Tantric practitioners have a different understanding of Chakras than that of the new age system. Rather than seeing chakras as spiritual organs that open and close, chakras are understood as different levels of consciousness available to us as part of the human experience, and each person will have more or less activation at each level. Some of this is nature and nurture (what you were born with and how you were raised) and some of this can be influenced by how you live your life and what daily practices and disciplines you subscribe to.
Many of us have some activation on the first 3 chakras, particularly Muladhara the base, which is our sense of stability and security in the world. Many people have a lot of activation at the level of Svadhisthana; this level of consciousness has us grasping after pleasure, wanting to look a certain way to appeal to what others think and sucks us into whatever tastes sweet or is in fashion. Manipura the solar chakra is about power, confidence, discipline and will. It is the ability to delay immediate gratification for longterm gain and is also related to being able to surrender yourself to a higher ideal. Most people in modern society have much more activation of Svadhisthana than Manipura, therefore when a person comes along with a strong activation at the level of Manipura; the rest of the people with lots of Svadhisthana are very drawn to follow them. Sadly, it is easy to think of many leaders who have taken advantage of this willingness to follow those with a strong arousal of Manipura and they lead with much disharmony,
Tantric practitioners spend a lot of their daily practice building Manipura so that they are not easily led, so that they can stand strong against temptation and live by their values.
Anahata, the heart chakra, is even more rare. That is why someone like Jesus, who had a massive activation of the sacred heart stood out so dramatically from everyone else, and why his message (when distilled from the problems religion has caused) still has a positive influence on many people worldwide. Most of the rest of us have moments of heart activation, but we are largely dominated by the activation of the first 3 chakras, and also ‘live in our minds’ with some activation of Ajna chakra too.
Having more than a little activation of Vishuddha, the throat chakra is also uncommon. This chakra is about purity, gracefulness, refinement of the senses and the highest level of creativity. Svadhisthana gives us Walt Disney movies and pop music hits, while Vishuddha gave us the Sistine Chapel and Mozart.
A person with a strong activation at the level of Vishuddha finds it very difficult to be part of modern society. They are delicate and sensitive, it is like hearing fingernails down a blackboard when they are around people discuss anything besides Truth, Love or Spirituality.
These refined humans are drawn to monasteries and retreats, or you might find them at home painting, meditating or enjoying the stillness of nature.
So to talk about Vishuddha and relationships is difficult. If one person in a couple is awakened at this level, they will seek a lot of alone time. They will prefer to pray or mediate than sit and watch Netflix. Sexuality at this level is extremely rare, as the person with lots of activation here is more likely drawn to periods of celibacy. Although if this level is reached during love making, it is like communing with the angelic realm. It is a level of exquisite purity that takes you to states of consciousness beyond space and time to where knowledge begins and where worlds are born and destroyed.
If Vishuddha activation arises in one person in a relationship, communication is needed regarding how worldly needs and desires will be fulfilled, as the other party may feel lonely and unimportant. Meditating together, reading sacred poetry and being in nature together may help to sustain the connection between you, and these activities can also help to bring a deeper activation of Vishuddha to all of us.
To live a full and rich life, it’s wonderful to be able to access to all 7 levels of consciousness, and in a society that often values that which is crass and cheap some more refinement, purity and grace would not go astray..
Ancient Traditions from all over the world hint at this mysterious life force that flows through the being in certain states of consciousness. The Christian Fathers of the Desert shook with ecstasy during prayer. Egyptian Hieroglyphs show laying of hands causing energy to run along the spine and the Egyptian god of the afterlife Osiris ascended to heaven up the ladder of his mother's spine. The symbol of the caduceus is of a staff entwined by two serpents moving upwards, meeting at 5 or 7 points. This symbol that is now used for medicine was found in ancient Sumeria, Greek Mythology and is very similar to the concept of Kundalini energy.
Kashmir Shivaism in the 4th Century encoded many texts with dialogues between Gods and Goddesses explaining Tantric Practices to awaken Kundalini Energy. Other traditions spoke of different entities and cosmologies but the descriptions of the path of the awakened energy and the outcome of these practices is very similar and would be recognised by practitioners, such as those from Daoist Alchemy and Tibetan Buddhism.
My understanding of Kundalini Energy comes from direct transmission and thousands of hours of practice and training under various teachers. Some held traditional lineages of Tantric Kundalini Masters, others had strong individual awakenings through more modern Tantric practices and shared the teachings devoid of any spiritual jargon.
My first experience of Kundalini Awakening that I am aware of was when I was 16yrs old and living with my parents in Melbourne. I was really into the underground warehouse party scene and dancing in a trance to psychedelic music was my favorite thing in the world. I went out one weekend and someone I trusted gave me rohypnol (a date rape drug). I only remember glimpses of that night, but I do remember waking up in an empty house in a suburb far from where I lived with blood on my face and taking all day to make my way home through hitching to the train and then I kept falling asleep on the train as it went from end of the line to end of the line. At the time I wasn't too upset about the experience, but I had been going to a meditation group near where I lived and they had a Reiki sharing evening later that week. The woman who owned the shop worked with me, simply laying her hands on my body. After a short while every single cell in my body started vibrating as if I had had WAY too much coffee. This vibrating continued to ripple up and through my body. It moved towards my spine and upwards and tears started flowing, I understood at the time that the energy had healed me of the experience of sexual assault.
I have experienced numerous other experiences of Kundalini Awakening since then. During lovemaking rituals at the Tantra school I studied with for many years, while meditating, listening to sacred musicians play and on the dance floor in the bush when psychedelic trance is playing (still my favourite thing).
