Ep#078 Sex Is Medicine With Certified Tantric Healing Practitioner Devi Ward Erickson
If we accept that the energetic frequencies of pleasure, joy and relaxation are central to the innate healing powers of these bodies and that true well being is the path of self realization then the exploration of our sexuality as a pathway to optimal health and happiness is paramount.
Today we take a deep dive into the topic of Sex as Medicine with Devi Ward Erickson, an internationally recognized, trusted and sought after Certified Tantric Healing Expert, coach, speaker and founder of the first and only government accredited school for Tantric Sexual Healing. She has been featured as a Tantric Healing Expert in countless articles and over 30 different radio and television networks world-wide. Devi is also the author of several printed and ebooks, including “Shake Your Soul Song! A Woman’s Guide to Self Empowerment Through The Art of Self Pleasure”, “Tantra Is Medicine!”, and “3 Tantric Secrets for Extraordinary Sex”. and the host of the hit Podcast “Sex Is Medicine with Devi Ward”.
Since 2007, Devi has been helping hundreds of people through the teachings of Tantric Buddhism harness sexual energy for deep healing and spiritual realization. In this eye opening conversation, we explore how tantric healing practices are a beautiful bridge between western science and eastern healing and why there is so much potential for embracing sexuality as a sacred healing path for stepping into our full human potential for happiness and well being.
Free E Book: “The 4 Forms of Pleasure”
Website: Devi Ward Tantra Expert
Podcast: “Sex Is Medicine”
You Tube Channel: Sex Is Medicine
Welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast, where you’ll discover that when it comes to your health, you are so much more powerful than you’ve been led to believe. And now your host, she’s a holistic nutrition and lifestyle coach, chef author, and Yogi, Christine Okezie.
Christine Okezie (22s):
Hello, and welcome to the Soul Science Nutrition Podcast. I’m Christine Okezie. Thanks so much for listening. So when it comes to the exploration of natural healing consciousness and spirituality, there was one area that is overwhelmingly missing in most holistic and alternative health circles. And that’s human sexuality. If we accept that the energetic frequencies of pleasure, joy and relaxation are central to the innate healing powers of these bodies. And that true wellbeing is ultimately a path of self-realization than it really is impossible to ignore how sex plays such a vital part when it comes to our true nature and design.
Christine Okezie (1m 8s):
So today we take a deep dive into the topic of sex as medicine with Devi Ward Erickson and internationally recognized and Certified Tantric Healing expert coach, speaker, and founder of the first and only government accredited school for Tantric sexual healing in the world. Devi has also been featured as a Tantric healing expert in countless articles and over 30 different radio and television networks worldwide. She is also the author of several printed and eBooks, including: “Shake Your Soul Song – A Woman’s Guide To Self-Empowerment Through the Art of Self-pleasure.” , “Tantra Is Medicine”, and Three Tantric Secrets for Extraordinary Sex.”
Christine Okezie (1m 52s):
She’s the host of the podcast, Sex Is Medicine” with Devi Ward. Devi’s quest to heal herself from a lifetime of trauma, put her on an intensive journey of spiritual exploration, including a decade as an Ishaya monk sharing teachings of consciousness and meditation. Her travels led her to discover and train in the ancient tradition of Tantric Buddhism. And since 2007, Devi has been helping hundreds of people through these teachings for harnessing sexual energy and using it for healing and spiritual realization. I can’t wait for you to listen in on this eye-opening conversation where we explore how Tantric healing practices are an empowering bridge between Western science and Eastern healing and why there is so much potential for embracing sexuality.
Christine Okezie (2m 42s):
It’s a sacred healing path when it comes to stepping into our full potential for happiness and wellbeing. And if you do like the episode, I’d be grateful. If you could please leave a rating and review on apple podcast. And if you haven’t hit the subscribe button, please do so it helps the find the podcast easier. Thank you so much and enjoy the episode. Hi, Devi. Welcome to the podcast. So great to have you here today.
Devi Ward Erickson (3m 9s):
Christine, thank you so much for inviting me. It’s a pleasure.
Christine Okezie (3m 12s):
Okay. So I’m going to dive right in here, right? And let’s lay some groundwork here because people hear the word Tantra and all kinds of things come across, you know, the mind. So in your own words, you know, how can we sort of, walk us through this beautiful, you know, space of learning everything different through the lens of tantra? What is tantra?
Devi Ward Erickson (3m 35s):
Yeah. So what most people think of as tantra and north America and Western societies is actually an adaptation of these traditional sacred spiritual practices from India and China and Tibet. And in the late 18 hundreds, early 19 hundreds, they were, I might have my time, my time, the timeline wrong there, but yeah, late 18 hundreds, early 19 hundreds, when the British were invading India, they encountered these esoteric, you know, spiritual teachings that included sexuality and they hit the kind of Victorian mind and they kind of went off and they pulled the, the sexuality and the mystique out of it and, and left a log of the really fundamental and foundational instructions in India.
Devi Ward Erickson (4m 31s):
They appropriated quite frankly, they appropriated ancient spiritual teachings and turn them into a, what we call today. Neo tantra and Neo tantra has some wonderful benefits. A lot of people have been supported and helped and healed through it. And it also has a lot of very detrimental aspects to it. And one of it is, is the clear misrepresentation of tantra as a sexual yoga practice or just as a sex practice. Tantra actually is an ancient, spiritual science that was developed in India, thousands and thousands and thousands of years ago. And the main purpose and goal of tantra is realization is realization of our ultimate nature.
