Episode 10: Self Esteem, Hot Sex & Peace on the Planet Podcast with Dr. Judy Kuriansky PHD, Clinical Psychologist
Self Esteem, Hot Sex & Peace on the Planet with Dr. Judy Kuriansky PHD, Clinical Psychologist
Announcer: This program is intended for mature audiences only.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome to ‘Sex Tantra and Kama Sutra’ bringing you the soul of sex. I'm your host Francesca Gentille and with me today is Dr. Judy Kuriansky.
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: There is something to this concept that if you smile it changes the chemistry in your brain. I know it was a joke ‘put on a happy face’, and people say, “Oh well, that's phony.” It's not. There actually is a physiological change that happens and you can then feel lifted in your mood because of the changes in your brain chemistry.
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: All these labels and another one of the labels is critic. So being aware of which one you are at the moment is really important so that you can change those habits and say, “I'm being the critic now. Let me be the cheerleader instead.”
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: So you would breathe a cycle of breath into your genital area. Then you can gently guide your organ or your mouth or your genitals or the two genitals together or the two mouths together or any of those intimate places together, keeping the breath cycling. That's the essence of the tantric sex.
Francesca Gentille: I wish that you could see her. I wish I could see her right now. She is joining me via the phone. She is a brilliant vital woman who lights up the room wherever she goes and has a talent for creating ways of explaining science, psychology, and sacred sexuality that I am looking forward to sharing with you today.
Judy is a pioneer in the field of sexology. She's a clinical psychologist with a Ph.D. from NYU and a visiting professor at Peking University. There is even more that I want to share about Judy and I will as we go on the show. But first I want to welcome her.
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: Well thank you Francesca. Thank you for those kind words. And they really express who you are too. When you walk into a room it lights up. I think that's part of the real energy that comes from being in the world of tantra because tantra is about energy and life force.
Everyone who is listening can have that life force. It is simply a matter of practicing and concentrating on being authentic, on finding that center of yourself, being able to breathe when people are talking to you, look into their eyes. All of that creates this feeling of being present that is so much a part of what I think my own growth has been and what I teach other people.
Francesca Gentille: Dr. Judy, you mentioned the simplicity of it - the breathing, the centering, the self, the being present, and yet for many of us in our culture today, we don't look each other in the eyes and our breathing is very tight in the chest. Sometimes we have been taught over time to suppress. What do you recommend as a simple practice that people can do to remind themselves to be in their bodies and to connect with another human being?
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: Well, I think that's a wonderful question. I do have a process that I do. It's something that I work on myself even as a psychologist all these years. And it's something I teach other people to do. I become aware of it very often.
It comes up very commonly when someone is even saying something nice to you or complimenting. When someone is about to say, “Oh, that sounds wonderful, you look so pretty tonight” or “That sounds so intelligent” or whatever other kind of compliment they want to give you, usually you tighten. Your eyes look away. You feel this tightness in your chest. You may start to get clammy hands.
So the first step is to be able to notice that. It's to notice where I am looking down now. I am feeling the tightness in my chest. I am feeling that my hands are clenching. That's the first step because you become aware of the tension or the withdrawal or the fear or the embarrassment or the shame - all of these things that come up. Or if you are uncomfortable doing public speaking or in many situations that can happen, not just complements.
Then the next thing is to feel your feet rooted to the ground. That's what we really call groundedness or centeredness. That's why I often don't wear high heels as much anymore although they make me look gorgeous as a woman. I like to be in flats because it makes me feel centered and connected to the ground. I feel solid, that's during speaking. So feel yourself as if you have roots in the ground.
Then you start to breathe because often when we get those complements or fear of speaking or meeting someone there is a tightness and you stop breathing. So the idea is to just take a deep breath and then breathe out as inconspicuously as you can.
Then the fourth step of that is to look into the person’s eyes and then concentrate on continuing to breathe and taking it in and feeling your feet centered. The last thing I would say is to put a smile in your face. There is something to this concept that if you smile it changes the chemistry in your brain. I know it was a joke ‘put on a happy face’, and people say, “Oh well, that's phony.” It's not. There actually is a physiological change that happens and you can then feel lifted in your mood because of the changes in your brain chemistry. So those are the five steps.
Francesca Gentille: I love it. It's very easy. I'm practicing that right now, just kind of releasing my belly and reminding myself to breathe and feel my feet on the floor.
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: You’re so good at all of that Francesca. You are a true goddess. There is another point about being of sacred sexuality and having real centeredness in your life is that feeling that you are in fact a goddess who deserves to feel good. I have been teaching women that for goodness knows how long - decades.
Francesca Gentille: And for men to be a god as well.
