Episode 26: Laurie Handlers, Tantra teacher, and author of Sex and Happiness: the Tantric Laws of Intimacy
"For me it's about women and men coming to grips with their differences. Just surrendering by putting down the swords and shields by which they make each other wrong. Coming to peace into a dance..."
In this podcast with Laurie Handlers, learn what the practice of Tantra brings out in people. It leads people to being more conscious in sexuality and communication. By working with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd chakras (chakra means energy center in the body), anyone can bring out emotions and memories that are stored down in the unconscious. Learn how to negotiate all in life of what gets activated in partnership and in sexual practice. It's messy AND rewarding. If you've been curious about exploring this side of yourself more deeply, you will definitely enjoy this podcast.
Anger, jealousy, etc. Some people avoid these difficult emotions, but Tantra teaches people how to stay open in these inevitable challenges of life. Laurie walks listeners through her personal experience and supports a life of full openness and honesty.
Beth Crittenden: Welcome to a Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews. I’m your host Beth Crittenden, coming to you from One Taste Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco. On tonight’s show we have Laurie Handlers visiting us from New York. For those of you who hang around One Taste New York we’ve got her tonight. Welcome Laurie.
Laurie Handlers: Thanks Beth it’s a pleasure to be here.
Beth Crittenden: Great. Laurie is a Tantra teacher and has been for a good long while now. She’s also written a book that we’re going to be talking about tonight called Sex and Happiness: The Trantric Laws of Intimacy.
Laurie Handlers: My vision is women and men dancing in eternal ecstasy on earth now. For me dancing is really important and women and men coming into peace. Coming to grips with their differences then coming to peace with each other. Just surrendering, putting down the swords and shields by which they make each other wrong and coming to peace into a dance if you will.
Beth Crittenden: First of all with the title like that, let’s not keep people waiting, what’s the book about?
Laurie Handlers: Well it’s really a lot about intimacy. It’s what I learned since practicing Tantra. That there are certain things that Tantra brings out in people. Consciously, being sexual, consciously being communicative then certain things come up when we, how do I want to say this to you? When we consciously work with the first and second and third chakras, chakras by the way are energy centers in the body, when we work with them, a lot of things come out. Things that we’ve been storing down like our fears, our insecurities, anger, sometimes rage, sometimes abandonment, feelings like that. All of these things come out where they’re stored in the unconscious and so over the years of practicing Tantra, it came to me that there’s a way to be in relationship with someone, to be intimate with someone knowing that this someone might be present when these things come up.
So the book is really about in sex, how to negotiate all these stuff of life that gets activated in sexuality. So it’s like that.
Beth Crittenden: And for someone who let’s say they have ten intimacy books to choose from, what would distinguish yours and your message from the other ones?
Laurie Handlers: Oh it’s funny, I read ten of them. When I was writing this book, I read every book on it that I could find. I don’t know, they were cutesy. They were very cute, never go to sleep angry, always say to your partner, “I love you” before you go to sleep. They seem like they’re cosmo method to little tips and I think the difference is that mine go really deep. One of my chapters is about honoring your anger. Meaning it’s a force inside, it’s a primal feeling and if we weren’t meant to have that feeling as a protector for safety reasons or for survival reasons then we wouldn’t have it. Why am I pushing it away? Why don’t I listen to it and see what it’s bringing up for me and then communicate it in a way that’s healthy?
You could say that I’m deep with the intimacy thing. It’s not to make all the books wrong, a lot of times them had very cutesy pattern things and I would say mine is anti cutesy.
Beth Crittenden: What’s been your experience that has you able to and interested, doing the deep level of work? The thing that you described, the angry, the jealousy and all that stuff, that’s pretty intense stuff to work with especially when you mix in with sex.
Laurie Handlers: Well isn’t that where it all comes out? Once we get sexual with someone then usually there is jealousy. I mean if they’re flirting with or talking to another person, if we think that we’re could lose them then that’s… You know here at One Taste you’re exploring some of those…
Beth Crittenden: Oh yeah.
