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Tantric Secrets: 7 Steps to the best sex of your life

Following Cassandra Lorius’s best-selling Tantric Sex and 101 Nights of Tantric Ecstasy comes Tantric Quickies: The Fast Route to Lingering Pleasure, which demystifies tantric sex and shows you how the following of the basic principles can lead to sexual and personal fulfillment.Cassandra Lorius demystifies tantric sex and shows you how to fulfil your spiritual and sexual potential in this highly accessible book. Tantric Quickies shows you:how even the busiest people can find a way to bring the spirituality and intensity of tantric sex into their lives, and reach sexual nirvana.• how to liberate your sexual energy through easy-to-follow directions for relaxation, meaningful communication with your lover, foreplay, fantasy, arousal, delay tactics, using food and music in love-making and guaranteed methods for the lengthening of sexual pleasure.

Tantric Secrets: 7 Steps to the best sex of your life

   

Tantric Secrets 7 Steps to the Best Sex of Your Life Cassandra Lorius


   To Liz Dean, my marvellous editor

Table of Contents

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   

   Tantra is an ancient path of self-development that regards sexual energy as the primary manifestation of our life force. This life force is a powerful current of energy that flows through us all. When you are in harmony, this energy is ‘woven’ with the energy of other people and all the life forms around us. The term ‘Tantra’ implies that we can weave all the different threads of our existence into a more satisfying whole. Through Tantra, you can experience love and sex as a flowing together of energies. Techniques that were once secret – only available to the initiated – are revealed here to rekindle your lust for life and regain a vibrant sense of self. By being more loving and connected in the ways in which you relate to your partner, you can create more fulfilling sex and a deep, loving intimacy. Tantra guides you through the gateway of lovemaking to open to spiritual bliss.

   The message is simple: celebrate your relationship with a spirit of wonder and playfulness. Tantra is easy to grasp once you experience it – simply stop thinking and start feeling. Focus on the present moment, as you’ll feel more vital when you wholeheartedly live in the ‘now’. Be sensually aware of your body, and express your sense of aliveness and passion through it. Reconnecting with your body in a positive way via your senses gives you a surge of wellbeing and energy. Sexual energy is a fundamental indicator of your level of vitality. When you’re feeling great, your body is vital and eroticized.

Tantra for your relationship: the seven steps to bliss

   Tantra is a potent means of revitalizing your relationship. Cultivating Tantra means embracing a dynamic approach to sex, love and life in general that will fill you with bliss. The starting point of this process is to reaffirm the place of spirit in your life, and make space for a soul connection in your sexual relationship. A loving relationship encourages you to expand sexuality into a more integrated way of being. Tantric techniques teach you how to unlock your energy and use it to bring bliss into your lives.

   The ethos of this book is opening your heart, filling your being with loving emanations and sweetening your relationship with love and compassion. Tantric Secrets reveals the seven chapters, or steps, that you can take to transform your relationship into one of bliss. Each Step explores issues appropriate to the unfolding of an integrated sexuality according to Tantric sources – including meditative exercises that you can use on your own path to fulfilment through sacred sex.

   Tantric Secrets offers ideas for short practices to radically improve your experience of sex and open your heart to love and bliss. Cumulatively, they lead to a sensual bonk-fest, taking you into the realm of bliss. You can pick and choose according to what inspires you. However, I suggest that you do start by looking at Step 1, because the secret of maintaining a loving relationship is to love yourself. In these demanding times, many of us lead stressful lifestyles that hamper our free spirits, making it difficult to delight in our sensual natures.

   To prepare to deepen your relationship, begin by destressing both mind and body. In Step 1 you nurture both body and soul. You learn to love yourself by taking care of your needs; when you nurture yourself, you have the resources to nurture others. Learn to treat your own body with respect, remembering that your body is a temple dedicated to life and love.

   When you have activated the energy of body and soul in your own being, you are free to reach out toward your partner with an open heart.

   In Step 2, you connect with your lover as an energy-body, relating to each other at the level of your inner core rather than your surface personalities.

   In Step 3, you stimulate your sensuality through rituals that enliven all your senses. Ritual is about inviting the sacred into your life. It is this sense of sacredness that helps you to step beyond your normal limits, into a closer connection with your partner. If you associate activities like lighting candles and incense with an attitude of receptivity to the sacred dimension, each time you do this you enter into a Tantric frame of mind.

   To awaken your sexual energy and access your passionate nature, Step 4 explores your desire, and includes physiological exercises that combine strengthening your love muscle with breathing and visualization exercises.

   Step 5 involves sexual healing, and clearing difficult emotions that may be blocking the flow of energy in your relationship. Communication needs to underpin your sexual relationship in order for it to be close and loving.

   You work on your technical abilities as a lover in Step 6, learning to pleasure yourself and your lover, exploring your orgasmic potential and lengthening and deepening your orgasms so that you can both have multiple orgasms. For women, discover how clitoral and g-spot stimulation is crucial to sexual satisfaction. For men, learning to defer gratification develops the potential for much greater orgasmic pleasure.

   Step 7 makes sex sacred by incorporating the powerful Tantric techniques of breathing and visualization to move energy through your being during lovemaking. Together, you create a joint body of energy united in sexual bliss – an experience that opens you to the Tantric awareness that bliss is the nature of life itself.

What is Tantric meditation?

   In Eastern traditions, meditation is seen as the royal road to nurturing the soul. The secret wisdom of Tantra shows you how to forge a meditative approach to sex, which gives it transcendent power. Soulful sex becomes a pathway to direct experience of the divine realm of love, which Tantra describes as joyful bliss. In weaving the lover’s path with your partner, you make connections between heart, spirit and body to bring the spiritual dimension firmly into your life.

   You unite your two beings in divine love and align this love with the natural flow of love in the universe during lovemaking.

   Tantric meditation induces a state of deep, dynamic relaxation in which you remain very engaged with the world around you. Relaxation involves letting go of struggle in life and surrendering to the flow of energy through your being. In dynamic relaxation, you recover a life-affirming attitude – joy, spontaneity and the sensual pleasure of life.

   This dynamic state is also passionate; it’s full of lust for life and love for others, a deep expression of your core eroticism rather than a superficial sexual orientation. It is not about tarting up your relationship with exotic stimulation, but about going more deeply into the loving connection that already exists. As you tune into your partner, so your relationship deepens. You affirm your lover’s inner beauty by loving them as much as yourself. Through Tantric meditation, you also rediscover the innocence and playfulness in your partnership.

Develop awareness

   Meditation is the heart of the Tantric journey. Through meditation you become sensitive to the movements of energy in your own body and learn to see others as energy-beings. Ultimately, the awareness that grows through meditation, visualization and energy practices enables you to feel the vast energy flow that physicists describe as our fundamental reality. Through surrendering the belief that you are separate from other living beings, you can join in the dance of creation.

   Take time every day to meditate. Meditation can be described as letting ‘doing’ fall away. One of the key practices that this book constantly emphasizes is simply paying full attention to whatever is occurring in the present moment. (That is why Tantric Secrets doesn’t encourage sexual fantasies that take your concentration away from your partner and from what is happening between you.) Paying careful attention makes you more sensitive in your interactions and deepens the connections between you and your deeper self, as well as with others. Being more alive to your own experience helps you to fully immerse yourself in it, rather than stand outside your own life as a detached observer.

Become a witness

   Meditation also encourages you to become more of a witness to your own life, so that you can perceive more clearly what is happening to you at the same time as being absorbed in it. As a witness to your own life you develop insight into how you relate, rather than hold yourself back from others because of a critical or judgmental attitude. In order to let go of such attitudes you need to open up to the transpersonal nature of love, which is unconditional. Let love flow through you.

