Answering the question, “what is Tantra?” is a mighty challenge: it’s a question that can never be answered completely as Tantra is a journey that never ends. All words fall short of fully explaining how you feel, experience and practice Tantra. The reach and depth of authentic Tantra span across all aspects of your life. Tantra is a life path, relating to all experiences and elements of your life and relationships.
So, let’s begin by looking at a language definition of Tantra. It’s a Sanskrit word that means “woven together”. Often, you will hear descriptions of Tantra that focus on the sexual union element within this concept of ‘weaving’. Indeed, many Tantra practices use sexual union as a metaphor for weaving the physical and the spiritual — the weaving together of male and the female energies, and weaving humankind to the divine.
However, Tantra is not simply about sacred sexuality, and is never about marathon length carnal gymnastics; instead Tantra is an amazing journey of discovery and self-discovery.
The wonderful thing about Tantra is that there is no agenda, no goal or time-constraint. It’s a personal journey and it’s the journey itself, not the destination, that’s important. While embarking on a journey into Tantra, you will learn to let go of things that no longer serve you, as well as embracing new, sometimes challenging, ways of living. Authentic Tantra can be described as a practice that allows you to get in touch with your authentic self and your inner joy; to celebrate life and fully experience pleasure, enjoyment and bliss as nature intended.
Hopefully, as you’ve found your way to this article, you’re a little curious about discovering Tantra and how to potentially bring Tantra into your life. Well, your Tantric journey can start at home. You won’t need any special equipment or preparation, you don’t need to have a great understanding of the theory of Tantra or its history, you just need to have an open mind and heart and accept that, for now, Tantra is about growing in Love and Consciousness. So, with that mind, here are our favorite three introductory Tantric exercises you can begin to explore.
Introductory Tantric exercise No 1: Conscious Breath
We all breathe, it’s a basic human function. However, how much attention do you pay to your breathing, really? Learning to breathe consciously is an important and foundational practice in Tantra. If you begin to breathe consciously, you’ll begin to see and feel how just how conscious breathing can affect you personally. Yes, it brings oxygen into your body and releases toxins, but with oxygen you bring energy into your body and, with your out-breath, you’re able to release anxiety, stress, emotions and negativity. Toxins come in many forms. The Conscious Breath is a simple but effective exercise to start with because all it requires you to do is to focus on your breathing. Try it, we’d love to know how it makes you feel.
Introductory tantric exercise No 2: Eye Gazing
Find a partner for this practice; it doesn’t have to be an intimate partner, a friend is fine: this exercise is about ‘connection’. Fully clothed, begin by facing each other, you can be standing or sitting.
Now, begin to gaze deeply into each others’ eyes. The eyes are windows to the soul, so try to look beyond the daily façade that your partner puts up. Next, synchronize your breathing: breathe in together, exhale together. Then, move into breath exchange: you inhale when they exhale, then exhale when they inhale, as though you’re breathing each other.
Practice this for as long as you feel comfortable and look to increase the practice time. It is normal to find this difficult at first, but it is a practice that is worth the time spent in mastering as eye gazing is considered to be one of the most powerful Tantra techniques you can master in terms of deepening connection with yourself and others.
Indeed, the benefit of eye gazing in terms of strengthening connection between two people has been considered so powerful that it has sparked interest to the scientific community. One study into eye gazing, conducted by Italian psychologist Giovanni Caputo found that the practice can induce a drug-free altered state of consciousness. It has long been documented that whilst practising eye gazing a couple can experience the creation of an intense and invisible energetic circuit; that can lead to not only a deepened sense of connection between partners, but also to seeing energetic fields such as auras or to experience non-physical visions. If you are feeling that the apparition of non-physical matter during eye gazing is just New Age nonsense then you may be interested to learn that in Caputo’s study 90% of his study participants claimed they saw deformed facial features, whilst 50% said they saw their own appearance in their eye gazing partner’s face, and 15% said they saw a relative’s face.
In Tantra eye gazing is a technique used to establish better soul to soul connection. It is a technique that should not be rushed and instead the process should be allowed to unfold slowly and with intention. With practice you will find that eye gazing will yield a better connection and that barriers between you and your partner will disappear and that a more authentic, soul to soul connection will emerge.
Introductory Tantric Exercise No 3: Engaging the senses
Another basic tantra exercise involves the harnessing of your senses. Intimacy bears an important role in a person’s happiness and wellbeing and, in general, intimacy is represented by five different senses or gateways. Each gateway has two different points of entry and exit.
When someone encounters trauma, the trauma must happen through one of these gateways: they may have seen something or heard or touched, smelled or felt. This is why certain Tantric rituals are so important because they help to evoke the trauma through intimacy before being released through breath and eye contact.
We tend to touch in an automated way, without thought or consciousness. Tantra offers a revival of your senses without ego. Touching with consciousness brings connection, allowing you to really enjoy the sensation of touch.
Try this simple technique, fully clothed, stand in front of your chosen partner and pretend that you’re blind. Reach out and touch your partner with your eyes shut, concentrating on how it feels, afterwards get your partner to explain any areas that felt pleasure, pain, comfort, discomfort and then swap places and repeat the exercise. Notice how it feels to touch with focus and intent.
Tantra can help you in many ways, in our modern oversubscribed lives; we rarely stop and intently focus on those that we interact with. Tantric practices like these allow you to heighten your awareness of both yourself and to connect with others on a deep and meaningful level. This alone can open your heart to feeling closer, more loving, and more forgiving.
We hope that you enjoy these three Tantric practices, and we’d love to hear your experiences in them. Did any make you feel uncomfortable, relaxed, or more aware? Tantra is a long journey, it’s a lifestyle. So, if you’re interested in learning more about it, then do get in touch.