Finding Connection & Intimacy in Today's Busy Times [Interview]
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Having followed various workshops in the area of intimacy and authentic connection, I was excited to learn about the popular workshop that Leah Santa Cruz gave about these themes at the BaliSpirit Festival.
Luckily, Leah agreed to also give an eye-and-heart-opening interview on the topic. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.
Leah Santa Cruz is a yoga and meditation teacher as well as the creator of the popular workshop ‘Adventures in Intimacy’, which she taught at the BaliSpirit Festival, various times at the Yoga Barn in Bali, as well as in multiple countries.
Leah infuses modern day science with the power of ancient practices to help people bust through barriers – mentally, physically and spiritually, and does so in her private sessions and retreats around the world.
In short, what is the journey that brought you to where you are in life right now?
It began really when I was living in Los Angeles. I found it hard to connect with people because everyone was so busy with their lives, disconnected and a little self-absorbed. I just craved female connection. ‘I needed some ladies!’ So, at some point, I started hosting women’s circles at my house studio in Los Angeles.
I lead interactive exercises that would help women find a connection, like eye-gazing, hugging, touch, holding space, communication. All the while forming close support and friendship with each other.
“I found it hard to connect with people because everyone was so busy with their lives”
And as I was giving these women circles in Los Angeles, I remember telling some men about them, as they were all curious. As I explained what we were doing, they turned out to be interested as well and I realized that men needed something like this too.
At this time, I was dating my current boyfriend and wanted to bring him to such a setting so we could experience these exercises together. I looked in Los Angeles but the only comparable events I could find were more on the tantric, sexual side, which is different from what I was wanting to do, and I couldn’t find anything more casual.
“So I said: ’I’m going to create it – Simple as that’”
I found a space, sent out invites to my newsletter and asked a girlfriend to help lead it with me. We did the first few of them together in Los Angeles and about 35 people showed up to the first one, which was a sign that there was interest.
There were people from all different backgrounds, couples, singles, people from the business world and those who were more on the spiritual side. All in this room together, sharing, opening their hearts and crying as they let go of blocks with people. It was such a beautiful experience and I found it almost more fulfilling than teaching yoga and meditation, which is really what I do mostly.
So I just continued. The workshops started to grow and I began offering them at studios, retreats, and then in Bali at the Yoga Barn, where it turned out to be one of their biggest workshops.
It’s not a workshop for long-time tantrikas, but for people who are somewhat scared by words like tantra and intimacy. Making it as non-scary as possible, it has movement, music, meditation and a progressive flow to it, as we move deeper and deeper into intimacy.
“We start out with intimacy with oneself, which leads up to intimacy with one another, and ends with pure intimacy with light and the world”
I think that intimacy issues and the lack of closeness with other people are the cause behind most of the mental issues and societal ills that we have right now. In the past, we used to live in smaller communities, we had our tribe, we had closeness, we needed each other and looked after one another. Today, in Western cultures, and even in Bali, everyone is on their cell phone.
“We’ve got the technology to connect us, but we’re more disconnected than ever before.”
People often don’t connect out of fear of rejection, pain, or looking silly. Technology allows them to hide in their little box or car or apartment or cubicle. The things that were supposed to help us be more connected have actually created a barrier where we stay in our comfort zone. We have dating apps where we get to swipe instead of having that awkward conversation, risking vulnerability and connecting on a heart level with somebody.
It has created so much disassociation and I don’t think people even realize on a deep-down level why they are anxious and depressed, or co-dependent in relationships once they do get them. There are so many problems stemming from this lack of closeness with friends, colleagues, lovers, family. There is a lack of connecting in a really authentic heartfelt way, where people can give and receive, express their needs, be silly and simply be themselves.
So it’s really healing for people to come to a workshop like this and find a safe space where someone is guiding them so that they don’t have to take that awkward first step themselves. They enjoy the freedom to just explore and feel the heart opening up. It’s such a good reminder as it helps you to push past these initial fears because the first step is always the hardest part.
“Even though it is hard at times to initiate intimacy, it’s what we all needed all along. You’re not alone!”
What did you love most about the BaliSpirit Festival?
I love that it is called BaliSpirit Festival because it has so much spirit and I love the West African and Jamaican dance and all these different cultures.
It’s not just Bali, although you do have the Balinese traditional dance performances, which is awesome. But you get this mix of cultures that makes it really colorful. I personally love dance, as I think the majority of us does. Dance is our meditation, our soul, and so there is so much soul.
What one thing would you want the whole world to know?
You are already enough. You already have everything you’re seeking within you, it’s just about letting it out. It’s not about trying to attain anything through yoga, pranayama, meditation or a workshop, healer or teacher. No one is going to give you something you don’t already have.
A lot of people approach yoga and meditation and healing practices with this idea of seeking and needing to be healed and saved from something. But it’s more about revealing and uncovering than it is about seeking. It’s about using all those practices to celebrate and engage with life, returning to what you already have.
“You are already enough. You already have everything you’re seeking within you. It’s just about letting it out”
Are you hungry for authentic connection and intimacy? Disconnect from the hectic modern life and find your inner peace and bliss on a yoga and meditation retreat.
Article by Nicky de Koning. Find more of her work at www.nickydekoning.com.