How do you increase the levels of oxytocin, the "love" molecule, in your relationship? And can you do it in a way that also helps with any imbalances in libido/sexual desire? In this episode, I offer you one powerful way to boost the oxytocin and foster even deeper, sustainable intimacy with your partner.
Also announcing my new FREE guide - the Top Three Relationship Communication Secrets - that's designed to help you stay connected with your partner even when talking about the most challenging of topics. To get it, simply visit http://www.neilsattin.com/relate or text the word "RELATE" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. It's quick to read, and will absolutely change the way that communication happens in your relationship. Enjoy, and see you next week!
What are the keys for building trust, at any stage in your relationship? What can you do to amplify the things that are going right in your relationship? What has research revealed about the secrets that make love last? And what can new parents do to ensure that their relationship stays strong even as it changes with the new addition to the family? On today’s episode, we’re going to hear from one of the world’s foremost experts on how to build a successful relationship - Dr. John Gottman. In his second visit to the Relationship Alive podcast (see Episode 1 for his first visit), John Gottman offers answers to these questions and more expert wisdom on how to take your relationship skills to the next level.
Trust is the core issue for new relationships. People new to their relationships are constantly wondering: Do you have my back? Can I trust you? Will you be there for me? The majority of arguments and conflicts are, at their core, about trust. Trust is absolutely essential to build safety in a relationship (new or old). Trust stems from the ability to think about your partner’s welfare as well as your own, and to work towards maximizing both simultaneously. It is only from this knowing that you are being cared for as much as you are caring for, and being loved and appreciated as much as your are loving and appreciating, that you can withstand the risks, doubts, and conflicts that inevitably arise in partnerships.
Build your trust metric: Trust is something to care take and to cultivate. It is an aspect of the relationship that needs continual attention. One important way to build trust naturally is to listen to your partner’s negative emotions. Really hear them when they are sad, angry, disappointed, etc. Listen with curiosity and openness and respond from this place, rather than from defensiveness or a desire to dismiss. Continual attunement means that at any point you are able to switch and see things through your partner’s perspective with empathy and compassion. Continual attunement not only builds trust, but it nearly immediately de-escalates the you/me tension that leads to criticism, contempt, conflict and disconnection. In fact, with adequate connection and empathy, conflict can be constructive in leading to creative problem solving.
Have each other’s best interest in mind. Adopt the motto “Baby when you are in pain, the world stops, and I listen”. Let your partner know that you are going to be there, even when they are upset with you. Turn the screens off and make time to listen and be with your partner with your whole heart and attention.
Good relationships require trust and commitment. Commitment is absolutely necessary for building safety in a relationship. Commitment is different than trust- commitment is about really saying “you are my journey, I have chosen you and I cherish what I have with you”. Couples that do not build this kind of investment in their relationship, or who make negative comparisons to other relationships, end up betraying the relationship. In fact, this alone is a predictor of infidelity. Check in with yourself frequently and ask yourself if you are thinking that the grass might be greener with someone else, or if you are starting to meet needs outside of the relationship through others. Remember- commitment is about loving THIS person- all the good and the bad.
Choose gratitude instead of resentment. Given that negative comparisons to others begins the cascade to betrayal, be sure to return often to gratitude for all you share, experience, and love about your partner and your relationship. Resentments and conflict are inevitable, however do not let this set the tone of your love. Look for the unique aspects of your partner that you can cherish. During times when you are having a harder time accessing this love, try to be honest. Avoiding conflict and avoiding self-disclosure threatens commitment and leads to infidelity.
Nurture and cherish! Gottman poses that “commitment is about going the extra mile- it means that even when your partner isn’t with you, they are with you in your mind, and that you are really thinking positive things about your partner’s character and the relationship”.
Invest in the relationship: Make sure that the time you spend with your partner involves 100% of your heart. Be ready and willing to invest and sacrifice for your partner. Dare to care more about their well-being than your own (over time these become one and the same).
Happy and strong couples tend to: Say I love you and mean it! Kiss passionately! Cuddle! Give romantic gifts! Show affection in public! Have a weekly date! Prioritize sex! Stay friends! Make time for each other! In conclusion- they engage in behaviors that foster oxytocin which increases pair bonding, and builds a deep sense of safety.
You can be great friends and great lovers: The essential elements are simple- keep touching each other and keep connecting emotionally. Learn together, play together, go on adventures together- don’t stop doing those things that you loved doing when you first met.