Devi Ward Erickson (5m 11s):
Whatever that means to you, sexuality is a part of that and a piece of that because it’s a part of our humanity, but that is not the focus or the emphasis of tantra. And so for me personally, I was introduced to Tantra as a part of a sacred sexual healing practice. I was introduced to Tibetan Five Eelements, sexual and non-sexual Tantra. And my instruction, the instructions I received told me that Tantra is, is a form of yoga. It’s it’s energy, body yoga and includes visualization and includes chanting mantra. It includes breath work, and these methods are first cultivated, non sexually, so that you have a good stable foundation.
Devi Ward Erickson (5m 56s):
And then you can apply these methods to your sexual activity, to enhance it, to accelerate it, to facilitate greater healing. And ultimately, again, the realization of our ultimate nature, which in the TAntric tradition is simply understood as being free from suffering. So if we imagine for a moment, what would it be like feeling like to be free of suffering? No, no anxiety, no struggle, no, none of our defensive mechanisms, no trauma. And then overwhelm the stuff that we experienced as a normal part of society. All of that is suffering to one degree or another. So the goal of tantra is to liberate our consciousness, to liberate our ex our mind and our in our experience of life so that we can navigate this world free of suffering and bringing benefit, being a benefit and service to all of humanity.
Christine Okezie (6m 45s):
I love this. Thank you so much. That was such a rich, rich, you know, walking us through all of that. So your personal healing journey, you said, this is kind of was your path, you know, what was going on in your life? You know, what, what was healed, what was alleviated, you know, what opened up for you?
Devi Ward Erickson (7m 2s):
That’s a great question. So keeping in mind that I began this journey almost 14 years ago now, and the landscape of, of conventional discourse conversation at the time was very different than it is now for insurance. You know, there wasn’t this emphasis on being trauma informed. We didn’t really know much about trauma. It wasn’t discussed. We thought it was, you know, what happened if you were in a car accident or you go back from war, but we didn’t understand developmental trauma and attachment trauma and, you know, societal trauma and generational trauma. So the, so the landscape of, of trauma awarenesses become a lot more fluent today. So at the time I engaged in these methods, I had a lot of unresolved and unrecognized trauma from early childhood sexual abuse from growing up mixed, biracial, and black in a white supremacist society.
Devi Ward Erickson (7m 52s):
I mean, I was literally terrorized as a small child by, by the white people that I grew up with threatening to kill me because I was, my dad was black. So, so sexual abuse, trauma, racial trauma, I grew up in a home of domestic violence. So I watched my father, you know, beat my mother on a regular basis. So I had a lot of early, early childhood trauma, adverse childhood experiences. And so I grew up not understanding why I was dysfunctional, why I suffered from depression, why it was suicidal. I also had an incident when I was 13, where my father abused me and, and almost killed me.
Devi Ward Erickson (8m 34s):
And so again, because of the, the age and the time, like this was the mid 1980s to early 1990s, like we just didn’t have this wasn’t part of the common conversation. So my mother didn’t realize, oh, your father almost killed you. We, you need therapy, right? Yes. I understand that it has the time. And so all of this trauma just, I just absorbed it and held it in my body, in a dysregulated, my nervous system. I, you know, again, I suffered from horrible depression, suicidal ideation, several suicide attempts in my late teens, early twenties, I was, I was a bit of a mess.
Devi Ward Erickson (9m 13s):
And, and I was very, very dysfunctional, meaning, like I went to college and I had a job, but I really couldn’t get through my classes. And, you know, I, I couldn’t really like down a job, that kind of thing. So all of those emanations of, of what a deeply and severely traumatized person looks like, that was me, all of the above check, check, check. So when I was 24, I ran away to the mountains of North Carolina and became a monk. Okay. That’s one way to do it. Yeah, that was, that was, that was my coping mechanism to deal with, to survive. Right. Because I couldn’t really function. I felt very lost in the world, very displaced.
Devi Ward Erickson (9m 53s):
And I thought that I was broken. I, again, I did not know that what I was was traumatized and that there was a, there was a way to resolve and heal that I just thought it was fundamentally broken. So I went and joined in all shrunk. I decided that I was going to ascend and meditate my way into wholeness. And I often say that, you know, even though that looking back, that was a very disassociated path. It, it probably saved my life because it gave me a way to disassociate and disconnect from my trauma. That was healthy. It wasn’t drugs, it wasn’t alcohol. In fact, I, you know, I didn’t drink or smoke or adjust anything other than like tofu and raw food.
Devi Ward Erickson (10m 32s):
Amazing. Amazing. So talk about clean living like that was it. So, yeah, so yeah, I spent a decade as a monk ascending and, and, and attempting to cope with, with life and my trauma by disassociating, from my body and disassociating from my, from my physical embodied experience. And I made my way over to Hawaii, Hawaii, and I was starting to integrate again. I was starting to become embodied. I started teaching a modality called sacred Arabic dance that evolved for me out of my time as a stripper in Detroit.
