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Relationship and the Practice of Tantra
By Sharon Neal Williams

"I can't promise I will always remember my promises, but I can promise that I will practice remembering."

Years ago I remember coming across articles and books about Tantra, an ancient eastern practice which can heighten intimacy and use the Kundalini energy to achieve, together with ones' Beloved, states of heightened spiritual ecstasy -- a spiritual path of relationship. I remember especially a talk show on television featuring a heterosexual couple, the Muirs, talking about their Tantra practice and teachings.

Although the teachings seemed wonderful and powerful, only men and women couples were mentioned.  That certainly left me out.  Coming out as a lesbian at 18, my focus was always very strongly woman-loving-woman.  Yet, in the back of mind I always felt that this path would be a natural for me, if only I could figure out how to do it and still be me.  Fifteen years later, I find myself not only on that path, but in relationship with a woman who is a Tantra teacher - one of life's ironies.

  Long before coming to this practice, I found another strong path which spoke to me loud enough to stimulate my desire to practice it fairly consistently for many years.  Zen Buddhism made so much sense to me.  I found my way of being in the world change.  I found myself calm down.  I found that by practicing regularly, life's tangles tended to untangle themselves, knot by knot.  So, I learned about what a practice is.  I learned that a practice is not about being perfect.  It's all about remembering to return.

In Zen meditation the focus is often simply slowing one's breath as it goes in and out, whether sitting in formal meditation or during one's daily life and work.  Thoughts and distractions come and go and one practices returning to the breath rather than allowing oneself to become mired in the fantasies of the mind.  Eventually, a stillness and clarity can develop in the mind, allowing one to pierce through the veil of delusion created by the Ego's concern.  Then one can see through to the true Self - Buddha nature, or God.

When Evalena and I began our relationship I found that my Zen studies helped me to flow easily into the teachings and practices of Tantra.  Breath, presence of mind, body undulations, communication skills and many other elements make up the pantheon of teachings in the path of Tantra.  And, what I have found that is essential is, like any other spiritual path, practice.

My relationship with Evalena is just as fraught with tangles and triggers as any other relationship I have ever been in.  This seems to be the nature of relationship - working out these tangles.  In the past, when the tangles got too bad, it seemed like the only solution was to find someone with fewer tangles.  Well, I have come to see there is no such being.  We are all eternally tangled.  So, how do we stay in relationship and keep it alive?

This way of seeing relationship as a spiritual path is proving very helpful in this challenge for Evalena and me.  Tantra has helped maintain the passion and intimacy in our relationship by providing a way of being together intimately and sexually that allows for great freedom and great connection.  After a few years of being together, women (especially incest survivors) often find the spark between them fizzling out, seeming to signal a need to change partners.  Tantra practices provide a way to raise that spark even if one doesn't feel like it.  Being turned on is not a requirement for coming together passionately, only willingness and practice are.  The rewards are nothing like I ever imagined.

Although Tantra has traditionally been taught for heterosexual connection, it need not be.  It is a path well-suited to any two beings who may wish to see the Divine in one another.  We each have an inner lover within us, as well as an inner male and inner female.  And the Kundalini energy is God's energy flowing through us.  One can make love to any manifestation of the Divine, whether it be one's partner, a tree, the ocean, or the moon.

Tantra is a path that can help a person who is single discover her own Best beloved within herself, and it is truly a path that can help a couple endure and move through the rough periods, as well as help them blossom together as lovers and partners in ways that they might never have expected.  And, like any other spiritual path, one must be willing to practice it.  With daily and weekly practice a couple can experience a consistent sense of intimacy and closeness, going deeper and deeper with each other, yet remaining in a balanced state of autonomy. 

However, like any other spiritual practice, perfection is not the goal.  I have learned that I cannot promise my partner that I will always remember my promises, but I can promise her that I will practice remembering.  Just as in following the breath in Zen meditation, in relationship practice I will forget sometimes and then remember and bring myself back to the present - to that one perfect breath we share.

Other Articles

Opening to Sacred Relationship
Tantra for Women Who Love Women
by Evalena Rose, M.A

Tantra: The Art of Sexual Healing
by Evalena Rose, M.A.

Reclaiming Lost Sexuality
by Evalena Rose, M.A.

Reclaiming the Matriarch
by Evalena Rose, M.A.

Two Hearts Entwine
by Evalena Rose, M.A.

Metamorphosis: Emerging into Ecstasy
by Natalie Vekony

The Goddess Returns
by Evalena Rose, M.A.
Goddess Emerging
Evalena Rose, M.A.