By: David Sonshine
I lowered myself into the warm bath at Jackson Hotsprings, deeply inhaling as the hot water enveloped my body. I noticed the woman to my left, sitting on the stairs reading a book with the word “Kundalini” printed on the spine. My limited knowledge told me that Kundalini energy was tied to sexual energy. As I closed my eyes and sunk deeper into the waters, I began to imagine what practices this woman knew of. Though my eyelids were closed, my attention was on her dark curly hair and the mix of apprehension and excitement that arose when I considered saying hi. I felt attraction and fear to cross the divide of strangerhood between us. Yet, my most important battles are against fear. I turned to face her.
“Learning about Kundalini?” I asked. She lowered the book and lifted her eyes to meet mine. They were bright blue, framed by eyelids that opened up like flower petals. She gave a wry smile that shone and nodded knowingly as she replied.
“Trying to.” she said.
“I’m very curious about it.” I remarked. “There’s a lot of energy to be tapped.” I moved the water around me with my arms.
“Oh, yes!” she exclaimed, lowering the book.
She began explaining her interest in the universal energy of Kundalini that pervades everything. As she spoke I held her gaze with focus and listened to her words. I enjoyed giving her all of my attention, seeing my attention enliven her. Already, an exchange had begun, though I wasn’t aware. The consequences would unfold over the next week.
She introduced herself as Sari, and told me she had always been connected to divine consciousness, since before she was born. Her practice and dharma was to share this realization with others through direct experience.
“Often”, she explained, “we act and live within our minds, our sex organs, our voices. My practice is channeling all my energy, my attention, through the heart.”
This resonated with me and I began to explore the practice while listening to her. I noticed the cool neutrality of my heart-filtered attention, not grasping or avoiding, but simply receiving and joyous. After much talking, we parted ways, but before she left she gave me her phone number and card. She touched me on the arm, briefly, and left. I was elated at the profound connection with someone who only an hour previous had been a stranger.
I left Oregon to spend the weekend with family. During that time, I messaged Sari explaining that I was attracted to her energy and that I would want to meet her again with the intention of learning practices from her. She replied positively, but mentioned that she normally charges a fee for her time. I replied I was open and didn’t want to commit to a structured session. She was willing to explore this, but certainly her mentioning a financial transaction felt dissonant with how I’d perceived our organic conversation.
In the intervening days before we reconnected, I noticed I began to fantasize about what I’d encounter during our reunion. Fantasy doesn’t serve me, so when I noticed this I would redirect my attention. But the intimations of body exploration, physical exchange, breath connections all crept into my consciousness and built expectation.
Over this time my sexual energy built. By the time we saw each other again in Sierra Hotsprings, I was eager to reconnect. It was after dark and pouring cold rain outside the hotel when I arrived. Sari had just returned from reception with a key and we entered the room together. I noticed 2 beds, and Sari immediately asked, “is it OK if I take the big bed tonight? We can switch off.” I reactively masked my disappointment with positivity, “No problem!” I said, trying to integrate the dissonance between my expectations and what reality was serving me.
That moment was just the beginning of a correction that would take place in both of us as our expectations and reality came into alignment. That evening, we soaked in the springs, ate, and spoke. Facing each other on the couch, Sari confessed first about her relationship with physical intimacy and laid down the boundary that she desired a committed partner. I heard this with the same disappointed positivity I’d approached the sleeping arrangement. My heart wanted to close and run away. The rain continued to fall outside and I continued to focus on channeling my attention through my heart and holding her gaze.
Then we began to speak of Kundalini and sexuality. Sari spoke of her sexual arousal with joy. She explained her practice of masterbation, where she first brings her attention to her heart and smiles upon her arousal. I noticed that this isn’t something I do - look with joy and love at my arousal. The next part of the practice was to bring attention from the genitals, up into the Hara, that soft part between the hips and below the belly. If arousal dissipated, attention was drawn back down to the genitals, and then back up to the navel. In this way arousal would ebb and flow while attention would move up the body, settling on each chakra. Sari explained that by the time she arrived at the crown, the sexual energy was pure light. She said, “I don’t even need physical touch anymore!” and she moaned, “it’s so good!”
Sari was leaning back against the arm of the couch, hips open, breathing deeply. I was sitting upright, facing her, my left knee to the side and my right knee forward, between her legs. Actually, pressed against her crotch. As she spoke, describing her practice, she would pause and her eyes would close. I wondered what she was feeling. I began to feel something of my own.
