A quote from Osho.
“Tantra says: Existence is an orgasm, an eternal orgasm going on and on and on. It is forever and forever an orgasm, an ecstasy.”
When the word tantra comes to mind, what may pop up are images of red silk sheets, ylang ylang massage oil, and a few hours at hand to unleash your deepest carnal fantasies. But that’s not what tantra is.
Tantra is not about being flamboyantly sexual, or tantalizing a lover to the point of exhaustion. Elements of sexuality do emerge through the tantric experience, but it shouldn’t be the focus. In essence, tantra is a practice for transcending the root, material experience towards an existential state of bliss and harmony.
It can be argued that tantra has been referenced since pre-vedic times, and then mentioned for the first time in the Rigveda. Actual practices and formulations of what make up tantra didn’t form until sometime between 600 and 800 AD. Even so, today, it is still rather vague. This vagueness, however, is not in terms of defining tantra, but in the details of what make up tantra. The practice of tantra can comprise of various different methods for which to cultivate this root energy and allow it to filter into other parts of your life.
When you think about it in terms of your energy body, or your chakras, your root or base energy is the seat of your fundamental needs. Physically, it’s located in your seat. The next chakra up is your sacral chakra, or the seat of your creation. Sexual energy that stems from these two energy regions, being your basic needs and your creation, can easily be expelled and released from the body through ejaculation. Tantric philosophy claims that this root-base creative energy can be powerfully transformative if you hold it in and allow it to travel up through your other chakras. Mapping it out, this energy can travel through to your solar plexus (the seat of self-knowledge, confidence, and “I Can”), then to your heart (the seat of compassion, understanding, and love), then to your throat (the seat of communication, listening, and expressing creativity), then to your third eye (the seat of your intuition and regulation of your cycles), then finally to the crown of your head (the energy region that allows you to experience oneness and connection with everything).
As you can imagine, the best way for this root and creative energy to be evoked is through sex, hence the strong correlation between tantra and love making. But that’s just where it begins. As this energy is held in the body and not released immediately through ejaculation, it can travel up through the energy body and influence other aspects of your life. Don’t worry though, running away from the finish line is not a requirement of effective tantra work. The experience of cultivating and moving this energy can include a proper finish after some time spent with the practice.
An example can be of two lovers engaging in tantric love-making and cultivating this root energy through the technique of tantric touch. This energy has a very strong charge from the physical and sensual experience. Usually, this charge would be diffused quickly upon ejaculation. What tantra aims to do is harness this charge and transfer it through the energy body over a period of a few hours. After a tantric session, something that could happen is a boost in confidence, or an opening of the heart, or a looming creative idea may become clear and ripe with inspiration. The cultivation and pouring this energy into other energy regions of the body is the art of tantra.
With that in mind, you might see how the practice of tantra is not just a physical practice between two lovers, but a personal and deeply spiritual practice with yourself. While cultivating that root/creative/sexual energy with your lover can be a beautiful act, it is not what defines tantra.
Here are few points to keep in mind if tantra is something you’d like to further explore:
First, enjoy your physical body. Experience it as your home. Without an awareness and love of your physical experience, your cultivation of this root energy may be blocked. Physical yoga practice is a great way to connect with and understand your physical form.
Purify the body, both energetically and physically. Continue to explore yourself, what you’re made of, and how your system operates. This exploration of the self can help to work out kinks and let go of old wounds so that the energy you cultivate can have a clear path to positively influence other aspects of your life.
The idea of nonduality. See the material of the body and the other realms of the spirit as holding the same weight. One is not higher or lower than the other. Both can be experienced as one thing, each with its own contribution to the experience of existence.
See sex as a way to appreciate the body and life. Allow the idea of it being a “means to an end,” or of it being an act that leads to ejaculation, to be put aside. Experience sex as a devotion to this union of the physical and energetic bodies.
From all of us at YogaHub, have a Happy Valentine’s Day.