|In my line of work, issues of eroticism and sensuality seem to be at the forefront of the minds of many of my potential clients. First of all, if you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a sensual massage and an erotic massage… well, so have I. Most of the attempts I have read to somehow define either term run the gamut from specious to absurd. I tend to use the words “sensual” and “erotic” interchangeably to refer to man’s capacity for arousal, just so you know, and I hope I can challenge you to think outside the box of society’s default assumptions about these highly subjective and loaded words.
When I am confronted with the question Do you offer erotic massage? a big red flag goes up in my mind. It is not because I’m a prude. Far from it. I actually believe that erotic energy is quite vital to my work. (Think about it: you’re lying on a table naked with someone’s hands on your body. I think there is a degree of eroticism inherent in such a situation.) However, I know that my idealized notions of erotic energy as it pertains to massage do not necessarily gel with everyone else’s notions, and I am keenly aware that many of those who purport to be seeking an “erotic massage” are really looking for an experience that involves little or no massage at all. Going to a massage therapist for sex is akin to going to an orthodontist to have him brush your teeth.
The term “erotic massage” is one that I think should be reclaimed from those who have made it synonymous with escort work, but as it is I eschew the term in advertising because too many people extrapolate that “erotic massage” means “nothing but erotic.” I choose to describe my integration of therapeutic massage and erotic energy as a “holistic” approach to massage, if you’ll indulge me that rather New Age-y neologism. The actual manipulation of muscular tissue that defines massage is the meat and potatoes of what I do. Sensual/erotic energy, ideally, should be an undercurrent that heightens one’s receptiveness to therapeutic touch.
The most understandable definition of holistic I have found is this American Heritage Dictionary version: “Emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts.” Holistic is the adjective form of holism, which is–to give a concise but oversimplified explanation–the idea that a whole is somehow more than the sum of its parts. Don’t worry. I’m not trying to get all metaphysical on you. But consider this: in a purely clinical approach to massage, you’re most likely covered in draping, and the therapist is probably trying to consciously avoid getting too close to your erogenous zones. It can still be a satisfying experience in the hands of someone who is skilled at addressing your areas of tension, and you may leave feeling like your muscles have received much-needed attention. But let’s get rid of that draping, increase the range of the strokes and regard your body as a whole with nothing zoned off. That kind of approach, in my opinion, makes a body feel so much more alive and adds a synergy to the experience that makes it infinitely more fulfilling than the undrape/ massage-but-don’t-get-too-close-to-anything-naughty/ re-drape approach. In my idea of a holistic approach, the therapist doesn’t fear the fact that the client may become aroused at various times during the session.
If I were to distinguish between a holistic approach and an erotic approach to massage, I would say that a holistic approach recognizes that sensual and erotic feelings are a natural, valid part of the experience. However, an exclusively erotic approach may be one that seeks to exploit a body’s capacity for arousal at the expense of the therapeutic benefits of massage. (Keep in mind that I have simply co-opted the term holistic as a means of challenging what I see as the erroneous notions inherent in the purely therapeutic versus purely erotic dichotomy. Other massage practitioners who use the term holistic may have an entirely different take on the word.)
I think the reason the term “holistic” appeals to me is because it takes the pressure off the need for the session to be self-consciously erotic. I don’t relate to massage practitioners who offer an “erotic” version for an increased charge. I’m not sure I understand what they are factoring into or out of their various incarnations of a massage. The erotic element of my work is not something that is a deliberate addition to a more generic version. I do massage the way I feel it should be done, and for me erotic energy is intrinsic to it.
And to get attuned to that facet, imagine this scenario: You stumble upon a hidden beach in an idyllic location on the perfect summer day. You strip off every thread of your clothing, run naked into the blue-green water and play in the gentle surf, feeling wonderfully unencumbered and maybe just slightly mischievous. Exhausted but exhilarated, you emerge from the water and collapse onto the pure white sand and just lie there, relishing the warmth of the sun and the slight coolness of the breeze all over your bare body. You close your eyes and listen to the waves, with no particular urge to do anything but luxuriate in the moment. There is an element of eroticism and sensuality in such a scenario, but it is not about a libido in overdrive. It is more about feeling your body everywhere and savoring the heightened sensitivity of your skin that comes with being naked, relaxed and free. This little trip to the beach represents the frame of mind that allows you to get the most out of what I offer.
Continuing with the beach analogy: This time, think of a sandy beach as a metaphor for the massage. When I touch you, I do so without fear and without attempts to censor zones of your body. Arousal is a natural consequence. With the right frame of mind and set of expectations, arousal can come as a series of waves. Some waves are bigger than others, but these waves wash over the beach and then recede. If you become attuned to this wave mentality, then you are channeling erotic energy, and that is vital to sustaining the massage. I don’t mean for this to sound esoteric. Concepts like this are hard to put into words. But if I were to coin a mantra for channeling erotic energy, it would be this: let it come, let it go, let it be. You don’t need to disguise or be embarrassed by your arousal. You also don’t need to start humping the table. Just take a deep breath and enjoy the sensations you are feeling that moment. Don’t think about five minutes from now. In fact, try not to think at all.
Incidentally, after one to two hours of channeling erotic energy, you may feel a need to release some of that energy. I’m cool with that.
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