Amara & Shyena’s Adventures
Some journeys change everything.
Words capture so little of the truth about extraordinary events, and to be honest, I hesitate to dilute how I feel from our retreat in a mountain Temple of Wutai Shan,China. Yes, I’m used to coming home stirred and happily out-of-sorts from deep ceremony, but this time, having taken a plunge into the refuge of temples, sacred chants and boundless tea, I feel like a puzzle piece still assembling unknown mysteries..
How do you capture the fragrance and unfurling plume of fine sandalwood incense, or the taste of rare puer tea that causes your heart to float in heavenly realms? How can you remember being locked into the fathomless depth of a teacher’s eyes? Perhaps we do keep memory imprints of such times, and maybe we bury moments of peace and love into the soil of our minds so we can recognize certain vibrations and water these frequencies until they bloom on their own again and again.
There’s such a jumble of feelings: sad and jolted from leaving those holy mountains, afraid I may not remember the timbre of Shifu’s voice, inexplicably upset about not understanding so many things, missing the warm yak morning tea, wondering if I’ll forget everything (my teacher Angela would say ‘Good!’), and somehow astonished and thoroughly grateful that we were blessed to have such an opportunity in this lifetime. Really, I feel like an ant that was brushed briefly with magic dust that’s designed to rub off on the journey home.
So I’m sharing this in the hope that as I write I’ll remember even more from the stream of precious teachings that came from this adventure.
In the first days of our trip, our Tibetan Shifu* said, ‘Cherish every moment you are here. Push your self more and you will go further. ’ And so I did.
It is said* that Wen Shu Buddha actually visited these mountains, and to this day, from the feel of the place, makes regular appearances. The story, as it was told to me, is that Wenshu Buddha came to Mount Wutai in the form of a poor old woman with a dog. At a charity gathering she asked for food form a wealthy gentleman, but after she was given bread she asked for more. The businessman balked, saying ‘I gave you enough, why do you ask for more?’ The old lady said, ‘You must give me more, for I am with child.’ And then she cut off a lock of her hair, her dog turned into a lion and they ascended into the sky to form the four sacred peaks of Wutai Shan.
We stayed in a small village where versions of OM MANI PADME HUM play from shops along the stone streets day and night, and where monks clad in grey, brown or maroon robes are as common as jeans in America. At least we didn’t feel strange twirling a string of mala beads walking through the town. At the same time, being the only blond, blue-eyed women, it was hard to go far before being asked to pose in someone’s I phone photo.
On one of our walks Angela Yan says ‘American students are the best to bring here because they’re an empty canvass, they don’t have as many concepts to undo.’ Indeed, this retreat was happily devoid of too many concepts; it was about letting go, refraining from asking and analyzing. It was about being open, feeling more and continuously experiencing what was occurring.
In the first couple of days I tried using my brain and my mouth in it’s typical way, but I soon gave up as most of my questions were either ignored or answered with a kind of story that prevents the mind from even remembering the question. Even this was a teaching, as it seems, good questions are occasionaly rewarded with tales you must let simmer in your mind to reap their meaning. Sifu said his teachers told these kinds of stories all the time when he was very young, and this morning they came rolling out over laughter and many hours of tea. The conversation was of course in Chinese, and this is the translation as I remember it:
A master told his student to ‘watch the door’ after he left for the day. So the student faithfully watched the door all day long as robbers came and left removing every single thing from the master’s house. When the master returned upset that everything was gone, he asked the student what happened. The student says, I never took my eyes off the door. I watched these men come and go all day long.
An owner told the shepherd to watch the sheep because the wolf will eat the sheep. When the owner returned all the sheep were gone and asks ‘what happened?’. Of course the shepherd says, ‘I watched the wolf eat all the sheep.’
Who is wrong? The owner is wrong. ‘you have to watch what you say.’
Angela says ‘when something happens. Open. Feel it. Keep it. When language comes, it’s gone.’
A master gives a monk one piece of bread. The monk eats half. The master comes back and says ‘where’s the other half?’
The monk picks up the bread and says ‘here it is.”
The master says ‘where’s the other half?’
The monk picks up the bread and says again, ‘here, here is the other half.”
