Bodyjoy's Charla Hathaway, with her silverblonde hair and twinkling blue eyes, was the picture of patience. "Parking," I sighed, as a car pulled away in front of us -- yielding the spot I had been seeking for 15 minutes. Clearly, I had forgotten to invoke Asphalta, my friend Katari's parking goddess. The lunch run at Java Hut was well underway, so our conversation took place between waves of midday noise. Even though this was her interview, Charla asked about my background in Tantra. I mentioned my early role as a Kamala, then a little more about my work with female Buddhas.
Tantra comprises a wide array of practices, ranging from dark retreats and specialized meditative techniques to immersion in EO (extended orgasm). Although she has had training in Taoist Tantic techniques, Hathaway's Tantra is Western and focused on the pleasure aspect of Tantra.
Charla's introduction to Tantra began with one of those eminently sensible ideas that somehow never make it into general circulation. "About 10 years ago, after 2 decades of marriage I took a year's sabbatical;" she began, "it was a good marriage, but I needed a year off to see who I was outside of that space." Toward the end of the marriage-vacation, her husband began emailing her information about this new idea he had turned up - something called 'Tantra.' He invited her home and took her through a demo of Western Tantra, complete with candle-lit bath, massage, the fruit-&-cognac blindfeed, then an introduction to gentle gazing and synchronized breathing.
Despite her delight, the future sexologist was somewhat uneasy with the unbridled attention. "Women are trained from childhood to give back. If someone wants to give us something we automatically start looking for a way to return it. Especially with sex. It took me a while to catch on to the art of receiving."
"Men have an especially hard time learning to receive, but I've seen a noticeable shift in the last 5 years. Men seem to be starting to understand that in order to give sexually and spiritually, they have to learn to receive." Now Hathaway is teaching that art to women and men. Trained at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, she has been teaching and counseling in Austin since 2002. Her next event is Valentine's Puja "Longing for Love" to take place at Galaxy Dance Studios on February 13.