Episode 55: TANTRA & POLYAMORY - LOVING MORE THAN ONE with Dr. Sasha Lessin & Janet Kira Lessin
TANTRA & POLYAMORY - LOVING MORE THAN ONE with Dr. Sasha Lessin & Janet Kira Lessin of founders of The Tantra School of Maui, head of The World Polyamory Association, author of "Polyamory: Many Loves"
In this episode Janet & Sasha intimately share from their expertise as healers, teachers, and practioners of loving more than one. Discover what authentic expanded loving is and when it is coming from addiction, compulsivity or wounding. Come to choice in relationship styles, and structures. Learn how to overcome limiting programming & negative cultural conditioning. Up-leveling jealousy to empathy. Release and heal sensual limitations to fully enjoy lovemaking with one or more than one.
This program is brought to you by PersonalLifeMedia.com. This program is intended for mature audiences only.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome to Sex Tantra and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex. I’m your host, Francesca Gentille, and with me today are Janet Kira Lessin and Dr. Sasha Lessin, who are living in Maui, Hawaii, who run the School of Tantra there, and who are the heads of the World Polyamory Association.
Janet Lessin: First of all, we encourage you to look at what you want to do together, so it’s not about competition. So you might explore your fantasies. They don’t see this as replacing anything within the relationship, but an expansion of the relationship.
Sasha Lessin: We regard the kind of feelings that you were mentioning as wonderful opportunities. And so if you’re looking at this other woman that your mate is smiling at, then it really has nothing to do with the other person. It has to do with self-limiting attitudes towards yourself, which can be reprogrammed, so you are no longer putting yourself at negative comparison.
When we’re doing a yoni massage, for example, we notice where there’s numb or burning spots, and we ask the person to free-associate. And they’ll often come to some traumatic event and they’ll often come to some traumatic event where they shut down part of their sensuality or become uptight and furtive. So we say, “Well, be back there, what was happening? Let’s redo that the way you wished it were, so you can get another script or program that lets you have choice, instead of closing down.
If you are in a poly-relationship that’s distressed and you’re part of a poly-pod of several people, you always have support. And as you get older, people die or people move away. But you don’t lose your circle of lovers. And the way we process fears and the things that have to do with your own functioning so you feel great about yourself, is that we actually reprogram somatically. While we’re touching the yoni in a sacred ceremony, we are asking people to have past life fantasies that shed light on what needs to be reprogrammed.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome!
Janet Lessin: Aloha!
Sasha Lessin: Hi.
Francesca Gentille: [laughs] I’m delighted to have you here today from the beautiful island of Maui. And we’re going to be traveling in our minds, in our spirits, to something a little bit on those wilder shores of love and relationship. I’m a little nervous, swinging out here. I think this is the first of my shows that is a little bit on the wilder edges of love, because we’re going to be talking about that more open relationship, expanded relationship, polyamory. So I just want to say to our listening audience, you know, take a deep breath, as we practiced. Relax the jaw, relax the belly, breathe, as we explore some of this.
Now what exactly we – some of us have heard the term polyamory thrown about, what exactly does that mean?
Sasha Lessin: “Poly” means many, “amory” means love, loving many. Polyamory’s the natural state of all human beings. We – our natural feeling is loving oneness with all beings. And being that we have this ability, we are very selective with who we interact with. So everyone’s polyamorous. The question is – wait a second, we got some noise here. The question is whether you share sensuality – whether you’re poly-oral, or poly-coity, making love with more than one person or not. And it seems that people like both constancy, someone you can count on, who’s always there, who knows you well, and variety. And certainly, this isn’t for everybody. But for those who wish, they enter into sensual relationships with other people. And the form of polyamory that we use, and there’s many kinds, including those with open relationships, but Janet and I are polyamorous as a couple. That means we make sure we are really good friends and know people well. In polyamory, you seek actual relationships that are candid. There’s nothing that goes on that’s secret. Everybody is informed. And part of our guiding principles is a himsa (?), which means “do no harm”. So we certainly don’t want to relate to anybody that would be distressed by this, and we inquire about this. And so –
Francesca Gentille: Well, let me just stop you before we go too much further. That was a lot said.
