What can a married man learn from a tantric therapist?
When it comes to sex, I’m a lot like the former Barcelona, Bayern Munich and current Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Not because I’m in demand the world over thanks to the sort of free-form expressionism that wins trophies, while leaving keen admirers quivering.
Rather, I always come first.
Oh, sure, there’s been the occasion that I haven’t but, as with Guardiola, such moments are the exception that prove the rule. I always finish on top. Sadly, that works on two levels; anything other than missionary and my internal monologue has been known to scream: ‘Woah! We’re not in France!’
What actually is tantra?
And so there are few people more in need of Tantra Therapy, an intense, potentially life-changing practice that, on this occasion, takes place near Elephant & Castle. This is about the exploration of sex, the feeling of one-ness, an opportunity to go on a spiritual journey, the chance to be given the tools to be a better lover and, in turn, a better human being. And it’s not often you get to say all that about Elephant & Castle.
I meet the therapist, a charming, intelligent Dane called Barbora, who welcomes me into her front room. Here the treatment begins, as we sip water and she ascertains exactly why I’m here.
It’s a good question. ‘Journalism’ aside, I tell her that I want to be the best husband I can be. My wife and I have been together nearly nine years and the vagaries of raising a family can take its toll on our sex life. Barbora patiently points out the language I’ve just used: ‘best’ husband. It piles on the pressure. ‘Happy’ trumps ‘best’, she says. Isn’t that the truth?
For many of us, Barbora explains, sex is just about the release, the chance to relieve tension. And, with stress more prevalent, the quality of sex suffers. No wonder some couples can’t conceive – the pressure can be unbearable.
And that’s where Barbora steps in: she’s helped couples have children, and can assist with erectile disfunction, premature ejaculation or simply having a more fulfilling sex life.
Tantra Therapy is, as the great Marvin Gaye might have said, all about sexual healing.
And what happens during the sesh?
And so things move to the tantric room, which is predictable in its appearance, in the most reassuring way possible: it’s dimly lit, a sprawling square cushion dominates the floor space, there’s a giant yin and yang symbol on one wall, a Buddha painting on another and soothing music plays quietly in the background. It’s impossible not to feel at ease, which is just as well.
I’m asked to strip down to a sarong. ‘Do I keep my boxer shorts on?’ Nope. Sarong only. It’s actually a relief, given I’m wearing Star Wars boxer shorts. I am 39.
I start cross-legged as Barbora begins the initial exploration of my body with her hands, first with my eyes closed and then with eyes open. I’m asked if I could tell a difference.
Sweet, sweet nerves get the better of me and I am clueless. I go from sitting, to standing, laying on my back, front and back again while being caressed, rubbed (not like that) and repeatedly repositioned across the session.
Things get rigorous yet, as long as you remember to breathe deeply and relax, Tantra Treatment reaches the spiritual parts a massage cannot. If a massage is about muscles, then tantra is about energy.
Make no mistake: Barbora touches your entire body. ‘What, including your…’ As I say, entire. If you have a mature approach to sex, you’ll take a great deal from the treatment. If you don’t, I doubt you’ll have got beyond my opening joke about Pep Guardiola.
As a happily married man, I don’t want to have sex with anyone other than my wife (plus, you know, the occasional solo performance. I maintain that Paul Simon did some of his best work without Art Garfunkel).
And, thankfully, that’s not what Tantra Therapy is about. This is a physical reminder that pleasure is about the whole body, rather than just the mind and groin; Tantra Therapy is engineered to help you have a more spiritual connection with your partner and, given how key continual deep breathing is, yourself.
What’s more, as Barbora points out a number of times, if there’s anything you’re not comfortable with, then simply say. During the treatment, for example, I’m asked if I want the sarong removed. Dear reader, please know that I did this just for you. You’re welcome.
Some people have been known to ejaculate just from having their body touched. In some instances, twice. As Barbora says, there is no shame in that.
However, anyone who turns up expecting a ‘happy ending’ will politely be shown the door. It’s not that sort of thing. As with a massage, I remained a motionless lump of clay which, it turns out, is the correct approach.
And did it help?
Once the treatment is finished, what was instantly telling was how I felt. During our initial chat, partly because I am British and suppressed, I’d struggled to maintain eye contact with Barbora while yammering nervously about my private life.
However, post-treatment, I felt infinitely more at ease and confidently held her gaze. I’ve gone from over-eager George Formby to meditation-era George Harrison.
Indeed, the experience has stayed with me and I can understand why Barbora has repeat clients (once a month is the norm).
So, has it helped the Gills’ sex life while bringing them closer together? Well, I couldn’t possibly comment. But Pep, if you’re reading this, you’re welcome to join me on an open-top bus journey through Elephant & Castle any time.