Review: Mindful Masturbation for Men -- DVD

by Bruce P. Grether

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Also on this website:

Toby Johnson's books:

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness

GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe

SECRET MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edition from Lethe Press with Afterword by Mark Jordan

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE: A romance novel set in the 1980s and the 1890s.

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil

TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams

CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story


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Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

  Articles and Excerpts:

Read Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

Why gay people should NOT Marry

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

Second March on Washington

A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

 The cause of homosexuality

The origins of homophobia

Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness

What is homosexuality?

What is Gay Spirituality?

My three messages

What Jesus said about Gay Rights

Queering religion

Common Experiences Unique to Gay Men

Is there a "uniquely gay perspective"?

The purpose of homosexuality

The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter

The Gay Succession

Interview on the Nature of Homosexuality

What the Bible Says about Homosexuality

Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men

Varieties of Gay Spirituality

Waves of Gay Liberation Activity

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Easton Mountain Retreat Center

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism

The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the  "Statement of Spirituality"

"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.

You're Not A Wave

Joseph Campbell Talks about Aging

What is Enlightenment?

What is reincarnation?

How many lifetimes in an ego?

Emptiness & Religious Ideas

Experiencing experiencing experiencing

Going into the Light

Meditations for a Funeral

Meditation Practice

The way to get to heaven

Buddha's father was right

Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant

The Two Loves

Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Nature of Religion

What's true about Religion

Being Gay is a Blessing

Drawing Long Straws

Freedom of Religion

The Gay Agenda

Gay Saintliness

Gay Spiritual Functions

The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.

The Sinfulness of Homosexuality

Proposal for a study of gay nondualism

Priestly Sexuality

 "The Evolution of Gay Identity"

"St. John of the Cross &
the Dark Night of the Soul."

 Eckhart's Eye

Let Me Tell You a Secret

Religious Articulations of the Secret

The Collective Unconscious

Driving as Spiritual Practice


Historicity as Myth


No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

The Hero's Journey as archetype

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Teenage Prostitution and the Nature of Evil

Allah Hu: "God is present here"
Adam and Steve

The Life is in the Blood

Gay retirement and the "freelance monastery"

Seeing with Different Eyes

The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis

The Techniques Of The World Saviors

Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby
Part 2:
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Part 3:
Jesus and the Resurrection
Part 4:
A Course in Miracles

The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

About Alien Abduction

What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?

The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

Kip and Toby, Activists

Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.

Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement

About Hay and The New Myth

About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to really "come out"

About Michael Talbot, gay mystic

About Fr. Bernard Lynch

About Richard Baltzell

About Guy Mannheimer

About David Weyrauch

About Dennis Paddie

About Ask the Fire

About Arthur Evans

About Christopher Larkin

About Sterling Houston

About Michael Stevens

Our friend Tom Nash

Book Reviews

Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook

Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer

The Way Out by Christopher L  Nutter
The Gay Disciple by John Henson

Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry

Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr

Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois

Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson

Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low

Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman

The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman

Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor

Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine

The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada

The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook

The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther

The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel

Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak

Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez

Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr

Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman

Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano

The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo

The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar

Occamís Razor by David Duncan

Grace and Demion by Mel White

Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso

The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery

The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass

Love Together: Longtime Male Couples on Healthy Intimacy and Communication by Tim Clausen

