I don’t know how I can put it more simply than I have before; but I will write it again; "Workshops are not life" and "Spiritual practice is not therapy"!
I have come across more people for whom going to a workshop is a refuge from the real problems and challenges of ordinary life. They can function well in the refined, structured and boundaried space of a workshop with the controlled intimacy of exercises but faced with ordinary real life with its fluidity, chaos and need for choices and practical action they simply collapse into regression or depression.
Spiritual and esoteric practices can of course help the spiritual development of the practitioner; but as Ken Wilber has shown with his map of lines of development; there is virtually no linkage between spiritual development and; emotional, moral, intellectual, aesthetic, somatic or any other sort of development. In particular, spiritual practice doesn't help produce a solid sense of self for dealing with the world. This comes from a good enough early childhood and then from living life - and if that isn't working, then from therapy. Therapy isn't best done in workshops with dramatic and intense experiences. It comes best from the experience of a steady therapeutic relationship where past traumas can be gradually cleared and with good enough holding, empathy and mirroring; to develop an ego strong enough to deal with the challenges of life without dissociating, disintegrating or regressing. So often, as with catharsis; we mistake relief for real healing. Ironically, many esoteric practices actually encourage the letting go of the ego and connection with everyday life. Again we are back to Ken Wilber’s map of the different regions of the arc of consciousness; the pre-personal the personal and the transpersonal.
It is “courses for horses”; but in today’s quick-fix and intensity-addicted world, few want the “boring” journey of therapy when instead they can be offered instant enlightenment or intimacy or mind-blowing ecstatic or orgasmic states on a workshop or in a festival. There are exceptions in terms of workshops that can make a huge therapeutic difference. In my experience some psychodrama and in particular family constellations workshops can really change past influences but the process of working though and anchoring these changes and insights may still need ongoing work.
Having said all this Transcendence is re-starting its tantra workshops with a residential workshop for committed couples 14th - 16th March. The lucky participants will have enough homework ("homeplay") from this weekend to last them for a further three months at least. After this workshop, at the end of March, we are running a workshop to teach the Cobra Breath a powerful method from tantric kriya yoga which is a daily practice taking a maximum of then minutes which can also be used to transmute sexual energy in lovemaking. Again it is taking the practice into life that is what counts. See www.tantra.uk.com for more information.