I Went To A Tantric Sex Retreat — With My Boss

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You'll be surprised by what you can learn during something like this.

By Natalia Provatas

If you had told me six months ago that I would be sitting in an empty hotel suite, trying to group orgasm, I would have called you a crazy person. But there I was, on my back, opening and closing my legs like an accordion, shouting the word “Yes!” over and over with my new boss.

Rewind six months; I was sitting in an HR office across from a woman I had only met once before as she described the terms of my severance. She looked at me, her eyes glazed over as if she was looking past me to the person she had to fire next, and said, “I heard you’re great.” She coldly stood up suggesting it was my time to leave the room, “Hopefully we’ll see you back here again soon.”

This was the corporate version of It’s not you it’s me.

I was fortunate enough to find freelance work just as my severance package dried up. I went from the clinical grey walls of an office building to a well-decorated Mediterranean-style home.

My new employer was a wealthy artist and writer, and our working relationship was unconventional from the beginning.

I traded co-workers for a merry-go-round of her friends, family, and lovers (both new and old) who would visit her home unannounced, bearing gifts of hand-drawn nudes and farm fresh eggs. It was a modern-day Bohemia, some parts Chelsea Hotel, some parts suburbia.

I was quiet and reserved while my boss entertained her friends. I longed to participate in their uninhibited conversations, but didn’t know how. The way some people feel phantom pain long after a limb has been amputated, I was adhering to office politics long after being laid off.

Our lunches together helped me ease into the relaxed work environment. Instead of chatting about the weather over bland cafeteria food, we’d sit as long as we wanted, over a meal she had prepared for us. It was during one of our casual lunches when a friend of hers called to cancel their scheduled tantric sex weekend retreat. She hung up the phone and immediately extended the invitation. “You should go with me! I think it would be good for you.”

This was the closest thing I had come to a performance review in the six months of working for her. In my previous job, I always received an official document that scrutinized my work style based on a scale ranging from Needs Improvement to Exceeds Expectations.

“It’s not about sex,” she insisted. “There is a spiritual component.”

I accepted because I wanted to exceed expectations, and also, YOLO was a thing.

I tried to keep my cool as I anxiously followed my boss down the hallway of the hotel. As we passed families headed for the pool, I imagined what was waiting for us behind room 207. I envisioned a quaint, seaside hotel suite turned red room of pleasure: tables filled with dildos in all shapes and sizes, mirrors and sex swings lining the walls. We would be greeted by a wall-eyed, sex fiend that would give us complimentary anal beads and a safe word.

We entered, but instead of a sex dungeon, we found ourselves in a dimly lit room filled with calming new age music and the smell of incense. Our instructor, Dion, was a beautiful older woman dressed in head-to-toe linen. She glided effortlessly across the room to greet us as if she wore tiny rocket shoes powered by tantric secrets. She gave us a hug and insisted we make ourselves at home. As I rolled out my blanket and placed my water bottle and notebook carefully beside me, I wondered if Pandora had a tantric sex station I needed to add to my playlist.

The workshop consisted of five other couples at varying points in their relationship.

Some had just started dating and wanted to explore their sexuality. Some were there to work through years of marital baggage. My boss and I were the only non-sexual, same-sex couple in the group.

Dion began by asking us to go around the room, introduce ourselves, and state what we hoped to achieve in the workshop. This was different from the production meetings I was used to at work. I felt a wave of anxiety at the thought of having to share what I wanted, not what was best for the team. “I want to be present, and open,” I nervously answered. As we continued around the room, I noticed all the women in the group admitted to wanting a sense of wholeness or healing. The men, however, wanted to master the Loch Ness Monster of sexuality: the permanent boner.

As we focused on our breathing, Aiden, a younger man, also dressed in linen, raised his hand and asked, “How do I tell the women I meet that I’m into polyamory and still get them to date me?” As I listened to Aiden’s conundrum, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a linen dress code I wasn’t aware of. Big Rob, an older man wearing sweatpants and a Tommy Bahama button down, interrupted with the energy of a bull in captivity. “When do we get to the full body orgasm? You know, the one mentioned in the brochure.”

My eyes widened and I looked to my boss. I had trouble orgasming with a lover, let alone in front of my new employer and ten strangers.

After a quick bathroom break, Dion demonstrated the full body orgasm by lying on her back in the middle of the group. She opened and closed her legs, slower and slower each time, until her entire body shook like a high rise in the middle of an earthquake. Her breath got heavy. Her body stopped shaking and she giggled as if a thousand baby bunnies had been released from her vagina. “You see that? That was my full body orgasm.”  Big Rob nearly ate his own fist.

The group tried to replicate Dion’s demonstration and after a lot of feigned breathing and knee shaking, no one orgasmed.

As Big Rob read over his return policy, I felt the waves of anxiety turn into disappointment. Not because I hadn’t mastered the art of enduring ecstasy, but because I felt like I had failed at being me. Whether I was dancing blind folded with my boss at a Tantric Sex workshop, or sitting across from friends at brunch, it was always important for me to know that I had moved through life being vulnerable and authentic, both professionally and personally.

I had always struggled with the crippling fear that the person sitting across the table from me would not like the person I was at my most genuine. I had built walls around my most personal thoughts. I had spent years coming up with the wittiest things to say at the most opportune moments. I was the person I thought they wanted me to be, and I never experienced things in real time as a real person. The way some people faked orgasms, I faked being myself.

For our last exercise, Dion instructed us to sit facing our partners while holding hands. We were to take turns divulging our deepest, darkest, sexual insecurities, one thought after another, without stopping. My anxiety rose again, and I felt my walls coming up. I took a deep breath and told myself that it was my last chance to be present and vulnerable.

I began by saying things like “I don’t think I’m good at it” and “What if they don’t really like me?” or “I feel fat and ugly.” Shockingly, my boss met every one of my insecurities with “me too,” and then openly shared one of her own. I couldn’t believe how much fear we had in common.

I had spent so much time in my head worrying about what people thought of me, and whether I would fit in. I had never stopped to think that we were all insecure about the same things, but too afraid to say it out aloud.

I looked into my boss’ eyes for the first time that weekend. She squeezed my hand, broke from the exercise and said, “You’re great.” I smiled. In that moment, I was finally able to shed the rigid skin of “corporate employee,” and just be Natalia.

This article was originally published at The Gloss. Reprinted with permission from the author.


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