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: And men to be a god, indeed. There's no question about that. In the years that I have been practicing – I am a clinical psychologist, as you mentioned a sex therapist and a pioneer in that and being on the radio at the starting. At the same time Dr. Ruth did five nights a week, three hours a night for decades of doing that and being on TV and having people write to me and newspapers and magazines here in the United States and all over the world, really women need to feel self esteem and get good about themselves. I deserve to be treated well.
And men need to walk around feeling the same thing. We have boosted women's egos often about being assertive and saying what you need but men need to do the same thing and feel, “I am a good person. I deserve to be treated well.”
Francesca Gentille: How big is this issue of shame - shame about the body, shame about our genitals, our smells, our emotions - how big is that of an issue in the intimacy and passion that people get to feel together?
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: Well, shame is one of the three uglies - shame, embarrassment and fear. I call them the three uglies because they are really ones that bring us down in all interactions, intimate ones and non-intimate ones and certainly sexual ones. Sexual shame is a really big one. It's shame about the size and look of your genitals. Goodness knows I've heard so many men worry about their penis size and so many women even worried about the way they look and smell and taste. It's so important to really affirm that you are good exactly the way you are.
One of the early techniques we used many, many years ago and still is effective is to look at yourself in the mirror, starting with your whole body and looking at each part and stopping wherever you say, “Oooh, that's fat! Oooh, that's ugly! Oh, what a chunk of flab here!” And instead being kind to that place as if you would be kind to a child. Would you say to a child, “Oooh, what a creep!”?
And given what Alec Baldwin said about his daughter being a thoughtless little paid, that has desensitized us. We don't want to say that to our body or to ourselves. In fact that is the first exercise, is to look. And wherever you stop and say, “Oh, that's creepy.” Instead you pet it and you say, “That’s fine. I'll be nice to you.” And then find something good about it, like the skin is soft, without being critical as if you were a critical parent. You don't want to do that to yourself.
So that is for the body and then you move into the sexual part. You take a mirror and actually look at your sexual parts. Touch it and feel it and look at it and taste it and smell it as much as you can and all that, having positive reactions about it, which builds the self-esteem of your genitals.
Francesca Gentille: You know it can sound simple and yet challenging. People can almost be resistant or frightened to see themselves fully for the first time. I think they are afraid, as you mentioned, of that inner critic being the person who is looking. The person who looks through their own eyes is the critic. What is something that can help them recognize that it is the critic who is looking but to release that critic and shift into the more nurturing self, the kinder, more compassionate self?
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: I think the key is really to recognize that we wear different hats and we are different people, even within ourselves. That's not to say we are split personalities or schizophrenic but that we each have these different parts. This is a known psychological dynamic. It doesn't mean we have multiple personalities. But we have a child in us, an adult in us, a parent in us; we play the role of teacher, we play the role of the - whatever you can name - the student, the worker, the hard worker, the gardener, all these labels and another one of the labels is critic. So being aware of which one you are at the moment is really important so that you can change those habits and say, “I'm being the critic now. Let me be the cheerleader instead.”
Francesca Gentille: I love it.
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: These are basic psychological principles about building self-esteem. I wrote a book called ‘The Complete Idiot's Guide to Dating’. Actually I wrote a couple of ‘Complete Idiot's’ guides. One was ‘The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Healthy Relationship’ which is built on dating continuing in your relationship in order to be healthy. And that led to ‘The Complete Idiot's Guide to Tantric Sex’, of which I am exceptionally proud and which is very relevant to your show and listeners here. This takes the realm of the healthy relationship into a sacred relationship using tantric sex techniques.
The whole package really means, getting back to what your question was, a way really of building self-esteem and then be able to communicate that with a partner and sharing that cheerleading with each other to the highest points of enlightenment and ecstasy.
Francesca Gentille: You know Judy I want to talk more about that, going into those places of ecstasy, those places that make sex tantric sex, and after we come back from a break.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to Sex Tantra and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex. Today we are with Dr. Judy Kuriansky, clinical psychologist, Ph.D. from NYU, author of ‘The Complete Idiot's Guide to Tantric Sex’, speaker on the hottest trends in sex and intimacy and international workshop leader on sexuality in countries like India, Israel, Iran, Austria, Argentina.
Welcome back Judy. We were just talking about building the self-esteem in tantra, a presence in tantra. I'm guessing some of our listening audience may be wondering when we get to the great sex that tantra promises. When does the sex come in? How does that work?
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: The great sex evolves out of the preliminaries. That means that you don't just rush into it. Also, you can't have tantric sex quickies. But the crucial thing is to get to the heart of the matter.
I always counsel people to think that one, get into the position where the female partner or one of the partners, it doesn't matter male or female, is sitting in the other one's lap so that you are connected at all your energy points more. Look deep into each other's eyes - the eye gazing, the tantric eye gazing behind the soul.
Then you have to do the breathing together. This is to synchronize your energies where I always tell people breathe in and then make noise on breathing out so you know you are on the same level. That synchronizes your energies to get rid of all the anxieties.
