Dude, Level up your Jing
For those with penises, fascination with sex and sexuality is equal parts pleasure, and utter confusion. Even those who study male sexuality have to continually chase partial understandings and reckon with the whizzing blender of culture and biology, with questions of mores and innate desires.
Contemporary systems of knowledge are geared towards medicalization and pathology, in terms of science and psychology, respectively. In addition, Western sexological research is still in its infancy. Try as we might to resist or subvert these negative effects, we are still left with a sense that at best, something is missing from our conceptions of maleness and sexuality, at worst, our relationships to our bodies and sex is profoundly sick.
I will explore how conceptions of subjectivity influence our sense of sexuality in later mini-essays, but for now, I want to carve a path towards pointing out lost knowledges outside of typical discourses of male sexuality.
In our culture, penises are encouraged to splatter their seed like some gross Pollock painting - the message being that this is healthy and a measure -or- performance of virility. And if erections decrease, we blame it on age, diet, porn or depression and thus, the effects psychologically lead to feelings of lack, inadequacy.
The relationship with the body is key here - ask yourself, what experiences do you have with your genitals besides sexual acts or pissing in the snow? In contrast, think of the plurality of experiences you have with your hands, you make food with them, you use them to stretch or exercise, you gesture and utilize them for balance, and you might think of thousands of other ways we engage with our hands.
Just clock this insight for a moment - the body and its parts has many uses, many ways to engage with the world around us, but we have frighteningly few uses for our dicks.
Stories abound from penises, of the loss of sensation during sex, or inability to maintain erections, and lamentation over the size of their junk, these existential crises threaten our sense of self, routine and inescapable as they may be. When our body fails to do what we want it to, often the result is doubling down, turning to pharmaceuticals, or turning from the world in shame instead of seeking help or new perspectives.
The language I use above is not meant to further conceptualize ‘fragments the body’, or support a sense of ‘objecting’ resulting in more disembodiment, ah… and more floating parts to be separated from. But anyways…
So it seems your relationship with your root could use some new uses, and luckily, some ancient traditions have interesting, experiential systems to explore.
In Taoism, the concept of Qi (Life Force), along with the Shen (Spirit Force) and Jing (Essence) are known ad the “three treasures” of holistic vitality. Though to the western scientific mind, these terms are elusive and ethereal, we may try to think of them as simply as different, useful ways to think about the subtle energies of the body. One of the uses of this system seeks to unify and restore a balance to a permeable conception of the self - an integrated puzzle that is both whole and fluid with its surroundings, like Alan Watt’s term; organism/environment. This conception allows us to atone (at-one) and counteract the forces that influence us to disintegrate and disassociate from ‘the parts’.
The symptoms I mentioned earlier are actually invitations to diversify our relationship to our genitals.
Strains of these ‘esoteric’ practices are still visible in our culture. For instance, athletes are routinely encouraged away from sex before competition, this idea is couched in ancient ideas spanning from the Greeks, to Anuyogic Buddhism and of course, Taoist hermeticism.
G.I. Gurdieff and J.G Bennett wrote about their system of sex and spirituality and the “fourth way”, Tantra is a yogic path that seeks to weave the expansion of energy - These systems are useful, interesting and not without their own “traps”. But before I get swept away too much, let’s turn back to Taoism to wrap this essay up, cause I don’t wanna leave you with just a heady diatribe.
Mantak Chia, in his book Taoist Secrets of Love, puts forth and describes many exercises for penis owners to explore. Let’s briefly look at just one of these for you to try.
If you like to workout, the phrase - “don’t skip leg day” should be familiar. Neither should you neglect the muscles of the pelvic floor. And to do this you might think of it as Kegels combined with Qi gong.
* Find your favorite sitting position with a straight spine, and concentrate on your root. Breathe easily for some moments.
* When ready, breath in and concentrate the muscles of the pelvic floor and abdomen.
* On your out breath, release the muscles and imagine or “send” that energy up your spine and allow it to travel all the way up and over your skull, letting that energy cascade down over to the front side of the body, letting it wash over your organs with a slight mercurial smile.
It might be slow going at first and can feel quite odd, or even silly, but keep at it. Look out for a sense of coolness, or even shiver up your spine as you continue to practice, this signals you’ve found the correct technique.
You can add this to your routine, it can be easily folded into a number of your activities from your already existing meditation practice to the boredom of sitting on a train.
And there you have it, this practice, as invisible to others as it may be, has a unifying quality. It fortifies the muscles, and puts you in touch with an essential internal life force.