Articles Counseling Do-It-Yourself Hypnosis Philosophy psychology Psychotherapy References Relationships Resources Sasha Alex Lessin, Ph. D. self-help sex tantra


From TEACH TANTRA* by Sasha Alex Lessin, Dean School of  Counseling & Janet Kira Lessin, CEO, Aquarian Radio

Aloha, I’m Sasha Lessin.

I live from a very here-and-now philosophy psychotherapists call  “gestalt therapy.”  I don’t like the word “therapy” because it implies you’re sick.  You’re not.  I just call this philosophy “gestalt” in the sense of the Big Picture.
What’s in Gestalt for you?  You get to understand yourself and the world; that gives you more vitality and joy.  What’s in for me? Fun.

Here’s an extensive rap about the kind of thing we get into in individual, pair, and group sessions.  It’s the basis for an extended tutorial as well.
[Example: This guy closes his eyes and pretends his mother, wife or Mother Theresa sits on the green cushion on the empty chair. He talks to her. Then he opens his eyes, gets up, and moves the cushion (it’s the stand-in for the person he spoke to with his closed) from empty chair (he wouldn’t want to sit on her) and puts the cushion where he had been sitting.

Then he sits on the red chair. He empathizes with, then identifies with the person he invoked. He senses, in each of his chakras, how it feels to be her as she hears what he said. Then he enacts her and responds to The green cushion, which now represents him.

He alternately shifts roles as he moves back and forth between the chair representing her and the cushion that stands for him. He roleplays her and himself until he feels how the parts of her he overvalued or judged are projections of his own suppressed needs. From the perspective of his neutral witness he sees within himself the interplay of his initial perspective and the added perspective of the his own needs that he’d disowned and projected on her.]

Take a look.

First, Contents.  Paste content titles in “find’ [Control G] to skip around and persue your interest.


Growth Stages
Identify with Your Healthiest
Rules and Games
Talk Straight
Question Questions
Change Questions to Self-Expression
Switch “Why” to “I Don’t Like”
Future-Pace Question Awareness
Trying’s Lying; Wanting To = Ain’t
Change Can’t to Won’t
Straighten Your Cant
Make buts into ands
Convert It to I
Use “She” and “He”, Then Use “You”, Then “I”
Change “You” Statements to “I” Assertions
Presentify and Dialogue
Talk to Someone Who’s Not Here
Use Gestalt Self-therapy to Presentify and Dialogue
Presentify Dialogue Between Divided Aspects of Yourself
Dialogue with a Partner
Own Projections
Explore Secret Payoffs
Complete Unfinished Business
Say Goodbye
Contact, Withdraw
Be Continually Aware
Delve Dreams
Grow in Gestalt Groups
We’ll Enact You
Be the Painting
ShareYour Last Twenty Minutes of Life
Freeflow Process Enactment
Confluent, Gestalt Education


A Gestalt lens on life gives you ways to reflect on your existence.  When you read and act-out any of the do-it-yourself exercises to come, you understand yourself and others better.  You sense your own and others’ energies too.

When words here on your computer trigger associations and connections in your inner biocomputer (your Intellectual subself), you download and save what you thought.  Those thoughts expand as they interact with other inner learning.  The download stays ready for you to upload to your awareness when you need it.


Keep reading and learn theory, technique and applications of gestalt meditation and psychodramas.  Get concepts and personalize gestalt self-regulation by your need priorities. Explore Schiffman’s gestalt self-therapy technique. Practice personal and professional applications of gestalt orientation to relationships and sexual loving. Learn, practice and facilitate your own and another’s dream work using gestalt, Jungian, dream fitness and art therapy and psychodrama techniques.

* Transcend neurosis; practice organismic self-regulation. 
*Embrace opposite voices within you and between you and others.
*Expand your awarness of inevitable bonding patterns, yours and others’.
* Synergize thinking, feeling and behavior–your own and others’.
* See if the gestalt development sequence guides you well.
* Get past games and impasses; let creativity emerge.
* Experiment; live from gestalt ideals.
* Practice direct communication in the-here-and-now and the I-and-thou.
* End unconsciously controling others with questions.  Delve others’ their concealed interest in questions they pose.
* Give immediacy to past situations and future projections.
* Keep expressing your feelings to absent people.
* Accept in yourself-traits you perceive and dislike in others.
* Explore what hiding info from others does in your ecology.
* Say “Goodbye.” Overcome hanging-on reactions.
* Honor your need and others’ needs for rhythmic contact and withdrawal.
* Mine your dreams.


In 1940, Fritz Perls, a German refugee psychoanalyst living in South Africa, concocted gestalt therapy. He labeled it ‘concentration therapy’ and put it in his book, Ego, Hunger and Aggression. Its contents were Perls’ ideas and methods blended with those of Sigmund Freud, Wilhelm Reich, Sigmund Friedlander, Jan Smuts and Kurt Goldstein, sprinkled with existential thought and spiced with gestalt psychology. In subsequent repackaging in the United States, where he moved in 1946, Perls tossed in additives derived from Jacob Moreno (psychodrama), Charolette Selver (Sensory Awakening) and L. Ron Hubbard (Diagnostics-Scientology), as well as Zen and Taoist imports.

Freud’s psychoanalysis was a basic ingredient in gestalt therapy. Psychoanalysis said that how you handled sex and aggression when you were little still influences what you now do. Perls added that your early food- getting attitudes set a paradigm for all your relations with everyone and everything in your world. You relate to food as you do to other people, their ideas and attitudes and the environment in general.

Gestalt therapy included methods and ideas taken from Perls’ former analyst and teacher, Wilhelm Reich. Perls and Reich say to release emotions and tension in your body. Perls elaborated on Reich’s concept of chronic muscular tension; Perls called it retroflection; you tense and hurt your  body rather than express your emotions.

From Friedlander, Perls took creative indifference — the ability to relate to all opposites from a centered perspective — and made it a part of the gestalt mix. To this he added Smuts’ notion that the whole situation determines which polarities are activated.


From the academic gestalt psychology and from his work with Kurt Goldstein, Perls developed his notion of healthy functioning. When you are healthy, what you need most in your present situation, your dominant need, organizes your awareness. Your dominant need focuses you on what is here for you, standing out (as figure) right now (and every moment). You see, hear, feel and intuit what is available to you to meet your need. When you are thirsty, for example, you seek water.

