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Jun 232013
 

I love my city – but sometimes it can be a challenging experience to live in the middle of a busy, bustling place like Sydney. Walking around, absorbing the sights, sounds, and the energy of the place can be overwhelming, and it’s no surprise that we have to shut down and deaden our senses to cope.

This ‘shrinking’ of our natural selves to fit in with our sometimes claustrophobic surroundings can take its toll, and it’s no surprise that we can begin to lose that connectedness with our inner world, with our natural state, and with the solace that space, quiet and calm can provide. Instead we look to external forces to reassure us and tell us who we are, and we start to measure ourselves and our worth through our jobs, our income and our possessions.

It’s easy to get caught up in the trappings of materialism, to define ourselves through what we have, rather than who we are at our ‘core’. Yet the things that create a sense of purpose and identity in us are really just illusions – even our personality and ideas, our beliefs and desires. So who are we really, without all these distractions?

Many of us never fully find out. Even the more spiritually-minded amongst us rarely spend much time questioning who they are behind their identities – and often it’s because it can be a scary place to visit. After all, without work and entertainment, the internet and tv, mobile phones and tablets, our books and music, the sex and the drugs, underneath all that, many of us are pretty fucked up and lost and desperate. So to stop, and sit, and face the core of ourselves without all that can be a rather challenging thing.

Yet you don’t need to go on a pilgrimage to the Himalayas for five years, devote yourself to a higher ‘god’ or guru, or live in a cave far away from civilisation. You only need take a few minutes on a regular basis to fall back into your self. Some people call this meditation, but even that can have off-putting religious connotations for some – so let’s just call it ‘being’.

You don’t need fancy expensive courses to teach you how to ‘be’. It’s innate and natural for all of us – yet the less we practise it, the harder it becomes and the more alien it feels. So take just a few minutes each day to sit quietly, to feel your feelings without judgement and to become more aware of your body, and you’ll begin to shift your focus off the external, and redirect it to ground yourself in who you really are, and in the here and now.

If you find your head is full of chatter, focus on a point one inch below your naval. This is a useful spot for resting your attention, giving you centeredness and grounding, and more body (rather than mind) identification. Don’t force it. Simply allow your focus to be on this point, and when thoughts start to seep in, gently redirect your attention from those thoughts back to this point. Become aware of your sacrum and tailbone, adjust your posture and breathe into it.

Take the time to discover your essential self, and over time, you’ll enjoy more of the innate peace, strength and balance we all crave.

In love and light,

Taranga

Jun 172013
 

It’s official. I’m in love… with the latest new TV drama series, The Americans. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s another of those clever stories in the same vein as Breaking Bad and Homeland, that plays with your allegiance, tests your ethics and makes you question exactly who are the ‘good guys’ and who are the ‘bad guys’ in a story that’s far from black and white. Centering on a couple of undercover KGB operatives and their oblivious US-born kids, living as an all-American family in the midst of Cold War America, it raises all kinds of potent questions as the two secretly fight for their motherland, while the FBI draw ever-closer to uncovering them. Equally fascinating is the fractured relationship of the two parents themselves, brought together to pretend to be a happily married couple as part of their disguise.

In the latest episode I watched, Elizabeth (the wife) brings up the idea that people often fall in love, or make friends, form political allegiances or are drawn into business deals because they often see something in the other person that isn’t necessarily actually there. It started me thinking about how often we project our desires, fears, wants and needs onto another person, especially within an intimate relationship, imagining them to have certain qualities because we want them to have them.

When we look at someone and decide to begin a relationship with them, we often see a reflection of ourselves in that person. It’s sometimes experienced as a feeling of ‘falling in love’ – but many times, this unconscious, narcissistic impulse is a distortion of reality, and it’s the gateway to us getting involved in some rather unsuitable, self-destructive and soul-destroying relationships.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of wanting to be ‘mirrored’ instead of actually relating to the people in our lives for who they are. Some will even go on to marry, only becoming disillusioned when they realise their partner isn’t the person they thought they were.

The trick with all this is to grow into your relationship, to become more conscious as the projection wears off and to work on embracing your own missing ‘half’ rather than seeking it from your relationship. Often this can be a painful process as we acknowledge and embrace our incomplete or ‘shadow’ side – but in accepting our own missing parts, we can begin to see our partners for who they are, not who we wanted them to be. That allows us experience real love, and a willingness to support our partners to be their own, unique, authentic selves.

What’s most important to remember is that two people can’t properly know each other until enough time has gone by to enable them to see who the other really is. It takes much honesty and self-disclosure to get to this point – but the reward comes with the freedom we can give our partners to be authentically themselves, without the weight of our expectation, and the enjoyment of a balanced union of two separate, whole, but connected beings.

In love and light,

Taranga

Jun 092013
 

I recently read with some amazement a couple of articles that reflect our society’s near-puritanical attitudes to nudity. The first was story of a 70-year-old man questioned on Balmoral beach after letting his six-year-old granddaughter swim naked. Following an anonymous phone call reporting an ‘elderly man sitting with a naked child’, the bewildered man and his granddaughter were then confronted by police. The second story centred on police objections to a proposed mass nude swim in Tasmania, citing potential breaches of public indecency laws. In light of this, and many other stories of this type in the news lately, it seems to me that we’re in danger of reverting back to a Victorian mindset, where concern over the naked body reaches near-ridiculous levels of overreaction.

