This powerful training was developed by Baba Dez Nichols of the Sedona Temple and International School of Temple Arts to address the need to heal the world and transform sexual fear, guilt and shame through the tools of shamanism and spiritual awareness. Three of Baba Dez Nichols protégés, who have trained with him and are powerful and dedicated teachers in their own right; Triambika Vengoechea, Lawrence Lanoff, and Crystal Dawn Morris will be teaching the training November 1-6 in Sedona, AZ. They have all studied, assisted, and been blessed with the presence and wisdom of many masters around the world.
Q: Well, it’s a rare blessing to see all three of you at once. So, tell me a bit about yourselves… from where do you hail? What was your life before tantra?
TV: I was born in LA to immigrant parents from South America Colombia but spent most of my formative years growing up in Miami Beach, Florida… now as to before tantra…let me think back to several lifetimes ago… seriously though, I was involved in metaphysical groups, Eastern philosophy, yoga, practicing massage therapy… oh and did I mention I was a “lingerie model”?
CDM: Me? I was born in Illinois and moved around a lot as a kid. Before Tantra I was a mother, an entrepreneur, a Certified Nurse-Midwife and I had a Shamanic Healing Practice.
LL: Yeah, this is cool. Okay. So before tantra, I was just a little boy. I had my first training with a tantric master when I was 11. It was very cool because it primed me to the idea that there was more to sex than cells meeting cells.
Q: Let’s start with the obvious question… what’s this workshop about, that you three are teaching?
LL: This is a hands on training workshop. The idea is to give people direct experiences that they can then take back out into their lives.
CDM: As a nurse-midwife, Tantra teacher and intimacy coach I’ve seen how shame, guilt and fear can affect people’s self esteem, how it can affect their health and how it can impact relationships. This training is for those who are interested both in their own sexual healing as well as helping others to heal their sexuality. This training takes the participants on a journey of sexual healing and spiritual transformation. There is a focus on developing the healthy inner masculine qualities of presence, creating safety and living your life with purpose. We’ll also work on releasing shame, fear and guilt so the healthy inner feminine can express her emotions freely and access her creative energy. By going through their own personal healing processes, each participant can learn how to heal themselves as they acquire the tools for helping others, including: emotional release work, healing practices and rituals. We’ll also teach you how to create a following and create a livelihood as a Spiritual Sexual Shamanic Practitioner.
Q: Wow that’s a great answer. Is there anything you want to add, Tri?
TV: This training is also about learning how to embody the energy we are made of. We move deeply into looking at the roles of masculine and feminine within us both from a healthy and unhealthy perspective. Thus learning to create a happy inner marriage. It’s about working with our emotional body, learning about our power and releasing guilt shame and fear. Because if we are truly meant to be sexual healers in the world, these old beliefs that are holding us back need to shift so that we may fully be present. So in a way, this training is really for anyone who is ready to move into the next level of their being.
Q: Wonderful! Well, I’ll include a link below for anyone interested in finding out more about this workshop, but now, let’s delve deeper. Tri, what are the fundamental principles of your work?
TV: That the Sacred exists in all things. All of life is One, a continuum in which supreme consciousness pervades ‘everything’ in existence… all in an erotic dance of love with the energy of manifestation. ‘Everything’ includes the most profane and shadow aspects of the self. Because it’s in our shadow that the energy for awakening is locked up. Our primal life force has the ability to heal and awaken us. The breath is the vehicle of this life force, and the heart is the alchemical chalice where transformation takes place.
CDM: My principles are very similar… all of life is sacred. Emptiness and form are one. Duality arises out of a misunderstanding of our true nature. The world of form contains masculine and feminine energies. The answers we seek are within us. The body is a vehicle that allows Consciousness to grow and evolve through our life experience. All human beings have the capacity to awaken fully… because we are all divine.
Q: How about you Lawrence?
LL: Sure. Let go. Relax. Have fun.
Q: Very Zen. Okay, can you tell me more?
