Last weekend, I was so blessed to have the opportunity to join a TNT retreat exclusively for women-the TNT Women’s Heart Core Retreat. TNT is short for The New Tantra, a spiritual school founded by tantra teacher Alex Vartman, which is based on the tradition of the Crazy Wisdom teachings. In this quite radical approach, the teacher directly challenges the student’s egos, and shows them where they are “off’”, so that they can see themselves more clearly and hence grow spiritually. How spiritual we are is thus indicated by how little ego we have left.
We challenge our egos and face our fears by constantly practicing to do the opposite of what our ego-mind is telling us. We surrender ourselves to something that is bigger than our own egoic self, such as Jesus, the Buddha or any other enlightened being that has walked the earth. We practice deep devotion and pray to serve when we are stuck in a so-called ‘mindfuck’-when our minds create suffering by keeping us in compulsive destructive thinking. Alex Vartman‘s own definition of crazy wisdom goes as follows:
“Crazy wisdom is a radical, rare, but extremely powerful method to create long-term transformation in people that are developed enough to handle it. It is the antithesis (opposite) of the current “spiritual” trend of being nice to the ego… telling people that they are “perfect the way they are”… even though the person is still suffering through needless mind fucking. The “huffy fluffy” teachers use mind to try and create a spiritual “feel good” mood that wears off after a workshop. They avoid difficult subjects like sex, think they can get enlightened through yoga or eating right and say sweeping statements like “just drop the ego… move from your head to the heart”… Yes but how? Through thinking about it? Good luck!
Crazy wisdom directly insults the mechanism of ego. Why? Because it is good for business to insult your customers? No. Because the crazy wisdom teacher will use any unconventional method to wake the student up… including humorously, artfully and lovingly insulting the ego. Why? Because the teacher knows through years of teaching experience that this will polarize the head and heart. The head will scream in defiance in a predictable way… and the true heart (on the right side of the chest) will sing with relief to know the truth… and as an added bonus, the body will regain its childlike innocent horniness as it wakes up out of the negative effects of the ego that has been strengthened by the regular orgasm.”
This is the deepest teaching I have ever come across, and it has certainly changed my life. I am very grateful for all the growth, learnings and insights it has brought me so far. I humbly bow in deep gratitude. While I have formerly done workshops with Alex on Advanced Sex and devotion, this weekend was all about sisterhood and the divine feminine. Four powerful women, all of them advanced students in the TNT, have given their best to serve us with an amazing retreat.
The beginning of Friday night was a bit chaotic, and we learned what happens when we are totally in our feminine without any masculine structure. We were all over the place 😉 But as we gathered again in a circle, magic started to happen almost instantly. As I gazed into the space, my mind went quiet, and suddenly I saw Jesus and Mary spreading roses all over the floor! At first I couldn’t believe what I saw, but then I remembered to trust my intuition and let go. Soon after, Jesus came back to me and slapped and shook me as I was so stuck in my compulsive thinking patterns. It helped. Suddenly, I was rather awake, and as we were supposed to connect with a sister, a dear friend of mine turned to face me. Just holding my hand over her heart cracked her open and released something dark that she no longer needed. An enlightened being taking over one’s own body to serve in such a manner is called transmission. It was not me, Nadja, that opened her heart, it was Jesus working through me…I was just allowing it to happen. That night, I went to sleep feeling grateful, open and peaceful…
The following day was no less intense. After heart-opening confessions and holding and supporting each other in going deeper, by lunchtime I felt rather light-headed. Since the energies in the room were so high, I had to do my best to stay grounded. We explored different flavors or archetypes of the feminine, from light to dark, from the innocent virgin to the divine slut. All of these are aspects of the Big SHE, and if we deny any of them, we are denying parts of our selves. We explored each of these energies through dance and music. The virgin, the bimbo, the mother, the witch, the wild woman, Kali (an Indian goddess associated with empowerment and death) and the divine slut (a woman who is totally free and empowered in all aspects of her sexuality). There is no judgment between these aspect, light does not mean better than dark. All are useful and important and need to be acknowledged as parts of our feminine core.
