To The Brink of Ecstasy: Barbara Carrellas Comes to Visit

Well well, it seems we have a guest today! Come gather round and listen to the genius that is Barbara Carrellas, author of the new book Ecstasy is Necessary….

(author’s note: my questions are in bold, Ms Carrellas’s answers are in italics.)

If you would be so kind as to introduce yourself to my readers?
Hi Jill! I am an author, sex educator, university lecturer, workshop facilitator, sex/life coach, motivational speaker and theater artist.Prior to Ecstasy is Necessary I wrote Urban Tantra: Sacred Sex for the Twenty-First Century and Luxurious Loving: Tantric Inspirations for Passion and Pleasure.

I founded Urban Tantra® as a way of bringing people together to explore the vast range of sexual, spiritual and emotional possibilities open to all of us. Most of us have been taught to compartmentalize our lives-to keep our work, spiritual and erotic lives as separate as possible-in order to keep the peace and not offend anyone. I advocate exactly the opposite approach. I think that when our erotic energy is aligned with our spiritual purpose, it releases our creativity and manifests in prosperity and happiness in all areas of life, including fulfilling relationships with other people.
 How did you get involved in the world of tantra?

I discovered Tantra in the 80s during the AIDS crisis. I was looking for a way for me and my friends to have ecstatic sex again, even though we now had to practice the safest of safer sex and give up our all-night, drug-enhanced, sex-driven dance parties. I was also looking for a spiritual practice to help me and my friends cope with our feelings of overwhelming grief and helplessness. It doesn’t sound like a very sexy motivation does it? Paradoxically, when I gave everything I thought sex was, I found everything that sex could be.


What is the aspect of tantra that resonates with you the most?

I love the practice of mindfulness. I really need a practice that encourages me to slow down and appreciate everything that exists in each present moment. I’m a real fanatical multi-tasker. My brain and my body are frequently trying to accomplish 99 things at once. When I practice Tantra I put my attention on my intention. An intention is not the same thing as a goal. The goal is a fixed destination with generally only one or two roads leading to it. An intention, such as to open myself up to more love, can be found on many paths. When I give up my attachment to a goal, I find infinitely more magical ways to fulfill my intentions. I also love that Tantra is such an embodied spirituality. It dissolves any perceived separation between body and spirit.
 What would you like my readers to know about tantra/ what you do in general?

My Urban Tantra is not traditional Hindu-based Indian Tantra. It’s a predominantly Tantra-based hybrid of many sacred sex practices.It’s my personal interpretation of Tantra, intended for a modern Western audience. Urban Tantra can be practiced anywhere and by everyone-inexperienced, young, old, queer, edgy, pierced,differently-abled, tattooed-you name it.
 Are there any tantra-related misconceptions we need to stop believing right now?

 Yes. Here are several myths we need to bust:

Myth #1: Tantra is a religion.
      You do not have to join any group, take any vow or say any special words to practice Tantra.

Myth #2: Tantra has to be done by a man and a woman.
Everyone has some male/masculine/yang qualities and everyone has some female/feminine/yin qualities. The proportions can change on a daily basis. Bringing them together is not an exercise about gender,but rather an act of inner balancing and centering which helps us open to deeper intimacy.

Myth #3: Tantra is couples therapy for white, middle-aged,middle-class, apolitical, woo-woo, New Age, workshop junkies.
Tantra is practiced in a wide variety of styles by a wide variety of people. Contrary to popular notion, Tantra is primarily concerned with inner mystical experiences, not relationships.

Myth #4: Tantra and BDSM do not mix.
Both Tantra and BDSM are erotic arts of consciousness. You can enhance your Tantric practice by borrowing not only conscious sex techniques but also sensation-producing devices from the world of BDSM.

Myth #5: There’s no real fucking.
Trust me, you’ll get to fuck, whatever that might mean to you. But the fact is, sex is a lot more than fucking. Sexual energy exists well beyond your genitals. Tantric sex is a full-body/full-spirit experience.

Myth #6: It takes too long. What’s with those endless rituals?
Well, it does take longer to create a gourmet meal than it does to microwave a frozen dinner. But you will not have to quit your job or give up your gym membership to practice Tantra. It may mean that you have to turn off the TV. One of the payoffs of a Tantric life is that you will probably find that your priorities change toward more pleasurable and meaningful relationships and activities.

Myth #7: You have to study for years to get it right.
There is no absolutely right way to do Tantra. More importantly, Tantra is not about being right. It’s about being happy.

Myth #8: You must have a partner.
You already have a partner: yourself. Solo Tantra offers endless opportunities for sexual and spiritual growth.

Myth #9: You need a guru to study Tantra safely.
Do I think you need a guru? Not unless you want one. But I do think qualified teachers are extremely valuable. I have had many good and some great Tantra teachers, none of whom I have considered a guru. I have learned something important from all of them.

Myth #10: So this is not about real Tantra.
Anyone in the Western world (and some in the East) practicing what they call Tantra today is actually practicing some form of neo-Tantra, a westernized reduction of the original. The art of living Tantrically is living authentically, consciously and sensuously. And that can be done in an infinite variety of styles and practices, all of which can bring about prolonged states of love, connection and bliss.


 Would you describe yourself as sex positive? What does sex-positive mean to you?

It simply means believing, teaching and preaching that sex is fun and that pleasure is good for you.
 What is ecstasy to you?

Ecstasy is not a “feel good” or a “just good fun” experience.I often describe ecstatic experiences as cathartic or transcendent.Ecstatic experiences disassemble us in some significant way and swirl our pieces back together again in new configurations. They give us a fresh perspective on who we are and what our place is within the greater universe. An ecstatic experience can shatter the glass ceiling of our limited possibilities, revealing a new unexplored galaxy.

Who needs to definitely buy this book? (eg. couples, singles…)

I think everyone will get at least one key piece of critical information or insight from Ecstasy Is Necessary. This is a book of fundamentals-the things you need to know in order to make sex,relationships and all of life more enchanting and ecstatic.
 Tell us something we definitely need to know about you and what you do.

I delight in blurring the lines between the sacred and the profane,enlightened and perverted, spirit and science, and pleasure and pain.I am a proud graduate of the Coney Island Sideshow School with a double major in fire eating and snake handling. My favorite mantra is “Make no judgements, no comparisons and delete your need to understand.”

 Any last words for my readers?

Breathe. More, fuller, deeper, longer. Breathe before sex, during sex and after sex. Breathe like your pleasure, your life and your imagination depend upon it. They do.


Ms Carrellas’s new book, Ecstasy Is Necessary, is now available in a bookshop near you. Her other books, including Urban Tantra, are still available.



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