"Dearest, Welcome home! Friend, brother, sister. Here you will find the most authentic experience - that what you were seeking and longing for. I promise you. Your life will not be the same after this experience. I know because I went through this just as you are about to do now. This has been the most profound, beautiful, loving, and deep experience I have ever been through. Truly rewarding. Truly loving. Truly real. Deep to the core. So much love. So much tenderness. Wow! The stars are dancing in me right now as I am writing this - into my ending and beginning and my new journey into the world - reborn. Dearest you - I bless you on your journey - and let light shine through all. I love you."
"I'm feeling a profound sense of wholeness unlike anything I've experienced before. I am truly glowing as I write this to you. Since I've done plenty of personal development workshops (yoga, meditation, tantra, esoteric work) but this work in ISTA goes way deeper, into the realms of the physical and emotional body. This work was held in a very safe, mature container and all experiences have truly been sacred. I leave here with great love and permission to me. I am beyond grateful to have participated in this workshop. I can't recommend it more highly. If it calls you, you must sign up. Much love"
"The ISTA experience has been a deeply healing and transformational journey for me. Not only did we learn to honor our boundaries and creating safe spaces for healing our wounds, we were also guided to take one hundred percent responsibility for our emotional well-being by learning shamanic tools for release and renewal. The whole training aims at empowering people by giving them tools to reclaim their ease, love and power, no matter what the outer circumstances may represent. I highly recommend this training to anyone who is genuinely devoted to transformation, wholeness and healing to unfold on all levels."
DISCLAIMER - This is based on my experience, and everyone's experience is unique, because it's a deep process! [Feel free to share]
I have decided to write this taster for those people who do not know the International School of Temple Arts, for those who feel tuned out when they listen to videos and descriptions about ISTA Level 1, because it's in a language not accessible to them.
I first came across ISTA totally by chance; I was travelling with my beloved in Guatemala and a poster caught my attention. Probably because it had the word sex in it, and because it looked attractive and exotic. David and I signed up as a present to our love, not knowing what the week would be about. We are both grateful we took the plunge, as ISTA L1 is a well-oiled machine!
So why are people so mysterious about ISTA Level 1? Why can't they just give me the curriculum so I can decide if it's for me? The answer is simple; a lot of the transformational work that is done during that week needs to be in context. Out of context, it sounds nuts. I have done 2 Level 1s; once as a participant, and another time as an assistant, and I can guarantee that my learning and journey was unique each time. However, I understand that your mind wants something more palpable, so here goes.
In one sentence - ISTA Level 1 is the education every human being should get when growing up.
Boundaries - Do you ever feel like you should have said no, but ended up saying yes? This relates to #metoo, but it also relates to those times when you accept too much responsibility at work, when you give a friend a shoulder although you really don't have the emotional strength at that moment, and other situations in which you are not clear about your boundaries and end up feeling depleted. ISTA Level 1 explores this expertly from different angles, so even if you think you are brilliant with your boundaries (and the boundaries of others), you'll become better.
Tools - Even if you are content and emotionally switched on, there is space to become happier, more connected to your feelings, desires, fears, dreams. Exploring anger was one of the more difficult challenges for me, precisely because I am pretty joyful. In a nutshell, the tools involve using your voice and body movements to let energy move through you. I'm sure at a moment of stress, you've stretched out your arms, or have gone for a walk. This is the next level and has much more impact.
The thing is not the thing - Whenever you feel angry that someone arrived late, frustrated about a decision made at work… you are becoming a victim of that thing or story. You might not be able to change how late that person is, but you can change how it affects you. ISTA L1 teaches you how to move into your power and break this cycle of victimhood. It takes practice post-training, but you are given tools.
Honesty - We are brought up to be polite, and this can get in the way of honesty. Since our first ISTA L1, my beloved and I have had some seriously deep and painful conversations, which have brought us to beautiful places. Sometimes you feel unsure about being upset about something someone did, but here's the trick, you can tell them that! You can be honest about how it makes you feel, instead of blaming them for it. The key is to be clear that it is not a competition, it is not an attack. Put yourself in that vulnerable place of "I love you, and I'm not sure why this triggers me, but when you xxx I felt xxx", keeps the channels of communication open, and you will be surprised how things shift in most of your relationships. You also have to accept that some people are still stuck in fight or flight mode, so you might not have such a successful honest conversation.
