Jana believes that the spice of life can be found in the exploration of other cultures, good food, and wine.
1. Pre-existing Physical Conditions
To practice Tantra is similar to participating in any other physical activity. It may not be as demanding as rock climbing or a marathon, but this doesn't mean that it is a hundred percent safe. Tantra itself is not the problem. You'd have to travel the world far and wide to find somebody who died in the throes of tantric passion or preparation. However, conditions such as a weak heart or blood sugar or pressure can become problematic if they are not adequately adjusted to new physical activities.
Proactive tip: Here's the good news. Tantra is a physically forgiving art. Anyone with special needs, medical conditions or in their senior years can enjoy the benefits. The trick is to be familiar with one's own physical challenges — which is nothing to feel ashamed of. There's no such thing as a perfectly healthy body. Should you have a pre-existing condition, make sure you understand its contraindications (things you should never do). Then, work with those limits within a safe range. When people safely challenge themselves, they often overcome issues they always physically struggled with. It is also a good idea to make sure you don't have hidden conditions either and get checked out by a doctor before you start any new practice, tantra included.
2. Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Tantra smashes many sexual barriers and some, rightfully so. Certain inhibitions can destroy confidence, self-expression and even relationships. However, one rule that should never be broken, not even for tantrics, and that is to take precautions against sexually transmitted diseases. Not everyone grasps the true nature of tantra. At its core, the art is about self-development and deeply honouring a partner. It's a personal choice to have casual relationships but even in the tantric community, this is dangerous. Perhaps even more so because tantric retreats and weekends might create more opportunities for singles to hook up. Another damaging misconception about STDs is that condoms prevent everything. Here's the scary truth — it doesn't. Herpes, genital warts and syphilis are among those that can still be transmitted.
Proactive tip: Never assume stuff like this won't happen to you. STDs don't know names, gender, your dreams or the fact that you are a single parent on a shoestring budget. If it gets you, one can look forward to health problems, medical expenses and even being shunned by future partners. Prevention is the magic word. Casual sex may be preferable for many and sometimes, a spontaneous act that doesn't exactly allow either partner time to get tested beforehand. But ask yourself if the trouble is worth the risk. True tantra is geared towards a person seeking to develop him or herself on their own but mostly, as an aid to couples. The best is to treat tantric relationships like any other. When it gets to the point where lovemaking is about to enter the picture, insist on a test and offer to do one yourself. Somebody who refuses a test may indeed be hiding something.
Listen to Your Feelings
3. False Partners
Unfortunately, where there's sex there are opportunists and predators. While not the norm, it's not unknown to have both these bad characters in the tantric community. There's been cases where individuals pretended to be wonderful tantrics but in truth, all they wanted was a one-night stand. Usually, these people brush up on the barest of tantra practices just to get their foot in the door and never make the effort to learn the non-sexual aspects of the art.
Proactive tip: These pretenders are usually easy to spot — if you study as much Tantra as you can before getting involved with anybody. When you're aware of how tantrics behave, then an opportunist's words and actions will ring false. Then there are the true predators. They can be highly trained tantrics who use their kudos within the community to wrongfully seduce newcomers. Regrettably, they can even be teachers or leaders. Recognizing manipulation isn't always easy, especially when one feels flattered by a teacher's attention. Make it a rule not to get involved with anyone unless you've known them for a couple of months. If something feels off about a person, listen to those instincts. The world of tantra is more accepting than most but it's not free of people looking to use others.
4. The Wrong Teacher
Apart from teachers who overstep sexual boundaries, there are several other types to look out for. Again, this is not a sign that the art of tantra is a minefield. Any group, from monks to a hiking club have bad leaders. One of the worst is the person who gathers a group of novices and wows them with his or her knowledge. Sounds fine until one realizes that they have minimal training themselves or even think up rules. A good teacher will also never demand that you sign over anything; assets, rights or anything similar. Nor will they use shame or a bossy attitude to control their students, demand sexual favours or “training” in some hotel room. A good teacher will allow you to back off when a ritual makes you uncomfortable. They'll never hound you if you decide to leave the group or tantra altogether.
Proactive tip: It is exciting to start one's tantric journey, few will disagree. While it's fine to savour the excitement, don't rush to pick a teacher or a group. Study on your own or as a couple for a while until you can find kindred spirits. There are many books and videos to substitute a living teacher, and they do a fine job. When a teacher or group comes along, don't hand out your trust immediately. This advice will serve you well in any area of life but specifically in an art that touches a very intimate part of one's existence.
Is Social Tantra for You?
5. Group Politics
Similar to the fact that bad leaders and predators can pop up anywhere, is the rule that group politics will exist wherever people gather. It doesn't matter that they share the same interests. Human nature and individual personalities tend to clash, compete for rank (even imaginary) and progress. Some people just don't get along. This is the biggest drawback one must consider if you wish to join a class or local tantric community.
Proactive tip: Attend as many groups as you can. Admitting, this is not always possible. Many neighbourhoods have no tantric classes, let alone several teachers. But if you are lucky enough to be able to compare a few, visit each and listen to your gut. Did you feel empowered and happy at the end of the lesson or meeting? Or did you feel irritated by someone's attitude or uncomfortable by something that happened? Join the group that nurtures you without shame and where you receive plenty of support and education. Avoid any group or teacher that makes you feel small, financially fleeced or doesn't respect your boundaries.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Jana Louise Smit