David Rotter interviews the creator of The Making Love Retreat, Diana Richardson, for SEIN Magazine in Germany on 24 April 2012.
David Rotter: Diana, you teach people how to make love in a fulfilling way. It is crazy: We learn how to solve differential calculus in school - but no-one teaches how to make love. We learn all sorts of things from religion or philosophy - but we don't learn how to make love. Mostly our parents seem to avoid any deep talk about that too. Everybody seems to be interested in a fulfilling sex-life but nobody seems to be willing to teach it! Well, you took the job. How did that happen? Can you share a bit of your journey?
Diana: Yes, it really is food for thought that we are not taught anything about how to make love. And if you look directly at the situation you will realize that sex itself is the most common denominator amongst people. We may speak different languages, belong to different religious groups, emerge from different races and cultures, eat different foods, sing different songs, but sex is basic and unites humanity. So the fact that sex is not talked about openly and is not central to our education and upbringing seems very strange.
My own exploration into sex started with the clear intention to 'change the way I made love'. I was in my early thirties and I was living in India. I was curious about what other possibilities existed. I had enjoyed sex in the conventional way and I felt motivated to explore alternatives. At that time I had been with a partner for over seven years, and he was not interested in change, so we went our separate ways. Soon after I met a man who was very interested in exploring, so through frequent lovemaking for a concentrated period of time, a totally new experience and perception of sex emerged. Really it was a process of one thing leading to another in an organic way. Friends started to notice that I wasn't showing up in social circles, some could sense something was happening for me, and a few asked what I was up to in my spare time. The word spread around slowly, with the result that friends started asking questions or advice about their sex lives, and couples started coming to me for relationship consultations. In this way I came to know that it was easy for me to explain or go into details in a way that supported others. I then designed the week long Making Love Retreat for Couples, and at the beginning of 1993 I taught my approach to the teachers of the Osho School of Tantra in India. Six months later I started doing retreats in Europe, together with my partner Michael, who is a tremendous force and inspiration in the unfolding and flowering of the work. At a certain point I had the urge to see if the essence could be conveyed through the written word, so as an experiment in 1996 I wrote my first book (The Love Keys/The Heart of Tantric Sex). I really enjoyed writing so I have written five other books since then, two of them with Michael as co-author. However what is certain is that at the outset of my journey I had absolutely no goal, it was a day to day affair, with only my own life in mind. Not the lives of others. And it certainly would have been impossible to imagine, when I made that choice so many years ago, that my life would end up revolving around sex and love - on a personal level, as well as teaching and writing about it.
David Rotter: Some say, we do not need anyone to teach us about lovemaking. We just have to connect to our hearts and the innate wisdom of the body again. But we are all so hooked up to the mental plane and to ideas and concepts that we do not listen anymore. Interestingly a good bit of your work seems to be just that: To get out of the head and really make love from the heart, soul and body again - something you call "slow sex". What are the ingredients of such lovemaking? What is the most crucial shift to make? Can you give a brief overview?
Diana: I would agree with the statement that all we really need is to connect to our hearts and the innate wisdom of the body again. And the real issue here lies with the mind, not the heart and the body. It is our basic psychology that stands in the way of us naturally accessing the wisdom of our bodies. A level of innocence and presence is required for sexual energy and love to flow spontaneously. The sexual imprints that influence us on an unconscious level as we grow up become a form of 'sexual conditioning', and it is this layer of the psychology that prevents us accessing our inner wisdom. So any shift needs to be accompanied by a fundamental change in the psyche and the way we view sex, and the reasons why we enter into sex. In order for us to tap into the intelligence of the body we need to relax back into ourselves; be interested in the present moment without goals or expectations; give value to the inner fine subtle layers of sensitivity in the body rather than depend on outer stimulation and sensation. This requires that we become more conscious and aware during each moment of the sexual communion. When we are more conscious we naturally tend to slow down. When we are slow we become more sensitive and therefore are able to feel more. We relax and contain the sexual energy, instead building up to a peak through tension, and then discharging the vitality. Being more conscious also means challenging our inherited patterns and habits in sex, unlearning acquired behavior patterns and slowly unwinding to a state of innocence from where we can tune into the heart and the intelligence of the body.
David Rotter: I can see elements of Taoism, Sexual Tantra and other mystic love-making practices (like the teachings of Barry Long) in what you share. However the way you share seems to be very accessible to people from all walks of life as it isn't too spiritual or esoteric in the way it comes across. Was that your aim? What were your influences and what inspired you to give "slow sex" the form it now has?