Janet Lessin: Yes.
Francesca Gentille: And ah – thank you. That was beautiful, awesome. Is that polyamory, is that loving, literally, you know etymologically, the root of the word is “loving more than one”. That, you know, when we have children, when we have parents, when we have – in our lifetime, we all know that we love more than one. And so the capacity for the heart to love is infinite. And then there’s this other thing that you talk about, which is what do we do with our genitals? What do we do with our erotic energy? And I sometimes say that the capacity for the genitals to be inspired is also infinite. But that, time is finite, we want to create safety, is what you talked about. So given that we want to have safety, we want to have integrity, we have limited time… [laughs]
Janet Lessin: Right.
Francesca Gentille: …how do we create or design relationships that allow over our lifetime, we might feel emotionally attracted and/or physically attracted to more than one person. How do we do that, as you said, what was that word? Amsa? To do no harm?
Sasha Lessin: Ah, himsa, that’s a Sanskrit word. One of the most important things is to be able to use challenges or upsets that come up as opportunities to learn more about yourself. Especially, in these cases, to deal with jealousy, to turn jealousy into what we call compersion, empathy for another person’s joy. Just as you’re happy when your child has other friends, to be happy when you’re – to be loved is enjoying other friends sexually. And so we use both a tantra and the polyamory as opportunities to see where we’re upset and feel challenged, and to see where you’re putting yourself down in comparison with another person, which can be reprogrammed. It’s got nothing to do with the other person.
Francesca Gentille: I’m going to just interrupt you to just really slow you down, Sasha. Because this is so big. It’s so big! Whether or not I say to my beloved it’s okay that he has another sexual lover, whether or not I say that’s okay, I could be jealous just if he talks to a woman at a party.
Janet Lessin: Right.
Francesca Gentille: I could be jealous if he has a female friend from college that he wants to have dinner with periodically. I could feel myself filled with rage. And given that jealousy is very common, even in relationships that are sexually monogamous, I really want to take a little time to slow this down and say, “What are the steps? What do I do?” I’m feeling (unclear) with my partner across the room. He’s talking to another woman. I can tell that he’s excited by that, he’s enjoying that. And suddenly I start to feel my belly tighten and I start to feel my heart pound, and I’m just – thoughts are going through my head, like, “Goddamn him, and how dare he!” and all these things. What do I do?
Janet Lessin: Right, yeah, so we slow it down. First of all, we have the couple – we encourage you to look at what you want to do together, so it’s not about competition. So you might explore your fantasies. “Okay, sweetheart, have you ever though of being with two men at the same time?” Or whatever it is. So the couple discusses the next logical step. A lot of times, couples that have been together a long time, they feel pretty full and complete with themselves, and they’re open to exploring other options. They don’t see this as replacing anything within the relationship, but an expansion of the relationship. Sasha, I know you want to say something.
Sasha Lessin: We regard the kind of feelings that, Francesca, that you were mentioning as wonderful opportunities. And so if you’re looking at this other woman that your mate is smiling at, and you’re saying to yourself, “She’s – her hair is better than mine,” then you’ve got a problem with your hair. If you’re saying, “She’s wealthier than I,” then you have a problem with your wealth. And it really has nothing to do with the other person. It has to do with self-limiting attitudes towards yourself, which, when you’re with somebody like Janet and I, can be reprogrammed, so you are no longer putting yourself in negative comparison.
