Many of us were taught before we became disabled or in adolescence that sex entails excitement that grows more and more intense until it results in a climax. The goal is usually seen as orgasm and the release of pent-up sexual tension.
We learned about sex in a culture that treats it as sinful and unspeakable, yet uses a medical model to describe it. According to the medical model of sex and orgasm, a buildup of muscular tension leads to a peak, followed by a release - ejaculation for men and contractions of the muscles surrounding the vagina for women. Since what science can measure is primarily physical in nature, orgasm is seen basically as an autonomic reflex, a mere spasm of genital contractions.
The medical model doesn’t work for all of us. When a disability or chronic condition is accompanied by loss of genital sensation, limited movement or inability to ejaculate or have genital contractions, we may feel like giving up. The sexual pleasure we learned about or once knew has become inaccessible.
Tantric sex - based on the esoteric teachings of several eastern religions - provides an alternative way to experience sexual pleasure and bring new meaning to a loving relationship. Tantric orgasm is counterintuitive to the medical model. In Tantra, excitement is just the beginning rather than the means to the end. Instead of rushing toward a climax, a Tantric practitioner slows down, remaining in the moment, and travels toward deep relaxation. In the medical model, sexual energy builds, then is lost. In Tantra, energy is not lost but gained. Instead of using a partner for one’s own gratification, Tantric partners provide vital energy to each other.
Ray Stubbs, sexuality educator, author, massage therapist and a quadriplegic, has spontaneous orgasms while meditating despite his injury and describes ecstatic experiences I can only hope to have someday. He has written several books, noteably The Essential Tantra: A Modern Guide to Sacred Sexuality, which was featured in the movie American Pie.
Stubbs’ extraordinary experiences do not occur in a vacuum. They follow many years of conscious seeking and study with Tantric teachers and Native American shamans. He has also practiced and taught contemporary meditation in the form of massage that embraces sexual energy.
Gary Karp, a paraplegic and the author of Life On Wheels, also has an interest in Tantric sex. He says that after his injury, a book on Tantra prompted him to consider that "normal" orgasm might not be all it’s cracked up to be. He particularly liked the Tantric teaching that two "energetically appropriate" lovers have complimentary polarities. "Making love," says Karp, "is an act of fulfillment and bonding for each person on a deep, evolutionary and innate spiritual level."
Stubbs’ connection is with the divine; Karp’s is with the other. Both approaches are spiritual. In fact, Tantra is not about sex at all. It is about transcendence. Although the outcome of Tantric sex may be prolonged sexual pleasure, that is not the goal. Sex is a vehicle. Sex is transformed into love, love into meditation, to light, to knowledge of the divine, to ecstasy, to bliss.