24 October 2019

Mind, Maturation and Living in the Moment

Mind, Maturation and Living in the Moment

First, a disclaimer, and perhaps a warning:

This description of an aspect of the workings of the mind is intended for those who are being guided by a Dakini or other teacher/practitioner who has some relation or connection to my teaching.

Wider than that, it is perhaps useful to those who take their spiritual journey with a tantric, as opposed to a monastic, approach and understand that some ideas expressed here may be bad for those suited to a monastic pace and methods.

I do not recommend these ideas as having usefulness or merit for academics, social commentators, therapists or most good people. As to bad people … misuse of such ideas is self-punishing.

As with some videos I have been recording lately, this is “inner school” material, which means I am not open to public or casual debate about it. 

Even if you resonate closely with this idea, please appreciate that it is too raw, too close for those who still have to pass through some of the lessons of life that you have likely managed. Each step of your awareness has been followed by a different capacity for understanding, yet each step was, in its turn, necessary. Rather help people with the lessons you needed to learn when you faced what they face.

Enough disclaimer.

Welcome beloved students, friends, fellow teachers and tantrikas.

I feel to share this very stripped down model of mind with you because it is an understanding which has arisen in my work, not something I have heard or read that I can refer you to. Many of you will, of course, have heard it from me repeatedly, so here it is again, if you are needing another repetition ;)

The concise version:

The subconscious mind can do many awesome things for you, but, until it has completed its main work - that is what it will be concentrating on.

From puberty on, until maturation is complete, the subconscious has one job: To purge the massive backlog of incomplete feelings (aka psychological traumas) which have been accumulated.

To do this, the subconscious has to arrange events that resonate with the past traumas. It has to trigger them, moving them towards consciousness, where they can be felt and finished.

In this endeavor, it is in conflict with the conscious mind (you), which reflexively strives to protect itself (you) from the triggering of traumatic memories and feelings.

To get that pile of past trauma addressed, the subconscious has two superpowers:
It gets to generate your desires. 
It is cleverer than the conscious mind (therefore cleverer than you).

This is a natural mechanism of maturation. The subconscious is set up to win. 

If it wins, one becomes truly capable of “Living in the Moment” – responding and relating directly to life’s arising. 

Not “whole-elephant-enlightenment”, perhaps, but a very worthwhile attainment nonetheless.

That’s the concise version.

The verbose version follows …


Through our childhood, many experiences are too scary, intense, powerful, delightful, painful or pleasurable to be felt in fullness at the time. Not that they are good or bad, just that it is beyond our capacity to feel them in fullness, to completion, at the time of their occurrence.

When feelings cannot be felt in fullness, they get put away for later. This happens continually throughout a typical childhood.

Apart from vanishingly rare extreme variations, such as childhoods featuring exceptionally horrific abuse, or insanely generous freedom (See Osho’s stories of his Golden Childhood), there is, from a therapeutic perspective, surprisingly little practical difference between the feelings which are put away, even though the stories, scenarios and apparent severity can vary hugely.  

There can be remarkably little difference, therapeutically speaking, between feelings  put away on account of being beaten harshly and those put away on account of detecting a parent’s disapproval from a raised eyebrow. 

I am not out to trivialize the differences between the relative suffering involved in, say, severe sexual abuse and self-generated nightmares and terrors on account of having glimpsed, just once, a semi-erect penis. 

They are indeed different. Nonetheless, when it comes to how they are stored, how they later express in life, how they are remembered and how they respond to various therapeutic approaches, they can be very similar indeed.

One’s childhood trauma is simply that which was beyond one’s capacity to feel at the time. It was put away throughout the childhood. There is not a lot of difference between differing degrees of how much beyond one’s capacity things were – overflow is overflow. 

Certainly, great differences exist in how we variously protect, avoid, oppose, confront, nurture, self-destruct over, define ourselves by, or heal our traumas – but these differences have far more to do with our individual capacities and attitudes than differences in the intensities, frequencies, areas or even the reality of the events associated with our traumas.


Puberty is when hormones pump and a whole new level of desire is experienced.

Let’s take a young man for an example, and let’s call him, for no particular reason, Randy.

Randy, when his hormones hit him at 14, will run around, overwhelmed with desire for almost any level of touch and attention from anything. He will make many inappropriate and possibly offensive sexual advances at beings of perhaps several genders and species … and will suffer rejection after rejection. 

If his subconscious is diligent and clever in its generation of his desires, Randy will spend most of his nights alone, passing in agony through the layers of anger and pain which protect his trauma – and deeper: into the stored feelings that were once put away for later. Feelings about being put in his own room, not mother’s bed. Feelings about failing in trying to please mommy. Feelings about being excluded from her world …

When his conscious mind gets clever, and paralyses him with fears of rejection and terrorises him with whatever the current cultural STD horror is, his subconscious will get cleverer, perhaps not giving him a weird urge to grab boob at exactly the wrong moment, instead letting him get laid (of course just to make the morning-after rejection into a better, deeper-probing trigger). 

In this way, bit by bit, Randy’s subconscious will get Randy to feel what he needs to feel …

Then … one day, Randy will finally pass through and complete his feelings about the overwhelming horror he experienced when his mother first pulled her tit from his mouth.

When that happens, Randy will be relating to things quite differently. We could say that, as a person, Randy will then have matured somewhat.


This process of following desire and enduring (if not exactly willingly accepting) the triggering it brings … is harsh.

