May 062016
 

American culture can turn a well-intentioned holiday into a painful knife twist to the soul for anyone who doesn’t fit within the idealized demographic of a perfect family. Nowhere is this more pervasive and obvious than in the ritual observances of Mother’s Day.

Have you ever stood in front of a long rack of Mother’s Day cards and wondered how you could possibly find a card that could say something truthful about your relationship with your mother? Have you ever felt resentful that you felt obligated to send a card at all? Have you desperately searched for a card that says nothing more than “Thinking of you on Mothers Day”—without a hint of what you’re actually thinking? If you answered yes to any of these, read on. This is for you.

I know that my mother loved me. (I’m only able to say that since a recent dinner with my childhood best friend, Donna, who was so certain of it that she was able to help me believe it.) My mother had untreated emotional and psychological problems that made her unstable and ill-equipped to be my mom. Growing up with her was like living in a house filled with land mines on which I would inevitably step whenever I let my guard down. As an adult, I had to learn how to love and nurture myself in ways that I did not learn at home. In honor of Mother’s Day, I’ve condensed many years of healing into a simple ceremony for all of us who had less than ideal relationships with our mothers.  It’s an antidote to feeling guilty, angry, resentful and left out when some well meaning stranger wishes us “Happy Mother’s Day” without a clue as to how impossible that is for us.

This ceremony is for those of us who have/had mothers who:

  • abandoned us
  • deserted us
  • are missing-in-in action, either physically or mentally
  • abused us physically or emotionally
  • manipulated us
  • were violent or cruel
  • were wholly unsuited to the job of motherhood
  • you have had to break up with
  • have broken up with you
  • have—for whatever reason—been unable to fulfill the role of motherhood
  • or, [your situation here:__________________________________]

The ceremony:

Take a few big, cleansing, centering breaths.

Choose to believe (if only for the length of this ritual) that your mother was doing the best she could—even if that best was dreadful—with the knowledge, resources, and abilities she had at the time. (If this feels difficult or even impossible, fake it. Ask yourself what it would feel like if you could believe that your mother was doing the best she could at the time, and go with that.)

Now, write down one thing you are grateful to your mother for—just one thing—even if that one thing is very small or kind of weird. (Of course, you can list more if you like.)

Next, write down one thing (more if you like) that you can forgive your mother for. Remember, forgiveness does not mean forgetting or excusing or justifying. It means releasing yourself from the past so you can move forward. If you can’t forgive her for anything today, write down something you might be able to forgive her for in the future.

If your mother was incapable of mothering you properly, you had to become your own best mom. It’s time to honor you for the great mothering job that you did for you. Write down some of the ways you have been a great mom to yourself—ways you have supported, loved, encouraged, cared for, and protected yourself. Take your time with this one. Write down at least ten ways.

Many of us have coped by finding surrogate mothers—other people who could be there for us when we needed the kind of mom we did not grow up with. Write down the name(s) of these people and three things you are grateful to them for. If it feels right, contact them and tell them. Or send them a card. If that doesn’t feel appropriate, or if they are no longer alive, just send them a little prayer of gratitude.

Now, one last step: go to the store and find a perfect Mother’s Day card for you to send to you. Sign it. Mail it to yourself. Be excited when it arrives.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Apr 112016
 

I was invited by the cast and producers of Caitlyn Jenner’s GLAAD-Award-winning reality series I Am Cait to join them in New Orleans to teach them all how to have Gender-Free Orgasms—full-body ecstatic, orgasmic experiences that can be achieved with only breath and imagination. In the process of getting from taping to broadcast, I learned a valuable reality TV lesson: Never appear in the same episode as Kris Jenner (with 6.84 million Twitter followers at last count) if you want your segment to make it to final cut! Ha! Seriously, she deserved the air time. She and Caitlyn had a touching and important conversation that was definitely worth the airtime devoted to it.

But what about my segment? Well, Caitlyn and the producers liked it so much that they wanted to make sure that you could still see it. So they have featured it on the official I Am Cait site and here it is. (Sorry about the intro ad you may have to watch first. It’s from the E! Network.)

So now you can see all the fun we had having Gender-Free Orgasms.

There is a serious point to all of this. Our intention in exploring Gender-Free Orgasms so publicly was to show trans and non-binary gendered folks that orgasmic, ecstatic experiences need not be any more related to your genitals than your gender is. Cast member Chandi Moore—who works with at-risk queer and trans youth—and I hope to create a program using Tantra-based techniques like Gender-Free Orgasms to help young people make healthier choices about sex.

