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Tantra - Balancing the view & clearing the myths.

This article I wrote was published in H&E but for those who didn't see it, or for those who might have  the wrong idea (judging by some of the phone calls I get!) I'd like to share it with you here.

 

Tantra and tantric practice is a wonderful and beautiful way of enriching mind and body and this article aims to clear up some of the misunderstanding which often surrounds it, particularly in Western society.

 
Because Tantra acknowledges, respects and draws upon our sensual and even sexual energies, many people think that if you go for a tantric massage it will include sex. However in many cases where this is offered, it is likely to be little more than a rather superficial thrill. Tantric practice reaches much deeper into a person's being than just the body.
 
Having said that, it does indeed acknowledge that we are physical beings as well as spiritual and the body therefore is to be respected and regarded as something beautiful. The more one studies the body the more one appreciates the absolute marvel that the body is. In various religions and cultures, sadly, the body is regarded as a rather sordid vehicle and any pleasures taken from it or experienced by it are sinful and dirty. Sexual expression therefore is also sinful and only to be used for procreation. Ironic that they miss the point that the very thing that making love creates is something miraculous and wonderful, namely a baby.
 
The societal result of such attitudes is that on one extreme you have a view that the body is quite mucky and to be hidden away and that only development of the soul is pure, righteous and meaningful. However, the disciplines required to follow the rules imposed on people who try to follow these paths can be very harsh and certainly devoid of any hint of fun! On the other extreme there are those who only seek physical pleasure, perhaps rebelling against the piety imposed on us by strict attitudes and doctrines, but with the sad result of reducing intimacy to a rather cheap pleasure. Both extremes spell trouble for the mind and spirit. The ultra pious ending up ridden with guilt for perfectly normal feelings and desires, while those at the other end of the spectrum chasing shallow encounters and often suffering a loss of self-esteem instead of the freedom they expect to find.
 
Tantra is actually a huge subject and so tricky to summarise in a sentence but in relation to the phenomenon described here, it can be seen as a way to respect both the physical and spiritual, to balance the importance of both, bringing them into harmony. In this way, a sense of one's own inner beauty is developed and nurtured. Life, and being alive becomes light, fun, yet also deep and meaningful. Here too, in fact, the same principle of balance applies. As we balance the importance and recognition of mind / spirit & body and experience them in each other, so we experience depth to our fun, and fun in our depths. Feelings of pleasure reach deeper into the whole being, rather than just the flesh.
 
In my own practice, even providing a regular Swedish massage, I always aim to reach the mind as well as the body. In that sense you could say that every treatment I do contains elements of tantric philosophy.
 
An actual tantric session or massage may involve a more intimate touch than a "standard" massage. But it is not compulsory. It is for the recipient to set the boundaries of this and a true practitioner will accept those without judgement, criticism or attempts to persuade a shift in them. If there are issues within you that set these boundaries and perhaps also impinge on your general life, that may be worth discussing and dealing with. And it is very true that stepping slightly out of our comfort zone can be of immense value for personal development. But respect will be shown at all times.
 
So, sorry to disappoint the "quick thrill" seekers! Tantra and tantric sessions are far more about the mind & spiritual development than the physical, even though the body may be a vehicle through which the experience of your own spirit is enhanced.
 
By Jon, North Yorkshire


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1 comment
  • stevi ross
    stevi ross Thank you for clarifying this Jon. I have been facilitating Tantra workshops and also offering tantra massage (and holidays) for 16 years now, and am still befuddled at how people make incorrect assumtptions of what I offer.
    That said, once they have ex...  more
    January 11, 2016