Building your personal Tantric Practice
Building your personal Tantric Practice
One's personal practice (sadhana) will vary with each and every person that has one. Mine has a devotional bent to it. So let's start with something simple, like picking some time to set aside. That means actually scheduling some time..
I like this rule! 15 or 30 minutes a day makes for a strong foundation for your practice. Whether it's stretching, meditating, running, reading, over the years, it will do wonders for you. But when it comes to city life, it can be tough sticking to a daily routine forever. Soooooo, at times, it can be useful to bend the rule a bit. Since 30 minutes a day roughly translates into 15 hours a month, some combination of weekly yoga classes, time at the gym, long hikes on weekends, monthly retreats, ceremony and meditation, should fulfill your 15 to 30 minute a day requirement. The important part is commitment. Make your choice and stick to it. Sadhana is, in this way, a yoga of self love. This isn't building healthy habits either. Sadhana is a choice, each and every time you do it. It's a choice to devote your time to your cause.
So get started! Baby steps are totally ok. No need to jump in head first unless you like swimming. I'm good with wading around in the shallow end till I'm ready.
My practice seems to revolve around Mondays and new moons. I'll tend to my altar, do some meditation or give some offerings. I'll see clients, work on projects, connect with my teachers, whatever I need to stay conscious of my connection with Spirit. Monthly rituals are sometimes done in private, sometimes with friends and colleagues. Over the course of the week, I try to do some yoga and exercise. I always consider my work with clients to be part of my spiritual practice. That's why I've choosen modalities that have a spiritual bent to them as well. I also try to be in or near "nature" whenever I can. At least once a month at worst. Urban nature counts. If I can't make it to the forrest, I visit the land around me, abridge over a river, the yard, I'll even talk to my plants.
It gives me a sense of connection, a sense of continuity in my life. Especially now that I've been doing it for a number of years.
Practice just sitting comfortably and peacefully for five minutes. You don't have to cross your legs unless you want to. You don't need to do anything else, just sit. You might find it can be a hard thing to do without fidgeting or thinking about any distraction, or suddenly having to pee. After your sitting, check yourself out. How do you feel? Was it easy, difficult? Did you fall asleep or get distracted by the TV, phone, etc? Continue this practice till you feel good about sitting. Then expand it. Try something ceremonial like lighting incense or a candle each time you do it. Experiment with having your eyes closed or focused on some object( a cross, a mandala, a blank wall, a photo, etc.). Switch when or where you do it or experience it clothed then naked. Find what makes it more peaceful, exciting, uncomfortable or difficult. Then decide what is best for you at this time. Don't get dogmatic about it. Don't make it a habit. It will get easier, but keep yourself open minded about your experience. If something tells you to do something differently… listen to your intuition. When it's time to expand it even more, you'll be ready for it.
Congratulations! You are on your way.
Learning to move in mysterious ways.
Learning to move in mysterious ways.
Ok, this isn't a spell book. This page is more of a gathering of rituals and exercises that will help you get you out of yourself and into your practice and into opening up to the changes you want to create in your life. At the very least, they will help you to "move and think in mysterious ways" and get you into your creative mind.
Active meditations like this help us to see Divinity in the mundane and within Ourselves. As we become the object of our own Spiritual path, we learn to honor ourselves in the same way we would the Gods. Learning to nurture ourselves and to take a look at how we observe Divinity, helps us to expand our ability to open up to Divinty in ways we wouldn't have thought of, otherwise.
The African Deity, Ogun, is the god of war, and of iron. His earliest tools were weapons, but as time passed, man needed to evolve spiritually, so Ogun melted his iron weapons down and used the metal to form tools for agriculture. That is how he became the teacher of civilization. This is how the "God of War" helped mankind to elevate himself.
Pick up the next small piece of Iron you find on the street and carry it with you as you would a rock or shell from the beach. It too has gone through various transformations and developed disciplines to accomplish it's task. Now that its use is done, it's been discarded (if it could feel, would it be frustrated? Heart broken? angry?). When you feel the time is right, wash it, polish it, oil it. Maybe make something out of it/give it a new use, doesn't matter what, or just let it sit in your pocket for a few months (if it's small enough) and watch it go through it's own transformation of a very slow polishing.
