Elements of Embodiment, Part 9: Erotic Exploration in Safe Containers

Rushing river with green trees on both sides.

Erotic experiences can sometimes be a challenge for trans folks. Some of that comes from our own experience of dysphoria, and our relationship to parts of our bodies that can provide erotic pleasure. Part of it can come from a disconnect between the roles that we think we should play, or be expected to play, and our own desire (this can happen to cis folks as well.)

Exploring erotic pleasure within a safe container can be a really helpful way to find out more about how to have gender-affirming experiences, as well as learn a lot about our own authentic desires.

Tantra has a concept called “Tapas and Spanda.” Tapas is a container, or containment, and Spanda is the life force, or in this particular case, since we’re talking about erotic pleasure – you can think of it as erotic energy. Just like the banks of a river contains water, and the flow of the water changes depending on the container, that can be true of erotic energy.

Besides this, containers are just really helpful in allowing us space to explore. If we know that a specific experience is within a container, and once the container is over, the experience is over, it’s a lot easier to fully allow ourselves to experience what’s there for us. Containers can be time, space, and/or ritual. And the safety of the container depends not only on full consent of all parties – if something happens that is beyond a limit, someone can stop it. What also enhances safety is the idea that everything is an experiment. We’re just experimenting and gathering data. If something happens you don’t like, or doesn’t have the outcome you wanted or expected, you just gather the data to learn more about yourself.

Example experiences and containers: You experiment with a particular kind of erotic touch on yourself that you are curious about for 3 minutes. You experiment with touching your partner for your own pleasure (obviously with their full consent) for 5 minutes. A ritual lighting of a candle begins a container, and blowing it out ends it.

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