In regards to tantric love, consciousness of breath and energy can be continuous throughout all the stages of love. At some times the consciousness of breath may be very evident, while at other times more subtle, but it is possible and ideal to always maintain at least a thread of breath consciousness. This maintains a vital link to our body energies and sensations and a link with power of consciousness - which is the power of Shiva. In the winter and spring stages this conscious breath will be experienced as distinctly our own, which may give us a sense of our personal power and feelings, while in the other stages of love this conscious breath will be experienced as emerging from the love flow itself and not from our own centerdness.
Conscious breath is the link between energy and consciousness. It is what links us to the whole experience of loving. Breath maintains the flow of experience and the energies involved. It is also the connection between the sensitive body and consciousness. Consciousness is important because without it there is no real experience, so the increase or expansion of consciousness means an increase in the intensity of the experience. The body energies and sensations should be within consciousness; otherwise consciousness is somewhere else and the body ecstasy is not included in the experience. If the lover is asleep, just dreaming, or just meditating, then the body and its energies are not within the experience. Then, the ritual of love-making would be rather pointless, since the purpose of the ritual is to experience the body in ecstasy as much as it is to experience the spirit or mind in ecstasy.
When one is more completely involved in the love flow one may not be conscious of the breath as a kind of focused attention on the breath. Rather, the experience of breath is like being in the flow of the love-making breath itself, that is, the consciousness is merged with the love flow which has its own breath that is not merely one’s own. So here, conscious breath is not consciousness of my breath but is consciousness of the united shared breath of the love flow, where one feels to be moving and experiencing within this breath, rather than being aware of one’s breath as separate from the other’s.
Yet, in terms of the ritual stages and the progression from one season to another, one begins with the power of one’s own conscious breath, which builds up a certain energy and strengthens the yogi’s own connection between consciousness and his or her body energies. This power of self-integrity must first be established, which includes the conscious integrity of one’s own desire, one’s own feelings, and one’s own sensations of sexual and other energies of the body. The conscious breath helps strengthen and unify this integrity. Yet at the same time one is being drawn to the lover, drawn to their desires, feelings and energies, and the two integrities or two energy fields begin to relate and merge together more and more, in special ways according to the types of approach. One is still conscious of one’s breath, and one’s own sensations and feelings, but also more and more conscious of the other’s energies and feelings.
Gradually the two blend and merge more and more. Then, at some point in the progressive mergence the self-conscious breaths merge into the breath flow itself, and it is here that conscious breath loses its distinct sensation in one’s own body and feels to be emerging from the flow of love energy embracing both lovers. Here, one feels being breathed from the love, rather than breathing from one’s body.
For the shaman, conscious breath is the way of acquiring and expressing personal power within the world. But the power of breathe in love-making is not the same. The yogi of tantra is, as well, a practicing shaman, a magician, a healer, and an explorer of non-ordinary worlds of experience. The experienced yogi is capable of taking his or her love partner to great heights of spiritual realization and ecstatic bliss. In this sense, we can speak of the personal power of the love yogi, that is, his or her power to merge consciousness with sexual energy, to maintain high levels of intensity within the body, and to serve the other’s intensifying enjoyment and realization of total love consciousness. All of this does depend on one’s own power or ability. Yet, in what may seem paradoxical, the fulfillment of this love ritual or spiritual experience depends also on the lover’s surrender of power to the other or the surrender of one’s own center. And as both lovers surrender to the other a new center is born which includes them both. This is the center of love between the lovers, the power of love between them. The surrender begins as a surrender to the other, their power of magic and seduction, but this transforms into a surrender to the love power between them.
During the evolving ritual one’s power of breath is sometimes conscious within one’s body and sometimes conscious from within the love center, the flow of love embracing the lovers. Sometimes the breath is distinctly conscious as one’s own and sometimes it is felt to be lost within the love experience itself. These two modes of breath will often rhythm back and forth, as spring rhythms with summer. The yogi finds power in the breath that is conscious to himself or herself, yet finds mergence in the surrender of breath to the ecstatic excitement and flow of the love experience. Both modes rhythm and blend together. Yet consciousness must remain in one of these modes, where the lover is either conscious of his or her own breath and energies or conscious within the breath and energy flow of the mergence itself. Either way consciousness should remain continuous.
In the way of mergence, the lovers lose themselves in the exciting sensations and ecstatic feelings of the other, but consciousness is not lost - it will actually expand. The lover loses themselves in the pleasure of the other, like losing all sense of self in sweet perfume or delicious juices. The experienced sensations, the smells, tastes, sounds and touches of the lover become all pervading in experience, such that the experiencer becomes lost in the experience. It is here that the breath becomes lost in the other, or lost in the rapturing experience itself. You are carried away by the other, carried away by the experience.
Here, consciousness and the energies of the lover’s bodies merge together. Yet the ideal of the tantra is not just this mergence but a greater intensity of these energies and of consciousness, in the mergence. This intensity of both the energies of the body and of consciousness can only increase when they have time to develop in the separate mode. This is an alchemical understanding in the tantra. In other words, the mode of breath conscious to oneself is a mode of experience where there is consciousness of the energies, a separation of consciousness and the energies. It is here where the powers of these can increase in intensity, so that their mergence will be evergreater in intensity. Thus, the two modes are equally important, and we can understand why their rhythm within the ritual experience is significant.