Tantrika and Mistress of the Tantric Arts, Shakti Malan, explains why Tantra is an important tool in uncovering Self. I was quite intrigued when she offered to write an article for the site, because my knowledge of Tantra is embarrassingly limited. Tantra receives publicity now and then when one or another movie star is said to use it to enhance their sex-life. But I learned that Tantra is a way to really understand the hidden aspects of one’s personality, breaking (often self-imposed) taboos and forcing a new understanding of one’s true Self. In fact, it is about allowing oneself to truly feel. As Shakti asks in her article: “How much Bliss can you stand?”
Tantra, the art of conscious sexuality
By Shakti Malan
Tantra is the ancient art of conscious sexuality. Mystics from many spiritual traditions have over the centuries realized that our sexuality can be a powerful vehicle for awakening.
Why focus on sexuality?
There are two reasons why working with sexual energy is a powerful tool for awareness.
1. The erotic as guide to the unconscious
Plato said that Eros (our eroticism) leads to Gnosis (higher truth). By going deep into your eroticism, your sexual desire, you can integrate what is unconscious in you. Most of human existence is governed by impulses that have been suppressed or gone unconscious in us. The unconscious is made up of experiences from the past which we were not able to experience and accept fully at the time. The body keeps reminding us of what we have suppressed, and one way in which the body does this, is through our erotic impulses. When we integrate an experience that has been unconscious in us, it is as if a veil drops. We are so much more able to be present in the moment.
2. Sexual flow as meditation/immersion in the moment
Once enough of these veils have dropped, it becomes possible to be deeply present with our sexual energy. In Sanskrit, sexual energy is often referred to as Kundalini, or vital life force. Whereas in conditioned sexuality our sexual experience is focused on the release of tension through the genitals, Tantra encourages the natural, upward flow of sexual energy. Sexual energy starts to build in the base of the body, and then gets taken up the body where eventually it connects to the heart. When our hearts get touched by the Kundalini rising upwards, we experience the bliss of unconditional love. Emotions that need to be felt can also surface and be cleared swiftly as we allow them. From the heart, sexual energy in time starts to move all the way out the crown of the head, where it opens us to the experience of cosmic oneness.
Opening the Channels
The ancient mystics who studied the flow of sexual energy or vital life force through the body identified 64 000 nadis or energy centres located all over the body. These are collected into seven main energy “wheels”, also called Chakras. When any experience has been repressed in us, this causes blocks in the Chakras. We use the first two Chakras to illustrate:
The first Chakra is located at the perineum between the anus and the genitals. This centre connects us to the planet and to our physical embodiment. The first Chakra can get blocked by experiences that cause us to live in survival fear. An example in the sexual realm is when a woman stays married to a man purely because he provides for her a comfortable existence. She is afraid that breaking sexual ties will compromise what she regards as essential for her survival. Trauma, such as an experience that the body experienced as life threatening, can also block the first Chakra. If such experience remains suppressed, sexual energy will not move beyond the first Chakra. As a consequence, sex will remain focused on genital orgasm. Lack of sexual functioning or desire can also ensue.
The second Chakra is located under the naval and connected to our sense of belonging. If your motivation for the choice of your sexual partner is to fit in with what society or your family wants, it is unlikely that sexual energy will move higher up the body than the second Chakra. When the second Chakra gets touched by Tantric practice, all your sensitivities about rejection and abandonment will rise to the surface to be felt, accepted and integrated.
The practice of being Total
Tantra is a practice for people who wish to get total with their lives and with their sexuality. It is the “extreme sports” of spiritual practice. One of the central questions we ask ourselves in Tantra is: How much bliss can you stand? Implied in this question is another: How much are you willing to feel?
As stated above, Tantric practice will touch your fears about rejection and abandonment as soon as the Kundalini moves up to the second Chakra. The fear of rejection or abandonment often arises from deep childhood wounds. What Tantra asks of you, is to accept that these experiences happened to you as a child, and to feel the feelings that you had put away as a child because they were too overwhelming for you then. Feel the emotions that get evoked by rejection or abandonment. There is no other way than just to allow the feeling. What you accept and let yourself feel, will integrate. Every time you allow yourself to feel such an experience deeply, without losing yourself in pity or blame, another veil drops.
