"A book for Tantra beginners and all readers, who would like to learn more about the philosophy of the love art." (translation from German)
"Michaels & Johnson have crafted a solid, detailed, and highly readable brief text intended for those with a moderate or greater background in yoga or other Tantric practices."
—Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality
"I cannot recommend The Essence of Tantric Sexuality highly enough to those readers who wish to deepen the connection with their beloved partners.This beautifully written, yet scholarly, book makes available the true meaning of Tantra, its origins and how the very words from Tantra's past have led to our present day thinking. The Essence of Tantric Sexuality dispels many of the popular myths about Tantra while offering readers a way to begin to incorporate some of the wisdom of the East into their daily lives. All of this is written in straightforward simple language. Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson have done us a huge service."
Alice K Ladas, Coauthor The G Spot and Other Discoveries About Human Sexuality
"An important contribution to the field of tantric sexuality, this book combines a responsible review of the traditions and lineages of tantra with extremely interesting and useful practices - making it a valuable read for both professionals and the public. Michaels and Johnson present complex philosophical information and a whirlwind tour of tantra in a very reader-friendly and accessible way, and fill very compelling text with powerful techniques - including some surprises like "perfume magic" -- that will undoubtedly be both helpful and enjoyable to put into practice."
-Dr. Judy Kuriansky, author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Tantric Sex
". . . one of the most important spiritual and Tantric books of the decade!"—Donald Michael Kraig, author of Modern Magick
"Shakti was suppressed when Tantra went 'underground' in India in a climate of increasingly Brahmanic puritanism, but the light of the primordial can never be obscured. Tantra not only endured, but flourished in the acceptable context of Yoga, whose practices are the practices of Tantra.
The repressive climate of post-matriarchal India is reflected today in the insanity of a Western society vainly attempting to simultaneously exploit and deny sexuality.
The Yogi, especially the consciously Tantric Yogi, is both scientist and experiment; a fearless explorer of his/her own being. Dr. Jonn Mumford (Swami Anandakapila), on whose illuminating and experiential work this book is based, represents the very best of his tradition and lineage.
The authors, Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson, write with uninhibited lucidity, erudition and humour. Everything is a gateway, an entry point to the potentiality of Life, for the Tantric. The authors have made a magnificent contribution to both the classical and contemporary literature of Tantra.
This book is indeed a revelation of the essence of Tantric sexuality!"
--Yogacharya Swami Ajnananda Saraswati, (Paul Skye) author Mastery of Stress
"Essence is hard to grasp. It is ephemeral, but palpable with the senses. It is often experienced outside the realm of language or explanation. Likewise the kernel (essence) of a thought is hard to describe, even harder the central teachings of an organized approach to life, spirit and sexuality. Especially difficult, when that school is Tantra, a current subject of great confusion. Mark Michaels and Patricia Johnson, using the strong light of Dr. Jonn Mumford's (Swami Anandakapila) 1976 Gnotiscon lectures, illuminate deeply into the cave of ancient Tantra and share with us how vitally relevant Tantra is for today. Not shy with any area of Tantra, they guide us through Tantric thinking and practices, showing how ancient techniques are still vibrant and meaningful. With this work we are given passwords to access knowledge, understanding and power that were formerly available only to the selected few. The reader will find immediate and engaging access to the Tantric world of spirit and sexuality for men and women of all sexual orientations.
This work is destined to be the dog-eared reference book for generations of serious students of Tantra."
--Bruce Anderson, author Tantra for Gay Men.
"At last! A book that presents authentic Hindu Tantra in a delightfully accessible format. The Essence of Tantric Sexuality is a must-read for everyone just beginning to explore Tantra and an invaluable, nuanced resource for more experienced practitioners. Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson have done a stunning job of placing Dr. Jonn Mumford's Gnosticon lectures in context between their ancient roots and their modern application. Most impressive is Michaels' ability to separate-without prejudice or judgement-the essence of authentic Tantra from the many varieties of popular American neo-Tantra. This is a truly liberating book. I will be buying many copies for friends and colleagues, because I won't be letting my copy out of my sight."
-Barbara Carrellas, author of Luxurious Loving: Tantric Inspirations for Passion and Pleasure
"A true tantric couple writes on sacred sexuality, a must read for sincere tantrikas."
--Bhagavan Das, Kirtan master, recording artist, author of It's Here Now, Are You?
"Michaels and Johnson unlock the secrets to transcendent Tantric sexuality for beginners and beyond."--Library Journal
The essence of Tantra
July 14 2006 by Jamye Waxman
What's in a word? It depends on what the word is. If I said hand job, some people would smirk and think back to their first awkward sexual experience. Other people would lick their lips with delight. And others would just roll their eyes and say, no thanks, I could do it myself. So, what about tantra? Sting made it popular by talking about eight hour orgasms. Woody Harrelson is a devoted practitioner. Yet to the layperson, the word tantra sounds foreign, strange, alien and overly sexual. Sting says it's about ritual, and reconnection, which makes it about more than just sex. Others experts agree, saying it's about the spiritual, mystical and the magical moments that come from a prolonged ecstatic experience. And while there are lots of people out there practicing tantra, there are also others who have committed their lives to studying it.
