BY NICK MEADOR
In the three-week Tantric Way Series with Gaia Ma I took the biggest leap forward in my path of empowerment and liberation that I had experienced in any self-development workshop or seminar.
I met Gaia at Cosmic Convergence Festival 2015 at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, during her shorter Tantric Way workshop. The experience impressed me so much that I signed up for her OSHO Facilitation Training in San Marcos the following week. What struck me most was her willingness to be flexible and adjust based on the needs of the participant and what would allow them to find the most release and growth.
After also spending time at InanItah, the spiritual eco-center Gaia co-founded in Nicaragua, I decided to join the whole Tantric Way series in April 2016. I’ve worked with various therapeutic systems based on the idea that what happens in the mind is also happening in the body (and vice versa), but none quite like this.
MahaDevi Ashram is located in the small Mayan village of Tzununá, overlooking the "cosmic vortex" of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Zoom out to see where it is in the world.
The general theme of the first week was Self and Source – in other words, how we access the divine within ourselves (which will be a large focus of the Tantric Opening retreat I'm organizing in SW Michigan from Aug 4-6). We identified what was blocking self-love, feeling at home in our own bodies, and the capacity to let life force emanate from within our core.
In this way Gaia’s approach to tantra is quite different than the hyper-sexualized stereotypes that are common in the Western world. Sexuality did come into play, but it wasn't the main focus – and it was not specifically a couple’s workshop.
We started each day with an active meditation, drawing largely from OSHO’s catalog: most often the Dynamic (an intense catharsis experience; whereas Chakra Breathing, a standing breathwork, came more in week two). This brought up discomfort and fear for me at first, but by day three or four my body actually craved it when I woke up. The Dynamic activates what’s hiding under the surface so that it can be alchemized through the other work.
After breakfast we returned for a 3-hour session that began with a Containment practice, like a guided meditation where we’d notice and breathe deeper into what’s happening within. Then we’d weave through other embodied as well as verbal exercises that begin identifying and re-writing any conditioning and thought patterns that limit our full potential.
The afternoon session began with an Expression practice, such as a guided dance therapy. And nearly every day Gaia held a Transformational Circle to process what came up in the exercises. Someone could work through a painful memory of the past, a current relationship with a partner or family member, or just a feeling that something is off. By combining tools from therapeutic modalities like Somatic Experiencing, Bioenergetics, and Family Constellation, Gaia led us one-by-one to a sense of being more grounded in empowerment and fulfillment within our own bodies.
Each week we participated in a Tantric Pulsation session, which proved to be the most powerful single therapeutic exercise I’ve ever done. It’s another Holotropic-style breathwork where the participant lies down with a partner there as a guide. We went through three breathwork rounds, each time building up to peak breathing capacity and then moving a certain part of the body – pounding the hips or hands down down, kicking the legs out, or moving the jaw or eyes rapidly. Each movement is designed to release a certain kind of energy (related but not equivalent to chakra energies). Even though there’s not a specific instruction to make noise, a large vocal and emotional release often came with this. It was like pumping out energetic waste that had been stuck deep in my nervous system and subtle body for far too long.
During Tantric Pulsation I made a louder noise with my mouth than I ever had in my life. This experience is what made doing the Dynamic Meditation more enjoyable in the mornings. Immense catharsis no longer felt like “going insane,” but instead seemed like maximizing my life force and enjoying the simple pleasure of making a very loud but still grounded noise.
I noticed that this affected my work in a huge way. When I returned home I quickly scheduled more workshops than I was hosting in the past. And I was suddenly able to project my voice in a deeper, clearer way.
In the course I was also working on my tendency to fixate on finding a romantic partner. Gaia brings a lot of focus to connecting with an “inner lover.” This is a cornerstone of Margot Anand’s tantra work, suggesting that we first learn how to give ourselves joy and pleasure. That way we can really share it with another person, or we can simply be okay by ourselves.
And this existential self-reliance is at the core of the Tantric Way experience. We can let go of specific expectations but still work towards our goals and dreams. When our life force is fully released and we find connection with the divine everywhere, the possibilities truly become endless.