Get closer to your partner

   To create a nurturing and loving environment twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, try to make time to touch base with your inner self each day through meditation or yoga. These practices help you to connect with your partner and activate your loving energy.

   Many of us feel the need for greater closeness, yet with our busy lives we can find it almost impossible to dedicate time to relate with the degree of attention that real communication requires. Yet you can make time – it is the degree of connection with each other that is important, rather than the length of time spent together.

   You can also make time by letting go of a sense of hurry; be fully present and emotionally available in the here and now. Reluctance to make time for closeness can arise from a feeling of resistance or fear about intimacy. This book offers techniques for breaking down defences against closeness and going to the heart of intimacy, both sexually and emotionally.

   Think of a period in your life when the world sparkled with promise, suffused with sensuality. Do you recall the delicious rush of anticipation you felt on seeing your lover walk towards you, feeling the warm thrill of their touch on your arm, or the elation of gazing directly into their eyes? If your erotic aliveness is more or less shut down, such sensations may only come in unexpected moments, when you’re startled by undercurrents in a friendship or with a stranger. The tingling promise of eroticism is a reminder of our true nature, filling us with a surge of energy and delight – the original meaning of the word lust. You can allow this erotic electricity to remain subdued, or you can consciously choose to ignite it, both alone and with your partner.

A Tantric model for loving

   Tantra has a sophisticated concept of love. In Western culture, love is often clichéd as romantic attraction built on fantasies and projections. In Tantra, you use love to connect with the essence of your partner.

   A Tantric model has a lot to teach us about relationships. It sees relationships as a flow of energy and emotions as a form of energy. This approach offers you a radically different way of dealing with difficult emotions in your relationship. Tantra says that you are not your emotions or your mind – this is your false self. You are really an energy-field composed of dancing atoms. This understanding encourages you to drop your false self, no longer identifying yourself as the sum total of all your problems and emotions. As these negativities fall away, your true nature is revealed and you regain your natural state of presence, or ‘being’. You can fully engage in the moment, rather than be withdrawn or preoccupied with old hurts, disappointments or insecurities that sap your energy. Just as children drop the past as soon as it is over and deal with what is right in front of them, you too can relearn the ability to constantly let go.

   By letting go of inappropriate emotions and impossible expectations, we accept that we cannot determine our relationships with other people. Relationships are mysterious and ultimately unknowable. If you surrender to the greater power of the universe that is glimpsed in the heart of this mystery, you open your hearts to each other.

   Tantra is all about dissolving your ego, learning to be receptive, opening your heart – letting love dissolve any emotional negativity – and seeing the divine in every aspect of your life, including the divinity in your partner. It’s about seeing the nature of the world as love, and making your relationship central to your life.

Body knowledge

   A great way to side-step all the emotional problems that a relationship often activates is to encourage the wisdom of your body, allowing yourself to feel love and express it physically.

   Traditional spiritual paths advocate cutting off from the body and disowning bodily experience, but Tantra regards your body as the gateway to your deepest self. A Tantric perspective invites you to abandon yourself to life, to enjoy your body and take pleasure in daily life. This means acknowledging the beauty of your sensory experience – attuning to nature, your own deeper nature and to those around you.

   Some people are naturally Tantric. They are alive to the abundance of energy and sensitive to its subtle manifestations in their lives. They feel engaged and inspired in their relationship with the world around them – connected, perceptive, aware and sensitive. It is possible for us all to live like this, by uncovering our innate sensuality and opening to joy.

Tantra for healing

   Love is the source of healing power, which emanates from the energy-body. An energy-body is the invisible energy within all of us. Once you accept the importance of love, you can use Tantra meditations to heal your energy-body and your emotional pain, and any sexual wounding and withholding that stems from a closed heart. Throughout this book there are meditations for healing, as well as meditations to expand your awareness of the subtle dimensions of life. These techniques create more harmony and happiness in your relationship, and enable you to explore your full sexual potential.

   Seeing you, your partner and your relationship as bodies of energy helps you to open up to everyday experience, engaging with your own life in a transformative way. Changing your attitude in accordance with Tantra creates a radical shift of perspective – you see the joy in mundane activities. By making the imaginative leaps suggested in this book, you can remodel your world in the image of your dreams.

Tantra and sexuality

   Sexuality is a powerful force that motivates us in many ways. Your libido is the source of your sexual energy, or kundalini, that can be awakened through arousing your sexual fire. You unblock and channel the potent energy attached to sexuality so that it is available to enliven your whole being. Your body can dance with sensual excitement.

   Tantra uses the fire of your sexual passion to fuel spiritual growth. Sexuality is a dynamic expression of your psyche – more a state of consciousness than a biological drive. It enriches your relationships and your life.

   The quality of attention and togetherness achieved during sex allows you to engage with your partner at a deep level of intimacy. Focus on opening your heart so that you can feel the love within your heart pouring out, and enjoy a deep sense of connection – both with your lover, and through them with the rest of the world.

   Take the first step to Tantric bliss by learning to love yourself. Before you can love your partner unstintingly, you must love yourself. Self-love is the key to self-development. Tantra deepens intimacy with your partner, but this means first taking responsibility for the quality of love that you can give. Look inside yourself to discover the depths of love. In Tantric sex, love is seen as a universal energy that is also inside you both individually. Through intimate lovemaking, you can explore and exchange this vital source of love.

   If you lack confidence or are frequently emotionally demanding in a relationship, you risk becoming overly dependent on your partner; if you feel distant, you are likely to push your lover away. In order to be truly happy in a relationship, it is necessary to be joyful when you are alone.

   You may, however, find it difficult at first to take the time you need to look after yourself. You may need to reframe your thinking, affirming that you are a worth-while human being and that finding the path to love and bliss is a basic human right. Tantra says that love and self-love is your birthright. It is not selfish to nourish yourself, pursuing activities that feed you. If you are used to pleasing others at your own expense, take the space to do what you enjoy. First of all you may require time alone, getting to know yourself and what motivates you; you can do this by recognizing the positive activities that nourish you – gardening, walking, dance, music or other creative hobbies. Explore your particular passions in life and live them. Someone else cannot be made responsible for fulfilling your needs. Let go of the negative aspects in your lifestyle and relationship that hold you back, such as any compulsive or self-destructive elements.

   Although it may be tempting to skip this section and get right down to the sexual techniques explained later in this book, make a vow to start at the beginning – by looking after yourself. All the time you spend nurturing yourself will ultimately enrich your relationship as well. You will have so much more to bring to your lover. The fuller you are, the more fulfilment you will find together. To bring bliss into your relationship, you can learn here how to experience this heightened state independently. Then both of you can prioritize those aspects of your relationship that bring you nearer to joy and bliss, and enjoy it in abundance.

   This Step shows you four Tantric principles with exercises that you can use now to release tension, and teaches you the Tantric secret of how to still the mind and awaken the sexual energy that fires your passion.

Relax and recharge your body

   Your body is the temple of your spirit. For sex to be sacred, treat your body as sacred too. Most of us identify more with our minds than our bodies, but for Tantric masters you can conjure bliss most easily through your body. Your body is the site of your experience, the location of your opening up to the world. It is in your body that you feel precious moments of ecstasy, which are reached through bodily expression.

   Consider the following; try them out as your daily mantras.

   Through my body, I can transform my consciousness. I can be free from identifying myself only with my thoughts.

   Through my body, I feel grounded and connected with everything around me.

   Through my body, I can be in the moment and feel present, not tied to the past or the future.

