If you know someone who's explored tantra in their sex life, you've probably heard crazy stories about their marathon lovemaking sessions and multiple orgasms that can result from this mindful sex practice. But despite its benefits, the idea of tantra remains intimidating to many of us.
Whether you've never practiced meditation before or you're a seasoned pro, you might have reservations about bringing tantra into the bedroom. If this describes you, maybe you should consider giving tantric masturbation a try.
While the term "tantric sex" often calls to mind images of couples locked in intense passion, you can also practice tantra by yourself. Solo tantra sessions offer you the opportunity to explore tantra independently before bringing the practice into coupled sex.
Tantric masturbation just might be the perfect place to begin your journey through tantric sex. Read on to learn more about the practice of tantra and how you can implement it in your next session of self-pleasure.
What is Tantra?
Tantra is an ancient spiritual practice that unites mindfulness and self-exploration. With roots in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, tantra allows us to experience the truth of ourselves and the world around us.
While it's often used to describe sexual activities, technically, anything from walking the dog to doing the dishes can be performed tantrically! However, in this article, we'll focus on the practice of tantra in the bedroom.
Tantric sex, including tantric masturbation, encourages us to delve deeper into our sexual identities. It's about discovering what brings us pleasure, without focusing on orgasm as the ultimate goal.
Tantra might sound a little "woo-woo," especially to skeptics -- but we encourage you to give tantric masturbation a try before passing judgment! Once you see its many benefits, you'll be wondering why you didn't try tantric masturbation sooner.
Benefits of Tantric Masturbation
Tantric masturbation combines masturbation with meditation, allowing you to reap the benefits of both practices as one.
Growing up, you may have learned to associate masturbation with shame -- but there's evidence that it is actually good for our health. According to Planned Parenthood, the benefits of masturbation include:
Mental health. Masturbation can help you relax, relieve tension, and even sleep better.
Confidence. Masturbating may improve your body image and help you build healthy self-esteem.
Self-understanding. Knowing what you like can help you teach your partner to pleasure you better during partnered sexual activity.
Pain relief. The pleasurable chemicals released during masturbation may alleviate pain associated with menstrual cramps.
Few risks. Unlike other sexual activities, there is no risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection from masturbation.
If the benefits of masturbation alone aren't enough to convince you to give tantric masturbation a try, here's what science has to say about meditation:
Relaxation. The slowed breathing and clear-headedness associated with meditation can help you relax and relieve day-to-day stress.
Anxiety relief. Meditation encourages you to clear your mind of worries and focus on the present moment, which can alleviate anxiety.
Illness management. There is evidence that meditating can help you manage health conditions such as cancer, depression, and headaches.
Self-development. Meditation can help you develop characteristics such as creativity, patience, and tolerance, and let go of anger and grief.
How to Practice Tantric Masturbation
Ready to give tantric masturbation a try? Whether you are interested in the health benefits or simply curious, you may find that tantric masturbation is the perfect gateway to exploring tantra. Follow these simple steps to begin your tantric masturbation practice and invite awareness and self-exploration into your sex life.
1. Set an intention.
If you have ever attended a yoga class, you may have heard the teacher encourage you to set an intention at the beginning of practice. Similarly, tantric masturbation begins with setting an intention.
The goal of tantric masturbation is never to achieve orgasm but rather, to achieve your intention. Depending on your reasons for practicing tantric masturbation, you may set the intention to release shame, invite pleasure, or relieve stress.
Unsure of what intention to set? Tantra educator Leah Piper advises asking yourself, "What can I release from my life that is no longer serving me?" or "What can I invite into my life to greater serve me?" to identify your intention.
2. Create a ritual.
Tantric masturbation is the opposite of quickly and methodically "rubbing one out." Instead, experts recommend ritualizing the experience as much as possible by creating an environment that's conducive to both comfort and pleasure.
Ideally, you should practice tantric masturbation in a private place where you have plenty of time, so you know you will not be disturbed. This rids your brain of the worry that you will be disrupted, allowing you to focus entirely on the present moment. If you do have somewhere to be, set a timer for 30-45 minutes to encourage your brain to "switch off" during the practice, without fear of running late for your next engagement.
Then, make your environment as sensual as possible. Light some candles, arrange some pillows, play some relaxing music, and fill the room with a scent you find pleasurable to heighten relaxation and sensation during your tantric masturbation session.
3. Practice breathwork.
In order to reap the meditative benefits of tantric masturbation, you're going to want to focus on your breath. Throughout the day, we don't spend much time paying attention to the speed or depth of our breath. Meditation and tantric masturbation offer you the opportunity to rectify that.
Before you begin to touch yourself, you may find it helpful to slow down with a breathing exercise designed to deepen your breath. 4-7-8 breathing or box breathing are two techniques that provide ritualized patterns to help you breathe slowly and deeply.
Try one of these breathing techniques for a few moments before progressing on to the next step in your tantric masturbation practice.
4. Touch yourself….slowly.
When masturbating, many of us gravitate immediately toward the epicenters of pleasure: the clitoris, nipples, penis, or testicles. But while practicing tantric masturbation, you will actually want to begin pleasuring yourself by doing the opposite, first stimulating the secondary erogenous zones.
Your secondary erogenous zones are areas of the body we don't think of as "sexual" in nature but have the potential to enhance our sexual pleasure. Secondary erogenous zones include parts of the body such as the:
Backs of the knees
This is where the self-exploration aspect of tantra comes into play. There are no rules, so feel free to play with the body parts and sensations you find most pleasurable.
5. Build tension.
Whenever you feel ready (and there's no rush!), you can begin to stimulate your genital area. Remember that the goal is not to rush toward orgasm, but rather to explore what type of touch feels best to you.
When you choose to begin touching yourself, do so slowly and lightly, avoiding any touch that feels vigorous, intense, or hard. With the aim of self-discovery in mind, you may want to try using a different technique than you usually do to masturbate while practicing tantra.
For people with a vulva, this might mean:
Exploring different types of strokes, such as tapping or circling
Touching different areas of your vulva, such as the labia or the clitoral hood
Using different numbers of fingers to stimulate your clitoris or vagina
Playing with different directions -- i.e. clockwise, counterclockwise, or diagonal
For people with a penis, this might mean:
Using one or two hands to stroke your shaft
Cupping or stimulating your balls
Exploring masturbation with your non-dominant hand
Tapping or pressing against your perineum
Whether you have a vulva or a penis, you may also find it pleasurable to stimulate the anal region while you are masturbating. Try circling the entrance with a finger or anal plug, and eventually easing inside if you enjoy the sensation.
It's worth noting that using a personal lubricant may make the experience of sexual touch more comfortable or pleasurable -- especially if you want to explore internal penetration of your vagina or anus.
6. Ease out of the practice.
Depending on how much time you have to explore, you may choose to end your tantric masturbation practice when you achieve orgasm, when you no longer find touch pleasurable, or when a set amount of time has passed.
Regardless of when you choose to end your practice, it's important to ease out of tantric masturbation slowly. Just as you do not want to rush into tantric masturbation, you do not want to rush out of it.
After you reach completion, lay flat on your back in savasana as you would after a yoga practice, with one hand resting on your genitals and one hand resting on your heart. Deepen the breath and invite yourself to notice the sensations and emotions that arise in response to your practice.
This period of reflection is crucial to the practice of tantric masturbation, as it allows us to integrate our realizations into the body and return to our lives with a sense of inner peace and transformation.