Are you getting too old?

rosegrannyThe first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know.
I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned round to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me
with a smile that lit up her entire being. She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?”

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze. “Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked.

She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…”

“No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

“I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months, we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine”
as she shared her wisdom and experience with me. 
Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up. At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor.

Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change.

Have no regrets.

The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those
with regrets.”

She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.”

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.
At the year’s end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died
peacefully in her sleep. 
Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be .
These words have been passed along in loving memory of ROSE.
REMEMBER, GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY. GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL.
We make a Living by what we get, We make a Life by what we give.

Tantra for Teenagers

I am no authority on teenagers…there are very few in my life. But I was one once, so certainly I have that under my belt. And as I sit on a plane to Greece, I am surrounded by groups of young people off on their two weeks of binge drinking and stranger shagging. Meanwhile I have my head in a tantra book. As I catch morsels of overheard conversations, I am tempted to turn to them and begin to preach the Gospel of Tantra! Don’t do it kids! Don’t separate your consciousness from your sexuality and begin to condition yourselves to a lifetime of sexual experiences in which you are not present!

But hey, most of us did at some point. Perhaps you have to fall in order to pick yourself up. It was only after three years of excessive drinking that I gave up alcohol once and for all and headed to India to find something else of life aged 18 (yes I gave up drinking once I became the legal age to drink!)

But what would it be like if, when those hormones firsts start pumping, someone came to talk to us about Tantra? What if, instead of the conflicting message of “sex is a biological method of reproduction” versus the Hollywood messages of “everyone has flawless bodies and is having a lot of great sex all the time”, we were given some sort of sharing about how sex is related to love, and that it can create very strong experiences. What if the word “sacred” were even mentioned in the same sentence as the word “sex”. What then?

And how about, as those surges of energy come through the young teenage body, someone explained sexual energy? Imagine that concept helping our youth to understand the overwhelming forces at play within, and perhaps even learning a few basic tools to help deal with all of that energy…a little breathwork to support them through moments of intense energy surge. Imagine if we were teaching our young people to understand their own sexual energy before they connect to the energy of another, and then when they do connect they know a little about energies playing together.

How about explaining polarity to children as suddenly they gain a sense of being different from the other sex. How about marking that shift, from child to young adult, with a rite of passage. Returning to nature, as our distant ancestors once did, with our peers and our elders, to find out what it is to become a man/woman. What if, instead of MTV icons of male- and female-ness, teenagers learned about age-old archtypes, and about masculine and feminine energies in nature and the universe. Perhaps we could teach them about our own unique make-up of energies, of masculine and feminine traits and tendencies…and how to be at ease with ourselves just as we are.

What if teenagers were shown how to respect the other sex? Taught how to honour qualities that they may not themselves embody. How to share the delights of our differences…not to try to steal something from the other, or to dominate or gain power over the other.

And how about if teenagers were shown sex beyond the pornographic hard, edgy, loveless sex? What if they were exposed to sensuous and loving union? What if they saw two human beings in real and deep connection, with open eyes seeing one another and open hearts feeling one another. What if they actually glimpsed what it looks like when lovers are seeing the divine in one another …

And how would it be to show our young people the connections between sexuality and nature…to show that sex is natural; that it mirrors the gushing rivers and burning fires; the animal instinct. That some beautiful energies can flow between two bodies, an experience of deep aliveness…what if we let them know that?

How useful would it be to understand a little of creating safe space? Of boundaries…ever-shifting yet hugely important. Of “yes’s” and “no’s” and even options such as “can we just stop and hold each other?” And imagine if young people were taught to find their inner truth, their inner knowing…and learn to trust that. So they are no longer susceptible to the suggestion of every Tom, Dick and Harry, but able instead to look within and find what is right for them in each fresh new moment. Imagine if someone showed them that!

Because then even the adults could relax a bit. Instead of trying desperately to shield their young from sexuality, working against a natural explosion of hormones, parents could rest a little knowing that their children were actually equipped to enter the world of sexuality with the empowerment they need to begin such an epic journey. Not only that, but they might actually have some of the  communication skills to discuss it with their parents. The right education would also create the open-minded atmosphere in which teenagers sexual experiences are not all secretive and hidden from fear of being caught.

Many people seek out tantra in their thirties and forties. But why wait? Imagine what a difference it could make if teenagers were initiated into Tantra. Then perhaps I’d be sat on a plane with a load of youthful beings off to seek connection to nature, learn to open their hearts and discover the joys of being a sexual and alive being.

Original Posting at Shashi Solluna