You may have heard of tantra, the ancient sexual and spiritual meditative practice, but may be confused as to what, exactly, it is. After all, the way you’ve probably seen it spun in pop culture—all lingerie, staring contests and in-sync breathing as a precursor to a sweaty between-the-sheets session—makes it seem like the naughtier, less-clothed cousin of yoga. And while it is true that tantra does place importance on eye contact and breathing and that it may lead to climax, practitioners say that’s only part of the practice.One of the many focuses of tantra is on touch, and practitioners say a tantric massage can bring you closer to yourself, your sensuality and your partner than any plain old back rub.“Tantric massage, which includes focus on the yoni (vagina) or lingam (penis) isn’t about revving up sexual excitement, although that may happen,” explains Suzie Heumann, a sexuality educator and creator of the website Tantra.com. “Receiving or giving a tantric massage is a way to meld the mind and body so we can fully experience each moment. We become so used to thinking about what’s going to happen in the future, even if we’re engaged in intimacy. We’re thinking about what move we’ll make next, how our partner is reacting, and how close we are to climax. Tantric massage helps you tune all of that out.”The technique generally starts with your partner massaging your shoulders and then working his or her way downward to touching your yoni—which may or may not lead to orgasm—as you’re relaxed and lying on your back. But unlike with masturbation in which some people have to zone out or focus on a fantasy to climax, tantric massage is all about staying mindfully in the moment and connecting with your body, while honing in on the amazing sensation of touch.“The massage should touch on each of your chakras, or energy centers, with the purpose to unleash a sensual, healing, positive energy called Kundalini that’s usually dormant in everyday life,” explains Diana Daffner, a certified sexologist and co-author of “Tantric Sex for Busy Couples.”An equally important part of tantric massage, adds Daffner, is truly focusing on the mind-body connection that occurs as you’re being touched. Usually, couples give each other massages on the “I’ll rub your back if you rub mine” barter system, but that’s not how it works with tantra. “One person should always be the giver, and the other person should be the receiver, and you shouldn’t switch in the same night,” says Daffner. “Embodying only one role is another way of fully focusing on the moment, and fully being aware of how our bodies respond to our partner’s touch.”Adds Heumann: “Our bodies fall into habits without our realizing it. We may sigh or react a certain way just because it’s ingrained in our muscle memory, not because it’s a genuine reaction to the moment we’re experiencing. But by tuning deep into the moment, tantric massage aims to takes away that disconnect.”In other words, tantric touch is all about owning how you feel, whether it’s sigh-worthy or whether it just feels meh. And the more connected you are to what types of touch truly rock your world, the more empowered you’ll feel to bring those areas into play during sex.While sexuality educator-led workshops and books provide the step-by-step basics of tantric massage, you can get a taste of the sensuality of tantric massage simply by closing your eyes and running your fingers very lightly along your own arm, using barley-there, feather-like strokes, suggests Heumann. As you glide, direct all of your attention to the pads of your fingers. What happens underneath their touch? Does the skin underneath them shiver or does the hair on your arm stand on end? “The more you learn to really focus on each sensation, no matter how small, the more your body and brain connect,” she explains.That knowledge will aid you in uncovering what types of touch—either by your partner or during a solo session—your body responds to best so you can experience more pleasure. While traditionally, tantric practitioners say that sex isn’t the endpoint of a tantric massage, it’s up to you if you and your partner want to end, well, happily.