Living tantra, living love
Inspiration Shot September 2019
Let me tell you a ‘secret’… I went on a tantra retreat … Whilst Tantra is often associated with sex, this was more of a ‘tantra for life’ retreat. The tantric philosophy of balance, openness and connection that is often applied to sexuality is actually intended as a philosophy of life. The balance between our inner male and female side was a key topic. A regular theme for my life… ‘out of your head, in your body’ also played a major role. Add to that ‘being in the moment’, and you not only have the ‘recipe’ for tantra, but also for tango and life in general …
Are you an oyster or a peach?
I learned this beautiful metaphor during the tantra course. I was always an oyster: hard on the outside, vulnerable on the inside. I only showed my strength and I didn’t let anyone in. Now I try to be more of a peach: a strong, masculine core as a base around which I can share my vulnerability, gentleness and femininity with the world.
Do you see yourself as an oyster or a peach? Which would you prefer to be?
I recorded this video from a beautiful castle ruin in France. In the video, I elaborate on the concept and share my personal experiences.
Emotions are OK
From an early age, we learn to hide or repress our ‘negative’ emotions. When a child is sad, we will tell them that everything will be fine, say things like ‘don’t make such a fuss’, ‘big boys don’t cry’, or we comfort them with food or distract them with a game. Everything is aimed at stopping the crying.
However, it is actually very important to acknowledge feelings, to give them space, to feel them instead of hiding them away or rationalizing them. Next time you or someone in your environment is angry, scared or sad, try to give room to those feelings. Phrases such as ”I understand that you are sad”, “It is understandable that you are angry” acknowledge those feelings. They are allowed to be there. They are part of life. After you let the emotion flow through you (instead of pushing it away or projecting it onto someone else), you often feel surprisingly relieved and full of positive energy. I continue to find it a bit scary, and I don’t always succeed in applying this myself. But when I do, I wonder why we don’t learn this at school? Or from our parents? Why don’t we teach this to our own children? The good news is that it is never too late to start!
Are you a ‘love addict’ or a ‘love avoider’?
There are apparently two kinds of people. Love avoiders are afraid of losing their freedom, or themselves. Love addicts are afraid of losing love and being alone. Love avoiders seek freedom as a way to try and stay in control. Love addicts want a relationship and intimacy. Strangely enough, these two types attract each other, creating a strange kind of ‘dance’. Do you recognize this pattern in yourself or in your relationship? No problem, everyone has a mix of both types in them. Being aware of your patterns is the first step towards releasing them.
Your body is the ‘gateway to change’
If you are like me, you probably try to rationalize everything. I want to understand everything rationally and thus keep control. However, real change does not happen in your head, but in your body. So don’t talk, but use your breath, sound and movement. By breathing into your abdomen, releasing sound on your exhalation based on what you feel and moving your body, you can release old energy, memories and patterns and make room for new things. It takes a little practice to master this, but – like the other lessons I learned – it feels so logical that it is definitely worth it. Pain is the door to growth. It helps to be curious instead of being scared. More info and exercises in the Eliyah Tantra blog “What to do when your shit comes up?”
Life lessons from tantra
Want to know more about life tantra? I am a big fan of the Embodies Awakening Academy (previously Eliyah tantra school); they actually give ‘life lessons’ and are super sincere.
In addition to the retreats, I can also recommend their online courses to break old patterns.
Three years ago I also did a tantra course, which was more focused on sexuality. I wrote a blog about ‘Tantra with a control freak‘.
Then I ‘got lost’ in Japan without Google translate. I found so many similarities between the tantra philosophy and the experience in Japan that I designed a tattoo to represent it and had it put on my arm.
Maybe tantra is a bit beyond your comfort zone, but you’re interested in tango? My Argentinian tango teachers regularly visit Amsterdam and are available for private lessons and corporate workshops ‘Tango as a mirror’.
Where is Esther?
Never a dull moment… From the tantra retreat in the mountains of southern Spain, I drove to the writing week at an old castle in the Ardèche in France, where I learned a lot about Amazon book marketing. It was an interesting mix of fiction writers (some with pink or blue hair, a rich imagination and uniquely dark sense of humor…) and the more conventional non-fiction/business writers like myself. Then I camped in the rain at the Permanent Beta festival in the woods of Drenthe (an annual tradition) and now I am dancing tango in Amsterdam with my Argentinian tango teachers, who are visiting the Netherlands. Everything I have learned in recent months can now be put into practice because tango gives ‘ruthless’ feedback: Not steady in your own ‘axis’? Losing your balance? Leaning on your (dance) partner too much? Are you trusting too little or too much? Are you not following well enough, or are you overconfident? Are you not present in the moment, not in your body? BOOM! You notice it immediately. On the other hand, if you are on form, you get a beautiful flow, both on the outside and on the inside. That creates energy! Anyone who has worked with Adrian and Mora so far can confirm that it is addictive. Curious? They still have a few spots available for private lessons or company workshops at the end of this month.
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