The pregame show
It’s a sunny afternoon and I am reclining outside on my deck chair over the Summer break and I see a Facebook post about tantric breathing. Of-course I have heard the word tantra thrown around, but I didn’t have a great understanding about what it was.
Mostly, I just thought about naughty pictures.
But perhaps its was my unusual free time or due to some personal transitions I was making, but I allowed my fingers to type into the Google “Tantric workshops” and invited an experience to manifest for me.
There was not a massive variety of options available, but one that stood out was the Tantric Synergy website. I didn’t feel brave enough to hit the book button first go… or second… or third. I think that site was getting continuous hits just from how many times I reopened it. Something about it kept calling me back to it and all that was left was to convince my husband to come with me.
When I broached the subject, he raised one eyebrow and asked me what it was.
My reply was “Uh, let’s find out.”
I deliberately didn’t tell many people what my weekend plans were, as I myself couldn’t clearly define what we were stepping into. I was also aware of the Western perception of what Tantra was.
When a friend asked me what exactly the workshop was called, I answered honestly. She cocked her head to the side, smirked and nodded knowingly, before responding with, “ Oh that’s a sex thing.”
She then went on to tell someone else and before I knew it, I was being confronted with them teasingly air gyrating on near-by poles and being asked if this is what I would be doing all weekend.
Yep, mentally I punched them both in the face.
The first night of the workshop began on Friday night and spanned for three hours.
My husband and I were discussing what we anticipated we would be confronted with upon entering. We decided that it would most likely be populated with hippy types, all dreadlocks, gypsy pants, tattoos and piercings and maybe an orgy.
What we walked into, was a room full on nervous people, just like us.
The first night was more of a theory based introduction into the concepts of Tantra. To break the tension, Stephanie Phillips, our facilitator for the weekend, had us do a range of activities and games. The very first thing was a game of musical people. When the music stopped, we had to turn to the nearest person to us and hold up one, two or three fingers.
One finger – eye contact, no touching
Two fingers – eye contact and hand holding
Three fingers – A hug
This was a room full on complete strangers and I am not the hugging type at the best of times, so I decided to settle on a mid-point and offered up two fingers for a hand hold and eye gaze.
I realized very quickly that this was far more intense than I expected, when I ended up with a gentleman of around 50 years old, who’s eyes were so soulful and deep that I found it hard to maintain the steady gaze. He was also very gently stroking the back of my hand with his thumbs, which was so foreign for me and my first instinct was to pull away. But I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I was here to challenge my comfort zone and had to at least try to be present with this intense stranger.
When the time came to turn to a new partner, I decided to continue experimenting with the touch and eye holding. Each person offered different energy and it started to fade away if the person was male or female.
Through all of this, I would look up to check in on Daniel, only to discover he was hugging everybody. It’s quite amusing given he’s 195cm tall and has to fold himself in half to hug most people.
I was pretty assured he was in his element.
Stephanie covered a lot of ground around the mechanics of male and female anatomy and how tantra can really help not just couples, but people alone, to feel fulfilled.
She spoke about men and their peak of arousal and how they can learn to control that.
She also said the word “cock” to which I had to summon every ounce of my inner strength to prevent immature Keely from giggling.
That topic definitely made for an interesting car ride home.
So, while we had accumulated some interesting information, we still were a little unclear about what the next couple of days would involve.
Daniel was still convinced there would be an orgy at some point.
When we returned, we discovered that there were not as many couples as we had expected and many were there as a single entity. At first, this was a point of frustration for us, as we had thought we would be working with only each other.
The second thing I noticed was the almost equal number of men to women. I don’t know why, but I had thought it would be female dominated. The single men there were all aged over 40 years old, mostly successful in their careers and all looking for something deeper out of life. I thought I might feel a little uncomfortable working in this setting with other men, but what I discovered was more to do with myself than with them.
The morning was spent defining what healthy masculinity and femininity looked like, as well as what it looked like in an unhealthy scenario. In many ways, the subject was more relevant than ever. I thought I had a fairly good grasp on how they were all defined, but my interpretation of healthy masculine was actually somewhat bias from my own perspective.
