Woman in robe flipped

By Caroline Muir

There isn’t a female libido pill as yet on the market. Ever wondered why?

Female arousal is a complex affair, perhaps more complex than an actual ‘affair’! It is so complex that I can only refer you to the best information I have ever read to explain the intricacies involved in female arousal: Vagina, a book by Naomi Wolf. I am privileged to have had my classes with women written about in twelve pages of this masterpiece of research.

A couple that I am counseling touched my heart deeply as I felt into their pain resulting from the fact that she doesn’t want to “have” to have sex any longer with her husband, at least for now. Their sexual loving is not painful or aggressive. She loves him and he loves her. She just doesn’t want to! Josh sits before me in shock and grief as this is his primary way to feel union with his beloved Heather… or as he describes it he is “a thirsty man desiring water… hungry for intimacy with his wife.”

Upset older couple roundHe remembers the last time they made love. He admits they were just going through the motions… that it wasn’t a thoughtful joining as they had been learning from me; the principles of Tantra and the yoga of intimacy. She really does not know why this is her truth and how she feels at this time. 

The sadness I feel and see in them is reminiscent of a lost and lonely place. As a woman, I do not find her wrong or broken or in any way ‘a mess.’ She is a wise and compassionate therapist, successful in her world. She “just doesn’t want to”! Sex for Heather is no longer fulfilling.

Yet she grieves his sorrow. She gives him freedom to explore… to continue living ‘as a man’ with others. That of course leads to talks about separate living and the myriad of painful situations that include grown children, friendships and family, pets and the daily playing of music that they share. He grimaces at this gift of freedom… he only wants his wife. I know this parting of physical/sensual/sexual ways is common to long relationships and marriages. I reach into my fifty years of living in relationships for words of wisdom.

Older Couple playing chess crop roundI suggest dropping deeper into friendship with one another, something they both feel is uppermost in their marriage and relationship. I suggest “Let It Be” as John Lennon sang to us as we were all reaching for the light of understanding.

I suggest a “sabbatical” from their sexual marriage, while deepening their intimacy and friendship with one another and their families. I invited Heather to do a Ritual of Completion with me or with her women’s group, in an invitation to “lay to rest” her duty as a wife. It’s very possible that in dropping the inherited duty of a wife, she might very well find her sensual joy in the freedom to say no!

Josh now has the opportunity to choose Heather for the warm and wonderful companion whom he has grown to treasure over twenty years. There is a heavy “should” in how a marriage is supposed to look in the sexual arena, and women often struggle with these libido changes as they age. It appears that we need to claim our autonomy from the marriage identity, often without wanting to lose the marriage, while hoping to find a new level of desire based on loving friendship and freedom rather than the duties of marriage.

Couple with baggage clear

Marital Baggage can be quite heavy. In the pure union of lover and beloved, this conflict isn’t meant to be heavy. In an ideal world we would want to make love as a celebration of our love. Yet libido for both men and women alters from the natural flow of desire that we knew when we were younger. The best antidote for a lazy libido is to simply… play!

Easier said than done? “Seriousness is an adult disease” and Sex is serious business. How about this instead: Play with one another…  play with yourself… play with your children… learn from the kids and pets about ‘play’ and bring that Quality of Play to your lover. Let go of goals, orgasms and performance. They are the biggest blocks to play!

I would love to hear from you! Please comment and add both your serious and your playful thoughts.

by Caroline Muir

Prozac_pillsDifficulty reaching satisfying orgasmic response for people taking SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, aka antidepressants) used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and some personality disorders has become a much-discussed complaint as a side-effect of these drugs.

The list reads something like this: Fluoxetine, Paroxetine, Sertraline, Citalopram, Escitalopram, Dapoxetine, Seproxetine, Zimelidine, Mesembrine.

