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Mistress of Tantra BOULDER SURROGATE INSTRUCTS IN THE ART OF SEXUAL HEALING

Byline: William Porter, Denver Post Staff Writer

BOULDER Juliana Dahl opens the door to her split-level home dressed like your average suburban Tantric goddess and sexual surrogate - diaphanous harem pants, purple velvet bra, beaded shawl, bare midriff.

Drawing her visitor inside on this cold morning, Dahl makes the offer one naturally expects from an instructor in the art of seven-hour orgasms.

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"Would you like some tea?" she says. "It's a vanilla hazelnut blend. The first time I had it I just fell in love with it."

Dahl holds up the Celestial Seasonings box, then asks, "Cream or sugar?"

That's the thing about folks who teach school for two decades and then chuck it all to become instructors in Tantra, a 5,000-year-old art of sexual healing: They know how to put people at ease.

With so many of her clients deeply conflicted about sex, that's a good thing.

Dahl figures that in a given year she sees up to 500 clients. They include individuals, couples and group sessions. Some wrestle with profound trauma, such as abuse during childhood. Others just want better orgasms.

"One of the biggest things in my work is maintaining the integrity of it," Dahl says. "A lot of people just adopt the name 'Tantric,' use practices that have nothing to do with Tantric therapy, and anyone who visits that place thinks that's what it's all about."

Here is what Dahl says her practice is not about: Sex for pay. She is emphatic on that point.

"A lot of people think that as a sexual surrogate I have sex with clients," Dahl says. "That's not what this is about at all.

"There is no intercourse here," she says. "There is sometimes sacred touch involved when I work with individuals or couples, but only in the context of teaching and healing."

Dahl says many of her clients have issues, ranging from emotional ones (low self-esteem or victims of sexual abuse) or physical problems such as impotence. Sessions cost $120 an hour, although Dahl is willing to work out barter terms for clients with computer skills. Each client fills out a form detailing his or her history.

"There's so much we buy into growing up that affects us through our whole lives," she says. "People come here with some woundedness, but I've seen amazing healing through this work."

Dahl is writing a book on her work, "Journey of a Sexual Healer." She hopes to finish it by spring. On Sunday, she also will be part of a "Sex in Our City: Women's Voices" panel at the Boulder Book Store, 1102 Pearl St. The session runs from 4 to 6 p.m.

Dahl conducts sessions in the den of her south Boulder home. The room has a soft and gauzy feel, thanks to the billowed fabric covering the ceiling. Futons and oversized pillows ring the room. The lighting is low. It is all quite soothing, which is the desired effect.

"Tantra is really about expanding our consciousness and about helping us to be fully in the world," Dahl says. The promise of heightened bedroom performance is an enticing one.

In a culture conditioned to equate "more" with "better" in everything from candy bars to carspeakers, the notion of orgasms that last longer than the "McNeil-Lehrer Report" feels potent indeed.

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And sex being sex, improved performance in matters horizontal is liable to spark more interest from your partner than longer golf shots. Becoming an elite bedroom marathoner won't land you on the cover of Runner's World magazine, but the shouts and screaming at the big finish will arguably be more gratifying.

But here's the rub, and hold the baby oil: Most people - OK, let's just come out and say, most men - shy away from admitting the need for help in their sex lives. The average guy would rather confess an inability to parallel park before announcing any sexual dysfunction, and we all know how guys feel about their driving.

This is where Dahl comes in.

"Tantra is not just about sex, it's about embracing everything in our lives - fear and bliss, pain and joy, the whole realm of experience - as an opportunity for growth."

Tantra is centuries old. The term is rooted in a Sanskrit word meaning to "extend" or "weave." Tantra was first practiced by Tibetan and Indian Buddhists as a way of uniting flesh and spirit, the end goal being enlightenment.

Spend any time around practitioners of Tantra, and you'll hear the term "energy" used more often than at an Exxon board meeting.

One of Tantra's big selling points is the claim of extended sex through controlled breathing. The musician Sting has claimed seven-hour marathons through the wonders of Tantra.

Practitioners say that Tantra isn't about learning a repertoire of tricks. Beyond the New Age-speak and earnest hosts of instructional videos, Tantra is ultimately about bringing compassion and understanding to a relationship.

"And this ripples out through your entire life," Dahl says. "It's not just how you relate to people in the bedroom, but what happens when you're standing in line at the grocery or driving in Denver traffic."

Dahl grew up in Southern California. She went to college and became a teacher. She married (she's since divorced) and raised children.

Like a number of people who came of age during the 1960s, Dahl grew interested in non-Western philosophical traditions such as yoga and meditation.

"I was a schoolteacher for 20 years," she says. "You know what they say; everything you do prepares you for the next thing in life."

That next thing happened during the early 1990s. Dahl was living in Saudi Arabia, where she had taken a job teaching the children of American oil company employees.

"In so many ways it was a strange place to have a spiritual and sexual awakening, because the country is so restrictive to women," she says.

By her account, she was in a deep conversation with a friend when she felt a wave of energy move up through her body. "It went up my spine and out of my head," Dahl says. "I experienced the infinity of everything. It was sexual, but it wasn't sex.

"The big revelation was the unity of everything in your life," she says. "In the Catholic Church, which I was raised in, sex was over here in one place and religion was over there, and never the twain shall meet."

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She later identified that flow of energy as "kundalini," which denotes life force and sexual energy.

Dahl returned stateside and enrolled in the Saybrook Institute in San Francisco, where she earned a Ph.D. in psychology and delved deep into Tantra.

"Tantra has taught me to be more vulnerable and opened me to deeper truths," Dahl says. "It definitely brought a total transformation of my own entity and sexuality."

Coming up: Dahl and her teaching partner, Michael the Red, are conducting an All Day Sexual Mastery session. For $225 a person, attendees will receive instruction in The Multi-Orgasmic Man, Female Ejaculation, Male and Female Sacred Spot Healing and Brain Orgasming. Info at 303-593-2995.

``Unfortunately, our culture has this attitude about touch," she says. ``But it's a natural part of who we are."

CAPTION(S):

PHOTO: The Denver Post / Glenn Asakawa Juliana Dahl, an instructor in Tantric sex and sex surrogate, demonstrates a dance she uses with clients to work up their Tantric energy in the downstairs clinic of her Boulder home. PHOTO: The Denver Post / Glen Asakawa Juliana Dahl, an instructor in Tantric sex and sex surrogate, works with groups of clients in the upstairs area of her Boulder home.