Category: Workshop

Upcoming article: An examination of embodiment workshops through a clinical lens

I drafted a paper in the Spring of 2018 as part of my work to complete my comprehensive examinations in the doctoral program in Human Sexuality, Policy Leadership, at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS).

It is an attempt at examining Celebrating the Body Erotic for Men, an embodied, experiential, transformational workshop exploring the power of eros in life, through a lens of somatic psychology and body psychotherapy. The workshop is offered by the Body Electric School. An excellent introduction to the workshop is available on YouTube.

Here is the abstract:

Working Title

Celebrating the Body Erotic for Men: A Theoretical Analysis of the Potential Therapeutic Value of a Structured Somatic Group Interaction

Andrés Cordero, Jr.
California Institute of Integral Studies

Abstract

The Body Electric School has offered an introductory experiential two-day workshop for exploring sexuality and spirituality, Celebrating the Body Erotic for Men, since 1984. After more than thirty years, the workshop continues to attract gay men to workshop locations across the United States and in select international locations. Anecdotally, many of these men claim to attend the workshop to seek alternative approaches in confronting life challenges1. Some of these challenges include issues in coping with societal stigma, body dysmorphic disorder, various forms of anxiety disorder, addictions, depressive disorders, or other psychological difficulties. Anecdotal evidence collected by the school suggests some participants find considerable value in addressing these challenges when they participate in the workshop2. In this paper, I consider the potential therapeutic benefits that the workshop may offer to some gay men. I explore some practices included in workshop sequences including their theoretical foundations, through the work of Michel Foucault, Wilhelm Reich, Stanislav Grof, and others. I conclude by outlining observations about research that could further demonstrate the value of the workshop for gay men challenged with psychological and circumstantial issues.

Keywords: The Body Electric School, Celebrating the Body Erotic for Men, Joseph Kramer, Rebirthing, Reichian therapy, gay men, mental health, somatic psychology, body psychotherapy, Michel Foucault, Wilhelm Reich, Stanislav Grof

Plans for future publication

My intention is to revise this article with the goal of submitting it to academic journals for publication.

If you are interested in accessing this work for your personal, evaluative purposes only, I welcome your input and feedback, as this work will substantially inform my dissertation, which will take form in the summer and fall of 2018.

I thank you for honoring my request to keep this draft for your own personal purposes.

Please send your request to review this work to:

Andres Cordero, Jr.
Ph.D. Student, Human Sexuality, Policy Leadership
California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS)

acordero@mymail.ciis.edu

Photo by Guillaume LORAIN on Unsplash

My experience attending an eros workshop that changed my life

About seven years ago, in 2010, after completing Celebrating the Body Erotic (CBE) a couple of years prior, I said “yes” to Gabriel Clark, who was the registrar for the Body Electric School. I said “yes” to Gabriel that I would, indeed, attend Dear Love of Comrades at Wildwood that summer.

I remember distinctly when I received his phone call because I was back home in El Paso. At that time, the world seemed so different to me. I was struggling with not feeling comfortable about my attraction to men. I felt I was fat and ugly. My relationships were absent or on rocky grounds. I was numbing myself with the typical – alcohol, sex, food, and empty “connections.” I was living as a cog, working at a job I didn’t care about, and just trying to “make it through.” I was most likely depressed, suffering from anxiety, and “almost dead inside.” Even financially, I didn’t believe I could swing it.

It was most definitely not a time for me to “run away” to some week in California, I told myself.

But Gabriel convinced me otherwise.

Now, even though I had attended the CBE, I was still a prude when it came to nudity. So, when we reached the top of the mountain at Wildwood and the shyest one of our bunch literally leaped out of his clothes and jumped right into the pool of naked men…well, I was shocked. What had I gotten myself into? What was this going to be like? Had I lost my mind?

Accompanied by several other men from Texas, and 39 other men from around the world, I spent the next seven days working through myself and learning about heart-centered community. It’s where I started to play again. It’s where I started to accept pleasure.[perfectpullquote align=”left” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] It’s where I started to allow myself to trust. [/perfectpullquote]

It’s where I started to uncover my wounds. It’s where I began to peek into my joys. It’s where I was introduced to my own gifts of being able to look at where I had been, where I was, and where I could be.

It was magical. At the end of the seven days, I cried all the way back to San Francisco, snuggled in a jeep between my new brothers, heart open, spirit full. The next morning, before our flight back home, I was dancing like a fool in the hotel lobby listening to one of my favorite Luis Miguel ballads (“Inolvidable,” which means “Unforgettable”), and not caring WHAT the world thought of me.

I had started the journey to fall in love with me.

The gifts from Dear Love, for me, were abundant and sustaining. So many of the men I met at the mountaintop that week I am connected to in some way. Brothers. Playmates. Lovers. Sacred Intimates. Friends.[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] I’ve traveled the country many times, and find home with them.[/perfectpullquote]

They are welcome in my spaces as well. They offer a shoulder for me to cry on, a hand to hold when I am walking into unknown experiences, an abundance of laughter that leaves me short of breath, and pleasure and comfort in times of need. Some are still with us, others have journeyed on. But all, I carry in my heart.

