I’d always been drawn to Tantra without fully understanding what it entailed. After meeting a man I knew was my Tantric soul mate last year we decided to try out a group. That was March 2002. I’ve been hooked ever since.
What is Tantra
Tantra is a Sanskrit word meaning methods of transformation. It is a profound personal journey. Tantra is not a religion or a philosophy, but a lifestyle and one of many spiritual paths to self awareness.
Although the Tantric path can be travelled alone, this feature focuses on Tantra for couples.
Tantra is one of few ways to share a spiritual journey and unfolding with a partner. It offers meditative techniques, which bless and sanctify intimate love connections. Through the exercises we were taught my partner and I began to see each other as divine beings, and lovemaking became a key to expanded consciousness.
There are no goals or objectives. Tantra is whatever is in the moment and total acceptance of yourself.
Tantra is not all about sex its effects can ripple out into your everyday life. Tantra has brought a softness and an acceptance of myself. Now I know it is ok to be myself and softly feminine in a male world. I feel empowered as a woman and am more relaxed.
Reasons for Misunderstanding Tantra
There are many reasons why Tantra is often misunderstood. As Tantra is a mystery school work, it is often taught in secret and has an air of mystique around it which some people can find intimidating. Just reading about it is unlikely to give you a deep understanding of it as Tantra requires experiential practice to know and guidance from a sensitive and experienced teacher to feel safe enough to go into.
Established religions often condemn sex, perhaps because a direct experience of godliness could be considered a threat. Some spiritual leaders avoided teaching their disciples the Tantric path, or condemned it and taught other paths to enlightenment because it is challenging to bring sacred awareness to sex. So it’s hardly surprising, that centuries later man has a skewed view of sexuality.
How Sex Became Spirituality
Bringing the meditative quality of awareness to anything can make it divine whether you are walking home from work, drinking a glass of water or making love.
“When you let sex and love meet in meditation you become divine,” says Osho, enlightened philosopher, mystic and modern Tantric master.
“The nature of orgasm takes us beyond time and mind. It is a moment of absolute disappearance of oneself… it is a letting go into the mysteries of existence,” says the book Tantric Sex, by Sarita and Geho, Tantra teachers.
The earliest written record of Tantra dates back approximately 7000 years to the teachings of Shiva. He was an enlightened mystic who is revered in India and beyond today and has come to represent the God of Love, the Divine Masculine Principle. This century, Jung and Reich carried out studies into sexuality, while Freud’s theories on the psychology of sex are most well known. Masters and Johnson researched the world of sexuality in clinical experiments. Then in 1964 Omar Garrison published, The Yoga of Sex.
In the seventies and eighties, Osho transmitted his Tantra teachings to his disciples worldwide. One of these disciples, Margo Anand was a pioneer in developing ‘Western Tantra.’ Now there are several types of Tantra available in the UK: Margot Anand developed Skydancing Tantra, the roots of Diamond Light Tantra; Mantak Chia taught Taoist Tantra; and School of Awakening Tantra was developed by Geho and Sarita.
The mixing of the many different strands of Tantra has created confusion. There are four main approaches from Tibet, China and two from India respectively.
Tibetan Buddhist Tantra focuses on transcendence of the physical plane. It believes that you can transcend sex and thereby birth and death.
In China, Taoists use Tantra for health and longevity to move chi and create harmony of yin and yang. Tantra practitioners control ejaculation to conserve their life energy. This approach is taught by the well known author and teacher, Mantak Chia.
Tantra Yoga, from India is more male oriented. They use their sexual energy to reach expanded consciousness and avoid the potential emotional entanglements of love.
The Shivaistic approach, also from India, honours feminine and masculine equally and celebrates love, life and sex.
Other approaches include Kashmiri Tantra taught by Daniel Odier, Kundalini Yoga Tantra and even “Left Handed Tantra”. Some teachers also use Tantra for sex therapy.
