Sunday, July 29, 2012

Notes from the US Tour: A Journey Of Faith

Across the expansive plains of North Dakota, over the majestic mountains of Idaho, carried through the dewy air of Washington and Oregon, then down the sunny California coast, through the red rock of New Mexico, surviving the scorching heat of Oklahoma, Texas and the Carolinas, I now sit under a canopy of droopy tropical trees in Florida listening to the symphony of bugs and birds that chant in July's steamy sauna-like forest.

 

Rishi just drove away to look for food for dinner that we can cook on our camping stove, taking with him the van we have called home since the end of May, when we first left Toronto. More than my first US musical tour, this journey has been repeatedly a call to faith, to take bold leaps into the unknown, trust and expand to meet unforeseen possibilities.

 

During a recent meditation, I saw beneath me a bridge of light. I could not see it with plain sight, but in surrender, in openness, I trust, I saw it there, carrying my every step. Limited cell phone reception, intermittent Internet, bookings that spontaneously dissolve as others magically arise, we are being asked to live right here, right now and engage life fully.

 

By grace, all those who have come to my shows and workshops love the sharing. We have been asked to come back to every venue we have attended. I will also be performing at BhaktiFest in Joshua Tree, California (an invitation that came to us while on tour) the first week of September. So we will be on the road longer than anticipated.

 

I am now alone in a large campsite, sitting on the ground that has been freshly moistened by a typical mid summer afternoon downpour. No tent near me, no van to call home that carries all my gear that I hold dearly, I sit in the open air and become familiar with these raw surroundings. In the aloneness and quiet, I feel drawn to meditate and listen to the immense pulse of nature that is so vocal in this heat. Squirrels and geckos are coming close to check me out. Who is this girl who sits alone amongst us? Cicadas swell to answer: She is one of us.

 

I can see RVs in the distance that look like strange metallic beasts in this treed land, where long clusters of moss hang and sway in the breeze from thickly sculpted yet almost furry mossy branches. Lush leaves of deep green are drenched with the moisture in the air, seemingly relaxed in the heat.

 

An unexpected vulnerability has come over me, as I sit by myself. I feel tiny in a massive world, yet also more intimately connected now out in the open air to the planet, the mother herself. I pray and listen. There is an earthiness I find in simple living, that brings me to touch an honest frailty of being. It also empowers. Through surrender, I find love and feel immensely connected to it all. 

 

It is from this place of surrender that I sing the new songs for my new fans on this US tour. It is from this place I am drawn to create. Is She, the Mother, not so immense, so vast, so potent, infinitely loving and compassionate? And all we need to do is open in stillness to find Her patiently waiting, right here, right now, wherever we may be.

 

The sun is going down and light fading in a cloudy sky. The pot of rice, that I am minding on the camping stove beside me, quietly cooks as I await Rishi's return. Time to close my eyes now, and rest in the precious moments of surrendered meditation...

 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hello from Dallas, and Parvati Magazine

Dear friends,

As this blog entry goes live, I am at Tsada Yoga in Dallas, TX, having completed a three-hour YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine workshop and preparing for a YIN: Yoga in the Nightclub show.

The latest issue of Parvati Magazine is now live with articles about keeping a sense of fun and making the most of your vacation. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Success, Joy and Abundance

Everyone has his own personal definition of success. Culturally, we tend to consider success when we receive accolade and praise from external accomplishments, like fame and fortune. For the most part, our measures of success are external. 

 

Some people measure their success based on an internal compass, attempting to meet their own personal best. However, often, even these seemingly internal measures are driven by attachments to external ideas of success. 

 

I met someone recently who asked me, puzzled: “If I don’t want to be better, how will I ever become better?” Success for her was out there, and she was tired running after it. She felt there must be another way, but was unclear what it could be. She had lived a life driven by what she felt others wanted for her rather than fueled by her own personal joy. 

 

Joy often seems elusive, something we will get to eventually, once we complete this task or that one, or once we have achieved this goal or that one. To me, living like this is being the proverbial donkey that chases the carrot held out on a stick in front of him. It is an impossible chase. In that situation, our impulse to move arises from what we think will make us happy ‘over there’ and from feelings of scarcity in this moment, rather than tapping into the reality of eternal abundance.

 

Abundance is a bit of a popular catchphrase that seems to, in itself, contain external measures of success. For many, it often relates to financial wealth, whereas for me, it expresses a life of possibility and energetic opulence that is available to all and is not conditional upon the external. When we live by abundance, we feel we have enough, no matter what the circumstances may be. The notion of ‘more’ is a possibility, an organic arising, rather than a reaching or a wanting. We don’t need more to be happy. We are open to more, should this be the expression of life and of our highest good. In a state of abundance, there is no push/pull struggle, but a dance with life, in this moment, as it is.

 

Joy has a lot to do with abundance. Perhaps it is why the phrase “follow your bliss and doors will open where before there were none” became so popular, thanks to the late professor Joseph Campbell. When we follow our joy, we feel an impulse to participate in life. We feel an impulse to share, because we feel connected to our inner wealth. 

