If you’ve ever been curious about the benefits of Tantra for procuring greater intimacy in your love life, then you’ve come to the right place. Devi Ward Erickson, Tantra expert and founder of Authentic Tantra, shares her vast knowledge on the ancient spiritual tradition and offers us seven Tantra techniques that can be woven into day-to-day routines.
Erickson’s background presents a unique dichotomy. At 24 years old, she became a monk of the Ishaya order, and spent the next nine years practicing and teaching the Ishaya’s Ascension Meditation. Prior to that, Erickson was a stripper in Detroit, Michigan. At 33 years old, however, Erickson crossed paths with Tibetan Buddhist Tantra, and says she found it to be “the perfect fusion for these seemingly opposing threads in my life.”
Erickson’s background and knowledge led her to develop and implement the only professionally accredited school for Tantra Education, Authentic Tantra. Located in British Columbia, Canada, the school offers a professional Tantra certification training program for people in the field of sexology or holistic healing who are looking to add lineage-based sexual and non-sexual Tantra to their professional repertoires.
Authentic Tantra also offers individual and group coaching programs, which Erickson says are suited “for people of all genders who are seeking practical and effective tools for overcoming sexual blocks due to past trauma, and awakening more pleasure and connection in and out of the bedroom.”
She describes Tantra as “and ancient spiritual tradition which originated in India,” pointing out that there are many different styles and lineages of traditional tantric practices. In the traditional sense, Tantra means “to weave.”
However, in the Vajrayana Buddhist lineage that Erickson studied, Tantra means “to weave light and sound with form,” which Erickson says “refers to a very particular type of yogic practice which consists of internal visualizations while chanting specific mantric sounds.”
These “yogic weaving practices” Erickson refers to are first learned as solo, non-sexual meditation practices, but can later be performed sexually for the purpose of “accessing and enriching the ‘energy body,’” once the practitioner has developed in skill and capacity.
“For many western folks, such as ourselves,” says Erickson, “Tantra is usually understood as ‘sacred sex,’ or ‘mindful sex,’ which can include intimacy-enhancing practices such as eye-gazing, Tantric breathing, communication, massage, and pleasure techniques.” The modality at Authentic Tantra “provides a nice balance between the more pleasure based Neo Tantra and the more yogic styles of traditional practice,” assures Erickson.
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Erickson made it clear that to practice Tantra you don’t need to have an abundance of lovers, become polyamorous, stray from a monogamous lifestyle, or perform any strange sexual positions.
An ideal method for feeling more intimately connected, exploring sexuality, healing past traumas, and aiding in overcoming sexual dysfunctions, like premature ejaculation and anorgasmia, Tantra is as much about healing and enriching as it is about sex.
1. Physical Space
What we surround ourselves with--objects, spaces, people--affect our manifestations, our quality of life, and our levels of intimacy and pleasure. Erickson explains that in Authentic Tantra, curating our surroundings is referred to as “creating sacred space,” and that “the idea is to create a sensual ‘nest’ for your intimate practice.” She recommends awakening all five of your senses within this environment.
For sight, make sure your room is tidy, and light some candles. For sound, have a sensual playlist that is both soothing and inspiring. For taste, have some fruit and chocolate. For smell, use essential oils or incense. For touch have soft blankets, silky sheets, and lots of pillows for comfort and support.
2. Spiritual Self
An authentic connection with your lover begins by being present. Therefore, Erickson suggests meditation. “There are a variety of simple mediation practices for cultivating mindfulness,” she explains. “A very simple one is to sit erect with a straight spine, focus on breathing into your belly, and then count 21 consecutive breaths.” Erickson knows it sounds deceptively easy, but says you’d be surprised how many people get lost between breath one and breath 21. “If you lose your place you have start all over again. This is a great tool for cultivating mindful presence.”
After mastery of solo meditation, you can then come together and practice this exercise as a couple. “You sit facing each other, perhaps the female, or more ‘yin’ partner, in the male, or more ‘yang’ partner’s, lap,” suggests Erickson. “Then you would harmonize your breath and count 21 or more breaths together. After syncing your breath for a period of time, your heartbeats and brainwave patterns will actually synchronize. This is called ‘entrainment’ and it’s such a trip that the human nervous system is hardwired for us to sync up with each other!”
“After entraining your nervous systems through Tantric breathing practices, you can continue cultivating sensual intimacy with a light massage all over the body,” advises Erickson. “To heighten the sense of touch and continue soothing the nervous system, you can also introduce different textures of sensation, such as feathers, soft cloth, or warm oil with a few drops of skin safe essential oil. This is also a wonderful time for manual and/or oral stimulation of the genital area.”
Erickson believes that the eyes are the window to the soul, and therefore recommends making eye contact as “a wonderful way to deepen feelings of intimacy and connection during lovemaking.” She says it allows oneself to be “fully seen and received by your partner.” She also suggests slowing down and syncing your movement to your breath, as it maintains the connection established during the earlier entrainment practices.
A hallmark of the Tantra practice, and a saying frequently used in Authentic Tantra, is “orgasm is never the goal.” What is the goal, explains Erickson, is connection through pleasure. “Orgasm is the body’s natural response to pleasure. When you let go of the goal of climax and relax into the sensations of pleasure, you allow the other 10-plus types of orgasm for male bodies and 15-plus types of orgasm for female bodies to arise.”
7. Daily Life
As Erickson so poetically and aptly expresses, “appreciation is the sunshine that makes the flower of the heart blossom.” The ones we hold dearest are often the ones we forget to water the most. They’re there. We see them every day, yet our connections somehow fizzle out. That’s why Erickson believes “sharing on a daily basis what and how much you appreciate your partner helps maintain the sense of intimacy and love you generated in the bedroom.”
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