Tantra 101: Releasing Blockages, Alleviating Trauma & Integrating Emotions
Tantra is an ancient and vast system of esoteric traditions which first developed around the middle of the first millennium. It’s teachings can be found in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Jainism and many more ancient practices.
The Sanskrit word “tantra” holds a wide amount of meanings when used in various contexts. It ranges from meaning “woven together”, all the way to warp, stretch, doctrine, rule, theory, technique and method. The contextual meaning of the word varies within different Indian texts, sometimes used as a suffix or as part of another word entirely.
Traditionally, tantra is a major part of Shaktism and Shaivism, two ancient belief systems within the Hindu faith. Shakti as a deity is the conceptualization or personification of pure divine feminine power.
She symbolizes power, movement, change, and nature. It is the energy of the provider, like a great mother that nourishes all of life. The other aspect is Shiva, the deity of the masculine principle. He represents pure consciousness, an unchanging and infinite observer. This is the energy of an empty vessel, a seed of creation which Shatki then waters with life.
These two energies go hand in hand; they are two sides of the same coin, yin and yang personified. In many images they are depicted as the same person, one side being male and the other female.
Tantra, at it’s essence, encompasses the union of creation through male and female energy coming together to transform the void into physical manifestation. We wrote all about the balancing of male and female energy in a previous article which you can read here!
In essence, it is an infinite cosmic dance of duality emerging into singularity, combining forces to create something new altogether. The act of this energetic fertilization on a universal level gives birth to the macrocosm that forever expands and evolves.
Bringing it Down To The Physical
When most people think of Tantra, they think that it’s only a sort of “sacred love making practice”. In Tantra there is an energetic union between the two deities, but it is not the typical way we understand intercourse in the western world. It is the divine embracing of both static and kinetic energy, which form together to create something new.
This is a universal principle, and applies to creation on every level – whether it’s the union between the Sun and Earth to create Life, or the union between creatures in producing offspring.
Grounding these ideas down into the physical, tantra is a union between two people where traditionally, the female takes the active role and embraces the man. This embodies the creative, ever-shifting energy of Shakti, while Shiva is more of an unmovable observer.
As new age themes and spirituality continues to popularize, tantra has gained much attention over the past few years, despite being rooted in ancient cultures all around the world for centuries.
There are many different articles, books and teachings on different positions, but this doesn’t even scratch the surface of how to actually immerse yourself in the energy of this ancient practice.
In this article we will explore the beginning steps to the tantric experience, which are largely emotional, mental and spiritual in nature.
In order to even have a tantric experience, there are blockages within us that first need to be released. The physical aspects are the next steps, and will be covered at a later time.
One of the first steps to unlocking a fully opened heart, which allows for tantric energy to flow between two people; is the act of self love.
Self love is at the forefront of opening yourself up, becoming comfortable, and releasing old conditioning which holds you back from expressing yourself fully. Tantra absolutely requires you to be in a state of open expression and allowance, in order for the energy to flow freely.
If you are unable to open up and express your desires without the fear of judgement, reaching a state of tantric bliss will be next to impossible. Creating a sacred and safe place is crucial when exploring tantric practices.
Before expressing your most raw, authentic self to your partner, you must be able to express it to yourself. Holding a strong position of self love and acceptance for yourself not only aids in tantra but in every aspect of your life. Knowing your self worth, what you like and what you want are key elements to integrate into your awareness.
If you feel as if you lack self love, if you feel unloved or unworthy internally you will project these emotions into your life and pull others towards you that will not show you the deeper love you really crave. Instead, they will only reflect the lack you express towards yourself.
To begin uplifting yourself again you can start by practicing self love meditations. This can be as simple as sitting in a comfortable position, breathing deeply and beginning to think of all the positive qualities of yourself, holding a space of forgiveness and seeing yourself as being worthy of all the love in the universe. As if your deepest self knows all your darkest secrets, and still choose to love you regardless!
Continue feeling forgiven, worthy, supported and loved by the universe, even if you don’t believe it at first, as over time these emotional patterns will build you up, and open your heart.
Treat your body as your temple, and take the time to listen to what your body needs. Remember to do things for yourself sometimes, take time to rest and replenish your energy. When you can feel yourself as a beautifully perfect extension of source energy, deeply connected to everything around you, self love transforms into an experience of infinite universal love for all life that simply flows through you.
This then shifts the need to send yourself love, to simply existing in a constant state of endless love which flows through you, and empowers others to do the same. This can take time to fully embody, so be gentle with yourself, and have patience with your practice.
The Inner Child
Going hand in hand with self love, unlocking the inner child is equally important when creating a tantric experience. Our self love can be blocked by our inner child being shut down, it’s vital that we begin to communicate with this aspect of ourselves.
Many of us may have had traumatic experiences as a child, or grew up in households that were not always supportive in the ways that we needed. These experiences can compound and hold us back when we are in our most raw and vulnerable states, especially during intimacy. This is even more sensitive if you or people in your family experienced a level of sexual abuse.
It’s important that your partner who you share in intimacy with is open and sensitive about your past so you can feel safe to open up and create a flow between the both of you. One of the best ways to work through trauma is to freely talk about it with someone who is in an open state of listening and accepting.
Integrating your past, if it’s holding you back, can be an incredible transformative practice that ultimately aids in every aspect of your life. A powerful tool for integrating emotional blockages is using the practice of The 21 Masks of the Ego from Maha Vajra, which you can read about here! This is the process of observing the aspects within us that we may have considered negative and pushed away because they are uncomfortable to look at.