I would describe Kundalini as the Primal Life Force Energy within every living thing. When this energy is gone, so is life. I call the energy of Kundalini 'She' not 'It', as she is alive and sentient. She is the manifestation at an individual level of the 'I Am', Source Energy within me. She is the source of the Prana (energy) in my being, like the electricity that powers the laptop I'm writing on has a massive power plant at it's source that my house is plugged into.
Experiences of Kundalini Awakening occur at times when my heart and consciousness are in a certain state that allows or causes this energy to surge through my being. It could be said that (true) enlightened Masters from every tradition have a fully awakened Kundalini, this energy is surging constantly through them, aligning them with the Source of all that is. (Which I call 'He'- the Void, The 'full emptiness', the 'I Am'.)
The Tantric tradition has beautiful imagery of 'her', the Kundalini moving from the base of the spine and spiralling upwards like a serpent, through different states of consciousness (the chakras) and meeting her lover 'Shiva' at the crown above the head.
When I experience Kundalini Arousal, it ripples through my body in such a way that I tremor, shiver, cry, laugh and vibrate, I feel in myself how the snake metaphor arose. For a master who is fully integrated in their spiritual awakening, we would not necessarily see any outward manifestations of their awakened Kundalini. They are connected both to their embodied human energy, and to their deep sense of connection with All that Is. While this state of being can bring much spiritual wisdom, love and compassion, it does not make them super human and therefore beyond the foibles of a human mind. Masters like this from all traditions can be amazing to be around. When I have sat with different spiritual masters, I felt a certain transmission; such as my heart opening and an ability to move really easily into a meditative state of consciousness. Yet I have witnessed firsthand the disappointments and betrayals from students who gave their lives to Spiritual Masters who then took advantage of them in various ways. Sadly sometimes the students reject the entire spiritual practice after this, instead of realising that having a human body and the power that comes with an Awakened Kundalini does not mean the person is compelled to only act in full integrity at all times. (Of course some Masters lead fully with their heart and certainly would never disappoint their students in ways described here).
Perhaps because of that experience when I was 16yrs old, I learnt how to speak my 'No' clearly and was never interested in engaging sexually with the spiritual teachers I practiced and learnt from, even if this was offered as a short cut to Kundalini Awakening. I would encourage others to take the slow road, and if using lovemaking as a path to Kundalini- why not practice with someone you have a friendship and trust with?
In the last few years I have taken what I have learnt from many different teachers and practices in evoking Kundalini and created a fusion practice called KIETY (Kundalini Integrative Emotional Tantric Yoga) that also embeds some modern therapeutic exercises from my work as a Psychotherapist. If you live in or ever visit Cairns in Far North Queensland, I would love to share this with you and perhaps you can experience this energy for yourself, as it is far more delicious to experience than read about. I will try to leave you with a sense of what Kundalini is through a more poetic explanation;
'She' is the mother of us all, she loves us and her awakened energy is an upwards dance of love towards unity with her beloved, whom is the father of us all. He is beyond energy (all energy is Her) and beyond anything that can be directly experienced through human perception. Like the eye can never directly see itself because it looks out of itself; we can never directly see our true nature. Yet through the Mother's love, we can awaken our Kundalini Energy & somehow know Him directly as our most true nature, of who we really are- which is nothing less than All That Is.
Being the Heart Chakra, we all like to think that our relationships exist at this level. And of course there are some elements of our connecting and some moments in time when many couples are resonating together at the level of Anahata, the heart chakra. Remember the heart chakra is not the romantic love of Svadistana chakra (the sexual chakra), nor is it the passion of Manipura chakra (solar chakra). An activation at the level of Anahata chakra brings a deep sense of openness, a sense of awe and wonder and an over-flowing of compassion.
A relationship that exists mostly at the level of Anahata is not necessarily everyone’s ideal for a romantic and intimate relationship. A couple strong on Anahata chakra will be very sweet, very soft and loving. They will know and feel deeply their love for each other, which sounds amazing, but Anahata alone will not be a healthy relationship. There was a Spiritual Master called Anandamayi Ma (look her up, she is just exquisite), and she spent time so deeply in the bliss of the heart, so totally absorbed in ecstasy and spiritual love that she was unable to feed herself. Her devotees literally had to spoon feed her and help her to the toilet etc. You can imagine a couple like this, all wrapped up in love but dysfunctional at a worldly level. You need Mulhadhara chakra (base) to bring stability, so there is food on the table and security for the future. A relationship is greatly enhanced by some Svadistana as this brings romance, sensuality, flirting and playfulness to the relationship. Having some polarity on the level of Manipura chakra is also important, this is the passion a couple has for each other, this is the drive within the relationship to achieve and to hold each other up, to go out on a limb for each other as you know you ‘have each other’s back’.
With this foundation, a polarity on Anahata takes a relationship beyond the everyday and into the realm of love. This is the depth that makes it feel so good to be around some couples.
A strong polarity at this level is that the more masculine person will be totally sure and confident in their love, there will be no question. The more feminine person will feel that love so deeply, and will glow with feeling how they are so loved and cherished.
Challenges at Anahata occur if love is there in the relationship- but one person can’t fully recognise it. The love could be there, but Anahata won’t be fully realised if the lower levels of consciousness are not there. Relationship can’t function if they don’t have all the chakras met up until the heart- it provides too many worldly challenges. Another burden of Anahata is that a strong activation at this level means you feel at a very deeply the suffering and injustices of the world. For people such as this, a strong Manipura that can get mad and make deliberate action towards bettering the world is important, and strong activation at Manipura is also protective as it enables assertiveness and boundaries; you can’t bring home every person that has nowhere to sleep, you can’t save every stray cat and dog.