 

We can find temporal motivation through fear, feeling “if we don’t” do a certain thing, “then we won’t” get a certain reward (such as approval). Yet joy is also a tremendous motivator. But unlike fear, joy taps into a wealth of energy that far outshines the capacity of fear. By following our joy, our impulse to act comes from a deeper, more rooted and expansive place, and brings to our lives a vital force unlike any other.

 

As I travel across the continent to get to my next destination on the US tour of my show YIN: Yoga In the Nightclub and my yoga workshop YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine, I am thinking a lot about joy, abundance, vitality and success. I realize that for myself, my sense of success comes from the courage to travel inward to places I could easily avoid. And in this case, traveling inward has led to me traveling outward.

 

To me, success is about the courage to say yes to life, to joy, to all of who I am, to all that this moment brings. I do this work because it is what my joy calls of me. It is an impulse that arises from the voice of my soul and connects me to an energy far greater than my limited sense of “me”. 

 

As I evolve, there are aspects of my shadow that I must see in order to grow. I could choose to hide from and mask them by becoming distracted with passing pleasures. Yet it is my joy to go deeper, to go beyond the fear that says, “I can’t”. There I find the acronym for fear to be true: they are “False Expectations Appearing Real”. So I remind myself, “Be here. Be now. I have all I need. All is well. All is unfolding as it should.” This redirection of consciousness brings me to inner places that connect me to something so much greater than my ego, and my perception of the world shifts.

 

I don’t know what this tour will bring, but no matter what happens, I feel at some level I already have success because I am on the road to newness, I welcome possibility and I am open to the fullness of myself and of life.

 

May you touch your deepest expression of your version of success and may you live by it. May you follow your joy and share that light with the world.

 

Until next time, be well.

Parvati

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Making of "YIN: Yoga in the Nightclub"

Hello Friends,

 

Typically, the week of a Parvati Magazine launch, I don’t write a blog entry. But I have been a bit delinquent with my entries to you. So despite the latest issue of Parvati Magazine being now live – go check it out!! – I wanted to share a bit of my heart and my creative process over the last couple of months with you here.

 

As you know, I have been immersed in the world of sound, creating my album “YIN: Yoga In the Nightclub”, which I hope you have had a chance to listen to, and perhaps enjoy as much as I do. If not, please take a listen to it at Yoga in the Nightclub.

 

As I wrote, engineered, produced, arranged and mixed the tracks (and the mix polish process with the talented sound engineer Carl Gardiner in the U.K.), I was literally brought to my knees again and again. There was something powerfully different about this particular album for me. 

 

At first, I thought, perhaps it was the short window of time I had to create it. But that did not feel right. Then my audio engineer friend Carl suggested that perhaps it was the typical ‘second album angst’ that seems to plague most bands and artists. But that also did not seem to really describe what I was experiencing.

 

Then I realized that literally a year ago from the time I was producing the album, I was flat out in bed, in agony, with a severe spinal injury. At that time, I was undergoing a deep spiritual transformation, one that required profound surrender and trust like I had never had before. From that injury, as I have shared with you, my whole world changed. 

 

From the onset, I knew I was creating a series of songs as a nod to the yoga community that shared my love for yoga and the Divine. But doing so at that particular time seemed to channel into this musical work much of the spiritual energy and the fruits of my inner transformation that I experienced during my injury. 

 

In addition, I had never recorded myself chanting in Sanskrit. Sanskrit is a vibrational language geared to invoke states of consciousness through sound. So repeating phrases over and over through the recording process was, in the unseen realm, stirring up my inner consciousness pot, rearranging cells, and moving me deeply.

 

In addition to being face to face with the power of the inner experience I had through my injury and the power of Sanskrit, the entire album was fueled by the depth of my love for my guru, Amma, and the devotion I have to Her and the spiritual path. Cooked to the core through this recording process, I repeatedly met my ego that kept surfacing saying “I can’t”. It kept wondering how something as large as these expressions could come through this tiny body, this finite time and space, ultimately, this “little old me”. 

 

The answer eventually embedded itself into my being deeper than ever before: “get out of the way – you are not the doer.” I relied heavily on the knowing that reality is plastic and that nothing in this world is fixed, despite the ego wanting to think it being so. So I focused on being an instrument, as best I could, and on just taking orders from the unseen.

 

Through the creation of the album, I worked very diligently with my music production soil-less garden. No, I was not tending to plants. A soil-less garden is indeed a garden without soil or any ground and works with Nature’s Devas and the unseen realms on a creative project. It is a very powerful process that I recommend to anyone. You can read about it at the Perelandra website that says:

 

“A soil-less garden is how you apply the principles of co-creative science to every aspect of your life: business, education, the arts, the home, research, your job, personal and professional projects and goals... all those gardens in life that are not rooted in soil. It's how you work with nature to achieve any goal you wish with extraordinary efficiency and balance.”

 

So for hours a day, I was in my soil-less garden coning (a particular energetic configuration of Nature Devas and Cosmic Intelligence) to expand my consciousness so that I could access and download (for lack of a better term) sonic information that would best express what I was called to share. At worst, I felt like I was taking dictation. At best, I was dancing with the Divine through sound. It was an exhilarating creating process. 