Devi Ward Erickson (11m 10s):
And my time as a monk and dance for me has always been a, it has been sacred my, in my entire life, I’ve been dancing since I could stand on two feet. And so dance has always been a way that I express God and my devotion to God and erotic dance has, has been part of that as well, my whole life. So I decided to actually cultivate this into a structured practice. And I began teaching sacred Arabic dance on Kuwait, and so that my own house cleaning business. So I could be independent and kind of work at my own, my own schedule and that sort of thing. And I was living and working there and building community.
Devi Ward Erickson (11m 52s):
And when I encountered the Tibetans five element teachings and they were introduced to me, not as a sex, you know, sex skill or, you know, romantic tantra thing, they were introduced to me as a way to literally incorporate and integrate my sexuality into my spiritual practice. Because keeping in mind at this point, I was still a monk. Like my primary, my first motivation was to my spiritual path. My primary motivation was I wanted to realize enlightenment in this lifetime. I didn’t know what that looked like, but I just knew that I wanted to do it. Yes. And so these methods were presented to me as a way to incorporate my sexuality and actually S enhance and accelerate my spiritual path by the incorporation of my sexual energy.
Devi Ward Erickson (12m 39s):
And these were ancient lineage based methods that had never been taught openly before. It’s the first time they’d ever been shared with Westerners was through my Lama Lama Tashi. And so it was all very mystical and mysterious and intriguing and in alignment with what I was searching for. So if Tantra had just been presented as, as, and, and the Neo tantra, like, you know, some good spice of your sex life, well, I was not interested in examining my sex life. I thought my sex life was fine. I didn’t have orgasms. I didn’t know where my G-spot was. And I didn’t think I ever needed to know I was, I was, I did not, I didn’t understand how deeply shut down and, and profoundly traumatized. I was.
Devi Ward Erickson (13m 19s):
I just wanted to avoid it entirely. I just knew having conversations about sex terrified me and I w I didn’t want to, I didn’t, I didn’t want to engage in it at all. So Tantra was not initially presented to me as a way to explore my sexuality. It was presented to me as a way of harnessing my sexual energy and using it for spiritual advancement. And that was something that I could say yes to at the time.
Christine Okezie (13m 41s):
Beautiful. Oh my gosh. So help us understand, how did you, how can we merge this, you know, this, this myth, this myth, that sexuality and spirituality are kind of an opposite camps, but in fact, they are one in the same and very much important for self-realization and overall wellbeing.
Devi Ward Erickson (14m 2s):
Yeah. So th that’s such a great question because the, the, I remember the exact moment when it clicked into place for me, cause I wasn’t, I was kind of like, I was kinda not buying it. And I was like, how does your sexual pleasure advance your spiritual practice? Like, sounds good. Looks good on paper. Sounds good. But how does it actually work? Like, what is it, what are the action mechanisms? And this is what sold me on it. And I heard it not for my mentor, but I heard it from a Tibetan Buddhist, a rim Rache. Who’s a very, very, very high law. And it was this video series I was watching. And he explained that at the moment of orgasm, the moving promises or wins in the genitals are called drew downward voiding wins of the moment of orgasm.
Devi Ward Erickson (14m 45s):
They brush the central channel and we get a glimpse of enlightenment. So for those of who aren’t familiar with the concept of the central channel and yoga traditions, the central channel is the core of the life force energy in the body. It’s like the trunk of the tree. If you’re thinking of the energy body, the Shasha Menotti or Ooma channel is, is, is the trunk. And so that’s where all of like the life force energy flows, all of the, all of the good Juju is there. It’s also, we’re enlightened consciousness resides in the human form in the central, in the central channel, the great palace of the central channel. There is no attachment. There’s no anger, there’s no pride, jealousy or ignorance.
Devi Ward Erickson (15m 24s):
Everything is pure bliss. It’s pure bliss, conscious consciousness. Most yoga practices are all designed to get our energy and get our awareness into the central channel. The central channel is the place to be. So all the, you know, the Hatha yoga and, you know, even acupuncture and Chinese medicine, they’re working surface channels to get to the central channel. So the central channel, the place we want to be the way the human energy body and mechanism is designed is that at the peak of pleasure at that moment of orgasm, we naturally gain access to that central channel, whether we want to, or not, whether we’re aware of whether we’re aware of it or not, right.
Devi Ward Erickson (16m 5s):
Bliss of orgasm is literally literally a glimpse of your enlightened nature.
Christine Okezie (16m 11s):
Incredible. I love it. Amazing. And It’s our design.
Devi Ward Erickson (16m 15s):
Exactly. So what if, instead of just a little tiny glimpse, what if we could hang out there? What if we approach that peak of orgasm instead of it being like a flash or a big bang and it’s over? What if we stabilize that? What if we relaxed there? What if we played there? What if we dance there so that this second or two seconds or three seconds of orgasmic bliss consciousness actually becomes two minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes an hour, what that does to your brain on a physiological level, what that does to your brain way you is on a, on a, you know, whatever electronic level, electrographic level and what that does to our consciousness in terms of an esoteric level, to be able to hang out in bliss, void consciousness, like that literally begins to rewire the brain.
