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So...what is tantra?

I'm going to tell you a little story about tantra....and it doesn't have a "happy ending."

While living in New York, I was fortunate enough to find a tantra teacher who was the real deal. I went to her house weekly for tantra study groups, and no, there were no orgies or cuddle parties or even suggestive hugs. This was a serious group of tantrikas and we immersed ourselves in the world of traditional tantra...like from India. Tantra has been around for thousands of years and like yoga, teaches us how to be fully present and in full embrace of the world we live in. Unfortunately, tantra moved from the East through the Western filter, and when many of us hear the word "tantra", we relate it to sexual practices.

When I moved to Modesto, I was startled when I googled "tantra Modesto" and was presented with ads for Asian massage. Ask one of these massage therapists what tantra is and I assure you, they probably won't be able to tell you. A massage that ends with the expectation of a "happy ending" cannot be tantric in nature, as in tantra, we move beyond expectations of the mind and physical into the experience of the higher Self. An experienced tantrika might be able to employ certain tantric practices while receiving massage, but a true tantric massage experience requires both participants to be fully present and engaged with one another in breath and in the space of the heart.

"Neo-tantra" is the practice of tantra in the west that is mainly focused on sexuality. While traditional tantra fully embraces the experience of sexual pleasure and sexual union, this is just a tiny piece of the tantra puzzle. Those naked girls in ads promising "tantric massage"?... the "tantric massage" found on porn sites that ends abruptly with ejaculation?.....sorry, that's really just cheap sex with some half-assed body work.

So, what is tantra then? There are many answers to this, depending on who you ask. In my experience, tantra is a science that helps us navigate consciously through the world, with love and with presence. It serves to illuminate the path back to our true nature, which is one of joy and bliss. We learn practices that help to transform and transmute patterns of energy. Tantra embraces everything as divine, meaning there is no separation between God/Goddess/Source and our Self. All of our experiences, our emotions, our feelings, and everything we can touch and see are just manifestations of divinity. Tantric practices help us to learn to see divinity in all things and all beings.

Eye gazing, breath work, moving energy upwards into the heart and crown....these practices are designed to help us be more present in the moment and connect with our own divinity. Being present helps us to fully enjoy every moment of an experience without an expectation or goal. When we start to learn to be fully present and enjoy every moment fully without expectation, something amazing happens...we start to experience joy.

Tantra involves moving shakti, kundalini, or "feminine" energy, up through the body to unite with shiva, "masculine" energy. The union of the masculine and feminine is one of the main principles in tantra. Feminine, or receptive and creative energies, and masculine, or penetrative and assertive energies, must be balanced in the physical and energetic body in order to achieve harmony and full power. This is done through conscious awareness, knowledge, and practice.

When we start to embrace and embody these principles and practices, it naturally overflows into our sexual life and our partnerships. Utilizing these practices with our lover or in our own practice of self-pleasure helps us to experience more joy and full awareness, and this brings higher states of orgasm. Just remember, however, that in tantra, ecstatic orgasm is a product of these practices, not the goal or end result. Learning to give, receive, and connect through tantric practices brings us more fully into the experience of pleasure and intimacy....and that, in and of itself, is truly orgasmic.

(This blog was originally posted in May 2016 on kamayadevi.com)


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