Questioner: Could you tell me about your work Conscious Relating and how you see this as a pathway to work with oneself?
Talib: We are presenting a line of work which involves a progression of foundational stepping blocks for couples and individuals who want to evolve themselves through their relationships. Our personal understanding is that through a commitment to explore ourselves within our relations, we can expand our capacity to grow personally and spiritually. Slowly life becomes an adventure of discovery. We see Conscious Relating as a pathway. It is very personal to us as we are walking together with everyone we meet. This is the beauty of this work; it is a co-creation. We are all fellow travelers here so the work is shared and practiced with deep respect.
Shubhaa: At some point in my own work with myself, I came to understand that Talib is a mirror who indicates the aspects of myself which haven’t been integrated yet (patterns and traumas) or the parts of me that didn’t have the support to develop fully yet and which still act out from a childish state of consciousness.
In other words, all my reactions that come up in relating with my partner indicate something about me. The very reaction is like a clue into the inner world, that something is being touched, so my reaction has to do with me. This attitude places all the power back into my hands because I CANNOT change the other but I can transform myself. Understanding and the right tools are necessary and this is what Conscious Relating offers. One can start making shifts from a “blaming consciousness” towards a “connection consciousness”.
Questioner: How was this process of Sexual Intelligence created?
Talib: Sexual Intelligence was developed as one of the main pillars of our Conscious Relating work. In our approach, we see it is a bridge between modern science’s trauma healing and the ancient wisdom of eastern mysticism (Tantra).
We have been working with people and ourselves for many years within this area of relating and intimacy from both eastern and western approaches. We realized the important link between the deeper western trauma work, which addresses the healing of our psychological and emotional wounds of shame, neglect, abandonment, layers of disassociated shock, and the eastern sciences of Tantra, which traditionally uses sexual energy as a pathway to transform our subconscious. It’s a very interesting and powerful link! We have been discovering that to mature into an intimate relationship, we first need to befriend our own vulnerability. This link between Trauma and Tantra has been a super important exploration for us personally as a couple and we see the need in others today as well, so it has been developing over many years.
Shubhaa: Yes, we were witnessing many people entering into Tantra work who didn’t have the basic knowledge and tools to work and navigate with their own wounds when they were triggered in the deeper intimacy work. It was bringing up a lot of unresolved trauma in their nervous systems, which was preventing people from really being able to be present in the more subtle energy work of Tantra.
When we move closer into intimacy, it is natural that our wounds come up – what hasn’t been integrated yet in our system comes to the surface to heal. The wounds of shame or humiliation (something is wrong with me, or I should be different than I am…) or layers of shock which create sexual and emotional dysfunction in both men and women come to the surface. Many times, it creates difficulties and challenges within intimate relationships, or insecurities in setting healthy boundaries within intimate explorations, or we simply loose ourselves in dissociation, indifference, pleasing or neediness without understanding what is really going on. Overriding ourselves many times or minimizing the delicate vulnerable layers within us is the result.
Talib: We stated to notice that there was a piece missing between these two areas in the personal development world. It has been a super important link for us personally and we see the need in others today as well, so it just came to us. Of course, this came with the support of all the inspiration we received from the universities and master teachers like Osho and the Brazilian master Sri Prembaba, Dan Segle in the USA, as well as many other beautiful teachers we have studied with over the years. It is a joint creation between us all in the bigger picture of things.
Questioner: Trauma is a big topic today in medical research and physiotherapy. How are you approaching Trauma in this work? Do you have a specific angle?
Talib: Yes, trauma is a big word and it is a bit scary for many of us or even maybe hard to identify with. It is important to understand what we are referring to as “trauma”. To put it very simply, we refer to trauma as the vital survival energy within the nervous system which tries to mobilize in response to a perceived threat or unfulfilled basic need and doesn’t have the opportunity to release or complete its mobilization from the body, and so becomes stuck in the nervous system. In other words, trauma is not in the “story” of what happened but is an energetic activation stored within the nervous system of the body. This means we can access it directly and give it the support it needs to heal (release). Our trauma often comes from the early development stages of life when our attachment system was still developing, reaching out for secure contact, especially in our relationships with our mothers or caretakers in the “mothering role” as our primary need for secure attachment in the first years of life. Of course, the “father role” also plays a very important part as well, but in those first months/years of life, the mothering presence is essential for developing a secure attachment. Unfortunately, in today’s busy society, it is very common that the quality of the “mothering presence”, loving touch, attunement to our needs, protection etc. is distracted in these early years, which has a direct effect on our intimate relationships later on in life as adults. So trauma manifests also through neglect, where we didn’t receive the attention or validation that we needed to truly feel loved. Unfortunately, this is experienced by most people today.
