Heroism? Sure, I’m game.

[From my personal journal, January 2012.]

A woman invites a man to be a hero.

And he says, Sure, yeah, I’m totally up for it.

He’s completely unaware that the hero’s journey he’s embarking on is genuine, and treacherous… and that the obstacles to her heart are real — they’re not just whimsy, or her trying to fuck with him, or whatever else he likely attributes them to — she’s dying to be unlocked and can’t do it herself… and that actual heroism will be required of him… and that the stakes are not just high, they’re nothing less than salvation for both of them.  None of this has crossed his mind.

And because he hasn’t internally taken on the mantle of hero, he remains a pedestrian.  And so he continually comes face-to-face with all of his pedestrian values.  Things like fairness.  Equality, reciprocity.  Or status, politics, looking good, saving face.  Or her supposed obligations as a woman, his rights as a man, his delicate ego, her job to make him feel good.  Etc.

And so in my interactions with women I often have this voice inside my head that sounds a lot like the gold-plated droid from Star Wars.  Or like Dr. Smith from Lost In Space.  This voice is completely oblivious to how incongruous and, frankly, ridiculous he sounds in the midst of the heroic mission at hand.  And it’s certainly not the voice of the man she saw when she picked me as her hero.

One of the things I’m learning is not to have that voice running the show.

It used to be that every one of my non-hero voices had to die before the hero could finally come to the fore.  Every single hope had to be crushed.  I had to have arrived at completely-and-utterly-hopeless, giving up on women for the rest of my life, and plotting my escape to a low-profile, low-responsibility job (my favorite being bus boy at Denny’s).  Only from that place, having given up, every other voice in my head snuffed out, does my hero come forth — the one with clear sight, who knows how to relate with women, knows what to do, operates without fear or doubt — and suddenly I’m attractive, desirable, a masterful player.

At this point I tend to discount it because, hey, fuck you, I’m leaving, can’t you see, it’s too late, I’m outta here. And so my resigned state gets drawn out longer, rather than brought to a close, by the demonstration of my mastery.  Don’t bother me, I’m busy in the depths getting my power.

So it would be easy to say that a guy’s exasperation, his urge to throw his hands up and give up is just that: escape from the pressure, can’t take it, close the door on something too big that he couldn’t handle, permanent police tape across the doors and windows of that room, etc.  But upon closer examination, it is — for me anyways — more like, I’m willing to completely ruin my life, take a bulldozer to it, in order to kill off the voices that stand in the way of my mastery.  I’m willing to destroy my life if that’s what it takes to unlock the hero she sees in me and is calling forth.  I don’t think I was aware of this until recently.

I’ve decided to use that as a reminder of the power and magnitude of the journey, and of the hero inside the man who agreed to take it on.  And this time I’m not killing off my voices, remaining hopeless-powerful, as if it were a suicide mission.  I plan to come out the other side.  I’m just not having the voices run the show.

Ken on P.E. (Q&A)

Q: I’ve never really been able to last long in sex without coming but recently in the last 6 months or so it’s actually been worse. Its putting stress on my relationship with my girlfriend. I was wondering if you had any suggestions?

A: Here’s my thought and my experience on the subject. First of all, I think you have the cause and the effect reversed. Because PE is stress-induced. PE (“premature ejaculation”) is any ejaculation that happens before you wanted it to. Making it a big deal creates a vicious cycle, because the more you try to control it — the more you think you’re supposed to control it, or think you should be able to control it — the more sex becomes subtly or not-so-subtly stressful. And that stress causes the “problem” to get worse. We’re at our worst when we stop remembering that our bodies intrinsically do the right thing. Sex and especially climax is supposed to be an involuntary experience. To the degree you are not fully able to let go and go fully into your involuntary, the sex will start to get clenched and tight and the flow gets blocked like a kinked hose.

I can tell you how it goes for me, you can modify to fit your situation and your relationship. Generally when everything else is good I don’t have the feeling that my ejaculation is a surprise or happening at the wrong time. On those occasions when I could feel it coming on quickly, I’d let my partner know—

Hey, if you keep fucking me like that I’m going to go over.

And just me saying that would shift something in the energy between us that would have us keep going. I got into the habit of doing this before it got to the point where it was stressful and both of us are blaming me for something I was supposedly doing wrong.

