How a Protestant Virgin became a Tantric Guide
As a high school student, I was told after aptitude tests that the best career for me would be bureaucrat or office worker – “anything that feels safe and predictable”, the career guidance teacher said. Fast forward 30 years, and I’m a guide to many in perhaps one of the most unpredictable domains of human experience: sexuality, and our contact with the mysteries (the unknown ‘me’) through our intimate lives. More than that: I’m inviting YOU to consider doing something similar.
I know already what your response is going to be: I’m too traumatized, too repressed, to much of a mess to ever be of use to other people in deepening their relationship with their sexuality. That’s why I thought I’d share with you a bit more about my story – to help you see that the impossible may just be your destiny.
When I was 12 years old, the Sunday school teacher in charge of adolescents in the Protestant church I went to told all of us that at this age, we were going to start choosing boys and parties and clothes above God. My way of rebelling was to promise myself that I would prove him wrong.
And so I did. I had a very reclusive adolescence in which I spent much time contemplating different translations of the Bible. Sex didn’t feature in my world. My first boyfriend (whom I dated when I was 22) was a protestant minister and so intercourse was forbidden. It was only when I was 26 and with my second boyfriend that I decided I wanted to cross that bridge. Once I had discovered lovemaking, I took to it like a duck to water. I was so wet that my boyfriend (who was twice my age and quite neurotic) got worried that I would ruin his sheets.
Meantime, I carried on with my life as an environmental consultant. I never became the bureaucrat, but in my system, every move towards a more fluid expression in life was a big deal. It took me ages to get over the anxiety of not working 9-5, even though I was working for myself. Inside my head, Calvyn was admonishing me for being unproductive and not contributing to society when I took time in the morning to write down my dreams and create images from my inner world.
Fast forward 6 years later: I go swim with wild dolphins – and something happens in that encounter that changes my reality. As a result I go on a Native American ceremony called a vision quest in which one fasts and prays for guidance as to the vision or direction of your life.
Ok, so however much I’d been enjoying the discovery of sexuality, I did not expect this to be the vision that life had for me: Your name is Shakti, and your work is to guide people into embodying sexual essence, or life force. Imagine hearing that one morning in the middle of the wilderness.
One good thing I’ve discovered about Calvinists (and I’m sure this is true for anyone that’s grown up with some degree of dogma) is that when we change our mind, we do so wholeheartedly. So I started to learn about Tantra – being a complete novice – and knowing it was my calling to teach this work. I’d like to share with you my lessons along the way, as they may be relevant to you.
Lesson 1: Drop the Show
I’m being initiated into Tantric practice by my first significant Tantra teacher. I saunter in feeling somewhat confident about my sexuality, having by now had a few lovers, explored being with women, had threesomes, and at that point had a whole string of potential lovers trailing me. I knew how to ‘do sex’ and I was good at it.
As soon as I start displaying my skills to the Tantric master, he looks at me and says – very slowly: “Relax Shakti. Relax”. Instantly, I realize what that means. Drop the show. Allow yourself to be completely naked. Forget everything you ever learnt. And yes, this is required. Your willingness to be naked and raw and to enter with beginner’s mind is a prerequisite. The good news is: that means it doesn’t matter what you can and can’t do and how you assess yourself as a sexual being at this point. Instantly, all of that becomes irrelevant on this path.
Lesson 2: Your Life is your Master
My Tantric training was profoundly disillusioning. If I thought I was going to be turned into a Tantric Goddess that impressed everyone with her magical sexual abilities – life had something very different in mind. Within the first week, I discovered that Life will be my Tantric training ground. Life will bring me every experience – however pleasant or painful – that I need in order to discover more about my true nature – and the essence of sexual energy. Often times, that did not look pretty at all.
While we are still believing that life is about one side of a polarity (e.g. getting or being the perfect lover), life will continue to bring us the opposite experience (not being or having the perfect lover), and we will feel miserable about that. Tantric practice is the art of fully opening to ALL of life. If you reject life force (read: sexual energy) when it comes in a form you don’t idealize, you’ll always be rejecting half of life. Thus, the aim becomes to stay fully present in every state (whether it evokes pride or embarrassment) that life brings.
Lesson 3: Your Wounds are your Gifts
I discovered that exactly those elements of my past that I thought had been my biggest downfall created the soil to incubate my greatest gifts. I grew up in what one could call an emotionally traumatic environment – and I learnt to become intimately attuned to the emotional needs of everyone around, so much so that I I could feel people’s feelings and know what they’re thinking. Kind of eerie, isn’t it? And yes, it’s messed up for a child to do that. And you know what? That ability was the first step towards developing my current skill in deeply attuning to the reality of people I work with.
My greatest wound became my greatest gift. It took work – a lot of clearing work to identify and clear the unhealthy patterns. And that work is part of what I now offer as part of the facilitator’s training program I’m about to launch. If ever you’ve had the intuition that you are meant to bring more awareness of sexuality into what you offer the world – this may just be your opportunity.
I hope that you get from what I’ve shared here that being ready for this work doesn’t look like having all your childhood trauma sorted out or being perfect or having your ducks in a row. I’m still messing up all the time, and learning from it, every day. In fact, I’ve come to accept that this is the nature of Life itself – and that it’s way more interesting to go with the movement of that greater river than to hold on to my story about little me and my limitations.