Owing to the current degree of domestication, and as predicted 2500ish years ago by The Buddha, the middle bulk of the bell curve do not, and, without unconscionable interventions, cannot mature.

If you doubt that, consider the fact that the most visible elected office on the planet’s current (2019) incumbent gets excited at the idea that his position of power enables him to  grab girls “by the pussy”. That’s … 9, or to give it every indulgence, maybe 12 years old?

Most people do not mature beyond a natural 10-year-old. Most get married with (and have relationship dramas typical of) the maturity of a 5-year-old.

Most people never even start to address the feelings put away through their childhood. The weakened hormones that accompany domestication enable them to ’successfully’  numb, censor, deny and, if needed, bully their subconscious and the desires it generates. They keep suppressing and putting away feelings throughout and to the very ends of their lives. 

They die while struggling to put their fear of death away for later. 

They cannot be fixed – and they do not need to be fixed. Strange, or even offensive though it may seem to you, there are perfectly good reasons, in terms of the development of humanity, for the current state of affairs … which may be a tale for another time.

They can be (and sometimes are) broken (and not in a good way). There is no surer way to break them than to trigger their deeper traumas. For them, Pandora’s box should and generally does remain tightly shut.

The point I am trying to make absolutely clear here is that the approach I recommend to tantrikas is not appropriate to most people, as per my disclaimer.

It was not always thus.

To rephrase the ancient stats from a few thousand years ago, back when humanity was a lot less domesticated:

The 98% (mid-bell-curve-bulk) of humanity used to complete the process of maturity in 50 years from puberty. By 65, pretty much anyone had the wisdom of years. They met you responsively, not reactively. They had a certain kind of wisdom. They were worth listening to. To achieve this, they had made no particular effort. they just lived as their desires, intelligence and capacity allowed.

The 2% (conscious seekers of truth/growth/maturity/progress) who are blessed/cursed with an arising of sufficient energy to make an effort to engage with the secrets and mysteries of life would manage the journey to Living in the Moment a lot quicker. Typically, those who got themselves into monasteries and religious communities reached this level of maturity by around 36. 22ish years from puberty.

Those I am privileged to teach (and those for whom my lessons are most useful) are perhaps a fifth of the conscious seekers – the terrible tantrikas. Those for whom even the best of gold-standard monastic methods can be a retardation. Those exceptional ones who immerse themselves in the lessons of both the spiritual and the worldly.

These extreme ones would manage this journey in just 7 years starting from puberty. Sometimes even from a premature puberty. By 21 or even younger, they could already be living in the freedom from the war of their conscious and subconscious minds.

Returning to modern times, the stats around my work are similar but different. Typically (if there can be said to be such a thing when it comes to people like you) it takes my students 4 to 7 years to catch up from the domesticated condition to their natural (physical-age-related) level of maturity.


Appropriate method choice is important. Because many of you are teachers, I feel it is good to give you some meta~, some overview …


For Pasha and Virya (the above mentioned 98%:

Compassion consists in supporting them at the level of maturity they have. Just as you should support a 10-yr-old. 

Support them to put things away for later, and help them protect themselves from the re-traumatisation of their heavier triggers.
Appropriate methods include affirmations (Louise Hay et al) and positive/affirming imaginal exercises (T Robbins etc) to override/dilute the desires of the subconscious with faked conscious desires.

Help them with avoidance of triggering situations and the triggering itself with NLPish stuff like consciously taking a posture of confidence, or inwardly ridiculing the person you fear by imagining them dressed as a clown, or pissing their pants.

That, and gentle techniques (Traegar and modern trauma release therapies) are useful.


For most Devya (the 2ish%), monastic/communal methods are best. They will mature somewhat, but progress is slow and uncertain. 

Look for improvement, not transcendence, and work within the context of a polarized understanding. Allow their rejection of the worldly, and their urge towards the spiritual. Indulge their gender-preference stuff, be it fixed or flip-flopping. 

Mostly, their direction of maturing will involve moving into tribal/communal contexts, not individuating from them. Things like Biodanza, Landmark, NLPish clubs and such are generally good for them. Even the dark side, as in a bit of Mr Hubbard, or the dumb side, as in the American Kentucky fried Tantra franchises are good for them, and are not terrible places to get stuck, if that’s what happens.

Those who’s chi suits a monastic approach can move much faster together in a group than they can individually. It is those who always need to jump ahead – those who don’t coordinate/play well with others who most need the methods appropriate to tanrikas.


Some of the lower-chi methods will occasionally be useful in particularly hard times, but some need caution.

Affirmations, NLPish stuff, zen ox-herding and in general, methods that involve an attitude of opposition/stalking/mastering your subconscious, and/or bombing it with affirmations and manufactured (consciously chosen) desires … all have their place and usefulness, but …

and let’s make that a BIG BUT …

Tantrikas have a lot more chi than monastic seekers, and can therefore bring a much higher than necessary intensity of energy to such practices. A lot more than is good and useful.

In general, the best approach for tantrikas is to find a state of truce, mutual accommodation, even one of cooperation and possibly friendly enmity with one’s beloved subconscious mind, rather than the standard monastic adversarial approach.

Looking the basic facts of what needs to happen: 

The childhood needs to get completed.

Following desire means exposure to triggering.

Being triggered can complete the feelings which went unfelt – if one breaks to it willingly and does not manage a hard defense.