You are not your story - I'll take a simple example. Everyone feels that at some point their parents didn't make the best decision (even if like me, you think that overall your parents are incredible and did a brilliant job raising you). Guess what, you are a whole human being, you have yourself. You are your own mother, your father, you design your story from now on. Everyone has traumas (to different levels and degrees), and it can feel like you are messed up for good, but you are not. More and more research is going into neuroplasticity, so we have the ability to rewire through a change in habits, and like William Ernest Henley says in his poem Invictus, you are the master of your own fate, you are the captain of your soul.
Why is it so expensive? You will have a full-time one-week experience with 3 expert facilitators who will support you 24/7 during the week, and a number of assistants (number depends on size of group), accommodation, full board… so surely this costs money. ISTA might sound alien to you, but it is made up of human beings who pay bills.
There are numerous more gifts (and each of them more powerful) you will receive with this training, but I don't know how to explain them in all their awesomeness without you actually being there. So, take the plunge, and you will love me and yourself for it!
"This kind of training helps to open you up you who you really are. To help you understand yourself in ways you have always wished you could but you weren't sure how. I believe from the bottom of my heart that the sacredness of this beautiful training will expand you in every way imaginable. The dancing, meditations, emotional release, rituals that are done show you the beauty in the human body, the realness, the rawness of who we really are. The personal growth I have experienced is absolutely incredible."
"The ISTA Level 1 training is pure alchemical magic. Just when I thought there isn´t room for huge growth and transformation in my being...my doors where blown open. I learned, I healed, I grew and I was transformed into a bigger expression of who I am. I have nothing but love and gratitude for this experience and the entire ISTA staff. Life changing."
"The power and depth of this training continues to unfold in myself profoundly...presence has finally dawned here and this presence shows me how to hold all of myself through the various inner and outer manifestations. I feel steady and grounded, life has begun to flow as a continuous self-nourishment. Big love and deeply heartfelt thankyou to all of the facilitators, in whom I feel absolute trust. I very much look forward to my next ISTA experience."
“This training has taken me to the depths of my being. Embracing the array of colors, emotions, sensations, darkness and light, I returned home. Love, ecstasy, vibrancy and eros energy are within me. Level 1 supported this awakening, awareness and expansion of love. With gratitude to the ISTA faculty for creating such a safe and beautiful container to be authentic and express myself fully.”
“Imagine the conduit to connect with the part of yourself that you’ve never been allowed to touch. Whole, warm, soft, dance. Touch your passion for real. Talk about generosity. Live shame-free.”
“I'd like to express my gratitude for the ISTA training. I have done it a couple of time now but this time has been truly amazing, in the sense that it really has opened my heart, body and mind in the most natural way. In a way that many people woul resort to using drugs to try and do. The training has helped me to open back into the way it feels we are supposed to be, in our ease, joy, peace and freedom.”
“A large magnetic attraction pulled me to the first Irish ISTA, and I don't mean soley sexual; more like the kind of pull the moon has on me when I'm trying to sleep but feel drawn to howl outside instead. I had been resisting it with all my rational might. 'I don't need it, I'm doing the work already, I can't afford it' but all the time my belly was screaming at me to go, my intuition was telling me I was just meant to be there.
The night before the training was due to start, at the Bliss festival, I finally caved. I'm borrowing the money. I have to be there. Some things you just can't fight.
So what happened? Was there any fiber of my being that came home after the week wishing that I had stayed home? No. Not a cell in my body, not a whisper of breath regrets flying into this particular flame. It was a flame it transpires, of rebirth, renewal, restoration and revival, of retrieval, re-membering, reverence and overall incredible relief. In the opening circle I had spoken of searching for a missing piece in the jigsaw of my life. I found not only the missing piece, but a whole new portal that opened up through it. My expectations were surpassed, you might say, a hundred fold throughout the Training. And I'm so grateful I was part of that circle. If I'm not mistaken the combined Alchemy we created as a group with the lovingly held container and guidance of the facilitators, has actually achieved nothing short of a miracle; it has irrevocably induced the return of the Snakes to Irish soil.”