And as far as actual time, since your time is limited, that’s something to negotiate. The way we (unclear) time, so I don’t spend time away from my darling Janet, is we include each other. Before we relate to anybody, we discuss it with each other. Before we approach (unclear), got to be thumbs up for everybody concerned. We see if those other people are involved with anybody else, and whether it would do any harm. And if there’s other people that they’re involved with, we talk to them first. We spend a long time getting to know the person. And then once we’re in this situation where jealousy arrives, we stop the sensual play and we focus on the person that’s jealous and give them the opportunity to work through. And once you work through a limiting attitude or a way – see, when you feel rage, like you said, the purpose of anger is appropriate assertiveness. So for example, at (unclear), one of our girlfriends was – Janet was getting me all ready, doing oral sex with me, and she went off to the lavatory. When she came back, (unclear) to riding me, and she just pouted a little bit. After a while, we noticed her and talked to her, and she was able to say, “Hey, Robin, I want to be first.” Robin said, “Oh, sure, that’s fine.” And so we focus on what seems like an interruption to the eroticism, because that’s not the main point. The main point is becoming deeper with each other and within ourselves.
Francesca Gentille and Janet Lessin: [unclear]
Francesca Gentille: Go ahead, do you want to say something?
Janet Lessin: Thank you so much. One of the things that I – I literally was coaching a couple recently, where the discussion about whether to open the relationship was on the table, so to speak, and she was feeling that she wondered whether it was even possible to reprogram her intense feelings of rage and abandonment. What would go through her mind was, “It’s not okay, he’s not okay. Either there’s something wrong with him, that he would want to be interested in other women, or it means that I failed. That there’s something wrong with me. I’ve failed my beloved if he’s interested in connecting, even in that party, flirting with another woman, that I’ve somehow failed my partner.” Or it’s just not right.
Sasha Lessin: That’s really useful. When somebody fears abandonment, we call it exploring your catastrophic worst case scenario expectations. So if a person truly expands that, they’ll see if the partner doesn’t want to be with them and does abandon them, then they’re okay. Because that’s the reality. So instead of saying, “I’m scared, I won’t even let that go,” what we want to do is emotionally explore. So what, what if that happens? And we practice counter phobic candor, so to speak.
Francesca Gentille: What is it? What is that again? You’ve practiced what?
Sasha Lessin: We are very, very honest about what’s going on and we don’t – instead of suppressing ourselves, we say our truth, even if the other person doesn’t want to hear it. And we explore what’s the worst that could happen, what’s the best that could happen. And so the person feels okay, in and of themselves. Ultimately, your mates represent the parts of you that you need to learn. If you think your mate is more attractive and is bringing people in, and you’re not, then you say, “Well, let me develop the part of me that feels more attractive and can get people to notice me and interact with me.”
Francesca Gentille: This is such rich work, but we need to go to a break and I want to come back and talk more about, when is it something that I want to expand into, and I want to say, “We have a stable relationship,” or “There’s things that we’ll never match in the relationship.” Either way, we’re feeling like it would be the right thing to do to expand the relationship or when is it something that could be hurtful? There’s some way it’s happening that’s hurtful, that people really need to look at. After we come back from a break and a word from our fabulous sponsors, and whenever you use our sponsors, I’m hoping that you do, please use the word “tantra” and you’ll get fabulous discounts, up to fifty percent. And we’ll be right back.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to Sex Tantra and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex. We’re with Janet Kira Lessin and Dr. Sasha Lessin, living in Maui, Hawaii. Janet wrote the book Polyamory, Many Loves. And we’re right in it, talking about how one might do it, how it might now work. And really trying to distinguish, are there internal callings, or internal directives, that are authentic and ultimately going to be beautiful. And are there ways that people might choose polyamory that are coming from something that’s maybe off-center, you know, vengeful, harmful, in some way, compulsive. And help us distinguish in ourselves, or if our partner is suggesting this, how do we know?
Francesca Gentille and Janet Lessin: [unclear]
Janet Lessin: Oh, are you done?
Francesca Gentille: Yeah.
