PAUL BARBER  Massage Practitioner  
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Clergy Work


During a late night discussion, I was challenged by a mentor to commit to making a big change in the type of work I offer and express it to him at 7 AM the next morning. I decided to ponder this challenge with a pre-dawn meditation. The morning opened with this thought. "I can be a sacred intimate for priests." Sacred Intimacy is hands-on erotic/sexual training offered by the Body Electric School. Over time, I have softened and expanded this concept to meet clergy where they are and ask ‘What can I do for you?’ My partner and web master encouraged me to open up to concept to 'clergy'.

The root of this insight came with the recollection of the priests I met during the final months before my late partner's passing. They were tireless, always available, totally heart centred to their calling and the people they served. Over the months following, I continued a connection with one parish priest and developed a strong appreciation not just for the work they do but the stamina required to meet everyone's needs in the face of their own.

My pre-dawn awakening showed me a priest who was overwhelmed by his regular weekly commitments and a surge of funerals. My question: Does the power of prayer release the tension and fatigue so that this priest can continue into the weeks following? In as much as he 'touches' others thru his good works, how would meaningful and appropriate physical touch aid in his stressful job. Today I might ask ‘How can I be present for you at this time?’ I can touch your heart by email or over the phone and in person by 100% listening. I can teach you skill sets as simple as breath-work to relax and get into your body.

I am privy to the reality of alcoholism and weight issues in this community. The pressure of a lifetime commitment can produce other social, physical, drug and mental breakdowns as well. A sixty year old priest morned the fact that most of the men who entered the priesthood with him are dead. I find this extremely sad. How can that be? So I ask - How can I help the members of this community?

I put out my intention to 'be there' for clergy in the sense of meeting them where their needs are - stated or otherwise. What positive change might come from my holding the hands of a priest and coaching him to breathe relaxation into his body; to hear his exhalations of despair release into peaceful sighs; to inhale reaffirmation of his belief in God and self. I offer a pair of ears to hear what needs to be said; a pair of eyes and heart to witness his reality. I believe that one's soul can be viewed thru their eyes. Action may not be required. But then, it may and I can offer my skills and services. This is not about being a sex surrogate but by offering intentional healing touch and compassionate listening and coaching to your magnificence.

I consciously accept that my work is not about or related to those involved in past abuse issues. But, it could be a workable process for priests who need to deal with sexual and emotional issues. The question: How do I work with men who have taken and desire to hold on to their vows of celibacy and yet are conflicted? Specifically, how can I assist clergy to admit to their being gay and loving themselves for the beautiful person that they are? How can I assist in the understanding and accepting position of being gay and being celibate in the face of the Church or religion and public opinion. What can I do for a person who needs to touch and be touched; deal with sexual urges; curiosity or ignorance of sexual knowledge.

Some come to bodyworkers, like myself, for regular massage. Others seek genital and anal stimulation. Over time, we learn to recognize such clients: red-faced, touch without asking permission, premature ejaculators, don't stay the entire alloted time, dress quickly, pay for the session before it starts - indicators of men facing their guilt and SHAME of BEING who they are. Their session does not alleviate their issue but serves to propel them further down the road of guilt and disembodiment. My work is to assist the client to get into his body - be embodied, connected with his feelings and heart.

How, you ask? One teaching model is the Taoist erotic massage. It is a powerful alternative to masturbation. It acknowledges the genitals as a vehicle to raise 'life-force energy' - to access our very own life force. It is a tantric - non ejaculative - the focus of the practice. The goal is to raise energy and to keep it and feel it for the hours and days to follow. It is also about embodiment - the ability to feel one's own body and the joy that is attached to those feelings. Bottom line - it is about relaxation and the ability to feel emotions. And, armed with the skill, it can be practiced anytime as a solo meditation.

Another example might be the role of priest/male clergy calling forth a lot of feminine energy to meet the tasks expected by the parishioners. I might work by rebalancing their male energy. Or, I might act as an erotic surrogate. What is it like to undress another man and to respectfully touch him with wonder and curiosity. To hold and be held; to hug and share a heartfelt breath? Why was flagellation used in the past? What might it feel like? What is the value of trance thru breath or body sensation? Can I try it here with you. Sub text to much of my work points to the need to learn to ask for permission for what one wants or desires. It helps remind of the role and use of power in their chosen work.

My practice invites everyone to show up and ask for what they want. I acknowledge that I can't always give what they want but I honour their willingness to ask. It is not my session and I can’t possibly know what you truly want unless you state it. This is personal and private work grounded in mutual trust. I have no commitment to dogma or hierarchical structure of any religion. My commitment is to the individual and their quest. If I can engage and help, I will.

I hear the pressures - trust within community, power struggles, huge egos, long days and late nights, instant demands on top of an already heavy work load, isolation, restrictive work, poor health, no spa treatment - ever. There are so many SHAME elements at work within your calling. It’s good to name them and learn the skills to let them go.

I make connections however they fit. You may want to refer me to someone else. The biggest fear of all is privacy. I offer that from my end along with lots of time to build trust. The one thing I can not offer is references. You get that. I can meet you on the internet thru emails, over the phone and in person. It can be a coaching session or a touch session or both. I offer this free to those who can not pay. Otherwise, I have a fee structure that is tailored to your ability to pay.

Be curious. Check in with yourself. What do you need? Does this speak to you?

BREATHWORK Go to this section for various breathing techniques that can be used to raise energy, clear space, connect with the earth and sky, etc.