Friday, January 22, 2010

Awakening the Inner Tantrika - Part Six - Honouring the Body Ecstatic

Part Two

Last month, we explored Part One of ‘Honouring the Body Ecstatic’. It was a mixed bag of very labour intensive exercises, some which were, frankly, hilarious. This month we finish off the chapter with some interesting tandem exercises designed to prepare us for the more intense tantric practices to come.

The focus is again on freeing the body of accumulated emotional and physical tension, and opening it once more to deeper levels of self-love and self-trust. The exercises that follow require that you work with your partner, so try to retain a sense of openness and playfulness when carrying them out.

The Square Stretch

Note: With all of the following exercises, first set up your sacred space and then begin and end with the Heart Salutation (HS), as discussed in the Jan/Feb editions.

This exercise opens your pelvis, making it more supple in preparation for the advanced practises in later chapters. Feel free to play some gentle rhythmic music to accompany this exercise. Allow about 20 minutes for this one.

Sit on the floor, facing your partner. Begin with a HS and then straighten your back and widen your legs to a 45-degree angle, as if you were stretching your inner thigh muscles. (You can put a pillow under your knees if your legs can’t straighten in this position). Place the soles of your feet against your partner’s and lean forward from the waist, keeping your back straight. Firmly grasp each other by the wrists and, looking into each other’s eyes, take some nice deep breaths. Begin to sway gently backwards and forwards, keeping your arms outstretched at all times, inhaling through the mouth as you go forward and exhaling through the mouth as you go back. Feel free to vocalise on the out breath, using grunts, sighs or other sounds to express whatever you are feeling. Sound is a powerful way of moving energy through the body and releasing it. See how far you can take the movement back and forth, but please don’t overstretch – we don’t want any tantric injuries! Variations include stretching one arm forward and the other back as your partner does the opposite and moving in circles from the waist, clockwise and counter-clockwise. Keep moving fluidly, don’t stop and start. The idea is to keep a flow going and to observe your relationship with your partner – when do you lead, when do you follow, when do you surrender, when do you resist? It may lead to insights into the dynamic of your actual relationship.
End with a HS.

Kat’s Diary:
Really? I’m honouring the body ecstatic with stretching? Where’s the eroticism? Where are the mind-blowing orgasms? It took me right back to the school gym and I fully expected to be sent on a cross-country run at any moment. Who knew that Tantra is being taught in primary schools?

H's Diary:
I would never knock back any opportunity to look at my wife naked, but after the erotic build up of the previous exercises, this was rather disappointing.

Squatting Together

Squatting strengthens pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, massages the intestines, relaxes the anus, loosens the hip, knee and ankle joints and stretches out the spine.

Standing opposite your partner and maintaining eye contact throughout, slowly sink into a squat, breathing deeply through the mouth. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, begin a gentle rocking motion forwards and backwards. Let your knees rest under your armpits as this keeps your shoulders, neck and chest relaxed. Don’t balance on your toes or the balls of your feet but try to keep your feet flat on the floor. If you can’t put your feet flat, put a small pad under your heels. Again, make sounds to vocalise your feelings as this will deepen your relaxation. While squatting imagine that you are making love on top of your partner. Keeping your head down and your knees bent, slowly raise your buttocks then lower them. Keep it slow at first and then make it quick. Make any sounds that go with this movement.
Then stand up, grasp your partner by the hands or wrists and repeat the exercise in a tandem squat. Pull each other so that you both rock backwards and forwards. Be sensitive and gentle with one other to achieve the correct balance.
Allow 15 minutes and a lot of room (in case you roll backwards!)

The Pelvic Curl

According to Margot Anand, “the pelvis is the place where you generate, store and distribute your sexual energy”. The purpose of this exercise is to gradually open up the pelvis using rhythmic rocking, expressive sounds and breathing to intensify the energy in the area. It teaches you how to stimulate the orgasmic reflex and let go of muscular tensions that inhibit orgasmic release.

We will be exploring two kinds of pelvic curl. The Downward Pelvic Curl is a gentle, feminine approach to charge the pelvis with energy. The Upward Pelvic Curl is more dynamic and is similar to what the pelvis automatically does during orgasm.

Maintain eye contact throughout – this is very important in this exercise. Also let out sounds using sighing or shouting. When the pelvis opens, long repressed emotions often come to the surface. Let it all out without embarrassment. It’s very healing to allow these emotions to be expressed and it will enable you to connect with a deeper well of sexual energy, free of repression and inhibitions.

Allow about 30 minutes to complete these exercises. Dynamic music, such as African drumming, is recommended.

The Downward Pelvic Curl
Anand suggests marching around the room for 10 minutes shouting ‘Ha!’ repeatedly and stomping in time to the music as a good warm up. Stand facing each other and close your eyes. Breathe deeply through your mouth, all the way down through your tummy into your sex centre. After a few moments, open your eyes and look at your partner.