 

As you know, the album, with its songs to the Divine Mother, was aptly launched on Mother’s Day weekend. Thanks again to those who attended. I was so glad to see you all! Since the launch, I have tweaked the music, adjusted sets, made costume fixes, redesigned lighting… generally polished the show. I am on tour through the US right through to the first week of August. I will be sleeping out of a van for the next few months, but updating this blog with photos and captions from the journey. I look forward to sharing it all with you. 

 

Just like when I went to the North Pole, I felt I was going with you all. So too, I feel we are all connected, so what I do, I do with you, and wherever you are, I am there too, as you are with me. Space and time are plastic, stretchable expressions of our heart’s focus and divine alignment. As I sing in my song “Shanti”, “we are one earth family”. Yes, we are!

 

If you have not yet picked up your copy of the album, you can get it exclusively at the Positive Possibilities store, in biodegradable packaging or in mp3 format. Your support is immensely appreciated! A percentage goes to Embracing the World.

 

Much peace, gratitude and joy to you!

Jai Ma!

Parvati

 

 

 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sneak Preview: Yoga in the Nightclub New Tracks

Dear friends,

I am still immersed in the world of sound as I get ready for this Friday's album launch. I thought I would share with you a few of the tracks that will be on the new "YIN: Yoga in the Nightclub" album.

Yoga In The Nightclub New Tracks by ParvatiDevi


Hope to see you this Friday evening at the Yoga Sanctuary!

Jai Ma,

Parvati

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Yoga as Energy Medicine

I pull myself away from the intense focus of creating my new album and preparing for my upcoming show (May 11, 8pm at the Yoga Sanctuary, 2 College Street, Toronto, for those who do not know) to teach a “YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine” workshop today. The workshop celebrates the official launch of my new YEM instructional DVD and CD. I am very pleased with the products and look forward to the opportunity to serve this afternoon.

I feel that my life is blessed. Not that it is without challenges. It is simply that I feel deeply grateful for the gift of being here, on this planet, at this time. As I pursue my love of music and share the grace that sound can fill our being, I also am able to support people’s evolutionary journey home to “the One” through the practice of yoga, in particular, through the style of Hatha Yoga that I teach called YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine.

I cannot imagine what my life would be like as a musician without yoga, because they are intricately linked. Not because my current show is called “Yoga In the Nightclub”, but because spirit can be served through sound and sound can invoke spirit. They are vitally interlinked and sacredly bonded. I have explored this notion in previous blog entries: A World of Sound, Nada Yoga.

Teaching yoga feels like it punctuates my life with a regular meditation bell-like reminder. My commitment to teach people to center, be present and plug to the vast energy of the cosmos ensures that I too walk the talk through all I do. It brings me out of the internal creative process and it brings me in from the expansive performance energy that shows can generate. It ensures I too am centered, and spirit focused. The balance I find from my meditation practice and in teaching YEM is my sanity line and infuses all I do.

So as I take a pause from my upcoming album and show production and officially launch my new YEM yoga instruction DVD and CD, it feels like a great time to share here a bit more of what YEM is about. 

And should you feel inspired, there is still time to join me for the launch through a two hour workshop I am teaching this afternoon at Trinity St Paul United Church, 427 Bloor Street, Toronto, in the chapel from 2:30-4:30pm. All details and tickets are at www.positivepossibilities.com and more info is at www.parvatihealth.com.

I hope to see you there!

YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine

Yoga asana practice, the practice of Yoga’s physical postures, was developed thousands of years ago to assist the purification of the subtle energy channels that flow through our body/being to experience lasting bliss. Yoga teaches us to get out of our own way so that we may know what yogis tell us is Real: that the universe, which pulsates at the eternal rhythm of unconditional love, is in a highly intelligent state of union of which we are each an integral part.

YEM is dedicated to the rooted and expansive state of living I AM consciousness, of being fully alive and in service to the creative flow. It teaches both a quiet and introverted yet deeply powerful and expansive approach to yoga asana, where breath initiates and inspires movement from the inside out. When practicing, allow your focus to be both inward on the flow of energy and the sensations in your body/being and on the universal expanse to which you are connected. This rooted and expansive focus cultivates a balanced state of awareness, which assists the soul’s evolutionary journey back to the One. You can experience greater health and well-being as well as feeling more gratitude and joy for being alive and serving the world.

YEM invites you to go deeper, whatever Yoga tradition inspires you. You can take the wisdom of YEM and integrate it into whatever asana style, physical discipline or meditation practice you have been learning. 

For more on YEM, go to www.parvatihealth.com or come out and see me this afternoon at 2:30pm at the Chapel, Trinity-St Paul's Church 427 Bloor Street, for the official launch of my first YEM yoga instructional DVD and CD.

You can also read through past entries on Yoga as Energy Medicine in this blog, including a five-part series on how the practice unfolded for me.

Enjoy the gift of this day!
Parvati

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hello From My Studio

Hello friends,
I am just in the home stretch of my new album. I will share some sound samples soon. More to come!

In the meantime, the latest issue of Parvati Magazine has gone live. This month's theme is "Blooming" and celebrates one of the most inspired seasons of the year. Please go and enjoy the articles by an abundant group of talented writers devoted to helping you blossom into the magnificence you are.

