Kindred Spirit Magazine
The hidden gift in the ordinariness of relationships is the potential for transcendence. When the archetype of man and woman, the masculine and feminine, Shiva and Shakti, is lived, experienced, and expressed in lovemaking deep fulfilment of our true nature is the result. Tantra teacher Leora Lightwoman opens her fascinating casebook to reveal the way forward for those in failing relationships and shows how to turn the power struggle into passion.
As a Tantra teacher, I am privileged to know, and to witness, some of the intimate and intricate stories of many different couples. Better still, I am frequently in the position to experience their transformation. In sharing some of these stories I will show you a rough map to identify some patterns of conflict. All of these patterns share a common theme-in each case there has been a loss, usually of a dream, and certainly of connection, intimacy, bonding, and partnership. Through diving more deeply into the heart of the archetype expressed in the battle, it is possible to identify the quality of longing, the true needs of each partner, and the missing piece in the relationship. By opening the heart and remembering our true selves, this apparent loss can become the guiding principle for rediscovering wholeness, purpose, love, passion, and sexual fulfilment. We can understand different personal, sexual, and relationship challenges in terms of archetypal energy patterns.
Another glorious Christmas eve, and Lucy and Ray had decided to do it differently this time. After a stream of family gatherings, ranging from the warm and cosy to last year’s storming out of the room in tears, they had decided to go away to the Caribbean. Here they were, at the beach-side bar, drinking iced cocktails at sunset, and for the second year running they were discussing divorce… ‘Well, sex isn’t exciting or passionate as it used to be but that’s normal, isn’t it? After all we’ve been together a long time now-over seven years.’
I have heard this kind of statement many times, the assumption being that ongoing relationships, and domestic routine, are bound to get boring, and that passionate sex is likely to suffer. And I would be inclined to agree. That is, that the challenge of boredom, disillusionment and diminishing desire will at some time be faced by most couples. The question then becomes, how do they understand and interpret this situation, and how do they respond to it? Without a wider perspective, a transformational approach and a commitment to inner growth, the available options tend to fall into four main categories: End the relationship, Try to spice it up, Look outside the relationship to find passionate sex and intimacy or Endure! Couples may oscillate between these approaches, or stick at one, with varying degrees of success. There are usually, however, unwanted consequences. Lucy and Ray had tried all of these. They had met in their mid-20s at a club, and tried all sorts of sexual exploration-S&M, erotic parties, threesomes, you name it. And it had been great fun. Then, one week when Ray was away on business, Lucy had a brief affair. ‘I thought we had an open relationship,’ she told Ray. ‘I thought we had an open relationship,’ she told Ray. ‘I didn’t think you’d mind.’ Ray, and their relationship, had never been the same since. After a long period of sticking with it, trying to make it work, and further heartbreak, they were scratchy, angry and dissatisfied. They both wanted out, but by then their beautiful daughter Annabelle had been born. Despite the enjoyment and fulfilment they both felt in being parents, alongside this were sleepless nights, no sex, financial stress and exhaustion. They had lost their dream of being a fulfilled and happy family. They had forfeited trust and given up hope. So what else could there be? They decided to journey inwards. With the aid of clear guidance in the form of Diamond Light Tantra workshops and couples’ sessions, they embarked on a process of opening their hearts to each other, and truly sharing their own, and hearing each others deepest fears, pain, hopes and dreams. They looked at their own personal histories, identified patterns, grieved losses and let go of old ways that were not serving them. They re-committed to their relationship. Both became softer, more compassionate and vulnerable with themselves and each other. Most importantly, they looked to higher level of reality than that of their problems. They opened to the spiritual potential and meaning in their predicament. If the universe was a benevolent place, and God was acting in all of their highest interest, what could be the teaching and gifts of this situation? They looked to their shared devotion to their daughter, and their commitment to offering her the best future that they could, in such a way that both of them could express their authentic selves with pride and joy. For Ray and Lucy, wonderful things started to happen. Instead of arguing and fighting with each other, they started to act as a team. They felt closer and more appreciative of each other. They started earning more money and having more sex. Not long after that an extraordinary quality started to emerge in their lovemaking. Lucy found that she was able to relax and open to Ray in a whole new way. During sex her focus became to enjoy her connection with Ray and to truly receive him into her body and heart. She let go of focusing purely on her orgasm, and felt like a full woman. She did orgasm, most times, and it was sometimes quite a spiritual experience where her whole body vibrated and her head felt both light and buzzy. Ray also relaxed-being welcomed so fully in his sexual potency meant that there was less urgency in sex, less need to prove anything. He felt his love and desire for Lucy, and felt proud to be a man.
