What is Tantra?
Tantra is a practice that allows for integrating our spiritual with our sexual self. This involves very specific practices that use conscious breathing, mantra sounds, movement and symbols to quiet the mind. They also activate life force energy, directing it throughout the body to achieve states of consciousness and bliss. Tantric traditions come from ancient practices developed in India and China.
How does TantraNova differ from traditional Tantra?
We draw on the ancient Eastern practice of Tantra and the Tao. We also draw from modern disciplines from the West such as Human Development, Philosophy of Language and Creative Self-Discovery. What we are doing is blending the “old and the new” and thus the term Nova in our name.
What is the difference between Tantra and Western approaches to love and intimacy?
Western lovemaking is geared towards goal and performance-orientation — unlike Tantra where the energetic connection and deepening of intimacy are emphasized. This allows for new levels of experience within the individual and for deeper union between the couple.
How did you come to Tantra and then founding the TantraNova Institute?
Freddy Zental was raised in a tantric household. His parents created a sexually free and dignified environment that allowed him to have an open and naturally healthy relationship to his sexuality. He continued studying and practicing Tantra throughout his adulthood. He also co-lead tantric workshops at the Institute for Creative Living in Los Angeles, San Fransisco and Hawaii. Elsbeth was born in Germany and brought up with a sense of freedom around the body until she entered puberty.Then she frequently experienced that split between pleasure and sacredness – or the dichotomy between sexuality and spirituality. Both of which exist in most cultures. Introduced to the Tao of Sex in her early 30’s, she was fascinated by the possibility of sustaining and integrating sexual energy. And this allowed for a deeper connection between herself and her lovers at that time.
In the summer of 2001, Freddy Zental and Elsbeth joined as beloveds, life companions and business partners. Shortly thereafter they founded the TantraNova Institute. It all came from their commitment to creating a transformational, tantric community that contributes to the wholeness and harmony of all people. Ultimately expanding peace in the world. They are dedicated to the generation of sexual-spiritual harmony that brings unification in being with oneself and others. The TantraNova Institute is headquartered in Chicago, IL. Elsbeth and Freddy Zental lead their Intimacy and Love workshops and retreats throughout the United States, Germany and Australia.
What do you mean by “integrating sexuality with spirituality” and the term “sacred sexuality?”
In the Western world, we look at our bodies, relationships, sex and life in a way that is often compartmentalized. For example, we think of sexuality being separate from spirituality – as manifested in our bodies and our practices. In TantraNova, a new possibility is offered that teaches you how to integrate your sexual with your spiritual energies. This allows for a divine experience with yourself and, ultimately, with a partner. Rediscovering your innate energies that are sexual-spiritual in nature, you then will be able to express yourself more fully. And you will be able to do this free from constraints and habitual patterns, e.g., shame, guilt, fear, suppression, etc. This will allow you to open yourself to your full potential of pleasure and creativity. Sacred sexuality. We bring consciousness to our sexuality – by that we are respecting and honoring our body and spirit while honoring our partner.
Do the principles of Tantra apply to all sexual and relational preferences?
Tantra is a practice that is applicable to everyone given that we are all created from sexual energy. And that sexual energy encompasses our physical being as well as our consciousness. Sexual energy is universal and therefore the tantric practice can be expressed through any form of sexual orientations. At the TantraNova Institute we work with couples and singles may they be heterosexual, gay or lesbian.
What if the spice has gone out of the relationship? Can TantraNova help?
Through regular connecting practices, intimacy and passion can be rekindled. The key lies in the regular practice – as we delineated in the “10 Practices.” To receive a copy of the practices please go to sign up for 10 Essential Practices.
How can women benefit from the TantraNova approach?
Women can benefit in profound ways by going to deeper levels in the exploration of the Divine Feminine. And it is this Divity that provides healing for the woman. Some aspects of our Being can be accessed linguistically while others only energetically/physically because of the nature of pre-linguistic experience. Our spiritual Being is sourced by our sexual energy that is primordial and life giving.
However, in our culture sexual energy is often misunderstood, misused or suppressed. The sense of wholeness and sacred union within oneself and with another occurs when sexual and spiritual energies are integrated. Once integrated they then must flow in a harmonious dance. Our work assists women in the integration of their sexual-spiritual Being as well as their feminine with their masculine nature. This allows for healing of old wounds or residual memories that constrict her feminine energy from flowing freely. This in turn creates aliveness and vitality in her body, relationship and life.
You often speak about creativity in the context of Tantra. What do you mean by this?
As we know from the ancient Tantrics, our creative energy emanates from our sexual center or the second chakra. Once we free that center energy, it is set free for creation. Whether it be in a biological sense of creating new life. Or in a figurative sense of creaing our life in terms of relationships, career, family, home, art, music, etc.
What if my partner doesn’t want to do this, but I do?
(Does it still work when only one person knows the practice?) The tantric practice starts with the work on yourself given that you are dealing with your own energies. Through practice with yourself, you then can bring your newly developed capacities and love skills to your relationship.
How long does it take to become a proficient practitioner?
Cultivating the tantric practice in our own life is a lifelong endeavor. With regular practice a level of proficiency can be reached after one year. To become a professional practitioner, a minimum of two years of serious studies and practicum is required under the guidance of master teachers.
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