I’ve had a ton of conversations with partners about what we each were experiencing in those moments. I highly recommend this. I was surprised at how often it was performance anxiety on my side combined with a drop in sensation on her side. Sometimes, upon reflection she realized she was feeling done and had started to fuck to go over, and in the process took me over instead. Or it was a point where she wasn’t feeling as much and was fucking harder-and-faster to compensate… but meanwhile her partner (that would be me) was still feeling a lot.

So where most guys focused on PE try a bunch of different things – whether it’s a physical technique or a mental trick or a penile salve or whatever – that are all basically various ways to desensitize, our focus is actually on sensitizing her body so she’s feeling as much during sex as I am. (OM is a great way to do this.) So that during sex, all the tiny, subtle movements and skin contact becomes amplified, and barely moving at all becomes intensely pleasurable for both of us. And in the process, being that sensitized we feel deeply connected, so much so that our bodies are basically responding in sync. Because our antennas are way out to here—they’re reached out so far that we’re living inside each others energetic bodies.

Hope that helps.

 

 

Spherical relating

What does it take for a relationship to be sustainable? We all have an idea of the necessary components. Yet even promising relationships either explode or fade into apathy more often than we expect. The roadmap we’re using seems to be missing something. “Spherical relating” refers to leaving the map in order to pick up the fulfillment and passion relationships need to thrive and grow. Let’s start by looking at the conventional roadmap; then we’ll talk about what Spherical Relating means, how to do it and what it gets you.

 


 

Part I: The Conventional Roadmap for Relationships

Traditional uses of relationship:

Pleasure

We seek a partner both to give us pleasure and to share pleasurable experiences with. Lover, travel and entertainment companion, someone to spend lavishly on (or someone to spend lavishly on us). We treat relationships as part of our reward for of the struggle of life, the dessert at the end of the meal. The function of relationship is similar to vacation.

Compensation

We may use relationship to make up for some void or problem we see within ourselves. Companionship to avoid loneliness; adoration to stand in for a self-love we lack; an earner who will work and produce on our behalf; someone who “completes” us in ways we don’t feel whole; a pre-arranged “always there” promise for those days we think no one would willingly choose us. These are some of the compensatory motives we have for relationship.

Traditional compass points of relationship:

Freedom vs. Security

Soon after the attraction stage, relationships enter a kind of negotiation phase in which rules of conduct are worked out. These usually revolve around balancing freedoms against security.

What I put in vs. what I get back

We keep an internal balance sheet of what we’re putting into the relationship vs. what we’re getting out of it. Our accounting may include fairness, how much effort is “worth it”, whether the relationship is a good investment for the future, etc. As we learn how our partner responds, we gradually develop an elaborate, delicate exchange system.

Traditional destinations:

The field of Positive Psychology gives us insight into why so few relationships succeed, let alone thrive or expand: Pleasure has diminishing returns as a path to happiness. So even if we succeeded in building the ideal relationship according to our specifications—even if we got every detail right—it would likely end up passionless, unfulfilling and pointless.

If this were all that relationships were capable of providing—pleasure, security, freedom, compensation, commerce—they would never hold much importance in our lives.

In order to have a sustainable relationship, we’re going to have to leave the horizontal plane of the relationship map.

 


 

Part II: Spherical Relating

New compass points for thriving, resilient, sustainable, growing relationships:

Passion

We will need to be willing to travel downward into the depths, immersing ourselves deeply in the turbulent sea of emotions that pleasure-based relationships work so hard to smooth out—lust, heartbreak, obsession, jealousy, shame, romance, fighting, seduction, break-ups, reconciliation, etc. Because it’s here that we find the key to reclaiming and igniting our passion. So rather than suppress and avoid these, we utilize them for their true value. It is here that we find a crucible hot enough to burn away all of the barriers that stand in the way of the passion we so desperately seek.

Purpose

We will need to rise above the inward-gazing focus of the two of us as the final point and purpose of our relationship, and expand to turn our attention to something bigger than ourselves. Traveling upward toward higher purpose, greater inclusion, and more involved contribution we will experience deep, lasting fulfillment that no amount of pleasure-based experience will ever match. We may already know this on a personal level without recognizing its importance for our relationship. By turning to stand side-by-side in shared purpose, the relationship acquires the raison d’être it needs to continue to thrive and grow.

Spherical destinations

Where do the vertical compass points get us? Brené Brown has famously said, “You cannot selectively numb emotion.” When we stuff down anger, when we use food or television or shopping to escape from the intensity of grief or jealousy or shame, we’re also dulling our ability to feel joy, gratitude, happiness, reverence. We come into intimate relationship with another human being in order to feel deeply, to feel something that no other area of life gives us. So we either turn the volume down, or we take the brakes off and expand our capacity to feel, to be passionate.

