Visioning the Perfect “First Time”

7b40a55cb568d838c70ca7b2091ae8c0We all remember our first kiss, who we first made love to, the first time we discovered self-pleasuring, perhaps the first time we were sexually harassed or even sexually assaulted…  When we have a first time experience a new neural pathway is made in the brain and body. Unconsciously, this becomes the default. Consciously, it is a reference point we can return to to either re-create or to re-pattern. Reviewing my firsts in life, I began to desire something more, more ceremony, more invitation of the sacred, more consciousness. I began to wonder of ceremonies that could be created, meaningful beautiful rituals for our first times… what would these ceremonies look like to honor a first kiss, or the first time we shared a lovers touch? And how would we create ceremonies to heal from negative first time experiences?

In the world I want to live in, I envision beautiful, healing, empowering ceremonies where women taught their daughters to love and pleasure their bodies and embrace their beauty and that their sexuality was a precious gift… where men taught their sons about integrating their sexual energy with a heart-based connection.

When I let myself dream and vision my perfect time, it would begin by consciously visiting the town’s sexual priestess who would initiate me in the feminine mysteries of the pleasure my body was capable of and later a second ceremony that would introduce me to the pleasure and delights of sharing this experience with a first time beloved of my choosing. In each ceremony, I imagine a sexual priestess holding space and guiding the initiation of pleasure and teaching me the art of love beginning with my own body and then sharing and exploring a lovers. I would want this ceremony for myself around the age of 16, after the initial shock of puberty was over and I was grounded in my new woman’s body. I would love my imaginary parents to be totally on board with this ceremony like a sweet sixteen only it’s where a young woman comes to know her body and pleasure and how to pleasure and honor another.

That would be my perfect first time… What’s the vision of your perfect first time?



“Stretching Her Wings” Isis in Florida


Private Sessions at Sacred Haven, Orlando, FL. Feb 2-10, Feb 16-28.

MidWinter Naturist Festival @ Sunsport Gardens. Loxahatchee, FL Feb 11-14  – workshops ~ Pelvic Heart Integration, Nude Partner Yoga, Naked Church.

Pelvic Heart Integration Workshop @ Sacred Haven, Orlando, FL Feb 25 7-10pm.

Email Isis: or call 646-460-9397.



In Memoriam – Dr. Deborah Anapol and Pelvic Heart Integration

Pelvic Heart IntegrationIt is with sadness and confusion that I honor the life of my teacher and mentor Dr. Deborah Taj Anapol who passed shortly after an immersive training I attended with her in Ireland in August. Deborah, who preferred being called by her spiritual name, Taj, was the center holder for Pelvic Heart Integration, a whole body system of healing originally founded by Dr. Jack Painter. She and I co-led New York’s first Pelvic Heart Integration Retreat this past July. It was Taj’s deep and sincere wish for PHI to become a globally known healing model and she was in the midst of passing the work on.

There are 19 people, including myself, who have been in training to take this work more fully out into the world and we have committed to continuing our training and honoring her passion through offering PHI Activations and private work throughout the globe. We had just completed module 2 of a 4 module year long training system to become teachers. Taj taught and believed that in order to create harmony among men and women in relationships and on the earth there must be a harmony with the inner man and woman within the individual often referred to in PHI as ‘the inner marriage.’ The cumulative effects of Pelvic Heart Integration has gone deeper for me than any other system of Tantra and has been instrumental in bringing about profound healing and making available deeper more authentic ways of relating.

Deborah and I were published together in the book Ecosexuality: When Nature Inspires the Art of Love just after her passing and my interview with her in Sensheant Magazine on masculine and feminine energies in Pelvic Heart Integration was also released a few days after her death.

In memory of Taj, in support of my fellow teachers and in my belief in this work, I will be stepping into support and co-facilitate Pelvic Heart Integration Activation Level 1 in Sebastapol, CA with Gwenn Cody and Glenn Meader and assist Pelvic Heart Integration Activation Level 2 in Portland, Oregon with Gwenn Cody. I welcome you to come share in and receive this powerful healing work.

New Possibilities After a Diagnosis of Erectile Dysfunction


When I met Peter, he, like many older men, was struggling to embrace a new sexual identity. He had been referred to me by a sexuality therapist who felt that he needed a direct, interactive, hands-on approach to assist him in his quest to create an initiation into this new sexual identity.

