The marriage of sex and spirituality is a natural union that has its roots in ancient cultures all over the world. From the 5000 year-old study of sensual Tantra in India and the sexual practices of Taoist China, sex has had mystical significance for millennia. Both cultures studied techniques to enhance sexual pleasure and used sex as a means to enter higher states of awareness.
When beginning a discussion of Tantra with someone, I like to ask what that person’s perception of Tantra is. The answers are varied of course:
All correct. Well, except for Sting. While his comments about having all-night sex sessions with his wife have done much to bring Tantra into mainstream awareness, he has since admitted he was exaggerating.
Which isn’t to say it can’t be done.
The word Tantra comes from Sanskrit, meaning “to weave and expand.” All of the the varied parts of ourselves are allowed to come together: madonna, whore; child, adult; dominant, submissive; masculine, feminine and form an integrated whole. As we unfold into the deepest expression of who we are, we stretch out, become larger and fill more space. At its core, this is the Tantric path. I use the word Tantra loosely to cover the study of elevated sex and most of the principles I reference come from the Taoist sexual philosophy.
Tantric and Taoist study consider sexual energy to be extremely potent—the most powerful energy on the planet—and that consciously channeled, it can be used for amazing things. I’ve studied martial arts and yoga for years. The awareness and manipulation of energy has always fascinated me. Tantra is an extension of these studies: it’s sexual kung fu. In the conscious direction of sexual energy, one can revitalize physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. Ancient Taoist physicians prescribed certain sexual positions to cure different ailments. It’s the best acupressure treatment going. Instead of declining sex when feeling tired, try having sex instead. It will energize you.
Moving and channeling sexual energy enables you to clear blockages where your energy has been stagnant, possibly causing dysfunction and disease. Once you’ve cleared those, you have that energy available to revitalize organs, meridians and your brain.
One of the most commonly understood facets of Tantra is the focus on the journey. Most people have a very goal-oriented view of sex: orgasm is the be-all and end-all and the gauge of how good the encounter was. In Tantra, the pleasure is in the prolonging. Orgasm is amplified tenfold: you feel it in your entire body, not just your genitals; and the sensations of ecstasy can last for hours. Take this even further with the idea that your sexual simmer ought to extend out of the bedroom and into your everyday life. Your bodies and feelings can always be humming at a slight throb of desire, of wanting each other, of being sensually open and ready.
Plus, I love marathon sex. I love to have sex for hours. And hours. I love the connecting, I love the endurance and I love the high I get from it. I seek out activities that challenge my tenacity: I weight train, I run, I climb mountains. I love the feeling of being about to collapse and then somehow reaching inside of myself to find more strength. My sexual practice helps build that in me.
Elaborating on the idea of “weaving,” is the perpetual “yes.” Loving, accepting and revealing the deepest parts of yourself and offering that same gift to your partner is powerful medicine. I know for myself, that a pre-condition to any sensual exploration is sexual permissiveness. For me to feel safe and open up, I need for my lovers to be sexually fearless. When we both come from a place without judgment, the most profound healing, connecting and growth happens. The bedroom becomes a microcosm. In that arena, where I’m free to explore and occupy all the different and wild parts of myself, I take that outside of our intimate space with me: I act without thinking (a good thing) and I live from a place of non-censoring.
There are many dimensions to Tantra—from the conscious channeling of sexual energy, to a focus on authenticity, depth and the celebration of no-judgment. Integrating elements from ancient sexual traditions can only improve the quality of your sex and connection.