Photographer: Damon Dahlen
Six years ago, the words "Tantric sex" were not in my vocabulary. When I started doing research about it, I discovered that Tantric sex has been practiced for 5,000 years, and I wondered, So why haven't I heard of it before? I was especially baffled by my ignorance when I found out that Tantric sex is at the heart of yoga, which I had been practicing for 13 years!
At the beginning, I thought it was all about having sex, but I soon learned that Tantric sex isn't some stand-alone sexual practice -- it is based in the heart of the Tantra living philosophy, which is all about supporting our natural desires to respect and cherish our bodies, minds, and spirits lovingly, holistically, healthfully, and expressively. The practice of Tantric sex is not only a physical practice, but also an emotional and energetic connection to our partner and ourselves.
I quickly began to understand that the first thing I would need to do in order to openly explore the powerful possibilities of Tantric sex was to look within at my own shame, guilt, and limited perspectives on sexuality -- my own and that of others. I needed to become less judgmental and more curious about sexual preferences, fantasies, and desires.
Tantric sex supports accepting, honoring, and allowing ourselves and our partner to be exactly who we are at any moment, whether that's through communication, energy exchange, or physical sex. The decision to trust must come first. The less judgmental we are, the more intimate we can become with our partner, and it's during our most intimate times that we make the most important discoveries about our deepest self.
Along with the mental and spiritual healing aspects of this loving practice, there is also the huge physical healing component in Tantric sex. Believe it or not, orgasm is not the primary focus of Tantric sex. I know, I know, the thought of not reaching an orgasm was hard for me to accept at first too, but once I began to understand the importance of being present with my partner, exchanging energy, and enjoying freedom of expression, sex became so much more than physical pleasure, and a lot more blissful too -- not to mention the increased vitality, mental focus, and energy levels.
So what is it? Tantric sex focuses on the benefits of prolonging the sexual experience, or "ceremony," for increased intimacy and better all-around health.
In ancient times, partners spent hours or days performing this sexual ceremony! However, in our fast-paced modern lives, this could prove to be challenging -- and that's where technology can step in! The ceremony can begin with a transfer of sexual energy through sexting or sending sexy photos, and then become physical later that day, or even later that week. Once physical interaction has begun, rituals may include body massage, watching or looking at erotica, bathing, BDSM role-playing, bondage, feeding one another, undressing and admiring each other's physical body, prolonged eye contact, making out, dancing, changing sexual positions, and sensation play (feathers, ice, biting, spanking). Use your imagination and all five senses. Take your time. Be in the moment -- forget the past, let the future be a mystery, and choose a time and place to be thoughtful and intentional about your sexual experience.
Photographer: Damon Dahlen
This is not to say that there's anything wrong with a "quickie," but the more time we spend cultivating our sexual energy, the stronger its influence becomes on the chemistry of the brain. Positive sexual experiences prompt the endocrine glands to release healthy hormones and chemicals, such as:
HGH: A natural growth hormone produced by the pituitary gland that helps maintain the health of tissues and organs, in addition to reducing fat in the body, smoothing the skin, and increasing vitality, energy, and resilience. HGH is sometimes referred to as the "Fountain of Youth."
Serotonin: The "happy" neurotransmitter is found primarily in the "gut," the pineal gland, blood platelets, and the nervous system. Serotonin helps regulate mood, feelings associated with wellbeing, sexuality, and appetite. It is also a natural sleep aid.
DHEA: This hormone functions as the precursor in the development of sexual hormones -- estrogen in women and testosterone in men. DHEA is produced in the adrenal glands.
Oxytocin: Termed the "cuddle hormone," oxytocin is produced naturally in the hypothalamus in the brain. Oxytocin may be conditioned to release after a pattern of sex with the same lover has been established. Just seeing your lover can release more oxytocin, making you want to be with that person all the more. This is what we think of as a "chemical attraction" or "having chemistry" with another person.
Tantric sex also increases blood circulation, which improves overall sexual health. The concomitant (or simultaneous) deep breathing helps detoxify the body, and the increased heart rate means a strengthened immune system. All of these factors contribute to rejuvenation and longevity.
There are many reasons to experiment with Tantric sex, whether you're looking for improvements in the health of your mind, your relationship, or your physical body. The key is mindfulness. Tantric sex is all about intentionality and full presence, and if you can set aside the time to allow yourself to become completely relaxed, vulnerable, and aware of yourself and your partner, you can begin to create new and healthy patterns in your sexuality and your life.
Sandra LaMorgese Ph.D. is an expert in personal and professional reinvention, authentic living, and bridging the gap between sexuality and a lifestyle that focuses on holistic health of the mind, body and spirit. She is the author of Switch: Time for a Change, a memoir of her journey from holistic practitioner to professional dominatrix at 55-years-old after losing everything, and her passion and purpose is to empower others towards healthy authentic living. To learn more about Sandra and receive your FREE eBook "5 Steps for Better Communication, Sex, and Happiness (Did I mention better sex?) visit www.sandralamorgese.com.