Start rocking your pelvis forwards and backwards keeping your chest and spine relaxed but straight. Only your pelvis should be rocking. As you inhale, thrust forward without tensing. As you exhale, let your pelvis fall back into its natural position, relaxing your inner thighs, buttocks and pelvic muscles. Rock with vigorous movements for at least five minutes. Try saying ‘Ha!’ in a sensual manner each time your pelvis falls back. Gradually quicken the pace, stepping your breathing up to a pant, with faster and stronger movements and louder sounds (as if you are approaching orgasm). Keep this up for around three minutes then slow down, letting your breathing relax and the ‘Ha’ sound move down into your sexual centre as you exhale, (imagine that you are pushing it out through your genitals). Do this for about three minutes. Now you start the cycle again, building to a fast pace and a climax of excitement, and then slowing down but continuing to rock. Include the rest of your body in your rocking. Remember to maintain eye contact, continuing with the ‘Ha’ sound and the abdominal breathing. Do this for around five minutes.
Continue the whole cycle for around 15 minutes then slow down and stop. Close your eyes and notice whether you feel any tingling sensations or warmth in your pelvic or genital area. If so, well done! You are one step closer to truly fantastic sex!

The Upward Pelvic Curl
This is essentially the same practice but this time, invert the movement so that the pelvis arches back and up slightly as you inhale and drops down and forward as you exhale. Arch your back slightly as you inhale and rotate your pelvis backwards. As you exhale bear down and push out with the “Ha!” sound to release tension and open the area. Many people find this the more masculine of the two curls and you can play with this energy by tightening your anus and buttocks as you push your pelvis forward on the exhale. Again, allow the movement to build up to an intense pitch and then slow it down again. Do this for 15 minutes and then slow down and stop. Close your eyes and again, be aware of any new sensations in your body.

NB: In the beginning it may be too much to concentrate on the exercise and keep looking at each other. If this is the case, keep your eyes closed until you have mastered the exercise and are enjoying it, then open your eyes. You can alternate between having your eyes open and closed and see what difference that makes to your feelings and emotions. It can take regular sessions of this exercise to really loosen you up and to get to the point where you can really experience the delicious pelvic energy it raises, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work for you first time. If you feel nothing during the exercises, try sucking your thumb or making sucking motions and noises with your mouth. These release energy in the throat, which in turn relaxes the pelvis. You may find that cupping your genitals gently with one hand and placing the other on the base of your spine, greatly enhances pelvic sensitivity during these exercises.

Kat’s Diary:
Well, when I read the instructions I just thought ‘Oh great! More bloody exercises, this time Pilates!’ The squats really didn’t do it for me (or my Sciatica), plus can I just say, naked squatting with partner – not pretty. But when I got into the pelvic curls (and I don’t mean pubic hair), I found it to be quite releasing. It was quite confronting to look at the Hubby and I felt more connected with the exercise when I closed my eyes. I also felt freer to make some noise. I felt energised all over when I had finished but I’m not sure I could tell how far down that feeling reached! Besides, my pelvic floor retired after the birth of my daughter.

H’s Diary:
I know the book says it’s preparation for great sex but to me it just sounded lame. I can’t honestly see what squatting and stretching opposite each other has to do with it. Of all the exercises, the pelvic curls were the most interesting, but I think I’d dismissed everything as being pointless by the time we got to them.

The Opening Lotus
After the intended energising and expanding effects of the pelvic curls, the Opening Lotus exercise is designed to draw the energy inwards. This position is used in Tantra, Yoga, Zen and many other spiritual traditions because it fosters self-contemplation, calmness and tranquillity. In later chapters it is used in tantric sex, so learning to relax deeply in it is very helpful.

You will need a firm, comfortable supportive cushion or pillow to sit on. Allow 20 minutes for this practice.

Sit cross-legged on your cushion with your heels tucked in towards your groin (the lotus position), your eyes closed and your belly relaxed. Place your hands on your knees and breathe slowly and evenly through your nose. Let your face and jaw relax. Sit for 20 minutes observing your breath. Don’t get caught up in your thoughts, simply notice what arises and let it pass without focusing on it. End with a HS.

Kat’s Diary:
I like the ease and peacefulness of this position after all the energetic thrusting of the previous ones. It was restful to simply focus on breathing and drop into a quieter state.

H’s Diary:
I’m honestly not obsessed with sex but where the hell is it?

Next Month: We get a better understanding of the Chakras, generate some sexual energy and learn to ‘Open The Inner Flute.’ Here’s hoping this is an instrument I can actually play!

Awakening the Inner Tantrika - Part Five - Honouring the Body Ecstatic

Yab Yum - Ancient Himalayan Tantric Sculpture
Part One

After the unexpected depths and rewards of last months exercises, we delved into this month’s offerings with much more enthusiasm and curiosity.

A Note About What Follows:
Over the course of the last four months, I have found that Anand’s exercises can be a bit labour intensive. None more so than this month’s set which, if done all at once, take a whopping three hours! So I have split the chapter into two this time with the second half to come next month.

Honouring the Body Ecstatic
Tantric Masters believe that true beauty comes from the spirit. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that prizes Barbie doll beauty and youthfulness over just about everything, and so it is therefore unsurprising that we grow up without any real understanding of, or appreciation for, our own inner and outer beauty. Add to this the emotional wounding many people receive in childhood or early adulthood, which can cause us to cut ourselves off from feelings of pleasure or delight, particularly in our own bodies, and you have a recipe for low self-esteem and some pretty uninspiring sex.

