In the bedroom, most of us have (some more, some less) experienced the great moments when time and space disappear, and merely the togetherness of two lovers remains. At the moment of margining the bodies and souls together into the orgasmic flow, our gates open to a new dimension and we reach a state of altered consciousness. For Steve and me, this is a spiritual experience. Thus I have found Tantra with my partner the easiest, the hardest and the most sacred form of spiritual practice. Ultimately, Tantric practices give me the opportunity for more love, better sex and practical spirituality.
Tantra mythology suggests that union is achieved by merging our male and female principles – pure consciousness and pure energy. Energy is represented by the female divine power, known as Shakti. Consciousness is represented by the male divine power known as Shiva. The marriage of Shiva and Shakti is considered to be Divine Union, a fundamental concept of Tantra.
Each of us possesses innate male and female aspects. These are manifested and expressed in various ways throughout our lives. Sometimes the man is receptive and feeling, at other times strong and dominant. Sometimes the woman is assertive and directive, at other times soft and yielding. Divine Union can be thought of as the perfect balance of male and female within each of us, as individuals. The Divine Union applies equally well to lovers.
Tantric teachings embrace the concept that everyone has an intrinsic potential, realizable through the experience of tantric practices. In the Eastern religious thought, Tantra is a pathway to spiritual attainment. In the Western mind, we can consider it a doorway to achieving our ultimate potential – a joyful life, sharing love, celebrating everything. The Divine Union is a powerful tool to help us get there.
Sharing the Divine Union with a partner can as easy as energy flowing on the path of least resistance, and it is immensely entertaining. But make no mistake; it can also be the hardest thing you ever had to face! It all depends on who the lovers are, and what consciousness and intention each brings to the moment of union.
With conscious intention, my partner and I use our relationship as a laboratory for spiritual practice. What better mirror can we look into than the soul of our beloved? How can I learn more about myself than in those intimate moments I share with my lover? What gives me more insight into who I am than the responses I receive from my partner? Together, we are inspired to new delights by practicing skills such as conscious communication, creating a sacred space, and exploring the interplay of our male and female sides. Practicing giving and receiving pleasure, and honoring each other as representations of the god and goddess opens us to profound learning. We become infused with ever more consciousness and playfulness – and those old cobwebs that build up in long-term committed relationships just get blown away. Such are the practices and benefits of Tantra.
There are many forms of Tantric experience. For instance, many tantric practices can be explored alone, and if the practitioner attains the balance of Shiva and Shakti within, the main understanding of Tantra is accomplished. Self-pleasuring can teach us a lot about our responses to physical pleasure and how we can become more ecstatic in sex and expand our pleasure. However, practicing Tantra alone can be a difficult undertaking, and a blind path altogether.
Another approach is Tantric sex with a casual lover. Such as union can take us to immense momentary heights that may have never been reached with a long-term partner. But here again, the path is fraught with attendant challenges, among them trust and safety in intimacy.
In my experience, the trust, love, intimacy and familiarity that exist between two lovers in a committed long-term relationship build a sacred and safe container for exploring the true depth of Tantra. We can reflect each other, experiment together intimately and learn how the practices and the insights we gain from such intimacy can enrich our relationship, our personal growth as individuals, and our life at large. A basic precept of the tantric relationship is that first we love ourselves, then we love each other, and finally we rise in love with life itself.
Integrating Tantra as a spiritual practice into life with a partner can be as simple as beginning your day by sharing a sacred embrace with your beloved before getting out of bed, and making time for a special kiss after a long day away from each other. Add more and more of these rituals to your day. I have found that the cumulative effects of such small moments of conscious intention and awareness expand into all aspects of my life. In this way, my Tantric relationship has become a path to ecstatic living.