Peter was in his sixties, a twice-divorced veteran recovering from a brain injury that had left him clinically diagnosed as impotent. Over the decade prior to his injury, his erections had become infrequent, and when he did have them they lacked the gusto of those of his twenties and thirties. After a cerebral hemorrhage in 2011, his erections ceased altogether. In spite of this, he remained optimistic that it was possible to recreate what sex was and could be for him. He was ready to empower his sexuality, rather than to see himself as diminished or victimized by circumstance. Inspiringly, he viewed his situation as an opportunity to create a sexual renaissance for himself  – a new golden age as he entered his golden years.

He confessed to me that, over the course of his life, he had never truly enjoyed sex. To some extent, he had seen it as a responsibility or a duty, one more thing he had to perform or achieve in a certain way to prove himself. As a result of this pressure, sex had been unsatisfying and he was uncertain whether he had ever been fully present for it. Sex had been angry and rage-filled at times. A military veteran, he held close the experience of war in his body and suffered from emotional, physical and spiritual numbness and PTSD for decades. Peter mentioned that anger felt like the only emotion he had been truly in touch with until his brain hemorrhage in 2011.

“Early trauma and war left me angry all the time. Anger was safe. I knew anger. It was almost a friend,” he told me. “But when I had my brain bleed, my entire life changed. Something shifted for me in my brain chemistry that affected my emotional body. I was able to access the places of emotion I used to have as a boy before trauma set in. Places of freedom, joy, wonder, curiosity, happiness.”

As he spoke, the excited young boy who had been lost since his early youth began to emerge, playful, curious and ready to engage.

From a place inside of him that had seen too much war and trauma, he told me: “Part of me for years was ‘Missing in Action’. I believe this brain injury has actually brought me into a state of grace. It gave me access to parts of myself and a wholeness that before was completely inaccessible. The brain injury also left me without access to the direct flow of energy to my genitals that make erections possible.”

“What a gift,” I said. “It looks like you’ll have the opportunity to expand your pleasure to your entire body. Most people never make it that far and their pleasure often stays trapped only in their genitals.”

His eyes twinkled.

“That’s why I’m here,” he said with a big smile.

“How do you want to feel in your sexual expressions, play and experiences?” I asked him.

“Free, connected, expressed … present. Like I don’t have to work. I want to play,” Peter told me sincerely.

Peter’s brain bleed had also apparently bled right out the angry warrior energy that had previously filled him. I suspected that this inner warrior had finally gotten so angry he just exploded, perhaps on an actual physical level causing the bleed itself. This was a classic opportunity for a shamanic reset in the system – an injury, ailment or illness that becomes an ally and offers us medicine that we need on in the deepest levels of our being.

I escorted Peter over to my floor palette futon and we began with a simple sitting meditation, noticing where sensation was present in our bodies and speaking out loud the sensations we were experiencing. Next we checked in with our body’s desires and made requests to each other on how our bodies would like to be touched in a non-genital focused way for one-minute increments. The body’s desires are always changing so the minute-long increments gave a contained space to explore both immediate and changing desires. Because the genital focus in our interaction was off the table to create a new form of sensual relating, it opened up a world of new possibilities for touch, intimacy and sexual self-expression.

Each of us took turns making requests and unfolding the true desires of the body now that direct genital contact wasn’t hogging the primary focus. The body revealed all of these beautiful subtleties and we had the opportunity to explore not just where we would like to be touched, but how, what pressure, what quality of touch – like feathers, kneading, delicate fingernails, squeezing massage, deep or right on the surface.

We then explored the intention of how we desired to be touched – with love, with curiosity, with tenderness, with passion, with pure carnal desire.

This progressed to a gentle, “as if” role-playing game: touch me as if you were a mother cradling her newborn; touch me as if you were molding my body out of clay; touch me as if this was the first woman’s body you had ever seen; touch me as if the burning desire of the whole universe resided in your fingertips. Each ‘as if’ experience created a new and profound opening for both of us.

Next we stood up and disrobed in front of each other. I went first and asked Peter to simply be present and hold space for me while I did. I took off one piece of clothing at a time and we paused to breathe in between each one to notice what sensations we were feeling in our bodies and to speak on them. Then I invited him to disrobe as well. We stood and breathed. I then spoke what I observed about the story of his body in that moment, where my eyes were drawn to see and what they saw. Silver hair, warm twinkling eyes, hands that had held guns and babies, a stray hair here, a special freckle there, a long lean body trained both as an athlete and a warrior.  I asked him to mirror back to me what he saw, where his eyes were drawn to my body so that we could fully take each other in. Long brown hair, softness, rosy cheeks, large nipples, femininity. He did a beautiful job recounting what he saw. I received a new perspective for myself on being witnessed through his eyes.

