What Is Spiritual Sex?

Those of us who work in the field of sexual health have noticed that in recent years, as discussion of sexuality has opened up on the internet, questions about sex as a spiritual or sacred experience have abounded too. So this video is dedicated to the question: WHAT is spiritual sex, and how does one go about having it?

Now, I’m not speaking here of sex and religion. I’m referring to the concept of sexuality as the blending of powerful emotional and spiritual energies, of sex as ecstatic and transcendent, of sex itself as a form of prayer or ceremony. Although these qualities are not always separate from religious belief, the kind of spiritual, sacred or divine sexuality I’m going to be referring to is more esoteric and definitely independent of conventional religion. However, it may very well be practiced or experienced by people who are also aligned with a religious denomination.

Probably the most well known esoteric sexual practice is Tantra. Tantra is based on the idea that everything in the universe is expanding and interwoven. Or, as some Tantric practitioners say, “Everything is Everything.” Tantric sexuality is about extending and expanding the peak of sexual ecstasy, allowing sex to become a vehicle for exploring altered states as well as for deepening intimacy between partners. In my own video on this site discussing Sex Magick, I explained how Tantra originated and how the “left hand path” – which is the most politically subversive and erotic side of Tantric practice – evolved, so you might also want to refer to that video if you’re interested in the topic.

Tantra today has developed a strong presence in popular culture. You can find workshops and how-to books, websites and videos on Tantra everywhere. Beginning Tantra instruction teaches us to connect with our masculine and feminine energies, learn to breathe deeply to open up channels to higher consciousness, and blend energies with our partners.

Like Tantra, the ancient Taoist approach to sacred sex is in resurgence today. Contemporary teachers Mantak Chia and Douglas Abrams have distilled the Taoist practices developed by Chinese physicians in 500 B.C. into a series of popular books that I often recommend, and I discuss these further in my video on male multiple orgasms.

I realize that concepts of spiritual sex are difficult to describe and sometimes even relate to. It’s a little like trying to describe an orgasm of the soul – and we all know how difficult it is to describe ordinary orgasms, let alone transcendent ones. But sacred sexual experiences do arise in many different ways, and there are various paths to ecstasy. Now, when I say ecstasy I am using the original meaning of the term which is not, as most people think, a way of describing super duper degrees of pleasure. Going back many centuries, the term “ecstasy” or “ecstatic” was associated with mystical experiences, with the communion with the divine – the god or goddess – often achieved after deliberately and ritually entering into extreme states of physical deprivation, bodily stress, or ceremonial pain. Today, when we talk about ecstasy, we are usually referring to a kinder, gentler approach – but, I should also mention that some erotic sadomasochistic practices are also created as a path to transcendent ecstatic states. All of these have in common that they occur within the realm of what we might term “energy sex” – sex that involves experiences of the body-spirit. I’m using body hyphen spirit as a single term to indicate that body and spirit are intertwined as one vital entity. Many teachers of energy work attribute the basis of their work to Tantric or Taoist traditions and then go on to develop something that is really their own. Even some people who say they teach Tantra are actually teaching their own derivative of the system combined with aspects of Taoist, Native American and other sources too.

I’d like to guide you through a Tantric-based exercise right now, while you’re watching this video. Then I’ll describe how to expand this with your partner. This is a very simple exercise in breathing, which is at the heart of energy sex.

I’d like you to close your eyes and take a full breath. Go ahead, close your eyes right now! Now…breathe deeply from your belly, concentrating on filling your lungs completely up. Place your hands over your belly and feel your belly expand on inhalation and return back to normal when you exhale. Do this twice – do this three times – do this four times. Now imagine that you are breathing all the way down into your pelvis, imagine the breath flowing there, and now into your perineum, knees, floor, and into the floor, and through the floor into the earth. You can actually keep doing this breathing as you listen to me continue speaking, if you like.

In both Tantric and Taoist practices, using the breath – this kind of deep breathing – is key. Here are a few beginning Tantric exercises you can do with your partner once he or she has practiced deep abdominal breathing too.

You can synchronize your breathing, allowing your inhalations and exhalations to match. You can sit together, breathing deeply, creating a breath duet. Or you can experience reciprocal breathing. One person can hold their breath as the other one continues to breathe until one is breathing in when the other is breathing out. Reciprocally, keep breathing in and out with your eyes closed to see what this feels like. Next, allow yourselves to breath naturally and deeply, facing each other, and look into each other’s eyes softly and lovingly. Notice what feelings come up, notice what thoughts come, notice if tension increases or decreases. Breathe into any tension that may arise and continue to breathe until you both seem relaxed and receptive.

By starting here, with these kinds of very simple breathing exercises, and then adding ever more advanced practices, it’s possible to open up new energy pathways, to even transcend the petty concerns of self-consciousness and, especially, the ordinary concerns of relationship.

Even though there are many people eager to teach you how to progress to higher levels of sexual consciousness by bringing sex and spirit together, it’s especially interesting to note that that many people – people who are untrained in energy work – can have deeply spiritual sexual experiences spontaneously. They can do it without excelling at any esoteric practice at all. New research by Dr. Gina Ogden, based on her survey of nearly 4000 people – mostly women – is captured in her book, “The Heart and Soul of Sex.” Ogden explores the convergence of body, mind, heart, and spirit in – as she puts it – the “uncharted territory of ecstasy and mystical revelation,” and she lets us in on the secrets that ordinary women reveal, showing us that nothing more is required for ecstatic connections than keen awareness and full engagement during our sexual experiences, no matter what form they take.

According to Gina’s survey, 47% of the women described a personal sense of relationship with a power greater than themselves during sex. Some women call this God, others Goddess, Great Spirit, Higher Power, Nature – there are names to fit every belief system, including agnostic. Some women spoke of seeing the face of God in their lovers faces, feeling held in the loving power of the universe during orgasm, merging with the world of nature as they were making love, and experiencing prior lifetimes with their lovers. What is important about these relationships, Ogden told me in an interview I wrote for a New York City newspaper, is that they are invariably transformational – so when sex becomes a path to the spirit or soul, life takes on new meaning, broader vision, increased power. What is also remarkable about the data is how similar the narrative responses of heterosexual, bisexual, and lesbian women are, and the fact that women said that sex got more satisfying with every decade. The 50 and 60 year olds were having more meaningful sexual experiences than the 20 and 30 year olds. They reported richer relationships, possibly as a result of having matured enough to move beyond the old “good girls dont” constraints and cultural ideas about how women are supposed to look, act, smell, and care-take.

All of this information is a way of saying that ecstatic sex is more than performance, more than technique and even more than orgasm. It’s a multi-dimensional experience that involves body, mind, heart and spirit. Sex can be a religious experience, even for those who aren’t religious and a transcendent experience, even for people who are ordinarily anchored like rocks to the earth.

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