Wednesday, 9 November 2011
At the same time, sex is often regarded with an equal measure of fear and fascination. We may crave sexual intimacy to the core of our being, yet also take great pains to avoid it. We may wish to be touched with all of our heart, yet fear our own vulnerability. We may long to rekindle lost passion, but have forgotten how to light the fire.
The practice of Tantra shows us how to reclaim the sexual intimacy that is our birthright. And through this most ancient of arts, we may discover new joys of the erotic and expand mere moments of sexual ecstasy into a lifetime of sexual bliss. At a time when the stresses, fears and distractions of daily life threaten so many relationships, the age-old practice of Tantra shows us how to open our hearts, our emotions and our sexuality.
What Is Tantra?
Although Tantra has long been practiced in many eastern cultures, it is just beginning to flourish in the United States. Born in India more than 6,000 years ago, Tantra emerged as a rebellion against organized religion, which held that sexuality should be rejected in order to reach enlightenment.
Tantra challenged the acetic beliefs of that time, purporting that sexuality was a doorway to the divine, and that earthly pleasures, such as eating, dancing and creative expression were sacred acts.
The word Tantra means "to manifest, to expand, to show and to weave." In this context, sex is thought to expand consciousness and to weave together the polarities of male (represented by the Hindu god, Shiva), and female (embodied by the Hindu goddess, Shakti), into a harmonious whole.
Couples need not adopt the Tantric pantheon in order to benefit from the sexual wisdom of this ancient art. Tantric sexual practices teach us to prolong the act of making love and to utilize potent orgasmic energies more effectively.
Tantra is also health enhancing. "Sexual energy is one of our most powerful energies for creating health," says Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom."
"By using sexual energy consciously...we can tap into a true source of youth and vitality."
How Is Tantric Sex Unique?
In the West, we sometimes view sex as a source of recreation rather than a means of transformation. The goal may be to reach orgasm rather than to pleasure our lover or to connect with him or her more fully.
Beginning Tantric Sex Techniques
This kind of lovemaking, say sex experts, has a distinct beginning and ending, with a climax somewhere in between and an average duration of 10 to 15 minutes. Given that women can take about 20 minutes just to reach full arousal, this type of sexual experience can be deeply unsatisfying.
In the Tantric model, the sexual experience is seen as a dance with no beginning or end. There is no goal, only the present moment of exquisite union. For this reason, lovemaking is meditative, expressive and intimate. Tantra teaches lovers how to extend the peak of their sexual ecstasy so that women and men can experience several orgasms in a single sexual encounter.
Leading teachers of Tantra suggest that even men who experience premature ejaculation can learn how to extend orgasm, and, with practice, to enjoy multiple orgasms. One of the most well known advocates of Tantra is the musician, Sting, who credits his fulfilling sex life to this ancient art. With ingredients such as love, trust and mutual respect, the magic of Tantra is available to couples of all ages and levels of sexual experience.
The following exercises will help you reconnect with your body and with your partner in a profound way. As you move through these steps, do not focus on intercourse as the ultimate goal. Instead, simply enjoy giving and receiving pleasure using gentle touch and loving words.
Communicate with your lover to discover what he or she finds most arousing. Try to spend several weeks practicing the Tantric Intimacy Exercises without necessarily engaging in intercourse. For many, experiencing these erotic exercises with no pressure to "go all the way" helps release sexual guilt, builds trust and reawakens sexual desire. Enjoy!
Make time for each other every week. Plan a sexual rendezvous at least once per week. Set aside an hour or more of uninterrupted time to be together. Although it may be difficult to find the time or to manage children, you won't be able to benefit from Tantra if your relationship is not a priority.
Create an inviting atmosphere. Whether you meet in your bedroom, living room or another space in your house, creating a sacred space for each other will help relax you and bring you into the moment. Candles, fresh flowers, erotic art, finger foods and tantalizing aromas can transform any room into a temple of sexual delight. Even something as simple as dimming the lights and playing erotic music will help create a welcoming environment.
Dress provocatively. Or, wear nothing at all. Experiment with clothing or accessories that make you feel sexy and excite your partner.
Tantric Intimacy Exercises
Use ritual to develop intimacy. Begin your journey with a ritual. This may be something as simple as feeding each other delicious foods or sharing a glass of wine in the nude. Some couples enjoy bathing together in order to attune to each other.