We took turns now in longer increments sharing touch, only this time we focused on how we desired to touch each other. We asked permission with each touch and there was space to say no if it didn’t feel in alignment for us. We rolled around and played and laughed together for several hours as we explored how desire and sexual energy wanted to move through us.

As our sacred space came to a close, Peter confessed to me: “This is the most present I have ever truly been with a woman. I can actually feel the desire in my body and it can be expressed without the pressure to perform. I can’t recall ever feeling this free before. So much has just become possible.”

When the effort to move past scripts and ingrained patterns of touch and relating was presented, a new form of relating that is based on presence and authenticity has permission to unfold in the space shared between bodies. Our bodies are always changing and transforming and so are our desires and how they want to express themselves. When we work with the body’s true desire, we can be present to the possibility of expanding the pleasure palette within the body and its capacity for sensual self-expression.

Peter told me he is ready to actively pursue dating with renewed gusto and to explore the possibility of physical intimacy based on the new possibilities in sexual self-expression available to him. He is also complementing our experience with Western medicine, exploring possibilities for assisting his erections but also freeing himself from the imprisoning mind-set that erection with ejaculatory orgasm is the apex of sexual experience. There is a wide scope of supportive allopathic ways to just about guarantee an erection. What they can’t guarantee is any happiness from it. With Western medicine and the explorations into the possibilities of returning full erectile function, Peter now has a new space to play in – a penis that can maintain an erection with a template for presence and authentic connection.

The path of self-discovery Peter is on is one of enthusiasm and wonder rather than a quest to fix a part of himself that might be considered broken. Peter knows he can have new and deeply fulfilling sensual and sexual experiences and now erections can become a part of that experience with the support of western medicine and compassionate and caring health professionals. It was his commitment to creating a template to break scripts and old ways of being and to move into his authenticity that allowed for this to unfold. Peter wrote me a few weeks ago saying that he is having a marvelous time exploring penis pumps, injections and supplements to increase his erectile possibilities. He reports that they work and that every part of this journey continues to be a learning experience. He’s excited to explore all of these possibilities with his next partner from a place of presence and authentic connection when the right relationship comes along.

I wish for him presence, play, powerful penis pumps and new possibilities for relating as he steps confidently into this new identity of sexual self-expression!

Here is a closing piece of advice and comment from Peter:

Something I believe in so strongly is the act of getting support. Getting support from caring and loving sources. It is remarkable just how lonely and debilitating it is, processing the realities of impotence. What men need to know and understand is what I learned and frankly am still learning – unless you want to remain stuck in the world of feeling badly about yourself, you MUST reach out and trust. Men who are already in a loving relationship with a caring partner have in this regard a great advantage. Presumably that partner will be there for them and process with them the oftentimes painful truths that impotence brings to light. It is men such as me not in any such loving relationship who need to be reminded of this. Men who find themselves twisting slowly in the breezes, with not a clue, and nowhere immediately to turn. It is these men who need great comfort, and these men who need to know that the worst thing that they can do is to do nothing.  It is never easy and never over.

To those men reading this who might be embarking on a journey like mine, I’d like to say that there are no magical endings. There is much experimenting, much unknown to be explored, many turns along the way that will not be fulfilling. At its essence comes the willingness to commit to the process of healing and becoming whole.



Re-thinking Impotence

“Re-thinking impotence”

ImageA lovely seventy-something man named Ralph visited me for a session in New Orleans. It was the second time I had seen him, the first a few weeks ago when I was visiting the area. Ralph was making sensual massage a regular part of his lifestyle and was seeing a practitioner in the area once a week. Despite being familiar with sensual bodywork, he was tentative, however, when he saw me. When I asked him if there was anything he wanted to tell me about his body, he told me he was recovering from radiation treatment for prostate cancer. Then I witnessed what appeared to be a wave of shame wash over him. “I’m impotent,” he quietly confessed. I sat quietly with him while he spoke.

