and the Practice of Tantra
By Sharon Neal Williams
"I can't promise I will always remember my promises,
but I can promise that I will practice remembering."
ago I remember coming across articles and books about Tantra,
an ancient eastern practice which can heighten intimacy and
use the Kundalini energy to achieve, together with ones' Beloved,
states of heightened spiritual ecstasy -- a spiritual path of
relationship. I remember especially a talk show on television
featuring a heterosexual couple, the Muirs, talking about their
Tantra practice and teachings.
the teachings seemed wonderful and powerful, only men and
women couples were mentioned.
That certainly left me out.
Coming out as a lesbian at 18, my focus was always
very strongly woman-loving-woman. Yet, in the back of mind I always felt that this path would
be a natural for me, if only I could figure out how to do
it and still be me.
Fifteen years later, I find myself not only on that
path, but in relationship with a woman who is a Tantra teacher
- one of life's ironies.
Long before coming to this practice, I found another
strong path which spoke to me loud enough to stimulate my
desire to practice it fairly consistently for many years.
Zen Buddhism made so much sense to me.
I found my way of being in the world change.
I found myself calm down.
I found that by practicing regularly, life's tangles
tended to untangle themselves, knot by knot.
So, I learned about what a practice is.
I learned that a practice is not about being perfect.
It's all about remembering to return.
Zen meditation the focus is often simply slowing one's breath
as it goes in and out, whether sitting in formal meditation
or during one's daily life and work.
Thoughts and distractions come and go and one practices
returning to the breath rather than allowing oneself to become
mired in the fantasies of the mind.
Eventually, a stillness and clarity can develop in
the mind, allowing one to pierce through the veil of delusion
created by the Ego's concern.
Then one can see through to the true Self - Buddha
nature, or God.
Evalena and I began our relationship I found that my Zen studies
helped me to flow easily into the teachings and practices
of Tantra. Breath,
presence of mind, body undulations, communication skills and
many other elements make up the pantheon of teachings in the
path of Tantra. And,
what I have found that is essential is, like any other spiritual
relationship with Evalena is just as fraught with tangles
and triggers as any other relationship I have ever been in.
This seems to be the nature of relationship - working
out these tangles. In
the past, when the tangles got too bad, it seemed like the
only solution was to find someone with fewer tangles.
Well, I have come to see there is no such being.
We are all eternally tangled.
So, how do we stay in relationship and keep it alive?
way of seeing relationship as a spiritual path is proving
very helpful in this challenge for Evalena and me.
Tantra has helped maintain the passion and intimacy
in our relationship by providing a way of being together intimately
and sexually that allows for great freedom and great connection.
After a few years of being together, women (especially
incest survivors) often find the spark between them fizzling
out, seeming to signal a need to change partners.
Tantra practices provide a way to raise that spark
even if one doesn't feel like it.
on is not a requirement for coming together passionately,
only willingness and practice are. The rewards are nothing like I ever imagined.
Tantra has traditionally been taught for heterosexual connection,
it need not be. It
is a path well-suited to any two beings who may wish to see
the Divine in one another. We each have an inner lover within us, as well as an inner
male and inner female.
And the Kundalini energy is God's energy flowing through
us. One can make
love to any manifestation of the Divine, whether it be
one's partner, a tree, the ocean, or the moon.
is a path that can help a person who is single discover her
own Best beloved within herself, and it is truly a path that
can help a couple endure and move through the rough periods,
as well as help them blossom together as lovers and partners
in ways that they might never have expected.
And, like any other spiritual path, one must be willing
to practice it. With
daily and weekly practice a couple can experience a consistent
sense of intimacy and closeness, going deeper and deeper with
each other, yet remaining in a balanced state of autonomy.
like any other spiritual practice, perfection is not the goal.
I have learned that I cannot promise my partner that
I will always remember my promises, but I can promise her
that I will practice
as in following the breath in Zen meditation, in relationship
practice I will forget sometimes and then remember and bring
myself back to the present - to that one perfect breath we