Tantra Studio: The Veil of Embarrassment

Sister Bliss, masturbating with her mirror, observed by an unknown person. Can you get a read on his facial expression? What is he thinking?

In this week’s Tantra Studio, I discuss the veil of embarrassment. Tantra Studio is usually the 4th segment of Planet Waves FM, which I devote to the discussion of sexuality and eroticism. I think most people who listen to it are sleeping by the time it comes on.

One of the central ideas of basic Tantric practice involves working with the persistent emotions embarrassment, guilt and shame — the red lights of the psyche. Tantra is about saying yes to existence and yes to yourself. Most people are shamed out of their approval of their own feelings and consequently, their existence. Which is where many people find themselves today.

Embarrassment, guilt and shame are variants of the same emotion. The difference is one of intensity, and of circumstance, which includes specific experiences or memories associated with each. Ultimately, the message is “you are wrong.” It is this that binds your inhibitions into a clump of emotion that it may seem you will never unravel.

Yet this unraveling is the essence of Tantric practice, as this is the process by which you discover and get closer to who you are. The ego structure as it exists in most people is a complicated interweaving of inhibitions. It’s a little like walking around in a suit of armor. Dr. Reich, a writer I study and teach, called it “personality armor.”

When you stop yourself from doing something you want to do, particularly something driven by love or curiosity, you are usually being blocked by your personality armor. Tantric practice is specifically involved with dissolving this. And one way to embark on that adventure is to play with embarrassment.

Everyone is familiar with the thrill of being caught, being seen nude, or in some way being revealed. That’s an expression of how this works, only instead of having it merely be a fleeting shiver of pleasure, you go for it in a conscious way.

Let’s consider the context of a trusted sex partner.

From what I am reading, there’s a not-so-high vibe on the sex wavelength these days, as I keep reading that it’s over influenced by porn memes, which many are trying in some way to emulate. So, as someone who wants something, you will probably need to lead the way for your partner. But it’s pretty easy: in this exercise, you’re going to do something that embarrasses you.

In this context, embarrassment counts for any approach-avoid feeling. You know it when you feel it — you want to do something, but for some reason hold back. Often you wish you had done it, and wonder why you did not. This is a common experience at different times during sexual growth and evolution. Now, you can follow it in if you want.

Think of embarrassment as an invitation. How you respond might be subtle. It’s best to lean in the direction of what you want, rather than push yourself; which does not include the natural feeling of a little plunge as you let go and do something like spread your vulva in front of someone for the first time. That is the sensation. As the embarrassment melts, right underneath it is the feeling of This Is Me.