April 15, 2012

Mindful Insights from Sexperts, Rock Stars, Burners and Techies. ~ Cassandra Smith

Luiz Fernando/Sonia Maria

Five Things I Learned at the Conference on World Affairs.

This week in Boulder, the University of Colorado hosted the 64th Conference on World Affairs. The theme this year was “Everything Conceivable,” allowing for a wide range of relevant and controversial topics to proliferate throughout campus. I tried to go to as many panels as my class schedule allowed, and here are five of the most interesting things I learned:

1. Sex is like yoga, what you get out of it depends on how present you are.

According to Evelyn Resh, “There’s just nothing sexier than confidence, and the strongest aphrodisiac of all is undivided attention.”

Resh is a practicing nurse-midwife, sexuality counselor and author of several books including “Women, Sex, Power and Pleasure.” In the panel titled “My Best Sexual Experience Ever and How to Do It,” Resh and several other sexperts talked about how staying present with your partner can mean the difference between mediocre and mind-blowing sexual experiences. Resh’s advice for having good sex was simple and clear: “Be present in the absence of coercion.”

2. We need to bring mindfulness to our relationship with Siri.

In the panel called “More Technology, More Isolation,” all four of the technology and social media experts that spoke agreed that technology is connecting us in new and exciting ways.

The majority felt that this connectivity outweighs any isolating effects, as long as excessive or obsessive technology use is avoided. 

In the question and answer portion, I asked whether they thought people constantly being on their phones in social settings was a problem. I got a mixed response but Jon Sinton, digital media entrepreneur, agreed with my speculation that technology may be getting in the way of us being able to remain in the moment while we interact socially. I found this TED talk, which offers an interesting perspective on the topic:


Carly Carpenter

3.  The women of Burning Man would prefer we refer to The Man as an “it” rather than a “he.”

In the panel titled, “DUET Burning Man Women,” Kiki Sanford and Andie Grace explained that The Man is intentionally designed without broad shoulders or wide hips to reflect a genderless identity. The women also expressed their views on how women’s participation in the development of Burning Man has been an integral part of its success. They used the words “manifesting” and “transformative” a lot, as many burners do, and gave contradictory advice to a girl asking for tips for her first year.

Despite the negative reaction to the ticketing crisis of 2012, it seems the women of Burning Man haven’t lost their playa spirit.

4.  It might be healthier for women to have children before the age of 27.

The witty and brutally honest Evelyn Resh also spoke at a panel called “Reproductive Rights: Sluts’ Vote.” She first identified herself as a “lesbian slut” (a jeer to Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments about Sandra Fluke), and then explained while she knows many people do not agree with her, she wholeheartedly supports women having children younger for two reasons.

First, she explained that biologically speaking, women between the ages of 16 and 27 tend to have more successful pregnancies and healthier babies than women who conceive later in life.

She also suggested that women who have children younger are “usually still self-centered enough not to let the baby become the center of their lives.” Resh claimed women who have children later tend to over-parent, which may cause attachment and dependency issues for the child later in life.

5.  It is totally possible to make a living doing what you love.

The biographies of the panel experts for the presentation called “Surviving as an Artist” are so impressive that there is no room to give full detail here. But what can be said is that Gooding, Abraham Laboriel, Limor Shiponi and James Tanabe are some of the most interesting and sincere people I have ever heard speak.

Tanabe, MIT graduate and former artistic director of Cirque de Soleil, said that every artist should have the mindset that he or she is working for the ability to have more time to create, not more money to spend.

Gooding, touring musician and humanitarian, agreed and advised the audience that having the right intention for your art is key to surviving on it. Working for the art itself, rather than what the art may bring you, aligns the will to survive with the passion to create.

Did you attend any panels at this year’s CWA? What was your experience? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.


Cassandra Smith is an editorial intern at elephant journal.  She is a fifth generation Colorado native who believes dance has the potential to liberate human consciousness from its cultural prison.  Cassandra formerly trained at Boston Ballet and is currently a senior at University of Colorado Boulder studying journalism, sociology and philosophy. Read her blog at cassandralanesmith.com.

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