Tantra as a Healing Modality
August 2008

My name is Dr. Rafe Eric Biggs and I am a psychologist, writer, filmmaker, and social activist. I am also a quadriplegic from a spinal cord injury that I experienced in 2004 while on spiritual retreat in India that left me paralyzed from the chest down. One of my first thoughts after my injury was “Will I every walk again?” While this is a primary concern for anyone with a spinal cord injury, the second immediate question I had was “Can I still have sex?”

Initially, I had virtually no feeling or movement below my chest. Over the next few months, I began to feel more subtle sensation deep in my abdominal, pelvis, and legs. Although I had very little feeling below my chest I realized that could still feel erotic sexual energy when I fantasized about sex. This is when I first began to believe that sexual energy exists regardless of our physical state or disability and can be used for healing trauma both physical and emotional.

My Sexual Re-Awakening

For me, this journey of healing and sexual expression are one and the same. My first awakening of this energy was a few months after my spinal cord injury. I was lying in bed one night in the hospital and couldn’t sleep. At that time I had virtually no sensation or movement below my chest. Bored, I began to put my attention on a couple former lovers. It was really a sexual fantasy but rather feeling the essence of their beauty. Slowly I began to experience an erotic energy that began in my pelvis and slowly grew up my spine with each deep breath. Within a few minutes this erotic energy began to fill my entire body from my head to feet and I experienced what I can only describe as full body orgasms! This seemed to last for an hour with each deep breath the energy flowed up my spine and through my entire body.

After being in a state of pain and discomfort for several months, I now had more pleasurable sensation running through and filling my body in ecstasy. I thought to myself, “how did this happen?” It was not even a conscious willingness, but rather a spontaneous emergence of sensual energy. I knew in that moment that my sexuality was not paralyzed but in a state of rediscovery.

Years before my injury I had studied Tantra and knew the power of breath and sound connected with mindful intention. Tantra is an esoteric tradition rooted in India that teaches that we are at union with everything in the universe. For many people in the West, Tantra has become associated with “spiritual sex” or “sacred sexuality”; a belief the sex can help us elevate our experience to a higher state of spiritual consciousness.

Through studying and practicing Tantra, I have experienced prolonged lovemaking, full body orgasms and often an expanded state of consciousness. Since many tantric practices are based on using the breath, sound, and mindful intention to generate and direct sexual energy, I thought this could work even with my damaged spinal cord. Although most of us experience sexual energy in our genitals and a few other erotic regions, the entire body is capable of experiencing sexual energy.

As I have learned since my injury, the nervous system is completely plastic meaning that it can “re-wire” itself to produce new connections. I have discovered that certain areas of my body where I have normal feeling such as my head, ears, shoulders, neck and chest can experience a great deal of pleasure. And when touched in a sensual way these areas can become highly aroused and even orgasmic. All it requires a personal openness and a partner who is willing to explore.

When the Student is Ready the Teacher Appears

I have been exploring Tantra as a healing modality for a month now with my teacher Ariel Anastasia White. We are exploring how Tantra can help me rediscover my sexuality and potentially heal my spinal cord injury. I met Ariel at a local Tantra gather in San Diego in June. She was a guest teacher introducing a new film her and her partner had just completed on Tantra. I immediately felt drawn to her on both a physical as well energetic level. Her beauty seemed to emanate from within. I began talking with her about my injury and my intention to explore Tantra as a path for sexual pleasure as well as a healing modality.

Today we had our fourth session together. We began by getting comfortable on my bed and breathing deeply to relax my body and mind. Ariel gazed deeply into my eyes as she does at the beginning of every session. I felt an energetic wall come between us although I deeply desired to meet her level of intimacy and connection. My body felt tight and uncomfortable. I had discomfort in my hips, pelvis, and back, not an uncommon feeling for most of my waking existence. Emotionally, I felt vulnerable and sad. Tears began to slowly emerge as I released the tension I experienced in my heart.

