Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Tantric Ritual: Setup and Meditation

I’m often asked whether there is a standard “real” or “authentic” Tantric ritual.  It’s surprisingly hard to come up with a book or website that gives a clear outline, step by step.  Most of the descriptions you do find are vague, and even then they often contradict each other.  So it’s no surprise that people, even people who have practiced Tantra for decades, ask me, “Are we doing it right?”

My answer is always the same.  If it works for you, you’re doing it right.  Couples who routinely experience some or all of what I called the Six Remarkable Effects of Tantra are doing it right.  It doesn’t matter what some scribe said 1500 years ago, or what some self-appointed guru said last week.  Neither one is necessarily writing from broad knowledge of what real Tantrics did then or do today, or even necessarily from first-hand personal knowledge, and both are giving you a description of Tantra that has probably been shaped by unscientific religious theories about how it ought to work.

I think the real authorities on this question should be the people actually doing it.  And the surprise is that ordinary Tantra practitioners are in many ways more consistent about what they actually do than the “experts” are in telling people what they should do.  Through trial and error, ordinary couples have figured out what works and have discarded the fancy theological dogmas that don't.

Of course there are many variations on Tantric sex, and all of the experienced Tantric couples I interviewed adapted the basic ritual in some ways to suit their needs and the time available to them.  Still, the general outline of the core Tantric experience described by my interviewees is clear and consistent.

Overall, most people divide Tantra into five general phases:  setup and meditation, lingam massage, yoni massage, yab-yum, and maithuna.  I’ll deal with the last four phases in the next two posts, but this is what the first phase looks like:

Setup and Meditation

  1. Set aside a large block of time, at least three hours, when you won’t be interrupted or distracted.  Turn off your phones and other gadgets, farm out the kids or housemates, put a sign on the door.  If all else fails, rent a cabin in the woods or check into a hotel or motel.
  2. Create a safe, peaceful, comfortable environment.  Prepare and lay out snacks, drinks, towels, pillows, massage oil, and anything else you need.  Arrange the furniture and set up your massage table or mat if you have them.  Choose music, aroma, temperature, and lighting that will help you meditate and relax.  Most people find that bright lights and strong aromas make meditation harder.  The same thing is true for music with lyrics or a strong beat, so omit the music or be very restrained in your initial choices. Try to settle on one specific sensory combination that is especially relaxing, and then use that combination only for your Tantra sessions.
  3. Bathe together.  If one of you is especially tense, that person can get a head start with a long soak in a hot bath.  If you have a hot tub, use it.  Or just take a shower together.  Wash each other using lots of soap and long, slow, sensual strokes.  Rinse and dry each other off.  Be sure your nails are clipped and smooth and that you have no hangnails or rough calluses on your hands. 
  4. Meditate.  Start out with your normal meditation.  After about 10 minutes, or when you are both deeply relaxed, shift to couple meditation.  Sit facing each other with your knees and hands touching.  Look into each other’s eyes and focus deeply on your partner as you meditate.  Mirror your partner’s position and posture and synchronize your breathing.  Your pulses will probably synchronize as well.  Even if you aren’t actually touching your partner on a “pulse point,” you will probably still pick up each other’s heartbeats from the micro-motions of the head and trunk.
(I will include much more on meditation in later posts, but you really need to be somewhat experienced in both solo and couple meditation before you start to learn Tantra.)

The couples I asked had a hard time describing how they knew when they were done with step 4.  Some said that shifting from solo to couple meditation always means coming a little bit “out of the moment,” so they would meditate together until they were “back into the moment,” or deeply relaxed again.  Others said they got to a point where thinking about and touching their partner caused increasing arousal and anticipation, and meditating further became difficult.

Most said they spent 5 to 10 minutes on couple meditation, and they all agreed that it was hard to describe, but easy to tell, when it was time to move on to the next phase.

For what comes next, please see the next post.

No comments:

Post a Comment