Updated 30 October 2013

What is Tantra and Tantric sex?

Tantra is one of the modern sexual buzzwords that many people are talking about. Sensualist Jonti Searll explains what it is.


Tantra is one of the modern sexual buzzwords that many people are talking about. It’s the topic of many books, some are very simple and others show complex positions and breathing techniques, in fact almost every book written about sex today has a chapter on Tantra or refers to Tantra in some way. However, there is not much clarity on what Tantra or Tantric sex is all about.

The word ‘Tantra’ is Sanskrit in origin and has a few different meanings. One of these is ‘weaving the web’. This refers to the web of life, of being fully involved in all aspects of life and participating in the world.

Another meaning is that of a tool for growth and enlightenment. This refers to the Tantric practices and their deeper meaning, which we will talk more of later on.

The origins of many Tantric practices and philosophy are lost in mystery, but have been known to its devotees for thousands of years. The early Tantric texts are very esoteric and need much deciphering before they make sense. Tantra covers aspects of health, of belief and philosophy, in fact all of life.

In the West we have been drawn to the sexual side of Tantra, this is generally what Tantra is known for, but remember that Tantra has many facets and offers information and guidance on the totality of life and living.

Principles of Tantric sex

Let’s look then at some of the principles of Tantric sex and what they have to offer us. A good starting point is the fact that Tantric sex is about consciousness.

So much of what we do is out of habit, eating, drinking, the places we go, the activities we are involved in without really thinking about what we do. Sexually we are no different.

We have become creatures of habit, this means that we make love in the same way, the same positions, and the same days and for most people sex has become a goal-oriented activity, the goal being the orgasm.

We get so lost in the rush to get there that we lose out on the pleasure of the journey. Imagine if we took the orgasm out of the equation, if we stopped being so concerned and hung-up with that end goal.

Then we could really get involved with our partner, we could be fully present and the pleasure we can get from that is so much greater, the intimacy so much deeper. How intimate can you be when you’re having sex with the lights off, or your eyes are closed and you’re lost in some fantasy? How connected to your partner are you in those moments?

Tantra does not suggest that you don’t have orgasms, not at all. The idea is simply to be present with your partner, to acknowledge each other and the love you share. Looking into each other’s eyes during lovemaking forces you to be there WITH your partner.

It has often been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, looking into somebody’s eyes and them looking into yours gives you both the opportunity to share a soul connection, to go beyond the physical into something deep and special.


This shows us that another aspect of Tantric sex is vulnerability. Both partners being willing to show their real selves, their strengths and weaknesses. This is often difficult for men, who are brought up with the ‘cowboys don’t cry’ mentality.

Of course men have emotions, although there are women who believe they don’t because many men often equate emotions with vulnerability and weakness.

Tantra is also about balance. This includes the balance between the masculine and feminine within all of us, the balance between the inner and outer, between the light and the dark. No other aspect of human life is filled with such contrast and extremes as sex. No other act expresses the lowest and highest of who we are. Nothing else can be so loving and at other times, so ugly. By creating a space that allows us to acknowledge and touch the darkest parts of ourselves, we are able to bring balance to those desires that otherwise may seem perverse. We diffuse them and take their power away.


This brings us to another vital aspect of Tantra, that is that Tantra is non-judgemental. Whether you are gay or straight or bisexual, whether you are monogamous, single or a swinger nothing is considered taboo or perverse.

We need to examine that idea carefully because it definitely does not mean that acts of sexual violence, incest and child molestation are acceptable.

One of the prime ideas that Tantra holds is that we are an expression of the God & Goddess in the world. When we make love we are celebrating the energy of the Divine.

I come together with my partner as a physical manifestation of the highest joy there can be. This means we are absolutely open and honest, no games, no manipulation. And nobody does anything that is not 100% okay for themselves; nobody is forced into anything unacceptable, there is only respect and love.

Tantra is about how you do, not what you do

Unlike many philosophies and religions, Tantra celebrates pleasure and acknowledges the beauty of the body. In our world we have made our genitals dirty and a separate part of ourselves.

My nose is always my nose, there may be times when I don’t like it, and I might think it’s too big, but it’s always my nose.

But my genitals are different, we call them ‘private parts’, or ‘down there’. We hide them away and only let them out under very strict circumstances, often with great embarrassment.

Tantric ritual and practice accepts the beauty of our genitals as part of a beautiful body, designed to give and receive, to share pleasure.

Tantra also encourages lust, not only in a sexual sense, but lust for life, for the full enjoyment of sensual living and feeling. This includes the wonderful taste of food and drink, exploring flavours and textures. Music, flowers and exercise.

Friends and family, emotions, even our fears and our tears, all are part of being human. To deny any part of ourselves - physical, mental, emotional or spiritual - is to deprive us of our humanness and our joy.

To go back to the principle of lust for a moment it’s important to understand that Tantra is not about free sex with many partners. That’s more a lifestyle choice than anything else, but because Tantra emphasises intimacy it’s generally possible to have the deep connections we yearn for and the truly fulfilling experiences only with one partner.

Joy and laughter

Above all else, the goal of any Tantric experience is joy, happiness and laughter. So much in our world and our lives is so serious. We even take sex so seriously, being a good lover is so important, having bigger and better breasts and penises and orgasms is so important.

No. What is important on the Tantric journey is to be open, to share and most of all, to love. For love is a choice that we make, every moment of every day.

The wonderful world of Tantra offers many possibilities on how to live, to love and of course, how to have great sex.

(Picture: lovers in bed from Shutterstock)


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