You move to meet your need. You contact and interact with the object of your need-directed awareness. You meet your need; you drink. You complete a gestalt–a whole, perceptual, behavioral unit.

Then your awareness organizes your next most pressing need. No longer thirsty, your active concern moves to other objects, such as your need for warm, human contact. You repeat the steps: you notice environmental opportunities and move, contact, interact, then notice your next need.

Needs take turns rising to consciousness. The need most urgent for you in your current surroundings arises first. Then you notice and attend to the next. You move in accordance with your hierarchy of needs. When you move through life successively completing gestalts, you are organismically self-regulating.

Notice your dominant concern this moment. Imagine you move the healthiest way you can, through each stage remaining for you to meet your dominant concern. Write the steps to healthy completion.


When you fail to satisfy your present needs, you’re less effective in meeting new needs. You have difficulty completing new gestalten because your awareness, emotions, sensations, and thoughts remain unintegrated. You think of yourself as your thoughts and become unaware of your body’s feeling and sensing. You hide your unmet needs from yourself when you confuse where you end and other people start. Perls called these confusions neurotic defenses–distortions of your contact boundary with the environment.

For Perls, distorting your contact boundary meant you confuse yourself and your environment–you don’t discriminate your needs and values and the needs and values of other people.  Your confusion prevents genuine contact between you and them.  Whole nations have neurotic defenses.

Perls elaborated on the defenses of introjection, projection, pathological confluence and retroflection.


When You introject, you judge yourself by others’ standards and unconsciously make what they want into demands on yourself.  Intojects are ‘shoulds’ you accept from other people that stunt your own flow and growth. With introjects, you do what others want you to do. You say ‘I’ when you really mean ‘they’. You avoid making choices based on your interests.  You tell yourself, for example, ‘I should join the army, I should have babies,’ etc., instead of ‘They want me to …’.  What you copied from other people direct what you do.

In projection you imagine other people make you do what you do; you believe they cause your behavior.  You say ‘it’ or ‘they‘ when you really mean ‘I’. You deny you feel angry, sexual or sad and instead see these feelings in others. You’re what you blame others for.


When you avoid awareness with pathological confluence, you mix up what’s you and what are others. You can’t make good contact with others or withdraw from them since you don’t realize you’re separate from them. You use ‘Let’s…’ You say ‘we’ without a clear ‘You’ or ‘I’. You don’t know who does what to whom.


You retroflect when you treat yourself the way you originally wanted to treat others. You say ‘myself’ instead of ‘you‘. You hurt yourself when you’re angry at others. You retroflect when you tighten your neck muscles and say, for example, “I’m mad at myself for upsetting you.”

Remember instances when you or someone you know used each of introjection, projection, retroflection, and pathological confluence.


Gestalt therapists create activities for you to notice how you defend your contact boundaries. You learn to consciously experience your body again. You see when your thoughts, emotions, sensations and intuitions contradict each other.  you no longer project, introject, confluentize or retroflect.  Instead, you come to your senses and interact in the now with other people.
Accept yourself as you are and notice that you change all the time.

Awareness Peels Your Personality Layers

Gestalt therapy helps you notice when you use manipulations, games, pretenses and defensive voices to get others to take care of you. When you experience how you defend or manipulate, you express yourself more directly.

When you end your games, you feel wiped out, directionless and dead. Fully experience this impasse, and you reach new heights of emotional release, followed by new awareness and creativity. You are again orgasmically self-regulating.

To a partner, relate a time when you were at an impasse, faced and accepted yourself and changed.

Which are you experiencing now: impasse, new awareness or creative explosion?

Tell, in everyday language, what you are like when you are healthy by gestalt standards.


Use the present tense and tell a partner of a time you were orgasmically self-regulated. Relive, as you relate, your flow when you follow your needs as they arise.

Remember a time when you flowed from need to need and hold this as a healthy model for yourself.  Notice how your body feels as you relive the active gestalt-formation and destruction of health. Associate these body sensations with health.

Now, for contrast, remember when you functioned neurotically–introjected, projected, retroflected or over-confluentized. In the scene you recall, notice how you limited your awareness.  Then imagine you redo that scene with healthy gestalt-completions, your new paradigm.

Claudio Naranjo sees in gestalt thought nine ideal guidelines that embody the existential principles of actuality, awareness, and wholeness. [2]

When you’re healthy, you:

Live NOW, focus on the present, not the past or future. You live HERE. Deal with what is “present, rather than what is absent. Experience the REAL. Don’t replace body senses with what you think.
Come to your senses. TASTE, HEAR, FEEL, and SEE your life now; don’t just think about or analyze it.
Directly EXPRESS your needs; don’t manipulate, explain, justify or judge.
Fully feel and show both PAIN and PLEASURE.
Make your own CHOICES.  Avoid living from other people’s ‘shoulds’.
Take RESPONSIBILITY for your actions, feelings, and thoughts. BE who you are.

EXPERIENCE GESTALT IDEALS–Here comes an experiential cue sequence.


Say out loud, or write,
Here’s what my life’s like now…
[finish the sentence several times.]
What I’m aware of right now is …


What’s present, here, for you? Draw your spacial existence this moment. Show your body’s position.  Indicate how your body relates to objects, furniture, and pets and people you see.

Locate what you see relative to where you locate (building, floor, street, neighborhood) now.

Imagine you become your locale. As this place, say what you’re like.

Ok, Locale, tell the person who just drew you what significance you have for him or her.


Tell someone what you experience right now.


(Complete the sentences below aloud to a partner or on paper.)

Now I’m hearing ….

I’m experiencing, through my taste sensors ….

My inner emotional experience right now is ….


Intensify, then express how you feel at this moment. Reflect on how this affects you.


Finish these statements:
What hurts me now is ….
What feels good to me now is ….


Whose advice should you follow?


Who makes you answer questions and do exercises in this post?


How do you feel about being you now? How do you feel when you follow the ideals?


Gestalt rules and games invite you to heighten your awareness of the flowing present moment. They help you live the gestalt ideals. Gestalt experiments make you aware of when and how you interrupt your organismic self-regulation with roles, games, and pretenses. The experiments help you notice if and how you stop yourself from fully experiencing yourself and your world.

When you see how you distort your environment/self boundary with defenses, you can choose non-distortion. You again experience your own needs and the demands of others.


