Tantra Blog

Friday, July 9, 2010

The journey back down

Crossing over the border from Canada to the USA this time we don't get pulled aside by the men in black with their excellent sniffer dogs. Dez explains that we have managed to eat all the apples we had in the car and have only one left, which he is welcome to have if he feels like an apple. The officer is not wanting to be humored: Ok, now go! He says.

Back in Seattle, we stay at the home of Brad, Dez' sister and brother in law. We have a few days to rest and recuperate before teaching again. Brad is an excellent listener; he coaches the nuances of my work out of me, and shows much appreciation for it. Janet asks an interesting question: If this work is about awakening, why such a strong focus on sexuality? And indeed, sex is often the lure with which Tantra is presented in America. Brad's comment from a separate conversation with me is: Fascinating, that your work seems to be about so much more than sexuality.

A conversation that I find particularly useful myself is exploring how my years of working in the townships as an anthropologist has given me a sensitivity to people's lived realities - to what they feel in all the nuances of their being, beyond what they overtly express. There is a big focus in American Tantra on the expression of boundaries and desires. I see the value and need for this kind of overt communication, and I also feel where my work goes.

Then off to Robyn Lynn's home and temple, where Dez and I present our last talk and workshop together. Spending time here is an experience. The house is beautiful and spacious, built on a hill with a magnificent view over the city below. The lounge has been converted into a welcoming temple, and downstairs there is a huge sessions room. There are at least three practitioners living and working in this home and traversing complimentary spaces.

Tom practices a form of transformational breathwork that is related to holotrophic breathwork. He started this after a time in Africa, during which the suffering of the poor awakened a deep compassion in him. For more on him, see evendeeper.com. Tom and Robyn do a monthly breathwork group event at their home. David does work with heart centered sexuality; his work seems to relate to lovetribe.org which is popular all along the West Coast.

David Cates is an older, deeply compassionate, present and sensual man who has designed an ingenious working format: the pod. Pods are small groups of people (of uneven numbers) who get together regularly to do deep work on sexuality and intimacy. I was fortunate to be in the house for a day while David was doing pod work, and the sounds that came from the room spoke of deep release, permission and delight.

David is also a Daka coach. Quoted from http://sedonatemple.com/practitioners.php#davidcates: "David Cates is completely devoted to the art of Presence. When you are ready to bring your tantric practice all the way into this naked moment - stripping off the roles and rituals we often hide behind - he holds a profoundly safe space for you to fully embody the love that you are." And from his own website dakacoach.com: "Are you on the front lines of the sexual healing revolution? Thank you! This is a very sacred and potentially dangerous calling. It takes courage and wisdom to handle these fires without getting burned. I'm here to help you with the unique challenges that come with this life – both professional and personal."

And then, of course, there is Robyn. She is a beautiful woman with a kind, centered presence. Her website, thepresentsense.com, states:
The Erotic
Is nature herself
is innocent, natural and amazingly diverse
is calling you to align with her

She has developed a really strong practice and her clients clearly love her. She charges the same as a psychologist, and takes her clients to a gradual, successive process in which they go deeper and deeper in councilling. There are several carefully planned stages to work with Robyn, which I think is part of the reason why her clients so adore her. She reads them well, and makes sure they are ready to go where she takes them.

Robyn is standing at the beginning of a big adventure: She has been invited to bring new life into an eco-community close by, and to come live there. She is dreaming into how best she can do this, with cob and clay and beauty, and is planning to move to the land after a month in Hawaii. She is the coordinator of Body Electric, thebodyelectricschool.net, a weekend women's event that takes women into a powerful collective encounter with their sexuality.

Our talk is received really well, and there is a lot of interest in sessions. I am also noticing that the recession has hit America, and few people seem to be able to pay the rates that Dez gave. So we work with what they can give, and it is such a pleasure.