Realising that we all embody and internally battle with all four aspects of healthy and unhealthy masculine and feminine, plus the egoic projection of ourselves, it can become difficult to sometimes discern what part of ourselves is really in control of our behavior.
Addressing that equality can be interpreted as that which is within us, was a powerful idea to absorb.
We participated in a few more activities that were about building trust and boundaries and spent a bit of time on learning the power of one word.
As Stephanie said; “No is a full sentence.”
I enjoyed the power that being able to say “No” without explaining myself imbued me with. Along side this notion, we were also told that when we say no, it is with respect and the understanding that another person is able to care for their own feelings and response to that. You cannot control someone’s reaction, that’s their responsibility.
So far, so good. I was a little challenged by these early tasks, but it was after lunch that started to force me into questioning where my boundaries lie.
We were faced with a chakra clearing ritual, which was not an entirely new concept to me. Stephanie explained that we have an energetic “Langham” or “cock” that expands up into our heart energies and should be used as a means to allow our baser feelings to move through our bodies and explode through the heart and out through the throat through whatever noise we feel within us.
When we talk about energy circulation, men are the penetrative “givers” and women the “receivers.” Women are able to circulate this energy through their heart and loop this energy back into the male. When considered, it’s quite a beautiful concept of transference and the ultimate sharing of life energy.
When we came into the chakra movement, we were told we could move our bodies and make any noise we wanted. It was a type of guided meditation, where we were instructed on what energy center we were working toward releasing.
Having done these types of clearing before, I was familiar with what we were doing, or so I thought.
As people started shifting energy through their bodies, many for the first time in their lives, the mood became almost primal. People were screaming, grunting, moaning, laughing, wailing and crying. It was very intense.
Initially, I found the noise a bit distracting and my very first instinct was to want to comfort them. But I quickly came to realise that they were having their own experience and going back to the notion of allowing people to take care of their own energy, I found myself simply surrendering and felt my heart well up with that powerful energy at the beauty of raw emotion. I quietly let the tears leak out of my eyes. I asked myself if I needed to make loud noises like the others, but even allowing myself to choose that, nothing came. It didn’t need to. I wasn’t releasing pain, I was witnessing others in theirs and it was splendidly and profoundly beautiful.
We had a short break after that and I found myself picking up a book on the table called “the heart flower.” I opened it and was confronted with a bigger than life size photo of a vagina or yoni.
But then I just flicked through and tried desperately not to compare my own “yoni” the high definition ones in front of me.
The final task for the day was that which was referenced as “energetic penetration.”
And yes, it was exactly how it sounds.
I got fucked energetically, for lack of a better explanation.
Again, I understand how powerful working with energy can be and also how it can be dangerous when done without consent. Given we had spent considerable amounts of time on what consent looked like, I felt somewhat cautiously ok about trying it.
The idea is that one person would use their third eye, heart center or sex center to penetrate energetically the other consenting persons above-mentioned center of their choice.
I was on the receiving end first up and had some of my inner reservations, as it was a male and he too was there as part of couple. I found myself wondering where i drew the line with intimacy and actually felt like I was betraying Daniel. So strange, given we didn’t even touch each other!
My most powerful connection came with a female when I was the “giver” and she was receiving my energy through her heart center.
I can understand why men feel good about themselves when women (or men, if that’s your thing) respond visually and vocally, as my female partner was screaming and crying and rocking.
I am not going to lie, I was mentally high fiving myself.
Afterward, I found myself questioning why I felt safer to be vulnerable with women than I did with men.
The answer to that question didn’t completely manifest until the end of the next day, after my boundaries were really pushed to breaking.
On the car ride home, I found our conversation turned to Daniel being mystified at the power and energetic pull of different people. Although he was aware of it, he had not often been able to connect with so many different people and feel their different essences in such a vulnerable way.