Diana: It was over thirty years ago that I first read about Tantra and higher dimensions to sex in a book of Osho. I remember feeling touched and inspired, but at the same time I really had zero clue what he was talking about. I could not see any bridge or connection between my experience of sex up until that time, and the kind of elevated experience he was pointing towards. Some time later I listened to the Barry Long Making Love audio-tapes, and gradually incorporated his suggestions into my lovemaking, and doing so granted me a completely new way of perceiving the genitals. During this phase I made love frequently and listened to his tapes hundreds of times, until I got to the point that I knew almost every word by heart. So I stopped listening and continued practicing. A few years later I started to read Osho again, and this time around I was so surprised to realize that now I knew exactly what he was describing, and how to manage it. From that point onwards I began to incorporate Osho's ancient tantric teachings into my love-making. I filtered certain information through my body that led to an evolution in understanding - one that has come to represent a synthesis of these two quite different, yet compatible, sources. And while such practices may ultimately have esoteric explanations or spiritual implications, I did not have anything particularly spiritual or esoteric in mind. I simply started out wanting to change the way in which I made love. So perhaps the reason why people find my approach accessible is because I put theory into practice and found simple body oriented ways that worked for me.
David Rotter: Making love without aiming for orgasm, in total relaxation and sometimes without even moving seems like quite an outlandish idea for many. But if we do, it is as if new dimensions open. In your newest film couples share their experiences with slow sex. In your long career what are the most common and most striking things people report from this practice?
Diana: Changing the way you make love transforms and empowers you as an individual so it will have an impact on many levels - not just your sex life. Couples report that they experience more peace and harmony in their relationship, They feel more 'in love' with each other, more present to each other, there is more co-operation and understanding. On an individual level there is an increase in self-love, self-respect, self-confidence and happiness. Some notice an improvement in overall health and an increase in creativity. Couples find that problems and misunderstandings between them are more quickly resolved. There will be a significant reduction in the level of emotionality and the arguing and fighting patterns that so often dominate and destroy love relationships. With an understanding of the significant difference between emotions and feelings, as explained during the Making Love Retreat, partners have simple tools to deal with the negativity of emotion. They become capable of protecting and sustaining their love, instead of falling into unconscious emotional patterns that can so easily interfere with love. As an example of what people say, just the other day Michael and I received a n email from a couple who wrote: "The last few months, we live with a peace between us that we have never known before. Deep changes are happening on many levels, and we are uncovering many diamonds, that are more and more able to shine." To me these words convey so beautifully the value of making a change.
David Rotte: In my personal experience the deeper we go with this kind of practice, the more it becomes inevitable that we touch another reality, the energetic universe, the divine. Suddenly Sex becomes purely sacred, the lover a gateway to the source, the genitals turn into something mystical, magical beyond grasp or words. To you, what is the deeper meaning of lovemaking and how is it mirrored in our bodies?
Diana: For me essentially it's about love. Love is the fabric of the universe and we embody that love. Through the body we can become infused with universal love and wisdom.
David Rotter: Sexuality is at the very core of us as humans. It is both one of our most basic physical needs and a path to the divine. Slow Sex doesn't only affect our sex life and relationship, but it also changes us as beings. Did you ever imagine a world where everybody knows about slow sex? What do you see? Is this a vision that keeps you doing what you do? When will it be a school subject? Diana: I see slow conscious sex as the next step in human evolution. We have evolved in so many unimaginable and remarkable ways but the truth is our sexual repertoire remains very limited and un-evolved. There is an urgent need to live our sexual potential by taking sex a step beyond its reproductive and biological aspect. It is not that biology is denied. Instead a door is opened that expands the vision, creates options and gives choices. And because how we have sex changes us as beings - the essential by-product or outcome of such a sexual shift would be people who are integrated, happy and fulfilled; able to live in peace and loving harmony with each other. As individuals we would be more loving, have more insight, clarity, awareness, and sensitivity. We would be centered in the heart, instead of developing the ego; we would invest our time in being, instead of getting so involved in doing; we would be interested in sensitivity, instead of constantly seeking sensation; we would be more serene, relaxed and content in the present, not so restless, tense and anxious/fearful of the future. Today we live in very stressful and tense times, and sex is often filled with all kind of tensions and stresses. For example - performance pressures, erection issues, premature ejaculation problems amongst men; and amongst women there are issues around lack of orgasm, reports of a gradual loss of interest in sex, insecurity that something is personally wrong with them. In slow sex all these issues and themes dissolve or resolve because sex is experienced from a completely different perspective. And the sooner slow sex can become a subject at school the better. It will create a foundation of individuals who know themselves on a basic sexual level, and thus be in a position to create happy inspiring lives and have loving, fulfilling and sustainable relationships. The Slow Sex film, aimed at young people as well as adults, gives an intelligent perspective on sex that is in direct contrast to what is seen in the media, films and magazines. In my experience of teaching I have observed that the younger the couple are, the more open and ready they are to trying out something else. They are not yet caught in any fixed pattern/routine or identified with having sex in a specific way. There is an innocence that enables them to easily access the innate wisdom of the body and discover sex as a natural spontaneous expression of love. The young are closer to their original nature than they will be as adults 20-30 years down the sexual track so in my view educating the young people is the wise and obvious place to begin.
To find out more about Diana Richardson's work, visit her website Living Love
Diana Richardson and husband Michael
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