Then you can move into the touching more in the tantric ways of finding the places on each other's bodies where you breathe into together. So start breathing into your heart together. And then you move down into breathing into where your navel area is - these are where all your chakra points are. Then breathe into your vaginal area and perhaps his penis area, or if you've got two penises or two vaginas, it doesn't matter what the genital areas are.
I say that because tantric sex means you are going to get the breath into that area before you get the organ into it because that's where you are guiding your energy. So breathe into those points. So you would breathe in a cycle of breath into your genital area. Then you can gently guide your organ or your mouth to your genitals or the two genitals together or the two mouths together or any of those intimate places together, keeping the breath cycling. That's the essence of the tantric sex.
Now if you are having intercourse for example then as you're doing that you want to still keep imagining that the breath is going through the genitals almost like they are communicating and that they are going slowly. And in order to make sex last longer, which has kind of been the calling card of tantric sex although we don't want to have any expectation of it, men can last longer. Why? It's because during the intercourse he's going to be breathing his energy through his penis into her body and into his chest, into his heart area so that it doesn't just stay in the genital area. That's why he's going to ejaculate in two minutes and why she may not be satisfied.
So that is the principle of how the high sex ecstasy gets accomplished.
Francesca Gentille: And that cycling of the breathing - once does it mean to cycle the breathing?
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: How does it cycle?
Francesca Gentille: Yeah, what does it mean to cycle?
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: What it means is that you put your mental energy there. And you actually can direct the breath. You can be sitting listening to the show right now breathing in and mentally imagining that your breath is going in your nose and down through the back of your spine and into your genital area, and even twitch your genitals.
Man can do this with their muscles. So can women with their pubic coccygeal muscles down there. Just twitching to feel that the breath has gotten there. Then as you blow it out imagine that the breath is coming up and into your heart to warm your heart.
So it takes your imagination, being a little bit of an actor or actress. Decide then actually physically feeling the breath going in one place and switching different areas of the body to know exactly where you have directed it. So one thing I direct women to do is to imagine practicing with their man when he has an erection to breathe in and take that and have that energy, to put their hand on his erection. Imagine with him bringing all that energy of his phallus up into his heart and then rubbing his heart three times to the right and three times to the left so that he brings that energy that would be expelled out up to his heart. Then after that he can have his ejaculation.
So that is the shortcut way. I have explained a lot of it in the ‘Complete Idiot's Guide to Tantric Sex’. People can go on Amazon. It is easily ordered there and I really recommend it because it is a very simple guide and there are these very simple steps that everybody can do to reach these levels. What happens is that your brain pops. People want that. People take drugs to get that done.
And one of the chapters in ‘The Idiot's Guide to Tantric Sex’ is about a healthy way to get that high. You really can get high by this exercise that I just described. It is as good as somebody would imagine by taking drugs. That is the way to really reach this state of ecstasy.
Francesca Gentille: I love ‘The Idiot's Guide to Tantric Sex’ and I think it is one of the simplest and clearest encyclopedias but not quite as big or overwhelming, of resources of how to do this and how to do that. It's really simple and clear. I love that.
And I love that what you're talking about sounds like it not only leads to great sex but I'm guessing that this could also be something that would help all of the challenges or the difficulties that people bring to sexuality. Is there something that people can use if they have low desire or if they have had some wounding or abuse in their background or if they ejaculate too quickly? How does this work for some of the common issues that people come into the therapy with?
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: Well, absolutely Francesca that is a very good question. All of those things can be accomplished by these particular techniques. There are so many people who are listening who are too tired, they have kids, they have too many responsibilities, and they are too stressed from work. They just want to relax. They don't want to do anything.
Basically, in one of the chapters in the book, there actually are these connects that you make where you but don't put the pressure on yourself to have sex. And in Tantric sex you don't really have to have the intercourse part of it or the genital exchange. But it can lead to that because of the synchronicity of your quiet time and your breathing together. You do get in that quiet space where you do zone out of your stress from the day. Then you might get your desire back, you see.
So I know as a sex therapist that sex desire is really a big problem. They are not synchronized. He wants it. She doesn't. One person is angry and the other person isn't or this one is too controlling. So if you just lie together with first his back to her front - whoever is more stressed should be cuddled and the other person on the outside. And then breathe together. And then just start slow touching with breathing and the eye gazing and it can naturally lead into that.
If it doesn't, I promise everybody who is listening; at least you will feel more intimate because in essence that is really the goal. It is very helpful for people who have felt like they have been abused because then the idea is no expectations. God only knows I have talked to so many people who have. One out of seven are the statistics in men and one out of four women feel that they have been abused at some point in their life in some way. So this low expectation and high sensuality and just touching and just experiencing the person are very helpful for that.