I recently received an email from a friend and client who worked with me extensively on her years of struggle resulting from a powerful kundalini awakening. Many have reported kundalini awakenings as massive electrical “shocks” to their nervous system. Some awakenings are referred to as “spiritual emergencies.” Some are activated by menopause, hormonal shifts of an extreme nature, intense yoga classes, forced pranayama or breathing exercises, falling on your tailbone or sexual activity that forces too much energy to flood the system of someone not ready to run so much energy.

Sometimes in such cases, doctors prescribe an antidepressant. In my experience, antidepressants do bring relief from being on the edge of falling into the pit of depression. I, myself, have been at this edge or in that pit enough times that I have become dependent on Prozac now for over twenty years.

As a teacher and practitioner of Tantra Yoga and the techniques of increasing sexual pleasure… during which time I also was in a marriage relationship that was highly charged sexually… orgasms were as common to my day as the air I breathed! They were fun, easy and abundant… until six months to a year after I began taking Prozac.

Jumping ahead to the years since that time, I can assure you that easy-to-feel orgasms do return even when you are on a daily dose of antidepressants. Believing they won’t return is the biggest problem of all. There have been hills and valleys for me over these years, when my sexual energy and orgasmic response felt like they were behind a veil. I would get even more depressed, anxious, and even angry, until my lovers encouraged me to relax, breath more deeply, and enjoy the love and pleasure that was available to me… that orgasms were not their agenda… loving me and pleasuring me was their only goal.

Tantra is a great teacher of letting go of goal orientation. We humans all want our goodies as a result of the time we put into something like sex! The giver of pleasure loves and wants to feel and see the result of their giving! The receiver is often very attached to their performance and their agenda for the Big O. When we seemingly “fail” in this regard, sex becomes a letdown rather than an opportunity to share love and intimacy.

As I now expand my Tantra teachings to include the Yoga of Intimacy, there is infinite room for pleasure, love, and intimacy without the pressure of achieving a goal. Sure, you may want those orgasms! But I invite you to look at how they are really serving you.

Once I relaxed and let go of what I thought I wanted as a result of receiving sensual/sexual pleasure, my whole world opened to the love so essential to my happiness. Orgasms are wonderful, but much less important than connection, intimacy, and loving touch.

Do you have experience with antidepressants and orgasm? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

by Kimberly Dawn Neumann as posted on Aloha.com

Expert: Caroline Muir

Wouldn’t it be great if you could shut out all distractions and really connect to your body during sex? You know, be completely in the moment and put the spotlight directly on your pleasure?

Want to know how? By using your mind to improve your focus — and that’s where meditation comes in.

A meditative practice trains you to silence the internal chatter, which will help you tune in to every touch, every taste, every sensation. “Meditation is worth every minute you give to achieving this quiet state of mind,” says Caroline Muir, author of Tantra Goddess and founder of the Divine Feminine Institute for Men and Women. “It’s that quiet state that makes you open to your true erotic self.”

A quiet mind is also less distracted by self-consciousness and more open to heightened perception, which is just where you want to be when you’re most aroused. Any practice that brings focus to deep breathing while anchoring you in the here-and-now boosts your ability to experience erotic enjoyment.

“Sex is meditation,” says Muir. “Meditation is an inner seeing, and sex is enhanced by intimacy which I like to call in-to-me-see.” She describes the two together — sex and mindfulness — as paths to deeper understanding and greater connection. “The invitation to be mindful and present during sexual loving is a gift you give yourself and your partner.” 

Muir offers the following meditative techniques as a means of awakening sensuality and increasing sexual satisfaction. She suggests a 10-minute sexual meditation at least 2–3 times per week (and 30 minutes on weekends). “These are techniques from Tantric study that have transformed my own experience of the short, quick orgasm into something that last for minutes.” Need we say more?

Solo Sexual Meditation for Women

This meditation on your “internal” sexual muscles comes from centuries of Tantric yoga tradition, says Muir. “Mindfully focusing on the sensations in your body will enhance your ability to feel pleasure during sex and more fully enjoy the experience.”

