Everyday Tantra For Lovers
Tantra has become a popular word in spirituality circles and yoga communities these days. But contrary to new age appropriations of tantra, it is not about how to improve your sex life. While there are definitely sexual benefits that come from certain classical tantric practices, tantra is a spiritual path that weaves ritual, philosophy, yoga, science and art. One of the main goals of tantra is the embodied experience of Divine Union within our self–and in all our relationships.
Tantra is a yogic path of integration. There are at least 64 traditional schools of Tantra in South Asia making it impossible to reduce it to a simple definition. However, classical definitions of the word refer to the benefits of tantric practices that expand our consciousness and guide us toward consciously living from that sacred place of Divine Union.
Every day is a day to honor the Divine Lover within. Developing a deeper relationship with our self and being ok with being alone is an important tantric practice. Tantra teaches us to accept all of our experiences without judgment. It encourages us to embrace what life deals us as an opportunity for spiritual and emotional growth as well as expanded awareness. From the tantric perspective, whether we are in a romantic partnership or not, we always have the opportunity to explore our partnership with the Divine.
In the Shakta Tantra tradition of South Asia, the Divine is presented as god (Shiva) and goddess (Shakti) in sacred union. While Shiva and Shakti are expressions of the Divine upon which we can meditate, Shiva and Shakti actually represent qualities that make up our existence. Think yin and yang—however their properties are reversed in the tantric worldview. Shiva is the expression of the passive, receptive, lunar, cooling, masculine and grounding energies, while Shakti is the expression of active, dynamic, solar, energizing, feminine and creative energies. We all carry both Shiva and Shakti within ourselves. When we pay attention, we can witness how these energies play out in the world around us. We may even begin to experience how the dance of these energies can benefit or become out of balance in our relationships with ourselves and with others.
How can we keep the sacred dance of Shiva and Shakti flowing within us? Tantric teachings and practices offer alternatives to dualistic and conventional ideas around relationships. Whether we are in a partnership or not, tantra offers practices where we can find our way back to an embodied sense of union, rather than experiencing a false sense of separation. Tantric rituals, practices and philosophies often focus on working with our emotions and utilizing our senses in order to transform challenging and restrictive energies. The aim of these practices is to liberate us from our fears, attachments and the conditioned ways we identify with reality. Tantra teaches us to open to the underlying unifying Shiva Shakti nature of existence and experience life in non-dual terms of both/and rather than a dualistic either/or perspective.
Divine Love is about deep intimacy. It is a love that must be cultivated from within.
Meditation, prayer, chanting, yoga, conscious eating, creative expression, listening to music, seeing art, walking in nature are all ways to connect with The Divine and experience Union with the Beloved within and without.
A simple tantric practice:
-Place your palms together in prayer at your heart.
The left hand represents the lunar Shiva energies, the right, the solar Shakti energies.
-Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
-Feel the sense of union bringing your right and left palms together brings.
-Honor the balance of Shiva Shakti energies within and experience your relationship to the greater Oneness of the Divine.
Connecting with the Divine unity Shiva and Shakti represent within and around us deepens our relationship to the ever-shifting, ever-dancing nature of this existence.
Photo Credit: Amy Goalen