Tantric Practices for Singles and Couples
Tantric practices unite us with the most exquisite qualities of life. And, contrary to popular belief, you do not need a partner to practice Tantra. Tantric practices for couples start with the same basic principles as tantric practices for singles. And, all of these practices, whether practiced as a solo or in a partnership, begin to dissolve the barriers to separation and disconnection, bringing us into an experience of unbounded love and breathtaking pleasure. Tantric love. Tantric pleasure.
First, let’s give the word ‘Tantric’ meaning. Because the practice of Tantra and it’s related Tantric practices are so little understood, especially in Western culture, it’s important to eliminate the confusion around the true meaning of tantric.
Here’s the most common, and often silently unasked, question, “Is tantric practice sexual practice?” Maybe. Most people in the Western world equate tantric with sexual. But the truth is tantric practices are about way more than orgasm. Yes, they can enhance and expand our pleasure in the bedroom, but only so much, if you don’t practice the whole of the tantric experience.
The word Tantric, at its essence, means the creation of union. Tantric union often appears to begin with union with another. But it’s true beginning is a union with self that allows union with another and culminates in a union with life, the Universe, the Divine, or All That Is, depending on what you call this power and presence greater than our individual selves.
So if you’ve ever wondered, “What is the definition of tantric,” the simplest tantric definition is: unity.
Therefore, tantric practices are an invitation to relax our fight for independence in favor of the pleasures and joys of deepest connection.
What are tantric practices?
Tantric practices include any conscious exercises, techniques, or ways of being that unite. Some tantric practices unite you with yourself, including practices that unite the essential aspects of you – heart, mind, body, spirit and soul.
As you deepen your experience with tantric practices, they will also create profound feelings of connection with another. Often that experience happens with a lover, but it doesn’t have to be a romantic partner. True tantric union can happen with any person you experience intimacy with, and authentic intimacy is not just romance. Give that, tantric union isn’t about sex, it can genuinely occur with friends, strangers, even colleagues. It can be unintentionally experienced the first time your breath unites with a date. It can happen before, during, and after love making, and it can happen by sharing a soul’s dream with a friend.
Although tantric unity does sometimes happen by “accident,” by definition, tantric practices are things you do intentionally, and hopefully eventually habitually, that dissolve separation. The practices, over time, will take you out of your thinking mind and into your feeling body, where all pleasure is experienced, where all unity is known. These practices, embodied often enough, will quiet the mind, relax the body, and open the heart to the greatest of intimacies, pleasures, and joys any human can experience.
How to practice tantric love
As we’ve said, Tantric practice opens us to tantric love which leads us to tantric union. Tantric love is the unconditional, unbounded love all humans seek, whether consciously or unconsciously. As you explore the thirteen tantric practices below, pay attention to your body. Most particularly, pay attention to your heart center where you open and close to love and your sexual center when you open and close to pleasure, as well as the connection or union between the two. Remember, tantric union and tantric love unite heart, mind, body and spirit – within, between, and beyond you.
You are cautioned not to get caught up in understanding “what is tantric practice” nor to get caught in trying to do it “right.”
The power of tantric practice lies in the actual experience of the practice – not in the result or goal, but truly in the practice itself. You learn much more from what doesn’t go “right” or from what seems like a failure than you do from apparent success. If you think you’ve “got it” with your tantric practices, then you are, plain and simple, missing out. You miss out because, on this tantric journey, you will always find that the possibilities for tantric pleasure, tantric love and tantric union remain endless. It can always get better. Always.
As you embark on your tantric journey, please remember that these practices often seem like they don’t work in the beginning. That’s normal. They are “working.” Your heart, mind and body just haven’t yet attuned to tantric energy. And your intentional tantric practices will create the necessary attunement with your subtle bodies.
Be patient. Stay with it. By doing the practices, and not doing the practices, you’ll discover, and more importantly feel, the real differences between separation and unity. At first, because our human minds and bodies are not used to exploring or even truly allowing ecstasy, we usually miss the subtle cues, the barely visible signs posts, that lead you to realms of love and pleasure most will never know.