I was lucky enough to be born in a time where the naked form didn’t always represent sex or ‘sin’. Instead, nudity stood for freedom, rebellion and unselfconsciousness. In years gone by, I remember regularly seeing topless women and speedo-clad men on beaches – but in today’s beach culture, they’ve commonly been replaced by bikinis and board shorts. Similarly, gone are the days when mothers could confidently whip out a breast in public to feed their child without risking disapproving glances or ‘tut-tutting’ forms of moral indignation. It’s clear that a lot of people now find it impossible to separate the sexual from the natural, the breast as a sexual object as opposed to the breast as a part of the body designed to feed our offspring.

There’s no doubt that we’ve become more and more prudish about the naked body. Yet, we’re clearly not opposed to nudity absolutely everywhere. If the naked form is used to sell products (as in so much of our advertising), it seems for the most part to be widely accepted. Yet while no one really blinks an eyelid at a boob peeking from the pages of a magazine, just ask Janet Jackson (in that infamous ‘wardrobe malfunction’ during the halftime show at the US Superbowl) about the perils of wilfully exposing a nipple in public (hey folks, it was painted and decorated to be shown off, making it far from ‘accidental’). So, nudity as a form of pleasure for the beholder is fine – but nudity that is wilful, self-possessed and designed for oneself is something we’re altogether more uncomfortable with.

Similarly, it bothers me when we become so overprotective of our children that we overreact to the slightest thing, calling the police at the faintest suspicion, as in the story of the elderly man and his granddaughter on the beach. Our hysteria around child nudity reached new heights recently, with the censorship of figures of naked children in various photographic exhibitions. Look, I totally get it that nudity in the past was much more transitory, and in today’s age of camera phones and the internet, a naked moment can quickly become both public and permanent. But in breeding this puritanical culture of fear of the naked body in our children, we run the risk of making them feel ashamed and afraid instead of confident and free.

It worries me that we seem to be locked in a spiral of censorship and repression. As nudity becomes less commonplace in its pure celebration of the naked form, and more and more strange or taboo, it prompts people to cover up more and more, making nudity even stranger still. In my view, we need to start celebrating the beauty and power of the naked form as a representation of freedom and joy and liberation. And we also need to protect our children from ALL forms of sexual harm – including the harm done when we send messages telling them it’s wrong to be themselves, in their natural state, as nature intended.

In love and light,

Taranga

Jun 022013
 

Last week’s column introduced some exercises to activate and engage our backsides – and this week we’re going to delve deeper still, by exploring anal massage. Working here can be an illuminating journey of discovery, and the physical, energetic and emotional benefits can be incredible. So find a special friend, prepare by washing or douching first, pop on a latex or soft rubber glove, and lets get down to business!

If you’ve assumed the role of intrepid explorer, start off by warming your partner up, by getting them relaxed and bringing their focus to this often forgotten area. You could start by kneading and squeezing the butt cheeks and crack (preferably with a little massage oil or lubricant). With the heel of your hand, the blade of your arm and the knuckles and the tips of your fingers, gently vibrate, massage and stroke the whole area – and don’t forget to say hello to those genitals around the other side! It feels great to work a little deeper around the sit bones. You could also gently vibrate the perineum with the heel of your hand. Trace slow, gentle circles around the anus. Tickle with your fingernails and try a little light spanking (though check in first to see if your partner will appreciate that!). The key thing to remember is to get creative and explore slowly and sensitively, using alternate light and firm strokes to help build arousal levels.

By this stage, your partner should be ready to let you gently glide a lubricated finger past the sphincter and up inside. Go slow, and allow the finger to be drawn up inside rather than pushing. Then try vibrating the finger up and down, and from side to side, or use a slow and sensual in-out pumping action to build their excitement levels.

For guys, pressure on the prostate can be very pleasurable. With a beckoning upward motion (if face up) or a downward movement (if face down) feel for a walnut sized slightly rough mass a couple of inches inside. Down the centre of the prostate you might be able to feel a groove where the urethra runs through it, which is the most sensitive part. Start at the edge and work inwards, and remember to keep checking in and asking what feels good.

If you’re on the receiving end, regularly clench and pulse the muscles around the sphincter and perineum as your partner explores. Squeeze and contract as though you’re pulling the area up inside your body. This action pumps energy up through the body along the spine.

Most importantly, remember to breathe! Take deep, controlled breaths, in and out through the mouth, alternating fast, panting breaths with slow, deep rhythmic breaths into the belly. Breathing noisily and freely like this helps to build and circulate an energetic charge. Try relaxing the whole body, then tensing the whole body, or make sounds and move around a little while your partner works.

This body play is an exercise in exploration, in giving and receiving pleasure for the sake of it. Take the time to discover the subtle effects, without necessarily rushing to the ‘sex-part’ and orgasm. In taking away this expectation and staying with extended levels of arousal, you’ll be able to experience new sensations, altered awareness and trance-like states that can take your sexual and emotional life to a whole new level.

In love and light,

Taranga