Beginners Guide to Tantra
A Non Intimidating Introduction to Tantra
I just finished putting on a couple’s tantric date night in my hometown of Victoria, B.C., and was gushing about it to an old friend. She was curious about what it would be like if she came with her partner to the next one, so she jokingly asked
“So what, do we just sit there and rub our genitals together?!”
I cried with laughter! It reminded me of how intimidating and unapproachable tantra can feel for most people.
But I promise it’s easier than you think to get started.
You don’t have to be “sexually advanced” or buy into “woo-woo” stuff to see some really beautiful benefits from integrating tantric practices into your sexuality or partnership.
So, here are four things to know about tantra so you can decide for yourself if it’s right for you.
1. Tantra Isn’t Just Sexual
Before studying tantra, I thought tantra was only based around sex. That is how it was portrayed to me at least. But in classical tantra, the practice actually revolves around two central ideas: a) awakening consciousness, and b) recognizing divinity in everything.
Awakening consciousness is the process of bringing thoughts, emotions, and patterns from the subconscious mind into the conscious mind, the thinking brain.
For example, I used to push my partners away because I was afraid they would leave me anyway. This was a subconscious act. I wasn’t aware I was doing it, but it was having serious complications in my relationships and sexual experiences.
After learning about my deep childhood abandonment wound and exposing the pattern of why I was acting the way I was acting, little by little I moved that part of me from my subconscious to my conscious mind. I became aware of it playing out in my life over and over again.
Eventually, I knew what was happening, and I was fully engaged in the experience as it was happening. From there, I was able to make choices from an empowered and informed place vs. from fear, hurt, and lack of awareness.
You can see already how this “non-sexual” practice of awakening consciousness has a direct impact on your sexual well-being. Most of us are not consciously shaping our sexual lives or experiences. We are often just moving on a one-directional conveyor belt, repeating the same things without question. Our patterns are subconsciously triggered, which is why it can sometimes feel like our love lives are on repeat. Ultimately our subconscious patterns truly want to be noticed and altered, so they will create the same scenario over and over again until we bring it into awareness and start to choose something different.
It’s the same with eating, you could eat an apple without thinking about it, unconsciously taking bites and swallowing while your subconscious brain did the important, but unaware, work of making sure you didn’t choke, or you could stay present and enjoy every bite. The latter offers you the opportunity to find an immense amount of joy and pleasure in eating that apple. It becomes a sensual experience. Plus, your belly might be happier.
It’s not bad to eat an apple without paying attention, you are simply missing out on the full potential of the experience and the natural yes/no cues of your body.
The second focus of classical tantra is recognizing divinity.
If I believe everything is sacred, has a purpose, and is interconnected, then I must throw away the lie of the “other.” There is no separateness. Not between me and another person, me and an object in the world, me and an experience I’m having. It’s all flowing together as one.
You can define divinity how you want, but for me, it’s a state of being that creates a real sense of sacredness.
In sex, seeing the divinity of my partner, the non-separateness, allows for a deeper connection. We are one throughout the whole process of lovemaking, throughout the whole day, throughout everything.
God and Goddess are not unattainable beings sitting on high. They are in everything, in myself, in my partner, in the grief, and in the love.
Bringing tantra into the sexual domain feels like a natural leap in some ways, now that you see the classical tenants of tantric thought. But this modernized approach of connecting tantra with sexual energy and turn on is called neo-tantra.
Because so many of us are struggling with sexual dissatisfaction, numbness, and disconnection, bringing tantric thought and practice into the bedroom can offer us incredible benefits as we shift our perspective away from more toxic cultural norms around sexuality.
2. Breath is Everything.
Breath grounds and sensitizes the body.
Maybe you’ve had the experience of breath creating more mobility and expansion in your body through a yoga practice. It opens you up in a way that movement alone can’t.
Using breath during sex is similar.
It opens your senses up and puts you in touch with the deeper potential of your body, allowing you to feel more orgasmic pleasure throughout your whole body (instead of just short bursts in one centralized place).
It seems obvious, but the more connected you are to your body, the more pleasure you can feel. Breath provides an epic path for this to happen.
What’s extra amazing about this is, it means you already have one of the best tools possible for creating a more epic sex life. It’s not some mythical, far-off thing. It’s just your breath. It’s just learning to breathe with a rhythm and depth that creates that natural connection to your body.
So why aren’t we all jumping on this bandwagon? Why don’t we all have epic sex lives if the access point is available to each of us?
The truth is most of us want to avoid connecting to our bodies. We feel pain in our bodies as well as pleasure, and as we open up the gates of more magnificent sensations, it all comes rushing in.