Devi Ward Erickson (17m 8s):
It literally begins to rewire neural pathways, and it gives us an embodied experience of what it is to feel the bliss of enlightenment. And that is the potential of human sexuality. That is why sexual teachings are so essential in spiritual traditions, because it’s like that, that we get to hack into the central channel. So we need to learn how to, how to get there more easily and B what to do when we’re there and like
Christine Okezie (17m 36s):
That, oh my gosh. Okay. Yes, yes, yes. This really works to dispel. One of the biggest misconceptions, you know, or at least blind spots when it comes to, you know, what our bodies are for in terms of our sexuality, in terms of our, our anatomy even height. Oh my God, that’s huge. And, you know, to your point, when we explore this path of healing and, and, and bliss consciousness, we’re also healing. I think so much of the trauma and conditioning, that’s part of what we’ve inherited, because we’ve all been, you know, just living in modern society, you know, all the, all the shame.
Christine Okezie (18m 19s):
Yes, exactly. All the guilt and all the, you know, that goes with the shame for our bodies even, and this is a huge thing for women. So I want to go here now. Okay. Cause you know, most folks, I work with women, women, you know, struggling with body image, self-love, you know, feeling at home in their bodies and then yet alone entertaining the idea of being a sexual being. Right. So, you know, I just see so much potential here, you know, for women to embrace this path of exploration. So help us understand, you know, how can we begin to kind of heal these wounds that we might be carrying around our own sexuality?
Christine Okezie (18m 58s):
Devi Ward Erickson (18m 59s):
That’s such a great question. And I will speak from my experience. So I had a tremendous amount of, of body hatred, body shame, body dysmorphia. I would look in the mirror like I was like, it was like 24, 23, 24. I mean, we’d like, I don’t know, like 120 pounds, maybe I’m five sacks. Like I was like, you know, like there was not, I had no extra fat on my body and yet I looked in the mirror and I just saw this disgusting creature. I wanted to cut my breasts off. I wanted to cut my legs open. Like I wanted to harm myself. I wanted to take knives and start cutting up things because I hated my body so much.
Devi Ward Erickson (19m 41s):
Right. And so, and I struggled. I mean, I starved my fat myself. I fasted for months at a time, I put all kinds of things in my butt to try and cleanse and purify my body because it was, you know, hostile and all of that. So my, my, my body image issues were, were pretty severe and, and very violent. Like I was, I was abusive to my physical body. And so how, how tantra has helped me is number one, understanding that that type of body suffering, you know, body of aggression is the word I’m looking for is symptomatic of trauma.
Devi Ward Erickson (20m 21s):
We’re not born hating our bodies,
Christine Okezie (20m 24s):
Right? No, it’s true. I say that all the time babies come out and they’re like, Ooh, look at my toes.
Devi Ward Erickson (20m 29s):
Exactly. We’re not born hating our bodies. So having that type of severe, severe body dysmorphia is symptomatic of trauma. So that’s, that was really helpful for me to understand because I was that the root cause as the trauma began to dissolve from my body, so did psychological manifestations of it. So did that overwhelming shame, but overwhelming despair that overwhelming aversion, that overwhelming hatred to my physical form, it’s hard to hate your body when it’s full of bliss. Right. When we begin, when we begin to not just think, but really have the visceral lived embodied experience of bliss and our physical form, the hatred for it begins to dissolve and diminish.
Devi Ward Erickson (21m 14s):
And so, so that, that was really fundamental for me when I, when I think back on that, the path to getting there, you know, quite frankly, honestly, there is no easy way back to wholeness. There is no easy, easy, you know, we have to feel it to heal. It. That’s just the reality of it. So it’s not like Tantra, isn’t a magic wand. I don’t think there’s any holistic remedy. That’s a magic wand. That’s just going to erase and, you know, and, and, and remove all of the discomfort. We have to be willing to feel the discomfort. Like, you know, if we get a wound, a surface wound, like I get a cut on my arm or something, there’s a stage of healing that it goes through where it’s itchy and uncomfortable and irritated and tender and sore.
Devi Ward Erickson (21m 59s):
And if we get a burn as the nerve endings grow back, it hurts, healing hurts, right? And so I’m not advocating for misery and suffering. I’m just suggesting that even when we’re using, you know, even pleasure as medicine, we have to be willing to experience some discomfort of moving through whatever that obstacle is to reclaim the pleasure. Once we get to the pleasure, the pleasure is like lube that facilitates the rest of the ride, but sometimes getting from where I am now to where I want to be, those growing pains can be uncomfortable and we have to be willing to feel that pain in order to break through.
Christine Okezie (22m 37s):
And, and I think you just, you know, address a really important point here is that it’s, you know, when we have trauma and we have wounding, whether that’s physical or psychological, we can’t skip the steps and tantra or the system of, you know, authentic tantra I think is what you, you practice. And what you teach about is really going through, right. And it’s a process and it’s holding yourself through it. So again, this isn’t a magic bullet. This isn’t like, do this, you know, and get to bliss, consciousness, you know, orgasm, isn’t the one-shot deal, right. It’s actually the entire embracing of the system. So breakdown, you know, just some tools, some techniques and approaches for someone who wants to answer, okay, well, what’s involved.
Christine Okezie (23m 22s):
Where can I start? Do I need a partner? This is another one, right. Where I, you know, I haven’t had sex in a long time, or do I, do I tell my husband or my partner that I’m doing this is this about me? Is this about us?
