Takeaways from Tantra Training

By Kendra Holliday | August 14, 2016

Barbara Carrellas

Barbara Carrellas

Back in June, I spent a week in NYC doing tantra training with Barbara Carrellas.

The experience blew me away. I am a changed person.

I expected to soak up new energy in a new city, new ideas, new people, and learn about tantra. I’ve read a lot about it online, plus I read Barbara’s book Urban Tantra twice – yet I still didn’t have a proper grasp on it. I think tantra is like Burning Man – you have to immerse yourself in it in order to “get it.”

Well, I got all that and more – I met other sex workers, fetish models, dominatrix, tantrikas, and other specialists. I learned about marketing, BDSM, gender politics, and about other cultures.

That picture of Barbara on the right? That’s what the week was like – we were sparkling, ecstatic, and open-hearted.

My NYC escort for the week was my good friend Matthew Stillman, who was also attending the course. He’s like a brother to me – I was so lucky to spend the week with him – it was my first time to NYC and I was so intimidated! I couldn’t have been matched with a better soul – he’s lived in NYC his entire life and was an excellent guide.

We walked all over the place and took the subway!!! Columbia University, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge… I reread A Tree Grows in Brooklyn on my trip, and found this slut-shaming passage still relevant, 70 years later:

Excerpt from A Tree Grows in Brookly

Excerpt from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Columbia University Library:

Columbia University

Columbia University

Reading in the garden:

Sun and moon book

Sun and moon book

Standing on a bridge in downtown NYC!

Happy to be in NYC!

Happy to be in NYC!

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

The workshop had an altar where you could leave offerings. Here is what I brought to place on it:

Stamps, feather, dalmatian stone

Stamps, feather, dalmatian stone

The stamps are from my grandfather’s collection. Each North American animal symbolizes a different quality. Here is information about the dalmatian stone. (At the end of our week together, I gave each person who attended a stone from my silk vulva bag, and Barbara got the dalmatian stone! I also had jasper, sun, moon, tiger’s eye, obsidian, agate, and more.)

Due to confidentiality, I can’t post photos from the workshop or share details that might identify participants, but I can tell you about some of my experiences in general terms:

  • We partnered up with others for a consent exercise, and we switched three times. We got to request something, and it was up to the other person if they were okay providing it. I experienced a light encounter, then a medium encounter, then a hard encounter. A male body worker touched my hair and body in a gentle, feathery way. Next, a dominatrix touched my hair, underarms, back, and torso – all in a confident, medium level. Then, another dominant woman gave me a rough massage. I love that the man was most gentle with me.
  • We cycled through another set of exercises, and this led me on a highly personal maiden/matron/crone journey. I LOVE this concept, but ageless sexuality expert Joan Price wishes there was a genderless version of it – perhaps child, adult, elder?
  • We explored chakras, yoni eggs, body image, safer sex, gender blending, and creative sexuality. Many of the sessions were like group therapy. I got to observe a diversity round table – eight of the participants were people of color, representing six countries.
  • We observed three Tantra Awakening Rituals, which involved three very different people on the massage table. I’ve taken this technique back with me, and am personalizing it. Each ritual is different and has a unique theme – the three I witnessed featured Life, Death, and Transformation. You never know how these rituals will unfold – they can be completely pleasurable, or they can bring up complex emotions. There can be laughter, or tears. This training took place the night after the Pulse massacre, so there was a heavy vibe. The Death ritual really tied into that – at the conclusion of his massage, he was completely covered with a sheet, which reminded me of a shroud of sorrow. As he wept, the white sheet darkened with tears.
  • I did solo breathing practice and it was super intense! I had a full body energy orgasm – I was shaking and felt electrified. I cried a lot this week – things really broke open. I felt more in touch and in love with my body than usual. I tapped into parts of my body I usually ignore. It amazing getting in touch with my body and spirit, and connecting them!
  • The last night, we had a play party. I got to play pierce, watch fireplay, hook and pulling, and joined an all-female masturbation circle, and watch a very lucky man enjoy a trifecta – sex with gorgeous blond, brunette and redheaded women! He was in heaven! I did hairplay with a very sweet young woman – I braided up my long hair into four braids, then twisted them together, like this:
I love braids!

I love braids!

and then I knelt in front of her and she slowly and ritualistically unraveled them, until my hair cascaded down my back, all wavy and goddess-like:

Goddess hair

Goddess hair

It felt so caring and soothing.

The entire week was so fun, educational, enlightening, emotional, and deep!

Here is my certificate!

Urban Tantra Certificate

Urban Tantra Certificate

I am by no means an expert in tantra, but I consider this an important milestone in my sexual education and healing journey. I have new tools and insight to incorporate into my sacred space.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve taken it slow – I’ve practiced solo a couple times, and have practiced on five of my friends. Themes have included Love, Peace, Healing, Reckoning, Grief… I’ll practice with a few more before I figure out next steps – I want to share this with the community, so stay tuned for events this fall!

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