Also, please join me next Sunday afternoon, April 29, at 2:30pm at the Chapel at Trinity-St. Paul's United Church, 427 Bloor Street West (near Spadina subway), for the official launch of my YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine CD and DVD. I will give a YEM workshop at that time, suitable for all levels. Space may be limited, but you can book your spot in advance at the Positive Possibilities Store and also take advantage of special package deals for the YEM DVD and CD.

Until next week, be well.

Parvati

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A World of Sound, The Voice of the Divine

Hello Friends,

As you may know, I am in the thick of the creative process finalizing my new album. This album is a nod of gratitude to the yoga community for the support I have received over the years, and of recognition of my deep spiritual roots there. The album uses my independent hit single "Yoga In the Nightclub" as a point of departure. The album includes traditional Sanskrit chants, original pop songs, anthemic dance tracks and expansive, spacious soundscapes that allow listeners to rest in the lap of the Divine.

The creative theme for the album is "Songs to the Divine Mother", an expression of gratitude to my guru Amma. The release party is fittingly on Mother's Day weekend, at 8pm on Friday May 11 at the Yoga Sanctuary at 2 College Street (at Yonge). All ages are welcome, and kids under 6 are free. Advance tickets are available at my online store Positive Possibilities. There will be an early bird special, so make sure you order yours early. Full details will be on my websites soon. I hope to see you all there!

I feel like I am in a creative cave as I create sounds to produce songs in my music studio. For me, it is a fully engrossing process. A friend from Montreal is in from Toronto and asked me to come to his event this weekend. I would have loved to go, but said that if I were around people, I would open my mouth and symphonic sounds would emerge rather than words. I am in the world of sound!

(In case you are looking for something inspiring to do on a rainy Toronto Sunday, his event is the launch of RISE Kombucha at the Green Living Show April 13-15, booth #1830, at Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place, 100 Princess Blvd.)

The creative process is all consuming. My partner's cell phone went off yesterday, and I found myself mesmerized by the sparkling sounds. I paused for a moment. Uh oh. I am in really deep! So I went for a walk in the local ravine to refresh my ears from the intensely focused sonic work. The outside world was also just a world of sound to me.

As I do my daily meditation practice through this intensely creative process, I hear the sound of my breath and the sound of my heart. I can sense the sounds of my cells receiving the oxygen from the breath and the blood flow. I sense the sounds within life, pulsing with vibrancy.

To me, the creative process is like a party with the Divine, witnessing a force unfold and move through that is so much greater than the ego. It is a mystical process, because at its core it is a mystery wrapped in awe and received in humility.

Today, I suggest that you may wish to open your ears and being to the worlds of sound both within and without. We think of sound as frequencies we hear with our physical ears. But there are also unstruck sounds, frequencies that are subtle yet still can be sensed.
For example, we hear the thoughts that pass through our head, that inner chatter. But there is no object that is vibrating to create that sound frequency. Yet we can hear this chatter.

The voice of the Divine is like this to me, everywhere, in all things, pulsing, flowing, alive. When we learn to listen, life is resonant with an orchestral vibrancy that is nothing short of awesome. The power of this sound draws us to stillness and lets us dissolve into the depths of profound silence. Open your ears, open your heart, open your body, open your mind and listen to the wondrous sounds of Life itself.

Until next week,

Jai Ma,
Parvati

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Reborn to Freedom: Happy Easter and Happy Passover

Happy Easter, Gut Yom toff and Chag Sameach!

 

As a child, I loved going to church even more on Easter than at Christmas. Yes, I loved singing Handel’s Messiah, with the Hallelujah chorus. I loved the mystique of a church sprinkled with lights “in the bleak mid-winter”. I loved the Christmas message, how the birth of eternal love comes through the innocence of the child that exists within us all. But at Easter, the church, in my child’s eyes, always seemed to be bursting with flowers. And you know how much I love flowers!

 

Flowers are a symbol of new life. They remind us of possibility and effortless being. They remind us of the sweetness of life when we are aligned with our true beauty. And flowers return each spring, bringing with them the same message of hope and inspiration, just as Easter brings us the message of rebirth, reunion and rejoicing.

 

I have always felt a very close connection to a particular Biblical passage that expresses the joy of flowers beautifully:

 

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them… See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”

(Matthew 6: 26-29 - New International Version)

 

This year, Good Friday was also the first night of Passover (Pesach), when the first Seder, the traditional Jewish meal celebrates the freedom from slavery under the rule of the Egyptians. The Christian feast of Maundy Thursday finds its roots in the Jewish feast of Passover, the night on which the Last Supper is said to have occurred. Seder is what Christians know as the last supper, because it is the meal Jesus was celebrating with his disciples as he broke bread and consecrated wine, which become symbols of his body and blood to be shed the following day.

 

The somber tone of Good Friday, which precedes the celebration at Easter Sunday morning, reminds me every year of the expression “It’s darkest before the dawn”. We are one with the eternal, rising light of pure consciousness. Even when we forget this truth and feel like our life is caught in a dark tomb, or we feel that we are crumbling from the weight of crosses we feel we must bear, we can remember that a new dawn always comes.

