My beloved and I just returned from spending two weeks in Costa Rica. What a mind-bending beautiful place this is, and we only scratched the surface of what we could see! The first week was spent in a tantra retreat with Deva Premal and her husband, Miten, with 25 other couples from around the world. We created an extended family with everyone, and the ages ranged from mid-twenties to mid-60’s, with various ethnicities and backgrounds. One universal thing that bonded us all together was the desire to explore the edges of intimacy to open our hearts and bodies in deep communion with our partners.
One of the most beautiful practices we did was a very simple one, and I thought I’d share it with you, with a few embellishments of my own. One of the common things that we, as couples do when it comes to sex, is get right into it. A little connection…a little foreplay… and then….right into it we go. Sex often becomes routine because sex becomes the goal (or orgasm). What if our sexual connection was used, every so often, to appreciate the places in us that feel very vulnerable instead?
Often in the case of women, this means our bodies and our body image.
Because of our youth-oriented society with a huge focus on outer beauty, women today face enormous pressures of being thin, looking attractive, and trying to keep up a perceived “other woman” (usually in our own minds) who is prettier, slimmer, has the perfect breasts or butt…you get the picture.
In the practice below, I describe a way that you can feel loved and appreciated by your partner for your body, just as she is. It does require one huge thing of you, however: The willingness to be seen. Here’s the practice:
- Your partner sets up your bed as if it were the most sacred temple for worship. This might mean silks, flowers, soft music, incense, candles, plush and luxurious pillows and blankets for you to lie on. He may want to put a heater on in the room to keep you warm as well. The lights should be dimmed so that they are not glaring since you will be lying face up on the bed.
- While he prepares the room, go ahead and take a warm bath scented with your favorite essential oils, with candles and soothing music in the background. For 10 minutes, soak in total relaxation. Let the warm water immerse you in deliciousness.
- When he is ready for you, he knocks gently on the door, letting you know that your temple awaits you. Dry yourself off, not mechanically, but appreciating every stroke on your body with the softness of your bath towel. Appreciate how your body feels right now.
- Drape yourself in a sarong or robe that feels good on your skin. Exit the bathroom and let your partner escort you into the bedroom temple. Drink in the sights and smells before you as you enter the room.
- Let him show you where, on the bed, he’d like you to lay your body. If you’d like, allow him to help you disrobe and help you onto the bed, face up. Sense yourself as a Goddess, being lead onto a sacred altar of worship.
- As you’re laying on the bed, feel the bed beneath you, supporting you and embracing your body. Feel the air around you caressing you like warm honey. Feel the safety of this container that is created for you. It is for YOU to let go of any tensions in your body and relax. Close your eyes and let yourself breathe in the warmth of the air and the life force it gives you.
- For 20 minutes, only the following is to take place: HE (your partner) is to gaze upon your body. This is not a practice in mere observation. He takes in every curve; appreciating your breath as it flows in and out of your body; He softens as he sees your face and the curl of your lips; He breathes in as you breathe out….drinking you in; He follows the shadows on your body like a calligrapher follows each paint stroke; He does whatever he does to appreciate everything he sees, senses, and witnesses.
- In short….he falls in love with the temple in which you live: Your body.
- Permit yourself to fall deeper and deeper into relaxation. Try not to put attention on what your partner may be doing. Instead, let your sensual appreciation of your experience carry you to the next moment..and the next…and the next….
- After 20 minutes, a soft bell is sounded, and you open your eyes, and his gaze meets yours.
- For the next few minutes, your partner shares with you what he witnessed…what he appreciates about your body…what enlivened him. This is not an exercise in describing what he approves about your body – It’s an exercise about what he appreciates, even the things that you, yourself, may not approve of your own body. It’s a way of feeling loved and seen in all your precious curves, and perfect “imperfections”, in a way that might have never been appreciated in the past.
- Take in every word as if it was an offering of worship. Let your whole body smile as you breathe in each appreciation. Allow yourself to soften into vulnerability and tenderness, letting any edges between you and your body…you and him…start to dissipate.
- After he completes his appreciations, you can continue resting where you are, or you can continue deepening your connection…however way you want.
No sex is involved here. Only appreciation. But hey…if you feel so moved by this practice and you feel moved to connect with your partner in this way, by all means! However, it’s not expected – The point of this practice is so that you feel loved and adored, for the beautiful woman you ARE…inside and out.☺