Before college, I had never heard of tantric sex. It wasn’t until I took a fantastic marriage prep class with the one and only Tammy Hill that I learned there was a whole other sexual mindset that was very different from what I had seen in movies and media. This week we interviewed Tammy on our podcast about tantric sex. Here, we are going to dive into the what, why, and how of this slow and intimate sexual experience.
What is Tantric Sex?
Tantric sex is centered around the idea of being whole-hearted. The goal in tantric sex is not orgasm but more fully experiencing your bodily sensations and connecting to your spouse’s soul. The practice stems from Eastern philosophies of becoming one and being mindful in the moment. Because of this foundation, tantric sex can also be called “Eastern sex”.
Although the origins are Eastern, Tammy pointed out that tantric sex mirrors a lot of Christian values and scriptual phrasing. Tammy refers to tantric sex as replenishing sex; sex that allows us to truely cleave unto our spouse and to know their soul. It can be a religious experience for some Christians, allowing them to feel connected to their spouse and to God.
Tantric sex is also called slow sex. The actual practice of tantric sex is very, very slow compared to “Western” style. “Western” tends to last about 30 minutes, whereas tantric sex can take hours. It’s not about “doing”, but focuses on being love (embodying your feelings toward your spouse and yourself). With this practice, it’s possible to retain erotic energy instead of just building and releasing.
In Eastern style sex, orgasm and ejaculation are not the goal. There is no thrusting. Instead, couples can trust their bodies to pull together. Penetration happens slowly, our bodies working together. During the experience, your bodies shift around the penetration point as you explore each other.
Note: although these two schools of thought are labeled “Eastern” and “Western”, this does not mean these two categories are tied to a particular religion, country, or location. Many couples enjoy one or the other, or both, based on what fits their unique personalities and life factors. As always, find what works best for your stage of life! Don’t be afraid to stop doing things that aren’t working any more. Communicate and listen to your spouse.
Why Should I Try Tantric Sex?
In general, humans are usually resistant to change. If something is functional, why go through the painful process of transformation? Tantric sex can seem so different from the “normal” sexual experience. Is it really worth all the time and effort? Here are 3 reasons to try having tantric sex!
# 1 It adds a new experience, potentially leading to insight
Tantric sex is a very different experience for most couples. It is slow, deliberate, and thoughtful. It can bring out feelings you’ve never experienced (physically and emotionally). Compared to the fireworks of Western-style, Eastern-style is a smoldering fire in the hearth; slow, long-lasting, and inviting. Even if you and/or your spouse don’t end up liking tantric sex, the experience can tell you a lot about each other and your own sexuality.
# 2 Tantric sex is often more sustainable as we age
In our 20’s, we like things fast. Sex can be hot and heavy. It usually doesn’t take a lot to get into a sexy mindset. However, as life goes on it gets more complicated. We gain more responsibilities, and with them more potential stressors. We feel separated from our spouse as our individual lives get more complicated. Our bodies also eventually start to get less fit. Our sexual drive usually goes down. Even the vagina can become less sensitive over time to thrusting and penetration.
As we age, tantric sex can become a more sustainable way to be intimate with our spouse. For example, Tammy explained that she has chronic back pain that makes Western-style sex painful for her. Tantric sex gives time for the mind to open up to a sexual experience. It creates a space to discover what our bodies want in the now. Slow sex can take us back to the basics to explore what really makes something sexual, rather than just copying the sex we see in media.
# 3 Eastern-style sex focuses on connections of the soul
In a lot of the couples we work with, one or both partners are resistant to sex feeling all physical. They want to feel more emotionally connected after the experience. Tantric sex is about whole-hearted sex. The practice of being mindful, taking your time, and truly being aware of your spouse during sex has helped many couples to feel they are really seeing their spouse in their truest form. The scriptures tell us to leave father and mother and cleave to our spouse. For some couples, tantric sex has helped them feel they are truly fulfilling this directive.
How do You get Started?
Tantric sex has to start with mindfulness. Take some time to practice being aware of your thoughts. Seek to keep your attention in the present moment without being harsh or judgmental of yourself when your mind wanders. We have some great mindfulness practices in our post Mindfulness in Sex!