Take time to wash each other with loving care. Water relaxes the body and is a symbol of sexuality. Massaging each other is also an excellent way to fuse your energies. Or, read poetry to each other, dance, play, listen to music—work on developing new intimacy skills. Most importantly, use this time to communicate,sharing what you adore about each other. The idea is to help each partner feel loved and cherished.
In order to fully focus on each other (rather than on the goal of sex), some lovers experiment with various intimate rituals for several weeks before moving on to the next steps or engaging in intercourse. This is a wonderful way to strengthen the bonds of love and ignite passion.
"The only time we ever think about breathing is when we have trouble doing it, yet conscious breathing can be a powerful aid in sexual growth," according to sex therapist Marty Klein, Ph.D. of Palo Alto, California. Breathing exercises also quiet the mind and help you focus on each other.
Try this exercise: Sit quietly, cross-legged, facing each other. Rest your hands on your knees with your palms facing up. As you gaze into your partner's eyes, take soft, but deep breaths. Keep your eyes open, gazing beyond the eyes, into the soul. Although this may feel awkward at first, sustained eye contact is essential for building intimacy.
Now, pay attention to your breathing. Begin to breathe at the same pace, bringing air slowly in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Maintain eye contact while you breathe together. Practice this exercise until you can sustain eye contact and harmonized breathing for about 10 minutes. Then, you may move into the next exercise.
Experiment with erotic touch to fully appreciate your partner. This most pleasurable practice will help you become better lovers. Although you should continue to maintain eye contact, don't worry about keeping your breath synchronized. Breath will come back into play later. Guide your partner as you take turns stimulating each other. Describe exactly how you would like to be touched.
Share your desires in an encouraging way, making requests in a clear and loving manner. For example, ask your lover to caress your clitoris or penis (or any erogenous zone), encouraging him or her to apply more or less pressure, to stroke in a specific pattern, to use the tongue, etc. Thank your lover and let him or her know with words or sounds that you are enjoying this sensual touch.
Once you become comfortable with this process, you may wish to create a "pleasure chest." Include whatever excites you and your partner—a feather, vibrator, massage oil, blindfold, soft fabric, erotica and loving notes to each other are just a few ideas. As you pleasure each other, don't be shy about asking for something different. This is your time for appreciation, experimentation and for taking responsibility for your own fulfillment by asking for what you want.
From here, you may wish to embark on your own erotic journey. Create amorous adventures together, exploring new and creative ways to awaken each other's bodies and minds. Then, you will be ready for Tantric lovemaking.
Basic Tantric Sex Techniques
The Tantric tradition emphasizes preparation for lovemaking. Erotic rituals such as those described above focus on exchanging pleasures, awakening the senses and allowing couples to communicate on deep physical and emotional levels.
During this time, lovers are able to establish an intimate connection that can be maintained and heightened as they transition into the sexual dimension. Intimacy exercises are a form of extended foreplay, helping titillate lovers for the sex that is to come and create the optimal conditions for Tantric lovemaking.
As you experiment with Tantric techniques, don't worry whether you are doing something the "right" way. Tantra does not judge right or wrong, good or bad. Ultimately, your pleasure is what matters most.
As you transition into sex, the idea is to maintain a state of sexual ecstasy for as long as possible. Tantric lovemaking is not result-oriented, but rather, timeless and unstructured.
Maintain a deep level of intimacy. Continue to gaze into each other's eyes as much as possible. Sprinkle your lover's face, neck and shoulders with light kisses and whisper words of love and encouragement. Help each other feel loved and desired.
Keep it slow. A long, slow build helps men control orgasm and piques women's arousal. According to Tantric teacher, Robert Frey, the longer you linger in this process of building energy, the longer men can resist ejaculation. During this time, focus on each other. If your thoughts should wander, gently bring your attention back to the present, concentrating on your lover and the magic of the moment at hand.
Bring your attention back to your breath. Resist the urge to breathe quickly. Quick breathing or panting creates arousal, speeding you toward orgasm. Instead, take long, slow, deep breaths from the belly, exhaling gradually. You may match your breath to that of your partner, or try breathing alternately—as you inhale, your partner exhales. This moves energy back and forth and connects you to your lover.