LL: You want more? You want to get into it? Okay, here we go. What I try to do with people is free their minds. The mind is a prison. If we get stuck in that prison – because of what we desire or believe, then we literally can’t move ahead in our lives.
In my experience, there is a very small group of people who are interested in seeing life more clearly. It’s not for everybody – but I assume if you’re open minded enough to explore sexuality with more clarity in your life – why not explore other sacred cows more clearly.
Frankly, asking questions is inevitable. Things change. There are things that we all believed 10 years ago – very strongly – that now seems absurd. In other words – we were incorrect in our beliefs.
For me, in my life, I have always been appreciative of the people who have come before me have been willing to speak their minds and ask questions – regardless of the fact that others may be offended. These people help us to expand our ideas about the nature of life, reality, sexuality, whatever.
The core idea of modern religious/spiritual thinking comes from ancient philosophers, priests, shaman, looking for answers to the universe. We think this is uniquely human, but self awareness, we are finding out, is an important component of survival for many animals. They may not be asking the big questions – why, how, etc – but some self awareness is essential.Our own self awareness is at a whole different level – but not in and of itself unique.
Deeply religious people always say to me, you have to have “faith”. The question I ask is simple. “Faith in what?” They will then proceed to tell me their beliefs about the world, god, etc. In my experience, these beliefs tend to fall into Category II or Category III mythologies. No big deal – it is what it is.
I’m a social scientist – so I observe.
I’m an artist, so I see patterns to things. I notice spaces between spaces.
I’m a filmmaker, so I see how easily people’s emotions are manipulated. Films are nothing but a total manipulation of the human emotional brain
I’m a critical thinker – so I see how bad we all are at thinking critically about things we FEEL strongly about.
We underestimate the power of our emotional, feeling brain – which shuts down the reflective brain when it’s active. Our deep, religious feelings emanate from the instinctive parts of our brain. So does sex. The more we understand our brains, the more we understand our strong reactions to life.
And so… I am looking to free people psychologically.
If your beliefs are working for you – then it’s all good. However, if we are like most other human mammals, inside we are not certain about our beliefs. We have nagging questions. There are major discrepancies – major gaps in our beliefs and the way things actually are. That’s why the catch all answer is “just have faith.”
However, when our belief systems begin to fail – I’m exactly your go to guy – for the fact that I don’t agree with all the canonized spiritual stuff that’s out there. Furthermore, I can directly explain how and why the systems have failed us.
Being able to see clearly is essential to leading a happy, healthy, sexual, free, joy filled life. I call it The New Enlightenment. An enlightenment that has no one particular ideology or “truth” – a willingness to let stuff go and move on when it’s no longer working for us.
An empowered enlightenment regarding our sexuality, our bodies, our minds, our spirituality. If there is a god-like being in the world – I am positive that she would encourage me to ask questions – and doesn’t need me to believe in her any more than I need you “to have faith and belief” in me.
Faith and belief are irrelevant to asking questions. We can have “faith” and ask questions. Who wouldn’t? It’s a big crazy world, and we would be nothing more than auto-matons if we didn’t ask questions.
We have to ask questions. We have to poke at the sacred cows in order to be truly free.
Q: Man, that’s brilliant! That’s a taste of what’s coming in this workshop huh? I could listen to you forever about this, but I have more questions. Tri, can you share with us the impact of the kind of work you do?
TV: Let me think… okay, I have one. I worked with a woman who had never been able to have an orgasm except without the help of a vibrator. She felt this presented a problem in her relationship and was very frustrating for her to try so hard but not be able to get there. There was also history of some sexual molestation when she was about 7. After asking her to discontinue using her vibrator so that she may begin to bring feeling in her body she was rather reluctant at first. She agreed to put it away. We worked together to activate and move the emotional numbness in her yoni and processed the molestation. We had only one very emotional session together. The next night she reported having her first orgasm via oral sex with her partner. Months later she contacted me wanting another session for her and her partner, they were now engaged and she was happy to report being “very orgasmic.” That’s the kind of healing that can happen in my work.
