Tantra is an ancient Indian practice that has a presence today around the world. Imagine, 5,000 years ago, this practice being developed, explored, and enhanced to promote sexuality, spirituality, and emotional interconnectedness. Tantra honors and celebrates our bodies, and enriches sensual pleasure, not just sexual pleasure. Breath, meditation, mindfulness, movement, and our environment can enhance intimacy with oneself and others.
Tantra encourages a full sensual and sexual experience with recognition of the importance of space and retreat to leverage and access desire. It is important to note that tantra can be an individual practice; it does not require a partner. Tantra may not even involve genital contact—it’s about energetic and spiritual contact between two partners (or with the self). Though genital contact or intercourse may enhance the energetic and spiritual contact, it is not necessary.
The word tantra has many meanings, including “the way,” “transformation,” and “expansion through awareness.” Though there is much debate, defining such a rich, historic, and important cultural entity may be impossible. For the purposes of this article, a general overview of breath and movement is provided to welcome readers to introduce components into their sensual and sexual experience.
Creating a Tantra-Like Environment
I encourage you to consider the power of simply having a space in your home or office that can be devoted to taking care of yourself, relaxing, and being mindful. Whether it is a particular chair with a candle nearby or removing technology from your bedroom, if you incorporate nothing from this article but creating a sacred space in your life, you will gain health, wellness, and self-care.
Tantra-like space is a space in which you are:
- able to suspend rational thought, and suspend worry, planning, and analysis
- free of technology
- able to step out of your of routine, which often means slowing down
- out of your usual space; is there a room underutilized in your home?
Meditation is a way to be in the moment. Are you in the moment right now? As you are reading this article, what do you see, hear, smell? Where is your body touching your chair? Can you feel your clothing, your breath? I introduce my clients to the “five senses exercise” in which we each suspend discussion, slow down, take a full, cleansing breath, then slow our breathing to rate similar to how we breathe when we sleep. Once there is a shift to relaxation, simply access your five senses to notice the feedback each provides you: What do you see? Hear? Taste? Smell? Feel? (The couch under you, your hands on your lap, etc.) Anytime you are in the moment, you are practicing meditation. You don’t need cushions, chanting, or the ability to sit in a meditation room in order to meditate.
It’s fascinating that we need to breathe to survive, yet so few of us do so in a proper, cleansing, and nourishing way. Proper breathing provides each of our cells with what they need to function optimally, to support the tissues, muscles, and organs made up of those cells.
Breath is a gateway to enhancing your sexual energy. Try this simple exercise to be aware of your breathing habits. Inhale and “mark” your breath by placing your hand on your body to indicate how deep that breath is. Next, exhale and attempt to empty your lungs completely. On your next inhalation, lower your hand in an attempt to deepen your breath, and again fully empty your lungs before the third inhalation. Continue this exercise until your breath is deep enough that it is as if you are breathing into your genital and sit bones.
Adding Movement to Breath
Once you have done the above exercise a few times and can feel the awakening of your sex organs (this may be no to slight sensation for some, while for others this exercise may inspire desire), incorporate body movement. Lay on your back with your knees bent so that your feet are flat. Inhale long, slow breaths through the mouth, counting to five and expanding the belly, creating an arch under the small of the back. When you exhale, again count to five, bringing the small of your back to the floor, and tilt your pelvis slightly upward. Repeat until you feel the gentle-wave motion as your breath and body movements synchronize. Release tension in your face, feet, shoulders—anywhere you feel it. Be aware of any emotions you experience, which can range from empowerment, sadness, and vulnerability to joy. Finally, incorporate the “five senses exercise” to practice mindfulness once the wave motion of your breath and body is fully engaged.
Though tantra can be thought of as a lifestyle, or a commitment to learning we may not all have, this brief introduction in part or in its entirety can provide you enhancement to your sexual and sensual experience. Breath, meditation, mindfulness, movement, and your environment can enhance intimacy with yourself and others.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Denise Onofrey, MA, LMFTC, therapist in Englewood, Colorado
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