Angela says, ‘Why is the monk tricky? Because the master has not asked the right question.’
Another day, in the private room of another Shifu, noticing that each of the monks we met seemed to specialize in certain things such as calligraphy, healing, or empowering statues, I asked, ‘what do you specialize in?’ He grinned wide and said ‘chanting!’ It was yet another teaching, as all the monks chant all day long. And he added, ‘I wish to become Buddha.”.’
I will never know how much is simply lost in translation. May times during the retreat I felt entirely stupid as I could neither understand nor add to any conversation. After I let my frustration go I figured it was probably better this way. We got to watch stunning gestures of calm beauty, listen to pure laughter, and look into kind eyes. This is enough.
As I return to my life, where I like everyone else must attend to all manner of things, I wonder how I will ever be able to operate in such a relaxed, spontaneous and open way. Hopefully, the memory of this presious time and certain practices will gradually sink in until we are able to return one day.
When remarkable experiences change everything, sometimes it’s impossible to return. And for now, that’s quite fine.
*The word *Shifu is one of about five words in Chinese I know. But I was surprised when a woman on our way back to Beijing kept calling the bus driver ‘Sifu’ as he was smoking, talking on the phone and making seemingly arbitrary stops the whole way back. Apparently, ‘Sifu’ not only means a spiritual teacher and master, the title is also used to respect someone who has ‘mastered’ a trade, such as bus driving.
* From Wiki: Sifu (Cantonese Chinese) or shifu (Mandarin Chinese) is an accomplished teacher who oversees apprentices in certain traditions and philosophies.
It is written with the Chinese characters: 師傅 and 師父. The character 師 means “teacher”, while the meaning of 傅 is “tutor” and the meaning of 父 is “father”. Both characters are read fu with the same tones in Cantonese and Mandarin, creating some ambiguity. A similar term often used in Chinese is 老師 (Cantonese Chinese pronunciation: lou5 si1; Mandarin Chinese pronunciation: lǎoshī), meaning “teacher”.
Though pronounced identically and bearing similar meanings, the two terms are distinct and usage is different. The former term (師傅) bears only the meaning of “master”, and is used to express the speaker’s general respect for the addressee’s skills and experience. Thus, for example, a customer may address a motor mechanic as such. The latter term (師父) bears the dual meaning of “master” and “father”, and thus connotes a linearity in a teacher-student relationship. As such, when addressing a tradesperson, it would only be used to address the speaker’s own teacher or master. In the preceding example, the motor mechanic’s apprentice would address his or her master as such, but the customer would not. On the other hand, a religious personality, and by extension, experts of Chinese martial arts, can be addressed as “master-father” (師父) in all contexts.
Our amazing journey continues!
Feeling fresh and and full from our visit to Hamburg and Croatia (stopping in Istambul for for a massage (we hope!).
Our D Y E N and Feminine Erotic Intelligence Workshops were stellar. The the depth, the food, the land… fantastic. Most of all it’s the people we’re so moved by… such a deep transfer of feelings, wisdom and laughter… Yes, there’s been hesitation and a reluctance to open, at first. A
I am learning that where there is heart, there is a way. Maybe the way will be steep and dark. Maybe it will be too bright to see. Maybe there will be valleys of fear and despair, places where the wounds of the heart are barely ready to peek out from underneath comfy blankets of protection.
But it’s these touchy, fragile and almost too delicate to touch places of the heart, places inside that have been broken almost too many times to repair; these are my favorite places to go. It’s the stories we seldom reveal, lurking underneath culture, underneath social expectations, underneath language, our families and yes Croatia , underneath our clothes – this is where we discover our natural selves.
When we dare to travel to these dark and dangerous places, and risk staying in the most uncomfortable places dwelling in our hearts, those places we avoid and that get pushed into the most remote corners of our daily lives, something magical happens. Healing happens here. And great compassion and deep forgiveness. These are the rewards that come to those brave enough to have a good long look, to those risk sharing deep feeling. It’s raw. It’s vulnerable, it’s unpredictable, ah, but in the end, when we dare to touch the one heart we all carry inside, there is only room for only sweet happiness.
