Tag: spirituality

Is Tantra a path for women?

Is Tantra a path for women?

While teaching tantra workshops around the world, we see clearly that women are leading the way, both in numbers attending our courses and that the men are often come led by their girlfriend’s hand!
However, so many stories of abusive teachers and toxic communities have rocked the tantra world in the last few years.
This can leave many women wondering, is the tantric path right for me?
Tantra was historically one of the spiritual paths most open to women, one of the few that was truly accepting and honoring of feminine power.
Unlike most organized religion and spiritual disciplines in ancient India (and around the world), tantric teachings were not restricted by caste or gender. The prerequisites instead were integrity, spiritual maturity and authentic aspiration.
In fact, tantra was not just open to women but depended on them.
It is thought that some of the roots of tantra lie in ancient cults of the Divine Feminine. Perhaps as an inheritance from those days, in many tantric lineages women were the initiators, the ones passing down teachings and empowerments through the generations.
Many core elements of tantric practice are very well suited to feminine practitioners, perhaps more so than the cold austerities of Vedanta or other ascetic traditions.
Tantra is a path of energy, of life, of an intimate connection to the elements all around us and within us. It is a path of devotion. It is a path to reaching enlightenment through the senses and the joy of embodiment, embracing beauty, color and multiplicity.
In tantra, the world is Shakti. Everything around us is the Goddess, in Her thousands of faces, and the tantric road to transcendence runs through a direct encounter with the sacred archetypes of femininity. It is a path that loves, honors and adores femininity.
And not just one model of femininity, like that old Christian reverence for the Virgin Mary. Among the tantric Goddesses we find images of beauty, sweetness and joy, but also terrifying power. Shakti takes the form of mother, lover, virgin, seductress, warrior, queen, widow…
So as a woman with a calling to explore tantra, how can you be sure you’re in a safe and authentic path?

  • Look for traditional teachings. Some modernization and adaptation to Western minds is fine and often very necessary, but the heart of the teachings should come from tradition. Spiritual wisdom passed down for centuries is generally more trustworthy than something that someone made up two years ago based on his or her ego, without knowing where it might end up.
    Authentic tantra, it’s important to note, is not only about sex! Sex is just one (very powerful) tool tantrikas use to attain spiritual realization. If you’re hearing only about orgasms and nothing about transcendence, you’ve landed in the realm of neo-tantra.
  • Spend time getting to know the teacher. In Tibetan Buddhism, the old recommendation was to spend 12 years with a teacher before fully accepting him (but then, you’d commit 100%!). Few of us have that much time to spare, but still, take your time before throwing your heart and soul into it. And just as important…
  • Get to know the community. Talk to other students, learn what attracted them to this path or this teacher, and how they feel they’ve changed. Ask yourself, do I want to become like the people who have been a long time around this teacher?
    Study with woman teachers or couples. Of course, this isn’t to say that all male tantra teachers are abusive, but female teachers are often more conscious and committed to creating a safe and protective space.
  • Check if the teacher sees female students as students or as women. It’s natural that men and women are given different advice along the tantric path, but if the only answer a teacher has for his female students’ issues is, “have more sex,” something is wrong.
  • Last but definitely not least, be clear with yourself. You need to know where your own boundaries are and have the self-assurance to stand up for them if they’re crossed. Your heart will tell you if you’re in the right place, you just have to listen.
    Tantra often takes practitioners to the edge of their comfort zone. This is good – it brings fast evolution – but you have to be sure this is what you want. Only when you trust yourself, you can trust the process.

Real tantra will never involve abuse. It will never leave anyone traumatized. There can be challenges along the way, but at the end it’s only love.
Tantric women, let’s hear from you! Do you have any advice for sisters just starting on the path?

Ethical sexual behavior in Tantra

Ethical sexual behavior in Tantra

The responsibility of teaching tantra and the question of “open relationships”

Teaching tantra is no simple job. Contributing to spread this ancient knowledge that has led to the liberation so many human beings over the centuries must be considered a real mission.
This requires exemplary preparation, both theoretical and in the direct experience of what is taught, with a complete integration of this knowledge into one’s life.
It is necessary to specify that it is not possible to separate tantra from yoga, as the first is considered a branch of the second.
In the last decade, with the boom of yoga in the West, the oriental holistic disciplines have become very fashionable but, often, they have lost the depth of the teachings. Instead, for the most part they have become yet another entertainment for the Western mind always in search of new stimuli. Yoga has become a gymnastics and tantra is a very fashionable thing to improve intimacy, exchange massages or indulge in the pleasures of the body and s*ex.
Tantra is a spiritual path that aims at the recognition of the Supreme Self in each of us.
Tantra is the search for God in the most intimate part of ourselves.
Nothing less than that!
Only by maintaining this approach it will be possible to avoid losing the depth of this ancient spiritual path. On the other hand, it is true that, by taking the path of Red Tantra, which includes the practical use of s*exual energy to access the Divinity that is in each of us, s*exuality becomes something never experienced before, opening up to unimaginable levels of pleasure.
It is also true that, in this journey, partners can find an intimacy so profound and sincere as it is unlikely between two people in bed. But until the two lovers drop the illusion of their identity to become One with the everything, merging into the Supreme Source from which everything derives, it cannot be called tantra.
Along the tantric path, due to the integration of s*exuality as an important human aspect, strong morality and correct behavior are absolutely essential.
S*exuality is one of the most integral aspects of the human being but, for this reason, it is also the most sensitive. It can be the source of the most powerful energy, recharging and regenerating all aspects of our being and our life, or a huge obstacle that blocks the free flow of energy and stifles our human potential.
S*exuality can create the strongest attachments and cloud the lucid vision of the mind and discernment, leading to conduct that does not respect oneself and others.
A tantra teacher must constantly check the purity of the intent and make sure that he/she does not use tantra and the role of the teacher for personal purposes and s*exual gain.
Creating a safe energy space is a primary responsibility of the tantra teacher.
Due to millennia of repressive culture, many women still have difficulties in navigating in the sphere of their own s*exuality.
A high number of women who was abused, often very early in life, approach tantra in search of healing.
This sacred approach can really be a great resource in this case. Experiencing that there are many men willing to honor the body of a woman like a Goddess is already a great healing in itself.
Despite this, these students may feel very vulnerable in the circumstance of a tantra workshop. The teacher has the responsibility to create a safe space where they feel protected and supported.
Many girls idealize the teacher and hope to receive help in the process of freeing their s*exual energy. This could actually happen, as the tantra teacher is an expert, but it is necessary to take very good care to the circumstance.
A girl who is approaching s*exually her tantra teacher out of idealization or projection, most probably can end in some unclear situation which will bring a lot of frustration, jealousy, attachment and pain. It is the responsibility of the teacher to pay attention to this and avoid any unhealthy situation, sometime evaluating that is better to avoid s*exual intercourse with students, for the benefit of the teaching and of the student.
Recently, in different spiritual environments around the world, we have been witness to so many scandals exactly for this reason.
Let’s clarify this: despite what many people think in the modern tantra world, this path does not have to pass necessarily through “open relationships” or promiscuous s*exuality. People often use tantra as an excuse to justify frivolous and shallow behaviors.
You can practice tantra in your long-term relationship as well and this sometimes is even better. By knowing each other so well, the level of intimacy can be really amazing.
Open relationships can be a possibility only if both partners are deeply willing to explore it and no one is suffering. Otherwise this can bring about a lot of difficult emotions to deal with and waste a lot of energy. This is absolutely counterproductive.
Big suffering due to disharmonious relationships can leave traumatic memories in the psychic apparatus that can take years to heal.
Every time, in name of s*exual freedom or the erroneous use of the concept of tantra, suffering is created and also negative karma is created. We do not consider this beneficial for spiritual accomplishment.
Whatever you choose to do in your relationship and in your s*exual life, this is an invitation to be aware not to use the name of tantra as an excuse for dwelling in superficiality and to escape depth and commitment.

Teaching Yoga in the Twentieth Century: Pro’s and Con’s of the Modern Era For Spirituality

Teaching Yoga in the Twentieth Century: Pro’s and Con’s of the Modern Era For Spirituality

What does it mean to be a spiritual seeker in modern times, in the Internet age?
Before the world became so technological, if you wanted to receive the teachings of a master you had to travel across the world, by land, to go and knock at the doors of a guru who likely would test your determination by letting you wait days or months at the doorstep.
Once accepted, the student had to serve the guru and revere his guidance as a servant. In return, he received knowledge. How many of these stories have been known for millennia, in the Himalayas and on the banks of the Ganges! That was the price you had to pay, the fair exchange to receive the teachings of a guru.
Now it’s all different. You can access everything with a click and pay with a bank transfer.
On the internet, even we Westerners can access some of the ancient knowledge of yoga and tantra without moving from home or receive it in a concentrated way in a few weeks, without so much effort.
On the other hand, the “market of spirituality” is so inundated with any kind of information and concentration of disciplines that for those who want to seriously deepen their spiritual research, it’s not so easy to find the right source of knowledge without running into superficial surrogates rather than any authentic kind of yoga or especially tantra.
In the era in which yoga has become only gymnastics and tantra has been transformed into so many things except the original teaching, how do you find your way? How to avoid taking paths that leave you confused and make waste so much time?
Even those who hear the call to teach are confronted with the modalities of modernity. The teacher no longer waits for the students to arrive guided by the law of karma.
If a teacher now wants to fill his or her courses, he must use trendy language, have a website with gorgeous photos, advertise on Facebook, write a book that becomes a bestseller on Amazon, etc…
The truth is that a yoga teacher must spend a lot of time in front of the computer (which is not at all yogic) if he or she wants to spread this knowledge. He must adapt to the language of the world. To carry his message, the yogi must leave the cave where he has meditated for so long and force a foot into the “system.”
He must practice using the computer, write interesting articles and put on a good face to shoot videos to post. Only then he can attract attention!
The “job” of the yoga and tantra teacher has become inflated. What’s more, let’s not forget that while most yoga teachings now are only oriented to the well-being of the physical body, more spiritually oriented teachers must find their place in the same crowd.
So any teacher who feels in her heart that she must bring the more spiritual and esoteric teaching, and that this is what matters the most, must nevertheless jump into the jungle of competition among the millions of teachers who are out there presenting a mainstream, physical version of yoga.
It is not easy to maintain a yogic mental state in these conditions. It is very easy to fall back into mental agitation and lose the “detachment” that is so much taught in yoga.
It is also easy to enter into competition patterns with other teachers, because in any case a school must also survive economically in order to have a future and to be sustainable.
What we see in the world of yoga teachers in the twentieth century is that those who are successful and attract many students are not the teachers who have such strong spiritual aspiration and capacity to inspire other human beings – a fundamental requirement of a teacher – but those who are economically strong and can invest in marketing and advertising.
This is an invitation for every yoga teacher (including us of course) to remain fully aware of ourselves, to understand how the compromises we make in order to teach in modern times affect our own integrity.

Amita

 

Real Yoga in modern time

Real Yoga in modern time

In recent years we have witnessed a “boom” of Yoga around the world.
If once it was necessary to go to India on the banks of the river Ganges to find a teacher and learn the discipline, nowadays intensive yoga and training courses for teachers are found in almost all latitudes of the planet.
But has the quality of the teachings of Yoga been maintained in this “globalization” of a discipline so ancient and profound?
The answer is unfortunately, no.
In most cases, what is left of the ancient esoteric and spiritual path of Yoga is nothing but a complex series of stretches for muscles and ligaments. These give a healthy and elastic body, a deep sense of relaxation and therefore well-being. But is this Yoga? Bodily health and calmness of the mind?
The answer is again: No!
Don’t get me wrong – flexibility and health of the physical body is a great thing. Yet this aspect is only the tip of the iceberg in the way of Yoga. A positive side-effect that improves quality of life. This is very good but there’s a lot more to discover.
Yoga is the in-depth study of the energetic structure of human nature. This includes a dense network of energy channels and Chakras (energy centers) in which energy flows, or can become blocked. With various techniques including positions, breathing, mantra repetitions, visualizations and meditation, these energy channels are purified and opened in a progressive way so as to be able to sustain higher levels of energy. When the system is perfectly optimized, the energy can flow to the upper chakras to achieve the expansion of consciousness.
In fact, Yogic teachings maintain that most human beings use only a limited part of their potential, and for this reason their level of consciousness remains at a certain level. But human potentiality can be amplified, and anyone who steps on the path of an authentic practice of Yoga can experience it. The levels of vitality, intelligence, intuition, ability to love, personal power etc. are amplified even after a few months of intense practice.
And yet, this too is not the ultimate goal of Yoga.

In Yoga, as in of any spiritual practice, the purpose is to discover the true, universal, Divine nature of one’s being.
Yoga maintains that it is possible for every person to experience this. To feel and sense themselves as inseparable from the universe itself, as eternal and immortal consciousness. This is a mystical experience, a state of recognition of the universal nature of the True Self. Often it is accompanied by a sense of pure ecstasy, a beatific pleasure that infuses being and that brings a beneficial treasure on all levels, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
How? The pathway is in bringing our mental attention inward. We learn, with training, to focus the mind in a single point until the discursive flow of the mind ceases. With mental peace it flows to channel our energies upwards, towards the higher chakras, opening the gates of consciousness.
Recognizing the universal nature of one’s self is the real purpose of the Yogic discipline. This is why the word Yoga means “Union”, that is the union of one’s individual microcosm with the Universal Macrocosm.

We understand that this is much more than the physical discipline that is often found in gyms and Yoga centers around the world – even in our our homes, thanks to the internet. In fact, while on the one hand the knowledge of Yoga has become more accessible, on the other hand this ancient wisdom practice has been emptied of its depth reduced to a form of physical, toning gymnastics.
I have been practicing Yoga for more than 25 years. In those years I have studied in various parts of the world and also in the homeland of Yoga, India. But for a decade of my research I found only masters who instructed me in a re-elasticizing and toning physical practice but which brought very superficial effects on my being. The mind swiftly resumed its agitated conversation, the fears were always the same and it didn’t really seem to me to get a deep transformation.
When I met the authentic and esoteric teachings of Yoga, I immediately understood that what I had practiced up until that moment was only a superficial aspect and that much more was waiting for me. With enthusiasm I threw myself into the study of the energy aspects of Yoga, for years and years my life was marked by an intense practice of 4-5 hours a day on the Yoga mat.
Gradually I began to perceive the inner changes that this produced, I refined my ability to channel energy towards the high chakras allowing the consciousness to always vibrate in a very subtle way. I started using my energies in a much more constructive way. Some changes in life happened naturally, in diet, in work, in my social life and in my relationship with my partner.

A different approach to existence has completely transformed my way of perceiving the world and life. Where there was anxiety, now there is much more expansion, where there was fear now there is so much peace.

Amita Helga Albini – Aum Tantra Yoga

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Something is wrong.
Instagram token error.