It was the summer of 1969. Freddy, an African-American in his early teens, was sprawled across the deck of the family houseboat in Sausalito, California, the sun beating against his dark skin as he idly discussed the interwoven notions of love, sex, and the sacred with family and friends. He was delighted as somebody began playing the drums at a distance as he indulged in another warm grape, smiling with pleasure. It was the Summer of Love, and he felt safe and passionate.
Meanwhile, across the world in Germany, a young woman sat nervously in a utilitarian doctor’s office waiting for the gynecologist’s explanation of why her first intercourse had been so excruciatingly painful. As a young child she had enjoyed a sense of freedom in her body while often frolicking completely nude in the hot, German summers with her nine siblings; that feeling of freedom changed drastically when she entered puberty.
Elsbeth had nobody to ask about why her first act of intercourse had hurt so much. Conversations about sex beyond the basics or how babies were made were not at all customary in her household. When she was sixteen, her father had called her a whore for wearing makeup after she returned one evening from a ballroom dance class with her first boyfriend. The gynecologist interrupted her thoughts with his determination that a small medical procedure was needed to ease Elsbeth’s pain, and he completed it that day in the office.
For his part, eight-year-old Freddy’s life was changing as he went to live with his dad and new white stepmom, while his three siblings stayed with his birth mother after their parent’s separation. He always felt loved by his father, a psychiatrist and student of Tantra, and was often surrounded by a supportive and open-minded community of family friends.
One day, Freddy, by now in his mid-teens, set on the home boat in a circle comprised of a blend of Tantric-curious individuals who had attended his father’s workshops, as well as friends, colleagues, and his father and stepmother. When a silence briefly passed over the group, Freddy took the opportunity to ask his Dad some questions about things that had happened during his recent first sexual experience. His father and some of the group members freely advised and educated him without inhibitions. Later that day a package was sitting on the dining room table. “Son, I want you to read this,” his father said warmly. Freddy unwrapped his first book about sacred sexuality, and after graciously thanking his father, retreated to his bedroom to read and learn more. Back in Germany, days after the gynecological procedure, Elsbeth’s boyfriend announced his intention to leave the relationship. Heartbroken, she went home, where she found her father sitting at the kitchen table, a letter in his hands, his face livid.
“What have you done?” he shouted, and she realized in that moment the letter was the bill from the gynecologist. Her father now knew what she had been up to. After being subjected to a harsh reprimand and lecture, Elsbeth retreated to her bedroom feeling alone and dejected, as if the world had turned against her.
Thirty years later Elsbeth, now a US citizen residing in Chicago, had developed into a successful management consultant who traveled the world. One evening, while on assignment for a multinational power company in Europe, she went back to her corporate apartment and paused for a moment, resting her head against the inside of the apartment door, keys still in the lock. She shut her eyes and breathed deeply.
This moment of reflection brought back the deep despair she felt over a relationship with a married man she could not free herself from. She scanned her apartment, heart heavy. She felt trapped in a cycle of attraction to unavailable men and lacked hope of ever finding fulfillment and sustaining love. Confronted with the futility of her love situation, she went to a Buddhist meditation retreat at Plum Village in the south of France. Ten days in silent meditation had her face her feelings, actions, and illusions. It was excruciating! Yet those days helped her to connect with her spirit and turn around her life.
In her soul searching, Elsbeth immersed herself in the study of the ancient practice of Tantra that opened her up to her sexual-spiritual Self. Deep healing and clearing allowed her to see her unconscious programming around love and intimacy. She came to experience deeper trust in herself and see that she no longer needed to look for love outside—she had discovered love within as a state of being.
To Freddy, Chicago was a new city bustling with possibilities and potential. He had led a life of moving between corporate jobs and relationships with ease during the previous two decades when living in San Francisco. His true passion lay in creative pursuits, but fear of a loss of stability drove him to stay in unfulfilled professional situations and pursue the performing arts only as a hobby.
Everything had been shaken up by this move to Chicago looking for newness, diversion, and a new direction for his life. Faced with the opportunity of creating anew, Freddy found room to breathe and to reconnect with his creative self. He grinned, imagining again the stand-up comedian’s stage that had once been so familiar to him from his early days in San Francisco and the Djembe drumming that used to delight his spirit.
A desire for deeper self-expression and authentically sharing his gift brought resolve to bringing focus to his life. How to channel creativity and pleasure became a pursuit inspired by his tantric practice and ongoing learning.
Then he met a woman. He didn’t know much about her yet, just what her profile on a tantric dating website had detailed and what small stories they had traded over a week of e-mail contact. Standing on her doorstep, he composed himself, feeling good about meeting this woman he wanted to know more about.
She had learned from his profile that he had grown up in a tantric household, an interesting life detail that immediately had caught her attention and curiosity. Smoothing her hands over her dress once more, she felt a flutter of pleasant anticipation when the doorbell rang. As Freddy looked up the steps and Elsbeth looked back at him, they sensed that this encounter had the potential for a new future for the two of them.
That night they shared wine and food, laughter and conversation, hopes and aspirations, and tantric connection. Indeed this budding relationship was born of a desire to create love versus unconsciously falling into it and bringing forth a higher purpose together beyond playing out the romantic drama.
This was the beginning of discovering joint purpose and direction in their personal and professional lives. A few months into the relationship, they birthed TantraNova, their transformational company. Integrating sex, love, and consciousness had opened a door to wholeness within each of them and in their relationship. They have come to coin this evolved state of being sexual enlightenment.
How to share this opportunity to heal, transform, and consciously create fulfillment in life, love and relationships became their inquiry and mission for years to come. After leading hundreds of workshops and assisting thousands of couples and singles since that first auspicious rendezvous, Elsbeth and Freddy are sharing with you in their book how you can also enter the world of sexual enlightenment and travel the road of creative joy and sexual, emotional, and spiritual wholeness. Enjoy the journey!
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