EVENTS: STRETCH Festival in Berlin, April 3-5, 2015

Last year my friend and Authentic Eros teaching partner Kai Ehrhardt conceived and coordinated STRETCH, a weekend-long festival of workshops and performances for gay/bi/trans/queer men, in his hometown, Berlin. It was a big hit, so he has scheduled a second annual STRETCH Festival for Easter weekend this year.

stretch festival

This year I will be among the staff of teachers presenting an array of interactive experiences along the spectrum from yoga to music to breathwork to experimental performance to sexuality workshops. If you’re looking for a good excuse to visit Berlin and/or commune with a vibrant population of European gay/queer guys, here’s a good one.

Here’s how the festival describes itself:

STRETCH is a three-day festival for men in the heart of Berlin. It features 36 miniworkshops, performances, dance, time to socialize and mingle in order to inspire and experience a deeper, wider, more soul- and playful connection to one another and to life itself.
 
Expert teachers, practitioners, therapists, healers, renegades and artists invite you to this second gathering exploring the interface of bodywork, mindfulness, art, movement, sexuality, psychology, spirituality, gender, identity, ritual, performance and social engagement.
 
We are looking forward to welcome interested and curious participants: use this chance to discover and explore new things and to get nourished from body to soul.

You can check out the calendar of events online here and see if any of it calls out to you.

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EVENTS: erotic massage class at MMX

THE ART OF EROTIC MASSAGE
A class for men led by Don Shewey at MMX (Male Massage Exchange) in New York City
Four evenings: June 12th, 19th, 26th, and July 10th
7:30 -10 pm.

In this series, you will learn the art, the technique, and the energy to give and receive a REAL Erotic Massage.

For some people, erotic massage is a shady step-brother to legitimate massage – some version of a half-assed backrub and a handjob. But there is a higher octave of erotic massage that can be a transformational experience. What makes an erotic massage extraordinary isn’t just the sensual bits but the acknowledgement of the whole person. It’s an opportunity to connect the dots between the physical and the emotional, the erotic and the spiritual.

In this four-part training with an erotic massage master, you will learn to give a full-body erotic massage that is skillful, pleasurable, energizing, and soul-nourishing.

June 12th:  WEEK 1 Simple Touch

Simple, nurturing touch is so important. Massage that includes genital touch plus breath plus presence feels like acceptance. Especially for gay men, it’s very meaningful to get permission and encouragement to receive pleasure, to feel your whole body, to speak desires, to bring consciousness to sex and touch, to live your spirituality without blocking your sexuality and vice versa, to be seen naked, to see another man naked. All these are opportunities to heal shame, isolation, erotic malnutrition, and touch deprivation.

This class will focus on some basic massage moves designed to put someone at ease, help him arrive in his body, and let go of stress and tension. We will work on the back, neck, shoulders, legs, and feet, not so much focused on the medical or sports massage fix-it model but more in the direction of pleasure, relaxation, and connection.

June 19th: WEEK 2 Tantric Massage

The essence of tantra has to do with understanding erotic interaction as a metaphor for union with the divine.

MMX massage 1
The intention of tantric massage is to open the heart, to cultivate your own orgasmic capacity, and to experience sexuality as energy. This class will demonstrate and teach how to skillfully integrate touch, breath, and erotic energy into a full-body massage. You will get to observe and then practice giving and receiving a series of cock-massage strokes intended to raise and circulate erotic energy around the body so it’s a full-body experience, culminating in an exercise in conscious breathing called The Big Draw. You may be surprised to discover how pleasurable and nourishing it is to relish arousal without the goal of ejaculation.

June 26th:  WEEK 3 Butt Pleasure

Here’s one area of the body that is a major pleasure center for many guys but that traditional massage virtually never addresses. This class will provide a safe playground to explore the rich territory of pelvic massage, focusing on the buttocks, the anus, and the perineum for pleasure and relaxation. There will be a demonstration of the variety of ways to touch, knead, manipulate, and caress every part of a man’s rear end for pleasure and relaxation. The instruction will include “rosebud” massage (external) as well as sphincter and prostate stimulation (internal). You will have the opportunity to give and receive butt massage, at whatever pace and level you and your partner feel comfortable with (which may or may not include internal massage). You will get to practice not just the touch aspects but also how to verbally communicate with your partner about what feels good, what doesn’t, and what edges you’re willing to explore. We will use disposable gloves and observe hygiene protocols so the exploration will be completely safe for all participants. Discover the sometimes subtle delights available in the nether regions when the agenda is run by pleasure rather than the requirement of penetration.

MMX massage 2

July 10th:  WEEK 4 Putting It All Together

What really makes an erotic massage satisfying is the full-body experience. In this session we will put together the pieces we learned and practiced in the earlier sessions, with some instruction and guidance in transitions. You will get the opportunity to give and receive a luscious full-body massage that includes erotic touch. Part of the practice involves tuning into the specific partner you’re with and tailoring your touch and your attention to his individual body and his pleasure.

