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December 10, 2012

Think You Know Good Sex? ― Part Two

(Click here to read Part One)

Think You Know Good Sex?
(Part Two)

By Thea Euryphaessa

I did this women’s training programme because I always believed there was more to sex than the personal intimate encounters I’d wearily grown accustomed to. Didn’t matter how in love I was with my partner, how much sex I was having, there was always something missing. I felt a vague dissatisfaction, a longing for something ‘more’. What that ‘more’ was, though, I couldn’t quite put my finger on (no pun intended).

But aside from talking with girlfriends, surfing female-friendly porn, reading books, magazines, who can we ask questions of regards sexually-oriented issues? Questions, for example, such as ‘My new partner wants to jump straight into genital sex ― is it too much to ask that we slow down and explore other ways of getting intimately acquainted first?’

‘Is orgasm-oriented, penetrative sex the be-all and end-all?’ ‘Is it insensitive of me to stop my partner mid-action and say, “There’s no pleasure in this for me now; I’d enjoy it much more if you [insert sexual preference] instead”?’ ‘Are there really men out there who take the time to ask what women want, what our pleasure is, and then listen, stay present, and respond on a moment by moment basis and take great delight in that?’  (No, no, no, and fuck yeah!)

I’m also aware there are women who’ll be thinking, ‘Yeah, yeah Thea, this Tantric malarkey all sounds well and good, but just what is it you all do? How can I trust you? You’re not telling us anything.’

That’s right, I’m not. It is a mystery school, after all, in the spirit of the ancient Greek mystery schools, say. But consider this: do you insist on knowing exactly how a relationship will pan out before you embark on it? Do you demand a full run-down on how another will treat you sexually before you tumble into bed with them for the first time? Well, I’m sorry to break it to you but there are no guarantees in life. When all’s said and done all we ever take are ‘educated guesses’ (or not). Do this programme, though, and all you’ll wonder is, what took you so long to do it.

So has my sex life improved? Never mind my sex life, it’s improved my whole life. The confidence I feel in my sexuality, the fullness I feel in my womanliness, ay, ay, ay, it’s delicious. I feel vital, centred, ‘juicy’. I was dead from the neck down before. No more.

I no longer look at my body through the lens of a culture hell-bent on distorting the image we see staring back from the mirror. Where I used to pick and criticise and never felt comfortable, never felt ‘good enough’, today I cherish my body, revel in the skin I’m in, enjoy my erotic self with or without a lover. To borrow a line from Madonna’s Justify My Love, ‘Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another’.

If you have something critical or bitchy to say about my body or anyone else’s, as far as I’m concerned, that says more about you and your relationship (or lack of) with your own body. If you were happily rooted in the ground of your own being, you’d be happy to let everyone else just ‘be’, too.

When you’re able to receive all the parts of yourself, especially the previously unloved parts, you’re able to receive and celebrate the ‘other’ in all their magnificent, flawed humanness, too. In fact, my appreciation of, and love for men has gone through the roof since I did this programme. I relish their ‘otherness’ in a way I didn’t before. Not consciously anyway. The polarity, the difference between us (men and women), ups the sexual tension for me. Probably why I’m turned off by these primped, waxed to within an inch of their cracks, metrosexual types. Give me a Jon Hamm man any day.

So no-one will think you’re ‘silly’ or ‘stupid’ for asking those sexual- or intimately-oriented questions you’ve long harboured but have been too afraid to voice. I doubt there’s anything that could shock or surprise my teachers ― they’ve been doing this work a long time and are bottomless wells of experience, patience, and compassion.

When you rock up at level one (Women’s Invitation), you’ll be with other women who are in the same boat as you (shy, nervous, a bit awkward perhaps) but who’ll fast blossom and bloom in ways that have blown the socks off me.

In fact, I’ve never known a workshop spawn so many entrepreneurs. It seems sexually awakened/sexually empowered women make for more creatively inspired, financially independent women. After the first workshop alone, several of the women went straight out and took back control of their lives, leaving jobs, ending unsatisfying relationships.