CDM: I’ve seen similar kinds of results. I love coaching couples and teaching them how to speak truthfully from their hearts. I teach a process called “the bubble.” This practice helps people share their desires, fears and boundaries. Clients have told me it has helped them work though challenging issues with awareness and compassion.
Q: Okay, new question… what was the greatest joy of your life? what did it teach you?
CDM: My children and grandchildren are my greatest joy. They teach me to love unconditionally.
LL: My greatest joys are in the relating with other people, sharing depth, communication, understanding. It always teaches me how incorrect I am when I assume that I can just “know” about somebody and what’s best for that person. Reality checking teaches me the humility of error.
TV: My greatest joy? I’d have to say that currently my greatest joy is my work and my niece. My work in the world teaches me service, patience, steadfastness, and how to experience limitless love. My niece just turned 15 and she is the love of my life, I treasure her deeply, she teaches me to connect with the time of my youth, be gentle with that little girl inside and remember to tell her nice things.
Q: How about your greatest sorrow?
TV: A very close family member was incarcerated and still is. The confusion, anger, sadness and grief around this situation has taught me how to and be with pain while maintaining an open heart. For this is now my personal mantra… “No matter what keep opening your heart.”
LL: My greatest sorrow has been regretting my regrets. The past is gone, so regretting regrets is a complete waste of life force for me.
CDM: For me… I went through a grieving process when I ended a six year relationship in 2001. It taught me the importance of living in the now and letting go of expectations about the future.
LL: Hey, we’re not terribly sorrowful people.
Q: Okay, let’s jump to a new question. Tri, tell me a story from childhood that explains how you became who you are…
TV: Wow, what a question. Let me think a minute… Okay, from an early age I was very curious about sex. Most of the information I was getting about sex came from older friends from grade-school, who knew little more than I did. So I took it upon myself to explore and find out what all the hype was about. So in 5th and 6th grade, the boys in my class were starting to get curious as well, yet their best attempt was the occasional ass grab or hand on my thigh while watching films in a semi darkened classroom. While other girls would scream and tattle-tell on boys, I would simply allow the experience to happen and sort of relax into it and wait to see what would happen next.
After a couple of years in my Catholic school, which produced tremendous confusion, I moved forward with boys tentatively. Concerned about what it meant to be a “good girl” versus a “slut” and even more concerned about getting caught, I found myself traveling to the local public high school to connect with my “cooler” friends. Let me tell you, young teenage catholic school girls will jump at the chance to call you a slut, even if your still a virgin. And so it was… My curiosity was stronger than the harsh label, so I went for it, besides I was likely having way more fun than they were.
At the same time, I had developed a keen interest in astrology. This science connected me to the moon, the planets and the earth. It revealed my inherent connectedness to all things. Antithetically in the 9th grade I entered a Christian youth group. Not so much because I was a devout Christian but because I loved the singing and the depth of emotion available on the spiritual retreats. I was fascinated by speaking in tongues, loved the hymns and loved the healing that took place in these states of trance.
One day I brought one of my Astrology magazines to the youth group only to have it condemned by the pastor and my peers telling me it was “not the word of God” and against Christian values and if it’s not the word of God as stated in the Bible then it must be the word of the Devil! But then I thought, “If the stars and the moon and the cycles of time are not God, then what is?” And so, that was the last time I ever went to Christian youth group!
Although Christianity taught me about forgiveness and family values… it left me pretty confused about sex… I could not understand how I could feel such a deep heartfelt sense of connection to God yet be a sinner at the same time. Eventually, I traded in the outdated religion of my parents for the fulfillment of metaphysical and esoteric studies, astrology classes, energy healing, meditation and chakra awareness. And that pretty much got me started in the direction I’m in today.
Q: Damn, I wanted to hear about the lingerie model thing…
TV: That’s what you want, huh? Okay, I was just about to tell you about the time I began working as a “lingerie model”… which was really a front for a live peep show where men could pick the “model” of their choice and be taken to a private room to have a little show. The models would encourage the customers to “make themselves more comfortable”, in other words, please feel free to masturbate and don’t forget to leave a tip.