Being total means saying “Yes” to all of your experience in the body – yes to your desires and your fears. It takes courage – the energy of the heart – to face the tiger, to sit in the fire, to stay present with these overwhelming impulses from the unconscious. Tantra therefore is for seekers who have developed a strong spiritual warrior and a steadfast determination to stop at nothing but the truth.
Living in non-duality
The ego of humanity today is structured through polarities. Our ego is our sense of ourselves. We “know who we are” through what we are attracted to and what we are repulsed by. Try this for yourself. What attributes do you identify with or aspire to? Which states of being repulse you or do you shy away from? Unity consciousness – the knowledge that you are not your ego, that you are not your story – requires of us to get beyond these polities and to drop our identifications. Some spiritual practices insist that this can be done through austerity and discipline – avoiding all temptations, suppressing all fears.
Tantra says that the way to integrate dualities is by entering them fully. This sounds paradoxical, but listen. Perhaps you identify yourself as a non-possessive person who gets repulsed by jealousy. In reality you may be someone who prefers to avoid depth in relationship so that you won’t feel too hurt when you stand the chance of “losing” a loved one. Existence will give you opportunities to feel your depth, and to enter the pain of loss that you have been avoiding. You will also be put in situations by life that will evoke your jealousy. When this happens, let yourself feel your jealousy – fully and deeply. Get to the bottom of it. Only by accepting that this emotion is there – that you are feeling it – and letting yourself feel it – can you move beyond this particular duality.
Tantra is a trickster path for seekers. We Tantrikas are guided by existence to provide you with certain experiences. These may seem exquisitely pleasurable at the time – only to soon after start evoking your suppressed fears of jealousy, rejection, abandonment, betrayal or anger. To be a Tantrika takes the willingness to not take the projections personally that come as a consequence. Most people are not willing to own uncomfortable emotions and experiences; they would rather blame the person that they think “caused” these (the Tantrika in this case). Because we hold a state of deep presence, you have with us the opportunity to really own and resolve ossified states of duality in yourself.
Another aspect of the work with duality in Tantra is that we challenge your frameworks. Your ideas of right and wrong, good and evil, pure and impure contribute greatly to the maintenance of the limited ego. As long as you stay tightly identified with positions, you will not open into the realization that you are one with everything. Thus, in Tantric practice we often invite you into experiences that may have an edge of taboo (wrongness, irrationality, impurity or even evil) for you. This challenges you to deeply inquire into the truth of the positions that you are holding. An example of such an edge or taboo that you will meet in Tantra sessions is the degree of intimacy that you will experience with the Tantrika. This can happen simply because you are telling us about aspects of your sexuality that you have never shared with another.
Tantra as the Practice of Presence
When enough duality and blockages have been cleared, it becomes possible to experience sex as a meditation, as a deep immersion into the moment. Tantric meditation can be done solo or with a partner. Some examples of Tantric meditations are:
Deep immersion into the senses – tasting, touching, seeing, feeling, hearing. This can be done with a partner, or with any object from nature (see illustration).
Kundalini meditations: Through allowing the energy of the earth to rise up through your body, a subtle shaking starts to happen which will grow as you relax more into it.
Dancing and movement: I have a movement group that I call Blissdance that is an exploration of opening to intimacy, subtlety in touch and uninhibited creativity in movement.
Partner meditations: I teach many meditations that enable partners to gradually build up energy in their own bodies, cycle this energy with their partners, and then open for the flow of the Kundalini upwards. For these, we mainly use breath, but also sound and movement.
Skydancing: Skydancing is a term used for the energy dance that happens in a woman’s body when she opens fully to her femininity and allows the focused energy of the male penis to move all the way up her body. It results in ecstatic, deep meditation for both partners.
