Intimacy, Growth, and Tantra


Tantric practices are indications of a certain direction for intimacy and growth. They are not just instructions to be enacted or another set of erotic conventions to be performed and perfected. They are a set of structured suggestions designed to reveal the nuances of sublimative passion. Mystery, subtlety, and discovery take precedence over formality and performance. In tantric sublimation, there are no missionary positions to adhere to or rebel against.


Sitting opposite each other, hold hands so that right palms face down and left palms face up. This position is based on the tantric principle that energy enters us through the left hand and is transmitted out through the right.

Next, focus your gaze upon each other at the midpoint between the eyebrows. Continue to gaze at each other, going through various phases of recognition, mood, and attention.

Allow your focus to soften so that your vision becomes momentarily blurred, pulsing with your heartbeat. Then, very slowly, refocus. Do this periodically. It will allow your eye muscles to relax and to make possible subtle shifts of perception. Your partner's face will very likely change in appearance, perhaps seeming older or younger, more radiant, or filled with the impressions of past emotion and attitudes. You might also see a sense of his essence, a kind of pervasive quality that permeates all his aspects and actions. In these pulsings, vision reveals a living world. This relaxed vision is an early stage of pratyahara. (Pratyahara is an early stage of meditation in which focus is gathered from its more ordinary scatterings through the senses and through "mind chatter".)

Try to find a balance point where you are equally aware of your own presence and the presence of your partner. As you come to hovering at this point of equal internal and external awareness, you will likely feel a kind of spacious opening occur, even a sense of timelessness. Your partner might appear profoundly unique to you in a curiously unsuspected way. As one husband said during his very first try, "I realized for the first time that my wife was giving me the love that I had always been looking for. I had just never really seen who she was before."

It becomes clear, as time passes, that you are each reflecting in your responsive countenance the image of beholding the other. You feel you have known each other for an indeterminate amount of time, perhaps forever. You experience yourselves as the same. You see a deepening beautification surface from each other's depths into the skin, eyes, and spirit, and it seems that this emerging beauty is the living response to your every willingness to see it. Much of what you see that moves you so is your partner's response to you, creating a kind of natural biofeedback that deepens intimacy. The beautification of each other feels to be endless and moving to ever more profound levels of assessment. Early dharana (near to complete unwavering concentration on an object), as the sense of an underlying unity, flutters.

Drink your partner in through your eyes and pores. Each time you lower your eyelids, feel the caressing of his essence with your eyelashes. You will see his eyes moisten ever so slightly, but these secretions transmute from apparent sadness into compassion, shy trepidation, and love. The varieties of tears are legion, revealing a whole expansive world of meanings and submeanings in every radiance. If vision is through tears, which refract the entering light with a prismatic effect, who is to decide whether the dancing rainbows we see are best described as miraculous wonderments or merely as a peripheral and insignificant scientific property of optics?

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Shyness and blushing might also emerge, overcoming you with bluepink whispers of unbearable beauty. For shyness always heralds a greater sense of being seen and known, of seeing and feeling someone seeing and feeling us. We blush in catching another seeing us, for shyness is the innocence that consecrates each birth and revelation of the soul. Shyness is not a problem; it is a precarious mystery tenderly shared.

Perhaps a tear will streak down your cheek, and you realize how much there is to you and your partner, how responsively connected you are to each other. Other tears might follow, yet you feel only momentarily melancholic, then joyous, embarrassed, then wholly softened, for these are the living tears of the present "inner adult" of anahata chakra (heart center). If pains and angers from the past emerge, see them wavering, like desert mirages, and then dissolve into the inestimable passions of virya, leaving you in the everforgiving vividness of the evanescent present. (Virya is the quintessential distillate of sublimation, arising from virtuous activity, as noted by Sri Aurobindo.)

In the togetherness now, the experience called Sharing This emerges. Such "suchness" is the furthering of dharana (concentration), revealing the near-unbroken flow of mutually absorbed contact. Couples feel, "We are really in it together!"

Perhaps the longing in your genitals, abdomen, heart, and throat, which mounts, subsides, and shifts, now swells into your heart and throat. A subtle salivation, perhaps of a sweetened taste, hints its way into your mouth. In your unguarded state, it seeps out of the corners. You feel utterly innocent and uncontrolled, and your partner appears the same way, in the spell of bodily transformations.

An undisguised openness and steady receptivity begin to unfurl, as heavy and unruffled as a warm flow of sacred oils. A breathless moment. A ringing silence. You both slowly close your eyes. Darkness. One psyche or soul. An evergrowing brightness dawns.

Throughout your whole body an inward caress caresses selflessly; mystics have called it "the inward touch of the divine". You feel a still deeper silence. A wonder arises; it shapes itself and becomes a question: "Is this the soul of me or is it my partner's?" Interrogation reverts to sheer wonder. Dharana, silence, dhyana (the beginning of meditation proper). Billowing essence of boundaryless love here, there, everywhere. A sound, a smooth sound -- breathing; one bloodstream, one pulsebeat, one passageway in: mother-father birth; the in-between; and then, out. Sounds of breathing in and out.

Your sighs of intimacy have now become deeply appreciative. You feel a tingling pass between the palms of your held hands. It traces up your left arm, into your throat, and down into your heart, abdomen, genitals, and spinal base. You begin to experience the subtle body channels, energies, and chakras. You can feel the spontaneous movement of sublimative passion sending currents of pleasure throughout the internal musculature of your body, triggering the bandhas (muscular holdings or "locks" that keep subtle energies in a specific area of the body for the purpose of healing and transmutation) and various mudras (poses that affect kundalini, the "serpent coiled" energy at the root or muladhara chakra). You experience having a human body as a kind of fortuitous stroke of genius on Someone's part, while the buoyancy of desireless attraction to the world around you feels as light and responsive as consciousness itself.

Serenely still, your breathing suspends and suspends. Time withers, place evaporates. Kundalini-shakti (spiritual force) stirs. Heat grows stronger and stronger within muladhara, your throat, your heart, in ajna (brow chakra) between the eyes, in the midbrain area. Effortlessly, your tongue weaves back into your throat. A glow of electrical heat quivers, connecting the root of your tongue, throat, heart, spine, and perineum. A space of light opens. Time and more time, all is just time. The words pass, it's time, it's time.

You open your eyes slowly to a world of brilliance; the heavy-laden vineyards of the spirit have ripened.

You rest into each other's arms, feeling the heat and energy that is within and between you. Sitting up, you meditate quietly for an indeterminate time, then separate palms and smile, perhaps with some shyness.

This article was excerpted from the book Eros, Consciousness, and Kundalini: Deepening Sensuality through Tantric Celibacy and Spiritual Intimacy, ? 1999 by Stuart Sovatsky, Ph.D. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Inner Traditions International.

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About The Author

STUART SOVATSKY, PH.D., has been a practitioner of kundalini yoga for twenty-four years and is the director of two psychotherapy clinics in the San Francisco Bay Area. A former presenter at the World Congress on Sexology in India and the International Kundalini Research Network, he teaches at JFK University and the California Institute of Integral Studies. You can contact the author at [email protected] or visit his website at


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