Tantra for one
Tantra, a word that can incite both excitement and fear for some. Excitement in the unknown, and fear, because they are on their own and don't know how to begin this journey in that space. There are many people keen to explore Tantra who are single or who may be in a relationship, but their partner is not interested. And the foreign understanding of what Tantra is, and the perception that it for couples (think Kama sutra), hinders their steps into a richer life.
Because my love and training is for both Classical Tantra and for the more westernised experience of it, I am going to look at both. Beginning with Classical Tantra* and then looking into ways of opening your body to the flow of sexual energy through your body.
In Classical Tantra the practises are designed to bring you to living and immersing into your individual essence nature / soul. Although most of practises are done on your own, connecting to your own self, getting to know yourself fully, when we live in this awakened life, we understand we are all connected. Living & experiencing these Nondual teachings is life changing. Though the use awareness cultivation techniques of pranayama (breath practise), asana (movement with awareness), mantras (sacred sounds), mudras (gestures to activate energy), dhyanas (meditation) and yantras (sacred geometry symbols), you begin to live your life from your innermost truth and experience a way of being in the world that is in alignment with your deepest nature.
So Tantra is the recognition of yourself first. In both classical and the more modern view, the connection always begins with you. And when that connection and opening happens, that awareness, that love, that bliss begins to flow through you and into every part of your life; in a relationship or not.
Tantra is a set of techniques/ritual, we use to deepen our intimacy, with ourselves, a partner and the world, and to communicate in a more open and authentic way. It is about being present, experiencing what is happening right here, right now. The universe offers us an infinite number of possibilities so those experiences can range from love and pure joy to anger and sadness - each of them as valid as the other. Tantra is allowing your heart to open, to love so deep, ourselves and everyone and everything on this planet.
I love how the beautiful Dawn Cartwright explains this 'Tantra for the single is about letting go of waiting, it's loving right now. It's letting go of saving all our live up for 'the one' - a process where we end up being so keyed up we explode all over anyone who shows the slightest interest, and instead, loving anyway, all the time, not matter what. No matter who'. **
How do we begin to open our hearts and in that opening, allowing a relaxation to happen that opens the body for our sexual energy/life force to flow through. We can experiment with breath, sound, movement and intention. And begin to experience the Shakti energy within us. Shakti is everything and nothing at the same time and this energy is the glue that binds everything together. To experience your Shakti energy is to experience your life force within you. When we gather this energy and begin allowing it to move through the body in such a way that your awareness and bliss combines to create more and more inside you, opening up new pathways for energy to flow and expanding the container (your pelvis and body) for this energy.
If you find yourself on your own and wanting to begin to explore Tantra, you are right where you need to be. Slow down, become aware of your breathing (are you breathing into your chest or stomach?) and allow your body to relax and open up to the infinite possibilities. Below is a beautiful meditation by Dawn Cartwright to begin exploring this connection & opening in you.
Home Practice . Desire
"In the Tantric sadhana there is a particular practice wherein the yogi sees the world as desire. Everything - a leaf falling from a tree, the sky, the snow, the water he drinks, his food - desires him. In this way he enters into an extremely subtle and refined relationship with objects. We do not touch in the same way a teacup that desires us, we do not look in the same way at a tree that desires us." Daniel Odier . Desire: The Tantric Path to Awakening
Desire Meditation . The Involution of Love
Lie down on your back. Take a few minutes to sink into your body, entering a time and a space just for you and your sexual journey. Music is a key element of this practice so find something gentle to let go to. When you feel ready to begin, place one hand on your sex, the other on your heart. Allow your hands to melt into your body, feel the pulse and wave of your aliveness.
Imagine you are drawing the breath in through your sex, then, on the exhale, imagine you are sending the breath out through your sex. Relax your face and pelvic floor. Feel a slight expansion in your genitals on the inhale, a subtle contraction on the exhale. Relax into these sensations and allow them to grow. Fill your pelvis, then your abdomen, then your chest. Exhale from the chest, the abdomen and the pelvis. Melt into the earth, remain relaxed and open.
In the next stage of the meditation, we'll add an important grounding element to the practice. Grounding, similar to electrical grounding, makes it possible for a system to channel and circulate a greater charge.
Continue the breathing practice and place your feet flat on the floor, hip distance apart. Each time you exhale, press firmly and gently into all 4 corners of your feet. Feel how this increases the subtle sensations in your pelvis and body. You may notice you feel stronger, more alert. Your body is able to contain a greater ecstatic charge. In the beginning, these sensations may be subtle, commit to your practice, you'll be astonished by what you discover. Begin to increase the volume of your breath, slightly. Feel yourself relaxing into the edges of your inner capacity. Focus your attention on sensation and everything you feel in your body. Allow 5-10 minutes for this stage of the meditation.
When you feel ready to move on, bring your attention to your pelvic floor. Gently contract just the right side of your bulbospongiosus on the inhale. Relax this muscle as you exhale. The next time you breathe in, contract the left side of your bulbospongiosus, just to the point where you feel the muscle engage. Relax as you breathe out. Continue 5-7 minutes.
Next, on the inhalation, gently contract the right side of your ischiocavernosus. Release the contraction on the exhale. Then, the left side. Continue to alternate between right and left. Give yourself 5-7 minutes for this stage.
The Ischiocavernosus & Perineum
Next stage, contract the right and left side of the ischiocavernosus and the right and left perineal muscles, together, as you inhale. Release on the exhale. Feel where these muscles intersect deep in your inner pelvic region. Give an extra pulse at this intersection. Make sure your neck, face and jaw remain relaxed. Allow 5-7 minutes for this stage.
Sustain the breathing practice, let go of the pelvic floor contractions, allow your body to be open and fluid. Remember to inhale through the genitals, filling your body from pelvis to heart as you inhale. Press your feet into the floor, releasing the breath from heart to pelvis with each exhale and . . .
Feel that the music desires you.
The sky desires you.
The moon and the sun desire you.
The room you're in desires you.
The place in nature where you are meditating, desires you.
Let your body move if you are so inspired. Add your voice to the experience, make sounds.
The air you breathe desires you.
Take a sip of water - the water desires you. Wants nothing more than to be inside you.
The glass against your lips desires you.
The fabric against your skin desires you.
How does it feel?
In the beginning, this may be a mental exercise for you - make the shift into feeling. Feel that you are desired.
After 20-30 minutes, let go of the breathing and just be. Desired.
Enjoy your practice!
** Dawn Cartwright will be teaching in the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland this October http://www.dawncartwright.com/calendar.php
A Taste of Tantra one day workshop this July in Macclesfield and Birmingham is open to singles and couples - http://www.karenomoore.com/#!a-taste-of-tantra/mu0dj