This is where I spend the majority of my time coaching. There is so much internalized shame and resistance that keeps us from actually letting ourselves feel the pleasure in our bodies. Most often the path to mind-altering orgasmic pleasure is actually by feeling & healing the pain that is acting as a barrier. It is a myth that “if I go into the pain/suffering it will just get worse”. That is the subconscious trying to protect us from ever having to feel the pain. In truth, going into the pain is, like I said, is the path to healing and life-altering pleasure.
I used to have panic attacks and often would get really scared, until one day when I decided to face my panic attack. I had been training my mind and inner safety to recognize that I am safe even in moments of fear. I was able to be fully in the panic attack, feel the overwhelm in my body, the fear and the pain of sadness, while also having an inner knowing that I was safe and would be okay. It was as if I was playing out a movie scene that I never saw the ending to because I was always too afraid. And guess what happened at the end once I stayed to find out?
Bliss…..! I am not even kidding, on the other side of that panic attack was the feeling of total bliss, peace, and joy. I felt relaxed and calm. And, guess what? I didn’t die (like I always subconsciously felt would happen). It was eye-opening, a truly embodied experience of facing my fears and my pain.
Like women giving birth, breath can also be used to move the energy of pain, as well as move the energy of pleasure. They are connected (remember: see the divinity in everything) and connected to sexuality. And both are deserving of your breath and awareness.
3. Tantra Teaches Us How to Have Deeper Relationships.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut.
We try to create intimacy, communicate, and connect, and it can often feel like we’re just trapped in a boring sex life after a while. No passion, secretly craving “real” sex.
In my coaching practice, more couples are coming to me looking for sex that is wild, raw, sacred, and pleasure-filled. They’ve heard the rumors. They know it’s possible. They just don’t know how.
Maybe this is you. You want to ask for what you desire in bed, but don’t know how.
Tantric sexual practices offer a safe container to create meaningful connections with your partner and have intentional ways to grow in your sexuality together. It’s all about creating your deepest desires together in an intentional way. Choosing it together and doing practices that support your desires, instead of hoping and wishing that one day it will get better OR doing nothing and accepting “good enough.”
One of my favorite practices is actually a simple communication exercise where you share your desire, fears, and loves with your partner without being interrupted.
Having a structure to talk has been really healing for me and my partner as he would often shut down or get uncomfortable whenever I had something serious to say. When we practice the exercise, he knows that there is a time limit and all he has to do is listen until it is his time to share. It offers safety and trust. He now feels more relaxed and open when things get “challenging”.
4. Tantra Can Be a Safe Place to Reclaim Your Sexual Story.
Many of us have stories of repression, shame, and fear around sex. These messages are deeply embedded in our education, culture, religion, and family life.
I grew up in a strict religious community that taught me sex was wrong, dirty, and gross. My family and Sex Ed did nothing to change that opinion and often confirmed it.
Tantra has offered me a place to feel that my sexuality is sacred. This alone has brought so much healing to my heart. I’m able to connect more deeply to my body and my partner, and it’s created some of those mind-blowing sexual experiences you hear about.
Tantra is an option if you’re ready to explore something different in your relationship with yourself and your partner. It’s all about having the option to do it differently if desired. Choice, what an aphrodisiac. Another aphrodisiac, moving outside of constricted beliefs of how sex “should” be like.
The first step is awareness.
Pay attention to your breath, your current connection with your body. Stay present during lovemaking; pay attention to your mindset before, during, and after. Do your thoughts support you or shut you down?
Consider hiring someone to guide you. Look up workshops and classes. Read books. Turn sex into a ritual you’re committed to improving, just like going to the gym. Set up your space with candles and things that excited you. Continue to stay open to learning so you can grow in love, pleasure, and connection.
This is the path tantra offers you. I have become a better lover and a better receiver of love. My heart is more open, and so is my body.
With weekly tantric practices, I feel safer and am reprogramming my mind/body to feel pleasure in new ways that continue to amaze me each day.
I used to think I could only do tantra if I was some sort of mystical sex Goddess (don’t get me wrong I like to consider myself one from time to time!), but this made it all feel so unattainable and intimidating.
But now, I know it’s the practices themselves that bring that incredible feeling of aliveness. I don’t have to be anyone but myself to show up to the practice. Every time I do, I am expanding into what I truly desire.
Decide for yourself if this is a path worth exploring. It revolutionized the way I connect, which is why I pass along this knowledge with excitement to anyone who will listen.
If you want to have a conversation about whether tantra is right for you or your relationship, find me on Instagram or Facebook @tareaselixir.