Shubhaa: For many of us, this is the root of the neediness we experience in relationships where we end up trying to force the other to love us, to feel safe and secure. This feeling of “it is never enough” is within the attachment system and not always directly because our partner is “not present”. Our partners just trigger this very young feeling/memory in our attachment system of “I want connection but I can’t have it” or “I am not really lovable as I am”. These deep beliefs can come from our early attachment experiences as these memories are still stored in our brain (nervous system) today. So when we reach out for contact today in relationships as adults, those early memories also get triggered in our brains. This can play out later in life by using our relationships or even sexual energy as a channel to fill that feeling of lack or emptiness within. Also, most of us have experienced the trauma of being rejected, abandoned, or even humiliated when we were developing our sensuality and sexuality, leaving marks on our delicate nervous system that gets woken up -when we move towards intimacy today. The good news and beauty of it is we can support our attachment systems to return to secure attachment. This is a process of literally rewiring our brains.
Talib: In our opinion, these traumas are the roots of our destructive relationships. Most people we meet today have experienced neglect as a very young child or teenager and therefore the symptoms of mistrust are very common when opening up for deeper contact.
Like Shubhaa said, the good news is we can heal these early attachment disruptions in our relational attachment system. We can access our natural relaxed confidence to feel free within our bodies and in contact with our essential energies. This work is focusing on this essential healing work by creating an opportunity to return to our natural sacred connection within intimacy.
Questioner: Tantra is another aspect of your work. What is Tantra? You mention a movement “from Trauma to Tantra” within Sexual Intelligence. How does this work?
Talib: Good question…;) It is a challenging question actually. For me, the essence of Tantra is more of a feeling experience rather than a thought process. This experience comes from the right brain, so being exact is not so easy with words. It is normally better expressed in poetry or art…. ;))
From my understanding, on the outside, Tantra is an eastern method of transforming consciousness though exercises which purify sexual energy and raise it’s vibration in union with the essential energy of love within the body. This creates a bridge between the material world and spiritual world and opens a quality of acceptance for all of life. Tantra accesses a deep awareness of sensitivity which can perceive and receive the subtle energies of our life force and connection to everything.
As of this moment, we understand Tantra as an inner state of tenderness….an inner space which brings the feeling of being held in a deep, warm embrace of acceptance, even when you are not in physical contact with another person. It is a state of knowing that I am loved just as I am, without exceptions or conditions. Not that the love is coming from the outside…rather springing up from an integrated connection within our own awareness. We see Tantra as a state of consciousness that we can only open up to receive…it comes as a guest….a visitor sent from the divine… and one of the doors to receive this visitor is through conscious sensuousness…
On a practical level, the Tantra vision is directly reflecting how we relate to people. For example, it’s easy to take some courses and do exercises and “practice Tantra” but when we open our eyes and really expose to ourselves how we are treating people who are close to us it shows us our shadow, which we need to have the courage to look at and take responsibility for. It is easy to use a spiritual mask that uses Tantra as sexual indulgence and feeding lust which is very different from love. This needs to be deeply understood at some point to go deeper. In another words, it is important to understand how we take or suck energy from others though our sexuality, to fill an inner emptiness caused by a disconnection from our inner source. This is what we refer to as “lust”: the dynamics involved in forcing the other to love me, so I don’t have to really face myself. In some way, Tantra teaches us how to identify this and re-align our sexual energy with the heart, which changes the whole vibration of intimacy and supports a reconnection with our essence. This is one aspect of the healing work.
So in Sexual Intelligence, we work on resolving the barriers that we have built up to feeling joy, aliveness, trust, pleasure and access a deep acceptance and sensuousness within the body, which heals and reconnects one to their own sense of divinity. In our understanding, Tantra is an ancient meeting of science and spirituality. It guides us to directly access our deepest attachment structures within the nervous system as a doorway towards our spiritual reality.
