I ran across this article in the Daily Camera – an interesting look at Tantric practice that highlights its deep spiritual nature. I grew up in a very conservative religion, though luckily, I learned that sexuality is an extremely sacred and beautiful practice with the ability to connect us with the divine. Personally, I don’t see the core aspects of Tantra as incongruent with anything that I grew up – though if you read the comments at the Daily Camera website, you’ll see a few disagreements.
I’ve reprinted the article below – but for the responses, as well as further resources, definitely go to the Camera.
Sacred sexuality: Some say sex may be the key to spiritual enlightenment and unity
“We wondered how we could go deeper, how to take what we already had, which was wonderful … and go deeper with the intimacy, love and connection,” Beck says.
They weren’t trying to fix a problem in their relationship, although some couples are when they head this route.
Beck and Gatz wanted to learn about tantric lovemaking.
Despite the misconceptions around the word “tantra,” the Boulder couple wasn’t seeking crazy new kama sutra positions, a sex club or hot and steamy demonstrations from tantric teachers. That’s not tantra, they say.
For Beck and Gatz, it was about “sacred sexuality.” That is, acknowledging the divine element of sex and connecting with their sexual chakras. Beck says she felt her sexuality, and she felt her heart, but the two were not fused together.
“This was the piece that was missing,” she says.
After a three-day workshop, the couple say they fell more in love than ever before and became so inspired they decided to become certified tantric educators themselves. Five-and-a-half years later, Beck and Gatz teach sacred sexuality workshops through Tantric Sacred Journeys and are among a growing group of local tantra advocates and experts.
Boulder County is hands-down Colorado’s hot spot for tantra, with regular workshops and at least a dozen educators who’ve made a business out of it. The third Thursday of every month, Tantric Sacred Journeys co-hosts a “Puja” devotional circle to “celebrate the divine presence in all of us” (read: learn the principles of tantra). Others offer classes specifically for women, private sessions for couples — and individuals (you don’t need a partner to practice tantra) — and group workshops for lovers.
Today Beck and Gatz will run a tantra intro course for couples and singles. Participants will learn about the importance of breath, meditation and how to build connections. The event is fully clothed and considered sacred.
Boulder’s sexual educators’ guild boasts about 20 members. Some of the nation’s big-name tantra experts, such as Caroline and Charles Muir, have Boulder ties. In 1978 the Muirs founded the Source School of Tantra Yoga, which certifies teachers, organizes weeklong vacation seminars in Hawaii and teaches the most popular and successful tantra seminars in the country. The workshops were the basis for two Hollywood movies, “Bliss” and “The Best Ever.”
Many local teachers are also members of the national Association of Sexual Energy Professionals, which is holding its third conference this month.
Members say sacred sexuality is a growing movement, as more people yearn for “something more than the jaded world view of sexuality promoted by the advertising and entertainment industries,” in the words of one Golden-based tantric educator who goes by the name Jane. She recently released an educational DVD on the sacred ceremony of lovemaking.
What is tantric sex?
There are various definitions of the word “tantra,” just as there are as many different ways of practicing it.
Some say it means “to weave.”
Suzie Heumann, with the Web site www.tantra.com, says it means the “direct experience of the Divine.”
Beck says “tantra” comes from the ancient Sanskrit word for “expansion through awareness.” As she defines it, tantric sex is a spiritual path that uses breath, sounds, movements and symbols to quiet the mind and activate sexual energy. It can be used for pleasure, enlightenment, connection and sexual healing.
The practice teaches men to raise their sexual energy upward, into their stomach, heart and throat, which can delay ejaculation and allow more pleasure throughout the entire body.
Women are taught how to feel their own power, magic and wisdom and how to embrace their sexual energy, rather than push it away, as society often teaches.
“We’re told it’s not ladylike, good or healthy,” Beck says. “Instead, let’s embrace our sexual energy and utilize it for the good of us, our family, home, community and world. Let’s take this sexual energy and utilize it to manifest peace and love.”
