Tantra is one practical aspect of the Vedas, a large body of knowledge systems originating in India more than 10,000 years ago. This Sanskrit word means ‘to weave’ and it is derived from the root syllable tan ‘to expand’ and tra ‘instrument, technique or practice’. The tantric path is just one of the many ancient practices that weaves various techniques together and when applied expands your awareness, which can lead to liberation. Sadly it is probably the most misrepresented and misunderstood path with some of the wildest misconception that tantra is all about sex. Through the practice of tantra, you embark on an erotic journey to the divine where your physical body alongside the subtler bodies such as your mental, emotional, energetic becomes the vehicle for the expansion of consciousness, transcending the limitations of your body and mind.
The work of a tantric practitioner becomes more important during this day and age than ever. Today in this technology-driven times, in the age of media and information we face a crisis. Loneliness clearly is the new epidemic of the 21st century. According to an article published in The Telegraph on the 5th of March 2019, Britain is facing a loneliness crisis.
Figures published by the Jo Cox Commission suggest over 9 million adults in the UK consider themselves ‘always’ or ‘often’ lonely. The impact of this on health is massive. The effect of isolation on mortality is comparable to the risk factors of obesity or cigarette smoking, increasing mortality by around 26 per cent, not even talking about the effect on mental health such as depression and the high risk of suicide.Embed from Getty Images
Can Alexa solve our loneliness?
Feeling lonely, well talk to ‘Alexa’. Human interaction is replaced by technology and considered suitable company to combat isolation and loneliness. Truly, can artificial intelligence ever become a substitute for human companionship?
Sadly technology has been largely proven to be ineffective in meeting the needs of those lonely, it can never be a substitute for true love and affection. When we feel lonely, we desire connection. We look for meaningful connections by scrolling down our social media, by sending thumbs up, a smile or heart. We measure love by counting the likes we receive on a post. Social media definitely has brought the world together at the same time has become a trap for social imprisonment.
Behind the posed smile in front of the most stunning waterfall lurks the shadow of disconnect: the fear of rejection and judgment pushes us to show the world an image that is far removed from the truth of what is really going on deep inside our hearts and souls. The longing for love, intimacy and connection remains locked away safely to mask the underlying fear of loneliness and rejection with a million-dollar smile. We often live in denial of suppressed feelings of anger, disappointment, frustration resulting from shocks and traumatic events, our social conditioning, which have numbed our senses. We shy away from expressing what is really going on. We become rigid and close off even to those nearest to us.
Our true feelings are frozen in ice out of fear of isolation and alienation, the fear of rejection and judgment, making us more and more miserable and unhappy. This goes against the nature of life, which always moves towards growth and greater levels of happiness. The path of tantra is the path of truth that helps us free our true identity trapped in a rigid block of ice, by freeing ourselves from the limitation of our conditionings so we can live life to its fullest. Our need for love, sensuality, affection and touch has never been greater than now.
Probably easier said than done. Essentially we know love is unbounded, yet we experience love as isolated, limited to a person or object or being, coupled with the experience of pain and disappointment but not happiness. The cultivation of self-love could be your first step on your tantric journey. This might trigger an image of longhaired, OM chanting and tree hugging hippies in floral pants, but in essence self-love is essential for our overall physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Here are a few things you can do to cultivate self-love:
- Plan a weekly date with yourself where you have a warm bath before going to bed or a sensual Ayurvedic self-massage with warm, floral-scented oil.
- Activate your energetic body by paying attention to how light self-touch can bring you pleasure. By pleasure, I don’t necessarily mean erotic or sexual pleasure but more so healing and nurturing pleasure.
- Cultivate the practice of increased self-awareness: pay attention to how you feel, acknowledge these feelings, positive or negative but try to avoid the mind going into the if’s but’s how’s and why’s. Simply be present of how you feel use your breath in locating the feeling in your body, e.g. does it make your heart expand or shrink, do you feel restriction in your throat, or is there a knot like feeling in your solar plexus region.
- Start listening to your gut feelings.
- Be compassionate with yourself and practice forgiveness for things that you might not be so proud of.
- Treat yourself with kindness. In the next article, I will further explore how Tantra can be a means towards a more fulfilling relationship.