Stubbs writes in his book The Essential Tantra that Tantra is basically a teaching of acceptance and nonattachment. When we grasp for something, we are attached. There’s no freedom. When we avoid something, we are attached. There’s no freedom. It is through the acceptance of all as it is that we become free. Acceptance is neither submission nor giving up. Here, acceptance means nonattachment. What does that mean for us? It means accepting ourselves as we are and letting go of preconceived notions of sex and orgasm. It means becoming aware of the feelings and sensations that we do have, subtle as they may seem at first. In total acceptance, in nonattachment, there is transformation.
Stubbs warns us not to get caught up in the mainstream media’s sensationalization of Tantra that has packaged it as a royal road to sexual pleasure. The essence of Tantra is not having sex in a particular position or prolonging intercourse. The real thing, says Rajneesh, is the ability to relax, to let go, to transform the physical into a meditative experience. It is attentiveness to sensations, mindfulness, being in the present. Stubbs notes that when we can transform energy at will, we are liberated.
For me, a more casual student, Tantra is a way of tapping into my subtle energy body that I had been aware of but unable to express. It has provided another way for my wife and I to stay sexually and spiritually connected in those times between what many would refer to as ordinary sex.
Mastering Tantra takes many years of study and practice. All of us, however, can begin to reap the benefits of this sacred perspective by practicing a few simple exercises that can be incorporated into our everyday lives.
- Raise your awareness that you are a conscious being. If you are accustomed to wearing a watch on your left wrist, wear it on your right. Every time you go to check the time on your left wrist instead of the right, say "I am a conscious being."
- Focus on your breathing. Most of us are shallow breathers. Deep relaxation begins with deeper breathing. Whenever you pass through a door, check your breathing. Take a good deep breath if you can, hold it and exhale fully. At a later time you can learn to harmonize these three stages of breathing.
- To get a better sense of your energy body, focus on the palm of your right hand. Notice the sensations. Then focus on the palm of your left hand. Switch the focus back and forth. Then slowly move your hands together until they almost touch. Pay close attention to the changes and what you feel between your palms. If you don’t have sensation in your hands than focus on one ear, then the other. Then move or have someone else move your palm within an inch or so of your ear. You will see that your energy body extends beyond your physical body.
- To enhance your awareness of expanding sensations, slow down when you’re eating. Truly taste the food and drink. Notice the texture and temperature. Keep track of the sensations as the food travels down your esophagus. I do this with orange juice first thing in the morning.
Practice is essential as we relearn ways to experience the full energy of our bodies. According to Stubbs, sensuality, sexuality and spirituality begin with ourselves. They are all within us.
Barriers to these experiences during sex include concentrating too much on performance and not enough on sensations, judging others, making comparisons with the past to invalidate the present, and focusing on expectations instead of the richness available in the moment.
To overcome these barriers, let go of expectations. If you are the receiver, let go of attachments to outcomes. If you are the giver, let go of performance expectations. Allowing, rather than striving, is the key to acknowledging that we are not bound by the medical model of orgasm.