The decline of desire in a long relationship is seen as inevitable. But Val Sampson says it doesn’t have to be-just take up Tantric sex.
When couple talk about sex changing the longer you are together, usually they are referring to the fact that sex becomes cosy, if you are lucky; or practically non-existent, if you are normal. The idea that your love life could be more passionate after 30 years than it was in your first three months is alien to most of us.
We may be bombarded by images of sex at almost every level in our culture, but its portrayal and our understanding of it remain narrow. Often it seems that sex in Britain is confined to slim, attractive people under the age of 35 with good hair.
As a result, many older people are left with the idea that sexual bliss hovers like a distant island on the horizon, while they remain stranded on the shoreline, gazing out to sea and feeling they have missed the boat.
But the good news is that there is an approach to sex and relationships that values maturity, self-knowledge and lengthy relationships. It allows couples who have been together for decades to rekindle the passion they may think they have lost. It teaches men and women to become multi-orgasmic, and it even enables men to wave goodbye to Viagra by showing how you can make love to a woman without an erection. This route to long-lasting sexual satisfaction is called Tantra.
The popular myth about Tantra is that it is ordinary sex that goes on for hours and hours. (Or, as the veteran playwright John Mortimer put it: “It is very slow. My favourite position is called The Plumber. You stay in all day but nobody comes.”)
In fact, Tantra offers an entirely different approach to sex-based on honouring and respecting your sexual partner as the other half of yourself. It promotes intimacy and connection between two people and shifts the focus of a sexual encounter away from the joint sprint to genital orgasm towards heightening the levels of pleasure and passion en route. By using simple breathing and visualisation techniques you can learn to move your sexual energy around your body, so instead of sex being a kind of genital “squeeze” which is all over in a few seconds, orgasmic feelings can spread through your body and up to your brain.
Tantric philosophy is a reversal of the idea that a new relationship is always better and more exciting sexually. Tantrics believe that the longer you are with a partner, the more you know them and the more closely connected you can become. There is a saying that it takes seven years to know your partner’s body, seven years to know your partner’s mind and seven years to know your partner’s spirit.
The pop star and yoga enthusiast Sting may be its most famous advocate, but you don’t have to be a rock star or vegetarian to practise Tantra. Increasing numbers of middle-class professionals, including teachers, doctors and lawyers, are adopting a Tantric approach to their relationships and reaping the rewards of a better sex life as a result.
For Cathy and Roger Kimber, from Hertfordshire, who have been married for 29 years, practising Tantra boosted their commitment as a couple as well as enhancing their sex lives. “We understand each other better,” says Cathy, 51, a public relations manager. “Tantra has rekindled our love as well as our friendship and closeness.”
Roger , 47, a company director, says: “Tantra has given me an inner peace and an understanding of how deep our love is. We are aware of how much we love each other now, so to get into petty arguments just seems like a waste of time.”
If you take the typical Western linear approach to sexual relationships-they start off hot, cool over time and end up pretty frozen-then a waning desire is only to be expected. This is one of the reasons why so many couples split up. Novelty can be a powerful aphrodisiac, and meeting someone new can reawaken feelings of which you thought you were no longer capable. Where we go wrong, though, is in assuming that it is the new person who is generating these good feelings in us-and that only he or she is capable of doing this. Tantrics say that the key to living a more alive and connected life lies within us.
The additional bonus of this is that you don’t need a partner to make a rewarding connection with your sexuality. As John Hawken, a Tantra teacher, explains, “When you learn to move sexual energy away from the genitals into the rest of your body, the word ‘sexual’ becomes irrelevant because the experience becomes different. But by doing this we find the things that we search for in our sexuality-a sense of being alive, and feelings of excitement, contact and connection.”
Tantra:The Art of Mind-blowing Sex by Val Sampson is published by Vermillion
What is Tantra?
Tantra is a 5,000-year-old spiritual practice. Like yoga, it is not a religion and can be practised by anyone. It originated in India as a quiet rebellion against a male priesthood which had decided that sexuality must be repressed for an individual to reach enlightenment. The first Tantrics were men and women teachers who felt that sexuality was a gift of the Divine and should be celebrated. They devised techniques to enhance the experience of sex, as they believed that a unifying sexual relationship offered ordinary people glimpses of love that could be explored as part of their spiritual development.
▪ Lie on your back, either on a soft quilt or cushions or on the floors. Rest your arms by your sides, palms facing upwards. Bend your knees and plant your feet flat on the floor, a hip’s width apart. Stretch your neck and relax your jaw and shoulders. Keep your neck relaxed as you start to raise your pelvis from the floor. Begin to bounce up and down; you can either do this rhythmically or you can experiment with different speeds (a musical soundtrack with a strong beat helps).
▪ Sit facing your partner; place your left hand on his heart, and cover his left hand on your heart with your right hand. Look into each other’s left eye and breathe together. Imagine receiving love and energy from your partner as you inhale, and giving out love and energy to your partner as you exhale.
▪ Next time you experience an orgasm, imagine energy moving around your body, away from the genital region, Imagine it lightly moving up your spine. Keep the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, at the front of your palate.