 

Though we may feel dark and heavy, we will rise again - not because we are called to make heroic, willful efforts, but because we are one with eternal light, the light that always is. Our effort comes in surrender and trust – in the power of letting go. When we let go, darkness passes and the light returns. The darkness of the cross and the tomb remind us of the death of our ego. The ego must dissolve in order for us to return to the eternal light. We must die to the dark so we may be born to the light.

 

Nature shows us this each year with the arrival of spring. Beneath the ice were seeds waiting to burst into life. We could not see them, but they were there. Only when the harsh winter softens, can we see new life come joyfully into the bloom.

 

EXERCISES

For those of Jewish faith:

 

If you are Jewish, you may have just had Seder. My partner is Jewish. Each year we gather at his parent’s home, read the Haggadah (the Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder), retell the Passover story and eat the Seder meal.

 

I spoke with him this year about the meaning of the word “liberation”, a powerful word in the Hindu world. Liberation in Sanskrit is “moksha”, which refers to the final state of liberation we experience once we are enlightened. This is the freedom from our dualistic worldview and a permanent merging with the One, the all-pervading force of pure consciousness.

 

In the Jewish tradition, liberation at Passover refers to the freedom of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. I shared with my partner that I found it interesting that in the Passover story there are ten plagues that came upon the Egyptians. Why ten? Why not fifteen or six? It is a notable number to me as there are, in Hinduism and Buddhism, ten primary subtle body energy centers, that is, seven main “chakras” (energy wheels) within the body and three subtler ones above the crown of the head.

 

So I suggested that this year, we say the Shema, which I love and which is so very potent, then we look within ourselves, and contemplate what ten plagues we currently carry in our body/being, that, that is, what impossibilities tendencies we have that we would like to release. In this exercise, we learn to name the ways in which we resist our own liberation and can learn to witness, and eventually release them, with God’s Grace, so we may prepare our body, mind and spirit for the holiest day of the Jewish year, the day of atonement, Yom Kippur.

 

I suggested that we each take a pen and paper and go within to make note of ten impossibilities in our lives, by using our body as a point of reference. (Here goes the yogini in me!) As a starting point, we can ask ourselves the following questions:

 

  • Where am I holding tension in my body?
  • What are we holding on to?
  • Where do I struggle in my life?
  • What attachment of mine does this struggle reflect?
  • Where do I push or pull at life and/or at myself and/or at people in my life?
  • In which way am I greedy, too hard or severe, like the Egyptians were in the Passover story?
  • In which way do I keep myself in bondage, a slave to my ego?
  • In which way am I full of wanting and out of flow?

 

We all have the capacity for slavery and freedom. This exercise may help to soften the grip of holding on in our lives so we may experience greater freedom within. Note your answers to the question down on a piece of paper or in a journal to save it for the fall at Yom Kippur.

 

For those of Christian faith:

 

If you are Christian, ask yourself the following questions and make notes for your own personal growth. Revisit them at Christmas and see how your life has changed.

 

  • In which way do I hide in darkness in my life?
  • In which way am I not willing to die into the eternal light that is my true nature?
  • What am I holding on to?
  • What am I afraid of?
  • In which way do I feel attached to seeing myself as the “doer” rather than being in service to God’s Will?
  • What crosses do I feel I carry in my life?
  • Am I willing to let God carry these instead?
  • How do I stay hidden in the dark caves of my psyche and avoid my life’s rebirth?

 

For those of other faiths:

 

Though this weekend is focused more on Passover and Easter, I always feel we can be inspired by the grace that occurs during any spiritual festival or ritual. If you are of another religious tradition or if you are agnostic, then take this time to look within at the ways you resist your magnificence, the ways you keep yourself a slave to your wants, the ways in which you keep yourself in the darkness of ignorance, a captive of your ego, rather than be in humble service to the gift of life. This life is a gift. There is no better time than in the flowering of spring and by embracing its energy of renewal, rebirth, reunion and rejoicing to really embody the grace of who you are and meet the fullness of your life’s potential.

 

Until next week, be well.

 

Parvati

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sacred Sexuality: Beyond Wanting - Part 4: The Body Channel - The Art of Love

(Continued from Wanting Fulfillment or Open to Divine Love)

What channel are we choosing to tune into and amplify when we mate? Whatever our state of consciousness at the time of sexual interaction, that consciousness is amplified by the act of sex. If we are wanting, seeking fulfillment and brimming with desire, we will feel satisfied temporarily from our climax, then ultimately feel empty once again and want more. The cycle of wanting then continues.

 

But if we approach sex from the point of view of the sacred, from a place of mindfulness and a practice of the release of wanting, most guys will say at first that they can’t get it up, and women will not know how to be sexy because they are so used to seducing or playing hard to get. Once the cat and mouse games or prey/predator games fall away, we are left with our naked self, our inner being, raw, vulnerable and real. Ok, you may ask, so what is so sexy about that!? That is when real lovemaking begins.

