Many of us grew up with religions that taught us sex and spirituality don't go together. But there are actually many practices that combine both. For millennia, people have used sex to become more mindful, feel more connected to others, and raise their consciousness. And you don't have to be part of any religion to do that.
"When we have intimate and sexual contact, several things are happening physiologically and hormonally inside us, which makes us feel a sense of an elevated state of consciousness," Sexuality Researcher, Educator, and Therapist Markie L. C. Twist, Ph.D. tells Bustle. "When we have a flooding of endorphins and oxytocin through sexual intimacy, we feel a flood of emotions that make us feel good and a sense of euphoria because of the endorphins, and we also feel bonded and close to our partner(s) because of the oxytocin." It also works the other way around, she adds: meditating and doing other things to improve your awareness can enhance your emotions and physical sensations during sex.
Many traditions from all over the world have taken advantage of sex's hormonal benefits for our spiritual well-being. Here are a few practices you can try if you want to make sex more spiritual.
Tantric sex is loosely based on ancient Sanskrit texts called Tantra, though what we hear about now in the West is pretty far removed from them. Basically, Tantric philosophy states that we can access higher spiritual states through certain energies in our bodies. Tantric sex moves include breathing in sync and having sex with your chests, stomachs, and hands touching.
2The Kama Sutra
The Kama Sutra is a third century Indian text with advice on everything from education to relationships, but it's best known for its elaborate sex positions, which are designed to bring you to ecstatic states and foster a deep connection.
Orgasmic Meditation, also known as "OM," is a partnered mindfulness practice in which someone strokes the upper left quadrant of their partner's clit for 13 minutes. The goal is for both partners to notice every tiny sensation that arises in their bodies. In that way, it really is a meditation. By learning to notice things, you become more attuned to your surroundings long after you leave the bedroom.
4Crystal Sex Toys
Some believe crystals have spiritual properties that make the energy of each unique stone rub off on you (literally, in this case). That's the philosophy behind crystal sex toys like Chakrubs: When you expose your body to the gentleness of rose quartz or the strength of Indigo, you'll absorb these qualities yourself. It sounds out there, but after trying the Chakrubs rose wand, I'm not questioning it.
5Manifestation Through Orgasm
I learned about this technique through this O'actually interview with sex, love, and relationship coach Amanda Testa. The idea is that because your doubts and insecurities are gone during orgasm, it's the perfect time to manifest something in your life — that is, help create it with your mind. When you're about to orgasm, picture something you really want. The more vividly you imagine it, the theory goes, the more likely it is to happen. Or if that sounds too woo-woo for you, try to think positive thoughts you want to stay with you afterward.
Who knows to what extent these techniques will work for you, but some people swear by them, and at the very least, they sound fun.