[Sources: Kepner, E., “Gestalt Group Process” and Ronall, R., “Intensive Gestalt Groups” in Feder, B. (Ed.), 1980, Beyond the Hot Seat, NY: Brunner/Mazel; Naranjo, C., “Present-Centeredness” in Fagen, J., (Ed.), 1970, Gestalt Therapy Now, NY: Harper; Stevens, J., 1971, Awareness, Moab: Real People Press.]

Assert what you want and need. Take responsibility for what you want. Contact your beloved authentically. Express feelings directly, without blame. Distinguish what you do from what you try or want. Understand how you limit yourself. Honor your natural rhythm of contact and withdrawal.

Speak up; don’t wait for your partner to invite you to talk. Encounter each other. Express upsets, unfinished business, resentments, demands, appreciations. Speak for yourself. Make “I …” statements. Accept no shoulds from anyone else.

Address each other directly. When you talk to an intimate, look at and see the effect you have on her or him. Adjust what you say to her or his ability to hear and understand you. When she or he talks to you, notice the effect on you. Say how you feel about what she or he said to you. Share reactions, not interpretations or generalizations. Notice–and comment on–your body signals. Comment on her or his body signals (when, say, she or he yawns or wiggles while you talk). Focus on subtle interruptions of your own and your partner’s attention; bring them into the open.

Stay aware of (and share) your sensations, emotions, and perceptions. Feel and show your pain and pleasure. Express your needs; don’t manipulate, explain, justify or judge. Reveal your internal rehearsals–what you think about saying before you talk–to your intimates. Notice what you choose to conceal. Remain at choice.

You experiment, in the communication exercises to follow, contrasting indirect and direct communication. First, you’re deliberately indirect, using questions to avoid expressing your feelings, so you can heighten your awareness of your habitual avoidance of directness.

Then you change your questions to self-expression and also tell your sweetheart, when she or he asks a question, to tell you the self-statement behind her of his question.

You learn to notice questions you or your partner ask that start with the word “Why …” and to replace “Why...” with reactions, resentments, and demands. You change “I try to …” or “I want to …” to descriptions of what you do now. Likewise, you convert “I can’t …”–where you use “I can’t” to limit yourself and blame the limit on others or the world–to an affirming statement about your choices now.

When you talk straight, you own your projections. You say how the impulses and traits you dislike, resent, overly admire or react emotionally to in your intimates are your impulses and traits too.

Honor your intimates’ wishes to be left alone.  They needn’t respond to you. Get their okay before you touch, hold or support them. And honor your own rhythm of contact with and withdrawal from them.

Do no violence to self, them or property. Maintain each other’s confidentiality. Say nothing that undermines each other.

When you’re inattentive, close your eyes. Fantasize going away. Feel, hear, smell, taste and see where you imagine you go. Then return to the present with your intimates, open your eyes and notice how the present differs from the fantasy. Think of what you lack in the present that you had in the fantasy. Tell your partners how you could create what you lack now. Create it.


A student, eyes downcast, asked me softly, “What do you think about abortion?”

“I’d like to know where you’re coming from, asking me that,” I replied.

I … I’m pregnant. I’m deciding to abort or keep the baby. I need to talk.

This interchange shows genuine requests for information versus questions that manipulate. If I responded with my views on abortion [I support women’s choice], I might have missed my questioner’s underlying statement about what she needed for herself.

Genuine questions usually start with “how” or “what”. They don’t hide the personal interest of the questioner who poses the question. Genuine questions lack hidden messages and do not imply criticism.


You learn to ask manipulative questions so other people answer and show their position while you hide yours.

As a kid, I learned that when I did things my father disapproved (things he didn’t know about) that if I questioned him, he answered instead of learning what I did. If I kept him talking, he’d explain and entertain and wouldn’t scrutinize what I said and criticize me. With questions, I could safely assess his position. His answer to “Do you have any more chores for me to do?” would let me know whether I could safely ask for a quarter [yes, that’s what it cost in the ’50s] to go to a film.

The exercises below help you notice when you hide thoughts and feelings from intimates. The exercises alert you to how they get you to respond and without noticing what the askers’ questions communicate about them.

Ask an intimate several very personal questions. Say, “Don’t answer; just listen.

Assume each question you ask implies two statements; 1) what you guess your partner will reply and 2) a statement about you and your interest in asking.  So guess and tell him or her how, if she or he would have responded, what would be her or his reply to each question you asked. Say what your interest is, where you come from, the hidden statement implicit in each question you posed.  Reveal to your intimate the feelings, thoughts and personal interests behind the questions you asked. Make the “I” statements –how your questions reflected your wants and needs–your questions hid. Notice and tell her or him how you feel as you share underlying statements without questions.


Why?” “Cause!” “But, Why?” “Because, because.”

Questions beginning with “why” imply criticism and lead to never-ending chains of utterances where the responder explains and verbalizes rather than coping with the needs that drive the questioner to ask questions instead of revealing his or her underlying intentions.


For this exercise,  notice something to criticize an intimate’s behavior, mannerisms, demeanor, attitude, status, appearance, dress or position. Start each of these questions with the word “Why.” Ask her or him why s/he acts, looks, sounds, dresses, sits, etc., the way you criticize.

Tell her or him to answer each question and to start each answer with the word, “because …” to each “Why …?” question.

Whatever answer you receive, question it with “Why?” or “How come?”

Your partner answers you with a “Because …” answer. You respond with a further “Why?” Keep asking “why” questions till she or he runs out of “becauses.”

Notice how this interchange with her or him makes you feel.

Now tell her or him the need that moves you to ask each of your “why” questions.  Restate each “why” question as a direct statement.

Did you discover the infinite regress of causes in your dialogue?


Notice, in spontaneous conversation, a question an intimate asks you which you intuit hides your feelings.

Request s/he shares the statement behind the question.

Tell her/him to roleplay you and give the reply s/he imagines you might.

Have her/him alternate roles and enact a dialogue between the two of you.

Relate your experience with the question exercises. What did you learn about questions and about yourself and those you deal with?


“I’m trying to stop smoking. Tomorrow, I’ll try even harder.”

Write five sentences beginning with, “I’m trying to . . . ” and five sentences beginning with, “I want to . . .