Hence … it makes good strategic sense to give up and admit defeat in the war. It makes even better sense to align your Conscious mind with the Subconscious. In this way, one can get those pesky feelings-past all felt and finished in a hurry. At a speed worthy of an old-times, natural, pre-domestication tantrika.

When you listen to your desire, you already know that it means trouble. Accept that fact, and accept that you want, and that you do have the capacity for that trouble.

One trick: Work on your “This is NOTHING” list. This is the list of things you have already faced and survived. The way you use it is: when you face something daunting and you feel the fear getting to you, pick an item from the list. Hopefully you should have one that, at the time, looked far worse than your current predicament. Then you can quickly review that story, ending it with “I survived that. This … that which i face now, is NOTHING.

Another, not so much a trick as a helpful attitude, is developing what I call an “Addams Family Perversity” or a “Rocky Horror Attitude". When you feel your suffering, yield to it completely. When you feel a passion that you could kill for or die for, acknowledge that “Either way, what Bliss!” When your desire is clearly going to be taking you into a triggering of shame, guilt, helplessness and despair, ask yourself “Can I imagine a childhood in which those feelings have not been put away for later … in significant quantities?” If the answer is “No”, then dive in!

Enjoy the carrot while keeping ahead of the stick. It may be horrible and scary to follow your eros into, for example, a humiliation of some kind, but at least there is the heat and horniness of life in it. Enjoy that!

It is indeed hard to soar with the eagles if you are surrounded by a bunch of turkeys, so do hang out with your friendly neighborhood tantrikas, if you can find them. Tantrikas don’t generally make, or really commit happily to tribes (on account of another topic for another day, called “Individuation”), but they can be friendly with tribes and the individuated.

If you can get the overview and guidance of a Dakini to guid you, that is in itself probably the greatest accelerant of the path in general, and the area currently under discussion in particular.

Guidance is the resource I lacked the most on my own path, and that lack is my main excuse for my taking a monastic 22 years from the start of my sex life instead of something more respectable for a tantrika, like 7 or so.

As to following desires in the specifically sexual department, let your interest be much more in reaching insanely high levels of intensity, rather than in how often you can reach an intensity you can dissipate/expel in orgasm. It is in the indulgence/endurance of high intensities that the feelings from the past can purge the fastest. This is key to how we move at that frantic Tantric speed. 

I asked a student one day how her journey of eros was going. She glowed beautifully and quietly said “Oh, gorgeously, perfectly. It is all about pain, humiliation and tears right now. Delicious.”

I wish you strong desires, deep triggerings and much breaking-open to the most fulsome feelings.

May you soon truly know what it is to Live in the Moment.

29 March 2019

Tantric Touch Work

Originally published in Mindchaotica.

Touch techniques in tantric work at two distinct levels, sometimes simultaneously. These techniques are simple and very powerful. There are a few techniques that I do not write about, reserving them for those who can benefit from them in the right timing, with the right support. There are whole categories that I have explored but never teach because they are ineffective, redundant, disproportionately addictive or outright dangerous.
They work at two distinct levels of capacity and awareness. Some techniques are identical in their “low” and “high” forms.
The low form is where everyone begins. Clearing the weeds to make way for the planting of a garden. Formatting the hard drive before installing a clean system.
Touch work at this level confronts your resistance to experience, to the energies of life itself that arise in you. It challenges you to open to what is happening in this moment, and all that this moment evokes for you.
Everything it evokes.
Feeling into sensation, and having that sensation get quite “loud” in order to help you to feel, is an experiential journey through the feelings associated with every judgement, every resistance, and every denial that you managed in your past – and every feeling that you have about having suppressed those feelings.
The T-shirt slogan is: You will feel every little thing.

Usually in my touch work sessions, I emphasize this from early on: You are here to feel and let go of whatever you found too much to handle at the time. You are here to clear the backlog of the past. You are not here to add to what you currently suppress, so I start with your feelings, whatever you would tend to repress, that is arising right now.
I ask you to stand up, close your eyes and feel your discomfort, nervousness, excitement, fear and whatever else there is to feel about attempting this journey.
I remind you of your normal behavior when in a situation in which you are naked – your usual tendency to suppress your discomfort. While you undress and lie down, naked, on my massage table, I encourage you to feel every little bit of that, including your feelings about whether I am watching you or not.
When you are lying down, I urge you to feel these things in fullness. I might bring your attention to the fact that we have not had candlelight dinners, that we have not complied with your usual conditions for intimate touch. I remind you to not avoid or suspend what feelings you have about that fact. I urge you to a deep, slow firm breath and encourage you to exhale through an open mouth, over open vocal chords. Any sound, tones, sighs, grunts, even words will do. One particularly poignant moment for me in a session was when the woman on my table was moaning the word “yuck” repeatedly for a while.

