One of the most intriguing, yet controversial ways of creating a healthy relationship or healing a shaky one is Tantra.
Misunderstanding and ignorance have coloured the sensationalist tabloids’ views of Tantra as gratuitous sex, while established religions – seeing a direct connection with one’s personal divinity as a threat – have historically propagated the belief that Tantra is immoral. But Tantra teaches that sex is beautiful and a natural expression of love and respect between two people. Today and more and more people are looking for a way to bring spirituality into their daily life and find ways of creating a lasting relationship.
Tantra is a Sanskrit word meaning transformation. It honours life as sacred and offers methods and meditations for expanding consciousness. It is not a religion but a spiritual path and lifestyle.
Tantra’s basic philosophy is “total acceptance of the self”, and “fully exploring pleasure and sensuality with awareness,” says Osho the late, enlightened mystic and Tantra Master.
“You don’t have to look Tantric or do Tantric things. It’s about starting from what is and where you are,” says Divyam, a Tantra student who has completed all seven levels of training with Sarita and Geho.
Practised in a couple, lovers learn to see themselves and each other as divine beings and the sex act becomes a door to expanded consciousness.
“Tantra means to me that sexuality is the gateway to the divine,” says Lindy, ex business consultant and Level 2 student.
Some of the misunderstanding around Tantra is due to the fact that it is often taught in secret because it requires experiential practise to understand. And the fact that there are four different strands of Tantra from Tibet, China and India respectively, has led to some confusion.
Tibetan 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 the harmony of yin and yang. Tantra practitioners control ejaculation to conserve their life energy.
The third stream, 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, is feminine and celebrates love, life and sex. A few decades ago Osho took the Shivaistic approach and transmitted his life-affirmative and conscious awareness Tantra to his disciples world-wide. He said, “Once you understand the ecstasy of sex, you can understand what the mystics have been talking about – a greater orgasm, a cosmic orgasm”.
Tantra is valuable for couples because it gives support and nurturing to a relationship, which counteracts everyday life.
Keerti, a property developer and level seven student says, “Tantra has brought a commitment to rise higher in love, to have more harmony and more joy”.
Doing a group gives couples tools, techniques and meditations they can use at home to bring the sacred into their daily life. Almeerah, a Level 2 student, complementary therapist, teacher and mum says, “Everyone encounters arguments. There aren’t that many tools out there. The Tantra meditations bring us back to remembering that we really love each other”.
Sarita says, “As far as we know, Tantra is the only possible solution to the confusion couples get into while relating. We provide education about how to go into greater states of ecstasy and love.”
Sarita and Geho teach ways of transcending unconscious patterns of relating and creating union on all levels, giving rise to what they call “the soul mate phenomenon”.
Divyam says, “Tantra opens up a place for moving beyond personality into something bigger than our relationship, bringing the spiritual aspect of our being together right into the centre of our relationship”.
Partnerships, which have become stale, can reap huge benefits from Tantra.
Sarita says, “In long-term relationships, people get into habits which can become boring. They can even stop seeing each other closely or intimately because of routines that develop”.
Michael, a complementary therapist and teacher 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”.
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.
“Tantra is the method to help lovers go beyond their limitations,” says Geho.
“We were drifting, possibly apart. Tantra has brought us back together and we’re now meeting in new and exciting ways, discovering hidden depths in each other and ourselves,” says Keith, teacher and business manager and level five student who has been with his partner for 14 years.
The earliest written record of Tantra dates back 7000 years to the teachings of Shiva an enlightened mystic in India. His approach focuses on love and meditation, inspiring the harmonious union of male and female energies.
This century, research by Jung, Reich, Freud and Masters and Johnson, led to Omar Garrison publishing the Yoga of Sex, in 1964. Just in time for the “free love” sixties generation. In the 70s and 80s, Osho taught Tantra to his disciples world-wide, who included Sarita and Geho. They combine his approach with a transmission Sarita received from an ancient Himalayan Tantric school.
My first Tantra experience was at Sarita and Geho’s level one Tantra workshop. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d been interested in Tantra for years without knowing exactly what it involved. But I was more excited than nervous. My partner and I had been together for four months and we wanted to find a way to share our spiritual practise and nurture our new relationship.
Other people had different concerns, “I’d never done a group with a partner and I was concerned I might get clingy or needy. But that didn’t come up,” says Lindy. Nancy a health-food shop owner says, “We were more curious than anything else. We didn’t really know what to expect but we were both open to everything”.
The workshop may involve Dynamic Meditation (which includes chaotic breathing, catharsis, and celebratory dancing to break patterns in body and release locked in emotions), a caressing massage during which participants whisper sweet words to their partners and emotional release exercises to release anger safely and resolve conflict with their partners. At least three hours a day is spent in bed lovemaking.
Alex, a dance teacher and level 2 student says, “I had one fear, which is quite a male one. That I would be kind of morally cajoled out of having a good fuck. In fact I found it quite the opposite we were just having great sex”.
Croydon Hall, the holistic centre is a fairy tale-like big, creamy mansion surrounded by acres of romantic gardens in the valley of Exmoor National Park.
The group room was a Tantra temple with hanging, fringed drapes in spicy colours and exotic fabrics and a statue on the altar with Tantric gods Shiva and Shakti intertwined. Each couple had their own sacred space – a double mattress piled with sumptuous cushions, their own private island in a sea of islands.
Ma Ananda Sarita (Sarita) and Swami Anand Geho (Geho) have spent over 20 years learning Tantric Meditation. They met in India in the Osho Ashram and have been partners since 1994. They have taught Tantra in India and Europe and have trained over a thousand individuals and couples.
“The sharing of this path is simply an overflowing of our joy. We can’t help ourselves from sharing the good news,” says Sarita.
Lindy says, “Sarita and Geho are magical, a gift from god. Their Tantra is exquisitely delicious. They are so knowledgeable and playful, so experienced”.
“They’ve got a wonderful mix of playfulness and innocence and wisdom,” says Divyam.
Geho was drawn to Tantra, “by the meeting of sex and spirit, using love as the door to spiritual awakening.” Sarita says, “I knew intuitively that there must be something more to love and sex.”
There is no typical Tantra couple or lifestyle, just as the age of participants ranges from 19 – 75. There were couples in the bliss of a new relationship, or on the verge of break up, newly weds and couples celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. Some couples had problems in their sex life or had goals like improving or even initiating their sex life, exploring the sacred with their partner, or simply adding some fizz to married life. Divyam, says, “Tantra is not something outside yourself that you either fit into or don’t. It’s actually completely your own creation.”
“Tantra is for anyone seeking to explore their inner universe, fulfil their potential as a human being, or have love and creativity in their life,” says Sarita. Other participants clearly agree.
“Tantra has added a glow to our relationship that has effected everything else.” says Alex.
“Tantra will change your life and your relationship,” Michael says.
“When it’s so good, you can’t help talking about it”, says Nancy.
With feedback like this what are you waiting for?
Recommended Reading: “Tantric Love” and “Ecstatic Sex” (August 03) by Sarita and Geho and “Tantra, Spirituality and Sex” by Osho.