From my earliest research, I seemed to understand that what I practice and teach is Neo Tantra (new Tantra). Neo Tantra is a combination of classical Tantra (both Hindu and Buddhist), the Tao, and spirituality (among other things). It is very broad and was designed so that Tantra could be brought to the West. And it is different from classical Tantra. Through some self-reflection guided by an incredible sister in the VITA program I want to correct some terminology that I've been relying on lately and adjust my title to something that fits a little better.
My guide when I first began exploring Tantra was a dead guru named Osho. I had the pleasure of reading some of his books and watching the priceless footage of him speaking online. He studied classical Tantra for decades, the Tao, meditation, Buddhism, and more, and was from India, the birthplace of Tantra (although the birthplace is still somewhat contested). He was a true taboo breaker, and thought sex was an integral part of life and could be used to attain enlightenment. I respect him greatly, and knew he had a deep understanding of Tantra.
He knew what he practiced and taught was mostly Neo Tantra that was based very solidly in the foundations of classical Tantra but was also what the West needed. He called what he taught Osho Tantra. There were many classical lineages that denounced his teachings as "new age", and disliked that he was adjusting the teachings for the West and included sexual practices. Classical Tantra has always been shrouded in an air of secrecy, often passed down by word of mouth from teacher to student . They didn't want the sexual knowledge to get into the wrong hands and be used superficially. Osho was a huge part of how Tantra spread around the world, and many practitioners today are influenced in some way by his teachings. His continual use of the word Tantra is one reason why I have used Tantra so freely. I learned much of what I know about Tantra from this Tantric Master. And yet, it is still considered Neo Tantra by him and many others.
The reason I got into Tantra was sex (sex magic to be exact). This isn't necessarily a bad thing in my belief, because I believe any way that you find the path is aligned. Sex is one of the most amazing things our bodies do, so naturally people will be drawn to going deeper through it. And there are two paths in Tantra. The right-handed path, which usually sticks with the Hindu deities and practices, and isn't explicitly sexual, sometimes called white or pink Tantra. And the left-handed path, which is taboo breaking, dips into more sexual practices, and is sometimes called red or black Tantra. Sex and Tantra are connected, but in right-handed practices you're moving your own sexual energy for the purpose of divine connection and enlightenment, and left-handed you're more likely to move the sexual energy with someone else. They are both classical Tantra lineages with the idea of divine connection and enlightenment through the physical body. Some right-handed Tantra lineages don't believe the left-handed paths are valid. Yet, they are both still called Tantra.
In 2021, I decided to get my Tantra Teacher Certification and studied with the Samma Karuna School for 200 hours. Much was discussed about what Tantra was and was not, and after teaching for over 100 hours in the first year I was certified as a Tantra Teacher of the Samma Karuna School. Knowing what Osho had said about Tantra and how he used the word to describe his vast teachings, then relying on this school and their knowledge, I adopted the title of Tantra Teacher. Samma Karuna is a mostly right-handed Tantra school that focuses less on sexual practices and more on heart-based and presence-based practices. And yet, they also pull from some left-handed practices, some Tao, Trika Tantra, and are non-dogmatic (they don't worship any specific goddesses). Samma Karuna does not harken back to any specific classical Tantra lineage but is a combination of many and has been guided by Osho's teachings. We dug into the history and meaning of what Tantra practices are so that we would understand what we were teaching. Samma Karuna describes their Tantra School as a Neo Tantric approach and certifies people as Tantra Teachers. At its core this school was designed to bring Tantric teachings to a broader audience (like Osho did).
The majority of what I teach in my workshops is through this lens. Most of my workshops are not explicitly sexual, and foster a deeper connection to the divine universe. I felt integrity in my title as I developed more and more workshops to give people a Tantric experience. Then I started training with Layla Martin, a knowledgeable and masterful Tantric practitioner, and creator of the VITA (vital and integrated tantric approach) sex, love, and relationship coaching program. Her approach is a lot more sexual and also anchored very deeply in Tantra, the Tao, cutting edge psychology, and breathwork. I started integrating her teachings and practices into my own practice, my workshops and my social media lessons. And they are seriously amazing!