When you make statements of volition (“wanting to” or “intending to”) or attempt (“trying to”), you avoid fully experiencing present reality. What you try (to pay bills on time, stop smoking, etc.) differs from what you do. What you want or wish (to go to Europe, write a bestseller, etc.) differ from what you do now.

Where you do what you say you” want to” or “try to” do, you can speak more directly (without unnecessary words) if you drop the words “trying” or “wanting to” from what you say.  Instead, experience and say your reality now.  Rather than suffer as you “try” or “want”,  tune into what you need and appreciate what’s now available for you to address what you need.


List five things you’d like to do or ways you’d like to be that seem beyond your capabilities.

For each of your five limits, write a sentence that you start with “I can’t …”

When you hear yourself say a sentence like the five you listed (or thought of),  realize you accept limits your “can’ts” as inevitable. When your “can’t” sounds like an unconscious limit, overcome it by, 1) accept it. Realize you impose the limit on yourself.  Then 2) keep the limit as wise for now or get over it.

In each of the five “can’t” sentences you listed, change the word “can’t” to “won’t.” Read each aloud; emphasize “won’t” to assert that you consciously accept, rather than passively believe the limit it implies.

Relate to each limit. Do you still feel limited in the same way? How can you overcome each limit?


Think of a limit you put on yourself ( a “can’t”) as the result of a negative, destructive or just junk message a parent imprinted on you.  What hypnotic program did she or he give you that you still enact when you think you can’t do something?

How, if you rewrite the program that fuels your “can’t”,  how would you have had your parent who implanted you with a program that you “can?”

Roleplay an Ideal  Parent, one who thinks, feels, does things that would convey ability–rather than limits–to your Inner Child. As this ideal parent, say aloud what you’re like; state your existence.

Imagine what, if you were the Ideal Parent, what you’d tell Inner Child what she or he needs to hear to feel supported and to love and nurture herself or himself. Create a fantasy celebration among you. Imagine you play and rap with your Ideal Parent.

See the reflection of you and your ideal parent on a clear lake. Feel the sunshine on you both and surround you in  golden mist. Breathe in the sunshine and feel love and support from your Ideal Mom or Dad, from the Sun, and from the universe.

Personify and dialogue with the limit (the can’t) as though that limit were a creature

If you keep part of your “can’t”, symbol it. Hold the symbol to the sunshine. Watch it vaporize; only golden sunshine remains.


Write, then voice sentences about how you feel toward an intimate.  Insert the word “but” or “however” in the middle of the sentence so it lessens the impact of the first half of the sentence. (Example: “I love Mom, but I hate her nagging” changes to “I love Mom and I hate her nagging). When you use “and” instead of “but”, you feel the full emotional impact of both halves of your sentence.

Notice how, when change “but” and “however” to “and” in your sentences, you feel more than you felt more than when you said “but” and “however”.


Here is where it is; Now is when it is; And you are it.”[4]

  • CHANGE “IT” TO “I”

When you use “It” rather than “I” or “you,” you lessen your impact.  Get in touch with how this feels; exaggerate use of “it.”

  1. Speak for five minutes, speak with a partner; START EACH SENTENCE WITH “IT.”
  2. Now modify the same sentences: CHANGE EACH “IT” TO “YOU.”
  3. Where you changed “it” to “you” PUT “I” IN ITS PLACE.
    1.  TURN YOUR BACK to your partner. Tell her or him to ignore you as you speak, not her or him, but to an imaginary friend.
    Tell the imaginary friend what your partner (who has her or his back to you) what she or he is like, what attitudes and habits he or she has and what how she or he treats you. Your partner stays tuned in to what she or he feels as you talk about her or him behind her or his back.
    3.  Reverse roles: your partner turns away and speaks behind your back, as though telling someone else about you, your habits, traits, characteristics, attitudes and how you treat her or him.
     4.  You and your partner say how you felt when you each spoke about you as though the other weren’t there.  This time, instead of saying “him” or “her”, say “YOU.”
    5. Tell each other how you see each other’s traits, attitudes and intelligence.
    6.  Tell how you felt when your partner gave you direct feedback versus when she or he discussed you as “him” or “her.” Compare how you felt when your backs were turned and when you faced each other.


A “you” statement disguises an “I” statement and makes blame easy, hides feelings, and distances and manipulates the person addressed.  Example: “You’re an angry grump” hides the statement, “I dislike the way you respond to me.”

a) Tell your partner five things about her or him that start with the word “you.”

b) For each thing you said, say the hidden “I” statement.

c) React to the idea that your statements about your partner hides your projections; cite your experiment with the “you” statements you made to her or him .


Experience the immediacy and intensity of your’ organismic reaction in the here and now.  If you experience thoughts and emotions toward someone who is physically absent, bring her or him into the foreground of your here-and-now. Speak aloud to her as though she were present (I’ll use feminine pronouns for the rest of the directions to the experiential below)


Invoke an absent person; say her name aloud. Imagine she sits before you.

Then sit in her (empty) seat and identify with her. Assume her physical posture and emotional state. Roleplay her and state your existence. Say what, as she, you’re like.

Next, return to your seat and express your feelings toward her. State the unfinished emotional business you have with her to her empty seat, as though she sits there. Tell her what you withheld from her. Express your resentments, demands, and appreciations to the empty seat, which represents her.

Take her seat and again become her and reply.

Alternate enacting yourself and her; switch seats to mark which role–yours or hers– you play. In each position, react to what you said on the other seat.

Guide another person to talk to an absent person. Note your results.


Your past lives in your present when you remember something. Your current experiences include past events as you remember them.  Your future lives in your present also. Any planned, expected or anticipated future event is a current fantasy event.  Past, future, fantasies, dreams exist in the present in which you access them.

Most of us, says Shiffman [5], defend against feelings we block ourselves from experiencing and judge in other people.  We imagine they have the feelings we block.  We react to them from our protective self-sense, our Primary subself.  Our Primary stops us from seeing a part of us is like the part the other person displays.  Our Primary habitually stops us from acting like someone whose behavior we judge, lest we expose our vulnerability to punishment we feared as kids.  We get through the encounter that triggers our unconscious fears without revealing our fear. We hide feelings as though we’re still scared kids and fail to use our intelligence and experience to resolve the unconscious bonding pattern from our childhood that we project on the person whose behavior we judge.

