DIAL – A Day In A LIfe – Diana Richarson – Relationship Expert and Leading Authority on Human Sexuality
Day In A Life
Diana Richardson is one of today’s leading authorities on human sexuality. She’s the best-selling author of 8 books on how in practical ways a person can experience a more fulfilling sex and love life.
Born in South Africa in 1954, she first qualified as a lawyer (B.A.LLB) (Univ. of Natal, Durban), and then she trained as a holistic massage therapist (ITEC) in the UK. Her interest in the body and healing prompted an intense personal exploration into the union of sex and meditation – one of the aspects of Tantra.
Since 1993, together with her partner, Michael, she has been sharing her insights and experiences with couples who travel from many different parts of the world to participate in their informative and life changing “Making Love Retreats”. Diana and Michael are based in Switzerland.
I caught up with Diana to talk about what makes her ideal day (hint lots of sex), changing the perceptions of what conventional culture feeds into us and how couples should take the time for themselves for a longer and more fulfilling relationship.
In our conversation there is an openness to discussion and Diana makes you feel instantly comfortable on a subject matter that many people would find uncomfortable. A fascinating human being who is changing the way we think about sex, one bedroom at a time.
Here is her Ted Talk on the Power of Mindful Sex. I’d highly recommend you watch this before continuing.
Q. Thank you for chatting with us and I guess a good place to start is how do you like to start your day?
In an ideal day. Coffee is essential, after a glass of water. Basically, I like to start the day making love but an ideal day for me would be to make love for the whole day. In the sense that you devote that entire day to being in bed.
I’d start my day with some kind of body movement or exercise. It could be Yoga or just a dance, breathing exercises, Tai Chi or I very much like the 5 Tibetan Rites.
We’ve become a stagnant society, as in we sit here and then we sit there. We don’t move so much. It’s good to engage with your own body first, if you are planning to make love. Then you contribute some aliveness to the situation.
A perfect start would be to have coffee, make love for a couple of hours, grab a little breakfast, and then go for a little walk, come back and make love, go for another walk or grab a snack and then make love again. It probably sounds like – how can you manage that? But it’s really to do with the ‘how’ of the sex.
The style that I’m involved in practising and teaching is a cooler style. It’s not about getting hot, building up intensity, excitement and coming. This easily results in a loss of energy and sense of disconnection afterwards – from yourself and also from your lover. But if you make love in a cooler way, and don’t finish off with a peak, then you can maintain that vitality and the next time you go to bed, you are able to engage that little bit deeper.
Generally, the longer you get to spend in bed the more you get inwardly connected to your body, you become more flowing and spontaneous. We have lost a lot of spontaneity, this has to do with our minds, our ideas and expectations about sex. Our thoughts dominate us, and impact what we think that we have to do so that the sex is ‘good’.
I recommend that couples consciously create time and space for one another. That means no telephones, and if you have children then arrange for somebody to look after them, so that you don’t have to be concerned.
I’ve worked with couples for more than 25 years and often it’s parents/couples coming, who have devoted many years of their lives to their children, and they have simply lost contact with each other. It’s a huge responsibility to look after children. So parents tend to sacrifice themselves for their children taking them to activities, parties etc. and they end up not spending any time together – as a couple. And when yes, they are probably talking about the children, rather than being intimate with each other.
Ultimately what children are longing for the most is to feel the vibration of love between the parents and when this happens, something relaxes within them. But if they feel the parents aren’t really connected, maybe even snappy with each other, this can make the kids nervous, unsettled and demanding.
It is so important to put time aside for yourselves as a couple, and this implies arranging someone to look after the children.
Q. And how often would you recommend parents do this?
Well if we are talking about a whole day together then it really depends on the situation, setting aside once or twice a month is good. When a couple learns a cooler type of sex then really, we recommend as often as possible. Whether that is once a day, every other day or 3 times a week. You’re then not switching on and off, there is a continuum.
It does require another perspective on sex because our whole society is heavily imprinted with the idea that sex is this intense and explosive style. But this hot type of sex has a short life span and tends to eventually burn out. So, we need to change our minds about sex, allow our bodies to have the say, instead of our ideas.
Honestly when people have the courage, intelligence or curiosity to just try something else, it brings a qualitive change into their lives and impacts the environment around them.
The thing with hot sex, very exciting sex is that it tends to compress our body energies. We get very tense, build up to a pleasurable peak and release, but this level of satisfaction is very short lived.