 

When we allow ourselves to let go of wanting the other to fill us up, when we let ourselves be real, as we are, another energy comes through our body and being. It will charge our entire being with a presence, a force that is absolutely free of wanting. We feel open, grounded, free, humble and powerful – zero and everything. It is as through our body, heart and soul simultaneously flower in reverential awe of the moment. This force is an exquisite expression of the flower of life itself.

 

Sacred sexuality is not about “me” wanting “you”, or “you” wanting “me”, or two people pleasuring themselves and each other. These temporary wants will come and go and will leave each person with the same sense of emptiness they were consciously or unconsciously trying to fill up through the other. Sacred sexuality is about the body being a vehicle for the divine. Beyond the grip of personality, the partners are open, present, and willing portals of the divine in human form. In this state, there is no desire to climax, in fact, perhaps a moving away from such. Should this force begin to arise, those who are keen practitioners of sacred sexuality will know that this is a sign that wanting is also rising, and interference has come. Practitioners must wait for that wanting to pass in order to proceed.

 

In sacred sexuality, there is the absence of desire, and the fullness of life itself. The whole body-being begins to feel like a sex organ, alive and pulsing with life. Spiritual bliss replaces orgasm and it is not limited to physical contact or genital stimulation. It is a spiritual lasting state that is not conditional upon action. The spine is a conduit for life force energy that pulses energy through every cell. There are no wild multiple orgasms that make you fabulously funky, and proud of your spiritual prowess. In sacred sexuality there is a genuine merging with the One. The mind is calm, clear and fully alert, yet relaxed. The body is present, open, gentle and very strong. This is a yogic state. This is a path to the divine.

 

Sacred sexuality is the expression of sexual energy without wanting. This is the embodiment of life force. It is a co-creation with the Cosmic Intelligence and Nature. It can be expressed with the self through the fulfillment of one’s destiny. It is when the Divine is incarnate. It can also be expressed through self with self-sex. But this may lead to trickiness because the physical body, being the heaviest vibration of our entire being, also houses and triggers our deepest attachments and our most profound wants.

The same is true with sex with others, be it same sex or heterosexual. Sex is to be free of wanting if we are to touch the divine. When wanting is absent, one has the experience of true presence, and this alone, with or without touch, can be soulfully orgasmic. It is a question of openness, readiness and willingness to be seen wholly, as we are without fa├žade, fears and ego. A simple, connected gaze can lead our entire being into a different, expanded realm, one more real than what our limited perceptions and habitual personality would want us to see and believe. Sacred sexuality is not about or limited to genitalia. Sacred sex is about the force of life that flowers through the soul, meeting spirit through the body. It electrifies this moment into the fullness of being. It is living our fullest potential, realizing our magnificence and being divine incarnate. Sacred sexuality is not about the act of sex, but about reverential acknowledgement and humble awe at the spiritual force that flows through life, that we only know when we are willing to become quietly, lovingly spacious, unbound and free of all sense of disconnection.

 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sacred Sexuality: Beyond Wanting - Part 3: Wanting Fulfillment or Open to Divine Love

(Continued from Body Language)

 

Sex is part of the cycle of life. It is a sacred thing. When the sacred is confused for the fulfillment of desires, confusion begins. The sacred does not fulfill our desires. It does not give us all we want but gives us what we need. The divine shows us the ways in which we identify with feeling disconnected and shows us a way to return to our more authentic state of wholeness.

 

It is not up to our lovers, husbands, wives and partners to make us whole. It is up to us to turn our attention to the divine and tap into that eternal light. It is our job to focus on and celebrate the divine within our partners, and forgive their shadow, as we too have shadows.

 

When we engage in sexuality, it is a time for heightened consciousness, not the release of such. When we let go of our spiritual attention and engage in sexuality, we amplify our already present tendency to want. Whenever there is wanting, there is interference. When we want through sex, we become downloading stations for interference and amplify our own state of disconnection. Though a momentary feeling of bliss through orgasm feels great, most of us have no idea what really went on in the unseen while we temporarily reached such heights.

 

When we feel whole, relaxed and are willing to be free of wanting while we engage sexually, sex becomes an opportunity to release wanting at its root so that we may feel closer to the divine. Sex then is not about peaks, highs and lows, but about a rooted, vital and expansive exploration of life force, while letting go of our ego so that we may return to the One state of pure consciousness.

 

Understanding the force that runs through sexuality helps us eventually learn to touch the sacred everywhere. Historically, the enlightened ones do not engage sexually to meet the divine, but seem to go into bliss just at the sight of a flower, or from the simple touch of Kleenex. The divine is everywhere and the opportunity to find lasting, expansive bliss is also everywhere.

 

Through our human form, we have been given a gift that sacred texts tell us is universally unmatched. Since the body has the capacity to be a conduit for the divine, channeling the pure consciousness of the Cosmic Intelligence into Nature and form, we are charged with the ability to tap into power that is so much greater than our limited sense perceptions and tricks of our ego. We can tap into the power of the infinite through sexuality and embody our true nature, only as long as we are willing to let go of wanting. Wanting is our human super-power kryptonite. Watch for it. Whatever we channel through our sexual act takes shape on our planet.