Devi Ward Erickson (23m 33s):
Yeah, those are all great questions. So the system of healing that we use is the four pillars of healing. And so we named the modality that we’re working with authentic tantra because it is rooted in lineage based teaching. So it was to distinguish it from Neo tantra. And so the foundation of what we teach are the Tibetans five element tantric practices. And they were taught to our Lama Lama Tashi D’Andra who is a westerner who lives in Hawaii, or they were taught to him by
Christine Okezie (24m 10s):
Amazing. I love the richness of the tradition that really resonates with me.
Devi Ward Erickson (24m 15s):
Well, that’s the thing. I mean, Tantra is, it’s a spiritual tradition that has been practiced for thousands of years. And so it brings potency, it brings vitality, it brings wisdom. And it also brings security to be practicing under this, this umbrella of lineage, knowing that these teachings, again, they started with the Buddha and they’d been transmitted throughout through the ages to people who were worthy of holding them. And I’m honored to be, to be a wisdom carrier of these five element practices and the way that they’re being applied in, in mainstream society today. But what we use in our school are the four pillars of healing and the four pillars are meditation and meditation is simply mind training.
Devi Ward Erickson (24m 60s):
And one of the, you know, the little soundbites I like to say is you can’t have, you know, 10 minute orgasms, if you can’t even focus, follow 10 breaths, if you can l
Christine Okezie (25m 8s):
Love that. So that on a t-shirt
Devi Ward Erickson (25m 15s):
If we want to have great sex, we have to be present for great sex. We have to be present in the body. Right. And so, and understanding that one of the reasons that we’re not present in the body is trauma is having a dysregulated nervous system is being in fight or flight all the time, which happens in this Western society. So the first key to having, you know, expanded states of consciousness is just being able to be present and breathe, be present with the body, be present with the breath. And that is the gateway to the kingdom of heaven. Absolutely. Absolutely. Okay. Yeah. So meditation is a foundation. Then we work with movement. So movement is a healing art. So we work with specific movements and specific breathing practices and visualizations as a form of somatic healing.
Devi Ward Erickson (25m 59s):
But then also we focus on movement as a, as a sexual wellness practices. So using a pelvic floor exercises and again, specific pelvic movements to unlock and generate sexual vitality and health. Awesome. And then there is connections or connection to self connection to others. So our primary source of connection is our own selves ourselves. So we started there and when teaching Tantra, when the way we work at our school is we offer programs for individuals and then couples. So healing because we’re, we’re our approach to Contra is as a healing modality it’s yes. Sex and yes, connection, all of that, but really Tantra is medicine for healing.
Devi Ward Erickson (26m 40s):
And our journey of healing begins with ourselves as individuals, and then to radiate out and translate out into our, our partnerships, our friendships and our community. So connection, connection to self, and then connection to others. And so we use a variety of tools to facilitate connection. We’re very, there’s an emphasis on non-violent communication. I would train the nonviolent communication since 2005 with a mentor, journaling practices, yoga breathing practices that establish energy, body connection and communication exercises. And then of course we have pleasure. And so in our school, we also outlined four different forms of pleasure. So yes, pleasure can be sexual, but it can also be sensual, meaning having to do with a physical body and our five senses, pleasure can also be emotional.
Devi Ward Erickson (27m 27s):
It can also be spiritual. So when we focus on pleasure, we’re focusing on expanding our understanding and expanded or expanding our capacity for pleasure and generating what we call pleasure consciousness, which means looking for, and prioritizing pleasure in every waking moment. Okay.
Christine Okezie (27m 46s):
Thank you. And sign me up, get all those pillars as a Kundalini yoga teacher and practitioner. This is so cool. You know, it’s really resonating with me, you know, sacred sexuality, please define that a little bit more for us.
Devi Ward Erickson (28m 2s):
Yeah. Yeah. So it’s interesting. I was just having a conversation with us about, about some of my students. So, you know, there’s this, like, there’s the Neo tantra, which is really, there’s an emphasis on the sexuality and like the king and the, you know, the external, and then there’s traditional tantra, which is very yoga and energy body. So where do we weave the two? And these are where the feminine teachings of traditional tantra come in. So in some of what are called the Yogi tantras there’s there’s pages and pages and verses and verses of text of how these female Buddhas demanded being pleasured, and they wanted offerings, they wanted incense, they wanted foot massage.
Devi Ward Erickson (28m 46s):
They wanted their Yoni’s to be pleasure. They wanted it to be made love to they wanted to be a door. So, so there are scriptures and texts about like the more sensual, the more erotic, the more the eeros of tantra that have been very nourishing for, for me to read and to gain access to, because keeping in mind, a lot of the wisdom around tantra has been kept by men, whether it’s traditional tantra or Neo tantra, it all started it all, you know, it’s all the Neo tantra started with men as a traditional Tundra has been kept by men and, and monks by the way, misogynist, misogynistic men,
Christine Okezie (29m 24s):
Patriarchical, if you can get yeah. Yeah,
Devi Ward Erickson (29m 27s):
Exactly. Yeah. Fascinating. Well, we love women, but men that are like, oh, we can’t touch women because they are unclean. So those are the people that have been holding this wisdom and this knowledge for millennia. So, so some of the more erotic teachings have been, have not been as widely available in terms of what traditional tantra can look like, what sacred sexuality chemicals, or from our point of view. So I’m trained under this umbrella, Tibetan five element Tondra. So from my point of view, almost everything I do falls under that umbrella. So whether it’s dancing, whether it’s meditating or whether it’s giving my partner, you know, some oral pleasuring, it all falls under that umbrella because that is the foundational practice that they engage in.
