Mindful Metropolis February 2010 : Page 29

minds and opportunities. As yoga has grown from being unknown in the Unites States 20 years ago to a practice that’s now accessible to millions, Tantra is at the beginning of developing into a practice for millions to bring health and wellness to their intimate lives and relationships. We think of this healing in terms of coming back to wholeness and integration—not like there’s something wrong with us or we’re sick. It’s like when a lightbulb flickers, it means some- thing’s off. So when I’m off with my frequency, I don’t feel whole. The whole purpose of the work is to come back to original wholeness. We create a context where people can tap into their own wholeness both in physical, emotional and spiri- tual level. what are some challenges you’ve faced with tantranova? EM: Tantra is often misunderstood as some- thing that’s just about sex. So the challenge is to shift the awareness of Tantra to being a discipline or practice that allows for greater wellness and wholeness within oneself and in relationships. how did you first learn about tantra? FZW: I was introduced when I was 15. My dad is a psychologist, and he was seeing this kid with all this testosterone, so he said ‘read this book.’ It was by Chandra Mohan Jain (he later changed his name to Osho) and I found the practices fascinating—how to sustain and make it last longer—thatwas fun to play aroundwith. I kept reading and going to workshops through my ear- ly adulthood and applying it in relationships, but didn’t think to teach it until Elsbeth and I met. EM: I learned about it in my early 30s. I was dissatisfied with my love relationships at that time. In the bedroom, it always felt like there was something off. And it was, because masculine energy is very different from feminine. It rises quickly and drops quickly, while a woman’s en- ergy rises slowly and then plateaus. A friend gave me the Tao of Sex. That opened up a great deal for me…Later, I took it much more seriously by taking workshops and moving into a certifica- tion program, and everything else is history. what does the general practice consist of? FZW: There’s a combination of things in our curriculum, from meditation, muscle awareness and sexual awareness practices to creative self- discovery. It’s the integration of all these things that allows us to bring more focus and aware- ness to creating what we want. For example, the idea of creative self-discovery is that through the what would the average person get out of accessing this energy? EM: It enlivens energy and relationships, be- cause if you’re not aware of sexual energy, you’re constrained in life—it’s not just having good sex. In many ways it’s not about sex at all. It’s about being whole and complete and happy in oneself. FZW: For most of us, when we’re in our sexual energy, we are open, loving, feeling good, vulnerable and receptive, whether it’s with ourselves or another person. So if you can learn practices of consciousness, aware- ness and focus that allow you to drop more deeply into listening and seeing, you’ll be able to create more happiness and joy. does this differ for men and women? EM: The work I do with women is focused in coming back to feminine essence by clearing notions and relationships we have as women to our sexual being, which unfortunately is not honored or cherished in our society. Out of this work, many women become more creative, and realize what they’ve always wanted to do. Their relationships with others shift—not because the relationships change but because something changes within themselves. Of course, for every woman it’s different. Some women who come to us have never experienced an orgasm, and through the work it’s possible. For other wom- en, it’s coming to their feminine essence, it’s not about being sexual at all, it’s about dropping into that life force energy. FZW: It’s interesting to see men come to this energy in a conscious way. They don’t get the work as quickly as women, who seem to under- what are big picture organizational goals for the future? EM: This year, we’re expanding our offerings here as well as nationally by leading retreats at Kripalu in Massachusetts, the New York Open Center, and possibly Esalen in California. We’re also in the process of creating Bring- Forth, Inc, another company to bring the prin- ciples and practices that we have developed to organizations like schools, hospitals, nonprofits and businesses. anything coming up sooner, say, for Valentine’s? FZW: We’ve got a free Valentine’s workshop at the new Whole Foods on Feb. 11 from 6:30-8pm (advance registration required). And on Feb. 14, a one-day seminar for couples and singles about creating intimacy and love. speaking of Valentine’s, how is it work- ing with yours? EM: It’s beautiful to teach as a couple—we are beloveds, life partners, teachers, and busi- ness partners. What we teach is walking the walk. And what we teach is not just theory, it’s lived every day with the ups and down of any relationship. Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago. She spent the last couple of years covering all things green for Ideal Bite, and now you can find her thoughts on the city’s eco-scene, food and community at daisysimmons.com. process of creative exercise—like dance, poetry or music—we get out of this left-brain cognitive that we live in and move into more extempora- neous joyousness. EM: There are a few other key elements, like breathing and energy awareness. Breath is es- sential to all our work. When partners breathe together, they’re literally on the same page. Syn- chronized breathing drops us out of our head and into our body without us even having to think about it. In physics, we learn about electrical energy, but we don’t learn about the energy that runs through us all the time. By tuning in, we can move energy through the body, and arouse en- ergy. This is pretty alien to the Western mind. Westerners consider sexual energy as based wholly in our lower bodies, but in Tantric prac- tice, we guide that energy through our bodies. stand what’s going on from the beginning. But they’re being called into a new male conscious- ness, and learning practices of energy and focus to connect with their partners. It means staying present versus being swayed by strong sexual en- ergy. It’s learning a different listening and chan- neling energy versus being subjected to that en- ergy or the effect of it. And it’s cultivating your life force energy versus spending it. do you have to be in a relationship to get something out of this? EM: No, these are practices for individuals, whether they’re in a relationship or not. Because if I’m off, it comes out in the relationship, but if I’m balanced and connected with myself, that comes out in a healthy, fulfilling relationship. We also work with same-sex couples. The practices are applicable to everyone. mindfulmetropolis.com 29

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