Here is one of Erik and my favorite experiments to shake things up and re-connect.
Temple Time is sacred time or simply "time set apart" from regular life. It’s a practice to go deep with your lover. It is also an incredibly powerful way to create a “container” in which something new can be birthed.
Here’s the gist of Temple Time:
Choose a date and a time and a place (likely just your bedroom in the beginning!)
One person chooses the "door" they want to enter. That means that they choose the adventure or the experience. They decide what they want to have happen during Temple Time. It may be best to alternate so you are each choosing the door half the time. The person who chooses the door often prepares the space somehow.
I find it useful to separate a bit before a Temple Time date. Maybe you want to take a bath or a walk before you arrive at the chosen time.
To begin the process: you do a ritual of letting go and taking up. During this part, you are putting to the side anything that stands in the way of being present with each other. You are also beginning to intentionally invoke and inhabit ways of being that will add to your pleasure and presence. Here’s how you do it:
Stand across from one another at enough of a distance so that you can walk in a satisfying circle.
Walk counter-clockwise, slowly. Tell each other, "During this time, I am letting go of..." (eg. worrying about the kids and work, self-consciousness, feeling bloated and cranky, the irritation I feel at you for how little time we’ve spent together recently). Go back and forth sharing what you are letting go of. Keep going until you have let go of (just for this time!) resentments, worries, self-consciousness, shame, old upsets.
Then stop and walk slowly clockwise, telling each other, "During this time, I am taking up..." (eg. pleasure, intimacy, connection, delighting in my body, playfulness, feeling sexy and wild, faith that things will be ok, a palpable sense of gratitude and love for you, remembering how much you adore me)… Anything you want!
Then when you are complete, head into your experiment-adventure. Be sure to have a time limit as it's ritual space. And, of course, make it work for you!
Getting Present and Ready:
Be sure not to skip the letting go and taking up part. This stage is key for shifting from regular consciousness to a new kind of awareness. And it’s also key for becoming fully present with one another — and there’s more possibility for deliciousness and transformation when you are present!
Even if you are a couple who is used to talking about your feelings, there is something about moving counter-clockwise and clockwise that creates a kind of magic. Counter-clockwise or moon-wise helps unravel an issue and moving clockwise helps to draw something to you and helps you inhabit new ways of being! Also, the process of letting go of friction and resentments simply for the duration of the experiment is powerful. We’ve had friends and clients who cleared out resentments they’d had for years and hadn’t verbalized — and they did it in a playful way!
The letting go & taking up part is incredibly helpful by itself if you are feeling prickly with one another. Sometimes Erik and I will do just this piece of the process when we are feeling distant or funky or annoyed with each other. We always come out feeling closer.
Another lovely piece about the preparation for Temple Time is that you can arrive feeling nervous and irritated and overwhelmed by your day and slowly enter into a yummier mode. You don’t just snap your fingers and become a lover! You don’t have to arrive feeling sexy and connected. There is something very honoring to our animal bodies that need time to adjust and get in the mood! I’ve noticed it also helps to increase my sense of faith that I can get there even when feeling close and yummy feels very far away.
What might you do during your Temple Time experiment?
Remember, one of you chooses the “door” or experience-adventure each time. Some examples of choosing the “door” are…
I want you to kiss me all over for 20 minutes
I want to kiss you all over for 20 minutes
I want a massage
I want to play out a sexy scenario that I've come up with…
I want you to cradle me and tell me I’m your precious child
I want you to speak words of affirmation to me, tell me what is lovely about me, while you scratch my back
I want to be touched gently from head to toe, sung to, and then have you go down on me and I will make absolutely no response whatsoever
I want to practice these hand job techniques on you from this Urban Tantra book without any expectation of it bringing you pleasure. I'm practicing!
I want to tie you up and say mean things to you
I want to go for a walk in the woods with you holding hands in silence
I want to make out with you against a tree in an ancient forest
The “door” can really be absolutely anything that appeals to you. You just both need to agree.
Going for what you truly desire:
At Shalom Mountain Retreat Center, where Erik and I met and learned this process, they often say, “Ask for what you want and be prepared to negotiate.” Don’t hold back. Ask yourself what you really desire in this moment and risk putting it out there. This negotiation can be the most transformative piece.
When tuning in to your desires, check in with your animal body: do you want comfort or excitement? Do you want comfort then excitement? Is there something you’ve wanted to try but have been afraid to say aloud? Is there an edge for you that you’d like to explore? Maybe if you tend to be the giver, you might want to have an experience of surrender. Maybe you tend to feel like you’re “too much” and you want to show up in your full fierceness and have an experience of being met there. Maybe you are curious about energy and want to focus all your attention on the most subtle sensations of your time together.
One of my teachers, John Wyrick, once said: if you ask your lover for milk but you really want whisky, then your lover will always disappoint you. Even if they bring you exactly what you asked for!
Give your lover a chance to respond to your authentic desires rather than guessing what they might be up for. Even if you don’t end up doing exactly what you were yearning for, you are risking to be known. And who knows what the conversation might birth in a few weeks or months? Who knows what either of you might want or be up for a year from now? Or how simply speaking your desires might create unexpected happy ripples in other areas of your life?
Gathering the Data & Summing Up Sweetly:
Afterwards, set a time to debrief, either immediately or after a little break. In our Tantra tradition, we hold that everything is an experiment so there are no big mistakes… just good information for next time. The only bad experiments are those where you don’t gather the data! What did you like and what didn’t you like? What would you like more of? What was surprising? What did the experience bring up for you? Explore & share!
Usually Temple Time is a time of great pleasure and connection. That said, some of Erik and my biggest learns and bonding have come from Temple Times that went awry or turned out to be not so pleasurable. Be curious and gentle with yourself as you explore all you stirred up…!
We also highly recommend that you set aside time for tenderness and cuddlingif you had a more intense, less-snuggly kind of Temple Time.