If there is lots of activation on lower levels, and a couple wants to increase the polarity at the heart, Tantra can help. Tantric exercises such as couple mediations on the heart, heart breathing, reading sacred devotional poetry to each other will heighten Anahata, as will spending time in nature together. There is something that happens in nature if you are able to take yourself into a state of deep awe and wonder at the majesty of the sky, the sea, the forests. There is an almost painful but somehow delicious sense of cracking opening of the heart, a feeling that the nature of the universe is love itself and somehow despite all the troubles of the world we can feel “I am loved, I AM love, everything is ultimately okay”.
1. Spiritual Bypassing.
Have you ever heard someone proudly proclaim they were stolen from, slandered or abused and "didn't even get angry". Or experienced a big hurt, relationship wound or a scary medical prognosis and give a spiritual cliche like "everything happens for a reason". This is Spiritual Bypassing at work.
Anger is an adaptive emotion, it's the energy that gives rise to your powerful 'NO! That's not okay'. Bypassing that feeling by pretending you are 'too spiritual to feel' keeps you away from the freedom of the now.
So too with pain, it's okay to feel scared, hurt and alone sometimes. Humans are wired for connecting with others and to fear death. Pretending you don't mind when these are compromised blocks you from the freedom that comes from experiencing deep pain and the true acceptance that lies on the other side.
Determining your own worth based on how you stack up against others was an evolutionary mechanism motivating self-improvement. But in the world of instagram filters and Facebook posts- it leaves you feeling "less than" and "like you'll never make it". Freedom lies in knowing and living by your own unique values while celebrating your own and other's success.
Have you ever had a bad sunburn? You didn't race home, take a really hot shower and scrub your skin with a loofah did you? Of course not, you avoided what you knew would cause more pain..
In the same way, when emotional pain arises- it's tempting to numb it with food, alcohol or substances, scrolling social media or the myriad of other ways to dampen difficult feelings. Yet emotion is energy, once you're aware of it, can experience and express it, it's done. Numbing emotional pain leaves it unfinished to fester away. Freedom lies in going through, to the other side.
Doing what you think you 'should' do, or what someone (eg. school, parents, society) tells you that you 'ought' to do. Rather than that which has your soul doing a happy dance- is a direct path away from freedom.
With respect towards well-intentioned people that have your best interests at heart, sing your own song, dance your own dance and beat your own drum towards freedom.
5. Forgetting you are already free!
This is the cosmic joke and those who have had a spiritual awakening will have recognised the absurdity of the struggle. For Freedom is your very nature, and when you see the truth of this you will throw your head back and laugh at the sky.
That the unlimited reality has veiled itself into form of 'you'. Has contracted into a limited sense of self that says "I Am" in order to experience itself rather than remain in formless, unbound, infinite freedom. Only to experience the joy of awakening to one's true nature! As never seperate, never bound- only and ever free! Herein lies true Freedom.
Is my relationship quarantine proof?
We went for a walk this afternoon and went past a house where a woman was screaming at her partner, calling him all sorts of nasty things.. it really brought home the reality of how hard it must be to be stuck at home in a situation that is not respectful and is not loving.
Changing routines and being mostly home together- it can put pressure on all couples. Strained relationships that were not thriving, are going to struggle when forced together 24/7.
What about the rest of us? We thought our relationships were strong, could get through anything..and yet a few weeks in. Are you asking yourself, ‘Is my relationship quarantine proof?’ Can my relationship thrive when there is nowhere to hide?”
Make sure it does, by applying these 5 Quarantine proof relationship tips;
1. Turn up the volume on appreciation.
Even if there are many annoying things that your partner is doing, pick on the things you appreciate instead and let them know. You might like to do this ‘love languages quiz’ to ensure you are ‘speaking’ appreciation in a language that they understand.www.goodnet.org/articles/5-love-languages-which-one-are-you
2. Make love not babies!
While breeding during a time when there is so much uncertainty in the world is not necessarily recommended, sex with contraception certainly is. Making love is great for fitness, it releases feel good neurotransmitters and brings a sense of connection with your partner. Try making love in different areas of the house, wearing sexy outfits and experimenting with new positions.
3. Check in instead of checking out.
Ask each other what you can do to make things easier? Don’t wait until you’re irritated about it to complain. Let each other know the things that will make life easier, and the things that annoy you- do your best to meet each other’s needs but then let it go. Does it really matter if the bath mat gets hung up or not? Or if the dishes sit on the dish rack? Wouldn’t you rather be happy than have everything your way?
4. Put your phone down!
Yes you are perhaps spending way more time together than usual- but are you constantly connected to technology? Eye contact and quality time is so soothing to the nervous system. When we’re constantly scrolling, we’re not available and present- so be intentional and put down the tech and connect.
5. Use this time to get to know each other again.
Sure you’ve heard each other’s stories multiple times and could finish them.. but when you’ve been together for a while- sometimes you stop asking the deeper questions because you think you know the answers! Try asking each other some of these questions which a study found can create a feeling of connection deep enough for even strangers to fall in love with each other! http://36questionsinlove.com
It’s a fun question; which Chakra do you think your relationship is mainly resonating on? Each individual has more or less activation at each chakra, it’s what makes up our personalities and is also influenced by many things such as daily activities, diet, where we live, what music we listen to and so on. Similarly, a relationship, (as it’s own entity), will have a chakra that is most activated between the couple.
