Tantra Blog

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

California May 2012


California dreaming: 
Welcoming humiliation, welcoming the muse

The fabulous thing about teaching in California is that it is the land of milk and honey when it comes to both spiritual and sexual exploration. An average couple walks into my sessions space ready to explain what forms of BDSM they have explored, and what sex parties they have been to. In South Africa where I come from, people don’t know what those terms mean.  At the same time, every magnificent spiritual teacher seems to pass through California. The biggest dilemma of locals is choosing between the smorgasbord of offerings. The availability of things sexual and spiritual makes my work easier in some ways, and more difficult in others. I’ll explain as the writing continues.

The challenge of alternative lifestyles

One of the obvious challenges I observe is that people start to identify with an alternative lifestyle choice that they associate with liberation, and then that lifestyle choice becomes their new social identity. Sexual examples are when people identify with and develop elaborate lifestyles around sexual kink or polyamory. In California it seems, people assume that you are not a real Tantrika or serious about waking up if you don’t profess to be polyamorous. When I do talks about BDSM, the lifestylers get concerned that I may be suggesting that the eroticism towards domination and submission may be a temporary affair.

The advantage of alternative lifestyles being so available is that it creates a culture that consciously professes to be more inclusive and doesn’t hold the hard edge of taboo’s that many other social collectives in the world hold. This does, in fact, create an ideal context for seekers – if they don’t get identifies with spiritual or sexual groupie culture.

On being seen – and being the muse

Whenever I teach in a country or a state, a central theme starts to emerge. This time in California, one that stood out was the desire to see, and to be seen. For non-Americans, this may be strange, as Americans as a nation seem to excel in their skill at getting seen. But there are the subtle, tender dimensions of our lives in which we are left unseen that called to my attention this time.

I will use a case study to illustrate. During our Sexual Somatic Presencing workshop, a man I will call Mike spoke up and said that he felt a compelling desire to be seen – to be the center of attention – and yet he could not bear the attention that was placed on him as he spoke. I asked him to sit in the middle of the circle. Every gesture rippled through his body as a shock. Every cough or change of gaze by the rest of the participants registered in his system as a comment on his person. There was something deeply sincere about the way Mike offered his vulnerability, and it made many others in the group aware of their desire to be seen.

Later on, Mike came for a session with me. At some point while introducing himself, he said to me: “I want you to know that I am looking at your eyes right now. I am NOT looking at your breasts.” This statement was an invitation, as I read it. I asked Mike if he would like to turn his gaze towards my breasts. He took a while, but then accepted the invitation with total awe. So there I was, sitting fully clothed in front of a strange man, having him stare at my breasts. The expression on his face was one of absolute wonderment. Out of his mouth came praises to God for creating this magnificent miracle that is woman, and that is so shaped in the flesh of the breasts. He spent a long time feeling into the split between my breasts. “It is a place of its own, a gateway in itself.. “he stuttered. His speech and his words were those of one who was drunk with the ambroisia of the feminine.

For 90 minutes, I sat while Mike stared at my breasts, going into eulogies of total ecstasy. In his entire life of more than sixty hears, including a marriage, nobody had given him the opportunity to feast on a woman’s breasts like this. For me, it was a meeting with the societal taboos around such intent taking in of the feminine by man. And yet, it felt so deeply, profoundly honoring of the feminine.

At some point, I shifted positions and bent forward briefly. Mike said to me with serious eyes: “Ah, if only women knew what they do to us… what a magnificent, sacred moment it is when they bend forward like that, and we get to see their cleavage. I wish that women would be fully conscious of what that does to us.”

I bent over slightly, and deliberately.

Mike stopped me. “No!” he said. “Not like that! I don’t want you to deliberately offer yourself to me. I want to admire you, honor your sacredness”. What I heard in Mike’s expression was a deep longing for women not to  see herself as object – he had no desire to acquire the sight of women as an objectified pleasure – he wanted to maintain the deep awe in the natural occurrence of meeting woman. And I was giving him an opportunity to do fall deeply into this devotion.