Don’t underestimate cuddling and kissing! Gottman shares that “kissing is the royal road to great sex”. Kiss each other for no reason, cuddle, be affectionate, say I love you… Bring your sexual connection alive by remembering that we are always on a continuum of exchanging sexual energy. Find opportunities for connection and affection throughout the day- while making coffee, brushing your teeth, etc. Basically, everything positive you do in your relationship is foreplay! Imagine that!
“The greatest gift you can give your baby is a loving relationship” Don’t let having a baby be a disaster for your relationship! Continue to invest in each other. Use babysitters and family, or trade time with another couple for child care. Get away for overnights. Take long drives. Check in with each other and commit to your connection. Stay friends throughout the difficulty because your relationship is the cradle in which your child will develop- so you want to make sure it is as healthy as possible.
Make meaning: We humans are meaning makers and storytellers. To thrive in your relationship and to feel that juicy sense of endless connection it is important to create mutual meaning. Ask each other ‘what is our story?, ‘what do we do together that creates meaning in our life?’. While these can feel like existential questions, they are also very concrete. Perhaps lighting candles at dinner feels good, or a shared morning walk, or an adventure now and then… Be intentional with your findings, knowing well that what gives meaning will inevitably change throughout your life together.
Learn more about Gottman’s work and find extensive resources on his website
Interested in a workshop or a training? Check out what is happening now!
Read John Gottman’s books
http://www.neilsattin.com/gottman2 Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with John Gottman!
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Isn't this supposed to be easier? Sometimes you do get the gift of a new perspective or skill that facilitates change, and everything just falls into place. It's more common, however, that when you're trying to make a shift - even one that brings even more positive energy into your life - there are bumps in the road. This week - some reassurance - and a strategy to help you when it's challenging.
How do you take sex to the next level? Make it something that continually enlivens you - without resorting to gimmicks that are unsustainable at best, detrimental at worst? Can it become something that brings you to transcendence and bliss with your partner - as well as connecting you to a deep experience of the divine? And can you have these kinds of experiences in a way that’s sustainable, so that your sexual and sensual connection with your partner is always alive and vibrant? In today’s episode, we’re talking with Margot Anand, one of the world’s most well-respected tantra teachers. She’s author of “The Art of Sexual Ecstasy” as well as many other books on Tantra and awakening through sex. Margot Anand’s new book “Love, Sex, and Awakening” is an inspiring memoir that not only gives you a glimpse into her own personal journey - but also highlights some of the key components of making your sex life transformative - an awakening experience.
Here are some of the essential highlights from our conversation - plus in today’s episode you also get to hear how Margot’s “The Art of Sexual Ecstasy” has had an impact on me personally as well. Margot Anand's approach to sexuality is positive, empowering, and life-affirming - and it will enable you and your partner to experience connection in profound, new ways.
Presence: Presence is the key to sacredness, transcendence, and bliss. Work on mastering the ability to stay present with yourself, and your partner, as this is required to be a good lover and to have access to more sacred and intense dimensions of sexuality and sensuality.
How do I enter into this sacredness? Finding the sense of the sacred in your sex life is not as difficult or inaccessible as you might assume. It is about remembering the basics and stripping away distractions. Begin by interrupting the consistent sense of ‘too-busy’ by dedicating 1-2 hours for pleasure. Shut down the internet, unplug the electronics, close the screens and the telephone and begin to create a sense of peace in your house. The heart will not be peaceful if the house is not. Sit opposite your partner, closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths to help you enter into this time, this space, and your body. Open your eyes and say something along the lines of “I am here to create a sacred space of total presence and to be with you for the next 2 hours ready for whatever is here to grow between us”. This is less technique, and more a return to source, in all its forms.
Common misunderstandings: Due to sex being such a cultural taboo, many people are walking around with no idea of what is possible when it comes to sex. Check in with yourself- are you open to the idea that you can find ‘god’ in bed? What other limiting thoughts are you carrying? You do not have to be in the perfect relationship in order to enter into the world of Tantra. No! You don’t even have to be partnered. It comes down, instead, to a desire to wake up, and to grow. You don’t have to be in the perfect state of mind, or masterful in all things sex, tantric experiences are possible from where you are, and who you are, right now.
