Returning to Inspiration after Fear | New Moon in Scorpio | Vedic Astrology Forecast for December 11th, 2015
Today begins the energetic window leading up to the New Moon in Scorpio on the morning of December 11th. The Moon has already entered Scorpio and, as I discussed in the Taurus Full Moon report, the Moon in Sidereal Scorpio is a challenging position.
We have had a 2 week period of learning to stabilize our fears through the Full Moon influence, and now the New Moon in Scorpio begins a new cycle of transformation. On November 29th, several days after the Full Moon, Venus transited into Libra. Here, our capacity for happiness and our ability to compromise with others returns to more stable and supportive ground. This transit also shows our Capacity for Happiness is finally stepping away from the agitation and conflict prone influence of Mars that has created many challenges for relationships and healthy compromise for the last several months.
On the morning of December 6th, Mercury transited into Sagittarius. Leaving the influence of Scorpio’s connections to dark emotions, fears, insecurities and unexpected changes, our capacity for communication (Mercury) steps out of the connection to “hidden power” and into a sign of hope, optimism and higher principles. These two recent transits (Mercury and Venus) bring a more supportive and positive influence to allow us collectively to discuss recent terrorist events, as well as personal insecurities and emotional upheavals we may have had, in a more inspired way. Mercury in Sagittarius provides a more hopeful conversation based upon higher principles, and Venus allows us to be more considerate, diplomatic and respectful of others as we try to find understanding and solutions that honor the collective.
Interestingly, the day after Mercury shifted, on December 7th, it was announced that Donald Trump has publicly stated his proposed “Ban on Muslims” entering our country. Mercury is a double indicator of speech for him, as it rules the second house in his natal chart. Mercury also rules his 11th house, revealing that communication and speech are connected to his highest ambitions. And Sagittarius in his natal chart is the 5th house of creative potential and his desire to share with the world what he most loves and what most brings him peace. As Mercury enters Sagittarius, he is spontaneously inspired to communication his own higher ambitions, values and principles that are dearest to his heart. The “Ban on Muslims” is therefore him revealing his highest ideals and what he feels most passionate about. (What might this reveal about his character?) It happens to come while Sun and Saturn are still connecting energy to our collective fear, and while the emotional energy of the moon is waning and preparing to enter Scorpio, where it will again experience a feeling of vulnerability.
As the New Moon activates in Scorpio, we are beginning a new Lunar cycle that starts with a reminder of entering into our fears with the invitation to transform them. Hopefully, we can carry the lessons of stabilizing the mind that we learning through the recent Full Moon. Because the Sun will transition into Sagittarius on December 16th, this New Moon cycle will carry with it the energy of evolving past our fears.
In Scorpio, we come face to face with our fears and insecurities. We get experiences of the ups and downs of life. We face the challenges of relationship. And through this process, while we are learning to transform our fears into higher levels of personal power, inner strength and confidence, we are also invited to discover through our own experiences some “harsh” realities: Life offers no guarantees of happiness. We cannot expect “other” to make us happy. Even the best of relationships will one day end and thus do to not offer “permanent” happiness to us. We must make personal efforts to evolve, transform, stabilize our minds and seek higher and higher understanding of where our happiness truly comes from, or we will remain in the unstable emotional waters of our inner fears.
It is with these lessons, both of inner strength and the realization of these “harsh realities”, that we are invited to step into Sagittarius. Here, we begin the search for happiness beyond the realm of personal relationships. This is where religion, spirituality, higher teachings, higher purpose and a connection to something beyond our individual self and personal relationships is inspired into experience. Here we connect with hope and inspiration that there IS something of meaning and purpose to all of the challenges we face in life. That there is a way to cultivate a deeper peace that we have not yet truly stabilized in the world in a permanent way. This hope and optimizing inspires a quest for deeper truth in all realms. There IS a way out of our fears, our insecurities, our suffering. And, in Sagittarius we connect to that hope and inspiration and search.
We must understand that in this context “religion and higher teachings” can really be boiled down to the principles, values and meanings that we hold most dear. Not everyone thinks of themselves as “religious or spiritual” and even for those who do, not all of our “personal philosophies” are necessarily directly linked to the teachings of our faith. But it is universally true that everyone has a personal philosophy on life and its deeper meaning (or lack there of).
Trump has given a public face to one of his “personal philosophies” and spoken it allowed. What concerns me more is not “that he thinks that way”, but that his personal beliefs may (unintentionally) fuel fear and hatred among those who are in a less stabilized state of mind right now. There has already been a rise in reports of anti-Muslim sentiment within the USA, and other parts of the world. This all arising with heavy influences of Saturn, Sun and (recently) Mercury in Scorpio. Fears, insecurities and “hidden power” leading to irrational conclusions and irrational acts. And Trumps statements, to some, may be seen as “defending against the enemy”.
“Muslims” are not the enemy, and we cannot allow fear to distort the facts. When we take our “fear”, hatred and unevolved understandings and infuse it into our “personal philosophy” – well that’s what terrorist do. And that is where the problem lies. We can’t solve the problem by making the same mistake in logic that is causing these issues to begin with.
This is why, in Scorpio, we must learn to stabilize the mind and evolve beyond irrational fears and insecurities. We MUST transform our fears into a peaceful mind with strengthen emotional clarity. ONLY THEN, can we step into Sagittarius and create a “personal philosophy” which is based upon clarity, peace and a connection to a deeper Truth.
Of course, the “terrorists” will also be inspired by this same shift into Sagittarius, as it will fuel their own hopes and personal philosophies as well. But hopefully, the majority of us that truly want peace, can use this same inspired energy to reconnect to hope and deepen our own faith in something beyond the recent frightening events. Hopefully we can reconnect with a hope and optimism that reminds us that “most people are inherently good”, that “love heals” and to “treat others as we would like to be treated”. A few “bad apples” doesn’t require that we destroy all apple trees.
The Scorpio energy, in many ways, is the entry point into the Path of Tantra Yoga. In Tantra we learn to discover the Hidden Power within us that can be used to Transform our inner fears, insecurities and limitations. And from that evolution of Inner Power we develop Self-Mastery of Life Force Energy and the Forces of Creation. Through these experiences, it evolves into a conscious Tantric Path which seeks higher meaning and understanding of Self and of life.
Over the next several days, I encourage you to explore your own irrational fears in a balanced and peaceful way. To intentionally become part of evolving the Collective vibration towards stability and peace (as discussed in the Taurus Full Moon report). And then, as the Sun shifts into Sagittarius in the early morning hours of December 16th, begin more and more to connect to an inspired philosophy that encourages growth, peace, love and truth. We cannot always know “what is hidden”, but we can learn to stabilize our minds and hearts amidst the insecurity of the unknown and choose a higher path of truth, love and hope.
What, for you, are the philosophies, the teachings, or the ideas that give meaning and inspiration, and how can you cultivate them more right now?
The above is a general Vedic Astrology Forecast. It discusses the shifts that are happening at the level of the Collective experience, as well as how you can use that Collective energy for your own growth and evolution.
For a detailed reading of how the Planetary cycles will impact you personally, you should schedule a private Vedic Astrology Reading.
Sex, Money and Spirituality: Past and Present
Is “Sex a sin”? Were you told in subtle or not so subtle ways that “money is the root of all evil”? Can you be “sexual” and also “Spiritual”? Can you be wealthy and also Spiritual?
These messages, in various forms, have been a part of our culture for a long time. I have heard it suggested that these messages were intentional attempts by the Church to ensure that money would continue to come into the Churches. The concept of this argument is simple: convincing you that you are a “sinner” ensures that you will seek out the remedy which is the “church”, and attendance equals donations.
I tend to have a more optimistic view of these things. I do believe that the concept of needing to be saved from sin probably did improve church attendance. But, I also believe that the priests and religious leaders actually believed in the message and, for the most part, were simply serving the best they knew how. Sure, there has probably always been a little corruption here and there. But I think it may be more helpful to examine the concepts and understand why they came about to begin with.
It is easy to dismiss “sex is a sin” and “money is the root of all evil” as ridiculous statements. In their simplest essence, they are lies. And even as we know that, these concepts are so ingrained in our culture and our history, that they linger in the background of our collective subconscious minds creating inner conflicts.
And it can still be seen today, especially in Spiritual communities, that these types of debates continue. It doesn’t matter what religion, be it Christianity, Hinduism or any others. Even in spiritual communities connected to Yoga and Buddhism, you will find variations taught.
I know several yoga teachers and spiritual healers who are plagued by guilt, thinking that it is wrong to take money for what they see as a spiritual service. And I know plenty of Yoga teachers who will still tell you that the Yama of “Brahmacharya” declares that Yogis should be celibate.
