Valentine's Day Thrills: Cairns sex therapist talks Tantra
Forget flowers and expensive meals on Valentineís Day, a great relationship is all about letting go of fear and embracing your sensuality. And itís not enough for one day either; it has to be every day.
Relationship and sex therapist Sigrid Welder says she has come a long way since her early life in Germany.
One of seven children, her father believed that kissing his children was unhygienic, and no touching was allowed in the family, so she was brought up in a family where affection wasn't routinely shown.
Sigrid says the reason she became a therapist was because she didn't like negativity.
"I grew up and became a teacher but I didn’t like giving bad grades, so I decided to become a therapist," she says from Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast, where she is holidaying and giving one or two Tantra sessions, and she is in talks with a nudist colony in Noosa to give some classes, as yet undefined.
Sigrid and her partner John came to Cairns five years ago after a woman at a conference asked where she was spending the summer the following year.
The couple assumed they would spend it in Germany until the woman offered her house in Cairns.
They loved Cairns and decided to stay.
For Sigrid, her life in therapy has progressed easily from one thing to the next.
"I am a seeker and wanted to lead a joyful and healthy life," she says.
She enjoys counselling couples, opening them up to their true lives and bodies, and seeing them relax.
“I wanted to help people become more intimate with themselves and to let go of judgment,” she says.
If judgment words or phrases are part of your everyday vocabulary in your conversations with your partner, you might want to take Sigrid’s advice this Valentine’s Day.
"With judgment people contract, and that's why I didn’t like judging the children when I was teaching," she says.
"When we judge our bodies and those of others, we contract."
The biggest issue Sigrid finds with people is they don't like their bodies.
It's no wonder when there is such a proliferation of images of the beautiful in high-profile media.
Is it a wonder why people hide under their sheets or keep the light off whilst undressing?
Who, after all, wants to be seen with their lumps and bumps?
But Sigrid says our energy is beautiful and that’s far better than our outer looks.
She explains how what we have learned in the past affects our current love lives.
"We have been told from an early age, not to touch ourselves, and so we learn not to play," she says.
"We are not living in the joy of our own body, and don’t have intimacy with our body. Sexualness is the creative energy of the universe and it is in abundance. It makes us joyful and happy."
As an instructor of Tantra, Sigrid teaches couples how to speak about their desires, and how to become playful.
Awakening the senses of touch, smell, or taste are far more erotic and pay bigger dividends than giving a present.
It might involve teasing and caressing with a feather, or feeding a partner, who is blindfolded.Later there might be an erotic massage.
"In the first session, I'm very subtle when I talk about playfulness with our own body," Sigrid says.
"Just to put your hands on your face in the morning. People think they are so busy and have no time and so they don't take time for themselves.
"Women have learned not to touch their bodies, while men learned to do it secretly. Some couples don’t speak about their fantasies and wishes."
It won't be a surprise to couples that communication is key to keeping a relationship and sexual life alive, but it has to be positive communication.
If there's something one person doesn't like, talking in "shouldn'ts" doesn't help. Instead, we should say "when you do this I have a problem, what can we do about it".
"Our relationship was a roller-coaster," Sigrid says about her first few years with her partner.
When she found a way to air her problems and desires with her partner, life ran more smoothly.
"We made this special time, where we sat together every day for five minutes each and I would say, I have a problem with that and he didn't say a word, then it would be his turn for five minutes to say what he could do, and for what questions he had."
Sigrid incorporates beliefs she has about what is right or not right for the body, into her work.
"If something feels heavy, then it's either not right for you, or not right for you now, whereas if something feels light and you don’t worry about it, it's right for you."
It can be as simple as whether or not to spend time in front of a computer.
"If I have a problem with the computer, I say to my body, let's have a walk and then go on the computer, and I will, for about a half an hour, and then have a cuppa," Sigrid says.
Looking for some top tips for a happy long-term relationship?
Sigrid recommends taking at least two hours for yourself once or twice a week.
"It's not necessary for play to have copulation," she says.
"It’s more about being joyfully relaxed."
For couples with small children, Sigrid recommends getting a babysitter for two hours so they can be alone, and alone means alone, without telephones, or computers or any of life’s modern interruptions.
Naturally, she recommends Tantra; even if it's just one of the partners in the couple learning some tips, the other will benefit.
"Tantra has changed my life totally," Sigrid says.
Tantra is more than sexuality and the gymnastic love positions we have come to associate with the Kama Sutra, but involves spirituality, science, biology, anatomy, meditation, medicine, art, music, and nutrition.
In Sigrid's workshops she is often amazed that people can't even imagine giving directions as to their preference on where to touch their heads, much less express their secret sexual wishes and fantasies to their partners.
"If you are more intimate with yourself, it’s easier for you to allow another person to touch you,"she says.
"Tantra is not only about the body, but about letting go of old taboos. It's about being kind and gentle with our own bodies, about being caring, and knowing, and about being expansive."
Instead of saying she loves her partner, Sigrid’s preference is to tell him that she is grateful she has him in her life, which she finds to be more specific.
"Love has different meanings for different people, and there may not be the most joyful energy there," she says.
Deep breathing exercises that stir passion, caresses, indulging the senses, releasing old fears, relaxing.
Forget flowers, it's time for Tantra.
Sigrid’s tips for relationship bliss
1) Do not give up part of yourself in the relationship. (eg if you love to play tennis, don’t stop playing tennis). If I do, I make myself a victim. I cripple myself. If you do what you like and I do what I like, that’s great.
If he flirts with other women, it doesn’t mean he sleeps with them, or if I flirt – flirting can be joyful and uplifting.
Imagine if somebody invites you to drive in his car. It’s a small car, very small. You want to get in even though you don’t fit, so you cut off your arm. You still don’t fit, so you cut off your other arm. You still don’t fit, so you cut off your legs. And so you fit.
You get in and he says, that’s not the person I invited.
2) Ask if your partner would like to stay with you for another month, or another year, or another five years, depending on your circumstances.
In the beginning with my relationship it was difficult and we would sit down and say every month, would you like to stay with me for another month. He was in America and I was in Germany. We are also very different – he is a scientist and I'm more comfortable with my body.
Asking the question was so helpful. You don't have to feel you are caught and have to spend the rest of your life with the other person.
3) Stop criticising. Every criticism is a nail in your coffin, which sounds harsh. But it is bad for everybody, for the person being criticised and for the person doing the criticism.
Instead ask a question, why do you do that, can we change it, or can you help me to change. A question is an opening, and a criticism is a contraction.
>>To contact Sigrid Welder for workshops or private counselling, phone 0439 1838 56.
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