To an empty cushion, express the feeling you inhibit in reaction to a person who triggered your feeling; pretend she’s the cushion.   Create an imaginary, uninhibited, exaggerated dialogue aloud with the pillow as though it’s she

Speak as the subpersonality of the other person you judged.  Then feel yourself in her place. Experience the projected part of yourself and the emotions that you saw in her to get the reality of your current interaction.


Notice an intense or painful experience, a neurotic symptom, a strong negative or overly admiring judgement, or a psychosomatic complaint aroused in you by another person which you think may cover a hidden emotion or disowned vulnerable, angry or sexual in you that you learned to inhibit.  Pretend you’re she and empathetically say what you’re like.

When you roleplay her, and, in dialogue, roleplay your judgemental Primary, say your thoughts and hers more frankly than you would ordinarily. Establish a dialogue, shift your body from your initial seat to her cushion to enact your Primary and the part of her you judge. Speak what you imagine she thinks.  Caricature, exaggerate, gesticulate, move your whole body, make faces when you play her and when you play your Primary. Escalate this roleplay encounter; feel it to the max. Let your feelings crescendo.

When you’ve let out your emotions, change the person you roleplayed into someone from your past and confront the person from your past in another roleplaying experience.  Shift roles back-and-forth, alternately play yourself and the person from your past as you dialogue. Voice and exaggerate the attitudes, projections, and emotions of both of you.

Change both people–you and the person you roleplayed from your past–to aspects (voices, subselves, parts) of yourself. Enact a dialogue between these two parts of yourself.

Commit yourself in writing to a step you can take this week to express the vulnerable, instinctual or sexual subpersonality your Judge projected on the other person and your Inner Critic helped you repress.  Stop relapsing into projections.

Dialogue With A Partner
Tell a partner what you like most and least about her. Have her tell you what she likes most and least about you.

Tell her all resentments, demands, things for which you forgive her and your appreciations for her.


Impulses and subselves within you determine what you dislike, resent overvalue in other people.

Extend your dialogue with your partner from the previous exercise.  You both acknowledge how you possess the traits you dislike, resent, see with awe in each other. Own, as likewise true of you too, the traits you noticed in your partner.

Takes One to Know One

You’ve told each other what you like most and least about one another. Now tell each other what you like most and least about yourselves.

Tell your partner which, of the things you disliked, resented, and emotionally reacted-to in he, characterize you too.

Tell her which, of the traits, habits, attitudes,and acts you liked, appreciated and valued in her, are your traits, habits, acts, and attudes too.

What did you learn from this exercise?

Play Your Projection

Become, as an actor, the personification of the traits and qualities you can’t stand in others and would hate to find in yourself. Express the feelings you dislike. Behave the way you detest. Exaggerate it.


Use the exercise below and learn what withholds do for you. Then center yourself between the parts of you that want more transparency and parts that consider staying private.

Imagine You Tell Someone A Secret

Place a cushion in front of you, then close your eyes. Imagine that on the cushion, sits someone–living, dead–with whom you haven’t shared something intimate about you.

If you squirm when you imagine you share with the person you picture, pretend it’s safe now to share your withhold. Imagine that person sits before you, looks in your eyes. Rehearse telling her or him your secret. Note your heartbeat, breath, muscle tension, emotions.

Aloud, tell her or him what you’ve held back or never got around to saying.  Say: I have as secret I’m hesitant share. I’m scared you’ll react the very worst to my secret and you might ...” [Finish]; Say what awful consequences you fear.

Roleplay Person Receiving Secret at Worst

Move to the cushion on which you imagined the receiver of your secret. Roleplay the person you imagined you revealed your secret to. React emotionally as though you lived in the body of that person. Then enact her or him and dramatize she or he reacts as you feared and says, “You’re disgusting.” “Get out of here”, etc.). Exaggerate she or he reacts as you fear. Crank it up.

Be yourself and respond.

Roleplay Person Receiving Secret at Best

Move to the cushion on which you imagined the receiver of your secret.  Pretend you are she or he. React emotionally. Then respond as the person you’re roleplaying. Exaggerate how you depict her or him as she or he responds to what you revealed. Crank it up.

Be yourself and respond.

Share Secret in the Flesh

If this is in your best interest at this time, arrange a private meeting with the actual person from whom you have a withhold.

Let her/him know if it’s hard for you to share. Say, if so, you fear the secret might upset her/him. Say: I have a secret I’m hesitant to share. I’m scared you’ll react the very worst to my secret and you might …” [Finish];

Ask, “Are you willing to hear my secret if I’ll stop sharing whenever you say?”

If your partner assents, share your secret.

Let your hearer react.

Tell her or him what you hear her/him saying.

Guess what emotions s/he feels about what you said.

Ask what s/he needs from you right now.

Give what’s requested or at least something in the direction s/he wanted.

Ask if s/he has a secret and invite her or him to share too.

What I experienced and learned from each stage of this gestalt exercise is … (complete.)


Many of the gestalt games– dialoguing, presentifying, etc., help you notice what you failed to finish.  Consider whether  still carry unfinished business from a relationship that ended but that haunts you still?

Do you still, after a long time, feel very strong feelings for a former lover or spouse with whom you are no longer in a physical relationship. Do you have strong unexpressed feelings for a friend, housemate or family member who has left? Or are you unable to finish grieving for someone who died?

If so, you may suffer from hanging-on reaction. Whereas a healthy or adaptive reaction to losing someone you love is “a fairly long period of grief followed by a renewed interest in living people”, if you have a hanging-on reaction, you continue to feel depressed and unable to fully enter new relationships. You may feel emotionally deadened. Your hanging on is designed to block the emotions stirred up by your loss of the relationship.

Tobin identifies emotions which you felt inside but did not express to the person as the underlying cause of hanging-on. When your relationship ends, you retain accumulated unshared “resentments, frustrations, hurts, guilts”, love and appreciation for the person.

In healthy mourning and grieving, in your mind or aloud, you tell the person how you feel. You express the angry, loving, hurt and joyous emotions with full emotional release.  In hanging-on, however, you keep your feelings in, and they become tension and anxiety. You relive your loneliness, ruminate on the past and avoid emotional relating in the present; you become self-righteous or self- pitying; or, in the case of separation or divorce, you don’t give the other person the “satisfaction” of seeing and hearing your feelings.

Say Goodbye

Imagine a person to whom you may be hanging on, someone who died or left.  Pretend s/he sits before you now. Talk to that her or him as though s/he were here in front of you. Express your feelings toward her or him.

