Spirit and Destiny Magazine
Maggie Richards drops into an after-work class and finds out you can do it in a tracksuit as well as your birthday suit.
We’ve all heard of tantric sex, thanks to Sting and Trudie. I’ve always thought it sounded tantalising, but also mystifying. So when I hear about a midweek introductory evening on the subject, curiosity meets convenience and I sign up. I sit nervously with 20 strangers in a London hotel meeting room, worrying that I might have to writhe on the floor with a stranger.Thankfully, tonight’s class is described as a gentle introduction to Diamond Light Tantra, a method developed by Leora Lightwoman, 39, an Oxford graduate who’s taught tantra for 14 years. Her pragmatic approach to sexual, emotional and spiritual healing is based on tantric practices that emerged in India from 300-400AD.
‘Tantra is about coming homing home to the body,’ she explains. ‘By noticing the way we feel, we can change the energy processes in our body to experience a sense of expansion and freedom. So many of us are stuck in the past or worrying about the future. We want to connect, emotionally and sexually, yet we’re often afraid of being hurt. So we feel divided.’
Tantra can help heal this rift by giving us practical tools to connect with directly with our body, heart, and sexuality. ‘By aligning sexuality and love, we’re more likely to fall in love with someone we fancy, and feel attracted to the one we love.’
There are three couples, two widows, and even a mother and daughter in our group. A woman in her sixties says tantra saved her life after she was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago. She embraced it as part of a holistic attempt to cure herself. I feel inspired by her story.
We begin by closing our eyes and shaking our right hands hard. Afterwards mine feels much bigger and more alive than my left. I like being reminded of how it feels to really be in my body. Next, Leora plays some uplifting staccato classical music and invites us to start shaking on the spot with our eyes closed. Although I’m a bit self-conscious, it feels nice to let go and just jiggle about. We’re then asked to pair up for an exercise called ‘Namaste’, which translates as ‘bowing down to you’ and is a way of honouring our partner as a mirror of ourselves.
I look into the clear brown eyes of a smiley Asian guy in his late twenties as we simultaneously bring our hands to our chests in the prayer position. We keep them there as we lean forward so our foreheads meet. When we life our heads back up, we say ‘Namaste’. My next partner cries as I hold her gaze, and I can tell they’re healing tears. ‘There’s something about your face’, she says eventually. ‘It’s so open.’
Next is the pelvic bowl dance. ‘The pelvis is the seat of our sensuality, full of energy!’ Leora enthuses. I swirl mine around while looking a new partner in the eye, feeling like a bit of a ninny, until Leora says: ‘It’s your pelvis! Move it how you want to move it!’ I start to enjoy rotating my hips and sticking my bum out to the music, giggling as my inner child takes over. This is the idea, it seems. When we connect with the essential aliveness in our body, an innocence arises.
Next, I feel loving as I stroke a middle-aged woman’s hair. I didn’t think I’d like touching a stranger’s head, but I just feel a tenderness and respect for her humanity.
Now I’m in front of a tall, kind-looking man in his thirties. Eyes closed, we’re meant to feel into our hearts and imagine meeting the other’s heart through touching fingertips. But I tense up. I don’t like the feel of his fingertips on mine, and I want the exercise to be over.
He looks surprised when I admit this during our ‘sharing’ afterwards, as he enjoyed the experience. I’m relieved that the ‘bad’ feeling of having my space invaded doesn’t stay with me for long. Leora points out that while a big part of tantra is about letting down barriers and connecting with yourself and others, it’s important to keep some boundaries in place. As a woman, I find it healing to let myself say no to uncomfortable situations, and decide that’s what I’ll do in the future.
Finally, we take it in turns to say how we’re feeling. Everyone’s calm and the room is peaceful. A twentysomething who was dragged along by his girlfriend says it’s brought him closer to her. ‘I’ve cried a box of tissues! She reveals shyly, raising the hankies in the air.
I feel serene, and grateful to have been reminded that behind our different faces, we’re all the same. We all want to love and be loved. I’ll be back, and I’ll recommend tantra to anyone who wants a deeper connection with themselves and with the world.
▪ For Diamond Light Tantra introduction evenings and longer courses, call 0845 388 2231 or visit www.diamondlighttantra.com