Tantra, Sacred Eros, Sexual Healing Definitions
By Francesca Gentille
Tantra - An Eastern Spiritual Path dedicated to the Loving and Unconditional Acceptance of All that is. Instead of subjugating the body or rising above it, Tantra embraces the learning of the embodied experience (in all its flavors) to blast the heart wide open to compassion and nonduality.
Buddhist Tantra contains “White” practices (clear, non-sexual, visualizations, breath work, mantras/chanting, mudras/hand-body postures, yantras/pictures). It is founded upon the practice of the compassionate path. It practices releasing judgmentalism and duality.
Hindu Tantra can be “White.” It can also include “Pink” practices (erotic breath and touching), red (genital intercourse), “Black “ practices (everything in life). The GOAL is union with The Divine ALL. In India today practicing Tantra is considered a dangerous path because, if not done well, can lead to addiction and excess.
Kama Sutra means teachings (sutra) of love (kama). It is a compilation of physical, romantic, hands on, body on, relationship, conversational and sex practices designed to connect, ignite and harmonize the sex life of the couple. It is not Tantra. However, it also comes from India.
Western or American Neo-Tantra - A Western Eclectic Spiritual Path dedicated to opening the heart, connecting the chakra/energy centers and enhancing lovemaking. Neo-Tantra uses some traditional Eastern Tantric exercises and combines them with whatever other traditions and teachings the instructor has to offer. It embraces and glorifies the embodied experience. The GOAL is a more loving, connective, juicier experience with one's love(rs).
Sacred Sexuality - A World Wide concept. Most countries and religions have some version of Sacred Sexuality as a tradition. Christianity, Judaism, Islam all have sacred sexual traditions if you know where to look. Buddhist Tantra is one example of a Sacred Sexual Tradition within a religion.
There are two main perspectives on Sacred Sexuality:
- All Sex Is Inherently Sacred.
- Sex is Sacred When Paired With Conscious Intent toward healing, love, connecting with the Divine (etcetera.)
Sex Magick - Uses the energy available in arousal and sex to focus on attaining one's goals. This can be anything from a new car, to personal healing, to world peace.
Health and Sexual Health - Eastern Medicine is based on a Yin/Yang concept of energy, flow, and balance. When the energy is stuck or imbalanced we become dis-eased. In Eastern Medicine it was believed that we are meant to be healthy. It is the Doctor’s job to keep us healthy not to intervene in dis-ease. If there is dis-ease, the Dr has already failed in his/her duty.
Until the last few hundred years sexuality was a major focus of keeping the body (and its energy system) in balance and flow. Intricate systems of sexual knowledge were created including body postures/positions for sex (that enhance particular types of energetic flow), breathing techniques, and visualization techniques. Many of these can still be found in Taoist Sexual Trainings.
Sexual Healing - Most people in our western culture carry some amount of sexual wounding and emotional wounding from being raised in a culture, family and/or religion that is sex negative, body negative, sex superficial, emotionally suppressing, anti-aging, and body dominating culture. Many of us also carry some amount of sexual wounding from rejections, denigrations, inappropriate physical touch, as well as the crossing of our own boundaries to be liked, or to receive an illusion of love.
Sexual Healing Work uses workshops, visualizations, massage, dialogue, sensuality and sexuality to bring past wounds to consciousness, face them, release them and/or reprogram them.
Sexual Healing can be undertaken through:
- Psychotherapy (Counseling, Coaching),
- Energy Work (Reiki, Polarity Therapy etc),
- Somatic Therapy (Dance Therapies, Movement Therapies, Touch & Massage Therapies, EMDR, Somatic Experiencing, Therapeutic Tantra, Therapeutic BDSM etc)
- Ontological Work (Being),
- Ritual/Magic/Prayer (with or without Medicine Plants)
- Emotional Release Work,
- Therapeutic Role Play (Gestalt, Inner Voice Dialogue, Drama Therapy, Family Constellations, Jungian Psychotherapy, Shamanic Soul Coaching, Shamanic Sensual Healing etc)
- Sexuality, and Sacred Sexuality Workshops
Health, Sexual Enthusiasm, and Being Spiritually Advance: I find there is confusion, or collapsing, between health, sexual enthusiasm, and spirituality. There is an assumption that if one is healthy, enjoying lots of sex, and filled with chi, this automatically means that one is more spiritually advanced.
There is a similar confusion with the Christian perspective that monetary success means that one is spiritually developed. That is to say if someone became financially successful they were obviously spiritually advanced and favored by God.
While low chi, lack of sex, and/or depleted finances can indicate a wound or stuck place in our energy system, the converse does not necessarily imply greater enlightenment. It is possible to have strong chi, lots of sex, and be an energy vampire, sex addict or something else. It is possible to have financial success and be a power hungry dominator.
This is not to say that financial or sexual abundance equates with dysfunction.