Back to my experience: The group room was draped in rich fabrics in spicy colours and the subtle aroma of rose and sandalwood essential oils perfumed the air. Each couple relaxed on a heap of shimmering cushions on a pink mattress, like a tiny private island in a sea of loving couples.
This was The School of Awakening Tantra. Sarita and Geho offer a step by step couples Tantra training which embraces both Eastern and Western philosophies. As well as focusing on meditation as a couple, it also includes individual therapy. Seeing the way they are together showed me the potential of how a couple sharing a Tantric practice can be.
Transformational techniques on the Tantric Path
Tantra teaches a toolbox of techniques for transformation using sexual energy, to bring the divine into everyday life and provide couples with valuable aids when the going gets tough in relating.
I’ve experienced energising dancing and body work like stretching and massage. During caressing massage, participants whispered sweet words to their partners. The touch combined with the heartfelt words went very deep and created a melting between us, making us more in tune during lovemaking.
During a Tantric feast, my partner and I began having fun with the food and we connected on a different level of playfulness and child-like joy, this has filtered into my daily life.
Later, identifying the primary senses we each use, I learned that physical contact is as important as eye contact in communicating effectively with my partner. This has helped immensely to avoid arguments or build trust afterwards.
In group sharings participants learn to speak more openly which was very nurturing because in my catholic upbringing sex was a taboo subject.
Nancy, a Tantra participant says, “Tantra has brought more freedom and more intimacy. We can talk about sex more freely”.
The primary tool is meditation, which brings you into the moment and allows you to experience many aspects of yourself through emotional release, tender touch, dance, laughter or silence and harmonising sound. Lovemaking was taught as a ritualised meditation. But lovemaking sessions are practiced in private, during the workshop. Afterwards couples may be given lovemaking meditations as homework, often done by prior appointment to give them the proper time and energy.
The Dark Realms
The groups I’ve participated in have involved powerful emotional release exercises like pillow beating to release anger safely and resolve conflict between partners.
As you move deeper into your spiritual journey you may encounter obstacles and challenges. Almeerah a Tantra student says,
“There are some difficult processes but nothing has grated or felt wrong. Sometimes I found it difficult, but nothing violated my boundaries”.
Although I’ve been challenged and felt as though my life was turned upside down, the result was worth it. I feel a stronger connection to the earth and nature and the cycles of the planet which has really helped me living in London.
I’ve come to see all beings as interrelated and feel more of a sense of peace and belonging. Tantra has added a sense of wonder and magic to my life. Healing sexuality in my most intimate relationship it has become easier to relate to other people in a more open and loving way. I am more loving, compassionate and tolerant of my friends and family and even strangers.
Being able to express how lovemaking is a beautiful sacred act to my dad (after a catholic upbringing) was a huge step in healing our relationship.
Tantra has given new breath to my relationship with my partner, deepened our love, respect and acceptance of each other. I sometimes feel so consumed with love for my partner I am speechless, overwhelmed and in a space where words are completely inadequate.
Partnerships, which have become stuck, stale or habitual, can reap huge benefits from Tantra.
Lindy a Tantra student says, “Tantra has given me tools to know what to do when we aren’t able to connect. The practises, exercises and meditations are priceless”.
There are situations where couples are both willing to understand each other and connect, and places where they stop trying and become closed down in. After years of trying or avoiding, they don’t know how to go beyond the limits they have tacitly set.
Nicolas, a Tantra student who has been in a relationship for three years says, “We had just had a baby and needed something to reconnect. We were struggling. Tantra gave a structure to move forward in our relationship to move through obstacles which seemed insoluble”.
For those who choose to follow the Tantric path, individual experiences are unique. But it has the potential to bring out the orgasmic in the everyday and open your eyes to a more joyful existence.
Sarita and Geho spent over 20 years learning Tantric Meditation before founding the School of Awakening: +44 (0) 1769 581 232 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Books: Tantric Love, and Tantric Sex (just published) by Ma Ananda Sarita and Swami Anand Geho published by Gaia.
Edited Jan 06 2017