It's also good for people who have illnesses because when you're not feeling well and you have arthritis and heart problems and God forbid cancer, you just don't want to go at it. You need the comforting and the nurturing which is so much a part of this.
And there is the playfulness. By the way Francesca, you are very good at this because you are so expressive with your movements and your body and you are such a sensuous, alive woman and that is part of it too. At a lot of points Tantric sex has to do with singing to your partner, finding playful ways to be together, even doing yogic practices and movements together, dancing for one another. All these things are done in this very present way with breathing and connectedness that makes it what is Tantric.
Francesca Gentille: Judy, I would love to talk more about how some of these Tantric practices help us to peace on the planet even and what you have learned from your experiences teaching worldwide after we come back from our break.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to ‘Sex Tantra and Kama Sutra’ with our guest today Dr. Judy Kuriansky, international workshop leader on sexuality in places like India, Israel, Iran, Austria, and Argentina. We were just talking about how Tantra is something that could bring peace to our world. How does that possibly work Judy?
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: Well I do that a lot around the world Francesca, as you said. I bring these Tantric techniques, some of the ones about which we have been talking here, back to the places where they began.
I spent seven years back and forth in China and even in India, which is where most of Tantra began, teaching people in workshops, both public people and professionals so that they can then teach their own patients. And in areas where there is disaster, all ages of people from adults, couples, individuals and also children.
I do an adaptation by the way that has nothing to do with sex. I take out the exercises of these Tantric practices I will tell you in a minute, for kids. I teach them the basic one principle it falls under Francesca. That is that if you feel peace within yourself, then you feel peaceful towards others in your immediate relationships and also towards others in the world.
So this helps with intolerance because we have many prejudices that we have towards people now. After 9/11, with all the terrorism going on and with the war happening in Iraq, we have all kinds of prejudices towards people. And if you are a Tantric practitioner and you look behind the eyes for example, even in the eye gazing towards the soul of the person, you get beyond your prejudices towards people.
And in these groups that I lead that people can do in their home with their partner on their own or they can do it in the mirror to themselves or they can actually think of how I do it with people around the world, that basically it is about connecting with people.
One exercise I did for example after a bombing in Israel with Arab kids and with Jews, besides all the techniques that I described, the eye gazing and the breathing, I had them hold their hands out. They didn't have to touch. They just had to hold their hands out towards each other and picture love and caring energy going from their heart into their hand and out towards the other person. Some of the kids were astounded that they could do that and really feel electrical pulses to each other.
In Sri Lanka for example, after the tsunami, I had little kids and adults who were terrified of the water because after all, that was the site where all their families were killed by being swallowed up into the tsunami water and into the ocean. So I had them practice these Tantric techniques where they actually did an ‘I feel safe’ - they put their hands on their hearts and say, “I feel safe” - in their own language. Then they would go to the other person and put their hands on the other person's heart and say, “You are safe.” And then they would put their hands out as if they were enveloping the whole world saying, “You are safe.”
So in a nutshell those are the kinds of activities that I developed that I bring back to some of the places where they originally had them and forgot their own roots and integrate Eastern and Western techniques in order for people to feel that peace within, peace with your partners and then peace in a general way towards the world.
Francesca Gentille: What have you learned from this teaching in the East and the West and counseling people in the East and the West? Can you give us a moment or two of that key essence of what you have learned about human beings or what you would most like us to be aware of?
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: Well that's a great question. What I have learned is that people are more alike than they are different. In this world now the biggest word is diversity and we are very sensitive to differences within cultures and people and background and ethnicities. And while I accept that is true, it has been my experience, teaching all over the world and having just been back from Jordan last week, that people are more alike deep down. They want to be happy. They want to feel loved. They want to have a happy family. They want to be safe. These are the basics.
If we can do that then we can feel better about our individual lives and where we live in our community and in our broader community and even within ourselves. So that's been my positive lesson.
Francesca Gentille: Dr. Judy I want to thank you so much for joining us today. And I want to invite everyone to get in touch with Dr. Judy to read her book ‘The Idiots Guide to Tantric Sex’, available at Amazon.com and to hold with this. I want to hold with this. And I invite everybody to hold with this, breathing into our hearts and breathing out to one another that ‘I am safe’, that ‘you are safe’, that ‘we are safe’ and that in that place in me, when I am there in that place in you, when you are there, that we are one.
And thank you for bringing that gem to us today.
Dr. Judy Kuriansky: Well Francesca, you are such a beautiful person. I have known that before from knowing you and from watching you. It is just such a pleasure and a joy just that you are giving to all of us in what you are doing now. It is just of the highest level and just speaks of a real, genuine, beautiful spirit that you are.
Francesca Gentille: Thank you sweetheart. And for our listening audience I want to invite you to go to www.personallifemedia.com, where we will have transcripts of this show and other shows. You can find links and more information about ‘Sex Tantra and Kama Sutra’.
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