My sincere thanks to Caitlyn, Kate, Candis, Chandi, Jenny, Ella, and producers Andrea Metz and Melissa Bidwell for helping to get out the message that pleasure is an integral part of the trans experience.

Let’s Bust Some Myths

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Feb 172016
 

I read two great articles recently. They both bust myths about what sex “should” be and what it “shouldn’t.” In doing so, they throw open the doors for all the things sex could be.

     One of the main reasons I wrote my book Ecstasy is Necessary was to help people understand they they weren’t broken or weird just because their desire(s) didn’t match the standard that was being help up as normal in the media that week. In this post—The Desire Myth—noted sexologist Cyndi Darnell writes:

  • If you could take a pill to want more of something you don’t want, would you take it?
  • If you could take a pill to make yourself watch sports when you were actually just into painting, would you do it?
  • If you could take a pill to make grocery shopping more exciting would you take it every time you needed supplies?
  • If you don’t particularly like something or you don’t want it, in most circumstances we would agree that not doing it would be perfectly reasonable.
  • Except when it comes to sex.
         We live in a society that tells us that if we don’t want sex, there  is something wrong with us; that we are broken or damaged in some way. We become afraid that it may spell disaster for our relationships or will change the way potential lovers may feel about us...  Read more of The Desire Myth here...

         Another reason I wrote Ecstasy is Necessary was to help people learn to take an erotic risk. I found that by writing about some edgy things that I had explored, I gave people permission to explore their own erotic edges. In that spirit, I want to introduce you to sex educator Mollena Lee Williams-Hass who has written and spoken extensively on the difference between racism and Race Play. What is Race Play? Mollena defines it as any type of play that openly embraces and explores the (either “real” or assumed) racial identity of the players within the context of a BDSM scene. The prime motive in a “Race Play” scene is to underscore and investigate the challenges of racial or cultural differences. Read the in-depth interview here...

         Both Mollena and Cyndi are graduates and team members of the Urban Tantra® Professional Training Program. In this—our signature program—we bust the myths about sexuality not only during the 6-day program, but on a daily basis thereafter.  If you’d like to bust some myths with us and join one of the most supportive and powerful sexual communities in the world, join us in New York City from 11-16 June 2016.  Don’t live nearby? We’ll be announcing dates and opening registration for Sydney, Australia soon!
Jan 292016
 

Please help me make sex education more inclusive of trans bodies and trans sexualities. Please take my survey and/or invite others to take it. It’s important and it’s fun!

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TRANSGEN

Who is invited to take this survey?

Anyone who identifies as a trans woman, trans man, non-binary, genderqueer, or in any way agender or gender non-conforming.

Why are you asking me about my genitals?

I realize this might seem forward. Some people may not want to talk about their genitals. If this is you, just close this browser window and forget I asked. But if you are willing to tell me (anonymously, of course) a bit about how you experience your bits, it will help me gather information that can be helpful to the trans community in several ways. My intentions are:

1) First and foremost, to spark respectful, honest, thoughtful conversations among trans people (and their partners, lovers and playmates) about trans sexuality—conversations that are both empowering and loving.

2) To encourage scientific and sociological studies about how trans genitals and sexuality work, and how trans people experience their bodies, genitals and sexuality over their lifetimes. Further, I want to encourage explorations and conversations free of titillation, morbid curiosity, biological essentialism, or categorization.

3) Shame reduction. You don’t have to be trans to experience shame about your body or your sexuality. But being trans does open the door to levels of shame unique to this community. Realizing that you are not alone or weird is one of the most effective shame-reducing strategies. Sharing the results of this survey will help with this.

4) To empower and assist trans people to create better relationships—amongst themselves, and with lovers and care providers—by making it easier to talk about this stuff.

5) To provide bodyworkers and somatic sex educators with information they need to work more knowledgeably with trans bodies. 

Who am I to be asking all this?

I am Barbara Carrellas, an author, sexologist and sex educator who has been working with sex and gender diverse communities for more than 25 years. I have been in a primary relationship with Kate Bornstein, a non-binary trans woman for nearly 20 years. Here’s my background: http://barbaracarrellas.com/about-barbara-carrellas/

In the mid-1990’s Chester Mainard and I created the Erotic Awakening Massages for People with Pussies and for People with Penises. These massages combined breath work and precise erotic, genital touch to create a unique erotic experience. In the course of observing and touching hundreds of genitals both in private sessions and in workshops, Chester and I became convinced that genitals themselves had no gender. They were all the same Jell-o poured into an infinite variety of Jell-o molds. We also discovered that being able to explore and discuss genitals and sexuality in safe, open spaces resulted in profound healings, shame reduction, and erotic empowerment.

