A few weeks back I was approached to co-host a one day tantric workshop, at first my excitement and curiosity were peaked; however, after taking a look at the outline, I was severely disappointed. I am aware the art of teaching Tantra it’s one very few people are actually trained and prepared for; most people who claim to teach Tantra seem to be concerned only with enticing the “animal” within, rather than uniting mind, body and spirit. On the other hand there are those who have complicated Tantra to a level by which any novice would find it hard to understand and difficult to relate to; hence the pendulum seems to swing between demoralization of Tantra and its over spiritualization, neither healthy to the mind or the spirit, much less the body.
Although I felt torn about the offer presented to me; as I was hoping to maybe have some input and geared the night towards real Tantra; I quickly came to understand that what was expected of me is to simply bring some form of professional validation for how things were to be presented–in other words they were hoping to use my training, background and reputation as a serious Tantric to promote their event.
Overall after reading the screening process, prices, set up and outline, it felt no different to me than quite a expensive get together for voyeurism. I felt angry as Tantra to me is a beautiful practice which saved my life by helping me overcome any disconnection I may have felt resulting from childhood sexual traumas. I still have work left in order to heal all parts of me but Tantra helped me reclaim my body and my sexuality; not only did I reclaim it, I expanded on it, I embraced it and integrated it to my life style.
Tantra may not have healed all wounds but at least it gave me back a lot of my power and that is exactly what I have seen Tantra do for many people (specially those who were mentally or physically abused). I have witnessed how it has helped people channel stagnant anger built within, and leave them feeling sensual, beautiful, holy–with a real understanding that divinity and sensuality are not separate, neither do they only belong to those lucky enough not to have ever experience abuse, or to those who confuse communion with the divine as something only achievable through false prudency.
I have been asked many times what is Tantra and have written about it on previous articles; I invite you to read them. However, in order to clarify some of the points I will make here regarding the Tantric Wave, I will give a very short explanation of what Tantra is…
Tantra is an ancient practice that has a presence today around the world yet very few people are properly trained to teach Tantra. I have been asked why I don’t “teach” Tantra to everyone who asks; I would like to take this opportunity to clarify this: Other than a few serious schools around the world, there are no Tantra schools which actually teach the heart of Tantra. Most schools teach only the sexual aspect of Tantra and their teachings are very limited; the majority of those are geared for teaching sexual techniques, nothing else. However, serious Tantrics know techniques can only get you so far, and some techniques are reserved only for those who have worked with all other aspects of Tantra. So how then did I learn Tantra? I always like to say, I didn’t find Tantra, it found me. I grew up with it, for it is part of my grandmother’s lineage. Subsequently, I did not become a Tantric until a monk “found” me; while I was pursuing other studies; and took me under his wing. Only few people understand and honor Tantra, for it is an almost lost art/philosophy which is just being rediscovered and expanded upon. In India there are mentors whom one can pick from, but even they know to respect certain aspects of Tantra which are only taught by Gurus and monks who are knowledgeable and understand ancient Tantric teachings.
Tantra is not something you learn during a workshop nor within months; it takes years. I learned Tantra from my mentor and later I chose to get my certification from “schools” which I felt understood the essence of Tantra (one of them more than the other). My mentor is the one who guided me towards one of the schools; for the founder of that school studied under a Guru in India–in reality when one studies under a monk or guru, there is no “certification”. I am very serious about Tantra and very picky about teaching it.
I do work as a Tantric counselor, which is very different than a Tantric teacher–I tend to mix my studies on psychology with what I have learned as a Tantric. Within my Tantric work I tend to focus on women; sadly I have found too many men misunderstand even the basics of Tantra and do not take counseling seriously–their false idea of what Tantra is, only compounds when so called “Tantrics” use the term to normalize their abusing of self and others. Perhaps one day I will extend more of Tantra to certain men (mentally mature people who actually seek Tantra for the right reasons) but for now I do not feel the need to do so. Now that I have clarified that, let’s get back to the subject at hand…
Tantra is not just sex, 5,000 years ago, this practice was being developed, explored, and enhanced to promote sexuality, spirituality, and emotional interconnectedness; in other words it is one of the pathways towards awakening. Tantra honors and celebrates our bodies and enriches sensual pleasure, not just sexual pleasure. Breath, meditation, mindfulness, movement and our environment can enhance intimacy with oneself and others.
