by Tanya Koens
Last month, in the company of 33 other sexuality professionals, I undertook the Urban Tantra Professional training offered by Barbara Carrellas - a world-renowned tantra practitioner and sexuality educator. Barbara has written five books including Urban Tantra and Ecstasy is Necessary.
I could walk you through all the activities that we did and try to pull apart the different learning. The truth of it though, was that the power lay in the intentionality and in the group. The putting aside of time and space and the creation of a purpose was what it was all about.
The power of the breath
The most important and effective tool was the breath. For the whole week, the breath punctuated everything we did. To begin the day we took some breaths; to come back into the group after taking a break we took several breaths. If there was intense sharing in the group and then time to refocus, we did so by taking several breaths. It became the embodiment of what I teach my clients – which is to use the breath to calm and centre themselves.
What struck me about Barbara’s Tantra teachings was the intentionality of the breath. Using it to calm ourselves, using it to focus, using it to change pace, using it to intensify experiences and using it to get us to higher states of being. Such a simple tool, available to us at all times, and a powerful method of changing things up, accessing our inner worlds and combining them with physical experiences and sensations.
Through breathing I was able to calm my mind. By breathing into our intentions, the rest of our thoughts and worries dropped away. We were in situations where we focused on our roles – giving over power; exploring the senses; taking experiences from another person; receiving experiences from another person; moving energy around our bodies and other people’s bodies and focusing on our business directions.
What’s interesting was the intensity of those experiences. By bringing our intent into the activities – using the breath to calm, focus and centre ourselves – we were able to fully immerse ourselves in the experience we were creating. And what experiences they were! Have you ever focused on simply giving someone an experience and not worrying about their response; if you are doing it “right”; what they are thinking; what time lunch is; what’s going on at home etc? Having a singular focus combined with the intention of really experiencing sensations and using breath to embody those sensations was powerful!
I was struck at the simplicity of the activities and how the addition of intention added whole new dimensions to the experience. It made me think about the work I do with couples and asking them to take time to be energetically ready for sex - to create time and space and an intention to relate. I often get them to spend time gazing into each other’s eyes, matching their breath and to bring their attention to each other and not the million thoughts that may be racing through their heads.
Simple right? No big deal! Yet people report back to me that it changes things up for them immediately. When they are able to create that intention to unite and follow it through, it creates powerful feelings of connection and electricity. Touch becomes magnified, emotions intensify and sex can become ecstatic!
What I realised, as I focused my own intentions, is that the smallest things become so powerful. A caress, a breath, the level of pressure behind a touch, the anticipation of the next experience, the heightening of the senses. It was heady stuff.
How often do we get a chance to truly turn off the flotsam and jestsam of the world and simply focus on what we are doing? I have always said that I believe that sex can be a soft place to fall – where we can get off the merry-go-round of life and take some time out to just “be”. And in this place, experiences can be heightened. Imagine taking all the energy you expend on worrying about things, planning things, wondering about things and channeling it all into the experience that sits before you. Putting all your focus into a single touch, while your partner puts all their focus into receiving – it is mind blowing! The exchange of energy is electric. Breathing into that experience can heighten it further … are you starting to get the idea? Breathing, focusing, intending, experiencing and maintaining your intention – it’s heady stuff.
Its funny … how often we are told to breathe. Today when I hear someone telling another to breathe, I smile to myself and hope that they have cooked up some wonderful intentions that they plan to unleash on their partner.