These are modern examples of how these messages still interfere with our happiness and our pursuit of spiritual truth.
Rethinking the Past: A Shift in Perspective
If we are able to avoid the “knee-jerk reaction” of declaring these concepts “ridiculous” or accepting them at face value and look to what they are pointing to, then we can consider that the original intention of the advice was well meaning. That it actually points to principles of non-attachment. It reminds us that obsession with anything can send the mind into a downward spiral. We have all likely seen movies about the downfall of a greedy businessman, or the “bottoming out” of an alcoholic, or the destruction of marriage because of sex addiction.
And from the perspective of a Spiritual Path, becoming too obsessed or attached to wealth and pleasure will cause you to focus away from your Spiritual path. It’s kind of like a parent encouraging their child to focus on school studies and be responsible by asking them to be home by 10pm.
They were just warning us about these distractions from a deeper truth. They meant well. It’s just that over a period of time, people forgot WHY it was said, and began to take it as a “rule” that SHOULD be followed. The biggest problem is that these “rules” don’t match out own experiences of being human. Because most everyone will desire pleasure and enjoyment. Most everyone will have sexual desire. And we need money to provide for ourselves and our families.
And when we are being told that our very nature is wrong or that the thing that makes us happy is wrong, that creates a BIG problem. But I don’t think that is what was originally meant by these concepts. We SHOULD heed the warning of being aware of our attachments in general, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our lives, and our bodies and have some money too.
We really CAN have our cake, eat it too and wear a gold watch while eating it, and STILL be properly following a Spiritual Path. Its TRUE. I PROMISE! (Although, I don’t personally wear a watch.)
Clarity through The Four Goals of Life
Fortunately for us, there is a clear teaching around this in the Yogic Traditions. It is called the “4 Purusharthas”. This is a compound word combining “Purusha” and “Artha”. “Purusha” is a reference to the deeper Divine Spark which is your nature. Some would call it the “Soul”. And “Artha” is usually translated as “wealth”.
So the 4 Purusharthas are things that bring wealth and value to the Soul. In English, we commonly refer to this as “The Four Goals of Life”. They are the Four areas of life that are legitimate goals to pursue in order for the Individual Soul to find balance and happiness in life.
The Four Goal are as follows:
1. Dharma (Purpose, Truth)
2. Artha (Wealth, Material Possessions)
3. Kama (Pleasure, Enjoyment)
4. Moksha (Knowledge of Self, Spiritual Liberation)
You will notice that “Wealth” and “Pleasure” (including sex) are included within them. So, there is a clear Yogic teaching that says “It’s all good man…” But, don’t run off to the wild orgy on a money covered floor just yet! We still need to understand that context!
So how is it that there is this clear teaching telling us that wealth and pleasure of legitimate goals for the individual to pursuit, and yet what we have heard most is “Sex is a sin” and “money” is evil and opposed to authentic spirituality?
Well, as I said earlier. The warning was to find balance. And we must understand these Four Goals in balance also. So let’s examine each one separately.
Dharma is usually thought of in connection to “career” in this context. But at its deepest level, it means that the work and the actions that we take in life should be aligned with a deeper sense of purpose and meaning. The individual will feel greater peace and happiness if what he or she does in the world feels like it is benefiting others or humanity, or is at least serving some purpose beyond “getting up, going to work, and then going to bed”.
Please note, that “dharma” doesn’t tell us WHAT we should be doing. There is no insistence that we all become monks, or that we all operate a charity, or anything like that. Because these rules understand that the diversity of Karma will create a wide variety of different “dharmas” for different people. It is perfectly fine if your dharma is to be an artist, run a business, serve the elderly, become a chef or anything else in the world. So long as what you are doing feels satisfying and provides YOU with a sense of purpose that truly feels good to you, then you are golden, no matter what anyone else thinks about it.
Having the Material resources that we need to feel safe, comfortable and happy is a worthwhile goal for the individual. But again, because of Karma, we can’t assume this means that everyone is supposed to be Millionaires. What it means instead, is that it is ok to have more than enough. For some that will be a small house, food and clothing. For others it will be a large house, a nice car and the latest iPhone. And for others, it will be millions or billions of dollars and a truly opulent lifestyle.
The larger point is that it is fine to have money and material resources so that your needs are met. It acknowledges that the individual soul will feel more at peace if it feels materially and financially supported.
This Goal of life declares that the individual Soul will find greater peace if it is allowed to enjoy the pleasures of life. That enjoying the pleasures of the body, food, entertainment, time with friends and other experiences will actually bring greater happiness to the individual. And because of this, it is worth pursuing.
Again, it doesn’t define what the pleasure should be. There is no rule that says “in order to be happy, one must eat at least one dessert per day, and engage in sexual activity a minimum of 3 times per week”. It doesn’t state these rules, because again, it knows that the Karma of each individual is different. Instead it says “It’s ok to enjoy life and find pleasure in the world around you”. How each individual experiences that will be unique.
Now we come to the Goal that is most commonly associated with Traditional Yoga. Moksha is the pursuit of Spiritual Liberation. The most valued form of this would be “Enlightenment”. But we could also say that Moksha is the seeking of greater knowledge and wisdom. And that seeking will eventually evolve into the search for Enlightenment.
But at the very least, the individual Soul thrives when it is evolving. When it is learning more about its nature and its relationship to life so that it can refine the choices that it makes and develop a more enlightened perspective on the whole experience.
While the final stage of Spiritual Enlightenment is fairly well defined, the goal of Moksha is still understood to be a different path for each individual because each Soul has different Karma, and therefore needs different lessons and experiences to evolve.
Are All 4 Goals of Life Equal?
According to the teachings on the Four Goals of life, it is made clear that the highest and most important goal is Moksha. And because of this, some people have dismissed the other goals and focused only on Moksha. That approach may work for an individual who is already very evolved. But it isn’t likely to help most people.
But the teaching still emphasizes that Moksha is the most important of these goals in the end, and encourages us to pursuit the first Three Goals with the intention of supporting the Soul’s pursuit of Moksha. This is a very Tantric approach to Spiritual evolution, in that we learn to embrace and enjoy life in the world and use it as a part of our spiritual practice.
There is a quote that is attributed to Buddha that states “You cannot teach a starving man to meditate.” The implication is that if the basic needs of life are not met, that the mind will be so restless and focused on meeting those needs, that it will be unable to find the focus and peace needed to attain a meditative state. In essence, it points to the need to create balance in our outer life first, before we can pursue Spirituality in a more balanced way.
The First Three Goals point to the remedy for this. By embracing that a sense of purpose, material resources and pleasure are needs of the Soul, we can remove the restlessness from the individual by ensuring that these needs are met. If you are doing something purposeful, that is aligned with the Soul’s desires, then you feel more content and happy with your pursuits in the world. You feel fulfilled with what you are doing, creating and/or contributing to your business or to the world.
From that deeper sense of fulfillment in your work, you are then invited to receive the financial rewards. This money, if respected and managed properly, will allow you to have a safe, comfortable place to live, to provide food and clothing for yourself and your family, and also to have enough money in savings so that when the unexpected happens you are able to handle that without worrying about where the money will come from.
With contentment of purpose, and adequate financial resources, you are then free to enjoy life. You are free to buy things that are enjoyable, and also give yourself pleasure through various activities.
When these three goals are embraced and brought into the experience of the Individual soul, then it is able to relax. Its needs are met. It isn’t worrying about where its next meal will come from, or how it is going to pay the bills. Instead, it is happy, peaceful, safe and supported. This removes much restlessness from the mind and from life, and allows a supportive and safe environment for the Individual to be able to pursuit a Spiritual Path.
So, in this way, the pursuit of Purpose (Dharma), Wealth (Artha) and Pleasure (Kama) are understood to be secondary goals which actually support the pursuit of the Primary Goal of Spiritual Liberation (Moksha).
And the original “warnings” that have continued in our culture out of context serve to remind us to not become attached to Status, Money or Pleasure as a primary goal. They serve our evolution, but they are not the most important goals. And therefore they should be approached with a balanced perspective, keeping the Final Goal of Moksha in mind.
Tantra teaches us that everything in life can be used as a Spiritual Practice when properly understood. And we start by embracing the abundance and pleasures that life has to offer as we seek to align with our Soul’s purpose in the world. And from that place of joy, we can bridge our awareness into the deeper Joy of our Liberated Self.
Let me know your thoughts and questions below!
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The Need for Change
In my early days of learning about healing and energy, I experienced many personal challenges. This makes sense, of course, because most people who find themselves exploring Healing and Spiritual avenues do so because they themselves are seeking a life which is more healthy, vibrant, balanced, joyful and peaceful.