They were no longer willing to be rationed on the meagre sexual/emotional/financial handouts occasioned them by insecure/incompetent/power-wielding bosses and/or partners, as though they should be grateful somehow for whatever scraps they got because this might be as good as it gets and/or they may not get any more. They now knew there was more, that they could be more, and, most important, that they deserved more.

So consider this a clitoral clarion call, an appeal to the sexually underwhelmed masses to ‘get your freak on’ however you damn well please. Ladies and gentlemen, this is your permission to pleasure: from the down and dirty right through the mystical, OM-infused end of the spectrum. To quote the late, great William Stafford in his poem A Message From the Wanderer:

Today outside your prison I stand

and rattle my walking stick: Prisoners, listen;

you have relatives outside. And there are

thousands of ways to escape.

Because there’s nothing wrong, nothing shameful in wanting to explore the myriad aspects of your sexuality, the subtle nuances of your sensuality; to step into the fullness of your being; to demand more from your intimate interactions; to writhe and cry out in ecstasy. We’re here to enjoy our bodies, our intellect and to hell with anyone who tries to tarnish us with their frigidity, insecurity, or fear. Because we’re worth it. Because we deserve happiness, abundance, respect, fulfilment.

Question is, do you believe you do?

For more details of the women’s training programme, visit shaktitantra.co.uk/women

To read Thea’s experience of each workshop, click on the following:

Women’s Invitation

Women’s Celebration

Women Behaving Badly

Women of Substance

Ecstasy

:::

To buy a copy of Running into Myself, visit Amazon UKAmazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide). Also available to download on Kindle.

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.”

— Melinda Messenger (TV Presenter)

“This is a story that truly reveals its author.You’ll discover her beliefs, her flaws, her loves, her fears, her mistakes, her drive and her compassion.

And you’ll like her.”

— Rowena Roberts (Writer)

August 22, 2012

The Great Round of Transformation ― Part Two

Click here to read Part One

The Great Round of Transformation ― Part Two

By Thea Euryphaessa

See the diagram above? Well, it’s a rough roadmap for personal metamorphosis also known as the Hero’s Journey (or Monomyth). My first book dealt primarily with my personal experience of the first two stages ― Separation and Initiation ― finishing up around stage nine; my follow-up, concluding book will deal with the third and final stage ― the Return (stage nine through the top of the circle). I don’t wish to expound on each of the above stages in this blog ― again, that’s for the next book. But that it’s so far taken ten years and counting to complete one full round, shows what’s required should you wish to embark on any aspect of personal transformation ― that it takes time.

Long-term readers from back in the mists of MySpace will know I used to share my life out loud, babbling away as I rushed along. Since writing my book, however, I’ve mostly kept schtum. These days my journal provides the backdrop for my kaleidoscopic thoughts and dreamscapes.

I also got a little lost as to where I was on the above cycle, often forgetting about it altogether; after all, just because I’m aware this archetype currently circumnavigates my life, doesn’t mean I rigidly orient myself to it. You can’t make it happen ― all you can ever do is remain alert to the signs and cues that tend to accompany each of the stages and, if you’re committed to living out your essence, ride the wave as best you can.

In fact, it was only a flurry of synchronous dreams and events last summer that alerted me to the fact that the Resurrection stage (stage eleven above) was constellating.

RESURRECTION

Now, I know this is stating the obvious, but Resurrection consists of two parts ― death and rebirth. Only thing is, it’s one thing knowing that conceptually ― it’s quite another living through the actual, real-life ramifications of it.

This stage is difficult ― damn difficult. I’m talking ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’, bring-you-to-your-knees difficult. No doubt about it, this is Dark Night of the Soul territory. In his book, The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler says that if the Ordeal (stage eight above) is the mid-term exam, then the Resurrection is the final, end of year exam.

