Sunday, December 15, 2013

Article in Natural Awakenings Magazine, Dec. 2013
by Diana Daffner

It’s the holidays! What GIFT are you giving to your Beloved this year? How will you express your holiday love to that most important person in your life? Maybe you’re lucky and know exactly what they would like. Perhaps you’ve exchanged lists with each other, eliminating the bother of returning unwanted gifts. (Or maybe you don’t even exchange gifts.)

Regardless of the actual presents you’re choosing, be sure to share your very real PRESENCE with each other – not only during the holidays, but all year long.

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sarasota, FL: Sept. 28 Event

Learn transformational yet simple tools and techniques in communication & understanding:
How to improve any and all of your relationships;
How to authentically replace judgment with Compassion,
How to be fully understood and to listen with an open heart;
How to express yourself in ways that others can fully hear you;

How to live a happier and fulfilled life

2:30 - 5:30 pm:  COMPASSIONATE CONNECTIONS Practice Group   Scott Catamas, founder of the Love Coach Academy will lead a series of practices that increase our ability to change our neurological patterns.  The best way to change our relationships in a positive way is by changing the way we think.  We will learn to differentiate between our thoughts/stories/judgments and the real feelings and universal human needs taking place.  There will be practice of how to empathize with one's self, and with others.  Finally, there will be the practice of how to deal with difficult behavior and to set boundaries with compassion.

7:30 - 10 pm:  CULTIVATING GREATER LOVE IN YOUR LIFE with Scott Catamas, Richard & Diana Daffner (the founders of Intimacy Retreats).  This is event is for both singles and couples.  Richard & Diana will introduce participants to Tantra Tai Chi, an easy-to-do, qigong-style partnered movement exercise that creates emotional closeness and spiritual awakening. Even when practiced alone, these movements are a powerful process for centering into the presence of LOVE.  Scott will lead practices to deepen our connection to ourselves, to the divine within, and to others.  There will be movement and experiences of eye gazing to see the Divine within all. All participants receive hand-outs with specific tools & practices to improve relationships.

Registration fees: $45 per session, per person, or both sessions for $80
Couples registering together: $80 per session, or both sessions for $140

2888 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota, Florida 34237

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Love & Intimacy.. Nutrition for the Soul

 by Diana Daffner, published August 2013 in Natural Awakenings

Love & Intimacy: Nutrition for the Soul

As conscious beings, we are mindful about what we eat. We pay attention to the nutritional value of our food intake. We seek to increase what we think is good for us and diminish consumption of unhealthy commodities.

Love, too, perhaps even more than our diet, can provide healthy nutrition for both our bodies and our souls, even to the point of our survival from disease. Dean Ornish, M.D, , founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, says “I am not aware of any other factor in medicine that has a greater impact on our survival than the healing power of love and intimacy. Not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery."

As with food, bringing mindfulness and attention to our intake of love can affect how beneficial it is for us. How do we do that? As with food, it is important to select well. Without knowledge, amply provided by magazines such as this, we might make poor choices. Of course, we need to apply our knowledge intelligently. When I was young, I must have somehow learned that too much salt was not good to eat. I distinctly remember feeding potato chips to my dog, but first licking off the salt because I knew it would not be healthy for her!

Selecting a love partner involves more than knowledge and the necessary rational application. Lovers are drawn toward each other by many inexplicable forces – perhaps including karma, pheromones, astrological intervention and who knows what else. Once we are in the relationship, we must continue to be smart about how to give and receive love in the most nutritional way possible.

Eye Contact
It is said that eyes are the windows to the soul. A recent Yale study actually supports the idea that our sense of our true essence is indeed located in or near the eyes. Intimacy can be thought of as “into-me-see.” Allowing our beloved to see into our eyes is perhaps the most direct path to cultivating the nutritionally intimate aspect of love.

Although it is considered romantic, couples often do not make strong eye contact, even when making love. Instead, we usually close our eyes! Closing the eyes may put us more in touch with what we are feeling in our body. However it is the eye contact that puts us more in touch with our partner. It is the eye contact that provides the opening to our soul.

In the movie Avatar, the phrase “I see you” is used to acknowledge a deep resonance and respect for one another at that soul level. In the novel “The Amaranth Bloom,” author Deborah June Goemans describes a South African ritual of soulful story telling called kukummi. “It starts with Ma saying, “I see you,” she writes.

To be truly seen by our beloved, to look into our partner’s eyes, is not only the height of romance, it provides a nutritious helping of love and intimacy. When served on a daily basis, with a sprinkling of gratitude and appreciation, it is like taking a megavitamin that nourishes and sustains both each individual and the relationship itself.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tantric Communication for Couples: Body-Centered and Sexy

(Published in June 2013, Natural Awakenings Magaxine)
You may have heard of Tantra, and think it refers to a sexual practice. Well, yes, and no. Tantra is actually an ancient spiritual training that embraces sexual energy as a pathway to divine consciousness. The principles of tantric lovemaking can also be applied to the way you and your partner communicate with each other.

Tantra is about becoming embodied. Obviously, if you’re reading this, you are embodied, you manifest on earth as a body that houses your spirit. However, to be truly “embodied” means to have intentional, heightened awareness of our own presence. The body is a doorway through which we can step into an even greater sense of ourselves. By centering in the body, we open ourselves to what is beyond the body, to a higher vibration of our own existence.

