This article is about tantra workshops, tantra tips, and one on one tantra work is about the benefits and dangers of going to workshops and finding a safe and trustworthy practitioner. It is taken from our podcast with Rafaello Manacorda.
Steve: What is important to look for in a tantra practitioner in one on one work?
Rafaello: First of all, it is important to know your intention when you seek one on one work. When you go to see a sacred sexual practitioner. You could be looking for an expanded energetic experience, you are looking for a spiritual experience. Or, you could be looking for healing of trauma or blockages. Or you could look to expand your pleasure threshold and that is totally fine. Having an intention always helps.
I believe it’s also very important to really listen to your heart when you are going to do this process with someone. What does your heart tell you about the practitioner that you are having conversations with… you will always have a conversation with a practitioner before going into hands-on work. Do you feel a resonance with this person? Do you feel safe? Do you feel listened to? Do you feel attended to? If instead the feeling is different, then maybe go for someone different.
Steve: Is there a difference for men and women when they are looking for a practitioner?
Rafaello: In an ideal world, there shouldn’t be a problem but obviously, we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in collective trauma. There is a collective unbalance between the masculine and feminine, and practitioner work doesn’t necessarily escape that paradigm. In the real world, there is an extra layer of concern or caution when they decide to go to a male practitioner because most women have experienced male sexual energy in an abusive way. That creates a certain state of apprehension.
I also want to say that the masculine yang energy (this energy can be present in both men and women of course), it’s not riveted to the biological gender. This yang energy can be very healing when it is used with consciousness and love. It’s a very penetrating energy and therefore it can create trauma but it is potentially very healing. I would encourage women (and all men for that matter) who feel that they would like to experience the male energy in a healing/sacred setting to be brave and go look for it. Look at testimonials and you will see that when you find a good male practitioner there is a lot of amazing healing work you can do with him. Of course, you can do this with a woman as well.
Conscious male energy is very much needed and it is beautiful when it is there.
Steve: Yes. I definitely agree with looking at testimonials and seeing where and what they have studied. I know there are different trainings that people can take. Are there particular trainings we should look for in a practitioner?
Rafaello: You are asking someone who is facilitating practitioner training. I would refer to the one I am part of because I know it inside out. This is the ISTA practitioner training that I am doing with the amazing Triambika Ma Vive. Our training is very different from sexological bodywork or other forms of training. There are a lot of different trainings on offer and all are valid flavours and approaches. I would say the uniqueness in the training I am spearheading is the shamanic component. ISTA is a shamanic school so that is the flavour. Other trainings might draw more from the western sexology field and that’s also totally fine. Depending on what you feel drawn to, it’s a good idea to find a practitioner certified or recommended by any of these trainings.
I would like to add that as much as certification can give us a guideline we shouldn’t really put all of our intention on that. There has been great masters and healers that were not certified by anything. So the mind can look at certifications and testimonials. The heart can guide with intuition. Both of them together can guide you to the right place.
Steve: Great. I think that a practitioner should always talk about power and healing. The client should always be told that the healing is coming via them and the practitioner is facilitating their own healing. This negates the need for a “guru” status for the practitioner and this can happen in workshops as well.
Yes, you are touching the theme of power; it’s another big one. In fact, as a practitioner you are serving your clients – it’s a place of service and therefore you could see it as a power exchange. You are there for them, you are for them to really fulfil for their specific need; therefore you are in service. Yes, an honest, clear conversation beforehand is amazing. Empowering people is ultimately (as a practitioner) what we want to do. Where practitioner work really blossoms is when the client has a power experience outside of the session. Perhaps a week later they write you a message and say, “Hey, you know what? I was with a friend and this happened and it was amazing.” That’s where the transformation starts to happen.
In the session, you can (at best) plant seeds, be a catalyst and then it has to blossom in the clients real life.
Honestly, I feel that the era of gurus is coming to its end. We are finding a different way to share power and to share authority. It doesn’t mean that there is no place authority among human relationships but definitely, this pyramidal structure of gurus/masters and hierarchical line of authority is not what I am creating in my workshops. It is not what I am resonating with. So we are moving towards different ways of relating and authority. And ISTA (The School of Temple Arts) is very big on that. This is one reason why I am drawn to this field because of a different way of sharing power.
Steve: It’s definitely a big subject. In respect to workshops and men leading tantric/sexuality workshops… I have been to quite a number of them in Europe and almost all of the male facilitators I have seen (5 or 6) seems to have as the main prerogative that they want to sleep with as many women as possible (that come to the workshops). Some of them openly say, “yes, I am looking at sleeping with women in my workshops” others don’t say anything, others will play games in workshops. I have seen one facilitator emotionally provoke the boyfriend of a woman at one of the workshops because he wanted to “play with her” – it was ridiculous. What can we speak about now to bring awareness to this conversation?
Rafaello: This is such a big topic once again. I have been in a number of different settings, as a student, as a teacher, and it’s an ongoing process. I won’t claim that I have the perfect solution to that. I don’t think that anyone has. What I find that resonates with me at the moment is to create a field of agreements. One part is for the teachers to own their shadow and be fully conscious and fully open about it. There is no teacher that hasn’t got his or her shadow work to do (as long as we are incarnated in these bodies).
Openly talking about it is great.
The way I feel about it (and that may be different for you or the readers – it’s just my way), is that for me the problem is not so much who is sleeping with whom because I don’t perceive sexual interaction as this thing we need to be very, very careful about or cautious about – that’s not my approach.
My approach is about having clear agreements.
What I mean by that is that when I go into a workshop setting, I would like to know what are the agreements (for instance) erotic interaction between students and teachers. I have felt both as a teacher and as a student is much more safe in those places where I was openly told, “in this particular setting the teachers and students can interact erotically if they are in their mutual consent”. That creates a field where we know what is going to happen.
Or it could be the opposite, “no erotic interaction between students and pupils”.
This is a clear agreement.
When those agreements are not made and when everything is left to “common sense” or unspoken agreements, that’s where I feel unsafe. I think it’s relatively simple. It’s a matter of opening the workshop by clearly stating what is allowed and encouraged in that workshop. If that includes teachers and students can “pick each other up” and flirt with each other, exchange numbers, I’m fine with that. As long as it’s in the open, it’s an agreement and I am open to any kind of agreements.
I also want to take students out of a potential victim role and to really empower students to look and take care of their own boundaries. Of course, it’s important to take a safe space so that everyone feels safe. I do lots of workshops that are no nudity. Ultimately, what I am aiming for is each and every participant to state in every moment what they want and what they don’t want to do. This is when I find that people are really empowered.
Yes. Boundaries are extremely important. They are something we should be taught from a young age. It’s important to know them and speak to them when they come up. You are responsible for how you feel in your body and not for someone else’s feelings if you say no. It’s a very important point.
Elaine Young (London)
Araminta Barbour (Guatemala)
Triambika Ma Vive (Southern California)
Barbara Carellas (New York)
Shashi Solluna (Nomadic teacher)
Chantelle Raven (Perth, Australia)
Ruby May (Berlin + Nomadic)
Do you have experiences in tantra workshops or practitioners that you would like to talk about? Leave them in the comments below!