The FunLove Guide to Tantric Sex, Neotantra, and Mindful Sex

There are a lot of buzzwords these days to describe connection-based, mindful sex with your partner—tantric sex, neotantra, sacred sexuality, the list goes on—but what does it all actually mean? And more importantly, can utilizing these practices actually improve your sex life and your relationship? FunLove digs a little deeper to find out. 

What is Tantric Sex?

Tantric sex as most Westerners know it is far removed from its religious and cultural origins. Tantric sex is a derivative of the word tantra, which itself has multiple linguistic origins, including Sanskrit and Hindi. In the Indian tradition, tantra came to refer broadly to a type of practice, technique, or text. As such, there are many tantric lineages to be found in ancient and contemporary Buddhist and Hindu practices—and the vast majority of them have little or nothing to do with sex. 

The Origins of Tantra

Tantric sex (also called sexual yoga) as most of us recognize it stems from a range of Hindu and Buddhist tantras (some dating back to the 5th century) that espouse practicing sexuality in a ritualized and often yogic context. Some of these practices have to do with utilizing and harnessing sexual power in order to enhance spiritual growth. Others had more pragmatic purposes, such as promoting pregnancy or male virility.

Commonly, sexual rituals involved some level of semen retention, since it was considered an energetic substance that should be conserved. On the other hand, some tantras encouraged and even emphasized sexual emissions as an offering to tantric deities such as Shiva, Shakti, and Vishnu. 

What is Neotantra?

Neotantra is the name given to modern Western variations of tantra. Some aspects of neotantra have been associated with New Age religions or spiritual modalities. Some view neotantra as a western interpretation of Buddhist and Hindu tantras, while others argue that neotantra is a complete deviation from tantric traditions. 

Neotantra in America

tantric sex

Early 20th century businessman and occultist Pierre Bernard is generally credited with bringing the idea of tantra to the U.S., although critics point out that he culturally appropriated the practice and was responsible for widespread American misperception of what tantra actually is. 

Bernard established the Tantrik Order of America in 1905 and subsequently opened a chain of tantric clinics in major U.S. cities. Bernard’s conception of tantric sex hinged on Americanized concepts of “raising Kundalini energy” and “activating the chakras” through sexual acitvity.

Neotantra began to grow in popularity with the teachings and writings of the controversial Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, also known as Osho, in the latter half of the 20th century in the U.S. Osho wrote many books on the subject of tantric sex and focused his teachings on breathing techniques, bio-energy, yoga, and massage in conjunction with sexual activity. 

Since then, neotantric attitudes towards sex have continued to evolve and grow in popularity throughout the U.S. Many different names have been given to these practices; some practitioners hold on to the tantra label, while others have divorced their ideology from the name, and refer to them as sacred sexuality, spiritual sex, and a variety of other names. More recently, some sexologists and sex therapists have incorporated aspects of tantra and neotantra into their advocacy for more mindful attitudes towards sex as a whole.

How to Improve Your Relationship with Mindful Sex

However far removed from the original Vedic texts and its associated cultural and religious significance, many people in the West remain fascinated with idea of sex as a sacred act. No doubt this is in part to many persistent Western ideas of sexual activity as inherently wrong, dirty, or morally corrupt. Reframing how we view sex and pleasure is an ongoing process, one that is continually happening both on a societal and individual level. 

So, the question remains: how can we improve our sexual experiences and relationships with this kind of mindful approach to sex? Luckily for you, reader, Fascinations has compiled some tried-and-true methods to do just that.

Elevate All Your Senses

The aim of mindful sex and many neotantra practices is to cultivate a deeper connection with your partner (or yourself) on an emotional, physical, and perhaps even a spiritual level. You can start by engaging all of your physical senses. This might mean lighting some scented candles, putting on some music, adjusting the temperature of the room, laying out your favorite sheets or blanket, or wearing lingerie that feels good against your skin. The goal is comfort, but more importantly, you should simply pay attention to all the sensations you feel—even the seemingly unimportant ones—to move your awareness into the present moment.

Practice Eye Gazing 

neotantric sex

To help you focus on the physical present, you can try eye gazing with your partner. The process can be deceptively simple, but powerful for many couples. Try facing your partner in a comfortable position and looking into each other’s eyes for thirty seconds at a time. Keep your gaze soft but focused on the other person’s eyes, and see how long you can maintain eye contact with one another. Proponents of eye gazing say it can help you get in tune with your partner’s emotions, promote intimacy, and build trust. You can build your way up until you can eye gaze for ten minutes at a time or more.

Synchronize Your Breathing

In addition to eye gazing, you can also try breathwork in the form of synchronized breathing. You can do this while sitting, standing, or lying down. While facing each other, take three deep breaths. Continue taking deep breaths until you notice your breath synchronizing with your partner’s. This is a good combination to do with eye gazing for deeper connection, although some may find it too overwhelming all at once. Take your time, and don’t rush. Eventually, your bodies will settle into a similar pattern. 

You can take this process a step further by engaging in circular breathing, in which one partner holds their breath for a beat and exhales as the other person inhales. You can direct the breath towards the heart, genitals, or wherever your focus might take you. You can even incorporate touching your partner in different ways and experiment until you find what makes you feel the most connected. This can be a great addition to your foreplay routine, but it doesn’t always have to lead to sex.

Massage Each Other

An oiled-up massage from your loved one can relieve stress, body aches, and, in some cases, provide the perfect segue to sex. But not all massage is created equal. An erotic massage is about more than just stimulation of the erogenous zones.  

Often, tantric or neotantric massages incorporate the elements of breathwork and eye gazing into the process in addition to focus on the genitalia. For example, the yoni massage is centered on the vulva, the lingam massage on the penis, and the sacred spot massage on the prostate or g-spot. The idea is that the recipient of the massage is free to focus on receiving pleasure, without the immediate need to reciprocate.

Slow Down

mindful sex

When you have a lot of chemistry with someone, it can be a challenge to keep your hands off of each other. But when it comes to more satisfying mindful sex, slowing down can be a good thing. The same is true even if you’re having solo sex. Your favorite vibrator might get the job done within a minute or two (and we’re all for a quickie), but taking the time to savor all those physical sensations can bring your overall sexual experience (including your orgasms) to a whole new level.

The whole point of mindful sex is that it isn’t a race to the finish line—there doesn’t even have to be a defined finish line. Taking away this time constraint can help you and your partner relax, enjoy every moment together, and bring you closer to one another.

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