From that week on, I’ve never again felt completely alone. I’ve had some rough times since then, but when I start to feel down, the memories of Dear Love, the resulting relationships, and the lessons I learned help me to get back up on my feet again.

So I thank you, dear Gabriel, for the gifts you put in my hands even though I resisted taking them (smile). And I thank all of you who were on that mountain with me that summer in 2010 – I think about you often, and my heart skips a beat when I actually get to connect with you again.

And if you HAVEN’T yet attended Dear Love, then I heartily suggest that you make space for it this summer. As much as your mind may give you reasons “now is not the time,” please follow your heart. Every moment is the right moment, and “not nows” easily turn into “nevers.” Opportunities can be lost forever.

I made it “up the mountain,” and it changed my life forever. Please join us.

Namaste.

Ready to experience this workshop? The New Body Electric School will offer “Dear love of Comrades” next in August of 2019 at Easton Mountain in upstate New York. Scholarships are available for those in need. Registrants much have completed “Celebrating the Body Erotic for Men” or “Tantra 1 for Men.” For more information and to register, click on the button below.

Tell me more about “Dear Love”

This article was originally published in March 2000. 

Photo courtesy Rex Harley.

Honoring others’ gender identities

Who we are is … well … who we are. And only we have the right to claim who we are. And we even have a right to change that. As a cis-gender male, I have no right to tell anyone else who they are. Learning how to walk in that awareness has helped me tremendously in honoring others in their experiences.

Who you think they are, may not be who they are

For those of us who seek to learn from, work with, or support others, a lack of this awareness can create problems and present challenges—challenges that initially seem insurmountable. Making assumptions about anyone, regardless of who they are, in my experience, is an act of disrespect. It is dis-honoring of their identities and experiences in the world. This includes aspects of peoples’ experiences that include cultures, nationalities, gender identities, and sexual orientations, among other things.

It’s too easy to not learn how to honor others

Now, I grew up in a very small community along the U.S.-Mexico border, so my exposure to those who identified in ways other than me was limited, if non-existent. I had only rare and sporadic opportunities to meet or interact with those who were not “straight”,(heterosexual), white, Latino, Mexican, or Mexican-American. It was not until I went off to college, and ventured into other communities and spaces, that I came to realize that there were people in this world who identified in a myriad of ways. I also came to understand that there were also people in this world who seek to dishonor those individuals by wanting to force their own beliefs, constructs, and identities on those around them.

To grow, unlearning is the key

One of the gifts of learning, growing, traveling, and exploring, has been to develop an understanding that I, and everyone, walk with a specific lens, which is a way of interpreting the world. I inevitably, and at times often unconsciously, make assumptions about others, regardless of who they really are. And learning that I had no right to force my identities and assumptions of others took some time. It was a process of unlearning a behavior that was, in a sense, a way of wanting to control the world around me. Working and playing in spaces that examine these issues have led me to understand how to reframe my own experience, while simultaneously respecting, honoring, and often even celebrating, the experiences of those unlike me.

It takes more than a big heart; it takes allowing space for others

As I’ve journeyed further into the world of wellness, integrated health, and human sexuality, I find that often even those who work with a passion and a desire to support others run into this wall unintentionally. Misgendering individuals, labeling others with their own understandings of sexual orientation, or assuming another’s ethnic or racial origins, still happen all too frequently. Relationships falter, opportunities for connection dissipate, and damage occurs for both in those experiences. It can be too easy to not allow others to share what is theirs, or to attach ourselves to the need to be acknowledged, appreciated and celebrated. This can lead to a damaging cycle that makes situations that much more challenging.

For this reason, I always encourage others to take advantage of opportunities for learning about how to reframe their way of interpreting and and interacting in the world. Skills that can be helpful include learning how to ask about the experience of others. Or to ask others who they are. Or where they come from. Or who they love. And learning these skills is not easy. But for me, it is essential to be able to live and grow in support of others in this world.

Learning these skills can open you up to growth and opportunity

So if it is your desire is to reframe your approach to honor those around you, I encourage you to explore these opportunities for learning. Learning how to use these skills in your interactions can lead to a more expanded space for personal as well as professional growth and opportunity.

Interested in learning more? Join us on a journey as we learn about, integrate, and embody key concepts, skills, and capabilities that can prepare you and your colleagues to provide gender-affirming support, no matter your role or responsibility in your organization. Learn more about a FREE Webinar – Providing Gender-Affirming Care, on Tuesday, May 21, at 8 pm ET. This program is being offered by the Institute for Mind Body Therapy.  Learn more >

 

Photo by Letizia Bordoni on Unsplash

Expanding perspectives: My journey with Points of You™

In April of 2015, I was invited to participate in an intensive workshop that changed my way of thinking, of expanding my perspective, and of creating authentic communication between and among individuals.

For the first time, I found myself in a container that created some of the same conversations, discussions, shares, and therapeutic “holding of space” that I had only previously witnessed in embodiment workshops, with movement, touch, and connecting being the primary focus.

