To get to the heart of what tantric sex actually means, we caught up with Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson, authors of Great Sex Made Simple: Tantric Tips to Deepen Intimacy and Heighten Pleasure, who schooled us in the ways of the tantra — and how regular women (yep, that's you!) can get the most out of their sex lives using tantric techniques.
How Sting got it wrongIf you take away nothing else from this story, remember that the 5,000-year-old Eastern spiritual practice of tantric sex does not mean that you have to make love for hours. Instead, enlightenment and having a reverence for your partner that lasts beyond the length of any orgasm is at the core of the teachings, Michaels and Johnson say.
"The tantric approach has far more to do with your mental approach than with technique.""It's funny that a comment Sting made over 20 years ago still has an enduring hold on the public's imagination," the couple says. "He's tried to explain it away or recant it in various ways. At one point, he said that he regretted making the statement and didn't really feel he could talk about the subject beyond saying that his wife, Trudy, is his church. That's much closer to what the spirit of tantric sex is all about."
"In the classical sexual ritual, the participants worship each other as embodiments of deities. We encourage people to bring an attitude of reverence into their lovemaking and to all their interactions. The tantric approach has far more to do with your mental approach than with technique. It's certainly got nothing to do with bragging about staying power."
But in tantric sex, you can feel pleasure longer..."That said, prolonged lovemaking is part of the tradition," Michaels and Johnson say. "The tantrics of old recognized that orgasm can be a mystical experience, often the most readily accessible mystical experience of all. During orgasm, the mind goes quiet, and you may feel a sense of merger — be it with a partner or even with all that is.
For most of us, the transcendent potential in sex is something that's experienced only briefly, during the orgasm itself. If you extend arousal and focus on building it (this need not include genital intercourse), you may start to feel this sense of union well before you have an orgasm, and it is likely to last far longer than it would in more conventional lovemaking. So making it last is a means to an end, not an end in itself. If you can stay turned on for a half hour or so, you're likely to experience the altered state of consciousness we just described."
How to incorporate elements of tantric sex toys into your own bedroom:
Focus on your breathing and your (and your partner's) reaction to touch
Give and receive — start with kisses
"We encourage people to separate giving and receiving in a very methodical way. For example, it's great to experiment with giving and receiving kisses. Take a couple of minutes and allow your partner to kiss you and explore your mouth with his tongue. Then reverse roles. When you're kissing, see how fully you can give yourself over to the active role. When you're receiving, surrender to the experience completely."
Take 60 minutes and give each other a massage — but no sex yet!
Break a taboo by just talking about sex