What is Tantra?: A Basic Explanation

So many of us have heard of Tantra yet very few know what the name actually means; for others the idea of Tantra has been sadly tainted.
To enter the world of Tantra is to enter a world of magic and mystery, of expansion between your physical and spiritual self.

In modern era Tantra has been studied as an esoteric practice and ritualistic religion, referred to as Tantrism; however there is a very wide gap between what Tantra means to its students and what Tantra has been perceived by the average person.

One definition of Tantra is equal to the “system of obervances” about the vision of man and the cosmos, where correspondences between the inner world of the person and the macrocosmic reality play an essential role. Another definition more accepted by non-practitioners of Tantra is: “Tantra is the study of a set of mechanistic rituals.”

David Lorenzen offers people a very narrow definition “Tantric religion refers only to the elite traditions directly based on the Sanskrit texts called the Tantras, Samhitas, and Agamas.”  He adds to this narrow definition by including a broad range of “Magical beliefs and practices, such as Yoga, Sexual exploration and Shaktism.”

Tantra is a Sanskrit word meaning “woven together”, a beautiful terminology which accurately reflects what happens during its practice. The terminology however is not meant to reflect just physical togetherness of you and your partner, it goes deeper than that.  Woven together, refers to the togetherness of you and your spirit– that is the deepest most important connection. Why do I say this? If you don’t know how to love yourself physically and spiritually then chances are you really don’t know how to love anyone else spiritually or physically.

Each one of us human beings, are like a glass of water. Our self love in all aspects of our nature (physiological, psychological, spiritual) is the water in the glass; you cannot offer water to someone else whom you may feel is thirsty when you have nothing to give. Tantra understands this concept and draws its teachings from it.

I am not going too much into its history as most of the questions I received are regarding its meaning not its origins….

It seems most people confuse Tantra with Kama Sutra. Let’s get this erroneous idea out of our heads. The Kama Sutra is a book which can be beautiful to implement in your life style, however it mostly focuses on sexual aspects and not in great detail–also it is hard for anyone who isn’t a Tantric to actually understand its meaning. Personally I see the Kamasutra as a teaching of technique (a chapter of a story) while Tantra is the book. Anyone can be taught technique but if you lack the “magic” and “knowledge” of the how and why a person’s body can react a certain way and how to connect with each aspect of that person, then technique won’t get you very far.

The study and practices of Tantra are a discipline; one that like most disciplines becomes a way of life. Tantra is a very ancient concept which involves yoga, mindfulness, psychology, sexual knowledge, sexual techniques and practice of old arts. To study Tantra is not easy and does require the right motivation.

There are many “Schools of Tantra” but I find most of those schools could easily be equated to a “workshop”–which can be beneficial to entice and enhance a person’s or couples’ sexual life but it does not cover real Tantra.

Tantra demands from its students its complete devotion and determination. Studying Tantra is a hard but beautiful thing to do. Studying Tantra involves submerging yourself deep on how the mind works, counselling (focusing on sexual traumas/taboos), deep study of human biology, meditation, esoteric or so call dark sexual arts. Let me clarify on this: most people when hearing about dark sexual arts confuse the term with the modern meaning of sexual depravation; this is due to the large number of people who have no idea of what Tantra is yet call themselves Tantrics to cover for the type of services they offer; services which only strip people of their self esteem or leads them into a world of depravity.

As a serious Tantric I will tell you the dark sexual arts, refer to old forgotten, hidden, arts that were and can be considered taboo. Tantra is not depraved, neither does it belittle anyone. It is meant to uplift not to destroy you.

There is no such a thing as dark Tantra; reality is that term was created by modern sexual workers in order to justify what they do by giving it a more acceptable name. Dark Tantra in modern terms is supposed to mean S&M which in reality has never been a part of Tantra.

Nowadays many people use the term Tantric when talking about prostitution yet tantra sees the body as an exquisite temple, as such it does not promote the abuse of another human being nor is part of an empty degrading transaction…. Again the adult industry has chosen to claim the name in order to make things more appealable and to reduce guilt on those using it.