Because ― and here’s the thing about personal transformation ― if you’re committed to going the distance, even if you’re not sure where the hell it is you’re going (I still don’t have a clue), there’ll come a final test to see just how serious you are, see if you really did learn from lessons and mistakes made along the way; see how serious you are about this metamorphosis malarkey; see if ― and this is what it ultimately boils down to ― your old self has died.

You see, whatever it is you’re destined to do, you have to be strong enough to do it ― mentally, emotionally, and physically. You have to prove yourself equal to and worthy of it; that you’re willing to do the hard yards; that you’re able to face into it with the strength, grit, and determination required; that you want it no matter how high the odds; that you’re not going to bail out at the first sign of trouble. Trust me, at this stage, Life’s gonna throw just about everything it has at you. I’ve a half mind to rename this stage Canyon of the Wrecking Balls.

Based on my own experience and that of those around me who are also being mentally, physically, emotionally, and psychologically stripped to within an inch of their sanity, this is the place sacrifices have to be made whether we like it or not; where businesses fail and jobs are pulled out from under us; where the knives come out and gossips, detractors, and naysayers seize upon us with a maenadic frenzy; where relationships are stained with tears of disillusion and disappointment; where money dries up along with our motivation; where our health falters and illness descends; where pets die, homes are downsized, and court cases brought against us. And on, and on, and on it goes.

In fact, there’s a hexagram (23) in the I Ching ― the ancient Chinese divination system ― called, among other names, Stripping or Splitting Apart that corresponds with this stage. In Tarot, it’s the grim reaper himself ― Death. During this period, dreams (nightmares) may consist of death, unflinching brutality, dismemberment, great floods, fires, descents to the underworld, and bodies stripped back to the bare bones. What you no longer need will be taken away. This includes material belongings. Relationships, too. After all, we need only look at autumn to see nature stripping back in preparation for the greatest Dark Night of all ― winter.

If, however, you manage to keep from drowning and re-emerge on the other side of this Dark Night (which, by the way, has a tendency to drag its miserable arse out), you will experience rebirth. This is the moment you feel a burgeoning warmth swell deep in your psyche. You may even, perhaps, manage what poet William Stafford describes as, “a breath without pain”. Not everyone makes it this far, though. Many stumble, others give up. Some spend years, decades even, vacillating back-and-forth between Separation (stages one through five) and Initiation (stages five through nine). But that doesn’t make their attempts at growth any less heroic.

I should also say that, for those grappling with terminal illness and disease, rebirth may not necessarily be experienced on this side of Life, but across the veil. Or so I like to believe.

Anyway, what’s the point of me sharing all this? Well, for one, I’m thinking out loud, committing myself publicly. I always knew there’d be a second book ― I just didn’t know what it would consist of as, even while writing my first book, my life felt pretty pedestrian in comparison to my previous globe-trotting escapades. When a client asked me, after reading Running into Myself, “Aren’t you a bit disappointed that, after doing all that, you ended up back in Manchester, back at square one?” I got defensive, saying it hadn’t all been ‘for nothing’… before wondering if he was right.

After all, this was among the criticism levelled at the author of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, regards the fact that she, too, ends up near enough back where she started (at the other end of the Lincoln Tunnel). Readers of her follow-up memoir, Committed, will no doubt be familiar with her grappling with the consequent Return stage of her journey and its attendant trials and tribulations, before her final, triumphant Return with the Elixir (stage twelve above), which, unbeknown to her at the time, would manifest as a No. 1 New York Times best-seller.

Back in my own life, barely had I pondered such thoughts when the shit hit the fan and the Resurrection stage kicked in throwing a harsh, clarifying light on events leading up to that moment. A year later and the aftershock of those events are only just subsiding and my Dark Night lifting.