Aversive and attractive passion aren’t opposites, passion is just passion. It’s raw power.

Relationship by definition requires leaving the confines of our own self-contained universe and expanding to include another: seeing and feeling them, inviting them in. Here lies compassion. Here we can find purpose, here our life gains meaning. Here we experience connection. And the relationship takes life, transcending the individual partners. I becomes we.

Eventually though, the relationship needs something outside of itself to connect to, to exist for. Otherwise it dies the same slow death the isolated individual does. Many couples find a deep sense of fulfillment raising children that breathes new life and sustainability into the relationship. Others connect with their community, go into business together or take on a cause they both believe in. What we do know is that the greater the purpose—the bigger the circle of love they cast—the more the relationship thrives.

What Sets OM Apart (OM part III)

As we’ve said, OM exploits the effects that female orgasm has on women and men. It gives her the direct orgasm she didn’t think was available, and gives him the empathetic orgasm he didn’t know he was hungry for.

OM isn’t the only orgasmic practice—far from it!—but it does have some features that set it apart.

  1. OM is structured, almost ritualistic, which over many repetitions has two effects: it quiets the vigilance center, and it provides cues that the body associates with going into orgasm.
  2. OM uses the optimal combination of a super-dexterous finger stimulating a super-sensitive clitoris.
  3. OM has no interest in reciprocity or symmetry as stand-ins for mutual gratification. OM is unabashedly, unapologetically asymmetrical. If you are not the possessor of a clitoris, then you are the stroker. Exclusively, for an extended period. Allowing OM to fully work its alchemy on each of you before you would ever consider switching roles. Anything involving your genitals is fine and beautiful and fun, and is not OM.
  4. Over time, OM completely upends our notions of service-providing, and even more fundamentally, of what it even means to “give” or “receive.” Each person can be seen as providing something that benefits the other.
  5. OM doesn’t try to be everything. It isn’t a replacement for sex or anything else we already have available to us. OM’s benefits are valuable enough for it to not worry too much about what it isn’t, or what it doesn’t provide.
  6. OM doesn’t let anything attach to it. It has a strong aversion to being used as a bargaining chip or a doorway to something else.

In short, OM is focused on creating conditions conducive to female orgasm and is very protective of those conditions.

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Vibrators and Porn

These two technologies reveal a critical difference between men and women—that may surprise you!

Men’s “machinery” isn’t all that hard to operate. Rub, rub, rub, squirt squirt squirt. Not complicated. A typical adult male has easy access to as much climax as he wants; he doesn’t even need a partner.

Is that a gratifying experience? Well frankly it can definitely feel like something’s missing.

Now we used to think that women’s machinery was much harder to operate. That’s not true. But it certainly is different from men’s. They may not have quite as easy access to climax as men but they certainly have easy access to willing partners — if a partner were all that was needed. A typical adult woman can, in about 30 seconds or less, manifest a man willing to have sex with her.

Is that a gratifying experience? Well frankly it can definitely feel like something’s missing. Women can quickly find themselves in situations where they’re producing more pleasurable sensation in their partner’s body than what they’re experiencing in their own.

(This can be seen in everything from the so-called “orgasm gap” between men and women, to the predominance of women in the sex trade, to the fact that women are more likely to moan during their partner’s orgasm—to accelerate and enhance it—than during their own.)

It’s revealing to notice how men and women turn to technology in search of their respective missing ingredient. The technology women turn to most commonly is a vibrator. And the most common technology men turn to is is porn.

Think about that.

What these women are seeking out is proper clitoral stimulation.

And men are hungry for and seeking out exposure to other aroused human beings, other human beings in a state of sexual pleasure.

Put a different way, men have easy access to direct somatic pleasure, but what they crave, the vital nutrient they hunger for, is what we can call empathetic pleasure.

Whereas women have as much empathetic pleasure as they could possibly want, they have it coming out of their ears. And their sex lives with men often default to that, ie, vicarious enjoyment. Their missing ingredient, their vital nutrient, is direct, visceral bodily pleasure. That’s what’s harder for them to come by.

