London South East Connection
Tantra is something you experience. It is not something that you can learn from books. However, reading about it can inspire you to take the step into the experience. It can also serve to guide you, once you are practicing the tools that Tantra gives you. Below I reproduce a typical conversation that may help demystify the nuts and bolts of what happens on a Diamond Light Tantra weekend.
First, a little bit about me. At school I was a serious A-student. I went to Oxford and read psychology. I was pretty unhappy. I left Oxford and became a yoga teacher. I learned a lot, grew a lot, and became a fuller and happier person. I was blissful though only when dancing. Sex was not blissful.
Then I discovered Tantra and I began to loosen up, soften up, open up. True joy was able to flow. Laughter and sexual pleasure, love and reverence. I felt as if I was coming home.
So now, and for the last 13 years, I have been teaching Tantra. My school is called Diamond Light Tantra, and it is essentially about healing. It is about returning to innocence and connecting with your natural sexual aliveness, remembering the Divine, and celebrating your uniqueness.
This account below is an amalgam of two conversations that happened not too long ago:
“Hello, this is Diamond Light Tantra, Leora speaking. How can I help?” A moment of silence on the other end of the phone, then a quiet, young-sounding voice replies,
Yes, hi. My friend told me about you. I’d like to find out some more please.
“Of course”, I responded, “what would you like to know?”
The Level 1 weekend, Opening to Bliss, the one that’s coming up, she replies, ..um, I don’t have a boyfriend. Can I still come?
“Yes, you can. In fact at least half the group will be individuals”
Oh, really, how does that work? I mean, will I be paired with someone I don’t know?
“The workshop will be gender-balanced, which means that there will be equal numbers of individual male participants and individual female participants. Most of the exercises involve a partner, some don’t. In those that that do, you will work with someone different for each exercise. And there’s always choice. That’s one of the themes we’ll be focusing on at the beginning of the workshop.”
You mean I don’t have to work with anyone I don’t want to work with?
“Yes, that’s right. And also within each meeting and each exercise you can choose your boundaries, how close you want to be, how you want to engage. So that anything you do, anyone you work with, how you work with them is really your choice.”
What about if they want something different?
“Isn’t that often the case in any ongoing relationship?” I ask. “The exercise gives you tools to address these differences in a win-win situation, rather than as a dull compromise.”
I’d be really curious to find out how that works! This boundary thing, I’m not very good at it. That’s partly why my friend suggested I call you. Like with my last boyfriend. I stayed in the relationship long after I knew it was time to leave. And sexually, because I loved him, I did things I didn’t want to do. Her voice was wavering a bit. It was still quite raw.
“I’m sorry to hear that.” I pause and wait for her to be ready to talk some more. “You’d be surprised how many people, both male and female struggle with boundaries.”
“Oh, yes. In the case of a man, it might manifest as him doing things to please his woman, but resenting it at the same time. Or avoiding certain topics of conversation or certain situations, in order not to encounter a situation that would require him to say “no”, or else to do something he doesn’t want to do. In the case of women, what you describe is more common. Saying yes out of love for another, but losing touch with self-love and self-care in the process.”
That sounds like me.
“That’s how it has been up to now” I suggest, “not how it has to be from now on.”
If it’s that easy, how come it hasn’t worked so far? I mean with my ex-boyfriend, we really tried. I read books, we talked, made agreements…And I loved him too, but we just couldn’t work it out. And I kept having the feeling that there must be more to sex than this.
“Yes, that’s the sad thing. Most couples really want their relationship to work. But sometimes it takes a shift of focus for things to slot into place. Problem-solving is a mental activity; sex takes place in the body. The only way to experience blissful sex is to be totally present in the body, in the moment, rather than planning for the next one. Tantra is about experiencing your body as the temple of the spirit, and becoming fully present. It’s also about experiencing yourself as more than your physical body. It is about expansion of consciousness, of experience, which is naturally blissful.”
Ah. A pause. I think I understand. Well, it sounds good anyway.
And how sexual does the workshop get? Do I need to take my clothes off? I hope you don’t mind me asking, but I’ve never done anything like this before.
“Those questions are on most people’s minds! It’s just that not everyone dares to ask. For the majority of the workshop you will be fully clothed. Then there’s a gentle, respectful and beautiful touch meditation on the Sunday, in which you will have the opportunity to remove clothing if that feels right for you at the time. And there’s no need to.”
Oh, that’s a relief!
“Is there anything else you’d like to know?”
The others who will be there-what kind of people are they? What kind of ages? I’m 28. Will there be others around my age? What are the usual reasons for attending? And how does it work with a mixture of couples and single people?
“Well, it’s really all sorts! The common theme is some level of self-awareness and a strong desire to know more about themselves and their relationship, or to heal past patterns and to find a new way to be in future relationships. You’re probably on the younger end of the spectrum-there are usually a few people in their 20s, with the majority in their 30s, 40s, and 50s and a few in their 60s. The youngest participant I’ve worked with was 19-she attended with her 20-year-old boyfriend, and they both loved it, and the oldest 82! People attend for different reasons. To re-kindle the lost flame of passion in a long-term relationship, to extend sexuality into spiritual realms, to find healing, harmony, love, and, like you, bliss. Couples work just with their partner; individuals as I mentioned before, work with different people.”
And what else happens on the weekend?
“There’s a beautiful ritual called “Awakening the Senses” which is what it says on the packet. When you become fully present in each of your five senses, it’s possible to experience heightened states of sensitivity and bliss through simple sensory inputs. This is all conducted with a high level of honouring and respect, care, beauty and magic. It is said in Tantric texts that the senses can be the gateways to the infinite. By being fully present in the body, in the moment, it is possible to transcend the physical and open to the Divine.
“Then we focus on energy movement through the body. This is fundamental for sexual experience to be anything more than purely pleasurable. When energy flows through the whole body, during lovemaking, sexual energy when it rises to the heart becomes joy, and when it extends up to the head, to the third eye, it becomes, bliss.”
And there’s no direct sexual contact in this?
“No, it happens through breathing, movement and, the real key, letting go. And its great fun too. It is also a chance to let go of old blocks and to relax into your natural aliveness. Tantra is about being deeply relaxed and at the same time tingling with aliveness.”
“You also learn a meditation to harmonize your chakras, your energy centres, so that you can deeply connect with yourself, a pre-requisite to deeply connecting with another. By the way, you don’t need to believe in anything. It’s all experiential-you take away what’s meaningful to you, and leave what isn’t. And on Saturday night there’s a celebration, a celebration of you, a celebration of everyone’s uniqueness.”
Thank you. This really helps. I’d like to come. And, oh yes, one more question. What does ‘Tantra’ actually mean?
“It means the marriage of energy and consciousness-becoming aware of and in charge of the energy flow in your body, and liberating more of who you really are. It’s fundamentally about love, expansion, union, and truth. Bliss is our true and natural state of being. Tantra helps us open to this.”