This past winter, as we shared yoga and healing arts sessions at a remote resort on the south coast of Jamaica, we moved from house to house. Moving was common there. It seems to be the way of long term renting until one makes connections for next year. These moves served the purpose of shifting the energy, as we stayed relatively still in this small remote beach town.
While staying relatively still, many travelers passed through The Resort, dropping into our yoga community for a few nights, or as long as a week, to enjoy the resort and spa experience…eating at the restaurants on site, taking yoga classes and receiving healing arts treatments. The majority, soon moved onto another part of Jamaica or returned home to their obligations there.
We chose to stay still for a number of reasons. We shared daily yoga classes and were on call for private sessions. We like to make friends and integrate into the community. It is expensive to taxi around Jamaica, unless you are brave enough drive on your own.
It is a different experience to be the ones who are staying still. We felt we were holding the space as others passed through. Some asked us why we hadn’t explored other popular tourists spots like Negril, The Bob Marley Mausoleum or Port Antonio (rainforest). We felt we were exploring right here! Someone asked the best way to see the area. We responded, “By mountain bike! That’s the way to really experience the culture and the land.” …by going slow and connecting along the way. An added benefit was that mountain biking became our aerobic exercise…naturally integrated into our lifestyle.
As we established a presence in the town and at The Resort, our coworkers began to share stories of their lives. Many brought their young children to work on their days off and we were introduced to their families. Local friends invited us for dinner and on outings. We were guided down the inside track verses the tourist track.
Yes, we missed the live music and parties in Negril, and the fresh cool mountain air of the rainforest. Instead, we dropped in and choose to make deeper connections, stay in the flow and take in all the beauty the land and sea provide. That feeling reached deep inside us and nourished our souls. We resisted the urge to move and we choose to stay still. The benefits were rich and real. We will do our exploring in time. For now, this was good. Satisfying.
Next winter, Prana and Rene will return to Jakes Resort and Spa, located in Treasure Beach, Jamaica, where they will share their Tantra to Love™ Lifestyle Mastery Retreat and 60 hour Educator Certificate Add On, daily yoga and qi gong classes and healing arts services. For more information, visit www.jakeshotel.com and www.tantratolove.com/teacher training
My dear and loyal friend, Prana, who studies QI Gong with me, has asked me to write a “blog” entry. In the heyday of my onwardly striving generation schooled in the 50′s and coming to outburst in the 60′s and 70′s, “blog” wasn’t even a word. It seems nearly impossible after seven and a half decades to organize in any coherent way the various ‘successes’ and many ‘failures’ of a life alight burning most likely from both ends. The best I can do is pick out one thread of that tapestry and see if I can trace its labyrinthine meanderings from teaching QI Gong on a Wednesday morning 2012 in Topsham, Maine to climbing aboard a ship bound for Europe in 1958.
I was twenty years old and intent on learning German so I could read Rilke in the original. In fact, it’s not such a far stretch from Rilke to Lao Tzu and the ancient Chinese healing arts as one might think……(Lao Tzu) “The breath of life moves through a deathless valley of mysterious motherhood.” and (Rilke) “If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence (that mysterious motherhood), we could rise up rooted, like trees.” And what else is Qigong than “to move that breath of life (QI) through the deathless valley of mysterious motherhood” in this my very own apparent embodiment so as “to rise up rooted, like a tree”?
Kenneth Cohen, author of “The Way of Qigong”, a true master and one of my teachers whose depth of knowledge and healing vision greatly enriched my own understanding, put it this way: “From the most ancient times, trees have been symbols of spiritual growth. Their deep roots and high branches suggest an ability to connect earth and sky, the physical and the spiritual.”
by Ann Carroll, Qi Gong Master, Artist, Philospsoher and Landscape Architect
For more info about Ann Carroll and to learn about her offerings join our mailing list at tantratolove.com
Create a Beautiful Sacred Space Together!
by Robyn Vogel, MA, LMHC, Tantra and Intimacy Coach and Founder of Sacred Tantric Fire
Creating a beautiful, sacred space evokes the energy of Venus, of the heart, of eros, of erotic romantic sensual love as the setting for your lovemaking. Make your Tantric ritual a feast of the senses! Have fun choosing the most beautiful flowers that speak to you, and arrange them consciously as an act of love.
Allow your creativity to flow in creating a beautiful display. Carefully and consciously choose the music you will use to enliven your passion. Create a playlist to enjoy as you languish together for hours of pleasure.
Add to your sacred space scents you love that further enhance your experience; sandalwood, lily, jasmine are some of our favorites. Bring in photos of spiritual personages or statues that further reflect the energy of sacredness. Adorn your space with silks or other cloths of refinement and beauty.