“I rarely get an erection and don’t ejaculate, but I very much enjoy sensual touch and please don’t feel disappointed if I don’t get an erection while I’m with you… and please don’t laugh at me…” there was silence in the session room. I could feel the deeply tender and vulnerable place from where he spoke. I simply held space for him to express what felt like the most vulnerable part of him… I smiled warmly at him “I’m so glad you’re here,” I said. When I said that I noticed his shoulders soften and a bit of relief come over him where anxiety had previously existed.  “I have no expectations in our time together. And I invite you to release any you are holding too. I am simply here to support you in how your body and spirit want to express themselves.” I also asked him what he would like to get out of our time together.

He mentioned to me that he enjoyed being sensual though he was impotent and wanted to receive touch though he knew he could never satisfy a woman again. His belief of never being able to ‘satisfy a woman’ hung in the air like a dense cloud of oppression.  He explained to me his nerves were fried from radiation but that the area of his pelvis and genitals were still very sensitive. “How wonderful you can still experience pleasure there,” I said. “Did you know your entire body is capable of experiencing pleasure and also orgasm?” He patted my hand as if I was a child telling him… did you know the Easter Bunny is real and I’ve met him…

He undressed and got on the table lying face up. We started slowly with gentle touch and cradling each part of his body, letting it know it was loved. His face softened and spread into a wide smile.

I told him there was so much more to a woman’s sexual sensual happiness and pleasure than penetrative sex from a hard penis and also so many different ways of experiencing pleasure for differently-abled people but for now let’s focus on him and being present with the sensations of pleasure that wanted to unfold in his body… He patted my hand again as if to say “Yes Isis, I know you, you’ve told about your experience of meeting the Easter bunny before…”

The simplest and most basic need people come to me with is desiring acceptance and love. It is our absolute most basic emotional and spiritual need. When love is present we rest deeper into our own becoming and the pieces of ourselves that feel unlove-able come up to be reframed and integrated in a new way. When there is a space of love held, a new model for self-love can emerge. Generally after that need is met, there is another intention that enters into session space, which is the desire to deepen the individual experience and self-expression of pleasure and intimacy.

Ralph lay on my table. We worked gently, almost in slow motion with touch and energy, focusing much on cradling and holding different parts of his body, resting in dynamic stillness and deep breathing and moving energy through his body with breath and sound. After his body felt held and all parts of him present, I stretched him this way and that with different Thai yoga positions.  He sighed, moaned and groaned on the table and thanked me for being so kind and good to him… the Easter bunny story was becoming real. He relished the attention but mostly because it gave him a new dimension of experiencing pleasure in his body, not only isolated in his genitals which were now experiencing pleasure and sexual energy in a different way post radiation therapy, but his entire body had a new experience of pleasure – a whole body experience.

After about 2 hours into our session, we began a Tantric breathing exercise that moved sexual energy through Ralph’s pelvis and up his spine – the energy that unlocked in him was so powerful he trembled and his legs shook. The awakening from this breathing exercise started in his genitals and shot up his spine and his hands clenched and face contorted. It then moved through his spine out from his body in what energetically to me felt like a bubbling volcano. He soared through this energy orgasm that erupted for at least 2 straight minutes, energy moving and rolling through him, subsequently through me and what felt like through the entire French Quarter of New Orleans.

When we looked at each other after the experience subsided we both looked like we had just been blasted up through the cosmos, twisted round in a whirlwind, pummeled by the ocean and plopped back down on the massage table in New Orleans. “Wow Ralph… wow” I said. “I think it’s time you rethought calling yourself ‘an impotent old man…’

“I didn’t know that was possible with what had happened to me…” he said, sounding a bit dumbstruck.

“Something tells me Ralph that in your seventies, your sex life has only just begun…” His eyes twinkled and his mouth gaped a bit at the notion. I gave him a list of resources to look into – from my sexual shamanic teacher Kenneth Ray Stubbs to resources for sexual energy work for ‘differently abled’ people.

Good sex really unfolds from embodiment, presence and self-expression. After cancer and radiation, Ralph’s body works differently. Ralph’s first step in reclaiming his sexuality was to accept that his body works differently now, but in working differently there are different energies and experiences to him available that could possibly be even more pleasurable and bring him into deeper levels of ecstasy and connection than were previously available.

With Ralph’s declaration that he was impotent, I began to think about what that word actually means. The word itself implies a lacking or absence of potency. Ralph was certainly not short in this area – he was fun, light hearted and playful in our session and the potency from his orgasm was surely felt through all of New Orleans that day. He was anything but im-potent. His potency however required a different route of expression while his body healed itself after cancer and radiation. He booked a 3 hour session with me the following week. “I need to know this is actual possible,” he confided in me.

