Can Practicing Tantra Save Your Relationship? The Answer May Surprise You!
Mega Rockstar Sting swears by it.
So do many other celebrity and non -celebrity tantric practitioners, who claim to have found the secret to lasting love and sexual bliss. But does practicing tantra really help couples, particularly couples who are in complicated relationships, or on the brink of no longer being a couple, find their way back to both walking and lying in fields of gold?
The answer unfortunately is: that depends.
Before we dive deeper into why that is so, it’s important to understand what the practice of “tantra” actually both is and isn’t, which will also shed some light on why it may not be the “be all and end all” for salvaging a relationship.
What Tantra is:
1. Tantra is an ancient Vedic practice and philosophy that originated almost 5,000 years ago during the Bronze age in the Indus Valley, which today is India and Pakistan. This Sanskrit word, like most Sanskrit words has several meanings. Some say that Tantra means “to weave or to loom”. Etymologically speaking, the root of the word, which is “tan”, means to expand and the suffix of the word, which is “tra” means, “an instrument for”(1).So, the literal meaning of the word Tantra is “an instrument for expanding”. The controversial modern sage Osho (1931-1990), known by many in the tantric community as the “spiritual playboy”, defines tantra as a technique or method of “how to do something” (2). And while that “how” does include some erotic specifics, that’s actually a very small part of the tantric practice.
2. Tantra utilizes many yoga techniques, including mediation, asana practice (physical yoga), mantras (chanting) and more, to help people manifest what they most want in their lives, and yes, that does include having great sex. In fact, if you’re a fan of “The Laws of Attraction”, which is a new age practice for creating your desired reality with your thoughts, energy and vibration, then guess what: Tantra is where those laws originated!
3. Tantra is a deeply spiritual and metaphysical practice that believes everything in the universe is both energetic and interconnected. It invites the idea that when people consistently practice the techniques mentioned in bullet #2, they are then able to weave their mind, body and energy (soul) with what the practice calls “divine consciousness” e.g. “god”, “goddess” or “the universe”. When two people come together sexually with this type of mind, body, spirit inter-weaving, they can then experience a double dose of cosmic ecstasy.
4. Tantra has just as much to do with people opening their hearts to each other, as it does their “yoni (vagina) or lingham”(penis). In fact, the practice of tantric sex, where people drop into silence and stillness while gazing deeply into each other’s eyes before they initiate touch, is meant to be a physical expansion of the emotional and erotic connection that the couple begins to experience organically, while sitting in silence together. The act of sex, in turn, then helps to deepen and expand the couple’s emotional, spiritual and erotic connection.
Sounds heavenly, right? But before you sign up for your first tantric sex workshop, there’s few things you may want to consider first.
What Tantra Isn’t:
1. Contrary to popular belief, tantra isn’t a guaranteed method for having great sex. Some people actually find some of the techniques taught at tantric sex workshops rigid and ritualistic. For some, beginning sex the same way each time and waiting to drop into that silence before they initiate touch can feel too contrived, ritualistic or planned, and it actually hinders their sense of playfulness and spontaneity.
2. It’s also not a panacea for a troubled relationship. While engaging in some of the tantric practices such the “lingham massage”, (a.k.a. the Vedic hand job) and making love without the intention to orgasm (also known as marathon sex), can help some couples feel more confident and adventurous in the bedroom, it’s not the best way to foster a deeper emotional connection between two people. Love, desire, and eroticism are all very different things which do feel wonderful when experienced at the same time. Practicing tantric sexual techniques, does not guarantee that triple combination will happen! While having sex does release endorphins as well as trigger the bonding hormones that promote a sense of feeling loved and cared for shortly after the act, that endorphin high and sense of bonding can often be short lived. Deep bonding and a real experienced sense of connectedness between two people that then becomes erotic, actually takes place outside of the bedroom.
3. Practicing tantric sex isn’t a substitute for Couples Therapy. In fact, if a couple doesn’t understand why they fight or disconnect, then they may actually end up feeling more wounded by their partner after practicing tantric sex. By making themselves super exposed and vulnerable with this practice, they may be inadvertently setting themselves up for some major betrayal trauma. Once they fall back into their habitual behavioral patterns, which they will because they haven’t really resolved their issues, the bonding hormones released during sex that help them to feel temporarily closer will quickly wear off. This is often when the fight between the two people intensifies and gloves come off!
4. Tantra is not for everyone. The true practice of tantra has so much more to do with one’s sense of spirituality in the world, then sex, and not everyone’s beliefs align with it. As they say in most yoga classes, if something doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it!
So what can save a troubled relationship?
Most people long to be deeply seen and known by another. They also want to touch and be touched. When a couple is on the verge of calling it quits, usually one or both parties doesn’t feel seen, valued and or respected by the other. That often translates into disconnected sex or for some, a sexless partnership. Going to therapy, whether it be individual psychotherapy, couples counseling, or both, can help people get to know theirs and their partners inner landscape and how to be more tuned into their wants, needs and desires as well as their partner’s. They also learn how to ask for what they want and hear their partner’s answer as well as their partner’s requests, and in turn, offer their answer. This is where the art of negotiating conflict can begin to take place.
Therapy also helps people learn more about their attachment style, which is how their inner landscaped formed during childhood, including their vulnerabilities and wounds. It’s their road map that draws them to certain kinds of partners, who ironically, know just how to nick those wounds. Therapy teaches a couple how both they and their partner have been inadvertently trigging those vulnerabilities and wounds, probably for a very long time, which has caused some major re-bleeding!
One of the things people come to understand in couples’ therapy is the misconception that one’s partner is responsible for taking care of those wounds. Many couples unconsciously place that burden on their partner, which over time, can breed resentment.
While therapy helps each person be more caring and compassionate towards their partner’s tender spots and core vulnerabilities, it also helps each member of the couple take responsibility for healing their own stuff and release their partner of that burden – which by the way, is not easy thing to do! Still, when two people can come together time and time again to both engage in compassionate witnessing of the other along with taking personal responsibility for their own healing, in time, they will be able to open their hearts wider and wider to each other. Then, they will be able to eroticize that new found open -hearted connection, which in turn will allow for, well, whatever the couple wants to experience next!
In essence, couples’ therapy is really a modern -day tantric practice that teaches two people how they can weave together their hearts, minds, and bodies and continuously expand that connection, in a way that feels oh so good and right for them.
It prepares the couple, should they do their work and choose to stay together, to experience true and authentic erotic bliss.
Now what could be better than that?
2. Osho. The Book Of Secrets. St. Martin’s Griffin. 1998.
Maura Matarese, M.A. LMHC, R.Y.T., is a psychotherapist and author of the book: Finding Hope in the Crisis: A Therapist’s Perspective on Love, Loss, and Courage, which available to purchase on Amazon..