I was not an exception in this regard. I knew something needed to change in my life, but I really couldn’t explain it.
See, I had a problem that is probably more common than you know. I frequently found myself caving into other people’s desires and needs. I found myself “going along” with others because I was afraid if I said “no”, or explained how I really felt, or what I really wanted, that they wouldn’t like me. Or they would get angry and then I would still end up caving in anyway.
I kept setting aside my own needs and happiness, because I somehow thought that “if I give them what they want, they will like me, and then I will be happy because they like me”.
Well… that didn’t work out so well. Because, what I was clearly failing to see was that MY OWN NEEDS MATTERED more to my happiness than simply having someone like me. And if having them “like me” meant that I had to set aside my own needs and personal values, well, ultimately it was just a formula for disappointment, failure and misery. And in the end, those people weren’t really interested in my happiness to begin with…
This same pattern showed up everywhere in my life really. At work with co-workers and bosses. In friendships. In family dynamics. And also in romantic relationships.
It wasn’t isolated, even though at some points it seemed more intense in certain areas. For a while, like is so often the case, I simply thought that others were doing it to me. They were “overpowering me”. Or” being too demanding”. Or “being critical”. Or whatever it was.
And, in some cases, they probably were. But more importantly, I was allowing it to happen. I was the one who kept saying “yes”, when I really wanted to say “no”. I was the one who would be treated poorly, and still go back smiling knowing it would happen again.
I needed to find my own inner strength and confidence. But “life” kept throwing me off center, or so it felt.
The Turning Point
It was around 1999. I had been studying energy healing and metaphysics for about 9 years. And I had been a massage therapist and healing professional for about 2 or 3 years. This included plenty of study and training. And I finally found myself in “crisis”. I had learned a lot of “techniques” for healing others. Some for healing myself. But I knew that I couldn’t get myself out of this without some guidance. And at that time, I really didn’t even understand “what the problem was”.
I found myself going through a healing “process” with a woman named Lisa. Every 6 weeks for a period of 9 months, I would spend a weekend with Lisa and about 9 other people. Of the other nine, there was only 1 other man. So, it was two guys and 9 woman. And what I experienced during those 9 months radically changed my life and my understanding of myself for the better.
This Process was the turning point for me to find my Inner Strength and my Confidence. It was a Spiritual community that was focused on exploring the Divine Feminine, and the balance of Inner Masculine and Inner Feminine.
To explain everything I learned and experienced is not practical here. But I do want to share one of the most important principles to get started with. Without this principle, the rest really doesn’t work very well anyway.
So, let me start with an analogy
In order for someone to develop confidence and strength, one needs to be able to “stand firmly” in ones own values, beliefs and self-acceptance. Without “standing firmly”, then even the slightest force can “push you off center”. So, if I am standing on my “Truth” as far as values and needs, and something comes along and I stumble or fall, then I will land outside of my “Truth”.
In the extreme version of this, I would become like a “Tumbleweed”. Even the slightest breeze would have me going in whatever direction the wind was blowing.
And, in my earlier experiences, this is how I often felt. Someone else’s desires or needs were like the “wind”, and as their desire came into my experience, I was blown to where their Truth was. Off of my Truth and my center.
This same phenomenon, energetically, also prevents focus. Because the awareness and mind are easily pulled off course by the influences of what is around you.
So, lacking confidence, strength and focus, the world begins to toss you about. Your directions in life, and the directions of your mind are subject to the outer forces of life: your circumstances, the people you interact with, etc.
In order for you to develop Self-Confidence, Inner Strength and Focus in the outer world, you will necessarily need to find a way to “Anchor yourself” to the location of “Truth”. Once “anchored” and “centered” you will be able to stand firmly in your own Truth and Power, even when the “winds” of life are blowing about you.
Tantra Starts with The Life Force Energy
Tantra teaches that we are energetic beings. And in order to develop a Tantric practice where you access and direct the Life Force within you, you need to begin to think of yourself in Energetic terms.
When you are not “anchored to your truth”, your energy is unstable and scattered. It is easily blown off center, and easily influenced by outside vibrations.
Energetically, then, one of the first steps to take is to stabilize the energy that exists within you. Before you even concern yourself with any more advanced healing method, you just need to get your energy to stop being so easily influenced.
After all, if you can’t stabilize a Higher Vibration in your energy field, because the world around you keeps “blowing it” back to something lower, then you will keep going back to the old pattern. Learning to Stabalize your own Life Force Energy is the First Step.
In energetic terms, we often refer to this “Stabilizing” process as “Grounding”. You want to Ground your Energy and your Energy Field.
Some of the symptoms of an Ungrounded Energy Field may include:
- Inability to focus
- Being easily influenced by the beliefs of others
- Being easily influenced by the emotions of others
- Life feeling chaotic or unstable
- Lack of confidence
- Difficulty handling the “unexpected” situations and events that life brings
- Depression, Fear and/or Anxiety
- Difficulty standing up for yourself
- Experiencing lots of “activity” with little actual accomplishment
- Difficulty expressing your own needs
- Difficulty saying “no”
- Feeling that you are always attending to others needs, with no time for your own needs
- Challenges making Positive Changes in your Life
The above are some examples. To be clear, lack of Grounding is likely a major factor in most of the above. But, there are also likely other Energetic layers of healing that would need to be addressed to fully restore balance.
But, you must start by Grounding your energy first. Some things resolve on their own just from learning to ground. And in other cases, grounding is the important first step to be able to affectively address other aspects of healing.
The Ecstatic Union® Approaches to “Grounding”
In the Ecstatic Union® Vibrational Healing approach, I look to multiple layers of where an imbalance may be created, and therefore corrected. This provides multiple tools and healing methods to assess where the issue is originating, and also to be able to address it in the way that will best serve the individuals unique circumstances.
Here are a few of the approaches that the Ecstatic Union® System uses for “Grounding”.
Ecstatic Union® Energetic Maintenance approach to Grounding
This involves methods to understand and “retrain” how your energy is being directed. Two common grounding methods are listed below:
1) The “Roots” Grounding Method
- Standing up, imagine that roots (like tree roots) are growing out of your feet and into the Earth.
- Continue to take slow deep breaths, while visualizing, feeling and imagining them growing deeper and deeper.
- Then visualize, feel and imagine the stability of the Earth and how stable and grounded you feel as you are anchored in place.
2) The “Cord” Grounding Method
- Imagine dropping an energetic cord from inside your body, just below your naval deep into the earth.
- Continue to take slow deep breaths, while visualizing, feeling and imagining it anchoring deeper and deeper.
- Then visualize, feel and imagine the stability of the Earth and how stable and grounded you feel as you are anchored in place.
Ecstatic Union® Ayurvedic Approach to Grounding
The “lack of focus” and “ungrounded” are seen as a Vata imbalance within the mind. Vata is the Ayurvedic principle of “Air” which, when unstable will blow around and be unfocused.
If you are a “Vata” constitution, you may have more tendency towards being ungrounded, but the reality is that any of the constitutions can experience this. Our culture is very “vata” stimulating for the mind, with many distractions and a common desire to be “entertained” with short attention spans.
Some general practical tips would be:
- Avoid stimulants, such as caffeine and coffee
- Create experiences that will allow you to “be in” your body, such as receiving Massages or taking a long warm bath
- Avoid “light” and “cold” foods, such as salads, raw vegetables, and chips (especially in the winter)
- Favor “warm” and “nurturing” foods such as cooked whole grains and cooked veggies along with using healthy oils (especially in winter)
- Establish a regular routine of sleeping, waking and eating whenever possible
The above are general recommendations that will benefit most people, but please note that a proper Ecstatic Union® Ayurvedic evaluation would be need to determine your current Energetic State and the unique imbalances and needs that you may have.
Ecstatic Union® Vedic Astrology Approach
Some ways that Lack of Grounding can be shown in the Astrology chart as a “tendencies” for you:
- The predominance of “Air signs” in the chart (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius)
- The strength and location of specific planets that could show a higher level of Air influence, especially on the Moon (which is the mind)
- Strong Saturn influences often show nervousness and fear tendencies.
- Strong Rahu (North Node) and Ketu (South Node) can show influences of scattered Vata like energy
- Different Planetary Periods and Transits can reveal periods which will be more or less ungrounded
Seeing the various factors in the chart allows you to better understand your “natural tendencies” as well as see other contributing factors around confidence and the tendencies that you have in relationships and career. The chart can also point the way towards remedies that can assist you in becoming more focused and grounded.
A proper Ecstatic Union® Vedic Astrology Consultation would be needed to properly assess your unique circumstances.
