Promoting Intimacy and Other-Centered Sexuality
Human Awareness Institute www.hai.org
Sex, Love & Intimacy Workshop
Experiences Of Dave
I hope this doesn't just sound like an ad, but I'll share about a group that has provided so many thousands of people life-changing awareness of true love, intimacy, and sexuality (being so much more than genitals and thrusting).
I learned more love in this group, when I went to many workshops in the mid-1980's, than in all my many years in conservative Christians churches, as an elder, Billy Graham counselor etc. But I never really learned true love in a Church.
Do you sometimes have sex when you really want love? Do you ever feel lonely and unhappy even when you are in a relationship? What we don't realize is that our very notions of these prevent us from having the successful intimate relationships we long for. As a result, we unknowingly do the same things we've always done in relationships. - hope, pretend, cling, try harder, make do -- and get the same dissatisfying results time and time again.
The HAI workshops show you in a caring, loving, supportive way, new ways of relating and communicating that allow you to risk being even more loving and intimate.
I found that there is a lot more to sex than just sex, which is often more mechanical than intimate and loving. They do much more than just discuss theories. In a caring, supportive, environment with people you have developed trust with, the walls around your heart will gently melt. You will discover the freedom of letting yourself love and be loved at levels you have always known were possible. You will go home with useful ways of allowing yourself to experience deeper intimacy.
You also improve your relationship with yourself. You uncover your beauty, power and love for self. This increased self-esteem, along with new possibilities for relating, allows you to make exciting, powerful choices in your life and relationships that you never before thought possible. In 28 years more than 40,000 individuals from all walks of life have taken advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to enrich their lives and relationships.
During the workshop, you do (or don't do as you choose) a series of exercises in which you learn and practice skills on the following topics. Some topics addressed at the workshops include:
Letting go of, or moving beyond fears of letting people in, or fears of reaching out to people.
Getting beyond issues of body image or packaging
Seeing how you cut people out of your life because they're not "the one"
Discovering the power in being emotionally vulnerable and letting others share your inner thoughts and feelings
Becoming more comfortable with both men and women
Accepting people with different sexual preferences
Asking for what you want and learning how to accept "no"
Being able to say "no" and setting your own boundaries
Discovering how much alike people are
Healing relationships with parents and family members
The workshops are a place to learn how to be the loving human being you always wanted to be, and a place to have the experience of being loved and accepted in a way which, for most people, only exists in their dreams. The workshops are not a "how to be sexual" program, or a place to take notes about sex, love and intimacy.
The workshops are a magnificent combination of the playful and the profound. The format includes lectures, large group shares, paired, small group and large group exercises. You have full choice about participation and are encouraged to take risks because growth happens only through risking.
Often our fears about sex create barriers to intimacy. Like when a woman is afraid that a man who is just being friendly is "coming on" to her, or when a man holds back his friendship for fear a woman will think all he wants is sex. The workshop helps us learn how to remove such barriers to intimacy and communication. In the workshop, you explore new ways of being with people that are deeply satisfying, intimate, safe, nourishing. The workshops are about moving through barriers to love and intimacy.
The workshops are held at a clothing optional facility, and you choose what works for you in this regard. People have chosen to remain fully clothed all weekend, and they received just as much value from the workshop.
There are a lot of opportunities to play and have fun at the workshops. There is an entertainment exercise at every workshop, which is an opportunity to share a talent you have or just do something you really want to do in front of other people. For example, some people sing who have never sung in front of people before.
They are always held at locations where there are either hot tubs or saunas or other opportunities to relax and unwind.
The workshops are an opportunity to embrace our humanity, to really appreciate that we are perfect just the way we are, complete with all of what we used to call our "flaws." By the end of the weekend, you feel like you've always known the people who did the workshop with you, even if you had never met them before. The experiences you'll have shared together will have been deep, meaningful and memorable. Many people make new lifetime friends at the workshop.
Founder Stan Dale is a sexologist, radio personality and author. Stan has taught at universities and is on the faculty of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. He annually leads delegations to Russia and other parts of the world to share empowering experiences.
Assisting Stan is a dedicated group of caring, trained facilitators, and other leaders. This is the most powerful workshop available to deal with the important issues of love and relationships. There are HAI groups in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, New England, Russia, Australia, Japan.
Not a commercial, I have no financial interest but has been meaningful in my life and others I have suggested it to.
