A friend of ours wrote this blog post about what it’s like to be in a SkyDancing Tantra Intensive, a week long course where you’re encouraged to go deep, confront any demons about yourself, ask for love and support.  It’s a beautiful process and she does a great job of describing it.  Check it out:

“Picture this… You are in a room with 28 strangers on day one of a seven day intensive Tantra workshop.   You don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know the people in the room, you don’t know what baggage they are bringing with them, and how events are going to unfold. You only know that you are on some sort of journey and you prepare yourself for the ride ahead of you…”

Read more: http://powerofpleasure.com/transforming-lives-one-tantra-workshop-time/

In sports, when it comes down to the last second of a game for a player to make a shot or miss, he often feels like a hero or a failure, responsible for losing the game. Increase the pressure by making it the last game of the season, the last game of the boy’s high school career and the state championship game. This is what my son faced last week.  He was one of five players in a shootout to win or lose the Minnesota State High School Soccer Championship.

As I’m watching him go through this, I recall when I was a senior in high school. The worst year of my life. The school I had attended since third grade closed that summer and for my senior year I was in a new school. I went from a class of 50 where I knew everyone in the school to a class of 250.  And I knew one person. In that transition, my four-year relationship with my boyfriend also ended.  But I had my family. I thought. At Christmas break, when my older siblings were home from college, my parents shocked me with the announcement  that they would be separating, immediately.

Through high school I had been working at a movie theater. After the movies I’d hang out with my coworkers and there were opportunities to party. During my time of distress, it sounded like a good idea to me. I chose to drink and try some drugs.

In the spring my sport season started. I was a runner and was used to doing well. But that was a small school and at this level I was untested. I went out for track and practiced with the team. I didn’t know if I could race down the track over the hurdles and have a time that was good enough. The morning of the first track meet of the season, I quit. I quit, because I was scared, alone and couldn’t face not doing well.

Back to my son, Jared. Ever since he was four, he was always kicking the soccer ball, if not on the field, we would pass back and forth on the sidelines. We would keep a soccer ball in the trunk of our car so we could stop at any soccer field and Jared could “shoot on the net .” Then hours and years of practice to get to this game.

In the semi-finals of the state tournament he played really well and the coach moved him to a position where he would defend against the attacking strikers. Wayzata beat the first ranked, undefeated team Eastridge.

In the championship game it was cold and windy, we had the wind at our back and scored in the first half. Anoka scored in the second half. The teams went through two ten minute overtimes and still remained tied. In a soccer tournament, to determine the winners, they go to a shootout where five players of each team are chosen to shoot at the net with just the goalie defending. Jared was one of those five. The first three players of each team all scored. Then Jared came to the line. He kicked, the ball hit the upper crossbar  – and bounced out. He fell to his knees, collapsing in disappointment. The rest of the players made their shots and Anoka went on to win.

The team was supportive of Jared. The community was supportive. And I hope he felt support from his family. He didn’t want to talk about it for a couple of days but now he can and went to go to the soccer banquet to celebrate their success of getting 2nd in the state.

After the game, during my meditation, I had an image come to me. It was of Jared as an adult leader or coach. He stood talk, confident and erect, referring back to this challenging time in a meaningful way.

Over the years I have gradually left behind that timid teenager. Since I have been doing Tantra, I have jettisoned into another level of empowerment. I have been stepping up.  For public speaking, for taking more of a leadership role, for expressing my feelings more vulnerably and bringing more passion into my life. When Jared dared to step up to that line, he became my hero. He honorably faced one of the hardest challenges that an athlete of his age can face.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is hard to fail, but is worse to have not tried to succeed.”



I look forward to going to my brother’s cabin for our annual family gathering. After seeing clients in the morning, I packed the car to head out. In support of my husband’s biking wishes, he’d left hours before.

The plan was that Thomas would bike 60 miles and then we would switch. He would drive the last 30 and I would bike. I was looking forward to the bike ride and physically moving my body since I sit indoors for my work all week. The car ride started feeling long and then I got stuck in the Minnesota Friday-going-to-the-cabin traffic. I sat at the Stillwater bridge for 20 minutes.

Text messages from Thomas started coming through. He was feeling pretty good and considering that he might be able to bike all the way. What he didn’t tell me at the time was, of course he wouldn’t bike beyond what we had agreed because he was going to support me biking too. The next message was that he was in Amery, Wisconsin. That’s getting pretty close to the cabin. “When’s my turn?,” I wondered.  This is the first year I’ve even gotten the option of biking. He usually rides the whole distance and I load up the kids, the stuff and meet them at the cabin.

Remember now, my mantra is that I’m not going to work so hard. I made easier meals, I got some help loading the car, and I was also going to bike. A 30 mile bike ride may sound like work to many people but for me it’s rejuvenating to be outside in nature exercising.

Finally, we worked it out and in Amery I got on my bike with about 25 miles to go to the cabin. The funk I’ve been in for the last few hours faded quickly as I started pedaling, feeling my own power and the wind flowing by. “Responsible for nobody else, nothing else and with whatever I wanted to do,” I thought.

Thomas drove back a couple times to help me find shortcuts and avoid dirt roads. Then I was on my own, weaving through the back country roads, heading towards Cumberland.

Laying on the side of the road was a beautiful bald eagle. Wings spread out, feathers intact and fairly recently dead. I got off my bike and automatically put my hands in the namaste position, honoring this incredibly majestic bird. Feeling sad for it’s death and yet grateful for it’s presence here on my trek.  I wanted to take a few of the feathers to hang on my wall but had no way to carry them carefully on my bike. I vowed to come back later.

