I have a very competitive spirit, coming from an athletic family, and especially trying to keep up with my three brothers. But this weekend, when my dad said I was “the best,” I had mixed feelings. First, I felt a gentle acknowledgment, followed by a wish that we were all better.

How have you told your loved ones that you love them?

My dad, Geno, has been going to a lot of funerals, and to his surprise, he often hears the positive impact he has had on the family’s lives as their neighbor, teacher, coach, or community activist.

Funerals are often the time when we acknowledge those that have passed. Why do we wait until they are gone to tell them what they mean to us?

Last week during one of my restless nights, I started thinking about what I love about my dad.

He has been a leader in his community, not a follower. Especially in the last ten years, he’s boldly taken a stand, been regularly published writing to the editor, and marched for months protesting for “Black Lives Matter.” He demonstrates that any discomfort he feels is worth getting his message out for the greater good.

His tall, thin stature, deep voice, and flair for fashion commands notice and respect. With the help of his daily exercises and stretches, you’d never guess he’s 88.

My dad’s desire to be attractive and manage his image was difficult for me when he wasn’t always kind about my weight or scraggly hair.

A redeeming factor is that I can tell him what upsets me. I appreciate that he is open to hearing from me. He listens, asks questions, apologizes (if appropriate), and is accountable. As a couples therapist, I know we all make mistakes and do things that hurt our loved ones. It’s how they make corrections and respond to confrontations that speaks to their character.

If actions speak louder than words, my dad has supported the underprivileged, racial diversity, fought for equality and humanitarianism.

My dad also tried to provide athletic opportunities for me and the girls in my school when they were limited. During my woodworking shop class, I made a laminated cutting board. It was his dad, my Grandpa, who said, “I didn’t know girls could do that.”

It’s one thing to say girls should have equal rights. It’s another thing to participate in historically traditional “women’s chores,” cooking, cleaning the house, laundry, and parenting. In so many ways, I can see that my dad has been such a support and inspiration.

Thomas woke up hearing my sniffles. “Are you okay?” he asked. “I love my dad so much,” I softly said.

I was excited to tell my dad and was glad we were together over the weekend. When I told him, he was touched. Exclaiming it was almost too much to take in.

When we reflected that we’re not that good at telling each other what we love, he said, “you’re the best.”

I wish we were all better. With Tantra, I have felt more connected to love and more comfortable speaking my feelings.

And lastly, another thing I love about my dad is his humor, but don’t tell him. He is a very punny guy.

 

By Sara Biewen Stout

Live in a state of curiosity and courageousness, be open to inquiring.

These are inspirations from one of our favorite books, The Way of Liberation by Adyashanti

If we open our awareness to what IS, instead of what we wish it was or what we want to make it, we live in a state of completeness. There is no need, no longing for something different. A sense of fullness satisfies our hunger in each moment.  

Through opening to inquiry, we expand our sensory input and allow the richness of life to flow in. 

Recall the innocence and curiosity of childhood. You may have been mesmerized by a bug or playing in a mud puddle. The rest of the world disappears. Nothing else matters. There is no right and wrong, no success or failure.

Free yourself to find comfort in not knowing. “I don’t know.”

Our expectations confine us on a path of fulfillment or disappointment. And do we ever reach complete satisfaction?

Live in a state of curiosity without judgment, without qualifying bad or good.

If your mind hijacks your experiences, invite inquiry within oneself. Come back to listening through expansiveness instead of hyper-focusing on details. 

Expand your field of awareness as if you are listening for the origin of the most precious sounds. But beyond hearing, include all of your senses – and being. Here you will find openness. And fullness in your expansiveness.

Take in awe of the whole night sky.

To be happy is to live as the unknown. Adyashanti

 

Photo by Fermin Rodriguez Penelas

My life, as I have known it, is unravelling, is shifting and transforming at lightning speed. This past month a confluence of circumstances has collided and had me spinning in a new direction. To where?

For 21 years, I felt stuck in a job that, while it fulfilled my obsessive need for security, it stifled my full expression and passion. For years I couldn’t figure out how to let go of the corporate trap of income and medical insurance.

This job has also limited my travel and Tantra studies. Even though I was a magician, arranging chunks of time away, it became increasingly harder to meet the ridiculous productivity and performance standards, and I cared too much. It sucked the creativity and ability to thrive from my bones.

September was a whirlwind. First, an expansive trip studying and teaching SkyDancing Tantra in France and Belgium. It was such an honor to teach alongside Margot Anand, the founder of SkyDancing Tantra.

Thomas and I celebrated our 30th anniversary and 10 years since we started studying Tantra.

