I was surprised; I didn’t expect a gift so early and so big.

My motivation for Christmas shopping has been low. In the last couple of years, we have opted for experiences rather than a lot of gifts, stuff we don’t need.

It’s been some of our favorite times as a family – in a cabin on the north shore, games, puzzles, making ornaments, ice skating, an escape room, X-C skiing, theatre, and dance performance, and family movies.

Since we cannot get together this year, we won’t be sharing a family experience.

This year has been eye-opening regarding how little we need to get by—food, toiletries, essential household items, including, of course, toilet paper. Even my wardrobe is simple since working from home. Nothing new and stylish, I prioritize comfort. Instead of “dress to impress,” it’s dress for coziness.

What more do I want and need?

It was a warm December night, I had been working at the computer all day, so I stepped outside. The freshness of the air made everything more vivid. Remnants of the summer garden were silhouetted in the moonlight. I love my yard and our house that we have crafted to make our own.
Our eldest son was in utero when we moved in. He just bought his own home 🏠 at the same time we are paying off ours. It’s exciting to see our boys exploring life, healthy, and seemingly less burdened by growing up than I did.

Taking stock of my life, I surprisingly thought, I have everything I want.

Wow, that’s a bold statement! I have everything I want! Besides our home, health, my family and husband is easy to love; I have been gifted with incredible career opportunities, especially lately with the SkyDancing Tantra Institute Directorship. We get to live our values of spreading love and choose many ways to care for the environment.

Really, I have everything I want? That can’t be true! I could feel my mind beginning to search for exceptions to “everything.” I spend a lot of time WANTING. Wanting a more organized house, wanting more time to do my writing, art, hang with my kids and friends, wanting the weeds out of my garden, wanting to travel, wanting the dog stains out of the carpet, and wanting a stress-free life.

But the clarity and completeness I felt didn’t account for those. There can always be MORE, BIGGER, NEWER, and BETTER. This moment was free from forward-thinking, to-do lists, incompleteness, and instead, I felt a lightness and satisfaction that I have actualized my dreams. My sense of fulfillment and recognition felt pure.

Such a gift to receive – realizing I have everything I want! And every time I try to recapture that moment, I laugh at myself; here I am, WANTING to feel it again, and wanting to share it with everyone! Even though we won’t be together for the holidays in the traditional way, nothing will ever take away what we have.

Wishing you peace these Holidays!
Love, Sara ~ and Thomas

 

(photo by Tim Mossholder, unsplash)

Harbin Hot Springs

Everyone needs a place like this.
A place where pressure to be busy and accomplish disappears.
A place where the mind quiets.
A place where words are not needed.
A place where everyone is welcomed with unity and respect.

For most of us, our surroundings are cluttered with projects just waiting to be attended. When we try to relax, the papers on the coffee table need attention, the dust bunnies are nipping at our heels, the unfinished projects ask to be completed, and the unanswered emails call. It’s as if once we have been active in a space, it holds active energy. The challenge is to override the intensity that’s alive in order to get to a deeper level of quiet.

Going on vacation is one way we try to get away from the noise of doing. “What did you do on your vacation?“ most people will ask. Even on Facebook, we post the sights we have seen, the food we’ve eaten and the many adventures we’ve taken. Rarely do you say, “I’ve had the most wonderful vacation, doing nothing.“ What if the greatest adventure is just being? Not doing anything, just being and having a place that facilitates that delicious state. 

Last week, I was able to return to my sweet spot. A place where I first learned the depth that can be experienced of profound letting go and inner peace. When I name this place (for those of you that it is familiar) notice your visceral reaction……..

Harbin Hot Springs. And specifically, the sacred waters of the warm meditation pool.

For 3 1/2 years, while recovering from the fire that destroyed it, I have longed to return. I anticipated this venture might invoke many responses and still I had a lovely surprise.

