In this podcast Steve speaks to Shashi Solluna about all things Tantra. In this introduction to tantra, we explore: How can we get started with tantra? What is a tantric orgasm? Is tantra better than normal sex? How long does it take to be a tantric expert? And much more! So much is covered in this fascinating 28 minute podcast!
Or Subscribe on Spotify
An Introduction To Tantra
Steve: Hi everyone. This month we have Shashi Solluna on, someone I’ve wanted to get on for quite a while now. She’s a traveler, been living Bali. She’s got books coming out, works in the realm of Tantra. I’m very pleased to have her on. Hi to you, Shashi.
Shashi Solluna: Hi. [laughs]
Steve: Well, my introduction probably wasn’t complete, so could you tell us a little bit more about you?
Shashi: Yeah, it was a good summary. I’ve had a path of a lot of travel and a lot of Tantra. I’ve really been in the East since I was around the age of 18 when I went to India and I discovered Tantra. I was actually, first of all, not looking for Tantra. I was looking for truth and spiritual parts. I realized that I wasn’t integrating the piece from my meditation mat into my relationships.
I found Tantra, and I’ve been into the field of Tantra for 15 years now. I’m writing a book with HayHouse next year. I’m making a film about Tantra and I’m leading teacher trainings. I’m truly passionate about the subject.
Steve: Let’s dive in a little more. We want to talk about opening sexual energy to begin with. The first question is: “What does opening sexual energy mean?”, because the average person probably may have an idea, but there’s a lot more to it than the average person in the street would know. How would you start off with this subject?
Shashi: What I love about the field of Tantra is that it really goes into the subject of sexual energy. There’s a lot of energy around sexuality. All of our society is quite obsessed with it, but they don’t really have much awareness on the energy, the amazing amount of energy. Therefore, people are using their sexual energy, a lot of times, in unconscious ways.
To open our sexual energy, often we would use the term “activation” to activate our life force energy. It’s really a path of many practices and intention to enable this very potent energy to flow into our bodies and all the way through our beings, so that instead of contracting around this energy and pushing it out of our bodies, which is what people very frequently do, we want to turn around and say yes to this energy, and let it flow through us.
Let’s look in a little more detail to explain what that means, if we look at orgasm which is a very strong expression of sexual energy, most cultural pornography and so on teaches us to get very contracted around this energy.
As you get turned on, you clench all your muscles and you’re like, “Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uhh” and then we release, because we can’t hold so much with our contracted muscles. Eventually, you’re going to have this big release like a sneeze. At that moment, you just discharge all the sexual energy out of your body again. If you’re a man, you ejaculate at that moment.
What Tantra does that’s different from that is, as energy’s building, as we’re getting turned on, as we’re getting aroused, you actually meet it with relaxation. It doesn’t mean you get less aroused; you just get aroused in a very, very, very different way. You feel the energy and you relax and, from “Ohhh”, you’ve got, “Ahhh.”
You have to let it rise up through your body. Then it actually gets up out of the genitals. It starts rising up through your body. It cracks into your heart. It blows your heart open to love and to emotion. It can rise up into higher centers. It can shift your whole state of consciousness. If it reaches up to the crown, it can give you an amazing enlightened state where you feel connected until you release.
Steve: Personally, I have opened my body to Kundalini energy much more in the last couple of years. There is a dramatic difference from before like you’re saying, from the sneezing orgasms to now, when if I’m tapped on the back of my spine or even licked on my neck, these orgasmic things happen.
In terms of Kundalini energy, could you talk about how it’s linked to the chakras and what the chakras are, for people that don’t really know?
Shashi: Let’s see. An easy way to look at this is to imagine our body is like a flute, like a musical instrument. It plays a different note just like a flute does when you cover a different hole. As sexual energy flows through the lower chakras – that’s around the genitals for example -, it has a deeper resonance. It’s more earthy or animalistic sexuality for example, a part that just wants to go at it. Even our sexual noises would be more like, “Uh, uh, uhh,” and deeper.
