your typical meditate on life and hope for the best outcome sort of program: it is a really focused way of crafting your individual life and sexual “strategy”. Totally NSFW … From food to masturbation, exercise to kink, from using sex toys to going nude – it will all come in the second part.  And you’ll see how the techniques from the first part of the bootcamp help you enjoy all of it much more then before.

And just like a fitness bootcamp, the plan is trying to get you out of your normal life a bit – explore around the edges of your comfort zone… and have a lot of fun along the way.

Find out more about how the urbangay approach and the idea for the bootcamp developed in the next post. And: don’t forget: if you sign up to the VIP list newsletter you won’t miss out on any bootcamp posts!

Meditation… and Sex

Last week I wrote about the benefits of exercise for sex. And while moderate exercise will make your sex more fun,  meditation can add even more enjoyment to your sex life… Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. Being in the moment
    this is probably the biggest benefit: meditation teaches you to focus on the moment. During mediation that is usually the breathing or the voice if you follow guided mediation…  Once you master the technique, you can obviously use it in other scenarios: really feel the sexual contact that you have – rather than thinking what you need to do tomorrow. In other words, you learn to focus on the here and there – and that in itself is a major boost for sex.
  2. Meditation increases energy
    If you read last weeks article, you’ll know this one: More energy makes for better, longer, more frequent sex… and possible for more fun filled sex as well (try sleeping with someone when you’re really tired!). Well.. meditation increases energy levels similar to – if not more then – sleeping. So, you can imagine the benefits!
  3. Meditation decreases stress
    Stress is simply put a massive sex-zapper… basically it kills your testosterone, you’re less like to enjoy sex and even if you have sex, you’re likely to rush and not be in the moment. So, with meditation busting stress equal to, if not more so then exercise… give your sex life a boost by switching off for a few minutes every day.
  4. Meditation makes you appreciate slow, sensual sex
    This is a bit of a person thing maybe… Don’t get me wrong, quick sex can be great and thrilling. But only quick sex, or the sort of mechanical sex so often shown in porn, should be just one option on the menu. I mean, after all, would you choose the same dish at lunch every day, even if it was really good? There you go… so doing things in different ways, including slow, long and sensual broadens your sexual repertoire and makes you enjoy sex much more.
  5. Maybe… Mirror Neurons
    Mirror Neurons are the love affair and envogue item of many holistic gurus. Basically, they are assumed to be neurons traveling between persons to make both persons feel how the other is feeling. Meditation is supposed to increase the functioning of mirror neurons. I’m not trying to get into the debate – some people say they exist and work, others seem to claim this is all more or less a placebo effect. Either way, being close together and and sensual (tantra anyone?) should give the other person a good feeling – neurons here or there.

I haven’t found a “big bang” study to support a link between meditation and sex per se…(there are many though that talk about indirect links – or links specifically for females). Anyway… why not try it for yourself and see? Meditate, alone – or with your partner. And while you’re getting into a meditation routine, why not try and complement it all with some tantra?