7Words & Tantra
By Richard Grey - 7Words Guide
For the past five years, as well as my involvement with 7Words, I have been deeply committed to personal development through the study and practice of tantra. Having had deeply unsatisfactory experiences in previous relationships, I was keen to not only heal emotional wounds, but to develop a whole new repertoire of emotional and physical language to enrich my future. Whilst this aspect of my life has, in the past, simply run alongside my 7Words activities, I find that I am now ready to attempt a synthesis of the two.
Tantra is linked, historically, to a number of eastern traditions and expressions of it can be found in the vedic, yogic and Buddhist traditions. Emphasis upon the sexual act varied, but ritual sexual intercourse was commonly employed as a way of entering the underlying processes and structure of the universe. As tantra has become more common in the west, it has undergone a transformation, primarily in its role as a corrective force to repressive attitudes towards sexuality. Tantra, therefore, in the popular imagination, is often portrayed as being synonymous with 'spiritual sex' or 'sacred sexuality'. In actual fact it is the sacredness of intimacy which western tantra celebrates.
So what do we mean when we say someone has 'intimacy issues'? What's your answer to the question "Do I allow people to get close and no closer?" "Do I freeze and repel intimate contact - the very thing I crave most?" And this doesn't just mean sexual contact. Indeed, some permit sexual 'intimacy' in order to avoid deeper, personal disclosure and connection. When this is habitual and unconscious, we may even call such a person permissive or promiscuous with disdain or even cruelty. Personally, I have found a delightfully surprising way to reveal 'truths' about myself - thoughts, feelings, desires I knew I had but hardly dare admit to myself, let alone others, as well as other pleasures I had no idea existed and which remain full of absolute and innocent delight.
What's wonderful about this process or approach to intimacy is the appreciation and pursuit of pleasure - consciously! The melding of body, mind and heart-felt desire - the gift of freedom to explore and express who we really are and what we really like and need, physically and emotionally in a warm, safe way with another, or others, who are also open and committed to the exploration.
In this process, everyone is encouraged to find their limit and then decide whether or not to extend or step beyond it into new territory, new experiences, new levels of intimacy. No-one is ever forced to do anything. Self-awareness and awareness of 'form' - the current state of energy - are encouraged. This includes our own thoughts, feelings and desires & those of whom we are with. The dance of trans-formation can then take place - the dance of energy and consciousness, and the conscious transformation of energy and form.
What can you do with this new experience? This new knowledge? Where could it take you? That's up to you.... What excites and inspires you? What 'dance' do you want to dance? Are we courageous enough to ask another to join us in that dance - to co-create it?
In a series of articles, I will be choosing a tantric exercise which reflects the essence of each of the 7Words and using that as the basis for a broader discussion about the implications of each of the seven words and their keywords in the sphere of personal and interpersonal intimacy.
The intimacy of No! Intuitively respecting boundaries
Everything starts with No - including our bodies! How can it not? Our physical bodies define us - they separate and distinguish us from others. At times, they may fascinate and delight us, whilst at other times, we ignore them or they're painful. Whatever our relationship with our own body, in all its constantly varying states, whether we like it or not, it effects how we relate and are intimate with ourselves and others. Our bodies know what they like and dislike - what they can and can't do, but do we listen to them?
How intimately do we know our own body and are we imaginative in our exploration of it? Do we consider it sacred, special, precious? Do we care for it and allow it to heal when harmed, or do we abuse it and take it for granted? All intimacy, begins with No - what our bodies need, what they will and will not do, what they hate and what they love! Tantric delights await those who pay attention to their bodily needs and desires. Tantra involves the intimate interplay between breath, sound and movement. Moving, dancing, moaning, groaning, grunting, sighing, shouting, inhaling, exhaling, letting it all out, is all part of being tantric - all part of living in a body and being intimate with it!
Of course, our minds and our memories also play a significant part in intimacy too. Difficult experiences, as well as delightful ones, are lodged in our memories and held in our bodies. But negative experiences in the past need not govern the present, or the future - unless we let them. New ideas and possibilities are but a thought away. When it comes to intimacy, whether self-pleasuring or being intimate with another, considering new ideas and possibilities can be difficult, embarrassing to talk about, and even more difficult to engage in. They certainly were for me - especially self-pleasuring. Ultimately though, the pleasure far outweighed the pain and the boundaries of my 'No' shifted!
So whilst our bodies define our physical boundaries, it is our choices that define our identity - who we really are. Ask yourself, do my choices, especially those relating to intimacy, truly reflect who I am and what I want? If not, isn't it time to be honest with yourself - and those with whom you share intimate pleasures?
My tantric journey started with what at the time felt very strange and new to me. I was in a group of total strangers at a beautiful woodland retreat near Salisbury. It was Friday night and the first exercise of the weekend was about to start. Everyone was fully clothed. The facilitators invited all the women in the group to move around the room until they found a spot in which they were happy to stand still and close their eyes. Then I and all the other men in the group were invited to slowly wander amongst the women, feeling, energetically, without any contact, which woman we felt particularly drawn to.