The Tantric teachings suggest that an ideal relationship has a strong ‘charge’ or ‘polarity’ at as many chakra levels as possible. Polarity is created when one person in the couple has a more active charge at a chakra, and their partner has a more receptive charge. So using examples from the Chakras we’ve explored so far in previous issues; polarity at muladhara (base chakra) would be where one partner does more of the ‘looking after’ the other in terms of stability, security and basic needs, and the other partner receives this. They take and use these resources to make both of their lives beautiful, nourishing and rich. If both people bring home the resources in equal measure- that’s great, but they don’t really need each other- there is not a lot of charge at this level.
At the level of Svadistana (sexual chakra), strong polarity would be where one person is generally more sensual, flirty, sexy, even ‘showy’ for the other’s pleasure and the other person responds to them and enjoys them. If both are wanting to always be ‘seen’ by the other, then both are vying for each other’s attention. We ideally want a partnership with some juicy polarity at each chakra, but with each person being more active / receptive at different levels. (ie. if one person is more active on all chakras it will feel unbalanced, you want a mix).
Polarity at the level of Manipura is where one person is more of the ‘boss’ and the other follows. OH! What a triggering thing to say about a relationship in 2020. But when this is explicit in a healthy relationship with a deep sense of trust- it can work really well! The couple can laugh about it, decisions are not argued about and choices are made easily about what direction the couple take. This can only be done healthily if the person with the more active polarity on Manipura fully takes into account the wishes, dreams, desires and preferences of their partner who has the more receptive Manipura, and when the couple has a shared vision.
Manipura chakra is about power, control, confidence, will, purpose and courage. Many couples have issues at this level when there is a lack of trust and limited polarity. The relationship becomes a power struggle, a tug of war that leaves each dissatisfied. When both people in a couple have a strong activation on Manipura, you have a ‘power couple’. Go-getters that hold each other up and bring out the best in each other. They celebrate each other and make regular announcements about their achievements and their life together. Finally when Manipura is strong in one person but not harmonious, you can have one person dominating the other in the form of nagging, criticising, controlling and even emotional and other forms of abusive behaviours.
Tantra and relationship work can support individuals and couples to grow and develop at the level of every chakra and to settle into a natural polarity that serves both people. Eventually, each individually in a partnership would have lots of activation and arousal at every chakra, both in the chakra’s active (masculine) and receptive (feminine) sides. Then when life calls for certain things- it’s available! But in their relationship, each person has a role that really provides space for the other to thrive. In the meantime, what wonderful practice ground relationships are for personal, sexual and spiritual growth.
According to the Tantric perspective on chakras, each individual will have greater or lesser degrees of activation at the 7 different levels. Some of this is a natural tendency, but the chakras are also activated by the activities you do, the places you spend your time and the people you hang with, your habits, the foods you eat and so on. This is usually an unconscious process, although Tantric practitioners have learnt how to activate certain chakras and will work on specific chakras directly in order to achieve things in their lives and to create certain states of being.
When it comes to relationships, each couple will have a polarity at certain chakras. For example, a couple that provides each other a lot of stability, nurturing and material luxury in their relationship has a strong polarity at muladhara chakra (the base). The couple that is very passionate, dramatic, and fiery has a strong polarity at Manipura chakra (just below the belly button).
Polarity is the ‘charge’; the feeling we all know when we are irrevocably drawn to someone. One person is the ‘plus’ and the other the ‘minus’, like a battery. In each relationship, one person is the masculine charge, one is the feminine charge. This isn’t about who has what bits or heterosexual couples only, this is an energetic exchange and can fluctuate. The tantric perspective is that each human has a masculine and a feminine aspect of self. An individual may be more masculine (emissive) at the level of one chakra, and more feminine, (receptive) at another chakra.
In relationships this ‘charge’ is what brings the juice! When a couple has a lot of polarity at the level of Svadistana (the chakra at the level of the external genitals), they are super romantic and very sensual. The masculine polarity is the ‘satisfier’ and the feminine polarity on svadistana is ‘satisfied’. When we think of ‘being in love’ we often think of anahata chakra (the heart), yet the pure love of anahata is a very different thing to the sensual, romantic, sexual realm of svadistana chakra. Svadistana is about satisfaction, eroticism, enjoyment and doing things out of desire. There can be a trap of getting stuck in the senses if there is a lot of activation at svadistana. A dear Tantric teacher of mine said this is just a simple error of mistaking the reflected light of the moon for the pure light of the sun.
Svadistana, being about pleasure, fantasy and satisfaction is a chakra that can get us into trouble. For example a svadistana food is chocolate, and it can be hard to stop at one piece! When svadistana is not harmonious, you will experience jealousy, petty dramas and get far too caught up in things that really aren’t important.
A healthy relationship needs a strong dose of polarity at svadistana if it is to remain interesting at a sexual and sensual level. However if this is the only chakra that has a strong polarity- the relationship will feel a bit lacking beyond a certain point. The ideal is to have a strong and harmonious activation at every chakra, to be a happy, balanced and peaceful human.
The Tantric Tradition has a different view of the Chakra system than the new age system which was developed in the 1880’s out of a blend of Jungian Psychology, Indian Yogic teachings and the esoteric and clairvoyant studies of the Theosophical Society. Classical Tantra was flourishing in the 800’s CE in Northern India, and texts of this time make reference to many different chakra systems. These systems were used as methods for visualisation, with the ultimate aim being to realise the true nature of the Self as not seperate from Shiva (AKA God, Divinity, Universal Nature). The chakra systems in these texts were not seen as having an objective reality beyond their usefulness as meditation tools.
The Chakra system according to modern day Tantric practitioners also varies from the New Age understanding mentioned above. To the Tantrics, the Chakras are levels and states of consciousness that can be accessed through various practices such as tantric yoga, meditations and various other activities. It is understood that these level of consciousness are a vibration or frequency that exist in the universe, and when you bring yourself into resonance with the energy of that chakra, you have access to the qualities of that chakra.