Later in the session, Mike shared with me that he wanted to be seen while he went into orgasmic states, as we believed his facial expression in these states to be ugly, as he believed he was when he was born, crying. I witnessed him, looking closely into his face, while he want through this experience of agony and ecstasy. Something magnificent opened for him, and a deep release of birth trauma flooded through his system.

One of my main missions in California, and in fact everywhere I travel, is to support practitioners into a deepened awakening of their essence, and their gift. So it is not surprising that on this California visit one of my themes with practitioner work was the willingness to be seen by clients – in fact, to be the muse.

A practitioner I will call Renee set up an elaborate system of contracts and forms to create a professional framework for her work. When I asked her what her motive for this was, she said that she hated men coming to session with her “just to stare at a pretty face.” In a world where objectification, and the purchasing of what is desired, is so common, it is understandable that Renee has resistance to being the pretty face. And yet, and yet.. it is so clearly to me that Renee holds the energy of the muse. She is a pre-Raphaelite beauty, with a depth of presence that is unmistakably inspiring. I ask Renee if she has ever thought of herself as muse, and she said: “Hmm, come to think of it: Some artists and writers pay for sessions just to sit in my presence. They openly confess that I am her muse.”

But there was a piece missing in Renee’s life, which is the piece that is often the trouble for women working with sacred sexuality: She didn’t trust the profound presence of her feminine deeply enough. Her masculine had an externalized idea of what it looked like to be professional. In exploring with Renee where this disregard for the profoundly transformative power of her feminine comes from, it became clear that Renee was still somewhere trying to please her daddy.

Speaking with a Midwestern Accent, Renee mimicked her dad saying: “Now Renee darling, it’s time you get your ticket girl (your college degree.) Or you better find yourself a wealthy husband - that would be ok too.” In unpacking this internalized dialogue with her father, Renee came to a point where she could say: “Daddy, I want to tell you that I am now going to be going ahead of you. I am going where you haven’t gone before”. The tears were running, and her heart was wide open.

Within a few days, Renee’s sessions became completely governed by her feminine, If she felt like sitting in the garden during a session, she did that. If she had the impulse to send a client running around the block, she would do that. Invariably, her clients would respond with awe and  ever deepening devotion.

The world is hungry for the feminine. If only she would show up. And be willing to be the muse.

Welcoming humiliation

Seeing and being seen is territory that can massively illuminate areas of the unconscious, and inspire us to step into the fullness of who we are. And there are aspects of our experience that we will try at all costs not to have seen. An example of such is the dread of humiliation. Humiliation is one of those invisible states. The total aversion we have to feeling humiliated is so widespread in the culture that we take it as an absolute truth. In fact, I would go as far as to say our aversion to humiliation is so intense that we classify it in the class of unquestionably bad, even evil, experiences, to be avoided at all times.

And yet, so many of us sit with deep body memories of humiliation from our childhood or later. We suppress the memory, and it lodges in our unconscious. Our work, in sexual somatic presencing, is to bring awareness into all these dark corners of the unconscious where no light has been allowed to shine. We are guided in this exploration by the radar eyes of people’s erotic fantasies. If there is an avoidance of humiliation, it is sure to come out as hot in a person’s fantasies – whether they are willing to admit so or not.

We explore a fantasy of a man whose father humiliated him through physical violence and he responded by molesting his sister.. As we play-act his fantasy, a point arrives where he unexpectedly falls into humiliation. And the experience is hot for him. A woman in the audience immediately jumps up in his defense. She expresses her extreme discomfort at seeing a man being humiliated. For the man, his fear was being humiliated. For the woman, the fear was that a man would be humiliated and she would be helpless to do anything about that.

Later on in the workshop, the woman got to a place where she could break through her freeze – and she started humiliating the man , screaming at him for passing on the injury to his sister. When the main recoiled into little boy and asked for a compassionate response she insisted that she wanted him to feel her”No”. And right she was. There is a time to be compassionate and understanding. And there is a time when the greatest mercy is to let people feel the feelings they have created a career around avoiding.