In our Phoenix, Liberated Christians Fellowship Group we introduce some of HAI ideas via a videotape of Stan doing a sample intro at the Lifestyles 94 couples swing convention. No, the video is not available from us, but we use clips of it to reach more honest communications and intimacy. We thank Stan & Helen Dale for their permission to use the tape, and their enthusiastic support of Liberated Christians.
In California, there is the original group in San Francisco, an active chapter in Los Angeles and some activity in San Diego. Short one-day intros are held in all three areas with the main weekend long workshops at beautiful Harbin Hot Springs in Northern California, and at a center near Los Angeles.
For information on any groups, especially in San Francisco see www.hai.org
Affiliations also in:
Southern Calf (LA and San Diego)
Australia (very active group)
6/16/07 With Sadness I share that Dr. Stan Dale died last week See Link for lots more about Stan Dale
A Personal Letter From A Women Attending A Workshop With Dave
The following letter, which I shared at the June Fellowship Group, shows the emotional healing that takes place where the power of love heals relationships, many emotional scars and transforms lives. The letter is from a friend I took to a HAI workshop and was written June 28, 1989 to Sonika, one of the leaders at the time. The writer is now married and living in Tucson, but gave me permission to share her letter. We visited some local swing clubs and put ads in swing publications. However, we were unable to find other couples we were comfortable with that had something we liked between the ears, not just between the legs. I hesitate sharing it, but it was very well received at the Fellowship Group meeting so I thought I'd share it in the Newsletter. You can ignore any positive references to me! But it is experiences like that shown in the letter which motivated us to form the Fellowship Group, hoping to in a small way help others and not just be a recreational sex swing club.
I really hope you don't mind getting this letter, because I really feel a very deep need to write it to you. I attended "Level 1" this past weekend. You had dinner Sunday evening across from my friend and myself and asked me how I felt about the weekend. I told you to ask again in about a month. Well, I'm ready to talk now and hope you don't mind being picked as the one to listen.
It is absolutely not easy for me to talk to people about things. I usually just keep my thoughts inverted. I am in a relationship now with a man with whom I have been able to express my feelings and thoughts better than I have ever been able to do before in my life which makes me able to write this to you.
I came to the workshop very apprehensive of what was going to happen. I was always very terrified by the whole idea of "Sex, Love and Intimacy". I immediately began to relate to the people around me. I heard my problems verbalized as other people spoke. I was so totally involved in tying to understand my emotions and what I was dealing with that I just sat there and never offered anything. It's not that I didn't want to. At that point I wanted nothing else but to stand up and just relate to all those wonderful people. But all I would have done is cry. I hate myself when I blubber, but that's exactly what would have happened. In our little groups I could talk a little but - and then the tears would come. I get so angry at myself for that, but there is nothing I can do. However, in the evenings after the workshops and especially on the way home, I just talked and talked and talked. I am surprised Dave didn't shut me up - but he listened and we discussed.
What I found out was that I was not alone in my feelings. Other people had exactly the same thoughts and emotions that I did. Even my friend Dave, whom I thought was a real rock of Gibraltar, felt as I did at his first workshop years ago. He has been to many and is very together - unlike me, the ultimate in basket cases!
The workshop even explained to me what happened when I met my friend, Dave. I had a "picture" in my brain of the man I would be attracted to - long hair, earrings, maybe a tattoo, motorcycle, rough looking, etc. Along comes Dave - an executive looking, short hair, no earrings, conservative dresser, no motorcycle. Presto, chango - my "picture" changed. I was very attracted to him -and still am. We are very close and communicate together extremely well.
I went through a divorce last November, and all the feelings I have suppressed throughout the whole ordeal came out this weekend. See, I was always strong, or put on a good act, for my kids. Mom couldn't break down. Mom had two teenagers depending on her to be very strong - mom didn't need anyone during this period. Mom was the one giving the support - she didn't need to get any support. Mom could "do it all" and stay standing!
Well, guess what! This weekend, my kids were left at home - I wasn't a "mom". I could fall apart and not have to be strong and put on a facade - just let my vulnerability show through - something I never, ever wanted to do, or felt I should be allowed to do. Your workshop did that for me.
When I came, I knew it was clothing optional and that I would be asked to take off my clothes. I was clearly worried about that. Well, by Saturday morning, I was pretty comfortable with it. This was very amazing to me! What I was not prepared to deal with was exactly what blew me away. That is, my own emotions and feelings. I needed to deal with everything from the past twenty years just flooding into my head all at once. I was absolutely not ready for that. I don't understand how I could have hidden all those emotions for so long.