Tantra encourages a full sensual and sexual experience with recognition of the importance of space and retreat to leverage and access desire. It is important to note Tantra can be an individual practice; it does not require a partner. Tantra may not even involve genital contact—it’s about energetic and spiritual contact between two partners (or with the self). Though genital contact or intercourse may enhance the energetic and spiritual contact, it is not necessary.
The word tantra has many meanings, including “the way,” “transformation,” and “expansion through awareness.” Though there is much debate, defining such a rich, historic and important cultural entity may be impossible; let’s just say Tantra is a way of life–it requires commitment to looking in and facing the wounded you as well as the sensual/divine you. Unlike religions, Tantra is a philosophy and doesn’t divide; setting God somewhere high ready to pass judgement; instead Tantra unifies, helping you to understand God is within you, God is you and Godly sexuality doesn’t equate to guilt or shame, it isn’t restricted nor is it depraved.
Where does the experience of spirituality come from? After studying Tantra, Psychology, Ancient History and the study of multiple religions/cults; their beliefs and their origins; I believe spirituality has always been part of our neurological hard-wiring. Human beings seem to be naturally equipped to experience the metaphysical world. Many age-old techniques for perceiving the realm of spirit make use of repetition (of hymns, prayers, chants, dances) while engaging in single-minded attentiveness to cosmic forces. Tantra provides both repetition and attentiveness. It is not the only way to achieve spiritual bliss; unlike religious practitioners may assert; but it is one way if your spirit is geared for it.
Tantric Wave focuses on all aspects, physical, mental, spiritual. In order to understand its neurological connection we need to learn a little bit more how our brain is wired: In the 1950s John C. Lilly did some neurological studies of monkeys and dolphins. His published notes revealed he found four points in the brain which control the sexual response of males. He used males because their sexual responses (tumescence, ejaculation, etc.) were easier to see and thus to quantify than the responses of females, but the mechanism is the same in both sexes.
According to Lilly, the first neural point in the series regulated arousal (erection). The second point regulated muscular contraction (ejaculation). The third point regulated the orgasm itself (sensation of sexual culmination). The fourth point he called the “master switch”– for when it was stimulated it entrained the three previously mentioned centers, causing the male to experience erection, ejaculation and orgasm in the usual predictable order. Although Lilly himself did not try to apply this research to human beings, Williams and Johnson’s did in 1960. Although their studies caused controversy the results validated Lilly’s research.
The discovery of these four points in the brains indicate that it is possible; through conscious and learned control; for us to separate the entrainment center from the process and thus experience erection (circulatory system), ejaculation (muscular system), or orgasm (neural system) independent of each other.
We all have experienced this disassociation of the entrainment center at one time or another (not always under our conscious volition), as when for instance we achieve tumescence but not orgasm or have an “involuntary” ejaculation, or have an “unsatisfying” orgasm in which the contractions do not bring the normal degree of sensory pleasure.
What Tantra and Karezza teach, is how to control these so that one can experience orgasm without contraction, thus prolonging it beyond the biologically-regulated constraint imposed by the amount of time it takes to complete the 8-25 contractions one would normally have. So in strictly biological terms — the practice of Tantra or Karezza can be seen as somewhat akin to the practice of biofeedback training. It is sort of like learning to wiggle your ears — it’s something you have to work at, because the volitional control of the musculature involved is not part of our usual training in life.
Numerous treatises have been written on the “techniques” of tantra. Tantra encompasses several systems of Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist religious and physical practices that may or may not include sex acts. Other 19th century American forms of non-religious sacred sex training include Paschal Beverly Randolph’s “anseiratic mysteries”. Despite cultural differences, actual instructions for what to do during the sex act are remarkably similar from one “school” of sacred sex to another. This alone is a strong indication that there is a universal biological truth beneath the various forms of tantra.
