Tantra is a Sanskrit word that means woven together. Hindu and Buddhist meditation practitioners use sexual union as a metaphor for weaving together the physical and the spiritual: weaving man to woman, and humanity to the divine. The purpose is to become one with God.
The Western form of this sacred sexuality called Tantra, teaches slow, non-orgasmic sexual intercourse. The aim is to become enlightened, not to win an Olympic medal for gymnastics!
Tantra is now a buzzword in the modern Western world. We see it on the covers of popular magazines and books, usually linked with a vaguely suggestive and titillating notion of some kind of superlative sexual experience.
Though almost everyone has heard this word, almost no-one —including many people claiming to teach something called tantra— knows anything about the historical development of the Indian spiritual tradition that scholars refer to as Tantra.
Luana Aguiar is a Brazilian doctor and tantric teacher. She kindly accepted to introduce the tantric philosophy for us. To step into the world of Tantra is to enter a world of magic and mystery.
Interview by Armanda Dos Santos
1. What brought you to Tantra?
Dr. Luana Aguiar: Everything started when I decided to go for a sabbatical year and travel throughout India to explore different medicine and also myself.
I was looking for courses in the field of sexuality; something that would combine the concept of energy, anatomy, physiology and spirituality. I always felt that there was so much more than “just” pleasure and that the sexual energy could be used for much more. That orgasm was a gateway.
During this search, the word Tantra popped into my head. I stumbled upon a tantric community, and that was only the beginning. The more I breathe tantra, the more I want to go deeper. It is not only about studying, it is more about living, experiencing and evolving.
2. Tantra integrates sexuality, love and spirituality. Is Tantra a lifestyle or just the “art of sexual ecstasy”?
Dr. Luana Aguiar: Tantra is for sure not only the “art of sexual ecstasy”. Actually, only a small part of tantra deals with sexuality. However, since people are very interested in the sexuality, that is the part that stands out. Sex sells right?
It is hard to define Tantra. There are many branches of Tantra that can greatly differ. It is a way of self-development that takes you towards self-realization. During this journey you will learn many things about yourself (mind and body). You will begin to integrate all the different aspects of yourself.
3. Can you explain Tantric philosophy, its principles, and demystify this Hindu tradition for beginners?
Dr. Luana Aguiar: Let’s begin with the name, Tantra is a Sanskrit word that literally means warp or extension. The verbal roots tan – “to stretch, to expound”and tra – “to save”.
Tantra is accessible to everyone no matter what caste or part of the world they live in. It has a metaphysical basis of a non-dualist nature which is taught by words and practices, practice is a must. Tantra emphasizes the Shakti power – the feminine principle, energy of bondage and universal power. The encounter of Shakti (feminine principle) and Shiva (masculine principle ) is an experience beyond the word.
The understanding, not only by the mind, that we are everything and everything is us. To make it simple, the aim of Tantra is true freedom – enlightenment. There are many schools and different classification, but I want to make it as simple as possible.
To summarize, Tantra is a path that deals with energy, metaphysical principles and integrates all the aspects of the human being including sex. The practices can vary drastically according to the different schools – yoga, meditation, mantras, yantras, etc.…
4. Tantra is known to transform erotic passion into spiritual ecstasy. How can Western practitioners explore and experience Tantra?
Dr. Luana Aguiar: Orgasm can take you into this experience in a second. The problem is that usually and orgasm last a few seconds. The sexual tantra teaches how you can increase this gap, consequently increasing this experience.
Everyone can explore and experience Tantra by being more aware of their body and keeping their mind totally still. Using sexual energy as a propulsion force requires practice through certain rituals and meditations. Of course, if you are already doing practices that deals with energy (yoga and meditation) it can be much easier. Having personal guidance can help because we are very different. Certain practices can be beneficial to some and not to others.
To expand a bit, if you drop the word spirituality, the tools of tantra can be used for people that are not “spiritual”. Think about the possibility of going beyond pleasure and finding internal fulfillment. People have a hard time meditating. Making love is one of the best ways to keep your mind focused completely on the here and now. It allows one to go deep into themselves.
