In our culture of TikTok, PornHub and Uber Eats, we are accustomed to having our needs met at the click of a button. But that instantaneous dopamine hit is impacting our sex lives. Is tantra the solution?
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From educating the young ‘uns on the function of a payphone, the benefits of thinking over their tattoo choices, to how not to cheat on your pregnant supermodel wife—he’s a one-man syllabus on the cultural milieu.
But why did this man's mid-tier sexting game resonate so firmly with the masses? Not because he, a celebrity, stepped out on his wife (clutches pearls). I wager it’s because he did it via the world’s great leveller—the Instagram DM.
There’s not a soul on the social media-using planet who hasn’t used the ease of the DM to shoot their shot. Myself included. And why not? It’s all so easy.
Non-commital. Effortless. Basic.
Which makes sense in our world of TikTok. PornHub. Uber Eats.
Humans have never had their immediate needs met at the click of a button as they do now.
Desires met on demand 24 hours a day, 7-days a week, 365 days a year, whether it comes from dropping a DM, smashing a maple-glazed pork belly burger and finishing it with a side of ‘Naughty Couple’s First Time Saucy Swinger Party’ or what have you.
Dopamine—we all know it’s a hell of a drug—why wouldn’t we want more of it?
Because apparently, it’s coming for our sex lives and massively impacting our relationships (see Adam Levine), our ability to feel joy, and even shrinking whole economies.
Need proof? Here’s where I pull down my metaphorical world map and point dramatically to Japan, where the birth rate is declining faster than Maroon 5’s relevance.
In fact, a poll from researchers at the University of Tokyo found that ‘nearly a third of young people in Japan are entering their 30s without any sexual experience.’
The reasons range from a negative self-image, to an overall lack of confidence, and one woman saying ‘they cannot be bothered’ because it’s easier to watch porn.
Think the slow march of celibacy isn’t coming for you? Think again.
From Europe to the US to Australia, all forms of partnered sexual activity are in decline.
Researcher Debby Herbenick, a professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health–Bloomington, found that for young people, ‘computer games, increasing social media use, and video games—is replacing that time [previously reserved for sexual activity]’.
And just like the industrial revolution proved with the invention of the 2-day weekend, if you want people to do something (namely, shop to boost the economy), you gotta give them enough time to do it.
Look, the way capitalism naturally functions is that if we want to sell something, it makes sense to deliver results faster than the competition. Be it 6-minute abs, priority delivery on your binge meal, or your orgasm.
The faster, the better, right? WRONG, according to researchers at Stanford University who found that those with poor impulse control (gratification addicts) tend to drink too much alcohol, fail to reach their potential, or are even driven to cheat on their supermodel wives.
The cure? You’re not gonna like it—is purportedly found in the extreme absence of gratification. Specifically: tantra, a slow, meditative approach to sex influenced heavily by ancient Hindu and Daoist principles.
And just like tantra, what you’ve just read was all just a very long build-up to get to the climax: my interview with Sydney tantra expert Rachel Barry, who works with people looking to reverse the negative impacts of porn and instant-gratification on their sex lives.
I spoke to Barry, who reiterated that, yes, you can have too much of a good thing and that denying yourself a good time in the short term might—actually—be the pathway to an even better time long term.
Tantra is a way of making love that is slow, intimate and meditative. It teaches awareness and presence within your own body and in turn, shows you how to connect more profoundly with your lover.
Tantric sex is deeper than just the physical experience of conventional sex. It is ultimately about cultivating sexual energy in a conscious and loving way for spiritual enlightenment.
The most common forms of sex education today are what we’ve taught in high school and porn, which is so far removed from the truth about what good, fulfilling sex is.
If overused, porn completely rinses and destroys vitality and sexual desire in both women and men.
And while sexual education at school covers the basics, it doesn’t teach about love, intimacy, and how to harness the power of sexual energy for growth, creativity, health and wellness.
Or for some, the approach is that sex is bad and dirty, it is not to be spoken about at all.
We only know what we know, and I did not know what I know now until I did.
I feel very lucky I was shown how powerful deep intimacy and presence beyond the physical form are in my early 20s. Until then, my understanding of sex and how to do it was limited and depleting. It was an awakening that pulled me out of many unconscious patterns and behaviours.
I feel forever grateful to my incredible Tantra teachers Diane and Kerry Riley (the founders of the Australian School of Tantra.) Their teachings, wisdom and education on the art of Tantra changed my life in ways I never thought possible.
Over the last 15 years, the practice still continues to deepen and blow my mind about what we are capable of creating when we are deeply embodied in our sexuality.
I feel the subject of sex in general can be intimidating and hard to talk about for people. There can also be fear around not understanding or not being ‘good’ at it.
For many couples who run on adrenaline trying to juggle and manage the business of life, work, and kids and constantly being ‘switched on’ and connected to devices, they often feel the last thing they have energy for is sex and intimacy.
What I get them to understand is that it is about sharing sexual energy in a way that gives to you and leaves you feeling full of vitality and lifeforce that can fuel you to get through the intensity of life and leave you feeling blissful and joyful.
People of all different ages and walks of life come and see me for many different reasons.
It may be sexual issues they are struggling with such as performance anxiety, sexual dysfunction, numbness, disconnection and feeling bored during intimacy, and lack of sexual desire and confidence.
Couples looking to reignite the spark in their relationship and find a way to reconnect and sustain their sex life.
There is no goal or outcome in tantric sex. Expectation and pressure is always a killer for pleasure and connecting with your lover. It is amazing what you experience even from just shifting your intention. It creates so much space for infinite possibilities of where sex can take you when you are in the moment and not putting effort and exertion into a goal that can often seem to move further and further away.
The biggest challenge couples think they are faced with is time. This is not true.
There are so many beautiful simple tantric practices that deepen your love for one another and fuel desire that can be done in a short amount of time. I always say to couples it is not about waiting for the larger amounts of time you may feel you never have but rather a consistency with your practice.
Even 5-10 minutes a day or every second day regularly is much more powerful than waiting to find a few hours here and there. At the end of the day, you can’t argue with reality and if life is busy and stressful, find ways to be creative to make it fit in if your relationship is important to you. Intimacy fuels sexual desire and the emphasis of what I teach is nurturing this as when we feel appreciated and seen we are more open to connecting sexuality.
Another challenge people think they are faced with is that they don’t have the energy for sex as they are tired. This is also not true.
When sex is performance oriented and the idea that harder faster friction creates more sensation (it actually creates desensitisation), then yes, you will most likely not have the energy for that and feel even more tired after.
But when sex is about relaxation and using sexual energy for healing and expanding each other with love, it requires little effort. You will always have energy for that and feel incredible after.
A challenge that can take time to overcome is the programming and conditioning around what is expected from us in sex.
Very much so, enjoy the journey of it. Tantra is like learning a new dance, it takes time and patience, but you can have a lot of fun doing it.
Yes, it does. Some benefits of tantric sex are: Increased vitality, vibrancy and confidence, improved mental concentration, more creativity, and the capacity to feel and hold extended amounts of pleasure.
Another observation I have made is that clients will often lose weight and feel better mentally overall. I feel this is due to how relaxing Tantra is for the nervous system. When the nervous system is relaxed, and your body is in harmony and balanced, health improves.