It is just the application of methods for living and loving the whole of life exactly as it is.
One of the oldest meanings of the word “tantra” is simply “methods” and some ancient texts are just a list of methods of practice. Most of the practices are varieties of meditation on the very ordinary experiences of life; such as breathing, eating, seeing a flower, feeling a strong emotion etc.
How does it get to be so complicated? Some forms tantra has been around for a very long time. At least 5,000years. The cultures that developed tantra included methods such as complex rituals and many deities. The rituals are just methods of developing a meditative state of mind and the deities are images of specific energies. In the West, we have the added complication of having linked tantra to Western energy practices that mostly come from the world of therapy and then connected it to sexuality by mistaking sexual union for oneness. The Kama Sutra is not a tantric text!
Focussing on energy rather than simple awareness practices inevitably releases a “can of worms” of people’s personal issues and desires and needs for connection. Because of this much Western tantra has many exercises that owe much more to therapy and personal development than to the vast and ancient world of tantra. The West turns everything in to therapy and then sells it as a commodity. The same has happened to yoga (which is not really about trimming your thighs) and even Mindfulness (which is not really a way of reducing anxiety). Sex helps to sell anything.
In all traditional tantra, the foundation practices are awareness and meditation practices. Later, when the mind has become more stable and perhaps through some simple yoga, the body is more stable and open. Then energy and even sexual practices can be added.
Tantra is about living and loving the whole of life exactly as it is. Our tendancy is to want to pick and choose experiences and have more of the good and less of the bad. We want purity not impurity; pleasure not discomfort. However, tantra embraces every aspect of life; including sexual experiences and emotions. At its deepest; tantra is nondual. This means that it is about Oneness and the Void which is both empty and full at the same time. By starting with experiences of the nondual state of oneness or presence we can reduce the degree to which we are caught up in the dance of opposites and polarities which is the source of such complexity and pain.
Essential the practices of tantra are bringing awareness to aliveness to realise Oneness. It really is simple and follows our true nature.
Transcendence started nearly 21 years ago and is now developing ways of teaching tantra which honours the traditions whilst keeping the best of modern practices and understandings.Namaste!