We were home for four days before we jumped back on the plane to achieve my dream of teaching, what I consider, one of the most life-changing experiences available. Cycle 1 of the Love and Ecstasy Training cracked me open ten years ago. And since then, an excitement awoke within me that is hard to contain.

Teaching this course was delayed 1 1/2 years due to Covid, so we were more than ready to gather in this magnificent energy and community of people who wished to evolve through this healing journey.

At the end of the week, during the final sharing circle, Thomas was in tears listening to all the beautiful stories of openings people experienced. Mika, my co-leader, and I were thrilled teaching in a forum that nurtured face-to-face, heart-to-heart, loving connection.

I knew my life was about to shift again.

After great consternation about how to put the time, money, and energy into promoting our Love Passionately online Coaching business three days before the LET course started, I made a brave choice to invest significantly in this dream. I wasn’t sure how it would fit together, but I knew I was more worried it would not ever happen.

The next day, I unexpectedly received notice that because of Covid, I would no longer be working for that organization that had provided comfort with security and had also held me back. My security was unravelling.

I felt both relieved and in shock. I had been asking for the Universe to help me decide about this job and manifest my dreams, so here it was, I received a kick in the ass and an open door simultaneously.

My friend, Vicki, said, “Sara, You’re letting go of the side of the pool, aren’t you?” Yes, I am! Although it feels more like I let go of a pier as I set sail, freely out to sea.

I still have my private practice and had to decide not to load up that schedule. It would be too easy to continue the same pattern by leaving one job and exchanging for a similar over-commitment, holding on to security in exchange for fulfillment.

My life has revolved around this intense schedule for so many years; what will it be like to no longer have to say, I can’t because I have to go to work? My schedule is unravelling.

I had dreamed of this freedom for years, and it’s truly hard to believe it’s here. I feel excited and nervous, wondering how it will play out?

Can I trust the universe and all the signs that this is my true path?

During my manifestation meditation practice this week, instead of guiding the process with my scripted steps, I let my chakras and body lead. It was astonishing to witness my body unravelling and unwinding as it twisted and contorted, stretching and releasing years of tension. I was in awe, watching how my body knows how to heal itself when I give it space. 

My life is unravelling from the ties that bind it. As I handed my boss my computer and badge, I was surprised that the anxiety that I had imagined would be there all these years was completely absent. I feel so high with the excitement of what is possible; I am buzzing!

Unravelling must occur before we can shape the bow we desire.

Thomas and I launched our first couples coaching program and love seeing the smiles and yumminess as these couples discover new ways of being together.

What will come from this long-overdue freedom?

~ By Sara

Have you celebrated love lately?

Maybe the love in your life is a pet, friend, or family member. That’s awesome you feel that connection with someone in your life. If you are blessed to have a romantic partner, millions of people long for what you have, and this blog is especially for you. We all want someone special to talk to, touch, give love, and receive love. When have you taken a moment to pause and acknowledge the preciousness of this gift?

You are blessed to experience this rare and glorious feeling. You hold the most sought after jewel,💎 the holy grail, and the fountain of youth.

People in relationships most often live longer, feel more satisfied, and are happier.

In what ways do you celebrate or take your love for granted?

Do you remember what you felt like before you found your love?

What was it like for you to seek love? Did you enjoy the chase? Was dating titillating? Did you find your time alone as easy, or did you struggle with loneliness? Some people love playing the field, get excited by the new relationship energy, and become quickly bored with routine.

For me, the dating scene was excruciatingly painful, and I felt totally inadequate. I cringe, recalling many desperate moments. What a relief I felt when I found who I thought was my perfect partner. Then, a month before the wedding, our engagement blew up. I found myself single again. Ugh!

After some time of grief and fighting off thoughts of giving up this relationship shit, I remember thinking, I don’t want to start all over dating with social niceties and sorting through people that were not a good fit. Maybe that’s why the universe brought Thomas back into my life, and the friendship that had begun 5 years earlier was quickly reestablished without that awkward dating phase. It took a while to move out of the friend-zone and appreciate how he meets me.

I can’t imagine not having someone to talk to every night or planning my weekends and vacations alone. I hold great respect for singles looking for their love partner and sadness for those in a loveless marriage.

Alone time is sweeter, with the taste of love still on one’s lips.

Disliking being single has been a motivator to work on our long-term commitment. Margot Anand, the Grandmother of Tantra, acknowledged that Thomas and I know a depth in our relationship that she has not experienced. There are many sexual adventures that Margot has indulged in that are foreign to us. And yet, we wouldn’t trade it.

What does deep love feel like?

