» Like so many of us, who feel as if they are living a calling of the soul, the work with women I am dedicated to today is born both of my personal struggles and gifts, as well as the pain I witnessed my mother experiencing.
People might imagine that having all that is needed – and more – materially, would guarantee happiness and well-being. But I’ve seen that’s not true.
My family lived a very comfortable life, but throughout my teenage years, my parents were in constant conflict and I felt caught in-between them, as well as unseen and unheard.
My father was the typical patriarch: he went out to work and earned the money, while my mother stayed home. Which would have been fine if they actually thrived in these roles, but neither of them did. My mother was permanently anxious, frustrated, neurotic and depressed. My father was stressed out, angry, controlling and emotionally abusive.
The more I blossomed as a young woman, the more I seemed to push all my father’s buttons.
If I voiced an opinion that differed to his (which, as an intellectually gifted young woman I often did), he would become enraged, even violent.
I longed for his love, seeing and support, but instead felt de-valued, inadequate and shut up.
Rather than listen, ask questions or show any interest in me, he would project his own ideas of what I thought or wanted onto me. It was crushing and infuriating in equal measure.
My mother, meanwhile, would turn to me as her confidante and advisor regarding her marital strife: a role I performed well, but which was a wholly inappropriate reversal between the responsibilities of mother and child.
I’ve taken so much time to describe this scenario, because to my understanding, it is such formative experiences during our youth that shape so much about our psyche and modus operandi as adults.
And because I am sure that many people reading this will be able to identify.
As a yoga teacher, I believe in karma: that is, our soul chooses and manifests particular experiences as part of the evolutionary path of life. I’ve come to think that my soul chose this family both to give me an experience of the hellish separation created by patriarchy, as well as to spur me on to change it.
Through my 20s and 30s, I enjoyed success in business and academia, but by the age of 30, I’d been married, divorced and heart-broken through a follow-on affair. When, a decade later, my second marriage was falling apart and I found myself alone in London with 2 young children and no financial support, I recognised that something had to change.
A key thread that tied all of this together was my sexuality. I’d always been strongly sexual, but it was clear to see that in following the current of my desire without much self-awareness, I’d created a lot of pain and chaos both for myself and others.
I’d later come to understand that our unconscious sexual expression has really got very little to do with sex, but far more with the underlying relational distortions and woundingwe grow up with in our early years.
At the same time, I was at the start of a new spiritual journeyand career path, that had begun with my training in a conscious dance practice during my second pregnancy. It was in and through this practice, as well motherhood, that I began to find my way towards living with awareness, doing what I truly love and reconnecting with a deep spiritual yearning that had first blossomed in me as a teenager.
As a child I’d always danced and played music: creating routines and shows, performing at any opportunity. But my parents had refused my request for dance classes, so this passion and innate gift had been relegated to the sidelines. Until now.
In the flow of expanding further into the world of embodied awareness and seeking healing, I ventured into the worlds of tantra, bodywork, Reiki, couples counselling and Kundalini Yoga.
This brought me profound awakenings and realisations, alongside further painful experiences with lovers, who were the perfect “wound-mates”, designed to point me towards the still deeper levels of healing and self-awareness, as well as love, available to me.
I began to study and teach Kundalini Yoga for women and authentic relationship, becoming increasingly inspired by tantric philosophy, which spoke of the divine play of the polarities of masculine and feminine.
Six years after the break-down of my second marriage, I found myself in South Africa on an intensive Sexual Awakening For Women Facilitators’ Training with the late Dr Shakti Malan. Back in London, I began teaching this body of work immediately, finding that my dance and yoga training, as well as my gift for holding women’s circles, created a rich and powerfully transformative space.
As this work flourished, I began to expand my dance teaching into new realms, co-creating a Tantra Mantra dance experience with sacred musicians, and developing my own divinely inspired dance practice – DanceIn2U.
A few years later, I was called to initiate as a Priestess of Rhiannon, Goddess of Love & Sacred Sexuality, through the Glastonbury Goddess Temple. This took me through an intensive year of deep healing of the wounds of the feminine, particularly of the heart and womb, preparing me to hold space for other women on their journey through womanhood, from maiden to crone.
It was during this year that I received guidance to create a practice called Dancing the Goddess. The vision I received was to create the space for women to embody the Divine Feminine in all her radiant, powerful, sensual glory, so as to bring this energy more fully into the world.
As I now understood it, my purpose in this life-time, is to undo the wounding and conditioning of patriarchy that hasbeen etched in my cells since childhood, to reclaim my self as a sovereign, sexually and spiritually awakened woman and to guide other women on this path of re-balancing and elevating the masculine and feminine, which is, I believe, the only way to create a more peaceful, loving world.
Since then I have been leading Dancing the Goddess workshops, retreats and performances in London and the UK, as well as delivering an intensive online course – Awakening Shakti – and offering one-to-one mentoring for women, who really want to do the work of personal transformation. My methods blend tantric and yogic embodiment practices, with meditation, self-enquiry, sharing circles and intuitive guidance.
Going forward, I wish personally for my work to grow and flourish across the UK, as well as internationally and look forward to the publication of my first book, which is an accompaniment to the Awakening Shakti course. More globally, I wish for a world in which every woman is living fully in love with her body, fully embracing her sacred sexuality and fully in alignment with her divine power, gifts and destiny. »
To learn more about Shakti’s work : www.shaktisundari.com
Testimony collected by the eLLes’s team, july 2019