At our recent introductory tantra day, we spent the afternoon exploring the Wheel of Consent. It’s derived from the Three Minute Game, developed by Betty Martin.

In this game, you ask your partner “How would you like me to touch you?” .Your partner says, for example “I’d like you to stroke my face”, and if you’re ok with that, away you go. You’re not responsible for your partner’s pleasure. You just have to give attention to what you’re doing. If she doesn’t like it, she has to give you a specific instruction: “Not so hard” ,” Slower” or whatever. If either of you don’t actively want to continue, you just stop.

That goes on for three minutes, or whatever time you agree.

Next, you swap it around, and say to your partner “How would you like to touch me?”. The partner says, for example, “I’d like to stroke your belly”. You may not feel an active yes to this, and so your partner asks for something else. This time you do feel a yes, and off you both go. As receiver, you don’t have to please the giver. You don’t need to say how good the touch is, or how they’re the best ever, or any similar fluffing, you can just be with your own experience.

That’s it. But the implications are enormous, and Betty and her followers are continually teasing them out.

The first one is give/receive. The person who asks for what they want is receiver. The other person is the giver.

The second one is take/allow. The person doing the touching is the taker. The person being touched is the allower. Betty says that taking is the foundation of everything, but people often find it very problematic. Frequently they will use words like using, selfish, callous, uncaring: but the point is, everything is consensual. That’s why it’s called the wheel of CONSENT.

But when you actually look at people’s behavior as takers, it isn’t like that at all. It’s often curious, sometimes playful, sometimes tender. We think badly of it because we have a problem with desire. But that’s a big problem, because desire is the foundation of everything.

So far, so standard. But I’d like to introduce a further distinction, which I hope can be a clarifier: the difference between Yang touch and Yin touch.

Yang touch is where we want to create an effect. It’s direct. It’s willed. I may have some fixed idea how you, as a woman, would like to have her clitoris touched. So off I go. And you may notice something amiss, because I’m not meeting you where you are. And here’s the funny thing: I tend, as Mr Yang, to want appreciation. I want you to tell me it’s the best ever, and I’m likely to get offended if you’re quiet.

Yin touch isn’t like that. I’m just meeting you where you are. I’m not trying to take you anywhere. It’s an open hearted dialogue of touch between us. And it can go anywhere, and wherever it goes, that’s fine.

Do you see how Yin touch maps onto Betty’s categories? When I’m the taker, I don’t have to give a command performance with a standing ovation at the end. When I’m the receiver, I don’t have to go all when harry met sally.

Isn’t that obviously better? Clearer? Cleaner?

When I work with clients, I almost exclusively use Yin touch. And what I notice is that once the body can feel it’s not being used for someone else’s firework display, it can relax. And once it relaxes, it can go anywhere. The body at first is like a surface. Then it’s like a landscape. Then it’s a landscape with hidden portals to other worlds. It is literally miraculous. And it’s because the body – neither body – is the prisoner of the mind.