As the energy rises as it goes up, we look at seven different notes generally through our musical instruments, which we called seven chakras. These are different resonances of the life force energy as it flows through us. The root is more animalistic.
As it rises up to the second note, or the second chakra, it’s more sensual, more of an “Ahh” sort of feeling, sensuality and fluidity. Rising up into the third chakra, it’s more like fire. We can really raise a powerful sexual energy – hair pulling, biting, and a wild energy that can feel quite scary the first time it starts to activate. It’s a very powerful, passionate energy.
As it rises into the fourth chakra, the sound here is moving through the heart, so it changes into an airy, more loving, caressing, angelic energy pouring through the heart. That’s where we begin to connect with each other as lovers on a much deeper, more profound level.
Beyond the fourth chakra, as we move through them, if energy rises all the way up into the throat chakra, we can enter states of lovemaking where we move beyond space and beyond time. This is where this kind of Tantric lovemaking has its reputation of taking hours, because if energy rises to this place, you lose yourself in a very blissful way.
Consciousness is there. Awareness is there, but you’re really beyond space and time. Then there’s a sixth chakra which is located around the eyes, between the eyes, the third eye. If energy rises to the third eye, you can literally change your vision.
You could be looking at your partner making love and start seeing a god or a goddess, start seeing them glowing, seeing their aura, just seeing a radiance and a beauty in them that doesn’t even look human. You’re really seeing their divine nature. This is the third eye opening.
The seventh chakra, as I mentioned before, is the crown. If sexual energy rises all the way up to the crown, there’s a feeling of all separation dissolving. You no longer feel like a separate individual getting on with your life and doing your thing. You feel interconnected with all that is. This is a kind of spiritual experience. Different people describe it in different ways.
It’s completely fulfilling. The moment that you’re there, there’s nothing left that you want or desire. You’re just interconnected with all that is. This is a very peek experience that many Tantrics aim towards experiencing.
Steve: Wow. People are probably questioning now how you even begin to start moving that energy from the sneezing orgasm to up the spine and beyond. Where do you even start?
Shashi: This is a very good question. What’s really important is that we take our time and understand the importance of the process. We’re such a consumerist society. We tend to think, “Oh, I want that peak experience. Let me just try and force it somehow.”
If we force an experience that we’re not ready to handle, it can be too much and we can’t integrate. It’s really important in all systems of Daoism and Tantra, working with sexual energy, that we actually follow a number of steps and take our time.
There are different paths. Classical Tantra would use yoga, and Daoism would use Chi-Kung exercises that help to work with our energetic bodies and our physical bodies. It’s a little bit like “plumbing” to clear the pipes ready to receive the energy in.
There are a number of different approaches we can take. For those who are listening now who are thinking, “Well, what’s the very first step I can do?” the first step to do is to observe yourself orgasming next time and just see how contracted your body is.
Before even reaching orgasm, when you’re first getting turned on, how much contraction do you have? Do you clench your jaw? Do you start squeezing your muscles? You can just experiment by relaxing the muscles as you see them contract and taking deep breath. Breath is so key, because breath and energy are next to each other. Sometimes we even use the word “Prana” to mean the breath and the energy, or the chi.
The breath is really crucial. If somebody wanted to have their first little go at things, their little experiment, it would be to just relax and breathe more deeply whilst they’re becoming aroused and just observe. Just simply observe how the sexual energy flows in their body in a different way from their normal habit.
Steve: How much time and how much patience do we need with working this? You outlined all the different types of orgasmic experience and energy movement we can have. What kind of time path are we talking about to try and experience these things? Is it months, years, a lifetime?
Shashi: [laughs] Luckily most Tantrics so enjoy the path that they stop worrying about the destination. Actually, if you think about it, the path of lovemaking is such an enjoyable path that it’s not about the destination so much. Each step along the way is thoroughly enjoyable. That takes a lot of the pressure off.
