The practice of tantric meditation revolves around the key theories of interconnectedness, enlightenment, and visualization. Introduced in India during the sixth century, the practice of tantra was adopted by Tibetan Buddhist monks and incorporated into the framework of Tibetan Buddhism, or Vajrayana. Buddhist tantric meditation encourages visualization, most particularly the visualization of results. This has led to the practice also being known as the Resultant Vehicle.
As a concept, tantric meditation has been given an overtly sexual label, although this is not strictly correct. The sexual nature of the process stems from seeking the same mental and physical state as that experienced during orgasm. It is said that, in this state, the energy flow through the mind and body is at its highest and most consistent level. The art of tantric meditation is the search for this state in everyday life along with the ability to control it.
Visualization and mantras are core components of tantric meditation. The Buddhist practice of the art comprises two main stages; these are generation and completion. The generation stage consists of the visualization of the self as a deity of the Buddha figure. By creating a self-image in this form, it is said that it is possible to adopt the enlightenment and self-awareness of the visualized being.
During the second, completion stage of tantric mediation, energy flow through the body is the focus. This stage often takes the form of an inner heat yoga practice. By managing energy flow through the body during this second stage, the practitioner can be led into the desired state of tantric bliss.
Inner heat yoga, also known as tummo and one of the six yogas of Naropa, also addresses visualization along with breathing techniques. During the practice, one must visualize energy channels and symbolic mantra images while undertaking the filling-like-a-vase breathing technique. The vase breathing technique is carried out at the naval chakra and involves first drawing the air from above then energy from the airs below. By bringing the energies from above and below to meet and dissolve at the naval chakra, peace and longevity are said to be achievable.
The art of tantra can be helpful in the general practice of meditation through two key areas. For tantric meditation to be successful, both the mind and body must be in harmony. Secondly, by creating a mind and body partnership that is free of tension and self-perception, the awareness required for other forms of meditation can be found.