Tag Archives: Tantra

Words of Wisdom

6 Jan

Mmmm… content in the warmth of my room tonight in Wettenbostel.  The wind is blowing outside.  A little rough.  Some wind.  Some rain.  A door blown open now and then.  It is about 7:30pm, or should I say 19:30… and it is a time when generally and lately I have been at the Seminar Haus by myself.  The grounds itself are fairly big… enough to feel a little separate from the booming metropolis of Wettenbostel.. population I think 60 or something like that.  The wind blew in my hosts this evening with a little food.  Always a delight to see… my hosts… and the nourishment of course.  Some food for me.  Some food for our groups that is arriving sometime tomorrow evening.  I am told the group this weekend is a young Christian group… young as in 20 somethings.  A little different from the tone of seminars since I have been here… often intense groups and subjects.  Generally middle-aged and above diving through issues in Gestalt or couples therapy.  Sometimes yoga groups and then of course the is the Tantra group….but that is another story.  So this weekend should be a different tone from past seminars.

Tonight has been a pretty chill night.  My household chores are done and I have spent a little time musing on my computer.  I watched a little video on Ted.com by author Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the book Eat, Pray, Love.  I like her.  There is something about her as a writer, as a woman, that I find comforting.  Her presentation was on creativity.  It invited me in to consider… my own creativity.  And after that, I did a little chanting.  You know, my standard nam-myoho-regne-kyo plus the daily practice of reciting the Lotus Sutra.  These chants are the cornerstone of the practice of Nichiren Buddhism.

I was introduced to Nichiren Buddhism a little over a year ago by a friend, Lilly, who I know through my New Orleans Reiki group.  And then I was invited to their New Years 2010 celebration by my friend and Reiki Master, Elizabeth Ohmer Pellegrin.  It was an afternoon celebration of Nicherin Buddhism, chanting, and a wonderful, warm and social buffet lunch afterwards.  It is then I learned that Elizabeth had become a member and received what is called her Gohonzon, a scroll with Chinese and Sanscrit characters on it and the object of devotion in the practice.  She said she felt pulled to become a member and accept the Gohonzon.  She added that it gave her a breakthrough in her life in an area where she had been stuck for years.  Really, I thought.  “Should I do it?” I asked her. Wide-eyed, she nodded yes.  Ready to jump in, I leapt ahead and made an agreement to become a member of SGI on New Years day 2011 and within weeks I received my Gohonzon.

I received a book with the Lotus Sutra and a practice CD and quickly began to learn to chant the Sutra.  It was fun and I enjoyed having some place to put my attention, devotion and energy on a daily basis.  Lilly, a long-time Buddhist, was thrilled and an avid supporter.  She and her husband updated an alter they had for my Gohonzon and in a whirl of energy they delivered it to my home and prepared me for my practice.

I was encouraged to chant for what I wanted and situations I wanted to change in my life.  At the time I was selling gourmet mushrooms at the local farmers market in New Orleans.  “Chant for your mushroom sales, ” Lilly said. “I guarantee they will grow!”  So sure, I did it… and I have to say… that my mushroom sales went up.  In fact the doubled from what I was selling at the time.  So I kept chanting.

Mostly I was chanting for my healing.  My moving through my “whatever it is” that has been challenging me… most notably since my senior year in college.  Healing from life after ten years of the anti-depressent Paxil, the challenges of life after the drug, and the I wasn’t so sure that was troubling me beneath the surface.  So I chanted for that.  And chanted.  And I still chant for that.

Months after becoming a member everything in my life shifted and left me racing to find my bearings.  So many changes all at once…which opened the door for me to leave New Orleans and visit for a while here in Germany.  So I leapt.  I leapt in a space of enthusiasm and joy.  And I leapt in a space of uncertainty and discomfort in the face of the many challenges I still felt with myself.

I chanted for specific things as I prepared for my journey to Germany, piecing it together on virtually no budget and  a “wing and a prayer”.  I had bought a ticket to London through an online sale.  From there I needed to make arrangements to travel to Germany… and I wanted a place to stay in London for the night before I headed out on the next limb of my travel.  So I began to chant.  Chant specifically… for a free place to stay in London.  Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.  And with Lilly’s insistence, I didn’t give up.  Didn’t give up as the trip was nearing just weeks away and still no place to stay.

And then it happened.  It was a Monday night and I was heading to the Tulane University campus for a Landmark Education seminar.  I was “assisting” or helping out with the seminar.  On my way in, I saw a familiar face in a unfamiliar environment.  He was a seminar leader who lived in Austin, TX.  I knew him from my time living there and participating in Landmark Seminars post-Hurricane Katrina.  I did a double take and confirmed it was him and learned that he and a few other folks were visiting the seminar from Austin.

