Institute for Ecstatic Living

Are you still fairly new to the Tantric way of life?  Do you need some guidance in following a Tantric lifestyle?  Then how about attending a Tantra workshop to help you understand things a little better?

The Institute for Ecstatic Living can help you to live the Tantric life.  The institute has been around since 1999.  Its founders, Steve Carter and Lokita Carter, are teachers and pioneers when it comes to instructing others on living a Tantric lifestyle.  Together, they have taught a great number of people the joys of ecstatic living.

The workshops that are held by the Institute for Ecstatic Living are to be attended in a place just north of Napa Valley.  So you do not have worry about not having anything to do or anywhere to go outside of the workshop.  Napa Valley and the nearby city of San Francisco have so many places and things for you to see and do.  That means you can actually plan to have a real vacation during your time there.

At the Institute for Ecstatic Living, you will hear about Steve and Lokita’s personal Tantric experiences.  Also, you will get Tantric coaching from a very tranquil atmosphere.  So you can feel relaxed while you gain valuable lessons on the Tantric way of life. 

How far is the Institute for Ecstatic Living from the city of San Francisco?  By car, it is about two hours away.  So if you choose to have your flight arrive at the airport in San Francisco, you will have no problem reaching the institute.

Stop Trying to Compare

Do you have a tendency to think about your past relationships?  What about comparing them to the relationship that you are in right now?  Well, at the very least, try not to compare your previous lover with a current lover—at least not during the physical act.

Besides the fact that it is not very nice to be thinking about someone else while being intimate with another person, doing so can actually prevent you from experiencing tantric sex.  Comparing people and things is normal.  However, when you compare what is happening now to what has happened in the past in your bedroom, you make it very difficult on yourself to learn to accept new things. 

If you expect your current partner to touch you in the same manner as your old one, then you are pretty much expecting something that is highly unlikely to occur.  As you make the realization that your current lover’s touch is not the same as your ex’s, you are likely to start thinking about it obsessively.  While being touched by your partner, you are likely to wonder things like why they are touching you in a way that is so different from your previous lover.  This makes it impossible for you to truly feel your current lover’s touch, and that is definitely not a good thing.

Humans are creatures of habit.  That is why you come to expect certain things in the bedroom.  However, if you can move away from that, you will be able to open up a world of possibilities.

Create Time and Space for Tantra

Tantra is as much about mindset as it is about technique. In fact, one could argue that it’s all about your mindset. If you are truly interested in tantra and all of its benefits (not just the sex stuff,) you have to make room for it in your life. You have to give yourself some breathing room, physically and psychologically.

Start with these basics to help free some physical and emotional space in your life. Then, when you’re ready, you can fill that space with positive, fulfilling principles of tantra.

1.       Stop with all the “should’s.” You know the stuff I’m talking about. ‘I should be cleaning the house,’ ‘I should be working on this…or that,’ ‘I should be doing this…,’ ‘I should be thinking about that…’ Just stop it. Every time you think of something you should be doing, but aren’t, you stop living in the present moment. We all have things we need to accomplish to be functioning, responsible adults, this is true. But, when you spend all of your time focusing on I should’s, you miss out on all the I am’s.

2.       Get rid of physical clutter. Walk through your house. Does it feel open and free, or piled up and crammed in? Knick-knacks and bric-a-brac are fine, especially if it’s stuff you love to look at and enjoy. However, clutter creates both physical and emotional barriers. If you can’t bear the idea of parting with your clutter, at least put it up somewhere to free some physical space around you. You’ll be surprised what it can do for your psyche.

3.       Take a long, honest look at your schedule. In today’s hustle-bustle world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with stuff to do. But, think about this: Does everything on your daily to-do list bring you joy? Sure, there are some necessities, like running errands or doing laundry, that probably don’t, but we’re talking about the things you can actually change. Eliminate anything in your regular schedule that doesn’t bring you joy or a feeling of accomplishment. Freeing time, like eliminating clutter, can do wonders for your mental breathing room.

