There are many misconceptions about Tantra workshops…what they are for, what goes on, what one is expected to do! Often it seems people are afraid that they will be expected to cross boundaries that they are not ready for, when actually any tantra teacher worth their salt is trained to feel into where each participant is at and to create space for their students to expand within.
One statement I hear repeatedly is something along the lines of “why would I need to be taught how to be a lover?” To this there are many responses, but certainly it is worth remembering that only 7% of the original Tantra texts were about sexuality, and that Tantra, though including sexuality, is certainly not reduced to being a set of sexual techniques.
However, sexuality can be viewed as a gateway to allow powerful lifeforce energy to activate and flow, leading to experiences beyond the physical. Both the Tantric chakra model and the Taoist Microcosmic orbit model are maps of how earthly physical energy can rise upwards, transforming into more subtle energy, the crown seen as the point at which this energy merges into the cosmic or universal energy of Oneness.
So if this is how sexuality fits into the bigger picture we can see that Tantra is not focused on becoming a better lover…that may merely be side effect on this spiritual path! Certainly there is no way to side-track sexuality on these paths (though it is possible to cultivate energy in this way in solo practices without a partner).
So then, when on the path of opening our sexual center, this involves exploring some of the cultural conditioning we have received and dropping the patterns that block the easy lose and natural flow of sexual energy. There are so many ways of opening one’s sexuality, and these are found in Tantra workshops and sacred sexuality workshops worldwide. Some teachers focus on one types of tool, others use combinations. Though the list is not finite, these tools include:
- Therapy: entering current “problem” areas with the intention to clear old patterns (there are many diverse therapeutic tools)
- De-conditioning: playing with, in a safe and held space, behaviours that one has suppressed (may include dance, role-play etc)
- Healing: massage, bodywork and energy healing focused on the sexual area or sexual blocks
- Sexual technique: shifting old patterns of sexual expression by exploring new ones
- Energy work: moving energy though certain pathways, which begins to effect changes on a subtle level
- Meditation: loosening the effects of mind-based thought patterns and beliefs, brining one more into the present moment
An individual on a Tantric path may choose to enter one path very deeply, or journey through several; there is no right or wrong way about it. All tools ere pointing to the same ultimate destination: to finding the way to allow authentic action to emerge out of this present moment. Osho defines tantra as being “easy, loose and natural”…all of these tools enable us to move towards such a state of being.
Some of the tools are about dropping what is in the way…finding the blocks, patterns and conditioning that we want to release. Others give us the space to play with new ways of expressing our sexual energy. It is important to remember that we are not trying to learn a whole new set of patterns to follow! We are allowing energy to run through our circuits. It may seem inauthentic in a workshop to dance your passion or express your anger or act out your “slut”, but we are just exploring and allowing. Outside of the workshop space there may come a time when your authentic and true expression in the moment requires letting one of those energies run, and you are less likely to block that natural flow if you have opened the channels previously. As we let expressions run freely, we find that they lose their charge (there is nothing more highly charged than suppressed energy!) and may even drop away.
Another question is should we flow workshops that give us space for freedom, release and spontaneity (e.g. therapy and dance), or should we find a path with a solid practice and discipline (e.g. meditation and energy practice)?
Any creative path can be seen to work best with a balance of yin and yang aspects, a balance of spontaneity and discipline. For example, a good pianist needs both skill and free expression. Imagine someone playing piano who has had no practice or discipline..they might be very free as they hit the keys, but the result would be chaos, and not so pleasant to listen to! Then imagine the opposite: the pianist who is very disciplined but has no passion, no freedom of expression. They may play a piece note-perfect, but without the expression, it is dull. Now imagine the player who has put in their time with the scales and practice. Once it has been learned, he drops clinging to the tools and pours all of his passion into the playing…yin meets yang and the creativity is sublime.
We could apply this model to developing any creativity, including the ultimate creative energy flow…sexuality. Why not take some time to learn techniques, tools and practices, but to also choose to find held spaces in which to explore freedom and expression. A “held space” is an intentional space such as a ritual or workshop, and allows us to feel safe to drop into deeper levels of spontaneous expression. Some tantra teachers will excel in teaching techniques (typically a more masculine path), others will hold spaces for spontaneous expression (typically a more feminine path). Other teachers do both!
Our duality-loving mind (!) can sometimes get caught up in imagining it has to choose one over the other, arguing out which is the “right” way! But why not drop any judgements that might arise and embrace all, as an experiment? If you have focused on one path, why not dabble in the other…just to see. It is easy for us to choose one and neglect the other. If you have been a hard-disciplined practitioner for many years, I invite you to choose a space in which to let go (a wild dance workshop perhaps? Cathartic emotional release?) If you have done every de-conditioning workshop out there, why not focus in on a technique and study it deeply, dedicating some time each day to your practice.
Life is a play, the “Leela”, and Tantra a most playful path! We are so fortunate in this day and age that there is so much freedom. Tantra is emerging, and experiencing a re-birth world-wide. Why not dive in and explore this incredible world of possibilities?