What is tantra? Definition, techniques and practice

Tantric practices and techniques

Tantra represents an esoteric practice established more than 40 centuries ago on the soil of India. Traditional tantra is defined through texts, systems, methods, techniques and practice. For this reason, many associate it with religion, philosophy, science, spiritual and physical practice, as well as with sex. Tantra rejects the idea that liberation of the human spirit can only be achieved through asceticism. Tantra stands for the celebration of all senses and life.

The origin of the word tantra

The word tantra itself is interpreted in many ways, we find different explanations in different sources.

Let’s see which are the most common:

  1. Tantra is interpreted in Sanskrit as “weaving”, “assembly”, and this explanation is the most common. The root word “tan” means the pairing of threads in a loop, and refers to the pairing and interweaving of tradition and learning through texts, techniques and practice.
  2. In other sources, it is interpreted that the word tantra is formed by combining two Sanskrit words: Tanoti, which we translate as expansion, and Raiati, which would be to release. In short, we can say that the word tantra means the release of energy through the expansion of consciousness.
  3. Another interpretation considers tantra to be a combination of two words, but this time they are: Tattva, which refers to the principles of the cosmos and its energy, and Mantra, which speaks of mystical sounds and vibrations. In this case, it is said that the cosmic sciences have an application in achieving spiritual supremacy.
Universe, energy, awakening of consciousness, as an explanation of tantra
One of the interpretations of tantra is that cosmic energy is used for the spiritual progress of man

What is tantra, how is it defined?

Tantra is an ancient Indian practice that is more than 5 thousand years old. It is rich in techniques and practices that were initially transmitted only through practice, without written traces, from teacher to student. Over time, the tantric practice was gradually lost and that’s when they started writing it down to save it from being forgotten. Today there are sixty-four tantric texts or Tantras.

Tantra teaches how to develop one’s lower, Tamaistic energy into a higher one, to reach one’s higher self. The transformation of gross human nature (limitation, egoism, enslavement to passions, emotions, mechanical behavior) into a higher nature (love, compassion, higher emotions, devotion) is the path that Tantra leads, it is gradual and easy.

The process is guided by Sadhana, spiritual practice. It represents the path of evolution of the soul and consciousness, where the physical aspect is as important as the spiritual, because tantra does not separate the spirit from the body.

Evolution of Consciousness as part of Tantra
Tantra is primarily about developing lower energy into higher

Tantra as a worldview, philosophy or set of practices is extremely alive but also susceptible to misconceptions on its way from ancient India to the present day.

The path of Tantra from East to West and its influence on the modern world

At the beginning of the 19th century, tantra was first introduced to Western scholars. Then tantra, which in the Indian tradition is a system and methodology that deals with man, and serves a deep transformation of the body and self, is gradually transformed and interpreted through only one part of it – the sexual aspect and the sensual paradise that are explain in the sexual teachings of tantra. Therefore, the trivialization of tantra came as a consequence of not understanding and not delving into all its aspects.

Also, along the way, tantra was associated with some revolutionary changes, from the transformation of Hinduism and Buddhism in the 6th century, to the Indian struggle for independence and the growth of counterculture in the sixties of the 20th century, when sexual liberation and the spiritual progress of the hippie generation.

The Tantric rise of Goddess worship in medieval India has had an impact on modern times through feminist thought and practice.

Tantra is adaptive and not dogmatic, and the existence and influence of Tantra through all these years and centuries is reflected in changes in social modalities and ways of life and behavior.

The elevation of female goddesses and deities continues today through women's movements
The philosophy of tantra is that all aspects of the material world are imbued with divine feminine power

What does the tantric way of life entail?

We often come across the explanation that tantric life involves overcoming all obstacles by being guided and listening to one’s own supreme consciousness, but we will try to bring some basic principles that tantric life entails in a simple way:

  • Each individual should develop himself through various techniques and practices and strive to unite his nature with the higher, and thus reach the best version of himself.
  • On this path of development, everyone has their place and purpose in the Universe, regardless of their level of development.
  • There are no restrictions such as national, religious, political, economic, racial, everyone has the right to be as free as they know and can.
  • It is possible for all emotions to be welcomed and accepted equally, and for each person to deeply feel what they feel. Only then will everyone be able to feel the other and their emotions and needs.
  • Spiritual progress does not exclude material satisfaction, because a person who is spiritually elevated has the right and natural need to fulfill his other desires.