I arrived in the seminar room and greeted my friend and  “boss” for the evening who was leading the logistics for the seminar.  She knew about my upcoming travels and desire for a place to stay in London.  “You know” she said, referring to my friend and seminar leader from Austin, ” his mom lives in London and she hosts people sometimes when they come to town…”  What?!  I thought.  No way.  You have got to be kidding me!  I was so amazed and delighted and the wildness of events coming together… and my possible relief at fitting another piece of the details of my “miracle” journey… that is how to go to Europe with virtually no money. Later that night he and I chatted and with a little good fortune, we were able to arrange for me to stay with his mom for the night in London.  I was glad to offer her and her husband a little Reiki in gratitude.  And, as it turns out, his mom had practiced Nichiren Buddhism for about 15 years herself.  Interesting…

Nichiren Buddhism has been a lovely segment of my time here in Europe so far.  It is an international organization with groups that meet in villages, cities and towns all over the world.  Here in Wettenbostel, I have connected with an SGI group in Hamburg.  I have met many people there, visited with them and chanted with them in their homes.  I also have connected with Nichiren Buddhists closer to Wettenbostel in near-bye Lüneburg.

While visiting the Black Forest I was able to connect with two SGI different groups.  One in the lovely city of Karlsruhe and the other, an intimate gathering at a home in a village not far from Karlsruhe.  Both places brought me a little… I don’t know… peace.  There was something in me that just felt at ease… much-needed respites on my journeys.  Some care, some comfort and hospitality.  And the comfort of community… no matter where I am in the world.

So I continue to chant.  I chant for my healing, my life and my journey.  I chant for my friends and my family.  In this Buddhism they say the most important thing is to be happy.  And that is why we chant.  And I am learning from my time and practice that being happy isn’t about blissfully eating bonbons on a cloud.  It is meeting the challenges of my life as the unfold, doing my best to take responsibility for them, and continuing to move forward in my life and face them.  And not ever giving up.  So I chant, I chant for courage to face the challenges and discomfort with myself and my life.  I chant for healing.  I chant for inspiration.  I chant for love.  Ah, it is so good.  Nam-myoho-renge kyo, which literally means “I devote myself to the Lous Sutra.”  For me, true words of wisdom.

Being at ease

30 Nov

Ah!  Well, I have arrived in a sweet new location.  Looking outside of the window seeing the rolling hills.  I am now in a small village called Hilpertsau in an area in Germany known as the Black Forest…greeted by the kindness and hospitality of Imke and Michael, a host family I connected with through a website for travelers called Helpx.net.  Feeling the freshness and softness of this new space in the wake of leaving the fullness and richness of my time and experience in Wettenbostel.

My last few days in Wettenbostel were a busy time for me. Deeply wrapped in the experience of a workshop at Wettenbostel this past weekend and then spending time with Jörn, my German friend and fellow resident at the Seminar Haus, before I left today.  Drinking up all of the experience that was there for me, appreciating it as much as I could before departing.

The workshop I participated in was…a totally new experience for me.  You can call it an experiment… of sorts.  It was no ordinary workshop.  It was…a tantric workshop.  What is tantra you say?  Even after the workshop I cannot say that I know for sure.  What I can share, most simply expressed, is that tantra is a spiritual path that connects the spiritual and the erotic through the connection of the heart. Hmmm… sound interesting?

I was first encouraged to attend the workshop by my friend and former Wettenbostel porch companion, Dan. And one of the leaders of the tantra workshop, Astrid, is a Reiki Master and friend of the Seminar Haus.  The seminar is open to singles and couples and for this weekend I learned they were in need of more women to participate and I was welcome to join them.  So there it was… a door opening… dare I walk through?  After a little guidance from a few trusted voices… I decided to go ahead and… participate.

The workshop began on a Friday night.  New faces and voices filling the halls of the Seminar Haus.   I was a little nervous to participate.  Well, that is putting it mildly. But the kindness and sweetness of Astrid and the assistants helped to comfort me. During registration I was told a few ground rules… most importantly to love and trust myself in this experience. And then I was told to wear nice underclothes for that evening.  Okay, I thought.  Here we go.

We met in the seminar room in the Big Dojo, the room transformed into a warm living temple.  The other leader, Lucian, arrived with big energy wearing a bright red suit. The workshop was led in German.  And although I don’t speak German, I saw and watched and listened and when needed a helpful, friendly neighbor or assistant would whisper an English translation in my ear.

The seminar was divided into sessions with long generous breaks, giving me time to drink it what was offered.  Morning began with yoga and most sessions started with music and dancing… letting go a little bit, connecting with the body and with others. Then a new ritual or exercise was introduced, many with a chosen partner.  A few of the exercises helped to let go of emotional pain blocking the expression of self and sexual energy.  And still others helped to open up the sexual energy and get more connected to being in the body and its joy and innocense.

As the weekend progressed, my nervousness decreased a little bit as I began to see that, while challenging, the work and the exercises were really helping me and opening me. The other participants there were kind, warm and welcoming.  And I got to see and experience in myself… glimpses of things… I hardly knew were there.  I began to feel a little more ease in myself through exploring this expression.  Letting go of some of my boundaries that… just didn’t work anymore.

In the end for me the workshop experience was challenging, but deeply opening.  I saw a tremendous amount of healing for myself and others around being comfortable with and expressing myself sexually and just being at ease with me.  I got more connected to my own power.

And for now, here I am… in a sweet new spot.  The beginning of another journey.  New people, new experiences, more learning and healing.  Just a wandering flower… growing in Europe and beginning to be… at ease.