Now a Certified Points of You Trainer, I have been experimenting in supporting coaches, therapists, counselors, educators, business trainers, artists, and others in using the unique opportunities this approach offers to help support their clients, patients, students, and colleagues. I also have delivered individualized coaching to anyone seeking support and assistance with a life challenge, opportunity, mystery, or issue.

To understand the essence of this approach, you must experience it. However, I share with you this video, which highlights the two creators and founders of the tools and the methods that are expanding hearts and minds worldwide.

Summary

Points of You creates powerful, creative tools for training and personal development. Using images and words, the tools encourage people to “think outside the box.” They
engage the creative (right) side of their brain, encouraging them to explore an issue, problem, or challenge with a perspective they would not otherwise.

Useful applications

Counselors, therapists, coaches, managers, psychologists, trainers, spiritual leaders, parents, teachers—anyone who may help another explore a situation, problem, or challenge.

Ages

Points of You tools have been used children as young as 5 years of age, and individuals as old as 80, because of the deceivingly simple process of engaging with the images and the words.

Languages

Points of You Tools are available in many languages, including English, Spanish, German, Japanese, Polish, Romanian, Norwegian, and Russian, with many other languages coming soon.

Commitment to the environment

Points of You products are environmentally-friendly, and considerate of the surroundings and the community. Products are made of degradable materials, and are sewn and assembled by a loyal team.

Ready to explore?

Schedule a session today.

Your One-on-One Exploration     Training and Tools for Pros

Healing I have experienced in Power, Surrender, and Intimacy

My experience of attending Power, Surrender, and Intimacy (PSI) was transformative, spiritually healing, and soulfully invigorating.

My journey to PSI was a long one. I did not choose to step into the circle for more than seven years after I took my first Celebrating the Body Erotic workshop.

Facing my fear

In retrospect, I think I did not choose to take the workshop until later in my development for a variety of reasons. I had convinced myself I was adequately in my masculine power. I felt I preferred the subtlety of soft connection. And, I thought “I knew” what PSI was, so I did not need to step into it.

In truth, I stayed away because of fear.

My history with more intense sensation in connection is complex. Raised to “be a man,” I felt that I already knew that path, and I grew up feeling discouraged from participating in anything characterized as feminine.  That was why finding Body Electric was so fulfilling. I found a place to celebrate alternative sensation that I, in my limited perspective, could only define as feminine—soft, gentle, and loving.  I believed that PSI would not honor that part of me.

As I progressed through my learning, especially through Tantra, I came to recognize how this dichotomy failed me. I began to learn that in connection there can be incredible intensity in subtlety, and, as in all things, also incredible emptiness and disconnectedness.

Recognizing it was time

When I chose to step into the circle at PSI, I recognized that it was the next step in my journey. I had already spent significant time in therapy working on childhood trauma. As a child, I experienced wounding from a loved one who denied me the power of consent. That wound showed up later in my life, through unhealthy behaviors and a lack of awareness that I was not standing in my power. Although talk therapy was helpful, it was time to re-educate my body experientially about consent, and the power of receptive/penetrative energy exchange in a safe, conscious, connected space.

It was time.

What I discovered was that, in some ways, I had come home, and in others, I was not the same person. Not only was the energy I brought into the space accepted, but it was celebrated — I was thoroughly cared for.

In the same community of men who introduced me to the world of connection, peace, and spiritual celebration of my body, I could now explore other facets of my embodiment.  I left with additional skills and a stronger sense of my personal power.

Being open to my healing

Beyond everything I learned and experienced in the weekend, I discovered my fears about the workshop were unfounded. I was empowered to say no to anything I chose not to participate in, and encouraged to ask for what I wanted. I experienced exquisite connection with others, and I was cared for minute by minute.

I had to endure nothing.

In that space, I learned how to demand consent, to listen to my body, and to recognize the healing that is available through intense sensation.

Whenever I am asked, I first share that Power, Surrender, and Intimacy is not for everyone – at least not until they are ready. Each individual will decide when they they are ready.  To determine your readiness, it is helpful consider where you are on your path. It helps to ask yourself whether the work will challenge you in ways that, in the end, will benefit you.

There is no greater time to learn about yourself than now. Because now is all that exists.

If you DO choose to step into the circle at an upcoming PSI workshop, I invite you to join in with an open mind, a curiosity to experiment, and the desire to accept and celebrate the gifts you gain through the experience.

More about this workshop

Registration is currently open for Power, Surrender, and Intimacy for Men: A Residential, in early November. Men who register have to have previously completed Celebrating the Body Erotic for Men. For more information, visit this page.

My interview with Dr. HazelGrace Yates on the healing among genders

Produced March 16, 2018 – I interview Dr. HazelGrace Yates on her radical work to bring individuals identifying as men and women closer together through experiential workshops centered on declaring and witnessing our sexual selves, for the Institute for Mind Body Therapy.

Online workshop: Exploring Eros for More Expansive Living

 

Produced September 13, 2016 – I facilitate an online exploration of eros as a way to expand upon life experience, using such concepts as presence, mindfulness, and sexual energy, including a guided meditation. Produced for the Body Electric School.