You can do this exercise at home, at work, on the train, wherever. If you’re at home, set a sensual scene: Prepare a candle-lit bath or “pleasure nest’” with your favorite music, scent, candles, fabrics, art. Or sit in front of a mirror and watch yourself relax into a goddess of pleasure.

Step One: In a comfortable seated position (either at your desk, on the floor or on a pillow) with your eyes closed or open but with a soft focus, inhale deeply and hold your breath.

Step Two: While holding the breath, concentrate on contracting your inner female muscles . . . tighter, tighter, tighter.

Step Three: Exhale and relax these muscles completely . . . until you feel a pool of energy beneath you.

Step Four: Repeat two more times, squeezing as you hold the breath, relaxing as you exhale.

Step Five: Next, inhale deeply, hold breath while pulsing the muscles (squeeze-relax-squeeze-relax-squeeze-relax). 

Step Six: Exhale slowly while relaxing those muscles and when all your breath is out, immediately begin your next sequence.

Step Seven: Repeat two more times — pulsing as you hold the breath (squeeze-relax-squeeze-relax-squeeze-relax) and exhaling completely.

Step Eight: Continue to inhale and exhale slowly while you meditate on the energy you have cultivated that you are now “sitting on.” Consider repeating affirmations to yourself such as “Sexual pleasure is my birthright.” If that’s a little too Tantric, just think about sex! 

Couples Pleasure Meditation

Using meditative principles while engaging in lovemaking can help shift your attention from external distractions to the present moment, allowing you to get into you and your lover’s sexual pleasure flow. 

Step One: If your eyes are closed during sex, tune into your own breathing. Visualize your breath as it travels up your spine and down again. Or, concentrate on the sensation of your breath as it flows in and out of your nostrils, in an endless wave that syncs up with what’s happening in the rest of your body. “Like the lapping of the sea upon the shore, it relaxes the brain from all its busyness and turmoil,” says Muir.

Step Two: Focus on the scent of your partner. While you’re breathing deeply, breathe him into your body, and into the picture of him in your mind.

Step Three: Next, open your eyes and look at your partner. The simple act of eye contact enhances intimacy. Even if he’s off in his own world, allow your eyes to convey your thoughts. With a whisper of your eyes, communicate, “You’re mine” or “Slower” or whatever you’re feeling.  This will keep your mind from wandering and keep your focus on you and your partner and your combined pleasure.

Step Four: If you find yourself edging towards a climax, don’t be afraid to add a little “Ahhh,” with every exhale getting incrementally louder. This will help push you towards the edge and keep your focus on experiencing pleasure as opposed to allowing other thoughts to creep in.

Step Five: When you reach your peak, take in another deep breath, sipping your pleasure as if through a straw right up into your brain. (This will intensify any feelings of orgasmic release as you tune into the sensations that have just coursed through your body).

Photo credit: Kelli McCarty

…and What I Intend to Do About That

by Deborah Taj Anapol, Ph.D

Let me begin by saying that so far as I can tell men need initiations too.
statues
I don’t think anyone questions this, but being in a woman’s body I have no direct experience of being a man and so I wouldn’t presume to know much about men’s needs and desires. Besides, I’m more interested at this moment in the experience of elder women because I’m seeing the potential of empowered, awakened elder women – whom I will refer to with the honorary title of Crones – to be an incredibly valuable untapped resource for the 21st Century. Why  are Crones a precious resource? There are the obvious reasons – the wisdom and maturity that comes with years of experience and a lifetime of accumulated knowledge. A long life doesn’t automatically make you wise, but if you’ve been a risk taker you’ve made mistakes, and if you’ve learned from your mistakes and survived, you’ve become wise.  If you’ve been fortunate enough to have some wise mentors and teachers, even better.  In the East this is known as lineage, a concept often unknown or unpopular in the West and sometimes overly rigid in the East, but at its best it transmits a legacy carefully cultivated over centuries and beyond. And this is the essence of initiation. Elder men can be wise as well, but they are more likely to be in a position where they can make good use of that wisdom if they haven’t been lulled to sleep by the cultural program.

