Tantra for Teens

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True Colors“, a ground-breaking annual conference for sexual minority youth, convened for its 10th anniversary in Hartford, Connecticut, March 21 and 22, 2003. This conference, formerly called “Children from the Shadows”, has served as a potent instrument of social change and expansion in our culture’s attitudes toward non-conventional sexual identities and preferences. Ten years ago, this population surely represented teens from the shadows, but thanks to the bold vision of the conference’s founder, Robin Passariello, MSW, this year’s attendees were impressively “out” and confident in their explorations of love and sex.

Approximately 1800 teen-agers attended workshops focusing on issues that lesbian, gay, bi, transgendered and questioning youth face. This year’s conference theme was “been there, done that. NOW WHAT?” Workshops covered a fantastic array of topics including: coming out to parents, queer friendly colleges, same sex domestic violence, explorations in body image, sexual freedom and the law, overcoming depression, safe sex, the politics of AIDS vaccines, art as activism, Biblical self defense, envisioneering as the art of life, making polyamorous relationships work, disabilities, younger and older male relationships, and a host of others.

As the mother of grown children and a co-founder of Greenwood Sudbury School in Hampton, CT, (founded upon the premise of pure democracy free of age restrictions, www.greenwood.nu), I value facilitating access to information for young people. What I brought to both days of the conference was a workshop entitled “Introduction to Tantra for Teens”. Going public with my study and practice of Tantra is recent, so I was both excited and terrified by this opportunity to introduce Tantra to these teen-agers. Also, creating a program that involves sexuality and young people treads into uncertain territory in our sexually conservative culture. To get help, I corresponded with Shavana Fineberg, a clinical psychologist in Boulder, CO whose focus for several years has been Tantra for teens.

The first day’s workshop was astonishing as an endless stream of young people poured through the door, ultimately filling the room beyond capacity. With something close to 90 participants, we were far too crowded for experiential exercises other than a sitting meditation, but the continual barrage of hands signaling enthusiastic questions drove the discussion.

The questions were excellent such as: How does Tantra work with oral sex? How can a man be multi-orgasmic? If a man practices voluntary ejaculation, would they still need to use birth control? You say Tantra encourages releasing goal orientation and also that Tantra is about a way of life and not just about sex. What does not having goal orientation mean in non-sexual areas? What does Tantra say about using drugs or other substances? How can Tantra work for two men? I have been tired of what feels like empty sex. How does Tantra give sex more meaning? I’ve been practicing self-pleasuring for a long time and I’m still not sure if I’ve had an orgasm. How can I tell? I hate it when certain parts of my body are touched and my boyfriend hates hugging? Can Tantra help us feel better about being touched in these areas?

This last question opened up a wonderful discussion on Tantra for healing. By simply resting a hand as close to the sensitized area as is tolerable, a willing friend may facilitate relaxation in that area. It is imperative that the person seeking healing feel deeply trusting that the friend is present with an attitude of being in service. The person seeking healing is the sole director of any changes in movement or pressure as they feel ready. Allowing for plenty of time is also important in supporting the body’s ability to relax.

The second day’s workshop of 50 participants included two sitting meditations, a basic Tantra meditation with a gentle focus on a circular breath, and a chakra breathing meditation. The chakra breathing, which included visualizing the associated colors as we moved up the “inner flute” along the spine, stimulated a question from a young woman who sees auras. She described seeing specific colors with different people in her life. As we explored the energies she felt from these individuals, we found a fascinating correlation between the colors of the auras and the chakras.

The workshop also covered such principles as the balancing of male and female energies and how this applies to everyone, gay or straight. The emphasis in Tantra on sex as energy rather than behavior was of great interest both days. How do we feel this energy within the self and learn to circulate energy with a partner? In what tiny space we could find, a volunteer and I demonstrated flowing energy through the mirroring exercise where partners lead and follow each other without words. With soft eye contact, we imagined we were reflecting the other in a mirror. We had a lovely energetic connection and our ability to be spontaneous and graceful through following the thread of energy was clear to the group.

The evaluations from both days’ workshops raved about this opportunity to explore Tantra. Comments included: the desire to learn more about Tantra, to explore more with meditation, an increased understanding of how Tantra assists in knowing your boundaries, seeing a path that can bring more meaning into sex, and encouraging the organizers to repeat this workshop for next year. Clearly, the True Colors teens were ready for the Tantric perspective on sexuality and interested to further explore its path of spirituality.

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Ecstatic Marriage and Family Institute of Fenton River Center

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