Sex is exciting, but it’s nothing new. It’s likely that for as long as humans have had sex (which as far as we know, means from the very beginning) there have been humans who have thought about, talked about, and eventually started writing about what sex means, and how we might make it more meaningful. Tantric sex and teaching about Tantric sexuality represent one of the oldest examples of a philosophy of spiritual sexuality that continues to be practiced today.
What is Tantra?
One translation of the word Tantra is "tools for expansion." Tantra is over 1500 years old, and like yoga it originated in India. It is a set of teachings and practices that are specifically designed to help us feel more, to increase our awareness of our own energy and the energy around us. The path that Tantra uses to these ends is the exploration of sexual energy.
The goal of Tantric sex is to allow us to experience more depth and breadth in our sexuality. The goal is not necessarily orgasm, but rather enriching the whole sexual experience.
Is Tantra a Religion?
While traditional Tantric teachings refer to concepts such as "universal energy" and "higher power" the teachings are, in many cases, not about stubbornly sticking to one set of beliefs or rules. If you are interested in the idea that sexual expression can bring you closer to a higher power, you will find much in Tantra that speaks to you. If you are looking for a way to enhance or deepen your sexual connection with your partner, Tantra can offer many wonderful opportunities without requiring that you follow any specific set of beliefs.
Who is Tantric Sex Good For?
Many of the teachings are about desire and the experience of sexual energy. Unlike western approaches to improving your sex life, Tantra teachings do not focus on external evaluations of what our body looks like, what kind of car we drive, how we wear our hair. In this way Tantric sex teaching are open to anyone who is interested in exploring a new path to sexual fulfillment.
What are Chakras?
Tantra distinguishes many different energy systems within us. One of these that you might have already read about is chakras; energy centers in the body between the pelvis and the top of the head. In this system of thought, there is the idea that the smooth flow of energy in our bodies can get stuck somewhere in the system blocked from moving freely or depleted for a variety of reasons. Tantric practice works toward keeping energy flowing through us smoothly and naturally.
What is Tantric Sex Like?
Tantra is different from western ideas about sex in some other important ways. The western concept of sex is like a story with a clear beginning (sexual excitement), middle (penetration), and end (orgasm). This is the way it’s supposed to be and if you don’t follow the story, something is wrong. Sex without penetration is often viewed as being 'not real' or 'merely' foreplay.
In Tantric sex the point of sex is not orgasm, the point is to feel. There is no clear cut beginning, middle, or end. Most of the exercises related to Tantric sex involve slowing things down, trying not to focus on our external body, or orgasm, or anything outside of our experience of the moment.
Without a focus on orgasm, the goal becomes increased awareness leading to greater understanding of ourselves, which eventually leads to enlightenment. There is no pressure to "get over the top". This doesn't mean that orgasm doesn't exist in Tantra, it just isn't the be all and end all. The spiritual practice and the good sexual feelings are inter-related, each leading back to, and improving the other.
What Tantric sex "looks like" will be different for different people. Tantra is taught by many teachers around the world, who have their own take on it, influenced by the cultures they grew up in. Certainly a key feature of Tantric sex is the importance of breathing, and slowing down sexual behavior compared to the hectic, orgasm-focused North American approach.