For example Muladhara (the base or root chakra) is related to the energy of the earth, endurance, stability and security. Some people will naturally have a strong activation on this chakra, and they will naturally have a sense of ‘always having enough’, they will feel like a stable presence to be around, they will have a lot of endurance but will have a tendency towards heaviness and sleepiness (unless other chakras are very well developed too). If you want to access more of these qualities, it is necessary to tune into the frequency of muladhara, similar to tuning a radio to the correct frequency before you get the station you want. This might be done through certain yoga poses that have a resonance on muladhara which are held for a long duration (3-10minutes or longer) while meditating upon drawing earth energy through the body into that chakra. Or everyday activities such as gardening, certain love making positions, certain foods and certain pieces of music which have a resonance on muladhara to increase activation at this level.
Each person has more or less activation or arousal of different chakras. This is what influences our constitution and personality. According to Tantra, people are drawn into relationship with each other through a polarity (or opposite charge) of masculine energy in one person and feminine energy in the other, (this is true in same sex couples, and the male partner might not necessarily hold the masculine pole or vice versa- there are many variations). Each chakra will be more masculine or feminine in different people, or another way to put it- more receptive or more active. The chakra that offers the most polarity between a couple will be the level of consciousness that the relationship mainly exists on. A relationship at the level of muladhara can be harmonious or otherwise (as is the case for all the chakra levels). This couple would be good at saving, bills are always paid, nurturing food would be on the table and the home would be beautiful. Disharmony in a couple with strong polarity at muladhara might be a relationship that is focused only on material pleasures and wealth and are ‘stuck in their ways’. A couple with limited activation at muladhara may have many other wonderful aspects, but they may not be very good at creating abundance on the material plane. Relationships can be difficult if one person has strong muladhara and the other doesn’t have much activation there- despite there possibly being a lot of love in a relationship, there will be a subtle sense of things not being quite right. The sexual chemistry on muladhara is animalistic and passionate, the touch is strong and the physical connection is powerful. If only one person has this activation, the other may feel unfulfilled. The Tantric couple would use various practices to create a stronger polarity at every chakras, and ultimately be able to play at different levels according to mood, purpose and intention. Relationships at the level of the other 6 chakras will be explored in coming articles.
It's a Rare Couple that Have Perfectly Matching Libidos.
It's a total myth that if you are in love and attracted to each other, then you should both want to have lots of sex, all the time, any time. It's a very rare couple that have matching libidos and will both be in the mood at the same time, everytime. We're cyclical creatures, men too, and as such it's normal to have days when you feel as horny as a teenager who just discovered masterbation and other days when you feel more like becoming a celibate monk.
Don't wait for the perfect moment..
Waiting until the magical moment you are both 'in the mood' may leave one or both of you feeling frustrated, lacking connection and even rejected or abandoned. On the other hand, trying to make love when you're not feeling the vibes may not feel authentic, may feel icky, awkward or hard to start. As a relationship counsellor, I work with many couples who have stopped making love, sometimes all together or perhaps as a rare occurance. I find this so sad, of course healthy relationships are much more than sex, but sex brings the relationship and each person so much emotional connection, pleasure, intimacy, bonding and health benefits that to deny the relationship of something so important and powerful is unnesseccary and often damaging.
"But I can't have sex if I'm not feeling It!"
More feminine partners often need to feel emotionally connected before there can be any thought of sexual intimacy. Paradoxically, more masculine partners often need to feel sexually connected before they can open emotionally. 'Women through the Heart to the Yoni, Men through the Lingum to the Heart.' You can imagine how this can cause problems.
Start with a baby step towards intimacy and then bring on line your mirror neurons, a finding from neuroscience that you can use to your advantage if you know how. Here's a quick introduction; discovered in the 1990's, mirror neurons cause the same areas of the brain to light up when doing an activity as when observing someone doing that activity. Mirror neurons are the reason that you immediately flinch when you see someone stub their toe, feel a bit sick yourself when you see someone being sick and why laughter is contagious. These brain cells are how the brain learns new things through observation and they relate to our ability to feel empathy. When we mimick others it creates feelings of connection, we perceive others as being 'just like us'. What does this have to do with better sex?
Try these 4 easy steps and use this information for your pleasure!
1. Be willing to intentionally change the way you feel...
You can move easily from feeling a lack of arousal to feeling really turned on if you are open to it. Mirror neurons are the relationship between watching porn and getting aroused; simply put, watching someone else experience pleasure creates an experience of pleasure in your brain. A quick Google search of 'Mirror Neurons and Sex' will bring up some questionable articles on how to use this knowlegde to your advantage to pick up women, but I suggest being a willing participant in your own experience.
2. Ask your partner for some gentle non-sexual touch to help you relax...
Instead of using this information to manipulate your partner, use it to manipulate yourself. Trick your brain into getting turned on, this is basically 'fake it until you make it.' Remember I mentioned baby steps? Don't go straight to sexual intimacy if you are not feeling it. Ask your partner to start with some relaxing or sensual touch, stroking the skin, massaging or cuddling. When you feel sufficiently open, begin to offer your more aroused partner some sexual interaction.
3. Pleasure your partner and observe their response...
As you see your partner's arousal begin to increase, you will notice particularly their breath pattern change... mimick them. Breath in the same way your partner breathes as they become turned on. Watch how they move their body, dance your body in time with theirs. Look into their eyes, you will naturally start to copy their facial expressions as the mirror neurons activate an automatic response.
