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Group Sex News | 26th nov 2003 | The trick to tantra is in a 'sacred space'

The trick to tantra is in a 'sacred space'

I confess: I've always been tantra-curious.
It started when I lived in California. I'd be walking out of Whole Foods, my canvas grocery bag brimming with soy-based products and scented candles, when an array of pastel fliers would suddenly beckon:

Awaken the passion within and deepen your erotic bond with your partner!

Prolong your lovemaking and reach new heights of sexual ecstasy!

Learn the ancient art of tantra and climb the staircase to sexual nirvana!

I didn't know whether to laugh or swoon.

Like many New Age trends riddling the San Francisco Bay area, tantric sex sounded incredibly cheesy. But I had to admit, a 57-minute orgasm didn't sound half bad.

Alas, these workshops featured hands-on instruction in erotic massage. And by hands-on, I do mean hands-on. Attendance was not recommended for the shy or inhibited - in other words, those who had a problem with group sex.

Since I easily fit into that category, I left the Golden State without giving the tantric sex thing a whirl.

Once happily settled into the starched-shirt politeness of the Northwest, I forgot all about tantra. That is, until Sting boasted - and later recanted - being something of a tantric guru between the sheets. Soon I began to notice tantra everywhere. Woody Harrelson and his wife, Laura Louie, were reported devotees, as were Tom Hanks and wife, Rita Wilson. So was the American Pie 2 character Finch, the one who beds his friend's mom. Even this summer's Hot Issue of Cosmo teased readers with tantric sex tips.

So where's the incense?

When I heard about Discover U's hands-off tantra class, I was ecstatic - in a nonsexual way, of course. Finally I could learn what all the fuss was about.

Here is a list of books tantra instructor Tanja Diamond recommends for those who want to learn more about tantric philosophy, practices and sexuality:
• Tantra: The Art of Conscious Loving by Charles and Caroline Muir

• The Art of Sexual Ecstacy: The Path of Sacred Sexuality for Western Lovers by Margo Anand

• Desire: The Tantric Path to Awakening by Daniel Odier

• Tantric Quest: An Encounter with Absolute Love by Daniel Odier

For further tantric study, Diamond recommends these spiritual retreats:

The Himalayan Institute yoga center in northeastern Pennsylvania, founded and run by Himalayan spiritual masters. For more information, visit or call 800-822-4547.

Charles and Caroline Muir's Source School of Tantra, offering beginning through advanced retreats in Hawaii. For more information, visit

A week later, I walked into a spartan room devoid of the lavender-scented floor pillows I hadn't even realized I was expecting. There were no spirals of Nag Champa wafting through beams of sunlight either. My heart chakra sank a little. For the first time in my life, I longed to be assaulted by the piercing smell of patchouli, the grating harmonies of Enya and those weird little finger cymbals.

I took an end seat in the semicircle of chairs facing the instructor, Tanja Diamond. She wasn't the wispy thing who spoke in soft, lilting tones I'd envisioned. She was eight months pregnant and bedecked in a crystal choker, flowing paisley camisole and batik genie pants. And she wasn't one to mince words.

I was 27 before I realized that an erection is not a profound expression of love, the 41-year-old told the class.

I quickly forgot about the absent incense and New Age music. Tanja had my full attention.

She went on to explain how tantra - an ancient spiritual practice - could rescue us from the monotony of sport sex, or as she called it, just sawing logs. What awaited us as tantric disciples was a more passionate, spiritualized sex life, with foreplay fit to make even Sting blush.

I leaned forward in my chair. None of my classmates had even batted an eye, except for a middle-aged woman who whipped out a pen and asked if anyone had a piece of paper she could borrow.

Suspecting I was the lone amateur in the room, I began to take inventory. There were a few middle-aged men (one who'd commuted all the way from Port Townsend), the note-taking woman, and a married twentysomething couple dressed as though headed for 90 minutes of cardio at Gold's Gym.

Asked what they hoped to gain from the class, the older men each said they'd read some spiritual book or other and wanted to brush up on their, ahem, tantric massage. The women said they wanted to learn more about meditation. Mr. Gold's Gym offered: I saw 'American Pie 2.' Need I say more?

I silently thanked him for stooping to my level.

With the pleasantries out of the way, it was time to get down to business. Pen poised, I eagerly waited for Tanja to bestow her sexual wisdom upon me.

Instead, I got a history lesson.

Evidently, classical tantra has more to do with heightening your awareness in daily life than in the sack. Only 3 percent of the ancient Sanskrit writings on tantra have anything to do with sex. Of the 64 tantric art forms - everything from floral arrangements to telekinesis - only one is devoted to lovemaking.

But that wasn't all. To actually study tantra as the ancients intended, a newbie like me would have to find a master and take up a meticulous series of rituals involving secret mantras, beads, robes, magic carpets and God knows what else.

Getting to the good stuff

I put down my pen and wondered if I'd have fared better in one of those group-sex workshops back in California.

Happily, I didn't have to wonder long. Ancient traditions aside, Tanja knew that when it came right down to it, we'd shown up for the frank flesh talk. After all, this was America - home of fast cuts and acrobatic sex scenes. The next 90 minutes were the R-rated movie I'd been waiting for, only without the car chases and nudity.

In tantra, I learned, there is no race to the finish line. Savoring the moment is the name of the game. While working up to intercourse, she told the men, You can never wait too long.

I didn't have to look at the other women in the room to see their ear-to-ear grins.

To get to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, Tanja outlined explicit techniques for massaging your partner's sacred space. She also gave us remedies for letting go of hang-ups and spicing up a romance gone stale. She taught us to breathe correctly - the key to all things tantric. She explained how to hug, spoon, caress, moan, gaze into a lover's eyes, defuse an argument, even give a sponge bath - all while checking our neuroses at the door, breathing deeply and feeling the love.

Before I knew it, the credits to my R-rated movie began to roll. Class was over.

I rushed home, eager to share what I'd learned with my boyfriend. Only I wasn't sure what that was. Other than the fancy names for genitalia, I hadn't really learned anything new about sex. Could it be that all those years in California had taught me something?

Later that night, as my beau and I giggled about sacred spaces, I decided I didn't need 14 hours of foreplay or secret mantras to make me happy. When it came right down to it, I enjoyed an unenlightened, modern roll in the hay as much as anyone.

Although I had to admit, that 57-minute orgasm still sounded enticing.

Full credit for this group sex news article goes to: Seattle Times, WA

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