Valentine's Day is Coming



Valentine’s Day will soon be here, bringing with it expectations of wine, roses and romance. For the committed couple, there are only so many years that roses, chocolates and other cliché gifts will bring the same thrill. At some point, those traditional gifts lose their sparkle, becoming overdone and unimaginative. If that is the case for you this Valentine’s Day, why not consider a gift that will expand and deepen your connection with your partner? Rather than tired clichés, how about giving them a gift for the two of you?
Learning more about the principles behind tantric sex brings joys and harmony that last well beyond the lifespan of a cut flower. The rewards far outweigh the size of any diamond or other sparkly bobble. And the best part? It doesn’t cost much. 
If tantric sex and the benefits of tantra rituals sound appealing to you, the following resources might help spark some ideas for this coming Valentine’s Day. Whether you present your partner with a how-to book, and informative guide, a quiet weekend away, or some other token of affection, the ultimate goal should be to celebrate the bond you share. Exploring the world of tantra can help facilitate that celebration, bringing more joy and pleasure than any material gift you will ever find.
Tantra: Path of Ecstasy, by Georg Feuerstein: According to reviews from Amazon and Publisher’s Weekly, as well as reader reviews, this book offers a simple, interesting explanation of the deeper principles behind tantra and tantric sex. More than just sexual foreplay, this book explores the more spiritual side and purpose of tantra. For those truly interested in enjoying the benefits of tantra, this is an excellent place to start.
Sacred Texts, Tantra: Interested in reading original texts regarding tantra? This site offers a translation of Mahanirvana Tantra. Translated in 1913 by Sir John Woodriffe, the text discusses rites and rituals, dharma, and other tantric principles. There’s nothing quite like getting the information straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

Beginner's Tantra - Step Three

So now the time has arrived. You and your partner have rocked, teased, explored and worked on developing a deeper connection...all without engaging in the physical act. Now it's time to jump in and have a little fun, right? 

Don't be so quick. Remember, the goal of tantric sex is to bring about a stronger, more spiritual union so that both you and your partner can enjoy a heightened experience. That mindset carries over when you're finally ready to complete the experience.

First, remember to take it slow; set the mood; enjoy the magic you have spent so much time building. Tantric sex is not a sprint to the finish line. Instead, it is a long, leisurely walk to a beautiful oasis. It's not about getting there, it's about living the entire experience, from start to finish, in tune with your partner.

A few more things to try, or at least keep in mind as you begin your quest for more fulfilling sexual pleasure with your partner: maintain eye contact as much as possible before, during and even after. Watching the pleasure fill your partner's eyes, reading their facial expressions, and similar efforts all help to build the connection and offer feedback on how your partner feels. Set the mood by appealing to all of your combined senses, including aroma, audio and visual.

Likewise, try to maintain the same magical, meditative state you and your partner have spent the last several days or weeks building together. Start small and slowly build anticipation with each kiss, lingering gaze, or touch. Remember what your partner has expressed in terms of what they like, what they enjoy, or what stirs their inner soul. Envision communicating with your partner through non-verbal gestures, touches and other cues. Play your words out in your mind, but let your body communicate your thoughts to your partner. Finally, remember the adage “practice makes perfect,” the more you and your partner try to connect through tantric sex, the better and more fulfilling your sex life becomes.

Beginner's Tantra - Step Two

Are you ready for the next step in learning how to incorporate tantric sex into your relationship?

Are you SURE you're ready? It might be more difficult for some than others, depending on how often you and your partner are used to sharing intimate time together.

First, you and your partner have to agree to spend a set period of time abstaining from intercourse. The exact time frame, whether a few days, a week, or a couple of weeks, is not as important as what you do with the time you set aside. While abstaining is key, it is not the end goal. Instead, abstaining is meant to help you and your partner take more time to learn more about each other, develop a deeper connection, and heighten pleasure when you do succumb to your desires.

