It's a crazy life and you probably don't need to be reminded about it again. The thing is, we get stuck in the rut like hamsters on a wheel, and we can't see clearly enough to get creative about shifting our experiences. How do you integrate everything you want to do in life and have less stress? Here are some ideas that will help you loosen those wound-up strings, increase your love juice, help you relax better at any given time and radically improve your sex life. Sound too good to be true? Only you will be able to tell, once you give it a try.
What do you think when you hear the word Tantra? You probably think: "A lot of sex for a long period of time." You can go there if you want to but Western Tantric practices are more about taking the goals out of sexual activities, bringing in the practices of consciousness and relating consciously, sensual expression and the experience of spending time in the realms of oneness with, well, everything. Everything includes your lover, partner, your breath, their body, a "higher power" and even maybe the whole universe. In these times of global change, feeling more a part of everything around you helps to recharge and replenish You.
If you're putting off sensual and sexual activities because you're too tired or busy you are undermining your emotional connection with your lover and your self. The neurotransmitter oxytocin is the bonding hormone that is produced during birthing, breastfeeding, nipple stimulation, kissing, orgasm, eye gazing and touching. In fact, researchers are finding more actions to attribute the release of oxytocin to all the time. Whether it is a big expression or a relatively small dose, this is the stuff of emotional bonding, relaxation and lasting love. Five out of the seven things on the list above occur during sex!
Though an orgasm, or two, is wonderful, devoting 30 minutes to some softly structured intimacy practices can be the icing on the cake or the preliminaries to actually eating the cake! Whether sex is in the picture or not here are three practices that will keep you intimately connected and charged up while bringing you pure relaxation at the same time:
Eye Gazing is a simple practice that allows your lover to see into your soul through your soft, expressive eyes. Sit opposite each other and get comfortable. Cozy up by touching your knees together and maybe even holding hands. Relax. Drop into this experience. For five minutes sit and gaze. There is no need to smile or make your partner respond. Simply and softly gaze into their eyes. If you find this difficult at first keep with it. This will pass. You are creating bonding by expressing oxytocin and you are deepening your understanding and empathy for each other whether you realize it or not. (P.S.: You can even do this with your children! It will relax them and trust will build between you.) As babies we endlessly eye gazed with our mothers as they fed us. It is the foundation of learning to be a social, empathetic human being.
Breathing together synchronizes your bodies and drops you into relaxation. You can incorporate this practice while doing the eye gazing or do it separately. If you decide to do it as it's own exercise then try lying in the Spoon Position that is used in lovemaking. Either partner can be in front but the one in back places their arm over the other's body and can press their partner's heart region to hold them closer. This helps 'feel' the breath movement too. Breathe together: in through the nose and out through the mouth, as this method will lower your blood pressure too. Pace yourselves and find the speed that works for both of you. If you want to get fancy you can try alternate breathing also. Spending five to 10 minutes with this practice will relax, bond and synchronize your moods.
Sensual Touching simultaneously wakes up every nerve fiber on the skin and soothes and relaxes at the same time. Skin stimulation and human touch are as necessary for human survival as social interaction. When you focus on the touch you are giving, in this part of the practice, notice how your own fingertips feel. Begin by having the Receiver close their eyes. The Giver begins to gently caress the cheeks, eyelids, lips, neck, hair and ears of the Receiver. They can continue down the neck to the outer arms, forearms and hands by moving slowly and softly, all the while putting their attention on the quality of the touch. Giver, make sure that the Receiver is breathing and remind them to relax into the minute sensations as they take in every tingling nerve fiber reaction. This is a mindfulness practice on the part of both of you.
Oxytocin is being produced in both of you during this kind of experience. You are improving your emotional awareness, your trust for your partner and your memory for faces and social experiences. This means that new neural connections are being made in your brain when you eye gaze, breathe consciously together and touch with sensual consciousness. You are re-wiring your brain's reactions to your partner, something most long-term couples need a lot more of.
The stronger these neural connections are the more brain plasticity you'll have. Scientists are discovering that brain plasticity is one of the signs of anti-aging. Behavioral conditioning changes your brain and the more you can cultivate fluidity, by introducing new practices and adventures into your relationships, the more plasticity you'll have. It's up to you to choose if it's going to be negative conditioning or positive conditioning but in these days and ages it seems obvious that we are all in need of the healing power of love.