Tantalizing Tantra

Tantalizing Tantra

Tantra is more than just being able to make love for hours, some say that tantric sex can be the fulfillment of your highest cosmic consciousness.

Tantalizing TantraIllustration by John Webster exclusively for Singular magazine.

It’s been said that rock star Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, practice Tantric sex, making love for hours at a time, riding waves of orgasm upon orgasm in a transcendent state of ecstasy. This disclosure is not surprising.

In the last few decades, Tantra has gained popularity in the Western world as a magical fusion of sex and spirituality, ready to be learned from books, videos, seminars and workshops. Its primary appeal is the potential for amazing sex, a stroll through the garden of multiple orgasms filled with shrieks and moans, followed by some tea, a short nap and five more hours of exquisite lovemaking. Let’s face it, who wouldn’t like that?

In Hollywood, Tantric sex always makes headlines. Among the stars purported to be practitioners: Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker, and Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. In the U.K.’s Daily Mirror, Sean “Diddy” Combs claimed that during a trip to Paris, he and then-girlfriend Kim Porter “went up to my suite and had Tantric sex for at least 30 hours, ordering up whipped cream and strawberries while we were at it. … “As meticulous as I am with my work, I’m more meticulous with lovemaking. I like to do it for a long time.”

In actuality, a very small percentage of Tantra concerns sexuality. In Hindu mythology, the union of the male god Shiva and the goddess Shakti may be rife with multiple orgasms, but its primary purpose was to weave together both genders into a harmonious and unifying whole. Emerging from both Hinduism and Buddhism some 2,500 years ago, Tantra presented a radical challenge to the more rigid religious practices of the day, advocating liberation and enlightenment. The idea was to extend the realization that the entire world was interconnected, that a union with all beings was the ultimate ecstasy.


Traditional Tantric practices involved rituals performed by people who were not besieged with cell phone calls, e-mails, traffic jams and other modern distractions. It’s a different world today. Most people don’t care to learn the intricate complexities of a 2,500-year-old spiritual practice. They just want to know how to have more and better sex.

This Neo-Tantra, sometimes referred to as California Tantra, is scoffed at by scholars, who say that in emphasizing the physical more than the spiritual, people miss out on the deeper rewards. “Many are attracted to Neo-Tantrism because it promises sexual excitement or fulfillment while clothing purely genital impulses or neurotic emotional needs in an aura of spirituality,” says Georg Feuerstein, author of more than 30 books on mysticism, yoga, Tantra and Hinduism. “This gives would-be Tantrics the opportunity to concoct their own idiosyncratic ceremonies and philosophies, which they can then promote as Tantra.”

But practitioners say they’re just paying attention to the zeitgeist. Author of the best-selling book Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving (Mercury House), Charles Muir believes that Tantra must evolve. “Like yoga, Tantra has been born again and again, from age to age, based on people’s needs at the time.”

Or to boil it down more succinctly, “For the male, it means having complete ejaculatory control,” says Tantra teacher Sasha Lessin. “For a woman, it means ejaculatory orgasms and having the kind of loving she wants, when she wants it.”

In today’s Tantra landscape, at least three versions are offered by teachers. White Tantra is essentially celibate and involves practices that can be done by yourself, like meditation and chakra focus. Red Tantra is all about achieving liberation and transcendence through the joining of sexual energy with a partner. And Pink Tantra strikes a balance between the two, incorporating elements of both.

In season two of Sex and the City, all four protagonists giggle their way through a Tantra class, but undertaking Tantric study is actually a serious commitment. You can’t hope to attend one session and then experience a five-hour orgasm. Some people study for years.

Workshops are taught primarily by women who advertise themselves in various sensual and erotic poses, and can range from single classes to weekend retreats and vacation packages. “There is no set number of sessions that you should attend,” says Goddess Temple teacher and spokesperson Corynna Clarke. “It depends on you personally … This always works best for people who are committed to transformation and open to experiencing all of life’s emotions.”


OK, on to the orgasm, women are obviously biologically capable of multiple orgasms, when enough time is devoted to arousal and stimulation. On the other hand, men are not engineered for 10 orgasms a day, unless they’re 17 years old and bubbling with hormones.

If there’s one proven technique Tantric sex experts all agree on, it’s teaching men how to hold back their climax. The Tantric term karezza refers to the act of a male pleasuring his partner and prolonging sexual union by controlling his ejaculation. The art of karezza can involve breathing control, meditation, taking breaks between strokes or fine-tuning the pubococcygeal muscles to physically stop the ejaculation. When it is perfected, the male will experience small mini-orgasms without the big finish, so both partners benefit throughout.

Tantra teacher Robert Frey says it takes about six months for a man to learn to regularly experience multiple orgasms without ejaculation. That’s a lot of karezza. Is there any other non-Tantric solution? In a Tantric-themed episode of Showtime’s Bullshit!, host Penn Jillette wondered, “Does it work better than thinking about baseball?”

Although Tantra instructors base their teachings on traditional principles, much as practitioners of yoga or other disciplines do, the variety of Tantric styles and techniques is endless. As is the number of goddesses offering their Tantric services. What matters most is the journey and if it works for you.

There are really no secrets of Tantric sex, other than cultivating awareness between partners, says Johanina Wikoff, Ph.D., lecturer and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Kama Sutra (Alpha). Paying attention to your breathing helps, as well as taking the time to connect with and appreciate your partner. Those making love Tantra-style can then have the potential, Wikoff says, to “feel a sense of oneness not only with [their] lover, but with all of existence.”

Just don’t take the story about Sting too seriously. In 2004, the singer revealed he had never actually practiced Tantra, he just made up the story at a dinner party and watched the rumor spread. He eventually conceded, “Seven hours of sex every night? In fact, it’s more like four hours of begging, then a movie and dinner.”

Copyright © Jack Boulware/John Webster/2013 Singular Communications, LLC.

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