The surprise was not the blackened trees that lined the road up to Harbin. It wasn’t the tears of grief for the devastation of what made up it’s character, lush greenery, old lodging structures, and the Temple. The surprise wasn’t the joy of seeing life sprouting from the trunk of the big fig tree that had canopied the warm pool, nor the compassionate Quan Yin statue sitting serenely in it’s spot. My surprise came while blissfully meditating in the pool, one thing made it more sweet, Thomas. 

I nestled against his warm chest. With the body-neutral water already dissolving the edges of our skin, our bodies melted together. Without thought, our breath synchronized and the words came to me, “I have missed who we are, when we are here.”

The noise of our busy lives disappears in these waters and tension between us is replaced with a tinge of sensual excitement. We discovered a newness about each other here. We were initiated into the magic of SkyDancing Tantra at Harbin. For a moment, we returned to innocence, curious, love struck. What could be more lovely than calm, pleasurable excitement?

The waters of Harbin flow. 
The heart of Harbin beats.

Harbin’s a special place. So special, I feel it’s presence in my bones. Although it has changed due to the fire in 2015, each of us carry it’s essence alive within us. During moments of distress when I seek refuge, I visualize walking down the steps leading into the warmth of the meditation pool. Aaahhhh.

Until we soak in the waters again, Thomas and I find elements of deep connection by dropping into our state of being every week when we create our Tantric practice of Sacred Space.

~ Sara

Harbin Hot Springs Entrance

Establish a sacred place in your home or nature to visit for reflection, meditation and quiet. Savor these times, drinking them into your whole being. The real gift to yourself, is returning to your personal place of being. Return again and again, with mind, body and spirit, either visualizing how your body felt, the sensory details and emotions, or in person.

SKYDANCING TANTRA/SARA AND THOMAS

You think you know about tantra? THINK AGAIN! Meet Sara and Thomas, SkyDancing Tantra enthusiasts and teachers. In this episode we chat about how they got into tantra, how it has changed their life, and how they hope to end the negative stigma associated with tantra by educating others and helping their participants live full and present lives.

Tantric traditions are extremely diverse so there is no single label that is universally accepted. One popular definition of tantric practice is “the systematic quest for salvation or for spiritual excellence by realizing and fostering the bipolar, bisexual divinity within one’s own body. Another definition I came across is “ a set of spiritual practices that direct the universal energies into the practitioner, thereby leading to liberation.”

The term “tantra” and the tantric traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism have been subjected to a great deal of misunderstanding over the years, and a relatively widespread association with sorcery and immoral sexuality. The word “tantra” came into use at a time when Buddhism, Jainism, and the various Vedic traditions we now call Hinduism were dominant in India. A core part of each of these religions were “sutras” or key texts. Perhaps the most famous sutra is the Kama Sutra, the book of love and erotic arts that, by the way, is completely unrelated to tantra. Etymologically, sutra has the literal meaning of ‘thread’. If a sutra is a single thread of thinking, a tantra is the whole system of thought. The literal meaning of the Sanskrit word tantra is ‘loom.’ It implies the interweaving of traditions and teachings as threads into a text, technique or practice.

Neotantra is the modern, western variation of tantra often associated with new religious movements or alternative spirituality. Many teachers of this version of tantra believe that sex and sexual experiences are sacred acts, which are capable of elevating their participants to a higher spiritual plane.They often talk about raising Kundalini energy, worshipping the divine feminine and the divine masculine, and activating the chakras. One of the pioneers and famous figures in neotantra is Osho.  He was the author of many books on meditation, taoism, buddhism, and mysticism, and at least six on tantra.

One of Osho’s students, Margot Anand, founded a school called “SkyDancing” tantra. According to Margot’s website, SkyDancing Tantra is a unique path that weaves together studies in many therapies: sexology, yoga, music, and metaphysics combined with work in human energy systems through the use of light, music, movement, visualization, and particularly the energy map of the chakras. SkyDancing Tantra also blends modern techniques such as psychology, bioenergetics, and neurolinguistic programming (NLP), with meditation, sacred rituals, and other practices. SkyDancing Tantra teaches you to choose with awareness what brings you pleasure and joy—which opens the door to a deeper connection with spirit and a greater sense of aliveness.