   Through my body, I can express everything there is to express, and do everything there is to achieve.

   My body is awesome; its design, its function, its capacities. It is beautiful as it is.

   Tantra describes the universe as a magical filament spun from threads of energy. The universe is dazzling, luminous. You are a part of this same fabric. You too are composed of vibrating energy. Worship the universe manifested in your being; learn to love what you see in the mirror. Your body is perfect and as lovely as a flower.

Total relaxation technique

   The most important way to look after yourself is by learning to relax completely, so that you let go of tension in your body. Relaxing is not a waste of time. In fact, you may find that when you do nothing for a change, some of your most creative ideas pop into your head.

   You can do the following three relaxation exercises every day. If you’re a busy person with a stressful lifestyle, try to spend twenty minutes each day in total relaxation – you can split this into two ten-minute sessions.

    Begin by lying down on the floor with your neck supported on a slim pillow or a book. As you stretch out, let your spine lengthen and bring up your knees. There’s no need to press the small of your back flat into the floor – just let it relax naturally. Allow your head to drop back slightly, opening your jaw and letting your lips part. Throughout the exercise, keep your breathing natural and easy.

    Relax your body. With each breath, let go of muscular tightness in your body. Let your back settle into the floor. Let your shoulders release downwards into the floor, and focus your attention on allowing the holding in your neck to melt away. Release any tension in the small of your back. Imagine that your breathing releases any backache and heals any pain in your body. Let the soles of your feet sink into the earth.

    Now concentrate on widening your body. Let your hips spread out over the floor, taking up more space.

    Every time you breathe, mentally encourage every cell within your body to expand. Send your breath down to the bottom of your ribcage, letting your chest expand more with each breath. Release any sense of holding or constriction, leaving more space for your heart to fill your chest. Let your shoulders spread out and take up more space. Let the healing energy of your breath dissolve muscular tension, stress and worry. Your healing breath can relieve tension and liberate your mind.

    As you breathe, close your eyes and visualize your inner self; deeply relax and allow this sense of you to be free to find its own state of rest.

    If your mind is distracted and busy, try to turn your eyes upwards. This reduces brain activity and promotes deep relaxation. Our bodies do this naturally when we sleep. You can also try this eye-turning technique during meditation or lovemaking, to still your mind if thoughts distract you.

Relax and chant

   This exercise helps you relax deeply, using your voice to deepen your relaxation. The techniques here incorporate sound, so that your body sings as tension is released. The sound ‘Om’ expands your energy-body, or subtle inner energy and brings peace, clarity and bliss.

    Make yourself totally comfortable on a duvet or blanket folded on the floor, lying flat on your back with your arms by your sides. It helps if you focus on the heaviness of your body, letting the weight of it drop into the floor.

    When you feel relaxed, observe the rise and fall of your abdomen as you breathe in and out. Notice how your breathing slows down as you observe it.

    Allow your breathing to fall into a calm, easy rhythm. Let any muscular tension in your ribcage and abdomen melt away as each breath is expelled.

    Relax all the parts of your body, slowly moving from the tips of your toes, through your ankles, calves, knees and thighs. With each breath direct your awareness to that area of your body, allowing yourself to relax more deeply with each out-breath.

    Focus your attention on your buttocks, relaxing them on the out-breath, and let your pelvis sink deeply into the floor. As you relax your pelvis and abdomen, say a long, drawn-out ‘Ah’. Do this for several deeply relaxing exhalations. As you make the sound of ‘Ah’, let the vibrations from your chest spread through your pelvis to the rest of your body and down your legs. ‘Ah’ is a sound of openness – open yourself with every vocalization.

    When your lower body feels relaxed and energized, move your attention to your fingertips. Spend a few breaths relaxing your fingertips before moving through your hands, wrists, forearms, upper arms and shoulders. Allow your shoulders to relax more deeply with every out-breath, and let your spine sink into the duvet or blanket underneath.

    As you focus on your upper chest, draw your breath into the area of your heart. As you release the breath, release an audible ‘Oh’ sound, letting the sound vibrations travel through your torso and down your arms.

    After several minutes breathing and chanting ‘Oh’, relax your neck, jaw and face. Spend the next few breaths relaxing your facial muscles, moving upwards towards the temples and to the top of your head. As you exhale, hum ‘Mm’, and allow the vibrations to resonate through your whole head. Do this for a few minutes.

    Now focus on your whole body fully relaxing. Combine the sounds ‘Ah’, ‘Oh’ and ‘Mm’ into the Sanskrit word for the sound of the universe: Om. As you exhale, chant ‘Om’, and let the vibrations spread throughout your whole body. Lie in a deep state of relaxation. Imagine every out-breath emanating from your vibrating body and into the endless space around you. Find repose and refreshment as you rest in this tranquil spaciousness.

Bring in the sun

   The sun is a traditional Tantric symbol for the belly. In this exercise, you energize your belly through visualizing the warmth of the sun. This helps to release tension around the pelvis, freeing up your sexual energy.

   Unfortunately, Western culture regards flat bellies as a sign of sexiness; however, in Tantra this muscular tightness is interpreted as a sign of sexual defence. Muscular tension is also a sign of stress – holding negative feelings in the area of your navel blocks the flow of energy through your body, producing further emotional and sexual disharmony. When your belly is hard and armoured as a result of anger or fear, it prevents your body from responding freely to the fire of your sexual passion, which also blocks the connection between your sexual desire and your loving emotions.

   You can also benefit from this visualization exercise if your belly is loose and flabby, which in Tantra is a symptom of neglect of your vital and sexual energy. By imagining that you are absorbing sustenance from the sun, you refuel with energy. In allowing the energy to fill you up, you encourage your belly to charge your life force, a resource for your whole body.

   To begin, stretch out on the floor with your knees up, relaxing your spine as described in the Total relaxation exercise above.

    Become aware of your breathing. Breathe in and out of your mouth for some minutes, then relax and let your breath breathe itself.

    Now focus on slowing down your breathing, and let each breath sink into your belly. Let your belly soften. Allow your belly to rise with every inhalation, and fall with every exhalation. Keep breathing into your belly until you lose track of time. Become your breathing.

    After a while, draw down your breath from your lungs into your abdomen. At the end of every inhalation, briefly pause, holding your breath, and visualize an imaginary sun resting in your belly. As you continue to draw in the rays of the sun, let your belly absorb its light and heat, and allow your abdominal muscles to soften. Encourage the sun’s warmth to spread throughout your body and limbs. Your whole being feels languid and completely relaxed, just as it does when you are sunbathing. Luxuriate in the goodness of the sun.

Heal your body

   Many of us have stress patterns in our bodies as a result of old injuries, shock and illness. However, day-to-day pressures also imprint stress in our tissues. This creates a pattern of stress that means we habitually react to challenges in a harmful way; our stress causes energy to become constricted in the body, which in turn creates physical tension and pain. Chronic tension produces common problems such as headaches, insomnia, anxiety and irritability. Tension can lead to a host of other problems, which may often prove unresponsive to medication.

   Some couples use sex as a way of releasing tension, but this is a waste of the potential riches that good love-making can bring you. Conversely, too much stress may put you off sex all together. If you are carrying tension in your body, you need to release it before sex rather than during sex. You can’t hope to access sexual bliss if you are using sex to deal with the build-up of stress in your system. If you’re relaxed, balanced and harmonized before making love, you will get so much more out of the experience. Below are two Tantric techniques to get you started – the Healing breath exercise below, where you direct your breath to specific areas of your body; and the Light laundry in which you use visualized light to wash away the stress of the day.

