Tantra and a simple practice for Valentines Day
ooooow! Tantra! I bet that makes you blush like a school child with all sorts of imagination running wild about what this blog will be about. And while yes, I could write about that side of Tantra, that is only a little fraction of what Tantra is all about.
If you haven't really understood what I meant in this first paragraph, first let me explain the misconception about tantra yoga. Tantra is often misunderstood to be all about kinky sex and the Karma Sutra. This is not what tantra is all about. Let me explain.
Tantra is a path of yoga where you see the divine everywhere. Like a poet, you see the beauty, the ecstasy in all things. It is about living with full consciousness and awareness. It is seeing every experience as an opportunity for spiritual discovery and growth. There is no good - and no evil, for we are all the same conciousness. Tantra is a non- dual path, that means there is no separation from the divine (whatever that may mean to you ) and ourselves, nor one another and ourselves- we are all truly the same, just living different experiences.
This seems to be a common thread in most spiritual practices, however, Tantra is different because it does not deny pleasure and desire as some other paths may. It see's the denial for desire as a never ending battle that leads only to guilt and shame, for desire is a very strong natural force - a force that is also necessary to sustain life: the desire to procreate, the desire to eat, the desire of obtaining certain material things. Where as other paths say the way to enlightenment/ liberation / transcendence is through denial and abolishment of desire, Tantra says there are methods of finding this liberation using desire as a vehicle.
Now, this is where Tantra can be misunderstood. There is a big difference between 'true' desire and 'false' desire and there must be right view toward it in order for Tantra to be anything more than an excuse to have a good time. We must understand that desire can be cheeky and delusional. Let me cite a verse from the book 'Tantra Illuminated' - written by Christopher Wallis:
"Why would Tantra bother to legitimate the common variety of delusion based desire, seeing that it has never brought true and lasting freedom to anyone ever? Ordinary desire is binding for it reinforces the false view that you are not already complete as you are, that you are something separate from the object of your desire. Desire becomes a vehicle to your liberation when you trace it back to its source and realize that your desire for some external situation (whether a car, a spouse,whatever) is really a desire for the feeling, the flavour of conciousness, that having that thing will bring you; or to be more accurate, the feeling that you 'believe' having that thing will bring you. All desire boils down to that fundamental desire for the fullness off being. As suggested above, this fullness of being is not accomplished by anything else. It is your natural state,and in terms of desire, it is accessed by finding the primal root of your desire, far deeper than any particular wanting, and letting it explode with the realization that ultimately you simply desire to be the whole of what you are. The intensity of this desire has the power to shatter the confines of the constructed self. for it is not satisfied until it is connected to everything. In this way, desire becomes a vehicle of your liberation.
Whenever you are centred in the real core of your being, a completely different kind of desire can arise: the 'pure desire' that is a natural flowing forth of your essence-nature into embodied action. It does not seek to grasp something and bring it in. It is the opposite movement: an impulse to share yourself, to connect your innate vibration with the world. This desire does not limit or contract you, for it does not arise from the self- image but from a much deeper place. This is the kind of desire that the tantra honours unreservedly, the longing not only to be your self but to act in the world as a beautiful expression of that self."
I couldn't have said it better myself :) What a beautiful way to live your life - with 'longing not only to be yourself, but to act in the world as a beautiful expression of that self."
The practice: Eye Gazing
I had the honour to have practised this exemplification once in my teacher training and once under the teaching of James Chard at a recent yoga mala. Both times were exceptionally powerful and insightful. This is not a sensual or sexual thing ( although if you want to try it our for valentines day, I would give thumbs up ;) ) This is a simple exercise to learn how to look at life/ someone on a deeper level. To see past their external persona and see way deep into their being. They say the eyes are the windows to our soul- what does their soul look like to you? What to do:
Simple. Come to sitting face to face in a comfortable sitting position. First, close your eyes and connect with your own centre. Take your partners hands in your hands, and stare into each others eyes. ( if this is done with opposite sexes, the male has his palms facing upwards and the female places her hands onto of his, he lightly seals the gesture by closing his thumbs over her fingers).
This is not a staring competition, drop the ego. It's ok to smile and laugh at first as we are not conditioned in our society to hold someone gaze for so long, but once the initial giggles are out of the way, settle and drop into the moment, deep into their gaze. Stay here for several minutes.
Can you see the divine in this person sitting right in front of you? Do you feel anything but deeply connected? The Benefits of Eye gazing • Awakens emotional energy and helps to unblock the chakras • Brings you into present time • Creates more intimacy between you and another person very quickly • Deepens your connection to your Self and others heart energy and opens you to feel more love • Allows you to access more of your heart's energy and thereby feel your feelings more deeply
This is such a powerful, yet simple practice to truly connect with your heart and with another person on a deeper level. And again, this does not have to be done with a lover. This can be done with anyone whom you want to deepen a bond/ relationship with, or simply someone who is just willing for you to try out this hippy dippy stuff with :)
Go on, give it ago. What's the worst that can happen - you smile and have a laugh?!
Love, peace and practice!