An Unexpected Lesson From Tantra Class In Bali
(Originally published in a facebook post on August 1, 2019)
This is a long story. And this is Oceane 💜
Five days ago, I was sitting at a cafe alone. Full, peaceful, staring straight ahead of me out into the street. Thinking about how I really had nothing to think about. . . A man drove by on a motorbike. I looked at him, he looked at me. He pulled a u-turn and parked. He walked up to me and introduced himself: Karan. "I'm here to teach tantra for a month," he said. He friended me on facebook and invited me to his class. He drove away. . . Of course, two days later, I went. An opening into divine flow. . . I've been curious about tantra for a while. Yes, there's the popularized associations of hours of connected intimacy, but also, it is so much more. "Tantra is making love to the whole world," Karan said, in class. "It's not about making love with different people every night like going to different restaurants." An analogy that made me giggle. . . Tantra is from the same roots as yoga. It brings a union of the mind and body, and enables you to reach the "no-mind," he said. . . There were 11 of us in the class. . . It was brilliant. . . Within the first 15 minutes, I thought, I found my teacher, for a while. This practice, or, this person. Something about this feels (more) good. 😉 . . For the first 20 minutes we did breath work. Erratic breathing. Really slow, then medium, then fast fast fast, then slow then fast then medium then fast. You get the idea. During the fast fast fast I let my eyes flutter in the back of my head. I let myself go. . . From there, partner practices: 1 man and 1 woman. In one exercise, the goal was for the man to be in touch with this inner feminine. He was instructed to dance for 5 minutes, sensually, with his hands on this body, as if he were touching a woman, with his eyes closed. The woman was just to sit and witness. I could see how hard it was for the man in front of me to embrace the practice. I could see the wisdom in it. I did my best to hold compassion in my heart and gaze, even though he couldn't see me. . . In another exercise, the man and woman sat across each other on the floor. The goal of this exercise was for the woman to notice, be with, and overcome her fear of being looked at by a man. The man was instructed to look at the woman for 5 minutes at specific body parts at specific times. "Look at her hair, now her eyebrows, now her lips, now her neck.. left breast, right breast, left breast, right breast... stomach." I felt hot. Embarrassed. Then fine. Then too seen. Then fine. And my work was just to notice my feelings. . . We had a practice where we animated the children inside of us. My male partner chased me around the room like a monkey and we tumbled on the floor. He picked me up, flipped me over, flipped me under, tickled me. I was in full sweat, head to toe. Playing. Child like self was high energy. . . And then we came to the final practice: whirling. . . We were instructed to put our left hand out, stare at our thumb, and spin, counter-clockwise, for 10 minutes straight. "Don't stop," he said, "If you get dizzy, just slow down." This made me nervous because I do get very dizzy. But I decided to be brave. . . The music started, and we started spinning. I was doing well. "Now faster!" he said. And I went faster. Faster. Faster. And then it started happening: the room and my thumb would create a separation of stationary and whirling, and two worlds emerged, and I fell. Down on the ground everything kept spinning. So I started spinning on my butt, staring at my thumb, to keep up with the spinning in my head. It worked. I found my knees. Found my feet. Spinning spinning. And again, boom, I hit the floor. Again, found my knees, to my feet, and kept going. . . "You can do this ... it's almost over," I said to myself, over and over, praying for it to end. I wondered, when it was time, how I would make my head stop spinning when my body did. . . Finally, he called out to stop. . . I tried to slowly find stillness, but I fell to the ground. The spinning in my head did not stop, though my body did. . . It hurt. . . I felt intense nausea and disorientation. I was writhing on the floor. Karan came over and put his hand on my stomach. "Shhhhh," he said. I calmed down. . . People began to make their way out of the room. . . I couldn't get up. . . Tears started falling down my cheeks. The spinning wouldn't stop. . . And then an angel appeared: Oceane. . . I didn't know her name yet, or her, at all. . . She sat down next to me, put her hands on my arms and said, "Let it out. Scream, cry, do whatever you have to do right now. Let it go." . . I started to cry. Full on. Hiccupy. Hot tears. . . She sat with me for what must have been 30 minutes. In her eyes was the only place I could look where it stopped spinning. "Yes you can," she said, "You can do this, and you will come out stronger afterwards." . . I hadn't said one word, the whole time. I just looked into her eyes, and breathed, and cried. "YES, you can," she kept affirming. Like she could read my soul. She was reading my pain. My question if I could make it stop. . . ...
"Yes, you can do this."
"Yes, you can."
"You will be stronger."
... . . . Finally... finally... finally... things calmed down. . . I could look away from her eyes. I could speak. . . She handed me a coconut to eat. That helped give me ground. . . I was drenched in sweat. Like how you come out of a hot fever, or a food poisoning spell. . . We began to have a real conversation. I don't remember what I said I just remember being in disbelief that she suspended her life to be with mine.
Why am I sharing this story? . . Because it felt BIG. . . Because a perfect stranger stared into my eyes, disregarding time, to help me. . . Because there is a man doing honest work to help us meet ourselves, and each other, the masculine, the feminine, in union.
Because there's a lot of good in the world, and so much of it is folded into this.