I too get noisy. I breathe with a tone, vocal chords open on the inhalation as well as the exhalation. Throughout the session, I use the sound I am making to draw energy from my body and to guide your body on subtle levels. Sometimes, my breath, or a rhythm in it matches your breath or your pulse. It may then lead that breath or pulse to a change of pace, or a deepening.
 At my first touch, open palms landing gently but firmly in the middle of your back, you might twitch into tension, relax deeply, escape into numbness … whatever feelings are evoked, I encourage them to be expressed through breath and sound. If I hear you choke up, go silent or gasp, I urge your attention to your exhalation – to making it as open and smooth as you can, letting the vocal chords carry your feelings.
I start at your feet, my touch varying from softly sensuous to deep-tissue-massage-firm. As strong feelings start arising in your body. I watch your breath and keep reminding you to feel and breathe.
Firmly massaging the calf muscles and thighs tend to release a lot of suppressed feelings from your past. Tears may flow, glimpses of childhood fears may occur. The buttocks in particular tend to hold memories and suppressed feelings from your childhood punishments, particularly if that involved spankings.
I help these feelings move up through your body. Using more or less conventional massage techniques, I seek and help the release of whatever tensions I find.
I massage your sacrum, spine and cranium firmly, alternating with a very sensuous touch that reaches from instep through back of knees, over thighs, reaching to your perineum.
My hands come to rest, one with its fingers together, pointing down between your legs, the thumb-side edge of the index finger pressing over anus, perineum and the lower opening of the yoni. My thumb is extended at 90% to the hand and touches the base of your spine. The other hand touches the center of the top of your head, fingers perhaps pulling gently at the hair.
I encourage you to feel your intrinsic vulnerability to life. I will likely point out to you that I am touching the physical centre of your vulnerability, and will encourage you to feel everything (every little or not so little thing) that is evoked by your vulnerability. I might remind you that we live always by the grace of existence, that we can die at any moment – that this is just a fact and that you have feelings about that fact. You might roar, you might sob, you might relax into the sensation of strong energy flowing through you. If you scream with tight vocal chords, I will encourage you to open your throat more, to let the energy through more totally, without the constriction and tension usual to a scream.

I may use patterns of rhythmic pressure over your anus and perineum. I might send the energy through your body gently and slowly, or I may send it through in powerful bursts. If your yoni opens and more or less grabs the tip of my index finger, I may slide it in along the lower wall, compressing the anus and giving it a gentle feeling similar to penetration – whatever it takes for your body feel its openness, its vulnerability, and for that to become allowed in you.
Before I ask you to turn over, I want to feel the energy between my hands flowing through you. I want to feel some of it getting through completely, even if it is not much – likely if this is your first touch-work session.
Now that you are open to feeling the sensations arising in your body, now that you can feel things more deeply, more acutely, the T-shirt slogan changes to: “How much Bliss can you stand?”
Starting again at your feet, I stroke a similar line from instep, through the back of the knees, lines meeting at the yoni. From there, the lines of touch divide again and continue up the body to the crown chakra (top of the head).
Most likely, I start by touching more or less straight from your feet, more or less straight over yoni, via nipples to your throat, ears and third-eye chakra to the crown. Sometimes I touch in a single movement, both hands in parallel. Sometimes, with both hands working together on on one side of your body and then the other. Sometimes one hand strokes from feet to yoni, the other from yoni to crown.
At some point, I am likely to gather energy and bump the heel of my hand gently into the second and solar plexus chakras. This shows me how severely these chakras are constricted. I might draw your attention to the kinds of restriction they each have, what will have to be allowed/released in your living for them to function as designed. I might use a fairly fancy technique which temporarily bypasses them and let you feel a taste of the sheer deliciousness that happens when strong energies reach to your higher chakras.

I may, if it is very open and well lubricated, enter your yoni with a finger, touching and pressuring gently in the ridged region over the sacred/G/female-prostate spot. I hold a constant and very measured gentle pressure for a while, left hand at the top of your head.
During your first few sessions, a large range of feelings may happen in you – anything from a burning or a stabbing pain to a smooth flowing of orgasmic intensity.
If you are feeling pain or discomfort, I will tell you that I am doing nothing that is intrinsically painful and nothing that is at all damaging. I will tell you that this spot is where your feelings about men – particularly their pestering, their suppressed or explosive urges to enter, to invade – are held. I will encourage you to be brave and allow these feelings, accumulated since you were perhaps 12, to now be experienced and resolved/completed.
That “very measured” pressure is very measured. There is a pulse at this spot in the yoni. I hold firmly enough to feel it, but not hard enough to feel it strongly or stop it. Very measured.
Over a few sessions, as your capacity for sensation increases (usually dramatically), I turn up the volume. This can involve deeper and more pulsating sensations, higher intensities of touch to clitoris, anus and the lines from groin to nipples and powerful bursts of energy sent through previously restricted chakras.
We may dance sometimes over the border between the low and high forms of touch work. Especially when I am touching yoni and third eye, access to things usually unseen may open up. Vivid encounters with the spiritual forms called angels, guides and higher consciousness may occur.
Typically, I end a touch session with an exercise called the “draw”. You breathe in and hold the breath, simultaneously tensioning your PC/pubococcygeus muscles. You hold the tension of breath and PC muscles until you feel a significant – not extreme, just clear – urge to breathe. At that point, you release the withheld breath and the PC muscles suddenly, even explosively. Three or so of these breaths clears any residual energies, allowing your nervous system to return to something closer to what you might call “normal” before you drive home.