Whereas when we cool down our body energy expands. That’s what we are longing for even in our hot experiences. This feeling of going beyond yourself, that you are part of something greater than yourself. A sense of merging, melting and belonging. So really the hot style compresses and localises everything, while the cool style relaxes your body and the inner sensations expand.
I’ve been talking about sex for close to 30 years and it is always the same. The message doesn’t change – in the sense that it is so valuable for a person’s life to change the sexual perspective.
I have seen amazing shifts in couples who have attended our workshops. They are more relaxed in themselves. For example, men in a conventional sense feel tremendous pressure to perform. Even though they are not conscious of it but it’s ruling their minds and what they do, so there is a disconnect between the body and the genitals
Q. How would you describe the difference between hot and cool sex?
Hot sex is very much about the stimulation and excitement and building that up. Cool sex is more about being more sensual, softer, a little excitement is good, but you relax into it. You then have a little excitement and then you relax, rather than building and building up to a peak.
This requires mindfulness which is the modern word. I use the word awareness. You need to keep monitoring your body and sexual temperature. Just keep softening, relaxing and widening then the good feelings in the body will start to amplify.
In conventional sex we very much have a goal and want an outcome – the peak – but in cool sex you don’t have that goal. Afterwards, if you haven’t dispersed that sexual or life energy, you feel more connected with yourself, your partner – more love for your partner. This is what children sense.
People are always asking me what my 10 best tips and I are – but it is not about what you do, but how you do it. Essentially how we are in sex is usually quite mechanical and unconscious in the sense that we are following patterns and routines which become automatic.
To change the style requires a lot more body awareness. Anchoring attention in your own body, scanning your body, softening tensions, breathing deep and slow, using eye contact as a way of communicating and using words to say “I feel this”, “I feel that”. This helps people to be more present because then we are usually working towards creating a sexual peak, we are kind of absent, even if we are a few seconds ahead of ourselves. So, having this goal, it’s really hard to be anchored and present in the body
Q. What other things would you do throughout that day that is also good for your wellbeing?
Actually, sex in the cool style does infinite good for your wellbeing and mental state but I love to work in the garden. Hands in the earth, weeding, picking up branches, making fire. It really depends how much leisure time you have. I love to watch a few Netflix movies every now and then too.
There’s so much stress in peoples lives today that we do need to do things that are nourishing to the body, being and love. The simplest thing is to change the sexual style or explore the way you make love. A tremendous amount of growth happens when you go through deconstructing sexual ideas.
When I first started, I had no idea that I’d be talking about sex constantly. But through my own experimentation in my early 30s it just kind of snowballed because it was just so fascinating to discover how different I felt by changing a few elements in my genital area. I just felt so much more embodied, relaxed and healthy. Also, my relationships with other people got more healthy, as there was not so much projection. For example, the way I saw women, there were no more competitors, we were sisters. You see a man and your eyes like him but underneath he might be a banana under that skin! So with men rather than the looks, my way forward has been to sass out if a man is able to tune into subtle energies while hugging.
Through my own experiences I came to understand sex on a wider level. In that sense the fact that I’m talking about it for so many years now, plus having a tremendous response to my books and courses has served as a validation of the value of changing the sexual approach.
Q. Have you always found sex an easy subject to talk about?
By changing the way I personally made love and understanding myself better made it possible. Before I went into the sexual exploration side of things, I was very much involved in the body such as therapeutic massage, deep tissue work so I had a fluency and was easy with the body and could talk about the body. So, when it came to the genital aspect, I also found it very easy to talk about.
It became easier to talk about once I’d deconstructed the myths and understandings around sex.
Q. How did you come to discover this journey?
Well 2 masters actually, one from India called Osho who in the mid 70s was talking a lot about what is called Tantra and it’s an ancient tradition from India. Tantra means an expansion of energy or consciousness.
There was also Barry Long from Australia in the early 80s. He had 2 audio cassettes (quips “I don’t know what to get them in now!”) called Making Love, these were ground-breaking, and he really talked about the genital connection.
Then through trial and error, observation and awareness after several years things really became clear to me. And then people used to come to me to ask me advice about their sexual relationships. That’s when I found out oh wow! I can talk about this. That’s when I wrote my first book the Heart of Tantric Sex . That was to see if I could convey in words the experience and transport it to people through words.