Create a personal mantra- Lovemaking is one of the central places in people’s lives in which they experience intense projections, bad habits, fears, and struggles with letting go. For many people when they enter into a lovemaking session they are sooner or later confronted with a double path: the one going to the left says “it won’t be as good as yesterday, the kitchen is a mess, my back hurts, etc.” And sometimes we allow and follow this path of the mind. The other path, however, leads to much more satisfaction and success as it is the road of confidence, acceptance, humor, and openness. - So much of bad sex is caused by low self-esteem- so turn this around! Ask yourself where you want to get? What do you want to feel? What would incredible sex be? Creating a personal mantra to remind you of this is a wonderful way to help your mind shift to the right path. Find a statement unique and authentic to you that feels uplifting and inspiring. “I am an orgasmic woman”, or “I am amazing in bed”, or “I am a passionate lover”, or “I am beautiful”, etc… Allow your mantra to evolve, to change day to day, but whatever it is, make it something you can lean into when you notice you are diverting yourself from trusting intimacy.
Opening your central channel: Along with presence, a core aspect of tantra is the ability to open your central channel. The central channel is that middle meridian of the body that connects your sexual center in your pelvis with your crown chakra (crown of the head). This is not just an imaginary channel of energy, but a highway of nerves that can run energy from top to bottom, and back again. When you can open this channel your orgasmic energy becomes like a motor that travels from the pelvis/your sex to the navel, the heart, the throat, the third eye, and then the crown of the head. The higher levels of pleasure, those associated with skydancing/accessing divine/going beyond climax are all made possible when the energy is able to channel from the groin to the crown chakra, and then expanding beyond the physical body. The sexual energy is transformed into a very different kind of peak/climax in which the energy is now available to use in many ways as it is not limited to a linear progression.
Practice sexual breathing: Begin by sitting opposite your partner, close but not touching. Start to breath into your pelvic, moving the breath, awareness, and energy up the central channel until you exhale it out at which point your partner inhales using the breath to help bring your sexual energy down their central channel, creating a loop. Experiment! This experience, when done slowly and with intention, can in itself bring you to a bliss point.
Solo practice: Be in charge of your own bliss journey and aliveness. Sexual breathing is a wonderful experience to explore on your own too! Imagine your breath coming through your pelvis, and travelling up your body to the crown of your head, and then back down. Many people report that this practice helps to transform anger, to feel stronger, more centered, and more able to freely navigate complex emotions. In order to practice opening your central channel, begin by laying down with your knees towards the ceiling and the soles of your feet on the floor. Place your left hand on your vagina/penis with your right hand on top to ground down. Tighten your sex muscles and slowly move the breath through your sex and up the central channel, then exhale down while slowly relaxing and opening your sex muscles. Exploring your own sexual functioning, especially when it comes to learning how to get close to climax without full orgasm, is important to experience before, and in parallel, with practicing with your partner.
Extend your staying power: Sexual breathing and getting in tune with your central channel are the keys to increasing your capacity to get just to the point of climax without the push to ejaculatory orgasm. Sustaining pleasure to the point that you can get close to climax 6 times in a half-hour is all dependent on your ability to circulate the sexual energy through your body. Remember that letting go of immediate gratification/pleasure is the only way to build up to a bigger and more expansive sense of pleasure later on! The urge is very strong, and so it can be very helpful to make a commitment ahead of time when entering lovemaking that you are going to try to sustain pleasure without ejaculation.
When to end? Some people wonder how they will ever know when to stop having sex without having the clarity of ejaculation. Don’t worry! It may be confusing at first not to have a clear ‘goal’, but with some adjustment you will learn to just know! Trust yourself and your body, or… set an alarm!
Ask yourself: Can I cultivate being desireless in order to be a witness and be present for myself and for my partner even at the heights of my most desiring moment? Don’t forget to practice breathing, do yoga, stretch, dedicate time, turn off screens, cultivate sacredness, and choose presence.
The sky's the limit! Dedicate one afternoon or evening each week to making love with your partner. In this time give each other 100% attention. Invest in each other. Once you have practiced some of the tools of tantra, and you take the time to meet each other in this way, the sky is the limit! Happy skydancing!
A note about healing from sexual trauma: When someone experiences sexual trauma the body responds in a way that it will work to not feel anything in the area where pain occurred. There are many ways to work with the body to release the trauma and to find sensation again, however it must always be done with a very trustworthy other. This is deep and sensitive work and has the potential to heal, while also having the potential if not done with full integrity, to retrigger. Remember that while the body holds the painful memories in the tissues, nerves, and muscles, it also holds the potential to heal. Internal massage can sometimes help to release the tension and allow the person to reintegrate the part of their body they disconnected from in order to bear the abuse. Through this work the emotions come back (anger, sadness, fear, etc.) and sensitivity is restored as the tissues release the memories. **Please note that there are many resources available to you if you are interested in working through sexual trauma, or if you are interested in supporting the healing of your partner.
www.neilsattin.com/skydancing Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Margot Anand!
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