Tantra prises open those places within us that have become sealed shut through shame or mistrust. It allows us to get our energy flowing again in healthy ways and ushers in deeper levels of self-love and self-trust. The following exercises will help us express and let go of the emotional energy that builds up and gets stuck in our bodies, preventing us from experiencing higher states of sexual ecstasy. Emotional and sensual fluidity is, after all, the language of lovemaking.

The Ritual of Purification

Note: With all of the following exercises, first set up your sacred space and then begin and end with both the Heart Salutation (HS) and the Melting Hug (MH) (both discussed in the Jan/Feb editions).

Throughout this exercise, which is designed to raise energy and to bring you fully into your body, try to bring your full attention to each thing you do and really nurture yourself. Sit quietly and alone for 10 minutes and breathe deeply. When you feel relaxed and ready, have a lovely hot shower followed by an invigorating cold blast. (Feel free to squeal in shock. I did.) Then massage your skin with sweet smelling lotion and really focus upon enjoying each sensation. You can, if you wish, combine this part with the affirmations and mirror work from the Ceremony of Recognition below. I found that worked well.

Seated Lovemaking - Himalayan Tribal Sculpture
The Ceremony of Recognition of The Body
In this ceremony we honour each part of our body in turn, treating our bodies as our temples.

Prepare your sacred space somewhere warm and comfortable. Place your favourite body lotion or oil in a bowl – you will apply it to each part of your body as you proceed. Allow about 20-30 mins for this exercise.

Stand naked in front of a full-length mirror. Do a HS to yourself. Breathe deeply and observe your body without judgement or criticism. Sitting or standing, lovingly apply oil to each part of your body, touching with great care and giving it conscious recognition. As you do so, repeat affirmations for each part of your body (including your sexual centre) using this example:
‘My feet are the vehicle of my spirit and I honour them.’ Finish with the crown of your head. Then place the palm of your left hand on the middle of your chest then lay the palm of your right hand over it. Allow the warmth to flow into your heart saying, “I have become conscious of my body as my temple and I honour it.” Repeat it until you have a really deep sense of the meaning of these words. Close with a HS.

NB: Initially, you do this exercise alone, however once you feel comfortable, you can do this with your partner – one giving and one receiving.

Kat’s Diary:
Here is a snapshot of our life. To save time, I started the ‘Ritual of Purification’ by taking a shower while my daughter was in the tub and my hubby washed up. I was ready to move on to the ‘Ceremony of Recognition of the Body’ but first had to wait for my daughter to put on her PJ’s and stop jumping on our bed. While Hubby pro-wrestled our toddler into her room, I ran around like a (naked) headless chicken lighting candles and incense and preparing the oil for the later exercises. In all honestly, I found the whole purification thing to be a bit of a waste of time. Standing in front of our full-length mirror I realised that I can look without too much discomfort on the top half of my body. I am still pretty and my boobs are less perky because they have nurtured and sustained life and I’m honestly ok with that. But from the chest down? Well that’s just the result of an unhealthy relationship with a box of Tim Tams and my natural aversion to anything even vaguely smelling of exercise. I experience a moment of regret as I realise that I now look exactly like the Venus of Willendorf. Funniest moment came when my disgruntled hubby came in from his cold shower and, in response to my request to write down his thoughts replied, “I think I’ll remember F*$k! F*$k! F*$k!”

H’s Diary:
The cold shower just made me angry, so I wasn’t exactly in the mood to then try gazing at my reflection saying stuff like, “my anus is a vehicle of my spirit and I honour it” (yes, that’s straight from the book).

The Art of Erotic Touching

The next three practices introduce you to the art of erotic touching (can I get an ‘Amen’ sisters and brothers!). Like the MH, these practices fulfil the desire for sexual contact independently of the goal of lovemaking. You will need about 90 minutes for all of them. Take longer if you feel like it.

Create your Sacred Space if you have not already done so. You will need some peacock feathers, some scented massage oil and some soft, sensual music. (We used Deepak Chopra’s ‘The Gift of Love’). Decide who will be Partner A (the giver) and Partner B (the receiver). Make sure your room is warm and comfortable.

Practice One: Feathering
Begin with a HS, followed by a MH. Partner B (PB) lies down and closes eyes. Both partners should breathe deeply throughout. Partner A (PA) slowly begins to stroke each part of PB’s body with the feather, barely touching the skin, starting around the shoulders and the throat and working gradually and sensuously down, then finishing with the head. Allow the energy of your heart to flow into the touching. PB just go with the flow – allow yourself to make sounds or to move your body to allow the feather to reach all parts of your body. After you have finished, switch roles.

Practice Two: Fingertip Stroking
PA, using your fingertips as you did the feather, lightly touch PB’s body all over. Be subtle, barely touching the skin. Touch everywhere – the erotic parts and the unusual parts – really explore your partner’s body thoroughly. Once you have covered the whole body, stand above your partner, straddling the waist and facing the head, lean down and with both hands and energetically sweep from the navel up across the chest and down the shoulders and arms in a unified flowing motions, inhaling and exhaling as you do. Then take a few steps back and do the same motions starting from the navel and sweeping down over the pelvis, thighs, legs and feet. Allow PB to rest for a few minutes then end this part of the practice with a MH. Sit facing each other and PB can share which parts they most enjoyed. Switch roles.

Practice Three – Slipping & Sliding
This practice offers a sensuous, full body contact. Enjoy!

You are going to be using a lot of oil, so make sure whatever surface you are on is adequately protected.