Healing breath

   This technique uses breathing techniques for healing, and helps you to feel compassion towards yourself by treating your body with appreciation. To begin, lie down, relax and breathe as described in the Total relaxation exercise.

    Breathe deeply for a few minutes. Then focus on the breath breathing itself as described in the previous exercise, Bring in the sun. Evoke a sense of marvel at your body.

    Feel thankful for your body, and appreciate it for the support it gives you in achieving your daily demands. Feel compassionate toward its aches and weaknesses.

    As you breathe, imagine that you are sending healing breath directly into any part of your body that feels tense or uncomfortable. Send healing energy into any part that is in pain.

    Allow this healing breath to radiate through your body for several moments. Notice how your body expands with the loving concern of your attention.

The light laundry

   This exercise uses the Tantric image of radiant light to literally wash out stress patterns held in your body. Light is a form of vital energy that is visualized to purify your mind and body. It takes only a few minutes every day to practise this exercise, and it’s a good way to deal with the day’s accumulated stress when you come home from work. You can also use this technique as an energy-boost at the beginning of the day, or perhaps before lovemaking.

   You can prepare for this meditation by turning off any artificial lights and filling the room with candles. Otherwise, visualize the light in your mind’s eye.

    Lie down, sit cross-legged on the floor, or in a chair with a straight back to allow energy to move freely up and down your spine. If you are sitting, rest your hands on your knees, with palms upturned to receive energy.

    Focus on your breathing. As you observe the fall and rise of your breath, imagine that your whole body is illuminated with light. With every in-breath, absorb more light into your body.

    Imagine that light is flooding every tissue of your body, throwing a spotlight on any darkness, tension or pain. See this healing light fill your shoulders, head and spine, your heart, chest and pelvis. Let the clarity of the light rest on any tension. As you breathe out, release this holding pattern of energy.

    Encourage the light to become more intense throughout your body, and feel it hum with vitality as your body is radiated. Let the light illuminate every cell and pore.

    Visualize the light pouring through you, like a pure, fresh rain drenching you, washing your body from your toes up to your head.

    Spend several minutes resting in the luminosity as your body fills with light. Let the light dissolve any shadows within. You are clear as a crystal, full of light yet opaque. You are made entirely of light. Imagine that everything in the universe is composed of light, and that light surrounds you everywhere.

Get supple

   Look after your body’s primary needs. Your body needs to move, to stretch and work out. For good sex it helps if you are supple, limber and fit – but you don’t need to become obsessed about working out in the gym in order to achieve this. The simplest way to improve your energy is to become more physically active. If you’re chronically tired, remember that expending energy usually gives you more energy. Any exercise that you enjoy will boost your metabolism and improve your natural energy.

   Pilates is superb, because it combines working the muscles of the pelvic floor with stretches and breathing; in Tantra, it is essential to work on your breathing and improve your pelvic floor muscles to enhance your ability to feel erotic pleasure during sex. Yoga is a beautifully balanced combination of stretching, breathing, relaxation and inner focus.

   You will also benefit from the tension release that regular exercise brings. The upper body, the small of the back and the pelvis are common tension sites, so these areas will respond well to stretches. Swimming improves your lung capacity and releases tension around the upper body. You can also free up your pelvis with oriental belly dancing, or Latin dance such as salsa. These styles of dance are great for making you feel sexually confident, playful and flirtatious. Remember that Tantric sex is about relaxing into your sensuality and your erotic relationship. To achieve this, you need to deal with the tension in your body before lovemaking, rather than rely on your partner to give you release through orgasm. Your partner is probably just as stressed as you are.

   Exercise should be a pleasure rather than a chore; listen to your body and take note of what you enjoy, rather than forcing yourself to work out for the sake of it. It is important to think about what your body responds to, and decide what you can do to feel enlivened. If you decide to devise your own workout, start with gentle stretches, but remember to breathe deeply as you stretch. Deep breathing nourishes your body with oxygen. This cleanses and detoxifies your muscles, helping them relax and preventing injury.

Dancing for sexual energy

   Dance styles such as tango have long been described as akin to horizontal sex. In this exercise, you treat yourself and your partner to a session of sensual dancing at home. Without anyone watching you, you can forget your mutual inhibitions and enjoy the mutual buzz of dancing together. Dancing lessens your self-consciousness because the music encourages you to respond instinctively. If you find this fun, enjoy a regular dance session in which you play all your favourite music.

    With your lover, take turns playing music you love, sometimes dancing for their delectation while they watch, sometimes dancing together.

    As you get absorbed in the dance, abandon yourself to expressing the music through your body. Free yourself. Don’t think about what you are doing or how you look. Let the music dance you.

    Explore the various dynamics between you, sometimes creatively sparking off each other, harmonizing, complementing, finding your own space, melting together.

    Explore different rhythms – staccato, lyrical or wild. Try periods of stillness when it feels appropriate, when you just stop and sense your being vibrating with the rhythm of your dancing and the grace of your movements.

Eating for energy and sensuality

   Self-nourishment is a primary need – food is literally used to nurture. If you’ve withheld food from yourself you may wish to relearn how to feed yourself with abundant good food. Your body needs healthy foods: a basic nutritious diet includes whole grains, legumes, pulses, lean meat, fish, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to feed your body with essential vitamins and minerals. A nutritious diet and regular meals also promote a sustained release of energy throughout the day. This helps avoid the blood-sugar highs and lows that can lead to cravings for carbohydrates and foods high in fat and sugar that are so common in our fast-food culture.

   Tantra is not an ascetic path that recommends self-denial in any way. Indian practitioners used alcohol and cannabis as part of their rites, as well as meat and fish, which are normally prohibited for Hindus. It’s not whatyou eat that has erotic potential, but how you eat it. As a path of sensual pleasure, Tantra emphasizes the natural sensuality of preparing and eating good food. Eating is also a ritual celebration of togetherness, which is communally expressed at mealtimes in Mediterranean and Eastern cultures. You can make any small meal into an occasion for expressing your love.

    Sexiness is about paying attention to what your lover enjoys eating, and taking time and care in its purchase and preparation. Don’t forget the table setting, with candles and flowers, and do dress (or undress) for dinner.

    Choose ingredients that stimulate your palate, balancing tastes so that different flavours complement each other. Consider the texture and visual qualities of the food, as well as the taste.

    Serve your partner in an attentive manner, making sure that everything needed is available. There’s nothing sexier than an ardent waiter offering you tasty titbits.

    If you want to use food as part of your lovemaking, a fun idea is to prepare soft foods that can be eaten off your lover’s body – avocados, bananas, strawberries and mangoes have the ideal consistency. Chocolate has aphrodisiac properties and can be melted, painted on and then licked off.

The yoga of tantra

   Yoga postures encourage the release of any tension held around the hips, pelvis and shoulders. Yoga was used by Indian Tantrics to develop physical suppleness and breath control. The art of yoga is centred on your breathing, and your energy is centred, or grounded, down in your sacrum. Yogic breathing builds your energy in your pelvis and then directs it from your hips and upwards through your body.

Warm up

   These warm-up exercises stretch and loosen the hips, pelvis and inner thighs. Begin by sitting comfortably on the floor with your legs crossed loosely and your back straight.

    Concentrate on your breathing, directing your inbreaths into your abdomen. As you inhale through your mouth, relax your jaw. Relax your throat and open your lungs as the air moves down. Release your ribcage so that your lungs can open fully. Relax the muscles under your ribcage, opening the diaphragm and letting the air fill your belly. Keep your belly soft and relaxed.

