“They move ever so slowly now, he leaning on his arms over her, eyes locked in an intensity that obliterates everything beyond the moment, both surrendered to some greater whole. Their movements emerge and recede with perfect unity. She can no longer feel where she ends and he starts, whether the waves of bliss washing over her are her own or his. There is no longer any ‘his’ or ‘hers’—there is only This.”
~ From The Beautiful Garden by Freya Watson
Having sex is fun.
At its best, it’s liberating, expressive, invigorating and stress-relieving. Sometimes it’s exactly what we need. Exploring and integrating our natural sexuality is an essential part of maturing.
But what about that deeper yearning of the heart and soul? What of the longing to merge with another physical being in a way that brings spirit more fully through the body? What about making love?
The opening paragraph above has had a variety of responses from readers from the time I first wrote it, ranging from total disbelief that it could be based on any real experience, to gratitude for having found words to express territory that is almost indescribable. One common theme in the responses, though, has been a wistful, “I wish it was me.” And for two decades I was also one of those yearning for such an experience while simultaneously dismissing it as pure fantasy, the creation of romance novels and Hollywood screenwriters.
Now, though, I know it is real and there for the having whenever I put my mind and heart into it—assuming the availability of a willing and compatable partner of course! And if I were to break it down into a few steps that ayounger “me” could follow, it would go something like this…
Open the heart, using whatever works. This can be the most natural thing in the world on a good day or in the early stages of romantic love. But it can also be a most difficult thing to do at other times when we’re grappling with stress or relationship tension. Often something simple that moves us deeply can work, like a favorite piece of music. So can sharing non-sexual intimacy first—lying together; a simple honoring ceremony where you wash each other’s hands and feet; or sitting fully clothed in the yab-yum position (the women on the man’s lap, legs wrapped round his hips), which helps to align our energy centers with our partner’s. And at times when we really struggle with it, using the support of Tantra-based disciplines and various heart-centered meditations can bring us back to the heart.
Slow it all down. Sex can sometimes feel like there’s a goal, with orgasm being the ultimate achievement. And the quicker you get there, the better! But making love is more like a creative art form than a race—to be practiced and savored. The more love that is generated, felt and shared, the better—regardless of orgasm. By slowing it down you get to fully explore every sensation, every nook and cranny (emotionally and physically). You get to focus on the love that you’re sharing rather than on getting to any particular goal. If the genital response gets overly strong, slow it down further using long slow inhalations of the breath to draw the energy up from the lower chakras to the heart (and beyond). Focused intention can help you direct the energy through your heart and anywhere else in the body that feels right, and out towards your partner.
Stay present. It’s impossible to fully engage with ourselves, never mind with another, without being completely present. Especially for couples who have been together a while, it can be so easy to carry the thoughts and distractions of life into the zone of intimacy. (Perhaps a good longterm relationship aid would be a sticky pad, pen and small bin outside every couple’s bedroom, with the instruction to write our worries down and chuck them in the bin before passing through the door). Staying connected to the breath and to the feelings in the body, rather than focusing on our thoughts, provides an anchor to the moment as neither the breath nor the body can wander out of the present in the way the mind can. Keeping eye contact with our partner, though, is one of the most beautiful ways of staying present when making love—and it keeps a strong current of energy flowing between us and our partner (try holding that gaze during orgasm to get a sense of how powerful eye connection can be).
Use the whole body. Making love is a full body experience rather than being simply genitally focused—making our whole body an instrument of loving expression and sensually sharing the whole of ourselves with the entirety of our partner. It is deeply self-expressive. The more we connect in with our body, the more expression we can bring to the way in which we make love with another. Feeling our way through the experience, rather than thinking through it, naturally guides us into exploring new ways of moving, touching and sharing. It is one of the rare times that two human beings get to interact with no externally-created boundaries and can be the ultimate creative experience if we open ourselves up to it, like intimate free-form dance to a silent melody.
The more we practice making love—slowly, deliberately, with full attention—the more sensitive we become to the flow of energy within our bodies and the easier we find it to open, not only to an intimate partner, but to life in general. Even without any intention of sexual sharing, these four elements can form the basis for whatever creative way we might want to make love to anyone or anything in our world.
(Originally published on Elephant Journal)