As many other men, I always felt that being ‘tough’ and aiming to be ‘the best’ was the thing to do. In reality, since being a kid, I never really felt I was particularly ‘tough’ and I always felt secretly that I was pretty mediocre, but one of the things I learnt very well was to at least ‘pretend’. For a gay man, disguising as something that you are not, often comes with the job.
As many other children I had the usual stories of bullying and feeling inadequate. Survival instinct kicked in: mine was studying to be top of the class. Getting good results at school got me validation from my parents, from the teachers and from some of the other kids. I felt a somebody.
Sport was the place where I felt the most threatened. The changing room in the school gym was my biggest nightmare, that was the perfect theatre for all my insecurities: fat, small cock, lack of pubes, scared, praying for somebody not to call me a name so I did not have to get on a fight, oh gosh a fight would have been terrifying. I got really good at forging my parent’s signature to get me out of the PE class.
Fast forwarding in life, and I am now in my forties. I could say I am fairly happy. I have a job that I love. Managed to reach a good degree of satisfaction and acceptance of myself. Loving relationships. Also now I love exercising, I get a ‘high’ from pushing myself. I enjoy looking good and feeling good, and that feeds my confidence also. The story of so many Western gay men.
Then I got into tantra….
A few years back I have suffered some insecurities in bed which made me think I got premature ejaculation. Then I did my first tantra workshop and that showed me amazing possibilities: somebody could give me a cock massage for 90 mins and I would not ejaculate!. Also that long massage made me have the most amazing orgasm, I was hooked.
At the time I thought tantra was just a collection of techniques developed by some ancient monks, some sort of ‘sexual Kung fu’. So I thought ‘I just need to really push myself, learn the techniques and then I should become an amazing lover and get multi-orgasms for hours’. Seemed logical.
A few years ago I did my first residential tantra workshop and the concept of surrendering kept appearing. I had no idea of what they meant.
I thought ‘Surrender’ was accepting defeat
In my head I could not make any sense of that concept. Why would someone want to ‘surrender’?, why would someone not simply push hard for what they want?. So you just have to give up, it’s that how it works?. I could not get it.
The first thing I started to realise is that ‘wanting’ often brings suffering. It can be wanting anything: the new iPhone, a boyfriend, to have better orgasms. At the moment that we develop an emotional link with something that we are fixated that we want, we are also opening ourselves to the pain that can cause not getting it. This kind of emotional rollercoaster is often described as an ‘attachment’.
In Buddhism ‘attachment’ is often link to ‘craving’. We often crave for sugar, for love, for more money, for more happinness. We say to ourselves: ‘if I get it, I would be happy’ but unfortunately more often than not, we may not get it, or if we get it we will realise that the promise of that ‘forever happiness’ is not really there…. and the ‘hamster wheel’ of wanting something else to fulfill us will start again
So one idea to explore: what about if we stop seeking for happiness?, for that lover?, for more money?… and what about if we we ask ourselves ‘why do I actually need it?’, ‘what is stopping me from being content as I am’?
‘Letting go’ to make space for ‘the new’
In surrendering we are exploring a ‘quality of being’. We are letting go of expections, of goals, of objectives for simply being receptive and prepared to welcome new experiences in.
Those new experiences may surprise us ‘or not’ but they only can enter into our life if we allow them to. Surrendering is about becoming permeated to your environment and not reactive to it. Surrendering offers you the possibility of discovery, of growth and more potential pleasure.
Barbara Carrelas in her book Urban Tantra says ‘there is no goal in tantra, although tantric positions, exercises and rituals may give you bigger, longer orgasms, more intimacy with your partner, and even enlightening, none of these are goals. While there is no goal, there is a likely outcome of tantric practices: the kind of freedom that exists only in the present moment. You need only be present in each moment and notice what is going on. That’s all’
A few ideas to practice surrendering:
- look at areas in your life where you tend to ‘take control’. Reflect on your need for it. This is an example: I like to make sure that I am in charge on the day plans while being on holiday. Secretly because I am a ‘control freak’ and I want to make sure I do everything I want. I explore ‘surrendering’ by consciously allowing for others to make those decisions. Surprisingly I found myself really enjoying a new ‘freedom’ in not making myself responsible for having to have the greatest holiday and for making sure that others had a good time also. It was hard to do, but now I can let go.
As you can see, surrender -same as tantra- are not only practices that are related to the bedroom, however the bedroom is a wonderful place to practice ‘surrender’, and as Jason (one of my mentors) says: ‘if it happens in your sex, it happens in your life’.
- In your sexual life, if you are comfortable with a particular role, let’s say being ‘active’ or ‘passive’ or with a particular script to have sex: ‘what about changing it?’. I used to hold fairly strong ideas about what I liked and not liked in sex: tantra massively got me out of my fixed ideas, and oh my God, my sexual life suddenly opened up and became so much better!. You just need not to judge yourself, be super playful and make sure that your partner is in the same wavelength. Then you need to give it time and persevere. My advice: ‘Just drop the script!’.