    As you breathe, release your lower back. Do this by moving your waist from side to side, letting the rhythm move upwards so that your upper back, shoulders and neck are gently undulating. Let your back uncoil, and keep moving your shoulders from side to side to release tension. Let your neck join in. Once your back feels more flexible, spend a little time releasing your neck. If you don’t suffer from neck pain, you can roll your head around your neck slowly and gently. Let it fall backwards as far as is comfortable.

    Now lie on your back with your buttocks touching the wall and your legs straight up, resting on the wall. Settle your spine into the floor. When you are comfortable, let your legs slide open, and exhale as you hold the stretch. Slowly slide your legs together again as you inhale. Do this several times.

    Sit comfortably upright, with your legs opened out in a ‘v’ shape. If you are practising with your partner and are quite flexible, you can sit on the floor facing each other with your feet touching. Bend forward for a few minutes, loosening up the muscles and tendons before reaching forward to hold your partner’s hands. Using the weight of your partner as a gentle counterbalance, let your upper bodies rotate in a circle together. Be very careful not to pull too hard and strain a muscle. If you are practising alone, bend forward and place your palms on the floor between your legs. Allow your body to rotate as you gently push against your hands.

Squat!

   Practising squatting can give you more stamina during active lovemaking postures where the woman is on top. Squatting releases tension and opens out your pelvis, stretching the muscles around the hips.

    Move into a standing position with your feet hipwidth apart. Keep your feet parallel as you bend your knees and sit on your haunches, moving into a squatting position. Your weight should be on your heels, with your buttocks hovering just above the floor; be careful not to strain the tendons in your ankles. Sit for several minutes at least, breathing into your lower abdomen. With each out-breath, focus on relaxing all the muscles around your hips and pelvis. Let your pelvis open more with each inhalation, and release even more tension with every exhalation.

Swing your hips

    Stand up and place your hands on your hips. Circle your hips as if you were tracing a hoop, easing all your muscles as you move in a gradually wider circle. Inhale for half a circle, and exhale for the other half. Pause with each in-breath, just before you begin each half-circle.

    Try describing a horizontal figure of eight with your hips.

Release your upper back

   Repeat the squat position described above.

    As your hips and ankles ease into the posture, relax the top half of your body, letting your head hang forward and your arms drop loosely between your knees. Let all the tension you are carrying around your shoulders and upper back drop away.

Release your shoulders

    If your shoulders still feel tense, slowly bring your upper body into a standing position again. Then bring both arms behind your back, holding the palm of one hand in the other, with your arms straight. As you bend forward your arms will fall away from your body.

    Remain in this position, bent over with clasped hands, relaxing the tension around your shoulders as you breathe.

Corpse pose

   In yoga, the corpse is the traditional name for the relaxation pose used at the end or beginning of a sequence of postures. In lovemaking, the corpse posture is when the man lies underneath his partner.

    Lie flat on your back on the floor, with arms relaxed by your side and your palms facing upwards. To lengthen your back and straighten your spine, start with your knees bent upward and focus on relaxing the small of your back, settling it into the floor. When your back is comfortable, lengthen your neck by drawing your chin more toward your chest.

    With your next few breaths, straighten your legs along the floor, with your feet slightly apart.

    Spend several minutes relaxing. Concentrate on the breath moving through your airways, filling your throat, sternum and ribcage, and releasing all the muscular tension as you breathe out.

Make a bridge

   Remain lying down for the four final postures.

    With your knees bent upward and your arms along your side, slowly lift up your hips as you breathe out, letting the breath go right down into the centre of your pelvis. With each out-breath unfurl your back, lifting it from the floor. Leave your neck extended and in contact with the floor, but lift up your back right up to your shoulders. With every out-breath, release any tension you can feel. Think that you are offering your body to the universe; your body is a bridge for your energy to move outward.

    Let your back relax and move slowly downwards. Begin with your shoulders, then release your back, hips and buttocks, so you return to the corpse pose.

Release

    Bring up your knees, keeping the soles of your feet resting flat on the floor and the small of your back snuggling into the floor. Place your hands, palms down, over your heart area, and focus on breathing into your heart. Let your arms fully relax, with your elbows resting on the floor. Your fingertips should touch each other.

The butterfly

   The butterfly describes the action of your bent knees, which move together and apart like butterfly wings. This exercise opens your pelvis to sexual energy.

    Open your knees to each side as you breathe in, taking the breath all the way down to your pelvis. Exhale, and relax into the posture with a feeling of surrender.

    Take another breath in and, as you exhale, press your feet together and down into the floor in order to bring your knees back to the upright position. If this is at all uncomfortable for your back or hips, support each thigh with cushions.

    When you have familiarized yourself with this ‘out-in’ movement of your legs, switch your attention back to the rise and fall of your abdomen with your breath.

Surrender

   The posture of surrender focuses your attention on the movement of sexual energy by drawing your breath in and out through your genitals.

    Lie on your back, with your arms out to the side and your palms facing upwards. Let your knees drop to the floor on either side, placing the soles of both feet together. If you are not very flexible, don’t bend your knees quite so much, but leave the soles of your feet together. As you inhale, imagine that you are drawing in energy through your genitals and the base of your spine; in your mind’s eye, see it climbing up your spine and resting at the crown of your head as you finish inhaling. As you exhale, visualize that your breath drops back down to your genitals and streams out through them.

To finish

   Repeat the corpse pose, and relax for at least five minutes.

Get a head start: meditation

   Most meditation practices start with paying attention to your breath. Breath is the source of our vitality; it is how we live. In Sanskrit, the word for ‘breath’ means ‘spirit’. Breathing deeply also stimulates your unique energy-body, the internal, subtle energy that is stimulated through Tantric practice.

   The best posture to meditate in is ‘easy pose’, which helps to keep your back upright while sitting for long periods. Sit with your feet crossed at the level of the calves so that each foot is under the opposite knee.

How to breathe

   This breath meditation helps relax your body, and bring your mind to the present – it is this quality of presence that makes sex ecstatic, when you focus on sensation and feel the exchange of love between you and your partner. By practising breath meditation, you can let energy radiate from your breath and animate your body; when you make love, you can feel intensely in the moment.

    Sit with your legs crossed loosely in easy pose, with one leg in front of the other. Sense your relaxed body. Summon up a sense of wonder at the miracle of being alive. Breathe fully, right down into your abdomen. This expands your lung capacity, and slows down the rate of your breathing.

    Pause for a moment or two before you inhale, and before exhaling. Then lengthen the holding-in stage of your breath, as well as the exhalation, so that you inhale for a count of one, hold for four, and exhale for two.

    Pay attention to each out-breath and fully relax on each one. Let go. The in-breath will take care of itself.

   When you have mastered this technique, you can use it in all the meditations in this book. You can progress your practice by focusing your inner eye on visualization to encourage the natural movement of energy through your body.

Get centred

   Grounding, or centring yourself is a basic technique that deepens your sense of being; it helps you to feel connected and complete. When you are with your partner you can be self-contained, but also open to share your energy; in Tantra, this is a building block for intimacy. Grounding is also recommended as a relaxation technique after dynamic freestyle dancing; learn how to move from a state of high energy into this blissful, centring meditation.

    Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and your knees slightly bent, with your back straight. This helps align your spine so that energy can move through your body more easily.

    Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing. Be aware of your inhalation and exhalation, without trying to control it. Observe it for a few minutes. You will probably notice that your breathing calms down and becomes longer and more even just by paying attention to it.

    Inhale, and imagine that your breath is travelling down to the base of your spine, right to your tailbone. As you exhale, imagine it moving back up your spine to exit through your lungs.

