Thesis Interview: Tantra With Joy

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English: Tibetian Dharma Wheel.
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I sort of forgot about this interview until another university student recently expressed her interest in my work and practice. This is an interview from 2010 with Sarah, who was completing her University thesis project…her thesis paper was spectacular…I only have access to the interview to share, but it was just before I started this blog, so kinda nostalgic…

Interview with Joy Nelson (2010)

By Sarah K

In May, I was fortunate to schedule an informational interview with Joy Nelson, founder of Shaktara Healing Arts.  I found her name in a Focus magazine article and was drawn to a quote by Joy that was below the article picture, which showed a couple who were sitting face to face with their hands on each other’s hearts as Joy guided them. The image and the quote made an impression on me. I decided to book an interview with Joy to enhance my understanding of Tantra for my thesis paper on Tantra.

Joy shares her passion in the Focus magazine article, “As our minds, bodies, and spirits begin to heal, our hearts open to receive pleasure in life, love, and during sexual experiences.  It is my true passion to assist individuals, whether on their own or as a couple, on their path to sensual awakening.”  I was drawn to Joy because she associated awakening with healing on all levels, which includes our mind, body, spirit and heart.

In the article, Joy states the mission of her work, “The mission of my practice, Shaktara Healing Arts, is to promote healthy and joyous expression of sensual energy, deep intimacy with oneself and another and an understanding of love and sex as a natural part of life”.  Joy truly walks her talk. She shared with me that, even though her and her husband have numerous children, they have an active and passionate sex life. Joy draws on her professional and personal experiences to  help her clients connect with their sexuality and related emotions.  I was reminded of the Satyr “Ice Berg” analogy when Joy mentioned that one client came to her because he was experiencing impotence. Rather than only dealing with the physical aspect of his challenge, Joy was able to help her client go deeper to look at unmet needs, and unresolved emotional blocks. According to the testimonials of her clients, Joy has a great deal of success working with both physical and emotional challenges.

She talked about the fact that many issues in life affect one’s sex life.  This reminds me of the mind/body connection found in mindfulness-based practices such as Yoga.  Joy has worked with people facing a variety of challenges such as: addictions, life transitions, grief, loss, trauma, depression, impotence, anorgasmia, and anxiety to name a few.  Joy shared that in some cases healing can occur quickly and I attribute this to her ability to be in the present moment working for the highest good of the client while honouring all aspects of the client’s being – mind, body, spirit and heart.

            Joy explained that each session is different depending on the needs of the client(s).  All sessions are hands-on and experiential allowing for not only lasting change to occur but also providing approaches that can be practiced once the session is over.  While working with a heterosexual couple Joy mentioned that she prefers to work from the couple’s home.  This provides the couple with an opportunity to create not only a sacred space, but a sacred memory in their own home.   Sessions generally begin with a conversation where Joy asks, “What is your intention for your session today?”  I think one of the reasons she has such a thriving practice is because she makes every session unique to accommodate the needs and desires of her clients. Joy has no personal agenda whatsoever.

Joy reminds me of the saying that there are six billion ways to counsel.  during her sessions, she draws on a large ‘healing toolbox’. Techniques include talk therapy, teaching clients how to practice Tantric massage, sensual breathing techniques, positions to connect in, helping clients create a sacred sensual space, and the use of mantras such as, “I deeply and completely love and accept myself”.  Joy also talked about the importance of bringing heart connection into the sessions.  This reminds me of the saying that sometimes the longest journey we will ever take is from the head to the heart.

One technique she uses is called, “Soul Gazing” which involves the couple looking into each other’s eyes.  The eyes are often thought to be the window to the soul.  This soul gazing exercise has the couple placing their hands on the other’s heart and is reported to have a profound effect on clients. She also talked about the importance of Sexual-Psycho education with clients that may involve intimacy coaching.  She also teaches the tenets of Tantra, which includes educating clients on the energy lines and centers in the body.

Through education, Joy is able to help individuals and couples understand their bodies.  Joy said most sessions are fully clothed and may include energy work.  But in some cases, she has helped people to figure out how to reach orgasm, connect with their bodies and unleash their sexual energy. Joy mentioned that she aims to demystify the ancient practices of Tantra so that everyday people can practice Tantra at home.  Currently, she provides weekly tips and self-care techniques on her web-site and she hopes to create a blog.  Above all the things I can write, I must say that I was impressed with Joy’ awakened heart.  I felt very comfortable around her and could imagine opening up to her about my sex life.  I am grateful for the time she took with me and would recommend her without reservation.

Personal Reflection

Given my research into Tantra for this paper, I feel that it is a valuable tool that can be used for both individuals and couples who want to create meaningful and sacred sexual connection either with their partner or on their own.  I agree with Joy when she said that our sexuality is connected to all other areas of our lives.  Many Western therapies only focus on ‘talk therapy’ forgetting that we have a body that experiences this life as well.  I appreciate Tantra because of its mind/body/spirit/ heart connection and its focus on mindfulness.  Tantra makes sexuality sacred and meaningful


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