This was fun and challenging at the same time. After this, we went on to do an exercise that was to help us heal the relationship with our mothers. One sister was to take on the role of the mother, while the other one could rest in her arms and ask for what she needed to heal and release old trauma. In my case, it turned out that I could not allow myself to be held by my sister, as there is a part of me that still feels afraid of being smothered by my mother’s love which most often feels somewhat infused with a certain neediness and wanting-energies. There was a sadness in me over this resistance-my inner girl was grieving over the fact that she could not fully allow herself to receive her mother’s love. As I sat there bawling my eyes out, my dear sister just held space for me, without trying to help me, fix me, or comfort me. She just sat there, totally still, transmitting loving presence. That is all that was needed. Her non-doing was the biggest gift she could give me in this moment.
After dinner, we held a release ceremony by the fire, where we burnt and left behind all lies and things we felt ashamed of so they would no longer hold us back. As we went back in, we had dressed up in beautiful, sexy clothes for the evening. Dressing up as a service to the divine is a deep feminine practice that should not be confused with vanity. Once we stop hiding in shame for who we are, we can let our light shine and give our beauty as a gift to the world. Sadly, there is so much competition going on between women these days that many of us constantly walk around afraid of being judged by other sisters. To heal this, we did an exercise where one woman would come to the front of the group and just stand there, showing herself, while her sisters opened their hearts to her, loving her, and admiring her beauty. I was one of the women who dared to step up. I have a tendency to hide, so I wanted to do the opposite and step slightly out of my comfort zone. It worked. I was met with genuine appreciation and love by my sisters, which felt so empowering and healing to me…Thank you.
The following morning I felt pretty tired as we partied long into the night. As we were sharing where we are in our process with the circle, one women suddenly stepped up and said she got a picture in her mind that she wanted to share with us. Out of that came one of the deepest teachings I have ever heard: she spoke about the vulnerable heart and why it feels so painful and scary to open our hearts. The image on the left is a sketch I made from when she was speaking. It shows the heart, which is where we used to live when we were children. It is where God or spirit lives, it is our true nature as enlightened beings. As we grew up, over the years we started to live more and more outside of the heart. We built walls around our hearts to protect ourselves as we learned that it was not allowed to be innocent, free and loving. We moved from living in God/love to living in fear/ego. Since we were not connected to our true nature as love anymore, we started to seek love from outside of ourselves, mostly from our intimate partners. But no matter how much love they would give us, it would never be enough, since the hole of need is so big it can never be filled. Hence we start blaming our partners for not giving us enough love anymore.
So we have built all these walls around our hearts to protect ourselves from hurt. If an arrow then hits our heart, it is painful, yes, but it only hurts on the surface, since it never really meets the deepest heart. Immediately, it bounces back, we project or defend ourselves and hurt the other back, rather than feeling our own hurt fully. Then we try to make the wall even thicker, to avoid future hurt. This is what keeps us in fear and isolation. If we for once could allow ourselves to let the arrow go into and through the heart, the pain would tear down the walls we have built around our hearts, and we could become the phoenix rising from the ashes. Pain and love are the same thing, she explained. Love the pain and it will heal you. Wow! Another great example of pure transmission. This teaching was “downloaded” directly from source, and we all have the capacity to do this, we just have forgotten how to open up for it. We were truly blessed to hear it right there and then.
Linking in to this, one of the teachers, Trinity, shared her deep insights and learnings about living spiritual relationships with us. From her own experience, she saw how much romantic dreaming we project on our (potential) partners. We are always looking for The One to give us everything and make us happy and fulfilled forever. Obviously, this is not possible, for as long as we live outside of our hearts, in fear and ego, not even all the love in the world can fill our inner hole. Inevitably, this dream will always lead to disappointment.