If you have been living a sexually constipated life, the permission you have given your body will probably extend to your mind. You may become much more aware of your erotic urges and impulses. You may be less inclined to automatically suppress these urges.
Most of what occurs to you, in terms of things you want to experience sexually, is likely to be met in your life. Some things may not, or you may want to experience them in the relative containment of a sessions context before trying them out in your relationship(s).
If this turns out to be the case, we may be diving deeply into some areas of your eroticism in your next session – but that is a whole other blog post.
If you would like to read more about touch work, check out Chapter 1 of The Rocky Horror Tantra Book

Tantric Yogas - Preparation for Tantra

Tantra, being tantra is, for better or worse, inseparable from reality "as such" and is therefore well beyond the range of what can be communicated by words or other symbolic representations of reality.
I have noticed arguments between people over traditional vs modern methods, southern vs northern and so on. Sometimes these seem to arise over misunderstandings of cultural context and sometimes, someone involved in one area of training gets into opposition with someone in an equally important, but different area. 
I am in favour of an inclusive approach - I have recieved many students who have been well prepared by a large range of useful practices.
Here's my non-exhaustive cheat-sheet on the Tantric Yogas - the trad preparatory work and its modern equivalents (or the things some students manage to get an equivalence out of).
In some of these areas, a teacher in this school may prescribe/suggest some practice to catch up. If a student seems close in some area, and needs mostly a reappraisal of something they have already lived, and perhaps some completion, more direct guidance/coaching may happen.
In general though, these are the archetypal precursors to a student's awakening to the path.
When this preparatory work is done, the more traditionally secret touch-work techniques and methods of completing the journey of eros are appropriate.
... and, if that goes well, Tantra worthy of the name can begin!


(studies providing essential preparation)

Body training to develop:

Uncommon levels of awareness of the physical processes, energies, senses, subtle awareness and capabilities of your own body.

Traditionally: practice with the advanced forms of what the West calls “yoga”.

Alternatively: Strong performance or competition oriented physical disciplines such as atheltic performance, dance, martial arts, massage training, mountain climbing, breath work (rebirthing/Wim Hof) or ‘extreme’ sports.

Mind training to develop:

Uncommon levels of awareness of your mind’s mechanics, habits, tendencies and deeper inclinations.

Traditionally: Meditations, imaginal exercises, deep inquiry and cultivation of insights/satori.
Alternatively: Some years of therapy, personal growth work, assisting on est/landmark/encounter/constellation/ACIM/motivational style trainings, journaling, playing Go, writing ‘beautiful’ code, studying physics, engineering/tech, history, (oriental) strategy, 

Higher Philosophy to develop:

Uncommon levels of awareness of the deepest truths of existence and the willingness to be guided by them.

Traditionally: Advaita Vedanta, Zen, Socratic and similar.

Alternatively: Deep, critical study of philosophy via a good reading list (G. Gurdjieff, A. Crowley, A Watts, maybe a bit of Tolle …) but also through the philosophical methods of discourse, discussion,dialectic and debate.

30 December 2018

Relationships and Tantra

Relationships and Tantra

Tantra Pose
In the East, one of the nicknames for a guru is “The Fire”. The meaning of this is that the guru burns away your assumptions, your attachments, your worldly and subtle possessions – everything that comprises your ego-mind. He burns away all that is non-essential – everything that is not your true essence.

Being burned in this way is scary and most seekers want the assurance that the fire is being applied by someone responsible and trustworthy. This is why gurus that want to teach the masses advertise themselves as “Fully Enlightened” and are careful not to make things too suddenly hot for their following.

Such teachers work with the “frog in a pot” principle. They create a separation between “worldly” and “spiritual” pursuits, applying the heat in the controlled, spiritual zone and encourage disassociation from the worldly. They confront the ego bit by bit, gently raising the heat as their students gain awareness. Seekers are included in “spiritual community”. They are given stories that comfort their minds, practices (chanting, permitted drugs, sacred movement, ecstatic dance, soothing meditations etc) which get them high. They encourage dependence on these things as a way of keeping the frog in the pot while they gradually turn the heat up.

Tantra, though, has no patience with this approach. The T-shirt is: “Enlightenment this lifetime or bust.” Tantrikas have no patience with “emperor’s new clothes” and do not want a safe-feeling and gradual warming. They do not appreciate putting their intelligence on hold or having it numbed. They want the truth – experiential, not intellectual – as soon as possible and with no sugar coating. For them, instant gratification is just not fast enough.

Tantrikas therefore involve their whole lives in the pursuit of awareness. They do not limit their acceptance of burning to Sundays, nor do they retreat into a spiritual community. They accept (and ideally welcome) the burning of their egos no matter the source of the heat. They seek fiery gurus who encourage them to accept the burning which comes from what they do to make a living, the judgement (and even intolerance) of their families, their conflicts with their enemies and the primal energies of their sexual relationships.

Tantra, Marriage, partnership and polyamory – the path of the householder.

For most people, a committed sexual relationship is a bubble of safety, a safe place of shared illusion in which they can recover from the harshness of the world, rebuilding and strengthening their egos. The commitment is a commitment to maintaining the illusion. They are supported in this by the culture in which, for example, genetic studies revealing the frequency of misattributed paternity (which can be as high as 30%) go unpublished.

Tantrikas use committed relationship as a crucible – as a container which enhances the heat. Breaking of the rules of relationship typically leads them to honest confession and the resultant ego-burning rather than the usual striving for plausible deniability and ego-protection. Keeping to the rules, especially when one is out of the beloved’s sight, is directly destructive (burning) of ego. Some discard the rules – experiencing their relating without the artificial and illusory safety net, willing to be challenged to their authenticity.