War Between Materialism and Spiritual by Jean-Michel Bitar

The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion by Jeffrey J. Kripal

Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion
by Jeffrey J. Kripal

The Invitation to Love by Darren Pierre

Brain, Consciousness, and God: A Lonerganian Integration by Daniel A Helminiak

A Walk with Four Spiritual Guides by Andrew Harvey

Can Christians Be Saved? by Stephenson & Rhodes

The Lost Secrets of the Ancient Mystery Schools by Stephenson & Rhodes

Keys to Spiritual Being by Adrian Ravarour

In Walt We Trust by John Marsh

Solomon's Tantric Song by Rollan McCleary

A Special Illumination by Rollan McCleary

Aelred's Sin by Lawrence Scott

Fruit Basket by Payam Ghassemlou

Internal Landscapes by John Ollom

Princes & Pumpkins by David Hatfield Sparks

Blood of the Goddess by William Schindler

Sanctity & Male Desire by Donald Boisvert

Roads of Excess, Palaces of Wisdom by Jeffrey Kripal

Evolving Dharma by Jay Michaelson

Jesus in Salome's Lot by Brett W. Gillette

The Man Who Loved Birds by Fenton Johnson

The Vatican Murders by Lucien Gregoire

"Sex Camp" by Brian McNaught

Out & About with Brewer & Berg
Episode One: Searching for a New Mythology

The Soul Beneath the Skin by David Nimmons

Out on Holy Ground by Donald Boisvert

The Revolutionary Psychology of Gay-Centeredness by Mitch Walker

Out There by Perry Brass

The Crucifixion of Hyacinth by Geoff Puterbaugh

The Silence of Sodom by Mark D Jordan

It's Never About What It's About by Krandall Kraus and Paul Borja

ReCREATIONS, edited by Catherine Lake

Gospel: A Novel by WIlton Barnhard

Keeping Faith: A Skepticís Journey by Fenton Johnson

Dating the Greek Gods by Brad Gooch

Telling Truths in Church by Mark D. Jordan

The Substance of God by Perry Brass

The Tomcat Chronicles by Jack Nichols

10 Smart Things Gay Men Can Do to Improve Their Lives by Joe Kort

Jesus and the Shamanic Tradition of Same Sex Love by Will Roscoe

The Third Appearance by Walter Starcke

The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann

Surviving and Thriving After a Life-Threatening Diagnosis by Bev Hall

Men, Homosexuality, and the Gods by Ronald Long

Queering Creole Spiritual Traditions by Randy Conner & David Sparks

An Interview with Randy Conner

Pain, Sex and Time by Gerald Heard

Sex and the Sacred by Daniel Helminiak

Blessing Same-Sex Unions by Mark Jordan

Rising Up by Joe Perez

That Undeniable Longing by Mark Tedesco

Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman

Wisdom for the Soul by Larry Chang

Soulfully Gay by Joe Perez

MM4M a DVD by Bruce Grether

Scissors, Paper, Rock by Fenton Johnson

 Eternity in an Hour

Mindful Masturbation for Men

by Bruce P. Grether

DVD video, 100 minutes, 2004

Available from the author's Erotic Engineering site

5 stars

This review appeared in White Crane Journal 64, Spring 2005

Bruce Grether is an erotic spirituality activist of the first water. Under a pseudonym, heís been authoring an Internet column at JackinWorld aimed primarily to assist teenagers and young men in developing positive and healthy attitudes toward sexuality and self-pleasuring. Through a couple of generations of yahoo groups, some targeted to gay men, but mostly to males in general, heís worked to educate men about the deeper layers of sexual arousal and the greater possibilities for pleasure available in conscious masturbation practice. Over nearly ten years, he has been developing a practice which he calls, Buddhistically, mindful masturbation. The fruit of that practice is the DVD Mindful Masturbation for Men.

    Treating self-pleasuring as a kind of spiritual practice with rituals, rubrics and techniques, Grether contends, can make it a source of profound self-awareness, personal growth, and training in joy, acceptance, and surrender to lifeóas well as of intense bodily pleasure.

    With a little help from his friend, and fellow pleasure-activist  Joseph Kramer (creator of the Body Electric training and now director of EroSpirit Research Institute and educational DVD/videotape producer), Grether has created this DVD training on mindful masturbation and self-pleasuring techniques. Mindful Masturbation for Men presents an hour and a half of Grether, in apparently one long, uninterrupted session, talking about and unself-consciously demonstrating a rich variety of masturbatory techniques.