Take some oil and lightly massage your partner all over. Have them do the same to you. Standing together, slide your body around your partner’s with slow, undulating movements, explore every possible way of slipping and sliding around each other. Then PB should lie down while PA slides over them, letting the various parts of your two bodies slip sensuously over each other. Try using your hands, your buttocks, your genitals, arms, legs and back. Both should keep their breathing deep and their bodies relaxed. PB does not have to remain still – they can move in harmony with PA if they wish.
Change roles.
When finished, PB lies back down while PA massages their neck, scalp, upper back, shoulders and arms. Breathing in on the downward strokes and out on the upstroke. Switch roles.
End entire sequence with a HS.

Kat’s Diary:
In this case it really was better to give than to receive and far more erotic. A man’s body is not made for this type of body-to body-massage – it’s all hard angles and hairy bits. Given our enormous height difference it was also hysterically funny. I had vivid images of the hubby break-dancing on top of me and laughed until I cried. When he tried it front-to-front it looked as though he was trying to sneak up on me. But when he got back to massaging me with his hands… ah, then, then the hubby shines.
NB: We moved straight from feathering to fingertip touching (which I didn’t really like – it felt incomplete) before switching roles as this made more sense to us. I also felt that these two exercises were a bit unnecessary given last month’s practices.

H’s Diary:
I didn’t relax until after the whole peacock feather section, and then the following fingertip stroking didn’t really do it for me. But the final part, where I got a massage and had my wife oiled up and sliding all over me, now that was why I agreed to do this whole thing in the first place. But it didn’t really work the other way around – you can’t glide with a hairy chest.

Next Month: We complete our exploration of the art of erotic touching with some interesting tandem exercises.

Awakening The Inner Tantrika - Part Four - Enhancing Intimacy

This month we get back into the groove after a house move, a back injury and the stress of the fire season up in the hills put paid to most of our weekly practices. We reconnected by exploring the skills for ‘Enhancing Intimacy,’ with some really surprising results.

Enhancing Intimacy
Many people believe that sex is the quickest way to achieve intimacy, only to be disappointed when their partner is still distant after love-making. This is because in reality, it is not sex that opens the door to intimacy, but intimacy that enables us to experience really wonderful sex. The following three exercises are designed to sharpen your senses and help you to expand your ability to achieve true intimacy.

The Sensory Awakening Ritual
In this ritual, you will learn how to create a ritual of sensual delight designed to awaken all of your lover’s senses in a gentle, tender and delicate way.

Note: With all of the following exercises first set up your sacred space and then begin and end with both the Heart Salutation (HS) and the Melting Hug (MH) (both discussed in the Jan/Feb edition).

Partner A (PA) is active, Partner B (PB) is receptive. (You will eventually swap roles but don’t try to do two of these rituals on the same day).

PA needs to prepare a special tray containing the following items:

A sprayer with scented water (a few drops of essential oil added to pure water will suffice)
Your favourite essential oils – start with peppermint as it cleanses the palette.
Music – soft, sensual music works for all of these exercises but remember to observe a minute of silence to mark a transitional period between each of the five senses.
Musical Instruments - anything musical will do but go for harmonious sounds such as bells, mini cymbals, flutes, maracas or Tibetan singing bowls.
Touch – collect several items for sensual touching – peacock feathers, faux fur, silk scarves, beads etc.
Sensuous food – seedless grapes, strawberries, small chunks of fresh pineapple, chocolate, ice-cream, a shot of a favourite liqueur.

PA blindfolds PB, telling them that there is no need to talk. PA says, “I am taking you on a journey to an ancient Tantric temple, far away, in another time, another space. You will have nothing to do but breathe deeply, relax, enjoy and receive.” Lead PB into the sanctuary you have created for them and sit them down. Now begin to fully awaken each sense.

Starting with peppermint, slowly waft each oil under PB’s nose (making sure it doesn’t touch the skin), telling them to breathe deeply and slowly. Allow a minute of silence before beginning the next part.

Begin by introducing one sound which should be steady and continuous – ring a bell, play a Tibetan singing bowl, sing a single note. Add more sounds as you go along. You can circle your partner as you play them. End with a minute of silence.

Now we are going to initiate your partner into the sensual delights of taste. Take your time with this, tease your partner with each morsel of food – try dipping a grape or your finger into the liqueur and paint their lips with it. End with a minute of silence.

Use your array of tools to touch and caress and tease your partner’s naked skin. Try different pressures and techniques, surprising them with touches on different parts of the body. After a moment of silence, sit behind your partner and gently rest your hand rest over their heart. After a while, whisper your partners name and say, “You are beautiful. I love you.’ Or anything that feels good. Maintain this loving contact for at least 5 minutes to allow your partner to relax into it and then move into a hug, breathing together and feel how connected you are to one another.

Slowly remove your partner’s blindfold. Avoid talking. Hold each other’s gaze for a while in total silence, allowing them to enjoy the sacred space you have created just for them. End with a MH.
If you feel so moved, enjoy gentle and sensuous lovemaking, taking the time to really enjoy the touch, smell, sight, sound and taste of each other.