“Each experience of your sexuality will be unique,” I told Ralph, “but I think it’s safe to say, you can release calling yourself impotent,”

“Next week, let’s shoot for the stars!” We laughed and embraced and he exited with a potent stride and a pep in his step.

Isis Phoenix Sensual Shaman Tour “Stories from the Road”

ImageHail and Welcome to the New Year!

What a delicious first month it has been. The Isis Phoenix Sensual Shaman U.S. & Canada Tour is well under way. I touched down in New Orleans on January 6th with my beloved beagle Molly Brown accompanying the travels. Our journey getting there, however, was a bit harried. We were waylaid with the aftermath of delayed flights circa the New Years winter storm that blew through a few days prior and inundated with security lines that snaked around all of LaGuardia. After a fashionably late arrival, we touched down in the Big Easy where we were picked up at the airport by our dear friend Audrey of Madison Holistic New Orleans and ushered to our flat where Molly and I set up our transformational temple through January 15th. I arrived just late enough to miss the Joan of Arc parade but was grateful that this sacred feminine icon was honored just before I got there.

ImageMolly and I got to know the city taking long walks through the French Quarter and the museum arts district grabbing some chicory coffee for our strolls and spending some time in the local art galleries.

We had a long line of enthusiastic people come in for naked yoga and sensual shamanic bodywork and we generally enjoyed everyone we met. Every client I saw in New Orleans was a man, which was unusual for me as my practice is generally fifty percent men fifty percent women these days. The masculine clearly longs for the divine feminine here.

I was blessed with meeting wonderful new friends and traveling the ins and outs of the city accompanied by my sweet beagle. There are good southern values in New Orleans  – a town of southern hospitality and sweet sounds of jazz.  I had a great chaperone, an old-fashioned southern gentleman named Greg who was introduced to me by my mutual friends Lisa Kazmer and Eric Finkelman. Greg is one of those charming old southern-ers that sport old-fashioned values and know how to show a traveling lady a good time. I lovingly called him the Mayor of Bourbon Street as he seemed to know EVERYONE. We dined at Galatoire’s and had a private balcony set up for us at a little champagne bar off Bourbon Street, I think called French 74. Greg got the flu the next day, I think my Shakti was too much for him 😉

ImageOn my day off, with new friends I enjoyed traditional coffee and beignets at Café DuMonde, took photos by the steam boats on the Mississippi and visited the famous tree of life right next to the New Orleans zoo. I watched the sunset over the river, did lots of impromptu yoga and had some incredible conversations on everything from  sound healing, metaphysics, relationships and spirituality.

My one downside to this incredible experience in New Orleans was that Molly had a really hard time when I would leave her alone to go out at night. The place where we were staying was quite haunted and Molly would lay her ears back and stare into the dark night for hours. Sometimes curtain rods would fall off the windows or we would wake to strange pools of water in places in the flat and in the session room. This past full moon is called the Wolf Moon which is just asking for a baying beagle to howl at it and howl she did with fear and anxiety when I would leave at night to explore the town. We got a noise complaint for a neighbor that gave us a bit of a scare. I’m open to hearing feedback around suggestions if anyone has tips and techniques for elevating dog anxiety that is triggered around abandonment. I won’t be taking Molly to Mardi Gras in February and March but she’ll be coming to Orlando to stay with our dear friend EveLynn who has two fabulous pups of her own.

We departed New Orleans on the evening of the 15th and touched down late in New York City under heavy fog conditions. We had a day here and then left to go offer bodywork at women’s weekend held by the fabulous Dr. Tammy Nelson. I find it is always such a gift when women ask for and claim their right to receive nourishing, healing sensual touch. I offered yoni steams, shamanic clearings, uterine alignment ceremonies and sensual bodywork to a powerhouse of diverse Shakti-fied women. The Shakti was so powerful that weekend the phones and internet and hot tub all short circuited where we were staying at some point. On Saturday night, after completing session work, I joined the women for a glorious dinner and then loaded up my massage table and drove back to New York City to catch the final third of Dzieci’s 24 hour Maraton Intensive. They are a group I’ve worked intensely with for the past two years whose quality and commitment to their work is unparalleled. If you ever dare to take a true shamanic journey into the paratheatrical, this is the one to take. Dzieci does it once a year – look for it next January. I joined this beloved theatre company during the midnight drum circle and just before the peyote chant – (no actual peyote is used). We danced, drummed and until about 7am.

