The Karezza Method
Despite being a sexual practice that goes back centuries — and is somewhat akin to Tantra, Taoism, and similar practices — it's only been since the early 20th Century that the term Karezza Method has entered our vernacular.
What is the Karezza Method?
The word "Karezza" is actually a play on the Italian translation for "caress," except in Italian, the word is spelled "carezza." But the twist on the spelling aside, as the word suggests, Karezza is a sexual practice that focuses on caressing, deepening emotional and sexual connections, and creating ultimate intimacy. In other words, orgasms aren't a priority.
Where did Karezza originate?
Although people have been practicing delaying orgasms or not having any orgasms at all since the dawn of humankind, it didn't come into modern practice until OB/GYN Alice Bunker Stockham's 1986 book entitled Karezza: The Ethics of Marriage. It was also then that the spelling of "Karezza" as opposed to "carezza" was coined by Stockham.
In her book, Stockham explained that the practice of Karezza could be a means of birth control, as she fully believed women should have the right to decide when they wanted to get pregnant. Stockham also hoped it would prevent men who practiced Karezza from raping their wives, promoting gender equality in sexual realms, and, last but far from least, she saw Karezza as a cure for marriages that were in jeopardy. Stockham fully believed that Karezza men — those who refrained from ejaculation — could make for better partners and, in turn, create healthier and happier relationships. Women, on the other hand, were free to orgasm. However, Stockham's theory eventually encouraged women also to control their orgasms.
Despite Stockham's efforts, the Karezza Method never gained the popularity she had hoped until recently. Trying to pinpoint exactly the one person — or a handful of people — who have brought Karezza back into sexual discussions is hard to say. But, according to Google, there's been a +494% increase in searches for the Karezza Method in the United States within the last three months alone and articles about it have been found on Goop, Vogue, Refinery29, and many other sites. Perhaps, the new interest stems from coming out the other side of COVID and wanting to slow down and experience sexual acts on a deeper and more spiritual level. Or maybe it's because people are looking for a change, as well as a challenge, and Karezza, also known as coitus reservatus, is the challenge that people want to try.
What are the benefits of Karezza?
When it comes to the benefits of the Karezza Method, they extend past prolonged, slow affectionate sex and offer experiences that may not have ever crossed your mind.
1. It gives you the opportunity to see beyond orgasms.
Because Karezza is about providing and receiving pleasure from the whole body, as opposed to just the genitals, it gives couples a chance to focus on the journey of sex instead of the orgasm. While this isn't to suggest that orgasms can't be amazing, they're far from the only component when it comes to sex. When orgasms are put on the back burner, full-body exploration comes into play and people can understand their sexuality in new and unique ways. For example, you may realize erogenous zones that you didn't even know existed until you subtracted internal orgasms and intercourse from the equation. Sensations, and feeling them deeply and wholly, are what Karezza promotes.
2. It creates more mindful sex.
We hear a lot about being mindful in our daily lives and its impact on not just ourselves, but how we interact with people. In practicing Karezza, you're also practicing mindful sex in which you are fully present and serenely aware, and the complications and drama of the day-to-day just melt away. Your complete body and whole mind are in the experience being had without any distractions or overthinking, allowing sex to be prolonged and triggering the release of oxytocin — the love hormone — over and over again. Karezza creates a completely present experience for both partners that relies more on affection and touching than anything else.
3. It brings sex and spirituality together.
As J. William Lloyd wrote in 1931 regarding sex and the soul when it comes to the Karezza Method,
"Sex is very close to (the) soul. Whoso touches sex touches the secrets and centers of life. This is the Mid-Spot, the Origin, the Crux, the Mystery. In sex the soul is naked. At the contacts of sex, the soul trembles, quivers, is shaken to its midmost. The voice of sex, in its power, is as the voice of God — the most imperious and certain-to-be-obeyed call known in Nature or to man. Sex, soul, religion, morality, are not to be separated. They belong together."
For those who live a religious or spiritual life, and even those who don't, when practicing Karezza, everyone is bound to feel a level of enlightenment and transcendence that can't be achieved by traditional sex.
4. It can be enjoyed by anyone.
For those who have disabilities or who struggle with pain during intercourse, Karezza opens up a whole new world. Without penetration and an emphasis on caressing and cuddling instead, Karezza can be enjoyed by anyone. There are no expectations beyond embrace with the Karezza Method because all sensations and sexuality are wrapped up in touch and long embraces.
5. It improves communication among couples.
Because Karezza is so unlike traditional sex, it requires more communication between partners. Not everyone enjoys the same sensations on the same parts of the body with the same amount of pressure, so that's just one example of a discussion that not only needs to be had but opens up the door to how couples can talk about sex and sexuality. Karezza is all about the intensity of touch and its impact on the people who are touching and being touched, so it requires being communicative with each other about these things. In doing so, a long-lasting bond is created between partners because openness and vulnerability pave the way for all-encompassing intimacy.
The Karezza Method for Beginners
If the Karezza Method sounds like something you and your partner might enjoy, a good place to start is at the very beginning. "If you are novices, choose a time when you can both be alone, unhurried, and free from interruptions," writes Lloyd. "Concentrate yourselves entirely on your love and joy and the blending of yourselves into one." Just remember, this isn't about orgasms, nor does it have to be about penetration either, so you need to se your mind on how these techniques affect you on a visceral level.
1. Find a sensual place in your home that sets the mood for Karezza.
2. Discuss what you both plan to bring to the scenario and hope to achieve it together.
3. Start to touch each other slowly while maintaining eye contact.
4. As you caress each body part, compliment it and explain why fou find it beautiful.
5. Focus on the sound of your partner's breathing and breathe in time with them.
6. Place your hand on their heart, feeling it beat, acknowledging their uniqueness.
7. Begin to caress your partner's body with your tongue and lips.
8. Massage them as a means to comfort them and put them at ease.
9. Hug or spoon your partner in a way that makes them feel safe and protected.
10. Softly moan to let your partner know you're experiencing pleasure from caressing them.
11. Get into a sexual position where your eyes can be locked — the lotus position is an optimal choice for this.
12. Gently caress your partner's penis or vagina, but with "your thoughts on love, not passion," according to Lloyd.
13. Don't rush it. Prolong it. Immerse yourself in it with the understanding that orgasm has no place here.
Final Word on the Karezza Technique
When you've completed your Karezza session, you should feel utterly at peace, as well as completely adored, loved, and appreciated. You should, as Lloyd wrote, feel like you're floating, like you're a child again, that you and your partner experienced something profound and celestial., and that you're far more connected than you were before you started. You should feel gratitude for each, for your bodies, and for your souls. It's a high that can exist long after Karezza has come to a close.
"This continues after parting, even for days, so that one walks in a heavenly dream, and where the embrace is often repeated, tends to become a fixed and continuous habit, resulting in the most ideal love," writes Lloyd. "Because of all this, it excels all other forces or influences as a beautifier. The faces of those who practice it tend to become exceedingly beautiful, on the spiritual plane especially; that is to say, it is the beauty of expression that is developed, rather than that of feature, though the features surely but more slowly follow, a serene, sweet light in the eye, a delicacy and refinement of line, a radiance and play of feature, a glad timbre in the voice, that vibrates an inexpressible magnetism and makes even the plainest personality fascinating."
And that, my friends, is the Karezza Method.