I have a pot that some of these pieces go into. Others go in my potted plants to add nourishment to them and so I can see them during waterings. This is a good one for working with anger. Our anger doesn't leave us, but we can learn to feel it and see it's usefulness in a subconscious way as we do this practice because it's a practice that incorporates symbol. Like a forge, we make our consciousness more pliable, more available for new ways of looking at life, at ourselves, at Spirit.
So here's my first solo exercise. Others will have to do with breathwork, opening the body, connecting with others and more personal rituals like this as well.
First! “Pleasure a non-sexual part of your body.” …. OK! Now think about your first response to this idea. Does it titilate you? Or gross you out? Yes, it may seem strange, but this may be the beginning of developing a loving touch for yourself.
Now try it again with the idea of nurturing and love. Be affectionate towards those parts of your body that never NEVER get any kind of loving touch. Try the elbow or knee. Try a finger, foot, hip. We so often neglect ourselves in this manner, and it's no wonder that we don't know how to touch each other in loving ways.
Ok! So for a minute each day, caress, kiss, touch, hold, massage...whatever to a bodypart that you normally don't think as sexual or sensual..however this comes to you to do.
Once this becomes something that you can appreciate, try it on your lover, friend or a willing stranger (HA! No, not a total stranger anyway.) The key here is to listen to your partner's responses as you explore. Back, finger, foot, wrist, elbow. You may find each of you has their own preference. It will help us to be thoughtful with our touch.
Now go deeper. Touch using your hands in a nontraditional fashion. Caress with the back of your hand, your knuckles and notice how that affects your ability to read their reaction to your touch. Going deeper, don't use your hands at all. Try touching with your arm, feet, chest, butt, etc. And don't forget lips!
Next! Returning to the self, try talking to your body. Knee, arm, hand, foot hair, tooth, tummy, whatever feels good and/or whatever makes you cringe. Go on! Let the dialogue be what it is, but keep it kind. That's right, I said dialogue.LIsten..pretend to listen if you have to. In this practice you will discover that your body can be very receptive and as you nurture it you nurture yourself. Self love is a beautiful thing.
In breath and heart!
One thing that many cultures do is offer things up to their Gods and Goddesses, etc.. The most common offerings are food and incense, candles or fire, and various kinds of musical sounds. The main commonality of all these things is that they affect the senses and are vibratory in nature. Smell, light and sound are made of vibrational energy.
Standing in a peaceful place in nature, consciously begin to breathe at a pace of about four seconds per breath. In two, and out two. As this becomes regular and comfortable, envision your body getting filled with air, not just your lungs but think of yourself as a big vessel getting filled with air. Let your hands begin to move in some way that symbolizes the flow of air flowing in and out of your body.
Take your time and note how your arms feel in various moving actions. All the while continue to be comfortable in your breathing. Don't loose your footing or hyperventilate, keep it easy and natural. Find what movements really resonate with you and your intention of taking air in and letting air out.
Now back to the concept of offerings. Contemplate that the aroma of life is there to feed you. Breath in with your nose and take in the nourishment that Mother Earth is offering you. Are you smelling the trees around you? Flowers? Grass? Rain? Take it all in. Soak yourself with it. Stay conscious of your body and your connection to the earth as you stand. All the while you are still moving your arms in a motion of giving and receiving.
Now contemplate on the idea of giving thanks as you exhale. As you exhale, you release carbon dioxide and other things that actually feed the surrounding trees and plants around you. This is a literal exchange between Mother Earth and you. Take joy in it! Do this about fifty times or so. Embellish it in any way you want to. If you can't go outside, do it at home. A little visualization and intent is all you need.
When your done, put your hands on your heart, hold your breath for a sec. Feel the energy build up then as you exhale very slowly, imagine this energy flowing throughout your body, even cascading over your body. Let it all be absorbed by your body and be grateful for the earth that supports us.
Ever heard a saying that all roads lead to China? Spiritually, that is true for everything. Not the China part, but circle the globe in any direction and you will be right where you are. The path to God is often viewed in the same way. What I'm trying to get at is that there are two general paths that the "Mystic" will take on his/her way to find their spiritual goal. One is introspection, and the other is extrospection. The Yogi is introspective by using the breath and meditation to purify the body for uniting with the Divine. The Ceremonial Magician is extrospective by designing everything that is seen in the Temple to be symbolic of his/her will to become united with the Divine.