Go slowly. Get it wrong. Practice. Don’t practice. And most importantly, get present with yourself, your experience, and your partner, if you have one. All tantric experiences happen in the now, beyond your thinking mind, beyond your understanding, beyond your planning. Be here. Be now. And magically, something very precious will find its way to you.
13 simple tantric practices for singles and couples
#1: How to tap tantric energy
Energy, tantric energy, moves through the body along various energy meridians and nadis. You experience energy through your Sensual Body, or, in other words, through your sensations. The first of your tantric practices introduces you to subtle energy.
Practice: Start paying attention to the sensations in your body and notice if they are expressions of energy. Most actually are. Your sensations will vary depending on whether you’re experiencing free flowing energy or. stuck stagnant energy. Since most sensations arise because of the flow (or non-flow) of energy, you will want to learn to recognize the difference.
It’s through recognizing and acknowledging sensations that we learn to sense the various energies flowing through our body and our partner’s body. You might notice the sensations and energy as waves of pleasure as they move freely or as pain and tightness when stuck or stagnant, or something in between. Just notice what you notice. Then see if you can intentionally shift or move energy within you.
Advanced practice: We’ll focus on breath in a later practice, but breath and energy go hand-in-hand, so we must mention it here. Start paying attention to your breath and imagine that it’s a subway for energy. What do you feel? What do you notice? Try letting your breath connect your heart center and your sexual center. Try that lying in bed in the morning or evening. Try that at your desk. Try that making love to another.
#2: Feeling the masculine and feminine
Masculine and feminine energies exist in every human being. For most people, but not all, one energy is predominant. These two distinctly opposing energies are responsible for the magnetic and attractive forces between us. Without them, chemistry doesn’t really exist.
Practice: Notice how masculine and feminine energies express themselves in you. Do you tend to express or rely on one of these energies more than the other? Which one? Is one more comfortable or “right” than the other? Start paying attention to where these energies naturally express themselves all the time in you, your life, and the world as a whole. It’s also particularly fun to watch them express in other couples or in dating singles.
For yourself, start noticing the interplay of these two energies, or lack thereof, in your relating. Again, this is not all about sex. These attractive forces play out in all aspects of attraction. So notice when you feel more or less attracted. See if you can identify what specifically attracts you or repels you. Then see if you can shift your internal energy to shift the external attraction dynamics.
Remember, you might not see or sense this interplay of the masculine and feminine right away. And, rest assured, the masculine and feminine magnetism are at play. Once you start noticing them, see if you can consciously influence them.
#3: Tantric breath
Besides understanding how to tap tantric energy, tantric breath is the most important of the tantric practices. Breath is the energy that powers the subways of tantric energy. Breath creates movement and movement opens. Free movement creates pleasure. Simply put, you cannot experience tantric love nor tantric pleasure without breath.
Practice: It may sound silly, but start with remembering to breathe. Obviously you breathe and it’s likely unconscious and probably shallow and incomplete. Practice breathing fully and intentionally into your whole body. Do this many times throughout the day. Each time you do this, it will automatically bring you into the present moment.
As you start out, Focus on conscious breathing. Focus on full complete breathing. As you practice, send your breath to every cell of your body, from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Then begin intentionally moving your breath up and down your spine.
Advanced practice: As a more advanced practice, you can practice coupled breathing and reciprocal breathing with a partner. In these tantric breathing practices, you breathe in sync with and opposite your partner, respectively.
#4: Tantric practice and the Divine
As we said above, our tantric practices invite us into a connection with that higher power that unites us all. For the purpose of this practice, we’ll call that the Divine. And, again for the purpose of this exercise, we’ll define the Divine within as the unique, irreplaceable, perfect part of ourselves.
Practice: In Sanskrit, the word Namaste means “the divine in me sees and acknowledges the divine in you.” It’s typically said while bringing the palms of your hands together in front of your heart and bowing slightly to the other person. In parts of the world, people commonly express this word and gesture throughout the day, even with strangers. Even if you don’t feel comfortable using the word, practice looking beyond the surface and seeing the divine – the unique, irreplaceable, perfect part – each time you interact with someone. Do it on the street. Do it at the supermarket or coffee shop. Do it with your children. Do it with your lover.