When practiced alone, tantra helps awaken the “essence of your being,” she says. And when shared with someone else, the belief is tantra helps expand this love beyond you to share with your partner, and ultimately, the universe.
The sacred side of sex
Some people look to tantric sex because they’re bored with sex, want to know how to attract a meaningful relationship, want to improve a current relationship or are trying to heal past relationship or sexual wounds; things from the past can block your ability to be intimate, instructors say. The hang-up might be abandonment, loss, sexual assault, molestation or feelings of unworthiness.
“Intentional” breathing, massage, making sounds and setting intentions in a safe atmosphere can help open up these blockages. In sacred sexuality, they call it “moving energy” through your chakra system to essentially clear out the injuries to open a channel to your spirit, to connect you with a higher power.
Hence the term “sacred sexuality.”
Judith Davis, of Boulder, teaches sacred sexuality as a way of reclaiming the divine nature of our bodies as a path to God.
She calls it an extension of the mind-body connection, and the idea that we create our own realities. In other words, we know you can train your mind to separate the body from physical pain, or at least minimize it. Mind over matter.
So the flip side must also be true, Davis says. You can train your body to make something true for your mind, as well. Physical pleasure can heal you internally, she says. Tantra teaches how to “move” your orgasmic energy into different parts of the body that need healing, from a hurt foot to a broken heart. Literally, sexual healing. And pleasure, specifically, makes you focus on the present moment.
Sexual energy is the life force, Davis says, and it affects your soul, or “that which is more than the body and mind separate. The sum of the parts is greater,” she says. “That’s what I mean by a path to God.”
And not in a denominational or religious sense. She says there are sacred sexual paths in every major world religion. This Puritan-based society just suppresses it.
“This is my god,” Davis says. “My god or goddess. That which is divine in everything.”
Jade Beaty, of Longmont, has been studying tantra since 2000. She says the main purpose of sex is spiritual — “What we all seek through religion, without the dogma. It’s a direct experience of God through sex.”
Our society values the mind more than emotions and the body, which can cut off access to so much wisdom of the body, she says. Think about the definition “to weave.” Tantra teaches a level of sexual intimacy where the bodies merge into one, healing the illusion of duality — especially the masculine and feminine opposition, Beaty says.
“You feel like there’s only one of you. It’s trippy. It’s wonderful,” she says. “It starts to help you gain a world view about connectedness, about unity. And that’s just a wonderful way to live.”
The sacred sexuality teacher, Jane, says you can do this work on an individual, as well, by balancing your left side (the “yin,” feminine or receptive) with your right (the “yang,” masculine or releasing). She specializes on “polarity body work,” helping people accept certain affirmations (such as “I am beautiful”) while releasing other thoughts (such as shame and guilt).
The pleasure point
You can’t leave out the physical benefits of tantric sex — a major selling point.
Beaty remembers her first “full-body orgasm.” She says it felt like she entered into an “outwardly, pulsating expansion of everything that exists for about 20 minutes; every cell in my body was alive.”
This so-called Kundalini Awakening, or gift of grace, was acquired through techniques of breath, intention, movement of the body and a “sacred spot massage.” That would be the G-spot, which she says stands for “goddess,” not Gräfenberg.
Judith Davis says when she first attended a conscious-loving seminar with her then-husband, it was mind-blowing. She learned that women have the ability to ejaculate, and men have the ability not to — and to have multiple orgasms (not to be mistaken with multiple ejaculations).
“I learned things in my late 30s that I couldn’t believe I had never been told, things your mother should have told you,” Davis says.
But tantra is not about orgasms or about having sex for 10 hours straight, as some celebrities have bragged (ahem, Sting). In fact, tantra aims to remove the pressure of orgasms and performance.
Davis says it transforms the entire concept of sex.
“You wake up. You don’t make love with your eyes closed,” literally or figuratively, she says. “From that place, you have to relearn how to feel again, from that awake place. And that is how the body starts to connect with the spirit.”
Contact Camera Staff Writer Aimee Heckel at 303-473-1359 or firstname.lastname@example.org.