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In this post, Shelly Bullard gives us a peek into the Tantric approach to relationships that has led her to deeper intimacy and a more satisfying connection. To get more of Shelly’s insights, check out her class: How To Become The Most Attractive Version Of Yourself & Be Magnetic In Your Relationships
Tantra is the practice of being in a full relationship with life—a living connection with what is: opening yourself—your senses, your awareness, your emotions—to the present moment and experiencing reality from that place of openness.
Tantra drops us more deeply into the experience of who we really are. It creates an active merging of body and spirit. When we practice Tantra, life turns on—and so do we.
Over the past several months, I’ve been in a Tantric relationship with a man who has taught me many techniques to help me become even more awake and alive in our connection, in every moment.
Before I go any further, I'll answer the question I know you're asking yourself: "What exactly is a Tantric relationship?"
To us, it's an intimate relationship that's grounded in and guided by Truth.
That means it's a partnership where our purpose (as a couple) is to be as awake as we possibly can be. To be real, to confront our fears, and to grow in Love. And it's this practice of realness, truth, devotion, and love that's created a deeper connection with a man than I've ever had in my life. So far, it's been an unbelievable ride.
My partner has been practicing Tantra for over 20 years, and he's introduced me to many techniques that strengthen our connection and deepen our intimacy.
Below are four simple Tantric practices that will awaken you to yourself, to your partner, to love, and to the spirit that we all share. Give a few of these practices a try in your relationship, and watch your connection flourish.
1. Share five things you like about the time you've spent together.
When my partner and I first started connecting, he suggested that we try a practice of telling each other five things we like about the time we've spent together in the morning, an hour or so before we'd say goodbye.
I have to say, this technique is one of the sweetest, most loving, most connecting experiences I've ever done with another person. Months later, we're still practicing it. It never gets old.
The process is simple—it goes like this: While you're lying in bed (or eating breakfast, or in a chill moment with your partner), in a fully present manner, each of you says five things you enjoyed about the time you just spent together.
You can say anything! It can be silly, sweet, deep, or profound…and if you do this practice enough, it'll be all these things and more!
When you honor your partner and the time you share, you create a sacred space for your relationship. Engaging in a practice like this on a regular basis can only deepen your love.
2. Have a five-minute check-in.
Around the same time that my partner and I do our Five Things We Like practice, we also do a five-minute check-in. The purpose of this is to tune into yourself, remind yourself what's important to you in this moment (about anything in your life), and to share that with your partner.
This check-in is not necessarily about the relationship. It's about you! It's about reconnecting with who you are in this moment and expressing your truth to your partner. Again, it's simple but profound.
Here are some questions that can guide you:
How am I doing in my life?
What's important to me in this moment?
What am I working on?
What do I want to create?
What challenges—if any—are appearing for me right now?
Who am I right now?
By having a little bit of time to tune into your own process, then sharing it, you create a deeper connection with yourself and a more intimate connection with the person you love.
3. Do a shadow check.
Ahhh…the shadow check. Not always easy, but definitely an important technique for couples.
So, what is a shadow check?
It's a time to come together with your partner and discuss the uncomfortable, challenging feelings and experiences that are occurring in the relationship. It's a designated space for you to be real about what you're struggling with in yourself and in your partner.
While a shadow check is typically not comfortable, it can be a lifesaver for a relationship because it creates a safe space to move through challenges.
So, how do you do it?
Either on a semiregular basis, or when you feel that something "shadowy" is surfacing in your relationship (you're moody, upset, or resentful), you create a designated time to come together with your partner to discuss it.
My partner and I typically do shadow checks in public places (to keep the level of intensity down), and we try to be respectful of ourselves and each other throughout the process. Here are some ways we do that:
Each person gets 15 minutes to talk about what's going on, without interruptions (we use a timer).
We try to steer clear of blame.
We try to use "I" statements (i.e., "I’ve been feeling ____ way." "My experience is this.").
We try not to exceed 90 minutes for the whole shadow check (to avoid burnout).
We remember that the point is not to have an agenda or to get something from each other but to understand ourselves, each other, and to reach common ground again.
What really helps a shadow check go smoothly is being committed to being on the same team as your partner. Yes, uncomfortable feelings arise in intimate relationships. However, if you know that love is the foundation of your connection, you'll always make it through to the other side.
4. Practice conscious sensuality.
Conscious sensuality is what most people think of when they hear the word "Tantra." Without a doubt, it's an amazing part of being in a Tantric relationship.
But what is conscious sensuality, exactly? It's being fully aware in your touch, contact, erotic energy, and lovemaking.
As simple as it sounds, many of us aren't that aware in our sexual contact, but that's OK because it's a practice. Here's a simple way to bring more awareness to your physical intimacy:
Using a timer, cycle through 10 five-minute intervals of connecting with your partner, focusing on being fully present in each exercise.
Set the timer for the first five minutes, sit in front of your partner, and look him or her in the eyes while moving your body slightly as you breathe. Just focus on this one task—eye-gazing and breathing—for the full five minutes. When the timer goes off, bow to your partner to acknowledge the end of that session, then move on to the next.
In the next five-minute session, one partner can sensually touch and massage the other's arms, legs, neck, and body. The partner who's giving touch can practice being fully present in that giving; the partner who's receiving can practice being fully present in receiving.
In the next five minutes, switch roles.
In the next five minutes, practice kissing with full awareness. Just be in the moment, not needing to do anything but kiss. See what that's like.
And keep going from there! Get creative! As you can imagine, there are lots of possibilities.
What's beautiful about conscious sensuality is that, unlike spontaneous lovemaking, there's a container for each experience, so you're less likely to move too quickly to the "next thing." In other words, you're staying with one sensual practice for a set amount of time, which allows you to fully show up for that experience.
Basically, it's meditation and sex combined! And who doesn't like that?
As you can see, all these Tantric practices hold a common theme: bringing your awareness into the present moment, into your body, into the energy that exists here and now and being with it. That's what Tantra is, and that's what an alive relationship is, too.