It’s also important to come to the experience with realistic expectations. Tantric sex can be amazing, but it does take time and practice. You may feel uncomfortable or awkward the first time trying this new technique. Know that it’s okay to feel silly! Slow sex is not about the performance, but embodying our true selves. It is also common for tantric sex to take a long time; Tammy recommends carving out at least 2 hours! So be nice to yourself, plan ahead, and know you may not get it the first time!
Lastly, start the process with an open mind. This may feel very different or weird at the beginning. You may have a lot of judgments. Try to clear your mind of expectations. Come to the bedroom willing to learn and throw out previous experience.
Steps for your First Time
After some practice, tantric sex will start to come naturally. However, here is a game plan that can help you pace yourself as you learn what tantric sex feels like.
- Come to bed clean. This is a good tip for any sexual experience, but especially for tantric sex where you are very aware of all 5 of your senses.
- Start with 7-10 minutes centering yourself by breathing. This is done on your own, before you come together with your spouse.
- Lay on your sides in bed, facing each other. Kiss, say I love you, gaze into each other’s eyes, and notice your spouse.
- Spend about 20 minutes gazing.
- Explore new ways of kissing. Try kissing with the wife sucking on her husband’s top lip, while he sucks on her bottom lip. Explore everything in a kiss (sensations, emotions, thoughts etc)
- Then shift to ears, the nape of the neck, inner wrist, or other sensitive spots. Touch with your hands or your lips, but keep it gentle.
- After the gazing period, you can start touching each other a little more. Go with what feels right, but remember to keep it slow and build erotic energy. There are almost levels of erotic zones (see the examples listed below). Start with the tertiary and move to the primary.
- Primary: mouth, lips, tongue, breasts, nipples, and genitals
- Secondary: (pulse points) neck, wrist, stomach, ear lobes
- Tertiary: (getting warmed up), pinky finger, lower back, hand, arm, calf and outer thigh
- Once you are both ready for penetration, remember to keep going slow! Go in all the way, then pull back about ½ an inch. Leave the penis there without thrusting. Or, enter a millimeter at a time. Both of your genitals will loosen, creating more space for the penis to enter.
- Feel as feminine energy pulls the masculine energy in. Your bodies start to work together. This can feel very natural and wonderful.
- Remember, there is room for silliness and play. In explanation, this may seem like a very serious (and maybe slightly hoke) process. But it’s all about being your true self! You can make jokes, be awkward, and play with your spouse!
- Let me say it just one more time, this takes a lot of practice. Remember your mindfulness and be kind to yourself.
A lot of couples find it hard to carve out enough time to enjoy a full tantric experience. A good alternative option is giving each other alternating tantric massages. You and your spouse should alternate days so you both get the chance to be the center of the experiences (although both spouses can find pleasure in the experience).
Have your spouse lie down either partially clothed in something comfortable or completely naked. This massage will be all about getting to know your spouse a little bit deeper. Start by giving a relaxing massage and help them get into the right mindset. The skin is our largest organ, and just skin to skin contact can lead to a lot of positive brain chemistry. Work through the erotic zones until you get to the primaires.
Slowly work on her/him for about 8 minutes. Once they get all warmed up, work for about 2 minutes to bring them close to orgasm. Once they get very close, put your hands over their “openings” (the vagina for women, or the penis for men, and over the mouth). Picture it as containing the erotic energy so it floods through them rather then releasing. After about a minute, your massage is over.
This process can keep your sex life vital, energetic, and playful. By not orgasming, we can increase our capacity for sexual energy. These alternating massages can also help you get in the mood faster when you do have the time to try slow sex.
If you want to learn more about tantric sex, you can read Slow Sex by Diana Richardson or look out for Tammy Hill’s upcoming book Replenish.
Tantric sex is about seeing into each others souls, letting your spouse know they matter. This is what it means to cleave.
Regardless of which type of sex you prefer, trying out tantric sex can help you be present in the moment and bring your brain to bed. Slow sex can open a whole wing of your sexual house you’ve never known was there.
As you practice tantric sex, eventually you will find different but equally pleasurable sensations. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and explore; letting go of judgements and just being curious in the experience.
Written by Amanda Severson with Get Your Marriage On!