Shubhaa: hmmmm…beautiful. That touches me. For me, it’s about being really present in contact. I tell my clients many times that the way we touch each other is a golden key within Conscious Relating. A loving, present touch opens a doorway to our deepest secure attachment layers in our biology. This is a big part of what we are working with here: healing our capacity to be sensual, which has nothing really to do with sex. It is more the capacity to consciously feel. Naturally, when bringing this quality into sex later, it is wonderful and powerful. But first we need to understand some basic things about the importance of touch. For example, before we could speak as a child, in those early development stages of life, the way we knew we were loved was through being held, being touched with embodied presence, tenderness and warmth. A touch which emanated safety and reliability that generated an inner feeling that knew, “I am not alone, I am being loved,” that attuned us to feel protected. This type of relaxation is sacred. And in one way or another, it is what we all are searching for and longing for through our relationships – to reconnect to the sacredness and to be really connected. Tantra is teaching me that this connection comes from within me and that we are designed to receive this sacred embrace from life: to vibrate in gratitude, sharing the fullness and overflowing within the heart. I need to remember that myself; how I am truly designed to love. This is our challenge as humans: to wake up this remembrance of our sacredness. It is a path…
Talib: So we first work within the layers of “Trauma” to prepare the ground for Tantra to happen. It is not a doing in the end, it is remembering all the elements are within each one of us. So together we explore the alchemy of being, which holds a deep wisdom and knowing how to “transform our poisons into honey”.
We see Sexual Intelligence as the foundation work for Tantra or the bridge from physiotherapy to spiritual-based therapy. In other words, to clean the house and stabilize the foundations of trust and safety to be able to really feel confident, respected and relaxed to explore ourselves more deeply. Deep inner work really comes down to feeling safe enough because through safety and trust, the hidden layers open up to heal so we can learn to embrace the light and the dark sides both within us. The heart can hold wild and subtle, red-hot energy and a deep, expansive silence all in presence and awareness. This makes for a rich intimacy. Once we know the territory of our wounds we carry and how to be intimate with them, embrace them, feel them, share them with understanding and compassion within our relationships, the path brings joy, flowers of real friendship, honesty and real human values to the table. This makes all the difference. We then have the foundation available to feel relaxed in our bodies, clear with our boundaries and in contact with our sensitivity to really be able to feel the subtleness of energy for which Tantra guides us: to flow into and within our relationships.
Questioner: I never was sexually abused or had some “big” traumatic event so would this work still apply for me?
Shubhaa: This is a question that many people have so it’s a good one to address. The research today reveals that 1 out of 3 women and 1 out of 6 men have received some level of sexual abuse. So it is very common and, at the same time, a very delicate fact of our society. There has been so much sexual repression and conditioning around our sensuality and sexuality that unfortunately the result has been a lot of hidden abuse. I personally had experiences as a child of abuse which made this work all the more personal for both of us, but trauma is not only experienced as “sexual abuse”. Most of us experienced trauma that comes up in intimacy by some form of neglect, family or religious conditionings, lack of support or a lack of education in developmental stages while growing up. This can create confusion, shame and guilt, which affects our confidence and maturity to create healthy intimate relationships as adults today. Maybe some people even received messages that their sensuality or capacity to feel and express their true feelings wasn’t really important or essential. That only logical, rational thinking was valued in the family caused us to over develop our left brain (rational thinking) to meet the status quo and shut down our natural feeling capacity.
Many of us come to intimate relating and find ourselves somehow experiencing shame about feeling disconnected from sensations or emotional feelings in our body or end up covering up this vulnerable space by pleasing/preforming rather than feeling safe enough to be authentic with what is really happening inside.
Talib: After exploring deeply within ourselves, we recognized these delicate areas of shame, abandonment and layers of shock, and saw how important this healing work has been to enrich our capacity to love and be together intimately – not just when making love but BEING together, sharing the space at home with tenderness, enhanced sensitivity and sensuality, learning to have a deep respect for each others personal space and individual way to connect. The more we embrace and share these delicate insecurities and “wounded layers” together when they came up, the more trust develops between us and therefore much more expansion and freedom within intimacy is possible.