This past September I premiered my Erotic Awakening Massage for Sex and Gender Diversity—essentially the same massage, but designed for people of non-binary gender. In this massage we un-gendered genitals, which ceased being markers of any gender whatsoever. Genitals and surrounding muscles, nerves and so on were all simply unique bits of erotic tissue to be explored like an undiscovered land. The result was liberation, especially for the transpeople in the room. Suddenly, the genitals of transpeople were being discussed with the same ease and wonder and depth as we had been discussing everyone else’s genitals. Further, those workshops led to discussions among transpeople themselves—and a great deal of excitement.

This is what inspired me to take this conversation to the next level with the survey.

What am I going to do with your answers?

The information provided by you and by others will help determine my decisions about how this information can best help people. My primary intention, as I have said, is to stimulate conversation on a worldwide level. I will also be using the information you give me for sex education purposes, such as workshops, books, blogs, forums, and peer education. I intend to share this information with the graduates and students of my Urban Tantra® Professional Training Program. This program has a high percentage of trans therapists, bodyworkers, sex educators, academics, artists, and other practitioners who, in turn, work with the trans community in many capacities. In general, it is my intention to make sex education more inclusive of trans bodies and trans sexualities.

Here’s permission and encouragement to PLAY this week!

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Dec 312015
 

When I was a kid I LOVED this week between the holidays! It was the one non-summer week when I didn’t have to do anything for anyone else. No school, no lessons, no activities. Just long hours playing with my new toys and indulging in creative projects. As an adult I have had to relearn how to use this week for creativity, play and self care. And that’s the theme of this week’s short video—self love and self care—dedicated especially to (but definitely not limited to) all of the sexuality professionals in my community.

Watch this and learn how to practice one of my favorite and most effective self-loving techniques—one you can use it all year long.

Thumbnail Promo #2

This email is also your reminder that registration is open for the Urban Tantra® Professional Training Program. For the first time in more than 5 years, I'm bringing my most intensive, in-depth program back to New York City from 11 - 16th June 2016. The first five people to register and pay before 3rd January get $200 off  the registration price.

“The Urban Tantra® Professional Training Program was a major reset for me at a time when I was feeling burnt out and overwhelmed. It really helped me to focus and get motivated again to take my business to the next level." Caroline Carrington, Tantra Educator, JewelintheLotusCoaching.com

Sign up now and join me in committing to a more joyful, playful life and a more successful business in 2016.

THE URBAN TANTRA® PROFESSIONAL TRAINING PROGRAM

11-16th June, 2016

New York City

Find out more and Register Here.

Ecstatically yours,

Barbara

An Alternative to Columbus Day

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Oct 112015
 

I am very troubled by this weekend’s Columbus Day holiday. I have been out of the country the past few Octobers, so I have been able to avoid the feelings of shame and embarrassment I feel about living in a country that continues to dedicate a holiday to a man responsible for the enslavement, brutalization and genocide of native peoples—despite widespread knowledge that this was the case. I believe this is possible because, as a country, we invisibilize Native Americans. It’s easy to ignore or minimize the feelings and fates of people we seldom see or hear about.

In Australia, folks have created a way that everyone can show awareness and respect for Aboriginal culture and heritage and the ongoing relationship the traditional owners have with their land. My friends and colleagues are part of a movement that begins every meeting, event or gathering with an Acknowledgement of Country. At the start of the event someone stands up and says something along the lines of:

“I would like to acknowledge that this meeting is being held on Aboriginal land and recognise the strength, resilience and capacity of Aboriginal people on this land. I would like to show my respect and acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and the elders past and present.”

Ready to start a movement?

How about starting your event in the USA with “I would like to acknowledge that this meeting is being held on Native American land and I wish to recognize the strength, resilience and capacity of Native American people on this land. I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land, and show my respect to the elders past and present.”

Want more information and inspiration about Acknowledgment of Country?http://www.creativespirits.info/…/welcome-to-country-acknow…

Want to get more involved? 8 American cities have abolished Columbus Day and replaced it with Indigenous People’s Day. Your city or town could be next. Visit your next city or town council meeting and propose the change.http://usuncut.com/…/these-8-cities-just-abolished-columbu…/

Any suggestions, improvements or other ideas? Just comment below. I am hoping that we can come up with some solid practical pro-active approaches to offer people not only on Columbus Day, but also on Thanksgiving Day (which Native Americans refer to as The Day of Mourning.) Right now I'm trying to find a reputable charity that works to prevent Native American Teen Suicide. I'm also interested in Native-run substance abuse programs, especially those grounded in Native spirituality. I'm hoping to compile a list so that on "holidays" such as these we can give people something concrete to support. For example, giving the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner to a fund that supports queer Native youth. 