Eventually, the conversation moved on to her relationship with divine consciousness and we shifted positions. I grew tired and got up. We each entered our respective beds and I felt a familiar and old coldness in my heart - rejection. But, the day had been long and I fell asleep, with a thought of holding her that I greeted me with first light.
In the morning, I asked vulnerably if she would keep me company in bed. Sari invited me over and I snuggled in and held her. She was without a top and I enjoyed holding her naked against me. I was curious about more, but knew that she did not want more, so I lay there, balanced between my desires and my fears of violating her boundaries.
We spent that day in the meditation pools in the middle of the forest. Steam rose from the water and the pine trees stood tall around us creating intricate patterns against the grey sky. It was still raining and the surface of the water was sprinkled with drops and ripples. We spoke about her work and what was taking place between the two of us.
In this vulnerable and honest place, and in the face of that fear which I name rejection, I shared with Sari that I was attracted to her. I asked if she was attracted to me. Her reply danced around the question by telling me that the dynamic between a student and a teacher is complicated and hazardous. She herself had been in physical intimacy with her teacher and it had clouded their learnings, hence her own.
She explained that she loves her sexual energy. That her arousal is something she celebrates and enjoys, on her own, and that she needs no other body or pornagraphy to play with her sexual energy. As she spoke, I drifted away from her in the warm pond, feeling a coldness that came with the realization that I was undesired. I wanted to shut down, close off to her to mirror the rejection I felt. But she continued to speak and I continued to give her my attention.
In a way, she had cut off a sexual channel between us. I realized that I would receive no sexual gratification from her and that my sexual energy was solely in my own hands. I imagined that energy coming up through my heart, bringing my attention to my chest and the simple joy and gratitude of being alive in a beautiful place. I felt a cord had been severed, a cord that was there only in my imagination.
Over the rest of the weekend, other cords would become severed as well. There was a cord that resented my teachers--my mother, ex-lover, and Yoga teacher--for holding themselves ‘better’ than me. This, too, was a phantom cord that didn’t actually exist. During our closing check-in at the end of our weekend together, I shared that I was feeling really good. I’d taken care of my own sexual energy, had kept up with my practice, and felt well rested. I expressed gratitude for Sari’s bringing me to the hot springs and for the openness to loving others that had begun to blossom with my 29th birthday. But, Sari was hurt. Why would I not admit that I should be most grateful to her for our conversations? She believed she was actually the cause of my well being.
I resisted this like a stubborn child, feeling that I hadn’t needed her to feel good about myself. Yet, as she expressed her own feelings of disappointment, I began to see something that I hadn’t seen before. I saw myself, through her perception of me, as divine and perfect, containing all the potential of joy, love, enlightenment, and creativity. She saw me this way and in holding that space for me, allowed me to see it myself! I realized, or rather felt, that this was the most precious gift anyone could give - a gift of realized potential, an ‘assist’ in the posture of ‘Higher Self’. I felt gratitude and for a moment saw the student prostrate before the feet of the god, becoming blessed in his devotion to the god, and understood the redemption in treating others as sacred.
I never had truly understood that the lessons of my teachers were never intended to ‘fix’ a ‘broken’ me, never meant as a message of inadequacy. In reality, these had been expressions of love and support! A vision was held by my teachers of my higher self and these instructions and advices were in service to that. I cried with joy and relief as I drove back to San Francisco after the weekend. The coldness in my heart had melted through old wounds and I felt free from old self-judgements and stiff resistances. I realize more that the journey to liberation is one of shedding the beliefs we carry about ourselves. There is only one belief as there is only one truth and they are the same. We are each miracles, divine forms, dancing gods and goddesses. Maya, the mitote, the Smokey Mirror, has split our awareness of this into two, and from there, the multitudes of battles that plague our consciousness. Blessed are those who bathe in the light of truth and blessed are those with whom they share it.
With overflowing gratitude for the brilliant light in this world,
About David Sonshine
I met Kula's Coby and Ananda on a surf trip to Troncones. They held my first cacao ceremony, but not my last. I returned to my job in San Francisco, but later after quitting, I'd meet back up with them in Peru for more ceremony. I help the Kula market their life-changing trainings and retreats - it's a perfect way to promote openness in the world and follow my internal compass towards the nomadic life.