Teaching Tantra does involve the teaching of sexuality; more importantly sensuality; as sexuality without sensuality can be very cold and dry. More importantly, Tantra focuses on the healing of old or recent wounds; which involves teaching you to discover or re-discover your inner self and then guides your inner self to connect  with your body and spirit–that is exactly why Tantra is on a league of its own.

Tantra takes many years of learning, constant seeking of knowledge, and it demands you dedicate your life to the integration of its teachings.  It isn’t something you can just claim by simply taking your clothes off  and having sex.  Workshops are awesome for people who want to introduce Tantric techniques to their lives and re-spark the lost passion.

Tantra is more than just the physical; however, when it does come to the physical aspect, Tantra involves the prolonging of pleasure.  It is meant to awaken all of your senses and to keep you just under the boiling point.  It is meant to create waves; wave after wave building more pressure until your body can take no more; aware of every aspect/sense of self until you finally let go, leaving you in ecstasy– the type of ecstasy that leaves you feeling loved instead of empty.

A Tantric will teach you and your partner (if you have one) to get in touch with your old wounds, to really look at yourself and embrace yourself.  As such if you are thinking of seeking a Tantric Counselor to help you and your partner, don’t expect sexuality to be involved from the get go; self vulnerability and acceptance of your wounds are its priority.

If you are being participant of a Tantric massage, some of the things you will notice are that your Tantric masseuse or masseur wears a sensual robe; he or she is never naked.  A tantric massage is never hard, it is slow and loving; don’t expect a Tantric massage to work on your muscle pain, it is meant to work on your fears and wounds by transmitting love and allowing you to feel love as you get touch. Your tantric will always show love and respect for self and for you. Tantric massage is by its very definition very sensual yet it is never trashy, violating or cheap.  A tantric massage is always best after Tantric counselling, as by then your Tantric or your partner will know what your wounds are and how to work on your chakras and your fears.

Many people use a Tantric massage without the counselling as they just want to feel cherished, loved, honoured, respected, aroused, accepting of self; never belittle, abused, feeling dirty–as it might happen with a basic sexual massage or with people who claim to be Tantrics but deliver only sexuality. Those souls are hurt and empty, therefore you can’t expect them to give you something they don’t have. Likewise to use them is to abuse their soul and your own.

Tantra will teach a person or a couple, to connect with yourself while being physical with your body or with your partner. Basic things you will learn after learning about yourself are :

Always keep your bedroom welcoming: warm colors, free of clutter, not too many decorations. Fluid is what you are going for and never ever have a TV in it .  If you would like to have  a TV in your bedroom then prepare a different space to be your tantric room.

Keep your room toasty as you and you partner will be naked; sweat and arousal add to the whole experience, plus it helps you release toxins.

Deem the lights or have candles.

You may have fresh rose petals all over the ground, this adds to your senses.

Incense, make sure it is a scent that awakens sexuality and soothes your soul by calming your mind, some of the best are: Musk, Sandalwood, Jasmine.

Have a good body oil handy and warm. If using scented oil always mix it up with your regular baby oil as scented oils are too hard on the skin and can bee too intrusive on your senses.

Music: calming but erotic. There are many tracks specifically for Tantra.

When you have all of your room ready, make sure your body is clean. You may even choose to have a bath together but before you do please take a shower.

When coming into your room/shrine you should start with intention. This may seem silly for both of you but it does create a different aura to the whole thing, plus is a beautiful sign of trust to hear your loved one tell you what his/her intentions are.

Usually after intention comes breathing and eye gazing; you want to be in sync.  Once you are connected comes the fun of sexuality, that is where tantric massage usually comes into play (All types of regular massage including relaxation massage are given on a table. Tantric massage is given on the floor, on top of a nice comfortable mat.) Be open and honest with your partner about your likes and dislikes and take it from there.

There are many ways and positions to explore.  There are many techniques which can be helpful during a Tantric massage as well as during intercourse but that is not what this article is about… next time! For now, I hope the above has given you a better idea of what Tantra is and what it involves.


By Sofia Falcone

I passionately believe one person can make a difference. I write from my own experiences and interests. It is my greatest hope that by writing about my own challenges, victories, hopes and learnings, others may feel inspired to believe more in their inner power and to fully embrace themselves!

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