If you were sitting meditating, if you were in a torturous aesthetic path where you’re sitting meditating in a cave, staving yourself, and you’re suffering, you might be thinking, “How long until I get enlightened?” If you’re a Tantric, you actually are so happy along the path that it’s enjoyable anyway. [laughs]
There is no way of answering your question. Like you said, lifetimes, we will have different lifetimes to arrive where we’re at. Some people seem to be natural Tantrics. They go to a couple of classes, and they’re automatically already moving their energy in very powerful ways. Other people take a lot more time with each practice.
I don’t think it matters. What matters is that we’re true to where we are at. We never try and push ourselves or anyone else because sexual energy is strong. One of the reasons we don’t want to push is because sexual energy is creative energy. It can create a baby, for example.
It’s very, very powerful. What we don’t want to do is push too much energy and power into what’s called an “impure system.” For example, if you have a lot of anger, if you’re an angry person, and then you start building a lot of sexual energy, you might actually get extremely angry, because it increases everything that’s there.
Along with building sexual energy, the classical parts of Tantra and Daoism always had a kind of purification system at the same time that they helped you to clear out distortions in your energy field that feel negative, things that you don’t want to increase more of.
You can see that as the ego self, the small self. There are many different definitions for it. Either way we want to be a clear channel so that it’s just pure life force flowing through us. There is no hurry, and it’s important that we take time to take each step and not to force energy.
Steve: What are the blocks that are stopping us, perhaps culturally or even physically, from experiencing these things that you talk about?
Shashi: That’s a very good word that you brought up, “blocks”, because, yeah, that’s how it’s seen. If there is a distortion or a block in one of our chakras or in our being, that’s going to get in the way, and a lot of them come from our culture.
All of us are different. We all have a different set of whatever was imposed upon us as we grew up, whoever our teachers are. For example, lower chakra blocks would be around if you’re uncomfortable with your nudity. Are you comfortable with yourself as a kind of animal with sweat and juices coming out of you and a sexual drive? Are you comfortable with that?
If you’re uncomfortable, if you were brought up to kind of ignore that and pretend it doesn’t exist, then your basic vitality can’t activate. When energy activates at the root chakra, it comes in the form of vitality, aliveness.
If people are over- cultured [laughs], they’re very polite and in total denial of their physicality, their body, and their animal instincts, they also are lacking in connecting to this vital force. An amazing way to wake up the root chakra is actually African dancing, kind of wild, passionate dancing with the feet really hitting the floor and the bum really shaking, dancing to drums, really getting that animalistic, tribal energy going.
It also shakes off any cultural sort of holding ourselves together and being terribly British. We can shake all of that off and get a bit wild. Then you feel really vital and alive. Each chakra works like this. There are places where culture may have shut us down, and we want to awaken our nature.
I always see the path of returning to sexual energy as being “Let’s clear the cultural ideas of who we think we should be, including our cultural sexual archetypes of what we think is sexy and we try to embody it to please someone else.”
Let’s throw all that aside, and let’s investigate who am I naturally. How does nature move through me? There are all these aspects, all these elements, from being wild and animalistic to being deeply loving. That’s all in our nature. We’re uncovering that and throwing away the blocks which are merely identities that culture has given us.
We only put on those identities because we want to be liked. It’s a path of empowerment where we go, “I’m not going to pretend to be this and that to try and get people’s approval. I’m dedicated to finding out my true nature and embodying it.”
Sex is a wonderful way to do that, of course, because you can’t really hold the mask on. [laughs] You can try. You always hear of these women who keep lots of makeup and try and keep their hair all perfect and whatever, but at the end of the day, sex is a powerful force. It’s a great way to rip off masks, become truly naked, and return to being who we really are.