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Orgasm and Climax

Let’s start with a concrete description of “female orgasm.” We have an intuitive sense of what orgasm is, and an inkling that it’s different in women than in men. So let’s begin with how men’s bodies respond, because it tends to be pretty consistent:

  • First, there’s a spike in sensation.
  • Then there’s what’s called the point-of-no-return. That’s where you know you’re going to go over the edge, but before you actually do. So there’s this period of time where you’re in this involuntary, out-of-control state, with intense sensation.
  • Then there’s ejaculation, there’s contractions, etc.
  • And then a rapid loss of interest in continuing, loss of engorgement, a general feeling of done-ness, etc.
  • Then possibly hyper-sensitivity, and a recovery period before your genitals are back in action.

So let’s call this climax.

Many women experience climax—some readily, some under certain conditions. But a much higher percentage of women experience the major components of orgasm—certainly the same intensity of sensation, the contractions, activation of the involuntary musculature, going into an out-of-control state, etc.—but in a more extended, rounded way, without that spiky, sneeze-like quality, or the feeling of passing through a one-way door. This kind of orgasm can continue for long periods, come and go in waves, etc. The endpoint isn’t necessarily marked by climax but by feeling totally gratified.

As far as we know, most if not all women are capable of experiencing orgasm. And recent studies of Theta waves in the brain have led some researchers to conclude that a woman’s orgasmic experience is up to ten times the intensity of a man’s.

So if we define orgasm in terms of how women’s bodies actually work, we find that it’s broader, longer in duration, more intense, more continuous, and actually easier to achieve than the climax that we’re familiar with from men’s experience.

By far the most common and most effective route to female orgasm is direct stimulation of the clitoris. Given the proper stimulation, all women are capable of experiencing orgasm, from the first stroke to the last.

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Ignition

 

They gather outside the locked, guarded door. There is an eager, impatient mulling. There’s chatter; and watches checked too often, as if time were an unruly child in need of constant monitoring; and a gentle press into each others’ personal space, forcing unintentional body contact. Apparently the waiting, the anticipation, the nervousness, weren’t irritating enough already.

The doors open and people pour in. The Coaches do their best to keep the crowd orderly and in sequence, but a certain tumesced chaos ensues anyway as people attempt to keep track of their partner, their supplies, their nest, their personal belongings, and wrangle all of these into one location.

Finally everyone is in place. Maybe there’s a straggler or two still getting ready but the Coaches step in to make sure they’re quiet and unobtrusive. The Instructor takes the mic and guides the pairs into position, then into connection.

At this point something happens that very few people get to experience. Even the OMers themselves won’t catch it; their attention (if it isn’t on their cramped leg or their performance anxiety or their violated propriety) is on their partner and the business at hand. It’s something only the Instructors and Coaches, those few who are allowed to be in the room but aren’t actively participating in the OM, will notice.

The room settles and quiets, a temple of sitting meditators. In this silence, index fingers make their way to clits. I feel it even if I’m not looking. A minute or two of settling in, finding the resonant stroke.

And then there’s a moment when ignition kicks in.

It’s a distinctive hum, but soundless. Nothing has changed, the room is as still as it was. No one has shifted their body or moaned or sighed to announce the event; there are no tells. But something palpable has happened, the room no longer feels as quiet as it is. The lighting has changed… but not.

I experience it as a syrupy feeling in my throat; a gentle, velvety electrical current caressing the small of my back. It has the feeling of a cat purring contentedly at the foot of the bed, eyes closed. It’s more felt than heard. It’s a wispy vapor arising from the dewy ground at dawn. It fills the room but it isn’t in the room, it’s a resonance between all our bodies.

One of the Coaches looks over at me and nods. If the strokes prior to this were like trying to turn over an engine that won’t seem to catch, now the engine is humming smoothly at idle and ready to drive. All the Coaches in the room feel it. (That sensitivity is part of being an OM Coach.)

Whether, and when, and to what degree this moment happens in an OM correlates with the experience level of the participants. For example, in morning practice in the final months of the Coaching Program, the students file in quietly, get into position, begin the OM together, and within seconds there’s ignition. In a private OM Training session with first-time practitioners, on the other hand, the whole OM will turn on a single stroke where all three of us, the clients and their trainer, feel the spark at the same time. After that stroke, whenever it happens, they know. With real-time corroboration the experience is incontrovertible. Now we have a reference for conversation, and they have a guidepost, a landmark, that will serve their practice more than any amount of technique.

I stand quietly in a room full of occupied nests. Liquid warmth pours into my body cavity, gradually rising from the base of my spine up to the back of my head.