“I have learned to love myself and others in a deep and powerful way, so much so that I feel so energized. I feel like I am the Sun, and I want to spread the light and love out into the world. I feel confident and empowered by my acceptance of myself and my shadow. On this training, any demons you have will be seen accepted and embraced. I feel so at peace within myself, reborn.”
“Why I recommend this course is that it teaches you to embrace all aspects of yourself and let go of what stands in the way of you being a full expressed individual. I learned so much about the way I interact with others and where I keep safe and closed to avoid being vulnerable. The facilitators were amazing and provided an environment where I could safe and support, without caretaking. I was given the space to process what I was learning...and I learned A LOT!!”
“The ISTA training offers the opportunity to understand the relationship one has with oneself first and foremost. We explore our own masculine and feminine sides in order that we can fully integrate both aspects.
We learn to face our fears, our denied self, otherwise known as the shadow that we can bring these aspects of ourselves that we despise and reject into the light of love and acceptance so that they can transform.
Only once we learn to love, support and nurture ourselves can we enter relationship with others from a place of co-creation and not neediness for the other to fix us.
Our belief system around sexuality is explored as we can understand and liberate ourselves from guilt shame and fear so that we can fully embrace ourselves as sexual creative beings.
The facilitators held space with passion, integrity and incredible wisdom.
After the training these are the things that matter to me now and forever:
FREEDOM to: Love myself , FEEL, Express what I Feel, Honour my feelings with Action and integrity, Be passionate and Joyful, Be Soulful, Dance, Make Art, Make sound with song, express my grief with passion and with anger, Be pissed off and express it, trust myself to own my Masculine and my feminine, move forward consciously, Stand in my Truth.”
~ Beverly Harris- Perth, Australia 2014
“I feel like my heart is bursting and I also feel so inspired to make a difference to the world. I want to be all that I can be, I have found the love that I have always had but haven't thought that I deserved and it was an honour to be here. The teachers were unreal and I felt so loved and safe. You should definately do this training."
“Love, respect, presence, authenticity, relationship with myself and my body- that’s what it is about. Thanks a lot to everybody for holding the space, in order for me to find my true self. I’m happy to be part of that family. I definitely recommend this training and those beautiful teachers.”
Don’t underestimate yourself and your ability to truly integrate your whole being into a beautiful possibility. You’re worth the time. And certainly deserving of the effort."
"Become re-born into your true being. Learn things all humans should know but only a small minority do. It’s time to start again. Thank you ISTA."
“I came to this training not “knowing” the “unknown zone” as I call it. I now have a much greater understanding and knowing within my being how to move forward in my transformation and integration of all aspects of myself. To love all of who I am and reflect that love to all of my life.”
“This training was a transmission of freedom and love, freedom and love, freedom and love. It’s not about what society knows as sex or really about sex. The work is around unveiling each and every person to be the greatest, most loving, most conscious and most free person they can be and then building a community that supports everyone to do that. It’s about finding your freedom. It’s about connecting with your own inner wisdom save of which is stored in your cellular being and releasing that. It offers amazing simple clarity around our sounds and triggers and shadow. How to see them, how to be free to bring love to those parts of ourselves. It allows us to love our complete being so we can be free.
Most importantly it’s not in your head. It’s about embodiment, deep embodiment. Simple wisdom that is profound, life changing, it’s an amazing collection of bits and pieces of gold and the alchemy creates much more than the sum of those components.
It has integrity. Each facilitator is beyond reproach. Deep Deep respect to each of you.”