Check out this awesome podcast by Kelley B from In My Spare Time – a podcast about unconventional hobbies and the people behind them.

#3 – SKYDANCING TANTRA/SARA AND THOMAS

Posted on Oct 18, 2018.

 

How does SkyDancing Tantra celebrate and support you in expanding?

Where can you find respectful and loving connections in relationships?

I especially want to speak to those who identify as feminine, who long for touch and yet feel cautious.

These days we are aware of how many women have received unwanted touch. In my 20s, I worked at a sexual assault center, a battered women’s shelter, and have been committed to women’s rights ever since.  I came to realize how important it is for your body to be your own. It is my desire for women to have refuge from harm, where you can explore your physical and spiritual essence, your sexuality, and intimate relationships. 

This path has brought me to SkyDancing Tantra, which was founded by Margot Anand. Her teachings celebrate the power of women, where you give voice to your needs and desires, and help you feel honored and beautiful as the divine feminine.

 

Through SkyDancing Tantra, I have seen many women come alive and feel radiant.

See what is possible for you,
Sara

 

 

Last week, I was gifted with the amazing opportunity of coming together with women from all over the world as we experienced the healing teachings of Tantra Goddesses, Caroline Muir and Amrita Grace. After five years on sabbatical Caroline returned to teach Divine Feminine Awakenings with grace and enthusiasm. It was truly an honor to absorb her life’s passion for sexual vitality.

Like Caroline, it was through my journey into Tantra that I discovered my aliveness and felt supported in expressing my full femininity, which possesses both softness and strength. Tantra helped me embrace my vulnerabilities. I also came to understand my desires to be adored, to be served and (to both my and my husband’s surprise) to surrender. At the same time, I found that inner primal passion of Kali, ripping the clothes off my man and coming together with intense lust.

We all have both masculine and feminine qualities and energy within us. As women, we too often lose ourselves, mistaking our masculine power as feminine power. We attempt to cope with the harshness of the world by hardening ourselves. Often this causes us to become aggressive and controlling. We forget the feminine force within us, which is grounded, considerate, determined and–ultimately–more affirming. As women, we must strike a balance. It is good to be powerful and effective, but it is also important that, after the work is done, we retain the ability to soften, let go and be held.

As a teacher, I have promoted inclusivity of all genders. At the same time, I have had a few recent opportunities to dive deep with just women in particular. There is something undeniably special and beautiful about being in sisterhood – a real coming home and softening occurs. Likewise, I am sure that there is something meaningful in the brotherhood of men and the siblinghood that occurs between people of other genders. Being seen and supported by one’s own gender is soul affirming – a basic need. A true gift for any and all genders is to be held by their kin.

Another need is to be accepted. Unconditional acceptance comes after we fulfill a deep ache to be fully seen and heard in our rawness. I believe that is the impetus that drives this new “naked“ generation to share such personal musings on social media. They reach out and say: “This is me.” But are we as skilled at supporting each other when we are cracked open? Do we offer the depth of holding that says “I see you, I hear you, I am with you, and honor you”? Do any of us ever say “I hold you in your pain and I rejoice in your celebrations”?

At one point during the Divine Feminine retreat, I came to a sharing circle feeling restless, aware I had not gotten vulnerable and shared myself emotionally. I feared that I would leave this retreat having missed the opportunity for true meaningful connection with these amazing women. I longed to be with them, to be more of my full self and let them see the aspects of me that I am tired of keeping in the shadows. I wished to know more of each of them, but that was theirs to reveal.

I decided to facilitate my own exposure, to be with each of the women and share the recesses of my private life. I spoke of how I felt lonely and scared, and also about how I am learning to love myself and let more love in. I told of the qualities I have that I celebrate and the behaviors of which I feel ashamed. Progress was marked when I heard myself exclaim, “I love my body.” It wasn’t until later that my body retorted, “Then why do you still criticize me so much?” So far I’ve come and still so far to go.