Then switch seats. Put yourself in the other person’s place. Say your experience as her or him as you received the feelings expressed toward you. Respond.

Switch seats, back and forth, alternately playing yourself and the absent person until you’ve explored all your unfinished business and expressed all your emotions and thoughts toward her or him.

Then ask yourself if you’re ready to say goodbye to that person. If you’re not, that’s ok–you have more unfinished emotions to work through and are choosing, for now, not to complete the farewell process. If you’re ready to end the relationship, say, ‘Goodbye” several times. Release your feelings. Emote. Fully express your farewell.

Say goodbye this way and you no longer obsess on the person you hung onto, free your energy and experience more interest in your life now and in other people you missed when you hung on.


Notice your natural rhythm of contact with and privacy, physical or mental, with other people. You interact, separate and interact again with them.  You need both interaction and separation.

Honor your need to regularly withdraw and notice what you intuit, feel, hear and see within yourself. When you daydream, contemplate, meditate and think alone, you nourish yourself. Honor both your need for stimulating contact with other people and your need to withdraw. You stress yourself–create unfinished gestalten–when you force yourself to stay in contact when you want to withdraw. You also stress yourself when you stay apart when you need interaction. Honor your rhythm of withdraw and contact.

Go Away In Your Head

Sometime this week, when you notice your mind wandering, close your eyes. Go mentally to another time and place. Feel, see and hear the place you go. Identify with that distant place; be it; sense your existence as that place.

Then return to your present bodily locale–to the people, situation and place you left when you mentally withdrew. Open your eyes and notice how your current situation differs the place to which you traveled in your mind.

Close your eyes again and return to the place you went. Take a mental talisman or token of the quality or energy from your place of withdrawal back with you to the present.

To a listener, describe your experience and results in the contact-withdrawal exercise.


Each moment, notice what you sense, feel emotionally and perceive. Experience, thus, unity with your current existence.

Now My Awareness Is

For five minutes, tell a partner your current awareness. Begin with, “Now I’m aware of …” Add, “And now I’m aware of …” every minute or so.

Then, for five minutes, listen to your partner’s continuum of awareness. Reverse roles, taking turns, three times, so each of you share a total of fifteen minutes of your awareness.

What did you learn from your own experience and from witnessing your partner in this experiment?


Treat every element in your dreams as an aspect of your experience. Create dialogues with the elements of the dream for messages about your current being-in-the-world. Work with your dreams by reversing figure and background, having your conflicted parts talk to each other, owning your projections, presentifying fantasy material, encountering your repressions, and extracting existential messages.

Do the experiment below with a partner. Explore and risk self-awareness as deeply as y u choose, and be aware of when you choose to avoid deeper exploration.

Read the instructions in bold type to a partner. Wait for her or him to respond when you see asterisks (***). Do not read aloud anything between the symbols [and]. This Dream Path may also be tread without a partner. Follow the instructions as though a guide read them to you and respond aloud.

Sit comfortably. Take ten deep, relaxed breaths.

Recall a DREAM (or make up a dream-like story about your main emotion now).

Tell what happened in the dream, as though it’s happening now. As you narrate the dream, see, hear, feel and live it more fully than you dreamed. ***

[Remind your partner to use present tense (suggesting, for example, changing her or his sentence, “The ape chased me up a tree.” to “The ape’s chasing me …”).]

[Note all the dream’s elements, background and foreground (ape, tree, ground and teller, in the example).]

[Choose a background element (example: the tree).]

[Tell your partner:]

Become the … [say the name of the background element you selected, e.g., “tree”]. Use its voice and tell what you’re like in the dream.

Start with, “I’m …” and describe yourself as the … [name of the background element]. ***

As the … [name of the background element selected], talk to … [Select a central element, for example, the ape or the dreamer]. ***

Shift your body and become the … [name of the central element] and reply. ***

Act-out a talk between the … and the … [central and background elements], alternately gesturing, sounding and speaking as one, then the other. ***

Now be the … [select a third dream element]. Say what you are like as the ... [the 3rd element] and speak to … [select Element 4]. ***

Shift your body and become the … [Element 4] and reply. ***

Act-out a talk between … [3] and … [4]. ***

One-by-one, speak as each of the rest of the characters, props and background details you dreamed and the talks you enact between them. Enact dialogues among them. ***

Imagine that … [select a mysterious dream element like the ape or the tree] has a zipper on its mask [or a pealing bark, in the case of the tree–make the unmasking metaphor match the symbol].

Imagine unzipping the zipper [or peeling off the bark]. Who’s there? ***

Speak to this person. ***

Become her or him and say what your life is like and respond to what the dreamer said. ***

Be yourself again. Dialogue, alternately playing yourself and the person you unzipped. ***

Use present tense and continue the dream-action beyond what you dreamed. ***

Successively become each part of the dream and give a message to the dreamer. ***

Assuming all elements of the dream are aspects of you, say what you learned about yourself from this exercise. ***


[Stimulated by Dallet, J., “Active Imagination in Practice” in Jungian Analysis, Stein, M., editor, Boulder: Shambala, 1984.]

Close your eyes. Become centered and receptive.

Recall a symbol, motif, or ARCHETYPE from one of your recent or recurrent dreams. Tell me what you see.

Identify with it; become it. As it, say your NAME out loud.

As the archetype, say WHAT YOU ARE LIKE.

Become yourself again. Ask the Archetype a QUESTION.

Be the archetype again and reply.

As the archetype, tell the person playing you WHAT YOU WANT of her or him and what you need.

Be yourself again. Tell the archetype the realistic LIMITATIONS you, as a socially conscious person, enmeshed with family, friends and institutions must live.

Have a dialogue with it about its expression and your limits. Shift between being the archetype and yourself as appropriate.

Ask the archetype if it has rivals.

Establish a similar DIALOGUE with any RIVAL ARCHETYPES suggested by the one with whom you initially spoke.

Alternately become each rival archetype and dialogue with the other archetype until you and they feel unity your underlying unity.

Tell me how you can TRANSLATE what you learned from these dialogues INTO YOUR LIFE this week.

40: Relate how, in the dream your partner led you through, each of part of the dream and the various relations
among the elements are aspects of yourself and how you are with others.