~Chris Glover, Perth
“ISTA level 1 Round 3 was no less amazing, humbling and profound than my first two forays into the Spiritual Sexual Shamanic Experience. I continue to be surprised at the brave souls who show up to explore themselves and the concept of their own freedom and self expression. The beautiful mix of all ages, backgrounds, cultures, professions and beliefs make for a unique experience every time. Every human being should gift themselves this space for openness and acceptance. There is nothing to fear in this space, except your fear itself. There is nothing to be lost and everything to be gained. The container created by the facilitators is always safe and strong… While allowing any chaos that needs to or wants to emerge. The participants in turn are open, accepting and loving towards one another while learning the lessons to be had from the powerful mirrors they meet. Level 1 offers the opportunity to examine your life relationships to family, lovers and yourself. It invites an examination of our inner shadow and beauty. It shines a light up to say 'come back to yourself remember and be whole'. Embrace your inner child, your sexual self, your joyful self, your sadness, your grief and your shadow. Question your programming, conditioning and your ego. All you need to bring is your presence and willingness.”
“Well, I don’t know where to start but this training has deepened the experience of myself. I came in open minded and I found myself unlocking doors that had been shut and barriered, keeping me stuck, This training provides a safe place where everyone can feel trust, safety, love, freedom and are seen and heard as their true self. We drop into our most vulnerable aspects of ourselves and by doing that we are taken or come out on the end of the spectrum feeling liberated and more alive than ever. Our fires are burning like bushfires and the love in our hearts is existential.”
“This particular training really brought me to a place of seeing all of myself and all of others. Not only the pretty love and light stuff, but also those things we don’t usually want to see and accept in ourselves and the world. It was a week of being real and raw, feeling all of our feelings. How deep down the rabbit hole do you want to go?”
“What I realized from this training is that we all are, at the core of our being, our natural state - LOVE, ABUNDANCE, BEAUTY, TRUTH, FREE- it’s just somewhere along the way someone or some fucked up experience told us otherwise and we forgot. So we need another earth angel to remind us of our true nature, I recently forgot some of my true nature and ISTA training held a beautiful safe container to unleash and remind me of my true divine nature. A deep shamanic spiritual experience. Permission to say YES to who you are, all of you.”
“Meeting myself in ways I could never logically have imagined. Daring to take that risk - one jump at a time. Revelations showing up. Prior expectations sometimes creating disappointment. An open heart and courageous spirit to piece through my pains and fears and powerful experiences creating profound shifts in me, my world view and acceptance of myself. Definitely the most useful gift right now in my core in loving with an open heart and willingness to recognize that everyone I meet is showing me a part of myself - and to accept, love, be compassionate with others - as not doing so would be denying my real fears, and longings for love and to share love with myself and around the world.”
“This training has delivered yet again an expansion and deepening into my true self, my power, my self-acceptance and my self-love. It touches that part of me that is soul/spirit. This training gives permission to express, share, love, cry, laugh and to be still - to be authentic and to grow up and into yourself as a fully integrated adult being. The explanations of the deep inner psyche, the masculine and feminine, the healthy and unhealthy parts of yourself are core and fundamental pieces to really living in presence and freedom. This information is deeply integrated through experiential experiences that give a felt sense of being that version of yourself.”
~Elaine – London
“I allowed my intuition to guide me to this course, to a place of sincerity, to a profound exploration into the depths of my emotions, my fears, my “wiring” - all with safety, openness and support. The facilitators give each person a space to be and to transform. No need to judge or analyze - just be, feel and face what lies within you. Connect to a divine power, emanating through each cell of your body. Ready for life - ready for your Self!”
“This training supported me in coming back to the core of my being. It helped me shed away unnecessary baggage, to reconcile polarities within and empower me to walk in life in a more whole and authentic way. I was highly inspired by the level of love and integrity present during the whole training.”
“Now, after having experienced a Spiritual Sexual Shamanic ISTA Level 1 training, I love myself even more. I knew that I am nothing but Love before and now I can really feel it. I feel Love in every cell of myself vibrating. Truly, sensing Oneness with everything is possible. Thank you beautiful world. Thank you everyone.”
“The ISTA Level 1 training is pure alchemical magic. Just when I thought there wasn’t room for huge growth and transformation in my being … my doors were blown open. I learned, I healed, I grew and i was transformed into a bigger expression of who I am. I have nothing but love and gratitude for this experience and the entire ISTA staff. Life changing.”