Visually, pick to opposing points on any circle and see that there are two paths for either point to get to the other side. Most of us aren't Yogis or Ceremonial Magicians but we do things that could be considered on either side of that circle. Did this just double your options? Play with this visualization and see what comes up for you.
These articles vary in content.
About Puja An interview with Swami Chetanananda, a monk of the Ramakrishna Order while at the Kali Mandir in Laguna Beach California.
On Prana by Dr. Robert E. Svoboda
Ritual Success by Dr. Robert E. Svoboda
When Kali Comes to Call by Dr. Robert E. Svoboda
Sensory Awakening Ritual by Crystal Dawn Morris
Be a Masterful Lover Give your Goddess 3 Gifts by Crystal Dawn Morris
Alabama: 19th Century too Risque by Dr. Marty Klein
When "Self-Help" is Part of the Problem by Dr. Marty Klein
The Secret Lives of Prostitute Moms by Tracy Quan
Insights into Sex and Spirituality by Deepak Chopra
Are we Gods and Goddesses? by Michael Mirdad
Article on Cecearian Births I added this one because it's related as to how our society looks at motherhood. Just some good food for thought. Especially if you have a woman in your life who's a mother to be or wants kids or has had kids. You get my point?
Re-wiring the Sacred Circuits a blog article by Katrina Rivers
Ancient Tantra is an interesting read. Rings true (of course anything is true till disproven) and sounds like other things I've read in terms of Tantra culturally coming from Western Africa...Check it out!
Tantra Kundalini is another site for good reading. I especially like the visual for connecting parts of the SriYantra with the chakras..
Scrolls of Mahendranath here's some fine reading for you if you're interested in the eastern pracitces.. a fascinating man and website..
Overcoming a Sexless relationship An article well worth reading. Elementary yet profound if you've ever been in this place. Jayia, the author says about 85% of her practice comes from couples experiencing this.. This is a big issue for a lot of people..
Let's Talk About Sex Abuse An article about how to protect your child from abuse by being better informed. I'm not happy with the way I've described the article, but know it's worth reading.
Slut shaming a new article to read about child rearing and sexual values.
Sex Worker or Therapist? This article was censored by Psychology Today and never appeared online. Now it was published in Psychology Tomorrow instead.
hese are books that I've enjoyed. Some are out of print. Some have authors with more than one book worth reading. Sorry, no links here, just titles and authors that I recommend on the subject of Tantra.
She Comes First by Ian Kerner Ph.D.
Dont Drink the Punch A great novel by Kamala Devi.
Aghora: At the Left Hand of God by Robert E. Svoboda. This is part of a trilogy.
Secret Garden Books and more by Kenneth Ray Stubbs.
Kali's Odhiya by Amaranda Bhairavan.
The Essence of Tantric Sexuality by Mark A. Michaels and Patricia Johnson.
The Tantric Way: Art, Science, Ritual by Ajit Mookerjee and Madhu Khanna
Tantra: the Art of Conscious Loving by Charles and Caroline Muir
This should get you started. There are many, many authors with wonderful books on Tantra. These are simply a sampling.
Bhagavan Das My favorite for Kirtan msic, Bhagavan Das has some increadible CDs. Just check it out!
David Newman Music David Newman has some very beautiful and spiritually oriented music. You can listen to him on his website. We use some of his music in our classes. We also like his soon to be wife, Mira, who has her own CD out. I like her folk songs that are interspersed with the chants.
Kalidas Music Kalidas has some nice sounds and interesting chants. Some CDs are like remakes of others but different. There's some U-Tube stuff on him too now. It's nice to hear a variety of Kali chants too.
Raphael and Kutira have lovely music as well. Especially for Tantra and meditation.
If you enjoy Kirtan music and are in Chicago, Yoga Now has monthly events including Kirtans from local and visiting artists.
A Tantric Dictionary or glossary of terms for you to peruse has had multiple donors of words and their definitions. Some of these words and/or definitions have gotten away from me during the editing. Sometimes you'll see something missing, confusing or just plain wrong. Well, there's always an opportunity for growth and rewriting. In breath and heart!
In Breath and Heart,
In Breath and Heart,