Janet Lessin: You can (unclear) your relationship with polyamory. If you think you’re going to solve your problems because you’re going to pull in the other woman or this and that, that’s a formula for disaster. So we recommend that you come from a sense of fullness, that you have this incredible bond with your primary partner. Like in the previous scenario you had, it sounds like the woman had some issues with her self-esteem. So before she would branch out into polyamory, I would recommend that she do some inner work on herself, to see where she started putting herself in, to lack comparison with other people. But go ahead, honey, you had something to say.
Sasha Lessin: Basically, I totally agree with you. It’s when your heart is full of (unclear) with still more people. That’s when you reach out for polyamory. Also, to realize that having one partner isn’t going to satisfy all your needs. (unclear) super athlete and Janet is a computer athlete. And having people that can run and bike and swim with me is important too. It doesn’t have to be sexual, but if you add that, it’s certainly nice. And what you want to avoid is to act out with other people in ways that harm your relationship. That’s basically what to look at. A person doesn’t pollute their own well, and anything I would do that would distress Janet is going to make my life lousy. So it’s stupid behavior to do that.
Francesca Gentille: Let me bring something up, because I just want to say something about self-esteem and all compassion, is that many people who suffer from quote-unquote self-esteem issues often have had profound trauma. And –
Sasha Lessin: That’s right. That does come up in the sexual work we do. We look at that directly. That’s the most important thing to get over. When we’re doing yoni massage, for example, we notice where there’s numb or burning spots, and we ask the person to free-associate. And they’ll often come to some traumatic event and they’ll often come to some traumatic event where they shut down part of their sensuality or become uptight and furtive. So we say, “Well, be back there, what was happening? Express now, right now, even exaggerated, more than you felt at the time.” After they do that, we say, “Let’s redo that the way you wished it were, so you can get another script or program that lets you have choice, instead of closing down.” And now let’s do a role play, to see a new situation, where you have the choice of either withdrawing and being secretive, or being open. We want to make you the chooser again, instead of being an automatic.
Janet Lessin: Absolutely, I love that sense of having sexuality, whether it’s with my partner and I, or if there was something more extended, to be an opportunity to say “Where’s the wounds, where’s the block, let’s go into that.” And I just want to say that so often, when I’m coaching people, or when I’m leading groups, people will say that they’re interested in polyamory. Some people will say that they never felt that they went through their puberty in the right way, and that if they could only have enough men or women make love to them, they would finally feel good about themselves. Some people will say, “My partner is just my favorite partner, my favorite person in the whole world, and everything works between us, except for sexuality. So I’m thinking that if I could have another lover, that would sort of fill in the gap.” And then some people say that, for whatever reason, they feel that authentically at their soul, at their spirit, that they’re not just polyamorous, capable of loving more than one, but that they’re very much polysexual. Like there’s something about themselves, their soul level, that if they don’t have a variety of sexual experiences, that they don’t have a number of opportunities to love other people, they will feel inauthentic and incomplete. And they’d rather have the support, the awareness, the being seen, to do this, rather than having to cheat. Because if they’re not supported, they will cheat.
Francesca Gentille: What do you say about this kind of, this drive that doesn’t come from fullness? It doesn’t come from, “I’m so in love with you, and we have so much to give, let’s open up the relationship out of a sense of fullness.” They’re actually saying that there’s something incomplete, either in me or our relationship. Or there’s some drive that I just have to fulfill. What would you say about that?
Sasha Lessin: I’d say for many, it depends on your stage of life. For many people, at some stage of their life, that is exactly their truth. People go through stages of life, and what you really need to do, I believe, is to say what’s right for me now. At some stage, you may want a stable family and put all your energy into a relationship and raising children. When the children are grown, maybe you want to play with other adult friends sexually. Maybe sometimes you just want to make love to yourself. What’s really important is that you are the chooser and that you listen to all your inner voices and what their needs are, that you recognize, that you accept, that you integrate and coordinate your voices, so that all aspects of you get a chance to be expressed. You’re not stationary. Life is changing and you’re changing. And just stay a chooser, and you’ll find that your consciousness expands to include the feelings for more and more people. I think it’s inevitable, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being monogamous or being celibate. What is important is that you’re the chooser.
