by Charles and Caroline Muir
As written in “Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving”
The secret to passionate, long lasting relationships is the life’s work of Charles and Caroline Muir. The following excerpt is adapted from Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving, a book which details how to put passion back into your love life. The Muirs are teachers of yoga and body therapies, and their approach to sexuality incorporates spirituality as well as an honest affinity for pleasure. Together they run Source School of Yoga and Tantra on Maui, Hawaii. They have appeared on national television as tantric sex experts.
These days, not many of us believe in happily-ever-after. Statistics show that well over half the married couples in our culture divorce, and many of those who stick it out do so for reasons other than personal happiness – because it’s such a hassle dividing everything, moving, having to start over – not to mention children and the emotional and financial aspects of splitting up. In this practical twenty-first century climate, it’s hard to take happily ever after as much more than a metaphor in which ‘ever-after’ means ‘for-a-while.’
Theoretically, this definition could allow a person to live happily ever after if he or she lived in consecutively happy-for-a-while relationships. These were fashionable to a degree in the sixties and seventies, but became first questionable and then dangerous in the eighties as the AIDS epidemic was recognized and understood. But it is not just fear of AIDS that is changing contemporary relationships. In our seminars, we meet men and women whose desire for partnership stems from a feeling that there is something important to be gained from a significant relationship. And it seems to be more than a desire to ‘settle down.’ Couples today are looking for a commitment from each other, but a special kind of commitment – one that contains a spiritual as well as a physical element and emotional and psychological aspects as well as material ones.
This may be the start of the ‘we’ generation, a generation that desires an end to the battle of the sexes and the beginning of a new form of relationship in which partners work together as a team to satisfy needs, uplift one another, and journey together toward personal growth and sexual and spiritual fulfillment.
The past few decades made us some promises of sexual sophistication, personal independence, and prosperity. For a large number of men and women today, many of these promises have been fulfilled. We are richer because we know more about ourselves – in fact, we are a culture fascinated with itself. We take care of our bodies, we exercise and eat well, we stop smoking. We look to improve. We visualize bright futures.
Being so blessed, so evolved, why are we less successful than previous generations in making relationships last?
If We’re So Smart, How Come We’re Not In Love?
There’s love, and then there’s Love. There’s passionate love, and then there’s love after passion or without passion. The latter has been known, in fact, to be quite cozy and satisfying in many ways; but without passion, may also deteriorate into a pale version of the original – a benign tolerance, and there is the risk that it may die completely or turn into resentment or disrespect, or worse.
It is not dispassionate love that we want to discuss. We want to focus on love that is full of passion and heat, love that makes your blood fairly pulse inside you; love that is all the nourishment you need. This is the love that overcomes all obstacles, dissolves time, obsesses you, possesses you, and radiates from you so that people comment on your ‘glow,’ and are drawn to you as if by a magnet. This is love that expresses itself sexually as a wonder, the best ever. It is so for both of you – you can’t get enough of one another.
Love is not necessarily blind, as Shakespeare claimed, but it is surely an altered state. Physicians tell us that biochemically, love shares a lot of the same exhilarating effects that amphetamines produce. We know that the immune system can be strengthened by it; that white blood cells perform better; and that the production of endorphins increases. We feel terrific!
So what happens? What causes passion to close its doors after such a promising opening to such good reviews?
Part of the answer can be found if we consider passion as a kind of energy that depends on other energy for its survival. When we are in the early passionate stages of a relationship, we expend a lot of time trying to win one another, enchant, impress, and attract one another. We mentioned that passionate love overcomes obstacles. It is the energy required in that overcoming that is most significant. For example, when men and women decide to live together, they eliminate one of the biggest obstacles of all – physical separation – but they don’t realize that they are removing something that has contributed to their passion. They need to find a way to compensate for the energy-hole their relationship experiences when they no longer need to overcome the obstacle of living separately. They have created an energy void and passion suffers for it. The diminution of energy diminishes passion.
In the early stages of a love affair, passionate energy seems self-generating. The newly attracted couple is in a nearly constant state of arousal. They’re charged. They’re superconductors. And then, usually, the lovemaking falls off – quantitatively, anyway. It’s less urgent once you’ve come to trust your relationship, come to rely on your partner, gotten to be ‘familiars.’ We want to trust one another and rely on one another – but why must we lose Love?
In fact, we don’t have to lose anything. What usually happens is that the lessening of lovemaking means a lessening of energy in the relationship. When couples don’t make that physical connection as often, the atmosphere changes. Love begins to stagnate and energy is directed elsewhere.
Men and women who are passionate about their work, or their art, or their politics, are recognized for the energy they manufacture in order to pursue and maintain and advance the endeavor to which they are devoted. In the same way, men and women who are passionate about their relationship must be committed to manufacturing the energy needed to sustain it. This is especially true in an era that offers so many opportunities and so much personal freedom. Many of us have several passions, and sometimes the amount of energy spent pursuing them exceeds the amount of energy they return. When this happens, we operate with a ‘passion deficit.’ We have to borrow energy from other sources to compensate. Ultimately, unless we rectify the deficit at its source, we will suffer serious losses. Too often one of these losses is passion.
We meet many couples who are simply too busy or too tired to make love. Both work; they have children; they contribute time and energy to their community and to their church. They’re concerned about self-improvement, so they devote several hours a week to health and physical fitness. Many have aging parents to look after.
The irony is that making love can provide both partners with more energy..
The solution we teach in our seminars and workshops is based in part on the tantric ‘lifestyle’ that was designed centuries ago specifically for householders – that is, couples. The tantric texts are explicit on how the differences between the sexes can be used as a positive force in a partnership, how the proper combination of these differences can produce a near alchemical reaction, an ether in which everything flourishes, in which the garden of your relationship bursts with color and a new life and growth, and you and your beloved thrive.
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