    Most males, of course, know how to bring themselves to orgasm without any training at all. This is something we discover as teenagers, usually without help from any more competent male (and if we had such help from another male, at least for gay men, that would have changed the character of the moment dramatically). We all think we know how to do this. Graduates of Kramerís Body Electric and its offshoots or parallel Tantric trainings know better. There are levels of alteration of consciousness through sexuality that boys just donít discover jerking off in the bathroom and that grown men, repeating those boyhood practices no matter how many times, just donít learn without conscious effort.

    The first couple of sequences on Gretherís DVD are reminders of what we should have all learned: that masturbation is normal, neednít be secretive (though is ďprivateĒ), and shouldnít be guilt-ridden or neurotically-driven. Grether adds what only an outside trainer would know to mention: that for maximum pleasure, masturbation ought not be rushed or forced; muscles should be relaxed, not clenched; movement and self-massage spread the arousal beyond the genitals throughout the rest of the body; conscious arousal can connect heart and genitals; reliance on porn and even interior fantasy can detract from feeling the pleasure; orgasm and ejaculation neednít be achieved every time and, certainly, shouldnít be pressured (even alone a man can be a victim of his own performance anxiety!).

    Many readers of this review are likely to think they know this stuff already. And they might! Nonetheless, Iíd bet, thereís something to learn even in hearing the obvious, if only because the articulation of it itself changes the feeling-tone of whatís always been just kept pre-conscious and automatic.

    What even those readers will likely benefit from comes in the middle and ending sequences. Grether explains and demonstrates breathing patterns as well as a wide variety of alternative strokes and techniques for self-play. You may think you know them all, but I bet youíll be surprisedóand pleased to learn. And he suggests a couple of ways of concluding the masturbation session beyond the usual of ejaculation: the big draw and the slow draw. (Especially if you have not done the Body Electric or similar, you will need education in these regards.)

    In the same way that reviewing a novel entails discussing the authorís writing style and word use, reviewing a video on masturbation entails commenting on the performerís character and body. These seem so personal.

    Bruce Grether is a tall fellow, hippie-vegetarian thin, with a goatee and wire-rim glasses. He looks a little like a Victorian naturalist or early psychoanalyst from a Merchant-Ivory costume dramaóexcept, of course, without the costume. For a porn-obsessed gay male audience, he lacks a little in the hottie department. But thatís part of the message: sexual arousal isnít caused by other (hot!) bodies you look at, but by your interior awareness of your own bodily energy. Too often the hotties in the gay mags and movies look unattainably beautiful and impossibly unrealistic. Thereís something refreshing and anxiety-soothing in Gretherís plain and wholesome looks: heís one of us and we can be like him. He makes a good teacher, whose own personal stuff doesnít get in the way of the message. Besides, this DVD is targeted beyond the openly gay male audience. For non-gay males, Gretherís professorial look and regular physique doesnít confuse the message with homosexually threatening sexual excitement.

    Thereís a sweetness and spiritual sensitivity and innocence to Bruce Gretherís personality that allays deep-seated anxieties about self-pleasuring and demonstrates the enlightenment and personal growth that can potentially come from mindful masturbation. His bold matter-of-fact nudity and openness with his own body shows you donít have to be an unattainable hottie to experience the benefits of sexual arousal training. Buy this DVD not to jack off to Grether, but with him.

    Itís not hyperbole to say that if all males had the opportunity to see and practice this DVD training, the world would be a radically different place. This is about how to cultivate heaven on earth. If youíll excuse the pun in this reference to familiar words of William Blakeís, this really is about finding infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.

Reviewed by Toby Johnson, author of Gay Spirituality: Gay Identity and the Transformation of Human Consciousness, The Myth of the Great Secret: An Appreciation of Joseph Campbell and other novels and books


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Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, three gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.

Johnson's Lammy Award winning book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated book  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are available now from Lethe Press.

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