2 years ago, sitting around a campfire at Dance Camp East, a new friend told me he was going to spend 2 weeks at a Sexuality Festival. What’s that? I nodded and smiled, but inside I was baffled. Why would people need to go and celebrate sexuality in such an overt way? I just didn’t get it.
The flow of life
The banner for the Sexuality Gathering
Roll on 2 years and I’ve just spent a fortnight working at and participating in the 10th annual Sexuality Gathering at Osho Leela. I find myself deeply connected to the flow of life. I’m feeling vibrant, joyful, and connected to myself and others. I’m in my body, fully, rather than in my head, where I’ve resided most of my life. Colours are brighter and everything is vivid and alive. I know just what I need and want in the moment and I move effortlessly towards that. Exchanging hugs with others at the Closing Ceremony, I felt so ‘in love’ that each person I encountered was like an old and true friend.
I’ve realised that sexuality is just another manifestation of our life force. Yes, it is to be celebrated and enjoyed, as the origin of every single one of us. It’s only our conditioning in a sexually repressed society – and the sexual trauma that’s unfortunately rife as a result – that’s removed us from the simplicity and innocence of this truth.
Coming into the body
I’ve learned that working and playing with my sexuality in a conscious way is a key part of me coming more fully into my body and being more aware in the present moment. It’s just as important a piece of my spiritual journey as sitting meditation, breathing through my chakras or doing the active meditations such as the Humaniversity AUM.
15 years ago, I had a brief dalliance with a different brand of sexually orientated parties (let’s just say they weren’t very ‘conscious’), which unfortunately included a couple of traumatic, non-consensual experiences where my boundaries were crossed without any acknowledgment. The residue of that experience made me very wary indeed of the Love Lounge, even though all my friends loved this feature of the conscious sexuality festivals and told me it was a safe and empowering space. The Love Lounge is a soft, cosy night-time zone held by sexuality teachers Sy and Ash, where festival participants gather to spontaneously explore sensuality and sexuality within certain boundaries.
The first time I went there, with my partner, I had a strong visceral reaction to being in a space where people were being sexual around me. Comparison to other women, feeling inadequate, self-conscious and just plain triggered – the whole Pandora’s box was opened. It felt impossible that I could ever be comfortable there.
Taking a risk
But at this last festival, I took a risk and changed the pattern. I visited the Love Lounge with my partner and a circle of mutual female friends. I sat and breathed through the feelings – which were strong – while holding their hands and feeling their support. I asked for what I needed, and then I followed my desires for touch and intimacy while hearing theirs. It was as healing an experience as going to an intense workshop. The next time I went into the Love Lounge, l felt totally safe and comfortable to be myself, while allowing others to be themselves too, without seeing it as a threat to me. The respectful communication I received and witnessed – a total contrast to my previous experiences – was the key.
One of the great things about the Sexuality Gathering is that it offers workshops for both singles and couples. My partner and I used the festival as an opportunity to explore Tantra more deeply with each other, attending 3 Tantra workshops that included ritual and Tantric massage. Through these experiences, I was able to deepen the experience of my sexual energy within my own being that I had explored alone in a workshop on day 1, moving into playfulness, dance, devotion and union with him.
Boundaries, freedom and jealousy
In the lead up to the festival, we were both grappling with painful anxieties about how we would navigate our connections with others. What boundaries could we agree on that would honour us both but also allow enough exploration, learning and freedom? How could we take care of our vulnerable inner children (and the inevitable jealousy) while also making adult choices that weren’t ruled by fear? Many of my friends said they didn’t envy me having to be in this highly charged situation while being in a committed relationship.
The reality, though, is that by the end of the festival we were closer than ever. We did have one or two wobbles, but nothing like what my catastrophic imagination had conjured. We learned more about ourselves and each other and the trust between us deepened. And going forwards, I am excited about the Under 40’s Sexuality Festival in October!
Written by Khalsa (Morgan) Nichols. Khalsa is a writer, singer and group facilitator living and working at Osho Leela. www.morganknichols.com.