How to Take an Erotic Risk

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Aug 012015
 

One of my favorite observations about great sex was made by sex therapist Jack Morin, who did extensive research on peak sexual experiences. Jack said that a peak sexual experience is the result of just the right combination of safety and risk. I couldn’t agree more.

Think about a really hot sexual experience you have had. What made you feel safe enough to let go? What made it risky enough to be exciting? Learning to create sexual experiences with the perfect balance of safety and risk can transform your sexual encounters into ecstatic experiences.

Before you start taking new sexual risks you’ll want to create a safety net. This is not the kind of safety your mother meant when she called after you, “Be careful!” as you left the house. If your mother was anything like mine, that “Be careful” meant “Don’t do anything risky.” As you no doubt remember, the risky things your mom warned you about were always the most fun. In the realm of ecstatic and erotic experiences, they still are.

The kind of safety I’m talking about means being being sufficiently supported to take a risk. This level of support occurs at different lengths and depths in different situations for each individual. Safety—and what creates it—is a highly individual choice. Some people, for example, feel more comfortable learning new erotic skills with a group in a workshop setting. Others could not even imagine learning these skills in anything other than a private session with only their partner and a teacher present.

The principle of being sufficiently support to take a risk also applies to relationships. Our most successful and exciting relationships are those in which we are both supported and challenged. Whether it’s your life partner, the director of a play you’re performing in, the editor of the book you’re writing, your coach or your boss, the relationships we treasure and remember are those in which we feel closest to a perfect balance of challenge and support, risk and reward.

Once you have some idea of the nature and extent of the safety and support you need, you can begin to imagine the erotic and ecstatic adventures you’d like to take. Our fantasies are potent sources of inspiration. Certainly, we cannot live out all our fantasies. Many of our fantasies would be either dangerous or impossible to play out in real life. But our fantasies give us clues to our longings.

Set aside time to daydream erotically. Whether you lie on a beach, walk in the woods, masturbate or meditate, give yourself space to fantasize. Push beyond old familiar fantasies into something new and fresh. Breathe. Use your breath to keep your attention focused on imagining creative new sexual scenarios.

If you have trouble finding your desire, ask yourself variations on the question “If I knew what I wanted, what would it be?”, such as:

If I knew what erotic adventure I wanted to take next, what would that be?

If I knew who I wanted to take an erotic risk with, who would that be?

If I knew how I wanted to feel after my next ecstatic experience, what would that feeling be?

Listen to your body. Desire is commonly experienced as a physical longing that pulls your body toward the experience about which your mind may be hesitant. The clues to your deepest turn-ons may be physical, not mental.

Erotic adventuring may feel uncomfortable or anxiety-producing at times, particularly when you’re first imagining or discussing your fantasy or desire. Remember, nothing great, noble, profound, or ecstatic has ever been achieved by someone who is primarily concerned with staying safely within their comfort zone. Emotional uneasiness is a part of the process when we step out of that comfort zone into our as-yet-unknown “something more.” A new erotic or ecstatic activity opens us to a new level of intimacy with ourselves, and with others. Being exposed to any new levels of intensity can be scary. Just like in the gym or in yoga class, your first attempts may be stiff and awkward. However, if you take a deeper breath and allow yourself to fall further into the posture or exercise, it first becomes less painful, then less uncomfortable, and finally, perfect. The same thing is true of sexual exploring.

If you experience a feeling of anxiety shortly into the process of taking a new erotic or ecstatic risk—so long as you’re not feeling paralyzed with fear and insecurity—know that you’re on the right path. It helps to use the affirmation “I make no judgments, no comparisons, and I release my need to understand.” This affirmation helps you move out of your critical mind and into your body. Remember that an erotic or ecstatic challenge that excites you—even to the point of occasional anxiety—has the potential to be a mind-blowing sexual experience.

Want more on erotic risk-taking? Check out my book Ecstasy is Necessary: A Practical Guide to Sex, Relationships and Oh So Much More. Or come to a workshop.

Some erotic books and movies that aren’t totally cheesy

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Jul 222015
 

Someone sent in a great question for my free webinar, Urban Tantra: What's In It For You on 22 July. It was: "Can you recommend some erotic books and movies that aren't totally cheesy?"

Since this person gave me no idea of their erotic preferences, it was hard to answer. So I gave a shout out to my community—a wise, wacky, and erotically intelligent bunch they are—and asked for their favorites. What a list they created! Here's what they suggested, with their comments. If you have any favorites we didn't list here, feel free to add them in the comments.

Anything made by Tristan Taormino .

Every film made by Gala van Ting and Sensate Films.

• Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, a film by Mira Nair. It isn't erotic per se, but it is moving on many levels, that level among them.

I have NO idea if this film is still available, but Hamlet - For the Love of Ophelia is fantastic. They spent some actual money on it. The costumes and sets are great. The scene in which Hamlet walks around talking to himself, trying to get his mother's advice about what to do with Ophelia as Gertrude has hot three-way sex on the bed behind him (he is oblivious) is hilarious. The orgy scene in the woods is just fun, fun, funBooks: my favorites..The Beauty Trilogy by Ann Rice. Plus she's finally putting out the 4th book soon.

My all time favourite erotic book is Carol Queen's The Leather Daddy and the Femme. Extraordinarily hot, and beautifully written. But it is niche.
Erotica: The Big Book of Orgasm by Rachel Kramer Bussel, or anything by Kristina Wright. Porn: Anything by Petra Joy, Shine Louise Houston, and I like www.Frolicme.com of late. Of course there's always my site, LadyCheeky.com (shameless plug).
Ladies Home Erotica. Pleasures edited by Lonnie Barbach -- and she has some others. Anais Nin (though slightly dark at times). I hear good things about the Collette books. Movies: Sirens, Secretary (also a little dark for some).
For BDSM erotica that's written by one who lives within, try KL Joy's Catalyst and Desire in the "Stories of..." series. Book three due soon!
Amilee & Dangerous Liasons!
Like Water for Chocolate. The book and the movie.
Pat/rick Califia's books. Henry & June the movie. And there is some great porn on Crash Pad.
Porn: Four Chambers. Pinklabel.tv. Jennifer Lyon Bell. Inside Flesh (for heavy fetish). Zahra Stardust.
Also Erika Lusts' porn is gorgeous. Also, if the person wants pornography, many Comstock films are good.
Erika Lust: Cabaret Desire
 Shine Louise Houston!
Any film made by Courtney Trouble or Heartless Productions, both very strong artistic bend and authentic performances.
Lie to Me as a film, Slow Hand as a beautiful book of erotica written by women.

How to Have an Ecstatic Solstice

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Dec 212014
 

Stay in the present moment.

Don't try so hard. 

Stay in the present moment. 

Drop your expectations and your judgments. 

Stay in the present moment. 

Surrender. 

Stay in the present moment. 

Be conscious. 

Stay in the present moment. 

Practice doing all of this throughout your holidays...

…in the present moment.

Happy Solstice!

With Love and Ecstasy from Barbara Carrellas and the international Urban Tantra Team:

Hayley Caspers, Jazz Goldman, David Lola Houston, Amanda Gay Love, Tara Phillips, Calle Rebinder, Jennie Rehbinder,

Electra Amore, Catherine Carter, Cyndi Darnell,

DK Green, Rebecca Lowrie, Rowan Tinca Parkes,

Eve Minax, Mollena Williams.

Announcing 2015 Dates for the Urban Tantra Professional Training Program

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Dec 082014
 
I’m thrilled to announce the worldwide dates for 2015:

Copenhagen, Denmark  5-10 May 2015 

Melbourne, Australia  15-20 September 2015

London, U.K.  20-25 October 2015

Register now and you’ll receive the earliest of early-bird rates available.

In addition to all you’ll learn in the training program, you’ll receive ongoing benefits as part of the Urban Tantra Community, including: 

• A free listing in the Practitioner Directory on the UTPTP web site. When I am asked for referrals, this is where I send people. So do our graduates. 

• Free listings for any of your Workshops and Events, worldwide. 

• Membership in an extraordinarily active and supportive private Facebook group. This worldwide, safe and supportive network has helped our graduates with everything from challenging client issues, to personal creative crises, to housing support on the road. 

• Visibility in the Urban Tantra Community News—a weekly online news digest dedicated to the purpose of informing the world about the amazing and life changing work that our graduates are doing.   

The Urban Tantra® Professional Training Program is designed especially for—but is not limited to—people who work with sex and sexuality. This intensive workshop will give you the skills to take your practice to the next level—both personally and professionally. Whether you are a tantrika, a pro domme, a daka/dakini, a sex therapist, a sex educator, a companion, or anyone else who uses or wants to use a more conscious approach to sexuality in your practice, this program is for you.

Still unsure? Email our local coordinators and have a chat. They will explain the program in detail so you can be sure it’s right for you. 

For Copenhagen contact Calle and Jennie: callejennie@urbantantra.org 

For Melbourne contact Tara: tara@urbantantra.org 

For London contact Amanda: amanda@urbantantra.org

I am looking forward to seeing you in 2015! 

Love, 

Barbara