Once Grounded, You can Create Lasting Transformation
These are some of the ways that Ecstatic Union® offers to assist you to address and create better Grounding in your life. And once you begin to stabilize your Energy, then you can more easily Cultivate and Increase your Confidence, Inner Strength, Self-Acceptance and your personal Truth. From there, your vibrancy, joy and peace will also expand as you learn more tools and methods to Consciously create the life that you truly desire.
This “Grounding” step is really a Foundational Key to succeeding in Tantric practice. It is needed for more effective Self-Healing, for increasing and expanding Sexual energy, for developing Intuition, as well as creating higher Spiritual States. It is needed to help create the focus needed to succeed in Chakra healing and meditation as well.
Let me know your thoughts and questions below!
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Ready to take your Tantric journey deeper?
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Tantra is steeped in deep mystery. The things that are known or heard about it in day to day life are often spoken of out of context, with little understanding of what the practice or philosophy is really designed to do.
Over hundreds and likely even thousands of years, Tantra has become associated with Black magic, sexual deviance, group sex, sensual indulgence, ecstasy, orgasmic bliss among other things. People speak of Kundalini, magical powers, chakras, spells being cast, and many other concepts and acts as being part of Tantra.
There are debates as to whether it is about sexuality or spirituality along with talk of White Tantra, Red Tantra, Pink Tantra, Left-handed Tantra, and Right-Handed Tantra. And the unfortunate modern confusion where some people think it is only for better orgasms, which creates further confusion for people who imagine that they “must have a sexual partner” to learn and benefit from Tantra. (Not true.)
Why Is Tantra So Controversial?
Tantra is one of the most controversial of Yogic practices, and much of that controversy comes purely from lack of understanding. The controversy and confusion is fueled by false imaginings, anecdotal stories and modern packaging designed to entice the “sex sells” culture that we live in. Additionally, there are modern Tantric teachers using sexually indulgent teachings for their own desires, celebrities talking about 7 hour “tantric” orgasms and even students of Tantra misunderstanding the process and speaking about it out of context.
Certainly, Tantric practitioners or those associated with Tantra have been involved in a variety of activities. Everything listed above has, I am sure, been experienced or practiced in the name of “Tantra”. And I am sure there has been a wide range of motivations for how to use Tantra. But for a moment let’s step outside of these “behaviors” and “reported experiences”, and take a broader perspective of what the Tantric Practitioner is really learning in order for these other things to happen.
How can someone “cast a spell” (for good or evil?), for instance. Or create high states of orgasmic bliss? Or awaken magical powers? Because quite frankly, these are not “ordinary” parts of most people’s lives. And many might even dismiss them as being superstition or fantasy… How would these things even be possible?
The Goal of Tantra and the Tantric Approach
First, let’s understand something clearly: The system of Tantra in it’s deepest understanding is a path towards Wholeness and a return to Divinity that teaches that the experience of Life is Sacred and SO ARE YOU. We could call the culmination of sustained Tantric Wholeness as “Enlightenment”, “Self-Realization”, or “Moksha”. THIS is what the FINAL goal of Tantra really is. (See The Tantric Path: A Simple Perspective that Every Tantric Student and Practitioner Needs to Know for more information)
And Tantra also knows that we must start right here in the world, right where we are with the life we are currently living. To support our life in the world, Tantra teaches us a spiritual path that allows us to use our daily life and responsiblities in the world as PART of the path itself. Thus, Tantric practices can cover any and every part of our experience, including sex, money, career, body, mind, spirit, health, etc. In Tantra, every moment is an opportunity to find greater peace and open to the Love that is all around us, and most especially, the Love that IS our True Nature.
But how do they do it? Forget casting spells, orgasmic bliss, and magical powers, etc for a moment. That is not ultimately what a sincere Tantric Practitioner is really learning, even though any of those abilities or experiences are possible and might well be a part of the Tantric path. Much like the “Feed a man vs. teaching him how to fish” concept, the real learning isn’t in just being able to cast a “spell” for healing, or to have the orgasmic bliss. No. The real lesson is in understanding how it would be possible to do this at all.
What the Tantric Practitioner is REALLY learning
So what is the common THREAD among all these things? What is the ONE THING being learned that allows all of these things to be experienced and created? What a Tantric practitioner is REALLY learning is how to connect with, harness and direct the Life Force energy and the forces of Creation that exist within his or her own body and Consciousness, as well as the external world.
If you learn how to cast a spell, well, you can cast a spell. But if you learn how to harness the Forces of Creation and the Life Force Energy, and to bridge that through your own body and consciousness… Well, now you have a whole toolbox to work with. You can do many things, including completely Transforming your entire experience of Self and Life towards greater joy, vibrancy and peace in order to reach Enlightenment.
But, for the wise Tantric Practitioner, each new ability or practice learned is an “Experiment” which creates an experience that leads towards a deeper understanding of what is possible and what the True Nature of Self really is. Learning how to master this Life Force Energy leads to understanding how it is possible to begin with. Which leads to “Who I AM” to be able to “Master it” at all.
Do Not Confuse Authentic Tantric Practice with Outer Appearances
Most of the stories that have popularize Tantra come about from experiences or practices of Practitioners who are “on the path” towards their goal. They are describing a place in their practice BEFORE reaching the Final Goal. Or perhaps they have lost sight of the most meaningful goal, and fallen into using the powers for selfish ends. Either way, when we take their behavior and their experiences and mistake them for “Tantra”, then we just wind up confused.
It would be a bit like hearing that doctors in training dissect human cadavers and drawing the conclusion that “Doctors cut up dead people” without any context for that statement. And then the rumor spreads “Oh no! Did you hear about the people called doctors? They CUT UP DEAD BODIES, MAN! That’s so wrong! (or so cool. I want to be a doctor too!!)”. Doctors in training dissect bodies to learn how the body functions so that can understand how to work with it for healing the sick. But the final goal of medicine is not just to “cut up dead bodies”. (Or live ones either)
In the same way, in Tantra the outer appearance of various practices do not really convey the Deeper motivation or lesson of the practice itself. To say that a Tantric practitioner practices magic, or engages in sex, or sits on dead bodies in the burial ground does NOT convey the purpose of their behavior. And without that understanding, society will place its own judgments upon it and fail to see what is really being learned or accomplished.
Tantric practitioners engage the Forces of Creation and the Life Force energy within Consciousness through a variety of “experiments” that we call “practices” so they can learn how these energies function. And this “training” is just a step along the way to ultimately bring about the greatest possible healing of Self through what is learned by direct experience: The Return to Wholeness.
Tantra as Self-Mastery of Life Force Energy and the Forces of Creation
There are Tantric practioners who have practiced black magic, I am sure. But Tantra is not about black magic. There are Tantric Practitioners who have investigated or even obsessed about the sexual energy in some pretty “outlandish” ways. But Tantra is not about sex. There are Tantric practitioners who have awakened magical ability and psychic powers. But Tantra is not about magical abilities and psychic powers.
At the core, Tantra is about learning to interface with the Powers of The Universe as a function of Pure Consciousness in order to Understand the Nature of Reality and Self. And in this process, we cultivate the Qualities of the True Self, which are Ecstatic Love, Joy, and Peace. To make it even simpler, Tantra is a path to re-discover who and what you really are.
Through Tantric practices, you harmonize and balance your life as a necessary part of the path. This can mean more loving relationships, greater self-acceptance, and freedom from shame. It can mean increased clarity around your soul’s purpose and greater passion operating in the world. It can mean greater connection to your own Intuition, inner Wisdom, and even perhaps psychic powers. And, yes, it can even mean more satisfaction and meaning in your sex life.
Perhaps you will even become motivated to use what you learn to assist in the healing of others, and not only yourself. All of these things are possible and most are likely. They are “gifts” along the path for doing the work towards wholeness. They are manifestations of the awakening Wholeness itself. And they are still not the “goal” of Tantra, but they are an interesting and enjoyable part of the journey. They are experiences that deepen your understanding of life force and Creation, and what is possible, and your relationship to The Universe. And it is all made possible by harnessing and directing the Forces of Creation and the Life Force energy within the practitioner.
How to Properly Learn Tantra Yoga
So what needs to happen to walk this Tantric Path? How can YOU begin to explore this for yourself and engage these fascinating practices? That’s where a Tantric Teacher comes in.
In addition to learning HOW to harness and direct the Forces of Creation and the Life Force energies within the body and consciousness, there needs to be guidance from a Tantric Teacher. There needs to be ethical training for how to use this wisdom and Power for your own maximum benefit while avoiding trouble for Self and others. There needs to be someone who can help you create the practices and experiences that will reveal what is possible and what the Nature of Reality really is.
