My latest Manchester Confidential article on Shakti Tantra’s women’s only Tantra weekend-long workshop I recently attended.
Of Womanhood, heir
If there’s one thing that tires (read: bores) me more than anything, it’s the press’s mind-numbingly predictable, tittilatingly-sensationalised coverage of all things Tantra related. The words ‘Sting’ and ‘go at it for hours’ spring to mind. You see, when it comes to sex and sensuality we’re a prudish lot. Although we like to think we’re sexually liberated and laid-back, we’re mostly fearful, uptight, and embarrassed when it comes to sexual matters.
We’re also terrified of intimacy. Speaking from my own experience, it never fails to surprise me how insecure and inhibited men also are once they’re undressed and in a sexual situation. I’ve seen penises retreat so far inside bodies I’m surprised they’ve not popped out the other side. Men, it seems, carry as many sexual hang-ups and bodily insecurities as women despite their bravado to the contrary.
You see, no-one teaches us about sex. In fact, no-one even teaches us about our bodies and the intricacies of our intimacies. And so, we stumble and fumble in the darkness beneath the duvet or in candlelight (if we’re feeling adventurous). Although men regularly handle their ‘vajras’ (Tantric term for penis) when they pee, and women may entertain their ‘yonis’ (vagina) with a Rampant Rabbit or, horror of horrors, their fingers if they dare touch themselves ‘down there’, the potentialities of our sexual centres remain a relative mystery.
My interest in Tantra stretches back five years. In fact, it probably reaches all the way back to my early twenties (albeit unconsciously) when Sex and the City first ever aired in the UK. I watched the girls’ every move, eavesdropped on their conversations in an attempt to learn all they knew about sex. Why? Because I already knew something was amiss in my own sex life — I either wasn’t consciously connecting with partners, or was going through well-rehearsed techniques and rote routine. Whatever, sex was a tense, orgasm-focussed, BANG-BANG-BANG event rather than a juicy, sensually erotic opportunity to enjoy the experience in and of itself.
But with sex education limited to a half-arsed book and a biology class on the reproductive system, I was pretty much left to my own devices. And so it continued until early 2007 when a friend emailed me details of a talk being given to a group of women about Tantra by an organisation called Shakti Tantra. Intrigued, I went along. Although my curiosity was piqued, it would be another four years before I finally wound up on one of their ‘Women’s Invitation’ weekend-long courses — last weekend to be exact.
I signed up for the course at the end of January somewhat absent-mindedly. I knew I wanted to do it but was busy with other stuff so didn’t really pause to consciously consider what the workshop might entail. ‘It’s with a load of other women’, I thought. ‘It’ll be fine’. Hmm…
To say the workshop was life-changing would be the understatement of the millennium. One of my very first thoughts was if every eleven year old girl did this workshop in secondary school our culture would be transformed overnight; pregnancy rates would drop and the number of sexually transmitted infections would fall as young women’s relationships with their bodies were given a solid, confident foundation from which to grow.
Contrary to the British media’s parochial fixation about Tantra solely enabling folk to have sex for hours on end while withholding orgasm and/or ejaculation, it’s actually about far more than that. It’s about healing broken relationships with the body by consciously reconnecting with oneself from the neck down at a physical and emotional level. It’s about carving away the many layers of long-held, mostly unconscious fear and bullshit, and coming into one’s true essence.
For reasons of confidentiality and in the spirit of the ancient Greek Eleusinian Mysteries, I can’t reveal specifics of what took place; suffice to say the women I attended the workshop with were among the most courageous, most supportive, most inspiring individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Like me, these were women who were tired of trying to be something they weren’t or no longer wanted to be. These were women who wanted to drop the guilt, shame, and fear and face all future sexual interactions with every single cell in their body consciously engaged and with an open heart and generosity of spirit. These were women with whom I laughed and cried and am now proud to call my friends.
To be clear, none of the workshops Shakti Tantra run are for the faint of heart; rather, they’re for those who are ready to drop the crap and connect with themselves and others at the deepest, most profound level possible. Let me put it like this: Hilly, co-founder of Shakti Tantra and our workshop leader, had more presence and sexual magnetism in her little finger than many so-called glamour models have in the whole of their silicone-pumped, surgically-enhanced bodies. One seriously sexy dame. Her assistants, also, were bottomless wells of support and compassion guiding us through all the exercises with the utmost tenderness.
And the food? Did I mention the food? I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an erotic looking spread. It was the sort of stuff you want to lay all over someone and lick and pick off them at leisure. Everything about the overall experience was class. Nothing seedy or cheap. The venue, the food, the accommodation, and the teachings were all top drawer. I can’t wait for the next-level residential workshop in June.
They also run men’s, couple’s, and mixed-group workshops. Whether you go alone or with your partner; whether you’re single or in a long-established relationship, please — do yourself the biggest and best favour you could probably ever make in your life and book on one of their workshops. I guarantee it will change your life.
For details of Shakti Tantra’s future workshops visit their website at Shakti Tantra.
Thea is author of the inspiring memoir Running into Myself. Buy a copy from Amazon UK, Amazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide).
“Thea’s personal journey is utterly compelling. I couldn’t put her book down. Thea manages to make Greek mythology not only understandable, interesting, and relevant to our lives today, but shows how it can be utilised as a tool for self development. She introduces ideas and ways of thinking that broaden your mind, and lights the way for others to follow.”