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Ecstasy is Necessary: A Practical Guide [Paperback]

Barbara Carrellas
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Book Description

5 Mar 2012

From Barbara Carrellas, sex expert and author of Urban Tantra, comes Ecstasy is Necessary. This is not your average tips-and-techniques sex book; rather it is an exploratory journey of the sexual self and the infinite possibilities of ecstatic expression. In Ecstasy is Necessary, Carrellas teaches readers how to discover, nurture, expand and embrace their authentic, ever-evolving, sensual, sexual self.

Everyone goes through different phases of sexual expression and desire, and there are an infinite number of erotic and ecstatic possibilities available at all points along the way. Readers will explore what ecstasy is and learn how it is essential in their quest for their authentic selves. The insights they will gain in their journey with Carrellas will help them confidently approach sex and relationships in a way that works for them no matter where they are in their sexual evolution. Readers will get tools for solving the inevitable challenges that arise, and they will learn about risk-taking and the importance of boundaries. They'll even receive permission not to have sex at all, if that's what's right for them, because it is possible to create ecstatic experiences even when sex itself is not possible, available or appropriate.

Using stories and simple exercises, Carrellas helps readers understand how they are wired for sex and relationships, what their personal warning signs look like and what they need for optimum care. Plus, they'll learn how to effectively communicate this information to others so that they can be loved more easily and effectively.

As readers discover their authentic sexual selves, they will learn how to create the conditions that allow more and more of their experiences and relationships to be opportunities for - and invitations to - ecstasy.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hay House UK (5 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184850456X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848504561
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 353,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Barbara Carrellas is a brilliant writer. To Barbara, being sexual is as normal and comfortable as breathing, and she would like all of us to feel this way. (Louise Hay, international bestselling author of You Can Heal Your Life)

Ecstasy Is Necessary is destined to be a classic. Simply reading it is an ecstatic experience. (Denise Linn, bestselling author of Past Lives, Present Miracles and Sacred Space)

If you long for connection to sacred joy, to the extraordinary, and to the healing power of full aliveness, then you'll love this book. (Cheryl Richardson, bestselling author of The Art of Extreme Self-Care)

About the Author

Barbara Carrellas is an author, sex/life coach, sex educator, university lecturer, workshop facilitator, motivational speaker and theatre artist. Her most recent books are Urban Tantra and Luxurious Loving.

Barbara's pioneering Urban Tantra workshops were named the best in New York City by TimeOut/New York magazine. She is also the co-founder of Erotic Awakening, a groundbreaking series of workshops which toured the United States and Australia.

As a sex/life coach, Barbara offers her clients sex information and education, intuitive readings, emotional and mental rebalancing, resources, and referrals. The essence of her work is the inseparable connection between your sex life and the rest of your life, and the happy integration of body, mind, and spirit.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Sarah Sheikh TOP 500 REVIEWER
Ecstasy is Necessary guides you through every nuance of emotional desire, allowing you to integrate ecstasy as part of your every day life. Upon exploration of the myriad topics covered, I found myself very familiar with many areas due to the fact I have always prioritized my feelings wherever possible, so had explored much of what Barbara shares through self analysis, yet so much of this evolved through a natural inclination towards sensitivity to my own feelings and those of others which is not necessarily at the forefront of mainstream behavior. Due to this fact, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who needs an infusion of bliss in his or her daily life. If I were to put words to that which I explored over the years, they would be so similar to that which Barbara so openly shares, with the exception of the information regarding playing out fantasies. Many books on various topics leave out crucial information that would otherwise educate one on important facts such as sexual health. It is all very well thinking about sexual bliss, but if you are so anxious about sexual health, the edge may subdue your sexual drive, or just tarnish otherwise fantastic experiences.

So many feelings that may normally be private and secret are revealed within Ecstasy is necessary, allowing you to explore and compare, or perhaps feel content that others may have similar concerns. Feelings around intimacy are rarely explored, yet it may be a wonderful discovery to read so many peoples private thoughts, similar to which you may just share with your closest friend. The five languages of love are explored with the chapter The Language of Ecstasy, as are communication styles - the latter of which I found incredibly insightful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent! 7 Jun 2013
Once again the inimitable Barbara Carrelas has come up with a book that no woman should be without. Really this together with her Urban Tantra should be on obligatory reading for any evolved souls. This book is going to be the basis for my thesis in Biodanza. Reading Carrelas is neccesary!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Me Embodied! 6 Mar 2012
By Queen Cupcake - Published on
I read this book mostly because I think Barbara is awesome and also because I want to learn how to have better, more fulfilling sex and I identify as being in the relentless pursuit of my joy. This book was beyond anything I imagined it was going to be.