Francesca Gentille: Right.
Janet Lessin: So I had a client this morning on email. He said that that’s his nature. He’s not monogamous, and so he starts out these relationships and when he reveals it, that’s his heart’s calling. That gets into conflict, that we all want to be exclusive. So be true to yourself, but sometimes you might choose the relationship style or the persons that you’re involved with. Those are all individual choices, so maybe, like, Sasha and I, that’s my primary concern. How can I make it work with him, rather than a lifestyle. So people say to me, “I don’t want to be polyamorous anymore.” I’d say, “Sure.” But some people, polyamory is their whole life. So that’s their primary. Some people want to live in a certain place, and that’s their primary thing. So it’s very individualistic. We’re just asking couples to really take a look at it as a system, what can work for both of you. You obviously don’t want to throw away everything you’ve built together. Because if you get a divorce, you only have half of what you had before. And it creates –
Francesca Gentille: And what I hear you saying is that it really is a “out of love for you”. How can I support you, to have an authentic life, a fulfilled life, a healed life? How can you do that for me? Now hopefully, we can do this together. But couples break up for any number of reasons. If I authentically feel – what I hear you saying is that – if I authentically feel that my eroticism or my love needs to connect more fully with people, and you don’t, then you might not be the best partner for me. If I want children and you don’t, you may not be the best partner for me. If I want to live in Maui, and you don’t, you might not be the best partner for me.
Sasha Lessin: Yeah.
Francesca Gentille: It doesn’t mean that we don’t love each other. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have a lot in common. It just may mean that our life path together is going to have to part. And then the other option is, can we do this work together. Maybe I’m terrified at the thought of opening the relationship, because I really am afraid that you’re going to leave me. I’m afraid that maybe I’m not good enough. I’m afraid that our sexuality has been a little shaky. So you’re going to be with another lover who’s more passionate than me, who wasn’t abused as a child, like I was. And then you’re going to leave me and I’ll be alone and won’t know what to do with that. So there is this fear. But on the other hand, my fear’s going to be there, even if my partner isn’t there. My issues – I like to say – my issues follow me in every relationship. And so –
Janet Lessin: (unclear)
Francesca Gentille: (unclear) Pardon?
Janet Lessin: Wherever you go, there you are. So if you’ve got your shit, it’s going to affect your relationships. So it’ll come up eventually. That’s what we find. We work with thousands of couples. And these things come up all the time. And sometimes one partner will discover – because we have the internet – they’ll discover all these different things. And as often as not, it’s the woman; it’s not always the man that discovers polyamory. And they’ll say, “Honey, this is something that we could really look at. Because there isn’t the juice in our relationship that there once was.” So whenever it happens, it’s a good thing ultimately, because they move from a level of being inauthentic with each other and lying and not telling the person the truth to putting it out on the table and moving. If they survive it together, they take their relationship to a higher level that is –
Francesca Gentille: I hear Sasha wanting to speak and I want him to speak right after our break and a word from our sponsors. And please support our sponsors and use the code “tantra”. And we’ll be right back.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to Sex Tantra and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex. We’re here with Dr. Sasha Lessin, Janet Kira Lessin, author of Polyamory, Many Loves, having a very exciting conversation about the possibility of open relationships, polyamory. And I love what you said, that maybe it’s a wake up call. Sometimes that longing for other people can be – do we need to look at deepening or healing something in our realationship. And what would you recommend for people, if they feel that that ends up what they’re supposed to do, or part of what they’re supposed to do?