My creative mind began to work and I imagined hanging some feathers in a dreamcatcher on my bedroom wall. About 10 miles down the road I found a beautiful snapping turtle shell. It was about 12 inches in diameter and had been cleaned out by insects. Only the shell and the bones were remaining. I quickly added this to my creative ideas and picked up the shell wanting it to be part of my dreamcatcher. Unfortunately, it became more of a windcatcher. As I was going down a big hill, it caught the wind and part of it cracked off. I desperately hung onto it wanting to preserve what I could. Biking with one hand, holding a large turtle shell, is not easy. About 5 miles later I started up a big incline. It was too much work. I couldn’t hold it and bike. I couldn’t carry the additional stress of trying to preserve this crumbling shell. Was I really going to make something with it or was it going to be additional clutter in my home waiting for attention? The excitement of finding it had turned to a burden. In a rush of relief, I threw it like a Frisbee out into the woods, screaming and then sobbing, “Set it free, set it free, set it free, set it free!”

I cried for the eagle, I cried for the snapping turtle, I cried for my client who recently overdosed on drugs, and I cried for myself –  I so desperately want to be set free. Free from living as only a shell of who I know I can be. I want my inner fire to burn. I want my light to shine! The image that I had seen during one of my meditations became clear: inside my shell there’s a fiery layer of passion and intensity. Inside that, a center of spiritual light and calmness. During that meditation I had felt something I never had experienced, a sense of complete peacefulness. If I live a mindful Tantra path, I can live my life fully! Completely! Consistently!

Crying and releasing layers of emotion as I biked. Feeling the fire and power within me surge and grow with confidence. The subtle ways in which I adapt myself to situations exhaust me. I want to live authentically and be who I am meant to be –  proudly. I need to work less hard on pleasing others. I need to feel less responsible for others. To set myself free!

Then Thomas started texting me, “Where are you?!” I had been weaving myself through the country roads taking a circuitous route and the sun was beginning to set. I had mixed feelings about being rescued from my long bike ride with the car.  I was enjoying the time to myself, feeling emotionally raw and was hoping to bike all the way to the cabin. Yet, I had already biked over 30 miles and biking was beginning to feel like work, so I was ready to be supported.

Thomas got out of the car to help me load the bike. He was irritated and saying in a loud voice, “I am so frustrated…  ”  I didn’t hear it. It didn’t sound supportive to me so I lashed out and screamed at him. I’m not even sure what I said but the main message was: ” I’m not responsible for your frustration, your feelings or anybody anymore!” Who was I really trying to convince? I’m sure he didn’t hear my words either, just my fury.

That’s one way to have the shell come off. It’s not always so attractive underneath when I’m authentic. Quickly, I realized I’d gotten to the raw fire but not the center of peacefulness. He didn’t deserve my rage and I apologized. Thomas had been trying so hard to support me on this bike trip that when it didn’t work as he had anticipated, he got frustrated. He thought we were going to meet at one intersection and I didn’t show up. Funny how I thought we had agreed on something else. After 23 years of marriage, again we vowed that next time we’d have clearer communication.

At the cabin I was more my true self. Engaging personally with people, touching in tender and caring ways, and willing to tell some of my raw stories. I let the shell fall away, beginning to honor the fiery inside and the center calmness.

Imagine walking down the street and hearing laughter and hollering coming from around the corner.  You assume it is a group of kids playing.  When you turn the corner you see adults, some of whom are blindfolded and being led around by other adults.  Balls are flying through the air as the blindfolded people are trying to tag other blindfolded people.  In the midst of it all you see that these people are clearly having fun.

For years parents have been told about the importance of play for their children, but what about the importance of play for grown-ups? The National Institute for Play believes that play can dramatically transform our personal health, our relationships, the education we provide our children and the capacity of our corporations to innovate.

Perhaps you have heard the saying, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’  There is probably more truth to the saying than most realize.  Research indicates that without play it is hard to give your best at work or at home.

What do you do on a regular basis for fun?  When was the last time you went down a slide, played hide and go seek or a good game of waffle ball?  Many adults have the mindset that they are too old to play.  There is actually strong evidence that this could not be further from the truth.  Play may be the very thing that keeps you young and healthier. In fact, studies show that a life lived without play is at increased risk for stress related diseases, mental health issues, addiction and interpersonal violence.

According to the National Institute, play is the gateway to vitality.  By its nature it is uniquely and intrinsically rewarding. It generates optimism, seeks out novelty, makes perseverance fun, leads to mastery, gives the immune system a bounce, fosters empathy and promotes a sense of belonging and community. Each of these play by-products are indices of personal health, and their shortage predicts impending health problems and personal fragility.

Play also enhances relationships.  The National Institute for Play cites studies that indicate that play refreshes a long-term adult-adult relationship.  Some of the hallmarks of its refreshing, oxygenating action are: humor, the enjoyment of novelty, the capacity to share a lighthearted sense of the world’s ironies, the enjoyment of mutual storytelling, and the capacity to openly divulge imagination and fantasies.

Playful communications and interactions, when nourished, produce a climate for easy connection and deepening, more rewarding relationship – true intimacy.  Who wouldn’t want this in a relationship?

Believe it or not, the adults who were seen playing blindfolded were actually working.  This playfulness was part of a work activity.  When finished, almost without exception, each person commented on how good it felt to play and how energized they felt.  When they sat down to actually work on a project, many commented that they could feel the high level of energy in the room.

Just as children need play to help them de-stress, adults need play to help them be at their best when it comes to career, parenting, and marriage.  Instead of looking at play as a waste of precious time, consider it a great investment in your wellbeing.

Article originally posted at: http://firstthings.org/the-importance-of-play-for-adults