One tantric exercise you can practice at home is to envision your lover as the god or goddess they truly are. That may seem a bit farfetched in today’s world, as modern lovers are well too aware of what is “wrong” with their partner. Constantly bombarded with images of what the perfect lover looks like, talks like, kisses like, and makes love like, we compare and analyze and find our partners not measuring up. Since it is hard for a mere human being to live up to these two-dimensional fantasy figures, most of us experience our lovers (and ourselves) as lacking in the love department.
But what if we didn’t focus on what we thought was wrong, but on what is right? What if we imagined the real person underneath their skin and their annoying habits? What if we pictured our beloved as their essential nature and allowed our self to honor their lovingness, their vulnerability, and their attempts at becoming a better person?
When we imagine our partner as whole and perfect instead of fragmented and flawed, it becomes impossible to abuse, degrade, or dehumanize the other person. If they are by definition an equal, we cannot cultivate a condescending, contemptuous attitude. On the contrary, we view them with the gaze of a deity which is one of tenderness, clarity, and passion. Seeing our self as whole and perfect, our partner becomes a mirror of that perfection.
Ancient Tantric Buddhists practiced seeing the man as a male Buddha and the woman as a female Buddha, and therefore lovemaking became two Buddhas making love. The lovers practiced seeing each other as pure energy spontaneously expressing itself in embodied being.
Today, you can have fun with these practices. Certain tantric gods and goddesses had red or blue skin that could be fun to imagine. Some tantric texts describe the body of the lover as translucent or luminous like a rainbow. Think how delightful this could be to envision while stroking your lover’s skin!
The tantrikas saw their feelings of passion and desire as having a transcendent aspect, and their mutual attraction as ultimately motivated by a religious impulse toward ecstasy. To move in the direction of an attitude like this can help transform the negative messages most of us were brought up with concerning sex. By envisioning our beloved as divine, it is possible to increase the love in the world, and to elevate our ordinary sex acts to acts of worship.
© 2014 Catherine Auman This article is an excerpt from Catherine’s book Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth