Ahead of her workshop on 'Tantra: Innocence and Playfulness', Leora Lightwoman, founder of Diamond Light Tantra, shares her thoughts on Tantra, as well as some simple but powerful ways to build sexually, spiritually and emotionally fulfilling relationships that are magical rather than messy.
What is the relationship between tantra and sex?
We're all sexual beings, whether we're sexually active or not, so we might as well harness that energy in a way that supports our spiritual growth and the wellbeing of all. We do this through a combination of meditation, healing, touch and personal sharing, which builds a set of practical and spiritual tools that support you in every aspect of life, not just sex or even relationships.
Tantric meditations are varied and can include gazing into another person's eyes, whilst being aware of any feelings in your own body; offering a lover a very slow, loving, conscious caress or simply drinking a glass of water with full awareness.
However, if you are making love, it's possible to rest in a highly aroused state and to meditatively connect with your beloved in such a way that you experience no separation - and when you're not separate from someone, there is no conflict. Love flourishes in a way that cannot arise in separation and this can overflow into the whole of your life.
Do I have to be in a relationship to practice tantra?
Absolutely not. I attended my first Tantra workshop when I was a shy 24 year old and my own personal relationships were a bit of a mess. Tantra took me on a life-changing journey - one that wasn't just about who I am in relation to others, but primarily about finding balance and harmony as a happier, more loving and more fulfilled human being.
Over the years, I have gained a sense of wholeness and completeness in myself and I learnt that, contrary to common perceptions about what makes a great relationship; self-love is a very good place to start.
Doesn't 'self love' mean being selfish or self-centred?
For me, it can be the exact opposite. Self-love starts with self-care and self-responsibility and opens up your capacity to give and receive love and connect more fully with others. Far from being selfish, the ability to care deeply for yourself means you can be much clearer about who you are and what you need, and in doing so, give others permission to do the same.
Without self love, you're more likely to make harsh judgments about your body and the amount of time, love and attention you deserve and no matter how much you may want to be cherished and adored or even simply liked and respected, if you don't believe you're worthy of it, close relationships of any kind are likely to struggle.
What are the benefits of tantra?
In or out of a relationship, participants on my training courses have reported enhanced self-confidence and self-awareness, attracting healthy, healing relationships and deep, meaningful friendships - as well as having more fun in their lives. They also talk about becoming more creative and joyful and developing a deeper connection with their life purpose. For those in a relationship, Tantra brings a new wave of love and potential in their sexual intimacy.
Can you suggest an exercise to do at home?
Sit comfortably, close your eyes and notice your breathing. After a few minutes, imagine that your breath is entering your body through your base, rising up to your belly on the in-breath, and falling back down and out of your body on the out-breath. Imagine that this breathing is opening, soothing and bringing new life to these areas. After five minutes, imagine your breath rising from your base, through your belly to your solar plexus and back down as you breath out. After a further five minutes, continue the in-breath all the way up to the heart centre in the middle of your chest and let it fall. Notice the delicate sensations in your body as the breath passes through. Then sit quietly for five minutes, bringing your awareness gently back to your body.
What's your favourite tantric subject at the moment?
I've just launched a new series of workshops taking place later this year, which include the subject of 'co-creation'. This means, on the one hand, the creativity that emerges from within us when our own heart and sex are in alignment and we're in flow.
It also refers to the possibilities that arise when two people meet in such a way that there is an overflowing of love and joyful creativity and naturally something more than the two of them is created. It can be felt as the impulse to build a wonderful relationship, to have a baby together, start a new project or offer something back to the world.
You'll also be introducing participants to sex magic... What's that about?
An aspect of sex magic involves using your sexual energy to effectively 'turbo boost' your intentions in life. Combine it with passion, purpose and the power of your heart, and you have a recipe for creating some powerful magic in your life, accessing your deeper truth and realising your dreams.
Tell us more about your upcoming workshop at the MBS and what can people expect?
It will be a 90-minutes journey of moving gently into a deeper connection with yourself and others in the room. Come alone, with friends or with a partner - I'll be guiding you through a process that will help you find your boundaries, communicate what you want and allow yourself to open a little more to giving and receiving love. You may also access more of your own sexual aliveness and get a sense of the basics of Tantra energy work. There won't be any nudity. It's simply an invitation to express your playfulness in the way that a child would - with innocence, laughter and a sense of fun.