Oopses & Ouches — How to say “Sorry”

~ Guest article by Rayellen Kishbach

We’ve all done it. Messed up. Sometimes it’s an oops that causes an ouch. Sometimes it’s a whopper of a mistake and real damage/harm has been caused. Sometimes we know we did it. Sometimes it has to be pointed out to us that we hurt someone.

Regardless, defending, minimizing and blaming are strategies ego uses to keep us from feeling the pain we’ve caused. What if we could have a more heart-full way to deal with our own mistakes? In this article, I demonstrate a simple process of apologizing for a minor offense — some place where I’ve missed the mark, hurt someone’s feelings, stuck my foot in my mouth, and want to come back into connection. If the mistake is something that caused significant damage or harm, the process is more involved, and I invite you to read my article about that.

Let’s start with an actual “Oops…Ouch…Sorry” conversation from my life, just the words:

Me: <Opens mouth, inserts foot>

Them: “I didn’t like the way you said that. It felt demeaning.”

Me: “Thanks for letting me know that. I can see I just said something that felt demeaning to you. Can you tell me specifically what felt yucky?”

Them: “Yes, that word is loaded and it made me feel unwelcome here. I thought you were nicer than that.”

Me: “I can see how you felt unwelcome. I am sorry I hurt you, and thank you for teaching me. Is there anything I can offer you?”

Next, let’s peel a layer back, and see what is going on inside my head during this conversation, because this is a lifelong learning:

Me: <Opens mouth, inserts foot, sees stunned silence, micro-grimace, change in expression of them, which clues me into the fact that I just “oopsed” even if I don’t quite know what was hurtful or offensive. Intentionally brings pause to the conversation to allow awareness, considers asking what just happened, then get’s saved because this brave being was willing to actually speak up…>

Them: <after silent shift in expression or body language and some space in the conversation to make room…>. “I didn’t like the way you said that. It felt demeaning.” <Note, that some speakers who aren’t skilled in things like NVC might say this in a way that is more charged, and includes “you” language>

Me: <Busy mind/ego runs through the “roladex” and considers using each of the learned and ineffective behaviors of defending, gaslighting, negating, making a joke out of it, telling them they are being sensitive, making it about me, and then remembers there’s a better choice and respond. Heart chooses love and speaks instead of mind/ego being the spokesperson> “Thanks for letting me know that. I can see I just said something that felt demeaning to you. Can you tell me specifically what felt yucky?” <really listen>

Them: “Yes, that word is loaded and it made me feel unwelcome here.”

Me: <notice facial experssions and body language and see that this person is experiencing suffering they would not be experiencing had I not just said that thing. stay in heart. gratitude: how lucky I am that this person feels safe *enough* with me to be my teacher. be the student. be available to be coached…> “I can see how you felt unwelcome. I am sorry I hurt you, and thank you for teaching me. Is there anything I can offer you?”

And the SIMPLE components are these:

Here’s a few things NOT to do:

  • Don’t make it about you. Don’t ramble on about what a great person you are and how they misunderstood you. And definitely don’t ask them to comfort your ouchy feelings in this moment.
  • Don’t make it about being right. You don’t have to agree with someone to BELIEVE and EMPATHIZE with their feelings. There may be a time in the future to clear up the facts, for now, since they are in upset, let it be about empathizing with their feelings.
  • INTENT is overruled by IMPACT. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t mean to hurt them. What matters is that they are feeling hurt. Saying “I didn’t mean to” is NOT an apology, it’s a way of escaping blame. You did a thing. They feel hurt. Focus on the impact and see how your intention missed the mark and you are lucky to get this invitation to refinement.
  • Don’t indulge catastrophication (I think I made that word up?) Even if, in YOUR mind, their upset seems out of proportion with the offense, just stay steady in your intention to be love, and to be a person of integrity. Let them have the full range of emotional intensity that is true for them.
  • REALLY: Be GRATEFUL for this opportunity for growth. Consider that if this person had zero intention of staying in growthful connection with you, or if they already experienced you as a person unwilling to take feedback, they probably wouldn’t have wasted the energy to point out the oops. 