Devi Ward Erickson (30m 11s):
When we are bringing weaving, reveal the arrows into our tantra practice, it looks like a very simple thing is setting up our sacred space. So creating a tantric temple, and this is not elaborate or it doesn’t have to be, it’s very simply bringing in something into our environment to enhance and please each of our five senses. So sight sound, taste, touch, smell. So for sight, I would like handles, make sure the room is all set up and pretty. It’s really cute when my husband sets up her double space, he’s always make sure the pillows are off them, lighting flowers.
Devi Ward Erickson (30m 55s):
So pleasing the eyes, making sure that everything that the eyes see, it’s like, Ooh, little, little orgasms in your eyeballs, and then smell maybe having some incense burning oil diffuser, or, you know, whatever smells you like, the oil that you wear on your body, or maybe you’re sensitive to smell. So it’s better for you to have no smells. Right? Right. So bringing things into your environment that either enhance and please your sense of smell, or, you know, create an environment that’s free of sense. So that that’s more, that’s better for you for tastes. Usually we have some tea or some, or even water with lemon in it. My husband brings it in chocolate and like little, little snacky things to mouth fruit and that sort of thing.
Devi Ward Erickson (31m 38s):
So a little burst in the mouth and then touch. So very often we’ll take a bath beforehand, cause I’m, I’m a bathing queen. You know, you don’t have to take naps are always a part of doctor, but they are a part of my practice every day. Cause I love bath. So I love sitting in the warm fragrant top with the salt and the smells and the lights and then, you know, oiling my body, making sure that we’ve got pillows and we’re however we’re sitting as comfortable maybe wearing some silky lingerie or jammies, sight sound, taste, touch. Oh, sound and then having music. Yeah.
Christine Okezie (32m 15s):
It’s so beautiful is that we bring the full capacity of our bodies to the experience, right. And, and this is such a core feature in the work that I do because it’s, it’s the medicine for getting out of our thinking, thinking, thinking cerebral, you know, doing, doing south. And oftentimes it’s that imbalance that causes so much suffering in our lives, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, all it. And so maybe what I’m hearing is that, you know, embracing the body in its totality, which by the way happens to include the fact that we have, you know, we are sexual beings, right. Is all part of it. So the, you know, when I work with mindful eating and, and everything I say, eat with all your senses, you know, so it’s this a liveliness in the body that really is the most healing part of this, right.
Christine Okezie (33m 4s):
It calms the nervous system. It makes us more creative because all of a sudden our prefrontal cortex can see the big picture. Right. And the body relaxes. Now, now what’s so interesting that you bring up again, is this notion that, well, what if we just hung out in this place of pleasure? What if we put pleasure as like, you know, the top priority in our life, right. Not in this sort of, you know, Judeo-Christian society that we live in again, very empathetical to that. So walk us through like, what are some ways that, you know, we can get our heads around, you know, pleasure is good. Pleasure is like, should be our default setting.
Christine Okezie (33m 45s):
Pleasure should be what we’re going for. Right.
Devi Ward Erickson (33m 48s):
Yeah. Well, and you, you mentioned that and, and like a very simple thing in terms of prioritizing pleasure. We can do it right now. So on a scale for one to 10, 10 being the most pleasurable one, being the least, how comfortable are you in your sitting position right now?
Christine Okezie (34m 3s):
I love that. I love that. Yes, yes, yes. Okay. Well, I’m going to put my foot up here. Yeah.
Devi Ward Erickson (34m 10s):
For example. So I’m at about a six, right, right, right by the sixth. Then the next question is, is there anything that I could do that would make this closer to a 10? So now the presidents I’ve checked in mindfulness practice. Okay. I’m about a six. What would make it closer to a 10? Okay. Well maybe if I support my back a little bit more, I saw that you shifted your foot. I’m going to put the pillow here. So it’s under both of my elbows so that when I lean over, it’s more comfortable. Okay. So I’d say that I’m about, oh, by the seven and a half or an eight right now. So I’ve just increased one and a half to two points on my pleasure scale. Now what would make it a 10 will having a totally different chair.
Christine Okezie (34m 49s):
Devi Ward Erickson (34m 51s):
Right. But when it’s just that simple in terms of, of prioritizing my needs for feeling good in my body right now, and very often we’re, we’re taught retrained in the society to tolerate, oh
Christine Okezie (35m 5s):
My gosh. Yes.
Devi Ward Erickson (35m 7s):
Very, very well conditioned to tolerate. So whether that’s tolerating, physical discomfort, emotional discomfort, psychological discomfort. And I often refer to that as fucking through life
Christine Okezie (35m 20s):
In a good way.
Devi Ward Erickson (35m 23s):
Like it might in my book shaker soul. So I’m going to talk about this concept of just fucking through sex. Like, so instead of, you know, if we notice discomfort while we’re having sex, and this is from a
Devi Ward Erickson (36m 4s):
Why would I ever tolerate anything less than the best it can be in that moment? And so that’s where that, that self responsibility and that self-empowerment comes in. And is there any moment like we did just now I can pause and say, where am I at on a scale from one to 10 and what would make this closer to a 10? And then I can take action and move towards my bliss, no matter where I am.
