What is Tantra? “What happens for me when the heart and sexual energy come together?”
This was the fifth time I had done the workshop. I was lying on the floor, on my back. There was a bit of verbal guidance while my partner applied slow pressure to my legs. Eventually, she came up to my lower belly where she placed her hands. After a couple minutes, she put her chest on my lower belly/genital area.
“What happens for me when the heart and sexual energy come together?” That is, “What is the relationship between these two energies in me?” This was the question I was opening to in this moment (so, too, my partner).
As I had done the workshop numerous times, I’d had many human hearts touching this area, the doorway to my sexual energy. There was soft, simple music in the background. The meditation was guided such that everyone would come to this point of the meditation at around the same time.
My partner gently put her chest on my lower belly and left it there for a few moments. All of a sudden, my eyes popped wide open as I felt surges of energy rushing through my body. A pure, sweet, super alive and intense feeling writhed from the point of contact and opened up into my body. It was as if I was getting injected with a pure, sweet, powerful nectar — the nectar of life.
It happened a few more times during the course of a few weeks at that workshop. That was two years ago. I’ve had similar experiences spontaneously in the past year, but even more intense and without any precipitating outer, physical stimulation (just alone in a parking lot or in my room).
What to exactly make of these experiences, I don’t really know. There isn’t a framework for it that I grew up with; I was raised in Texas in a conservative, fundamentalist, Korean Southern Baptist church. But it all makes sense within the context of Tantric philosophy and practice.
In the West, the word Tantra has come to denote deep, mystical sex, 20-minute orgasms or creatively contorted coital positions. This association between Tantra and sex and orgasm, misses so much of the basic essence of Tantric practice and philosophy, and I hope to clear some of the confusion in this article.
Let me just say here that I am no expert on Tantra, nor do I practice it in any formal way (the workshop mentioned above was not officially a Tantric workshop). Those who know and have studied Tantra may have more to say about its ins and outs, but I’m not going for a technical explication of Tantra here.
I’m offering my perspective, which comes from my experience. I’ve been immersed in spiritual teachings, been an avid meditator and yoga practitioner, travelled through India and have dabbled in a variety of different spiritual modalities for the past five years.
I’ve also studied psychology for over a decade, and have a master’s degree in counseling from a school that is based in Eastern philosophy and spirituality, the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS). The workshop (which I’ll get more into later) was actually a class I took in graduate school.
Recently, I lived with a Tantrica (a Tantric yogi or practitioner), and it became clear to me that a lot of things I had come to realize on my path directly correlated with Tantric philosophy — at least in how she held it. This realization led me to write this article.