Shakti Tantra Workshop Review
“The body is an instrument which only gives off music when it is used as a body. Always an orchestra, and just as music traverses walls, so sensuality traverses the body and reaches up to ecstasy.” ― Anaïs Nin
This training makes a woman out of you.
W. O. M. A. N.
I’ll say it again.
Good job my follow-up book to Running into Myself (a memoir about my rite of passage from girl- to womanhood via three marathons) will cover these five workshops and all that’s happened in between ― I could write a book about level five alone.
Which is why, before I continue, I wish to make it clear that I speak only on behalf of myself and not the group. I came into this women’s training programme ‘consciously/unconsciously’ as a journalist with a view to just writing an article about level one (Women’s Invitation). Or so I thought. But once I was in, that was it. My intuition told me there was a truth to this training you’ll find in few other places in our modern Western culture. My intuition was right. Add to that my teacher telling me I was going to do all five levels, and I could do nothing but nod in agreement.
But back to Ecstasy.
This is the level you realise you’ve been living a half-life, telling yourself half-truths, accepting half-realised, half-conscious relationships; the level where the wheat is absolutely, unapologetically separated from the chaff; the level where you’re introduced to your utmost potentiality, the fullness of your being; the level after which there is no going back ― which is why not everyone can go the distance. Some drop out after level one; others complete all the workshops up to level four. But Ecstasy is a level all to itself. You cannot begin to imagine the depth, beauty, and sacredness of what we experienced at this level. No wonder it felt like Last Woman Standing.
I was fortunate enough to be graced with several mind-shattering, ecstatic moments. However, as always, I can’t say anything about the structures, rituals, or ceremonies in which we participated. In the spirit of the ancient mystery religions, these aren’t experiences to be shared with the uninitiated. Even those who have gone as far as level four (Women of Substance) would be surprised at how much the ante is upped at Ecstasy. Which is what makes the group of women with whom I did this workshop all the more magnificent and formidable: these were women who had the courage to stand in the fire of their fears and finish what they started.
This was where ‘real’ Tantra took centre stage and we stepped into a timeless, sacred, ritual space of embodied wisdom steeped in numinosity and mystery; a space where the Other is consciously, lovingly honoured. Yes, this is the level where Shakti finally meets Shiva ― both without and within. And what a heartfelt, conscious meeting it was.
We descended into the depths, plumbed the bowels of our innermost being. You want to ride the lift to the topmost, transcendent floor of Ecstasy? Well, the only way in is at the ground floor. We’re talking base chakra, baby.
We revelled in love and acceptance, were honoured and honouring, were overwhelmed by blissful experiences that had us rolling about like sirens while wearing Cheshire cat grins. We travelled across space and time, through eastern and western cultures, sat with the ancestors, evoked the old time religions. We purged deep-rooted, unconscious hurts, worked through headaches, let go of heartache.
We laughed and cried, argued and made up; went stir crazy from sleep deprivation; filled up on porridge and prunes while analysing the previous night’s dreams; crammed a sauna in the middle of the night and sang our hearts out; took midnight walks by the ocean and drank in the Milky Way while wishing on shooting stars. At times we were nervous as hell, but got on with it anyway and did so with grace, dignity, maturity, and a single-minded determination.
I’m still processing the events of the week. In fact, my memories are so precious to me, I feel any attempt to share even a smidgeon of what I experienced somehow desacralises, dilutes, and dishonours them. I want to draw a protective arm around them (memories) and hold them close to my heart away from the prying eyes and ears of others. I don’t feel it’s an exaggeration to say I feel grateful to be alive and experience what I did at this level. I’m grateful from the bottom of my being.
But, I do want to say this: if you want to live your life as fully as possible, then do this work. If you do this work, then go all the way. Then you will know how it feels to shine from the inside out, to be animated from soul to bone. Then you will know the truth of your Being and you will experience, not just your own magnificence, but the magnificence of the sacred Other. And when you leave the workshop, you will walk out the door and know this is just the beginning of a life fully lived.
Then you will know Ecstasy.
Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Shivas for their humility, generosity of spirit, gentle reverence, and heartfelt presence. Without them, there would have been no level five, no Ecstasy. And so, with grace, love, and the absolute, utmost respect, I thank and honour each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for being, and continuing to be, such magnificent Shivas.
I’d also like to thank and honour the ‘Dream Team’: Sue Newsome, Sarah Robinson, Annabel Newfield, and Julie and Pete Baillie for your guidance, love, encouragement, humour and for helping us feel safe, supported, and, most importantly, ‘held’. And, of course, I’d like to thank the indomitable Hilly Spenceley, originator of Shakti Tantra, for having the courage, strength, and humility to allow this work to flow so freely, so honestly, so inspiringly, and so beautifully through her (I’m running out of superlatives!):
Dearest Hilly, long may you continue to do this work and change countless lives for the better, as you have mine. Thank you. I love you.
And to my Shakti sisters, long may you sparkle, shimmer, and shine! Go forth and burn bright: the world needs your luminescence, now and always.
(For further information on Shakti Tantra’s work click here to visit their website.)
To buy a copy of Running into Myself, visit Amazon UK, Amazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide). Also available to download on Kindle.
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