It was between the ages of 18 and 22 and I was making more money than I knew what to do with! Even though I loved the shopping sprees… my self-esteem began to slowly crumble. I didn’t have a sense of my boundaries, I didn’t even know what they were until they got crossed. The ego boost of all the attention was intrinsically paired with a deep shame and guilt for what I was letting these men do to me. After a few short years in the industry I was left feeling debased and resentful.
Fortunately, after making regular visits to the local Siddha Yoga ashram in 1996, I decided to make a pilgrimage to India. It was in Dharamsala during a meditation retreat that I heard the word Tantra for the first time. Described to me at the time as a high level practice reserved only for Tibetan monks where they would use sexuality to attain a form of enlightenment, I knew instantly there was something there for me to explore.
I was deeply affected by my first trip to India. The following year I moved to Berkeley California and began my search for Tantra teachers. About the same time I had found myself completely broke and bruised with shame from the unconscious sexual activity in my past. My housemate suggested I try working at a sensual massage location she knew about. At first I was reluctant because if my history with sex work, but after a bit of prompting, assuring me I did not have to have sex or do anything I didn’t want to do she convinced me to check it out.
I discovered a trade I could offer my healing work while having an outlet for my intense sensual nature. It was there, at Divine Bodies on Vine Street in Berkeley that I found the book ‘Women of the Light’ by Kenneth Ray Stubbs. After reading the captivating stories of these female sexual healers from all walks of life, I knew then with perfect clarity that I had found my path.
My next move was to find a teacher. Initially I took classes with Jwala, Deborah Taj Anapol, Corynna Clark and Margot Anand. But it wasn’t until I serendipitously met Malia Oliver that I began to see the possibility of healing that was available to me through this path. Malia introduced me to Charles Muir and to Michael the Red, a daka living in LA. One warm evening in Michael’s home he offered to give me a sacred spot healing session. I mainly remember seeing his face morph into the men who I hated. The experiences I had felt so much shame for had been dug up and emotion around it was activated. I cried and cried, but amazingly, with complete lucidity! I told Michael to stay right where he was, on my spot while I screamed, “Get the fuck out of my body”. Love was literally being poured into my being as I exorcised these men out of my body. After that I was believer and my life would never be the same.
After this healing, Charles Muir became my teacher. I attended three magnificent levels of teacher trainings along with multiple personal experiences with Charles. I am so grateful to him! He offered me countless awakening healing sessions. At first, all I could feel was pain and numbness but with time things evolved into a beautiful journey of self-healing, self-love and self-empowerment. I received the teachings with tremendous fervor. Not only with sexual healing but diligently practicing the mantras, yantras and pranayama I was learning.
A few years later my desire for the source of these spiritual teachings took precedence over the rest of life. I met my Guru in the year 2000, and I quickly underwent an initiation into a Kashmiri Shaivite lineage. The secret tradition of Tantra was revealed to me via the teachings, eye-to-eye transmission, and elaborate ritual.
To this day I honor both traditional Tantra as well as modern day Tantra as amazing vehicles for awareness, indeed they are the foundation of what I teach today. And so I offer my life to this path and offer everything I’ve learned along the way to the students and the seekers who grace my life with their desire to learn. Blessed Be!
And thank you, Moses, for asking this question and letting me tell my story.
Q: Blessed be, babe.
LL: Don’t look at me! I’m not going to follow an act like that!
CDM: Triambika, your story was so beautiful, it made me want to share my story as well.
As a child I always felt a deep connection to spirituality. I felt a deep connection to the Earth, moon and stars. I loved mythology and lived in a world of “make believe”. By age 15, I was studying the Tarot and I Ching. At 16, I had a Samadhi experience and was in a state of bliss for a week. On the 8th day I woke up back in my normal state of consciousness. I was surprised and prayed for guidance. I was guided to find a man to have children with and start a family. I left LA and drove to Oregon where I joined a friend who was living on a commune. I met my future husband. We got married in 1974 and were married for 16 years. We have two sons, Elijah and Joshua. After Elijah’s birth I knew I wanted to become a midwife and planned to return to school when my children were old enough.