And so, in much the same way as the story of the Handless Maiden snaked its way through my three Marathons in Running into Myself, my five-level Tantra journey and personal relationship will provide the backbone for my follow-up book, around which the myth of Psyche and Amor will sinuously coil. Psyche, you see, is a woman who goes the distance despite overwhelming odds. I believe both men and women can learn from this courageous figure who isn’t so far removed from our modern-day lives as we may think.

I also plan to go back and expand, correct, and update some of the thoughts, ideas, and concepts I raised in my first book. In fact, it’s with gleeful relish that I welcome the opportunity to edit myself publicly, as it highlights the often thorny, far-from-straightforward path that is human growth.

This next book will provide me with the opportunity to Return with the Elixir and, finally, close the circle on this particular, ten-year long cycle of personal transformation.

I hope.

:::

To buy a copy of Running into Myself, visit Amazon UKAmazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide). Also available to download on Kindle.

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.”

— Melinda Messenger (TV Presenter)

“This is a story that truly reveals its author. You’ll discover her beliefs, her flaws, her loves, her fears, her mistakes, her drive and her compassion.

And you’ll like her.”

— Rowena Roberts (Writer)

February 23, 2011

Little Voice

Little Voice

The inspiration for this blog comes from one of my favourite and perhaps most influential mentors, American mythologist, Michael Meade. I was first introduced to Meade’s work in spring 2007. My then boyfriend, who lived in Santa Fe (NM), had been to one of his presentations and was so bowled over by him he bought two of his CD recordings on the spot. I still remember him waxing lyrical via a Skype video call about this talk he’d attended, telling me how much I’d love him too. He was right about that.

Later that year I finally got the chance to hear him, in person, when he came back to Santa Fe while I was there. For the two-and-a-half hours he spoke he didn’t waste one single word. I was rapt. The guy was mesmerising. You can keep your Deepak Chopras and your Wayne Dyers — this guy is a truly sublime teacher. And the best of it was his talk was free. In fact, most all of his talks are free. All he asks is you consider making a donation to the not-for-profit organisation he runs called Mosaic Voices. He also encourages folk to buy his talks and books with all profits going to the Mosaic Multicultural Foundation.

Anyway, I went on to buy every single talk/CD he’s ever recorded and now own them all. If I’ve listened to them once, I must’ve listened to them hundreds of times such is the depth, breadth, and richness of information contained within each talk. Although not available to buy in the UK, they are available to order online direct from Mosaic in the US. Postage is very reasonable. One of his most recent releases is a CD entitled ‘The Soul of Change’ in which Meade outlines, well, the Soul of Change.

I do warn you, however, that this isn’t New Age airy-fairy guff. His work is like nothing you’ll have heard before (unless you’re already familiar with the mythopoetic realm). It has depth and beauty and soul. He veers into tribal cultures and storytelling. He plays the drums while recounting traditional folk tales. He shares exquisite poems and breaks down dense, complex psychological concepts, making them more accessible for lay folk.

Late last spring, I had the privilege of attending one of his residential workshops in Santa Cruz, CA. Money very, very well spent. What an incredibly inspiring and nourishing experience. But enough of my enthusing — I’d like to share one of the poems he tells and subsequently explains, at length, on the abovementioned CD The Soul of Change. The poem is entitled ‘Someone, Somewhere’ by William Stafford.

I have an anthology of Williams Stafford’s poems called ‘The Way It Is.’ I’ve bookmarked almost every single poem in the book, such is its sublimity. Unfortunately, however, I can’t seem to track this particular poem down (Someone, Somewhere), so will have to recount it based on Meade’s telling of it on the CD:

Someone, Somewhere

Not you, standing with your host by a window talking,

And not you poised where the light enters and falls to admire what it finds.

We are looking for something different from any of us,

And from those we have always prized.

~

It isn’t accomplishment, not that.

And it isn’t how you look, or sound.

It may be a helpless lock, on a certain way, that no party outside you can change,

And no authority can dictate outside the room of your mind.

~

Maybe you choose, and then time begins to deny.

