Context: I have learned outside of HAI that I am biologically part of the 10-20% of the population in many mammalian groups that is, in Elain Aron's books, considered "Highly Sensitive." This is usually misunderstood so I encourage because "sensitive" is used in it's technical sense, not it's social sense. To understand I encourage you to take the five minute HSP test here:
The HAI workshops flood the senses in ways that are unusual. For a sensitive, this can require some additional coping strategies. However, I did not learn I was a sensitive until later and not from HAI. This left part of me invisible in my early workshops. When something is invisible it cannot be respected/integrated into interactions, which can harm one or both people.
On Sunday night I asked an older woman if she would be comfortable being my lover that evening so that I could get a sense of what sex felt like. She would be my fourth lover. She agreed. We made love and I had my first experience of what I've come to call "the third energy" that forms when heart, mind and body in two people are fully present and give birth to something new. It was one of the most intense and beautiful experiences of my life.
After a weekend of over-stimulating myself I knew the way my body worked. I needed to sleep for eight solid hours without touching or talking in a certain state my brain enters when I need deep rest. I explained to this woman that I needed to sleep deeply and not be disturbed until I woke up when my body was ready. I knew from experience that to break this kind of sleep hurt my body in a way that seemed dangerous to me and could affect me for several days. She said nothing.
Around five hours later she began prodding me and demanding to talk to me. She had apparently decided to leave early, which felt incomplete because it had seemed as if we would have the next morning to integrate, have breakfast and say good bye. My body was not ready to wake up. Yet I felt alarmed at this unilateral disruption of what I thought was our plan. Then she started becoming bitter, projecting that I was faking sleep. I could hear her but I could not yet move my body: "Men are all the same. They just want to fuck and don't want to be there in the morning."
I cannot explain how sad and painful this was to hear. It was tearing me apart to try and find the man she was seeing when she looked at me so that I could understand the feelings that had nothing to do with the man I was in that moment. She clearly had zero understanding of what it was like to have my kind of body, despite spelling it out as clearly as I could in a culture that shames difference much more than it helps people speak about it. She clearly had not believed or registered when I said I needed to sleep until my body woke up. I could not tell her why because I did not know. Like so many important things inside me, not a single person in my life had ever asked me about my sleep - suggesting that it was so unimportant it was not worth mentioning.
I did not have words for this, but I knew what my body needed. And now the most intensely beautiful moment of my life was being turned into hate. She stomped off in the darkness, leaving me reeling. I felt deep grief, pain and very scared.
Questions: Why is there so much emphasis at workshops on love, intimacy and sexuality on the physical aspect of sex and physical protection? How is it that she and I could both get to a level two workshop on "self love" and not know how to ask or talk about the 20% of the population that has highly sensitive bodies? How was it that I had not witnessed at age twenty eight a single conversation in movies, new-age homes and communities that would help me know what was missing? Where was the safe emotional conversation in which I could learn what her life had been. Clearly it had consisted of men lying, abandoning and using her for sex in at least some portion. So where in the safe-sex ritual was the place for her to share that bit, or for me to ask?
Concern: As I look back on my thirty lover experiences with HAI women, not one woman led with or seemed to know the three most important things that I've found essential to healthy mutual loving sex:
1) Emotional history, needs and expectations.
2) Truamatic history and predispositions towards re-triggering as well as the ways to respond to trauma when it emerges or spot it's symptoms.
3) Are they in the Highly Sensitive category, do they know what that is and how to care for that part of me and/or themselves?
5) What are their love languages in order?
My concern is that there is no doubt in my mind from attending more than 100 HAI events that the events accelerate sexual contact by a factor of 500% or more. This acceleration is severe: I could at the beginning of my workshops say with certainty that if I did not take a HAI workshop I would not be in a romantic relationship or have sex, given that I did not drink, want to manipulate anyone and not a single woman in my entire life has ever approached me directly and said: "I'm attracted to you. Can we have a conversation about whether a romantic relationship would be a good fit for both of us?" Yet I could 100% guarantee that if I was willing to be unconscious enough on the emotional side that I could/would have sex with that kind of directness at a HAI workshop, suggesting that these emotional traumas would go down to almost zero if I did not do a HAI workshop. If I extrapolate this probability field out to even 10% of the 40,000 people who have taken HAI workshops and say that 4,000 emotional traumas have been re-enacted or enacted for the first time due to the imbalance of accelerating the physical body and actively glossing over the emotional body this becomes a pattern of inducing abuse with a protocol of masculine chauvinism: women and men ignoring their feminine side to focus on the mental/sensation aspects of sex over knowing and being known as sacred beings. Given that this is the cultural default, a majority will walk that path without intense, direct intervention and deprogramming on the part of a school: de-programming that is necessary for the interactions to be loving. The greatest disservice is to call masculine chauvinism "love," and sensation the equivalent of seeing and being honored as a spiritual human being.
