In the beginning was the back pain.
A pulling, a burning sensation, sometimes like a cramp-like attack, more often simply disguised as a 'symptom of old age'. Well, you tell yourself. You have to come to terms with this. That's how it is. Accept it!
Then you perceive that your capabilities are suffering. All kinds of actions which were not a problem earlier, suddenly pose a challenge. Work, occasional sports, getting up in the morning, standing up at all. Sex! Finally, the fun stops at this point. Literally!
From now on, it is a state of war. Things cannot go on like this! What is the Internet for, what is the highly acclaimed German health system for, what are the thousands of practising physiotherapists for, and not least, what are masseurs and massagesfor?! You gird yourself, and prepare to meet the enemy pain.
So, anyway, this is how it was for me.
Not even in dreams could I have foreseen what I then actually encountered.
It also all started innocently enough. Twice a week, physiotherapy, stretching, bending and muscle training. Massages also, and a lot of cavorting in the water. As long as I believed that all this was helping, it also did help. No doubt about it.
But at some point I woke up and wanted knowledge!
The nice thing about search engines is that they remember what you are searching for.
On a rainy Sunday, I noticed a word at the bottom, which I had overlooked before. Tantra massage.
Of course, I thought, esoteric stuff at best; another word for commercial sex, at worst.
Nevertheless, and because it was raining, I started reading on a Tantric massage website.
The name pleased me. Kashima. That sounded like the sun, like light.
I found incredible words. Words like yoni, lingam, pelvic floor massage and many more. Becoming intrigued, I researched further and further, completely surprised by the diversity of my new discovery. Still sceptical, but in good spirits, I decided to have a look at the matter. It certainly could not be any less effective than my previous attempts, correct?
I had never spoken a truer word before.
Now, anxiety and excitement are similar. Even, in a certain sense, the same thing. With a little mental effort I threw the anxiety overboard, and concentrated on the excitement. But as soon as I entered Kashima's premises, this also fell slowly away from me.
Behind this ordinary Berlin apartment door was another world. Involuntarily I recalled the word ritual that I had read. I went in, and it began.
To understand this ritual energy, imagine the following: It was a typical day. Work, some stress, some boredom. Coffee and croissants. Unfriendly saleswomen, smelly people on the train. So what? It's the same at home! There's the door, which opens as if by itself. There's my clothes rack, here's my shoe cupboard. My carpet and the sofa, and it says: Welcome, old friend. And the scent of me is here, and of everything that I am. A ritual begins, a dance of peace, almost unconsciously.
Greetings in everyday life are as familiar to us as blowing your nose in the winter. We do it. It is part of things. Politeness and hygiene require it.
As the Kashima door closed behind me, something else happened: I felt as if I were really meant. Although I was full of expectations, uncertainty also, and still of bashful excitement, I was suddenly I. The warmth, the smile, the obvious care about my well-being were plain and incredibly soothing. I have come home.
With this, however, the comparisons with homecoming are exhausted for the time being. Because, unlike at home, in this sphere nothing is done by accident, nothing without special attention. Already while undressing, I felt something like a certain release. In fact, with my boots, coat and scarf, I was leaving my armour behind. Then, I divested myself not of my pants, shirt and underwear, but of everything that still remained of fear and uncertainty. A mirror on the wall spoke the famous words, and, yes!, I found that also, and smiled.
The first touch found me, of course, unprepared. I caught myself having lustful thoughts, and tried to suppress them. I am still amazed at how perceptive the masseuse was, because she noticed that immediately, and laughed softly. She started with connecting touches, and in seconds I had realized that there is no shame here, no limitation of your own feelings. Finally completely letting go, I became quiet inside, and lost track of time. I still believe: For the first time in my life, this was conscious.
This toleration, this disarmament, as I know now, was actually the step necessary to sense, to realize, what was taking place here. Without opening, I would certainly have spent the next two hours very pleasantly, but probably rather like in a bath or in the sauna. Only my supposed vulnerability, nakedness and yielding to the Now made them into a journey to strange, unknown places in my body. Although not entirely uneducated in physical-energetic principles, I was surprised by the composition of reflective teaching, anatomic knowledge and the amazing knowledge about energy, and pressure points.
And it certainly was a composition! From instrument and sheet music, I gradually became more and more a symphony, and, listening to my very own music, I gained an entirely new concept of sensuality. The masseuse's ability to keep all the components, each stage, of the massage in a state of flux, made me realize that the holistic in Tantra does not just mean the whole human body, but also the process itself. One may see two parts of a process in the touch of hands and feet, different stages from pelvic floor or prostate to yoni or lingam, but I could only sense a single, comprehensive, highly invigorating discovery of each hiding place in my body. From the beginning to the end. I sensed the awakening of sexual energy, although at that first time, these cease very soon, more as joy and strength, rather than as desire and lust. This was also something completely new, because conventionally, a lasting erection can be perceived as something unpleasant. I was even more amazed about the lack of ejaculation, or, better said, the fact that it did not matter to me. What I had experienced was much more than the journey to a climax. It was an encounter. An encounter not with the enemy pain, but with the friend, myself.
Since then, I have had, enjoyed and studied many Tantric massages. Some years went by with more or less intense involvement with the subject, and it does not surprise me personally at all that I suddenly felt the need to master the massage itself. Back pain was long water under the bridge. I had become more forthright and less arrogant in relation to my environment. All sorts of anxieties and a certain irascibility now had faded away in dealing with problems of everyday life.
And, yes!, I had developed myself into a better lover, and consequently it was now easier for others to love me.
When the decision was once taken, I naturally turned to Kashima. The Tantra massage training offered here confronted me again with extreme challenges. Yet, as with my first encounter, openness to and toleration of the self, recognizing and welcoming the now, shattered the barriers, the restricted areas in me, into unnecessary fragments of yesterday.
Although I now practice Tantra myself (an activity which could not be more satisfactory, once you have encountered yourself!), or perhaps for this reason, I still often think of this first time, this long, deep journey to myself. To where I live, and never was before.