Advanced practice: Combining this with our tantric breathing practices, each time you consciously pause throughout the day, ask yourself, “Am I honoring the divine in myself and those I am with right now?”
Then to top things off, as you are going about your day, instead of judgment (of you or others), instead of fear and protection, practice openness, acceptance, and loving presence. That may sound easy and it probably won’t be. Again, you can do this everywhere, with everyone, including yourself, as much as possible.
#5: Tantric pleasure
Even through tantra and tantric practices are not all about sex, they most definitely invite us into pleasure in all its forms. When we experience true unity, we experience pleasure – profound pleasure. And, what’s shocking, and what most people don’t realize, is that they actually have an upper limit on how much pleasure they will let themselves have. This happens for men and women alike, often in different ways, but it still happens.
Practice: To find your current upper limit on pleasure, begin by noticing anytime you cut yourself off from fun, pleasure and joy. Take notice of when pleasure – whether it be pleasures of time off, pleasures of touch, pleasures of food, pleasures of silliness, or pleasures of lovemaking – notice when they start to get uncomfortable for you. When you sense the discomfort arising, take a breath and imagine opening up to even more pleasure. If this is difficult, get curious about any beliefs you hold about pleasure.
To deepen your access to pleasure, you can also ask yourself, “How can I allow and enjoy even more pleasure right now?” You could ask yourself that while hugging, while running, while cooking, while kissing, and while making love. What if, whenever you noticed yourself getting uncomfortable with the amount of pleasure you’re experiencing or could experience, you took a breath and stayed in the experience a little longer? Wondering what would happen…
And, if you think you don’t have any discomfort with pleasure, any upper limits on the amount of pleasure you’ll actually allow yourself to experience, go deeper. It’s a rare human being who allows the full potential of pleasure to have its way with them.
We cannot unite when barriers stand between us. And, inauthenticity, along with its cousins – people-pleasing, being the good girl/good boy, and self-abandonment – all erect huge, and usually invisible walls between us and the one we want to unite with. Tantric union requires authenticity.
Practice: To make yourself available for union, this tantric practice invites you to be totally yourself. Avoid the temptation to pretend you’re something you’re not. Tell the truth when someone asks you what you need or desire. Notice where you’re tempted to hide a part of yourself from others, and maybe even from yourself. When you catch yourself hiding, you might say to yourself or the other person, “There’s something I want to hide right now, but I’m practicing authenticity and vulnerability so I’d like to share. Are you willing to listen?” Then speak out loud to yourself or to the other person the very thing you wanted to hide. Afterwards, send deep love and gratitude to yourself for being so real.
Advanced practice: Notice the real vulnerability that always lives right behind authenticity. Many believe vulnerability makes us weak, in the tantric realm, vulnerability makes us powerful, potent even.
#7: How to eye gaze
No set of tantric practices would be complete without an explanation of how to eye gaze. In an earlier practice, we acknowledged the presence of the Divine in each of us, and yet each human form offers a unique expression of that one sacred essence. We have named the unique expression of the divine in each of us as the Soul and our soul shines a powerful light. That light shines most profoundly through the eyes. Some refer to the eyes as the windows to the Soul. Our eyes carry a depth beyond all reasoning and when we truly meet the eyes we can be transported into wordless love.
When we learn how to eye gaze, we learn to open ourselves.
Practice: Choose to meet the eyes. Choose to allow your eyes, your soul, to be seen. In eye gazing, letting our eyes be seen can feel quite exposing and vulnerable. Because it is. It is why eye contact is difficult for many, and at certain times for most.
If you do not have a partner, and even if you do, you can practice this with anyone, a friend, a family member, or even a stranger. We all have souls. We all, at some level, seek to be seen. (And, we can be scared too.)
Start with looking for just a minute at a time. It’s often good to set a timer because a minute lasts longer than you might think. As you eye gaze, notice the parts of you that want to look away or close your eyes. You may want to close your eyes because of the intimacy your feel looking into another. You may want to close them in an attempt to hide from the vulnerability of being seen. Just notice and practice staying open. As you get more comfortable, begin to extend the time of your eye gazing. It gets even better with time.