    Imagine that you are a new tree growing roots. Visualize these conduits of energy reaching deep down into the earth. As you breathe in and out, your roots are expanding, growing, reaching through the layers of earth. With each out-breath, let your roots penetrate even deeper as if they are striving to touch the centre of the earth. This symbolizes your connection to the earth as a source of energy. Feel this vital energy pouring into you through your roots.

    As you continue to breathe, draw this nurturing source of life and energy up your spine so that it can permeate your body. Keep breathing and drawing this energy up through the soles of your feet, creating a sense of solidity and groundedness.

    Then draw that energy up into your pelvis and torso and into your lungs and chest, allowing your lungs to expand fully.

    Breathe in, drawing that energy into the centre of your chest, in the area of your heart. Feel your heart expand with your breath, and fill with energy for life and love.

    Fill your head with energy. Imagine that you are growing branches of energy that touch the sky from the crown of your head. Feel these vital conduits reach into space, the realm of the infinite and of the spirit.

    Feel a sense of infinite possibility. Mentally bring down this sense of expansion and spaciousness through the branches in the sky and into the crown at the top of your head. Then bring this sensation into your chest; let your heart feel soothed. Imagine the spaciousness of the heavens mingling with the grounding energy of the earth in your heart. See your heart as the centre of convergence whose roots connect with the earth, and whose branches connect with heaven. You are a bridge between the two.

Ground yourself in nature

   Start with this simple visualization exercise to learn how to take in energy from outside in order to balance your own internal energy. When you feel more connected to the earth – literally grounded – you are better able to remain yourself while in the energy field of others. This helps you to maintain your self-esteem and internal balance.

    Imagine yourself in a favourite landscape. If you feel most at peace in woodlands, mountains or meadows, imagine yourself there. In your mind’s eye, picture the landscape, the rocks and trees, foliage and flowers. If the seaside gives you most energy, visualize yourself on a shore, feet in the sand, gazing at the ocean. Go inside yourself and commune with nature. Feel connected and nourished by what is around you.

    Relax and feel the environment holding you. You are resting in the waves of the ocean, or the leaves and grasses all around you.

    Absorb the goodness and strength of nature. Imagine that everything around you gives you energy and light.

On finding stillness

   Meditation masters say that you don’t need to do anything in order to find stillness; you simply cease your activity to stop doing and start being. Yet it can be difficult to find stillness, because we need to learn to quiet the incessant chatter of our minds. Our minds are often charged and over-stimulated; our normal state of mind is restless, chaotic and overrun with myriad thoughts that push and pull us in different directions.

   Sages hold that thoughts are a distraction from your true self, and this sense of authenticity can only emerge in the gaps between thoughts – the time when your thoughts are not there to claim your attention. This is the authentic self, an inherent quality of presence that is not defined by what we do or our identity labels. It is a quality of consciousness that is open, responsive and vibrant.

   When you let go of your mind, you also let go of your ego. Your ego is the idea you have of yourself that is made up of your thoughts about yourself. These are usually negative thoughts and create what psychologists call a ‘false’ self – an idea of yourself that is not based on the reality of who you are. Your authentic nature is a state of being experienced in meditation, in lovemaking, in peak experiences where you feel moved into a realm of ecstasy. These are all times when you transcend a limited idea of who you are and what you are capable of experiencing. By shifting your focus to clear and still your mind, you make way for your own ecstasy.

Shift your focus, clear your mind

   The most important thing to do in order to experience a different state of being is to stop thinking and allow yourself to be entirely in the present, not the future. You can transform your experience of anything by shifting the focus of your attention. By mastering this technique, you get more out of everything that you do. During lovemaking, you can experience more intense pleasure by simply choosing to focus on your pleasure.

    You can use any mundane activity as a meditation. While you’re walking to work, focus on enjoying every step of the way. Rather than mentally plan all the things you have to do, absorb the detail of what’s around you.

    At home, apply this approach to the tasks you loathe. Enjoy the sensory experience of washing up; slow it down, watch the bubbles, trace the water.

    Choose one focus for your mind. Channel all its powers into a single point, such as gazing at a flower. Let looking absorb all your mental energy. Keep practising this until you can hold the object in your mind’s eye, unwavering, for at least five minutes. When you have mastered this you can try sitting in meditation in front of a flickering candle flame, or just focus on the slow inhalation and exhalation of your breath.

Witness your thoughts

   Sitting quietly and watching your thoughts is the first step to developing some degree of detachment from them. It is your thoughts that create a screen composed of preconceptions, judgments and interpretations that hamper relating. The first step to disengaging from the ceaseless activity of your mind is to become a witness to the process.

    Let any thoughts that enter your mind come and go without captivating your interest. Don’t struggle to control your thoughts; the best way to deal with them is to keep bringing your awareness back to your breathing. Breathe in, feeling the air fill your chest, and push your abdomen gently outwards. Hold the breath without any tension in your body, and then gently release the air.

    You will notice how often your mind pulls away from focusing on a simple act with all sorts of distractions. Don’t try to control your mind. The art of meditation is in letting go of thoughts, rather than trying to force your mind to be somewhere. Just observe your thoughts.

Meditation and sex

   Tantra provides the perfect method and the motivation for keeping you in the moment: sex. Sex is one of the few moments in everyday life when we are able to suspend our thoughts; this is the sort of thought-gap that we aim for in meditation.

   For most people sex provides one of the few peak experiences in life. Tantra holds that life can be like this all the time, if you learn to transform your consciousness. Life is really a vibrant, energizing, delicious stream of energy, if you can just let go of what you think life is all about and who you think you are. Letting go of preconceived ideas will automatically uncover a more authentic way of being.

Meditate on your sexual energy

   After a relaxing bath, light a candle in front of a mirror. Gaze at your naked body in the mirror. Appreciate the beauty of your form. Then close your eyes and go inward.

    Enjoy the sensuality of your body. You are your sexuality.

    Let eroticism spread throughout your whole being. Draw your breath down into your pelvis, and then into your sexual organs. Sense them warm and alive, suffusing your body with sexual energy. Let a sensual glow radiate from your body.

    Enjoy being alive. Enjoy being sexy. Appreciate the sense of wellbeing that awakening your sexual nature allows you. Celebrate the presence of erotic energy – it is not only in you, it is all around you. Plug into it and let your erotic nature explode.

    Melt into sexual bliss.

Get a sexual energy-body

   The sexual energy-body is part of the subtle body inside us that we can feel but not touch. The more you become aware of your own energy-body, the more you improve your wellbeing and enhance your sexual satisfaction. You also improve your ability to connect with your partner and sustain that connection. Working with Tantric techniques helps you to open your heart to more love, becoming more aware of the importance of love as well as the sacredness of life. One of the best byproducts of awakening your internal energy-body is achieving a state of dynamic meditation; this is when you feel vibrant, but amazingly relaxed.

   Body therapists have discovered that the movement of energy through the body clears physical tension produced by holding your body tight, and promotes healthy function. Therapists release this by encouraging physical movement and paying attention to the streaming of energy in the body. This is close to the way Tantra views the relationship between the subtle energy-body and our physical body. Your natural state of energy is one of constant flow.

Feeling your unique energy-body

   This meditation helps you sense and connect with the vitality of your inner body of energy.

    Close your eyes to focus on sensing your body from within. Let your body revel in its vitality. Focus your awareness on your pelvis, feeling it radiating energy. Let the energy spread from your pelvis into your chest and heart area. Feel the energy in your head, arms and hands. Let the energy spread from your hips and buttocks down into your legs and feet.