In the end, I did feel seen, heard, held and celebrated.

I am thankful for the courage that Tantra has provided to me – the validation of my wholeness, by weaving together sometimes contradictory aspects into a harmonious sacred being, which we all are in our own ways.

Sara

Friends, Eclipses, Tantra, and a lot of Love: Our Beautiful Journey

Our journey started with a flight back to California, where we assisted the Love & Ecstasy Training Cycle 2 (or LET 2, for short). It was our third year of assisting with the LET cycles 1 & 2, and we were delighted to see how much our students have transformed from the first cycle in May. While our students learned how to refine their multi-orgasmic response, we also did some learning of our own—about how to teach the LET’s. We hope to bring the knowledge we gained to the Midwest in about a year or two.

It was during this week that we were lucky enough to experience a rare astronomical phenomenon: the solar eclipse. We watched the landscape grow darker as the moon’s shadow raced across the planet. In the spirit of this extraordinary event, we conducted a ritual to find, befriend and honor our very own shadow sides.

Afterwards, we spent two days in seclusion with other members of the Ecstatic Living faculty at the Earthrise Retreat Center, in the heart of an expansive wilderness, surrounded by friends. Together, we discussed the best course for our class offerings and ways to make our classes more welcoming to people on the LGBTQ spectrum.

After this faculty meeting, we returned home briefly. Then it was back to California again, in order to teach Tantric Massage 2: The Art of Sexual Ecstasy. The class gives couples the chance to deepen their understanding of what it means to be intimate with each other. Teaching this weekend also reinforced our decision to rename the course Ecstatic Touch, since it really is much more than just massage.

We trekked back to Minnesota for two weeks, to see clients and to do laundry (both necessary things). Some friends joined us from California at our MN LET Regional Group. Two of the Tantra teachers-in-training led us through some wonderful practices so that they could get more experience. We also hosted a well-attended and received Tantra Community Night.

I returned to California for training with David Cates in his Belly2Belly work in Yosemite National Park.  Although I didn’t get to see the iconic places in the park, I still felt completely immersed in my surroundings. I was taken in by the huge trees and beautiful weather–and not to mention the wonderful sight of the people around me, melting deeper and deeper into each other with a sense of trust, vulnerability and shared rapport.

One thing David said really registered with me: “Enlightenment arises in the absence of tension.” I took his words to heart and let go of tension in my body. As I stood in the forest, completely at ease, I was able to sense the living presence of the trees around me. Amazing!

The next week, we both assisted Margot Anand and Jim Benson in teaching the SkyDancing Tantra Teachers Training Module 3. It was wonderful to be in Margot’s presence again, absorbing her wisdom and experience. We would stay up with her late at night, simply listening to stories about her amazing life. It was also great to see Jim, who is a wonderful man and a skilled presenter. I learned so much from him about working with groups and holding space.

The first weekend of October, we were back in Minnesota to present Tantric Massage 1: The Art of Ecstatic Touch at Shalom Hill Farm in Windom, MN. This was only the second time Sara and I have brought a workshop from California to Minnesota. The final sharing circle revealed that it was transformative not just for us, but for all of our students as well. One woman in particular told us that the class helped her realize that what she used to think of as “good sex” was only 5% of what’s possible. It was an honor to facilitate the class and to have this opportunity to touch the lives of the people who attended.

 

WHAT A WOMAN NEEDS TO KNOW BEFORE BOOKING A TANTRIC MASSAGE

By Shashi Solluna

 

 

Tantric massage is becoming a big thing.

For men, the ubiquitous “happy ending massage” has been around in many societies for a long time, though mostly for relief of built-up sexual tension rather than any kind of tantric experience. So for men to go for a tantric massage is not a big leap of the imagination. It’s simply the next step.

