The Human Awareness Institute
-- This Section re written April 2014 --
This section is included on my Nudist page because Nudism / Clothing Optional is part of the HAI workshops. My interest in HAI came about through meeting several "HAI Graduates" (one female, two male) at River Island one weekend in 1999. The immediate difference between HAI Grads and Non Grads (especially in a clothing optional setting) was immediately apparent. All the normal taboos about touching and expressing love to each other were almost non existent. To un-initiated onlookers, the actions of these enlightened humans looked like group sex - or at least polygamy. This was clearly not the case to me. Sex seemed to be the furthest thing from their minds. Whatever it was, it needed to be investigated further.
HAI run a series of nine weekend residential workshops titled “Love, Intimacy and Sexuality”. There is a strong “new age” influence – however the workshops are advertised as existing outside of any belief or religious system and applicable to anyone – which they are.
My HAI experience exists in two distinct stages. It was separated by an 11 year break while me and my partner had kids. All my workshops were completed in Australia.
Stage 1 (1999 - 2002) in the following order :
L1,L1,L2,L3,L4 (all as a single male)
HAI Mens workshop (no longer offered)
L1 (as a couple)
Stage 2 (2013 – 2014) :
L2,L3,L4 (as a couple).
My “stage 1” experience was distinctly different for me to my “stage 2” – principally because my stage 1 workshops were done as a single male while my stage 2 workshops were all done as a couple.
1.) Sex, Love and Intimacy - Separate or The Same?
Much of my Nudist pages (and the “philosophy” of Nudism in general) is dedicated to explaining that Nudity and Sex are not the same thing. Nudity is a form of intimacy - sharing yourself with others. Could it also be true that Intimacy and Love while related to Sex, are also not the same thing?
As humans, we need Love. We also need to be able to express love to others around us. Love is the glue which gives us relationships, and a reason for living. The opposite is loneliness, depression and.. usually.. suicide.
As Children we have the ability to be intimate with anyone and everyone we meet. We lose this ability in our teens when society tells us that "intimacy" is only relevant to sex and is something we should practice only with our chosen sexual partner. As we grow older, some of us are able to retain intimacy with one or both of our parents or others in our family. Rarely can we express love and intimacy outside this framework unless it is as a part of sex.
For most people in our society, the ability to give or receive love from anyone outside immediate family or their sexual partner is extremely limited. So many people are left starved - unable to give or receive love. Even for people in a solid relationship with a sexual lover, the limits of each partner to supply the intimacy and love needs of the other partner are regularly breached or ignored. This explains why many relationships which seem "so solid" eventually fail.
In modern society, a person starved of intimacy will go looking for sex to fulfil that need to give and receive love. But what they really seek is to just be intimate with other humans - not necessarily to have sex with them.
Let's just pause for a moment to think about the intimacy we once had with our parents as young children. This intimacy was not sexual. We lost our ability to exercise this intimacy as young adults when Sex confused the issue. Still many other people have never even experienced "childlike love". They have survived through broken families, homes and relationships.
The HAI workshops address this situation. Through a series of exercises, it is possible to "re learn" to be intimate with others the same way we used to express love and intimacy with our parents, brothers and sisters, without the need for a sexual agenda. The HAI Workshops simply reactivate an area of our lives which has been suppressed since our teens.
So I may have left you with a dilemma similar to that I had myself before I participated in a HAI workshop.. it's impossible to explain in words. So if you really want to know how it works, you'll have to submit to the procedure and attend a workshop! (sorry..!)
So now the sales pitch..
The workshops are FUN! It's all above the board and clean as a whistle. While you're participating in the activities you'll occasionally think "I can't believe I'm doing this!!"..
Some of the activities might seem like sexual fantasy - but there's no need for sex to be involved. Soon you'll discover that your old "fantasies" are pretty flat and boring, and humans are far more interesting than that! It may also cure you of lots of sexual rubbish and guilt you've carried around for a long time, like pornography addiction, the nudity sex switch, and the Hollywood lies about "performance". You'll find out what's really important for YOU and not just "everyone else's opinions". In the process you'll learn how to put others before yourself without putting yourself down.
Dealing with sexuality (in particular) is an important part of what makes the HAI workshops work. So many other “spiritual” and “relational” workshops run by church and other personal development organisations, omit this item from their scripts entirely. By doing so, they disconnect the physical from the spiritual. That’s what makes HAI workshops more effective (and potentially.. more dangerous) than any of the above. Sexuality is at the absolute root of the human being. It’s not in our brain, it’s in our spine.