Kat’s Diary:
As PA, I went through this entire exercise with a huge grin on my face. I really enjoyed focusing solely on hubby’s pleasure and there was something powerful and deliciously naughty about him being blindfolded and totally at my mercy.
As PB, I loved all of my other senses coming alive. It was comforting, sensual and (at times) very, very funny.

H’s Diary:
At first it felt a little bit like a game of ‘guess that object’ but after a while my senses became slightly heightened, I noticed not just the taste of something but how it felt in my mouth. As PA, it took a while to get everything ready but it was worth it. It’s not often I get my wife in a blindfold.

Dark Goddess Dancing

The Dancing Gods.
In this ceremony, we get semi-naked and vulnerable while expressing our ‘self-love’ through dance. I know it’s daunting, it takes great courage to dance in front of another but before you run for the hills dragging your cellulite behind you, remember that pushing through your fears to enjoy ecstatic lovemaking is why you are here. Even if you feel insecure or unattractive, your willingness to try deepens your shared sense of intimacy, trust and playfulness. Don’t take it too seriously. Be willing to laugh at yourself and offer yourself, imperfections and all, to the dance and to your lover.

Prepare your sacred space. Both partners need 15-20 minutes of music to dance to (I know it sounds like an eternity of embarrassment) and should wear something sensual and comfortable. If you feel so inclined it can help to adorn yourself as a goddess or god.
A word to the spectator: Give your partner your full attention and watch with unconditional love and acceptance. Remember it will be your turn next!

The Dance of Shakti (female)
Standing, offer him a HS. PB can return the HS from a sitting position.
Start the music, close your eyes and breathe deeply. Allow the music to move you and really let the power and seductiveness of the feminine flow through you. End with another HS and then share your thoughts and experiences of the dance.

The Dance of Shiva (male)
Follow the same steps as above but try to explore the full range of masculine energies with your dance. End with another HS and then share your thoughts and experiences of the dance.
You can, if you wish, end this session by dancing with each other.
End the ceremony with a MH.

Kat’s Diary:
There are many things I stubbornly resist - the vacuuming for example, but despite my (extreme) reluctance I dragged up some courage and danced for my hubby as I have never danced for another human being in my life. I offered him, without shame or anxiety, all that makes me who I am and that, my friends, took more courage than facing a swarm of angry bees naked and covered in honey.
Note to women: dressing the part with a little theatrical flair really helps.
Watching my husband dance for me was really surprising. Rather than the amusing spectacle I was half expecting, I was moved by his grace, his strength and his amazing sensuality. I watched with a sense of delighted wonderment and not a little awe.

H’s Diary:
We were both totally dreading this, but it was surprising in a lot of ways. I loved being able to watch Kat dance – it was tantalising and sensual, but also honest and vulnerable. I was embarrassed to follow it with my own dance, but it flowed easier than expected, I didn’t feel too self-conscious and, dare I say it, enjoyed it.

Soul-gazing is a simple exercise but not necessarily an easy one. Normally people are very uncomfortable about holding one another’s gaze as it can feel like an intrusion. So, in this meditation you may be confronted with places in yourself that do not feel comfortable. Simply observe the resistance without judgement, focus on your breathing and continue to hold your partners gaze. Devote five minutes daily for five consecutive days to it. Then you can gradually increase the time to ten, fifteen and twenty minutes. You can also practice soul gazing alone, in front of a mirror.

Create your Sacred Space. Sit facing each other but do not speak throughout this exercise. Relax and breathe deeply.

Begin with the HS. Touch each other in a relaxing way, such as holding hands. I place my hand over my partner’s heart and have his over mine but do whatever is comfortable for you. Spend a few minutes quietening your mind and deepening your breathing. When you are ready, and keeping your gaze relaxed, look into the left eye of your partner. (The left eye is considered to be the receptive eye which allows the energy of the other person in). Gradually harmonise your breathing until you are breathing in and out together, let go of any passing thoughts and simply focus all of your attention on this divine being with whom you are sharing this amazing journey. End with a HS.

Kat’s Diary:
I always have to fight the urge to laugh or make jokes but once that passes, I get quiet and relax. Soul-gazing allows me to remember why I fell in love with my hubby him in the first place. I feel this gentle flow of loving kindness between us and wonder why we don’t do this more often.

H’s Diary:
It’s always nice to reconnect with each other (once we get past the first few minutes). And I finally found out it’s the left eye I’m supposed to be looking at!

Next Month: We Honour ‘The Body Ecstatic’ as we explore the art of erotic touching.

Awakening The Inner Tantrika - Part Three - Opening to Trust

In this post we will learn how to create an environment that fosters closeness, honesty and respect, establish a heart-to-heart connection with our partner and move beyond resistance with open hearted communication, even when it means exposing our deepest, darkest fantasies!

Creating Sacred Space
Creating sacred space is surprisingly easy to do. Take one bedroom add some big squishy cushions, a soft throw, some incense and light candles - lots of them. Music can really set the mood and our choice was ‘Loves Deepest Calling’ by Peru the Singing Woman ( A combination of slow, dark beats and Peru’s sensual deep throaty voice, singing about divine union between man and woman - simply delicious!
Note: With all of the following exercises first set up your sacred space and then begin and end with both the Heart Salutation (HS) (discussed last month) and the Melting Hug (MH). You will sit face to face without touching and maintaining eye contact throughout the following exercises unless instructions say otherwise.

