Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tantric Communication for Couples: Body-Centered and Sexy

(Published in June 2013, Natural Awakenings Magaxine)
You may have heard of Tantra, and think it refers to a sexual practice. Well, yes, and no. Tantra is actually an ancient spiritual training that embraces sexual energy as a pathway to divine consciousness. The principles of tantric lovemaking can also be applied to the way you and your partner communicate with each other.

Tantra is about becoming embodied. Obviously, if you’re reading this, you are embodied, you manifest on earth as a body that houses your spirit. However, to be truly “embodied” means to have intentional, heightened awareness of our own presence. The body is a doorway through which we can step into an even greater sense of ourselves. By centering in the body, we open ourselves to what is beyond the body, to a higher vibration of our own existence.

Some spiritual trainings take an “out-of-body” approach. Tantra instead invites us to become fully present IN the body, in order to access the deeper, non-physical truth of who we are. It is not about being more physical. It is about centering ourselves in the ultimate here and now of our being.

How does this apply to communication? Well, you know the expression “talking heads?” It is used to describe TV pundits who are continually giving us their endless opinions. In a sense, we are all “talking heads.” We talk from our heads. “I think, therefore I am,” asserted Descartes back in the 16th century. Identifying with our thoughts is indeed, a common way of self-referencing, of recognizing who we are. Yet is it enough?

Thoughts are valuable and give direction to our lives. Emotions are a combination of our mental thoughts and the sensations or feelings we experience via our body. How thoughts feel in our bodies, what bodily sensations we experience when we think or express our own or hear another’s thoughts, and where we feel them, can give us powerful clues to our inner truth. Thoughts and body feelings feed on each other, influence each other. Thoughts generate feelings. Sensations that we experience in the body trigger thoughts.

Tantric practices and rituals give us an opportunity to separate from our thoughts long enough to notice what the body is experiencing. It’s easy to imagine how this might enhance lovemaking, which is why tantric sex is so meaningful for a couple to learn together. In communication, too, noticing what the body is sensing becomes a helpful foundation for more meaningful and truthful dialogue.

Words matter. We experience a cognitive satisfaction, along with a bodily sensation, when we feel we have been heard, that our words have been understood as we intended. As in tantric sex, it is often during a pause, in a moment of silence, that this fulfillment is most awakened. Tantric communication encourages time for such pauses.

Instead of bringing us closer, words often cause a divide, a separation. We attack, we blame, we defend, we want to prove our point. Tantric communication intentionally uses words in ways that create connection. Rather then countering what our partner says, we learn to blend with their perspective, to see from their point of view, and then respectfully create a bridge to our own.

To communicate well we must be focused on the communication exchange. Often our attention wanders, gets hijacked by one of the thousands of thoughts that are continually arising in our mind. In many spiritual practices, mantras are used during meditation to re-focus our attention. In tantric communication, we similarly learn how to bring our attention back, and how to request our partner’s attention if we feel we have lost that connection.

When we feel heard, we open ourselves to the present moment. This is where Tantra takes place. This is the opportunity for divine joy. Words themselves can be used to define and highlight such moments. It’s not only about what we say and how we say it. In tantric communication, we learn to anchor words directly into our bodily presence. Our words become a conscious acknowledgment of our existence. Chakras, centers of life-force energy in our bodies, can be accessed as focal points. We most successfully communicate our needs and desires when we align them with the appropriate chakra.

Energy follows attention. We can place attention in our heart center, for example, and say to our partner the simple word, “Heart.” Our partner hears this as both an affirmation of where we have put our attention, as well as an invitation to move into their own heart. Together in our hearts, we share the energy of love.

Communication is best when it flows back and forth. At times we are a mirror for our partner, reflecting back to them what we have heard them say. This not only lets them know that we are listening, it also helps them check within, to sense if those words really fit what they want to express. At other times we are a window, offering our partner a view into our own soul. Opening to our partner, allowing ourselves to be seen, creates intimacy (into-me-see). Together, we open to an expanded consciousness of the moment.

Tantric communication supports authenticity and presence. What could be sexier?