Tantra principles are not unattainable, nor meant for someone else, they are for each of us. The tantric way of life is what we all strive for, wholeness, completeness, connection with ourselves and others. You must be wondering how to learn and how to achieve this lifestyle?

Tantra teachers/masters

Tantra is conveyed in the right way only from the tantra teacher (master, guru) to the student. Tantric practices must be conveyed with the constant help of a teacher, as they can become unsafe and dangerous.

Tantra explains three types of students:

  1. Those who study and receive initiation and practice while under the teacher’s care, and outside of that forget it and do not live such a way of life.
  2. Those who accept the teaching from the teacher and try to practice what the teacher has passed on to them, but they do not devote enough time and care to the practices and most often abandon them.
  3. Those who receive the teachings and practices, further develop and practice them in all circumstances and thus fully fulfill the purpose of the learning.

Also, there are three types of teachers:

  1. Bad – they only convey the learning but do not check whether the student has understood some practice, whether he is ready for it and whether he understands how it is done and why.
  2. Intermediate – convey learning and practices, check that the student understands and does them, but do not require a sufficient level of discipline and progress of the student.
  3. Advanced or the best – they care about the student, follow their development, often question them to see if they are progressing. They are strict about discipline and practice and ask a lot from the student to ensure a quick and easy path through tantric practices and techniques.
There are different tantra teachers
Tantra teacher is also called tantra guru or master

5 Tantra techniques

Tantra techniques are numerous and different, for easy understanding we have chosen 5 techniques that are intended for beginners:

  1. Deep breathing – a technique based on the importance of deep breathing that will fill the whole body. A light, extremely deep inhalation, followed by an equally light exhalation until the maximum exhalation, leads to the feeling that you are big, happy, satisfied, relaxed, that you have filled the whole room with your body.
  2. Looking into the eyes – while holding a mirror, look at your non-dominant eye (for right-handed people it is the left, and for left-handed people it is the non-dominant right eye). After taking a deep breath, with a completely open mind, conduct some kind of dialogue with yourself. In this way, you open your heart, remove shame, and strengthen self-love.
  3. Searching for the “elastic edge of resistance” – you need to find a way so that when you touch someone, you yourself become part of that touch, not to overdo it, but also so that the touch is not too weak, so that it is not felt. Just like when you hug someone, the hug should not be sloppy, but it should not suffocate the person you are hugging either. So, the technique is used to practice the limit to resistance.
  4. It’s all fake if you don’t feel it – a technique that increases sensation in your body, even when you’re convinced you can’t feel anything. For example, try to “send breath” to one finger of your hand. Try to visualize the breath as light going to that finger, concentrate on that and after a few minutes of this technique, do you have a different feeling in that finger?
  5. Letting go of your expectations – it’s important to go into this experience with all your senses, without the need to process anything intellectually. In tantra there is no specific goal, everything is a goal. Release your expectations, reduce self-judgment, relax completely.

Throughout history, tantra techniques have been used by rulers and priests to increase their energy and power, because tantra believes that men, unlike women, cannot use energy from the universe. Today, tantra techniques are used by both men and women, all over the world.

Deep breathing as a tantra technique
The feeling of satisfaction with the tantra technique of deep breathing

Tantric practice

Tantra begins with discovering and getting to know yourself, your body, soul and spirit, through tantra techniques and tantric practices used to connect with the absolute – divine energy. The essence of the practice is to enter everything in life as fully and consciously as possible.
What do tantric practices enable us to do?