But on the other hand… for a woman to go and receive a massage for her sexual pleasure from a therapist she doesn’t know is a pretty new concept in most places.

Yet it is taking off, and in tantric circles many people have learned some sort of tantric massage technique. It is now reasonably easy for a woman to book a tantric massage in areas where there is a lot of Tantra. In some countries it is legal and can be found in the bigger cities. And in a few places you can even find tantric spas with a full menu of delights (Germany and Czech Republic seem to be the leaders in this respect).

However, because this is a new trend, there is still a lack of understanding and information that can be really important for a woman to know.

Probably the biggest most important factor to understand is that there is a big difference between tantric massage for pleasure and tantric massage for therapy. This is a vital point to consider on ones quest to find a tantric massage.

Read more…..

WCCO TV featured Cuddle Parties on January 19, 2016.  I got some great air time!

Why are Active Meditations an important part of SkyDancing Tantra?

This question is like asking, “Why is cleaning and house repair a part of home owning?” Active Meditations are a form of decluttering your psyche and healing old wounds. Through breathing and movement you clear out the things that get in the way of loving and expressing yourself.

Most people are not fond of house cleaning. That’s where Active Meditations differ, in that it’s a wonderful experience. You don’t have to do all the work. It’s like going on vacation and returning to a home that feels more welcoming and beautiful than ever before. Most of the process is at an unconscious level. If emotions do surface, you’re encouraged to notice them and just let them pass. There is no need to analyze anything or to try to change them. Your body carries the wisdom to take care of itself if you just provide the opportunity.

When Margot Anand created SkyDancing Tantra, she had travelled the world studying many different teachings of Tantra, psychology, metaphysics and spiritual leaders. She understood the benefit of moving while meditating. You are more able to stay present with the experience and release stored emotions. We begin every morning with an Active Meditation during the Ecstatic Living Institute workshops.

When people talk about traditional meditation, so many say, “Oh I can’t meditate,  my mind is all over the place. I just can’t sit still and focus.” Exactly! With Active Meditation you don’t have to sit still and focus. You get to move and go where your experience takes you. Yet, you still get the benefits of meditation – mindful awareness, expansiveness and inner peacefulness.

The richness of Active Meditation is that every session is unique and personal. Each meditation engages on many levels, so as you clear and open, additional opportunities present themselves. You can benefit from a regular practice. Just as you might from a regular yoga practice.  Common responses are – feeling more emotional presence, increased confidence and building a deeper connection to your divine self and others.

After clearing out your home, you realize that without all that stuff, there is an expansive playroom waiting for you.  Active Meditations create more spaciousness for intimacy.  That is SkyDancing Tantra!

YOUR LIFE CANNOT GO WRONG

In reality, your world is set up so that nothing happens to you, but everything happens for you – for your awakening, for your growth, for your inspiration, for your exploration – even if you forget that, or sometimes cannot see it, or sometimes fall into distraction and despair.

When there is no fixed destination, you cannot ever lose your destination, so you cannot ever lose your path, so nothing that happens in your life can take you off your path. Your path IS what happens, and what happens IS your path. There is no other.

Everything is a gift on this unbreakable path that you call your life – the laughter, the tears, the times of great sorrow, the experiences of profound loss, the pain, the confusion, the times you believe you’ll never make it, even the overwhelming heartbreak of love – even if you forget that sometimes, or cannot see that sometimes, or lose faith absolutely in the entire show sometimes.

But even the loss of faith in the show is part of the show, and even the scene where ‘something goes wrong’ is not indicative of the show going wrong, and so you are always exactly where you need to be, believe it or not, even if you are not.

Life can be trusted absolutely, even when trust seems a million light-years away, and life cannot go wrong, for all is life, and life is all. Understand this, know it in your heart, and spirituality is profoundly simple, as simple as breathing, as natural as gazing up at the stars at night and falling into silent wonder. The universe is more beautiful than you could ever imagine.

Jeff Foster www.lifewithoutacenter.com