Stockham was initially inspired by the work of John Humphrey Noyes, who taught a concept he called, Male Continence, in which men opt to avoid ejaculation when conception is not desired. However, Stockham encouraged both partners to pass up orgasm, insisting that the practice is neither â€œmaleâ€ nor â€œfemale.â€
Although Stockham and, later, J. William Lloyd, MD both wrote books about Karezza, readers often observe that the descriptions of the actual practice seem vague. This is because technique is virtually immaterial. It’s a practice about not doing, about getting your goal-driven mammalian mating program out of the way long enough to fall into a state of relaxed union. It’s more of an experience than a practice. As a result, each couple has a slightly different tale to tell.
With that in mind, here are some suggestions based primarily on my own experiences. I did not start out trying to learn Karezza. I started out to learn what we could about making love without orgasm, and when I read the original descriptions of Karezza, I saw that Tantra was closely aligned with Karezza.
Karezza is not â€œregular sexâ€ but without the orgasm.
Although Karezza calls for intercourse, it’s unlike the intercourse Masters and Johnson observed in the lab, with its â€œrestricted breathingâ€ and â€œextreme muscle tension.â€ Stockham contrasted the â€œordinary hasty spasmodic method of cohabitationâ€ with Karezza:
During a lengthy period of perfect control, the whole being of each is merged into the other, and an exquisite exaltation experienced. This may be accompanied by a quiet motion, entirely under subordination of the will, so that the thrill of passion for either may not go beyond a pleasurable exchange.
Our emphasis is on affection, and we stay well away from the edge of orgasm. If we sense ourselves slipping into performance mode while making love, we pull ourselves back into relaxation with deeper, longer breaths. This relaxes our abdominal breathing and reverses the increase in muscular tension and the urge to restrict breathing that coincide with the buildup to orgasm.
Regular foreplay doesn’t work with Karezza.
Typical foreplay is geared toward heating yourself and your partner up with orgasm as the goal. The pleasures of Karezza do not rely on the rewards from approaching one’s own orgasm or inducing it in a lover. They depend on the rewarding feelings that come from mutual adoration and generous touch; i.e., bonding behaviors. Initially, Karezza feels all wrong… too non-goal-oriented and relaxed.
So, without standard foreplay, what do we do when we get in bed with each other? We found it helped to have some structure, because ingrained habits die hard. The more radically and thoroughly we alter our behavior when creating a new pathway in the brain, the easier it is to create one.
One could stick to a pre-agreed list of bonding behaviorsâ€”and engage in them daily for a few minutes, or more, using a generous mindset. Some folks opt for a fixed 3-week program, the Exchanges, a series of sensual, lighthearted activities for adults.
Intercourse is slower and more relaxed.
It worked best to begin intercourse in a position that did not allow for much movement. Even so, it was easy to escalate into familiar sex as we added intercourse to our nightly affection. My partner and I now make sure we put â€œsnuggle nightsâ€ in between â€œintercourse nights.â€ Snuggle nights are useful refresher courses for our nervous systems. Even a bit of cuddling provides relaxed satisfaction with no goal whatsoever. When we next have intercourse it is easier to stay in the tranquil mindset ideal for Karezza.
As far as intercourse, we move far more slowly than we did during conventional sex. In addition, we fall into total stillness frequently while making love. Some of the most gratifying and profound experiences occur when not moving. As a result, our lovemaking goes in waves, somewhat like breathing. Erections also come and goâ€”and arise again when we start kissing after a pause.
We kiss and gaze into each other’s eyes. We also let each other know how loved we feel with wordless sounds of pleasure and reverent, or playful, touch. Sometimes we make a conscious effort to diffuse the sexual energy from our genitals throughout our bodies by tightening the muscles of our pelvic floor and breathing the energy up. When we close our eyes, we often see flashing lights in the 3rd-eye region of the forehead.
We make love in very comfortable positions, where our weight is supported with a minimum of tension. Side-lying position, with my legs wrapped around him, is a favorite. We also sometimes fall asleep connected, which makes waking up especially enjoyable. Because we never â€œfinish.â€ A flirty energy continues to flow outside the bedroom, which staves off habituation.
Done properly, Karezza relieves sexual tension.
If you can’t resolve your sexual tension in a relationship, you are keenly motivated to add a lover on the side, or move on to a relationship where you can resolve itâ€”at least temporarily. Sadly, the harder you try to resolve your frustration through better or more frequent orgasm with any partner, the more you trigger the sexual satiety that can push mates apart. You are programmed to be unable to find lasting sexual satisfaction with a mate by having more orgasms, because you have evolved to see a partner with whom you exhaust your sexual desire as less and less rewarding over time.
With Karezza you ease your sexual tension without resorting to orgasm. Karezza leads to complete dissipation of congestion, complete discharge of nervous surplus, complete relief from sexual tension, and more complete satisfaction than orgasm. Orgasmic sex tends to create local congestion and must find relief in orgasm, or create distress.
Using Karezza’s gentle intercourse, one can make love for as long as need be until any sexual tension melts away entirelyâ€”as long as one doesn’t fall back into hungry behavior, or begin fighting by going close to the edge of orgasm. During lovemaking, the emphasis is on stillness and heart-centered feelings. If the energy begins to build into goal-oriented sensations, we simply relax back into stillness.
The feelings during these quiet periods can be especially profound, as if we have entered a timeless cocoon of delighted contentment.