Tantric touch: One of the arts of Tantra is learning to stay relaxed and receptive while having high voltage pleasure run through your body. This is contrary to our usual response. Tantric touch practice assists you with this learning.
How is Tantra taught?
The Advait Tantra School, of which I am a member, is based in Johannesburg and Cape Town. We teach in modern idiom, by presenting you with experiences that you can choose from. These include private sessions and group work of greater and lesser intensity. If you are touched by the experience of Tantra, it is likely you will keep coming to events. In this way, your practice will deepen organically and get integrated seamlessly in your life. Our aim with the way that we teach is to support this integration.
Private sessions with individuals (men or women) are up to two hours in duration, and couple sessions (couples of any orientation welcome) can be up to three hours. Group work can be a powerful, intense way to learn. We present talks on Tantra, half day and full day workshops and retreats all around the country. I run a weekly Blissddance class and regular evening events to deepen your practice. To find out more about the Tantra School and how sessions work, see: http://tantraschool.co.za. My practice is based in the Southern Peninsula of Cape Town. For more about my approach and work, see: http://shakti.co.za and http://totalitytherapy.com. To be placed on my mailing list for events, write to me at: Shakti@shakti.co.za
And now on to the SHIATSU…
Namikoshi Shiatsu Course CapeTown
The Japan Shiatsu School started by Tokujiro Namikoshi was the first shiatsu school to be licensed in Japan, in 1957. This form of shiatsu combines the traditional use of pressure points to stimulate the body’s self-healing processes with Western medicine’s understanding of physiology. Unlike other forms of shiatsu it is not concerned with meridian energy flows, but because some knowledge of these can be useful to the practitioner an introduction to meridians is included in the course. The intention in shiatsu is to rebalance the body’s functions by releasing blockages and stimulating sluggish areas through stimulation of neurotransmitters. Referred pain from the internal organs affects the shoulders, arms, legs, back, abdomen, and chest. Nerve fibres transmit organic irregularities directly to the surface of the body. Shiatsu applied to the oversensitive or muscularly tense parts of the surface of the body reverses this process, stimulating the internal organs to function optimally. It also releases tension in muscles and joints, and stimulates circulation and lymph flow. This facilitates the person’s own self healing processes and can both prevent illness and encourage the healing process of existing physical problems. Shiatsu is becoming more widely known as a healing modality and increasingly popular as people experience its powerful effect.
The course will be taught over 12 months. Classes will be 1 weekend each month. This time spacing is to give students enough time to practice between sessions as without sufficient practice the technique will not be adequately mastered. There are 3 sections to the course, each of which will be examined: 1. Anatomy and physiology 2. Shiatsu practice including guidelines to treating some common conditions. 3. Shiatsu theory which includes an introduction to meridian therapy and the concepts of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Written case studies are part of the certification process.
The cost will be R10,980 including the text book, manual and notes. A deposit of R915 is required and the rest can be paid in installments by arrangement. A discounted fee of R9870 is offered if paid in full before the course starts.
The next course will start on 14 and 15 March 2009. Contact Marion for bank details. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Namikoshi Shiatsu School is affiliated to Natural Health Teaching Services, see www.naturalhealthaccess.co.za
Marion Nixon Rondebosch Phone 021 6965857
And lastly, Neuro-Linguistics Programming Trainer and Life and Wellness Coach, Jevon Dangeli has joined with Clickholistic to give you insight into your issues over the next few months. Jevon runs a series of Coaching Programmes in Cape Town and is inspiring many people to make positive changes in their lives. If you have a question for Jevon, please mail: email@example.com
Empowered Decision Making
Feeling stuck, uncertain, not sure which choice to make, one foot in and one foot out…?Try this:When you’ve made a decision, and it’s the right one for you… How are you as a person?Spend a moment seeing, hearing and feeling what it’s like to be this person.Now, as this person, what’s the right decision for you?
Go with the first impulse or impression that comes into awareness, and follow your bliss.
Written by Jevon Dängeli – NLP Trainer & Coach