by Lana Holstein
Three Rivers Press, 2003
Review by Jodi Forschmiedt, M.Ed. on 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
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
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
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
Jodi Forschmiedt reads, writes,
and teaches in Seattle, Washington.