Steve: For those couples I’m thinking that, perhaps, sex is getting a big same-y. Even couples who are trying Tantra and perhaps one partner doesn’t want to explore as much as the other or something… in terms of exploring this with a partner, what kind of commitment do you need to give to each other? Is there any advice you could give around that?
Shashi: That’s an interesting point. We all have different levels of energy and enthusiasm. That’s natural. I don’t think we should expect our partner to love everything we love and be enthusiastic. There’s another thing that you mentioned, the word “commitment,” which is a word I love.
I always say we often make the mistake of thinking we’re committing to another human being, and other people change so much. Actually, if we’re committed together to something higher than us, if we’re committed to unconditional love, committed to spirit, committed to evolution, expansion, light, whatever the couple chooses, then that commitment will hold the couple in a very beautiful way.
We have to allow one another to have different desires and energies. The beautiful thing about Tantra is that it’s not just about making love. There are so many ways to commune and to create intimacy: eye contact, holding hands, breathing together, giving one another massages, dancing for each other, blindfolding each other and feeding each other pieces of mango and chocolate, doing rituals together; just so many wonderful ways to connect.
This also allows for imbalances. Maybe one of you is full, full, full of sexual energy and raring to go and the other one is exhausted. The one with a lot of energy should offer to give a massage to the one who is exhausted. Then they can transmit that energy as a gift to their beloved.
Or they could dance for them. Say the woman is really up for it and full of energy and the guy has just come back from work. He’s a bit exhausted. He could sit down like a Tantric prince upon a cushion. She could light candles.
She could put on her beautiful, sensual clothes and dance like a Tantric priestess for him because she has all the energy. Then she will give energy to him. This is the beauty of Tantra. She will awaken him and activate him.
There’s always ways of working with energy imbalances where we don’t have to expect a partner to meet us where we’re at. We can begin to see that energy can be a gift we can give to one another, and this takes so much pressure off a relationship as well.
Steve: It sounds, by the way you explain it, that it’s a commitment to love and joy, which, if you have that as a fundament of a relationship, then it’s a recipe for success. Would you agree?
Shashi: Yeah, absolutely. We want a lot of freedom these days in our modern world, but we’ve made the mistake of sort of throwing away the word commitment only because we’ve seen very poor models of commitment in the past, of course. There is a higher level of commitment.
If a couple sits down and discusses together, like if you were running a business together, you would always sit and say, “What’s the vision of this business?” Then if you both agreed, you would run a business together. Couples rarely ever sit down and say, “What’s your highest vision for being in a relationship?”
This is tremendously important because you’re putting so much energy and time into a relationship. If you both know, “Well, I’m really committed to love, and that means when there isn’t love happening right now because we’re having a big argument, I am still committed to that love. I will show up and do whatever I feel guided to do to return to love,” this kind of level of commitment holds a relationship actually.
It’s like we need that higher help. We need it because there are rocky times in all relationships. Tantra sees a relationship as a sort of spiritual or divine meeting, so you need a higher light, love, or spirit – whatever name the couple feel to call it – something that you’re aiming towards, something that you’re dedicated to.
Steve: I completely agree. This commitment thing, the default thing is to buy a wedding ring, isn’t it?
Shashi: Yeah, and we commit to the personality of the other person. That’s so difficult because the personality can change. Then you feel trapped or you feel like, “Oh, I liked you when you were like this, and now you’re like that.” We don’t allow each other to change and grow. This is tremendously important, that we know what we’re committing to.
Also when it comes to sex and sexual union, if it’s only for personal pleasure, then we put a lot of pressure on each other. It’s like, “Oh, I need this, and you need that.” It’s all about a kind of give and take thing. It becomes kind of like a bargain. It’s like, “You’re not pleasuring me enough,” or, “I want to be pleasured like this.”
Again, it’s like, “Why are we making love?” Let’s make love so that we can really make love here. [laughs] Let’s be dedicated to love. We all have funky moments, things coming up, or moments when there’s closure.