I experience a â€œsoul orgasm.â€ It’s not connected to reproductive sex in any way. It can be produced even without sex, although sex is a great way to produce it. As we gently make love, I imagine us both in a glowing ball of light. It’s as if our spirits have merged. For hours after this kind of sex session, if I think of my wife, the feeling of deep love refills me, just as if I were back in bed having sex. â€”Derrick
Flirting with â€œthe edgeâ€ can increase frustration, even if no one climaxes. Frustration equates with high dopamine, and whendopamine goes too high it can lead to tension, resentment, and subsequent cravings. Going too close to orgasm can also build congestion in the genitals, which may cause sharp pains. If you are fighting yourself, you are going too close to orgasm. If you are male, you are also putting unhealthy stress on your prostate gland. Relax!
Karezza is effortless.
I just couldn’t believe how effortless Karezza was. This man described it perfectly:
For years I’d been doing Taoist-style sex with my wife with great resultsâ€”using exercises, lovemaking techniques, and energy visualizations. But I decided to set it aside temporarily to learn more about Karezza. The first thing I noticed was that Karezza got the same results as my old Taoist practices. But Karezza required no specialized energy work. All I did was to remain nearly still while engaged in sex and breathed slow, deep breaths. I did nothing else. Anyone could do Karezza.
I soon started to sense another feeling that I didn’t recognize…a deep, satisfying feeling…it was the oxytocin, the cuddle hormone. For me, it’s like peace and love all mixed up together…a sensation of being totally in love with life. â€”Serge
Karezza works because bonding behaviors work. In fact, Karezza is a delicious, intimate, soothing bonding behavior. There is nothing mysterious about this, even though its effectiveness in relieving sexual tension may strike you as remarkable after you master it.
A warm glow arose in the area between our navels and pubic hairline that just demanded that we lie there together motionless to feel the gentle warmth it was radiating. This went on for about 30 â€œtimelessâ€ minutes. Then slowly we inched toward nuzzling in the genital area. Very slowly we got to having intercourse sideways and it was amazing…lots of wetness to make it easy, and lots of control so no frenzy by either. We were both amazed and so loving in the stillness. It is a truly incredible experience. J. is delighted and feels so pleased that he didn’t feel the need to come, which has been a huge concern for him. It was such a powerful, loving experience. â€”Diane
Sometimes Karezza is just gentle intercourse that leaves us refreshed and more balanced. Sometimes it’s an amazing, heart-opening experience for which we can hardly find words. The outcome is not in our control. All we can do is keep our biologically driven habits out of the way, and enjoy what bubbles up. Striving is counterproductive. We focus on comforting each other, not fanning sexual hunger.
Karezza, with its emphasis on generous, non-goal-oriented affection, relies heavily on activating the body’s relaxation response. In contrast, ejaculatory sex is a function of the fight-or-flight (sympathetic nervous system) response. Regular sex is an athletic exercise. Your heart rate increases; you perspire. It’s like any other goal-directed activity, particularly when your survival is at stake. Indeed, biologically driven sex is exactly that. You are in performance mode, doing what needs to be done to survive (through passing on your genes).
The body â€œreadsâ€ bonding behaviors (like Karezza) as signals for feeling safe and getting closer. In contrast, it may not â€œreadâ€ performance-oriented lovemaking as a bonding signal, but rather as something more akin to a fight-or-flight activity. This powerful drive produces orgasms, but not necessarily profound feelings of safety or a desire to remain close.
Karezza’s effects are subtle and cumulative.
Karezza can be a bit like watching paint dry at first…with the added joys of a companion and an increasing sense of well-being. It does not produce rapid, obvious results as a new foreplay technique might. Instead its effects are cumulative. We needed several weeks of pleasant, but patient, consistency to see why we had made the effort to try it. During that time, we experienced a growing sense of empowerment, optimism, and connectedness with others. We felt as if we were â€œin the flow.â€ Yet these changes seemed so natural (and well-deserved), that it was easy to miss the link between cause and effect.
The Karezza way doesn’t require climax by either man or woman, since it emphasizes intimacy, harmony, and unity. It also takes a lot of practice to make it work right, and the couple wishing to practice Karezza should be patient. It takes time to harmonize energy fields, emotions, rhythms, and responses between two persons. Expect to practice at least a dozen times before you begin to see increasingly delightful results. â€”Bernard Jensen, MD
Karezza is a return to equilibrium. For some that may mean a few uncharacteristic naps, for others it will mean a welcome increase in libido. Either way, Karezza is not an attempt to recreate the intensity of honeymoon neurochemistry. The energy it produces is not â€œedgy,â€ but rather â€œlighthearted.â€ Indeed, it feels more like two dolphins frolicking…with or without clothes. We laugh a lot, to find the right times to make love, and to enjoy hugging or touching each other at other times.
Try Karezza for at least 3 weeks in order to compare the benefits with conventional sex. Otherwise, you may not taste what life is like beyond the ups & downs of the post-orgasmic passion cycle.
We often learn the most about Karezza from our inadvertent departures from it. We never â€œgo forâ€ orgasm, but it happens occasionally. It’s the perfect reminder of why we stick with this practice. During the two weeks after an orgasm, we notice a temporary dimming of good feelings, and we are always delighted when, like clockwork, we come back into sync at the end of the cycle.
You may believe that you will feel more frustrated the longer you avoid orgasm. Yet if you experiment with Karezza, using lots of generous affection, you are likely to find that this is not true.
I have experienced great feelings of well-being after non-orgasmic sex over long periods of time. The contact with the person becomes the orgasm, the sexual contact becomes the orgasm, and then there is no need for orgasm. â€”Ben
In our experience, there was little inner conflict while learning Karezza, as long we took a gradual approach and remembered to wallow luxuriantly in the soothing pleasures of touch and connection. As Karezza lovers, we grow more balanced, more sensitive to every pleasurable nuance. Certainly, we do more giggling and enjoy more harmony.
Mostly, Karezza says to put each other first. As Bernard Jensen said in Love Sex & Nutrition, â€œTo attain the most exalted state of happiness and fulfillment, it is necessary to help someone else get there, too.â€