FACETIME- Intro to Tantra: Johnson and Michaels get off on ancient techniques

When New York-based authors Patricia Johnson and Mark Michaels first investigated the spiritual science of Tantra and its immense sexual possibilities, they were stymied. 

During the first wave of popular books about Tantra in the mid-80s, recalls Michaels, he was intrigued, but perplexed by his findings. His initial impetus, he explains, arose from sensing some great untapped possibility in some of his "early experiences" with sex.

Johnson, now Michaels' wife, also was gradually initiated into Tantric practices, and similarly attracted by transcendent sexual moments.

"I thought, ‘I sense that there's something really powerful here,'" she recollects, "and I wanted to know if I could harness it and cultivate it." 

But the available Tantric literature only complicated matters. Those texts, the couple, now both in their forties, were either very academic or sort of touchy-feely-airy, and vague about the roots of the tradition. So they decided to weigh in on the subject.

"They are very serious about what they're doing," says Chris Friedman, the proprietor of Studio 209, site of the couple's Charlottesville events. "I think they have a lot of integrity about their work."

Unlike other similar books, which are often either asexual or "about sex only," posits Michaels, "We wanted to strike a balance between the two– to respect the tradition, but also [go] where the juice is, where the erotic is."

It starts with a, well, climax.

"That's when you lose a sense of ego, a merger with your beloved, maybe with all that is," says Michaels. "I think a great beginning place is for people to recognize it as a mystical, divine state." 

In their new book, Tantra for Erotic Empowerment, the couple, Michaels says focuses on "awareness and a mental approach" instead of getting into more esoterica that might flummox readers.

Many people are already unknowingly experiencing basic Tantric sexuality, Michaels says, but reading about it can be "just sort of ‘Huh?'"

What draws most modern Americans to Tantric practices, Michaels says, is the promise of "transcendent and magnificent" sexuality. "The thing that Tantric sexual practices do," Michaels adds, "is give you the skills for making that happen basically at will, not at random."

But Michaels and Johnson are quick to point out that Tantric awareness isn't all world-class shagging.

"A lot of people think, ‘Oh, I'll practice Tantra, I'll learn a Tantric technique, and then my life will be different,'" he says. "And what we ultimately do, especially in the Tantra for Erotic Empowerment, is we lead the reader to be more fully within themselves and see all of the wonderful things that are going on as they are."

Get a taste of Tantra at 8pm Friday, March 28, at Studio 206. The next day, Johnson and Michaels hold a "Tantric Practices" workshop at 1:30pm Saturday, March 29, also at Studio 206. Cost is $50. Register at info@TantraPM.com.