When we double-paired Sunday afternoon, I had no problems with that. I was with Dave and two other very nice people. Everything was fine - until THE EXERCISE. When I thought of what I wanted to heal - all the hate I felt for my ex-husband for everything he did to me and my children - all of a sudden it was Friday afternoon again. All of a sudden, I was totally terrified - and no it wasn't the exercise and it wasn't the people I was doing it with. After all, I knew Dave would protect me from any harm that was physical - but he could not protect me from what was happening in my head. That was something only I could deal with. Running away was an extremely good option at the time, and one I mulled over a lot, but I stayed - and did the exercise - even though I kept saying over and over that I did not want to do it. I'm glad now that I stayed, even though I was shaking like a leaf and was absolutely sure that the whole room knew it. Everyone else was having a good time - why was I in a panic. (Note from Dave: I had no idea of her terror at the time. Everyone thinks everyone else knows what's happening in one's mind, but we don't!).
I decided Sunday afternoon that I was absolutely not ready for Level 2 - maybe never would be. I felt like I had flunked Level 1. But I was wrong. If I had walked away with nothing, that would have been failure. I came away with so much pain and agony, a new way of looking at life; all my priorities have shifted; I see my friend Dave in a different light; I see my children in a different light; people are human beings, not just bodies moving around; my job is still very important to me, but the people I work with are even more important; and on top of all that I can slow down, stop and smell the roses. Rush, rush, rush...hurry, hurry, hurry..never get to know the other person or your fellow man...what hogwash! I feel as if I got an A+ at your workshop. And I now am ready to repeat Level 1 again - I am now ready. I don't want to repeat because of failure, but because of so much intimacy, love and sharing that I feel I need to communicate to others. If I could help just one person know that they are not alone, that I too, feel the same as they, everything is worth it.
I would like to share you a song my daughter wrote. She is 14 years old, never had a father who cared for her, feels all alone in this world except for myself and her big brother, feels a lot of alienation toward others and is a very sad little girl. She loses herself in her songs. My heart bleeds for my baby. I wish you had a toned-down version of your workshop for teenagers - my little girl would be the first one signed up! I hope you can see her pain when you read this song. I just wanted to share this with you so that you can see how much pain adults are giving to children in this society - maybe your workshops can change some of those adults into loving people who can show children that everything is not bad. I know you are changing this adult. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for making these workshops available to people who need them. Thank you.
Added to letter next day:
I am sorry to keep writing and adding to this letter, but I felt I had to tell you what I did last night. I feel I now can start my healing process with my ex-husband and not feel bad about anything.
My children and I were watching a movie last night on TV and they requested Dairy Queen chocolate malts. My ex-husband's favorite thing was a Dairy Queen malt. Last week, before the workshop, I would have said, and I am sorry for the language, "Fuck you, Gary - you could die before I would get you a malt." Last night I bought an extra malt and took it over to him. I was very cheerful and just gave him the malt and told him I just wanted to do that, and left. I felt so good in doing that. It was almost like I was saying to myself that I was forgiving him - in a very small way, but I was starting the process.
Thank you for giving me that courage to find this in myself. I feel very lucky for having had the opportunity to attend your workshop, even though at the time it was difficult.
In my attending about a dozen workshops, what was so wonderful, was the "room of love" that was created between about 100 people that had been total strangers. In this "room of love" people were able to first love themselves....which is required before you can first really love others. For some, this meant forgiving yourself and overcoming emotional guilt issues or being very vulnerable in exposing your most hidden secret. This can only take place when you trust the other whether it be a therapist...or a 100 people in a room of love where you feel secure. After the release and forgiveness you can then move on to celebration of other people and life.
Other examples: A women that for 10 years lived with tremendous guilt from an experience she had never shared - Her best friend told her that she was a lesbian and was attracted to her. When the women reacted negatively, the friend committed suicide the next day. The women had been devastated for 10 years with guilt. In a tearful release, for the first time felt the love and understanding of others and was able to forgive and love herself.
A blind man had never been held and caressed by a woman before he experienced it with many women in the group. I've held women that I had only known a few hours, in my arms, who tearfully said they never felt so much love on a spiritual as well as physical level with a man. It wasn't about me, but the atmosphere that was created in the workshop.
Individual responsibility and empowerment is taught in all areas of life. This is no cult, nothing to join, no donations accepted. Workshops are held in a beautiful mountain clothing optional retreat center with 1100 acres of woods, streams, meadows and 5 hot natural, mineral pools. Founders have been on the talk shows mostly related to their open marriage. They do not recommend non-monogamy for everyone, but it is a legitimate option to consider for those that find it more fulfilling than traditional marriage.