Of particular delight to me in Seattle is working with younger people who have grown up with great enthusiasm for the exploration of consciousness, as well as a sense of freedom and permission around the exploration of sexuality. I mention some influences that have shaped the sense of sexual freedom and space to explore.

Polyamory is a really common and acceptable paradigm amongst the new age communities of the west coast. I see how this framework gives young people and even older people a break to explore outside of conventional paradigms.

All across the conscious communities of North America there are cuddle parties (see cuddleparty.com). Cuddle parties is a trademarked concept that teaches people to create boundaries and say no while creating space for people to touch each other in non-sexual ways. As I understand, the music is soothing and non-sexual and people are encouraged to wear pajamas (well-covering ones). Only accredited facilitators are allowed to host cuddleparties, and they are really popular.

Then there is Lovetribe, which is big in Seattle and in several places in America. I quote from LoveTribe.org. " LoveTribe recognizes that we are all connected on a spiritual or energetic level, and is helping create more heart-conscious, touch-positive communities that nurture our whole selves by creating gatherings where we can learn and practice skills for getting our needs for authentic connection, affection and play met in healthy, caring ways."

In Seattle, there is a space called the Wet Spot that is the center of what is called sex positive culture; see sexpositiveculture.org. I quote from the website:
"As proponents of sex positive culture, we believe that the appropriate uses of sex extend beyond reproduction. They include creating personal pleasure, bonding interpersonal relationships, promoting spiritual growth, and enhancing emotional and physical health. In a sex positive world, everyone has the freedom and resources to pursue a fulfilling and empowering sex life."

Back to sessions. Some strong themes that come up with the people I work with are:
• finding ways to get men to embrace masculine sexuality and women to embrace female sexuality
• honoring the feminine principle in us that opens us the unknown/what lies beyond the ego's self-definition
• noticing how excess weight can be a source of emotional protection, or can keep you from being attractive of desirable
• noticing how Judeo-Christian beliefs get transferred onto buddhist and new-age practices
• working with the boundary between cuddling and sexual intimacy.

On the latter point: I notice an interesting phenomenon here. There has been such a strong emphasis on developing heart-centeredness and consent around touch in this community, that some people have developed great fear about the crossing of the line from friendliness to being sexual. Also, in some there is such concern about not wanting to be needy or predatorish that they cannot allow themselves to be fed, and to deeply drink from, the intimacy that is presented to them.

I loved working with people in Seattle, and I feel that there is so much openness, willingness and potential here. If I come back to the States, I would like to spend some time working in this city. I would love to see more of the natural beauty around the city, which sounds very exciting and delightful. And I would love to go to ecstatic dance, and all the other wonderful dance opportunities that abound here. Robyn really enjoyed my visit and has invited me to come again.

We leave Seattle on the 4th of July after an early dinner with Dez' family at the lake. 4th of July is like Christmas in Summer here - it's a major celebration day. It was so fabulous to be dancing and skipping around on the deck with Dez' 80 year old uncle and singing with his mother, all around tables full of delicious salmon and sangria made of well matured wine from the cellar.

The evening journey to Portland is spectacular. Fireworks shoot up out of the forests everywhere like faeries having star-orgies. Fireworks is the thing on 4th of July here. It is good to be driving with Natasha in her sexy truck. Just the two of us girls on the road now. "We are free. Going to Harbin" says Natasha. The two of us have been dreaming into going to Harbin Hot Springs later this week, and it looks like that's where we'll be this weekend.

As we enter Portland, traffic almost comes to a standstill where the highway goes onto the bridge. The most beautiful bouquet of fireworks shoots of a boat in the middle of the river - one bouquet after another.

Monday morning, the day after, is a public holiday in America. I am using the day to present a workshop on releasing sexual trauma in Portland. There is a group of us gathered in the basement of Erin's house. Quite suitably, the room is painted black. As we get into roaring, energy starts moving, and some strong expressions come forth: sexual desire, predator instinct, fantasies being touched, opened into or rejected. This work is edgy, and it feels good to be able to hold a space where what is uncomfortable and unresolved can be welcomed as it is.