Kat’s Diary: I really enjoy creating sacred space and we created a lush boudoir with very little effort. The music and candles went a long way to making me feel more sensual and open to the exercises. I also liked dedicating our room to our tantric practices as it got me out of my normal head space. At one point I did find myself wondering if I was going to suddenly rename myself Lilith Yoni-flower and stop shaving my armpits. We ended the practice, with a Heart Salutation. All in all a lovely relaxing experience.

H’s Diary: I found that setting up the room for the tantra exercises made me think more about sex and so it had a sort of focusing effect on us both. We knew that the reason we were doing it was because we were setting aside time to make love. It gives a man hope!

The Melting Hug
Begin with standing HS then walk slowly towards each other maintaining eye contact, as you get near wrap your arms around each other. Allow the full length of your bodies to touch, including your pelvis, keeping your legs relaxed. Surrender yourselves to the hug, allow yourself to give and receive these simple loving sensations. End with another HS.

Kat’s Diary:
I don’t come from a demonstrative family and so I sometimes get a bit uncomfortable with my mans hugs. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, it’s more that I worry that if I relax into it, he will expect it to lead to sex. I also find it hard to let go and be present enough to enjoy a hug. I’m always thinking about all the other things I have to do. Despite this instinctive resistance, I found this exercise lovely once I just let go into it.

H’s Diary:
Kat’s been much more physically distant since our daughter was born and I have missed that physical contact with her. So it was nice to be able to just hug her properly without her worrying that I was trying to seduce her.

Moving Beyond Resistance
True ecstasy can only be achieved when both partners are able to truthfully express their feelings to one another. This means being willing to share our truth without fearing that it will damage the relationship or hurt the other person. This practice allows you to identify and release sexual fears and to deepen the level of trust and intimacy you share with your partner. Try not to get upset or defensive, simply listen and give your total attention to your partner.
Allow 15-20 minutes for each part of this three part exercise.

Partner A: asks “Tell me what you are afraid of.”
Partner B: Discuss one sexual fear with your partner for 5 minutes. Try to define the fear in one or two sentences if possible. Then share your most recent experience of this fear. (Partner A keeps time).
(Common fears for men are often around premature ejaculation, clumsy lovemaking skills, penis size – for women it’s more to do with orgasm, asking for what they want sexually, body issues).
If A runs out of steam before the time is up, B can ask ‘What else are you afraid of in sex?’
Reverse Roles. End practice with MH and HS.

Kat’s Diary:
I was absolutely dreading these exercises. I honestly wasn’t sure if I had any sexual fears, apart from this one! If I’m honest, I probably played it a little safe and waxed critical about my assorted doughy, crêpey bits including my back fat and bingo wings. I didn’t feel quite ready to delve any deeper so early into our exercises. We’ll no doubt come back to this one again.

H’s Diary:
All sorts of stuff came up. Kat and I have discussed many of them before and there was nothing new discovered by our discussion tonight, it was simply good to be reminded that she loves me (and isn’t judging me) no matter what I think my short comings might be.

Describing Sexual Fantasies
Many people are understandably nervous about sharing their sexual fantasies. They may feel ashamed of the content or they may not want to offend their partner with the suggestion that they are ‘not enough.’ Tantra fosters a full, unconditional acceptance of each other including those things we might ordinarily repress or keep secret. Though it might be difficult at first, sharing your fantasies, no matter how bizarre or explicit they may be, may well open you to greater enjoyment and play in your sexual life.

A: “Tell me a sexual dream or fantasy that you have had.”
B: Share fantasy in vivid detail for 5 minutes.
Reverse Roles. End with MH & HS.

Kat’s Diary:
Ye Gods – must I? I am not someone who fantasises at all (unless Viggo Mortensen in a bath of chocolate counts? And even then, I think it’s actually the chocolate that gets me), so I didn’t really know what to do with this one. In the end I came up with a spot of surprise seduction in the manner of Mr Darcy. You know, a bit bossy and dominating. I also filed a couple of H’s away for fun special occasion ideas! I know – ‘special occasion sex’ – it’s very sad but I’ve got a child and a business to run!

H’s Diary:
A lot of guys might think talking dirty is great, but this exercise had me feeling a bit anxious. I guess I was afraid that Kat might be offended, but because of the ‘unconditional love’ preamble, it was okay.

Describing a Peak Sexual Experience
Examine a particularly enjoyable experience of sex with your current partner – how and why it worked – as a way of creating similar conditions within your relationship.
Note: If you feel shy, face away from each other. The person talking can lie down close to their partner but with their eyes closed.

Begin exercise with a HS followed by a MH.
A: “(Name) tell me about a peak sexual experience you have had.”
B: Relate experience in vivid detail – what happened, the unusual and pleasurable aspects of it, why you think it was so good and what bits were similar to other experiences you have had.
Reverse Roles. End with MH and HS.

Kat’s Diary:
I revisited a wonderful fairly recent love-making experience which was, for me, all about how we spiritually and emotionally connected in a much deeper way than normal. It was more erotic and satisfying than normal because of how tuned in to him I felt. Recreating it is more likely to come about as a result of this work as I simply need to feel emotionally open and connected to him.

H’s Diary:
I went back to something in the early days of our relationship. We had the most intense and passionate sex that resulted in a very long, intense orgasm for me. It’s hard to pinpoint why that particular time was so full on, so it’s a difficult thing to recreate. Maybe it was just that everything was so new.

