Self Pleasure is Self Love - Exercises and Techniques

At Man on the Couch, Steve offers Tantric Masturbation, Meditation and Stretching Exercises, Male Self Pleasuring Performance Practical Training, Sensual Accessories Training, Sensual Massage, Lingam (Cock) Edging, The Gloryhole, Prostate Massage, plus more! Please look at the whole range of sensual, sexual and tantric treatments and training here.  

If you’re like me, you likely grew up feeling like playing with yourself was wrong, or if not wrong, to be kept secret from your parents, friends, teachers, etc. As I continue to grow and work through the shame that I’ve carried, I am astounded at the countless inhibitory messages we have received about touching our own bodies—and how these messages show up in embodied ways. For example, unless you happen to consider yourself an exhibitionist, to be witnessed in your own self-pleasure, especially by someone like an intimate partner, can be a formidable challenge. You may notice that in order to get really aroused, you may need to be all by yourself, away from the eyes of anyone who might judge anything about you. For many of us, we have adapted as we could and continue to enjoy ourselves to varying degrees, a way to contact Eros, the yearning of our bodies toward spirit.

For others, self-pleasure is fraught with painful feelings and avoidance. You might harbor body shame or penis shame. Maybe you tell yourself, “I hate the way I look.” Maybe you don’t know how to enjoy just being with yourself outside the codified roles in the gay culture of bottom vs. top. Many avoid playing with themselves because when they do, they feel the inhibitory residue of what they’ve been through on the way to life in the present.

To be clear, any self-pleasure that leaves you feeling good about yourself is great, so I’m not suggesting that what you currently are (or aren’t) doing is bad—however you’re going about it. Maybe you love porn. Maybe you love being a bit sneaky. Maybe you feel pressure to get it over with as soon as possible, to “get it done” (I’ve heard guys say exactly that when it comes to playing with themselves). Wherever you are currently starting on your journey to deeper erotic self-awareness, just take note of your present attitudes, practices, and outcomes. And if you’re up for an experiment, consider the following suggestions.

What I believe intellectually, and in practice, is that self-pleasure is a foundation from which we can grow as lovers. How we touch ourselves, from technique to attitude, extends into how we generally feel about pleasure and worthiness. Furthermore, in shifting how we pleasure ourselves from unintentionally to intentionally, we can acquire and practice qualities that, in turn, affirm us: we can learn that pleasure is every bit as important as work, that in saying yes to our bodies, we are saying yes to the life force that moves us.

Consider self-pleasure as an expression of healthy self-entitlement to feeling good, and embracing a greater sense of worthiness to be here on this planet. Here is a pretty basic self-pleasure protocol to get you started. After experimenting with how you show up in this practice, I encourage you to make it your own, as unique as you are.

Getting Started

  1. Deliberately put intentional self-pleasure time on your calendar. For most, this is a radical departure from waiting until the “mood” strikes them. Doing so sends a powerful message that pleasure is worthy of intention rather than reaction alone.
  2. Openly communicate with any others (if appropriate) in the household. Name any space and time boundaries needed to fully let go and surrender to your process. Again, the majority of us have been conditioned to wait until we are left alone rather than to advocate openly for our pleasure needs. Consider this an open relationship with your own body.
  3. Make a conscious choice to let go of expectations that you might be aroused, might experience orgasm, etc. This time is less about mimicking your embedded arousal templates and more about exploring the open space of sensation and presence.
  4. If you are able to, use a mirror. Modulate your experience of vulnerability by remaining clothed, partially clothed, or fully unclothed at whatever pace feels comfortable. Sit comfortably in front of your mirror and witness what arises for you.
  5. Begin with a short meditation: What is present for you in this moment? Tune into your senses, your body sensations, your thoughts and feelings, and how comfortable you feel with just yourself. Place one hand on your heart and the other over your genitals, visualizing the connection between these two places within you. Allow whatever unfolds within you.
  6. Practice some deep breathing while clenching your PC muscles to awaken sensation in your pelvic floor. Use whatever breath feels good. For example, you may select the four-sided breath: inhale 4 counts, hold the breath 4 counts, exhale 4 counts, and hold the emptiness 4 counts.
  7. Eye gaze with yourself. Find you, the person, in your reflection—not a body to correct or modify—notice any strong proclivities to criticize, improve, primp, etc.
  8. In whatever state of undress feels right to you, begin by touching the extremities: toes, fingers, ankles, wrists, and top of the head. Take your time and work inwardly, and lastly, toward your genitals.
  9. As you begin pleasuring your genitals, simultaneously touch other areas of your body, mapping them together in your perception. For example, maybe you caress your neck while you pleasure your genitals. Create shared sensations that center your genitals within the wider physical and emotional contexts of your whole body.