Vary your positions to explore your duality. Different sex positions add to sexual pleasure and balance male and female energies. When lovers release themselves from gender roles, they are free to engage in deeper, more intimate sex. Men realize their sexual potential through surrender, by being soft and open, gentle and vulnerable. Women, in turn, can direct and initiate. As you experiment with different positions, some male-dominant, some female-dominant, explore your capacity to be strong and gentle, generous and receptive.
Multiple Orgasms for Men
Tantric sex distinguishes between the experiences of orgasm and ejaculation. Although they often happen at the same time, men are capable of having orgasms without ejaculating. Ejaculatory control is what makes it possible for Tantric lovers to capture and extend the magical energy of orgasm. By holding back, men can experience a series of "mini-orgasms."
This does not mean that you are never to ejaculate, but that you can control your climax. The essence, say Tantric experts, is to catch a wave of energy and to surf the edge without going over. Use these strategies to stay atop the wave:
The pubococcygeal (PC) muscles, which run from your public bone to your tailbone, are the ultimate sex muscles. These are the same muscles used to stop the flow of urine. If properly conditioned, the PCs enable you to stop ejaculation while continuing to enjoy sex. Kegel exercises are the best way to tone the PCs.
Here's how: Contract your PC muscles three times per day, squeezing 20 to 25 repetitions. This is a simple exercise that you can do at anytime. Just don't overdo it. After a month of conditioning, try to extend the squeeze, holding each contraction for two seconds. Gradually work up to 10 seconds. Once your PCs are in top shape, you will be able to pump them in order to ride the orgasmic wave without gliding over the brink too soon.
Relax. Although it sounds paradoxical, it's important for men to stay relaxed during high states of arousal. If you feel the undulations of ejaculation, take a slow, deep breath and stop making love long enough for your arousal to subside. Relax and try to direct energy from your penis up through your body.
Take this time to talk to your partner or to draw several slow, deep breaths. By experimenting, you will discover how much "time out" you require before catching the next wave. The idea is to allow yourself enough time for the intensity to subside, but not so much that you lose your erection.
Put it all together. When you and your partner make love, thrust slowly, allowing your arousal to build gradually. Before your excitement mounts, relax for a moment, tighten your PC muscles and take a deep breath. Resume your lovemaking, continuing to generate excitement.
Then, relax again, hold your PCs and breathe. Continue to ride this swell until you near the crest. Then, open your eyes, clamp down on your PC muscles and take a deep breath to experience the joy of orgasm without ejaculating. Since these techniques take practice, expect a few "wipe outs" before you achieve mastery.
Freeing Female Orgasm
It is often said that a woman's most powerful sex organ lies between her ears. Since desire can be short-circuited by fear, guilt, stress and a host of other distracting thoughts, women often need to concentrate on feeling rather than thinking when making love. Taking breaks to pleasure each other, manually and orally, is a great way to ward off any lingering diversions and to coax one or more orgasms.
Clitoral stimulation. Most women require stimulation of the clitoris and labia (the inner lips surrounding the clitoris) during sex to reach orgasm. Prolonged clitoral touch with a gentle, patient hand is, for many, the key to sexual ecstasy. Use sounds and positive words to guide your lover, showing your partner how to stroke you just so.
The sacred spot. The mythic Grafenberg Spot (G-spot) is referred to in Tantra as the "sacred spot." This potent and mysterious erogenous zone is located about two to three inches up on the front side of the vaginal channel. When your lover is aroused, slip your ring finger into her vagina allowing your fingertip to brush against the inner wall.
The G-spot is between the size of a pea and a quarter with a slightly rippled texture. For some women, though not for all, gentle stimulation can induce powerful orgasms and even female ejaculate. However, take care not to over-stimulate this sensitive spot.
According to Tantric philosophy, lovers who have practiced these ancient techniques can learn to direct sexual energy through the body's "chakras," or energy centers. Moving the energy of orgasm through these physical channels is thought to create sensations of ecstasy throughout the body and to enhance health.
There is much to learn about this ancient art. "Tantra is a school of many courses in which there are many levels of study and an unlimited degree of potential for spiritual gain, for sexual delight, and for worldly success," state Charles and Caroline Muir, authors of "Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving." Although they caution that Tantra does not promise instant results, for couples who wish to enrich their relationship, these practices "can release a particular kind of energy that can bring about harmony...and increase sexual pleasure and intimacy."
Article originally published on Discovery Health.