This book is an empowerment manual for embodiment. It is a road map to learn how to go into your body and get to know yourself on a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. I spend at least 6 hours a week diligently working on these connections for myself and there was a lot I learned about myself within the first seventy pages.

You begin to examine your values, needs and desires are right away. I was really surprised when I was working through my values, since this timing coincides with my thinking and talking about how I find balance and settle on my priorities. Distilling your core values to six main tenets tells you what your priorities should be, gives you some guidance as to how to align your life.

Get a cute notebook when you're getting the book. You'll need it for your work going inside and becoming the expert about your own body.

It can be frustrating as a single person without many regular sex partners to want to improve your sex life and not really know where to start. I am a big believer in the power of attraction-that you attract what you put out. This book is a great place to work from within to draw to you what it is you want from a partner. I felt not once alienated by my single status. Barbara also begins the book by giving a shout out to "they" as a gender neutral singular pronoun and the book is explicitly queer positive.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Odd and insightful 7 Jun 2012
By Melissa N. Michaels - Published on
We're all different. We all crave sex (and ecstasy, which are two different things sometimes) and/or push away sex (and ecstasy) for various reasons. Barbara wants you to find out those reasons. I sometimes wondered as I was reading: are you talking about the same sex I have? And I came to the conclusion that in many ways Barbara Carellas ISN'T talking about the same sex as I have.

As she says in her book: "I do sex for the mystical experiences--for the connection to all the disembodied beings and spirit guides I meet in erotic trance. I love altered states of consciousness, and nothing has ever beat sex and orgasm for consistently delightful--and often profound--travels through the cosmos. I have a partner who values sex as passionately as I do--for a completely different reason: she gets high on the intense intimate connection with her partner. With such different reasons for doing sex, we had our challenges in finding a way of creating sex together where she felt the connection she needed and I did not feel constrained."

I probably relate to Barbara's partner more. But the fact that she pushes anyone to have a dialogue with their own sexual nature makes this book useful for people who don't have sex for quite the same reasons as Barbara. You get to decide how you feel and what you want from relationships. Her book is not necessarily line after line about her perspective on sex: it's actually just one huge excellent and resourceful brainstorming get-together, between herself, her collegues, her research, and her polls -- and then bringing them to you to get you to add to the brainstorming your own individual feelings and wants and tie it all together to better understand yourself. You'd only open a self-help book on sex if you were looking for ideas -- and Barbara is never short of ideas.

It would be an understatement to say that she breaks social conventions, widens allowances, and builds an understanding and an adventure of sex -- but I'll say it anyway. In her words: Refuse to dwell on the question "Is this normal?" If you're feeling turned on by something, you can count on the fact that so are at least thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of others. Replace "Is this feeling/attraction/desire/activity normal?" with "What about this could be fun?" "What about this could be liberating?" "What about this could be ecstatic?"

You can tell that Barbara is a healthy individual and promotes healthy relationships -- bottom line. And I think she wants people of all types to feel healthy and happy -- regardless of what unconventional desires they have. Her audience, I think is quite a wide audience -- perhaps it's so wide and far-reaching that it actually lacks practical advice for the traditional sexual person (me). But Barbara Carrellas has been doing this for a long time and she's built her niche. It's a bit of an "anything goes" niche, but once you accept her flavor of sexuality, you can better hear the insights that would relate to you. If you are a person with an untraditional relationship, you'll appreciate how geared she is towards allowing you to accept yourself and to explore your desires in a healthy way.

I've already come to the conclusion that I'm a complete Puritan (in comparison to her) and I'll probably never take any of her practical advice on sex. However, I loved her insights into psychology and her comprehensive way of describing important aspects of relationships like communication and boundaries. I had a huge breakthrough reading her chapter on boundaries. For a long time I've been trying to figure out -- in short -- what's wrong with me? Then Barbara mentioned the term: the Resilient Edge of Resistance. This term means that "without risk, there is no growth or energy; however, without support, risk becomes recklessness." In other words, although we create boundaries partly to protect ourselves from uncomfortable circumstances -- we also push ourselves to the edge and seek risk, because that's what makes our lives exciting, fulfilling, and what perpetuates personal growth. In a relationship, you want an element of safety -- for sure. And you should always ask for those boundaries that help you feel comfortable, instead of constantly traumatized. And yet, you want some element of risk. You want to live safely dangerously. Relationships are meant to be stimulating -- but not traumatizing. Sex, itself, is meant to be stimulating, but not traumatizing; being safely pushed to the edge of unknown territory is partly what makes romance romantic. Relationships are not meant to be stale and typical or predictable and dependable.