Opening the Body

Ariel asked me close my eyes and focus my attention on my root chakra located by the base of my spine and breathe deeply allowing it to open. Chakra is a Sanskrit term meaning wheel or circle and refers to a spinning sphere of bioenergetic activity. Chakras are commonly described as energy centers in the spine located at major branchings of the human nervous system, beginning at the base of the spinal column and moving upward to the top of the skull. She held my hand and gently stroked my arm and shoulder. With her physical contact and my breathing my body began to let go. She instructed me to move my attention to my second chakra located just below my belly, the creative sexual center. Again I breathed deeply opening this area. More tears streamed down my face. I felt deep sadness and loss of my sexuality since my spinal cord injury. After several moments I continued to move my attention to my third chakra located by my navel, my power center. I then continued this process to my fourth chakra located by my heart, the feeling center. I could feel the warmth and gentle touch of her hand on my chest. More tears emerged as I felt my chest open and my back arch. It felt so good to open this part of my body. When I opened my eyes, I noticed they had softened and no longer was there any barrier between us. I could feel love flowing from her eyes into my heart. I was safe. We continued this process through the fifth chakra located by my throat, the communication center. This area felt tight and constricted. I inhaled and then sighed on my exhale. My throat began to open and relax. Next we moved to the sixth chakra located between my eyebrows. This chakra is often referred to as “the third eye”, the vision center. Finally, we complete this process at the seventh chakra located at the top of my head, my connection to higher consciousness and the Divine.

Orgasmic Energy

Now my body had relaxed substantially and my mind was present with hers. I had dropped my defenses and settled into an open relaxed state. We then moved to an exercise where Ariel laid behind me on the bed with the head elevated. My back pressed softly against her breasts and I breathed deeply as she followed my same breath. My legs were crossed into a half lotus position, hers gentled wrapped around mine with the soles of her feet together.

We began to inhale together followed with a sigh-like sound as we exhaled. As she began to tone in a song-like manner, I followed her breath with my own feeling a vibration move down my spine opening my body. I then began to feel a pleasurable sensation move through my spine into my loins. As she began to rock her pelvis against my sacrum, I felt a warm erotic sensation enter my spine and move up with each inhale. With each exhale the pleasurable feeling moved down to my pelvis and producing an orgasmic sensation.

My chest opened and my back arched as I felt a strong wave of energy move through my body. This is often referred to as kundalini. This energy lies dormant at the base of the spine until it is activated, as by the practice of tantric yoga, and channeled upward through the chakras producing a state of heightened consciousness and even ecstasy. Ariel then slowed her pelvic movements and breath as we came to stillness resting in each other’s arms. I felt relaxed and energized. I opened my eyes and noticed vivid colors and sharpness in my vision. I stretched forward toward my legs as my forehead rested on my crossed ankles. Deep relaxation and pleasure moved through my body. My legs tingled with energy all the way to my feet. I arched back to a seated position and realized that I could sit with my spine tall and no use of my hands to support my balance. I looked into the mirror and saw an amazing sight. I was sitting on my own very tall with my chest open! Just the day before I was trying to sit the same way in therapy and I struggled with back rounded. This was extraordinary!

Yam Yum

Next we moved into a new and delicious position called Yab Yum. I am still seated with my spine tall and legs crossed as Ariel sat on my lap facing me with her legs wrapped around my back. With my eyes closed, we began to breathe again together and exhale with a sigh-like sound. After several breaths I slowly opened my eyes and looked softly into hers. I gazed deeply into her eyes feeling myself open, present, and connected to her somatic self. After several rounds of breathing together she began to rock her hips against mine and I began to feel an erotic sensation move into my pelvis and up my spine. I brought my attention to my forehead and felt a sense of ecstasy move up through my body and out this sixth energy center.

Although we are fully clothed I feel like we are making love as ecstasy continues to flow and circulate through my body and into hers. I now inhale this energy into my third eye down through my spine and exhale it out my pelvis into her hips. I continue this breath/sigh pattern and ecstasy builds in my body. I look into her eyes and feel love as tears begin to flow. I feel powerful as a man and lover. I feel so grateful for this experience! Our breathing and movement slow down as our forehead come together in a “tantric kiss.” I feel so much pleasure throughout my body and then I notice…no pain!

We come to stillness as we hold each other in our arms. My head is gentling resting against her shoulder and her breast against my chest. I feel so much love and ecstasy. I open my eyes and look into hers and realize how “high” I feel. I share this with her and she laughs! “Tantra can produce amazing altered states with no drugs necessary,” she says. I realize how thirsty I am so she dismounts me and gets me a drink of water. It tastes delicious! I hear shamanic drumming music playing in the background. I look out the window and notice how beautiful the world looks. I then tell Ariel that she looks beautiful. Time does not exist. I feel full and satisfied. My heart is open. I feel so connected with everything. I now understand the spiritual aspect of Tantra. I feel like I have communed with the Divine.

We agree to end our session and I decide to sit by myself and meditate and integrate this experience. The song “I am Blessed” by Ben Harper begins to play and it so perfectly captures the moment. Ariel gives me a long sweet hug goodbye as she leaves. My body feels whole and complete. I look over at myself in the mirror and smile as I see a beautiful powerful man looking back at me. This has been a truly extraordinary experience that has the potential for healing and transformation on many levels, physically, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually. This experience has ended but the adventure continues…