 

(Continues with The Body Channel: The Art of Love)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sacred Sexuality: Beyond Wanting - Part 2: Body Language

(Continued from Sex and Spirituality)

 

Whether we are heterosexual, bisexual, homosexual, a polygamist, a monogamist, or celibate, our physical body is part of a vast, multidimensional whole. What we do, think, feel, taste, smell and touch is never limited in isolation to our immediate sense of self, but has ripple effects throughout the entire universe.

 

When we communicate, we take in and impart information. For most, this is thought of as a verbal exchange. But for those who are sensitive to otherness, we understand that there is no such thing as purely verbal information. In addition to what we speak, we are also sharing our emotional presence, all the contents of our body language, the subtle innuendos, and our vibrational intentions.

 

When we share with someone, we are in contact not just with the physical being that we see, but with all that person’s past thoughts, experiences and actions, as well as all energies with which they have been in contact. We are in touch with the totality of their soul's evolutionary journey. Even when we are physically alone, we are never truly alone. Whatever we think, feel or do, we are continually in communication with an immense universe that comes home to us through our physical body.

 

The body is literally a channel for unseen forces. We know we need to take care to communicate appropriately when we share our ideas and our heart, whether silently to ourselves, thoughtfully through prayer or orally to others. We know we must be attentive to our audience and communicate appropriately so that we may be understood and so we may fully feel connected.

 

The same is true with sex. It is a form of communication, communication with self, and/or with other(s). Sexuality in the positive possibilities is about receptivity and trust, because in order to fully meet the divine, that is, the pure consciousness that runs through our being, and share in its presence that runs through everything, we must lay down our ego, rest in humility and let go of wanting. This takes spiritual maturity.

 

If we were deeply honest with ourselves and looked courageously into the recesses of our psyche, we would find that for most, sex is an expression of seeking external fulfillment, getting or giving to get, which are forms of our ego attempting to gain approval, feel safe and find control. Sex for most is a form of trying to find connections while feeling disconnected. Even when we feel we love someone, we need to be careful we are not still seeking their approval, playing out childhood patterns and being inauthentic in the moment. In this way, the sober truth is that for most, sex is more of an expression of the impossibilities, because it often comes from a place of scarcity, wanting and lack, rather than genuine and pure love.

 

Just like anything in the universe, when we approach life from a perspective of lack, we will continue to feel unfulfilled no matter how many fast cars we buy, how many shiny shoes are in our closets, how big our house is, or how many multiple orgasms we have. Unless we embody the courage to face our inner emptiness and switch internal dials so that we may let go of our inner wounds that tell us we are unloved and unlovable, we will not find the fullness we ultimately seek. Similar to the rules of abundance that tells us that riches cannot be made from feeling not enough, we cannot meet the eternal and divine through sexuality if we are in a disconnected state of wanting. Love comes when we love ourselves.

 

Sex transmits information. It is a form of communication - communing with self, others and otherness. It brings us beyond our limited sense of self and opens us to something else, be it the divine, or more wanting. (As a transmitter, sex also gives us STDs, which sadly have affected many, many people all around the world.)

 

When we look at sex from a spiritual perspective, we also understand that sex transmits information from the unseen to the seen. When we are spiritually centered, we realize that sexuality opens a multidimensional portal and has the capacity to transmit beauty, peace, joy, as well as unseen STDs, that is, interference patterns that take root in our physical form.

 

When I was living in Montreal and ran a yoga studio there, I went away one weekend on a meditation retreat by myself for personal recharge. When I came back, I was greeted by my then boyfriend and a swirling array of women I could see in his energy field... three to be exact. As soon as I saw him, I exclaimed, "Who are these women?” I knew he had been unfaithful to our monogamous relationship while I was away. I could see their energy imprint in his energy field. I knew that if we were to be intimate again, I would be interacting with him, his unseen field, as well as all those with whom he had been in contact. For me, the spiritual path is complicated enough, full of promise and pitfalls. Engaging in such complicated and unclear energy systems was not for me, so we parted ways.

 

That partner and I practiced at that time what most people popularly understood to be Tantra. It is from experiences like that relationship and others that I came to develop a deeper understanding of Tantra and know intimately the power of sexuality to touch the divine or to add complication to our lives. Sex can support our evolution if the energy is handled with absolute awareness and true understanding of wanting and desire. For most, sex either keeps us in cycles of wanting providing temporary highs, like white sugar rushes that do not ultimately feed our soul and body/being, or (when sexual desire is misunderstood as love, rather than seen as tricky wanting) it adds layers of complications to our path, and brings into our body/being energies from which we will eventually, in this life or the next, need to release.

 

(Continues tomorrow with Wanting Fulfillment or Open to Divine Love)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sacred Sexuality: Beyond Wanting - Part 1: Sex and Spirituality

Sex is everywhere in our media. It sells. It builds brands. It feeds consumerism. It is not a surprise that it does, as the energy of sexuality is the very energy that creates life. It is a very powerful force that is best used with conscious understanding.

 

Sex is a powerful vehicle for the divine. As I celebrate in my song Sanctified Skin (which I will officially release early this summer), the light of pure consciousness dances within us. Our body is a temple for divine play. But if we are to play, we must be aware of who or what we are playing with.