Finally, Thich Nat Hahn has a very simple question we can ask after a session where someone has shared something really tender with us. I like to hear this question when I’ve taken the time and energy it takes to express an ouch. Very simply, ask “Do you feel I’ve understood you well enough?”

Rayellen Kishbach is part of Come Back To Love’s Love U mentorship program, and founder of GraceWorks Guidance & Gatherings. Rayellen embodies a keen interest in helping individuals, partners and poly tribes find and move from their own wisdom. She is deeply involved in wellness and personal growth work in the areas of sexuality, healing shame, and opening to love. This includes serving as an intern with the Human Awareness Institute. In these capacities, Rayellen is a patient and culturally sensitive listener with a mind and heart open to celebrating connection, choice and consent. www.listening-to-grace.com   https://www.facebook.com/listeningtograce

One Tantric Remedy to Relieve Stress Now

Are you tired? Have you been going and going nonstop this year? When was the last time you made love with your partner (or yourself?)?

I’m going to teach you the most valuable tool for handling stressReady? STOP.

Yes, you read correctly – STOP.

It’s an energetic thing. It is not easy to slow down when the world around you is moving faster than the speed of light. It is not simple or you would not be tired.  And the exercise below it is not what you think — it is deeper, and more subtle, and wayyyy more powerful.

Being present and “in the moment” has become very cliche but few people have actually had an experience where all that exists in their mindbody and heart is this moment, or this breath. It is a practice but it also requires a great deal of mental stamina ‘not’ to think about the past or the future. Most of us bring the past and the future right into our present moment – usually filled with some fear or anxiety.

If you are living in the northeast these days, you have been bombarded with the inconvenience of snow, narrow roads, traffic, cancelations, rescheduling. Most people are feeling claustrophobic, stir crazy and down-right depressed. Most people are feeling stressed and thinking about spring and warm weather.

This Tantric remedy for stress will bring you peace and deep relaxation.

It is an experience. Ready?

You see I have a tendency to put out a lot of energy. I am passionate about my life, my children, my work — pretty much anything I put my heart into, I am passionate about. And I learned early on to put energy out but what I did not learn was how to replenish that energy. And that leads to exhaustion, fatigue, over eating, under sleeping, and being out of balance.

Here is how to actually STOP (my teacher Dawn Cartwright taught this to me — I believe the roots are in Osho’s teachings.)

Practice the following steps below and trust me, they do work:

#1.  Sit down and take 3 long deep breaths. As you breathe in, gather your energy up — bring it all back inside you.  You do not have to know what I mean — just hold the intention and it will work.

#2.  When you feel yourself more connected to your core, take a few more breaths— in through your crown chakra (top of your head) and bring your breath down through your body all the way to your feet. Do that a few times.

#3.  Now you are invited to practice STOP by doing the following very slowly as if part of a walking meditation:  walk from room to room keeping a soft gaze; stop at the entrance to each room before entering and tell yourself STOP. Stand at the doorway, breathing deeply and come to a place where your entire body does not feel like it’s going in to the room or coming out of the room.  Just stand there, still, with no place to go – not forward, not backward. Just STOP. Breathe.

#4.  Practice #3 above in every room in your house.

#5.  Do this every day for a week and let me know how you feel.

When you feel overwhelmed, busy, tired, and wondering how you’re going to get everything accomplished — remember STOP. It’s a life-saver! Truly.

5 Tools to Overcome Self Doubt and Come Back To Self Love

In the 20 years of leading workshops and guiding couples back to a place of loving connection, I’ve come to learn that there are certain skills one needs to learn to create lasting successful change inside and out.  