 

Green womanWomen face some formidable challenges as we grow older. The odds of losing your mate to death, despair, or a younger woman are high.  The likelihood of having been guided into Cronedom by the previous generation is low. To the extent that our value as women is based on youth, fertility, appearance, and pheromones (that is, our ability to turn men on) we are going to experience an enormous loss of erotic capital.  Even if sex appeal isn’t your primary identity as a woman, the culture is not going to support your sense of worth in the same way it did in your youth. The cultural program is set to sabotage the self esteem of older women because once they can no longer reproduce they become expendable. We also become convenient projection  screens for people still struggling with toxic relationships with their own mothers. At the same time elder women’s sexuality can be deeper, freer, more authentic and multi-dimensional than ever and her capacity for intimacy and love is generally much greater than in her youth.  If this is not a challenge, I don’t know what is! No wonder so many elder women just give up. Empowerment involves far more than sexual satisfaction, but because of the asexual image of the crone in our culture and the taboos surrounding crone sexuality, it’s crucial to reclaim the erotic passion of the crone. It’s easier to say why than how so I just might have to create some experiences to communicate it.

snake woman
A Crone is much harder to control – and impress – than a young, inexperienced, immature woman (or man) who is dependent upon the approval and support of those in power for a myriad of reasons.  A Crone simply knows too much be easily misled. She is self-validating.  If fully empowered, she is a threat to the established order. The Crone is over it when it comes to trying to appear maidenly or motherly or sexy or queenly. Her wisdom and power come fully online only when she surrenders to death: No longer afraid of wrinkles, grey hair and an imperfect body while yet remaining full of life.  She is no longer ruled by egoic concerns. She is the boss of herself. Push her aside and she’ll flow onto center stage with the ease of an Aikido master.

 

group of womenHow women become Crones is where initiation comes in.  I know a lot of women hate that word, and I feel it’s important to transform the word along with the whole aging meme. As I said in the beginning, getting old does not automatically make one wise. Michael Meade has brilliantly articulated the nature and purpose of initiation and its association with death when he says: “More than an empty tomb, death becomes also the womb of change . . . Initiation includes death and rebirth, a radical altering of a person’s mode of being, a shattering and shaking all the way to the ground of the soul. The initiate becomes as another person:  more fully in life emotionally and more spiritually aware. Loss of identity and even feeling betrayal of one’s self are essential to rites of passage. . . Initiation means beginning the revelation of one’s true self. It includes the opening up of the inner life of the spirit and releasing the potentials and possibilities within the individual.”
 
Women need at least three initiations between birth and death as they pass from maiden to mother to crone. If our preparation for sexual maturity and motherhood has become inadequate in modern times, our initiation into Cronedom is usually non-existent. Some of us are able to self initiate, but what of the rest? To be continued ….
Reprinted with permission. Deborah Taj Anapol, Ph.D

By Irene

When you hear the word “Tantra of Intimacy,” what’s the first thing that comes into your mind? Sex, postures, or even Kama Sutra? There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about both words, especially in our Asian cultures. One need only google the words and figure it out yourself without daring to ask for more! Even if we do dare to ask, the next question is who are we going to ask? That’s what I did when my cousin in London mentioned Tantric Yoga to me. There is not much you can find about it online, not nearly enough be able to understand much about it.

CollageThen I came across an upcoming retreat in Bali that called “Tantra & Yoga of Intimacy: Sensual Awakening, Healing & Enlivening” with Blue and Caroline Muir, in November, 2013. I emailed Blue (Spirituality and Yoga of Intimacy Guru, a wonderful man whom I trust and admire so much) and asked about the retreat. He sent me information about what the retreat was about and what we will gain from it. He also gave me this: Intimacy Is love infused with connection, generosity, attentiveness, presence, trust, surrender and the courage to be seen and be vulnerable. Intimacy is a choice. Sensuality is an excitement or enlivening of the primary senses of the human body. When enlivened, sensuality becomes a flow of life inside and around you. Sensuality is natural.  