The Sexual Explorer
Eleanor and Steve had been together for 30 years. They had made love together since they met as childhood sweethearts. Then as husband and wife, parents of three children, and with their careers and social life, their sexual relationship continued. At 52 when their second daughter left the home, they began to wonder-what now? Who are we? Where are we going as a couple? What do we each really want? They began to explore. They talked. They danced. They played. They went on naturist holidays. They dressed up. They went to a Tantra workshop. We met.
They explored deep sensuality. They enjoyed their own and each other’s bodies afresh. They learned techniques for sharing touch with awareness, and moving pleasure through the whole of the body. They learned about clear and honest communication from the heart. And Steve, his passion reawakened, started to wonder if he’d missed out, having had only one other sexual partner than Eleanor in his whole life. He loved Eleanor dearly, probably more than ever, but he also felt attracted to other women. He mentioned that she felt the same way. And yet they were both absolutely clear that they loved and desired each other and wanted to be together.
They talked some more and came up with a contract, an agreement between the two of them. In this they decided what level and detail of intimate contact they could each share with other people. This stopped short of sexual intercourse and was only permitted where the whole context (ie that of exploration, sensuality, sexuality, and intimacy, but not ongoing partnership or sexual intercourse) was clear and agreed to by all parties. They stayed true to their word, and learned a lot-both in terms of what they did and what they didn’t want to repeat. They had a lot of fun, and some deeply moving times, and really lived out many of their sexual fantasies and dreams. About two years later they decided to take a break and return to a purely monogamous relationship, with a greater sense of serenity and joy then before. ‘I really enjoyed that time,’ said Eleanor. ‘It’s just that, right now, my heart isn’t in it.’ ‘I guess we’re just following our impulses and feelings as they come.’ Steve told me. ‘The exploration is ongoing-who knows what may come next!’
This couple expressed the life-affirming, positive potential of the sexual explorer archetype. They used it to follow their desires and to find themselves. They defined their boundaries, and enriched their coupledom. They expressed a wide range of sexual personas and maintained safety by staying in honest and open dialogue, within clear and mutually determined contractual arrangements. They received gifts of flow, movement, excitement and peace.
Sex and Power
Patrick and Selena were living a negative aspect of sexual power, whereby sexual power was used against the other. Selena frequently spoke about other men who she found attractive, whilst simultaneously pointing out Pat’s shortcomings. She flirted with other men and frequently denied sexual contact with Pat. Pat for this part withdrew into himself, was inconsiderate of Selena’s feelings and needs, and complained a lot. He believed that she was responsible for his unhappiness. He watched porn as a sexual outlet, and particularly enjoyed scenes involving domination.
In fact, underneath their familiar behaviour patterns, both partners perceived themselves to be powerless victims. Selena wanted Pat to be strong and ‘masculine’, and yet in trying to make him that way she scorned and emasculated him, and she even felt more alone. Pat wanted respect, but thought he would get it by being subservient and taking what came his way. He too was waiting in vain for his partner to change, in order that he could feel better about himself. They periodically compensated for these agonising feelings by taking on the opposite role, that of the persecutor. In that role, they felt stronger and more in charge, but forfeited intimacy and partnership, ownership and true empowerment. An excellent way to find the gifts in a negative pattern such as this one is to play with the archetype, with humour. In so doing it is possible to really notice and feel the ways in which you and your partner are hurting each other, and to discover how to access and express the positive, life-affirming aspect of the same archetype.
