This year I delved even deeper into the topic of healing trauma and I decided to make an online course to support people in their process of healing trauma. Since launching the course and some related videos, I have been inundated with people reaching out to me to share of abuse in the world of Tantra…a kind of #metoo is unfolding in Tantra also.
Largely it appears to be one particular “tantra” school and one self-appointed “guru” that are linked to the majority of complaints, though there are also cases of violation of boundaries during individual tantric massage sessions that are coming out now also. In this article I want to speak to those who have felt violated during tantra massage, classes or with a co-called “guru’, and how to start the steps to recovery.
In the cases of being in a school or with a “guru”, the damage is often deeper entwined, as the person may have been immersed into the indoctrination and belief system of the school for some time. If they also were encouraged to cut off from old friends and even family then the indoctrination becomes stronger. This can create a lot of confusion and self-doubt, as the collective belief system often overrides the individual’s own inner-knowing compass. They have been so long told what to do and what to believe that they start to doubt their own inner knowing and their body’s wisdom and signals.
However, the inner-knowing is always in there somewhere, and it is just a matter of time and healing to restore.
Do we need someone else to open us up? The body opens when it feels safe and loved. It does not open by being told that it should open, nor by being forced physically or energetically. You do not ever need someone else to make you open up. It is wiser to seek the relaxation, safety and ease that makes you naturally open like a flower in the sunlight. This concept of needing to open up is one of the most dangerous concepts floating around the Tantra scene.
I am so fed up of hearing “You should be more open!”…the words are sheer violence. The answer in my head is: “You should make me feel more safe to open up in your presence”, though of course I have no desire to open up for such a person! I would rather walk away. However, sadly many people are tricked into believing that they need someone else to open them up, and this makes them highly susceptible to being violated.
If you have been in situations in which you felt violated or in which your own body wisdom was overridden, then this article is intended to be some guidelines to support your recovery. It is not a comprehensive trauma recovery program, but a few guidelines to begin your healing. Please feel into each one and see if it feels helpful, and just take what works for you.
8 Steps to Start Your Recovery
- Remove yourself from the influence of the school/ guru/ healer completely. This may mean blocking connections and deleting from your contacts. But especially it means keeping a physical distance.
- Find people to be around that make you feels safe and relaxed. This may be family, close friends (not involved with the school/guru) or a safe organization such as a yoga class or kirtan circle, but pick organizations that do not have a strong dogma…ones that allow for individuality. Notice all the time if you feel relaxed, and if in any situation you notice you feel contracted or uneasy, simply get up and leave. Start to reclaim your inner compass.
- Find safe places to be: maybe a favourite park or place in nature, a mellow café, a viewpoint where you like to sit. Let these become your outer resources.
- Stay connected to your inner sensations: take meditation periods to track the sensations in your body and then use this as a tool whenever you feel triggered or anxious. Let your inner sensations be your go-to place of safety and awareness.
- If you have flashbacks of being violated, say or shout “NO” out loud. You can also use your physical body as if pushing the other person away. This helps you to reclaim your boundaries.
- You may find others who have left that organization for similar reasons and it can sometimes be helpful to talk…to share can help validate what you have been through. However, it can be more helpful to focus on your own experiences rather than using all your energy against the perpetrator. It is more empowering to stay focused on your own experience.
- However, if you think this person or school is putting others at genuine risk of abuse or violation, then you may want to consider to contact an authority. If someone is raping people or coercing them into sex, even if they use the name “Tantra”, this is a serious offense.
- Find a therapist trained in trauma healing to support you.
The journey of healing trauma takes time. It is common to experience nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks and even sometimes feeling suicidal. These are genuine physiological symptoms and should be taken seriously. Please do reach out for help and support from a professional therapist to move through this stage of the healing.
Share with others, not necessarily with the intention to attack the perpetrator, but to empower other genuine seekers on the path and help them to avoid the same experiences. We need collectively to shift the group consensus of what is OK and what is normal. It is not OK to have sex with a massage client when the agreement was for massage. It is not OK to force someone else to open up (with words, energy or physical force). There is no need to sleep with any guru, teacher or healer on the path of Tantra.
There are so many gifts in the field of Tantra, but the whole field is getting misrepresented by a few who are abusing their power. Sexual exploration can be such an empowering journey for so many people. So let us create a safe and loving environment for that journey.
Shashi Solluna is an international Tantra teacher who has been teaching for over 15 years and is very familiar with the worldwide Tantra scene. The very core of her work is how to hold space for vulnerability: both ours and other people’s. This is her interpretation of the foundational belief of Tantra- which is to worship the Divine Feminine. Shashi’s work reflects this, both with men and women, as well as nature.
“To honour the vulnerability within all living beings is to live Tantra.”
She has recently produced an online course to support people in their journey from trauma (or feeling defensive and shut down) towards Tantra. This course is available here.