Continuing the excerpt from The Intimate Aspie.
You should also ask your teacher to tell you about social boundaries in classes and workshops. You also need to know your own boundaries and how to keep yourself safe. It is not okay for anyone to touch you sexually if you donʼt want that, and it is also not okay for you to do that either. Most teachers will tell their students that the class is not a place to have sex or touch anyone without permission. However, if you have questions about what is appropriate, please ask in advance.
Remember that Tantra teachers and practitioners want you to feel “blissful”. They want to share what they experience in their Tantra practices. What they don’t realize is that your concept of bliss and theirs may be radically different, because they are functioning in a neurotypical manner and you are not. Your most “blissful” and transcendent moments may happen when you’re alone, happily engaged in pursuing your interests. Their most blissful moments may take place in a close contact with an intimate partner, or in a hot tub full of other Tantrikas.
So what you have to realize is that most Tantra teachers have designed their courses and workshops to perpetuate their concepts and experiences of bliss, not yours… This includes their ideas of sensory enjoyment. They may not realize that some people may have a sensory integration problem with certain activities presented in their class.
Still, there’s something very attractive and compelling about the promise of the open, heartfelt, total acceptance of the Tantra community and all the talk of “divine energy” and “yummy bliss” among Tantric practitioners. This is also appealing to the neurotypical partner, as Tantra provides a greater sense of emotional, spiritual and sexual connection.
Reputable Tantra teachers and Tantrikas really do offer and deliver the goods: proven techniques for connecting with one’s own energy body and inner self, as well as techniques for connecting with a partner, using agreed upon protocols in sacred (safe) space.
Scripted exercises and techniques for intimacy abound in modern Tantric literature, most with easy to follow instructions. The guidelines are part of what makes Tantra so attractive to so many people with Aspergerʼs Syndrome, because these guidelines can provide structure and management of the intricacies of social and intimate life. Most Tantric books have a variety of things you may try alone, or with your lover. If you and a partner try some of these things, some may work for you, some may not, but still, you could be pleasantly surprised by at least some of the results. Your neurotypical partner might be very willing to try such things with you.
So let’s say you’re more pleased than not. And you’ve done some research and you’ve thought through some social strategies for coping with a class. You decide to take the next step and sign up for a class, alone or with a partner. But whether you know you are Aspie – or just think you may be Aspie – or simply share some traits, “self advocacy” is not something you can afford to forget. You must ﬁnd a way to communicate your sensory issues and learning needs to your instructor, in advance of the class. If the instructor you’ve chosen is not receptive to your need for accommodation, or seems to trivialize your issues, then ﬁnd another teacher and another class.
You also must plan for ways to take care of yourself during the often intense practices and exercises you might ﬁnd at a Tantric workshop or retreat. Remember you are doing “double duty” by trying to make sense of the social atmosphere as well as the elements of the curriculum! The Self-Advocacy tips on the next page will help you to create a plan for attending a course or workshop.