Advanced practice: If you want to experience truly profound love, learn how to eye gaze with yourself. It’s quite simple. Meet your own eyes in the mirror. It can seem silly and it’s anything but. So, let yourself open to you. Let yourself feel the gift of your presence with you. Let your own soul reveal itself to you. Again, start with a minute and build the time as you allow yourself to stay more and more open.
#8: Tantric presence is necessary in your tantric practice
How you bring yourself to every interaction matters in tantric practice. How you show up and meet others matters. How you meet yourself matters. Too often we get caught in analyzing and judging how others show up with us and we don’t pay enough attention to how we show up with them. Tantric connection only happens at this moment. It’s not about who you were yesterday or who you’ll be tomorrow. Your presence matters right now in Tantra.
Practice: Throughout the day, and most especially when you have the chance to have an authentic or intimate experience with another, ask yourself, who am I being? Ask yourself, how am I being or how am I showing up? Are you showing up loving, kind, committed, passionate, compassionate, authentic, and desire-filled? Are you showing up open and available? Or are you showing up shutdown, collapsed, inhibited, fearful, judgmental, expecting, or maybe even numb? As you start to notice how you are showing up, begin to be conscious and intentional about the you who is showing up and how this you who is showing up is being in the world.
Advanced practice: Presence also means being present to the one we’re with. Presence means that you stayed attuned and aware of their presence and experience as well. When you are both being present, then you can have an authentic tantric dance.
#9: Tantric connection
Tantric connection happens within, between and beyond us. It includes heart, mind, body, spirit and soul. Within ourselves, we create tantric connection by allowing our energy to flow openly back and forth between our heart center and our sexual center. A fully alive connection between these two centers, first and foremost within your own body, ignites an energetic aliveness and availability. As we allow this connection to happen fully within our own bodies, then we can open to sharing those energies with another.
Practice: Close your eyes for a few moments and imagine energy flowing between your sexual center (2nd chakra) and your heart (4th chakra).
Women, start at your heart and let that energy flow down the front of your body and connect to your genitals in your sexual center. Let the energies blend there and then breathe the blended energy up your spine to your heart, infusing that energy with more love. Then again let that energy flow down the front of your body to your genitals. Repeat this cycle at least 10 times, exhaling as the energy flows down the front, inhaling as it flows up the spine.
Men, start at your sexual center and breathe your sexual energy up your spine on your inhale, let your sexual energy blend with the love in your heart. Then as you exhale, let the blended energy fall down the front of your body returning to your genitals where you can infuse it with more sexual energy and then, once again, inhale and breathe that energy up your spine to your heart. Repeat this cycle at least 10 times, exhaling as the energy flows down the front, inhaling as it flows up the spine.
Practice uniting these energies before connecting with anyone you care about. Practice before a date, practice before an important conversation or presentation, and, for sure, practice before lovemaking.
#10: Tantric energy exchange
You can think of tantric energy exchange as the giving and receiving of energy between you and another person. Even better said, this is a practice of offering your presence and energy and allowing it to be received. When you offer your energy instead of giving it, it removes the pressure from the receiver to have to receive. When you offer your energy you give the other person the opportunity and the choice to receive your energy. With that being said, developing excellence in both offering and receiving will give you access to entirely new levels of joy and pleasure (and well-being too.)
Practice: Opportunities to offer/give and receive happen all day long. They happen with compliments, with hugs, with acts of support, while we’re kissing, during foreplay, and when we’re making love.
It might sound strange, but practice giving and receiving separately. In one moment practice giving, and in another distinctly different moment practice receiving. And, if you are like so many on the tantric path, you just might need more practice and exercise for your receiving muscle.
So, to build your receiving muscle, try simply receiving a compliment without giving one back. Accept an offer of help without making up a story that you have to do something in return. If you have the chance to kiss or make love, see if you can slow down and separate the giving and receiving. That means the giver is offering pleasurable stimulation while the receiver simply ENJOYS the pleasure being offered. The receiver, if he or she is truly receiving, has no need to offer anything in return and therefore can be fully present to the sensations of the body while expanding their pleasure potential immensely.