4. Mindfully experience your own pleasure...
Allow your partner to transfer their sexual arousal to you. Be real in this, be present and your brain will do the rest. Follow these tips and there will be an increased activation of your mirror neurons, creating real time sexual arousal in your brain and boom: you're not faking it you're making it.
Do you need somebody?
Or are you strong, independant and totally self-reliant? We live in a world where relying on someone else means you're weak, being called needy is an insult and independance is a badge worn with pride. We're also lonely, disconnected and addicted to all sorts of poor substitutes for deep human connection. I used to think I was really good at 'non-attachment', I thought I was free. Then I realised that I wasn't loving with the completeness of my being and I wasn't totally letting my partner love me, because I was keeping him at a distance. By looking after myself entirely I couldn't get hurt, if he left I'd be sad, but nothing would really change. What happened when I let myself really need my partner? I stepped into the relationship 100%.
But I'm a strong independant individual!
Thankfully we've come a long way since the days where women needed men for putting food on the table and men needed women to cook it. But did we throw the metaphorical baby out with the bath water? Babies raised in long closed orphanages with all their physical needs met but no loving touch didn't just fail to thrive, they died. Children raised by parents who are unable to provide a consistant message that they are open, available and responsive to their emotional needs fall behind developmentally, and we know that even years later as adults they have higher levels of stress hormones like cortisol and lower levels of bonding neurotransmitters such as oxytocin and vassopressin. They usually suck at relationships too, because we tend to favour what is familiar, even if it's negative.
At what age do we magically stop needing
to know someone loves us?
That they are there for us when we reach for them? That we matter to them and are deeply important and cherished? Research on parent / child attachment showed us that babies who are securely attached (who know their caregiver is consistently available and open to them) are much more confident at exploring the world. It makes sense; they know they have a safe base to come back to. Isn't it the same now? If you know your partner choses you 100% , is there when you really need them, choses you over Facebook, or work or anything else and is authentically present with you when you are connecting aren't you far more willing to step up, take risks and live your authentic truth?
Reaching for your beloved, letting them know you need them and being totally available in return is a recipe for a delightful relationship.
Instead we pretend that sex is only for physical pleasure, we really can do everything ourselves without help and sure the company is nice, but heaven forbid, we don't actually need anyone. There is nothing wrong with sex outside of an attachment relationship- but if you don't have an intimate partner- do you have someone? Who is your person? Who do you call the morning after and share how amazing (or not) your night was? We are wired for bonding, our highest evolutionary potential is our ability to experience interconnectivity with others, our greatest joy in life is to Love.
Be someone's Safe Place
Please don't take this as an invitation to become so enmeshed with a partner that you lose who you are as an individual. This type of dependant relationship usually signals that you haven't allowed yourself to surrender to your partner, to trust they will be there for you and so cling to them fearfully. Frightened to go beyond the confines of the partnership incase they are not there when you return. In response you miss out on the exquisite experience that comes with knowing you are someone else's Safe Place.
Become attached to a Higher Power
What about the Yogic and Buddhist Masters who teach that attachment to material things and people keeps you bound to the illusory world and prevents spiritual realisation? Very few reach spiritual enlightenment or even high states of meditation without a secure attachment to a spiritual master or a Higher Power. Like the baby and her mother, we feel safe enough to explore our inner and outer worlds when we know someone will be there for us when we get back, has been out there themselves and can help us make sense of it when we return. You could do it alone, but devotion is a short cut to expanded states of consciousness.
Allow yourself to need someone and be needed in return.
We long for connection, the honor of being trusted with the authentic suffering of others, the gift of seeing their vulnerable heart. And when it comes to intimate relationships, if you want to reach the heights of soul rocking conscious connection and full authentic love, then needing your lover, surrendering to the safety of their deep, open heart and being available and responsive to their needs in return is a very good place to begin.
Sounds good but where do I start?
1. Trust your own autonomy. Know that you can do it all alone if you need to. People come and go, death follows life, the only person that will always be there for you is yourself. When you know you are whole, you no longer have to prove yourself through fierce independance.
2. Outsource to someone you love. When you stand at the bottom of a hill and look up, the brain perceives it as steeper than it actually is. (Your clever brain doesn't want to waste energy going that way). However stand at the bottom of the same hill with a friend and it appears LESS steep. You literally have greater capacity to achieve when you have a loved one by your side.
3. Become available. When a loved one is struggling and grumpy, it's so easy to let their mood rub off on you and become grumpy back or simply keep away from them. Instead go towards them. Be like the parent with a crying child and soothe them with your gestures and words. Share the load emotionally and feel what it is like to be inter-dependant, where one plus one becomes something far more powerful and beautiful than two.
I have a prayer for you, or really an invitation. That you may deepen into the everyday moments- and turn them into little pieces of ritual. Taking every chance to recognise the exquisite ecstasy available to us in this playground of existence.
Seize these little moments as mini-awakenings, snatched rememberings- a glimpse beyond the daily grind into the truth that we are literally made of dancing energy- and between these atoms of energy- just space!
A vibrating universe made of energy and space… made of love and of God.
Just take the little moments- make them tiny rituals… sitting by the creek, the way the breeze gently caresses the leaves til they so delicately dance, the water moving without compass- sparkling towards the ocean.. use it as an opportunity to reflect on the vibratory nature of the Cosmos.
Every meal- a chance to take a deep breath and for a moment consider the rays of sunlight sent from 150 million kilometres away to breathe life into the earth- bringing your body this nourishment. To take a moment to cultivate gratitude for all the many people & processes involved in your meal, and if you are so inclined- a moment to remember and thank Cosmic Consciousness for the unfathomable Gift of This Life.
