In the lead up to the Sweat Lodge Conscious Sexuality retreat on March 18, I am getting some interesting questions. In this post I will continue unpacking this question: “As a Tantra teacher, why do you teach non-naked work in your retreats?" In the previous blog post I outlined reason 1, that Tantra is primarily about energy. Now let’s turn to reason 2:
There is no doubt that there is an honesty to the naked body. We are born naked. It is how we come into this world. Then we spend our lives covering up this nakedness; often we even wear our best clothes when we are lowered into the ground or offered to the flames when our physical life comes to an end. Throughout our lives we cover the nakedness that is natural to us; the nakedness that certain religious traditions tell us is a sin, which has led to much inner conflict and turmoil for so many of us: porn addiction, using sexuality as a commodity, and shame and fear around sexual expression are examples of this.
Having had the opportunity to do both naked and clothed Tantric work over the years of my practice, I attest to the power and value of both. Naked Tantric work can be very immediate and can bring great spiritual growth in a short period of time. It is very important to remember, however, that this naked Tantric work in India is traditionally considered delicate and potentially dangerous if not approached with the utmost care and with an experienced guide.
Part of the reason for this is a very important complicating factor, one that in my view every tantra teacher needs to be aware of and vigilant about. This complicating factor is trauma. Trauma. We all have it. It is part of the mystery and fabric of life. Whether it is sitting at the bedside of a dying parent, losing a partner, experiencing violence, experiencing mental or physical health challenges; whatever it may be, all of us have experienced trauma in some way. I have it. You have it. We have it. According to the teachings of Classical Tantra, life cannot be separate from trauma. In the Conscious Sexuality work I do with many people, I see much trauma. Unfortunately the Rainbow Community has a lot of trauma: bullying, shame, fear, and external and internal homophobia have made an impact on the psyche of so many of us.
But here’s the good news: Authentic Tantric practice is specifically designed to free us from trauma. We learn to witness the trauma, acknowledge it, go through it, and let it go. We do this through aligning with kundalini shakti, the subtle power of Tantra, which frees us from everything that holds us back from our natural state of joy, peace, and fulfilment. True Tantric work will not add trauma.
This is why I offer the clothed work: in order not to traumatize or retraumatize others who may have experienced much trauma through simply being who they are. My view is that clothed work is just as honest as the naked work; in fact, in many ways it is more honest: we learn how to directly touch the kundalini shakti, the energy of Tantra, without the distractions of sexual desire, attraction, or aversion that might arise through naked work. This is authentic Tantra’s express purpose: we directly touch the energy and let it transform our understanding of our sexuality and spirituality. Tantric work must not add trauma; it must free us from trauma. If it achieves this, then in my view, the work is authentic, valid, and of great value. Tantric work must actively transmute trauma to the ecstasy of self-knowledge. This is the essence of true Tantra.
So, there is question two, question three soon coming. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to message me for a discussion; I'd love to hear from you.
Yours in Shakti, Grant