Tag Archives: Middlebury College

Tantra Workshop in J-term! @Middlebury College

Tantra Workshop in J-term! @Middlebury College

“Tantra is the science of transforming ordinary lovers into soul mates. And that is the grandeur of Tantra. It can transform the whole earth; it can transform each couple into soul mates.” Osho, Philosophia Perennis, Vol. 1, Talk #8

Tantra is the practice of consciously creating connectedness. It is an ancient technique that comes to remind us that our bodies and what we do with them is sacred. Through sexuality we grow spiritually and get closer to not only our partners, but ourselves, and God. Tantra helps us heal and empower our relationships through expanding our consciousness and our ability to be present, open up and share.
Tantra is an ancient practice dating back to the fifth century, and as a meditation practice it has influenced Hindu, Sikh, Bön, Buddhist, and Jain traditions. It spread with Buddhism to East and Southeast Asia, and contains enormous cultural significance in central Asia. The tantra workshop aims to bring together open-minded students who are interested in learning about the practice of tantra and discuss sexuality and the act of love making from different perspectives, both from a philosophical and physical standpoint.
In addition to discussing tantric techniques and values, we will engage in some exercises and activities to awaken our senses and spread loving kindness through meditation, visualization, breathing. The workshop will not include nudity nor sexuality; rather, participants should be ready to appreciate the philosophical and cultural significance of tantra through an introduction to basic, non-sexual practices. Participants should be willing to go out of their comfort zones, and contribute for the creation of a positive and safe environment for conversation.

December in Bali

Maggie Nazer in Bali, Indonesia 

Man is 70% water. The rest is passion.

It was a hot December night in Bali. Loud music heated up the atmosphere even more. We were in Sky Garden— the most popular club in Kuta, where the delegates of the UN youth conference I participated in decided to spend the night. The day was long and tiring, but I kept dancing.

There were quite a few guys I liked. The other night as we swam in the ocean, I was teasing on purpose the hot Turkish guy, knowing that the only thing sexier than having sex is not having sex. He invited me to sleep in his hotel room, but I refused wanting more…

And then he came. The French guy. Felipe. He came to me and held my hand for a while, smiling. I don’t know what we talked about, but I know I felt weird. This, indeed, is the curse of people who adore illuminating conversations, yet succumb to casual chatting. As we danced together, my body was searching for the touch of his skin. He was so beautiful, so educated, so European, radiating confidence in the perfect proportions.

My favorite dress had never looked better on me than on that day. As I posed for photos, I felt someone looking at me. It was Felipe following my moves while talking others. I smiled. We walked towards one of the discussion rooms, sat together and whispered. We talked about books and ideas, and polyamory, and each new topic led to new exciting discoveries. My favorite thing in the world was happening — from strangers we were becoming something else. And we were competing with the time, fighting to make the best out of every minute.

I went back to my hotel to get a nap, and he asked if he could come see me after his meeting. An hour after I had changed into a T-shirt and shorts, the knocking on the door woke me up. When I opened his presence filled the room. He said we could sleep a bit, lied next to me and hugged me. I closed my eyes, curious- could I sleep next to a stranger, and did he really want to sleep?

I felt his breath fondling the skin of my back and I shiverred. Holding my breath, I lied still. Soon his fingers started rambling all over my neck and he kissed my shoulder… slowly, faintly. With tenderness only a few men possess; kiss with, touch with, love with… But the phone rang. The receptionist was calling… to wake me up. We had to go back. Taking off my clothes I sat on the bed to put my leggings on, stretching my legs opposite the wall, absorbing every passing minute, the movement, his being there and watching.

After the closing ceremony we walked down to the shore, sat on a bench and talked for hours. I asked him why he had approached me and he told me that while posing for photos on the first day I had touched his arm in a very special way… These words had a powerful effect on me. He could read the language of my body better than anyone I had met.

“— When we were in your room and I was kissing you…, I didn’t  know if I should stop, but your skin was speaking to me and I carried on. Your skin wanted me and shivered when I kissed it. We have been making love since we met and shook our hands and yet if I want to be with you, it is because I can see you are a woman who knows how to receive pleasure, to fully enjoy. Every time I kiss your neck, you move your hair aside so that I can kiss you more and more…”

I love with my whole being. With my eyes which need to see radiance; body wanting to be caressed, loved, respected; mind longing for mutuality (mutuality not only in the feelings, but also in perceptions, in the way we view reality, in the attempt to achieve both the possible and impossible).

It didn’t matter it was just a night we were given to have each other. The sexual expression of our equilibrium of energies was to be the natural progression of the act of sharing. It was yet another way to converse and learn about each other and from each other. And there was nothing I wanted more in that moment.

“Let’s go!”- I said.


