Monthly Archives: September 2012

David Deida Workshop: Masculine and Feminine Energies

Mykonos: Paco, what do you feel right now in your heart?
Paco: I don’t know, not much.
Mykonos: Your friends are going to die. You are going to die. This is a fine woman. She wants to feel your heart. We all want to feel your heart.
Paco: Well, maybe I dont want to give you my heart.
Mykonos: Fuck you, Paco. — David Deida, Wild Nights

Our world is divided into two forces: the masculine and the feminine. The bee pollinates the flower. The man penetrates the woman. Consciousness pierces space.

All of us carry the capacity for both masculine and feminine energy. Masculine energy is presence and purpose. It is solid. Feminine energy is life, motion, light, beauty.

Sexual energy arises out of the polarity of feminine and masculine energy. The male energy is attracted by the radiance of the feminine energy. The female is drawn to the masculine’s presence and depth. His undivided attention provides a structure and support for the female energy to shine even brighter, letting go of all defenses that would block her beauty.

In our modern world, the artfulness and sacredness of this polarity has been lost. Or it appears in a degraded form. Women (and some men) dress provocatively to get praise and attention for their egos, rather than as an outward manifestation of a deeper power. Men (and some women) chase after money and status to prove their worth, without learning how to cultivate real masculine integrity and presence.

This weekend I attended a workshop by David Deida, who has published many books on sexuality and spirituality. I came away in love with the raw power of feminine energy. I felt like a temple-keeper for this incredible goddess that happened to live in my body, ancient and nameless, that makes flowers grow, waves move, and bodies rot. And I also felt like the Goddess herself.

Now I understand why I have repeatedly gotten feedback not to over-structure my travels over the next few months. I thrive off of unstructured freedom because it is a feminine mode of existence. It makes me feel more vibrant, alive, and creative to not have a specific plan.

I also came away with a better understanding of what I am looking for in a man. Deida’s description of the feminine longing for connection echoes the part of me that is vast and intense, and that craves an equally powerful force that is capable of diving deep enough to meet me.

I want a man to let me feel his heart. Not a touchy-feely sharing circle, or a pseudo-spiritual staring contest that substitutes for real connection. I want the rootedness and strength of a man: alive, present, open, and attentive. Willing to share himself and be touched.

Many guys are scared of intimacy because they are afraid of being vulnerable. I get it. Connection with many potential dangers: heartache, shame, possessiveness, jealousy. These may be avoided by staying unconscious, superficial, at a distance, unavailable. But what else is life for? Let me feel your heart Paco!

Okay, so what about the juicy Tantric sex stuff? Deida shared stories of what sex is like when the masculine and feminine forces are fully activated. The couple synchronizes their breath. The man breathes through the woman so that he starts to be able to guide her energy. Instead of ejaculating, the man recirculates this sexual energy through the woman. Not only is the man flooding the woman with sexual energy, he is also flooding her with consciousness (the essence of masculine energy). He does this in part by being infinitely receptive to her responses. The woman loses self control–her physical responses become spontaneous as her normal boundaries disappear into a vast bliss. As Deida put it, she has been fucked to God.

And these teachings go beyond sex. We will all be too old for physical sex at some point. Or we may not want to have sex for other reasons. What do we do with this longing, this power, then?

Ultimately, the union of the masculine and feminine is a vital expression of our our own longing to merge with God. The world is the feminine– ever in motion, changing, full of beauty, but also merciless and harsh. She is all things, full of life even as it changes to death. The masculine is our own consciousness. Union happens when, no matter what shit or amazing pleasures the world throws at us, we keep our hearts open instead of collapsing or hiding. Stand strong and let the world crack you open with her beauty and pain. Let me feel your heart Paco.

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And here she is, All Around You, Now

This is how you speak to me

In the wind pushing
Gusts of garbage
Against my legs

In the nurse yelling
At her boyfriend
On the street
Like she always does

In the sad opening
Of my heart
As I hurry to a home
That is not mine

The discarded beer bottle
Nameless, resonates
With as much weight
As the majestic tree
I offer my life to them both

As the light fades
I find myself alone
As I have always been
Calling my own name


Transformational Breathwork Workshop

I wrote this post right after the breath work workshop ended last Friday, but I have not had a chance to finish and post until now. Time moves fast on my travels! I am excited to share about the week because I think a lot of people have no idea what happens during a breath work retreat!

The type of breath work we did is called Transformational Breath, developed by Judith Kravitz. Judith is a really sensitive bodyworker, and one of the most eye-opening things about the week was how incredible our bodies are. In one demonstration, she pressed into different points of a woman’s body to determine how she was holding her breath back, and what that resistance meant. As she pressed into the woman’s body, while the woman engaged in deep circular breathing, Judith could feel the energy moving and shifting and releasing. The woman started sobbing during the work, and emerged famished and feeling very light. It is fascinating to see how we can work with our bodies to aid emotional and spiritual growth.