Turning It Up!

  1. Get your whole body involved! Breathe audibly. Make sounds that express how you feel. Track sensation as it moves around your body, trying to stay focused on your physical experience rather than merely intellectually observing yourself.
  2. At various points along the way, pause to reflect: on a scale of 1-10, with no expectations, where is your arousal? Perhaps you are enjoying an aroused, erotic experience, and perhaps not. Sometimes the most powerful awarenesses emerge when the focus is not solely placed on genital pleasure.
  3. Talk erotically with yourself in the mirror. What do you want? What do you feel? Notice what feels erotically authentic? Unsure? Timid? What do you mimic from media?
  4. Stay open to anything you observe in yourself. What you are doing may not look like “sex,” as seen in your preconceived images of self, but it is most certainly erotic—whatever you encounter.
  5. This phase of the practice is less about being turned on by oneself as an object and more about being the energy of turn-on. This awareness shifts your focus to your own internal reference points—your feelings, your authentic self-images, your desires—a merger of feeling and body.


Getting Stuck

  1. Consciously work at body acceptance: the mirror is not the enemy!
  2. Keep in mind these words of Somatic Therapist, Carolyn Braddock: “Healing begins with owning the body and especially positively owning all of the body...naming, touching, and stroking one’s body, allowing body sensations to be felt, giving affirmation to and accepting one’s body the way it is right now, rather than allowing negative judgments about the way it “should be” (Body Voices).
  3. Make the exercise scalable. Maybe you take a step back and work again on breath and presence with your reflection until you feel ready to accelerate again. Oscillate as much as you need to in order to maintain presence, acceptance, inquiry, and pleasure.
  4. If you hear yourself making negative statements about your body or expression: pause, shake your body vigorously, and breathe deeply. Then start touching yourself again, tuning back into sensation as you move toward acceleration again.
  5. If you feel in conflict with any aspects of your body, pause and breathe into those parts inquiring: Am I willing to love my body as it is?



  1. As you begin to accelerate toward arousal what images, associations, or fantasies come to mind? Pay close attention to what arises spontaneously rather than calling up a familiar fantasy. The idea is t make space for what emerges.
  2. Focus on sensation. Which zones of your body feel more or less?
  3. Continue pleasuring your genitals while including other areas of your body, emphasizing the whole body.
  4. If you are aroused and intensifying, prolong the experience of approaching orgasming, but stop short of going over the edge. On your scale of 1-10, experiment with hovering between a 7 and a 9 (or wherever you assess yourself to comfortably be).
  5. Tune in to any emotions that are present in your experience.
  6. Pay attention to moments that are not mentally framed, but are more embodied. Use breath, sound, movement, and sensation to guide you deeper into letting go of thought. Imagine your body moving as you as opposed to you moving your body.
  7. There is no specific endpoint to pursue. Perhaps you decide you are complete for the moment, mindfully transitioning out of your practice. Or maybe orgasm feels available and desired.
  8. If/after orgasm, pause, reflect, integrate before rushing off, cleaning up, etc.



  1. Following your self-pleasure practice, choose some means to integrate what you have just experienced.
  2. Perhaps you continue in some sort of personal movement/embodiment practice like working out, foam-rolling, Yoga, Tai Chi, dancing, stretching, a long walk, etc.
  3. Take a walk out into the broader world around you, holding this energy in your heart. If/as you encounter other people, notice whether you can maintain a connection to your sense of erotic self. Do you feel shame? Do you feel free? Do you feel like you must act on this energy? Do you feel like you are able to stay connected to pleasure and intention as you transition back into your day?
  4. Spend some time journaling about any key awarenesses or insights. Pay attention to specific images, fantasies, emotions, and perceptions that have surfaced as a result of your intentional self-pleasure practice.


I hope that these practices offer you some insight and nourishment. See what happens when you decide to affirm pleasure in your life, how saying yes to feeling good tends to ripple out into other areas of your experience.

Best wishes Steve