White Tantra – Would you do it again?

Two weeks ago, I attended my first White Tantric Yoga workshop.
Five to six meditations of 31 to 62 minutes lay ahead of me. I was worried.
Worried about sitting in easy pose–which, for me, isn’t all that easy after an hour due to my relatively stiff hips and sensitive knees–, about my sympathy to who my partner would be (White Tantra is being practiced with one partner that you do the exercises with together for the whole day), about the high cost of the workshop… To be blunt, I only went because it is an obligatory part of Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training.

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image via http://media.yogajournal.com/

So while I was sitting there, looking my partner into her deep brown eyes, I tried to stay positive for her. Practicing these Venus Kriyas (exercises with a partner) definitely works with the human will to show off! She too was positive for me. I wonder if she fought a similar battle in her mind.

I struggled. More than a few times during the meditations, I felt like I was stupid for doing this. I felt like I was punishing myself for something, and that the only thing that would come out of it would be week-long knee pains. I was repeating the thought in my head: I didn’t want to come here, and now I know why!
Nonetheless, I didn’t lose my partner’s gaze. I kept looking deeply into her kind eyes, chanting a mantra to her, or holding her hands firmly, whatever the Kriya asked of me.
I didn’t want to give up. I could feel that my giving up would affect my partner and probably the people around me, sitting one next to another in those neatly organized lines so that the energy could distribute accordingly.
I could feel that I wasn’t keeping up only for myself, because, frankly, I quite hated it at  times–I kept up in the name of the community, in the name of connection. Or maybe I just wanted to be a part of this, maybe I was still curious for the experience despite all of my pain and doubt.

White Tantra is known to speed up the processes you need to work through in this life, therefor intensifying your experience on an emotional, psychological and spiritual level.
Now that I was there, I wondered how all of those yogis I had talked to about White Tantra prior to my workshop could sincerely be a fan of this, and it took me some days to understand:
Immediately after the workshop, I just felt tired. The good kind of tired, like when you’ve spent a full day skiing in the mountains. My mind felt empty. The much my thoughts had been racing and criticizing during the meditations, the quiet they had gone now.
The next day, I noticed that I did feel proud in a way that I had not given up. That I had finished what I started, no matter how hard it got. That I had still been smiling at my partner, had shared with her all the energy I could.
After two months of very irregular yoga practice, if any, I felt I was finally ready to commit to a 40-day Kriya again. I noticed how easy the 3-minute Sat Kriya was compared to what I had endured during White Tantra. Many exercises felt so easy to go through if it was just for a couple of minutes, and not 31, let alone 62.
I also felt this towards other activities and tasks during the following week. Often, I found myself thinking: If I managed that whole day of “torture”, I can easily manage this and that!

I now understood: White Tantric Yoga puts things in perspective.
It strengthens the trust in what I can and cannot deal with and overcome.
And it pushed me back into the capacity of a daily yoga practice.
I am thankful for that and yes… I would do it again! {myself from 2 weeks ago shakes her head in disbelief}
After all, the knee pains only lasted for a day or two.

We’re stronger than we think we are,
Sat Nam.

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The simple Life of Seva

When I was little, I used to tell my mother I want to become a cleaning lady and live with her when I grow up. Everyone used to laugh at me for it, and I bel Now I see the wisdom in that little girl that, despite her artistic tendencies, would prefer to live a simple life of simple work.

I lost that wise little girl along the way. I grew up being told I had to use my talents, learn to play the guitar, keep on drawing and painting, educate myself more and more musically and artistically and that it would make sense for me to work a creative job related to my so-called talents.
It took a long time for me to tell the world I didn’t actually enjoy all of these activities. That I actually never had been truly passionate about playing the guitar turned out to be a painful surprise to both myself and my parents once I finally gave in to the resistance I had been trying to fight for 10 years. It was a huge relief to me and an extraordinarily freeing experience retiring my guitar and accepting the fact that I might be passionate about many aspects of music, but not about playing that instrument.
I continued on with drawing, some photography, a bit of writing and singing. I decided to go and study graphic design, because it was the only academic degree I could imagine myself getting. Getting a degree was expected of me.