Laurie Handlers: Yeah? Tantra forces all of that up and my interest in it is that, and first of all I’ve always been intense. I’ve never been the kind of person that could make a plastic layer on my face.
Beth Crittenden: So people know where you’re coming from.
Laurie Handlers: I could never hide what’s going on for me. It’s something’s wrong with me, you just have to look at me, you could read it. So I said let me see what I’m exploring on Tantra, let me see what I’ve explored over these years and see if it helps other people too. I love that stuff. Bring it on! I’d rather deal, listen just as a general rule of thumb, I’d rather, if you said to me I hate you. Not that I really want to increase hatred in the world, certainly not towards me but I’d rather hear that than have someone be nice to my face then go out and slash my tires because they’re so mad at me but they can’t tell me. I’d much rather get the straight scoop, so I’m teaching other people how to give each other the straight.
Beth Crittenden: What was the experience that hooked into this work? In your history, when did you know yeah this is hard but it’s also amazing and I’m going to do it.
Laurie Handlers: Well that doesn’t have an easy answer. I think I was born to do this. I think I was a teacher. I know I was a teacher from when I was about four years old. You’ve probably seen the Snoopy comics where Lucy always puts the shingle out and she’s giving advice. I was doing that, just like her so I know what I was doing that. I was meant to teach. I got my masters degree in education and I taught young children at first but I realized that I needed to communicate with adults. I went on to college teaching then I went on to the corporate world. I was a corporate trainer and a consultant.
I think this, this body of knowledge, I went into transformation work like into the basic body of knowledge of transformation, how people could transform their lives with possibility. Then I had a breakdown. I had a physical breakdown. My body started breaking down because I wasn’t paying attention to the signals inside my body that was saying I was under too much pressure. Someone in my life said why don’t you try this class in Tantra?
Beth Crittenden: To like relax and kind of like…
Laurie Handlers: Yeah she just said, “I think you’ll really like it.” I went to it and inside of the body work we were doing, we weren’t being intimate with each other in the class, occasionally we’d work with a partner and held hands or did eye gazing or we did one little massage where we run our fingers up the spine of the partner then the partners run their fingers up our spine.
Something happened to me in that class, I was crying and I remembered who I was as a self. It’s like I was taken back to a primordial memory as being almost part of the ocean and really knowing my place as I fit in the universe. The small little cellular being that connected to everything and I remembered who I was.
Beth Crittenden: Wow. What do you attribute that knowing to?
Laurie Handlers: I have no idea.
Beth Crittenden: That’s crazy and great!
Laurie Handlers: I know but I felt so happy. It was like there was nothing to worry about. I knew my place in the universe. I just went, I know I had been so involved in transformational work and in actually in enrollment with some of the people here in One Taste are involved that I’ve already talked to a lot of them. Those are the queens for me, involving people as many people as possible into this kind of work. I said to my teacher, how many people do you want? So what do you mean? Well I know thousands of people that need this and they’re on their way, all I have to do is call them. That started to happen and I got trained in leading Tantra and then I put my own spinson it and I started to do my own courses and more people came and more people came so it’s been a great ride.
Beth Crittenden: What is it that you say to people that has them take a chance on their first Tantra class?
Laurie Handlers: That’s a great question. I think for each individual, it’s different but it just happened this week with someone and I thought it was amazing. Some people right here in San Francisco were asking a friend of theirs to come to an up coming course that I’m doing here at One Taste. Their friend was very scared and she called me up and said she had no time, no money. That’s what everyone says. When they want to resist, they just say no time, no money and I know that’s not the truth. I also know people generate money for anything they want. Sony TV doesn’t give people sliding scales, they sell as many TVs as they want for the price and once or twice a year they’re on sale.
I said, let me get on the phone with her and what I said to her was look there’s a couple of things you have to know, one is there is no mistakes. The fact that someone put you in touch with me, put me in your path, it’s like you’re driving down your highway of life and all of a sudden an arrow appears and says take this turn. Your friends in this case was that arrow. They said take this turn and that’s not a mistake. That’s one thing and the second thing is most of the time the only reason any one takes a course in transformation of any kind and this one’s scary because it’s about sex, is because they love you enough to invite you to do it and most people wouldn’t do it except for that they have no idea what they’re going to get. So these people love you enough to invite you. I said let’s have a conversation a couple of days from now. Why don’t you generate some value for yourself?
