Tantric meditation derives from ancient practices in Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Teachers of tantra claim that its practice can stimulate energy in the body and deepen intimate relationships. This article will explore these claims, delving into the complex concept of tantra and exploring tantric meditation practices you can try on your own or with a partner.
What is tantra?
While the terms 'tantra' and 'tantric meditation' are often associated with sexual practices, this is not the main focus within traditional tantric teachings. However, tantric sex is an element of tantra and a practice that has been of particular interest in Western cultures.
Tantra derives from early Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Ancient mystical texts describe ways to purify the physical body and transform spiritual energy. Although tantra is still practiced and taught today, research has yet to find scientific evidence of its ancient claims.
What are the benefits of tantric meditation?
The benefits of tantric practice are not backed by science, however, teachers of tantric meditation attest to its ability to raise awareness of the body through yogic concepts, such as the chakras (energy points in the body) and the nadis (subtle energy channels of the body).
Tantric meditation has many of the same benefits as other meditation practices. Yet, tantric teachings have a specific focus on bodily awareness. Teachers of tantric meditation claim that, similarly to regular meditation practices, this raised awareness of the body may:
- Alleviate anxiety symptoms and improve confidence
- Lead to deeper self-awareness and self-love
- Increase sensuality and feelings of pleasure
- Improve connection and intimacy with a partner
While scientific studies cannot always support these claims, research confirms that meditation and practices that build awareness of the mind-body connection can have a significant effect on stress levels, leading to the potential improvement of well-being.
What does tantric meditation involve?
Tantric meditation has a particular focus on physical sensations, such as movement, sound, touch, and breath control. This may be practiced using one or more of the following methods:
- Using breath control to access deeply focused states of mind
- Touching different areas of the body, or touching a partner and focusing on the sensations
- Looking into a partners eyes for a sustained period of time, also known as eye-gazing
- Use of sound through music or mantra
According to tantric meditation teachers, these techniques may create a sense of stimulation or increased energy in the body, which is often described as a pleasurable or blissful feeling.
These states of bliss are the reason that tantra and tantric meditation complement sexual practices and can be used to deepen relationships with partners or with ourselves. Studies have found that meditation can significantly improve sexual desire, especially in women.
Tantric meditation for couples
There are many courses, classes, and retreats advertising tantric meditation for couples. These events are advertised as a way to deepen connection and intimacy and to improve sex life.
While it is difficult to prove these benefits scientifically, studies suggest that engaging in activities that require increased vulnerability can promote deep and meaningful relationships.
Additionally, an active and fulfilling sex life into older age is associated with increased well-being. So, activities to support this, such as tantric meditation, may be conducive to both good health and healthy relationships.
How couples can perform tantric meditation
Similarly to mindfulness, tantric meditation focuses on physical sensations and self-exploration. This makes it a popular practice for couples to find deepened intimacy and develop an increased physical connection.
If you and a partner are both interested in tantric meditation, there may be some benefits to gain from practicing together.
Below, you can find examples of tantric meditations to perform as a couple, which may help to form a deeper awareness and connection to one other:
1. Hand-on-heart meditation
This is a simple meditation combining touch and breathwork to form intimacy and physical connection:
- Begin by both sitting cross-legged, facing one another.
- Both partners will place their right palm in the center of the chest (heart space) of their partner.
- Then, place your left hand over the top of your partner's right palm, creating a closed circuit between you.
- As you hold your hands in this position, hold your gaze on each other's eyes.
- As you hold this gaze, slowly begin to synchronize your breath together.
- Hold this position with the gaze, and continue to breathe together, noticing the sensations in your body and the feeling of connection that arises.
2. Yab-yum meditation
The yab-yum position is often depicted in yogic and Buddhist art. This position can be used for a couple's tantric meditation and is also described as a sexual position within ancient tantric texts.
- One partner will begin seated cross-legged on the floor, bed, or a comfortable surface.
- The other will sit on top of their thighs facing them, wrapping their legs around the torso of their partner.
- Allow your bodies to touch and wrap your arms around each other.
- Focus on the connection between your hearts and gently press your foreheads against one another.
- Close your eyes and slowly begin to synchronize your breath.
- Hold this position for as long as you like, taking in the feeling of connection and intimacy.
Integrating practices within relationships that involve mindfulness, such as the tantric meditation exercises above, is shown to develop and deepen intimate feelings between partners. Couples reported that the mindful exercises allowed them to slow down and pay further attention to the intimate experiences. The practices were also shown to improve communication between partners, reduce judgment, and increase acceptance between one another.
Overall, tantric meditation practices have the potential to provide benefits for individuals as well as couples. Tantric practices are essentially a means of developing a deeper relationship with yourself and your body. This, in turn, can contribute to a deeper connection for couples. Try experimenting with the exercises above on your own and, if possible, with a partner to explore deeper intimacy within your relationship.
Can beginners to meditation practice tantric meditation?
Yes, there is no reason that beginners cannot practice tantric meditation. You can begin with the exercises described above either on your own or with a partner.
Can I try tantric sex with my partner?
If both you and your partner would like to try tantric sex, the instructions above for tantric meditation will be a great place to begin. If you both feel that these tantric exercises provide a positive experience, you may want to continue exploring tantric sexual practices together.
How often can I practice tantric meditation?
Tantric meditation can be practiced every day. However, some people may find that a daily practice is too stimulating. They may prefer to alternate with a grounding meditation practice or gentle yoga, such as yin or restorative yoga.
Although tantric sex is an element of tantra, it is not the only focus of tantric meditation.
Tantric meditation focuses on physical sensations and builds awareness of the body.
While there are no scientific studies to support its benefits — tantra is an ancient spiritual concept thought to promote well-being.
The practice of tantric meditation can help build a deeper connection with yourself and with your partner.
- Behaviour Research and Therapy. Group mindfulness-based therapy significantly improves sexual desire in women.
- Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy. The sexual mindfulness project: an initial presentation of the sexual and relational associations of sexual mindfulness.
- Rev Panam Salud Publica. A systematic review of sexual health and subjective well-being in older age groups.
- Family Perspectives. The value of vulnerability in relationships.
- American Journal Pharmaceutical Education. Impact of a yoga and meditation intervention on students' stress and anxiety levels.