, and we are still digesting, integrating…
Then it’s off to revisit our beloved teacher Angela Yan in Wu Tai Shan, China. We will be offline, chanting or having tea.
This is from our last trip to this place where there are 108 temples, lots of tea, and mostly treasures.
Om mani padme Hum.
In beauty, Amara and Shyena
While traveling in New Mexico, Shyena gave me a treat on my birthday to stay at Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Health Spa in Sante Fe. The night before, I got terribly sick with that awful bug and could barely get out of bed. I really wanted to enjoy my gift, so when my friend Louise Kockler recommended I get a Myer’s cocktail, I did the unimaginable (to me) and agreed to get this shot.
Truly, it was a blessing in disguise, not only did I enjoy the spa a day later, I met an extraordinary women – Dr. Robyn Benson. I had such an remarkable recovery I just had to write her:
Dr. Robyn Benson, I am writing to thank you for the treatment the other day. The whole experience of seeing you was remarkably friendly and warm. Just what a healing center should be! I’ve been to many such places, and I have to say, your hearts and kindness comes soaring through. As a ‘stranger’ coming from out of town, and then not feeling very well at all, I couldn’t really express my gratitude to you. Thank you for introducing me to something new and a bit ‘scary’ – the Myers Cocktail- with great care and finesse. I feel fantastic. I have to say I have never recovered so quickly, and now, days later I feel remarkably well. — Amara Charles
Needless to say, I loved Robyn’s brilliant and loving approach to healing.
But that’s not all.
I found out she’s a world renown Holistic Healing Expert.
And, she invited me to be part of her Self Care Revolution in July!
“13″ may not be an American’s favor number, but here is the “13 often” you need to favor for easy health preservation. No equipments needed, free of charge, no location requirement, and you can do it anytime.
1. Comb the hair often: stimulate the scalp, activate the brain, better than fish oil;
2. Roll the eyes often: improve the sight, clarify the mind;
3. Pull the ears often: stimulate all 89 ear acu-points that cover the entire human body; More …
We were invited by Jaiya to teach her partner the White Tigress Magssage on VH1.
It was an amazing experience and Jaiya was awesome. She had a crew of about 20 people affiliated with VH1 filming her for the show: I’m Married to a Sexologist.
We were invited (as a birthday present for Jaiya) to teach her partner Ian how to give Jaiya a sensuous White Tigress Massage. The White Tigress Massage is for increasing sexual potency, sexual restoration and sexual intensity.
Have you ever noticed that when accidents happen, somehow, it’s your ego that’s trying to drive the show?
You know, one of those Divine Interventions or Interruptions that don’t seem so divine at first? The ones that come with sufficient bumps and bruises to get our attention. They always seem to show us how we’re pushing, trying too make things happen the way we want. Like during a sudden fall, when time slows and everything you thought important ceases to be.
Maybe there’s no intervention, no interruptions at all – perhaps it’s just the universe arranging things perfectly on our behalf, giving us the hint that our design is off.
One of my ‘accidental jolts’ came in the lovely Land of Kauai where, if you listen to her speak, she’ll cajole you into listening to the Divine. She’ll stagger you with joy, murmur and groan with her mighty beauty until you forget or remember where you came from.
In case this doesn’t work, she has other ways. Two days into my trip, on my way up from Secrets Beach, I flipped backwards onto some hefty boulders. I have to admit, I opted for some silly fashion that day, wearing high-pitched flip flops and a loaded purse. My body was tangled with sheer shock in the dirt, yet as I lay there tuning in, I smiled feeling the benevolence of this fall: nothing broken.
Still, I must not have been listening yet, for Kauai was just beginning to have her way with me. In another two days I took a dive again; this time the ocean whipped me onto the shore as I heard my knee torque with a loud crunch (in about a foot and a half water.) Now both sides of my body were thoroughly initiated into the wild gorgeousness of this garden paradise. Finally, I had to relax and listen.
It’s astonishing how quickly healing happens, and the correct things fall in place when you listen. Through ceremony, chants, Qigong (and a few extraordinary healers ), I was feeling good in days rather than weeks, and I returned to the mainland feeling better than I’ve felt in years. It seems a bit of genetic restructuring of my DNA was in order, and I believe it was just the beginning of many more magical things to come.