Sharpening the blade of BDSM

An element of my visit to the San Franscsco Bay area that I find refreshing and amusing is the I present a talk at a dungeon on BDSM. There is always a large and very curious audience for this event. The amusement is that I, who come from darkest Africa, would have anything of value to add to one of the capitals of BDSM in the world. And yet, it seems I do.

This year, I focused on getting exact with what the desire for submission in a person is. Too often, people who play or work with domination and submission create BDSM sessions without a specific enough understand of the psyche of the sub. Here are a few distinguishing classes of BDSM eros:

Humiliation: The sub (submissive) who is erotized to humiliation will have elements of that in his fantasy. For instance, he will want his pants to be pulled off or be forced to do something sexual in front of others that would be humiliating,
Guilt: Guilt is a Judeo-Christian emotion that basically involves repenting for something one has done in order to earn the permission to do it again. Effectively working with guilt involves deeply confronting the sub with their helplessness – that even if they wanted to, they could not choose to do the ‘right’ thing – and with the avoiding quality of guilt. Force the guilty sub to admit what his dark desires are.
Pain: Surprisingly few subs actually have an eroticism to pain. If they do, it is likely that their desire for pain is driven by a desire to feel. In stead of upping the intensity of sensation through pain, consider making the session with a pain-slut excruciatingly tender and delicate in the touch.
Exclusion: Some subs are eroticized to being excluded or ignored, or their fantasies reflect a desperate desire not to be excluded, even if that meant pain or humiliation.
Loss of control: Classically, the sub  wants the dom (dominant party) to take control of their desire, and to make them totally aroused while alleviating all responsibility from them for having caused this experience in their own bodies.

There are many more aspects, but these give you an idea

The exquisite flowering of the feminine

I arrived in California with a suitcase full of book – they had arrived fresh off the printe the day before I flew to San Francisco. Every last copy of Sexual Awakening for Women – a Tantric Workbook – got sold. The book launch in San Francisco was magnificent. I had two days to work with the women, dropping into and through the depths of shadow that keep us from embodying the full power of female sexual energy – and then gently coaching the women, through breathing and transmission-touch, into skydancing: an ecstatic, orgasmic celebration of the vibrant sexual nectar that is awakened female sexual energy. What an intoxicatingly beautiful experience, to watch women dropping into sisterhood, supporting each other through contractions and traumas, and coming to share deeply and freely in our unreasonable, irrational and totally wild female sexual awakening. Some of the women are coming over to Africa in December, to do the 10-day facilitators training in running women’s workshops using the book. I am filled with awe and inspiration.

Dancing the dream

On social life in California, I’d like to say: The days were golden and filled with sun. And, where else in the world do people have conversations in the supermarket with strangers about spiritual bypassing and shadow work? Everybody dances in California. I loved Valerie’s Soul Motiondance class in Berkeley. She creates a ritual, sacred space in which people dance into ever deepening intimacy, moving between three zones: solo, partner dance and community dance. And the love that builds up this community is palpable. I spent much time with my Californian beloved Aaron. Teaching and living together is endlessly beautiful and edgy: This is what you get when you ask for a partner who is interested in waking up, this lifetime. I am in awe of the trust Existence has in our capacity to feel the most intense and overwhelming states, like radically changing landscapes lit up in Technicolor, day after day after day. What can I do but surrender to the muse of this moment, this embodied love?

Gratitude

Thank you to my organizers in California, who are each so beautiful in their own right: Claire Rumore, who has been holding space for me from the beginning of my teaching in Cali, Michelle Stransky, who so beautifully creates the women’s circles, Robyn Lynn, the maestro of the totality therapy events and Laurel Brittan, whose shining enthusiasm created a ravingly beautiful blissdance in Fairfax.

I also want to make a special mention of Charles Ridley, whose unique version of cranio-sacral work has brought a whole new dimension of deliciousness to my practice after only just a weekend workshop with him.

Next up in California

I am excited and delighted about the 10 day Totality Therapytraining that I will be running in Sebastapohl 28 September – 8 October. Aaron will be assisting me, and Robyn Lynn once again is the conductor of this event.

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