I have also been able to see and understand the roadblocks: what gets in the way of love and deep connection.  One of my areas of expertise is taking apart the puzzle, going deep and seeing/feeling what’s really going on beneath the surface.

And I also do the same for myself.  

Flashback two years when suddenly people started asking me if I was going to offer a training so serious practitioners, students, could learn what’s going on behind the scenes of the Intimate Puja Circles I lead – and learn how to do it themselves.  I made a mental note but did nothing about it.

Fast forward two years (or 18 months) and more people were asking and still I kept putting it aside.  Lo and behold, SELF DOUBT was rearing its head!

What’s a Come Back To Love coach to do? —-> Figure out how to deal with self-doubt and come back to self-love.  

First, I want to say that these deep feelings — that began in childhood — they can be insidious.  They can impact us physically, emotionally, energetically…and even spiritually. Mine did! I got a cold, a virus actually — keep reading to see what I did!

Here’s a snapshot of the most valuable tools to relieve self-doubt and come back to self LOVE.  

  1. Create space for slowing down to notice. I will always say that meditation is one of the best things you can do for yourself.  Meditation provides you the space to pause — take a break from your busy day – and check in with YOU.  You can take it deeper of course into the spiritual realm but as a start, it can be a defined time for mindfulness.
  2. Witness your feelings, thoughts and sensations. While you’re in that quiet place of meditation, this is the time to invite a sense of curiosity — so you know what is going on inside. This is the time to get intimate with yourself.  To know yourself better. If self-doubt comes up, invite it forward (be with the sensation, rather than trying to push it away).
  3. Use your imagination and ask yourself some questions: What does your self-doubt look like?  What color, what texture, what size, shape, etc.  Get to know your self-doubt. Keep acknowledging body sensations and breathing.  Stay with yourself. Move slowly. I know these may seem like weird questions but basically you are inviting this part of yourself forward so you can deal with it.
  4. Allow the self-doubt to show you where it started. We all had childhood experiences that took us out of love and into self-doubt.  Finding out what happened and when will help you heal the past. Sometimes just naming it and sharing the story with a trusted friend, or therapist, will help.  Other times you need to do deeper work to heal and move through the difficulty.

In my case, I had so many early experiences of my parents shaming me for being smart, doing the right thing, getting good grades.  They weren’t trying to shame me — but it happened. So self-doubt showed up bright and clear when I started to step into the next phase of my business – the training!  

Once I went through steps 1 through 4 above, I got another ‘hit’ of a situation that needed healing.  Doing the healing work is beyond the scope of this article but doing the formative work above will give you the clarity about what’s going on and what your next steps are.  Let me know if you want to discuss further.

I use a simple tapping (back and forth, left and right) to move through painful feelings.  I recently led an example of that on FB here.

There are always many opportunities to come back to love with yourself.  We spent a week looking closely at judgment and today’s article brings you tools to use to shift self-doubt when it shows up.   

You want to become a master of YOU.  Whether you are in relationship or not, is not really the point – because no matter what it’s YOU that needs to be loved…from YOU.  To YOU.

The work that I do not only supports you in looking at the past and what’s ready to be healed but also what is happening in the present that is holding you back…from loving yourself, and from having the best relationship in your life, too (if that is what you choose).

What Torch Are You Carrying?

Greetings from the Sonoma Ashram in California.  It’s a beautiful place to breathe deeply, go inside and pay attention to how I am being with myself.  How deeply am I loving myself?  What parts of me need even more love?

This is from Shadow Work ® – a powerful healing journey that I use to access parts of me that are a bit buried but still wreaking havoc.  “We love all the time and we can’t stop (loving) because it’s who we are.  And when we love someone and lose them in some way, we feel the pain of that loss, and we find a way to keep that lost loved one with us by carrying something painful for them.  We carry a torch for them.  We memorialize them.”

This is one explanation as to why we behave in certain ways that remain perplexing to us.  It also explains why we haven’t manifested or experienced things we really want!  Like financial abundance, a lasting relationship, that perfect job.