Sasha Lessin: What we do is – first of all, let me just say that if you are in a poly relationship that’s distressed, and you’re part of a poly pod of several people, you always have support. And as you get older, people die or people move away. But you don’t lose your circle of lovers. And the way we process the fears and the things that have to do with your own functioning so you feel great about yourself, is that we actually reprogram somatically. While we’re touching the yoni in a sacred ceremony, we are asking people to regress or to have past life fantasies that shed light on what needs to be reprogrammed. What we do specifically is we have people clear all their parental programs, to marshal their negativity toward their mother and father, to express it, to then put themselves in their parents’ place, to see why they did what they did, and they’ll see that they always did the best they could with who they were. And to then examine the programs that the person who’s distressed is following, so that they’re consciously choosing what works for them, and what is a program that has been automatically ingested from their parents or from the matrix of society in which they find themselves. And then we begin systematic explorations and what happens as you develop compersion, as you see your mate being friends with other people. And that’s the basic program, to be able to, again, be the chooser, instead of automatically falling into patterns set for you by others.
Francesca Gentille: And so with the couple themselves, regardless of whether or not they go into polyamory, what I hear you saying is, when they’re making love with each other, to take time with the genitals – the yoni, of course, is the vulva, the lingam is the penis - to take, really slow it down sometimes, and really say, literally, “Can you feel this?” or “What’s happening now?” Because there’s so many ways that we’ve all been traumatized, and that we learn to shut down our erotic potential, just with the person that we’re with. In fact, that’s often the most challenging person to open up to and to stay open to.
Janet Lessin: (unclear) patterns which can be negative or positive. So we use these opportunities, these tantric opportunities, to go and look at our cultural conditioning and our religious programming and where we developed ideas of shame around our sexuality. And whether you’re monogamous or polyamorous, your partner is your healer. You can heal each other by having someone to look into their eyes, you connect deeply, you see god within each of us. And you go deep within yourself and explore and do your soul treatment. Find out who you really are, in comparison to what you think you are, based on your programming and cultural conditioning.
Sasha Lessin: Yeah, we treat people to open all their chakras, so that they relate in terms of mutual security, taking care of each other’s children, sexual satisfaction, mutual empowerment, romance, communication and not saying things that are hurtful, sharing visions. And most of all, the crown chakra, being able to dissolve the separate self sense and feel your oneness with another, so that you’re not feeling separateness. You feel your oneness with another person, you feel your oneness with the universe, and you realize that you’re part of it all. And that is the spiritual feeling that we go through when we deliberately have an all chakra tantra relationship.
Francesca Gentille: And that’s beautiful, whether we can have that with one person, that would be amazing. If we have the capacity to have that with more than one, it’s certainly a blessing to the planet. And I really appreciate your desire to help people heal, to help keep them safe, to keep the family nourished and whole, even in this, for most of us, very edgy way of looking at life and relationships. And if people wanted more resources, books to read, videos to watch, what would you recommend, if they would want to learn more?
Janet Lessin: We have a wonderful website, called SchoolofTantra.com. We have WorldPolyamoryAssociation.com, for those who want to learn more about polyamory. And our phone is 808-244-4103. We welcome calls from anyone.
Sasha Lessin: We have tantra school once a month, where you can learn these things and do homework. One of the best resources is you, Francesca, because what we want to do is, we want to make this information available just to the general population. And we thank you so much for doing that.
Janet Lessin: Thank you for having us on your show today.
Francesca Gentille: Oh, it’s my pleasure. As you so beautifully pointed out, we are all a proponent of choice, of authenticity, of safety, of healing, and ultimately, a world where men and women relate to one another with deep harmony and peace. So thank you so much for being a part of this. And for our listening audiences, if you want to learn more about Janet and Sasha, see their bios, link to them, get a transcript of this show, or reach me, contact me, call me, you can do that at www.personallifemedia.com. That’s www.personallifemedia.com. Thank you for listening to Sex Tantra and Kama Sutra, bringing you the soul of sex.