Patricia Johnson and Mark A. Michaels are two of those people. A devoted married couple (a deliberate phrase they choose to use because, as Patricia explains, devoted has spiritual implications. Our relationship is central to our spiritual practice, and we strive to maintain reverence in our interactions.), they have been studying tantra together for over seven years. They initially met at the first workshop Mark ever taught. An opera singer and an academic (he has both a law degree from NYU and two Masters in American Studies from NYU and Yale), both found tantra because they were looking for something more. For Mark it was the sense that sex had enormous potential, and that's what Patricia felt as well. Together they decided to pursue its deeper meaning.
So, what is tantra? According to the couple, Tantra is an ancient Indian tradition that recognizes sexual energy as a source of personal and spiritual empowerment. Still they say tantra is not easy to define, and there are some common misconceptions when it comes to the T word. People think that Tantra is the Yoga of Sex; Tantra is about having bigger and better orgasms; Tantra is an art or a series of sexual techniques; men who practice Tantra don't ejaculate; women who practice Tantra must ejaculate; lovemaking must be a marathon; it is only for couples, and the young and the beautiful, but in reality, sex and sexual activity are only a small part of what Tantra is about. At the same time, any consensual sexual activity can be approached Tantrically. They say what Westerners tend to study is not traditional tantra, but something called Neo-Tantra. Neo-Tantra tends to emphasize sex, and emotional 'healing' and people often treat it as a substitute for couple's therapy. It may borrow liberally from a wide variety of other sources, like psychotherapy and channeling. Traditional Tantra does not have a healing focus, and in some schools, sex is not mentioned at all.
Tantra without sex? I don't think most Americans could accept that, and Patricia and Mark explained that a lot of what they teach is based in Tantra but might be considered Neo-Tantric. So I asked them about the keys to using tantra in sex. The key to applying tantra to a sexual practice involves keeping yourself aroused for a longer period of time. This prolonged state of arousal can lead to mystical experiences. Start by exploring what happens when you remain aroused for at least a half an hour without reaching orgasm. It might sound difficult, but if you can get yourself to do it, you'll be amazed with the results.
They also talked with me about three types of erogenous (erogenic) zones in our system. Each zone is organized by how responsive it is to touch. The primary zones are the lips, nipples and genitals. The secondary zones include the earlobe, the nape of the neck, the inner thigh, and the sacral lumbar junction. Our system also includes tertiary zones, for example, the big toe, the center of the palm and the back of the knee. We generally encourage an approach to stimulation that moves from the secondary zones to the primary zones and then to the tertiary zones. Each of these areas becomes responsive based on your level of arousal. This is described in detail in the book, and systematic stimulation of the zones can be a very powerful way to build sexual energy.
The book they are talking about is their first. Called "The Essence of Tantric Sexuality (Llewellyn Worldwide, July 2006) it promises to be different than other Tantra books because, as they explain, it's based on lectures our teacher gave in 1976. These may have been the first public discussions of Tantric sexuality presented to a Western audience by an initiated Swami. Some of the material in the book is not available anywhere else, and those aspects that may be familiar are presented in a dramatically different way. We felt that it was important to ensure that a new generation of seekers had access to this material. Many people who read a bit about Tantra are left with a feeling of being tangled in a mess of mystifying mumbo-jumbo; we both experienced this in our early reading on the subject, so we did our best to convey the esoteric teachings in a straightforward way, without the window-dressing.
Sure this might still sound a bit woo-woo to you. It might seem out of your league, or from another planet. It might make you uncomfortable or bored, but if you're turned off to its potential, you might want to ask yourself why. Tantra is about connection. It's about focusing on loving somebody without having to be inside of them, pounding away for sixty seconds to an hour. It's about exploring the beauty of an eye gaze (a really powerful tool, even if done with a stranger) or the magic of touch. It's not like you have to become a devoted practitioner, but learning a thing or two about Tantra can do wonders both for you as an individual and for your relationship. You won't know if you like it until you try it, so what's the harm in taking one little bite. VISIT WWW.SOULDISH.COM
The Essence of Tantric Sexuality Mark A. Michaels & Patricia Johnson
Llewellyn Worldwide, 2006 ($17.95)
"Leave your inhibitions at the door: Chronogram contributors and celebrated Tantra teachers Michaels and Johnson offer an accessible and stimulating introduction to the ancient Hindu tradition of sacred sexuality, incorporating philosophical and practical techniques to get anyone's erotic energy flowing. "The kingdom of heaven lies within each and every one of you.""--Chronogram
Michaels and Johnson have created a book that is incredibly respectful, informative, and enlightening. The Essence of Tantric Sexuality is a timeless reference to a mode of thought that is much more sane and healthy than anything I've encounted in Cosmo.
Their book has a very practical and explanatory bent that emphasizes working with your committed partner to expand spiritual understanding through awakening energy in the body.
Even if you aren't into the Tantric approach, there is much to stimulate your creative juices with reading this text, and plenty to draw from with regard to this distinct approach to sex and sexuality.
Erotic Authors Association
The Essence of Tantric Sexuality provides a unique introduction to a widely misunderstood discipline. Like Hatha Yoga, what is taught in the West as Tantric sexuality often has little foundation in traditional practices. Just as Hatha Yoga is more than just stretching and calisthenics, Tantric sexuality is goes far beyond merely enhancing orgasm and postponing ejaculation.
The Shadow Sacrement: A Journal of Sex and Spirituality
"A joy to review and amazing to read about. I would recommend this tantalizing and great teacher to those seriously interested in learning the marriage of sexuality on a physical and spiritual level." Mystic Living Today (mysticlivingtoday.com)