So many things we do daily and so many decisions we make in life, are unknowingly made because of our sexuality. Although we can deny it, sexuality drives the human being at it’s most basic level. There are times in HAI workshops when you sit there and wonder “does a relational workshop really need to have al this sexuality stuff in it?”. By the end of the weekend- it all makes sense.
Of all the HAI workshops I did in both of my “stages”. I have never once met anyone who wished they had not done one. There are plenty of opinions. The best way to approach a HAI workshop is as you would a weekend “rock festival”. You go. You enjoy “the show” with a wide range of people you probably won’t ever see again. What happens on the mountain “stays on the mountain”. However unlike at a Woodstock, you will come home again with no regrets, no splitting headache or hangover and with ammunition that you can apply in your real life back home to make it better.
If you’re one of the rare people that doesn’t benefit from a HAI workshop at all, well then.. you’ve only wasted 48 hours of your life and around $600 bucks. That’s not much more than you might waste in a myriad of other recreational activities of similar length and stature so relax and remember - at least the food is good!
Oh and by the way – you won’t be having sex with anyone or watching others do same. Not in any of the workshops I have attended anyway. A Monty Python script it isn’t. So again.. relax!
2.) The “HAI community”
Beware. Soon after you do your level 1, you’ll wonder if relationships in life can be the same as in a workshop. They can’t.
The motto HAI loves to trumpet is “Creating a world where everyone wins”. In reality that world only exists within the four walls of the workshop room. Outside that room, applying the same rules can be disastrous to your spiritual health.
Even within the room, life can be tough. Throughout the series of workshops you’ll often come across times when participants need to choose other participants to do exercises with. In an ideal room this would happen randomly but in practice, most participants have already formed a solid idea as to exactly who they want to interact with and who they don’t. This can leave you very much feeling “out of it” unless your very fast.
Slog on, no matter what happens. You’ll learn something. Eventually you will get to spend time with the participant of your dreams. More often than not, it’ll smash your ideas about what you thought the result would be. “Being about choice”. That’s what the heart of the workshops is all about. And the choices you make when the facilitators move you into a “selection process” will teach you the most valuable lessons you will take out of the workshop at the end of the weekend.
Perhaps the worst aspect of the “HAI Community” which I experienced (this happened mostly in my “stage one” period where I did most of the workshops alone) was an annoying tendency for “HAI Grads” to be “commitment adverse”. It probably has quite a bit to do with the background of many participants (who are generally there because they have suffered broken love and need “repair”). Many now take “living in the moment” far too seriously. When it’s time to “grab on hold with both hands and hold tight” – they just can’t. Their life suffers as a result. They go back again and again, seemingly trapped in a never ending cycle of workshop “addiction”. Don’t become one of them. Come. Learn. Then.. move on.
In short – don’t build up HAI to be more than it really is. It’s not some kind of belief structure or religion that’s going to fix your life up, offer endless opportunities or even act as a “pick up joint”. It’s just a group of producers who have developed a series of workshops. They run to fairly strict guidelines. Everything they say and do is carefully scripted. Over the years the things that work have been kept, the things that don’t have been dropped. By far, it’s the best and most mature series of relational workshops anywhere in the world that you can participate in.
Enjoy, then leave. Don’t expect participants to be the same outside the workshop than they were inside. Go to the reunions if you dare, but treat them as “mini workshops” - not opportunities to leverage HAI to help solve the problems you’re having in your own life. It won’t. If you try, you will only make things worse. If you aren’t careful you may uncover HAI’s “dark side”. A side of HAI that just like with churches and so many other groups, DOES exist.
3.) HAI for Christians
Through participation in HAI Workshops and through interaction with graduates I have come to the conclusion that;
4.) HAI the organisation
Since the death of it’s founder Stand Dale in 2007, HAI has matured. It has moved away from the “guru that can do no wrong” model of it’s earlier years. Before that I’ll admit – there were a few problems. Having done one of my “stage 1” workshops with Stan, I can say that all the while he was alive, I believe HAI as an organisation was still in it’s “experimental” stage and was never quite sure of where it should go. The organisation seemed to be heading one way but Stan often headed in another. That’s all gone now.
The Australian chapter has moved away from a private company and is now a non profit Association run by a committee of local HAI grads. The facilitators however are still imported. As a result the Aussie version no longer struggles financially and is moving from strength to strength, limited only by it’s access to facilitators and potential participants.
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