The elusive and abundantly decorated world of tantra is, in my opinion, for everyone. It is an invitation to create a holistic lifestyle that suits your deepest desires for soul expression. By definition, tantra incorporates many tools and modalities rooted in being present to encourage an expansive earthly experience. Etymologically in sanskrit, the root of the word (tan) means “to expand,” while the suffix (tra) means “instrumental.” Therefore, tantra can be translated as an instrument for expansion. Tantra is also often literally translated as “woven”. In this way, we weave the moments and modalities of our lives for an expansive lifestyle of ascension.
The principles of tantra have been utilized for thousands of years in various ritual, religious and practical lifestyle contexts. There are countless lineages and approaches to the wisdom of tantra, spiritual intimacy, and sacred sexuality, however many have similar principles and rituals. The tantric approach is simple, effective, and entirely holistic. Most healing modalities, philosophies of soul expansion, and religions leave out sexuality, whereas tantra embraces this element of humanity as the most powerful energetic force in our bodies. Because of tantra’s full acceptance of this often taboo subject, many immediately associate tantra solely with sexuality, when in reality, tantra has so much more to offer.
Within the various lineages of tantra, including Hinduism, Shaivism, Taoism, Shamanic Tantra, Sacred Sex within Christianity, Egyptian Tantra, and Neo Tantra, there is a common theme of presence, intention, and full integration of self.
When we see the present as our greatest gift, we are able to expand upon high-frequencies of gratitude, peace, and bliss AND use low-frequencies of fear, shame, and anger as an opportunity to expand beyond patterns and limiting beliefs that no longer serve us. Being present means fully embracing our emotional state, recognizing that our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. There are three tantric tools for tapping into the present and moving life-force energy: breath, sound and movement.
Breath encourages us to be present as each inhale and exhale can only happen in the moment of Now. It is innate and constant.
Sound is an incredible tool for moving energy (emotion = energy in motion). Incorporating sound, whether it’s listening to rhythms or making our own sounds (sighs, moans, cries, screams, etc), encourages us to move emotions instead of allowing the energy to get stuck in our chakra centers, causing dis-ease in our bodies.
Movement is a celebration of our bodies, the earthly temple for our own divine. It is a gift for us to move in expression of who we are.
Eros, kundalini, life-force, feeling “turned-on” - it’s all the same and it is the most powerful energy known to humans. It is a force that literally creates life, our offspring. And yet this life-force can do so much more. In many tantric lineages, it is believed that each sexual act (including self-pleasure) is a creative energetic exchange. This philosophy encourages tantric students to channel the surplus of erotic energy generated from pleasure into an intention aligned with expanded consciousness. Intentions usually involve invigorating our life, conserving our energy for purpose, manifesting deepest desires, letting go of what is no longer serving us, healing, and/or capitalizing on our greatest potential for growth.
Tantra teaches us how to recognize these energies within the body, and more importantly, how to harness them for our desired intention. Life-force energy originates in our 1st and 2nd chakras, and has the ability to move up our chakra system, resulting in a sort of full-body or energetic orgasm. Most of us are socialized to experience sexual energy exiting out bodies through our base chakra, our sexual organs. Alternatively, Using intention, we can guide the energy up our spine, encouraging bottled-up emotions and limiting beliefs to rise through our energetic centers and exit for a more liberating human experience.
We learn to harness our sexual energy by being fully present and slowing down. Using meditations, rituals, yoga, and other modalities of tantric arts encourages conscious movement of life-force energy, so one may begin to consciously harness and direct the kundalini as desired.
Integration of Self
Tantra drops the judgement and encourages full acceptance - of our shadows and light. Without unconditional love and awareness of who we are, we block ourselves from the empowerment of choosing our highest self. Integrating our shadows means addressing deeply rooted limiting beliefs, shame, guilt and fear around sexuality and our bodies imposed by society and institutions. Shining light in your shadows empowers you to reclaim your eroticism.
When it comes to our shadows, tantra encourages us to use intention. Setting an intention allows us to look at the circumstances of our life objectively, to then ask the question, “does this align with my intention?” In this way there is no “right” or “wrong” way - there is only the wisdom of knowing if our thoughts, patterns, and actions, are resonant with the state of expansion we deeply desire.
In tantra, the individual takes responsibility for themselves, including their pleasure and their triggers. And still, an incredible tool for integrating shadows are our relationships, including romantic, familial, friendly, neighborly, within work environments, and especially within ourselves. Our relationships are mirrors for our own experience. These mirrors show us the suppressed qualities of ourselves that we are not addressing. Within our romantic relationships lies the opportunity to commit to a deeper level of expansion. When we show up in relationships, we energetically tell the universe, I am willing to be vulnerable enough to get to know my partner AND myself on a deeper level.
Tantra encourages us to slow down and communicate our needs, preferences, and boundaries with our partners. Society has told us that sex always needs to be spontaneous, however, when we communicate these factors in an intentional way we feel safe to fully surrender to sexual experiences. When we are able to set intentions as a couple for intimate moments, both partners are more likely to be in sync. Many tantric practitioners recommend prioritizing daily intimacy with both yourself and your partner. Intimacy does not always include sex. It could be physical, emotional, or spiritual intimacy. And yet, when we open ourselves up to any kind of intimacy, we are more likely to desire sexual or sensual intimacy.
When sexual intimacy is a part of the program, there is a commitment intention, often (but not always) slowing things down. Partners are encouraged to work through the lingering energy of their day to be fully present, letting go of any stress or tension with movement or meditation before joining as one. Breathe and relax together. Find yourself just being before initiating sex. Within the slow sex ritual, both partners abandon expectation and any “goal” of orgasm, especially peak orgasms (those that occur sharply, quickly, and usually end the sexual experience). This approach also encourages valley orgasms, also known as edging (the practice of moving the erotic energy through the body, encouraging full body, multiple, and longer lasting orgasmic experiences). It’s recommended that tantric couples set aside 4 hours at least once a week for a longer tantric ritual.
Singles are not left out of the tantric tradition and are encouraged to self-pleasure. This is a great way to increase self-intimacy and prepare for inevitable lovers to enter your life. Tantra teachings assert the deeper one knows oneself, the greater their capacity to meet their partner in pleasure. So even in partnership, the individuals are encouraged to come home to themselves with masturbation.
In essence, tantra is a path of “no rules” and all intention! BDSM can be tantric. The way you eat your food can be tantric. The way you hug, laugh, and cry can all be tantric. Bring the tantric perspective into any moment with the foundations of presence, intention, and full expression of self.
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