When you first greet a friend, a colleague or someone in the street- make a ritual of zooming out and seeing them as they truely are. For every Human Being is nothing but Divine Consciousness- Albeit incarnated into a limited form that has momentarily forgotten who they are. Forgotten so that the Oneness of Existence- the formless, limitless, unknowable, and boundless Love of the universe may experience itself- to play out the exquisite Cosmic Game of concealing and revealing this Mystery - to the rapture of the poets, the bliss of the lovers and the Samadhi of the meditators.
As you start and end the day, what tiny thing could you do to ritualise the end of one thing into the beginning of another?… these sweet pauses - like the moment before the in-breathe becomes the inevitable out breathe…. can you fall into this infinity between your breaths?
When you lay down with your lover, does it start the same way every time? You do this, then they do that? What if you took each other’s hands for a moment first… took 3 slow breaths as One whilst gently meeting the gaze of this person who you love and trust enough in this moment to combine your energies with? And then to just let the energy take you… no routine, no plan… following the energy wherever it guides you?
A flower placed just so with presence, a mindful breath between emails, a momentary tuning into the deep mysteries of nature and the workings of the universe. These tiny moments, these little rituals, will take your life from routine and even boring, into a continuous play of heartfelt moments - moments that bring a tear to your eye, moments that make you so glad to be alive, moments where you feel so deeply connected to God.
Contrary to popular belief, Classical Tantra wasn’t really about sex. Flourishing in the 7th Century in Northern India, Tantric Shaivism was / is a mystical, deeply spiritual tradition for the revelation of the Self, otherwise put- full spiritual awakening, or enlightenment. Tantra regards all of life as sacred, and all of reality as an expression of the Divine. Tantra reveals the mysteries of the universe through ritual practices, various meditation techniques and visualisations with Cosmic Deities using their Mantra (sound representation) and Yantra (visual representation- like a mandala). ‘The Tantras’ or ‘Agamas’ are the many texts of this Tradition, and are often discourses between Shiva and his consort, teachings about the nature of reality, and often direct practices for the aspirant to undertake.
So why is Neo-Tantra (modern Tantra) focused almost purely on sacred sexuality? There is mention of sexuality in the Tantras and the Agamas. One text for example encourages the aspirant to meditate right at the point before orgasm. Another text outlines a ritual that encourages the Tantric Practitioner to take their mind beyond the caste restraints of the time, and have ritual sex with a beggar while transfiguring them as the Goddess. These are often talked about as the ‘Right hand path’ and ‘Left hand path’ Right- using visualisation rather than actual sexual rituals, aspirants were vegetarian and non-violent. Compared to the ‘Left Hand Path’, which used taboo practices such as sexual rituals, meditating in cremation grounds and eating meat.
In Classical Tantra the body is used as a spiritual tool, and the many techniques practiced induce an awakening of the Kundalini Energy. Kundalini Shakti is the Primal Life Force, dormant in most people, yet through consistent practice, and sometimes spontaneously- can begin to awaken and enliven the aspirant’s life with energy, charisma, devotion and bliss. Kundalini is not limited to Tantra. This is the energy that is worked with in Alchemical Qi Gong. This is the Divine Rapture of the Christian Fathers of the Desert and it could be argued, any Awakened Being or Great Master would have fully aroused Kundalini. Often in practice we get this Kundalini energy stirring, which can manifest as a rush of sensation, laughter, a surge of emotion, tears, a huge surge of sexual energy and many other possibilities. However full awakening of Kundalini is a constant state of maintained arousal of Kundalini from the base of the spine to crown of the head.
When Kundalini is present / aroused in a practitioner, there is a sense of being sexually radiant and alive in the world. Although this sexual dynamism isn’t limited to an object of desire, eg a person you want to have sex with. It’s a vibratory resonance, a feeling that all of life is making love with you, the elements of nature are dancing alchemically within you, there’s a sense of orgasmic bliss about your relationship to reality and actual lovemaking becomes something beyond what you’ve ever experienced. Lovemaking becomes a transcendent dance with the cosmos- a way to truely experience the dance of Shakti (the embodied energy of all reality) with Shiva (the awakened state beyond form, the foundation of the universe).
The Tantric Practitioners also understood that having sex was a hinderance to their spiritual aspiration. Most religions and spiritual practices understand this. It’s not to do with morals, they knew that after sex, you’re more in the mood to relax rather than to meditate or pray. If you remain celibate, it’s like you have the energy of a teenage boy- there is an inner fire that propels you towards devotion, prayer and your practice.
So the Tantrics learnt they could make still make love, move energy, and activate Kundalini without ejaculating (or explosive orgasms for people with female bodies) - and in this way circulate the sexual energy, the most powerful energy available, experience heightened states of consciousness, and use the sexual experience as a meditative practice to become one with Shiva. Dancing the line of orgasmic bliss- without tipping over the edge into ejaculation, they learnt how to separate orgasm from ejaculation, and move into vibratory bliss and in this state- remember Shiva- recognise ‘Sat Chit Ananda- Tat Twam Asi’ meaning ‘Existence, Consciousness, Bliss- I Am That.”
Neo-Tantra has taken some of the beautiful tenants of Classical Tantra, and made this available to many people from all walks of life. Even if you don’t have a serious daily meditation practice- your love making and your personal relationships can become conduits to spiritual states and spiritual awakening.
You can learn how to move far deeper into connection with your beloved and with your relationship with yourself through Tantra. Tantra can awaken you to a sexual, sensual relationship with the whole of your life and with the whole of existence.