Over the course of this group OM the feeling will wax and wane, changing flavors and colors, soaring and dipping, before finally coming in for a landing at ground level at the 15-minute mark. But the moment when the ignition first kicks in holds special meaning for me. It has been so revealing, so instructive to me. Because in that moment, nothing else has changed, save the unmistakable presence of that one thing. It becomes discernable, distinct. It’s no different than what I’ve felt countless times in sex, in OMs, in make-outs; but the role of OM Instructor has given me the unique opportunity to get to know it, to taste it, to experience it separate from the act that fosters it. I’d only been unconsciously aware of it as a participant, not knowing that was the thing I was actually there for. (Or, at times, hoping for.)

Orgasm researchers have recently been pondering the difference between what they call erotic touch vs. prosaic touch. What makes some touch arousing? Not all contact is—even genital contact can be utterly flat; as uneventful as grabbing a door knob. (I remember as a youngster wondering if my sister got stimulated inserting a tampon. “Not even a little bit???”) At the other extreme, simply holding hands or the slightest brush of the arm can produce feelings of ecstasy. (I have a vivid memory of this too—the intensity of pleasure of my first time holding hands with a girl.) “Erogenous zones” don’t really exist the way we thought. As an adult, once I learned that my stroking fingertip, my hands, my whole body could feel as good as my cock—could feel like my cock—my sex life changed, it became a whole-body experience. And not just in the bedroom. My partner and I could stand next to each other in the museum and have sex with each other, without anyone knowing. Researchers are dying to understand this—to know what factors determine what has body contact sometimes feel like sex, what imbues it with ignition.

Here’s what I’ve noticed.

  1. Ignition is a body state; the sensation is distinguishable from the act and contributes to it.
  2. A lot of what we do feels good because of the ignition. (And that’s why we’re doing it.)
  3. It can be clicked on by physical contact—but not necessarily!—or by other things. Flirting, romance novels, porn and Tango are all attempts to access ignition.
  4. The most potent trigger of ignition is another person’s ignition. (“Empathetic orgasm“)
  5. The primary thing that takes place in an OM is a feedback loop of shared ignition.
  6. Ignition is always a decision. Just as no stimulus is guaranteed, no stimulus is necessary.
  7. The ignition matters more than the act. Once we realize this we seek it everywhere.

I‘m setting my stuff down in her room as she changes out of her work clothes. We both had a long, full, busy day. Surely tonight will be the night we’re out cold the minute our heads hit the pillow. This has yet to happen, mind you. I’ve been wondering when it will. It has to eventually. (Right?) Well, here we are. We’re both out of juice and exhausted. It still feels good to be together. What will it be like, what will happen? Will one of us wake up buzzing in the middle of the night and rouse the other? Will our morning activities be delayed as we play catch-up? In any case, I must say it’s been one hellova run. This will be a new experience for us, just going to sleep.

In bed, our bodies come into contact and that quiet hum kicks in.

It’s like a gentle electrical flow of current running between us. We’re not doing anything. There’s no effort. My body is slowly being recharged… but so is hers: the contact is generative, not zero-sum. Gradually I start to feel more awake, more alert, more energized physically. Caffeinated. Except clear, and on, rather than wired. If it can be said that our effect on each other is chemical, it’s a chemistry that is not diluted with time or length-of-exposure. And this run is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

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“Yes Means Yes” is the Sexual Burial Ground of the Connection Avoidant

“Yes Means Yes” is a sexual and emotional cemetery for connection-avoidant people.

It is a way of punishing women for the irresponsibility of both men and women by requiring overt sign-off on everything.

If I wanted to vindictively punish a woman I was with, if I wanted to make her suffer, I would play sexual Simon Says. I would refuse to do anything with her or to her that she didn’t overtly, verbally sign off on. I would withhold all of my initiation, all of my intuition, all of my lust or desire, all of my capacity to play, all instigation… subject to the gateway of her overt consent, at every juncture.

“Yes Means Yes” is a CYA insurance policy, appropriate for when people who are completely disconnected from themselves and from each other attempt to interact.

I can’t think of a single woman I know personally who wants this for herself. What I see more often is women who are dying for men to take the lead. (Google “please just fucking fuck me already!”) Yes, of course, they want men to do it skillfully, and yes it helps if men are willing to learn / ask / PAY ATTENTION / make offers; and women are willing to speak up / train / make requests / give adjustments / not fake enjoyment to please their partner.

But considering the epidemic of sexually anemic men that already exists, “Yes Means Yes” is one of those fixes that’s worse than the problem it’s meant to address.