Now you can imagine why she gears towards patients who do erotic, "kinky" sexual activities in ORDER to find that extra spice in their lives. We need it. My uneducated impression is that after years and years of seeking ecstasy, she's constantly finding herself expanding her boundaries to do and try more. So, if you're on the verge of expanding your horizons, but you'd only thought about it or were afraid to be judged, then this book is great for you. She brings out your craving to be open-minded, to accept your deepest desires, and to become a completely guilt-free, healthy version of the sexual self you have deep within you. Barbara Carrellas will be that safe voice in your head telling you -- it's perfectly acceptable to embrace your inner desires and to become an authentic version of yourself.

She's coherent, practical, insightful, and resourceful. She's been doing this a long time and she covers just about everything you could imagine (except phone sex. YESSS, it makes me feel less puritanical to do something Barbara didn't think to cover :p) But everything else, aside from phone sex is covered in the book: monogamy, safe sex/diseases, ecstasy, orgasms, different kinds of sex, masturbation -- actually she calls it medibation (or the act of masturbating and THEN meditating), roleplay, desire, homosexuality, breath, communication, boundaries. And she has tons of practical brainstorming exercises or questions you should ask yourself in order to discover your inner sexual self.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book for free by Hay House in order to review it
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carrellas is Correct...Ecstasy is Necessary 18 Jun 2012
By Camille Gray, Ph.D. - Published on
(Camille Gray's Review of "Ecstasy is Necessary" by Barbara Carrellas; Hay House Publishing: ISBN978-1-4019-2847-6, $16.95 US;[...])

Note: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

I entered my Master's degree program in Religious Studies in 1990 with the intention of writing my thesis on some component of sex and religion. For months I struggled with the ambiguity of my topic before choosing another topic; one considered more realistically manageable, as well as less controversial. I never lost interest in the subject matter, however. "Ecstasy is Necessary" is a non-regrettable reminder of my idle research and an inspiration for me to find a place in my writing for my lingering personal and academic curiosity for the way humans reconcile their sensual desires to their spiritual endeavors.

Carrellas reminds us of our inner permission to explore every aspect of our lives, especially our sexual/sensual selves; then proceeds to provide transparent and intentional tools for our private or collective exploration.

That there is more to ecstasy than our sexual experiences is of profound importance. Carrellas invites her readers to explore other avenues of sensuality and offers healthy approaches to developing meaningful relationships, the most important being the relationship we have with ourselves.

I was particularly drawn to her chapters entitled "In Search of Your Authentic Sexual Self" and "The Language of Ecstasy", in which we are challenged to fine-tune our voice as it relates to what is individually purposeful. The exercises provided are a thoughtful and necessary mirror; a force toward the truths we must face in order to comfortably be who we are meant to be.

Most inspiring was Carrellas' impetus toward "radical acceptance"; the cornerstone of her message. It is a truth over which I loving struggle, a truth that is a gift of profound peace as my consciousness eclipses my ego.

"Ecstasy is Necessary" is an important rider on my spiritual journey. It has given me the inspiration to hear and speak in more amatory terms, and the courage to extend an invitation to the intention and presence of my "significant someone" (words I borrow from Carrellas and fashioned to define my special relationship). Carrellas has touched the very essence of the individual and collective soul and has renewed my commitment to my highest purpose. I am grateful that the Universe has placed her in my path.

Love and Light,

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for Anyone Seeking Self-Actualization 15 Mar 2012
By Kendra Holliday - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Barbara's book is about sex, but it's so much MORE than sex - like I always say, our sexuality is connected with everything else in our lives. If we can address our sexuality without fear or shame, it frees us up to enjoy other aspects of our lives more fully.

Barbara shares so many of the messages I spout, but she does so in such a loving, compassionate, patient manner. She does an excellent job explaining concepts that might be unfamiliar to the reader.

Therefore, it would greatly behoove you to read this book, as it will clarify and reinforce many truths about sex in a way that will make you feel safe and empowered.

Honestly, I'm embarrassed to admit I hadn't heard of the author and educator until my friend David Wraith told me about her new book and accompanying tour. I'm familiar with many of her other contemporaries - Annie Sprinkle, Nina Hartley, Denise Linn, Bettie Dodson, Dossie Easton and more - so I'm glad I have been introduced to her work and am eager to share it with you.