Ahhhhhhhhhh………….what a journey Bali has been for me, meeting Caroline and Blue and connecting with our wonderful group of people… so powerful and authentic! Words cannot express how grateful I am to have made this choice to embark upon this road. I am also very thankful to have met Caroline and Blue, and for them to have given me the chance to walk onto this road of unknown… to face my fear, to find my lost heart and love, and to learn from two wonderful, warm and gorgeous people the art of tantra and the world of intimacy in the most respectful, loving, nurturing and warmest ways.

Vulnerability and trust are the two most guarded things in ourselves that we don’t want to let go or let down. I constantly reminded myself throughout myIrene seven days there, “I’m here for a good reason… and I need to open to the learning, receiving and healing that will come my way.” I’m glad I did. It was totally amazing for me to have been in the presence of people who came with open hearts and trust. There was so much openness, vulnerability and love among every one of us there, that all of us still are very much affected from our retreat even after two weeks have passed.

Towards the end of my week which I was wishing lasted longer, I have learnt to develop a sexual connection with my partner that not only feeds his heart but also my heart, body and life with aliveness. The work helped me to unlock my full potential as a partner and lover; released the energies inside me that have blocked my full capacity of feeling beautiful; and I have learnt to love and also to receive love in a truly loving and intimate ways with full aliveness and openness. We learnt the art of giving to and receiving from our partner in a most nurturing, loving, warm and beautiful way where towards the end of each session, all of us felt all our chakras touched, opened and shining bigger than we normally experience. Like Caroline said, “We raised the bar on your life experiences. We expanded into the vast heart of love and intimacy that we call Tantra, and this is the power of creating sacred space, alignment with yoga and union with the divine.” Thanks to them, I am still walking around with a glow in my face and heart every day!

Thank you!

Bali motorcycle

By Caroline Muir

Bali ArtThree weeks in Bali taught me at least as much as I was delighted to teach our 14 students who traveled from such far-away locales as Australia, Hong Kong, Dubai, New Zealand and the U.S.

My co-facilitator Blue, fully present with the energy of the moment, often selects subjects or music rather than the satsang originally planned. Hindu chants echo across the rice paddies as we hold our satsangs in the open air of the top floor overlooking the sculpted green of life in the fields. Tantra really is the Yoga of Intimacy and Love. Our students received much more than they anticipated, all hoping to return next Sept/Oct for our next offerings, one of which will be the Art of Lovemaking.

Next fall we will hold two 1-week retreats near the Bali Sea, in Amed in East Bali. Fresh coconuts are delivered each day with a bamboo straw. Nothing is wasted… eco/organic has swept this little island where they grow everything they need… including the sweetest people in the world. “Why not be happy?” is the attitude that surrounds us and seeps into our cells like super-food.

I jokingly surmised that Bali is almost “too” spiritual, with every store named Ananda or Shakti Creations or Buddha Wear while stone and carved deities line the narrow streets where they are being made. Riding through these apparitions on the back of Blue’s Ninja motorcycle gave me a perspective that included aromas of temple incense, families bathing together in clear streams, dogs with leopard spots and Life that is lived willing to be seen.

As Kym Byatt of Perth, Australia, puts it… “The combination of both your and Blue’s energy, commitment, expertise and big, big hearts created a very profound healing space. Not to mention being held by Mother Bali, in the Land of Prayers who demanded her way in tender surrender. I had the most profound week of my life, and I have had an incredible life.”

Embody Your Ecstasy

By Caroline Muir

Sounds great, but what exactly does it mean?