Because I had learned about the safe-sex conversation every one of my lover experiences began with a safe sex conversation. I do not regret a single one of these physically based conversations. However, I regret most of the emotional pain I and other's felt looking back, because I see that it was easily preventable in a community where 80% or more deferred to the protocols taught in our subsequent interactions. After this experience of being terrified and lonely by being projected on and blamed with no chance to be seen or have my feelings cared for, I began to haltingly figure out ways to protect myself and my partner from pain. I was alone in that and often ostracized for these efforts because, I believe, they were my own and not part of the "teaching" a majority feels comfortable surrendering to, even when it is causing pain, consistent with much of our abusive relationships with parents. And I want to know why, after forty years of experience, the HAI facilitators do not consider their client's hearts worth including as much as their bodies? I am very clear that I would far rather catch herpes from a partner than catch the full weight of her rage, terror, shame and pain and be left invisible under it's weight. A herpes outbreak is not even 5% as painful. So why pretend it is and not have a board in every workshop: "The Safe Emotional Conversation." And practice that - since it is a LOT harder and more worthwhile - at every workshop.
There is a deeper concern: Why is it that you or anyone involved in HAI is hearing about this abuse for the first time after 30 workshops and fifteen years. Why is it that you will probably never hear it from the woman who was hurt as much by her projections as mine. I tried to follow up with her and she would have nothing to do with any truth-telling. I was, in her mind, for all time a classic male ass-hole: the woman with whom I had my first transcendent full-bodied sexual experience with. And this community offers zero context for rewriting the lies that hurt both of us. It is so painful to me I cannot approach her for a third time. Yet she is in the community, treating men as if "that's who men are," without the gift of discerning between projection and anything I might feel, think or say. I mention this case alone, not because there are not others but because it is not necessary to understand a pattern that has existed in 20% or more of my HAI relationships with the same helplessness to do anything about it. And the obvious question for a school "committed to everyone winning" is why it is facilitating some of the deepest pains in people's lives without providing any mechanism to preclude them or heal them between two people willing to pay $700. to learn about healthy relationships over and over again.
This is my diagnosis of this last bit:
1) I have never once brought up this kind of deep pain or heard this kind of deep pain mentioned in my culture without listeners:
a) Turning away.
b) Discounting the experience with a general: "Love's tough - this kind of thing happens."
c) Blaming the person for having deep feelings about it.
d) Blaming women or the gender as a whole as "crazy, stupid" and "You can't be too careful."
e) The person bringing it up losing social status for being too "dumb" to realize that you don't talk about feelings in America, you don't value feelings as much as sex in sophisticated circles and you don't bring up awkward topics or admit failure if you want to be popular so you lose points for doing all this plus more points for being too dumb to realize that you would lose points for talking about it, or in new age circles "not focusing on the positive."
Since all five of these things add pain to the mix with zero resolution emerging from a single one of these culturally "normal" behaviors it is not in my interest or anyone else's to bring this up. I will feel pain, be shamed, and given useless comments without a single person asking me questions or taking the time to say: "Why don't we make a video about this - why don't we talk to the HAI facilitators about this - why don't we go through all the books and see if there are any that would help all of us in this very common heart-breaking problem that is so heart-breaking that in a culture as dumb as ours not a single parent or teacher is bothering to teach anything useful about it. This simply never happens. There has never been a single conversation that led to: "Let's go talk to HAI about it's faults and then this kind of thing will go down for a majority." And if you read the story of my 8 page letter that was dishonored and ignored by every facilitator it's not clear that anything would happen if they did. As I write this there is not a single person in HAI, among the 1,000 who are aware that people have died around all of this and could have died and that HAI's very future hangs in the legal balance due to criminal negligence who wants to talk about this kind of stuff or, to my knowledge, is doing anything about it.