An additional intensity of ego-burning happens when a tantrika takes an attitude of devotion to the beloved. Devotion is the submission of one’s ego-desires to the will of the other, including their unreasonableness, fear-induced anger, abusiveness … or even their outright insanity. This can destroy ego every bit as effectively as the tantric path of bhakti – deep or absolute devotion to a guru.
Polyamory may seem to be an escape from constraint, but is really just a more sophisticated rule-set, extending the concept of ownership to include lend-lease agreements. The more complex rule set and restraint structure can evoke further areas of understanding and awareness.

Householding, which Zorba called “The full catastrophe” – marriage, children pets and property, presents excellent opportunities for awareness. As Betty White said: “Love is blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.” The cyclical characteristic of the marriage archetype means that one is repeatedly challenged to face feelings and issues of the mind that one has avoided on previous occasions.
Child rearing makes repeated visitations of your own childhood available. When you extend a freedom to a child – a freedom that you were denied – you are released from whatever hard feelings you have about that particular parental intervention in your life.

Non-monogamy – the path of the celibate.

Once the lessons available through committed relating have been learned, some tantrikas choose non-monogamy as their preferred approach to love and sex. Celibacy in this context is non-marriage, non-ownership, It does not imply chastity.

This approach to the burning of the ego and its attachments has the advantage of unavoidable personal responsibility. It becomes very difficult to blame one’s relationship patterns and difficulties on your lovers if there is no agreement of monogamy in the pure or lend-lease formats. In this style of relating, you are more rapidly brought to the realization that the common factor in all your dysfunctional relationships is … you.

The downside, spiritually speaking, of non-monogamy is that it can be used to keep your relating shallow. It can become a device for avoiding the depths of emotional vulnerability.

The fires of relationship

There is no such thing as an ideal or best relationship format for tantrikas. Even the celibate approach of Opus Dei (a revival of hardcore old-school Catholicism) can be useful.

Every relationship type involves restraint. Restraint, though, does not of itself reduce opportunities for awareness. Restraint does not imply or automatically lead to repression.

The relevance of your relationships to tantra is that they burn you. The challenges to ego in relationship, especially sexual relationship are huge. Monogamy does not necessarily present less of a challenge, less of an opportunity for ego-burning than poly, the BDSM lifestyle or celibacy. Whatever the structure of your relationship(s), strong gains in awareness can be had.

The key to unlocking the spiritual lessons of relationship is an attitude of totality. The ego-burning possibilities of, for example, polyamory, are not intrinsically greater than those of monogamy, non-monogamy or even of chastity. What matters is not so much the style of your relationship as the intensity and willingness you bring to your living of it.

Probably the best way to pick your style of relating is to let your choice be guided by your eroticism – by what feels hottest to you. In this way, the ego-burning fires of relationship can be aligned with your eroticism, and the sexual healing which conscious erotic exploration evokes.

For more from me on relationships and tantra, see Chapter 3 of The Rocky Horror Tantra Book.

