Workshop review: Tantra

Kindred Spirit Magazine

Leora Lightwoman has been running Tantra workshops for several years. A petite, charming woman, she is very tuned into the participants’ thoughts. We are expected, right from the start, to hold the gaze of strangers of the opposite sex; a deeply intimate experience that I could barely manage with former partners, let alone complete strangers. I find that after the initial discomfort, I can hold my partner’s gaze and the embarrassment subsides. And then, later in the afternoon, there’s nakedness and suddenly I realise I’m no longer in my comfort zone. It happens so suddenly that my jaw barely has time to hit the floor. One of Leora’s helpers is demonstrating the next exercise, a sort of firm massage and then a light fingertip touch that is called a ‘tantra touch’. She gets completely naked. As naked as the day she was born. She has curves. She is very beautiful and is ridiculously confident while totally naked in a roomful of strangers. Leora picks up on what we’re thinking and assures us that we can get as naked or not as we like. I’m thinking ‘not’. She then reassures us that nakedness is natural and you can tell that she’s probably had to say that several hundred times over the years that she’s taught this course. ‘Grow up!’  admonish my inner child who is still pointing and shocked at the fact that there’s a naked woman in the room.I am reassured by the fact that there are also prudes like me in the room who remain resolutely dressed. The space that Leora has created is, however, ‘sacred’ in a way that I have never experienced before. Sacred space is not just about lighting some incense and doing a little chant – it is about safety and comfort and protection. It is very rare to find a workshop where you feel you won’t be judged and in which you don’t judge others at all.

The last exercise of the day was the most profound for me and that’s saying something, given that I cried and hugged my way through most of the other exercises (where is that firm British resolve when you need it?). We were instructed to pair up with someone we hadn’t worked with that day and this gorgeous Hugh Laurie look-a-like gave me a huge beam from across the room.

When we stare into each other’s eyes, Leora had asked us to see ourselves in the other person. The idea is that you’re not concentrating on the external ‘do I fancy this man/woman?’ but that the person is mirroring you and you can see your own essence in them. Hugh Laurie man was ideally suited to mirroring me as we both clearly deflect uncomfortable feelings through humour. The exercise was about saying our feelings out loud; a prospect even more daunting than nudity. We were laughing
and kidding around like naughty school kids but when we stilled enough to do the exercise, I could see his – and my – pain that is always behind an armour of layers and layers of mockery, satire and humour. Suddenly I wasn’t laughing and he wasn’t laughing and for a split second we were present. I saw him. He saw me. The truth of us both, not strangers at a workshop or a man and a woman but just two sides of one coin being flipped over and over and over in a cosmic toss that was both playful and meaningful. Then the sensation was gone and we were silly kids having a laugh again. And that was perfect too.

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