The article was first published in the Middlebury college newspaper “The campus”, Vol.112 NO.9, November 14, 2013

Stick Season on the TAM

While most residents of northern New England mention mud season as the most challenging time of the year to live here, the almost equally bleak month of November, less well-known as “stick season” also has it’s challenges.  It has the same bare trees and overcast sky, but never quite brings out the worst in us like mud season.  Perhaps we are all still feeling good after a great fall foliage season, and are anticipating the excitement of the first snows of the season?  Perhaps it is because…well…it just isn’t as muddy, and the trails are arguably at their best for running, with soft leaves underfoot, and great views through the surrounding forest?  In any case, I got together with two other local runners, Josh and Ben, early on a Saturday morning to do the grand loop around Middlebury, our own beloved TAM.  Bits and pieces of this convenient and scenic gem have been the frequent subject of blog posts, but it has been a few years since I last described a complete circumnavigation of the village, and that was much earlier in the fall, prior to the peak of foliage season.  We met up shortly before sunrise at the parking lot by Batelle/Means Woods on Quarry Road (at about 3 o’clock on the loop shown in the Google Earth projection included below), just east of town, and I convinced my running partners that we should take the loop counterclockwise to put the most challenging part of the run, the 300+ foot ascent of Chipman Hill, early in the run.  We also had the additional benefit of catching a great sunrise over the mountains from the east side of Middlebury’s downtown summit!  While most of the leaves were long gone from the limbs of the deciduous trees on the flanks of the hill, I was touched by the stubbornness with which a few trees clung to their leaves and to life when other sources of warmth and the ephemeral beauty of autumn was fading.

Chipman Hill Sunrise

Chipman Hill Sunrise

Continuing on down the west side of Chipman Hill, we wove through the village streets for a few minutes before heading north through Wright Park, and the longest contiguous section of trail not intercepted by roads. When we reached the northern suspension bridge crossing over Otter Creek, instead of taking the section of the TAM heading due west, we decided instead to take the last short loop to the north, heading into the gorge, and adding a mile or two of extra running to our proposed loop. The thick green moss alongside one particular section of trail led for Josh to christen this short passage “The Shire”. After a short section along the creek, the trail started its gradual loop back to the west, and then the south, emerging back into a meadow just to the west of Morgan Horse Farm Rd, where I managed to grab a quick photo of my fellow runners before they disappeared in the distance, forcing me to pick the pace after grabbing a photo, if I wanted to stay with them.  That, and they also waited for me!

Runners in the Meadow

Runners in the Meadow

Crossing over Morgan Horse Farm Road, and veering south through another meadow and pond, we briefly considered leaving the TAM to seek out the entrance to the nearby Weybridge Cave on Cave Road, but decided against it on this day, as all of us confessed to having seeked out the cave’s entrance in the past, and all had failed. Someday we have to invite a runner who knows where exactly it is to show us. Any takers? Eventually, our counterclockwise circumnavigation brought us to the most civilized section of trail, the part circling the Middlebury College Championship Golf Course, where the TAM also serves as the running course for the college cross country races. The morning was getting a little later at this point, and we started to see other runners and walkers out for their Saturday morning strolls. The last few miles brought us back to the Batelle Woods, where I let my partners for almost 3 hours pull ahead, and I took a shot which I think exemplifies November running – grey skies, the trail softened by falling leaves, and of course, muddy sneakers.

Sneaker-level view

Sneaker-level view

As we returned to the parking lot where my car was, we high fived on a good long (almost 18 miles!) training run, we commented on how fast the time flew by. This almost 3 hour run seemed rather timeless due to the good company, and fun terrain. As my fellow (much younger) runners headed home, on foot, I sat my tired butt down in my car, and made a beeline to Middlebury Bagel where I treated myself to a cup of coffee…..and the most sugar- encrusted donut left on their shelves.

Google Earth of the Run

Google Earth of the Run

Altitude Profile of TAM run

Altitude Profile of TAM run

Help me to [Inspire Bulgaria]!

A few months ago I was going to the Black sea coast, travelling on a bus (no hitchhiking this time!) just after receiving a 1.000$ scholarship from the 2iFoundation which supports young Bulgarian leaders who are studying abroad. Previously, I was very moved by the kind efforts of Petyo Angelov (May his soul rest in peace!)- a talented writer and polyglot who knew over 30 languages who graduated my High School and also gave scholarship to distinguished students. These and other situations in which I have received support to learn, travel and create motivated me to seek ways to continue having an impact and giving back to the community. Despite not being in charge of the organization I started years ago (which is now in the hands of my wonderful friends) since living the “American dream” cast in the serene state of Vermont.

The proposal that you will see below is the idea I came up with back then and which I reminded myself a couple of days ago not being able to think about much else since then.The provided information is now submitted to MiddStart (the Middlebury college crowd-funding platform) and hopefully will be accepted and funded!

Nevertheless, I need a lot of serious feedback from both Bulgarians and foreigners, and I will appreciate any input! Please, comment below so that we can build dialogue! Thank you! 


207297_201145059926499_2777742_nProject objective: providing young Bulgarians who want to organize low-budget projects with micro- funds to help them implement their ideas.