2) There is no protocol within HAI for dealing with any wounds the other person does not want to deal with. There is no protocol amongst the facilitators or the office for dealing with lies, cheating and threats within the community. The message I got when I talked to Penny at the office was: "Stay out of it if you can and let other people deal with this and pretend nothing is happening and don't let it bother you." But it does bother me, as does the reality that this means that the HAI office would tell my friends who are being threatened in the community for telling me about a harm I don't know about: "Don't tell Dane - it just leads to problems. I would say nothing." The problem is not that this is not a "shrewd" and "energy-conserving" protocol for tolerating deception in America. The problem is that this is the same office selling tickets to a workshop that is committed to the whole world winning.
As an aside, I'm not picking on HAI because it is singularly deceptive, un-integrated, incompetent, chauvinistic or abusive. I'm pointing this out because quite the opposite is true: This is the healthiest, safest place I know of in multiple continents for certain kinds of interaction. In other words, the problem everywhere else is much bigger and I don't know how to solve it without government controls (simply teaching healthy psychology and relationship skills 2 hours a day in every day at school would do most of it because people not induced by trauma into a sociopathic state cooperate to be kind when they know how to do it and it receives attention anywhere in the adult population). But with HAI the solutions are VERY easy on a technical level because there is nothing that I'm saying that is beyond the grasp of most abstract minds to grasp who are willing to pay $500. for three days of a higher quality of workshop. The difficulty comes with the teachers: How do you design something that is more healthy, vulnerable, confronting and healing than the leadership has experienced themselves, given that HAI leadership was raised in the very culture they are attempting to medicate and heal? It has taken a pain so painful that the pain itself nearly killed me many times to even look at my own experiences enough to examine the patterns so that I could point out to myself what has been right in front of my nose since my first workshop. The set-up in our culture is: "Be blind and rewarded, or feel extraordinary pain alone and be punished for expressing it if you want to see." With a reward-system like this there is only so much any one person can tolerate seeing on their own before literally dying of grief, depression, rage and helplessness which produce a toxic cocktail of debilitating brain chemicals that make surviving physically very hard. In fact if my childhood was not so absolutely lonely and miserable to a point where I regularly consider taking my own life to get out of this level of culturally sanctioned hell, I would probably not be willing to look at even these most obvious of problems in cultural design. But I am in a place where I have two choices: Either fight to improve certain things to a point where I could imagine wanting to live, or die happily to get out of the pain. Thus the tremendous amount of shame, criticism, anger, fear, rejection and loneliness my people hurl at me for seeing, feeling and talking about these things in my culture, from parents to siblings to peers to clients and teachers about "love," combined with the conspiracy to pretend that I am the problem for having the guts to report the problem when most people are cowed by it or lie about it, sees me in a game where I'm waiting to see which form of poison kills me first: the deception and betrayal of my culture and it's power structures or the pain of living in this level of emotional shame and illiteracy with people who hurt me whenever I give them the chance and don't even have the skill or interest to rewire their "love" to the label of "hurt" as long as they are fitting in. This level of transparency in this paragraph, a courtesy extended to HAI so as not to unfairly blame them exclusively for thousands of years of cultural incompetence is typically rewired as "melodrama" and more outrageous behavior, which is how this level of out and out cultural stupidity passes from one generation to the next. Again, HAI is not the worst of it. It is just the first place to start because it's hypocrisy is more noteworthy (America does not say "we are committed to win,win," but rather "we will do what's best for America." HAI does say that and then does "What's best for HAI facilitators" at the expense of it's clients lives.) That hypocrisy is dangerous because it rewires people to not know what "win/win" looks like, feels like or how to do it (the facilitators don't know, by the way, which means there may be more integrity in re-scripting the mission statement to "we will meet in secret behind closed doors and find a consensus that works for us and ignore outside authorities about what is and is not good for our community - particularly when we are in a hurry".)
I am sure of one thing, however: This community will not challenge the facilitator power structure in any way as things stand, which means that unless the facilitators find it in themselves from either love or terror to face their many blind-spots, incompetencies and betrayals they will continue to lead the demographic of the population that needs to hear words like "love" or experience their love-language of touch down their own rabbit hole of wounds and blind-spots in a contract that says: "You pay us money and don't look too closely, and we will give you words, touch and a sense of belonging in which you can also learn some great communication tools that you can apply in your life, but not to us personally." This is 1/3rd healthy and I'm OK with it as long as people are not being hood-winked into calling facilitator negligence and abuse "love," or carrying the shame of the facilitator's inadequacies so that they can look super-human an problem-less with their glowing introductions of each other and zero acknowledgment of an incredible amount of betrayal of the people who are looking to them to lead, not with smiles, but with data and the truth of our culture's shadow and our own, starting with themselves.
