Tantra, Celibacy, and Intimacy
Tantra means "to weave together," and was originally a way for monks to reach a higher plane of understanding, imbuing earthly pleasures with spiritual significance. Some have found the sacredness of sex through Tantric practice with a loving partner. I have found Tantra works even in a celibate lifestyle. A couple of years ago, I met a Goddess named Alorah Inanna at Kathmandu Boutique in Santa Monica, California. She invited me to Wind-Dance with her. When I arrived at her Goddess Temple by the beach, she wrapped me in silks and led me to Wind Dance in the surf while a photographer captured the magic. Something about the intention of connecting with a female deity, combined with the lyrical dance movements, and connection with the sandy earth and salty water made me feel electric. I re-create this feeling in my daily life, and find an entirely new source of boundless energy. Any time I lie on the solid earth, or become aware of wind on my skin, or focus on the brilliance of an open flame, or fully acknowledge my immersion in water, or get upside-down, I feel the same pulsing life force energy throughout my being.
Being celibate does not have to be lonely or alienating. The original meaning of celibacy actually includes a conscious physical relationship with one partner. I found I have a lesser need to seek out sexual relationships the more I teach yoga. I feel my energy rising from lower centers to higher ones, but not just in that order. Energy centers, or chakras, light up like a Christmas tree along my being any time I experience strong emotion. My connections with others are based on mutual respect and a desire to evolve. For that reason, when I touch another body it is with the intention of healing, uplifting, and not taking something for myself. It is probably this quality of non-desire that keeps me grounded and growing. Paradoxically, I find surges of emotion pass through me at the smallest stimulus: finding the right combinations of words on the page, or the right spoken words in the studio, the resonance with another in heartfelt conversation, the undeniable, striking beauty of birds flying in the sky, the magnificent din of waves crashing on the shore.
Once, while lying on the grass, identifying cloud shapes in a blue sky, in the odd clarity of mushrooms at Wesleyan University with an old beau; I remarked, this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. I was facetiously referring to identifying cloud-shapes, but perhaps my deeper self meant something else: To experience a true connection on all levels, to feel spirit and pleasure simultaneously in mind, body, and soul.