Tantra and the Camino de Santiago
My journey into Tantra began 2 years ago when I walked the Camino de Santiago. I refer to it as my OMG trip because every day I had a new awakening. Walking 20 to 25 km a day affords you plenty of time to think. I realized the North American culture I had grown up in did not serve me emotionally. Man-made rules and conventions that I believed to be the absolute truth had created tremendous stress, and unhappiness in my life. My self-worth was tied to my image and what people thought of me. I had been indoctrinated by the church, our educational system, relationships and women’s magazines. This pilgrimage was solely to live in the moment and trust that everything I needed would be provided at the right time and in the right place. On day 35, beliefs I had for 40 years had been crushed and new liberating thoughts had replaced them.
How Did This Change Occur?
At the beginning of the trip, I walked focusing on living in the moment, no guidebooks, no plan, just trusting that what I needed would be provided. Surprised, other peregrinos often commented to me that, “It must be difficult to walk without a guidebook.” The pilgrim registration center gave everyone a one page sheet that listed the villages and the number of beds available in each, and that was my guide. There was no plan in the morning other than to note the names of 4 or 5 of villages that I possibly would reach that day, stopping if my knees were sore, if I met interesting people that I wanted to spend time with or I liked the village and wanted to explore. It seemed everyone else had meticulously planned their days with the distance to travel, where they would stay and some had their backpacks transported ahead of them. To many, my plan seemed to be unique, however that flexibility was precisely what made the trip so much fun and incredibly life-changing.
One of my Breakthroughs
I carried a great deal of shame due to limiting beliefs or blocks that were created many years prior. Single since my divorce 25 year before, I had relationships but also knew that I did not like commitment. Relationships were not something I said I wanted. I believed I must be broken because “everyone else” had relationships or spouses and I was embarrassed by my lack of a long term partner. One afternoon I had a glass of wine with Peter, one of the men staying in the alberge. The typical questions ensued. What do you do, married, any kids? My belief about my brokenness was about to be crushed. “No, never been married, no kids, not seeing anyone… didn’t really plan it that way,” he responded matter-of-factly with absolutely no embarrassment. Hold it, I had been married, had three beautiful children and now six grandchildren. That shame instantly released and internally I celebrated.
Yes… You Could Have Told Me that If I Had Asked You!
Tantra teaches us to be present and aware when we are with our partner or with ourselves in solo practice. You may think that belief was ridiculous and I agree. However, we all carry wounds and blocks from seemingly insignificant things. Unless, we choose to deal with them somatically or emotionally, they affect everything in our daily lives; our moods, our choices of activities, and yes, how we respond in intimate relationships. Tantra facilitates us breaking through blocks that are deeply seated in the subconscious and in the tissues of the body. No matter what age group I speak to, there are many people who are unsatisfied with their love making and relationships. In many cases one partner wants to work on it and the other doesn’t, an untenable relationship at best, but they choose to stay because they fear not finding another partner.
Back to Tantra and the Camino de Santiago
Around day 17, while walking through the meseta on a hot dusty day, I thought about my ex-husband who died 2 years prior. Before he passed, we came to an understanding and I forgave him which was more for my sake than his. I threw my hands up to the heavens and cried, “Give me a sign. Let me know you are ok.” Then as an afterthought, I called out to the Universe/Source/God and added a quick, “… make me open to a relationship!”
A Message from My Ex-husband
A day later, two women I knew were having a glass of wine at an outdoor table. Tired, and with potentially another 7 km to go, I decided to join them. Before I finished, they decided to head out but my second glass of wine seemed more enjoyable than walking at that point. There were two interesting men at the table and the conversation was pleasant so I stayed. Soon it was just me and one of the men left. We decided to have dinner and that was the end of my walking for the day. In a subsequent conversation, he told me that he had a radical, life-saving surgery which was similar to the one my ex-husband had before he died… a very uncommon surgery. Was it a coincidence?
A New Relationship
We walked together for the next 10 days and developed a wonderful year long relationship, something I did not expect to happen. My desire to study Tantra blossomed from this experience because when I returned to Canada, I realized so many married people I knew were not getting what they desire from their partners. Tantra teaches so much more than better sex. It fosters deep communication and connection which I believe is missing from most sexual encounters. When we understand that deep pain can be held in the body, we are much more patient and kind and are willing to help our partner work through it. It affords us the ability to reach a level of trust and emotionally safety that I have not seen before. I must warn you though, when you experience a Tantric partner, others pale in comparison.