In 1975, we joined the “back to the land” movement. We bought 160 acres on top of a mountain in southeastern Oklahoma, near my great-grandparents homestead. We lived in a tent for a year and then moved into a small cabin we built. My son, Josh was born in the home of his great-grandfather in September, 1976.
And in 1985 I went to a midwifery conference and participated in an amazing shamanic ritual. Eventually, I moved to Sonoma County, and I started a drumming circle called the Wolf Lodge. Shortly thereafter, I took my first workshop with Michael Harner and began using the shamanic journey as a regular and frequent spiritual practice. I remember this one training, in Esalen – it was a two week Shamanic Healing Intensive with Michael Harner and Sandra Ingerman. I was in such an altered state by the end of the workshop that I could hear the whole world singing. This ecstatic state lasted for 2 months.
Fast forward another decade, and this is when I discovered SkyDancing Tantra. In the first hour I recognized that this path felt like coming home. For sometime I had been aware of feeling a split between my work as a nurse-midwife and my shamanic healing work. I felt had been praying to be guided to a way to bridge them. I immediately recognized SkyDancing Tantra as that bridge. I signed up for Margot Anand’s next workshop which was in September 2003 at Harbin Hot Springs, called The Yin and Yang of Ecstasy. On the second day I experienced a spontaneous SkyDancing initiation. At the end of a massage, as I rested on the table, a blue Buddha entered my root chakra and shot through me and out my crown. Suddenly, I was dancing in space with the Primordial Buddha. When I returned to my body I was in bliss. I took Margot’s Love and Ecstasy Training levels 1 and 2 in 2004.
Shortly afterwards, I went to visit a friend in Sedona. On seeing Sedona my heart chakra blasted open and I suddenly felt I had to move to Sedona. This made no sense on the rational level. When I returned to California I journeyed, prayed and meditated on it… But my Sedona was calling, so I sold my house and quit my job at Kaiser and moved to the desert and started learning as much as I could about Tantra.
And that’s how I came to be here, with you all.
Q: Thank you! Okay, I just have a couple of more questions… so what’s next for all of you, I mean, after this workshop?
TV: As always I continue to work on my self as a more conscious human being, I keep stalking my shadow and ask what it can teach me. On a worldly level, I’m excited to make my place in an international market.
CDM: I am committed to becoming fully awake through Tantra, meditation and self-inquiry.
LL: I’m continuing to do some amazing DVD’s with my business partner, Jaiya. We just completed our tantric oral sex series. It’s pretty amazing. Packed with techniques. I really love being able to use my 20 years of directing movies, and videos to teach sex education. It’s pretty awesome.
Q: Next question, give me one suggestion that will change my life today, if I start doing it.
TV: Stay present to the qualitative experience of every moment, indeed that is the only thing that’s really ever happening.
CDM: I find that daily Breathwork is a wonderful to keep the energy body activated, cleared and feel connected to the Divine.
LL: Focus on having fun. Your brain is an associative organ – which means, once you start rolling in one direction, there is a momentum, and all things related to that direction gather steam. Most of us take whatever brain vomit the brain gives us, and roll with that. That’s a mistake if you want to be happier in your life. We have to learn to take control of the brain – and focus on what we want – not in some pollyanna way, but really asking what do I need to do to feel better and better in my life. In my experience, these questions one way or another link back to sex and sexuality.
Q: Final question, spontaneously compose a poem or haiku that expresses your philosophy of life…
We Are here
We Are now
Now is all there IS
Isness is Love
Love is Eternal
And so are You
Love every moment
See the beauty in all things
Give generously of yourself
Offer gratitude for all the gifts you receive
I know that I
Neither does anybody else.
Q: Thank you, all of you, for your wisdom and your beauty. Namaste.