A month ago, I started my 40 day period of seva (selfless service that unites Karma yoga and Bhakti yoga) at a Kundalini yoga ashram in Portugal.
My tasks here entail primarily housework: Cleaning, cooking, ironing, taking care of laundry, making beds for guests and feeding the dogs and chickens.
It is the first “job” in which I do not count the hours.
The level of consciousness in this space is rather high, there is a lot of room for spiritual practice and people to exchange experiences with.
The simple work constitutes a healthy balance to my process along the way of practicing, joining teachings and reading books like “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass. It gives me time to digest and be introspective.
It gives me the opportunity to contribute to maintaining the ashram for visitors as well as for the community. Every little folding of a towel is filled up with devotion in the awareness that I am doing it for the purpose of holding the space for everyone involved. This is bigger than me.
Also, I am not working here for money. I am “working” for experience.
Nobody doubts my creativity or intellect while I am tamping the compost.
I don’t have to prove any of it.

I am free to choose the degree of simplicity in my life
I am free to spend my lifetime doing
as much of something or nothing
as suits me
I am free to choose peace instead of accomplishment
I am free

 

 

There she is again, that wise little girl.

Sat Nam!

 

 

 

 

Gong Vibrations

During a Gong meditation I attended lately, following revelation came to me:
I envisioned a tree. I witnessed the growth of that tree, from the first shoots till the farthest branches. As I watched the tree branching out, the leaves coming into shape, I realized, that the form the tree would take on had been determined all along.
I realized that I was that tree.

I understood that there is a mould for who I am meant to be, that my final form is already definite and I am in the process of simply being cast into shape.

Everything that happens is like a story being read out loud. The reader might not know what’s going to happen a few pages ahead from here, nevertheless it has already been written. So as you are reading, you are discovering what’s been meant to be read all along.

This analogies of determinism are not the outcome of a cognitive process, but of meditation. To my rational mind, they might not even make sense. They might not be coherent with some other theories that resonate with me…
But they do fulfill my being with a profound calm and trust that everything’s gonna be alright.

 

 

 

Allowing fluidity

Only a while ago, I wrote my post about the importance of daily practice. While I do not necessarily disagree with the analogy I then illustrated, my perception and practice has since changed a bit.
There have been bigger changes going on in my life that made it hard for me to stay in balance and keep up with my routines the way I did during the months prior to these changes. I am now in the process of re-evaluating some of these routines, introducing new ones, implementing some more yogic rituals into my daily life, whether it be ishnaan (a cold shower in the morning) or some changes in nutrition aswell as rebuilding my cognitive focus on topics that are close to my heart.
While I am discovering many new things that enrich my life, I am realizing that sticking to a routine that does not always fit my needs and priorities due to changes in my emotional body and the things I am concerned with, would be like putting up a wall against the changes and not allowing them to flow over me.
I am learning to accept what it means to not be able to follow through with what you thought you knew was right for you. If the circumstances are changing, that means that I am changing, that means that my needs will change aswell and that, as a result, my actions will change in the way that fits the transition.

I had been thinking a lot about wabi sabi lately – an ancient philosophical Japanese concept of perceiving beauty in the incomplete and transient, in short.
There is one particular sentence I heard from a Japanese tea master in a documentary that won’t leave my mind:

“Beyond perfection lies destruction.”

And I am thinking, how touching is this?
How true is this? For only destruction paves the way for recreation. My crisis is my personal rebirth. With my old skins burnt away, I am free to grow further, to rebuild myself, to welcome new patterns and routines and rituals, to allow a new me to happen and evolve out of the chaos.
And the best thing is, I don’t have to force anything. I can just allow myself to flow with the rebuilding process and witness it.
Another quote comes to mind alongside with this thought:

“Don’t force anything. See God opening millions of flowers every day
without forcing the buds.” – Osho

To be clear, I am not quitting my Kundalini Yoga practice by all means. I am just allowing more fluidity, more space for transition and more of my Self to influence my practice.
My priority is now to be true to what I feel like doing, not what I think I should be doing.
Placing the intuitive over the cognitive.
Yes, even if that means I might be not practicing a day or two a week.