For instance, she teaches the Something More Factor. No matter where you are when it comes to your own orgasms, whether you've never had one or have more than one a day - you can enjoy Something More, if you desire. You can have more orgasms, longer orgasms, deeper orgasms - and orgasms are one ticket to ecstasy and bliss. Having an orgasm creates similar brain waves as meditation.

From the book:

"The Something More Factor is what drives us all in erotic - and spiritual - exploration. The longing for Something More impels some people to dive into the deep end of the pool of sexual excess, and stops others from even dipping their toes into the water. The search for Something More requires permission - from oneself or from some higher authority. Even if your family, society, spiritual community, or school encourages you to find Something More, you still need to be able and willing to give yourself permission to go find it.

This is not a traditional sex how-to book. It is not filled with sex tips or techniques. There are many excellent books, blogs, podcasts, and DVDs available today that provide accurate and inspiring information for more creative sex. This book is not meant to replace any of these things. Instead, this book will help you get the most out of them."

I love the descriptions of ecstasy people share with her. One of my favorites is, "Ecstasy feels like God and Goddess are making love with each other inside of my body."

Barbara says that ecstasy is not a goal, and that "ecstatic experiences may be found everywhere along countless paths to self-love and personal growth."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just another sex book...this one will give you religion 27 Dec 2012
By Dan E. Nicholas - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Living the ecstatic life. Bring it on. (Book review of Ecstasy is Necessary by Barbara Carrellas-by Dan Nicholas 3.1.13)

If you ever wanted to take your sex as seriously as a down south Baptist takes the Bible, get this book. I talked about this paperback with my adult kids during Christmas after church. Over and over and over. It's about the how and the why we so need to live an ecstatic life. This book is that good.

Her work here comes no doubt from her road tested workshops with real live people on these things. I've got to read Urban Tantra next. And take her workshop when it comes out this way. I love the way she challenges you to write down your thoughts; like on just why is it that you have sex anyway?

I first fell in love with the spirituality of this lady Barbara in Joani Blank's book I Am My Lover (see my Amazon review on that book, too), in that tale of how she looked so forward to an ecstatic, orgasmic connection with God and the universe in taking that first Eucharist as a young lady. She was so promised a life changing ecstatic moment by the nuns in her Catholic school leading up to that first communion. Partaking of the Mysteries unfazed, she left the auspicious church ceremony her dream unrealized. Instead of joy, she found her tears. Running home, she immediately climbed a tree, weeping. She found there her own ecstatic, orgasmic connection with the universe and with God, with creation, with that tree and that moment, climbing. One more spiritual seeker turned away from the riches of the church.

And yet, what a sad and glorious beginning to what has turned into a great career for Barbara. She writes and teaches now, helping the rest of us experience a wider and deeper love life and God life with ourselves and those important to us.

I've watched the YouTube of her being filmed having a Look Ma No Hands orgasm for Dr. Barry Komisaruk who does that wonderful research there at Rutgers University on the science of sexual ecstasy. I first heard of his work a decade back in Woman Who Love Sex by Gina Ogden. To live each day at that orgasmic edge, this seems the point of this book. And what a delightful thought, to want that much that often. I've seen the same dream in Nicole Daedone and her OneTaste organization and her book Slow Sex, all about living orgasmically. Her TED talk on how she believes that orgasms--having them, participating in facilitating them with someone dear--is the cure for world hunger. Crazy talk like that is so delightful and echoes what Barbara speaks of here in this book on the necessity of ecstatic living.

Barbara gets us thinking in this meditation on orgasmic living. She gets us thinking bigger, wider thoughts about what sex is. What life is even. Indeed, I go back to that homework assignment to write down why I have sex. She got me thinking with that one--a lot. That exercise turned into a wonderful poem I spent a week writing. To myself. To God. To my wife. Nice.

This work will challenge you and push you like that. You may well say that Carrellas goes places in her ecstatic quest that would frighten the pants off most of us. True. Yet, the book was not really so much about pants off/pants or esoteric spiritual sex practices as it was about living as friend to your own bodily existence; as a friend with life force within; a friend to your own sexuality and spirituality and creative self.

So I say, if you desire to become a better lover and better human being; and you are a Want More kind of man or woman: buy this book. And plan to take time reading it. Because it will make you do some serious soul work. Fret not. It's serious soul sex work. And because it has sex it, well, it's fun. And worth it! Pants on, pants off fun. Thinking caps on here. Get busy. Read this book.
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