Sexual Vibrancy VS Sexual Compulsivity - In India Tantra is considered a risky path because it is easy for the human body to get captured in a web of addiction to pleasure and avoidance of pain. In Neo-Tantra this can also be the case.
While a vibrant sexuality and libido, balanced with consciosness, and internal choice is considered healthy, it is easy for the primal brain to become allured into thinking more pleasure is better. There are predators, addicts, and manipulators within the Neo Tantra community (as participants as well as teachers) along with truly wonderful people.
Use caution when choosing where and with whom to participate.
The Gift of Conscious Sexuality - I find that intentionally focusing on breath work, visualizations and bodywork during sexuality with my beloved brings about greater energy, and physical well-being. This is especially true when it is approached with a gentle compassionate heart, integrity and truth.
Additive Relationship Practices include Compassionate Boundaries, Radical Honesty, Holistic Fitness, and Healthful Eating.
NOTE: Tantric Texts say that it takes a minimum of 30 - 45 minutes of breath work, arousal, foreplay and/or intercourse to start truly re-charging our internal batteries and aligning and energizing our systems.
Many videos, books and courses teach methods to prolong high states of arousal without ejaculation and/or with multiple energy orgasms for all genders.
- The Idiots Guide to Tantric Sex by Dr Judy Kuriansky
- Western Tantra by Marc Allen
- The World of Tantra by Benoytosh Bhattacharyya
- Spiritual Sex: Secrets of Tantra from the Ice Age to the New Millenium by Nik Douglas
- Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving by Charles and Caroline Muir
Basic Principles of Western Tantra
By Francesca Gentille
The Sanskrit root of the word Tantra means to weave and to expand. The Tantric perspective is that all of life is sacred including sexuality & the body. Through slowing down, being fully present in each moment, and practicing compassion we achieve a sense of blissful oneness with all things.
Eastern Tantra is a spiritual path that can include meditation, chanting, ritual, service, adoration of Deity, body postures, hand postures, and gazing at sacred images. Only a small part of Eastern Tantra would involve what we think of as sex. The head of the Buddhist Tantric Order is the Dalai Lama.
Western Tantra has its main focus on enhancing intimacy & sexual bliss. It uses some of the skills and techniques of Eastern Tantra to achieve emotional & sexual intimacy & bliss.
You could put all these into 1 session, or Scene, OR you can parse them into several sessions having one practice build into the other.
It is important to know that you don’t need to leave your religion to study Tantra. The practices have sound foundations on the neurobiology of intimacy.
Basic Western Tantra Principles & Practices:
Timeless Presence: In Tantra, we practice slowing down, and letting go of agenda or being goal-driven. Our intentions can be for things like more love, greater intimacy, greater wholeness, enhance well being. They are qualitative rather than quantitative.
A sense of Timeless Presence is enhanced or supported by Eye Gazing with compassion and Expanded Breathing. We learn to clear the mind and open the heart to THIS moment of precious connection.
Intention: Tantra (and some quantum physicists believe) that energy follows intention. Where put our focus, becomes more alive. Where we put our attention, we create. In Tantra, we practice consciously choosing our intentions and sharing them with our partner prior to our times of intimacy. (Note: Times of intimacy may or may not include genital touch and/or orgasm/ejaculation)
Energy: In Tantra, we acknowledge that we feel the energy and that we are a system of energy. With this recognition, we learn to move the flow of energy in our bodies and in one another. We experience the joy of merging and circulating energy together. We can cultivate the aliveness of our energy to the point where we have Energy Orgasms, Full-Body Orgasms (without physical ejaculation or orgasm). These are called Kriyas.
We guide and build energy through
- Through touch
- Through thought
- Through visualization
- Through breath
- Through movement
Eye Gazing with Compassion & Seeing the Divine: In Tantra, we support that the eyes are the window to the soul. Eye gazing with compassion literally aligns our mirror neurons releases serotonin and enhances our sense of well being. In Tantra, we also practice seeing the Beloved as divine, sacred, precious. There are many methods of eye gazing meditation from the Buddhist or Hindu spiritual systems. Here is a simple practice.
Breath: In Tantra, breath is life, spirit, and it nourishes our body. It is shared with the beloved. Breath is the fuel for energy. As we play with and experiment with breath we discover new flavors and texture of energy, arousal, and intimacy. There are pheromone receptors just above the lip. When we get close and breathe we share pheromones in ways that ignite us.
Once we have the basic keys of Tantric Intimacy we can begin to move even more energy, experience more energy orgasms, build up more energy, increase pleasure and even focus this enhanced energy toward our prayer. Using the build-up of erotic energy toward prayer is Sex Magic.
We can build up energy through one or a combination of:
- Undulation (rocking the pelvis and letting the wave move up through the body)
- Pumping pc muscles (the muscles you use to stop urination)
- Dance (especially free form flowing dance)
- Genital touch and/or intercourse