These shadows show up in our adult lives often in ways that are destructive or obstacles to our living our lives to the fullest.

We are loyal to a fault at times.  We continue to carry the torch our parents or grandparents held even if it wasn’t a healthy one for them – and not a healthy one for us.

What torch are you still carrying that you are ready to put down soon?

I’ve been carrying hidden beliefs about money that came from my maternal grandfather who worked at 3 am in the “meat district” in Manhattan.  Earning money meant working as hard as possible – blood, sweat and tears. And even then….it was never enough.  Baked goods were our treats; and the meat he brought to fill our freezer was like gold.

I also find some hidden beliefs from my father.  We had years as a kid that he was out of work and there was fear.  He lived beyond his means later on in his life….it meant there was some shame about money.

I’ve been putting these torches down for a while but I still find them “in Shadow” — however, I’m preparing to put them out once and for all.   <3  #blessed

Again – what torch are you carrying that you may be ready to put down soon?


Imagine a society where the highest value was your relationship with yourself?

The relationship you have with yourself is one of the most important relationships you will ever have during your lifetime.  And even though we spend 100% of our time with ourselves, this relationship tends to be difficult…challenging.

Our society places a lot of value on external relationships; judging others for whether they are “in relationship​ with someone else​” or not​; ​someone else other than yourself​ or God.

(Gosh imagine a society where the focus was on your relationship with God as the primary goal and intention in life?  To cultivate that to the nines and value your life in terms of how that relationship was going…how good your communication was…how much sacred intimate time you spend together and how that does or doesn’t meet your needs?  But I digress…)

Okay though – let’s bring that last side bar above to the present relationship with YOU; between you and you.

What ​is your primary goal ​for your relationship with yourself?

What IS your intention for your relationship with yourself?  Are you communicating well?  Are you spending sacred intimate time with yourself and if so, how is that going?  ​Are you being kind, respectful, loving?  ​

I just had the first (almost) free weekend in about a year (no joke).  Circumstances​, ​snow storms, canceled clients, etc – and I ended up with ​almost no​ plans on FridaySaturday and Sunday.  ​Free time ​is something I have been craving (along with ​the ​spac​e​ to continue writing my book) and it was interesting to see what showed up​ instead.

Instead of pure, spa-like relaxation, I found some anxiety​, antsy-ness.  I found myself going through motions of old patterns that started when I was quite young.  I watched my mind – which went to town about things I was concerned with or unhappy about.

After some time it was really amusing!  But that’s because I’ve cultivated enough space between my thoughts and the ability to witness myself that I was able to SEE what was going on…

I was able to stop the thoughts, consciously choose what I wanted to do and laugh at myself. 
​I recently learned some new language that I’ll share with you.  In this example of what happened over my weekend, I moved between 3 different “minds.”  The ​first one is called “Emotional Mind” — and this is like a speeding train.  It’s when the mind distorts things and your emotions run wild.  This is not when your feelings are high because of something truly happening.  This is the mind doing what the mind does…taking you on a journey.

The second “mind” is called “Reasonable Mind.”  This is how it sounds.  This was me when I became aware that I was in “Emotional Mind” and stopped myself (got off the moving train).

The third “mind” is called “Wise Mind” and this is the feeling and experience you have when you’re in the flow.  When you are tuned in, aware of your intuition, following your inner guidance.  This is the “mind” I am in when I am teaching, leading, writing, working with clients, with my children…

The Lesson here is to notice.  Bring mindfulness to your thoughts and actions and notice what you are doing.  I moved myself out of “Emotional Mind” by pausing and asking myself to stop and in essence come back to “Reasonable Mind.”

It’s not always easy to bring awareness to places there typically hasn’t been, but it’s helpful to bring tools in to use and practice.  In this case, you can ask yourself, “What mind am I in right now?”  That question will give you some distance and then the ability to make a choice.