Patrick and Selena did just that, at a workshop on this theme. It was cleat that Selena called the shots in their relationship, so I switched things around and gave her the role of the ‘slave’, and Patrick the ‘master’. The usually passive Patrick began to chase Selena around the room, quite viciously ordering her to do this and that. Selena looked both shocked and frightened. I asked Patrick if this was truly, deep down, the response he wanted in his beloved. He too looked taken aback, and then embarrassed and crestfallen. ‘No’, he said. I then invited Patrick to continue as the master, but to open his heart to Selena. I asked him to sense and imagine what she really wanted both intimately and sexually. I then suggested that he order her to do things that would allow her to meet those desires. Patrick told me that under normal circumstances Selena couldn’t just relax and receive touch and pleasure. She always thought that she had to something in return, to such a degree that she couldn’t really enjoy her own body, as she was constantly focused on reciprocating and pleasing Patrick. In the privacy of their own room, Pat and Selena first agreed a ‘stop’ word and sign, so that Selena knew that she was ultimately in charge and could call a halt to it all if she chose to. Patrick, as the benevolent, sexy ‘master’, then lovingly and gently handcuffed her and tied her legs to the bed posts with silk handkerchiefs. He then proceeded to gently caress her with ‘Tantric touch’ and to give her sexual pleasure. Selena knew that she could nothing to ‘escape’. After some wriggling, she gave in and began to allow herself to receive. Her usually hard and frowning expression melted as she succumbed to these delights. After a while her heart opened to Patrick, as tears came down her cheeks. Patrick felt powerful, masculine, sexy and loving. By finding the loving, life-enhancing sexual aspect of an archetype that had been governing their relationship, this couple had learned a new way of being together that brought each of them individually, and their relationship, more into harmony. Patrick experienced his loving masculine power and Selena surrendered into her receptive femininity.
To recover lost love, try this little exercise:
● Notice what you are blaming your partner for (e.g. not turning you on, not pulling their weight, not loving you or listening to you enough etc)
● Look into their eyes and lightly focus your awareness on a point about 3 fee above your heads, between you both. Ask yourself: If my partner were a reflection of an aspect of myself, what would that be?
● Ask yourself: What am I trying to gain by withholding your love and sexual expression?
● Could you commit to what is most important to you in life, and be willing to take the first step towards togetherness?
●Find a way to thank and acknowledge your partner.
Since the birth of her son, Rekha had not been the same. The birth had been traumatic on many fronts-the sergeant midwife, the hospital, the fear and pain, and most of all the instrumental birth with forceps and episiotomy. Sex didn’t feel the same any more, event two years on, when she had been told that her scar should have healed. Her vagina was both numb and painful. Although she knew it not to be true, she nonetheless, privately and illogically feared the vigorous thrusting from her partner’s penis would rip her open again. During a year-long Diamond Light Tantra training, they learned the technique of Yoni (Sanskrit for vagina, or ‘Sacred Place’) Healing. This is a profound energetic and physical ritual for, gently and over time, releasing physical and emotional trauma from the vagina. Through this practice her vagina gradually regained sensitivity and the capacity for pleasure again. Not only that, but the intimacy engendered y experiencing her partner so openly devoted to her healing, without demanding anything in return, and abstaining from sexual intercourse for months, opened her heart to him in a new way. She realised that he did truly love her, and it wasn’t all about sex. Their relationship too, received healing. This is a gift of this archetype, sexual healing. We are all connected, and when one partner receives this blessing, this can initiate healing in the other. The sexual healer archetype is motivated by love, compassion and connection. One of the greatest unspoken losses in a struggling relationship is that of confidence.
In writing about these success stories, it is my hope and intention to inspire you that transformation is truly possible, even when all hope appears to have been lost. I would like to emphasise that none of these couples moved through their dark nights of the soul alone. They all had support, guidance and encouragement of some kind. To paraphrase Sobonfu, who writes about intimacy in her traditional African culture, it takes a whole village, or community to support a marriage.
▪All of the names and identities of the couples cited here have been changed to preserve privacy. Many examples are actually composites of several couples. I have seen all of these archetypes in both similar and different forms on many occasions.
▪Leora Lightwoman runs workshops for individuals and couples and offers private sessions in Diamond Light Tantra. Her book Tantra-The Path to Blissful Sex shares some of the tools and practices used by the couples in this article. You can find out more by visiting www.diamondlighttantra.com or calling 0845 388 2231.