Amara, Laka, Shyena Feminine Spring Woman’s retreat Kauai
One on my favorite parts of our retreat was the Bodichitta Fashionista – a spontaneous fashion show that had all the women trying and buying dresses galore in a tizzy of pleasure as we marveled at one another wearing the fantastic dresses by Chanterelle.
The remarkable thing? Her hand-made dresses are like pouring warm chocolate on your body; you never want to take them off. AND the same dresses look fantastic on totally different sizes and shapes of women. Really. Look at her website: www. chezchanterelle.com More …
The raw emotion of our Nepal Adventure is overwhelming – every time we bring a stove to a family and fire it up, it INSTANTLY changes their lives – to see it and feel it – it brings us (and them) to tears, and confirms, one-on-one, one stove at a time, how we’re transforming lives in the High Himalayas. More …
What makes for stellar success is a personal thing, but my recent visit with Jaiya, a successful sex educator, shows how doing what we like in bed may be just what we need to succeed. While being filmed for her VH1 special on somatic (hands on) sexology, we got a private peek into how she delights in using her sexiness for success, and her success to stay sexy – and why we shouldn’t settle for subpar in either.
Busting Myth #1: You have to Sell Out to Succeed
Have you ever noticed how things speed up when you’re feeling successful? You seem to do much more in less time, you have to say ‘no’ to things you could once say ‘yes’ to, and you don’t have as much time to hang out. To others it may seem as if you’ve sold out. The speed of things focuses your mission, challenges you to be excellent and makes you select where you place every precious ounce of attention (and where not to.) If you relax inside, you can handle the ‘swish’. It’s exhilarating. The faster things happen, the more of a magnet you become for more connections. Now, take this same principle, and apply it to your private erotic life. Riding the sublime comes down to: just doing it creates the desire and energy for more.
Busting Myth #2: It’s Who You Know
It’s not who you know, it’s what you do with who you know. Success is contagious, as the happier and more generous you are, the more fun you are to be with and thus the more opportunities land in your lap. Since success tends to make you feel wanted, you become someone people want to be near. That is, if you are actually enjoying your self inside the buzz. Now take this into your personal erotic life. When you are generous, even inside the whirlwind of busyness, taking each conversation to heart, appreciating anyone near you, you are multipling pleasure. This is the alluring energy behind success, and it works in bed too. If you’re tense while doing the never-ending stream of whatever you’re doing, or you are not content with what (or who) is sitting next to you, success will always be just out of reach. It’s not only who can help you succeed, it’s who’s around to share it with.
Busting Myth #3 It Takes Money to Make Money
This myth is about the idea that you have to have money to make it, or erotically, you have to have a partner to have sex. While it’s true, sex is always better with a warm body, the trick to both money and sex, is having some. In Jennifer Goldberg’s article, Why you Need Good Sex, she says, ‘Seeking out—and having— good sex is a self-perpetuating cycle. The neurotransmitter dopamine—which “focuses your attention on something you really want to go after,” (explains Dr. Pfaus)1—gives us the confidence to approach mates we think will provide the most pleasure, while good sex releases opioids, which further stoke the fire.’
Busting Myth # 4 Pain = Gain
The myth that successful people are too driven by ambition to enjoy anything (and there are plenty of examples) comes from the idea that it takes self – sacrifice and suffering to end suffering. But pain loops may not only deplete your reserve of dopamine, if you don’t have it right along the way, it wont will be much fun when you ‘get there’. Another option is to operate on a pleasure loop for success. It’s not a selfish grasp for pleasure, or a perpetual craving for what’s missing, it’s a loop where you derive pleasure by giving something of value to others while having a blast along the way too. It’s the tease of anticipation, savoring every nibble and squeeze while feeling delight in another’s joy that’s the stuff of success. When it starts happening in the boardroom as smoothly as it does in the bedroom, as I experienced being with Jaiya, you know you’re onto something good.
What’s success? Feeling grateful for being alive is success; the rest is relative.