ImageI then crashed for a few hours and rose refreshed and took Molly and drove to Leominster, Massachusetts to spend a few days with our dear friend Lloyd, a perfect retreat after much work and a tired body from facilitating so many pleasure filled rituals. The three of us had adventures in the snow. There were times where I would look around and think… I can’t believe this is my life… how glorious… what a wonderful creation. I am so blessed, so very, very blessed.

I’ll be in New York City until February 1st and then off to Orlando through the 18th. Look for Molly and I under the Florida sunshine. EveLynn and I will offer some double sessions while I am down there and have a clothing optional spiritual gathering at her abode, details to come!

Save the Dates Feb 25-March 6th Isis in New Orleans for Mardi Gras and her Birthday!

March 15th-19th Isis in Phoenix / Tucson

April 1st-7th Isis in Toronto with Tricia

Foundation, Boundaries & Community – The Art of Great Facilitation – a note to Sacred Sexuality Educators and Tantric Therapists

Foundation, Boundaries & Community – The Art of Great Facilitation – a note to Sacred Sexuality Educators and Tantric Therapists

We are on a learning curve with our boundaries in the Tantra, Sacred Sexuality, Sensual Enlightenment Community.  If you’re feet have been on this path even a little bit, inevitably you’ve landed at a Tantra workshop or puja – a mixed gendered event that takes you through a series of exercises or explorations that are focused on opening you to divine love, embracing the God/Goddess within, awakening the divine sensual you.  Inevitably after these events, people feel wide open and available.  They are more full of love, more themselves, more an embodiment of the divine we all as humans seek.  However, in this wide-open space there also arises a lack of boundaries, sensual self-containment and discernment.  After most every event, I’ve been hugged a little too long, asked for my phone number, asked for a do-date, asked if I felt the same amazing connection the person across from me felt and told we should explore our connection further with a ‘do-date’, massage trade, drinks later, etc.  I have also after a puja considered leaving my partner, becoming polyamorous or questioned if I was secretly a lesbian.  These wonderful boundary dissolving gatherings open us up to the vast potential of human love but also leave us in a lurch without proper grounding and good boundaries.

It’s the Earth week in my Sensual Shaman Immersion Series.  We begin our journey through the medicine wheel in the Immersion by beginning in the North with the element of Earth in an effort to ground, even though in conventional circles it is customary to open in the East with the direction of new beginnings.  We begin with Earth because as a whole, our western population tends towards body disconnection.  In Earth week we come to rest fully in our own body, the vessel and container of our soul.  The actual skin of our body is the largest organ and is the physical manifestation of our boundaries.   We also acknowledge our foundation, that which our healing and wholeness is built upon.  The element of Earth in the north is also our ancestry, our lineage of sexual awakening and embodiment and what we learned about sex and relationships from our parents and from our culture.  We begin here as a historical self-reflection and to also offer the maximum amount of potential to align, reprogram and transform.

I am ever cautious about who attends the Immersion as it is a long and intensive six-week journey that demands the right constellation for group growth and transformation.  I find that discernment in workshop settings about who attends is rare.  I have always held a mildly discernable all-inclusive policy in naked yoga classes and Holy Body Worship, but the Immersion is something else.  It requires a constellation of people who have a strong foundation, so to speak.  I need to know people can go deep and that they also have a support system around them when they leave the space.  The work is deep and process oriented and each person in the room is a wisdom holder.

We currently live in the age of information.  We can have instant manifestation.  I can be initiated into Reiki across the world without having anyone actually lay hands on me or teach me the art of laying on of hands.  On any day of the week, I could visit a naked yoga class, a sexuality workshop, a Tantra training, an Ayuascha ceremony.  I could in a months time with no yoga experience become a certified yoga teacher or within three sessions become a ‘Reiki Master,’ or even be initiated as a priestess.

There is a training for everything however flimsy it might be.  In the ancient lineages of Tantra and even in some sexual shamanic traditions, one was not initiated before their time and having a proper foundation for the teachings to rest on was everything.  It took years of study on the absolute basics with daily sadhanas and practices to lay a foundation for the spiritual path before one would dare be taught the most advanced practices around sexuality and spiritual mystery as a form of empowerment and transformation.  One was asked to chop wood and to carry water for years before one was initiated in the more esoteric teachings.