Many modern “tantrics” believe Tantra can do without many of its spiritual instructions “rituals”; contrary to their beliefs, I would like to explain that such “rituals” were created because the human brain works best symbolically. It is our innate wiring to respond best to symbols and parables than any other type of teaching. Ultimately it all comes down to what instruction are you seeking; is it simply physical or are you looking for ultimate bliss while healing the wounded parts within?–because that is what Tantra really is about, the physical part is just one facet.
There is nothing wrong with learning techniques to enhance your sexual life; however, any so called “Tantric Workshop” that focuses itself more on the building and enticing of the “animal” within vs healing, loving of self, is not a workshop geared towards your development rather it is a mask to condone the abuse of one another.
If you want to learn the techniques, first you have to notice what your orgasm reflex is. Just observe it a few times (ten or more times) and pay attention to how it works. Especially, notice there is a brief moment at the onset of orgasm when you are consciously aware that it is about to occur but it has not yet become inevitable. That’s where you will later spend your time.
In the typical orgasm (both male and female) there are 8 to 25 muscular contractions. Women may have more than men; how many you have will vary at times. Get to know how many contractions you usually experience. Now, rather than “suppressing” an orgasm, try to let one or two contractions happen and then relax. If you can learn to let one or two waves of orgasmic contractions occur and then relax by breathing slowly and being attentive, and letting your abdominal muscles go limp (NOT by trying to think of something else to “distract” yourself) then you can learn to repeat this over and over again. Imagine yourself at the edge of a wave of pleasure, a wave which does not break.
You can practice this with a partner or if single while practicing self love (commonly known as masturbation), just make sure while masturbating that your mind isn’t focus on pornography rather than the natural sexual urge your body offers you. It’s may be easier with a partner because he or she can hold you at the wave-edge, gently changing position and thus slowing you from going into the stage of involuntary pelvic thrusts you have been trying to “suppress.”
While you are learning to ride the wave-edge, take turns with your partner. As one of you rides the wave of bliss, the other acts as a “lookout”, keeping the wave-rider from falling into the undertow of orgasm. When the wave-rider reaches saturation and relaxes, you trade roles. During the course of one sexual encounter, you may trade roles often. When you and your partner become attuned to one another, you will no longer think about who is riding the wave and who is guiding; the roles will blend and mesh and you will both simply “be” there. That is basically the most common “secret teaching” of tantra.
Sometimes, while learning these techniques, the lookout partner becomes suffused with a feeling of personal power, knowing that he or she can cause the wave-riding partner to have an orgasm simply by making a slight gesture at the point when the wave-rider is letting go and relaxing. This experience of power should not be devalued. It is profoundly moving to realize someone has given his or her sexuality into your control and it is a pleasure of high magnitude to watch the process of your partner’s orgasm unfold — once you understand your power in the situation, don’t force your partner over the edge, for mistrust may develop and the partner who is continually forced into orgasm may lose the fine proprioceptive senses he or she should be developing.
Occasionally, when one partner is sexually needy (during ovulation, after a long celibate period, someone who is trying to reconnect with another soul and rewrite the abused buried, etc.) the gift of release into orgasm may be offered and accepted, but also be prepared for the offer to be refused. Remember, at all times your goal should be to share equally in the experience, not to second-guess what you think your partner wants.
If by reason of forgetfulness or over-excitement, either partner is drawn inexorably into orgasm, neither party should be alarmed, angry or distressed. For one thing, if you have been very close to the edge for a long time and you see your partner slipping over, it’s a simple matter to dive in and join the orgasmic experience. If you prefer, you can watch, content in viewing from the vantage point of calm contemplation. It has been my experience when one partner fails to maintain the wave-riding technique, he or she usually half-apologizes and is forgiven with tender kisses; there is no sense of disappointment or resentment because both partners know that the supply of pleasure is not meted out stingily and that balance will be restored in due time.