    Relax into your body more deeply. Sense how this energy pervades your heart, your lungs, your muscles and every tissue of your body. Focus on the sensation inside your body.

    Feel that every cell of your body is full of vitality, vibrating with energy. Focus all your attention on this.

    Let go of the form of your body. Pay attention to the feel of this energy, visualizing the finely vibrating atoms and molecules. Feel how your body is made up of energy; you are just a small part of a vast energy field.

    Sense how the subtle energy field that makes up the universe permeates you. Let it course throughout your whole body.

Awaken your inner fire

   This meditation helps you to connect with your natural erotic energy.

    Lie down comfortably, allowing your whole body to relax. Focus on your gentle breathing.

    Feel your sexual energy emanating from your pelvis. Sense it penetrating your whole body. Revel in the sensuality of your body.

    Imagine an intense, inner heat at the core of your being. Visualize this as red fire permeating your body. Let your sexual energy enliven you – don’t think, feel it: feel your sexual being. Embrace that sexual power.

   As you go about your daily life, allow this sexual energy to be in your awareness. Don’t cut off from it, judging it inappropriate, embarrassing or distracting. Sexuality is your true nature.

   Allow it to colour your interactions with warmth, passion and sexual presence.

The chakra energy map

   The energy-body has been documented over thousands of years. The body’s energy system is considered to be a microcosm of the universe. In this model, there is usually a central conduit of energy from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, fed by two main channels on either side and a network of subsidiary arteries. Alongthe main channels are areas where the energy gathers and seems particularly intense. These are described as chakras, or wheels of energy. There are seven principle chakras, and myriad minor chakra points.

   At the crown of the head is the seventh chakra, where mind and body, heart and soul are unified. Tantric practitioners describe this unification symbolically as the lovemaking of the divine goddess and her consort, whose sexual satisfaction creates a cosmic state of bliss and connectedness.

Give yourself pleasure

   Sensual pleasure is vital for your wellbeing. It nurtures your body and opens you to sexual experience, enhancing your life. You need pleasure as an affirmation of your right to happiness and joy. Touch and nurturing are healing. The need for touch is crucial for survival and development – so touch yourself.

   You need pleasure in your life, so learn to prioritize pleasure. Think about what gives you pleasure; you might want to write down all the things you enjoy doing, and then think about how much (or how little) time you actually spend doing those things.

   It’s important to make more time for yourself. You can nourish yourself and your loved ones with touch, with food, with sleep, with sex. By focusing more on the sensual pleasure provided through sensory contact, you will get more from it. Demonstrating your love and affection creates an atmosphere of love, which nourishes you too. Being demonstrative affirms your own positive feelings.

Sensuous touch

   Touch is a vital means of opening to pleasure. Through touch, you can reacquaint your body with subtle sensation. Slow and gentle touch allows you to relax into the sensation more fully. Touch each other gracefully, with gentleness. Have a session in which you spend time exploring the surfaces of each other’s body, enjoying the shapes, textures and smells of your partner’s flesh.

    When you touch your lover, keep your touch light. Imagine that you are tracing exquisite designs on your lover’s skin.

    Think of softer, slower ways of touching your partner; this way sensuality arises naturally and won’t feel contrived.

   Try using your fingertips, your fingernails or a feather to touch. Touch through silk, or massage with textured food like avocado puree or natural yoghurt.

Massage

   Massage is about feeling good in your body, releasing tension, relaxing, receiving and surrendering to love. You can practise self-massage, or enjoy giving and receiving massage with your partner. It’s a good way to nurture each other, to feel cared for and looked after. Knotted muscles can be kneaded out, aches and stiffness released, worries stroked away and skin stimulated. By relaxing your partner through massage, you prepare him or her to receive your love and absorb your tenderness.

   If your partner is going through a phase of not feeling sexually alive or responsive, massage maintains the physical contact that you associate with lovemaking. When you are having a difficult time sexually, massage helps you keep touching in a safe, non-pressurized way. All sex therapists suggest opting for non-genital touch and massage whenever your lovemaking is not working for one or both of you, and you need to work towards a new style of lovemaking. Your partner will relax more if massage is not set up as a prelude to sex, but something to enjoy for its own sake. Massage is about giving, without expectation of receiving – and receiving without feeling that you have to reciprocate. Sex, however, assumes that you will be responsive, and if your partner is not in the mood they will experience your desire as a pressure to satisfy your needs.

Sensual massage technique

   There are a few golden rules for massage:

   

   1 Keep the room warm. You may like to cover the parts of the body that you are not massaging with a warm towel.

   2 Place a few drops of massage oil in your palms and rub them together to warm the oil before you apply it.

   3 Keep one hand on your partner at all times; it’s distracting if your partner doesn’t feel your touch and then you suddenly place your hands on their body.

    Start with your partner lying on their front and work on the area just above the buttocks. Use long strokes, sweeping from the base of the spine (on either side of the vertebrae rather than directly on the bones) up to the shoulders – use one hand on each side of the spine.

    Knead the buttocks and work up along the spine.

    Pay attention to releasing the muscles around the shoulder blades, starting on either side of the spine and moving around the side of the shoulder blade and then towards the shoulder joints. You may want to use both hands to knead the area above the shoulder blade, working first on one side, then on the other side of the body.

    Massage along the side of the neck vertebra and into the base of the neck.

    Once you have relaxed your partner’s body, you can start exploring different strokes, varying the rhythm and depth of pressure. Be careful not to hurt your partner at any stage, and always stop immediately if he or she feels uncomfortable. Ask for feedback throughout, so you can respond to your partner’s needs.

Self-pleasuring

   Self-pleasuring is the key to taking responsibility for your own sexual satisfaction. Through self-exploration, you can learn about your own unique sexual response and focus on the subtleties of your own erotic pleasure. You can jettison old habitual ways of stimulating yourself if they aren’t particularly pleasurable, and discover new sensations. When you learn how to extend your erotic pleasure, you can share this knowledge with your sexual partner. Through experiencing yourself as pleasure, you can later include your partner in your pleasure.

   As you pleasure yourself, allow your feelings to arise without judging yourself. Appreciate your positive qualities, and accept those that you know you struggle with (shyness, embarrassment or shame, for example). If you can achieve this, you will be able to reconnect with your passion for yourself, others and your life.

Make love to yourself

   In order to connect with your sexual energy, make love to yourself. Set the scene by making sure the room is warm and put on some sensual, inviting music. Light some candles and a stick of incense, and crush some flower petals into a bowl of water. Then anoint your body with talcum powder or oil, appreciating the soft sensation of your flesh.

    Sit comfortably as you start to anoint your skin with massage oil, or use talc if you don’t want to get too oily. Enjoy the feel of your body under your hands as well as the way your hands feel to your body.

    Explore your body as if you were your own lover. Treat the experience like a meditation, relaxing into it. Take your time, experimenting with different touches. Stroke yourself with a feather, your hands, talcum powder or massage oil. Discover the sensitivity of different areas, paying particular attention to those you habitually neglect. Enter fully into the experience of your own pleasure.

    After some time, focus on your genitals. Women: Oil your genitals all over – your inner thighs, vulva, inner lips and your anus. Explore the delicate skin on the inside of your thighs, perhaps stroking your breasts at the same time. Touch your inner and outer lips, and all the surfaces of your genitals. Play around the clitoris, using a finger on each side to rub up and down. Circle around the clitoris, or gently rub the hood over the clitoris. Take plenty of time in order to find out what feels delicious, and to immerse yourself in your own pleasure.

