Community, Celibacy, and Service.
A month ago when I arrived to Tamera I decided I would be celibate for a bit. For how long? To be determined.
I wasn’t entirely sure why I was making this decision but it felt right when our group facilitators suggested it for just a week.
My intention that I began with was to give my body spaciousness, to reconnect with myself after a strong love connection over the summertime, to arrive to this intensive study time, and to develop slow and authentic contact with others.
And to be so intentional is refreshing. It is a practice for sure, to be able to show up with excitement and slow way down.
Immediately, these questions came up:
How do I establish contact without flirting and having them think i’m interested in sex? Can I flirt with men I am interested in and not have to do anything about it? Will this confirm that men only want to interact with me for sex? Am I worth anything to men if I am not having sex with them? What would it be like for me to establish friendship with men instead?
As I am rewriting them here, they almost seem like the wrong questions. I am already assuming that all men want is sex, and not friendship. I am assuming that I am only good at flirting and that I don’t know how to be myself with men (which actually may be partially true!). Though, I wonder because everyone knows I am celibate, I haven’t had many conversations with men. And WOW! The question if I am worth anything to men if I’m not having sex with them… I am confident I am not the only woman with this question.
At some point in this month of celibacy, there was a cacao ceremony and I drank a medicinal dose that helped me go into a deep meditative and transcendental state where I was taken back to my early childhood and recalled significant sexual memories from my first kiss, touches, and experiences all the way through to present day.
Some of them I didn't want to remember or accept, and many of them really beautiful and nourishing. I have, like many, had my fulfillment of really beautiful sexual experiences and a few really difficult ones.
I noticed that there was nothing wrong with any of my impulses or experiences. That my sexuality growing up was natural and healthy, but the environment was not. Sexuality for young people is extremely confusing, we are confused about who to talk to, or what information to follow. We are plundered with sex sex sex by the media and yet told to stay away from it. We aren’t taught about consent and to make sure we wear condoms. We are told it is okay to have feelings for the same sex yet we are bullied into hiding. I realized that my experience is a common experience, and that I see that there wasn’t a framework in which I could have a true, healthy education around sexuality and how to be in truth with it. To allow it to flow but to also have good boundaries. To know what is a healthy sexual encounter and what are red flags to look out for. How can I say no without having to make a deal or caretake the person coming on to me? What does a true yes feel like and what does no feel like?
I was able to see a healed picture of each of these situations, and in this, they are healed. I’m not saying that I don’t have work to do with them anymore, but I can say that I am not a victim to my experiences, for they all taught me something about my self in a way that I now have agency and experiences that have shaped my power to have boundaries and self-respect. I see also that I wish I had a mature woman who wasn’t my mother to guide me through this time, that young girls need mature women to be with them in their development.
And so, I shared what was happening with my group and others offered to have a support circle around my celibacy and what has been coming up for me, the challenges, and realizations. And after sharing in the support circle, I realized it would be great to have a mature woman from the group or from Tamera be someone I can check in with around my sexuality while I am here.
The next day, I was told that someone from the community said yes to my request for a guide and we are now checking in every few days about my dreams, developments, curiosities, who I am interested in, my questions about connecting with them… I am truly in the midst of a sex re-education!
I also realize to be celibate was so important for me to have these insights. If I had been with someone during this time, then I feel my mind would be fogged or distracted me from having this process. Yes, great, insights… super. Now, please touch me.. anyone… please! I noticed that I was getting cranky and needy for touch and all my patterns around not being enough, worthy, etc were quick to pop into my mind. My tapes of despair!
And then! Our group was organized into service throughout the project as a taste for day to day community life, how we organize ourselves based on what we are called to do in the moment, and being transparent about our processes within the group. I original felt called to work in the kitchen but when I heard that being with the dogs was a task, I felt my heart open immediately.
So, I had a work week with the dogs of Tamera! Every morning for the past week, I went to the Valley of the Dogs with a small group from our course where we walked, fed, and groomed them. It didn’t feel like a lot of work and when someone mentioned this to our facilitator, she reassured us that being in contact with the dogs is definitely service. These animals LOVE to be touched and loved. And humans love to touch and love them. And of course, the animal world is involved in the community process. To have a culture of peace, it is crucial that they are included.
Dogs are also excellent at mirroring our energy. Before we walked into the Valley where the dogs live, we centered ourselves - breathing in and out, and getting in touch with our emotions and calming ourselves. Dogs are very responsive to the energy of humans and each day, with our energy being different, the dogs also responded differently. When we came from an excited morning space, the dogs were more likely to bark louder and for longer. When we came from a calm morning, the dogs didn’t notice us until we were closer by to the door and were easier to settle down after our arrival.
I loved this teaching because it really showed me how my energy impacts other people and beings when I enter a space. And I don’t need to make myself wrong for having a higher or lower energy, but there is power in the awareness of it. Animals are also clear about letting us know when they want touch and when they don’t. And it is so great to practice non-attachment to forms of connection with them. If only humans were more like dogs!!
For me, this was a huge gift especially in this time of my limits around human contact - that I was able to be in touch with an animal that so easily fills my heart up and makes me feel connected, loved, and well sourced. By the end of the week, I felt so clearly in my center, well loved, worked out with sore muscles, and radiant. I was able to connect with others in my group from a resourced place that was authentic, real, and in resonance. I didn’t question if it was okay, I knew when it was and didn’t get offended when someone wanted to go talk to someone else.
It was clear to me as it was happening that animals are such a source of power and love for me. And even if we don't think we are being in service to the healing of the world because we aren't doing something "more political", anything we do through love is political. Any choice we make towards community is political. And by being a part of creating a new way of being with animals and each other in community, we develop the muscle memories and practice system change in our every day lives.