In beauty, © Amara Charles
Quehestemehah ‘You dance in my heart’
Amara Charles’ Best – Selling Book ‘The Sexual Practices of Quodoushka’ featuring the Sexual Anatomy Types as Seen on VH1 is available on www.amaracharles.com or Amazon.com
We love this place in Sante Fe…
They used to make Aphrodite Nipples, maybe, after seeing this, they start making them again…
Made this a while back. We have a chocolate pit stop for the 7hour drive back to phoenix. Keeps us awake the whole ride…
It’s quite a trip to be lifted out of my Quodoushka Book tour to trek towards heaven for a month with the Himalayan Stove Project adventure team.
The splendor of the icy blue mountains literally takes your breath away as well as worries such as ‘What on earth am I doing?’ and ‘How much further?’ Days are about easing into every single step on the trail. Old women, men and boys carrying utterly impossible loads give the friendliest ‘Namaste’s‘ I’ve ever heard. We become kindred foreigners, each of us traveling with different agendas, ultimately arriving in the same place. More …
I had to stay a couple of weeks near the great Stupa of Boudha* before I could understand why one eventually surrenders here. the sway of the world turns and turns just the way thousands of people walk around the Stupa everyday. Monks chant or walk hand in hand with businessmen, children play, dogs and beggars sleep or bark, merchants sell, while Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Hippies, Buddhists and tourists circle around in prayer or conversation. Buddha eyes follow everyone just the same.
One could miss this world, take a picture of strange things to settle for saying you’ve been here. but if you linger long enough to take in the underbelly of Boudha; slabs of meat and hoofs covered by flies on open carts, legless curled up figures, the smell of incense mingled with dal or dung at every corner, you can”t help catch something different in people’s eyes. if you’re preoccupied by some project or other far away thoughts, you’ll miss the subtlety of currency here.
Once I recover from the withdraw of familiar comforts, like pristine toilets, expensive cars and the choice of a hundred foods, I began to appreciate how a
day is filled by one to three things to do rather than a list longer than I can ever accomplish.
The currency here, the real wealth is time and space, or perhaps it could be called the spaciousness of time. most people have enough space in their faces to smile your way, for there doesn’t seem to be anything else on their minds.
It’s not that poverty goes unnoticed, yet it seems the scant resources, daily rations of electricity and dusty traffic-crammed roads are taken in stride by locals with only mild grumbles. Urgency here moves at about the same pace as the occasional cow chewing at scraps on the city streets. my desire to change or uplift things, that’s sewn into the nerves of my American psyche, has no choice but to quit.
there’s something else I notice. I’ve lived in New York, and other cities where housing is as cramped as Katmandu. especially at night, I thought scolding wives or children, lovers spats and blaring boom boxes were just a way of life. Sure, the homeless dogs who breed unchecked here are truly noisy pests. What’s missing is the undercurrent of irritation. If snarly outbursts are happening behind thin doors, they’re well hidden. I haven ‘t heard a raised voice in weeks.
I think the slower life, the less hectic pace is more than the nature of a mild mannered people; I think it’s the Buddha Eyes.
Why are stupas built like this? They’re different than churches, where you go inside to close off the world. A stupa is an outdoor event where Instead of getting away from it all, you can hear and see the going- ons all around you; you’re in the middle of it.
Then there are those eyes.
Atop a huge spire around which one circumnabulates the base, sits not a golden sculpture of Buddha, nor a symbol of a saint. The stupa is crowned with painted eyes. Not having been here to experience the effect for myself, I’m not sure I’d like the sense of big brother watching me from every direction. at first I thought they looked silly; like a gigantic tacky cartoon that was not particularly artistic or spiritual. Now, pondering their effect on this strange city, it’s why I like them so much.
At night while peaking between butter lamps through a tiny opening of the Stupa, I listen to several monks chanting the city goodnight. in the middle of ceremony one monk gazes my way. captured by his suspended smile, we recognize each other in Buddha’s Eyes.
*The Boudha Stupa was built in 600 ad near the birthplace of Buddha. It sits in the center of Katmandu.
This is a video poem from my recently released best selling book: ‘The Sexual Practices of Quodoushka’ This clip shows the difference between clinical western approach affects sex, and how the more nature based language of Quodoushka can uplift and inspire more magical sexual experiences.