But far away, what is yours, will begin to come,

And nothing, then, nothing can stop it, between.

For you have turned a corner and become the Self that chooses its own prize.

~

What must you give, people ask, to serve the Divine?

And you don’t have to say, but you do have to know — everything.

:::

I hold this poem close to my heart; particularly in light of recent personal events. Regular readers of this blog may’ve already picked up on my penchant for discussing personal transformation. The reason I ramble on about it so much is because a) I tipped my old 9-5, square-shaped life upside down and walked away from it and b) remain committed to transformation (my own and that of others). I’m also fiercely committed to walking a soul-oriented path. And it’s my ongoing commitment to that path that often makes things difficult, which is why the last stanza of the poem particularly resonates:

“What must you give, people ask, to serve the Divine?

And you don’t have to say, but you do have to know — everything.”

You see, following my inner gradient (talents, passions, interests) is what drives me, compels me, keeps me centred, calm (sometimes), and focused. Although I don’t adhere to any religious dogma or doctrine, neither do I follow any particular spiritual or cultural tradition, I do feel there is something mysterious and ineffable, both immanent and transcendent in which we are ensouled and also contain within us. I don’t care if you call that Nature/God/Divine/Allah/Universe/Deep Mind/Deep Self/Brahman/Yahweh — that’s all finger-pointing-to-the-moon stuff as far as I’m concerned.

This following your heart malarkey, though — damn, some days it can be difficult. When someone you love or respect, for example, whose opinion you value, is trying to get you to see things their way; but all the while a barely perceptible, little voice in the pit of your stomach’s saying, “No. I’m sorry, I can’t do that; No. I’m sorry, I can’t be the person you want me to be; No. I’m sorry, I have to stay committed to what feels right in my Heart of hearts.”

I remember clearly my Reiki teacher asking me before my initial Reiki attunement (August 2004) if I really was serious about what I was about to do, the path I was about to embark on. Let me just say I was very, very naive back then. Because if I had known what would unfold over the coming years, to borrow a line from the movie The Matrix, I’d have told my Reiki teacher to “shove that red pill right up your ass.”

Thing is, though, I wanted change — desperately. My life, back then, was pretty bleak. Put it this way: if I hadn’t changed things and changed them drastically, I doubt I’d be alive today. That little voice, however, gave me something to cling to, kept me afloat, while I drifted through very dark, very ambiguous waters.

Today, that little voice continues to direct me, not unlike Vasilisa’s doll in the fairytale (I recommend Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ brilliant telling and subsequent interpretation of it). That little voice pipes up, tells me to speak up and speak out, even when I’m afraid and don’t want to. That little voice stomps its feet and demands I get bigger, put myself out there, puff out my chest, and fake it ‘til I make it. That little voice tells me to ‘go this way, not that’ even when every fibre of my being is screaming otherwise.

But that little voice also tells me it’s going to be okay. It tells me I’m already sweet enough and don’t need to mindlessly unwrap and scoff another chocolate. It tells me I’m loveable and worth loving. It tells me to hold on and trust. It tells me that, even when the Winds of Change threaten to capsize what oftentimes feels like a rudderless rowing boat in the middle of a storm-ravaged ocean, so long as I keep listening in, keep serving my Heart of hearts (or the Divine as Stafford puts it), I’ll stay on course and, eventually, reach safe harbour.

For as Stafford also says, time does initially deny us — perhaps for weeks, months, or even years — but eventually what is ours begins to come, begins to move towards us. And it does. So long as we stay true to ourselves, nothing can stop it. But, and here’s the kicker, only if we hold fast and listen to the little voice.

This following your heart malarkey — damn, some days it can be difficult.

:::

Thea is author of the inspiring memoir Running into Myself. Buy a copy from Amazon UKAmazon 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.”

