In the Western world, when one hears the word ‘Tantra,’ they likely immediately associate it with ritualistic sex or acrobatic sexual positions.
The idea was introduced to Europeans in the early 20th century and gained popularity in the UK and US as interest grew in Eastern religion and philosophy. In the midst of the ‘free love’ movement
of the 1960s, Tantra was re-imagined as a ‘cult of ecstasy,’ and the reality of its benefits became largely overlooked or forgotten. However, Tantra is so much more than this! Tantra is a Hindu and Buddhist philosophy that emerged in India around the 6th century. These originated from the Tantras, written texts that were often written as a dialogue between a god and a goddess.
The word ‘Tantra’ derives from the Sanskrit root ‘tan’, which means to stretch or expand. It literally means, ‘the instrument to expand.’ Tantra teaches that all aspects of the world are infused with power and that everything is interconnected. According to Tantra, everything is divine. Tantra is meant to utilize visualizations, meditation, and yoga to bring us spiritual and physical transformation.
Tantra is a pathaway, not just to sexual ecstasy but to personal healing and fulfillment.
Awakening of the Body
While it’s true that Tantra is not only about sex, it does involve the body on many deep levels. Tantra is about achieving deeper consciousness and self-realization along with interconnectedness between humans. In fact, Tantra calls us to treat our bodies with divine honor, like temples. We are encouraged to examine the foods we eat, the products we use, the practice of yoga, and our interaction with others. In fact, the most tantric aspect of sex is not personal pleasure, but the opportunity to unite with the divine and obtain transformational power. The practice of Tantra as it pertains to sex involves tapping into that interconnectedness between partners, which might include awakening the senses, mediating with your partner, or sustained eye contact and intentional spiritual connection.
Because Tantra means that everything is divine, any human activity can be practiced as Tantra, if it is practiced with mindfulness, gratitude, and connectedness.
A lifestyle of Tantra is ultimately about being present and connected to all life. Tantra brings us awareness of a higher plane of existence, and a consciousness of spirituality that is awakened, observed, and nurtured. Practicing Tantra brings us to a place of greater awareness, mindfulness, and enlightenment. Tantra brings us benefits on physical and spiritual levels and allows us to connect deeply to ourselves, to those around us, and to the divine. Once we start seeing the world through the philosophy and practice of Tantra, our entire perspective on life will change.