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ON LIVING TANTRA BY JAN DAY

Finding Our Habitual Exits

Tantra is not all about sex and Living Tantra certainly isn’t all about sex. Having said that, we do use sexuality and touch as a medium to explore for a major part of our work. It’s useful because it is such a powerful energy and because most people got some pretty dysfunctional ideas about sexuality as they grew up. Our culture simply doesn’t encourage healthy, innocent, alive sexuality and most people don’t get enough nurturing, conscious touch. Because sexual energy is so foundational to our being and to all life, it’s vital that we find our way into ease and innocence with it. 

Living Tantra is about using everything to learn, leaving nothing out, so that you can feel more alive. It brings you more into connection with your body, desires, feelings and energies and from there into a deeper connection to others and to the world. 

We really need to embrace and integrate ALL parts of our being, including our sexual nature. Any part of us that is shut out will prevent us being fully alive and fulfilled. Equally, anything that we over-use or use in a dysfunctional way will stop the flow of our aliveness or divert our energies into cycles of addiction or dependency. Integrating our sexual energy allows us to use and enjoy this powerful energy without misusing it. It helps us to ground ourselves in our own body, to trust ourselves more deeply and to build confidence. These lessons then ripple through all aspects of our lives, supporting us to build stronger relationships with partners, family and colleagues and supporting our creativity and ability to give our unique gifts to the world. 

As well as working with sexuality, we use parts work to explore shadow parts and to bring consciousness and a loving embrace to all aspects of who we are. We work to integrate all our feelings and how to ‘BE with’ rather than act out in response to them, so that we develop a deeper love for ourselves. 

The book takes you on a journey using everyday life experience to gently and lovingly explore your inner world and become aware of habitual behaviours. Here’s an example of an exercise in the book to find out how we ‘exit’ from being in connection

OUR HABITUAL EXITS

1. Reflect on exits that you use habitually. For example: checking your mobile phone, talking to avoid the intimacy of a silence, feeling angry to avoid feeling sad or vulnerable, feeling sad to avoid feeling angry, eating to avoid feeling anything, reading to avoid whatever is happening now, acting out (creating some outer drama to divert from our inner experience and feelings)and acting in (turning on ourselves in judgement or criticism).

Even though some of these activities or behaviours can be alive and in the flow of life, they can also be distractions from life. Beware of justifying something as life’s activities. We know when we are addicted to something. Be willing to look and challenge yourself. Beware of challenging others. No-one likes being told they are doing it wrong, and it most often leads to defensiveness and contraction rather than to increased awareness. We all have our favourite exits. Which are yours? Again, be curious and practise noticing without judging. Isn’t that fascinating? “Whenever I’m a bit bored/sad/uncomfortable, I reach for …” I suggest taking time to reflect back over a week or two and listing the exit strategies you have noticed in your journal each evening. 

2. Consider what you would be feeling if you didn’t use the exit strategy. Ask yourself if you’d like to befriend that feeling. If you are ready to open more to the feeling, make an agreement with yourself to lean into the discomfort just a little. Go slow. You can start just imagining it being different. Imagine the situation without using the exits and enter the felt sense of that future imagining. So if you normally speak if there has been silence for more than 10 seconds, imagine how you’d feel if you give it a few more seconds. When you are ready, try it out in practice. 

We learn more quickly when we go slow and don’t push beyond what our nervous system is ready for. 

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