The dialogue it created for us was amazing and the tools we were given were pivotal for us to deepen our emotional connection. We found ourselves deciphering concepts we hadn’t fully explored. I can sometimes be very direct in my approach, which can cause Daniel to become defensive, but after this second day, we were both expressing ourselves in a much calmer, intuitive way.
Daniel’s still not convinced an orgy is out of the question. By this point I am wondering if he’s actually secretly hoping.
A part of me was a bit overwhelmed and tired from the day before and was hoping the energy movement wouldn’t be quite so heavy.
The morning ritual was grounding movement, which had us on the floor crawling, rolling and slithering like snakes. People on top or underneath each other.
I am like “what the fuck?”
I gave it a go, nearly crushed some poor girls hand with my knee and decided I was not coordinated enough for this.
Meanwhile, Daniel is diving in and out of the human snake pit. No surprises there.
After that interesting few minutes, we dove into discussing the wheel of consent, which looks like this:
We put this into practice by separating into pairs and in this scenario, we were able to work singularly with our partners. I found myself being more open to going with the flow and in a passionate kiss and embrace with Daniel. I don’t often feel the desire to public show affection, so letting go of that and even being photographed was overcoming a block I’d created.
Daniel leaned in afterward and whispered in my ear “I am glad my pants aren’t tight.”
Yer, so charming.
The final activity for the day was called a “sensory banquet,” and was the catalyst for a massive shift within me and even Daniel.
As Stephanie explained that we would submit to being blindfolded and offered “pleasures,” I found myself becoming increasingly uncomfortable. Daniel leans over to me and says “I told you there’d be an orgy.”
But I could sense he was feeling what I was. I decided to broach the issue of my boundaries and was relieved that another couple was feeling similarly to us about this last activity.
We were encouraged to take our time to sit with our partner and negotiate what our boundaries both personally and in our relationship were. We both agreed that neither of us felt the desire to do this with other people, but we could compromise by noting on our boundaries that we would not be open to genital touch or anything of a sexual nature. I was still very shaky and surprised my self by how anxious this made me feel. I decided to sit with it and see why this intimacy boundary kept emerging.
I noticed it becoming a theme.
I was in the giver group first and Daniel was in the blind-folded group. We were told we couldn’t stay with our partner the whole time.
When we were being shown what was on offer, I noticed that the women sat back and kind of supported and held each other, while the men were leaning in, curious and eager. I could only surmise that this may have been a demonstration of our innate sense of masculine and feminine.
I won’t lie, I played it safe. I choose fewer dominating tools like a soft brush and just tickled people’s arms. I did try to be conscious of not just going to women. One brave woman decided to strip fully naked, but I found within myself that this made me uncomfortable and decided to honor that feeling and not go to her.
I was in awe watching some men bravely get their bums whipped, tied up and even experience what I assume was an orgasm.
A quick side-note about the word orgasm – it may not have the connotation that you would expect. Part of what we were working toward was being an orgasmic being and feeling pleasure through-out our whole bodies. I was quite impressed that people were open to the experience in that way.
When I was blindfolded, I found the experience to be less intimidating than I expected, but didn’t completely relax into it. I decided not to be too hard on myself about that, as I had overcome a hurdle just by allowing myself to be there and accepting.
Sadly, no orgy occurred.
What I really took from this experience was that tantra transcends the realm of our westernized version of sexuality. It teaches us that there’s no rush, simply because there’s no-where to get to. Chasing an elusive wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am type of pleasure is a short-term pleasure hit, with no long-lasting benefits. We are shown through tv, movies, advertising, porn, that sexuality is something we should all want have, but it should look a certain way, sound a certain way and be a certain way.
Tantra challenges people to delve deeper into their pain, because you cannot fully experience pleasure if you are living in your pain.
I am going to talk more about my own learning in another blog, so please check it out when it is published. I hope you enjoyed this read and I would recommend going to experience anything that challenges your comfort zone. It truly does help you to take a deeper look at yourself. If you’d like more info about Tantric Synergy workshops, go to www.tantricsynergy.com.au
Stephanie Phillips and I at the end of the workshop