Intimacy and sexuality are the glue of a healthy relationship. Unfortunately, in much of the world, sexuality has been put into the shadows and viewed as a hidden act that is mostly about physical pleasure. Sexual intimacy is sooo much more than simply physical pleasure and procreation. Sharing our hearts, bodies, fluids and breath can weave a sacred and profound connection that is both empowering and healing.
Sex is a common source of anxiety for many couples. Plagued by the world of shoulds that permeate our mindsets regarding love and relationships, most people carry a host of unrealistic expectations into their sex lives. When sex fails to live up to the impossible ideal, you may assume that there’s something wrong with your relationship or that you’re with the wrong partner. Sex should be effortless, the media says. You should have wild chemistry right from the start, Hollywood espouses. These are among the many myths that seep into our consciousness and can have a deleterious effect on our sex lives.
Many men are dependent on fantasy and visual stimulus for their sexual functioning and this is not healthy or normal. The tragedy for men is that porn images portray sexual ejaculation as the main outcome of sexual sharing and they often miss the deep pleasure of the slow building of powerful waves of pleasure with a beloved that does not even require ejaculation. Pornography, movies, and television only show one branch of sexuality. There are many branches on the tree of intimacy and ways to deepen love and connection. The visual stimulus of objectification with women has lead to a lack of true and deep communion.
The truth is that sex is complicated. It touches on our most vulnerable places in every area of self: emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual. Few people begin their relationships with a clean slate but arrive with negative experiences around sex, early trauma, and/or erroneous beliefs that color their sexuality. The bedroom is often the place where the past collides with the present, so it would make sense that it isn’t always the smoothest ride. Getting comfortable with a sexual partner is an experience that builds over time. Even if your relationship began with powerful sexual fire and deep intimacy, you may reach times when the fire dwindles or life’s stresses drain your passion. It is at these times when intimacy and connection can be the best medicine for our lives.
There is a pervasive confusion about sex and intimacy. We use the words interchangeably, but plain physical intimacy does not necessarily bring a meaningful experience or a sustainable connection. The more we focus on the physicality of sex: how we look, our performance, and techniques, the further we get from true intimacy. When we cultivate a sense of appreciation with devotion and full attention to our partner, we enter into realms of deeper intimacy and bonding. With a strong connection of presence and intimacy, we can travel into any aspect of sexuality and have it be deeply satisfying and meaningful. The moments that we are feeling deeply intimate lend themselves to experiences that generate long-lasting waves of happiness and satisfaction.
Here are some suggestions and practices for cultivating deeper intimacy in your sex life. There is a focus here on more connection and presence with each other and less on the wild passionate aspect of sexuality. Both are equally important! It may be that your relationship needs more wild passionate and powerful sexual experiences. If so, then use the foundation of the practices below to establish the intimacy that can support you in creating all that you desire in your sexual sharing.
Less Talking and More Experiencing
Often when we think of intimacy, we think about the sharing of our experience or secrets. There is something intimate about verbalizing our innermost thoughts and desires especially when it comes to sex. However, as alluring as fantasy can be, by its very definition, it’s a way of escaping reality. And we tend to hide behind our words, using conversation as a means of avoiding vulnerability. We tell people who we are instead of showing them.
True intimacy with a lover happens in the silent moments of presence and connectedness between words.
Practice #1: Set a specific time to meet in the bedroom without speaking a single word. Spend an hour together, not talking, before any physical intimacy begins. Show up clean, physically and emotionally. This is an opportunity to let our stories fall away — as individuals and as a couple — making room for a deep, non-verbal, energetic connection.
Focus on the Subtle Pleasures and Let Go of Any Need to Orgasm
Pleasure is an untapped resource that is begging to be explored. Orgasms are wonderful, but it’s easy to overlook a whole frontier to explore that is filled with riches when we wander through our loving instead of aiming to get somewhere. It is now widely understood that women can have over a dozen different kinds of orgasms.
From the time men are boys, they are fascinated with ejaculating, the experience is a built-in biological preoccupation. My experience has been that the more I open up to experiencing whole body sensations, the more pleasure I feel. Experiencing whole body pleasure and ecstasy is a real possibility for both men and women. We have misunderstood the destination of sex to be orgasm; and, by doing so, robbed ourselves of some potentially powerful opportunities for both pleasure and intimacy.
Practice #2: Agree upfront to forgo reaching orgasm. Take the possibility completely off the table, for both of you. By doing so, you provide space to be present and find appreciation of each moment for the pleasure and connection it brings, without distraction. Take turns bringing each other close and backing off. Notice the powerful bond created as you hold each other on the brink of ecstasy.
Go Slow, Breathe and Feel
We live in a fast-paced, over-stimulating, mentally active world. As a culture, we are usually focused on doing rather than being. Because we juggle so many responsibilities, it is not always easy to shift gears and bring the engine to a purr. Choose to make your sexual intimacy your medicine.
Practice #3: Create a bubble of time and space to climb into together. Do whatever it takes to enable getting lost in your own world together. Make a conscious decision not to rush. Let energy flow between you like a lava lamp. Moving verrry slowly, savor each moment of sensation and allow intimacy to rise like a building wave.
One of the practices during sexuality is to turn the focus from thoughts to the breath. In Tantra, partners will match breath as a way of forming an energetic connection that is not based on the giving and receiving of physical pleasure.
Practice #4: Begin in a simple embrace. Spend a few minutes slowing and synchronizing your breath. Silently negotiate a rhythm that is comfortable for both of you. Pause at the top of each inhalation and at the bottom of each exhalation, creating a moment of mutual stillness. Breathing together is facilitated by cooperation and consideration for each other. Try to maintain this collaboration during your waves of pleasure and experience.
Take Moments to Look Deeply Into Each Other’s Eyes
Eye contact is a distinct point of connection. Yet, it is common to keep one’s eyes closed during sex. Extended eye contact reveals vulnerability, and so it can be a powerful facilitator of intimacy.
Practice #5: Sit on the floor facing each other and gaze into each other’s eyes without looking away for 20 minutes. Shifting from eye to eye helps sustain the gaze. Maintain eye contact as much as possible as sex unfolds. Play with looking into each other’s eyes all the way through orgasm. It is nearly impossible to climax with open eyes (like sneezing).
Gazing into your lover’s eyes at the moment of release just might be the very definition of intimacy.
Amplify your pleasure
All kinds of healthy chemicals are stimulated throughout our bodies when we feel good. The adrenal glands that produce the stress hormone cortisol actually respond to brain messages originating from the heart, which is well supplied with neurotransmitters. This is why positive emotions and the release of oxytocin are vitally important for reducing stress. When you love your partner and surrender into deep pleasure and orgasm, you are replenishing and nourishing yourself on a cellular level.
Practice #6: Focus on what feels good and allow your attention to feed the experience. Welcome sound, moaning, breathing and groaning. Let yourself be a glutton for what feels good and a willing giver of pleasure to your beloved.