So although this article today is about being alone and what comes up for you…it’s very much about how to develop an excellent, loving, respectful relationship with YOU.  Getting to know yourself better and using healthy tools to soothe yourself, or to make conscious healthy decisions for yourself, are vital.

​Anyway, ​later I was able to enjoy being alone with myself.  I meditated, did yoga, went for a fabulous walk in the woods, wrote ​more of ​my book and ended the whole weekend by taking my daughter to dinner and watching the Academy Awards with her.

How do you feel when you are alone​ and how have you been relating with yourself lately? ​

Let’s Remove the Obstacles to Intimacy in Your Life!

Are you feeling unfulfilled and disconnected?

Single and touch deprived?  Feeling the need to share and have someone listen really deeply to you?

Ready to discover what it feels like to experience pleasure, passion, joy, and laughter ​again?


Allowing other things to get in your way?

The simple, exquisite process of ​intimacy (or into-me-you-see) starts ​from ​within—and ultimately transforms every area of your life​. ​

The kind of intimacy that nourishes every cell in your body and soul brings you a feeling of joy and peace from deep within. It is the kind of love story you read about, but typically feel like “that’s for everyone else and not for me.”  Well, today’s article will show you the clear path – three simple steps – you can take right now to unlock your heart​, CREATE THE SPACE ​and bring you back to deep love and divine connection with your lover, your friends and your family.

Showing up for something new where you know you’re going to ​TAKE RISKS to be ​your authentic self takes courage.

Unlock Step #1: Create ​A Sacred Space in Your Home Tonight

Twenty-five years ago I started spending a ​lot of amount of time at ​Kripalu.  The healing I did there was profound but when I came home, it got lost in the ​shuffle of my busy life.  I got distracted by my endless “to-do” list, my work, my son, cleaning the house, etc.  Almost anything could distract me from sitting quietly and connecting deeply with myself.  Until I create a sacred space for myself​ – and then my life changed.  ​

At the time I was living in a tiny apartment in the city and did not have any extra rooms to light candles in or meditate in. What did I do? I set up a small table in the corner of the dining room (of all places!) and every single morning I sat down at that table, lit a candle, and meditated. ​ I created a space for INTIMACY WITH MYSELF.  ​

You can create a sacred space just for you (or for you and your beloved) anywhere in your home.  This​ would​ ​become ​your space to breathe, meditate, do yoga, journal; connect with yourself, your partner and the Universe.  Give yourself the gift of 5-10 minutes (more is better but even a few minutes is fabulous) to come back to your heart.

Unlock Step #2: Speak Your Truth

Speaking your truth is ​sometimes ​harder than it sounds​.  ​

Most of us when we grow up are taught to hide the truth.  Not to be so bold and honest for fear of hurting someone else’s feelings, right? ​​​ However, not speaking the truth ​eventually​ erodes ​the very core​ of our being​; our sense of self and our confidence. Suddenly we don’t know who we are anymore.

​Creating more intimacy in your life means sharing who you are; your essence.  And your words express who you are.  ​Speak your truth – share your true opinions, your clear desires, your discerning needs, your thoughts, feelings…all of it.  Start small – choose someone close to you who is also on a personal growth path.  Practice, get feedback and get good at it.  Then try with others​ who you are less comfortable with​.  Don’t let your hiding get in the way.  Intimacy means allowing people to see who you truly are (and you, them.)

Unlock Step #3: Assume Everyone Is Doing Their Best

How often do you hear people taking something personally. The doctor was late and it was an affront to you; the guy speeding on the highway is “out to get me” — even the weather can be a perpetrator!

My experience is that most people feel this way. They grow up wondering why the world is against them and take most things that happen personally.  Making a shift to assuming everyone is doing their best and not out to get you brings you to a deep place of love, acceptance and forgiveness. 