We got off the phone and she called me a couple of days later and said, “Well I’m really afraid.” She watched a video on my website and my website by the way is butterflyworkshops.com and there’s a 13 minute video on it and she said, “I watched the video, I’m really scared. I need to get more scared but for me what I see for myself is that I could be afraid and I could get to another side of it.” I said to her I know Jill, you’ve done an amazing job of distinguishing value for yourself.
So when I said for every person it’s different. I try to find out what’s ailing them, what they complain about. What they wish was better in their life if they had all the options in the world of what to do, what would they do? And then I try to speak to that because I think this makes a difference those things in the human condition.
Beth Crittenden: Thank you. We’re going to take a short break now to support our sponsors. This is A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews at One Taste in San Francisco. I’m Beth Crittenden here with Laurie Handlers and please stay tune.
Beth Crittenden: Welcome back to A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews on personal life media. I’m your host Beth Crittenden and today’s episode is with Laurie Handlers, a Tantra teacher and author of Sex and Happiness: The Trantric Laws of Intimacy. If you would like to learn more about One Taste before we continue, you can visit www.onetastesf.com and we have centers in San Francisco and New York where people can come to make just about anything come true through the vehicle of their senses and connection where weaving orgasm into the world conversation and back into our bodies.
Laurie you mentioned your website is butterflyworkshops.com?
Laurie Handlers: It is.
Beth Crittenden: Why butterfly?
Laurie Handlers: Well butterfly is the Chinese symbol of transformation. They use the butterfly. Butterflies as you all know and most people know, they transform from caterpillars into butterflies. I had this question, could a caterpillar decline to transform? I lived in Washington D.C at that time. I spent a lot of time in Washington in my life. I went to the Smithsonian institution and I went to the butterfly expert. I spent the day with him. We were running around these fields of butterfly nets and everything. I just did that to spend some time with him so I could ask this one question. Could a caterpillar say no? And he said, “No, it’s in their DNA. They have to transform.”
What happens is inside of the pupa when the crystalis is formed, little cells come in and they’re butterfly cells and they start eating the caterpillar cells and completely inside of the liquid they completely change themselves from one state to another. When we have cells that eat us, we call that cancer in our bodies but in the crystalis of a caterpillar, butterfly cells eat the caterpillar cells to change.
What I realized at that time was that human beings think that they can postpone or deflect change and transformation in their lives but in fact it happens to them whether they want it to or not. In the world of transformation I say we might as well get on board with it and seek the transformation we seek as opposed to resist. Resisting is I think what causes a lot of our illnesses. Resisting change, resisting ideas, resisting feedback, resisting those feelings we were talking about earlier that are embedded especially in the first and second energy centers of the body.
Beth Crittenden: They’re there whether we admit or not.
Laurie Handlers: Exactly. So you by spreading orgasm as a wave throughout the world, you’re increasing people’s pleasure or their knowledge of sensation and at the same time as I said you rummage around in the area of the body. What comes up is also the toxic waste that people have shoveled under the rug and resisted dealing with. Because our upbringing doesn’t say when you feel really like having a temper tantrum, go ahead and have it. Well we are allowed to have that about this much of our little child life and the rest of them we’re suppose to be in control and that doesn’t work.
Beth Crittenden: What difference do you feel you’re making specifically? What’s important to you?
Laurie Handlers: I’ve always felt like I told the truth. People may have found me very abrupt in their lives but they cherish me in their life because they know if they looked ugly in a dress, I wasn’t going to let them go out in that dress. You know I would say, throw that dress out, put on something else. I basically speak the truth and I stand for integrity. Inside of that I have a corporate vision and my vision is women and men dancing in eternal ecstasy on earth now. For me dancing is really important and women and men coming to peace. Coming to grips with their differences then coming to peace with each other. Just surrendering, putting down their swords and shields by which they make each other wrong and coming to peace into a dance, if you will. Plus I want it to happen while I’m alive. I used to think of visions but I could never see myself in it but now I’m working fast now because I want to see it while I’m alive.