Christine Okezie (36m 29s):
I love that self-empowerment that really becomes the, again, another beautiful gift that comes from the, you know, this authentic Contra and exploration of sexuality, sensuality spirituality. Oh my gosh. That’s amazing. Thank you. Can you share a client story or a student story with maybe that maybe strikes your heart, you know, when it comes to this work?
Devi Ward Erickson (36m 50s):
Yeah. So, so there, you know, there are so many, I I’ve seen so many miracles I’ve been doing again, I’ve been doing this for 13, almost 14 years, and there’s so many miracles. Like, I, I mean, I, to me, I’m like, I don’t know why this isn’t bigger than it is because people are healing, but something that’s really big on my mind right now, because we are, we’re launching a tantric healing program for black men specifically, and something that I’ve been bearing witness to. That’s been really, really, I don’t know what the word is. Just poignant and important is, is the efficacy of these methods for healing, intergenerational trauma.
Devi Ward Erickson (37m 31s):
So we have a big, the main focus of, of, of our verse school is training practitioners. And so as part of their training, we have in-person retreats. And so our in-person retreats are racially integrated because I’m racially integrated.
Christine Okezie (37m 51s):
Yes, yes, yes. Beautiful.
Devi Ward Erickson (37m 53s):
So, so I was our school, which, which is, which is rare and can be challenging and in containers for healing to either very often in containers of healing, people of color have to overlook, you know, some of the, the violence that can occur in these containers or address it directly. And it, and it becomes very uncomfortable. So I’ve been very delighted with how we’ve been balancing and integrating w anti-racist values as well as
Christine Okezie (38m 22s):
Needed in this space.
Devi Ward Erickson (38m 25s):
And so something that we’ve been seeing so consistently is it with our students and practitioners when we’re all in the room together, and there’s this particular yoga breathing practice we do called ocean breath, which we do for, you know, half an hour to an hour. And, and year after year after year, we see the same thing is that this particular yoga breathing method combined with all the others seems to really uproot generational trauma. And so meaning as our students are doing this practice very often, they’re accessing wounds from their ancestry. So we have this one student in this last class, he, he was a very, very white, Northern European.
Devi Ward Erickson (39m 6s):
I think his ancestry was like, you know, Viking ancestry. And he was tapping into some of the, the rage and the wound and the pain and the agony of his ancestry. And we’ve had other students, black students, or African-American students who have literally begun processing their, their slave ancestry. And remember literally having memories of being on the boat, literally like in that moment, they’re breathing and they’re crying and they’re looking around and they’re seeing people around them being thrown off boot boats. Right. And, you know, in my ancestry, my, my, one of my great, great, great, great, great grandmother was the one of the founders of the underground railroad in Adrian, Michigan, and doing this work, tapping into her ancestry and feeling the pain of her walking from South Carolina, all the way to Michigan and the, her blistered feet, achy calves aching.
Devi Ward Erickson (39m 59s):
So having these very visceral somatic releases of the trauma of our ancestors and processing their emotion per through our own bodies and through our own experience. And then at the end of that, on the other side of that, like, I mean, I just will always remember the look on our white students faces when our ones, when our one student or African-American student was processing this trauma being stolen from Africa and on this boat, and then the faces of our white students crying and, you know, in tears and like hearing her story and, and, and, and holding her and holding space. So we have this, you know, this trauma that was, that was perpetuated by, by these Northern Europeans and yet this healing that is occurring in this container with these words.
Devi Ward Erickson (40m 45s):
And so that, you know, there’s, there’s other stories that I have that are more like, oh, they had sexual breakthroughs and, oh, you know, they, you know, all that, but this is the one that is really salient to me because this speaks to the potency of the healing power of Tom trash. Yes. We can have orgasms. Yes. We can have better sex. Yes. We can be more sexually integrated, but while you guys, we can heal generational trauma, we can heal our ancestry. We can heal our DNA so that we don’t have to perpetuate that and pass it forward. So our children can be free of it. Our grandchildren can be free of it, and we’re not passing down this legacy of suffering. Yeah,
Christine Okezie (41m 21s):
Yeah, yeah. I love this. Yeah. This is the potency of when we learn the full capacity of our design and the full potential. Right. It’s, it’s actually incredible. And it’s, it’s, it’s, we all can do it. That’s the beautiful part. And that’s why I love learning more and more about all the various sort of holistic truly genuinely holistic modalities, because we are more than just above the neck. Right. Exactly. So talk therapy is cool. You know, mindful inquiry is great, you know, but when you get underneath all of that and work at that very deep, subtle body level miracles happen as you just outlined. I love that.
Christine Okezie (42m 1s):
Oh my gosh. Okay.
Devi Ward Erickson (42m 3s):
It’s because of the mess of speaking to the efficacy of the, of the subtle bodies in Eastern healing traditions, the energy body is senior to the physical body. So if we want to catalyze true transformation in the physical realm, we must address it. Energetically first,
Christine Okezie (42m 18s):
Everything happens at the energetic level anyway, to begin with. Yes. Wonderful. Well, I’d love if you could share maybe a somewhat practical, you know, hearing maybe tantric practice that we can sort of get our feet wet and really kind of, you know, play around with right now. Is there anything specifically sort of 1 0 1 that you might offer us?
