Is Tantra purely some high spiritual practice done by those in the know? Not necessarily. “Essentially tantra is a philosophy or model of reality where everything is inclusive – as a way to enlightenment – including our sexuality, but not limited to,” explains global tantra teacher and transpersonal counsellor Natalie Bondine. “In the west we mostly see tantra as a sexual practice, however traditionally there are many forms that it takes, and essentially it is a way of using all of our reality through the body meant as a way of connecting to the Divine.”
Bondine believes the health benefits of tantra are endless, particularly in a world where many of us have been taught not to feel, express or remain connected to our divine nature and the earth. “Where we live in a place mostly in our heads, lacking intimacy with in relationships and community and especially within ourselves… I believe this is where Tantra comes in and reminds us of the innate beauty in every experience, whether that be in pleasure or in the mundane world of work, raising kids, paying bills and so forth,” she says.
Modern Tantra or Neo Tantra as it is sometimes called is a good starting point for beginners to get connected deeply back into the body and mind. It’s a modern movement focusing on sacred sexuality but having little to do with the ancient and medieval tantric traditions. “It’s a way of connecting us to our pleasure and patterns of consciousness through the microcosm of our bodies,” says Bondine. If you are interested in ancient tantric practices, you might want to start by exploring and researching its various Hindu deities, mantras, traditions, tools and rituals.
Trauma hacking with breathwork
In tantra, one of the simplest practices yet the most potentially life enhancing, is to learn to breathe properly. It seems pretty simple right? And yet most of us breathe from one designated place in our bodies, and therefore the energy remains trapped.
“We have very restricted energy bodies mostly living from the head up, making us numb and disconnected from our sexuality and the power of our life force. Practising regular deep belly breathing – where the breath comes in and moves all the way down into belly and then emptying out completely – can have a profound impact on not only physical health but on emotional and spiritual connection,” says Bondine.
Indeed, breathwork allows us to restore our connection to our life force – without the breath we cannot live. By consciously re-connecting to it we are increasing our attention and awareness and therefore our capacity to live a more full and healthy life. “Long held trauma can often be released in a guided breathwork session, creating more space for you to feel more alive. With expanded awareness we are able to see our lives from different points of view, allowing us to actively make more empowered choices – this can be extraordinarily powerful and orgasmic just in itself,” says Bondine.
Tantra and relationships
Whether you’re loved up or coupled up, tantra can help deepen a relationship with another and with self. “Enriching of intimacy between a couple through the realms of sexuality is a very special and sacred practice,” says Bondine. “I believe this is where so much transformation can happen in the container of a loving relationship. Where we get to be the mirror for each other, sometimes in the triggers that happen, this is where the most opportunity for growth can happen,” she explains.
Tantra can also be used as a means to rekindle desire and passion with oneself. “It does take some work but the benefits of the enrichment of our relationships are tenfold,” says Bondine.
Going the extra mile
Looking to learn more about the art of tantra in its various forms or simply explore how it can help you live a more rewarding life? Bondine’s first suggestion is to find a reputable teacher. “We live in a world where most of us have not been given any proper sexual education or even any spiritual education. I believe this is where tantra can fill a gap for both. There are many workshops and reputable teachers that are able to support you in your journey of reconnecting to yourself,” she says.
“Through a practice of tantra it is possible to reconnect to our bodies’ wisdom, the subtleties of the stories our bodies tell us… so that we are able to heal from whatever is bothering us.” And this is how you find your power.