Getting Ecstatic with Steve & Lokita Carter
An Interview with Moses Ma.
Steve and Lokita Carter are arguably the most successful Tantra teaching couple in the USA, having dedicated their lives and marriage to sharing their understanding and experience of Tantra. Since they began teaching in early 1999, they have inspired and changed the lives of over 14,000 people from all walks of life in over 300 workshops and vacation retreats. As the official lineage holders of Margot Anand’s SkyDancing Tantra teachings in North America, they are the only SkyDancing teachers authorized to teach all three cycles of Margot Anand’s world renowned Love & Ecstasy Training in the USA.
We caught up with them recently and decided to do an impromptu interview…
Moses: So what are you working on these days? What’s your next big project?
Lokita: What we do is our biggest project, we seek to make the world a better place by sharing the tantra vision with as many people as possible. So far we have had 14,000 people in our workshops, 660,000 have watched our youtube clips, and we teach over 30 weekend workshops a year and several weeklong trainings and vacation retreats in the USA and internationally.
Sure, the statistics are impressive but at the same time we aim to make the world a better place by being who we are, Steve and Lokita. By being the best people we can be. By loving each other fully and passionately and living ecstatically every moment. By shining our own light as brightly as we can, we hope that others become inspired, and the snowball keeps rolling and growing.
This is because tantra begins with ourselves, then reaches out to others and finally everything becomes one.
Moses: How did you two get into tantra in the first place?
Steve: What brought me to Tantra? I was interested in sex; spirituality wasn’t my focus right at first. I would walk through a grocery store and see a magazine that said, “The Best Tantric Sex: 5-Hour Orgasms!” And I’d be thinking to myself, “Yes, I want some of that!” Then I took my first Tantra workshop and discovered that it’s not all about sex! That workshop was a validation for my soul. It was a validation for something that I felt I already knew on the inside of me – the marriage of sexuality and spirituality.
Here was a spiritual path that included sex, which I love and I could use my sexuality to live a more spiritual life. That was much more than I had ever expected.
Lokita: I actually discovered Tantra when I was 15. I was living in Germany and I was still a virgin. I came across a book by Osho, my spiritual teacher and it was entitled Tantra: The Merging of Spirituality and Sex. This book moved me deeply because I already had a sense that spirituality and sex are connected in some way. After reading this book, I read more, and experimented with my boyfriends and started to meditate. At 20, I took my first Tantra workshop and then I knew with every fiber of my being that this was the way of life for me. Since then I’ve been deeply committed to the living the Tantric lifestyle.
When I was a girl, I was a rebel early on. To the shock of my parents I cut my hair to ¼” at age 14 and became involved with a variety of questionable characters in our small German town of 3000 inhabitants. It was the late 70ties, and I liked to dance in the forbidden dark nightclubs. But what kept me sane and grounded at that time, and away from the slippery slope of drugs, was my trust in the tantric journey which took me from Berlin to the USA to India to Australia and back to the US – becoming a rebirthing therapist at the age of 21, living in an ashram in India, creating a computer accounting business in Australia, became a Watsu teacher… and all the while studying and practicing Tantra with great masters such as Margot Anand, Alan Lowen, Barry Long. I can say with full authority that my whole life I have been called to Tantra – I knew it at 15 and I knew it now at 46. It is my love affair with the divine. And I am blessed to have been teaching it fulltime in hundreds of workshops with my beloved Steve for the past 10 years.
Moses: How about you Steve?
Steve: When I was a small child, I used to think that the ancient Chinese emperors would check in with their people by ringing a gong. And if the vibrations of the people and their rulers were in harmony, they could tell by the sound of the gong. Back then I knew that there is harmony and disharmony in the world, and that I was interested in the esoteric and therapeutic aspects of being with other people, guiding them and being guided with finesse.