And don’t forget the lighting! White twinkle lights (small white Christmas tree lights) strung artfully in short loops around the room can create a beautiful and sweet environment. And, be sure you have lots of pillows to prop up in all the right places to make your hours of lovemaking relaxing and comfortable. Make sure your sheets are fresh and clean. And, have plenty of towels or pads to catch all of those wonderful sexual juices.
For more tips on creating space and enhancing your relationship, join me at this FREE telesummit next week: Ignite Your Heart Transform Your Relationship http://www.mcssl.com/app/?af=1489806
By Michael Lee, MA
If you are in a relationship, or have ever been in one, there is a 60% chance that you will experience or have experienced what it’s like to fail in that area of life. Ok…. maybe “fail” is a strong word and perhaps we should use the gentler term… “experienced difficulty relating meaningfully”. Either way, the experience generally sucks! At one time you experienced the blissful feeling of being in love and at another time you’ve felt the devastation of feeling separated from that love. “How does this happen so easily?”, we might wonder?
Usually it begins with a failure to communicate. For whatever reason, one or both parties begin to withhold from the other in fully communicating. This can be caused by any number of factors – fear, laziness, infidelity, assuming too much, hurt, anger, irritation, in-laws, not feeling well, lack of privacy, stress, time pressures, work, and so on.
Good relationships depend heavily on good communication and spaciousness around that communication. Take that away and it won’t take long for the rot to set in and it’s downhill from there. A great marriage coach I know says that a relationship has to be “fit” just like our bodies need to be fit to stay healthy. In order to make a relationship strong, both parties have to do some relationship workouts on a regular basis. Often we don’t build enough time into lives to create some “relationship muscle” with our partner. So step one, is plan a time for a relationship workout.
Then do some exercises. My preferred ones often include a Mind-Body Approach. To me, my body is my most reliable tool of communication. It cannot tell me lies like my mind can and, if I’m open to it, can reveal so much and communicate so much in a very short time. Here is one of my favorite exercises for you to try that might help you build some muscle in your relationship.
This exercise is only for maintaining or strengthening an already functioning relationship. It is not intended as relationship therapy.
Sit on the floor facing your partner with your knees touching. (Chairs can work fine too if you don’t like sitting on the floor). Turn the palms of your hands to face each other and move them toward each others hands slowly. Take some time. Let the hands come close but not touching. Hold them there for a few moments and breathe. Close your eyes for a few breaths and just feel what is happening. Right there, in the moment, ask yourself “what is happening now?”. Open your eyes and then draw your hands away from your partners. Close your eyes again and focus. Ask “what’s happening now?’. Then open eyes and move hands towards each other slowly but this time allow them to touch. Close eyes and repeat the question. These three sequences should take about 5 minutes. Don’t use a timer though, just sense the time and don’t worry if you are a little out of synch with your partner. Just wait for him or her to get to the same place you are.
At the end of the exercise turn away from your partner and privately answer these questions for yourself. “What did I notice about myself at each stage of this experience?” “What was I feeling?” “What was I thinking?”.
Then turn to your partner and share with each other your answers to your questions. When your partner speaks, simply listen. No conversation, no explanation, no questions, – just listen.
Then turn away again and ask yourself two more questions. “What did I learn about me?”. And “What did I learn about my partner?”. Turn and share your answers. Try it and see what happens!
Michael Lee MA, is the founder of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. His next scheduled weekend workshop is on Oct 19-21 at Yogaville – a beautiful yoga retreat center in Virginia. No experience needed. See Michael Lee’s Workshop at Yogaville, for details and for Michael’s bio. See also Michael’s weblog “Turn Stress Into Bliss” and go here for information about Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy.
When the energy centers within the body begin to open in sacred and supportive space, one can become childlike…wide eyed, excited, quick to laugh, and also vulnerable. This is the pure state one is in before experiencing any stress or trauma. After this rebirthing of your true identity, it is time to reparent in a way that supports one’s true purpose to thrive.
Many of us, as very young children, were either not protected, abused, or raised to behave in ways the culture finds appropriate. These lessons about how to be, come from our peers, schools, and family members.
For example, when I was 5 years old, I clearly remember saying out loud, “I hate money and clothes.” It was because, I had been told more than once to put on clothes or that I couldn’t do something because we did not have the money. This is one of the first memories I have of my spirit being shut down…when my light started to dim. Somehow maintaining a semblance of inner power after a very disempowering childhood, I spent much of my adult life getting very little use out of a bathing suit and ensuring there was always enough money to support my true nature to thrive.