I too perhaps learned several very deep and profound teachings before my time by request because I had an insatiable thirst for the cup of enlightenment.  I wanted to drink really deep without doing the work that was required to lay a proper foundation. This age of information goes hand in hand with our western need for immediate gratification.

While beginning my path in my early twenties, what I did not have was a foundation of where to root everything or boundaries that were authentic to who I was at the time.  There was definitely a lust I felt for attaining certifications or initiations without doing the real work or the hours of practice.  This path caught up and humbled me to my knees several times in my life as superficial structures or foundations of spiritual growth caved in around me because I had not gone deep enough into my own work and process to reprogram them.

Over the past decade, I’ve seasoned as a seeker and filled in many gaping holes in my path and practice and become more authentic in my seeking.  What has not gone away is the thirst for the divine – that I understand now is a life(times)long path.  The thirst is quieter now or perhaps I should say, I am quieter when I receive it.  I no longer feel the need to make ambitious pilgrimages to India, or launch into long trainings with gurus.  The thirst and hunger for divine connection and the quiet raptures of fulfillment emerges in my morning walks in nature with my beloved beagle as we witness the change of the seasons.  That divine connection is present as I cook food for my family or even as I clean the house with a devotion of love.  The connection is present among a handful of what I would call true friends who I have shared sacred ceremony with over the years.  It comes in moments of listening to the herbs speak to me and tell me how to mix them and what to give to whom.  It is in the simple tasks of chopping wood and carrying water that the ecstasy of simple connections and daily sadhanas (practices) that bring me closer to source.

What I see now, and hindsight is a crystal 20/20, are many interested in becoming initiated and even teaching the deeper practices of sexuality and consciousness who have not done the work on themselves yet who want the high, the quick fix, the band-aid approach, the immediate gratification, the false prestige that the age of information allows without laying a healthy spiritual foundation for oneself first not to mention a healthy blueprint for being in relationship.

I had a man after a yoga class come up to me hearing that I worked as a sacred sexuality teacher and told me he was a Daka and had just finished his certification training.  He then proceeded to encircle me in a hug and begin Tantric breathing with me without my consent.  This man was also what one would consider creepy!  Not only did he pretzel his body around mine when I had only just met him, he also held a used car salesman vibe, like he was in the work as a blanket permission slip to feel women up because he was certified. When we do not have a container for sensual spiritual experiences from doing the inner work, energies, emotions and experiences become projected, messy and uncontained.

Our template for sexuality and spirituality starts with seeing how our parents model sexuality and relationship for us, then how our culture and how our friends do.  If the models are fractured or broken, this brokenness enters our system.  When we are not given a healthy foundation for teachings, transmissions and information to support ourselves, esoteric teachings especially around sexuality have the potential to become misappropriated, misinterpreted and mis-used.  If our inner model is broken, the teachings will seep into the shadow of the brokenness.  The same happens with spirituality and especially when spiritual and sexual teachings blend together, read: celibate gurus turning their students into lovers and priests molesting children.  Even in the Tantric community, one that seemingly thrives on being transparent with their boundaries or sometimes claiming to have none, at least we’re talking about sex, but it doesn’t make the hastily exploring and healing from overstepping boundaries any easier.

I’m so appreciative at workshops and sensually inclusive gatherings where instructors model and demand healthy boundaries in the space.  There are three instructor’s trainings that I find particularly admirable in this regard. Reid Mihalko’s & Marcia Baczynski’s Cuddle Party  where each participant practices saying ‘no’ to another person and works on clear communication throughout the event.  Two hi-lights I have always loved from Reid’s teaching is if you are a ‘maybe’ say ‘no’ and always honor the agreements you have already made with others in your life while you are at the Cuddle Party i.e. don’t call your partner up and renegotiate your terms half way through a cuddle party.

Another boundary and sensual self-containment supportive environment is Betty Martin’s Like a Pro Training that dissolves the concepts of ‘doing’ and ‘being done to’ and reworks simple requests like conscious giving and receiving that are based on the present moment and not what we think giving pleasure to our partner or receiving pleasure should look like.

The third is Teeni Dakini’s energy essentials class.  Teeni’s essentials class identifies the basics of energetically being in a body and how to maintain healthy boundaries and abundant energetic resources from a place of self-containment.

