When you hear about Tantra, people often fear that they will end up in orgies or being taken advantage of by a teacher or therapist. Could I tell you, hand on my heart, that this would never happen? Well, no I cannot. Though the majority of Tantra classes have no actual sexual activity within them, some facilitators do offer to make space for that. And whilst some teachers adopt strict codes of conduct, others do not. Should Tantra be regulated? Is it even possible to regulate such a system?
The thing is, Tantra is edgy. By its very nature it has to be edgy because a core theme within it is to explore our edge. It is choosing to delve down into realms of fears and shadows, in order to bring the light of awareness to those parts. Therefore, it is kind of impossible to avoid these areas if you want to go into Tantra.
Tantra is actually an invitation to go on that inner voyage into the shadowland. It is creating a space that will hold you in some way to go in and find such places. Ultimately it is the presence within you that will hold these places, but the presence of the facilitator and any space holders will support you on the way.
Having said that, it is important to know that you do not need to endure any trauma to enter tantra. Now the thing is, what is traumatic to one person is extremely liberating to another….so it is not actually possible to point the finger and say “this experience is traumatic” or “that teacher is traumatizing”. It is more about the experiencer, and their response to an event.
Trauma happens when we cannot integrate an experience that we have. Due to past experiences, and fears that were given to us by our parents, we each develop different responses to life’s twists and turns. One person will be exhilarated looking over a high viewpoint, and another enters a state of trauma. One person is thrilled to jump into deep water, another would enter a state of panic. And so it is with many life experiences…we all respond in different ways.
So how can Tantra offer us the opportunity to open up without the risk of trauma? Well, the risk is always there, however certain things can be regulated.
There are many teachers and schools who have introduced ethics and boundaries, such as avoiding sexual connection with students. This is to keep students safe from feeling violated or re-traumatised around abuse issues, as they go on their path of healing. Boundaries vary from school to school and teacher to teacher, so check in and find one that suits you.
One of the greatest way to handle this issue would come from the empowerment of the participants. As a student, you actually do have the right to make empowered choices and to choose what is right for you in each moment. This is a great skill to learn in life, as you can never guarantee “safety” from the outside, but you can begin to trust your inner guidance system and learn to communicate in empowered ways.
Here are 8 ways to empower yourself whilst entering the world of Tantra:
- Ask for higher guidance to find the right teacher or class. Sit in meditation, make a prayer or set an intention to be easily drawn to the teacher that will serve your highest growth in ease and joy.
- You may want to choose your class or teacher by asking friends for references. Make sure the friends are at the same “level” as you. If you are a beginner, what suits a seasoned tantric may not be the best for you right now. A skier would not start with the black ski slopes, but go find the nursery slopes. Respect your own level.
- Feel free to ask the teacher any questions you have before the class. You are absolutely entitled to ask the teacher “will there be any nudity?” or perhaps “ what level of intimacy does this class explore?” and so on. You may want to start at a safer more comfortable level.
- If you have been abused in the past, you may want to choose a single-sex class or have a healing session from someone of the same gender as you. This is often a more safe space to do the first stages of healing.
- Follow your truth. A facilitator is guiding the class, often suggesting practices. You are entitled to find your own truth within that, which may mean stepping out of an exercise, or sitting at the edge for a moment. Try not to reject the class or the teachings, as this affects everyone else. But lovingly do what is right for you.
- Trust your body. Begin to find your inner guidance. This is not always easy at first, especially as if you have had boundaries crossed in childhood, then it can be difficult to find your own true boundaries as an adult. However, it is always good to begin to notice how it feels inside when faced with different options. One simple way is to check if you feel something contracts inside (that’s a no) or expands (that’s a yes). It is OK to be gentle with yourself…there is no rush for anything!
- Express your boundaries. Discover how to empower yourself to express your boundaries verbally (“not right now thank you”) or non-verbally (stepping out of an exercise). Remember that boundaries change. What was a yes yesterday may be a no today. That’s just the way it goes!
- Beware of being quick to make harsh judgments. Often this is the result of your own inner closures projecting outwards onto the world. Just because you don’t choose something doesn’t mean you need to judge it. Try to stay open-minded. Some day you may want to choose that very thing! If you have closed your mind and heart with judgments, then you cut off even the option.
And by the way, you do NOT have to have sex with anyone to experience Tantra! Tantra is a world of energy activation, and energy can be awakened with dance, movement, yoga, qigong, shaking, massage and meditation. You always have the absolute right to choose your level of intimacy with another person. It is most empowering to take responsibility for your own choices and choose in ways that you feel will serve your highest good and the highest good of all others.
So should Tantra be regulated? Well possibly it could, and that is an on-going conversation. However, my invitation is to begin right now by regulating from within yourself. Your own inner wisdom, inner guidance and inner awareness is the best guide you have on this journey called Life. To build a deep level of discernment, being able to open to trust, and developing the empowerment to communicate are all valuable life skills, and tantra workshops are a great place to explore and develop them.
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