What is Tantra really?

Couple Pareja Paar Tantra

Even though Tantra has gained extreme popularity, most do not have an understanding of what it is about. I have come across so many misperceptions when I tell people that I am a Tantra masseuses and teacher. Most think it is all about sex, orgies, Kamasutra poses or even black magic. However, as commonly believed Tantra does not equal sex teachings. So what is it really and why did it get diminished to the sexual methods?

There are many ways of describing Tantra and every tradition, every teacher, every student has probably a different explanation. The approximately 5,000 years old philosophy of Tantra comes from India and spread across Asia.

The meaning of the word Tantra

You can find various interpretations about the word Tantra which comes form the Sanskrit language. The verbal root “Tan” can mean “weave, expand, stretch, warp, extend” and “tra” which signifies “liberate, rescue”. This gives quite some room for interpretations ranging from an instrument to expand our level of consciousness to the learnings of Tantra which teach us that we are all interconnected.

The philosophical definition

A human being is considered part of a great universe. A part of the unit in which nothing is rejected or marginalised as everything is divine. We are the space which contains everything and duality (positiv – negativ, yin – yang, light – darkness, material – energy, female – male, expansion – in…..) is seen as something necessary.
It is about experiencing, accepting, loving, living in unity with oneself and unconditional love, in the here and now without moral evaluations, discovering our own duality and loving your whole being (body, mind, heart and spirit).

In short you could maybe name it a spiritual technique to study the inner-universe, a way to evolve and liberate yourself. And with strict and advanced practices even the path for spiritual illumination (moksha) and salvation from reincarnation is possible.

Does this sound like made for hardcore practitioners? Tantra actually offers many tools and techniques for anyone to practice self-development and all ordinary activities can be made sacred. It is non-dogmatic, highly ritualistic and deeply devotional. The techniques primarily focus on the cultivation and build-up of kundalini energy.

Tantra is one of the many Yoga paths

Yoga means literally union and refers to union between body, mind and spirit, as well as between the individual self and universal consciousness. Yoga embarks different paths with its unique characteristics and functions, which at times also overlap. In the series “Exploring the Yogic Paths” on Gaia.com you can learn all about each of them in detail.

Karma Yoga: The path of action. A selfless service to others as an act of sacrifice to the divine without ever seeking the financial, social or spiritual fruits from it.

Jnana Yoga: The path of knowledge and wisdom to unite with the divine through intelligence and contemplative meditation on the core question: “Who am I?”

Bhakti Yoga: The path of devotion by eliminating the common feeling of being separated from one each other. Rituals, dance and mantras are used to increase emotions like affection, devotion and love towards the divine in all of creation.

Hatha Yoga: The most known and practiced form of yoga which includes Asanas (yoga postures), Pranayamas (breathing exercises),Bandhas (muscular locks), Shatkriyas (internal cleansing processes) and mudras (gestures & body positions). A physical and mental yoga designed to prepare the body and mind.

Raja Yoga: The path of the royal yoga has its focal point on meditation. A discipline to energise the boy and the mind based on the “Eight limbs of Yoga” by Patanjali. Hatha Yoga, prepares the body of the practitioner to realise the subtler realms of Raja Yoga successfully.

Kriya Yoga: Kriya is an advanced Raja Yoga technique of pranayama (life-energy control). Kriya reinforces and revitalizes subtle currents of life energy (prana) in the spine and brain.

Nada Yoga: The path of the sound. The process of the union of the individual mind with cosmic consciousness through the flow of sounds.

Kundalini Yoga: The path of the energy. It is a form of yoga based on different yoga paths that involves chanting, singing, breathing exercises, and repetitive poses. Its purpose is to activate the Kundalini energy located at the base of the spine.

Tantra yoga: Known as the path of rituals, Tantra Yoga is blending and weaving together elements of the above described yoga paths and combing them with aspects of human knowledge like astrology, numerology, Ayurveda, geometry, etc. The Tantric paths are divided into two:

The “right hand path” (Dakshina Marga), which uses the practice of asanas, pranayama and meditations to the highest states of consciousness and complete liberation. The “left hand path” (Vama Marga) includes additionally consecrated sexuality. In such tantric exercises the Kundalini energy, the most powerful life-creating energy, is being controlled and moved upwards bringing it to the culmination point at the crown of the head to unite with divinity, reach elevated states of consciousness and even Samadhi (a state of meditative ecstasy). The body is considered a living temple, not a mere physical vehicle of the spirit. And the sexual energy is a divine energy which brings spiritual transformation. This divine energy is actually called Shakti, The Divine Feminine Principle, Mother Nature, Divine Mother. And consciousness is Shiva, the Divine Masculine Principle, Heavens, Spirit. Each woman and each man has a certain proportion of each energy. Man and woman are revered as sacred and divine, and they adore each other as embodiments of the Divine Principles. Sexual rites could be imagined as an internal union of deities in a sacred dance to achieve liberation and generating power.

Why are there so many misconceptions?

Unfortunately the sexual rites, which make up only a small proportion of the tantric teachings, were removed by westerns from the devotional and ritualistic tantric culture. Maybe after having suppressed sexuality for too long a kinky excitement was the reason for extracting just this small part or maybe for commercial gain. Sex sells and everything which brings pleasure is easily marketed. Not only westerners are to be blamed. Eastern teachers also have been selling elements of their nation’s culture. At the end everyone is cashing in on our sex-obsessed natures fulfilling our desires, but hopefully consciousness will elevate and tantra will be seen by more and more people for what it really is.

Tantric relationships and sexuality

Talking about misconceptions…. A tantric relationship does not equal an erotic polyamorous relationship and sexual liberty.

A tantric relationship is a journey with a common desire and commitment of both partners to evolve. It is a path of growing in love and consciousness. Both partners encourage each other and help each other to live life more consciously. Living a conscious life can be challenging and our partner can help us calling us out in a loving way when we get sidetracked.

A tantric couple puts the focus on love. Not the romantic, fairy tale love, but accepting and embracing the partner fully and with compassion. Supporting each other, sharing thoughts openly and truthfully. This can be a vulnerable process, which however results in deep intimacy.

Tantra Yoga is about union. Here I don’t refer only to the union of partners, but the union with all aspects of oneself. It is about the acceptance of all our aspects. Learning to love ourselves is an important step on this journey and helps our relationships to blossom.

Learning, applying and experiencing together authentic tantric teachings individually and together with a devotional attitude will help us grow spiritually, gives a common goal and this way we can experience greater development and progress and transform a relationship into a spiritual relationship.

Tantric sexuality is not a race to climax and let go of accumulated energies, but a slower, intimate, conscious, energetic lovemaking in a sacred space prepared with love. In this lovemaking act we are honouring the divine in our partner. Of course, there can be moments of hot, wild passion, however always with a sense of togetherness and union shared with deep eye gazing and using all our senses.

The sexual energy is the most powerful universal energy. It creates life! Tantric yoguis were well aware of the potential of this elemental force. Harnessing this powerful energy can bring us amazing pleasure and orgasms. Through practice we become more sensitive to our energies and our partner’s energies and can bring us a special, profound intimacy and connection which weaves through the whole partnership.

The Tantra massage is a creation of neo-tantra which does not derive from the original tantric teachings. However, it is based on the foundations and ancestral laws of Tantra and the control of energy. This holistic bodywork with a therapeutic nature provides for many a path to higher tantric teachings and expansion of consciousness. If you would like to know more about the tantra massages, please refer to these articles: Tantra Massage for women & Tantra Massage for men 

Are you surprised about the richness of Tantra? Are you ready to embark on a tantric journey? Then get in touch.