Choosing to have or not have orgasms may depend on your personalities, the time of month (for a woman), how the two of you feel about the benefits of “pure” (non-orgasmic) tantra and how much each of you enjoy the sheer physical workout of the push towards orgasm. You may also want to have a tumultuous intense encounter which can also be spiritual; its about balance–Tantra is like a chocolate cake, the techniques are the various toppings which keep the cake always alluring. It can bring comfort as usually comfort food does or it can spice up your life and elevate your senses without your denigration.
No amount of practicing techniques is going to guarantee a spiritual experience if your perception of your heart chakra is just that of a blood pumping muscle. However when you are taught Tantra the way its meant to be taught, you can’t help but to want to reconnect and rediscover your inner power. To allow sexual spiritual feelings to evolve without embedding them in a religious context, try the karezza technique of looking into your partner’s eyes, thinking about the universality of sexual congress among all species and then extending your awareness out beyond the pair of you to the world and to the cosmos. You may find yourself in what is called by some “the magnetic ocean,” a sensation that you are partaking of a universal, ongoing sexual experience that is life itself.
The Tantric Wave improves our skills to deal with emotions and find a safe space within from where we can relate to each other more authentically while embracing our shadow.
The learning of Tantra in order to instruct is one that requires more than just a few pointers or the knowledge of Kama Sutra; to teach Tantra one has to fully understand what it is you are bringing to the table. Is understanding the tremendous power put on our hands to help others understand the real power of their sexuality and its connection to our spirit and our psyche.
When Tantra is taught properly, our whole world perception changes, we go from not seeing ourselves to seeing ourselves as human beings who can in fact live in coherency without falling victim to the holy than thou syndrome–we enjoy our sexuality without abusing our bodies–communing with what is divine through our bodies which are the vessel.
In order to learn Tantra one has to be willing to be vulnerable, to accept our wounds, to kiss the parts within that are damaged. It will not heal you right away but it will embark you on a path seldom taken.
Tantric Wave is not something one can teach on an “ultimate night of pleasure” and mask it as Tantra. Tantra requires your time, meditation, tantric meditation, massage and conscious touch, relationship (towards self and if you have a partner(s) towards your partner(s). It is counselling; getting to the root of things; emotional intelligence, connecting with the body (learning to use the body as an emotional anchor), chakras system and energy. Then comes the awakening of the sexual energy, awakening the heart chakra. Lastly the balancing of the masculine and feminine energies–this completes the Tantric Wave which is really what should be taught in workshops aiming to introduce Tantra to others.
One doesn’t have to have it all together to teach Tantra, as Tantra recognizes the process of healing deep wounds can be a long one; more importantly our whole life is a training session with the divine. Tantra like psychology recognizes no teacher should teach without being a student themselves. One should be responsible with the knowledge Tantra brings; real knowledge of the art and a real desire to help others reconnect with themselves and their partners. For me it is the hope that by the end of the process a man or woman no longer sees just a body but rather a divine creature who may have been wounded but who is worthy of living a life as a human not an animal. To be human is to be divine, it is to accept the shadow, to learn to stand up and have the courage to be; even if that goes against the crowd; so long as what you are aiming for is your own betterment–for when we heal the world heals.
Tantra teaches that it is okay to walk slowly, its okay to hurt and have a wave of different emotions overtake us. Tantra teaches us not to bury hurts but rather to confront and heal them; it is okay to be different. To learn Tantra you have to be willing to face yourself and others.
When I have taught Tantra, it has been done with the ultimate respect for this beautiful ancient art. It has require raw honesty from my part of where I am; I may still be far from where I would like to be but I also know I am far from where I once was; where my wounds, traumas and false shame dominated my life. I still hurt, I still get angry, at moments I am still very scare but I am also awakening; although at times slowly I am embracing, healing and building a solid character not just a mask– that is what others find relatable. I don’t lower my head down because I was hurt or because I experience natural human emotions–that is exactly what I seek to share with others.
Ultimately in seeing others discover their unique beauty, appreciation for their raw self, in seeing them reconnect and reclaim their power, I too find some healing–That is what Tantra is about.
“To seduce the animal within is easy; to awaken, join and melt with the divine is an art”