Next month: We get initiated into the art of ‘Sensory Awakening,’ develop skills to enhance intimacy and indulge in a spot of Soul Gazing.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Awakening the Inner Tantrika

*Celebration of Love - Emoto water crystal

Part One – As Good As It Gets

So how did I come to this journey at all?

Well, I guess it came about as the result of the gentle ordinary-ness that lovemaking becomes as relationships mature and other things take precedence over sex. It's not that you cease to desire each other, it's more that the desire becomes something that can be safely tucked away when tired, or distracted or stressed. It is a reflection of our perpetually busy existence that our energies, including our sensual energies, become scattered - coping with the multitudinous necessities of life.

These following pages are drawn from articles I have written for an Australian spiritual publication. They will be slightly longer and a bit more involved than the articles can be because of their space constraints, so I am able to be my usual verbose self here. However, I have reproduced the articles in their entirety just so that I have a record for myself.

And so it came to be that one night as I lay in my H’s arms, 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 were 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 ( Whilst 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

An Open Invitation
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 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 & Awakening the Five Senses
Honouring the Body Ecstatic – Rediscovering and Honouring the Body Opening the Inner Flute – Awakening & Amplifying Your Sexual Energy
Self-Pleasuring Rituals – Loving & Pleasuring Self & Partner
Harmonizing Your Inner Man and Inner Woman – Balancing Male & Female Within & The Art of Giving & 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 & Channeling Orgasmic Energy
Riding the Wave of Bliss – Basic Postures of Love & 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 energizes 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 Time: 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.

Awakening the Inner Tantrika - Part Deux


Part Two - Awakening Your Inner Lover

Last month, I began my journey into Tantra equipped with only Margot Anand’s book ‘The Art of Sexual Ecstasy’ (and a somewhat reluctant husband). This month the work begins in earnest as we tackle the first set of exercises she sets out.

Awakening Your Inner Lover
Anand begins with three relatively simple practices: Conscious Breathing, Awakening Your Inner Lover and The Heart Salutation.

Exercise One - Conscious Breathing
Conscious breathing is all about following the breath. This will be a familiar practice for people who meditate regularly. Take a shower and then allow 10 minutes to relax before you do this exercise, which should take about 10 minutes.

Sit comfortably and close your eyes. For one minute do nothing at all. Simply try and watch what’s going on behind your closed eyes. You will no doubt find your mind flooded with images and thoughts. Now focus on your breathing, on the steady flow of air in and out of your nostrils. Every time you lose focus and find yourself thinking again, simply label it ‘thinking’ and refocus on simply breathing in and out. Don’t fall into the trap of concentrating too hard on trying to stop thinking. Be patient and easy on yourself. Moving out of the head and into the body takes practice and it will become easier as you do this exercise.

K’s Diary: This exercise was basically a meditation and I therefore had a tendency to ‘nod off’ occasionally. This is what happens when you have had a busy day with an active toddler and you get the opportunity to ‘relax’ with your eyes closed. My body whispers ‘sleep’ to me and I happily oblige. I forcibly remind myself that I am trying to achieve deeper levels of intimacy – my body reminds me that I am two years into extreme sleep deprivation. When I peep at my husband, I am slightly gratified to hear his gentle snoring.

H’s Diary: When I was told that the aim of the exercise was conscious breathing and relaxation, I thought ‘Well, this will be easy.’ And then I fell promptly asleep.

Exercise Two - Awakening Your Inner Lover
Building on the last exercise of watching the breathing we extend and expand the exercise to meet our own Inner Lover. This practice develops self-appreciation, which is the quickest way to connect with your inner lover.

Again, get yourself comfortable and relaxed. Play some relaxing music. Begin with the focused breathing from the first exercise – let your hands rest over your heart. Let your breathing be easy and gentle. Let a memory, an image or feeling come from a time in your life when you felt totally loved, supported and protected. When you find one particularly vivid and rewarding image, stick with that and breathe deeply as you study it. Remember it in as much detail as you can. Allow your senses to come alive as you let the colours, sounds, smells, textures and tastes come back to you. Really live in that moment again. Find a word or a phrase that expresses that sense of wonder you are now experiencing and repeat it to yourself until you can comfortably say them aloud. Accept and enjoy your uniqueness. Then gradually return to normal waking state.

K’s Diary: I hated this exercise. It sounded too ‘sit in lotus position and knit your own yoghurt’ for my tastes. I found my memories of feeling loved and supported to be very thin on the ground. I know, poor me. I had to come right into early adulthood before I could find anything tangible to focus on and then I felt guilty because it was a memory involving an ex. I wondered if my husband was having the same difficulties. I could evoke only some of the expected sensory feelings and I really didn’t feel them ‘igniting’ or ‘coming alive’ inside of me as Anand suggests might happen. I really just wanted it to be over.

H's Diary: Though my memories of being loved and supported are easier to access than K's, I still had trouble connecting with this exercise. It felt too airy fairy for my liking and seemed to have little to do with awakening any type of inner lover I’d care to meet.

Exercise Three – The Heart Salutation
The Heart Salutation will become a regular practice used as a way to begin and end each exercise.

