• How to Take an Erotic Risk

    One of my favorite observations about great sex was made by sex therapist Jack Morin, who did extensive research on peak sexual experiences. Jack said that a peak sexual experience is the result of just the right combination of safety and risk. I couldn’t agree more.

    Think about a really hot sexual experience you have had. What made you feel safe enough to let go? What made it risky enough to be exciting? Learning to create sexual experiences with the perfect balance of safety and risk can transform your sexual encounters into ecstatic experiences.

    Before you start taking new sexual risks you’ll want to create a safety net. This is not the kind of safety your mother meant when she called after you, “Be careful!” as you left the house. If your mother was anything like mine, that “Be careful” meant “Don’t do anything risky.” As you no doubt remember, the risky things your mom warned you about were always the most fun. In the realm of ecstatic and erotic experiences, they still are.

    The kind of safety I’m talking about means being being sufficiently supported to take a risk. This level of support occurs at different lengths and depths in different situations for each individual. Safety—and what creates it—is a highly individual choice. Some people, for example, feel more comfortable learning new erotic skills with a group in a workshop setting. Others could not even imagine learning these skills in anything other than a private session with only their partner and a teacher present.

    The principle of being sufficiently support to take a risk also applies to relationships. Our most successful and exciting relationships are those in which we are both supported and challenged. Whether it’s your life partner, the director of a play you’re performing in, the editor of the book you’re writing, your coach or your boss, the relationships we treasure and remember are those in which we feel closest to a perfect balance of challenge and support, risk and reward.

    Once you have some idea of the nature and extent of the safety and support you need, you can begin to imagine the erotic and ecstatic adventures you’d like to take. Our fantasies are potent sources of inspiration. Certainly, we cannot live out all our fantasies. Many of our fantasies would be either dangerous or impossible to play out in real life. But our fantasies give us clues to our longings.

    Set aside time to daydream erotically. Whether you lie on a beach, walk in the woods, masturbate or meditate, give yourself space to fantasize. Push beyond old familiar fantasies into something new and fresh. Breathe. Use your breath to keep your attention focused on imagining creative new sexual scenarios.

    If you have trouble finding your desire, ask yourself variations on the question “If I knew what I wanted, what would it be?”, such as:

    If I knew what erotic adventure I wanted to take next, what would that be?

    If I knew who I wanted to take an erotic risk with, who would that be?

    If I knew how I wanted to feel after my next ecstatic experience, what would that feeling be?

    Listen to your body. Desire is commonly experienced as a physical longing that pulls your body toward the experience about which your mind may be hesitant. The clues to your deepest turn-ons may be physical, not mental.

    Erotic adventuring may feel uncomfortable or anxiety-producing at times, particularly when you’re first imagining or discussing your fantasy or desire. Remember, nothing great, noble, profound, or ecstatic has ever been achieved by someone who is primarily concerned with staying safely within their comfort zone. Emotional uneasiness is a part of the process when we step out of that comfort zone into our as-yet-unknown “something more.” A new erotic or ecstatic activity opens us to a new level of intimacy with ourselves, and with others. Being exposed to any new levels of intensity can be scary. Just like in the gym or in yoga class, your first attempts may be stiff and awkward. However, if you take a deeper breath and allow yourself to fall further into the posture or exercise, it first becomes less painful, then less uncomfortable, and finally, perfect. The same thing is true of sexual exploring.

    If you experience a feeling of anxiety shortly into the process of taking a new erotic or ecstatic risk—so long as you’re not feeling paralyzed with fear and insecurity—know that you’re on the right path. It helps to use the affirmation “I make no judgments, no comparisons, and I release my need to understand.” This affirmation helps you move out of your critical mind and into your body. Remember that an erotic or ecstatic challenge that excites you—even to the point of occasional anxiety—has the potential to be a mind-blowing sexual experience.

    Want more on erotic risk-taking? Check out my book Ecstasy is Necessary: A Practical Guide to Sex, Relationships and Oh So Much More. Or come to a workshop.