When we are not protected or supported, body parts contract around emotions. This is the bodies’ way of protecting itself from harm. Notice when you become activated by someone else’s actions….When you feel hurt… Notice where that shows up in your body and how your body responds. Shoulders rolled forward, protecting the heart chakra, can result from grief or love loss. Intestinal problems, second chakra, can become chronic because of fear or trauma. Shortness of breath is very common in this culture because many are in a chronic state of fear….of loss of job or not being good enough. Sexual abuse often shows up in the first and second chakras as a lack of feeling in the pelvis. These are just a few of the more common symptoms I see among clients that have resulted from feeling unsupported or not protected for being themselves. Those who are already practicing yoga, may be getting glimpses of your true nature and are nurturing it to thrive.
The body naturally wants to protect itself. Our inner spirit is strong and it wants to survive. So how does one protect their soul to thrive as an adult? By “reparenting” oneself in a healthy way that does not cause unhealthy contractions in the body. With Self Love.
Acknowledge your body as your temple…
You are what you eat. How many times have we heard this expression? Perhaps so much so that it is ignored? This expression is so true, that it even goes beyond food and includes the energy that goes into the food preparation. For example, how well the farmers and land are treated, the ethics of the store in which it was purchased, the attitude of the cook and the atmosphere in the restaurant where it is being served.
Eat local and organic foods as much as possible. Start by purchasing organic produce that, when conventionally grown, is known to contain the most pesticide residue, like apples and potatoes. I have been eating organic since I was 19 years old, putting myself through college and as a single mother. It is possible and should be one’s top priority in order to experience overall health and wellbeing. Food is fuel and it’s byproducts, like pesticide residue, just add to the bodies’ work load. Food raised in monoculture settings does not provide the same vitality. Food shipped from afar, loses it’s nutritional value over time. We are also learning of the lack of nutrition in genetically modified foods, which are now heavily present in the average supermarket and restaurant. Feed yourself organic and local foods. You will feel the difference. You are worth it! When we make health a priority, the money to buy organic and local shows itself. One summer, one of my students gave me the extra produce from his garden each week after class. I saved about $20 a week as a result of his seva (selfless service). When it’s needed and you are doing your best, the Universe provides.
Place your body in healthy situations. Share your precious time with people who are on the same path. Those who avoid putting poison in their body, like cigarettes, excessive alcohol, toxic foods or drugs. Those who get adequate sleep, and who are also surrounded by healthy friends and colleagues. Choose to work and socialize in settings where people are communicating in healthy ways. Acknowledge that we are all in different places on this path, but also recognize those who are committed to creating a healthy and supportive lifestyle. They are out there and growing in numbers. It takes some discipline to say “no” to situations that do not serve your true purpose. There may be periods of loneliness or transition until you find the right friends and create a supportive work environment. You will be admired for the clear communication used to create a healthy environment where you can thrive.
Connect with nature everyday. We are a part of the Earth and she keeps us in a natural rhythm. This natural rhythm is essential for maintaining optimal health, and remaining grounded and connected to yourself. Remaining grounded and connected to Self will help you to maintain this state in a consistent way, rather than wavering between who you are and who you are expected to be.
I know there are some readers who don’t consider themselves the nature type. Find a way to do it that is comfortable for you. Fill your home and office with plants and flowers. Let your skin be immersed in ocean or spring fed water. Let your bare feet touch the Earth at the beach or in a garden. In the winter, take walks in the snow. The snow is part of the Earth’s atmosphere and you will make a connection. Live in places where the air is clean. It’s all a choice. Those who choose to live in big polluted cities for the money or other reasons, know what I am talking about. They stay with us in Maine every summer for the fresh air. It’s a trade off and many are finding ways to create the balance of money earning, responsibilities to others, and health in their lives. It is possible.
Although it has become easy, and even a job requirement, to stay up to date with technology, do your best not to let it consume you. Practice maintaining your natural rhythm as technology, and all its layers, call you to speed up. Notice your breath, your posture. Come into a comfortable upright position and breathe easily and naturally while completing your tasks. Take breaks to stretch, move, soak up sun and fresh air. See how much you can decrease your use of technology and maintain your natural rhythm.
These are just a few of the most important, ways to begin creating a safe and supportive container for your True Self to thrive.
author: Prana Regina Barrett www.tantratolove.com
Pleasure is a great touch stone of where to head in your life. If you think about it, it’s pretty obvious. If what you are doing is causing you pain, making you stressed out, bringing up loads of frustration, perhaps you are off track. If what you are doing is making you feel good physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually, you are more likely to be on the right track. I believe it is very important for individuals to find there proper direction in life by using their passion as the compass. Life is too short to not do the things you love!