I had no idea what that meant but I followed the instruction anyway and started moving among the women who were standing, eyes closed, 'waiting to receive'. To receive what exactly, I had no idea. "Use your intuition" we were urged. "Feel which woman you are drawn to and what she might need. Touch only if you feel drawn to touch." "Receivers, if you don't want what's offered, find a way to communicate your dislike without speaking." Talk about intuitively respecting boundaries! What was I meant to do? Touch? Not touch? Who? How? When? Where? For how long?
Eventually, after casting various quick sideways glances to check what the other men were doing, I found myself 'drawn' to a particular woman and I stood behind her. I raised my hands and held them about six inches away from the middle of her back, trying to intuit what she might need. Just as I was about to make contact, I noticed this woman was quietly sobbing. Intuitively and without hesitation, I moved around to her front, gently embraced her and let her cry on my shoulder for what seemed like ages. No words were spoken, yet the embrace was welcomed and her tears flowed more readily. A wonderfully intimate experience without words or eye contact. That very night, I fell in love with that woman and we're still together six years later!
Tantra requires time and discipline, but it's definitely worth the effort in my opinion. I, too easily, take my body for granted so often. I ignore its feedback - its pain and pleasure. Exposing and sharing our vulnerability is a courageous part of intimacy. Asking for what you really want requires even more courage - and I'll share another exercise which can help you do that later in the series. In the meantime, let's all take more care of ourselves and celebrate our differences. What's 'right' for one isn't necessarily 'right' for another - even a significant other. There's no need to capitulate or compromise. Be honest. It's OK to be different, - whatever turns you on! It's all about letting life force flow in an honest, open, caring way that harms no-one and pleases all concerned.
Permit yourself a new exploration of your intuition and what it tells you about your boundaries. Trust its messages. Accept the feelings that go with it. You won't be disappointed......It's the start of an exciting journey!
If you'd prefer to try this out with others, then I can thoroughly recommend taster sessions and weekends run by my tantra teachers, Robert & Marta.
The Hello of Intimacy......Awakening the senses!
In Part 2, I suggested everything starts with No – our bodies! How can it not? We all have physical bodies that define us – that separate and distinguish us from others – and through which we experience the world. This month, I’m focusing on the mind, and its interaction with our bodies and our senses, particularly in relation to taboos. Tantra, for me, incorporates the idea of identifying, examining and, when appropriate, breaking through taboos, particularly those associated with our sexuality.
What do I mean by ‘taboos’? Well...anything that we are told, or tell ourselves is forbidden, unmentionable, unthinkable, or prohibited. I openly acknowledge, for example, that much of my own sexuality has been repressed or hidden for far too long. Without tantra I suspect it may have remained so. I said in a previous article that self-pleasuring was difficult for me. It still is! For others, this may be completely normal, meeting with the question ‘What is he talking about? Surely, that’s part of everyone’s early experience and experimentation with sex?’ Well, unfortunately, not for me. With tantra, however, I have been able to begin to acknowledge and express what previously I had told and convinced myself was unacceptable.
Our minds and our memories have a very significant part to play in our experience of intimacy. Difficult, as well as delightful, experiences are lodged in our memories and held in our bodies. But the past need not govern the present, or the future – unless we let it. New ideas and possibilities are just a thought, a moment away. When it comes to intimacy, considering new ideas and possibilities are key to keeping things fresh and alive!
So, why not give yourself the gift of really exploring each and every one of your senses and what they’re trying to tell you? ‘Awakening the senses’ is a tantric exercise that starts this process. In more advanced tantra, it extends to self-pleasuring and erotic massage – of which more, later in this series! For beginners though, and indeed even for those more experienced in tantra ‘Awakening the senses’ involves a slow, ritualistic, surprising and delightful exploration of each of the senses.
It begins with the deprivation of sight – on which we tend to rely far too much. Sensing the world without looking is itself worthy of considerable time and exploration. Now imagine a whole variety of sounds entering the dark silence. Incredible smells entering your nostrils. Unseen delights brushing your lips and bursting with taste and flavour in your mouth. Then imagine being touched by unfamiliar objects – what’s that? Touch can be such an intimate experience. It has amazing qualities, like tenderness, strength, intention, depth, speed, duration. What qualities are felt and intended? Often we think our senses ‘tell us’ what to think. But how does it really feel? What a surprise you can get when sight is finally restored!
Permit yourself a new exploration of all your senses. Say ‘Hello’ to all the feelings that go with it!
If you’d like try this out in a group setting, then I can thoroughly recommend taster sessions and weekends run by my tantra teachers, Robert & Marta.
Comments (0) Leave a comment
There are no comments.