Create a beautiful and private space in your home. Allow 5 to 10 minutes for this practice.
Note: If you are doing this alone, do the salutation in front of a mirror and substitute your own name.

Correct posture is very important in this exercise. Sit facing your partner for a few minutes gazing gently into their eyes. As you inhale, bring your hands into prayer position in front of you, resting your thumbs against your chest. Together with your partner, close your eyes. On the exhale gently bend forward from the waist, keeping your back straight. Bend forward at a 45-degree angle, until your foreheads touch lightly. Hold this contact for a few moments, feeling the connection between you. Focus on your breathing and allow yourself to soften and open towards your partner. Inhaling, gently straighten your back keeping your hands in prayer position at your heart.

You can either look into your partner’s eyes and say, “[Name] I salute the God/Goddess within you” or “I honour you [Name] as an aspect of the Divine.” Or, if you prefer, you can simply continue to hold your partner’s gaze and sound out the word ‘Om’ as you each bend forward towards each other on the exhale. Om is regarded as the root of all sounds – the very sound of the Universe itself manifesting. It is an opening and expansive sound and one that connects us to the Divine in ourselves and one another.

K's Diary:
This exercise was much easier for me. For a start it actually involved me connecting with my husband as opposed to simply being in the same room as him while we each did our own thing. We lit some candles and incense in our bedroom and we sat opposite each other breathing slowly and steadily. We began what I call ‘Soul Gazing’ which is holding each other’s gaze gently but without looking away and breathing in time with one another. Straight away this brings me into the present moment and allows me to let go of the busyness of the day. It also reminds me of how much I love this man amid moments of, “He really needs a shave,” or “My bum has gone numb.” Thankfully the running commentary passes quickly if I focus on my breath and keep staring into his big blue eyes. I have done this exercise before with lovely results and am not surprised when a feeling of tenderness for my lovely man washes through me. It’s not always easy to be vulnerable with him and I do have to squash my urge to giggle and make a joke when things get uncomfortable for me.

H's Diary: I liked this exercise, although I did find it hard to focus. For example, do I look at her left eye, or her right, and what am I supposed to be thinking exactly? I didn’t really connect deeply with Kat but it was a good start.

NB: We also fell about laughing the first time we tried to do this exercise. We were both so earnest, sitting opposite each other with our hands in prayer position over our hearts. We chose to 'Om' as we brought our heads together to connect and H's sounded so ridiculous, because he'd never ommed before, that I cracked up. He soon followed. I actually gave myself asthma, I laughed so much. It took a while for us to get ourselves together to actually move on to some proper soul gazing because one or the other of us would dissolve as soon as we tried to do it again. Very funny but also bloody typical of trying to do intimate stuff together whilst also simultaneously worrying that our wee girl will come trotting in to cuddle up in bed with us for the night. Is she trying to sabotage our attempts at baby number two I wonder?

* Sacred Space

Next time: We will be attempting to create a Sacred Space for our tantric practices without having to move home or hire a trailer. Apparently we will also be communicating honestly about our fears, resistances and even our sexual fantasies. I’m sure that will be much more of a challenge for me as I don’t really have any fantasies (unless you count the desperate one I have about uninterrupted sleep).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dancing into Being

Well - as this is just me starting out on this, what I hope will be an, incredible journey, I'll keep it brief.

This blog is to record my journey into the spiritual and sensual depths of Tantra - a path too complex to enter onto lightly and too important not to enter onto at all. I bring with me my enthusiasm for the new, my optismism that I will cope well with whatever the path throws up (and it's sure to stir up something from the depths!) and my ever patient and incredibly supportive husband, M. I hope that the blog will show what real people experience when they begin a journey like this. A journey towards deeper intimacy and a real sexual understanding of one another.

I admit to being a little nervous. I have intimacy issues which I know are about to get caught in these powerful tantric headlights, but my desire to heal myself of any known or unknown (unconscious) sexual disfunction is strong and I am willing to try if for no other reason than I love my husband and I want us to truly know one another.

Tantra is not just about sex or sexual positions or extended orgasm. At least that is not my understanding of it, though certainly those things do figure along the way. Tantra is a spiritual practice and one that seeks to unite us with each other and through lovemaking, with the Divine. It is a path that requires patience and dedication. Hence this blog - a way of keeping myself on path and recording the journey so that I may learn twice - once in the doing and once in the remembering and recording.

My husband is nervous about our lovemaking, the most intimate part of any relationship and the most private, being splayed out in cyberspace for all to see. That is why this blog is anonymous. I will not refer to myself or my husband by name and there will be no pictures of the two of us together. So, if you are expecting salacious words or images you'll be sorely disappointed. This is not a perve fest, it is a genuine exploration of a very ancient and very misunderstood spiritual path.

So why the name Dancing Dakini? Well, I have travelled to Cambodia - to the temples of Ankhor and I fell in love with the Dancing Dakini's there. A Dakini is an elusive tantric deity that might best be described as a female embodiment of enlightened energy. The word Dakini means 'she who traverses the sky' or 'she who moves in space' - this has been more poetically translated as Sky Dancer or Sky Walker. I like that idea. That my journey may lead me into an intimate dance with the Beloved - dancing among the stars, dancing through sky and space together. So I have become a dancing dakini and I will start my journey here with an open mind and an open heart.

May I prove to be worthy of the knowledge I seek.