Awakening to Sacred Sexuality
I became a C-1 quadriplegic as a result of an accident on my last day of high school, in 1982. Until then, I was a typical Canadian teen. I played a lot of hockey and I was an avid water skier, and although being athletic helped me to have a good body image, my self-esteem was low, especially when it came to dating. Relationships and girlfriends were problematic even before my injury. Many of my friends had long-term girlfriends, but most of my relationships never developed into anything serious. In my final year of high school, things were changing for the better. I had always struggled to get good grades in school, but that year, my marks improved and so did my self-esteem. I was also in a serious relationship.
That relationship ended when I was injured, and it was over solely because of my disability. Otherwise, I’ve been very fortunate to have maintained many close friendships over the years with people I knew before my injury. I’ve had to struggle with a ventilator, suctioning, low blood pressure and very little stamina, but the regular visits from friends always gave me something to look forward to, especially visits from girls. It was about two years after my injury, just after I moved to long-term care, and when I started going up North for the long weekends that I knew I was ready for a relationship. I thought intimacy and romance were going to be difficult.
I need help with every aspect of daily living, including washing, dressing, brushing my teeth, cooking, feeding, and my bowel and bladder routine. The level of care I require definitely interferes with my sexuality. Having an attendant come into my apartment can be awkward for a partner, especially for my 3 a.m. turn. It’s even more difficult for someone I am seeing to assist with my personal care – some women want to do too much too soon and that always backfires. After my injury, I couldn’t hold hands, cuddle or make love the way I wanted to, which frustrated me.
MAKING THE CONNECTION
I also wanted to experience a greater spiritual and emotional connection with my partners. I have had several girlfriends since my injury and although they were all remarkable women, they were not long-term partners because that connection was lacking.
My search for a deeper bond and new ways to experience physical pleasure led me to explore massage, meditation and Tantra, which is rooted in the religious traditions of India. I had seen programs about Tantric sex on TV, and they mentioned that it was a great way to develop a relationship through nurturing, caring, breathing and meditation, and also to develop stronger multiple orgasms. I started looking for information on the Internet.
I have very strong spasms in my whole body. I’ve always felt that my spasms were beneficial in many ways, similar to exercise as if I were lifting weights, swimming or even waterskiing. But I wanted to channel that energy in a different way and make sex more pleasurable.
By talking to sex experts at Come As You Are, a sex store in Toronto (www.comeasyouare.com), and reading books about sex, disability and Tantra (see “Bedtime Reads,” below), I learned how a person with a disability can enhance a relationship with positive energy and good communication and by committing time and love to a relationship.
LESSONS IN LOVE
I also learned that Tantra is about experiencing life in the present while being true to oneself. To love yourself may seem selfish to some, especially to those who believe you should please others instead. Legend attributes the origin of Tantra to Dattatreya, a semi-mythological Hindu yogi. Nowadays, Tantra has a large, though not always well-informed, following worldwide.
Where does sacred sexuality come into play? We usually equate Tantra with sex, but it actually deals with love: absolute and unconditional love, which many people with disabilities are missing. Love requires touch. We all need to be touched — physically, emotionally and spiritually. These blessings of love and touch can be achieved without the need for sexual intercourse. The combination of energies brought about by truly and simply loving someone, and touching them with this intention of love can bring forth sensations of pure bliss, pleasure, peace and happiness. This is the simplest way to first experience Tantra.
CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL
If you want to take your exploration to the next level, consider working with a trained Tantric healer. You might have to talk to and work with several different practitioners to find someone you are really comfortable with and to whom you can open up at a very intimate level. Don’t get discouraged if it takes a while to find the right person.
I met Lotus, a Tantric healer and “Dakini,” online. In Tantric philosophy, a Dakini is a priestess who bestows enlightenment through her knowledge of sacred sexuality. Dakinis increase the erotic pleasure for sexual participants by helping them focus on a non-physical state of spiritual joy and the physical pleasure of sex at the same time. Many Tantric healers finish an apprenticeship and usually continue learning through workshops and retreats.
After exchanging several e-mails with Lotus, I decided it was time for a one-on-one session. After getting reassurances from one of Lotus’s references, I arranged to meet her in person. The instant I met Lotus I felt relaxed. She was warm, inviting and positive. She wanted to know about my interests and past relationships, what I wanted out of our sessions together and, of course, my disability.
My first session with Lotus was two hours long and it was awesome. She taught me how to communicate with someone through meditation, breathing and our chakras. The word chakra is Sanskrit for wheel or disk, and it signifies one of seven basic energy centres in the body. Each one corresponds to major nerve ganglia branching forth from the spinal column. In addition, the chakras also correlate to levels of consciousness, developmental stages of life, colours, sounds and bodily functions. It was invigorating being with Lotus, a beautiful naked woman, and not having sex with her, “sex” in the typical Western sense, meaning “intercourse.”
I also wanted to find a Tantric healer who would understand the medical side of my disability. A friend recommended Guiomar Campbell, a certified shiatsu therapist who graduated from and taught at the Shiatsu School of Canada. She has also studied acupuncture, Thai massage, Reiki and moxabustion therapy, in which a preparation of mugwort or wormwood leaves is burned onto the skin in small cones or held over acupuncture needles to stimulate them.
Guiomar has extensive experience working with people who have various conditions and disabilities. Her techniques were very different from Lotus’s. With her experience in alternative health therapies, she was able to sense areas of my body that were sore and massage them before starting our Tantric session. I was more comfortable with Guiomar’s breathing and meditation techniques than the chanting Lotus had shown me, although I do plan to see both healers again.
Both healers encouraged me to relax during my spasms, practise breathing and meditation, and focus moving sexual energy through my body to enhance sensation and feeling. As a result, I have experienced positive changes. I can actually feel more of my body, because I have learned to visualize energy going up through my root chakra (in my perineum) and out through my heart chakra. The feeling in my genitals is more acute especially during sex, and I know that I will be able to share this with my next girlfriend in a very special, nurturing way that doesn’t focus on intercourse.
I believe that with more meditation and a lot of practice, I will become more aware of what I can feel and as I concentrate on my breathing and my positive energy, I will be able to pleasure myself as well as my partner in a very loving, nurturing, sexual way.
Steve McPherson runs his own business, has done some modelling and enjoys public speaking, especially about injury prevention. He lives in Toronto. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Tantric sex and healing, check out these books.
* The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability For All of Us Who Live with Disabilities, Chronic Pain and Illness, by Miriam Kaufman, M.D., Cory Silverberg and Fran Odette (Cleis Press), available at www.comeasyouare.com.
* Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving, by Charles and Caroline Muir (Mercury House), available at www.amazon.ca.
* Tantra: The Cult of the Feminine, by André Van Lysebeth (Weiser), available at www.amazon.ca.