3) I have never been asked by a single HAI representative the most basic questions that lead to emotional intimacy, starting with: "1-10" How much pain have you been in emotionally when you relate to another HAI participant following our suggested protocols? How often does that happen when you spend time with a HAI participant? What happened? What could we do better so that you would not be traumatized repeatedly in the course of studying our curriculum? In fact it has been very clear that "we are too busy." This busyness is good business for the facilitators. I don't think there has been a serious relationship with a HAI participant that I have not taken to a HAI facilitator to "sort out" at therapeutic rates. But the purpose of the HAI organization is not "To Provide a steady flow of confused, disfunctional students for the facilitators to fix," but to teach relationship competency in workshops so that easily avoidable traumas don't happen.
Example: 80% of relationship break-up by otherwise attractive/reasonable people happens due to addiction. Not just the 14% of Americans who are chemically dependent, but most of the rest who depend on irrational repetitive emotions, habits, shopping or phone addiction to avoid the sadness that underpins such an emotionally malnourished people. I literally find young attractive women who are so dissociated from their own and consequently my pain that they have a sociopath's fascination with it: prodding, and poking at it with their minds, with zero connection to emotion. That requires an extraordinary amount of distraction, including sex, that comes before love, honor and mutual dignity. And yet HAI offers no insight into this statistic, and no protocol for assessing the level of addiction in each partner. I have actually gone from 30% addiction (meaning that 30% of what I did was compulsive, regardless of whether it was reading, achieving goals, watching porn or meditating) to 60% compulsive after the series of events that led to all of this coming to light. As I write this I can say that my emotional pain has gone up 100% as a result of trusting the facilitators to engage with them using their protocols, and that the pain would be much higher and I would be dead if I had not been willing to face and start differentiating myself from the things I'm writing about here. I can also say that even with 60% addiction in conscious view to things, such as writing this paragraph compulsively (the pain is too great to turn my conscious mind in this direction of this material without the numbing of compulsiveness) I am still able to have a healthier relationship with my partner than I have had with many HAI participants with 30% compulsiveness without the language and discernment to communicate and take responsibility for it's impact. In other words I regularly damage my relationship with the need to addict to something, be it videos or writing or thinking or eating, and then need to do major repairs after the wave of grief and pain passes to a point where I can exit the compulsive state in which our love comes secondary to pain management, and enter the adult state in which our love transcends our pain. And I have had to learn all of that on my own, without a single HAI participant, kept willfully ignorant by a refusal to deal with the shadow of our culture or the facilitators, ever telling me about their addictions which are often more debilitating than my own, or asking about mine. Instead, courtesy of HAI's imbalanced curriculum, colluding with a culture of denial, they will ask me: "Do you like spanking or being spanked? Do you like women on top?" I hate to break it to you, folks, but in the scheme of things this is no great liberation. Sure, it is wonderful that people can actually talk about physical sensation - an amazing hindrance that chimps do not suffer from if you cannot - but sex is NOT the most important aspect of relationship or even terribly relevant when people are traumatizing each other verbally, physically, emotionally and if given the chance, sexually, without even knowing what trauma is or why they are doing it. I have known this ever since my "perfect parents" destroyed each others souls and eyes right in front of the smiles and praise of every adult around me who amidst all their trauma and abuse, had "great sex." I learned two things from my parents: Lies hurt and appearances and sex that this culture condones is more dangerous than nothing at all. Since this culture taught me nothing about love or healthy relationships I made a vow not to date or have a relationship until I was thirty and could study what to do on my own. HAI was the place I went to study. I feel deeply betrayed by the community, facilitators and board for putting emotions and emotional literacy last, even when I place problems right in front of them. The determination to be willfully ignorant and pass that shame on is staggering! As is the fact that I would be having as much sex as I wanted and be praised and admired as long as I did not attempt to do something about it. My body and mind and smile and ability to sit in workshop straddle has never been criticized. But as I attempt to bring sanity and health to a community and facilitator in denial I am literally thrown out with rage, irrationality, denial, lies and communication controls that make it abundantly clear: Your feelings, truth, insight, care and observations are NOT welcome here. We are too busy "Loving" everyone for that.