Monthly Archives: February 2013

How to Approach a Tantra Workshop

“It’s called enlightenment. It’s nothing more or less than seeing things as they are rather than as we wish or believe them to be. — Buddhism Plain and Simple, Steve Hagan

This weekend I am serving as a mentor for people who are trying out Tantra for the first time. It’s a really nice experience for me to serve as their guide into a practice that I find so rich. Some people are nervous and intimidated and too afraid to ask questions, sure that everyone else is much more comfortable than they are. Others are excited and assertive, secure in the knowledge that they “know” what they are doing.

Both mindsets are totally natural, and we all probably have a bit of both. And it is also good to see how both mindsets can work against you. If you are certain you are doing it wrong, then you reject your experience because it is not the one you think you should be having. If you are certain you are doing it right, then you cling to your experience and don’t allow it to shift or grow. Both mindsets also make you feel separate from others, either inferior or superior to them.

The best mindset is actually very childlike. You know nothing and that’s wonderful! You have no expectations. You accept whatever comes up on it’s own terms because you have no filters or templates to judge it against. And because you have no resistances, you feel the actual experience you are having much more vibrantly. In Tantra, our senses are the gateway to higher levels of consciousness. When we touch life directly, we enter into the fullness of the present moment.

So I feel like my job as a mentor is in large part to drive home the point that there is absolutely no right and no wrong way to experience Tantra. The only question is how fully you can accept whatever is happening. What does it really feel like to feel nothing, to feel ashamed, to feel turned on, to feel frustrated? Go beyond the label and explore what it feels like in your body. .

I am working with this too. Sometimes when we are doing the exercises, I find I am more concerned with whether I am doing it right or wrong than with just directly experiencing. When I remember to stop judging, I become engaged again. Life is happening! I am alive! I get out of my head, catch “traction”, and feel the energy awaken in my body.

And of course, this lesson extends beyond Tantra workshops, to life in general. As I move back into a regular routine after my travels, I acutely sense how hard it is to stay awake and sensitized in modern life. Practicing Tantra reminds me that to approach everyday with a bit more wonder, a bit more lightheartedness, and to stay present for whatever comes up.

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Love Song to Myself

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art work by Allison Kunath

Back from my travels, I checked in with my Tantra teacher last weekend. My overwhelming feeling as I entered her house was how grateful I am that I know her and have found the community she offers. When you travel by yourself for months you really get to appreciate the value of a home as opposed to just another place. Charu offers a home. A home allows you to relax places you didn’t even know you were holding tight, and get more fully into your core. I like meeting people in this space. I trust them more. I am more interested in who they are because I can see who they are more clearly. I feel more tender. Life feels raw and meaningful . . . the field where Rumi said we would meet . . . the backstage of life.

We did a brief exercise where we practiced giving each other space to talk and empathizing with whatever the other person is saying. Women in particular seem to find this exercise extremely satisfying. David Deida says that the biggest gift a man can give a woman is presence. I truly believe that. Not an overwhelming intrusive presence that forces things, but an unwavering presence, like a good love song that says I see the world and you in it and you are just right.

When it was my turn to speak, my stream of consciousness thoughts poured out in a jumble of different experiences and questions and desires with no clear end in sight. My partner listened earnestly and then struggled to summarize my feelings and needs. When Charu my teacher listened, she spoke just one line. She said it sounded like I was going through a lot and felt an urge to ground myself and find my own truth. It rang like a bell.

This one line from Charu is the reason for my post here tonight. I feel like giving myself space to speak my soul is a big part of my truth. When I write, I can give voice to the deeper observations and insights and pains and joys that I draw from life, and put my heart on the page without worrying about being too heavy or feeling unheard. I can just let life flow through me unchecked. I haven’t posted so frequently since I started traveling, and I definitely feel a call to re-establish this practice.

What Charu said is also the substance of my post. I am in place in my life where I am exploring new territory and it can be overwhelming and exciting and sometimes make me wonder if I am doing it all right. Charu reminded me that I don’t have to worry about figuring it all out. If I get quiet and live life from a grounded and authentic place, my own truth will speak to me.

So in the end, tonight is about loving and honoring the space I create to connect to myself and to Spirit directly. This internal communion is my own Presence. I become my own home. I appreciate myself as a reflection of the wonder of life. As my friend Allison put it in a beautiful art piece she created, “May every love song remind you of yourself.”

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