For such practices, it is recommended that you keep your body clean from all junk food, drug, pollution, etc..
5. We also know that Tantra can help couples enjoy the best physical and spiritual relationship possible. But, I wonder if Tantra healing can assist women to release sexual and physical trauma, such as rape, past sexual abuse, etc, and how?
Dr. Luana Aguiar: Yes, tantra can used to help release sexual and physical trauma. There are many meditations that can be done. Even the tantric massage, which accesses not only the physical, but also the emotional bodies, allowing you to go deeper in body, mind and energy.
6. Can tantra help women in overcoming a lack of self-confidence?
Dr. Luana Aguiar: Of course! This process takes you closer to yourself and helps to purify you mind and the memories of your body. It helps you connect to the source of your power. Tantra is about revealing and worshiping the feminine aspects – the goddess. Getting in touch with your internal goddess can change a woman’s life.
7. Self-Confidence can be a fragile thing. Which kind of transformation did you notice with your patients?
Dr. Luana Aguiar: A person is frequently insecure about their potential in many ways. I see them get surprise with what they can achieve using their body. It all starts will the sensation. They get surprised with the sensation that they never thought about having. This opens a gap to many other possibilities. By the change in their body, their emotions start to change and they start to experience the world in a different way. Of course, it is something that needs to be worked on and bringing stuff to the consciousness. And there is no “magic”. But I get amazed how the energy had it own intelligence and how it works.
8. What’s a healing Yoni massage and its benefits ? And can it be practiced by ourselves?
Dr. Luana Aguiar: One of the definitions of the word yoni is vagina. In simple terms, it is a massage in the sexual organs. It can also be done on the lingam (penis). A tantric therapist doesn’t the massage not only in the physical but also in the more subtle aspects. He helps you move the energy up releasing from places that it was stuck. I haven’t seen studies that prove the efficiency of the tantric massage and it also depends on the therapist but a yoni massage may help in cases of sexual disturbs ( anorgasmia, vaginism, dispareunia), depression, anxiety disturbs and it also a great way to get to know your body better.
A beginner doesn’t really know what is touching and doesn’t how to perceive energy therefore if you want to start look for a professional session.
9. What’s the difference between Tantric massage, Tantric yoga and sexual massage?
Dr. Luana Aguiar: Tantra has many tools such as yoga , meditation, massages and etc… Tantric massage is massage that is done on the physical body (can include or not genital massage). It deals with energy. It cleans the nadis (energy channels) and releases the stuck energy working in the entire body moving the energy to the higher chakras. Sexual massage gets the body aroused and awake. That is pretty much it.
Tantra yoga is a yoga that also incorporate the metaphysical concepts of tantra in its practice and if very focused on the movement of energy.
10. Tantra is a meditative approach to sexuality, to the sacredness of the body (and desire), but also a profound path to deepening the Kundalini. Is Tantra a key to personal growth and enlightenment?
Dr. Luana Aguiar: Tantra is certainly one of the keys to personal growth and enlightenment. There are many way to get there. And tantra is one of them, for sure it has more than enough tools to lead one to enlightenment.
11. In the tantric tradition, the woman is considered to be higher than the man, so far as the tantric initiations are concerned. Does it means that an awakening of the spiritual force, that is, kundalini, is much easier in the body of a woman than in the body of a man?
Dr. Luana Aguiar: I wouldn’t say that the woman is higher than the man. The difference here is that tantra consider the women to be a goddess and the other way is also true. The man is also seen as a god. In tantra, man represents the principle of masculine energy – Shiva and the Women is Shakti. Tantra uses the appreciation on the divine of the women to rise their consciousness. The final goal is to reach the state where there is no man nor women.
In Tantra, there is no you and I . There is no duality.
12. What is a Tantric practice? Can you share some tantric techniques, exercises or meditations?
Dr. Luana Aguiar: If you want to start deepening into this world, I strongly recommend that you find meditation groups and join workshops. Because in these groups, someone who is already initiated will guide you through the process. This can give you a push on your personal practice. Tantra is better explained when experienced.
Thank you Luana!