Working for a living and meeting the demands of life doesn’t seem to leave much time or energy for ecstatic states of being in these times. Combined the pressure to accomplish and accumulate, people are rarely naturally good at being happy. It’s almost more in style to complain or focus on what isn’t working in our life rather than what is a source of joy.

How many conversations do you have in one day in which you ask someone how they are, and then you are a sounding board for all of their problems? Where does this tendency to complain come from? It appears to be culturally inherited. We hear it all around us. Fortunately, it’s in our ‘software’ rather than our ‘hardware.’

Ecstasy, or joy, is in our ‘hardware’—it is our birthright.  As babies, we smile and laugh at apparently nothing. Joy bubbles up from a well within our own hearts. Have you ever caught yourself walking down the street or into the market being aware of a smile on your face for no particular reason from an authentic place inside yourself? We all have the capacity to tap into this place of “happy for no reason.”

Each moment of ‘right now’ can be thoroughly claimed– with the intention to do so.  It requires us to notice when we find ourselves in unconscious patterns of worry, complaining, or anxiety. We must bring our attention into our bodies, connect to our breath, and have in mind what it is we wish to affirm in the now.

One of my favorite ways to quickly shift is to imagine I have a volume control inside of my heart just like the one on your stereo. When I notice that I am getting too serious or too rushed or too intense, I drop into an image of that volume control and turn it up!  The smile returns to my face, my pace slows into an easy glide from a hurried push, and the moment is all there is.”

We are the only ones who can truly make ourselves happy.  Our attitude is the secret behind our thoughts.  Fear and worry are like jealous lovers, always competing for our attention. The news and newspapers will immediately give us something to worry about.  Other people’s mental diarrhea is so easy to hook into and make it our own. There truly are countless things every minute that can steal us away from our joy and ecstasy. With so much coming at us in each moment—from the radio, the news, and the constant stream of media now on our computers, we are the only ones in charge of how we deal with this ever-growing wave of information.

It boils down to where I put my attention—internally and externally. I am the one who can change the channel (unless I hand over that control to someone else). Even if I have to listen, at times, to information that I’d rather not—I am still the only one in charge of what I think, say, and do.

The choice to embody our ecstasy is life affirming—and we may need to discover how we can be this joyful.  We may wish to look at unwanted habit patterns of thinking that do not serve us and train our mind to think positively. We may want to discover our feelings and needs and find ways to communicate them more effectively. We may decide to put time into caring for our bodies in order to embody anything.  We may wish to put more time into nurturing our spiritual sexual self so we amp up our pleasure potential. 

 We want to discover what brings us joy—and move toward that. It could include the simple joy of walking or stretching or breathing deeply. It might be catching the light in another’s eyes and smiling –or buying coffee for the next person in line as a random act of kindness. It may be planning a sensual session for our lover or mate.

I remember a moment twenty-five years ago when I was leaving a little-known Caribbean island after a week of blissful vacation.  Climbing the steps of a small plane I turned one last time to look at the sky and palm trees that were the background for a shanty they called a bar at this miniature airport.  The hand-painted sign over the entrance to the bar read, Love your enemies… it will drive them crazy. That message caused my natural ecstasy to rise as I laughed my way onto the little plane.  My whole body grinned from ear to ear if you can imagine how that feels.  I felt as though I were hovering above the masses, drinking in the heavenly love that was mine for the asking.  I could have found ten reasons to not be ecstatic at that moment as others around me were grumbling about one thing or the other.

If you have not yet done so, make a choice to replace the habit of complaining and worry with a choice to move toward what you want in life—toward your joy. Claim ecstasy right now for yourself. It is the pleasure of being alive… the delight we can have in the moment… the enjoyment of co-creating with life. 

I am deeply grateful to have discovered what it means to embody ecstasy. My joy now is teaching others how to give themselves this gift of aliveness. I knew when I heard “Embody Your Ecstasy” that this was the ultimate gift I could bring to those who are ready to receive it. It is the fuel for aliveness into an awakened state. I believe it is the ultimate choice for life.