Pleasure is available at any time. We have a choice to focus on the means to pleasure, or on the true goal, which is the pleasure itself. For example, “If I just had the car, the house, the girlfriend, the massage…. then I would be happy.” Pleasure is a living experience we can tap into at any time. We have an infinite capacity for pleasure, but in order to experience it, we have to focus on it by trimming the sails a turning the rudder so the experience of pleasure and happiness are what we are directing our attention to as often as we can. That way, every moment has pleasure in it, instead of only having that experience once a goal is reached. Focusing on the goal is like thinking about what the third course might taste like while you are eating.the first course. I am not saying we shouldn’t focus on goals, rather, when we squeeze the full enjoyment out of the present moment, all of life becomes more enjoyable.
Practicing gratitude is a great way to get pleasure. When we live life filled with gratitude, life is much more pleasure filled. What ever we focus on expands to fill our consciousness. It is the filter that we view life through. So put on your rose colored glasses, and get on the bus!
Back in the eighties, I became interested in Tantra as a means to transform consciousness regarding the sanctity of sexuality. Many of us have been inculturated to believe that sex and sexual pleasure is a sin. This just did not make sense to me. How could something that feels so good be bad? When I learned about Tantra, I was instantly enrolled, because it made sense to me that union brought a person closer to God, instead of farther away. I wanted to learn how to use pleasure as a means to enlightenment. I had the good fortune to connect with some serious yogic tantra practitioners, and began to study Kriya Tantra. It is a fabulous yogic tantra form which uses the energy generated from sexuality for enlightenment. I love the idea (and the practice!) of a spiritual tradition which focuses on pleasure. I am now a Ipsalu Kriya yoga instructor, and get a lot of pleasure out of sharing these deep and effective techniques for enlightenment through pleasure with others.
Pleasure is your birthright as well as being a state of mind. I believe that we are here on Earth not only to accomplish good works, but to enjoy the beauty of our experience. The more natural joy and experiences of pleasure we can generate, the more beauty, joy and pleasure exists on this plane. Joy and pleasure are infectious. When we tap into our natural joy, it is possible to share that with others, spreading the power of positivity. That power of positivity helps to create a more beautiful reality for everyone.
Wishing you all unlimited joy and pleasure,
Personal Growth Catalyst
Since the late 1980s and into the 90s, when American sex educators such as Annie Sprinkle and Margo Anand invited us to expand our awareness of sexuality, a new and explosive interest in Tantra has begun to surface. After a period of separation and individuation, there appears to be a collective longing for more connection and intimacy in relationships. As people become more enlightened as a whole, heavily influenced by the yoga revolution, there is also a call, more specifically, for sacred and spiritual connections. People of all ages, genders and sexual orientations are feeling the need for a place to connect with their body, mind and spirit in community.
For those who are new to Tantra, it is a practice that combines movement, breath, meditation and sound to assist the energy system within the body to open. This opening allows dormant energy, also known as kundalini, to move from the pelvis, up the spine. As this life force energy moves up the spine, it helps one to transform and heal. This healing involves loosening constrictions within the body that develop throughout life When the constrictions are loosened, one’s true identity is revealed. When one feels safe to be them self, one is happier and attracts easily. The expansion of the energy body also increases sensation, clairvoyance and one’s ability to connect with others.
Many are sampling Tantra in two hour or half day workshops. Those wanting a deeper learning experience attend extended retreats. What I have learned on my own tantra yoga path, and as a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist, is that these experiences alone are not enough to open the chakra system and free the kundalini energy. Opening the body to receive the kundalini energy requires transforming a lifetime of parental and societal messages that can cause contraction and holding within the body when one is not living their truth. The body, mind and spirit integrate these openings in the chakra system at a pace that is dependent on physical and emotional history and is unique for each individual. The body mind and spirit can only assimilate so much change at once. Consequently, a brief experience will provide a step in the right direction, but will not provide the purification necessary to run kundalini energy and have the tantra experience that many are seeking.
Attending workshops and retreats is an important first step toward exploring Tantra. One way to deepen the experience is to develop a tantra lifestyle practice with a master teacher. A practice that slowly allows one’s chakras to open and expand. In doing so, the practitioner can discover his or her true essence, while fully supported and experiencing the gifts of Tantra. This is a gentle approach, so the body, mind and spirit have a chance to integrate the chakra openings. Transformation takes place, as well as life shifts: significant physical and emotional health improvements, new jobs, new or deeper partnerships, and moves to one’s dream location. These are just some of the outcomes I have witnessed.
To learn more about Prana Regina Barrett and Tantra to Love™ workshops, retreats, apprenticeships and private couples sessions, please visit our website and join our mailing list at www.tantratolove.com