I understand that I practice more left-handed Tantra and Neo Tantra on my own, and I teach more right-handed and increasingly more Neo Tantric practices. However, now I've created my own flavor of Tantra that's based on all these teachers before me. I do still believe I'm a Tantra Teacher from the Samma Karuna teachings of the heart. And I also think that the more I shape and integrate other practices into my teachings, that I get further into Neo Tantra. I don't believe this to be a bad thing, per se. I think that any way we can get people to live more from a Tantric perspective, the more beautiful the world will be!
The thing I'm missing the most from being a classical Tantra Teacher is a guru. I have had many teachers, yes. But a specific guru that supports my ever-changing journey, and helps direct me in the ways I can't even see myself? No, I don't have that, yet. And this is a rather large indicator of classical Tantra teachings (right or left-handed). You need a guru (or teacher) to find the way, otherwise it could be a dangerous and egotistical journey. The newer forms of Tantra are much less reliant on a guru, thus they can be practiced much more easily. This appeals to the West a lot! Classical Tantra is a huge endeavor and commitment! Finding a school and a guru that accepts you can be difficult. Many gurus I find require you to go through at least 82 days of devotional practice before they will even meet you in person. This seems impossible in the West, that barely even knows the word Tantra.
That is why I believe Neo Tantra is so powerful here. Most of the students I teach have never even heard of Tantra, so this is a way to introduce the amazing teachings of classical Tantra, the Tao, breathwork, meditation, and divine bliss to them! I think that a world where more people get the opportunity to find bliss, non-duality, chakra energy, divine connection, and radical acceptance is amazing!
Many of my workshops are still Tantra-based, so I will now call them Tantra-based workshops when the title fits. The whole point of these workshops is to help people drop into a Tantric state, which is one of the overall markers of Tantra. I'm not trying to convert people to Tantra, I'm trying to help them experience something beyond what they usually do in the Western world. Workshops are designed to be a taste of something, not a full understanding of an entire philosophy. They are bite sized pieces that help people discover something new and different.
But my workshops that dip a bit further into Neo Tantra will now be called Neo Tantra workshops. And by still using the word Tantra, instead of just changing the name entirely to "embodiment practice" or "spiritual practice", I introduce people to an entirely new way of living through Tantra. I don't want to just draw knowledge from Tantra and not cite it as my inspiration and practice. I see this as stealing and appropriation from my perspective. Maybe a few of my students will go on to dig even deeper into classical Tantra. Maybe some will use the sexual practices just to have more pleasure. I don't control the outcomes of my teachings. I can, however, control how I word them so that people have a more grounded understanding of what they are practicing. I love introducing people to the vast world of Tantra through the workshops, and where their journey takes them is up to them.
It is my desire to honor and respect the incredible teachings and lineages of classical Tantra. That is one reason why I desire to find a guru. The mere desire of it means that the wheels are already spinning to bring me to the one that will be most aligned for my journey. I also still intend to do more self-reflection and discovery on this path and these titles and words could still change. I love that I am open to change, and willing to admit when things didn't align. I also understand that practitioners of classical Tantra may have been offended by some of my more Neo Tantric teachings claiming to be Tantric, and for that I'm sorry. I commit to being a forever student of these practices, and desire to continue to stay in integrity to myself.
I endeavor to stay in my integrity. I do this by only teaching what I know in my body. I teach only what I know to be personally true. Many of my workshops are based around the heart, the chakras, energy, sensation, presence, and connection. These are the things I have experienced through Tantra myself. It is my desire to stay humble and only teach what I truly know to be true in my body. This is how I stay in my integrity to myself. So, I believe I am a Neo Tantra Teacher, and I'm so proud of this title, and so excited to be sharing from a deeper place of understanding and knowledge.
INSPIRED ACTION: Did this change what you thought about Tantra or Neo Tantra? What surprised you and what rubbed you the wrong way? Did you want to defend me, or crucify me? Notice these reactions you have to corrections. These could be holding you back in your own development. Remain watery and constantly changing, not rigid and immobile.