First published in Mindchaotica, 2013

Tantra Retreats and Workshops

Originally written for Mindchaotica (the sexual rebels of the internet) in 2014 
First, a reminder of the disclaimer that applies to all my writing at Mindchaotica: My perspective, as a teacher and the founder of a school is unavoidably individual and is not necessarily in tune with the majority of teachings and practices called “tantra”.
I write about my teaching because I don’t find it duplicated. I can’t just send people to read a generic tantra book or website and expect them to develop even a vaguely correct idea of what my teaching (or in my opinion, what tantra) looks like. This means that if you are in the habit of taking the majority opinion as the likely truth, you are likely to judge mine as likely wrong.
Some opinions/advice about beginner-groups and workshops: In general, the best are those run by Osho’s therapists. One part of Osho’s gift to the world was his development of teachers who, between them, cover a huge range of spiritual work. His tantra therapists were awesome, and nowadays, the group-work of the apprentices of their apprentices is still awesome. I confess to bias on account of Osho’s way having been most of, and the final steps of my own path.
In the wider world of tantra teachings, almost all beginner group work seems pretty good or at least, somewhat useful. Students of tantra typically get around a lot and sample many teachers, so there is a kind of informal peer-review in play. If you are trying to discern what’s useful to you, the guideline I recommend is: “Listen to the women.”
There are some silly and some unnecessary teachings which are often presented in a retreat context. Some tantra retreats structure what should probably be the after-party as part of the ‘everyone do this’ content. Some retreat teachers give some of their participants rather ambitious and overblown ideas about their sexual capacity. I have heard of a retreat that ‘qualifies’ a man as a “Tantra Master” when he can do … well, I’m not detailing the details. Let’s just say … nothing very impressive.
Others give out certified practitioner qualifications for attendance of a week-long retreat. Rushing too quickly into teaching / touch work practice is a bad idea for both the novice teacher and (to a lesser extent) her students. 
Even though almost all retreat work I have ever even just heard of is useful at least in the general sense of helping people coming to know more about themselves, some fairly common practices and attitudes can be counter-productive for some students. 
Techniques designed or used to manage feelings, perhaps surprisingly, can be a serious problem. This category of technique aims (or is misused) to release only the peak intensity of an emotional response, thereby enabling more comfortable suppression of deeper feelings in the short term – coping strategies. These can lead to cyclic patterns – whirl pooling around an issue interminably instead of passing through the centre of it.
Another thing that is often misused is motivation. My favourite teacher in that area, a human potential/coaching pioneer, said “If you want to see who someone isn’t … motivate him.” Motivating someone is the action of giving someone your (honest or synthesised, or honestly synthesised) urge – passing it on to them. When encouragement into participation is over-used by a therapist/trainer/facilitator, it can result in participants exceeding their true willingness – their actual emotional capacity. When this happens, the participant undergoes snap-back. They may revert to an even harder and more defended ego-structure than they had before the exercise. Paradoxically, in the short-term, they can feel stronger, even more capable, but it is a brittle strength and a pressured capacity.
So – advice: If a group starts with the strongly emphasised and ritualised – locking of doors, confidentiality promises between participants, sanctification of the place in the sense of it being separate from regular worldly experience – and so on, just take your own quiet pinch of salt. Look to be authentic, not motivated. Suspend disbelief and participate strongly, by all means, but don’t override your intelligence.
If a technique you have learned seems to be necessary on a regular basis, this is great as long as it continues to reveal new areas and new depths to you, and by new, I mean previously unknown. If it merely regurgitates the already-known, if it repeatedly brings you to a dropping of emotional pressure which keeps arising around the same focus … drop that method and consider looking for other ways.
You don’t have to remember this advice if you are taking a retreat with me. I will remind you – repeatedly, if it looks like you need to hear it repeatedly.
Usually, we have two or more teachers on a retreat and often we are helped by advanced students of the school. We prefer students who have taken an introductory retreat, or who have had some individual sessions work. We sometimes bill a workshop or retreat as introductoryinitiatory or beginner-friendly. This means that we are addressing the region between regular understanding and the understandings of awakening. Awakening means the point at which the path begins in earnest. When it changes from a dalliance or interest into a deep personal engagement or primary obsession.
When we bill a workshop or retreat as being NSFB (Not Safe For Beginners) we mean exactly that. Not really that it is not safe, in the normal sense of the word, just that some exercises or practices depend on capacities and capabilities one has to have already developed. We have, quite safely and successfully allowed literal tantra beginners on such workshops and retreats, but in all cases, notably brave beginners of good self-awareness.
Sometimes, we use the phrase practitioner level. What we mean by this is that we regard this work as mainly suitable for those already doing some form of body-work (in or out of our school) who are looking to gather and integrate our techniques into their practice. It means that, as well as being encouraged toward your own capacities, there will sometimes be the opportunity to support your fellow students with what you are learning. It means: Be here for yourself and be willing to help others where you can. We don’t insist that people taking such work be in dedicated practice or that they intend to work towards that – just, in some exercises, they may find themselves sometimes being more helpful than helped.
A retreat I taught with Dakini Wendy will, I hear, be at least partly documented in the sequel to No Mud, No Lotus by Maya Yonika , who’s snap-back from the flavor of teaching featured in the movie she starred in – Sex Magic – Manifesting Maya – is a legend of modern tantra. As it is likely that all sorts of traditionally secret things will be revealed in that book, I have decided to go with the flow and expose some of our previously secret sexy ways …
On an intensive retreat, we like to give our students, as far as they are able to receive it, worthwhile experiences covering a good range of our teaching. I like to start with a strong experience of touch-work. Typically, this means a roomful of naked people, some on plinths (massage tables) and some touching them. Touch-work is about evoking and exploring high intensities. States of arousal well beyond the intensities which people usually discharge in orgasm are common. Supervision improves constantly, but sometimes things can get a little out of hand. Mentioning no names, 3 students did manage to all get onto a plinth while teachers were busy, and buckle its legs, which dumped them nice and firmly on the floor, looking for all the world like a ball of snakes.
Next, the dark and difficult but so alluring region of eroticisms gets explored. The major exercises in this area aim for the central features of modern eroticism – that is which is most common, which is also that around which we are the most reactive and unconscious. I’ll describe two, which explore the eros of money and power respectively.
In the eros of money exercise, also known as the Red Light District exercise and as sell-a-bit tantra (just to tease the celibate schools) it is, of course, all about selling and buying. We establish a simple (but financially meaningless) economy, explore what people want to buy, what people want to sell and give everyone an opportunity to pitch their wares. After that, it is, like real life, a matter of willing seller, willing buyer. The teachers are available for advice, emotional support, adjudication of disagreements and so on, if that proves necessary. After facilitating several of these, nothing emerges as statistically typical. The range of exploration is as broad as the eroticisms of the participants.
On offer have been sensual food experiences, sensual foot experiences, golden showers, sensual bathing, anything-negotiables, venus butterflies, visual extravaganzas … on one workshop, two Dakas (male practitioners) got no time to buy anything at all for themselves on account of the queue for their combined offering, which they advertised as the Double-Daka-Delight, along with such wonders as Apocalypse Now (which was 10 minutes with one of them and no safe-word).
Exploring the eros of power is more tricky. When developing the idea of it, I discussed the main themes with Dakini Wendy. She raised some serious issues with my intended approach, which was to lean against the cultural tendency of keeping the aspects of power unconscious, and against the cultural tendency to put that power in male hands when it is conscious. The basic problem she raised was that, if one says to a group of women “Here are some men for you to dominate”, the women will say “OK, guys, how do you want us to dominate you?” So … when we explore power on the group, some (very careful) motivation is used at the beginning.
For most of the time for the exercise, the women have, as Charlie Manson said to Timmy Leary, “all the power”. What they do with it? … well, I generally get out of the place at that point, partly so that I do not have to witness the suffering of my brothers, and technically, so that I can be available for the support and recovery of anyone who safewords out. So far, I am glad to report, no one has, though, apparently, it has, here and there, been a close thing. I hear things though, afterwards, and sometimes (like when going to make myself a cup of tea) I have seen things. All sorts of things. Trust me, no modern erotic literature, no movie and no philosophy has ever shown even a hint of what women exploring their power really looks like. Nor has any even purely theoretical literature managed to even hint at the truth of how men respond to feminine power. Awesome, indescribable, and in the several of these that have happened, nothing can be called typical. The power of woman does not have an average. My favourite comment from a man after such work was “They did nothing that I thought I would have wanted, maybe nothing at all that I wanted … but It was strangely liberating.”
The intent of this work is not entertainment, though it is beyond entertaining. Neither is the intent healing, though the ending of dysfunctional obsessions and addictive sexualities does happen. The intent is to trigger/evoke all feelings around the eroticism and allow them to be felt in fullness with good support. In this way, that which is typically suppressed becomes conscious, the illusions it holds are destroyed and the student gets one large leap closer to the spiritual ideal of living in the moment. Living in the moment means responding to existence as it is, proportionately, as opposed to responding to existence on the basis of past hurts, unresolved dramas and habitual constraints.
Here follows a cautionary note for sexual educators, tantra teachers and conscious-sexuality facilitators. Normal people can skip the next three (indented) paragraphs:
At the risk of looking like I am on an ego-trip about my teaching, I would like to point out that, a few times now, I have written an article about an aspect of tantric work and have, within a few months, seen adaptations of it offered. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind. In fact, I am deliciously flattered and delighted to see the work of this school getting out there. Just, it would be surpassingly unwise to take the few hints I have given here and get a bunch of participants together to give it a try. It is not likely to go well.
It is not really workable for the facilitator/teacher to participate. This is not a way for a teacher to create or indulge in his or her fantasies. For that, dear tantra teacher, just talk to some friends and arrange to mutually explore whatever eroticism of yours may have been triggered by reading this article. To facilitate such work, you have to be completely finished with your own journey through the area of eros being explored. If you are not, you will either participate inappropriately, which will get you in trouble with your students, or you will suffer the extreme frustration of your own eros being triggered in a situation in which you have to be very conscious and abstemious.
With many techniques, practices and processes of teaching, particularly those derived from those developed by Osho’s therapists, beautiful things can result even from misusing them, misunderstanding them and presenting them badly – such is the power of the truth within them. These processes, by comparison are extremely delicate. Energies are extreme and have to be directed with knife-edge precision. I taught for years, and then took more years with advanced students wiling to play guinea-pig to develop these and related works. Seriously, if you want to work with these things, please consider coming here and learning, experiencing it yourself, before you attempt to try it out on your students.
After exploring touch – learning to feel sensation as it is, as opposed to being overwhelmed by what it evokes, and after addressing the sexuality of the brain, emptying it of erotic visions, enabling it to follow sexual energies consciously – sexuality can become meditation.
True tantra starts when reactivity and eroticism are finished. Over a week or two, if these areas are well addressed, there is enough space, sufficient release of mental/psychological pressure to enable a taste, and possibly more, of what sexuality becomes when it matures into meditation.

