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Book Review - How to Have Magnificent Sex
How to Have Magnificent Sex
by Lana Holstein
Three Rivers Press, 2003
Review by Jodi Forschmiedt, M.Ed.
Jan 19th 2004

As the title promises, this book provides the reader with specific instructions for improving the quality of their sexual encounters. However, it is not a sex manual in the traditional sense (no pictures!) and it is not about positions or stimulation techniques. How to Have Magnificent Sex explores a process by which committed couples can take their love-making from "fun," "hot," "mechanical," or "stale" to spiritual, profound, and even

Holstein sets out seven dimensions of sex, each of which must be attended to and in some sense mastered before sex can be magnificent.

1. The biologic dimension is about basic bodily functions.

2. The sensual dimension involves utilizing all of your senses in a
deliberate fashion.

3. The desire dimension is about lust.

4. The heart dimension requires unstinting love for your partner.

5. The intimacy dimension addresses communication issues.

6. The aesthetic dimension involves discovering the "inner radiance" of yourself and your partner.

7. The transpersonal dimension means connecting with your partner's soul.

Each dimension gets a chapter in which Holstein explains the concept fully, and provides case studies from her practice as a sex therapist as well as anecdotes from her own relationship with her husband. The stories all ring true and one can see how the problems they illustrate could impede the development of a good sexual connection. Holstein recommends "homework" exercises designed to improve a couple's functioning in each dimension. The exercises include things like "healing massage," "reciprocal breathing," and "soul gazing."

The book ends with a chapter on Tantra, the ancient yogic practice leading to the ultimate spiritual-sacred-divine sex. More exercises and activities are suggested to help a couple travels the tantric path, including the impossible-sounding "ejaculatory control," in which the male has an orgasm without ejaculating. There's nothing else particularly surprising about the chapter, although Holstein's description of lengthy lovemaking sessions involving elaborate preparations and the stipulation that you ensure there will be no interruptions made this parent of young children laugh. A helpful list of books for further exploration rounds out the volume.

In the tradition of self-help books everywhere, How to Have Magnificent Sex will appeal mostly to female readers. Holstein seems aware of this and even occasionally lapses into addressing female readers specifically. (Example--"The instructions are simple: you and your partner set up two sexual, sensual pleasuring sessions on consecutive days. First, perhaps you will pleasure him.") It is difficult to imagine a man waving this book at his wife and asking her to try "soul gazing" with him. However, it is also difficult to imagine a man whose wife is waving a book with this title at him refusing to participate. So, ladies, if your sex life needs a spiritual kick in the pants, How to Have Magnificent Sex will tell you how to kick it.

2004 Jodi Forschmiedt       


Jodi Forschmiedt reads, writes, and teaches in Seattle, Washington.