Brief description:

Inspire Bulgaria will be a social fund providing financial support to Bulgarian High School and University students who have ideas for low-budget projects that will benefit both themselves and the society (e.g. fundraisers, community service initiatives, eco actions, awareness campaigns, etc.)

The funding opportunities will be promoted in High Schools and through various partnering NGOs, so that more young people can learn about it. The application process will be accessible to young people and open throughout the year.

In addition to the financial support project organizers will receive mentorship and advice how to promote their projects around peers, improve their leadership skills and the quality of their projects, etc. Priority will be given to ideas that include participation of peers and have impact on the society. In the summer time a day-long event will be organized to receive feedback, create a sense of community among the young leaders, work in groups and focus on different topics which will further on develop understanding and skills.

The results of the funded initiatives will be disseminated through their appearing in the Facebook group of the project. A simple website will be created to promote the project and give access to valuable and easy to read articles connected to project planning, funding and implementation.

The funding received by MiddStart will be used to aid these youth projects and initiatives and create a web platform.

What is the inspiration for your project?

Chaya KolevaWhen I was in 9th grade I started a youth charity and volunteering organization in my High School. Our first initiatives were weekly events in orphanages and homes for elderly people. In addition, we organized a lot of street events and campaigns to raise awareness towards the benefits of volunteering, positivism, doing Good.

Whenever I see or take part in something new that engages me, I try to master it and spread it so that it reaches and benefits as many people as possible. When I went to my first youth exchange (a 10-day informal education and volunteering project in another country with participants from several European countries), I was determined to organize a project like that myself so that my friends and fellow volunteers could participate, too. A year later my organization received funding from the European Union to implement the project I created and ever since we have been partnering and initiating such projects all around Europe, including hundreds of young people.

Most of the local projects I have organized have been either low-budget or not financed at all. This was able due to the fact I have always used alternative ways to provide what we had needed. For example, when we were visiting institutions for disadvantaged people I always contacted local companies that either sell or produce sweets, children’s books, balloons, etc. and asked them to donate some. For the tea actions we organized during the winter season when we handed free tea to strangers on the streets of Sofia and talked with them about volunteering, I had engaged several shops and small companies to give us free tea, sugar, electric kettles and print leaflets. I found out that this is a good strategy since many people would like to donate things they make or have rather than money. While such an approach might seem too complicated, it was indeed inclusive: so many people participated in some way for the implementation of this otherwise small project!


While this approach worked great for my organization, I realize that not every young person may receive the same support or have the confidence to reach out and ask for it. I want to give the chance to any young person who has an idea of some sort to receive both financial and moral support to do it while not being affiliated to an organization and having full control over the planning and implementation of his/her project and possibly- follow up.

Being able to create something, make mistakes, face challenges, celebrate small triumphs, grow as a leader and as an individual has transformed me so much! I have seen so many of my peers who became active contributors to the organization I started evolve and grow and strive to learn, make a change and fulfill their potential and I am truly committed to keep trying to inspire!

Project cost:

294985_403772489663754_993240637_n2000 USD

Converted in Bulgarian Leva this sum will be able to cover the costs for a great number of low-cost student initiatives. If we estimate the average cost of  a student project to be about 35$ which is quite reasonable, then with that sum we can fund about 55 projects!

Built Invitations

(photo via https://www.facebook.com/middartmuseum) I associate the physicality of Vito Acconci’s work to that of a premier danseur.  He is the Nijinsky of built forms, aware of the elasticity of every wall, and how far he can bend a concept—an incredible flexibility—before … Continue reading

Where do we go now?

Tonight I went to the screening of the movie “Where do we go now” organized by the Arabic Department in Middlebury College. The movie was by all means one of the best I have seen.

A remote Lebanese village inhabited by Christians and Muslims has found the way to peaceful coexistence. Respect and brotherly love are being spread until outside conflicts between representatives of the two religions start to cast doubt on the feasibility of maintaining peace. A series of accidents cause the outbreak of violence between the men of the village and women have to take control of the situation and prevent the happening of what now seems inevitable.

Drastical measures are taken in order to cool down the men and reinforce peace: Ukranian show-girls are paid to stay in the village for a week, so that men will be distracted; hash-brownies and sweets are prepared and served to bring everyone together. While the male population of the village is enjoying the effects of the hashish and the moves of the Ukranian dance-girls, their mothers and wives hide all their reserves of guns and at least seemingly change their faith for the other one.

This is a profound and engaging story about the strength of love and the value of life, which resonates with us not only on a personal level, but on a grater scale as well: for peace should be everyone’s responsibility and everyone’s priority to keep an eye on.

Where Do We Go Now Trailer 2012 – Official movie trailer in HD – from Lebanese Writer/Director/Actress Nadine Labaki (“Caramel”) – a heart-warming tale of a group of women’s determination to protect their community from the outside forces that threaten to destroy it.