There needs to be someone to help you navigate the challenges, frustrations and confusions that will arise on the path. Someone to assist you in destroying any obstacles that have limited your Wholeness in the past or that are causing resistance now. And there needs to be someone to remind you of the Truth and the Final Goal when you may get lost. These are just some of the ways that the Tantric Teacher offers support and enables you to accelerate your growth and practice. In the end, the Teacher’s primary role is to empower you to connect to your own Inner Wisdom and discover the Truth and Power of your own Self.
After over 25 years on my own Path, I have integrated all of my studies and practices along with the needed guidance and support into a comprehensive approach to Tantric Practice that I call Ecstatic Union®. It brings everything needed together in one system and one path. And it addresses every stage of practice from beginner to advanced.
But like all journeys, it begins with the First Step: Look for Ecstatic Union® Foundational Training announcements beginning in January 2015!
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Towards the beginning of my formal Massage Therapy training, one of the instructors made mention that in addition to learning how to be a massage therapist, that many students report feeling “changed” by the process. That giving and receiving that much nurturing touch on a regular basis over the course of 7 months created a healing and transformational effect.
To be clear, the massage training program I undertook in 1996 was focused on “therapeutic massage and neuromuscular therapy”. We were taught the foundations of Swedish massage for stress reduction and relaxation, along with an emphasis on clinical approaches to pain reduction and restored muscular functioning.
“How will this ‘change me’?”, I thought…
A Bit of History
6 Years prior to even a thought about Massage school, I had become quite fascinated with the concept of “Energy”. At that time, a roommate shared with me that he could see the “aura”, which is the energy field that surrounds the human body. Sparked by a deeper curiosity for “what was possible”, I began a ravenous self study of “all things metaphysical”: Psychic phenomenon, intuition, chakras, crystals, natural healing methods, and, above all, ENERGY as a means of healing.
I admit that, at the time, my entry into massage school had very little to do with interest in “pain reduction” or “massage”. I was a “closet energy healer”. I was interested in Energy healing, but I had never really met anyone who did it. I felt like an outcast, and was afraid that my “strange beliefs” would cause others to mock me. I thought “I can’t just tell people that it is possible to heal them with energy. They will think I am nuts.” I went to massage school because I thought it would be a “socially acceptable way” to touch people, so that I could further explore the possibilities and powers of energy healing.
How will this ‘change me’?
“How will this ‘change me’?”, I thought… How will someone pushing on my sore muscles and making the shoulders less tense “transform” me?
But it did. Through the course of that 7 months, without trying, I began to feel more focused and more joyful. I began to have greater clarity and motivation in my life.
My relationship to my body began to change. I became more interested in nurturing it through exercise and better food choices. The initial shyness of having my body “seen” and “judged” by others began to dissolve, and I found myself instead feeling that my body was “worthy” and “beautiful”. I became more comfortable “being me”.
I became more confident in life.
“HOW?” I began to wonder.
Certainly, it is fair to say that part of it was that I found something that I enjoyed and that I was good at. That explains some of it for sure. But it was also more than that.
Something was changing. Something was opening. And I had no clue what was coming.
A Reminder From the Universe
As I finished up massage school, I had developed an enthusiasm for massage. I imagined that I would “change the world” with neuromuscular therapy, and eradicate muscular pain patterns from everyone I touched.
It seemed promising. The fresh enthusiasm of a new direction. The positive feedback and support of clients and my teachers. I started out with a bang!
And then my client bookings went from 10 one week, to 5 the next week, and then to 2. And then nothing. I was baffled and confused.
And then I received a referral from a chiropractor that I barely knew. The new client was a young man who was having severe shoulder pain, and the chiropractor thought a neuromuscular approach would help. He was a good client. He was committed to getting better, and was willing to do whatever it would take.
I suggested a series of regular Neuromuscular therapy treatments. So he came once a week for 4 weeks. Each time I pulled out my greatest Neuromuscular methods, just as I was taught in school. Doing just what my instructors had praised me for being so effective using.
And after applying the “miracle pain relieving methods”, he would share his feedback: “Yeah, it feels a little better, but it still hurts a lot.”
Not the feedback I was hoping for.
It was then I became just desperate enough to “come out of the energy healer closet”.
I sheepishly began to explain “There is this energy healing stuff I have been playing with and teaching myself for the last 7 years, but I have never really used it on anyone. If you are open to this (read “if you don’t think I am crazy”), then I would be willing to offer you a complimentary session to see if that may help. I don’t even know if it will work or not…”
To my luck, he was already familiar with such concepts, and was open and willing to try it. He came for the session, and I did everything I had taught myself to do. From the outside perspective, I was just waving my hands around some, and putting my hands on him other times. But in my own inner experience I was shifting energy within his aura and in his body.
When we were done, I shyly asked him how he felt. And to my surprise and excitement, he told me that what I had just done with Energy alone had helped him more than all 4 of the previous Neuromuscular treatments combined. The pain was almost completely gone!
After he left, I felt excited. And I also remembered in that moment why I had gone to Massage School to begin with: I wanted to become an Energy Healer. And this experience forced me to reconnect to that deeper desire and re-sparked my quest to learn more about energy healing.
Over the many years since, I have studied a broad range of Energy Healing methods, and experienced their power to transform and heal, and of course used them with my clients.
During that journey the “mystery” of the “strange impulse to go to massage school” and why it “transformed” me became apparent: There is no separation between “Energy” and “Body”. As a massage therapist, I am not just pushing on muscles and restoring muscular function. Yes, those things are happening. Those benefits exists. But I am also moving energy both as and within the body.
Tantra teaches that the body contains many energy channels and energy structures (chakras, nadis, marma points, etc), and they are being accessed on some level even during a “basic massage”. Stress and tensions in the body block the flow of energy. And sometimes the mental and emotional stresses that we are not wanting to feel get lodged in the muscles, causing the experience of stress, tension and pain in the body.
Massage helps to open the flow of those channels, releasing not only muscular tension, but potentially the emotional and mental tension that was the source. This benefit is potentially there even if someone isn’t conscious of the energy.
But, by becoming conscious of the energy, the process can become even more effective and more intentional. All these years later, I still use massage as a healing method. I am very good at it, and most of my clients report how great they feel both during and after the massage.
But I don’t think of myself as “pushing on muscles” anymore. I understand that I am interacting with energy on the levels of the client’s body, emotions, mind and spirit. I also understand that even during a massage, a large part of the healing power and benefit to the client is created through an energetic connection and flow from me to them. It is my ability to touch them at a deeper level than just “the body” that really maximized pleasure, relaxation and the other benefits they discover.
As I massage, I am also allowing energy to flow. This helps to wash away energetic stress at the emotional and mental levels as well. The massage experience is an invitation to become more present to what you are feeling at the level of emotion and body. This deeper awareness helps you to become more connected to your Self. It helps you to feel more deeply which allows you to process the thoughts and feelings (even unconsciously), which further encourage the energy channels to open and the tensions to melt from the body.
Additionally, there is the factor of the human connection. Tantra’s teaching around “relationships” are focused on cultivating connection and a deep reverence for the Sacredness of both Self and Other. When we are being touched consciously in this way, even through daily activities, our deeper essence feels honored and free.
Through the massage experience with an energetically aware practitioner, there is sustained conscious connection and honoring which allows every level of body, emotions, mind and spirit to receive and to open. Each of these levels is given the chance to feel accepted, loved and safe. Being allowed to enter that space brings us back to clarity and to center. We feel our “Self” more clearly as the tensions that normally distract us are removed. It becomes safe and affirming to “be me” again.
Tantra teaches us that the Deeper Healing takes place when we clear the energetic blockages out of these energy channels within the body, and activate increasing levels of energetic flow in the energy channels. This forms much of the benefits of a great massage experience. A chance to turn the mind off, tune into the present moment through sensation and breath, and make space for energy to open and flow freely in the energy channels as tensions melt away.
So, the benefits of “Massage” go beyond just the body. There is also the effect of energetic connection and nurturing, as well as the general clearing and opening of the energy channels.
These principles can be taken even deeper through more specific energetic healing methods. When this understanding is skillfully used in an Ecstatic Union® Energy Healing Session, we direct even more intention towards accessing and clearing the energetic blocks at the levels of emotions, mind and spirit. Whereas the massage creates a more general opening and flow that can be likened to the more gentle effect of water washing away “blocks”, during an Ecstatic Union® Energy Healing Session the methods used are more focused, like energetic surgery.