 

 

The Guru is in you.

 

 

 

 

The Art of a calm Heart

How will I protect my heart form crumbling during shaky times?
Can I keep a calm heart when it is being pushed around in confusion and ambivalence?
Know some things in you are stronger than you think.
Feel your core is stable even when your limbs are not.
Know that your heart is not a bone that can just break.
Know it is a radiant force within that no one can diminish.

Love even when you are not loved back the same way.
Love with a heart that’s wide, not sacrificing.
Open your heart to emotions without acting them out.

Meditate on your warm light that shines forever.

 

 

Sat Nam.

Introducing Equanimity

Of course, we are all on the lookout for happiness. We tend to try and mask out the obstacles of our happiness. But it doesn’t always work that well, right?
And the more sensitive ones of us will sink down in despair over the state of the world every once in a while. We feel all the things that are wrong and horrible around us are a reason to be sad, angry or scared.
Well, they are. I won’t tell you these feelings aren’t valid. They are even reasonable. But collapsing because of them is not worth it. Instead of letting us be pushed down so much by what is going wrong, we have to work on becoming accepting. Acceptance is the only way out of the dark spirals we sometimes find ourselves in when thinking about the terrors of our lives or this earth. I am not talking about resignation. I am advocating for healthy equanimity.
The terrors are part of life, of everything. It’s not just possible to live with them, they are mandatory in order for life to exist. This understanding sheds a whole other light on the dark side of the world. It won’t go away, and you know how there’s no light without darkness. They are both implemented in everything that is and two sides of the same coin.

Think of the things that weigh you down this way: Yes, it is bad. It is okay to feel that way about it. It makes sense. And it might not change. But instead of desperate, you can decide to feel equanimous. This does not mean you don’t care or that you do not have strong emotions about it. Quite the opposite. Sit and be with your emotions, go deeply into them without avoidance. And accept:

Not everything is good.
Not everything is beautiful.
And it’s okay.

A sense of trust towards the universe can help, but you do not need to believe the everything happens for a reason thing in order to be okay. Just realize that happiness does not mean permanent joy or exclusive positivity. You can be inherently happy and still feel sad and afraid now and again, without it breaking your heart. You can transform your bottom emotion into an optimistic equanimity. You can look at “negative” feelings with a positive attitude. An attitude that permits you to simply see:
There is no way out or end to every bad thing or thought.
But that’s okay and part of the whole experience!

Mandala’s Teachings

I pierce a little hole into the perceived middle of the piece of paper.
Draw a circle, pierce another hole onto the circle’s outline and proceed with the same radius, punching a hole through the paper on each occurring intersection.
From there, it only gets easier.
With my pencil I start in the middle. One tiny element. Six in a row to complete the circle.
And a little more outward. Another tiny element. Easy. Nothing breathtaking. Just whatever random form comes to my mind. As I proceed, circle by circle, row by row, element by element, I get more and more oblivious of all around me.
An hour later, I blink. I completed the last element.
The outcome astonishes me – how can something as amazing come of repeatedly drawing slight variations of two to three basic forms, layered onto one another?

The principle of the mandala is utterly simple. It is repetition, basic geometry.
But who would argue the staggering beauty that lies in it?

Some things tend to stun us when we look at them in their entirety. We see them from the outside, completed, and they intimidate us.
We think: “I could never do this,”.
They seem so overwhelming to get done.
The mandala teaches me that, to every amazing outcome, there are countless tiny, unremarkable steps. And you do not focus on the outcome. On the completion. You are not focusing on the step you are about to take. You are focusing solely on the tiny step you are taking right now.

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This is the first mandala I ever drew. I had no idea what I was doing.

 

We’ve heard it all before. And once you’ve made a great number of tiny, simple steps, you can look back and see the bigger picture, to realize that you have in fact accomplished something quite impressive you never would have imagined.
Focusing on the outcome rather than the process instead might keep you from accomplishing things. Don’t expect anything. Go step by step and be present.
You might be surprised what evolves from it.