I knew what tantra was many, many years before beginning to practice so-called tantric massage
To be honest, I never called my practice ‘tantric massage’ until around 2005 when suddenly everyone started using the internet and I noticed websites appearing, calling themselves ‘tantric massage london’ etc. So I decided that if they can call themselves tantric massage, I will also.
I never had any illusions about the fact that tantra is something entirely different, because, as it happened, my original spiritual teacher, who I met in 1974, came from a tantric tradition. But the word tantra was hardly ever used among us. We received initiation, practiced meditation and received the transmission of energy. We were also given several practices – none of which included massage !!
In the seventies, Margot Anand created a system which she called ‘Skydancing Tantra’ It included tantric massage and encompassed many of the teachings of Osho on sexuality (see my blog article on the origin of tantric massage).
Osho kept stressing the fact that in the West. our religions have created a split between body and soul, which has led to guilt, shame and conflict over sexuality. So he encouraged his followers, many of whom were psychologists and therapists, to develop techniques with the aim of becoming more open and letting go of all their inhibitions. It may well have been a step in the right direction. However he was criticised a great deal.
Osho was once asked what was the difference between him and Playboy owner Hugh Hefner. He responded: ‘I am a spiritual playboy’. He did have a good sense of humour!
Since those initial days of the tantric massage/consciousness movement in the seventies, things have evolved.
Recently, I have been hearing terms like:
Conscious Sexuality, Sacred Sex, Sexual Alchemy, Somatic Sexology, Sexological Bodywork and even Sacred Kink.
What do all these terms mean? There are articles about them all over the web – with evermore provocative titles. In our materialistic world, we need to offer variety, we need to captivate ever-growing audiences, and so we make up more and more labels and techniques and write more and more articles and theories about them.
What is Conscious Sexuality?
According to Jan Day, one of its leading proponents: “It is a willingness and intention to bring conscious awareness to our experience, intentions, communications….. it means we’re feeling and sensing and sensitive to all that happens” regarding our sexuality. “Its the opposite of being on auto-pilot.”
What is Somatic Sexology?
The word ‘somatic’ comes from the Greek word somatikos, meaning living awareness of the body. Somatics recognises that the body and mind are not separate entities. Somatics aims to support integration of the body-mind. When body and mind are in harmony, we behave in less compulsive and obsessive ways. We are no longer at the mercy of hidden subconscious conflicts and this enables us to make more conscious choices in our life.
According to the Institute of Somatic Sexology, “it combines the modern disciplines of Somatics and Sexology, as well as ancient approaches such as Tantra, Taoism… Yoga and Meditation, so that we experience greater embodiment. Embodiment is living with awareness in the moment, through the body. This allows us to ….. have more of what we are capable of, including pleasure.”
All these new terms may seem confusing. But they are an attempt to describe and organise a new, practical field of study. Just as yoga or tantra in its true sense can be seen as a practical process, and not just theory, these are practical studies. They are designed to enable us to truly feel the feelings in our body, and not to remain stuck in our thoughts. We learn the ways in which our conditioning has limited our capacity to experience life in its fullness, and we become more intimate with ourself and consequently with others. We leave behind the blocks and hangups which impeded the free flow of energy within us. We become more alive, more aware, more mindful, and we live in our body in the present moment- not stuck in habitual mental thinking.
I do believe that many of these practices were included in some form, in the Skydancing Tantra process, but Somatic Sexology and Sexological Bodywork are more modern and a step forward in that they incorporate the latest findings in sexology and neuroscience.
If you have any questions about any of this, you can ask Celeste who, in one week, will officially become a qualified Sexological Bodyworker and will be including many of these techniques in her Tantric Tuition sessions.