If you're at all into spirituality, meditation or yoga, chances are you've heard of Tantra.
Many people are now turning to Tantra as a lifestyle practice. But beyond Tantra being a codeword for some kind of sexual marathon that Sting jokingly claimed to enjoy, what exactly is it?
More importantly, is it something that's within reach for you to enjoy, and can it help you grow in some way?
At its essence, Tantra is a practice that combines movement, breath, meditation and sound, to assist the Chakra energy system within the body to open. This opening allows dormant energy, known as Kundalini, to move up from the pelvis, along the spine. The movement of this life-force energy can help you to heal by loosening constrictions within the body that have developed over a lifetime. The expansion of the energy body also increases sensation, clairvoyance and one's ability to connect with others.
For many people, it's this expanded ability to connect with a partner that draws them to Tantra. But aside from the obvious benefits of improving your sex life, Tantra practices can also expand the energy body toward its true purpose — your true purpose. All in all, it feels good to practice Tantra and the side benefit of ecstatic orgasms (by yourself or with a partner) keep people coming back for more.
But you don't really jump straight to the ecstatic orgasms when you begin a Tantra practice, and that's OK. Every new skill starts small, with the basics! The gentle movement and breathing techniques of Qigong (which I teach my Tantra students to balance their energy), and Tantra yoga (which raises energy) are enjoyable in their own right, as you journey down the Tantric path.
Even more basic (and far easier to learn from reading an article) are meditations that guide you to move energy up and down the spine and expand the energy centers of your body. With a regular practice of only five minutes each day, gradually adding time as you progress, Tantra becomes available to all physical abilities. Most people who want to, can find time to fit this into their daily routine.
Below is a Tantric meditation that raises energy and invites the energy centers along the spine to open. Even if you're not currently in an intimate relationship with anyone other than yourself, these meditations offer tangible benefits.
Third Eye Meditation
Known as a Spinal Meditation in Ipsalu Kriya Yoga, this meditation technique opens the Crown Chakra (top of the head) and the Third Eye Chakra (middle of the forehead) to receive divine energy. It also activates a circuit of energy up and down the spine, opening awareness to the heavens, while maintaining a connection to the Earth.
Come into a comfortable seated position. Feel your sit bones at the base of your pelvis and your legs touching the cushion and floor below you. If sitting in a chair, feel your feet on the floor.
Inhale and lengthen your spine. Imagine a string is pulling the top of your head toward the sky. Exhale and reach your tailbone toward the Earth, while maintaining that length in your spine. You can imagine your tailbone is a taproot connecting with the heart of the Earth. Keep your chin parallel to the floor. Continue to breathe easily and naturally.
Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth and imagine a golden ball in front of just above your eyebrows, in the center of your forehead (your third eye). Inhale through your nose, roll the ball over the top of your head (crown), down the spine to your tailbone, chanting the word "hung" in your mind.
Exhale through your nose, rolling the ball back up the spine, over your head to your forehead (third eye), and chant "sau" (sounds like "saw") on inhalation.
This chant means, "I am that" or "I am."
By chanting this mantra you are affirming your True Self as one with the Earth and the Divine.
Start by doing this practice for five minutes daily and add more time each time you sit, building up to 20 minutes each day.
Note that it is important to balance a Kundalini activating practice with a grounded practice. An imbalance of Kundalini may make you lightheaded or dizzy, too energized, talkative or prone to insomnia. Simple activities such as restorative yoga, receiving massage, walks in nature, weight training, or eating foods such as root vegetables and oily foods like avocados and olives can help.
While it may be tempting to stay in a raised Kundalini state, it can be very difficult to function while living in the ethers. If you notice you feel energetically out of balance, return to activities and practices that ground you, and seek assistance if necessary. Consulting an experienced Tantra educator for support is important if you have difficulty grounding yourself.
Should you wish to use meditation as a way into sacred sexuality practices with a partner, I highly recommend working with a trained and experienced Tantra teacher — and always remain deeply connected to yourself.