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Beyond Bodies: Lessons from a Polyamory Conference by Janet Kira Lessin


Alternative Relationships Polyamory

Beyond Bodies: Lessons from a Polyamory Conference by Janet Kira Lessin

Poly Camping at the World Polyamory Conference 2011
Poly Camping at the World Polyamory Conference 2011
Beyond Bodies by Janet Kira Lessin, Chief Focalizer, World Polyamory Association

Nothing like a good old-fashioned polyamory conference to learn how to stretch your wings and move beyond your boundaries. While most times I like to believe I’m rather progressive, open-minded and think outside of the box, polyamory conferences tend to tax my limits, open my eyes and make me look at myself and see where I still judge, evaluate, reject, project, attract and repulse.

Since I put on the World Polyamory Association Conference, by the time I arrive at the Stan Dale Conference Center at Harbin Hot Springs, N. CA, I’m usually a bit frazzled. I hold space for others who come excited to learn, grow, evolve and for some, make connections and find friends, family, lovers, soul mates and/or tribe. For me, at first, I just want to get through registration without incidents, and after all have shown up (for some reason they never come all at once but tend to filter in), I get to relax and enjoy the conference. One step at a time.

This conference was transcendental for me. I was challenged on all levels and was able to face my preconceived notions, prejudices, fears, limitations, projections and reservations and overcome them and rise to greater highs.

This process was not without the intensity of extreme emotions, highs and lows, for myself and some of the others who attended, for whom I held space often at my own expense, to a degree, as I contained myself long enough to hear and bear witness for them, allowing them to fully cathart and express.
Most of us reprogrammed ourselves on a cellular level in numerous ways. We rewrote the books on relationships and interpersonal sharing. I’m still deciphering it all and it’s more than a month later, and I’m still de-constructing and evaluating it all. The score card is heavily leaning on the “good” side and when it’s all said and done, it seems the tally will peak all the way into the “excellent” side of the continuum.

My friend D led the way, all the way. A transgendered woman, she’s the bravest person I’ve ever known. She’s strong, has a lot of confidence, a wonderful personality, is full of love. She taught all of us that love knows no bounds, has no physical limits and is best embraced when offered.

Her path challenged some. But for others it broke barriers, especially when involving attractions and realizing some things just don’t fit into a gender box.

Everyone at the conference allowed themselves to go to new depths of intimacy, transparency and honesty. We shared on deep levels and by the end of the conference, there was plenty mixing and matching in all kinds of configurations. We were all engaged, involved in some deep, organic process that propelled us upward to higher and higher heights and allowed us to love, be it intimately or in friendship. We all came to love each other, in that now, and realized love continues beyond bodies, time and space and exists forever once found.

Sure there were sexpectations aplenty. Never a lack of those at any conference (or dating site for that matter). But over the years I’ve learned to relax with such things and appreciate them as the compliments they’re intended to be. Wants and desires do not constitute requirements, attractions or needs. They require no action or even acknowledgment, although that’s sometimes nice to do. Love is always a two way street. And if it doesn’t flow both ways, then it’s not a match and no one’s fault nor need for apologies.

Love doesn’t mean you “f*ck everything that moves, but does mean you consider what’s offered with love and sensitivity, being fully aware that those who dared be so bold, brave and vulnerable, do so in order to make connections with others, and through love and intimacy (especially sexual intimacy), find parts of themselves they’d otherwise never know.

I reunited with a long-distance lover. We see each other every year at the conference. And he and his live-in beloved come to visit us now and again. Reconnecting after time apart is always an interesting dance for me. I’ve been socially conditioned to build up intimacy, especially sexual intimacy, over time and that involves feeling connected. For me feeling connected involves a degree of familiarity and proximity.

I realize some can do long distance relating better than others. I’m best in relationship when I have daily contact. So reconnecting can be a challenge for me. I get shy.

