Nearly six years ago, Orlando resident Mahan-Kalpa Khalsa felt transformed by his experience at a Body Electric School workshop in Fort Lauderdale. So much so that he stepped into the role of Local Coordinator for Florida last year at the organization's new home in Orlando.
“There was a shortage of activity in Florida that we had once known,” explains Khalsa. “I had experienced such growth and change through the Body Electric School that I wanted to share this work with others. I felt it was important that the broader community had the opportunity.”
The Body Electric School offers a hands-on experience in which people literally reveal themselves. Participants shed their clothing during the course of the workshop, and in the process that unfolds, engage in physically and spiritually intimate activities individually and in small and large groups. Sex doesn't happen here. Instead, a guided exploration of one's erotic energy and its transformative power is the goal.
Following his first Body Electric workshop, Khalsa, also a yoga teacher, continued to take about two workshops each year in other locations and facilitated a workshop himself for the first time three years ago. He describes his own personal enrichment from the Body Electric School as “a very heart-felt acknowledgement and appreciation of who I am as a man. And from that center, I can better relate to other individuals through the integrity of their own being.”
Begun in 1984 primarily as a massage school, The Body Electric School evolved during the AIDS crisis into a format for gay men to gain more comfort with sexuality, beyond simply “performing” sex. Combining elements of massage, yoga, Taoism and tantric touch, the program is a form of continuing education in the way sexuality, erotic energy, body consciousness, spirituality and awareness are perceived by the individual. Sexuality is valued as an enrichment of one's physical and spiritual health, individually and in interaction with others.
The School began in California and has since grown to several locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. In its current form, The Body Electric School offers workshops to people of all ages, shapes and sizes. The atmosphere is intended to be inclusive and safe, without fear of rejection. Though the schedule predominantly includes men's groups, workshops are also available in some locations to women, couples and mixed genders.
The Body Electric School offers workshops in a series of levels from introductory to advanced, as well as specialized sessions. For all participants, the basic “Celebrating the Body Erotic” (CBE) two-day workshop is a prerequisite before enrolling in others. (Tantra workshops are offered through The Body Electric School, but are considered a “parallel” offering, not requiring a prerequisite.)
The CBE experience is described as “exploring your erotic potential.” Elements of conscious breathing, meditation, movement and massage are employed to learn more deeply satisfying ways to give and receive erotic pleasure. An awareness of the spiritual aspects of sexuality is intended, as well as playfulness. Participants describe feelings of self-empowerment and a greater ability and willingness to be sensitive to others. Couples are welcome to participate in the CBE workshop and may choose, if they wish, to work only with each other during the erotic portions of the experience, or with other participants. People of any sexual orientation are welcome, since the program emphasizes erotic energy, not sexual attraction or activity.
As one of the facilitator introduces the first CBE, “Most men live their lives experiencing about 15% of what is erotically possible. We develop habits and patterns that put our erotic selves to sleep. This two-day workshop is a major wake-up experience that attracts men of all ages and erotic backgrounds. Most of our erotic education has taken place under that strangest of conditions… Imagine an erotic environment designed to be playful, safe, honoring, educational, comfortable, and hot.”
Other workshops offered to participants who have first experienced the CBE include: “Fusion: Melding the Body and Heart,” “The Erotic Temple,” and “Creating Sacred Intimacy,” among others.
Orlando resident Ralph Recht has participated in Body Electric experiences for 10 years. As Recht recalls, “I still remember that first experience as if it was yesterday. I went with a friend who told me I should try this. It was life-changing. It helped me overcome my shyness; it helped me feel comfortable in my own skin; it revamped my whole way of thinking of myself and others.”
As The Body Electric School moves beyond its 25th year, organizers say their plans include more outreach to incorporate newer forms of media and social media. Additionally, a broadening of focus is envisioned to include more courses for women and mixed genders, as well as transgendered groups. A national gathering of Coordinators and Facilitators is scheduled for December in which future plans and strategies will be discussed.
Though no two participants will experience the same forms of growth from the Body Electric experience, most participants say they have achieved a deeper sense of self-love, trust in others and self-empowerment from their own erotic and spiritual energy. Florida organizers who have experience with the Body Electric School are energized to see its return to Florida.
The CBE workshop is currently offered only once per year in Orlando. The next CBE is Saturday and Sunday, Sept 24 and 25. For more information and to register, visit TheBodyElectricSchool.com or call Khalsa at 407-505-0318 or email centralfloridaBE@gmail.com. The CBE workshop is also offered at all other Body Electric locations throughout the year. A Tantra workshop in Orlando will return in the spring, and other Body Electric gatherings may be added to the schedule as more participants become aware of the offerings.