Some spiritual trainings take an “out-of-body” approach. Tantra instead invites us to become fully present IN the body, in order to access the deeper, non-physical truth of who we are. It is not about being more physical. It is about centering ourselves in the ultimate here and now of our being.

How does this apply to communication? Well, you know the expression “talking heads?” It is used to describe TV pundits who are continually giving us their endless opinions. In a sense, we are all “talking heads.” We talk from our heads. “I think, therefore I am,” asserted Descartes back in the 16th century. Identifying with our thoughts is indeed, a common way of self-referencing, of recognizing who we are. Yet is it enough?

Thoughts are valuable and give direction to our lives. Emotions are a combination of our mental thoughts and the sensations or feelings we experience via our body. How thoughts feel in our bodies, what bodily sensations we experience when we think or express our own or hear another’s thoughts, and where we feel them, can give us powerful clues to our inner truth. Thoughts and body feelings feed on each other, influence each other. Thoughts generate feelings. Sensations that we experience in the body trigger thoughts.

Tantric practices and rituals give us an opportunity to separate from our thoughts long enough to notice what the body is experiencing. It’s easy to imagine how this might enhance lovemaking, which is why tantric sex is so meaningful for a couple to learn together. In communication, too, noticing what the body is sensing becomes a helpful foundation for more meaningful and truthful dialogue.

Words matter. We experience a cognitive satisfaction, along with a bodily sensation, when we feel we have been heard, that our words have been understood as we intended. As in tantric sex, it is often during a pause, in a moment of silence, that this fulfillment is most awakened. Tantric communication encourages time for such pauses.

Instead of bringing us closer, words often cause a divide, a separation. We attack, we blame, we defend, we want to prove our point. Tantric communication intentionally uses words in ways that create connection. Rather then countering what our partner says, we learn to blend with their perspective, to see from their point of view, and then respectfully create a bridge to our own.

To communicate well we must be focused on the communication exchange. Often our attention wanders, gets hijacked by one of the thousands of thoughts that are continually arising in our mind. In many spiritual practices, mantras are used during meditation to re-focus our attention. In tantric communication, we similarly learn how to bring our attention back, and how to request our partner’s attention if we feel we have lost that connection.

When we feel heard, we open ourselves to the present moment. This is where Tantra takes place. This is the opportunity for divine joy. Words themselves can be used to define and highlight such moments. It’s not only about what we say and how we say it. In tantric communication, we learn to anchor words directly into our bodily presence. Our words become a conscious acknowledgment of our existence. Chakras, centers of life-force energy in our bodies, can be accessed as focal points. We most successfully communicate our needs and desires when we align them with the appropriate chakra.

Energy follows attention. We can place attention in our heart center, for example, and say to our partner the simple word, “Heart.” Our partner hears this as both an affirmation of where we have put our attention, as well as an invitation to move into their own heart. Together in our hearts, we share the energy of love.

Communication is best when it flows back and forth. At times we are a mirror for our partner, reflecting back to them what we have heard them say. This not only lets them know that we are listening, it also helps them check within, to sense if those words really fit what they want to express. At other times we are a window, offering our partner a view into our own soul. Opening to our partner, allowing ourselves to be seen, creates intimacy (into-me-see). Together, we open to an expanded consciousness of the moment.

Tantric communication supports authenticity and presence. What could be sexier?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Beyond Hormones ~ Sex & Spirituality

My article, about applying the Chinese 5-Element Theory to relationships, was recently featured on Chopra's  Here are some excerpts...

In the beginning, when love is new, romance, courting and conquest are aphrodisiacs, stimulants that increase our appetite for sexual union.  Eventually the chase ends, hearts are won, and lifetime pledges are made. The happy couple says “I do,” strolls off into the sunset together, destined to be lovers forever. 

So what happens?  The newness fades, the passion flees. Where does it go?  Does it get mortgaged along with the house?  Disposed with the diapers? 


We desire even more than the wonderful climax of sexual release. We crave a connection with our partner’s soul. We ache to embrace a love that lights up our eyes, that enlivens our very being.


A Chinese saying tells us that “young love is from earth; mature love from heaven.” Could it be that our bodies are trying to tell us something as they slow down and cool off?  Could it be that it is not our biology which needs assistance, but our spiritual self?

If we look at relationships from a perspective of the Chinese five-element system, we can gain some insight and direction.  In this ancient understanding of the cosmos, the elements that describe all the phases of creation are wood, fire, earth, metal and water.  Each influences the next, in a nourishing cycle of harmonious development. 

Wood is represented by the flexibility and rapid growth of bamboo. When love is first born, it too grows rapidly. Its season is Spring, a time when plants sprout new life and blossom profusely. There is tender excitement, exploration and discovery.  As the day brightens from dawn to noon, relationship proceeds to the next phase, which is fire. Wood provides fuel for fire. 

... You can read the complete article at Intimacy or at

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Yelapa, Mexico

We have stayed on in Mexico for a bit, after leading our winter Intimacy Retreat week at Mar de Jade in Chacala. Right now we are in Yelapa - no cars here, a magical place on the Pacific Coast! To get here, you must take a boat from Puerto Vallarta. Richard and I wintered in Yelapa in 1997, when there was no electricity.  Now, we even have wifi and I was able to get out a newsletter..  See

Thanks for stopping by!