Q. Did you have ideas of other professions before when you were younger?
Well I wanted to be a farmer, and then growing up in South Africa I trained to be a lawyer. My motivation for that was because of the apartheid and tremendous injustice at the time. I spent 6 years training in law, went into the courts and soon realised this was not me. There was nothing I could do, as an individual. However, while I was studying law, I got hold of a book and started to learn massage and started massaging people. This made me so happy, so I continued with massage.
I then came to the UK and worked in different clinics and got training in massage and so my path has always been based around following my passions. This whole sex thing definitely evolved, I never had goals. Even today there are no goals except to do what I do, not realising that in the meantime I there are 8 books and lots of people participating in the courses, for me I just put one little toe in front of the other.
I find that if people come with too much ambition that can often not be helpful.
Q. Have you seen peoples disconnect amplified, especially in a digital age?
One thing as a humanity that we are not is that we are not embodied. We are not really inside our bodies. We use and drive our bodies, but we are not anchored on an inner level to our bodies, so I would say generally there is a disconnect. But certainly, this digital age is taking things to a real extreme. Everybody is up and out and looking at their phone.
Q. Where would you recommend somebody to start their journey?
To have some information is really helpful. The first book I wrote The Heart of Tantric Sex (also in audio by Tantor Media) that is really a great way to start. You don’t have to read it cover to cover. You can just pick a chapter and slowly incorporate things.
There’s also the Making Love series from Barry Long and for younger people right now I’m involved a new book called Cool Sex, which is angled for a younger audience. It’s due to be published in the UK in 2020 by O-Books. It was published in German 4 years ago, and last year in French. Now it’s happening in English!
Some years ago, I also did a film called Slow Sex, which gives an overview, and it’s intentionally made so that there is no age restriction.
It is very helpful to get a bit of information because if you are coming with the idea of a standard sex style it really doesn’t make a lot of sense. To have sex like that every now and then is great, and it isn’t a no-no, but just to realise that we can also conserve our sexual energy.
Many people think that “oh, I must go to a course first before I can start” but I really say to people get the information and start it at home. If you want to come to a course then great, but eventually you’ll be doing this at home. So better to play a little in the field, then come to a retreat, and then it’ll make even more sense.
My courses get booked up way in advance so people will often say to me “I’ll be coming next year” but I often say what about today? (laughs)
Q. Having the knowledge that you now have. What would you do differently as a younger self?
I wouldn’t do anything differently in the sense that there was an innocence to my first relationships and I was totally in love. What made a difference is that in my generation we didn’t see sex before having sex. Everyone in the last few decades is seeing sex before having sex and this really affects the innocence and this natural instinctive intelligence that the body has.
Q. What made you want to write a book for a younger generation?
The sooner we can learn this the better, I sometimes have people in their 50s and 60s only just learning this and they say “Oh my God, if only I had known about this earlier”. And often after the retreats I often get parents saying to me “What can we do about our children because we don’t want to wait for them to be in their 50s or 60s before they hear this”.
Young people tend to be more fluid, although things are getting more solidly embedded with pornography and the internet. Their body is more fluid, their psyche is more fluid and generally they are more open and receptive.
The older you get the more identified you get, especially with sex. You think this is me, so sometimes people aren’t as flexible. Its’s like the older we get the more difficult it is to learn or rather un-learn. I’ve always wanted to do something for young people, it’s the best place to start, but it just hasn’t happened until now.
There’s a complete gap in our schools in sex education and most likely what is offered is not necessarily of the helpful variety. I think now that there is this whole pornography and internet story, it’s become more urgent. Nobody really talks about sex, that’s pretty classic, but everybody thinks about sex so everyone carries similar thoughts but at the same time feel isolated.
I think if you can sort out your sexual situation in your relationships then you are really looking at a different life in the sense that love is more in your hands. Sex is not just getting swept up into something that is very superficial. The thing with conventional style is that you keep wanting the same thing. Whereas when you change your style of sex every time is different and it’s interesting. Sometimes something happens and sometimes nothing happens. It’s not about any outcome, it’s about connecting with yourself, your partner, and feeling good.
It’s incredible the health benefits. Generally speaking the immune system improves. People come to my group sometimes with chronic pain, hips, knees etc. These start to improve within a few days because with more attention and nourishment inside the body. People find they’re more creative, they have more clarity.
If you want to find out more about Diana’s books and workshop then please visit her website below.
Diana Richardson: www.livinglove.com
Cool Sex: An essential next generation guide to loving fulfilling Sex. For young adults.
Will be out Early 2020.
O-Books, UK. 2020
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