Throughout my life the same sensitivity has always been with me. I have learned that it is not the gong of ancient China but many skills that I’ve had the opportunity to develop within myself – to be able to feel, sense and to know what is going on inside me and around me. I’ve gone through the sexual revolution of the 70ties and traveled the world, learned about different cultures and their gifts. I’ve studied and developed healing modalities. I’ve been an organic farmer, a massage therapist and teacher, a Watsu teacher, a transformational therapist, and a Tantra teacher, knowing that there is a better way to connect and relate than what I saw around me. In hindsight, I smile when I remember myself as that little boy with his insight and determination to change the world and make it a better place.
Moses: What are your basic principles of ecstatic living? How did these principles come to you?
Lokita: Ecstatic living is based on the teachings of Tantra and other forms that we have explored over many years. There are several principles that guide our work and teachings.
Every man is a God and every woman is a Goddess. As we honor our partner as a representation of the divine, we transform the mundane into the sacred. When we make love it is no longer the delicious lustful release of sexual energy but much more – it becomes leela – the loveplay that can continue forever and take us into higher realms of awakened consciousness. In our everyday life we also see those around us as Gods and Goddesses, and one way to do that is to change our attitude towards them. Even as we pay for our deli sandwich we can smile at the cashier and give her a compliment! This opens her heart and ours, and divine energy has passed between us.
The body is the temple of our spirit. In our practices we celebrate our own body, and the body of our loved one. We use methods to expand our sexual energy from our genitals to our hearts and throughout the whole body so that we irrigate our whole body with this healing energy instead of releasing it through ejaculation or genital orgasm.
We celebrate our sexuality as a powerful tool for personal transformation and healing, of the planet and ourselves. It is a portal to the divine mystery. If all the societies of this world would have a positive attitude towards the sexuality of all men and women, there certainly would be no more wars! Yes, make love not war.
The word ecstatic means to be outside the static, outside that which is fixed. It means that we surrender in the flow of life, open to a new adventure every moment, embracing whatever comes to us. Surrender means that we give ourselves to that which is higher than us. It does not mean that we capitulate to something or someone. In fact being ecstatic we empower ourselves!
Steve: One of our principles is to live in the here and now with a beginners mind. Not relying on the past, not relying on the future but being in the moment, feeling what the moment has to offer. The practices of Ecstatic Living, including sex, communication, ritual, energy work, meditation and touch, are all tools to help us be in beginner’s mind and in the present moment. Being in the here and now brings us into our essence and the concept of being a God and Goddess can be lived, felt and shared, right now.
Lokita: The point of tantric practice lies beyond the techniques and methods; when we are 100% present, our mind stops, our ego disappears, we become one with all, and enter into vast emptiness and stillness. Then we are absorbed in the blissful state of being. Some think that they can only get there in sex, that’s why there’s been such a focus on Tantra’s sexual practices. But the good news is that we can bring this ecstatic experience into all aspects of our life! That’s where our practice really begins.
Steve: For me, the simplest yet the most expansive principle to ecstatic living is the word yes. Live every moment with the attitude of yes and gratitude. And while saying yes to myself might mean saying no to something else, a yes to myself is always my truth. For example if someone invites me to go to the movies, and I don’t want to go, I can say no because that’s my truth. And as I say that no, I really say yes to myself. In our ecstatic living practices we challenge ourselves to find out what our truth is, and to live it 100%.
Another principle is acceptance – accepting who I am. It is easy to accept love, success, ecstasy, and pleasure but often more difficult to accept fear, loss, anger, failure, and challenges. But when we accept everything and know it is perfect as it is, struggle and stress disappears, and we can be in present time, trusting that the universe gives us the gift of the next moment. We accept this gift as a tool for our expansion, and endeavor to find a hidden learning within each moment. When we fall down, how do we get back up? By accepting that we have fallen, and making every effort to get back on our feet, trusting that the next moment will support us.