Then to further strengthen your giving / offering muscle, see if you can truly offer, truly give without hoping for or anticipating anything in return.
#11: Sacred Space in tantric practices
When we become attuned to the energies flowing within, between and beyond us, we also become attuned to the energy of the space that surrounds us. With practice you may begin to notice that you’ll enjoy having certain things around you and that other things – like clutter, certain colors, even certain fabrics will distract you from the potent tantric energy available to you. As most people align with this tantric energy, they will often notice a new sense of sacredness,
Practice: Consider what pictures, symbols, decorations, memory items, or other objects represent the divine for you or help you feel the presence of the divine. Then consider arranging those in a specific area in your home where you can go, sit, rest, pray, or meditate when you want to remember and feel your own divine essence as well as the divine presence of love that exists within and between you. If that first area isn’t in your bedroom, think about how you would create sacred space in your bedroom permanently or even temporarily when you want to practice Tantric Loving.
#12: Honoring the tantric body
While tantric practice unites heart, mind, body, spirit and soul, we cannot experience that unity, love and pleasure without the body. In the west, we have, at best, a strained relationship with the body. On one extreme we deny and ignore it, expecting it to “perform” day in and day out for us. On the other extreme we can objectify it, forgetting the privilege it is to be allowed to touch another person’s body. If that weren’t enough, society deeply conditions us to judge the innate, unique and beautiful “imperfections” of the body.
Practice: Spend a couple of days just noticing how you relate to your own body. Can you feel the emotions and sensations that live in it? Do you pay attention to them? Is it tired? If it is, do you rest or do you keep “pushing through?” Is it in pain or low on energy? Are you paying attention to what it needs and, more importantly, providing for those needs? If there is a partner in your life, notice how you relate to their body (beyond just relating to it as a source of potential sexual pleasure.) After you’ve spent a couple of days just noticing, decide how you want to start treating your body and caring for it differently now that you recognize it as a sacred temple for loving. Do the same for your partner’s body if you are in a relationship.
#13: Sex is a spiritual experience
We never come closer to the Divine, God, the Universe, the Truth of Life than during love making. In our sacred sexual dance, our bodies literally unite with each other. And, in our deepest experiences of lovemaking, we lose all sense of where one body begins and the other ends. It’s why understanding the difference between making love and having sex changes everything in most relationships.
A spiritual experience is by definition an experience that gives our human form a taste of the ethereal, the eternal. Tantra is not just sex, and yet sex is the essence of tantric love because of the profound metaphor of unity it holds. And, true sacred sexuality invites us to do whatever we need to do so we can open – open heart, mind, body – to the fullest pleasures of Love.
Please know that even if you don’t have a partner, your self-pleasuring practices will bring you very close to the unity experienced through two-bodied love. And, sometimes we need to cultivate that self-relationship and self-love, including sexually, to prepare ourselves for the deepest loving with another.
Practice: Through either self-pleasuring, or through making love with another, allow yourself to recognize, feel and experience your spiritual nature. Feel where you are more than just this body you seem to inhabit. See if you can find true edges or boundaries to your experience, or does it just go on and on, infinitely?
Drop any goal in this sexual practice. Let the practice be your presence to every sensation, every feeling, in every moment. Feel. Notice. The breathtaking doesn’t happen where you expect it to.
And… Slow down. Slow down. Slow down.
We cannot feel the sacred, the spiritual, when we move quickly. The Divine is powerful yet subtle. And, trust, your pleasure will ignite in the slow.
The tantric journey
As you embark on this journey of tantric practices, go slow. Be gentle. For many, even though we might crave union, these practices can bring up strong resistance. They can stir deep unfelt emotions.
Go slow. Be gentle.
Your consciousness of tantric love, tantric pleasure, and tantric unity will develop over time. Consistent practice will serve you well.
Realize that your experience with these tantric practices may vary day to day. That’s normal. If you practice with a partner, your partner’s experience with a particular exercise may be very different than your own. That’s normal too.
You are cautioned not to try to change your partner’s experience nor your own. Your body and soul have great wisdom. Let them lead. They will show you your way to union – in the deepest love and pleasure you can ever know.
*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.