According to Greek Mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them in half and condemned them to a life searching for their other half- miserable until they found their missing half to complete them.
Modern romantic notions echoed in popular music, literature and film are concepts such as “Finally I have found you”, “You complete me” and “I am nothing without you”.
Such dangerous ideas feel into our collective sense of lack. Yet there is nothing from outside needed, you are whole- right now, even as you read these words. Yes even with all your imperfections, your shame, your feelings of unworthiness. You are whole.
Within every human, resides the feminine as well as the masculine. Your gendered self may be more dominant, more grown up- but you contain both nonetheless. If you have been searching for a quality in someone outside of yourself- can you cultivate it within?
This is the experience of wholeness, of stepping into it.
And please bring everything! The parts that you would prefer to keep hidden are essential. They are part of the whole. They will be there regardless, but if you fail to acknowledge them, they will leak out. Draining you of vitality, seeping out in snide comments whispered under the breath, or unspoken huffs, and eye rolls, and slowly eroding your relationships and your sense of self love.
Your experience of wholeness includes your beautiful heart- your capacity to love and have compassion for all beings. Your experience of wholeness includes meditative and heightened states of consciousness- understanding at a very deep level- we are all one. And your experience of wholeness also includes the animal parts of yourself- your raw, wild sexuality- your delicious sensuality- your anger and your rage.
Feel, express, step into who you truly are- whole.
Before Tantra came on the scene, most of the main religions were not body positive at all.
An example is body mortification within Catholicism: "Those who belong to Christ have crucified nature, with all it's passions, all it's impurities." (Galatians 5:24).
Or the Buddhist practices of meditating on how disgusting one's own body is, with that hope that if you don't like your body, you are less likely to reincarnate and get stuck in one next time.
Yoga also started as a dualistic path. The idea was that humans and the rest of the natural realm are separated from the promise of eternal bliss because of our gross animal nature. Yoga was a way to transcend the trap of physical reality, to 'become enlightened' and transcend this world for something higher and more 'Godly'.
The ancient Goddess and Earth Religions understood the sacredness of the body; they worshipped nature and embraced the cycles of birth, life and death. They saw beauty in the bloody mess of menstruation, sex, birth and death.
Tantra bought these world-views together. There was a deep reverence for the Feminine Mysteries; they understood the Goddess as embodied divinity- living as creation. They used the body as a divine vehicle for merging with the transcendent, the un-manifest. Their journey was one of going through the Mother, to reach the Father. They realised there is only One.
A main tenant of and one of the most beautiful aspects of the Tantric path is the notion of Transfiguration. 'Trans'- means 'beyond'- so transfiguration is seeing 'beyond the figure'- seeing the divine nature inherent in every single thing.
"Everything I see is nothing less than God."
"Everything around me is a manifestation of the Divine in form."
What a stunning way to live your life!
The beauty of the natural world is for many people a window into a peak state. I know I'm not the only one who has gazed out to sea, watched a sunset or stared up at the stars and had tears stream down their cheeks- experiencing a mini-awakening, a glimpse into the true nature of reality.
Tantric practitioners make this part of daily life. A beautiful teacher of mine- Les Dyer, was talking about Sacred Space. He told me that his local rubbish tip is Sacred Space, because to him, nothing exists that is not part of God / Cosmic Consciousness / Great Spirit. There is nothing that can be excluded.
So here is the practice: when you get served at the shop by someone rude, on the day when you especially needed a little bit of kindness, remember that God just served you.
When your partner is short with you and you're about to snap back at them, remember that God stands in front of you.
We have a transfiguration practice where we make a circle, those who want to hold the masculine energy sit in a big middle circle facing outwards, and those who want to hold the feminine energy sit before them. For 2 minutes we gave into each other's eyes and meditate on the concept that this person is a manifestation of Shiva (God) and Shakti (Goddess), then a bell rings and the outer circle moves to the next person and we continue all night until we get back to our original spot.
I invite you to use a version of this practice as a powerful meditation that among other things, will help you to feel extremely beautiful.
Stand in front of a mirror, (either a face mirror or stand naked in front of a full length mirror), close your eyes for a few moments and meditate on your own divinity. If this seems hard to do, remind yourself that if Cosmic Consciousness is truly 'All that Exists', i.e. if you really believe in 'Oneness', and out of the formless Oneness came all of creation- then logic suggests that nothing can exist that is not Divine. To remove yourself from this equation would be the height of arrogance.
When you feel this truth in your heart, open your eyes and look into your own pupils.
Meditation upon yourself in this moment without going into story.
See; 'Who you Really Are'.
I suggest that you might find nothing less than the miracle of life staring back at you!
Feel the Oneness with Everything That Is. Really experience deeply the truth that this exquisite moment presents to you. Hold your own gaze without blinking too much. After a few minutes, it is not unusual to have tears come. To really see yourself- your beauty, without the usual judging or stories about 'you' as a person and to see beyond can be a truely touching experience.
Another common experience is that your face might start to morph (we speculate that perhaps you are seeing ancestors or past lives?). Just notice if this happens and continue the practice.
Your body is finite- in fifty years or so (if you're lucky) you have to return in and merge back into the Oneness...
But right now, you stand here as an expression of Divine Consciousness in form. Your body is a precious gift; loaned for a short time so that God can have an experience of forgetting that He is Everything, and therefore is able to experience Herself. See beyond the figure into your magnificent divinity.
Celebrate for a moment... use your hands to feel yourself, or watch as you make small movements and marvel at the fact that you live, breath, cry, pray and feel.
Try this with dedication for 3-5 minutes every day for a week and I promise that you will start to feel so beautiful that others will comment and the way you experience your life will change.