Love is the womb that nurtures your heart ❤️

Love is the greatest treasure and the greatest mystery. We write the most songs about love, and it’s the primary subject for movies, poetry, and books. Wars are fought for love. Families are established or torn apart for love. About $20 billion is spent each Valentine’s Day in the USA.

Love is the greatest desire and drive. Yet, when you have it, how much time do you spend feeling love. If you felt a hint that the one you loved didn’t return your affections, you’d likely feel devastated and do anything you can to win back their love.

I’ve seen countless times a spouse decides to make heroic changes that were otherwise immovable until the threat of losing their love. How many times they’d say, “I’ll do anything for you,” but they wouldn’t take out the garbage, change their money habits or stop the affair until their relationship is at risk.

There is a rich quality and fullness of love that is readily available by BEING in love. Allow your body to absorb the fullness and sweetness of love. BE with and savor the feeling as you touch, see the twinkle in the eye, smell the pleasantness of love. And remarkably, speak of the deliciousness of your love! We would have fewer unhappy relationships if we spent more time nurturing our loved one.

Even if your love is for a friend, a special place, or something you love to do, cultivate appreciation and gratitude. With Tantra, even a sip can be savored for its preciousness. Or we may choose to drive into love and immerse ourselves completely.

I’ve been trying to acknowledge my beloved more often. And when Thomas is loving me up, I try to respond in kind even when it’s not always the most convenient time or my love language. The more we celebrate love, the more love there is to enjoy.

It’s an ongoing exploration. As our mentor, Steve Carter, would say, “How much more can you love?”

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)

SkyDancing Tantra

Margot Anand awoke many lovers in Minnesota over St Patrick’s Weekend, 2017 with her SkyDancing Tantra teaching. It was fabulous to see the passion in Minnesota come alive.
Over 70 people were regaled with tales of her adventures, gifted with decades of worldly wisdom, gained an appreciation for the miracle of their bodies capacity for pleasure, learned how to create sacred space in our lives so we can enjoy the richness of our sacred sexuality and most importantly received loving guidance to eradicate sexual shame by developing their own inner lover.
This video was taken before Margot Anand’s weekend in Minneapolis.

Margot Anand in Minneapolis

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.

Somatic Sex Education

From Amanda Brown Testa’s Blog on New Sex Ed

Let’s face the facts.  For most of us, the sex education that we received in our formative years was lacking and sometimes entirely incorrect.  As a result, you may carry shame, judgment, or other feelings about yourself or your sexuality that impact your life.

This episode is all about breaking free of these feelings and embracing radical acceptance through somatic sex education.

In this podcast, Amanda Brown Testa talks with Anara Lani & Chris Muse, the founders of New School Sex Ed.  Anara and Chris are somatic sex educators who have directly experienced the pain and confusion of being brought up in a world where mixed messages about love, desire, and sex are the cultural norm. They’ve spent several years untangling and clarifying what true sexual health and empowerment feels like, and they are passionate about creating opportunities for individuals, couples, and groups to safely explore their own experiences to find self-acceptance and personal liberation. Anara and Chris believe that through compassion, guidance, self-reflection, and dedication, this kind of awakening is available for all of us.

IN THIS EPISODE, YOU’LL LEARN…

  • What led both Anara and Chris to become somatic sex educators.
  • What it means to truly feel freedom sexually.
  • How Chris & Anara are making up for the lack of sex education that most of us got when we were younger.
  • What somatic sex education is and how it’s different.
  • The difference between sex and sexuality.
  • How sex has more to do with connecting with yourself than most people realize.
  • The stories we make up about sex based on our early experiences.
  • What to do if you want to work with a sex coach but you feel uncomfortable or ashamed.
  • The importance of accepting any trauma or shame that may come up.
  • What it’s like to explore radical acceptance of our bodies and the freedom that comes from it.
  • How Anara and Chris went from thinking they were sexually empowered to realizing they actually weren’t and the work they did to feel truly empowered sexually.
  • The role of vulnerability in this work.
  • Why you might want to work with a sex coach or educator instead of just referring to a book.
  • That importance of presence and awareness in having a better sexual experience and tapping into your emotions.
  • What can happen when we focus too much on what “should” be happening.
  • What it means to authentically trust yourself.

Click here to listen to the full podcast:

Jingle Balls

Mary Jo McCullough interviews a very special, holiday baker who takes great pleasure in sharing the delights he cooks up.

The Delicious Dish brought to you by LovePassionately

From our hearts and funny bones to yours, we wish you joyful holidays and look forward to sharing many laughs, hugs and passion in the New Year,
Sara and Thomas Stout

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.