Gestalt therapy is effective in groups. Gestalt groups range from demonstration sessions where a therapist works with one patient at a time (with the group as an audience) to gestalt process groups, where the therapist becomes a technical consultant to the group.

Gestalt process groups develop your individual awareness. They also work with the development of the group as a social system. You focus on the group-as-a-whole and the interpersonal levels of functioning as well as the development of each member’s awareness. You work on self- awareness, contact with others, and on “what it means to be a member of a group so separateness and unity can be experienced in the context of personal growth.

Gestalt process groups begin with the leader who is a therapist for individuals and a facilitator for person-to- person communication. She becomes, as the group learns to operate by the guidelines, a consultant to the group and a fellow participant.

Gestalt Group Process Theme Experiments [11]

Gestalt process groups often work with themes suggested by the therapist in advance or as appropriate to the foregoing themes brought out by group members. You explore a feeling or activity using rhythm, sound, imagery and touch. The group may join in a single experience or divide into opposing identifications. It may provide reactions to members’ responses.


Take two hours for this experiment. It’s best done with four to twelve participants.

Sit in a circle facing one another.

Ask one participant for a single word to describe him- or herself (glad, sad, mad, scared, etc.).

For several minutes, everyone else in the group acts out the word as the person who chose it gives the group feedback on how to dramatize her.

The person who chose the word then shares what she felt as the group acted-out her or his one-word theme.

Repeat this procedure for each group member. Then discuss your experience together.


This exercise helps you reclaim parts of your personality you project into the physical environment.  Each person in the group follows the instructions below.

Look around the room now. Pick an object in here that stands out vividly to you.

Identify with this object, as though you become it and experience its attributes as your own.

Take turns: make statements about the object as though you are the object. Describe yourself as the painting, rug or cat with which you identify now.

As your object, speak to the room or the other objects in it. Stay in your role as the object you have chosen, and dialogue with the other personified objects in the room.

Move someone else’s object. Tell the person who’d identified with that object to share her or his reaction.

Become alter-egos of the objects of others as well; offer communications for them to own or to reject.

Close your eyes or wear blindfolds.

Imagine we crouch together in a bomb shelter. We watch the heavy door sliding to hide the sky.

A nuclear flash blinds us all. Then, the door clicks closed. We’re all alone together for our last ninety minutes because the air system will last only 90 minutes.

We’ll all die. Can’t escape. For purposes of this exercise, we assume death inevitable and won’t create ways to escape death. We have thirty minutes and only this space and the people who share our fate.

Notice what you feel and do in these last minutes together. [Set an alarm with an audible tick for 90 minutes to start a countdown].

[After alarm rings] Okay, time’s up. You’re dead. Keep your eyes closed.

Contemplate your experience in this experiment. Remember how you felt and what you did.

Keep your eyes closed and join hands with each other. At the same time, slowly open your eyes.
Make only statements starting with “I” and discuss your experience in the present tense, as though it’s happening now.

Say how much you delay and put off to the future that may never come. Could you do something different?


Engage in a 2 hour-long leaderless gestalt group without predetermining your theme. Follow the guidelines.

After 2 hours, make the rounds. Each person in the group takes a turn sharing her or his feelings about the group and your experience with it.

Compare your experiences and preferences in the nondetermined theme group, in the gestalt theme groups, in the gestalt dyadic exercises, and in your individual gestalt work.


What is gestalt consciousness? How can you integrate it into your life, the life of others, the life of the planet?

Create a gestalt game to facilitate your own and others’ awareness. Play it.


Since the late 1960s, teachers and school counselors affected by the writing, workshops, and therapy of Perls and his followers, have been mating gestalt therapy with the creative fantasy techniques of Psychosynthesis. The progeny of this union is the educational style of George Brown [14] christened ‘confluent’ education. Confluence refers to the simultaneous bodily, emotional, intellectual and spiritual participation in what is taught and how it is delivered. Confluent strategy can be applied to any age level and academic or Iifeskill subject.

When you do the exercises–including those calling for partners and groups–indicated in this lesson, you experience one application of confluent education.

Reread and review all your responses to the directives and questions in bold print in this book. What, in retrospect, are your most significant learnings using this book? How can you use these learnings in the next few weeks?

Critique the exercises in this guide. How would you change the directions so they would work better for you?

Imagine the instructions redone in the way thought would help you more.  Do them as you suggested.  Do them now.


