Love & Sex
What do the words "tantric sex" conjure up for you? Perhaps it's longer-lasting sex or 10-minute orgasms, or maybe it is just something that hippies do.
Although the origins of tantric sex are steeped in Eastern philosophy, today in the West it is simply a way of having sex that offers greater connection and value.
"Tantra is a term that describes conscious sexuality; it's an approach to sex and lovemaking that is very in the moment," says sex therapist and tantra teacher Jacqueline Hellyer.
Hellyer believes there has been a societal shift in the past 10 years, and that in the 21st century men and women are looking for more meaningful interactions. She says: "People are coming to me and saying, 'There has got to be more.'''
Tantric sex is not necessarily about sexual intercourse; it's, at the end of the day, a form of meditation. Hellyer's advice is to build a greater sense of intimacy though spending time together, be it an eye gaze, massage or sensual bath.
"In tantra you learn how to relate to your partner, with honesty, openness and vulnerability," she says. "It's only from that place that you can have really beautiful lovemaking. It is a totally different approach to sex."
Andrew Lawson turned to tantra because he felt something was missing.
"I carried a lot of sexual shame as a teenager and felt like there should be more to the sex I was having and the way I was having it," he says.
Starting with an online tantric "challenge", Lawson began to explore the world of tantra. The results were astonishing.
"My sexual practice has been totally transformed by tantra," he says. "Sex has become much longer and more of a full-body sensation than what I was used to. Now my lovemaking can literally last for hours; something that was unheard of for me before I started these practices."
When it comes to orgasm, tantra offers more than the momentary peak associated with regular sex.
"I experience waves and ripples and shudders of energy through my whole body, like an orgasm but more 'tidal', and in my whole body rather than just my genitals," Lawson says. "Often my partner and I experience this even when we have our clothes on, or are close but not touching."
The benefits don't stop there. Lawson says he has higher energy levels and greater "presence".
"I sleep less and laugh more," he says.
For some, "meaningful sex" is simply a byproduct of tantra.
Amanda Roberts* says tantra is about learning how to connect more deeply with herself and others.
"Tantra enables you to become more conscious, mindful and aware on a moment-to-moment basis, and helps you to say yes to the parts of life that inspire, excite and interest you," says the 39-year-old IT consultant.
While it wasn't the reason she was drawn to tantra, Roberts says the practice has also improved her sex life.
"Practising tantra has enabled me to generate and channel sexual energy and learn to surrender deeply and completely," she says.
"I also feel more comfortable in my own skin, which has increased my confidence and self-esteem. I have definitely become a better lover."
Roberts admits that at times she found the tantra workshop "awkward".
"You can feel a bit daft, embarrassed and self-conscious," she says.
However, there are many different types of workshop, as well as books, DVDs and online tutorials.
"Like anything, it's really important to find a way of learning that works for you," says Roberts.
"Tantra is not just a hippie thing, although it does take an open mind and a willingness to embrace new ways of thinking. I highly recommend it; it's the best thing I have ever done."
* Name has been changed
- Sydney Morning Herald
Do long-distance relationships work?Related story: (See story)