A good question that was raised for me was what boundaries are useful to keep and what are useful to let go?  Not to be confused, boundaries are not barriers and do not keep intimacy at bay, rather they create a structure where intimacy can flow.  Sometimes we are given boundaries by others and through self-discovery we get to find out if those boundaries are useful or if we need to restructure those.

I begin my private sessions with asking my clients if they have any injuries or special conditions in the body they would like me to know about. Injuries are a good way to start forming boundaries.  From there I ask about touch, if any part of the body doesn’t desire touch and if there are any special qualifications around touch that would like to be present or excluded, for example a client might say he/she would like to remain clothed, or to have the lights on or off or to not have their eyes cover because s/he is afraid of the dark.  Having these simple requests creates a structure where intimacy can flow and where the body can relax. These requests are boundaries.   Boundaries create safety.

When one’s boundaries are crossed or violated, most often the crosser or violator did not mean to cross a boundary and is often oblivious and had no idea there was a boundary there because it was left uncommunicated.  However, when it is crossed the receiver of the boundary violation is often left confused, frozen, disconnected or feels violated or victimized.  At times in the moment, our boundaries can change.  In my work, I check in with individuals throughout our session work letting them know it’s okay to change their mind around a boundary and establish a new boundary.  I had a couple come see me and the woman was clear she did not want my hands anywhere on her husband.  Got it!  But she did want to receive touch from me.  Got it!  On the way home in the car after their session, she expressed to her husband that she wished I had touched him and realized that boundary wasn’t authentic to who she was and what she wanted for their relationship.

If she wanted to readjusted that boundary in the session I would have most likely said no because we had entered into an altered state of consciousness our boundaries become fuzzy, a bad time to renegotiate. I would however be available to renegotiate that in a future session with this couple.  In the renegotiating we move forward together slowly, for example, where is it okay to touch your husband and where is it not okay to touch your husband.  I will also interject my own boundaries such as, I’m not comfortable touching your husband in these ways, etc.

What I would love to see from more facilitators offering this work is the power of holding a strong container with established boundary check-ins for participants as well as a modeling of what healthy boundaries look like.  Often we have to see someone say ‘no’ or to recreate a situation for themselves when a structure or boundary doesn’t feel authentic to them.  A wonderful example of this I experienced recently was a lovely young woman who attended my Awakening the Sexual Shamanic Priestess Retreat.  In our second night of the retreat the women sat around and shared their sexual stories with each other.  As I modeled mine, this young woman raised her hand and asked the group if it would be okay if she disrobed and received the story telling while she was naked and told her story in the nude as well.  The group consented and the young woman disrobed which inspired several others to follow suit.  It was a remarkable moment having this young woman ask for what she needed in the space that was not being modeled for her.  From that model other women chose to participate based on their individual level of comfort.

I also invite workshop instructors to ask individuals to leave if there is someone who is not appropriate for the workshop participating.  I attended a Tantric Workshop for sound and vibration where a man consistently made inappropriate remarks.  While the instructor filtered these comments well, it left the group jarred.  At the end of the evening the man went up to another participant and placed his hand on her buttocks.  She corrected him – good for her.  However, before this point the instructor could have made a decision to ask this individual to leave.  I have asked a handful of individual to leave naked yoga after sensing when they came in the door that this practice wasn’t right for them. I have also as an instructor asked a student to not return to class on behalf of another instructor.  I have also tortuously sat through and not acted on an impulse to ask someone to leave because I was worried about hurting a students feelings rather focusing on the good of the group – my learning curve.

Great facilitation is an art.  It comes out of consistent inner work, deep presence and community.  In the Immersion, I never work without support from another teacher, sometimes two teachers who attend the Immersion as guests.   After each Immersion we decompress afterwards asking what did they see, what worked, what needs improvement, what is going in group dynamics that I might have missed?  If I am the only one holding space and facilitating, there is a greater capacity for blind spots and holes in the work, but in community there is the opportunity for co-creation and stronger space holding.  I also host a Facebook group for New York based Sacred Sexuality therapists so they can network and share success stories and their bad client lists.  In community there is safety, support, accountability and transparency.  As a facilitator, a network of support is essential.  Who do you call after a tough session, or a problematic class?  Who do you refer a tough client to who may not be right for you?  Are you in process yourself and in your own inner work?  Who are your allies, resources and co-creative partners?  Write-in.  I’d love to hear from you and share how we can make our community stronger and support each other in the work.