There is quite a bit of confusion surrounding Tantra.
The American obsession with all things sexual (not our fault, really), has led to interest in Tantric practices as well as the sexual aspects of Taoism. The general populace remains largely ignorant around these issues. This is due to both a lack of information, and misinformation.
A few of the typical confusions involving Tantric Yoga are as follows:
- Kama Sutra confusion: If you and your significant other have had a drink, are feeling a bit adventurous, and are curious just how flexible you really are… the Kama Sutra can make for an interesting evening. The actual Kama Sutra is a lot more than the big book of positions… it has more text than pictures (who thought that would sell?). It discusses sexuality on many different levels, including applications for persuasion/influence. It has some interesting parts, but is not a book I would recommend for learning tantric yoga or sacred sexuality. There are some good suggestions for new ways to be physically intimate and playful with your lover… but why not get one of the newer books with pictures…;^)
- Sex for hours: Tantric yoga is not about having hours and hours of sex. People who have never even heard of tantric yoga occasionally have sex for hours. Before I had heard of tantric yoga, with the right amount of alcohol, I could have hours of sex. Hours of sex is not necessarily a good thing! That is one option for a practitioner of tantric yoga… and many of the exercises can teach you how to have and enjoy a sexual experience that lasts for an extended period of time… however, sexuality is just one aspect of tantric yoga, and extended sexual intimacy is just one aspect of sexuality… the quality of an experience is a much larger issue than the length of an experience.
- it’s all about sex: Tantric Yoga is a doorway into a world of powerful sensory experience. It is a chance to willfully look at the world through a different lens. Sexual experience is very powerful, and is a very deep seated part of who we are to begin with… so the use of sexuality in tantric yoga, or any practice of mind-body awareness, can be a powerful catalyst that not only brings results much faster, but also allows you to connect more deeply with your beloved at the same time! If you don’t expand the power and connection of sexuality and bliss to other aspects of your life, though… you are seriously missing out!
Tantra, like much of Yoga, is about getting into deeper touch with yourself, and through yourself, the rest of the world.
Now that we’ve gotten past a few misunderstandings, how can we begin to tap into tantric ecstasy? How can you quickly increase your pleasure, sexual or otherwise?
Tantric Yoga Exercise #1:
Accept yourself… all of yourself!
Love you. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t expect anybody else to love you. Love every aspect of yourself… mind, body, spirit, and/or any other parts you perceive. Accept. Love.
Those dark aspects of your personality (your shadow) are blessings! Only when you love and accept them will they begin to let go of their influence… As Carl Jung said, “That which you resist, persists!”
Love your imperfections… particularly love your physical imperfections… the more you love them, the more and more others will accept them, and the less you will care about those who don’t.
The history of business is filled with stories of people who took a perceived disadvantage and leveraged it into tremendous financial advantage. What if you could perceive the advantage in every disadvantage?
When you really begin to appreciate yourself, you will open infinite doorways into love and pleasure… sex is only one of them…
To give you a bit more finite practice for Exercise 1:
- notice what it’s like when you really love someone or something… what do you feel? What do you see (internally and externally)? What do you hear (internally and externally)?
- notice that it is your experience… the stimulus can’t cause it without you there (your favorite book, your significant other, your closest family member, you favorite past-time… what or whomever does not ‘hold the magic’… it just triggers the process within you… when you realize this deeply, you will be able to start triggering your own processes… love, happiness, bliss)
- begin to bring that experience of love into more situations
- begin to direct that experience of love toward yourself all the time
My own example:
- When I experience ‘love’, I notice that I feel a wave of warmth wash up my body into my face. I usually feel a smile spread across my face. I usually hear myself make a sound along the lines of “Mmmmmmm”… usually internally but occasionally externally. I sometimes see myself, or someone close to me smiling. Sometimes I will just see a color.
- These things usually occur without prompting when I’m around my lady, when I meditate, when I work on my blog, when I’m with friends, and sometimes when I practice Karate. I’ve learned that (with practice) I can recreate these sights, sounds, and feelings without the stimulus of any of the previously mentioned people/events.
- When I bring these sights, sounds, and feelings into a new situation, it changes the situation. I used to really hate dancing (needed lots of alcohol)… now that I bring in some of the same sensory data (sights, sounds, feelings) into the experience, and/or focus on the fact that I’m doing it with/around people I care about… suddenly dancing is okay… I don’t mind doing it any more (just takes a little bit of alcohol…;^)
- Now it becomes easier for me to see the pictures, make the sounds, and feel these feelings more and more and more in any environment… in fact the environment really never changes… the environment is you! Or as the Buddhists say:
Wherever you go, there you are!
This is an incredibly powerful practice! When you take it with you, it becomes contagious in your life, and the lives of those you touch!
Taoist Yoga Exercise #2:
Full Body Face Dancing
- Look up the Face Dancing exercise. Practice a few times.
- Now get a full length mirror, and do the exercise nude. Scan your body from head to toe. Bring your attention to the areas associated with the Chakras. Do this once with focused vision, and once with peripheral vision (and notice any subtle differences).
- Were there any differences this time around? If there are, this is okay (very typical)… but next time see if you can bring the normal face dancing state into your nude face dancing (if you can describe any of this as normal…;^)
Take some time to practice these exercises, and we’ll cover some more ground in the next post in this series.
P.S. Got a minute? Leave a comment… let me know what you think!