Beth Crittenden: What’s important about dancing?
Laurie Handlers: It’s in the body.
Beth Crittenden: Do you literary mean dancing to music, with each other or do you mean more relational?
Laurie Handlers: More relational and dancing to me is a… One of my teachers is Osho who is a famous Tantra teacher and Osho said, “Go so totally into the dance that there is no dancer. Become the dance then there is only the dance itself.” I really have come to believe that if people are dancing like that they don’t really have a sense of their gender anymore. They don’t have a sense of the things that separate them anymore. They just start the dance and they dance with whoever comes along and they’re in celebration.
Beth Crittenden: What does it take for someone to be able to experience that?
Laurie Handlers: It’s not very much. I like to tell you that it’s like this. It can be instantaneous. It just takes actually choosing, this is what I want and then surrendering inside of a course. I can do it with people in a short period of time. This evening, I’m going to do it with people. I’m going to give them something to do that within five minutes they’re going to feel blessed.
So then it’s just a question of them doing it. What would call them to do it on a regular basis? Rather than choosing their suffering. It is a choice and I say to people, if you’re suffering, you’re adding suffering to the planet. You’re trying to bring people with you. You’re bringing the suffering to them. You have just as much a choice to make them laugh and bring joy to them. You’re going to breathe anyway so you might as well breathe and squeeze and show people how to squeeze.
Beth Crittenden: Breath and squeeze. That should be your bumper sticker.
Laurie Handlers: Yeah it is. I have t-shirts breath and squeeze.
Beth Crittenden: That’s great! So people can get the t-shirts at your website?
Laurie Handlers: Yeah.
Beth Crittenden: OK, good. Let’s spread that word.
Laurie Handlers: Breathe and squeeze. We have another one. I have a general manager of a company, her name is Michelle and she likes to talk about how cats are. Cats when they play with each other, they are like licking and licking each other then all of a sudden they bite. So we have a t-shirt that says “Lick, lick, lick, bite.”
It’s just how life is. You’ll be licking along and all of a sudden someone will bite you. No problem.
Beth Crittenden: You can either laugh about it or cry about it.
Laurie Handlers: Yeah, you don’t have to suffer. You can breathe anyway and squeeze and enjoy it.
Beth Crittenden: What do you think people usually have a resistance to Tantra because they have some of the idea of it wrong or little off or something? What usually tunes them up into thinking oh it’s not that hard, I could do it just like that?
Laurie Handlers: Well the thing that keeps them away is usually what’s been promoted in specials like HBO and Sex in the City. They made it kind of a mockery of it. Some people think it’s kinky, esoteric sex. It’s really not. It’s so the opposite. It’s so sacred. What would bring a person? A lot of things, a lot of different things.
People who have an erectile dysfunction, who don’t want to take Viagra or Cyalis, they come. People who want more intimacy with their partners come. Lots of baby boomers who have been stoked up to think they can really buy everything and then find out that they have a terrible sex life.
In 2004 there was a cover article in Newsweek about “DINS” double income no sex couples. It said that it was about 50% of the ones who are still together. Of course we know that the not together statistics are something like 50-60% of couples end in divorce who are married. Of those people, there’s at least 50% who are DINS, possibly more. People who by day, they’re in their bed with a clicker and the computer and they’re next to each other side by side and they make a lot of money but they’re clicking and clicking. Instead of love making, they click, click, click.
Beth Crittenden: No breathing and squeezing for the day.
Laurie Handlers: Now I lost my self in my excite about that. So it’s really easy to choose that once you see that “I’m miserable here” and maybe there’s something I can do and I don’t have to take drugs to do it. Maybe it’s right here in my body, it’s free and I might need a teacher to coach me. Really all Tantra teachers are coaches. Like they say, you’re breathing anyway, so now what you have to do while you’re breathing to be present. Tantra’s really about being present and going in the unknown rather than in the expectations or the known of sexuality.
