When people hear the word Tantra, they usually think of the esoteric postures depicted in the Kama Sutra. That is if they’ve heard of it at all. Personally, I have found many unexpected health benefits from practicing this ancient form of meditation and related breath practices.
When I began Tantra in 1996, I had no idea how powerful Tantra was to become in every aspect of my life. Very soon, after embarking on the Tantric path, I became aware of a quieting down in the mind, something I had been trying to accomplish for years to no avail. This alone helped me to reduce my stress levels. But that’s not all; that was only the beginning.
Now, after 10 years of practicing Tantra, I am aware that I am not suffering… physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Did I know this would happen to me? No way.
Tantra roughly translated means “to weave” body, mind and spirit. What this literally means is that you can expand your whole being through increased awareness of your senses, feelings and energy. This includes awareness of your breath – the basis of all forms of meditation – with the addition of your sexual energy increasing your ability to feel, specifically pleasure. This is very different from other forms of meditation. It is important to note that the sexual union depicted in Tantric paintings and carved onto temple walls is symbolic of what can be achieved by joining feminine and masculine energy mostly inside yourself.
Some say Tantra began in ancient Egypt, others argue it began 3000 to 5000 years ago in India. Basically, it is comprised of several esoteric traditions rooted in the religions of India including Hindu, Jain and Bonpo. Aspects of Tantra can even be found in the ancient Kabala. Most of its practitioners were scattered throughout Asia in India, China, Tibet, Japan, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, Indonesia and Mongolia, until recently when it became of interest to people in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Israel and throughout Europe.
So how can Tantra affect your health? Why is it a holistic form of healing?
Basically people feel little if anything. They are mostly living their lives inside of their thoughts, judgments, evaluations and assessments: living in their heads. When their bodies give signals, they miss or ignore them because they are trained to value only what the mind thinks. So most people are numb or they do not feel very good. When they do feel, it appears that they feel bad, sick, hurt, victimized. There is very little room for pleasure. As a matter of fact they feel little to no pleasure at all. Pleasure shows up as anticipation rather than a sensual experience, one that is felt in the body. Remember really wanting something like a new car? Then when you got it, the pleasure didn’t last very long, maybe until the first scratch. It wasn’t the feeling you expected from acquiring a new car, was it?
The mind can imagine something or others will bring us a feeling of pleasure, but it actually takes the body to feel it. For many people feeling strongly, passionately was discouraged. We were told we had to stay in control of ourselves, of our emotions… Things were said to us like, “Why do you feel like that? That’s not rational.”
So, we learned to bury our feelings and experience life in our heads. Our bodies became useful for wearing decorative adornments (attraction) and for getting us somewhere like from meeting to meeting (minimal movement). In essence, our bodies have become something we do to or use in certain ways, but not a source of inner knowledge. Not bad, just not pleasurable; not healthy either.
Many people have become automatons rushing to work, doing, doing, and doing. But when it comes time to relax, take a breath, we cannot seem to do it. For most people, it’s a little frightening to stop and focus on breathing. When we look to find pleasure there never seems to be enough time. Because we’re so disconnected, nothing lives up to our expectations. Or maybe, just maybe, all those feelings we’ve been holding down are likely to come rushing up and we can’t have that, can we?
That’s right, feelings, emotions, senses, memories will often come up during Tantric practice. And then what do we do? Who has time for that anyway? What if we go out of control? Who wants to experience that?
You do! Why is this so important?
You want to feel all of those feelings so you can increase your capacity for pleasure. It’s your birthright to feel pleasure and it’s an aspect of life to feel sensations. In essence, it’s an act of honoring yourself. When you start this way of breathing and sensing, you will naturally feel better, happier, passionate, and more alive. The operative word here is “naturally.” It is our nature to feel.
Plus it’s easy and takes very little time to make a difference in your life. Any one of many techniques can bring you a sense of calm and peace in your every day with minimum effort. While practicing, you focus on opening to pleasure. How bad could that be?
Okay, how? In Tantra we learn to breathe along with doing Kegel exercises and making sounds. So, we learn how to breathe properly. Then we add sphincter muscle and PC muscle contractions to build a charge in our own body using the vital life force – sexual energy. Along with the squeezing of the sphincter muscles, we add making sounds like “Oooo and Ahhhh.” This eventually enables us to feel all our feelings.
Once we feel them, we learn to release stored toxic feelings and memories from the past using emotional release techniques. We also learn to transmute the sexual energy into a spiritual connection with our “higher selves.”
The result is eradication of feelings of shame and guilt as well as any other trauma we may have experienced earlier in our lives that’s has been stored in our cellular memory. The outcome = pleasure, permission for unabashed life at it’s fullest – body, mind and spirit connected, working in union.
Remember, when I began Tantra I had no idea how my life would change. Had I known, I would have become interested in it earlier in life. Is my life juicier? Yes. Is that all? No. It’s so much more. I highly recommend you try it too.
The Holistic Benefits of Practicing Tantra:
Feel great about yourself
You feel more attractive and self-confident; you increase your capacity for more pleasure, experience joy and fulfillment as a way of life.
Empower your well-being
Eliminate toxins, eliminate stress – accept yourself for who you are and release deep, painful cellular memories; feel safe and whole.
Set your intentions, do the practices and watch the laws of attraction bring what you want i.e. life partner, more money, career change, etc.
Uplift your relationships
See others for who they really are, relate to their deep divine nature and trust your intuition.
Experience your deepest emotions
Know rapture, love, passion and beyond! Become your own beloved!
*Taken from a random sample of 500 Tantra students who have participated in Butterfly Workshops’ programs.
Laurie Handlers, MA is the President of Butterfly Workshops, Inc., a New York based company currently offering 3 levels of Tantra, plus Tantra instructor training, and Leadership courses for corporations and individuals. She is also the author of a popular book titled Sex & Happiness: The Tantric Laws of Intimacy.