Once you determine a time frame, set aside an hour each day, just for you and your partner. Be flexible with your time frame for abstinence, but not with your daily time. It's okay to shorten your period of abstinence, if you and your partner decide it's best, but don't shortchange your daily time together. Use daily time to learn about what your partner finds most pleasurable. The idea is to build anticipation, teasing, touching and arousing each other, while developing a deeper understanding of your partner's sexual self.

Some ideas for stoking the fire between you while you abstain:

  • Learn the fine art of kissing. There are many, many types of kisses – the slow, sensual kiss; the deep, passionate kiss; kisses that are tender and affectionate; kisses that are wild and demanding. And kissing isn't limited to just your partner's lips. Find all of your partner's spots, using nothing more than your lips – no other touching. Draw out the sensual side of both you and your partner, with nothing more than a kiss.

  • Learn how to communicate with your partner about what you each enjoy in terms of sensual touches. If verbal communication is uncomfortable at first, a sensual, yet delicate and guided touch can speak volumes. For some couples, openly discussing sex and sexual pleasure becomes easier in small stages. Be patient with each other and remember, the goal is to develop a deeper understanding and connection, so comfort and openness in your communication is important.

  • Read together. Find a romance novel, collection of erotic stories, or other literature that you can share during your daily time. Take turns reading to each other and explore what thoughts, feelings and emotions the stories evoke in each other. While you're reading, pause to look at each other, share an embrace, or curl up together. Sharing an erotic tale while maintaining intimate body contact can be a heady experience!

Beginner's Tantra - Step One

Tantric sex is more than just heightened sexual pleasure, however, what is the point of learning about tantra and tantrism without the fun and enjoyment that goes with it? As such, we will explore some of the techniques and principles of tantra in this series. Starting with the basics and progressing to more advanced tantric techniques, we will explore the world of tantric sex to help you and your partner reach a more fulfilling, enlightening sex life.

Step One – Breathing Together, Lighting the Flame


Tantric sex is all about becoming one with each other and the universe. As such, the first place to start is learning how to connect on a deeper level. You can start with breathing. There's no sexual performance involved. Unless, of course, you just can't resist.


Start somewhere comfortable, like the middle of the bed, on a comfortable mat on the floor, wherever you both can feel relaxed and in-tune with the moment. Once you pick a spot, have your partner choose a sitting position that will be comfortable to maintain with you in their lap. Sit on their lap, facing each other, with your legs wrapped around behind them.


Stare deep into each others' eyes, a practice known as soul gazing. Practice breathing in as your partner breaths out. Visualize their breath entering your body, spreading their soul through every part of you. Do not lose eye contact as you breath in when they breath out. As you relax, start rocking back and forth, you moving back as your partner moves forward in time with your breathing. The goal is to arose both you and your partner by connecting, sharing each others' life forces and synchronizing your body rhythms.


Simply staring, breathing and rocking won't do anything for you without understanding the sensual mindset needed. Visualization is key in this exercise. Imagine the connection building between you and your partner. Envision a spiritual joining, in addition to the physical joining. Consider this as foreplay of the mind and soul to truly realize the benefits to your sexual pleasure.

Tantra and Neotantra – The Western View


Previously, we talked about some of the misunderstandings between the Western view of tantric sex and what tantra really is and means. For those truly interested in exploring the benefits, I thought a deeper discussion might be in order. So this week, we're going to talk about the difference between tantra and neotantra. Tantra encompasses a whole practice, not just sex. Neotantra, in contrast, is a term used to describe the westernization of tantra practices, specifically regarding sexuality.