Lokita: With that comes the realization that we are prefect exactly the way we are. Whatever our body shape, our age, our hair color, the shape of our nose, the way we snore, the petals of our yoni or the size of our thunderbolt. Whatever relationship status we are in and whether or not we became the rocket scientist our parents wanted us to become. Stop wasting time chastising yourself! You are perfect exactly the way you are.
Steve: Acceptance is also accepting other people. It’s easy to accept a beautiful woman like Lokita. But when I think about some of our past politicians – can I accept those people for who they are? Accepting others helps us to interact with people unconditionally, rather than being in reaction.
I spent 40 years of my life being in reaction – fighting this and rebelling against that. It served a good purpose I’ll say that, but it is so much better to open up and accept – manifesting interactions rather than reactions.
Lokita: We find that communication is the key to all relating. Do you express in great detail your wishes and desires, or do you assume that your partner miraculously knows all of them? Can you talk about your fears and negative emotions? Can you listen to another person without an agenda? Our marriage is an ongoing exploration on refining our communication skills!
Moses: Do you have a daily practice? Please tell us about it.
Apart from all the tantric sex practices we do all day long? Well, our favorite practice is the daily sharing practice. It brings us close together and improves our communication on all levels. At the end of the day we sit together and each of us takes turn sharing about how we are, and what’s been going on. When one shares, the other person listens. Usually we talk for about 10-15 minutes each.
We talk about our personal experiences, challenges, celebrations, difficulties, joys, etc rather than giving a blow by blow account of the daily activities and what we ate for lunch. Sometimes we talk about difficulties we have with each other.
It is a safe space because the roles are clear. One person talks, while the other one listens. After the second person has talked, we both close our eyes for a while and reflect how that was and how we feel after saying what we said.
If we did not understand something, we might ask the other if she is open to be asked a question to clarify her statements. One rule is important, though – if a conversation is necessary about what was said, it has to wait for at least 24 hours. This creates space to think about things.
Moses: Tell us something about yourself that you’ve never told anyone!
Steve: I think I am part dolphin. On a visit to Hawaii, I was lying on the beach, watching a pod of dolphins swim back and forth, jumping in the water and teaching their youngsters how to do all these things. I finally jumped into the water to play with them, and moved around like they did, but they all swam away. Finally, when I was just myself enjoying the water, they all came back and swam around me in a circle and dived below me and came within 6 feet of me. In my body I had a familiar feeling of being so supported, and I was filled with love. At that moment I knew that I am related to the dolphins.
This same feeling came to me when I was sailing in a tough storm around Point Conception. The waves were crashing over the bow of the boat while I was in the process of changing the jib sail. It was very scary. Then I saw two dolphins swim on each side of the bow and I had this sense that they were there to assure me that if I fell overboard, they would be right there to save me.
Lokita: One day when I was 14 years old I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. As I looked into the mirror I saw the face of a stranger. This face was no longer “my” face; it was the face that everyone thought to be the face of Lokita. But Lokita was not there in that face. It was just her face, not “me”. I was distraught and thought I had gone crazy. That day I went to the local library and asked the librarian about books on spirituality. She directed me to a title on Zen meditation and another book by J.Krishnamurti. Reading both these books I realized that I had for the first time experienced the “witness”, the “watcher on the hill”, the pure consciousness that is always present, beyond our body and the personality. And shortly hereafter I read that book on Tantra, and the rest is history!
Moses: Please leave us with some spiritual advice!
Steve: For thousands of years mankind has grown through the school of hard knocks, through pain and suffering. In this day and age we have the possibility to accelerate our personal growth through pleasure. Use your awareness to own these moments of ecstasy, these occasions of celebration. Incorporate their teachings and transform your life every moment.
Lokita: Live as a God, live as a Goddess. Find your divine qualities, your inner beauty, and align with them in whatever you’re doing every day – then your life will be fresh, full of love and connections from the heart. You will honor yourself, and others around you in new ways and create a world where the potential becomes reality more and more.