Coming home, we spend more time with our delightful host, Anna Marti (annamarti.com) We talk about our shared desire to support people into their awakening, the impulse to do this work as a service and not driven by capitalist agendas, we talk about being women, aging, and nature of beauty and wisdom. Anna also tells me about her ex husband and good friend Vin Martin, a professional dancer who developed his own dance system called Soulmotion. It sounds similar to BlissDance; see http://www.soulmotion.com

I am loving traveling with Natasha. The Siberian tigress in her is here. She is becoming more and more ferocious in owning her desire, honoring her feminine and speaking her truth. Natasha has been attending sessions with me, picking up the nuances of what I am doing with great dexterity, and contributing to the sessions with breathtaking presence. I feel her celebrating whatever she is experiencing, not running away from any state she is or anyone else is in, no longer wanting to modulate her presence to feel or present spiritual, light or acceptable. And she touches people deeply wherever she goes. She has somehow found a deep connection with South Africa and the capacity we have developed in this country (and specifically in the Advait Tantraschool) to go into the shadow, feel deeply, and acknowledge what is. It seems she may come stay for a while. Simon and I are both delighted.

The next morning, we visit Galen (dakadom.com), a fascinating man who is using fetish and BDSM as a daka. I have not yet found a Dom (apart from myself) who approaches his task with as much care, wisdom and compassion as Galen does. He has been brought into deep submission through the events of his life, and has learnt a lot from his dedicated work with the Mankind Project and jungian analysis. Galen believes in the value of Dark Eros: Eros Descending into embracing desire, rather than Eros Ascending beyond the physical body.

We have a beautiful lunch in Eugene with the lovely Jennifer; it seems she is getting ready to come to South Africa at the end of the year! I am delighted by the steadily growing number of solid, powerful people who are wanting to come visit for the Africa conference. My teacher Rahasya has just put up a website for the conference; go see http://sexualityconsciousness.com/ and we are still working on getting all relevant information up there. It is going to be an awesome event.

Next stop: Ashland. He meet up with Simon, who is hosting us in the student digs where he has been living. Simon looks transformed; he has had, he says, the most intense time of his life around meeting the crazy alchemist Josh combined with Natasha leaving him behind to travel with us. He looks transformed, seasoned, deepened. It is lovely to hang out with a daka from my school and from my country. We walk around in the luscious parks of Ashland, eat raw at Grilla Food and catch up on life.

Wednesday night I presented a talk on the Energetics of Female Sexuality. Robert, my gracious host, has me seated in a red chair in front of the participants who are all lined up in blue backjacks. The room is full of beautiful people. I have a conversation with a video producer who has been making DVD's for authors like Neal Donald Walsch and Gary Zukov. These and many other exceptional new age authors find their home in Ashland. In fact, Robert tells me, the only way for healers in this town to do sessions, is to swop sessions with other healers.

The group receives my workshop with some awe, especially when I gather them around to feel how female sexual energy moves through my body. They are intrigued by the fact that kundalini can move through me so erotically without penetration or even clitoral stimulation. I talk about the feminine holding the bigger picture, opening to the unknown, taking our experience beyond the ego's familiar structure. And the get to feel through my body what that means. I talk about the ways in which both men and women have shied away from embracing the power of the feminine, and that it is time to do so. Opening to the feminine is what allows the masculine to also move deeply into the full expression of masculinity - being the rock, holding space, being present.

Now Natasha and I are off to Harbin Hot Springs for the weekend. I just can't wait to take off my clothes and spend the weekend naked in the hot springs. First we will visit Anusha, rawfood expert and Natasha's partner for long. On Sunday, we are off to Santa Fe where I will be talking on Triambika's dakini mentorship programme. We spend the night with Natasha's parents and then head off to San Francisco for the last few days of my time in America. Thursday morning, I fly off to Ireland. And so the journey continues.