Awareness of Tantra in the West has grown significantly in recent years. For many people who have come to Tantra it has been a vehicle for enhancing sexual experience - through a focus on developing intimacy, for creating a safe container, on expressing boundaries, and for connecting with sexual energy at a very deep level. It is, for many people who have never experienced Tantra, purely associated with sex (thank you Sting). But I have been increasingly curious to discover whether the practice of Tantra can enhance lives far beyond the bedroom.
I have been practising Tantra for around fifteen years, attending various groups and teaching Tantra workshops. Tantra has enhanced my relationships bringing a completely new dimension to sexual experience and emotional connection. At the same time I feel that Tantra has brought me far wider benefits: a heightened spiritual awareness, better understanding of my body, and crucially an enhanced ability to form strong connections and relationships in my wider life – both professionally and personally.
In my professional life I am a coach and facilitator specialising in leadership. I work with clients both in the corporate and university worlds. I am often struck by the way my clients can be stuck in their heads and are, seemingly, disembodied. A regular refrain for my clients is how difficult they can find professional relationships, where they have to have ‘difficult’ conversations. They often find that in the workplace people resort to passive or aggressive behaviours. It has often occurred to me that a bit of intimacy would not go amiss in this context. Increasingly I have found myself as a coach and facilitator bringing elements of Tantra into my work as I notice how beneficial it can be to clients.
I have recently completed an MA in Coaching at Warwick University and, while the core thrust of the programme was executive coaching, I decided to focus my dissertation on Tantra Coaching – something that raised a few eyebrows. Fortunately the university was very supportive. I was lucky enough to interview a number of well-known Tantric practitioners, including Barbara Carellas (author of Urban Tantra), who generously gave their time. I wanted to understand what they did in their sessions, and how they might support people in their broader lives.
What emerged very clearly was the concept of Sex Magic. This is the idea that by raising our erotic energy, through breath, ritual, visualisation and touch, we can empower ourselves to create and achieve all sorts of other things in our lives. As Barbara said to me: ‘With Sex Magic, you can help people get clear on what they want and then ask them to dedicate their energy to creating that vision.'
This resonated so much with me that I set about developing a coaching practice that I could use with my corporate and private clients, to help them to raise erotic energy and achieve their visions. I chose not to use touch as part of my coaching, even though I am trained in Tantric massage, as I felt it was, perhaps, a step too far for my clients. Instead I used Tantric practices such as shaking. This powerful technique raises kundalini energy, which is essentially what Barbara describes as Sex Magic. I also introduced clients to eye gazing. This creates a deeply intimate connection, builds empathy and can really help us to create stronger relationships, not just intimate ones, in my view, even in the workplace. I used embodiment visualisation techniques where I encouraged clients to scan their bodies to sense what the body was holding on to that might help or hinder their process. Amongst other things I also used practices of breathing, visualisation and movement. None of these would be out of place in a Tantra workshop. But in the corporate world, and for many of my mainstream coaching clients, these are, to say the least, unusual practices!
My dissertation went into more detail about precisely what I did in, what I called, my ‘Tantra-infused coaching’ sessions. To summarise I concluded that there is very much a place for Tantra in the workplace. It could help us all to have better working relationships, feel more embodied, be better connected to our values and our passions, and, in my view, would bring more happiness and connectedness into our working lives.
Since writing my dissertation the sex abuse tsunami has happened, triggered by the revelations about Harvey Weinstein. Many of my friends have told me about abuses they have suffered in their day-to-day work and it has been quite shocking. I believe that Tantric practice, and specifically Tantric coaching, could have a powerful part to play in addressing this crisis. In Tantra we focus relentlessly on boundaries, permissions, and being clear on our yes and no, and to respect this in others.
How wonderful it could be therefore, if, one day, having a Tantric coach at work could be as normal as going to a yoga class at lunchtime! Probably cultural taboos will not allow this to happen in the mainstream corporate world but if I could facilitate it, even on a small scale, I would feel that I had done something very worthwhile!
I would like to invite any comments or questions – please feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org