Devi Ward Erickson (42m 40s):
Yeah. So, so I’ll give you, I’ll give you two, I’ll revisit that the, the pleasure scale practice, which is checking in like that, my students love that that is lag your golden sword in life. Truly, truly, truly. Where am I at on the scale from one to 10? Is there anything that I could do that would make it closer to a 10 another practice? That’s a very fundamental, it’s not super sexy, but it’s literally, the foundation is simply following 21 breaths. Okay. And so in our tradition, we teach about something called the five points of meditation. And the five points for meditation are a way of essentially arranging your physical body to facilitate the flow of energy.
Devi Ward Erickson (43m 21s):
So the five points of meditation are sitting with a spine straight so that your central channel is straight hands are in a comfortable position in your lap. This allows the mind to settle. The tongue is on the roof of your mouth, behind your front teeth. And this connects your back and your front channel, your governing and conception vessels. Otherwise under the microcosmic orbit, your eyes are going to be open in a soft gaze. And we’re going to inhale and exhale through the nose and the chin, the ch the head with the chin, a slight tilt, slightly downward. And this is to align all the shockers along the central channel. So I’m going to invite us to just go ahead and do this right now together.
Devi Ward Erickson (44m 1s):
So again, put the spine straight hands in a comfortable position in your lap tongue, behind the front of your teeth. Chin tilted, slightly downward and eyes are going to be open. And what’s called a soft gaze. And the reason that we meditate with the eyes open and tantra is twofold. One is because it’s light body yoga. And so with the eyes open, we’re bringing in light to feed the nourish the light body. The other reason is that when we close our eyes during meditation, we’re creating a psychic separation between our inner meditative experience and our external reality in tantra. We want to weave, we want to integrate our meditative experience with our everyday activity.
Devi Ward Erickson (44m 42s):
So when we meditate with the eyes open in the soft gaze, when we get up from whatever meditation we’re doing, there’s no, there is no separation. We can just stand up and move into our daily activity, carrying that meditative consciousness with us. Love it. Right? So we’ll observe those five points. And then we’re simply going to follow the breath as we inhale and exhale through the nose. And so, as you inhale and invite you to bring your awareness into your belly so that you can feel the expansion as you inhale, and as you exhale, I’m going to invite you to feel your belly deflate kind of collapse a bit as you exhale and again, inhaling and breathing deeply into the belly and feeling the expansion and then exhaling and feeling it collapse.
Devi Ward Erickson (45m 39s):
And I’m going to invite us to breathe like this for five breaths, five full breaths, inhale. Exhale is one breath, and then I’ll move us a little bit more deeply into the practice. So inhaling, exhaling one breath, do four more.
Devi Ward Erickson (46m 20s):
And after the fifth breath, continuing to follow your breath. And now I’m going to invite you to bring your awareness into your genitals. And as you inhale, bring the breath and your awareness all the way into your genitals, all the way into your bottom end. And as you exhale, invite that area to relax, to release and to let go. And again, as you inhale, bringing your awareness and your breath all the way into your genitals, and as you exhale, inviting that area to relax, to release and to let go and doing two more breaths in this way, just feeling in bringing the life force, energy, the breath into your body, all the way to your root and allowing everything to relax, to release intellect, go when you’re done with them.
Devi Ward Erickson (47m 26s):
I want you to just do a few more breaths breathing normally naturally noticing how you feel in your body, how your body feels, and when you’re ready, lifting your eyes and allowing your awareness to receive the space that you’re in. How did that feel?
Christine Okezie (47m 46s):
Really grounding? Yeah. Really stabilizing, certainly, you know, just a real finer sensitivity of, you know, physical sensations. Yeah, yeah. With just that deliberate attention. Of course. So, yes. Beautiful. I love that. I love that. Thank you for sharing that. Awesome. So, David, you have a lot of things going on. I’m going to post that link on your website to your programs, but you know, if there’s one kind of maybe call to action that you would like folks to really, you know, say, wow, this is kind of interesting.
Christine Okezie (48m 26s):
Where do I start? You know, what would you recommend?
Devi Ward Erickson (48m 32s):
They give you two. So one is our Tantra Is Medicine Healing With the Tibetan Five Elements, free ebook on our website. That is a wonderful, you know, it was placed the star. And I talk about my story of healing. We talk about the Five Elements, why they’re important, how they heal. So if you’re curious about this new quote, unquote new, old style of tantra, new to the west, old to the tradition, that’s a wonderful place to start. The other places, my Sex Is Medicine podcast and YouTube channel. Yeah. I’ve been on air for eight years now. I have over 200 episodes. It is a wealth of knowledge about all things, Tantra, Sacred Sexuality, and just sexuality in general, the podcast isn’t specifically a Tantra podcast.
Devi Ward Erickson (49m 15s):
It is about how we understand and utilize sex as a form of medicine for healing. And I have incredible experts from all over the world. So highly recommend that as well, Sex Is Medicine, you can find it on Spotify. And Itunes.
Christine Okezie (49m 29s):
Thank you so much, David. This is wonderful. I appreciate it. I can’t wait to share all this really good resources for everybody. So is there anything else maybe I didn’t know to ask at this point?
Devi Ward Erickson (49m 39s):
No, thank you so much. It’s been so wonderful chatting with you, and I’m so grateful to be here for you and your audience. So it’s been a privilege. Thank you. Same here. Thank
Christine Okezie (49m 47s):
You. Take care. Now.
Devi Ward Erickson (49m 49s):
Have a good night.