The class is geared toward healthy holistic healers, trainers, dancers, and athletes – people who work with body and energy and are height/weight proportionate.

RATES:
$199
Discounts for under 30, premium members, and bodyworkers.
Questions or More Info:  mmxnyc@gmail.com

EVENTS: Living Soulfully, Sunday April 6, 4-6 PM

I will be the guest speaker this Sunday April 6 at Living Soulfully, the monthly gathering of local guys who have been to Easton Mountain Retreat Center in upstate New York or who have an interest in belonging to the extended community of soulful gay men.

My topic is CREATING RITUALS FOR INTIMACY AND CONNECTION. Habits, patterns, and routines bring comfort and stability to our everyday lives. But what happens when those routines grow stale and we feel trapped in same-old same-old? Whether you’re partnered and puzzling over how to keep sex juicy or single and pondering new ways to make contact, what does it take to “get outside the box”?

get-out-of-the-box

In this lively interactive presentation (a preview of the workshop I’ll be conducting at Easton Mountain April 24-27), I’ll talk about using creativity to devise rituals that enliven intimacy and promote connection. Although often associated with religious services, a ritual can be any kind of intentional ceremony. It can be cooked up on the spur of the moment and be done in ten minutes, or it can involve elaborate preparation and go on for days. I’ll talk about what goes into creating a powerful ritual, then together we will explore how to identify habits we have and things we do that don’t serve us anymore and practice imagining new ways of connecting with each other that involve verbal communication, and touch, and artistic expression (music, movement, pictures).

photo by Adam Seymour

photo by Adam Seymour

Living Soulfully usually meets at the LGBT Community Center on West 13th Street, but because of construction, the meeting will take place at Ripley Grier Studios 520 Eighth Ave. 16th floor,
(8th Ave. b/w 36th and 37th Street). Tell the desk you are going to Ripley-Grier and proceed to the 16th Floor. Living Soulfully’s room will be listed on their board. The meeting goes on from 4:00 to 6:00. Newcomers are welcome. Bring a friend. See you there!

EVENTS: the creative use of ritual

What is the difference between a habit, a pattern, a routine, and a ritual? They exist along a spectrum of behavior, but a key distinction is that habits, patterns, and routines tend to be self-perpetuating to the point where they happen without effort or conscious choice. A ritual, on the other hand, is a ceremony with a specific intention to create or honor a special occasion.

1-19 birthday cake
A birthday, for example. There are a bunch of traditional ways we celebrate birthdays — with gifts, a cake, making a wish, and blowing out candles (not to mention, these days, the cascade of Facebook greetings). It can be fun and fulfilling to embrace the traditional birthday celebration. But I had a lovely experience this week with a friend who wanted to acknowledge his birthday in a different way. He asked me to co-create a ritual with him acknowledging and honoring his family heritage. He was very specific about verbalizing his intention:

“I would love to have you witness and respond to meeting and seeing the menfolk ancestors that created the lineage that I followed down onto our Earth plane and then have you meet my womenfolk and childhood in an historic way. To reflect, shed, illuminate and strengthen my ability to heal/transform. I don’t quite know what this all means, but I am compelled at the moment to acknowledge and honor the life that is past, mine and theirs. ”

I was thrilled and honored to be invited to share his birthday this way. He arrived at my house with a shopping bag of materials. I’d laid out a table covered with a colorful fabric on which to create an altar for the occasion of this ritual. He brought some gems that were meaningful to him and some aromatic wood to burn. And then we spent an hour looking at pictures of his parents, his grandparents, his great-grandparents, and some other relatives. He said their names out loud and told stories about how they were related to each other and what impact they’d had on him growing up, and he showed me some pictures I’d never seen of himself as a child. And he read aloud a beautiful poem of birthday blessings that another friend had e-mailed him just that morning. I gave him a hand-written card I’d made and a wrapped present of a music DVD that I thought he would enjoy.

altar
It was amazingly fun. I learned a lot about my friend that I didn’t already know, and there was a sweetness and intimacy because we took the time to do something out of the ordinary, using pictures, storytelling, beautiful objects, sensory enhancements, and meditative awareness very simply to create some magic and to deepen our connection.

This is exactly the kind of experience that is at the heart of “THAT’S AMORE! — Creative Rituals for Intimacy and Connection,” the workshop for gay men that I will be conducting at Easton Mountain Retreat in upstate New York April 24-27.  In the course of three days together, I will be teaching the basic skills of creating ritual space and then guiding participants through the process of devising a whole string of intentional ceremonies to explore intimacy and connection through verbal communication, physical touch, and the use of artistic imagination (involving music, writing, movement, photography, meditation, food, and the natural environment).

