Beginning Tantra: Seeing Your Partner’s Soul

©2008, RK Silipo. All rights reserved.

Gazing, the simple act of looking deeply and lovingly into your partner’s eyes for an extended period of time, seems to be very difficult for Westerners, and, in my observation, more difficult for men than for women. But it is an extremely important part of Tantric practice and should always be part of any Tantric ritual that you devise for yourselves.

As with most spiritual practices, gazing requires discipline– more at first. But once you’ve experienced it and have established it as part of your ritual, you’ll want more and more. At first, it might help to think of it as a preparatory meditation. You focusing on the act of looking at your partner.  If you use meditation techniques to keep returning you to your partner when your eyes wander, you can discipline yourself in the physical act of looking into your partner’s eyes.

Even after over five years of Tantric practice, my partner, who has done yoga for about thirty-five years and various forms of meditation for almost as long, still has trouble with gazing. His is a very active mind; he’s a lawyer, a teacher, a writer, an historian– among other pursuits. His mind is always full of thoughts, and he finds it difficult to simply BE, which is a big part of what gazing requires of us. He is not very physically active in that he doesn’t play team sports or handball or any of the fashionable gym or country club games for middle aged professionals. He takes long walks and does his yoga; that’s it. I’ve occasionally wondered if a big burst of physical exercise a few hours before Tantric practice might make him less fidgety during gazing, but haven’t suggested it.

My teacher says the only way to learn to gaze is to DO it. (That’s what Jia generally says: Just start doing it from where you are, and you can only get better at it.)

To begin, Namaste your partner and sit comfortably facing each other. Although the cross-legged lotus position is usually shown in the books, it isn’t a required element. (It is, in fact, NOT a good idea for people with circulatory conditions, for instance, diabetics, or people with hypertension.) You can sit in chairs facing each other, or sit in a half lotus (one leg extended, with the bottom of the other foot against the inside of the extended leg.)

Take several deep breaths, breathing in and out through your mouth. Then start breathing deeply in slow, steady breaths in and out through your nose. Fill your belly with air and release it slowly. Look at the clock and quickly write down the time.

Now, look into your partner’s eyes. LOOK. Don’t speak, don’t touch. Just look into each other’s eyes. If you think anything, think love for your partner. Keep gazing. Don’t look away. You’ll want to look away, but don’t! Keep gazing. The need to look away will be intense. Keep gazing.

The second you look away, look at the clock and write down the time. This is your beginning duration.

Do this exercise every single day, with the goal of increasing the time by thirty seconds each day. Write down your starting and breaking times religiously. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t improve every day, but do make the effort to keep going a little longer each time.

This sounds mechanical because, at first, it is. Gazing is a meditation. It requires a quiet mind and a loving heart. Once you master the mechanics of it, the real purpose becomes clear, and you begin to feel the bonding that happens while you gaze.

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