Instead of feeling disappointed or frustrated that something has gone wrong, we show up for each other. We hold each other through challenging moments. We’re there because we’re committed to love. This also changes it around. It kind of puts the personal out of the way and puts something higher in place.
Steve: That’s definitely something for the listeners to think about. We’ve covered so much ground here. Everyone is going to go away with so much. To wrap up, what kind of action points would you have people think about or do?
Shashi: There are two things for people to look at. First of all, a major distinction is, “Is somebody in a couple, or is somebody single?” Those would be different paths. Couples can enter Tantra together, but then a lot of single people think, “Oh well, where do I find a partner? I want to do Tantra.”
A very important message is to say, “You don’t need a partner to start on your journey into Tantra, because Tantra and Daoism are about connecting to your sexual energy.” Actually, and especially in the Daoist system, they always said, “Go activate your own energy first.” It’s actually something you can do alone.
The vital energy comes from the Earth. This is where it’s sourced from, which is why, as I said, this kind of African dancing or anything that connects you to the Earth and to nature actually increases your vitality. That’s why people go into nature when they’re sick, because there’s a lot of life force energy there.
People can start to activate their own sexual energy. A great way is going into nature. There are yoga postures, Chi-Kung moves, African dancing, like I said, different ways to start activating energy. Then, of course, they can find a Tantra teacher, a Daoist teacher, to start working with to learn some of the tools and techniques.
Solo practices are kind of seen as tuning your instrument. You begin to, then, shift your vibration. Actually then you’re more likely to attract a very different kind of person and a very different kind of lover into your life.
If someone is single, go for it. You don’t need to wait. There are increasingly more online course appearing as well. I’m currently working together with a team called “LiveTantra.com” to start building online courses to bring many practices to people so they can start already.
However, there is no substitute for working with a real teacher because a teacher can give you feedback and guidance. It’s a lot quicker. This is also a great way to go. I find the best way to find a teacher is actually to kind of sit in meditation or prayer and just ask the universe to bring the right teacher to you. [laughs]
Then listen to the synchronicities because the right teacher always shows up for us, so that’s a good way to go. Then if somebody is in a couple, they can actually look for a couples’ training. A wonderful teacher called Sarita from Tantra Essence runs a couples’ training that teaches couples many different ways to connect, to make love, to work with energy, intimacy, emotional issues.
This is a fantastic way for couples to work. It’s important when you’re picking Tantra workshops, to check in what kind of Tantra workshop it is to find the right one for you.
I just made a blog, actually, an article on LiveTantra.com, with quite a few of the different types of Tantra out there, because it can be quite confusing if people are just stepping into it for the first time. It’s worth just knowing a little bit so you can find exactly the right class, the right teacher for you.
Steve: What about yourself? You’ve got a website and a book coming out.
Shashi: The book I’m writing with HayHouse is going to be a book on love, and how to work with challenging moments in relationships, how to return to love. That won’t be out until next year, but it will be with Hay House. People can keep their eye open for that.
My film is called “Sex to Spirit,” and it’s online at SexToSpirit.com. In that we followed one man on his journey through Tantra. That’s a great peep into his very secretive, private world, and seeing it reveal. I’ve got quite a lot of material coming out. I run teacher trainings every year as well, as I said. That’s for people who want to go really deep into them.
If people are just starting off, a really great way is to go to a Tantra festival. We have them now all over the place in the UK, across Europe. We’re having the first one in the United States in September, “The Creating Life Festival.”
We’ve got a lot of festivals happening, and they’re a brilliant way for people to actually find a teacher they want to work with and get a taste because there are usually about five or six teachers. They can try out different things and see what works for them. There’s plenty of ways for people to jump into the Tantra world, and find out which way works for them.
Steve: Thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Shashi: Thank you, and thank you for all the work you’re doing to bring this important message into the world.
Steve: My pleasure.
If you liked this interview, please share it!