Each of us has days when we arrive home tired and cranky, wake up on the wrong side of bed, or get stuck in a conflict with our partner. Rather than waiting until you drift apart, couples can proactively build love by bonding twice a day through practices that Western Tantra teachers Charles and Caroline Muir call "10-Minute Connects." Here are three such techniques.
1. Nurturing Meditation
The position for this practice is good old-fashioned spooning. (Esoteric theory of energy flow dictates that you should both be on your left sides.) Decide which one of you feels most in need of nurturing. Let's say it's the woman. Since the partner in back will be the giver (though you'll both rebalance your energy through the exercise), the man should snuggle in close behind her, lining his chakras up with hers: heart center to heart center, belly center to belly center, and so on. Both partners should use pillows to prop head, neck, and shoulders high enough so the man can slip his left arm under the woman's neck and bring his hand to rest lightly on the third eye chakra of her forehead or the crown chakra at the top of her head. The man's right arm should cradle the woman, with his hand over her heart; she should rest her hand on top of his.
After a few moments, move into the "harmonizing breath." Notice your partner's breath, and begin to synchronize with it: Inhale together, pause together, exhale together, and pause again. As the woman inhales, she focuses on accepting energy through her back into all of her chakras; as the man exhales, he concentrates on sending energy out the front of his body and into his partner.
When you're ready, you can use this technique to charge each chakra individually. Begin with the heart chakra, and focus there for three full breath cycles. Then move your awareness to your third eye chakra for three breaths; then your "root" chakra at the base of the spine. Next, move up your body to your second chakra (your genital area), then your navel chakra, your throat chakra, and your crown chakra. (Skip the heart and the brow, since you've already charged those.)
2. Hand on Heart
Sit comfortably, cross-legged, facing your partner. Each of you places your right hand on your partner's heart chakra and your left hand atop your partner's right hand. Tune in to your heart: first, your physical heart, and then the emotion and energy of your heart chakra. Can you sense your heartbeat? How does your heart chakra feel? Expansive and open? Constricted? Fluttery? Vibrating? Peaceful? Try closing your eyes and focusing on the connection between your heart and your partner's hand, or you can gaze into each other's eyes and/or engage in the harmonizing breath.
The man sits cross-legged and the woman sits on his upper thighs, crossing her ankles behind his back. Because this upright sitting posture promotes alert awareness, aligns the partners' chakras, and allows them to breathe each other's breath and either touch their brow chakras together or gaze into each other's eyes, yab-yum is the classic position for Tantric sex.
Note: Although Tantra teachings have traditionally been geared to heterosexual couples, a few teachers are experimenting with adapting the techniques for gays and lesbians.