There are many different views in the world on sexuality. Some of the most widely held beliefs are that it is something to suppress and be ashamed of. Sexuality is something that a lot of people struggle with due to the fact that there is so much taboo surrounding genitalia and intercourse. Many still believe that sex is something used specifically for procreation and isn’t necessarily something to be enjoyed. There are others who choose to make sex a source of revenue through the porn industry or even still more dubious, sex trafficking. Alternatively, there is another approach to sexuality that has been around since the shamanic cults of Asia which first arose many millennia ago. The belief was that sexuality was means to understand and connect spiritually to the universe. Better known as Tantra, the ancient art of loving was reintroduced into the western world during the sixties. It brought with it a form of liberation to many in a somewhat sexually suppressive culture.
It has also been noted in many texts that it was the Zami cult who devised the way of practicing tantra through sex, and it was a female centered sect worshipping the Yoni. Teachings that were recorded were later destroyed and suppressed by the influx of more patriarchal religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. Despite the overthrow of the matriarchal cult, the idea of equality between men and women still permeates throughout the different sects. There are some extreme Taoist traditions that view the woman’s body as nothing more than a vessel for men to channel their sexual energies through, but those are few and far between. Most of what you will find in the few places that still practice tantric traditions as a way of life is a profound regard for all forms of life and men and women alike can participate in spiritual practices.
A large aspect of Tantra, both sexually and spiritually is the concept of duality and overcoming it. Creative energy is considered masculine while receptive matter is feminine. In Sanskrit the word for the masculine force is vajra, or in the Buddhist tradition it is dorje, which ultimately translates into thunderbolt. While it is a reference to the male phallus it can also be used to reference specific tool used in many tantric rituals. For females, the Sanskrit and Buddhist word yoni is in reference to the female genitalia and the spiritual ability to create life. A common illustration of duality is seen often through the depiction of Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is seen as big, self contained masculine god figure while Shakti is a small female figure sitting on his shoulder. While this might seem male oriented, it is a practice for both men and women to integrate opposing aspects of Shiva and Shakti. To understand union, they would need to bring forth an image of their inner beloved and embody it in their actual beloved. We can see how by understanding the separation we can begin to unify. There are a few other variations of this in different schools of tantric shamanism, but ultimately there is always the concept of two opposing forces that mutually emerge from one another. Both are always necessary for life to take form.
Originally tantric sex was a very highly regarded spiritual practice. You could only perform these rituals if you belonged to one of two castes of shamanic priests or where initiated by tantrikas. What has recently come to light in the western world is more of a yogic approach to love making that still holds the same spiritual regard for sexual union. Most of what we know of tantric love making is based on techniques and practices designed to enrich a couple’s sexual experience and deepen their intimate connection. Many books and teachers integrate rituals, meditation, breath work and psychology. Usually in the beginning of the journey, the teacher puts much focus on the individual connecting with their internal world. One must stay in the present and learn to control the direction of their mind. Once this attained then the next task is to learn how to stay connected with one ‘s self while sharing connections their partners. This done through gaining familiarity and comfort with each other while practicing breath work to exchange energy. By doing this partners hope to experience a transcendent unity that gives them a larger sense of wholeness. The purposed benefit of sexual meditation beyond sexual pleasure is an awareness of your body and the healing energies it summons forth. This also can help to achieve balance between male and female energies, breaking internal and interpersonal barriers, and celebrating sexual union as a divine experience.
An important detail to become familiar with is a person’s energy meridians or chakras. These are believed to be vortices of a human’s spiritual energies. The word chakra is Sanskrit for wheel or disk. When performing tantric sex you want your chakras to open and become receptive to your partner’s energy. This is considered a sacred act so tantric sex is not generally used for casual purposes. The exchange of energies is supposed to lead to a transformation into sacred loving energy. One’s partner is considered a beloved, or honored love, and the act of referring to one as a beloved is meant to increase the bond. The importance of breath comes into play when you understand what the breath does for your body. Breathing helps free emotions and sends life giving oxygen to your cells. It also helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Breath is used to control sexual cycles of arousal and climax. For those who are more adept at tantric love making they are able to control the level of stimulation given. Men along with women can have multiple orgasms and control their need to ejaculate. Breath also helps manage distractions and maintain connectedness. Often times what hinders the sexual experience is a fullness of the mind. By focusing on the breath, you can learn to stay present and empty your mind so as not to experience anxieties that hinder connection.
The most common applications of tantric sex found today is the use of it as sexual therapy. It has been picked to pieces and concepts which are originally tantric can be found in other therapeutic methods. It is renowned for its ability to bring couples together and reignite sexual desire. Workshops are held for groups, there is also private in home sessions and videos for those who are more discreet. Much literature can be found on the subject which both describes method and history of tantra. The original Vedic and Buddhist practices however, are shrouded in secrecy because of their spiritual significance to their culture. Even though we may not have access to their resources of knowledge we do have a fundamental understanding that can contribute to a healthier view of intimacy.