Part One – As good as it gets
Is that all there is?
As I lay in my husband’s arms one chilly night, I found myself silently wondering, “Is that all there is?” As in many long-term relationships, our lovemaking had lost its lustre. Sex had become something I felt I should do rather than really wanted to do. Childbearing, exhaustion and everyday stress had sapped me of my passion and much of my previously abundant sensuality. It’s not that sex between us wasn’t good – it could be wonderful – but more often than not I felt we were out of synch, as if only our physical bodies were truly connected.
In that quiet, post-coital moment some intuitive knowing knocked at the door of my consciousness and bossily demanded to be let in. In my heart (and quite possibly in my loins), I felt there must be a way to recapture a little of the passion we once had for one another, a way to deepen the intimacy and truly connect body, mind and soul.
As I’m sure my experiences of sex must be similar to many other women’s, I decided to set myself a little bedroom challenge. I would investigate Tantra; I would find out what it is, what it does, try out all of the exercises and honestly record the results. My reasoning was that if I wanted to know more about recapturing passion and deepening intimacy and connection in my relationship, then other women may well want to do the same.
So where do we start? If you are anything like me you have probably heard the word ‘tantra’ bandied around a fair bit. You know it’s got something to do with amazing sex, extended orgasms and strangely, Sting.
My particular tantric journey started with a visit to the website of the SkyDancing Tantra Institute founded by Margot Anand (www.margotanand.com). While her widely acclaimed workshops are unfortunately only available in either America or France, her books are readily available and easy to follow. Anand is the author of several books on tantra including ‘The Art of Everyday Ecstasy: The Seven Tantric Keys for Bringing Passion, Spirit and Joy into Every Part of Your Life’ and ‘The Art of Sexual Magic.’ But, as I attempt to awaken my inner Tantrika (or at least wrestle her in to some state of semi-consciousness) and bring new levels of intimacy into my sexual and sensual relationship with my husband I will be working with ‘The Art of Sexual Ecstasy – The Path of Sacred Sexuality for Western Lovers.’ Out of all of them I found this beautiful book’s approach to tantra or (sacred sexuality as Anand calls it) the easiest to work with. I discovered that beginning the dance of intimacy can be as easy as purchasing a good book and committing to spending one night each weekend focused on your love relationships. As a working mother with a very vigorous two-year old and a somewhat reluctant husband, I found this a reassuring place to start.
A (very) brief history
The word Tantra is Sanskrit, the sacred language of Hinduism. It derives from the root word tan, which translates as “to extend, expand, spin out, weave; to put forth or manifest”. Tantra as a subject is really very complex covering religious, esoteric and philosophical movements. Even scholars have a hard time agreeing on what is and is not tantra, but what is surprisingly clear is that it is not all about sex. However, for the purposes of this specific journey, when I discuss ‘tantra’ I will be referring to the practices derived from Anand’s ‘The Art of Sexual Ecstasy’ which focuses on sacred sex, rather than tantra as a religious or philosophical movement. For more information about the origins of Tantra and its full range of meanings, I recommend taking a look at www.tantra.com
Over the coming months I will be delving into the areas of sacred sexuality listed below and recording my feelings, difficulties and any results I find. I will be attempting to find out exactly what happens to both a relationship, and the individuals within it, when tantra is introduced.
If you want to come along for the ride (no pun intended), then get yourself a beautiful blank diary to paste these articles into and to record your own experiences. You might also want to buy yourself a copy of Anand’s book. It is important to note that these exercises will work just as well for single people as they do for couples with a few minor adjustments along the way. So please don’t think that this journey doesn’t apply to you just because you aren’t currently in a relationship. The same goes for same-sex relationships. As we will be focusing on deepening intimacy and expanding our capacity for bliss, it applies to all love relationships.
Topics to be Covered
Awakening your inner lover – loving yourself
Opening to trust – developing a heart-to-heart connection with your partner
Skills for enhancing intimacy – the art of seduction and awakening the five senses
Honouring the body ecstatic – rediscovering and honouring the body opening the inner flute – awakening and amplifying your sexual energy
Self-pleasuring rituals – loving and pleasuring self and partner
Harmonizing your inner man and inner woman – balancing male and female within and the art of giving and receiving
Awakening the ecstatic response – how to generate, contain and relax into high states of arousal
Expanding orgasm – sexual healing
From orgasm to ecstasy – awakening ecstatic lovemaking and channeling orgasmic energy
Riding the wave of bliss – basic postures of love and experiencing sexual ecstasy
A note about resistance
I want to make a quick observation here. At times you may find yourselves confronting resistance to some aspect of the work. You may decide that you are not feeling anything or fear that ‘it won’t work’ for you. Alternatively, you may experience unusual physical sensations as your energy begins to move more noticeably. When this happens, stay with the practice and be aware of how you are feeling. Where does the resistance come from? Is it a deep-seated fear within you? Identify the fear – write about it in your diary. Express it, feel it, allow it. This is the only way to move through it. As Anand points out, “You will be going through major changes, confronting old patterns, challenging beliefs you grew up with. We have not been trained for sexual ecstasy.” So this will be an awakening.
As an average woman with a normal, busy life, I am really approaching this subject with an open mind. I want to share truthfully the highs and lows of the journey, the places of bliss and the places of block. I have challenged myself to deepen my spiritual connection to the Divine as well as to create a renewed sense of love and connection in my relationship with my husband. In all honesty, I’m not expecting fireworks or full body orgasms (at least not right now). I will be happy to have my issues with intimacy fade into the background as a more passionate connection to my life and my beloved develops.
Margot Anand describes Tantra as “the yoga of love.” Like yoga, “the practice of Tantra offers peace of mind while it both relaxes and energises the body. Tantra enables one to overcome feelings of separation and create a sense of union. Tantra relaxes the body, opens the heart and brings the mind into clear focus. When this integration has taken place, you are ready for a new sexual experience in which physical pleasure becomes a delight of the heart and an ecstasy of the spirit.” This is where I hope to be when my journey ends. If it is more than this, I will be profoundly grateful.
Next month: We find out how to awaken our inner lovers. Mine may well have to be shocked out of its coma with a mallet and a very strong cup of coffee.
Kat Skarbek is a writer and Head Honcho of The Divine Feminine specialising in unique events for women.
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