In some ways this is not an easy task.  You will need to find a way to remind yourself but believe me the practice is well worth it!  The next time you find yourself wondering why the traffic light at the corner hates you, or the impending storm has your number, take a breath, remind yourself that the Universe is good and actually has your back (whether you believe that or not) and assume everyone around you is doing their best, that none of these things are personal to you (the world doesn’t revolve around us which is the good news!).
If you truly believe this, you will ​easily ​create more ​intimacy​ in your life than you ever thought possible. These three steps to unlock your path to intimacy ​are life-changing.

Being seen and known for who you truly are is one of our deepest human needs. Join me in opening your heart to the constant state of love that is possible and unlock the path to true intimacy in your life.

​Give yourself the gift of time, and intention to make space for intimacy.  Invite your partner, or friend to share openly and honestly.  Find the right environment where you can get your touch needs met.  Create a sacred space in your home to ground, and connect with yourself.  You won’t regret it!

Seeing the Beloved in Everyone – Part 2

This article is the second one of a series on seeing the Beloved in Everyone (you can read Part 1 here)

Do you have to BELIEVE that everyone you come across with is a potential life partner? Or best friend?  Or lover, beloved in order for this practice to work?

Well, YES.  But also NO.  In some way, this is a “fake it ’til you make it” practice.  Because OF COURSE you don’t fully believe that everyone in the workshop room is potential lover of yours.  Not if you ask and respond with your mind, with your thinking/assessing/judging mind.

But if it were really, 100% true?  Then what?  How would you act in that room?  How would you feel about yourself?  Would you:

  • Feel more relaxed?  Less anxious about making a connection with someone?
  • Stop worrying that all the good ones are taken and know that “yours” is right around the corner?
  • Feel exuberant, ecstatic, gleeful that everyone you meet in that space was an opportunity for something interesting to occur?  
  • Feel confident to initiate a conversation, ask for what you want? 
  • Say “no” with ease?  And “yes” with ease?

The thing is that we are all invited to Be Love in every moment; we are “charged” with it.  But something stops us.  We worry about being judged, we’re afraid people aren’t going to like us, we are afraid of being honest, we get scared, etc.

When you’re surrounded by love (which this practice brings right to you), you become who you truly are….because there is no reason to be anybody else!  No need to impress, to say the right thing, to pretend to be someone you’re not.

So again…

I invite you to continue practicing seeing the beloved in everyone. When you jump to judgment or assessment of someone else, you are immediately taken out of love.  This will immediately block you from getting the love you want in your life.

Fake it till you make it….and you WILL MAKE IT.  ​

For those of you that come to the Intimate Puja Circles, how does this help you frame them differently? 

Do this for an entire day and then SHARE on our FB page what you notice​!  I’d love to hear from you!  ​

Seeing the Beloved in Everyone – Part 1

What if instead of looking around a workshop (or online even before it starts), or at an event you’re at, or party you were invited to, and deciding there’s no one there you’re attracted to, no “mate material,” no one there you want to have sex with…what if…

INSTEAD — you saw EVERYONE AS A POTENTIAL LIFE PARTNER???  How would that be for you?

Imagine walking into a room of 100 people, half of them the gender you’re attracted to and knowing deep in your heart that all of them are possible life partners, soul mates, dating prospects, lovers?

How cool would that be?

This article is the first one of a series on seeing the Beloved in Everyone.  Tantra is about seeing and experiencing the divine in yourself first; and understanding that everyone you come into contact with a reflection for you.

The practices we do bring us a deeper love – for ourselves; and the ability to then attract more love to you whether that be with a new partner or your current one.

Some Tantric principles that apply here:

1. We are all divine beings.
2. We reflect each others’ divinity.
3. Truthfully, we are all one aspect of God (but that gets more complex than we are talking about here).
4. Love is the path to awakening.
5. Transformation and awakening happen at a speedier rate when you’re in relationship. 
6. Everyone you meet is love but is struggling with the past (traumas and fears).
7. Our duty as awakened beings is to bring love wherever we go.

