I've been thinking a lot about tantra, which some people misunderstand to mean performing crazy sex acts. That form of tantra does exist, but the form I practice is psycho-spiritual and thus about seeking union with the divine, not the divine in the form of another person. The tantra I practice is all about liberation through expansion. My friend describes tantra as using everything as a vehicle for liberation. My spiritual teacher says tantra is an all-around fight, both internal and external. But what does that mean exactly?
For me, that means confronting everything. It means facing my fears, battling my demons, having tough conversations with people, but it also means embracing all parts of myself. That is much tougher than I thought it would be, particularly when it comes to my emotions. I don't mean in big ways like suppressing my anger, I mean in small, subtle ways.
|Tantra is an all-around fight, like this mushroom pushing through the earth.|
For instance, I am single and a part of me thinks I'm going to be single for the rest of my life. Usually this is where I or someone else will jump in and say, “No, of course not!” and proceed to tell me why it's impossible that I'll end up alone. The thing is though, no amount of optimistic thinking, compliments, or affirmations vanishes the part of me that thinks I'll wind up a spinster. She still exists, but instead of voicing her thoughts and feelings, I suppress her. My therapist suggested to me that I allow her to speak and I allow her to feel without judgment and without meaning. Once I did, wouldn't you know it, I felt better and I started breathing more deeply, a sure sign of release.
Feeling all of my feelings has consequences on my physical body as well. There's scientific evidence that shows people who developed malignant melanomas often tended to be people who didn’t express emotion in a healthy way and who suppressed or repressed their anger. The repression of anger suppresses the immune system as opposed to healthy expressions of anger. “It’s not a question of philosophy,” Dr. Gabor Maté said.
How does this all relate to my spiritual practices, meditation in particular? My friend Ramesh Bjonnes, author of Tantra: The Yoga of Love and Awakening wrote about this on facebook a year ago, and I'm partially quoting him now. He said:
"Meditation is not about trying to stop our thoughts, our feelings. In fact, it is not possible to stop the mind from having thoughts, the body from having sensations, and the mind from having feelings based on those sensations....
So in meditation we do not deny anything, we actually become more accepting of everything, and in doing so, we realize where peace and true satisfaction is truly found – not in the fluctuating reality of the body and the mind, but in the stillness of the soul. And that stillness is so big that it contains everything, the only change is that our focus has changed, our identification has changed. It is from this state, we can more soulfully deal with pain, heartbreak, stress, and all the other stuff of life. This is the gift of meditation, to be able to dip into the ocean of the soul and thus return spiritually refreshed."
What this means for me is I'm not denying anything, I'm not suppressing anything, I'm not running away from anything. I'm embracing all of it: the easy and the difficult because I know it's what's best for me in body, mind, and spirit.
I dream of a world where we feel all of our feelings and allow ourselves to voice even our most secret fears. A world where we confront everything, where we express everything. A world where we use everything as a vehicle for liberation and practice the real spirit of tantra.
Another world is not only possible, it's probable.