    Men: Try different strokes and ways of touching yourself. Use your hand to hold your penis with your thumb facing up or down. Use one hand or two to cradle your genitals. Use your hand to make a ring around your penis. Roll your penis between your hands, or use rhythmic, stroking movements up and down its length. Cradle your scrotum, and rub or gently squeeze. Rub the fleshy mound behind your scrotum, which is the external prostate spot. As you get aroused by stroking your genitals, you may like to explore the perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus) and the anus, as this area becomes more pleasurable when engorged with blood.

    As you get really aroused, encourage a sensation of fine sexual energy to stream upwards from your genitals, warming your body.

    Bring the self-pleasuring to a close by bringing one hand to rest over your pubic mound, and the other between your breasts, at your heart. Let sexual pleasure fill your heart.

    Afterwards, relax in a luxurious warm bath.

   Connection is a fundamental need. The drive for connection is the reason why we are all in relationship with others. Couples who are more connected feel happier in their relationship and their lives in general. They communicate well, and demonstrate how much they care about each other’s priorities in life.

   A sense of connection is fundamental to Tantric sex. It covers many levels: emotional, sexual, loving, sharing a sense of vision and acknowledging your deep bond as soul mates. Tantra encompasses all these aspects of a relationship, and its practice encourages you to unify your two individual selves into a single ‘body’ of energy. This body is composed of love.

   When you have awakened your own energy you can direct it toward another in love. In the same way that you care for yourself, you can take care of your lover. Rather than relate to one another on the basis of your personalities, learn to see your lover as an energy-body with whom you bond at heart level. Personality traits act as surface distraction, which get in the way of love energy. When we become irritated with our beloved’s traits, this creates additional blocks to intimacy. You can use your energy to create a bridge between the two of you, which will keep you clear of the obstacles that risk causing your relationship to founder.

   Feeling connected helps you stay close to one another so that you no longer feel separate or alone. In experiencing togetherness, your true self emerges; you can enjoy your natural state of connectedness with others. When you care for yourself by meeting your inherent need to share, you heal your loneliness. You can express empathy for others and know how they feel.

Making an authentic connection

   Honest communication is an indicator of a good relationship. If you don’t feel understood, ask yourself if you really understand your partner. How can you expect your lover to know what you want if you don’t have sufficient empathy to understand them? You may need to work harder at understanding their motivation before you can develop a deeper communication and connection in your sexual relationship.

   For deep communication, you need to be in touch with the depths of your own life. Living authentically means finding your passion by expressing yourself creatively. Ask yourself whether you are living according to your authentic nature – are you doing what you love doing? Are you expressing what is deep inside you? Are you speaking your truth?

Speak your truth

   Make communication real; don’t fake it. You don’t need to fake anything you don’t feel. The key to real power is authenticity. You own your personal power when you take the risk of expressing your deepest truths. This expression may be an active decision to align yourself with your deeper nature. You can simply communicate your reality as it is, without pretence.

   Use open communication to create harmony and purpose in your sexual relationship. This means speaking your truth and being heard, but remaining open and being willing to hear the truth of others. Look at the ways in which these truths are manifested in your life and love.

Surrender the need to control

   Drop your defences and pretences. Frustration in a relationship can arise through attempting to impose your will or to make things happen. This creates a high level of tension. You may need to stop doing – to stop trying so hard – to make your relationship work in the way that you want. When you surrender any attempt at control and spend time being, rather than doing, you ultimately gain your personal power. Being too pushy creates rigidity, stress and suspicion. Being too passive creates a lack of focus and a tendency to escape daily life through daydreaming. Find your centre of balance and maintain it. Equally, don’t do anything sexually that you don’t want to do. Share your sexual secrets to defuse them. Deepen your trust.

   Anger is often a sign of frustrated will. Let go of the frustration of attempting to impose your will. Experiment by not trying to push for your goal, or forcing yourself to carry on. Learn deep relaxation, and use meditation and yoga to let go of physical and mental rigidity. Nurture yourself and each other.

Noble speech

   To heal emotional confusion it is essential to speak your truth. You need to communicate clearly what is important to you in your relationship so that your partner knows what your fundamental agenda is. For instance, if there are commitment problems in your relationship, you both need to be honest about your attitudes toward commitment.

   While it is essential to hold onto your inner truth, Buddhists believe that it is important to consider the context of your speech before you speak. It is not okay to say what you want to say, regardless of the feelings of the listener or the consequences of your words. Buddhist precepts are fundamental to courteous, harmonious interaction.

   Your words should be gentle and courteous, and go straight to the heart.

   Your speech should be aimed at spreading harmony, uniting what is divided.

   What you say should be said in the right context and at an appropriate moment.

   Unless you can contribute something constructive, maintain a noble silence.

   Don’t repeat in one place what you have heard in another; avoid gossip, slander and harsh language.

   Communicate your kind intentions rather than anger.

   Avoid putting others down; remind yourself of your limitations before rushing to criticize another.

   Don’t try to impose your will on others. Do not hurt them intentionally, or dishonour them.

   Speak about what you know, and admit it if you don’t know. Speak in accordance with facts, rather than your beliefs.

   Be honest about any mistakes that you have made.

   You need to remain open and loving with others rather than relate solely according to your own ego-centred needs. The Buddhist moral code is steeped in morality because of their belief in karma. Karma focuses on the relation of cause and effect – meaning that everything you do has a ripple effect on those around you. When you become aware of the serious effects of your smallest actions, you can then take responsibility for the consequences of all your actions. Whatever it is you are doing, make sure that you do no harm to other living beings.

Loving with attitude

   Love is the heart of your relationship. Yet so many of us are emotionally wounded that our whole society seems afflicted by a deficit of love. Healing begins with attitude and intent. To help heal your heart, contemplate the following.

   My heart energy is activated when I connect with others, my environment and the rest of the world.

   I open my heart by opening up to others: I value all interactions with other people, and I am eager to spend time building and deepening relationships, regardless of any difficulties I may encounter.

   I will allow myself the experience of joy, love and happiness, and accept elements of struggle and pain that result from missed opportunities to understand others.

Bring your lover into your heart

   In this exercise, you visualize an image of your partner sitting in your own heart. By bringing your mate into your heart, you activate your heart chakra. This is the most important energy centre to nourish when learning Tantric practices, because it helps unite your heart and love with your sexuality. You can practise this exercise daily to deepen your capacity for loving connection.

    Lie comfortably in the corpse pose with your arms and legs straight and relaxed, and your palms facing outwards. Alternatively, sit upright in a chair, with the soles of your feet firmly on the floor and your body relaxed. Place your hands on your knees, palms upwards.

    Become aware of your breathing, and focus on the rise and fall of your breath. Feel your body ease and your mind release.

    Now bring your attention to your partner. In your mind’s eye, see an image of them as though remembering a photograph. Mentally transfer this picture to the area of your heart, so that your lover sits within you. Let their image fill your heart.

    As you breathe in, send your loving breath into the centre of your heart, bathing your beloved in love. Do this for a least ten slow breaths.

Looking with love

   This simple exercise is like meditation, but instead of spacing out into nothingness, you focus your attention on your mate, with an open heart. To just sit and look at each other, steadily, without blinking or looking over each other’s shoulder, is challenging. The eyes are the windows to the soul, and looking creates a soul connection. Send your loving energy from your eyes into their heart.

    Sitting in easy pose with legs loosely crossed, gaze into your partner’s eyes. Don’t sit so close that you are unable to hold your partner’s gaze comfortably for some time. Try to hold each other’s gaze steadily, without letting your eyes wander over their face or around the room. This doesn’t mean staring, but putting your whole being into the act of looking. As you give your attention to your lover, you also receive their gaze.

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