a feast for the senses
As the need for mindful living extends from our personal practices to our community, centers that feed our spiritual appetite have become more necessary than ever before. Living in San Francisco, a veritable Mecca for both the urban mystic and the sentient being looking to make connections with like-minded folk means that you have spiritual centers on practically every street corner. One Taste Urban Retreat Center, however, is a unique fixture in the midst of this mindful living hub. It’s a rare slice of nirvana crammed into a dilapidated corner of San Francisco’s South of Market district. One Taste offers classes and events with topics as varied as sensual art, yoga, fire dance, and meditation, but what all of the events have in common is their commitment to the center’s purpose: achieving both spiritual and physical awareness through the lens of sensuality.
“We strive to bring language to the experience of sensuality,” says Nicole Daedone, who launched One Taste in August, 2004. “It’s an environment that’s both electric and deeply connected.” According to Daedone, reception from the community has been extremely positive, drawing people to various facets of One Taste. “One of the primary aspects of the center is that you have people on different spiritual paths, but there’s one destination…so that means there’s a blending of lots of different people, and we have a precise reflection of a larger community.”
Offering a marketplace for people’s physical and spiritual well-being, One Taste includes a café, bookstore, art gallery, and yoga/massage studios. It’s currently packed with ongoing meditation workshops, gem stone therapy, community dancing, poetry readings, raw food happy hours, massage, yoga and much more. One of the center’s highlights is the Spirited Sunday event, a full day celebration that includes a morning meditation, yoga, dance, afternoon feast and special guest speaker. (A recent Spiritual Sunday event was centered around tsunami relief in South and Southeast Asia.) Aside from offering disciplined inquiries into subjects like transmission meditation and orgasmic rebalancing, the center has created a non-profit, Fill Up America, which directly provides food to local individuals and families in need. Future projects at One Taste include work on a new magazine that will act as an umbrella for what Daedone calls “an emerging orgasmic lineage.”
Aside from its interdisciplinary approach, another unique facet of One Taste is that the 14 core facilitators live, work and play together. Each has a share in the day-to-day operations of the center, which range from managing the gallery to coordinating events and guest speakers. According to Daedone, the core group came together over a period of ten years, during which she traveled and studied various spiritual legacies. In the early 90s, Daedone was the co-founder of 111 Minna, a popular South of Market club/performance space. After her introduction to Theosophy, a mystical spiritual branch that draws inspiration from a hodgepodge of beliefs (Hinduism and Gnosticism, to name a couple), Daedone left her post at 111 Minna and started out on her mission of integrating sensation with spirit. During this time, Daedone also launched the Insight Institute, a private educational organization that offers a direct and integral approach to the art of sensuality through workshops and one on one sessions. Insight Institute classes are also offered at One Taste.
The various sensuality-focused workshops at One Taste (including one entitled “Taboo Course: Seduce Your Shadow Side”) operate on the idea that certain truths can only be communicated through the body in a spirit of play and pleasure. “The work we do is about getting people to be intentional with their bodies, to just plain be in touch with what’s happening within themselves,” she says.
In terms of the general direction that One Taste will be taking, one of Daedone’s key goals is to create a legitimate field for the realm of sensuality, including the creation of research around orgasm and sensual communication. Ultimately, she would like to take this discipline to the university level.
Regarding the plethora of events that draw community, from massage soirees to raw food tasting, “it really all comes back to one practice,” says Daedone. “[One Taste facilitators] have an orgasmic practice we all follow…One of our precepts is ‘one stroke living.’ This means that while there is a lot of blending together of different ideas and activities, it’s just a way of expanding from a single practice. Ultimately, everything we do comes back to sensuality.”