For events announcements, see the School Group on Facebook.

No Mud, No Lotus – Maya Yonika

Beloveds, I would like, if I may, to introduce you to Maya – Maya Papaya on Facebook, Maya Yonika on Twitter.
Maya is something of a celebrity in the little world of Tantra, the somewhat larger world of polyamory, and is perhaps threatened with greater exposure to the world at large – there are persistent rumors of a TV series in the making.
Maya stars in a controversial documentary style moviewhich features one of the temples of American tantra before it was assaulted – one of the targets in the “Operation Goddess Temple” defilements.
She has written a memoir of her journey through wild and scary areas of life, gathering the experiences and lessons that brought her to her spiritual path.
It is a great read on many levels: For Tantrikas, it is an archetypal tale of the tantric path to awakening. For explorers of sexuality, it provides comradeship and the sharing of bad decisions made, which, let’s face it, are most of the fun. For people seeking to live in picket-fence marital harmony, it is a thrilling cautionary tale. Even the prurient get to enjoy it because it gives them  some great scenarios involving sex, betrayal and non-standard relating to fuel their fevered dreams.
Throughout, Maya’s self-awareness brings a lightness and humour to even the darker aspects of her story. She provokes good inquiry into the dynamics of relating, cheating, sharing, owning and personal responsibility without getting at all lectury.
One strong theme that has provoked much discussion and controversy is her becoming a sexual healer, her questioning her guidance in awakening to her path. Some of this can be seen in that aforementioned movie. In the book though, her narrative explores themes which the movie barely hints at.
The archetype of the tantric path is significantly different from a seeker with an objective of self-improvement. Tantrikas are not content with slow and gentle improvement. They take risks in their living that others could not face. They learn at least as much from their participation in the worldly areas of life as much as they do in their formal practices and meditations. Their lives bring questions to areas of life that others leave unexplored. Harsh, for the one living the life … but stories of such lives are great to read.
Read it: No Mud, No Lotusa memoir of sex, betrayal and spiritual awakening
… and meet Maya – Maya Papaya on Facebook,  Maya Yonika on Twitter.

Originally published in Mindchaotica, Dec 2013.