Beth Crittenden: What’s the specific exercise that you would tell a couple? Maybe they’re disconnected. They’re committed to each other but they’re not getting that sensual connection. What’s something easy they can do to start what you’re talking about?
Laurie Handlers: OK. Well a few things. One thing they can do is practice breathing together. At first it feels kind of funny and they would start laughing which is not bad. They laugh at each other. Usually I have them do breathing back to back. Conscious breathing back to back so they sit back to back and they breathe and they fill up their belly and they fill up their mid section and their lungs. In Yoga this is known as complete breath and Yoga teachers teach people how to do it. I teach people how to do it with a living, feeling thing so their backs can feel each other filling up with air and they just go into a meditative state by breathing back to back.
Then they come together, one of them comes around and they face each other and they breathe gazing into the left eye and possibly just touching knees. They’re sitting together touching knees, and they might hold hands and just look into each other left eye. The left is the receptive side of the body so that’s the side they look into. They just breathe together and they make that connection and when you look into a person’s eye like that which we’re doing like that.
Beth Crittenden: I know, it’s so different!
Laurie Handlers: The whole external stuff goes away and what’s left there is the actual being who’s no different. Who you are in there is no different from who I am over here. It’s like me being in the ocean that one little drop. People get reconnected and it gets blissful and then I say before they ever… Sometimes I tell people to do bizarre things like put on blindfolds, put on great music, like sensual music, go in opposite ends of the room, like a big room like this would be great, go on opposite end of the room and make an intention to find each other and have sex. But maybe you won’t.
Beth Crittenden: Right.
Laurie Handlers: So you kind of…
Beth Crittenden: That’s hot.
Laurie Handlers: Yeah.
Beth Crittenden: I can’t stop looking at your left eye now. [laughs]
Laurie Handlers: [laughs] Now you’re getting sleepy…
Beth Crittenden: You want sex? Yes! Before we wrap up this show, is there anything you want to add for people or anything else you want to include.
Laurie Handlers: I want people to know that this is a really fun exploration. They can bring their fears to it and deal with their fears and actually have their fears serve them. They can bring whatever they’ve been hiding. Like any anger or rage they felt in their life. They can bring abused to it. If they’ve been raped, if they’ve been trespassed, if they weren’t respected in their life. Let’s say they weren’t respected and they were splashed by the school bus in fifth grade and they still remember that and that set the whole course of their life and how their life goes. They can bring all of that to Tantra. They can bring hatred for the opposite gender. They can bring fear, they can bring ill feelings about their parents, anything. Right to the base of Tantra and take care of it.
I have a psychiatrists as clients of mine. They’re students of mine and one of them said to me one day, “You know, you get more done in two days than I do sometimes with my patients in seven years.” It’s a fast path because the sexual energy burns through everything. We opened it up to look at it, it’s like Pandora’s box but it gets handle and then people can go on and have this outrageous sleep and great blissful lives. I want people to know that it’s fun and that they should come do it.
Beth Crittenden: Oh yeah.
Laurie Handlers: Right now. Log on.
Beth Crittenden: Immediately, right now. Thank you for the work that you’re doing too.
Laurie Handlers: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me here. By exposing me to your audience, it’s my pleasure.
Beth Crittenden: Thank you.
Laurie Handlers: Thank you.
Beth Crittenden: This has been A Taste of Sex: Guest Speaker Interviews hosted here at One Taste Urban Retreat Center in San Francisco with Laurie Handlers. Again her website is butterflyworkshops.com. If you would like text or transcripts of this show, you can visit personallifemedia.com and also if you’ve like to learn more about One Taste and the practice of orgasmic meditation. There are courses people can come in person and learn about the sensual way of living as well. You can visit onetastesf.com for that.
If you’d like to email us, any feedback or questions we can get it to Laurie. You can email us at [email protected] . Thanks for joining us.