Barlow, A., *Gestalt-Antecedent Influence or Historical Accident* in The Gestalt Journal, Fall, 1981.
Brown, G., Human Teaching for Human Learning.- an Introduction to Confluent ‘Education, New York: Penguin, 1969.
Brown, G., (ed.), The Live Classroom: Innovation Through Confluent Education and Gestalt, New York: Penguin, 1976.
Downing, J., (ed.), Gestalt Awareness, Now York: Harper and Row, 1976.
Derman, B., ‘The Gestalt Thematic Approach’ in Smith, E., (ed.), The Growing Edge of Gestalt Therapy, New York: Brunner-Mazel, 1976.
Dublin, J., ‘Gestalt Therapy, Existential-Gestalt Therapy and/versus Perls-ism’ in Smith, E., (ed.), The Growing Edge of Gestalt Therapy, New York: Brunner-Mazel, 1976.
Enright, J., ‘Thou Art That: Projection and Play’ in Gestalt Is, Stevens, J., (ed.), Moab: Real People Press, 1975.
Fagen, J. and Shepherd, I., (eds.), Gestalt Therapy Now, New York: Harper, 1970.
Feder, B. and Ronal], R., (eds.), Beyond the Hot Seat: Gestalt Approaches to Group, New York: Brunner-Mazel, 1980.
Gaines, J., Fritz Perls Here and Now, Milbrae: Celestial Arts, 1976.
Lessin, A., ‘Confluent Techniques for Teaching Anthropology’, American Anthropological Association Fellow Newsletter, Volume 12, number 8, 1971.
Marcus, E., Gestalt Therapy and Beyond, Cupertino: Meta, 1977.
Naranjo, C., ‘Present Centeredness: Technique, Prescription and Ideal’ in Fagen, J. and Shepherd, I., (eds.), Gestalt Therapy Now, New York: Harper, 1970.
 The Techniques of Gestalt Therapy, Highland: The Gestalt Journal, 1980.
 ‘Gestalt Therapy as a Transpersonal Approach’ in Boorstein, S., (ed.), Transpersonal Psychotherapy, Palo Alto: Science and Behavior, 1980.
Otto, H. and Mann, J., (eds), Ways of Growth, New York: Viking, 1968.
Perls, F., Ego, Hunger and Aggression, New York: Vintage, 1969a. , Gestalt Therapy Verbatim, New York: Bantam, 1969b.
  In and Out of the Garbage Pail, Lafayette: Real People Press, 1969c
Perls, F. and Levitsky, A., ‘The Rules and Games of Gestalt Therapy’ in Fagen, J. and Shepherd, I., (eds.), Gestalt Therapy Now, New York: Harper, 1970.
The Gestalt Approach and Eye Witness to Therapy, Palo Alto: Science and Behavior, 1973.
Hefferline, R. and Goodman, P., Gestalt Therapy, New York: Bantam, 1977.
Polster, E. and Polster, M., Gestalt Therapy Integrated, New York: Vintage, 1973.
Pursglove, P., (*d), Recognitions in Gestalt Therapy, New York: Harper Colophon, 1968.
Resnick, R., ‘Gestalt Therapy East and West: Bicoastal Dialogue, Debate or Debacle’ in The Gestalt Journal, Spring, 1981.
Rhyne, J., The Gestalt Art Experience, Monterey: Brooks/Cole, 1973.
Ronall, R., ‘Intensive Gestalt Workshops’ in Feder, B. and Ronall, R. (eds), Beyond the Hot Seat: Gestalt Approaches to Group, New York: Brunner Mazel, 1980.
Rosenblatt, D., Opening Doors: What Happens in Gestalt Therapy, New York: Harper and Row, 1975a., The Gestalt Therapy Primer, New York: Harper and Row, 1975b. Schiffman, M., Gestalt Self-Therapy, Menlo Park: Self-Therapy Press, 1971.
Schiffman, M. Gestalt Self-Therapy, Menlo Park: Self-Therapy Press, 1971.
Schoen, S., ‘Gestalt Therapy and Buddhist Teachings in Boorstein, S., (ed.), Transpersonal Psychotherapy, Palo Alto: Science and Behavior, 1980.
Schutz, W., Elements of Encounter: A Bodymind Approach, Big Sur: Joy Press, 1973, Here Comes Everybody: Bodymind Encounter Culture, New York: Harper and Row, 1971.
  Profound Simplicity, New York: Bantam, 1979. Shepard, M., Fritz, New York: Dutton, 1975.
Shostrom, E., Actualizing Therapy, San Diego: Edits, 1976.
Simkin, J., Mini-Lectures in Gestalt Therapy, Albany: WordPress, 1974.
Smith, E., (ed.), The Growing Edge of Gestalt Therapy, New York: Brunner-Mazel, 1976.
Stevens, B., Don’t Push the River (It Flows By Itself), Moab: Real People Press, 1970.
Stevens, J., Awareness, New York: Bantam, 1971.
Stevens, J., Gestalt Is, Moab: Real Poop]* Press, 1975.
 ‘Gestalt Therapy in The Psychotherapy Handbook, Herink, R., (od.), New York: Meridian, 1980.
Tarnas, H., ‘How Fritz Perls Came to Esalen: An Interview with Dick Price’ in The Esalen-Catalogue, May — October 1983.
Tobin, S., ‘Saying Goodbye in Gestalt Therapy in Banet, A., (ed.), Creative Psychotherapy, La Jolla: University Associates, 1976.
Valle, R. and King, M., Existential-Phenomenological Alternatives for Psychology, New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.
Yontef, G., ‘Modes of Thinking in Gestalt Therapy’ in The Gestalt Journal, Spring, 1984.
Zinker, J., Creative Process in Gestalt Therapy, New York: Random House, 1977.


1 . Barlow, A., op. cit., 1981; Dublin, J., op. cit., 1976; Perls, F., op. ,cit., 1969a, 1969b, 1979c; Peril, F.,, op. cit., 1977; Resnick, R., op. cit., 1984; Shepard, M., op. cit., 1975; Stevens, J., op. cit., 1980; Tarnas, H., op. cit., 1983; Yontef, G., op. cit., 1984.
2. Naranjo, C., op. cit., 1970.
3. This section is based on Perls, F., and Levitsky A., op. cit., 1970, Stevens, J., op. cit., 1971, pages 100-107 and workshops I attended at Esalen Institute.
4. Erhart, W., on a poster seen in the late 1970s.
5. Adapted from Schiffmann, M., op. cit., 1971 pages 28-30.
6. This section is based on Tobin, S., op. cit., 1976.
7. The discussion of themes and the first gestalt group exercise below is Derman, B., op. cit., 1980.
8. Enright, J., op. cit., 1975.
9. Stevens, J., op. cit., 1971, page 228. 14. Brown, G., op. cit., i969, 1976.
10. Derman, B., ‘The Gestalt Thematic Approach’ in Smith, E., (ed.), The Growing Edge of Gestalt Therapy, New York: Brunner-Mazel, 1976 is my inspiration for the discussion of themes and the exercise, Tell Us How You Are, We’ll Act It Out

  • *TEACH TANTRA, a manual for you to experience advanced tantra and teach it to others.

You learn to teach lovers and seekers how to:

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TANTRA for ALL CHAKRAS guides you through experiences that help you:

* Love each other more and better
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* Share vulnerability and connect with each other
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* Refine how you relate
* Heal each other’s hearts
* Encourage female ejaculation
* Master male ejaculatory control


SASHA ALEX LESSIN, PH.D. (U.C.L.A.) taught Sex Education in the University of Hawaii School of Medicine, Leeward Community College and the Professional School for Psychological Studies. He served as Director of Counseling at the Waikiki Drug Center and has counseled relationships, guided spiritual journeywork and taught tantra for over forty years.

JANET KIRA LESSIN, naturally tantric, joined Sasha as his co-teacher and presenter and together they developed, All-Chakra Tantra as Janet worked through her sexual abuse traumas and learned how to facilitate others’ reprogramming.

The LESSINS taught Tantra at Maui Community College, World Polyamory Association, World Tantra Association conferences, the School of Tantra on Maui and The Phoenix Goddess Temple.

They’ve appeared on numerous TV shows and on hundreds of radio shows and have written 10 books and counting. for experientials to uplevel your relationship. 

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