In traditional tantra, the role of sexuality is spiritual in nature. The physical act is merely a method of reaching a higher plane of connection with the universal energy. Comparatively, neotantra practices focus on creating a spiritual connection between two individuals through sex. The differences might seem subtle, but the focus is drastically different. Traditionally, tantric sex was a means of connecting to the spiritual. Sexuality and sexual contact was considered part of a sacred rite. In Western culture, the spiritual aspects are often overlooked, with more focused placed on simple enjoyment and heighten sexual pleasure.


There is nothing wrong with increasing sexual pleasure for simple sake of enjoying intimacy between two people. However, for those looking for a deeper connection, the Western view of tantric sex often leaves out the underlying principles for which tantra was developed. While technique, breathing exercises and other aspects of neotantra bring about heightened pleasure, understanding the changes in mindset needed and respecting the spiritual origins of the practice can multiply the pleasure considerably.

More Than Just Sex


Contrary to common Western thought, tantric sex is not just about eroticism. In fact, tantra is a religious doctrine that combines various beliefs and philosophies from both Buddhism and Hinduism. While numerous traditions exist, the overriding tenants focus on the divine energy of the universe and a person's ability to attain a higher level of connection to that energy.

In regards to tantric sex, the goal is not simply to evoke a more erotic experience. Rather, tantric sexual rites were originally designed to allow both participants to reach a higher level of connection with the universe. According to traditional tantrism, sex serves one of three purposes. Aside from procreation and pleasure, traditional followers believed that sex provided a means of liberation. Samadhi, the ultimate culmination of a sexual experience, allowed both participants to intertwine and become one within the cosmos.

When applied to modern Western couples, there are numerous recommended methods from various tantric practitioners. Each may involve different steps, different techniques or different recommendations for heightening sexual pleasure. No matter which method a couple follows, the underlying goal should be understood. The purpose of tantric sex is for couples to connect on a deeper, more intimate level than previously experienced.

While Westerners may not subscribe to the beliefs associated with tantrism and divine energy, the message of connection with a partner should be understood. Without understanding the true purpose of tantric sex, couples stand to miss out on its benefits. Naturally, tantric sex can be more erotic than traditional techniques, but the true purpose is to bring couples closer in all areas of life.

Daily Deity: Kali

The other night while we were watching Supernatural, my husband and I saw the Hindu goddess Kali portrayed by a beautiful dark-skinned woman. She was in charge of leading the fight against the Apocalypse, and wanted to use the main characters of the show as bargaining chips.

I understood the modernization of her, but she really did not seem like Kali to me at all. Where was her belt made with human heads, her multi-arm stance with multiple swords? Okay, maybe they will depict her ferocity when she fights, I thought; but no. All they did was make her arms turn into fire, which wasn’t very impressive at all.

As a fan of Kali (I once had a rabbit named Kalika; yes, I know it’s ironic) I would have loved to have seen her in her blue or dark black glory. The thing is, Kali, as the goddess of energy and time, is often depicted differently (just as most deities are). For example, she’s not always skulls and blood. As a teen, I was fascinated by that deathly aspect of her (perhaps because she was always standing on her husband Shiva’s back?) and frequently drew her, but I didn’t realize that she’s also considered a benevolent mother figure, or one of the Tantric goddesses.

Had I known, I’m sure I would have been just as fascinated with her—and I probably would have appreciated her frank and honest description, as the “benevolent destroyer” Christian god I’ve been told to accept my whole life is so often warped into each individual worshipper’s need at the moment as they try to convert you over. Of course, I haven’t met many Hindus, and for all I know, it may work in the same way.

Kali is usually portrayed as having four or ten arms, often naked or with clothing made from human heads. Sometimes she rides a lion, or is standing on Shiva. Her eyes are often red, as is her tongue, which usually sticks out of her mouth, sometimes next to fangs. You can learn more about the Dark Mother and her other names and forms here. (Also, try doing a Google search for more images of Kali; as varied as they are, they usually share these common elements, and are often quite beautiful.) Kali is a favorite goddess to honor at Samhain, as well as when you are seeking change in your life.