During the week, we experimented with different forms of breath work: gentle sessions, intense ones, sessions focused on specific blocks/obstacles in our lives, sessions outside breathing in nature. Rather than try and recap each session, I’ll review one of my more powerful experiences. This session was the one dedicated to working with a specific block/obstacle. My intention was to let go of control over a situation involving another person, to find freedom and peace with the way things are. My breath starts out as a forced mechanical exercise. Deep breath in, release, over and over. As time passes, my conscious mind settles down and I am fully immersed in the experience. Deep automatic breathing kicks in. I am no longer directing the breath. Instead, it is taking me for a ride. I am both curious and slightly afraid of where it will go. I feel lots of energy that erupts into anger. I let the anger express itself in toned vocalizations (sound is a key way to release energy. Tones are better than yells because they integrate and raise the energy, rather than having it remain a chaotic yell). Behind the anger I find deep sorrow and sadness. This feels new and big. I realize I have been trying to avoid feeling this sadness. The more I relax into it the more vulnerable I feel. I keep on breathing deep, circular breaths, letting these waves of sadness wash over me without tensing against them. Another realization: I am strong enough to feel this sadness. I feel an incredible sense of peace and lightness, truly protected and cared for. When the session ends, and I open my eyes, I can barely talk. I giggle and smile instead, amazed by my sense of well-being. The world feels new. I am overcome with gratitude, and a sense of surrender to the situation with the other person that is deeply physical and rooted—not just a mental concept. If you have ever had insights while in an altered mental state….and catch a glimpse of how beautiful and simple and tender the world is if you just relax into it… it was like that. Over a week later, and I still carry this insight within me, in my body’s code.

Even though breath work is intensely personal, it occurs in the context of a community that is hugely important. For me actually, the community is just as important as the personal work. At the beginning of the week we were 20 strangers, of different ages, races, geographic locations, and genders. At the end of the week, we were joined by the journey we had just taken together. It is such a blessing to be part of the group experience! So many people go through life pretending that they don’t have emotions or numbing them, because there is no space in modern society to dig deep. Sure, you can have conversations with your best friend or partner. But those private conversations can feel like you are sharing a secret, a confidence just between the two of you. When you get together with a group of people and openly bare your joy and pain and love and fears, you that discover that everyone has similar struggles. The love and support you receive melts parts of yourself you did not even realize had been frozen. And you get to give others the same love in return. After having had intense experiences of community like this over the past year, I find myself wanting to carry this love out of these safe spaces and share them with others in my daily life. In other words, I find myself being stronger, more authentic, and more compassionate with others because I see what is possible. Screw it if people think I am sappy. 🙂

One final thing. What I didn’t realize until the end of the week was that Judith’s son, who had suffered a brain injury years before, had passed about ten days before our workshop. At the end, she dedicated the workshop to him and told us how much it meant to her to be doing this work and helping people heal. For me, it brought home how precious it was to be able to spend the week together with everyone, laughing, crying, dancing, playing, and loving. Grateful to be alive.

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Introduction to Breathwork

This week I am at a breath work workshop in Lake Tahoe. My posts over the next four months might get a bit shorter/less edited as I will be traveling and working off of an iPad. Lake Tahoe is the first stop. Then eastern Mass to visit friends and family before heading off to India, Nepal, and Bali. So this is the beginning of a physical journey that I am also hoping will teach me many lessons and feed my soul. Anyone who is reading, your are welcome to come along for the ride.

This post I’ll talk a bit about breath work. First, from what I have seen, every embodied spirituality uses the breath as a tool of transformation. When I say embodied spirituality, I mean any spirituality that asks you to engage in spiritual practices designed to help you grow, rathe than just adopt a set of abstract beliefs.

The different types of breath work are as varied as the types of spiritual practices. Buddhists shamatah practice asks you to watch the breath. Tantra uses the breath to move energy from the base chakras up through the body to the higher ones. Indian pranayama practice has all parts of technical breaths, each with a different purpose.

With this wide variety, it is amazing how little most of us know about the breath, its possibilities, or how we typically breath. We know how the breath reacts to certain states. If we are scared, our breath gets shallow. When we are aroused and energy starts flowing through our system, the breath gets deep. When we feel light and free, it is easy to breath. When we are stressed, our breath gets tight. Breath mirrors energy.

So what happens when we consciously adopt certain patterns of breath? Can we use those breathing techniques to actively move energy? The answer is yes. We can actively breath into parts of our body that are tight or closed, and open them with our breath. The cool part is that you do not need to figure out what parts are closed ahead of time. Just breath deeply and the energy will move and take care of the rest. An open, deep, and flowing breath mirrors an open, grounded, and receptive energetic state.

I have had amazing experiences breathing. I have breathed and encountered great stores of rage I didn’t know I had. I have encountered pockets of joy and laughter. And deep sadness. And unexpected feelings of spiritual support and connection. Whatever the journey, I get up from a session and feel a huge amount of love and peace, within myself and for others. I feel alive and open.

If you want to check out what I am talking about for yourself, you can try a simple breathing session at home. (if that weirds you out, pause for a moment to consider what strange taboos exist around exploring our world and bodies.).

Put on any music you like–something relatively intense is good to begin, and then some mellow music for after. Lie down. Take a deep full breath using your diaphragm. Feel the breath enter the very bottom of your belly, all the way down, and then naturally rise to fill your chest. The inhale should be deep, and faster than normal. You should hear the sound of air rushing into your lungs. Then let your diaphragm go, without trying to control or force the exhale. The inhale should naturally lead to the exhale, and then back go inhale, without any pauses, in a circular motion. Keep your mouth and jaw relaxed. If you start to feel anxious, nauseous, angry, blessed out, it is all okay. Just keep breathing! Also, you may find you want to make noise or move your feet or hands. That is okay too. Do it and then come back to the breath. Also, if you are going to make noise try doing harmonic “tones” or notes rather than chaotic yells.

Go for about 10-20 minutes. You may experience tingling and tight hands–this is total normal and just the energy moving. When you are done, give yourself about 10 minutes of normal breath, lying down, integrating the energy. And let me know if you have any questions about this practice!

I’ll write more later about my personal experiences this week. I feel very happy to be exploring the world, my body, and my spirit. There is so much available to us if we just ask! And you get to meet some amazing people on your path.

Love and light,