In opposition to this “romantic dream relationship” stands the “spiritual relationship.” This is where we get when we stop projecting our longings onto another person and start to bring ourselves home again. We use the relationship as a tool for spiritual growth, rather than expecting it to make us happy. We challenge each other to stretch our comfort zones and thereby serve our mutual growth. When hurt arises, instead of throwing it back to where it came from, we can be with it, let it burn through the walls we have built around our hearts and thereby become more loving and open. According to Trinity, this can eventually lead to enlightenment. Maybe I wasn’t so far off when I chose to call my upcoming book A Woman’s Guide to Living Enlightened Relationships. 😉
During the last exercise on Sunday, we were working in groups of four. One sister would lie in the middle, whereas the others were tuning into her body to feel what she needs and how they could best serve her in that moment. As it was my turn to lie down in the middle, I felt all the love and care from my sisters streaming through my body in one warm flow. My whole being was softening, opening, becoming more gentle and vulnerable. Afterwards, I felt totally melted open. And then it dawned on me: this is what I long for with my partner as well, this is all we long for in our hearts-to melt into softness and oneness. The feeling of separation that we are constantly in is so painful for our being that we over and over device strategies to either not feel that pain or find ways to get out of it. The most popular strategy, certainly amongst women, is the romantic dream. Realizing this, I want to practice melting itself. Going directly into the longing without using a strategy. Praying for opening, melting with my sisters, the trees in nature, the ocean, while making love…the possibilities are endless, and we do not need one particular person to do this with.
By now, you can probably image what space I was in by the end of the weekend. Before closing the circle, we did one last exercise, which I deem to be one of, if not the, most powerful exercise of the weekend. We were arranged in the space so that our bodies would form a statue or mandala, creating living art together. I was placed in the middle, facing a very powerful sister whom I just before shared a very deep meeting with. Coincidence? I don’t think so. As we were gazing into each other’s left eye, I tried to practice feeling and opening the right side of my heart, which is, according to Alex, the true, spiritual heart. I’ve always had a bit of a hard time with this practice and could judge myself for being closed or stuck or whatever. But no, this time it was different.
As I imagined my heart expanding, I felt a strong physical sensation in the right side of my chest. It felt as if it was about to explode. Suddenly, I had the same feeling in my womb, and I figured that the statement “the womb is a woman’s second heart” was true. My breathing got heavier, and at times it was hard to conduct these strong sensations, but I never let go of my sister’s left eye. We were giving energy to each other as we opened our hearts and bodies in one big, blissful orgasm. I have no idea for how long it lasted, but as I looked around me later on, I could see all our sisters surrounding us. Their faced looked so angelic-totally loving and innocent. I felt deep love and intimacy with all of them…
Coming home, my devotion was still strong, the energies were high, and I felt each of my prayers being answered immediately. The next morning though, I woke up feeling rather contracted. I was in a bad mood, slightly irritated and angry. Why could I not just feel love as I saw my man holding my gorgeous friend in his strong arms? I realized that my ego was getting really scared to loose control, and did everything in it’s power to regain it’s strength. I could feel it’s tight grip around my neck as I tried to pray but felt unable to do so. First, I needed to get really confessed with my man and my si*star* about my fears and judgments, so I could open up to vulnerability once more. It was not until I allowed myself to cry and become soft and open again that I felt able to pray for support.
Immediately, I got an opportunity to practice feeling the pain going into my heart without protecting myself from it. As my beloved confessed to me that he would like to meet my best friend alone some time, (because he feels a lot of love and attraction for her and believes that they have something to give to each other), I felt the arrow hitting my heart. My usual response would be to get sad or talk about it to not feel, but as I managed to stay conscious, felt it, opened to it. Staying open and looking into his eyes as I burnt through it. Eventually, I got so empty in my mind that he was totally pulled in by my energy and felt a strong transmission coming through. It was a very healing process, and after a while, I even suggested to him that they could meet at some point when I am away traveling. That was important for me as I released a little more of my fear of loosing him. For him, it was mostly important to be confessed with me, not holding back what is alive in him, and being totally met and loved from me in it…that is the practice of unconditional love and heart-opening, and I am deeply grateful for all the tools and teachings I received from TNT. They helped me immensely in this process. Thank you!
Now I tried to give a clear account of my experience, but words are small and can never express the deep feelings and transformational processes one experiences on a TNT workshop. It is sheer magic, and if you want to experience first hand what it is like, I strongly recommend you to attend a workshop yourself. I look forward to meeting you on one of them soon, dear sister.
Until then, all blessings for now,