  1. The evolution of consciousness
  2. Increasing awareness
  3. Expansion of own possibilities
  4. Opening your heart to yourself and others
  5. Rejecting the superfluous in life
  6. Removing the masks we wear throughout life
  7. Teaching pleasure and naturalness
  8. The formation of a great field of love

All these possibilities are realized through yoga, meditation, massage, tantric sex…

Tantra practices for the advancement of consciousness
Tantric practices enable the achievement of the best personal, spiritual version

Tantra yoga

Yoga, an ancient wisdom and practice that was once a landmark of the East, is now represented all over the world. It is the most complete work on oneself, it combines physical exercise, spiritual, ethical and philosophical learning and aims at enlightenment, a harmonious life in well-being, health and happiness. Such a practice has Ashtanga yoga, which is adorned with the epithets powerful and dynamic.

The word Ashtanga itself means eight limbs/levels:

  1. Yamasmeans restraint, form of moral imperatives, commandments, rules or goals. It is a “don’t do this” list of self-restraints, usually representing commitments that affect one’s relationships with others and oneself.
  2. Niyamaspositive duties, these are recommended activities and habits for a healthy life and spiritual enlightenment.
  3. Āsanarepresents body position, originally was and still is a general term for sitting meditation.
  4. Prānāyāmafocusing on breathing during yoga practice.
  5. Pratyāhāra – translates as “gathering towards” and refers to “the withdrawal of the five senses from external objects to be replaced by the mentally created senses of the enlightened deity.”
  6. Dhāraṇā – translated from Sanskrit as gathering or concentration of mind, or keeping, carrying, retaining, keeping (in memory), good memory.
  7. Dhyāna – best explained as focusing on your thoughts and meditation.
  8. Samādhi – means meditative absorption or trance, and refers to the development of a radiant mind that is calm and aware.

From this it can be concluded that yoga and meditation, as two close tantric practices, are very closely related.

Tantra meditation

Tantric meditation uses a number of techniques that help to “remove the veil” that covers our consciousness and our unlimited potential.

There are various tantric meditations, to name a few:

  1. Tantric Meditation for Clarity and Wisdom – The third eye is the center of clarity and wisdom. Blending techniques of breathing, chanting, visualization and vibrational sound (mantra) allow you to tap into the wisdom of the third eye and rest with calm awareness, effortlessly.
  2. Tantric Meditation for Clearing Difficult Emotions – This meditation uses breath, concentration, visualization of movement and energy colors, and meditation that transforms difficult emotions in the heart center.
  3. Tantric Meditation for Empowerment – Connecting with the creative forces of will, power and determination that reside in the third chakra. Breathing techniques, visualization, concentration, navel center prana and mantra are used.
  4. Tantric Meditation for Awakening the Sushumna – Connecting to the spinal energy channel known as the sushumna, clearing the way for the Kundalini to rise, uses breath, chanting, visualization and meditation.

Tantric meditation raises energy and calls energy centers along the spine, so called chakras, to open. Meditation guides you to move energy up and down your spine and expand your body’s energy centers. Regular practice of just five minutes each day, gradually adding time as you progress, makes tantra accessible to everyone, regardless of physical ability.

Tantric Meditations and Chakras
The opening of different chakras is achieved through tantric meditation

Tantra massage

Tantra massage is a form of energy therapy and is used according to Ayurvedic techniques that generate energy. This energy massage leads to intense sensations and an opening beyond emotions, without blockages. The effects of this massage are described in more detail in the tantra massage text.

Tantric sex

Tantra is a spiritual practice in which all aspects of earthly life, including sex, can be a path to spiritual realization.

Many people are attracted to tantra by its ability to connect deeply with a partner. Many couples practice tantric sex to feel connected to their partner on a higher level. Tantric techniques help establish close, intimate contact while exploring the body and uncovering desires.

All in all, sexual energy, as the strongest but raw energy, is transformed into higher, spiritual energy by various techniques. They strengthen and elevate each other.

Tantric sex completely unites two individuals
The complete merging and channeling of sexual energies leads to spiritual union

Choose tantra

We sincerely hope that we have satisfied your curiosity about tantra and brought you at least a little closer to the secrets of the Eastern way of life and thinking. Now that you have learned all about the traditional techniques, complete your tantra experience and feel the magic of tantra massages, such as soul tantra, bamboo tantra, or duo tantra. Relax and enjoy.