So in other words, most of us have trauma energy stored in our systems today because, in one way or another, it is part of being human on this planet today. So the work holds a space to embrace all of us where ever we are on the path. If we have had specific traumas or general society conditioning trauma, this is a space for us all to heal and explore together. So we create a safe container where we can feel secure and supported enough to experience ourselves as more open and accessible to contact and connection. This is where the healing happens; when we feel safe enough, our deeper layers naturally reveal themselves without needing to be forced or pushed. Each individual is respected for their own timing and unique way of working with themselves.
In other words, there is no right and wrong in the group room. It’s a meeting of people who love the truth and have an opportunity to share themselves more authentically.
Questioner: Who is this work for? Is it only for couples or can individuals also participate? What does it look like practically?
Shubhaa: This work is for anyone who longs to experience connection on a deeper level, both men and women who maybe on some level have come to a certain discontentment with the “normal way” of relating and feel there is something more available within their own potential to experience. You can come alone or in a couple.
Talib: The first days we focus more individually, on our personal situation or history to know ourselves a bit better and understand what trauma is, how it might be affecting our relationships today and gathering tools that can heal the most delicate layers we carry within. This includes states of mistrust, fear or shame that are natural when we have been hurt. After this first stage of the work, we start integrating the Tantra part into the field. Couples will be encouraged to explore together to integrate their individual work into their relational field by creating that space of respect, care and safety that are the building blocks for Tantra in the later phases of the work. Individuals (not in a relationship or with a partner present) will participate in guided meditations, exchange inquiries and elaborated exercises with other participants to deepen their own personal exploration within themselves. It’s as if the other becomes a loving mirror to see oneself more clearly. We hold the space with tenderness and non judgment, so we can learn to embrace all of ourselves as we are. It’s also important to say that we are not working directly with sex – there is no sexual contact in the group room.
Shubhaa: So each participant in a couple or alone has the opportunity to know themselves better, to build confidence and acceptance to look within themselves without judgment, without trying to “fix” themselves according to some society manufactured ideal. Believe it or not, somatic awareness is the healing element which makes all the difference in our work. So, we teach the language of the heart, which understands that an alchemy of transformation happens by allowing and experiencing a felt sense perception of things as they are, including the barriers we have built up around our intelligent vulnerability. This loving awareness starts melting the hardness, the numbness or masks of indifference we have built up over the years. It gives enough space to inquire with curiosity and open up our capacity to feel again, to be really present and to see and validate our personality’s protections as an intelligent strategy to survive in the environment we grew up in. There is nothing wrong with them, they are simply outdated. This starts to open up a deep compassion for ourselves and others. Compassion for ourselves and our story is the healing itself, but this needs to be an authentic compassion, which comes through revisiting that which shut us down in the first place. This time, we are touching on those delicate places with the resources and support we have today.
What can people expect in the daily schedule and activities within this process?
Talib: We start the day before breakfast with a 1 hour active meditation to prepare the energy for the day. After breakfast, we have our first session at 10:00 till 13:00 where we present a specific theory as a teaching, then experience a guided exercise to give a personal exploration of the teaching, offering an opportunity to create integration of the knowledge into practice. Then a lunch break and we return for the afternoon session until 17:00, where we have another integrative active mediation before dinner. Most days there will be an evening session until 21:30 or 22:00. So the days are quite structured and full on. We use the body a lot, incorporating dance, bio energetics and tension releasing exercises to access more sensitivity in the nervous system, as well as resourcing methods, inquiry and calming meditations to support the integration of the work.
What can someone expect to get out of this process?
Shubhaa: Our intention is to support people to find their inner intelligence, curiosity and passion for this path of Conscious Relating. We’re offering tools to support an ongoing exploration as a path of growth, which can be integrated into intimacy and life after the process.
We hope to inspire people to experience relating from a more balanced inner masculine presence, which expresses itself through courage, commitment, focus, adventure and the longing for freedom attuned with the receptivity, flexibility, intuitive, sensuous nature of our inner feminine qualities.
People can feel more human and tender with themselves and others, with a sense of grounded, relaxed confidence and more integration and acceptance of their sensuousness and vital passion. In other words, they will live a life with more joy, fun and options to exchange love.