Hearts Cracked Open Review

This review ran in the March 2007 edition of Contemporary Sexuality, the monthly publication of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).

Hearts Cracked Open DVD Cover

This is, unquestionably, one of the most beautiful, sensitive and inspiring of the recent spate of videos on tantric sexual practices that should be required viewing for anyone who aspires to love a woman.

Hearts Cracked Open: Tantra for Women Who Love Women
Itchy Bee Productions, 2004/2005. $29.95 for home use; available at www.heartscrackedopen.com.

This is, unquestionably, one of the most beautiful, sensitive and inspiring of the recent spate of videos on tantric sexual practices that should be required viewing for anyone who aspires to love a woman. This movie delicately invites us toward the heights and depths of experiences that are available to all of us through tantric lovemaking.

The film is superbly produced, featuring a large number of diverse women whose testimonies about how tantra has deepened their intimacies, expanded their relational horizons, healed the wounds of sexual abuse and emotional trauma, or simply opened their capacity for orgasmic pleasures all resonate with a sincerity that is both poignant and compelling. Their comments invite us toward an understanding of the spiritual energies that are our ecstatic path to enlightenment and offer us a glimpse of everyday tantra as a range of individualized exercises that can simply be pleasurable and emancipatory. The strength of the film is that, while it manages to emphasize tantra as a revitalizing journey of sexual healing and female empowerment, it also shows the integrity of tantric practice as an adventure in bliss.

Many of the basic methods of tantric sexuality are discussed and demonstrated in this movie, including heart-sharing, truth-telling, soul-gazing, and — perhaps most of all —using breath to transform the energies of our spiritual embodiment. Much of the teaching is led by four talented women.

Evalena Rose, founder of LoveJourney, and Marcia Singer, director of the Foundation for Intimacy, contribute their perspectives on many of the relational aspects of tantra. Sexologist Annie Sprinkle not only offers her own brand of demystifying and irreverent humor, but provides an invaluable lesson in urging women to "do it your own way," rather than conform to any prescriptive regimen.

Tantra, is, after all, the practice of living one's life as an erotic-spiritual experiment. However, the heroine of this movie is undoubtedly Pamela Madison, founder of the Women's Sexuality Center in Santa Barbara, Calif., and who is an extraordinary example of those courageous sexual healers working outside the "system" in order to bring hope to those who have been raped, abused, mutilated, psychologically oppressed or otherwise erotically and spiritually disempowered.

Here, Ms. Madison, teaching both clothed and naked, tactfully, yet openly, discusses and demonstrates important matters such as fire breath, harmonized breathing, "charging breath," chakra alignment, female ejaculation and the intricacies of G spot massage. Throughout the video, she is a model of what Buddhists would call "right attitude." The bonus material she provides is probably some of the best media instruction available today.

Although directed at a lesbian audience, this movie carefully stresses that the fe/male split is within us all and that we all need to be liberated from our imprisonment within patriarchal values. If there are any reservations to be stated, perhaps it might be said that the film has a tad too many "talking heads" and is slightly propagandistic. But this is a pioneering effort after all, and it brings tantra to an audience that has often been suspicious of the phallic values within which "tantra" has sometimes — so regrettably — been misrepresented.

At first, we quibbled with the film's title, given the use of "crack" as slang for the vulva. But this is,explained by Marcia Singer, the "sexual shaman" who tells us — in phrasing that is both earthy and insightful — "you can't get off any bigger than you're ready to have your heart cracked open."

Reviewed by Barnaby B. Barratt, PhD, DHS and Marsha A. Rand, MS. The couple are AASECT-certified sex therapists. Barratt and Rand work with the Center for Tantric Spirituality, and can be contacted via www. CenterForTantricSpirituaUty. org.

Reprinted with permission from Barnaby B. Barratt, Phd, DHS.