The often more gentle “energy washing” of the massage will create healing and changes over time with regular application. The more energetically focused work of Ecstatic Union® Energy Healing can create more specific healing and transformation at deeper levels in a shorter period of time.
They are, of course, also two different healing formats with two different overall intentions. The massage includes the benefits of relaxation and unwinding tensions in a more general way while also giving the body a sensual treat. The Ecstatic Union® Energy Healing approach is intended more specifically to transform self-defeating patterns that block us from experiencing out fullest potential in life.
Everything is Energy, and Through It Deeper Healing Take Place
It has been through my own personal journey that I have discovered the Deeper Healing that can be created through conscious energy awareness. As I reconnected with my deeper desire to be an Energy Healer, I learned through direct experience that massage was included in that model of energy healing and not something separate. The Body is energy, and is energetically connected to the Whole of Being.
There is so much more to massage than what appears on the surface. Regular massages from an energetically aware massage therapist can create healing and transformation much deeper than just relaxation. It can remain a time of “self-pampering and nurturing” or it can evolve into a more conscious exploration of what is possible through the power of Energetic Healing. It can become a gateway into creating a life filled with greater joy and Vibrancy. A gateway into the power of Ecstatic Union® Healing, which brings transformation and growth at every level of your being, leading to an awakened experience of your fullest potential.
Ready to take your personal healing journey deeper?
Massage appointments available in Person.
Ecstatic Union® Healing Appointments available by phone, Internet chat and in person.
October 31, 2011
What is Grace? Many on the path of Spirituality are seeking it, but do we always recognize it?
Grace is always a positive thing for our Spiritual Growth. There are no exceptions to that rule. And because of that, many people are also assuming that Grace will come in a way that is pleasing to them. And sometimes it does, but we cannot put Divine Visions, moments of Bliss and deep meditation experience in a box of “Grace”, and assume things that are not pleasant are not grace. The more we open to the spiritual Path of Tantra, the more we are always flowing in Grace. The question is, can we see it, and can we accept it in all its forms? Not just the extraordinary, but even when it seems ordinary? Or painful?
Grace can happen as synchronistic moments that point to the next step to take, or that validate something for us. There are moments that are so statistically improbable that one who is consciously expanding his or her awareness can only explain it as Grace, or the intelligence of the Divine Revealing itself.
About 7 months ago, I was laying in bed, thinking about my study of Ayurveda and Vedic Astrology. Thinking about how much I would like to find a way to blend them into my Yogic teaching and my private healing sessions with clients. I began to feel a sense of excitement in the possibility of integrating these techniques together, and as I felt the excitement, the Blackberry on my nightstand vibrated indicating that I had a new message. I reached over to check, and the message was from the Ashram where I did my teacher training inviting me to attend the Yoga Therapy Training Course starting on October 7th, 2011. I smiled.
My initial reaction was this was confirmation and a Divine message to tell me the next step. I felt the “rightness” of it. I felt the same excitement that was present during my contemplation time. Everything pointed to this being the right step, but a small part of me struggled. Doubts began to creep in. Could I afford to take that much time off? What about my clients and students? I discussed it with my partner and a friend of ours. They both said, “Go.”
I began to mentally make my plans, while still struggling a touch. How long should I stay if I go? Should I fly into Mumbai or New Delhi? Is this really the right thing to do? Sometime later that day I received another email. It was from one of my travel email newsletters. The email subject simply said: “It’s time to book your flight to New Delhi.”
This time, I not only smiled, but I had to laugh out loud. I have been subscribed to this newsletter for several years. I had NEVER received an email with this subject line before. And, so that sealed it for me. The Divine intelligence was clearly telling me to go.
Grace can also happen in ways that ask us to look at our attachments and our expectation, or that challenge the status quo. In other words, sometimes we need to have things “Shaken up a bit” in order to grow. This is also grace.
About 5 days before I was supposed to leave for India, someone I had known for over 5 years had a massive heart attack right before my eyes. It happened so fast that there was no real chance to save him. I went through many stages as this unfolded. At first I thought he was being playful. Then I began to suspect something was really wrong. I could not get a response from him. I tried to check his heart beat and his breath, but by this time my own heart was beating so fast that I could not tell if it was me or him. Within a couple minutes of his collapse, I was on the phone with 911, following instructions for chest compressions. No response. The ambulance team finally arrived. Compared to my own state of panic, they seemed to have a rather casual approach to the whole thing. They took over chest compressions, introduced IV’s and asked me to help find a number for his family.
It was pretty clear to me that there was no sign of life. And perhaps they already knew that when they arrived, and thus the reason for their casual behavior. They worked with him for a while, got in touch with his daughter, and then took him out. And then I was left in an empty room, still in a bit of overwhelm.
Over the next several days I made conscious efforts to witness and process what was happening in me. There was sadness at the loss of a friend. There were remnants of panic. Doubts and wondering if I could have done something different that may have changed the outcome.
I also had to witness all of this from the lens of my Spiritual Path and growth. The impermanence of the body. Everyone will die eventually. It was his time. The True Self cannot die. His consciousness just left the body, and will live on. Perhaps being reborn. His suffering with the body and worldly life had ended, but he himself as consciousness was now free. From that perspective, there is no death, only transformation of form.
I thought about the state of my own health, the inevitable end of this body, the loss of loved ones as time moves on. Challenging my possible attachments to others, and my relationship with death itself. And as part of that, my relationship to life as well.
My Tantric path and experience is that nothing happens without cause. This was not a random event, but a Divinely orchestrated moment in my Spiritual Sadhana. I did not see it coming, which made it all the more potent. To experience first hand the transitioning from life to death. To feel the energetic essence moving out of a body, while the body became lifeless. To come face to face with the inevitable impermanence of this experience. To experience my human sadness, but also see through it to deepen my faith in the Grace of God. To realize, once again, that I am not in control. There is a force which is operating behind the scenes that I must surrender to, and my goal in my personal Tantric Sadhana is to lift the veil and reveal to myself directly that Divine Power which is operating the Universe. Or rather, let go of my false sense of control enough, so that the veil will dissolve.
This experience also made the reality of disease and illness forefront in my mind as a headed to India. It made me more interested in learning how to use Yoga as a Therapy to help with diseases. More present to the suffering and pain that is present globally, and more inspired to find some compassionate way to serve others who are wanting to end that pain. That is the result of the flow of Grace.
Grace also presents us with frustrations, and challenges to help us grow.
In 2007, my first time in India, I visited Satya Sai Baba in Puttaparti, India. On the third morning, which I planned to be my last Darshan with him, I went outside to find my sandals were stolen. I was quite shocked and disappointed. I couldn’t believe that in a town that revolves around the spiritual teachings of this man, someone would steal. I told a security guard what had happened and his only reply was “Well. Come back to the afternoon Darshan. Maybe they will be returned.” I doubted that, but I decided to stay anyway. And I am glad I did. My sandals were not returned, but it was the most spiritual inspiring Darshan that I attended with Satya Sai Baba. I felt more Divine Grace and energy in that session than any of the others. My sandals were gone, but I was blessed in the end.
This trip, I took a day to visit the Shirdi Sai Baba temple in Shirdi, India. For those who do not know, this is the first incarnation of Sai Baba (before Satya). Both of whom are considered in India to be incarnations of God, and Self-Realized Masters. I waited in line for over 2 hours to get into the temple. (This, by the way, is a normal to short time to wait. It is often much longer). As I got into the temple, I was instructed to sit on the floor as they were getting ready to start a special ceremony called an Aarti. What auspicious timing. That lasted 30 minutes, and then there was a stampede to get to the main alter to make an offering. I finally got up, made my offering, which was blessed and returned to me, and as I left, I felt and connected to his energy, and asked simply to be blessed in whatever way was most helpful for my spiritual awakening. Within 10 minutes, while I was bowing to another small shrine with his picture, my wallet was stolen by a pickpocket.
So, both visits to Sai Baba resulted in something material being taken away. It would be easy to be angry. To think horrible thoughts about whoever did it. But, for me, while I admit feeling a little surprised, I was quickly able to see it as Sai Baba’s Grace. It was Grace for me to have a chance to realize I am not in control. Grace for me to have a chance to see how strongly I may be attached. It was not sandals or wallet really being taken away, but my attachment to them being removed. In this case, I was much less attached the second time than the first. I surrendered to what happened, and could only wish that whoever got it was able to benefit from what they had taken from me. Tantra teaches that all things belong to God anyway, and God dwells within all Beings. So the Divine grace was simply redistributing wealth within its own Self.