I invite you right now, today, to practice seeing the beloved in everyone.  Seriously, later today when you go to the grocery store – as you walk in the door – repeat after me, “Everyone in this supermarket is a potential lover” (even if you’re in relationship, practice this).

For those of you that come to the Intimate Puja Circles, how would that change them for you? 

Do this for an entire day and then PLEASE WRITE on our FB page what you noticed?  This is LIFE CHANGING.  Seriously. 

The Modern Practice of Puja

SUMMARY FROM LAST WEEK:  Puja is an ancient cultural tradition that has unknown roots. Some scholars believe that the practice began during Vedic times (1500 – 600 BCE) where the word puja has been found in the Sutras (which were composed to describe domestic rites, prayers, rituals).  In these years, it appears that puja mostly referred to the time when a priest was visiting a home to offer a ritual to the family.  A deity was being honored and was considered an invited guest.The puja ritual helped the family embrace the god/goddess’ spiritual essence so that it permeated the home and the people in it.   

In the 1980s, a man named Charles Muir, is said to have been one of the first teachers to bring tantra to the modern world in the west.  Honestly, I doubt this is true.  His book, “The Art of Conscious Loving” is fabulous (co-written with his wife at the time, Caroline Muir).  He and Caroline developed a sexual healing technique known today as “sacred spot massage” and as we know, anything with a focus on sex gets popularized quickly!  I’m not judging their work; I have found it very healing myself and recommend it to those drawn.  

And then there is Osho – the mystic, and the revolutionary the sex guru. Born in 1931 in Kuchwada, Madya Pradesh, India, Osho supposedly became enlightened at the age of 21.  He followed a career as a philosophy professor, later traveled all over India and was worshipped by thousands of people.  Around 1970 he started initiating devotees and in 1974 he started an Ashram in Poona.  In 1981, he relocated to the US, offering his version of tantra to the folks who joined him at his ashram in California.  

The question of WHO created the version of Tantric puja that embraces intimacy instead of meditation to a deity is unknown.  However, the question still remains whether we are honoring of the puja practice in its origin or diluting an ancient practice and doing a disservice.  

Let’s review the components I enumerated last week:

1.  The deity is invited to the ceremony.

2.  The deity is offered a seat and his/her feet are ceremonially washed.

3.  Water is offered for cleansing.

4.  A cloth may be wrapped around the deity.

5.  The deity is then adorned with incense, ornaments, jewels and more.

6.  A burning lamp, or candle, is waved in front of the honored one.

​​​​​​​7.  Foods such as cooked rice, fruit, and sweets are offered.

8.  The attendees bow to take homage in the energy the deity is providing.

9.  The attendees walk around the deity.
​​​​​​​10. The attendees leave.


And now let’s compare them to the Intimate Puja Circle as I choose to lead it:

1.  Women and men are invited to the ceremony.

2.  The women are offered a seat.

3.  Cleansing is done before we arrive at the puja ceremony via movement, sometimes water, sometimes fire, often breathing and releasing.

4.  Cloth is provided on the altar to create sacred space for our divine experience.

5.  The women most often adorn themselves (and we adorn the altar with ornaments, jewels, incense, etc.)

6.  We have a representation of a candle on the altar.

7.  Foods such as fruit and sweets are offered.

8.  The participants honor each other via non-sexual touch, eye gazing, energetic connection to begin to see/feel the divinity is in each of us.

9.  The outside circle moves around the goddess in the center.

​​​​​​​10. The participants leave at the end. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

So as you can see, the steps taken during a puja ceremony are similar here and there which fares well for staying in integrity.  But the real, the underlying question is whether or not the Intimate Puja Circle is a journey towards awakening.  And my answer to that question is YES. 