Yes, shy. After all these years and at my age, I get shy. So I needed a place where I could feel we had some privacy, space away from the crowds. So S created space for me. He erected a tent out of the way. And late on a Saturday night when the moon was full (how romantic) we went off to make love. My husband was long asleep, exhausted from the day’s duties as MC. He blessed us and wished us well. Same with S’s beloved who was off on a date with someone else.

How sweet. Lovely. Better than expected (yes, I keep layering life with expectations no matter how hard I try). I have resistance then I go with it and it’s very exciting, fun, joyous to love those whom you love. My emotional state is always there. I tend to love whom I love and direct contact and time together doesn’t seem to be that much of a factor when it comes to love. And I recognize that as a poly person, I do have my favorites, those with whom I have more in common or whose personalities I like more than others.

I think to say we feel exactly the same about everyone we’re involved with polyamorously may not ring true for all. So equal love probably shouldn’t be an expectation. Although I avoid shoulds anyway, as they frequently lead to disappointments.

I just notice what is and allow. I know that almost sounds like a new age cliche’. But what can you really do? We feel what we feel. We have emotions that defy explanation. We don’t have to act on every one of them, especially the “negative” ones for we can affect so many in so many ways.

For me polyamory’s about getting conscious and being open, aware, honest, up front with what you want, desire and need and allow your friends, family, lovers and the Universe to deliver those things to you. It’s pretty simple. It tends to work. We get in our own way with so many rules.

Yet somehow, deep in our core, we are polyamorous. The dogma of our Judeo-Christian social lives complicates the matter and then we spend most of our lives unraveling and reprogramming to get back where we started as souls before we were born.

Back home a month after the conference Sasha and I are back in our daily lives. For those who follow our story, Shivaya came back to us in August of 2010 and left again a month later. He briefly connected with my best friend, K. Then they rejected each other and dreams shattered, he was gone, once again. Perhaps this time it’s for good.

But I still love him. Love and involvement are two different things. I just wish our Ego Selves could get along better, work out our relationship dynamics and make it work. I do wish him well wherever he goes. And he’s an excellent lover, so there’s some lucky ladies out there (probably not just one knowing him) who are in for a real treat. I love you Shivaya. Kiss, kiss, love wherever you are.

Nature adhors a vacuum. Some old poly friends who went inward for healing from cancer are coming back for a visit next week. Their visit may prompt visit from others in our extended, global poly family. Who knows? Maybe we’ll have a good old fashioned poly love-in, a gathering of the tribe, our pod, a group that loves each other to the core but can’t quite decide who’s supposed to be zooming who?

Much to our surprise, we have reason to celebrate. Two of our poly friends, K and P found love and are now in a relationship. K is my best female friend who left our community with Shivaya, my ex husband, over a year ago. K has come into her own and is blossoming and doing extremely well here in Maui. She’s landed in a sub-community of the greater new-age Maui community that’s open and accepting of polyamorous relationships. She was suffocating before where she lived on the mainland in a monogamous relationship that no longer fit her soul.

K found P, a long term poly who’s led the movement for over 40 years. I would have never put them together in my mind. They seemed so different, I never imagined them a match. But somehow now that they’re relating, it seems so perfect. And I’m happy, smiling ear to ear. Compersion’s grand. I highly recommend it. Happy endings for all.

The next few weeks may deliver a lot of love, surprises and experiences. I’m open, happy for each breath I get to breathe. I have no expections! Well at least part of me doesn’t. I’m learning, getting there, still growing, ever evolving.

We experience the ebb and flow of relationships throughout our lives. When I let go of requirements and expectations, love feels so natural with all beings. My sexual nature is still somewhat a mystery. I can only open to a select few due to programming, I suppose. And there’s divinity in that, which I acknowledge.

But now and again, a match made is heaven is remembered. Once I go into a tantric surrender with my beloveds, our souls rejoice, a reunion born of love that transcends pain of imagined separations and allows us to play yet another day.

Janet Kira Lessin, author of “Polyamory, The Poly-Tantra Lovestyle” availale at