Twenty-eight-year-old Caitlyn Cook is a tantric sex practitioner. This was not the planned career path for a young woman who started out modelling and then found herself working
as a policy analyst in New Zealand.
It was in seeking help for her anxiety, depression and body issues that tantra found her, and Caitlyn found her way back to a more loving relationship with herself.
‘I was seeing a mindfulness therapist to develop more healthy ways of feeling about myself. I had my first tantric experience at 23. It was one of the first moments that I started experiencing my body in a more mindful way. I wasn’t resisting parts or trying to run towards a more perfect version of myself. I was just being with who I was compassionately.
‘For me, not being physically beautiful was dangerous. I worried I wouldn’t be loveable. I wouldn’t be exceptional. It was important that I looked a certain way. I had incredible sexual anxiety because of the way I felt about my body and a real obsession about looking good.’
This was a big step for a girl who had grown up in a strict Christian family.
‘I was raised as a Christian. My family was extremely Christian, and in some ways I was so happy to throw off these rules about what I could do with my body, whom with and how…’
But it was her deeper issues around self-acceptance that continued to drive her forward.
‘I did Women’s Studies at university. I had the problem that you are too smart to have; that was why I didn’t tell anyone for a long time that I had bulimia. I noticed also with how performance oriented I was during sex. Mainstream porn has infused into our normal way of viewing sex.
Porn is all about the cock, all about achieving the goals.
I wondered if I had only been taught to have sex by women who had never seen porn how would that look?
‘What does a more feminine approach to sexuality look like? What does a more intuitively led approach to sex look like rather than what does my mind think it should look like?’
It was at a tantric workshop in New Zealand that Caitlyn found her way back to connecting with her body.
‘It was a workshop with 200 people with really simple practices, where you pair up to explore connection, vulnerability, pleasure, playfulness; the playful fun innocence. I thought is this what it can feel like? It slowly built up from there – I kept going to workshops. The next year I did my first tantric training, a week-long experience… that was totally life changing.
‘I enjoyed the feeling of shedding cultural baggage and rules about how I should be. The beautiful thing is you go at your own pace, you are never pressed to go faster. For me, saying No was so powerful; it was the first time I claimed my authentic desire about what I wanted instead of what I thought I should want.’
Caitlyn continued training until she started to run her own workshops. Her inspiration was to create workshops that could appeal to her younger friends who felt alienated by what they perceived as ‘scary sex stuff’.
‘I decided to create my own super-accessible tantric workshops so my friends could come and experience the fucking awesomeness that I had found.’
In her Taste of Love workshop, Sex, God & Cellulite, Caitlyn will be taking people through a mindfulness approach to the body.
‘We will be experiencing the body like you have never experienced it before, with really loving attention, enjoying the sights the smells, the tastes of the body, your own body – basically giving that loving attention you would give to your lover, the sensation of your hair under your fingers, but your own body, sending that to yourself. Experiencing the body through movement and then going through some paired practices. Expressing verbally and physically the ways we would love to think about or feel about our bodies.’
Tantric sex practice was life changing for Caitlyn, something that inspired her to share with others.
‘I didn’t know that sex could be like dancing, that it has energy and rhythm, that you can make love with energy. I didn’t know that until I started exploring tantra. Why didn’t anyone tell me this? It can be very transcendental – it’s not just genitals.’
Sex, God & Cellulite, a practical workshop about your body at Australia’s biggest tantra festival, The Taste of Love Festival, 20–22 January.
For more program and tickets go to www.tasteoflove.com.au.