While in India this time, I spent several weeks trying to get my Blackberry internet service activated. It kept telling me it could not process my request. I called customer service, spoke to the shop owner, went to this office, and that office, and was finally told it was a problem with my handset. Further conversation with “an expert” revealed that it was because my handset was registered with another provider, and thus it would just not work. I surrendered, gave up, and decided “well, I guess I am just not supposed to be distracted by this while I am in the ashram.” I let it go.
9 days after my last attempt, and having been told it wouldn’t work, my Blackberry internet service activated without notice. I received a text message saying it has been activated for one month of service. There were only 5 days left at the ashram when it happened. It came just in time to allow me to use it to research my final paper on the internet using my phone. What I could not accomplish with the assistance of multiple people, and hours of my time spread out over three weeks, happened unexpectedly in a flash, without any “doing” on my part 9 days after I gave up. I also checked my prepaid balance. I was not even charged for the service. To me there is only one explanation.
While many may explain these things away as “coincidence”, or “bad luck”, or “good luck”, or even “blame it on India”, to me these are all examples of Divine Grace. Grace offers us the experiences we need to grow Spiritually, and most of us need to let go, surrender and see new perspectives on the nature of Reality a lot more than we need a blissful vision of God. We must learn to trust that we will get the exact experiences we are needing, and not necessarily the experiences we are desiring.
What we begin to realize when we grow spiritually is that Grace is always happening. The real change that happens is learning to surrender to “what is”, and ending the struggle against what life brings us. When we can do this, then everything that happens is for our growth and for our good, even if it doesn’t initially feel that way. We learn to flow with Divine Grace.
As I was feeling inspired to write this blog this morning at breakfast the following quote was written on the board in the Dining hall of ashram:
“Through the practice of yoga you can learn to smile at circumstances, you can learn to see every stressful situation as a challenge, or an opportunity to learn, give, serve and love.” – Swami Niranjanananda
To me, another moment revealing Divine Grace.
(Written October 20th, 2011)
Yesterday, for the first time in my life (that I am at least consciously aware of) I spent an entire day from waking to bedtime, without uttering a single word. This was part of a day of silence in the Ashram, so almost everyone participated. Although, most people began speaking again after dinner, I continued with the practice.
The practice of silence has been part of yogic traditions for probably as long as there has been yoga. I will admit, even in my daily life, I prefer as much silence around me as possible. I would rather sit in a silent room than watch TV on most occasions. I would rather not speak at all than to force a conversation of pleasantries. And I have even become pretty sensitive to the types of music I listen to on a regular basis. (Spending hours a day with massage and new age music played at low volumes will probably do that to most people.)
So, I welcomed the practice. I went to bed the previous evening, having already turned my “silence” practice on, and when I awoke, I was already in the mode. The first thing I noticed, was that it was very comfortable for me. During the morning meditation, having already turned my awareness away from speech, I became aware of the inner realm of thought very easily, and it was also easy on this particular morning to direct my awareness into the silence within as well.
I also noticed I become more sensitive to other sounds. The sounds of birds chirping, or any little bit of racket that may have been in the outside environment. I was present to new things. Within the meditation, there were times when something in my mind let go just enough, that it felt like the outer world merged into my mind, and the sounds of birds and the wind blowing were like thoughts arising within my own mind.
After morning asana practice, I spent some time outside connecting with nature. I discussed this in a previous post called “My Tantric Nature.” And then the flow of the day began. People going about walking from place to place, without speaking. And I began to notice something very odd. People, having adopted a practice of silence, seemed to enter their own private world. People were looking at the sidewalk instead of saying hello. It seemed that without words, most people didn’t know how to connect, or perhaps thought it was inappropriate to do so. No eye contact. No smiles. No winks of joy shared. Just blank faces, looking any where but an another person.
In Tantra, there is a practice called Eye Gazing, or Soul Gazing. It is sitting in silence, sending your awareness deep into the Soul Essence of another person, and allowing yourself to feel, to connect, to experience another Being without words, as they also connect into your deepest Self. This practice, at least in the beginning, is often met with discomfort. It is normal for people to laugh or giggle, or to close their eyes. It is normal for obvious discomfort to come across their face and body, and to see them squirming. I explain over an over to new groups of people, that these reactions are a part of our conditioning. It is rare in our culture for us to be so intimate with another. Even with the ones that we love such as friends, family and significant others.
Most of us say we want love, to feel it, to know it, to give it. But when given the chance to sit, and honor the Essence of the other people with love and reverence, something stirs within us that pulls us out of it, that causes us discomfort. The reality, is that for most of us, this fear of deeper connection is always there, just below the surface, but we don’t feel it because we distract ourselves with thoughts, with TV, with activity, and of course, with words. We don’t allow there to be enough silence, enough stillness to acknowledge it.
The same is true for many people with regards to their own thoughts and feelings. We find ways to distract ourselves, and never get still enough to feel or connect consciously to our own inner world. The moment silence is imminent, most people will jump up, turn on the TV, grab a book, begin to talk about anything that comes to mind: anything to not have to feel what is happening in our deeper experience.
As I watched the blank faces parading through the ashram, and the gazes away from each other, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of sadness. Sadness for not having an opportunity to connect, and sadness to see so many unable to make the connection without words. Without words, they seemed to have nothing to share. It never occurred to share their silent Essence. That same silence which pulses beneath Creation lives within our own Beings, ready to be tasted, touched and felt. That silence contains the Love we are seeking. It is not the words that convey love, but the Essence of a Pure Heart.
As I continued my day, I enjoyed the silence. I watched for moments when I might ordinarily speak, and then questioned whether speaking was necessary. In most cases I found the answer to be no. When a desire to speak would arise, I would watch as I reminded myself there was no talking today. And I witnessed the desire for whatever pass through, unspoken, and not responded to. And after the moment passed, I realized I was no worse off. I was still content, even joyful in my silence, and the thing I thought I wanted to communicate, or thought I wanted to ask made me no less joyful for not being shared. I was content to experience what was around me, without commenting, or feeling a need to inquire deeper into it with words. I was content without feeling the need to request something else to make it more or less “satisfying”.
What are these words we speak? And why do we speak them at all? How much of what is said is really useful to our deeper happiness, and how much is just habit and social convention and expectation?
The Tantric traditions describe three primary stages of speech. There is the gross speech of our everyday lives. This is the speech we use to share ideas from person to person, and vibrates at the most dense level. We then have a more subtle form of speech that we call thought. This is the speech that continues the dialogue in our own inner world. And beyond that is the most subtle form of speech, which exists as the arising impulse of vibration, that eventually becomes the thought, which then becomes the words spoken.
The normal world conditions us to focus on Gross speech. And over time, we come to identify with and give great importance to the Reality of this outer form of speech. Most of us also give, even without realizing it, great importance to our thoughts.
When one takes up the practice of silence, the outer speech is given up. This initially leaves us with our thoughts, and the opportunity to contemplate our relationship with gross speech. It gives us the opportunity to experience life without outer words, so that we might see how we have come to identify with them in a way that keeps us looking into the outer world. It gives us a chance to see how the words themselves are associated with our desires, attachments and aversions, and the way that words reinforce the same as “reality”.
When the inner thoughts become the primary world, and outer speech is stopped, then the next step is to get beyond even the thoughts themselves, and into the arising vibrations which are pre-thought. A realm of feelings, and intuitions, and knowledge that really has no “word” as we call it, just vibrations. And dissolving even those vibrations, we are taken into the realm of the practice of silence: inner silence itself. This Silence is the Holy Grail of meditation, but it is not just emptiness and nothingness, but is great peace, joy and love.
This is the basic general idea of meditation, and practicing silence gives you an opportunity to explore these levels of meditation in your daily living. To discover this peace and silence within the world around you is a goal of Tantra. We practice meditation so that we can transfer the depth of experience into our daily lives, not just to escape for a few minutes of peace.
Throughout the whole day, my voice only made one sound: the sound of laughter. After dinner, there were a few people speaking around me, and a story someone told made me laugh. So even Gross speech has its place. It caused me to laugh.
It is not that gross speech is “wrong” or bad. It is not that it should be given up entirely forever by everyone, but practicing silence should hopefully help us put it in perspective, so we don’t make it the “great reality”, and so that we see its limitations. So that we see the ways it can distract us, and become mindful so we don’t use words in this way. To become mindful of the ways words can harm, so we don’t use speech for negative purposes. So we learn to harness what, when and why we speak into conscious choices which enrich our lives, rather than just allowing mindless chatter to fill the silent space around us. So that we connect the words “I love you” with the deep love that arises within the Heart of our deepest Essence upon recognizing the Sacredness of the Being in front of us. And so we can learn to connect with others is this heart felt way even without words. So that silence gives us more presence to connect with others through smiles, honoring and love.