— Melinda Messenger (TV Presenter)

October 9, 2010

Emperor Cowell and His 100 Days of Games

Big Brother isn’t watching. He’s singing and dancing. He’s pulling rabbits out of a hat. Big Brother’s busy holding your attention every moment you’re awake. He’s making sure you’re always distracted. He’s making sure you’re fully absorbed.

— Chuck Palahniuk

For the past few weeks, I’ve watched the furore swirl throughout the British media regards the various ‘controversies’ surrounding Simon Cowell‘s TV show, the X Factor. I have to hand it to him, he knows how to keep the masses entertained. A couple of weeks back, BBC Radio 2′s Jeremy Vine Show discussed what should happen to one of the X Factor wannabes, Chloe Mafia. I couldn’t believe how not one person pointed out that this girl’s personal circumstances just provided more publicity for the show, more fuel for the fire; or rather, Ms. Mafia was being fed to the lions for the crude consumption of the modern-day version of the old Roman Mob, courtesy of Emperor Commodus, sorry, Cowell, and his 100 Days of Games.

Because, let’s face it, like everything else associated with this show, she was easily disposable. Chewed up and spat out. They knew what they were doing. Every decision taken on any of these shows, is carefully considered and calculated to get a maximum rise from viewers. Before you know it, people are taking to Facebook, mounting campaigns, decrying the moral outrage of one contestant being picked over another. And all the while, the fact escapes almost everyone that, “these people,” as a sagacious acting teacher once warned us, “are little more than whores to the industry.” And every person who settles down, switches on, and is sucked in week after week, is just as much an unconscious slave to the cause.

One could argue that, by writing this piece, I too am providing the show with the publicity it craves. I won’t deny that. But it also provides me the opportunity to highlight another way: the way of the individual, the way of imagination. All too often, I hear folk bemoan the fact they haven’t the time to pursue their dreams, their goals, their ambitions. But how often do these same folk plonk themselves down on the sofa, night after night, searching for something to watch on the telly? The usual argument I hear is it’s just an escape — a way to let off steam after the pressures of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-television. I enjoy BBC’s Spooks, Channel 4′s The Good Wife. But what I won’t do is succumb to mindless channel surfing.

It’s the equivalent of walking into a supermarket and not knowing what you want. Before you know it, your trolley’s piled high with crap you didn’t want and don’t need. Rather than being organised and taking a half hour to plan your weekly meals in advance, writing a shopping list, then buying exactly what you want in order to prepare healthy, nutritious meals, you’re hypnotised by the countless marketing strategies supermarkets employ so you’ll end up with stuff you never wanted. And it’s no use getting angry about it, railing against supermarkets — they’re merely capitalising on the fact that the majority of people are lazy.

Yes, that’s right — lazy.

It’s not that most folk don’t have time, it’s that they won’t make time. Big difference. And if you feel even a twinge of resentment towards me for saying that, that’s a sign you need to take a long, hard look at yourself. Better still, for one whole day, observe yourself. Watch how much time you simply fritter away and look for distractions so as to not be present to your own life or take full responsibility for your actions moment-to-moment. If you’re honest with yourself, you may be surprised.

So, to borrow a phrase from the cult BBC children’s TV series, Why Don’t You? — Why Don’t You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Go Out and Do Something Less Boring Instead? Why not read a book (remember those?) and feed your imagination and mind’s eye with stories? Or, perhaps, nurture your soul and engage in the dying art of conversation with friends and loved ones. Or, even more radical, nourish your body with a meal prepared from scratch, with ingredients you fully intended to buy. Failing that, when the weather permits, Reconnect with Nature. Go outside, meditate on the beauty of the stars. As a wise soul once said to me, “Once you learn to orient yourself by the stars, you’ll know which way you’re facing. Because if you don’t know which direction you’re facing, how will you ever know where you’re heading in Life?”

~

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don’t know what kind of person I am

and I don’t know what kind of person you are

a pattern that others made may prevail in the world

and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

— William Stafford

~

Thanks for stopping by.

Thea ~

http://runningintomyself.com

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