The workshop is the evolutionary product of my private therapy practice — offering sex and intimacy coaching to individuals and couples — and “Authentic Eros,” the workshop I taught for many years with my friend Kai Ehrhardt. It’s especially designed for the benefit of two kinds of people:  partnered guys in long, loving relationships whose physical/erotic/emotional intimacy has gone somewhat dormant and wants to wake up; and single guys who really want to be in a relationship but can’t seem to get past the second date and want to discover some new ways to build intimacy and connection over time. It’s my intention for each participant to leave with not only tools for connecting more deeply with other men but also a great appreciation for yourself as a lover.  The cost of the workshop is $495-695 depending on accommodations.

For more information and registration, go to: http://bit.ly/AmoreEaston.

 

EVENTS: “That’s Amore!” at Easton Mountain, April 24-27, 2014

This spring I will be conducting a workshop for gay men called “THAT’S AMORE! — Creative Rituals for Intimacy and Connection” at Easton Mountain Retreat in upstate New York.

gRUFF!buds1504

For busy, active adults in committed relationships, it’s often amazingly difficult to make time to enjoy each other’s company in a relaxed and intimate way. Professional responsibilities, family obligations, and housekeeping get the attention they demand – but what about exploring and growing together, erotic play, Quality Time For Us? For single guys, it’s relatively simple to organize fleeting sexual encounters in the monosyllabic parlance of social-networking apps (Top? Bottom? Hung? Stats?), but negotiating the steps that lead from a quick hookup to a sustained, mutually satisfying relationship can be mystifying. In this weekend retreat for gay men, participants will gain instruction and practice in creating simple, elegant, and fun ceremonies intended to foster intimacy and connection.

1-10 workshop altar

We’ll begin with practical instruction on the rudiments of creating ritual space: using sacred objects, formulating intentions, making time commitments. Rituals can be simple outlines for intentional actions, devised on the spur of the moment, that employ whatever is at hand and finish up in 10 minutes – or they can involve elaborate preparation and go on for hours. We’ll experiment with many variations over the course of a weekend. Each day we’ll explore ceremonies based on verbal communication and physical touch as well as the creative use of music, words, photography, movement, touch, meditation, food, and the natural environment.

12-3 001

The program is intended for single or partnered gay men who would enjoy spending a weekend in a structured environment that supports the quest for authentic love and affection. My intention is for each participant to leave with not only tools for connecting more deeply with other men but also a greater appreciation for yourself as a lover.

The workshop will begin at dinnertime Thursday April 24 and end at lunchtime Sunday April 27. The cost for the workshop is $495-695 (depending on your choice of accommodations).

Here’s a video of me talking a little more about the program. For more information, or to register for the workshop, go to Easton Mountain’s website here.

EVENTS: “Sensual Massage for Couples,” a class for men at MMX in NYC October 26, 2013

I will teach a day-long class in sensual massage for gay male couples at the MMX studio on 14th Street in New York City next Saturday, October 26, 2013.

couples touch
Massage is one of the simplest and most profound forms of healing there is. Human beings thrive on being held and touched; in fact, healthy babies can’t do without it.  As adults, we are no less susceptible to the joy and pleasure of nurturing touch. For people in relationships, it’s easy to start taking touch for granted, letting it get perfunctory. Even if you have a robust sexual connection, there is a tendency to “cut to the chase,” skipping over some kinds of sweet, sensual touch that makes physical intimacy so nourishing. Sharing massage can be a wonderful prelude to lovemaking, and it can also be a delicious meal all it itself.

The class will meet from 10 am to 5 pm, with a one-hour break for lunch. I will demonstrate a full-body sensual massage and then provide guidance as each participant takes turns giving and receiving this treatment. The fee is $300 per couple.

The class is open to established couples, new couples, or temporary couples – if you’re single but would like to have this experience, feel free to enroll a friend to be your mate for the day.

For more information and to register for the class, go here.

EVENTS: Rowe Labor Day

Rowe_bench-header_web
I’ve heard about the Labor Day gathering for gay men in Rowe, MA, for many years but have never attended. This year, that changes. My friend Ben Seaman, who organizes the weekend with Andrew Plummer, asked me to bring my body-and-soul teachings to Rowe this year, and we will be joined by Ray Riglioso, who conducts a retreat called Gay Men of Wisdom.

From the website: “Now in its 28th year this Labor Day Retreat is one of the longest standing gay, bisexual, and questioning men’s gatherings in the United States. For new participants, Rowe is a safe place to explore coming out, to spread your wings, and to make real friends. For those returning, Rowe offers a real connection with men who value spirituality and personal maturity. This nourishing experience offers a bridge to a more connected view of the gay community and the world. See and feel beauty in yourself and in other men. Expect the unexpected.

rowe 2

“Rowe is a place of transformation, providing emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual experiences. You will feel welcomed and whole; you will laugh and you may shed some tears of release. Workshops led by experienced teachers will explore relationships, body work, art, dating, theater, singing, meditation, spirituality, movement, and much more. There will be gift-giving, ritual, play, and delicious home-cooked meals.”

For more information and registration, click here.

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