As I flowed through my day of silence, many moments of deeper love, gratitude and joy arose, as I touched into spaces of deeper silence within my own Being. This brought me to one other point of sadness: I will never be able to convey the experience of that Love and Joy with words.
(Written October 19th, 2011)
I took some time to sit in nature this morning, which conveniently is the grounds of the Ashram itself. Today is also a day of silence, where only a few people running the Ashram are speaking. In my own silence, I witnessed Nature all around me, expanding my awareness into it, smiling into it, and welcoming it.
Birds chirping and flying about. A small field where yellow butterflies dance across blades of grass. Various trees, standing strong, silent and still. The sun in the sky and a light mist of fog still blanketing the mountains which are not too far away.
Again, I am reminded of the power of nature, even in its peaceful play. I reflect on the stillness and the silence which lays beneath Creation, supporting it like the ground where seeds are planted, only this stillness is the ground of Consciousness itself, and the seeds are the Divine thoughts which have arisen within it to bring about the current experience.
I feel into the pulsations of Creation, and am again reminded that nothing in nature is rushing. Nothing in nature is forcing or pushing. The grass is not trying to grow any faster or slower, it just grows. The sun is not racing to get through its day.
Nothing in nature is wanting to be anything other than what it is. The tree is not wishing it was a bush, or a flower. The birds do not aspire to be anything other than birds.
Nature is the ultimate example of WYSIWYG (“What you see is what you get”). Even the creatures which camouflage themselves are simply expressing as their nature, exactly as they are. The challenge is to be still long enough to see it.
Everything in nature is peaceful, accepting of its nature, and spontaneously expressing that nature, without any hesitancy or desire to change.
Nature can teach us a lot about our own selves. We are a part of nature, yet our minds pull us out of sync and cause us to rush, to force, to resist, to chase after and to hesitate. When we become still as Tantra Yoga teaches us to do, and connect into the Nature of all Creation, and seek to discover that same Nature within our own being, then we too learn to accept life as it is. We too learn to acknowledge our own nature, and express it without apology. We too learn that there is no need to force. There is no where else to be other than where you are right now.
We learn to separate our Authentic Expression from the conditioned mind which pulls us away from it, rejects it, or puts a spin of expectation and attachment into it. And then we gracefully embrace our Authentic Nature, allowing it to express, and accepting it. If we are a squirrel, we will store nuts for the winter. If we are a bird, we will fly and eat seeds and insects. If we are a musician, then the very core of us drives us to play, to write music, to sing and to feel the music as life itself. If we are a dancer, then we must allow our bodies to move and express what words cannot say. If we are a linguist, then we must explore the nature of language and communication through words. If we are a mother or a father, then we must be the fullest expression of love and nurturing to a child. The list goes on and on.
Everyone has a Nature which should be uncovered, refined and expressed. If we can look past the mind stuff which distracts us and carries us away from it. If we can look past the mind stuff which judges our innate expressions and pushes it into submission. If we can look past the mind stuff which tries to twist and control our Authentic Nature for its own purposes and agenda. Then can we fall into the rhythm of Nature and Creation. Then can we just be, and not resist or be attached.
And when we surrender into that level of freedom, the ground on which Creation rests becomes more obvious, more apparent. And then, we discover the stillness, the silence and the peace that has always been supporting life, and we discover that this peace and stillness and the freedom, joy and bliss which arise within it are our very Nature. Always shining and pulsing beneath the surface of experience. Ever present, even when the external world fades away. It is the ground of all experience. It is Consciousness Itself. God. The Divine Essence. This is the real “Nature”. Not the birds, oceans and trees, but the cause of all of life, which is Consciousness Itself.
Like waves arising on the ocean, various forms and experiences arise within Consciousness. And then they return to Consciousness, like the waves which crash and return to the sea. No matter how big or small the wave, the nature of the ocean itself does not change. Just so, the nature of Consciousness, from which all experience arises, never changes.
Authentic, spontaneous expressions arising and dissolving over and over again within this Ground of Consciousness create the flow and rhythm of life. This is the experience of Tantric Nature. Awakening yourself to this experience and aligning yourself with this Reality is the work of Tantra Yoga.
(Written October 17th, 2011)
In an Ashram setting, certain rules and regulations are expected. In Part 1, we talked about the ways this experience can show you your attachments, your expectations and your habits.
Following the Ashram lifestyle will likely follow in a few different paths. You may find yourself getting into the routine, and allowing the new lifestyle to simply become your “norm”, adapting your expectations to the meet what will happen. A level of adaptability is a good quality, and shows flexibility and a less attached mind.
You might also adapt in a way where you “try to fit in”, and thus are really more forcing a match, perhaps even becoming attached to it, or using the lifestyle as a way to shift your awareness away from dealing with the life you have or had outside of it.
You may also adopt this new lifestyle, and have a genuine epiphany of the value that it brings to your life, your happiness and your spiritual growth, in which case you may stay in it or continue to return because it feeds you so deeply.
You may also rebel against the structure of it, and revolt or simply get out of it as quickly as possible. This could be a way of avoiding developing a deeper awareness of yourself, or perhaps it just feels too restrictive.
Any number of situations could happen, but a common theme in a conscious experience will be that is takes you out of your normal experience, and it churns your heart and mind. Like the churning of butter, the Ashram experience has the potential to separate out that which is important to your from that which is not, and taking what was into an entirely new form. To allow your deeper longings, desires and values to float to the top to be savored for their richness.
A traditional Ashram is designed to remove temptations from sensuality in all forms. Simple food, conservative dress to prevent body parts being exposed, and many activities focused on daily living and spiritual practices. Reduce temptation and occupy your mind so it won’t wander. This approach comes from the notion in Yoga that we need to reduce our desires and cravings, because they are distractions from our spiritual life.
The basic idea of them being distractions to our Spiritual Nature is fair enough, but Tantra also says that we should not repress our desires. We must acknowledge them and make peace with them in some way or another. In the Ashram, this may mean witnessing and contemplating our desires without being able to act on them. Allowing ourselves to witness what happens within our bodies, minds, awareness and our energy when we are not able to directly touch into the object of our desire, be that a big juicy steak, a beer, the smell of our favorite perfume, or an erotic encounter. It gives us a chance to explore the nature of desire itself as an energy that arises within us, and to make peace with it. To see it for what it is. To see that even the most urgent of cravings can be witnessed and moved through. We will not die if we don’t get what we are desiring.
But something else can also happen in this isolation and simple life. We may also have a longing arise which is new to us. We may connect with a new way to appreciate the ways we naturally wish to enjoy life. We may realize the value of having private time alone. We may come to appreciate a simple moment to be naked without having to quickly change so as not to offend roommates. We may learn to appreciate the freedom to speak to a loved one on the phone without having to keep our voice quiet, or feeling we have to censor our conversations.
We may also, in the restricted living, have a deep longing arise which connects us to a deeper sense of purpose. Some part of us that finally is ready to scream to be heard, that wants to live with greater purpose, joy and fulfillment than before. To live in a way that the Ashram life itself will not allow, because it has to express itself in the world. But it could not find its voice in the noise of worldly living. It needed the silent, contemplative space of the Ashram to direct your awareness in deeply enough to see it.
No matter what you come away with, a conscious Ashram experience should reveal deeper layers of yourself as both a human being and a spiritual being. It should churn up your values, showing you what is most important to you. It should help you better understand what you need to feel fulfilled and joyful. And perhaps, it will reveal ways you can more deeply align with a a joyful sense of purpose in your life.
Our desires are not wrong. Some are distractions, and can truly lead us away from the fulfillment that Tantra yoga promises. Many sensual desires run this risk, which is why they are discouraged in Traditional Yoga. But other desires are meant to be savored and joyfully unleashed, especially when it means expressing the core of our Being in a non-attached way. Especially when it leads us into purposeful, fulfilling living.
Most of us are full of desires that do not serve our greater happiness. But often, we also have suppressed longings and desires that reveal our greatness, our talents, our gifts and our abilities. These are the desires that fuel our life with passion and purpose. These are the desires that make us wake up in the morning excited to be alive.
Tantra teaches us to suppress nothing. Acknowledge all desires, from the darkest to the most bright. The secret is to make friends with them all. To see that they do not define the deeper Truth of who you are, and then with non-attached discrimination choose to fulfill the desires that will best serve your deepest fulfillment, and your spiritual growth.
When entering an Ashram, or consciously walking on a Tantric path, we must make room or the unexpected to arise. A lifestyle which intentionally reduces desires may actually awaken you to your deepest desires of purpose and fulfillment. It may even awaken you to the secret desire everyone has: To know your True Self and to live joyfully from that Knowledge of Self.