There are entire sects within the self help community solely focused on inner child work. One of the most basic practices are meditations focusing on loving your child self. When in meditation, imagine yourself both being with this child you, and hold your younger self.
Cradle this child version of you and hold them safe, sending them the love you might have not received as a kid. Doing this in tandem with the 21 Masks practice will deeply allow you to heal childhood traumas, and eventually release blockages that surface during intimacy. Again, be gentle with yourself and have patience if there has been years of built up tension in your life.
Using The Chakras With Tantra
Once you have reached a point where you have integrated the elements of your past, these emotional patterns and triggers, you are ready to dive deeper into practicing tantra.
Chakras are energetic points all over your body that are vortexes for energy to move through. While they hold many non-physical properties, it’s easy to see if the major centers are opened or closed by observing patterns in your everyday life.
One of the most important chakras to have open during tantric practices is your sacral. This is your relationship energy center where we learn how to express our passion, creativity and learn to interact with others. In practicing tantra, this chakra is where the sensual energy will build and release in waves of blissful light.
A simple way to tell if this chakra is closed is by observing if you become uncomfortable talking about being intimate. If there is a hesitancy in discussing these topics among people you trust, this is a sign that you are still holding onto trauma and that this chakra is not fully open. Practicing the 21 masks, self love and inner child meditations can help realign and open this chakra back up.
While ultimately it’s important to have all your chakras in alignment, but for tantra it is crucial to at least have your sacral, heart, throat and crown chakra open. Here is why:
The Sacral Chakra is where the sensual energy will build and move up along your body, taking your experience to a higher level of connection.
The Heart Chakra is the center of compassion and where both self love and universal love stems from. If this chakra is closed, the flow of energy will stop here and it will be difficult to feel the level of cosmic love that comes with a tantric experience.
The Throat Chakra is important for creating clear communication between you and your partner so you can express what you need. A closed throat chakra can lead you to feeling shut down or like expressing yourself will get you nowhere. A high level of communication is needed when engaging in the ebb and flow of tantra. This communication doesn’t always have to be verbal, which is why it’s so important to have your crown chakra opened.
The Crown Chakra is your inherent universal connection to everything within the fabric of reality itself. It is your connection to Spirit, God, The very fabric of the Universe itself, or whatever name you’d like to put on it. When the crown is fully open, there is an intuitive sense of knowing that flows through you.
This can transform into powerful communications on a telepathic level with your partner where you both understand each other so deeply that verbal words are no longer needed. This is the highest form of intimacy that unlocks the door for blissful experiences that transcend physicality itself.
The Yogic Breath is a form of deep breathing that allows for a high level of energy to flow through you. Being able to keep this deep breath is required before experiencing any level of tantric positions. Without this ability to hold a space for a constant flow of energy to breathe through you, the physical aspect of tantra is just that – a merely physical experience.
Tantric bliss predominantly takes place within our emotional and spiritual bodies, so these elements are being covered first. Bridging the gap between our spiritual body and physical body starts with the breath. When you are in an intimate state with your partner, tantric energy can be incredibly intense and feel uncomfortable if it’s not allowed to flow properly.
The deeper you breathe, the more energy you can handle, which allows for higher levels of transcendental lovemaking. When fully achieved, this state can actually transcend your consciousness out of your physical body and create a sober psychedelic experience for you and your partner. The Yogic Breath is a synthesis of three breaths, sometimes called the complete breath. These breaths are the abdominal breath, the mid-breath and the upper-breath. In the abdominal breath, your abdomen expands and stretches downward as you breathe in air and sensual energy from the core of the planet below you.
Then, the mid-breath moves the air and energy upwards to expand and fill your chest cavity. Your rib cage opens and shoulders lift in this process. This pulls in energy from the world around you and the universe in this dimension.
Finally, in the upper-breath you raise the cosmic energy into your nasal passage and gently push it to fill your head. As you exhale, push the breath all the way back down your nasal passage, along your chest cavity and then back into your abdomen. This pulls in energy from the dimensions above to allow for greater levels of insight to come into your awareness.
This may cause a bit of discomfort in the beginning as it uses muscles to breathe that aren’t normally used. It can help to put a hand on your stomach to feel the movement of the energy rises and falling within you. If you aren’t used to breathing deeply, this practice can make you feel light headed in the beginning, but the more you practice, the quicker that experience will subside.
This breath can be done at any time and is highly recommended to anyone trying to deepen their connection with their soul or higher self. Breathing through the three levels will become a natural practice over time and the grounding energy you get from it will impact all aspects of your life, not just your understanding of tantric experiences.
Keeping this level of deep breathing during tantra is the key to unlocking a higher level of bliss between you and your partner. Many of us have a tendency to tense up, especially women, as we reach a climax in reaction to high levels of energy and pressure that builds up within us. The practice of deep breathing through these waves of tension, and relaxing your abdomen will allow for more energy and air to enter into you. This then transforms into the practice of riding the waves of sexual energy as they move upwards along your kundalini, going with the flow of this blissful build up, and allowing it to release and return inwards when it’s at its peak.
Taking The Next Steps
As these first aspects of emotional integration and releasing blockages are practiced, you can begin to truly experience the entire spectrum of what tantric love truly is. The next part of tantra includes the physical positions, more in-depth breathing techniques and the bridge to fully transcendent physical experiences.
These practices can only be achieved when we are completely open energetically, emotionally, mentally and free from egoic limitations.