Like taking a tour through Glacier Ice Cream, sex education comes in many flavors. One flavor offers abstinence-based education, the message of which is to refrain from sex before marriage. Another flavor is a comprehensive sex education that includes an abstinence option accompanied by STD and pregnancy prevention via condom use. Other flavors include hyper-sexualized Hollywood movies and racy reality TV programs. Some students get the nuts and bolts in high school health classes, while others rely on questionable Internet information. However, most of us get the bulk of our sex education experientially — by actually engaging in sexual activity.
Likewise, our sex educators can be big power centers such as Abstinence Clearinghouse, Planned Parenthood, the Church, Mosque or Temple, or our health teachers, parents and older siblings. Other voices in our sex education include directors Woody Allen and Stanley Kubrick, along with Madonna, Lady Gaga and Google. For experiential learners, our sex educators include ourselves and our romantic partners.
Lastly, there are experiential sex educators who really understand sexual healing—the Tantra ones.
Tantra is neither a religion nor philosophy, but rather a spiritual practice centered on sexuality. In Sanskrit, Tantra is defined as “expansion through awareness.” Dawn Beck, co-founder of Tantric Sacred Journeys, describes it as expanding one’s senses, energy centers and the ability to feel the body and spirit open and connected to self and other.
Beck entered into the Tantra field as many do, for personal reasons.
“When I met my beloved on a blind date at the Corner Bar in the Boulderado 12 years ago, I knew he was the one. But after three years together, I knew I needed more sexual depth to keep our emotional connection alive,” she says.
That’s when Beck and her beloved, Gerard Gatz, researched Tantra schools to help them expand their understanding of sex. They chose an all-weekend workshop with Charles and Caroline Muir.
They were “blown away,” Gatz recalls, and began to practice together on a daily basis with meditation to quiet their minds, and breath and sound to move energy through their bodies. After finding enormous benefits as individuals and as a couple, Beck and Gatz ventured to the Muir’s Source School of Tantra in Maui to become certified Tantra educators. Beck recalls that in some of her past relationships her heart was wide open and connected to her partner. In other relationships, her yoni (the Tantra term for vulva/vagina) was wide open to her partners. But she was never able to open both simultaneously. Until Tantra.
“It has profoundly helped me connect my ‘heart center’ to my ‘sexual center,’” Beck states.
Tantra has helped the couple create a business for experiential education and healing. Today they run Tantric Sacred Journeys (www.tantricsacredjourneys. com) and host one-day intro workshops, three-day couples-only intensives and monthly puja evenings — sacred ceremonial circles for couples and singles. Beck also teaches women-only workshops for women to experience a deeper exploration of women healing women. They also offer private sessions conducted in a safe, sacred and connected manner and tailored towards couples’ and individuals’ specific healing and educational needs.
Being a spiritual epicenter, Boulder is rich with Tantra opportunities. The other major school of Tantra is from Margot Anand, who holistically blends ancient traditions of sexuality with modern techniques in communication skills, massage, meditation and ritual. Anand’s focus includes a more external pelvic release for both genders, including stimulation of full genital and groin regions.
Muir, on the other hand, places a major focus internally — on yoni sacred spot healing and massage, and lingum (Tantra term for penis) massage with ejaculatory choice and control for men.
Both emphasize eye contact, energy and awareness. As Muir says, “Tantric sex is not about sleeping together, it’s about awakening.”
That said, exploration of Tantra might not be for everyone and is not to be taken lightly. Experiential sex education is a very intimate way to learn about sexuality, and some people can feel very exposed and raw after Tantra experiences; while others may be able to experience a great deal of healing and heart opening.
If you are interested in exploring Tantra, do your research first and find sophisticated and seasoned practitioners to help guide you on that journey. Or just keep reading this column, and glean what education you can!
Jenni Skyler, PhD, is a sex therapist and board-certified sexologist. She runs The Intimacy Institute in Boulder, www.theintimacyinstitute.org.