On group intimacy and dissolving into love
This is a LONG post. It’s how it came. I trust that those inspired to read it will be the perfect ones to receive it. It's a reflection on group intimacy and dissolving into love, untangling tensions from my evangelical past, and a healthy dose of I love you. I wrote this here in Bali, sitting outside with frogs croaking while listening to Hozier's song "Take Me to Church" on repeat. Given that I live mostly isolated from pop culture, I hadn't realized until now that this song had become a massive pop anthem. How totally perfect that this song, a tantric love song if there ever was one, infiltrates its way into the culture this year.
~To keep the goddess on my side She demands a sacrifice.~
I highly recommend listening in the background while you read:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYO6d9t-WJ4
Recently a new friend attended one of the tantric intimacy circles that I've been participating in for the past several months.
We lay down together two by two, made eye contact, and breathed together. As we slowed down internally, our sensing-feeling bodies relaxed and opened, as if we possessed exquisitely sensitive antennae that were unfurling. We extended our gentle attention inward to ourselves and then out to each other.
~No masters or kings when the ritual begins. There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin.~
We spoke to each other in hushed tones, and at times in blurted-out snorting laughter, and quite often in moans and sighs. It wasn’t sexual, as in genital, but it wasn’t casual either, as it transcended all boundaries of polite connection. It was sexually vital, intimately felt. Alive. Pulsing. Everyone had their clothes on, although we were enjoying various degrees of nakedness in our hearts and minds.
We admitted our beauty to each other, including the truth of our awkwardness, our fear, our gifts, our pain, our incredible churning, burning, creative light. We revealed ourselves to ourselves, and then to each other, and then to the room.
I've been in many such group situations that were also overtly sexual, but often find them lacking in depth of empty, radical intimacy. I'm more hungry for the intimacy, and happy to let the sexual ebb and flow within that as eros does its ebbing flowing thing.
~In the madness and soil of that sad, earthly scene Only then am I human, only then am I clean.~
We offered each other our hands, our eyes, our listening ears, our attuned attention. We shared the miracle of experiencing together: yes! I feel that. Yes! I am also here with you, sensing this! Yes! This! Thank you!
As we settled into the field of trust and safety, our animal bodies let down their guards. Our nervous systems relaxed and opened, and oxytocin looped its warming circles round and round the room. We paid more attention to the space between the words than to any of the particular words themselves.
Our fingers circled around each others’ fingers and our legs entwined. We treated each other like lovers, over and over, with a new partner every round.
No matter the age, the gender, the body, no matter whether or not a particular partner fit the mold of who and what our minds deemed attractive—there is always somewhere to meet with a given partner, always a place, different with every person, to pause and coalesce in the overlap of shared love.
We let this fumbling, gorgeous interconnection be our meditation, let our trembling, lusty fear be our courageous ritual, our artwork, our play.
A small group of dear friends that I am privileged to be part of has been practicing in this way 12 hours a week for several months now.....and I have never before felt more fulfilled or satisfied or happy.
When we sat together in closing circle last week, my new friend declared passionately, "I'm just no longer willing to tolerate separation anymore!" and her words rang through me like a bell.
This field of intimate interconnectedness is, in many ways, familiar to me. It's the ground from which all of the healing work I do emerges, and it is the space that I seek to create in all of the events I lead. It is the medicine.
What is quite new for me is being so completely saturated in that space of interconnectedness, day after day, week after week, that my strategies and coping mechanisms for getting by in the daily world of seeming separation are peeling away. I am adapting to a new baseline of loving interconnectedness with myself and with friends.
~Take me to church.~
I was an enthusiastic evangelical Christian missionary at a young age. As I started to wake up from that dream, I saw all the ways I'd alienated and irritated others with my Christian testimonials and my high horse, and also I felt embarrassed for allowing myself to be so TAKEN by my passion for God. When I came out of the church, I vowed to never push my views on others again.
Vowed. Interesting choice of words, isn't it? So....religious.
Here in Bali, I have been feasting at a sumptuous banquet of human connection. In our practices, we dine four times a week on intimate, raw, and soulful connection with others, the kind that some have rarely tasted. Connecting in this way eases my body and mind, allows me to keep on coming home to myself, over and over again, resting inside myself with all of my fabulous imperfections as cozy friends.
I offer presence to the whole: this hunger, that judgment, this defensiveness, that insecurity….each of them allowed, each of them subsumed into the larger presence that swallows them into the belly of love.
I’m aware of the incredible privilege it is to be part of this. I’m also aware of a desire to share it and make it available to others, to as many people as are hungry for it. No evangelism, no pushing, just a simple, “Here…..would you like to eat this? It’s super delicious. And good for you.”
AS IT TURNS OUT, WITH A LITTLE WILLINGNESS, IT'S ACTUALLY REALLY EASY TO FEEL DEEPLY CONNECTED, SAFE, LOVED AND LOVING WITH OTHER HUMAN BEINGS. The balm so many of us seek in our heart of hearts is here and now, and there are practical, tangible ways we can join together as allies to help each other access it face to face, belly to belly, eye to eye.
This loving connection is not bound by a relationship or marriage, and is wholly independent from the other person's gender, age, body type, or perceived sexual attractiveness to us. There are basic steps to follow, and they are reliable and repeatable. It’s also free.
Of course, if someone is going to spend all their time sharing this with others, they’ll need to be compensated in some way so that they can be supported and thrive, and this is well and good, but fundamentally these simple and radical technologies are absolutely free.
So what have I experienced from following these steps? In the beginning, it was a pleasant mix of feeling warm, safe, relaxed, and connected. This provided wonderful relief from feeling the lack of connection that I can often experience in groups when attention is not grounded or entrained. It also eases the feelings of depression/anxiety/general freak out I have when I let myself get distracted away from my truth.
As we have progressed in the practices, I found myself touching the territory of "mind blown open into the cosmic womb of bliss / must serve and love with joyful freedom for the rest of my life." Grounded ecstasy. The kind that makes me want to clean up after myself and do the dishes.
I learned a few lessons from my early days of bumbling Christian evangelism, 20 some years ago. I no longer believe that anyone needs anything from me, nor does anyone need to be saved from anything whatsoever. Yet there are those for whom pouring forth my joy is a gift, and I don’t need to withhold that joy for fear of evangelizing.
I really have no choice but to let this joy flow forth. I’m choosing, once again, to risk being passionately taken by my love for the god in all things, for the love of the god in people’s eyes and sunspots and wrinkles.
I realize that NOT sharing this love is what kills me, what leads to tension, anxiety, and disease. I know that my body longs for one thing: to pulse and flow with the sensual aliveness of every moment, and to let that aliveness guide me through life, connecting with other people, with plants, nature, food, and with creative projects, spiraling in patterns of ever greater harmony and mutual desire.
~Offer me that deathless death, and good god, let me give you my life.~
The main way I’ve shared this medicine for so many years has been in my tantric practice, and that will likely continue. But it won’t be confined within that practice alone anymore. I can no longer separate the “personal” Robyn, the one who grew up in small town Minnesota and who has suffered a million little aches and thrills and joys from the ever-changing oceanic undertow of a woman who opens herself to the flow of divine presence. The waves keep dragging me out to sea, and I like it.
Belly to belly.
Eye to eye.
Breath to breath.
I love you.
I am here, breathing with you.
And I love you.
~Amen, amen, amen, amen.~