It can seem like it’s about getting touch needs met, learning to say “yes” when you mean “yes” and “no” when you mean “no” — and it can seem that it’s about having a good massage, or raising sexual energy which feels good.  It can seem that it’s about getting together twice/month and being in community.  For some, it can be about making money, or living in a nice home or meeting their life partner.

And there’s the thing — all those things are great!  They truly are….it’s so important that our words express our highest truth, that we are most often expressing our authenticity, that we feel good, get good touch regularly, make enough money so that we feel comfortable, and meet a life partner if that’s what we want.  I would never and will never underestimate the importance of these aspects of our lives.

And yet, it’s all for nothing if it’s not about AWAKENING.  This ancient practice (along with other ones of course) have demonstrated over the years to be a tool on the path to awakening.  It has the capacity to transcend who we think we are, and help us find out who we really are. The sacred ritual has the capacity to open our hearts to the Truth — the the Oneness of the Universe, to deep honest connection with God/Spirit and to realize that we are forever held in love.  And that we are love and nothing else is true.  Imagine that!

So in the end, I believe it has much to do with intention.  How I hold the space when I facilitate is paramount to what gets created, expressed and manifested in that space.  And just as important is how everyone in the room holds the space.  I realize there are different degrees of understanding and also we are all on different stones on the same path….but the overall intention is sacred and loving.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Let’s Get Scholarly Before We Get Sexy: What is a पूजा?

As I mentioned in my last article, the word puja is a sanskrit word that translates to mean sacred ritual, or ceremony. It is used by the Hinkus, Sikhs, Buddhists and others for a variety of reasons. It is most often used to honor a deity (god or goddess) to celebrate her character traits (and ideally see them as a reflection of what we have inside ourselves, too). A puja happens on specific Hindu or Buddhist holidays. It is also used during specific celebrations like a birth or death, and is basically the prayer and ritual itself to honor the occasion.

Pujas vary in terms of how they are done. Some people do them daily, some less frequently, and some just for special occasions. How they are organized, the steps taken, the deities honored, can all vary according to culture, region in Asia, religion, family tradition and individual practice. The good news is that it doesn’t matter. The location isn’t dictated either. The ritual of Puja is done in temples, at home or in an outside location for worship.

The temple (or mandir) pujas tend to be more elaborate with statues of gods and goddesses, jewels, beautiful scarves, candles, incense and more. They tend to be led by a “temple priest” or pujari, whose honor it is to take care of the puja, and welcome the Guest (god or goddess) each morning.

Pujas done in the home are usually less elaborate. As long as they are done with the sacredness that is intended, they have the capacity to be beautiful, soulful, spiritual ways to honor deeply.

Whether they are done in the home or in the temple, in the east pujas often follow similar steps outlined here:

1. The deity is invited to the ceremony.

2. The deity is offered a seat and his/her feet are ceremonially washed.

​​​​​​​3. Water is offered for cleansing.

​​​​​​​4. A cloth may be wrapped around the deity.

​​​​​​​5. The deity is then adorned with incense, ornaments, jewels and more.

6. A burning lamp, or candle, is waved in front of the honored one.

​​​​​​​7. Foods such as cooked rice, fruit, and sweets are offered.

8. The attendees bow to take homage in the energy the deity is providing.

9. The attendees walk around the deity.
​​​​​​​10. The attendees leave.

Puja is an ancient cultural tradition that has unknown roots. Some scholars believe the practice began during Vedic times (1500 – 600 BCE) where the word puja has been found in the Sutras (composed to describe domestic rites, prayers, rituals). In these years, it appears that puja mostly referred to the time when a priest was visiting a home to offer a ritual to the family. The deity was considered an invited guest and the puja invited the god/goddess’ spiritual essence to permeate the home and the people in it.

We can already begin to see how pujas in the west reflect the ancient traditional pujas of the east.

Stay tuned for next week’s article on how puja migrated to the east and whether or not the modern practices of the west are in fact in integrity with the true practice of puja.