Although the leaders of the workshops have changed since I was active in the 1980s, the same healing takes place. It might be fun to have a group from Liberated Christians attend a workshop, perhaps in Los Angeles.
At Liberated Christians, we don't pretend to deal with some of the emotional issues and depth of healing that can be done at long weekend workshops with much more experienced leaders. However, many of the exercises that bring out the emotions are simply intimacy exercises and discussion of feelings like we are trying to model in our Fellowship Group. The biggest difference in the few months we have been meeting is we haven't been as successful in getting people to open up and discuss issues in the group. Obviously, the leaders are not very experienced in creating the same loving atmosphere created at HAI workshops. But our structure has been an attempt to let people open up with feelings and emotions. It is not that important to us that people do, but we want to offer love and acceptance for those who might find healing by sharing with others. Many may be more hesitant like my friend, or simply may not have the depth of hurt that needs healing that she did. We aren't nearly as good in offering healing, but that is our sincere goal, to help healing from past issues where, as a group, we may offer the love from which healing can come.
HAI Workshops, which range from short intros ("Pathways to Intimacy") to six levels of full weekend workshops, are held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit area, New England, Australia and Japan. For many years they have brought their "Room of Love'" to Russia with very dramatic, wonderful stories of healing. Starting in 1995 they are also started a Citizens Diplomacy Group, bringing all their love to China. For further information call HAI in San Francisco at 1-800-800-4117.
Link To HAI Extensive Web Site
Update Sept 2005 Workshop Review
Although not a Christian per se, I got a lot of good out of your page on the HAI workshops. My wife and I just attended level 1 with HAI, and it has really turned things around for us. Things were spiraling downward, with no end in sight, and now we are back together as an intimate couple.
Without your write-up, I probably wouldn't have taken the plunge. All told the weekend came to about $1500 for the two of us, between the workshop fees (higher in the Midwest) and travel expenses as we are still quite a ways from the workshop. It was the best money I've ever invested. I understand now why they say so little about the workshops, and I understand now why it has to be that way. It's a steep hurdle to jump though, between the cost, the "secrecy", and the clothing optional part. It's really worth it. It's completely revitalized us as a couple.
If I can add our voice here: (you can publish this if you like, I would prefer that we remain anonymous though, I have one of those unfriendly employers... @#!#!@~# )
They really do mean it when they say CLOTHING OPTIONAL. Double-underline the word OPTIONAL. I certainly see the value in doing the workshop in the nude, and my wife and I both chose to do it that way. She was in the "no way in hell am I going to do that" camp, even up to the time we arrived. Truth be told, I was pretty nervous myself. We are in our late 40's grandparents, and neither of us is going to do any runway modeling anytime soon.. That is <<SO>> not an issue. DO NOT WORRY about what shape you are, or aren't in. If you chose to remain clothed, or partial, or whatever, NOBODY will bug you about it. There were folk there from 20's to 80's, and every sort of body shape was represented. It's so NOT an issue, I can't find the words to express it.
The exercises, I can't say anything about, other than that they were deeply meaningful, and intensely rewarding. You chose your partners for them, in smaller or larger groups as appropriate.
The secrecy is simply this. People are going to be revealing things about themselves that run very deep. You have to respect that, and keep it private. Believe me, when you get there, you'll understand. Some people could even loose their jobs over attending such a workshop, because of their employer's ignorant and intolerant attitudes. That's truly tragic, in my opinion. So, at the beginning of the workshop, you agree not to discuss who attended, and not to discuss what takes place. This last bit may seem a little creepy, but trust me, the only purpose to it is that you wouldn't get as much out of it, if you knew what was coming. You'd make different ("safer") choices, and that really isn't helping you as much.
You don't have to do anything that bothers you, or offends you in any way, and NO really means NO. I can't imagine anyone doing anything that you told them not to, or continuing past the point where you say no.
Feel free to push yourself though, as far as you can. I really think you get the most out of it that way. I chose to stay in the "deep end" almost all weekend, and the only things I regret are those that I opted out of.
We're signed up for the level two workshop.
As to the Christianity, I'll keep reading though, you may get me back into the fold (or should I say into the real fold for the first time) yet. You folks address some of the core issues I've had with Christian teachings since I was in 4th or 5th grade.
HAI Human Awareness Institute Workshop Experience
Very personal intimate sharing of a couple's powerful relationship changing experience
What I did on my summer vacation.
How level 1 saved my marriage, and my life.
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