by Jade Small: Tantra is one of the modern sexual buzzwords that many people are talking about…
It’s the topic of many books, some are very simple and others show complex positions and breathing techniques, in fact almost every book written about sex today has a chapter on Tantra or refers to Tantra in some way. However, there is not much clarity on what Tantra or Tantric sex is all about.
The word ‘Tantra’ is Sanskrit in origin and has a few different meanings. One of these is ‘weaving the web’. This refers to the web of life, of being fully involved in all aspects of life and participating in the world.
Another meaning is that of a tool for growth and enlightenment. This refers to the Tantric practices and their deeper meaning, which we will talk more of later on.
Tantric sex is about devotional and erotic love, basically sex and spirit and how you can integrate spiritualty into your sex life. Many people short-change themselves when they focus on sexual goals; tantric sex is about pleasure, communication and connection. One of the first practices you might try, for example, is ‘soul gazing’ — simply finding a quiet space and sitting face to face with your partner, looking into each other’s eyes. It is such a simple, yet beautiful way to connect with another person.
Tantric sex also takes us on an inner journey that lasts a lifetime as we learn to access within us sensations of intense pleasure, and an incredible range of beautiful emotions. It reveals an inner place of deep knowing.
Tantric sex is also used as a form of sexual healing. Many people carry old wounds that prevent them from opening to the sacred, enjoying their bodies and expressing their sexuality.
Essentially, Tantric healing can be defined as releasing emotional wounds or armouring that manifests past traumatic experiences into the physical realm, where they are stored in the muscle tissue of the body including the genitals. The physical symptoms can include vaginal pain during intercourse, inability to orgasm, numbness, premature ejaculation, inability to ejaculate, dry vagina, burning sensations, weak or loss of erection, cramping and loss of libido.
This armouring needs to be dissolved so that our bodies can release tension and function properly — and so we can be free of old memories that create unhealthy beliefs that steer our lives in directions we may not necessarily want to go, causing us to limit our full range of sexual and spiritual experience.
A lot of people are so used to this armouring that they are not even aware of it. It has become their understanding of reality, and it is only brought into their consciousness during sexual experiences that trigger old hurts when they are with their present lover/s. Tantric healers can create a safe space where people can go within and become aware of their wounds, and support them in healing the shame and hurt that binds them.
People who practice Tantric sexuality understand that the mind cannot change the mind; real change and real happiness is not a mental process, conscious sex that achieves bliss is the greatest healer there is. Conscious, physically and emotionally integrated sex is a powerful way to heal ourselves and our relationships — the resulting ecstasy heals the unconscious.
Why are some people uncomfortable about delving into Tantra?
Many people in our society have been conditioned from a very young age to see their bodies, their sexuality, their pleasure as something that is wrong or shameful or just something not to be spoken of. There seem to be only a few contexts within our society where the discussion of sexuality is considered appropriate, those being in a medical, religious or seedy context. As Tantric sex is outside of the western medical and religious contexts of sexuality, people usually automatically put Tantra into the context of the seedy side of life and therefore feel uncomfortable about it.
At this point in time there is no context for ‘pleasure’ or ‘sexual healing’ to be considered as important parts of health and wellbeing or to be considered as an appropriate treatment plan when working with sexual dysfunction. Our society does not even honour sexuality or view pleasure as a celebration of our humanity, which is exactly what it should be.
Some people may feel that Tantra is something only practiced by more enlightened people, or those who’ve traversed a deeply spiritual path. Nothing could be further from the truth: everyone has the ability to tune in to their own and universal energy.
Another reason why people may feel uncomfortable about Tantra is because they may have low sexual self-esteem. This is a term that most people are unaware of even though the effects of low sexual self-esteem may permeate all areas of their lives. During childhood is when we start to develop our sexual self-esteem, which in turn affects how we see ourselves sexually. We learn our sexual values from our social environment — our parents and families, media, schooling, television and our religious background. Our sexual values and attitudes determine our behaviour and conduct, as well as our judgements about people who may participate in behaviour that is outside of what we were taught was right or wrong as children. In other words, we use our childhood interpretations as a way to determine our course of action in adult life, so it is natural for people to feel uncomfortable with Tantra if it is outside of our family’s values and attitudes to sexuality.
Some people do break free of their programming, although I do find a lot of people are living out their lives, never really being able to let go and experience their bodies in a healthy, sexy way and to reach their full range of sexual expression.
Many women live through their roles, i.e. mothers and wives, suffering in silence, living in ‘mediocre chronic depression’. And it saddens me at times to hear how many women have lived their lives never ever getting anywhere near reaching their full potential sexually, some never even having had an orgasm. They tell themselves they are happy in their lives or that they are happy if their partner is satisfied, maybe saying that is enough for them. While deep down inside, if they are honest with themselves, they know they are abandoning themselves and probably feel a deep sense of loss from never having come close to a spiritual experience through sex or to understanding the beautiful power that lies dormant, waiting to be discovered, like a majestic bird that’s never been able to fly. With awareness comes choice and once people realize that their life experience is essentially self-created they then have the power to choose.
What Tantra can do for you and your relationship
Unlike many philosophies and religions, Tantra celebrates pleasure and acknowledges the beauty of the body. In our world we have made our genitals dirty and a separate part of ourselves.
My nose is always my nose, there may be times when I don’t like it, and I might think it’s too big, but it’s always my nose.
But my genitals are different, we call them ‘private parts’, or ‘down there’. We hide them away and only let them out under very strict circumstances, often with great embarrassment.
Tantric ritual and practice accepts the beauty of our genitals as part of a beautiful body, designed to give and receive, to share pleasure.
Tantra also encourages lust, not only in a sexual sense, but lust for life, for the full enjoyment of sensual living and feeling. This includes the wonderful taste of food and drink, exploring flavours and textures. Music, flowers and exercise.
Friends and family, emotions, even our fears and our tears, all are part of being human. To deny any part of ourselves – physical, mental, emotional or spiritual – is to deprive us of our humanness and our joy.
To go back to the principle of lust for a moment it’s important to understand that Tantra is not about free sex with many partners. That’s more a lifestyle choice than anything else, but because Tantra emphasises intimacy it’s generally possible to have the deep connections we yearn for and the truly fulfilling experiences only with one partner.
Tantra is non-judgemental. Whether you are gay or straight or bisexual, whether you are monogamous, single or a swinger nothing is considered taboo or perverse.
We need to examine that idea carefully because it definitely does not mean that acts of sexual violence, incest and child molestation are acceptable.
One of the prime ideas that Tantra holds is that we are an expression of the God & Goddess in the world. When we make love we are celebrating the energy of the Divine.
I come together with my partner as a physical manifestation of the highest joy there can be. This means we are absolutely open and honest, no games, no manipulation. And nobody does anything that is not 100% okay for themselves; nobody is forced into anything unacceptable, there is only respect and love.
Above all else, the goal of any Tantric experience is joy, happiness and laughter. So much in our world and our lives is so serious. We even take sex so seriously, being a good lover is so important, having bigger and better breasts and penises and orgasms is so important.
No. What is important on the Tantric journey is to be open, to share and most of all, to love. For love is a choice that we make, every moment of every day.
The wonderful world of Tantra offers many possibilities on how to live, to love and of course, how to have great sex.