Months ago I wrote about Tantric theories of sex. A lot of other stories and sexual news crossed my desk since then. I recently discovered a book that brought me back to Tantra – at least in a contemporary interpretation (that just doesn’t sound right to me). Tantra concerns a series of ancient Hindu books that describe specific rituals, disciplines and meditations. For Tantra, sexual love is a sacrament.

This book, “The Art of Conscious Loving” by Charles and Caroline Muir turned out to be a serious introduction to Tantra’s complex understanding if sexuality and our lives. The book offers a current interpretation of Tantra that develops methods to help couples enhance their sexual experience, deepen their intimacy and grow closer as a couple. It also is intended to help couples that have drifted apart or have serious interpersonal issues.

The book points out that “contrary to what we’d like to believe, we are not born naturally good at sex or at relationships.” Energetic harmony is not a common state and must be nurtured. Even though some of us might have benefited from experiencing comprehensive sexuality education, we all have a lot to learn. Equally important, most of us are conditioned by belief systems that might have burdened us with guilt, fear, insecurity or shame related to sex. All this makes it harder for each of us to experience sex naturally and, as the book notes, “the spiritual potential of sexual love.” In response to this common situation, the Tantra book offers a range of information and techniques aimed at awakening our sexual energy and potential as well as helping to create increased harmony and intimacy with each couple.

We’ve all seen situations where a couple doesn’t seem to connect at times – where one is speaking on one level and the other on another. It might be one person speaking on a logical, typically masculine level and the other on an emotional, typically female. Of course, the roles could easily be reversed. In “Tantra,” the authors explore why a relationship often transitions from a passionate and energetic state to one that is less passionate and filled with sexual excitement. They speak of an “energy hole” created when there is no need to pursue the other. The result? Lowered energy translates to lower passion. So, what to do? Well, it turns out that a relationship needs maintenance just as any other important part of our lives – like our career, family or a special interest.

The Muirs then proceed to explore how the Tantric traditions adapted for current use can help bring couples back together, maintain their necessary differences and increase their combined energy and passion. Always kept in mind is the different definition that men and women affix to the term “sexual intimacy.” For women, it is often more a sense of closeness and a deep connection. For men, it is more often a physical sense of closeness, and intercourse.

In Tantra, the goal is to help bridge that gap, and, not only help create sexual proficiency but also a deep sense of unity. Breathing is an essential part of Tantra and the authors note the key techniques for controlling and using your breath to maintain and circulate energy and also create a serene state.

One technique for couples is suggested as a way to maintain harmony and intimacy in life. It involves lying together on the side with the more vulnerable member on the inside. In Yoga, we speak of Chakras as the energy points ascending the spine to the top of the head. In this Tantra technique, as the couple lays together and practices special breathing exercises, their bodies begin to be tuned to each other and create a harmonious energy. The authors suggest doing this everyday and also when there is tension or issues for a couple. The Muirs note that often when a couple is having difficulty, they may be talking on different levels to each other and getting nowhere. Using this technique helps bring the two to a common energy level and reinforces the commitment to each other that is the foundation for developing intimacy.

One of the big questions about Tantric sex is the focus on controlling the male orgasm. I had questions about whether this was a reflection of some folkloric focus on male power being protected – something dismissed today by scientists. But contemporary proponents of Tantra say that ejaculation control is about ability to focus on internal orgasm as apart from external orgasm (ejaculation.) The focus on Tantra is for creating more harmony and the skill and discipline to control ejaculation – something that takes practice and skill. It’s a bit revolutionary for Westerner thought but Tantra distinguishes between ejaculation and orgasm. According to the book, “with extended practice” ejaculatory control allows the man to “separate orgasm and ejaculation, allowing him to keep his orgasm inside, and enjoy it through its circuit in the body.” Well, this may be both hard to do and hard to take for many. But, it’s worth thinking about. It certainly is another perspective given the West’s focus on ejaculation for the male as orgasm.

The book also offers a cornucopia of specific sexual techniques to expand and extend sexual lovemaking. These include orgasm without ejaculating and other ways to control the art of lovemaking. One is intrigued by such headings as “The Dance of Love.” And, one section explores the five levels of orgasmic experience. Intriguing, to say the least.

I hope that readers of this blog will find and explore this book. The Muirs have created a terrific resource for couples – as well as individuals – to learn more about the Tantra system of knowledge. It can help expand their lovemaking skills and, equally important, provide techniques to build a couple’s intimacy and harmony. This isn’t just an interesting historical discipline but a powerful system of personal growth techniques that every couple should know. Tantra is just as relevant today as it was for people through the millennia.

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