 

There are interference patterns in the universe that do not have physical form, but covet our physical bodies. Because a physical body is subject to natural laws, it creates the experience of polarity that provides an opportunity to add jet fuel to the process of evolutionary process. To have form, means having the gift of spiritual alchemy. But we must be aware what base metal we wish to transform into gold, hence the power of free will.

 

We have all been there, freely expressing our wants. Crushes and heartbreaks, great sex, bad sex, the partner we wished we had, the one we once loved but now hate, the one we are with and no longer want. But what is behind the roller coaster of sexual desire and how does it fit in with our spiritual path?

 

Tantra and sacred sexuality are not the same. As I said in my recent blog entries, Tantra as a whole does not condone the use of sexuality while on the spiritual path. But not everyone is meant to be a hard-core yogi where celibacy is usually considered essential. Most often, people wish to find a more integrated approach to their spirituality and their modern, family life. So where does sex fit into that?

 

(Continues tomorrow with Body Language)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hello from the Yoga Show

Dear friends,

I am at the Yoga Conference in Toronto to promote Yoga as Energy Medicine and Yoga in the Nightclub. If you are there, please come by and say hello. I am in booth 806.

My next blog topic is sacred sexuality. It will be posted beginning tomorrow. But here is a preview of what I'll be talking about:

Tantra and sacred sexuality are not the same. As I said in my recent blog entries, Tantra as a whole does not condone the use of sexuality while on the spiritual path. But not everyone is meant to be a hard-core yogi where celibacy is usually considered essential. Most often, people wish to find a more integrated approach to their spirituality and their modern, family life. So where does sex fit into that?


Until tomorrow, be very well. This human form is a gift. Celebrate it!

Parvati

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wanting and Spiritual Materialism: How Not To Feed The Greed

Wanting and Spiritual Materialism

 

Over the last couple of weeks, I received a variety of emails from people who read my recent blog entries on Tantra. Some were delighted to have greater clarity on the subject, feeling inspired by the idea of the body as a vehicle for the divine and an opportunity to practice witnessing pitfalls along the path. Others felt confused and upset at the idea that Tantra is not a sexual free-for-all. This pushed the button of their attachment to their libido. Everything that pushes our buttons gives us an opportunity to see ourselves in a new way. Aspects of our shadows are being highlighted for us to see, showing us ways in which we are attached to unfulfilled desires that may be outdated or may need voicing.

 

We all have unfulfilled desires. Many spiritual environments become a feeding ground for these, where practitioners may be wearing flowing clothes and chanting prayers, but feeling inwardly tied in knots. Wanting is insidious and we must be aware of it - whether we are in the office, following our creative voice, practicing bendy poses on our yoga mats, or exploring sexuality in our bedrooms.

 

We want. We want more. We get. But it is not enough. So we want more. In a perpetual cycle of wanting, we consciously and unconsciously feed into a human tendency for greed. We feel it is our right to get, so we want. Unaware of how it all started or what makes it continue, we seek external things to temporarily quell the hungry lizards in our bellies and brains, until yet again, we want more.

 

Most of us are unaware that we spend much of the time in a state of wanting, because it is a deeply unconscious part of how we operate. Part of the process of enlightenment seems to be shedding light into areas that are in shadow. Seeing aspects of ourselves that are disconnected can be an uncomfortable process, especially if we feel we have things figured out, we want things to be a certain way, or we are simply attached to wanting.

 

Greed is everywhere. It is easy to see greed present in our consumer world. As spiritual aspirants, we are also asked to witness the tendency for greed in our spiritual pursuits, wanting to be yogis, wanting to find liberation. Fueled by good intentions, our wants don’t end up supporting our evolution, but instead perpetuate a feeling of being disconnected from the perfection of the now. If you have not yet read “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism” by Shambhala founder Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, it is a classic book on the shadow of the spiritual path, a practical guide for seekers of truth.

 

Though I am not a practicing Christian, I was raised in a Christian home and go to church on high holidays; and the Bible is among the spiritual texts that feed my inner life. To me, the famous Psalm 23: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,” speaks of the way we return to wholeness when we turn our hearts to the divine. Wanting ceases. We feel fulfilled in the moment because we are, in truth, in a unified state with pure consciousness, rather than temporarily believing that we are lost, divided and alone.

 

The ego is a tricky and hungry thing that has power only when we feed it. But sometimes – even often - we are unaware we are doing so. Just as a chameleon can change colour to blend with its surrounding, so too our ego can shift and fool us to suit our desires. We may think we are evolving when in fact we are unconsciously justifying our self-serving ego.

 

Our feeling of being disconnected is at the root of our suffering. Wanting feeds our feeling of being disconnected and incomplete. We want, because we feel lack. We wanted a perfect mommy or daddy to make us feel special when we were children, and we still seek that mommy or daddy in our material acquisitions, in our spiritual pursuits, in our friends and life partners.

 

EXERCISE

 

Take a look this week at how wanting is present in your life. I have spoken much of practicing non-resistance to what is in past blogs. Wanting is the exact opposite of non-resistance. When we want, we are either pushing the flow or resisting it. We are in a state of disconnect, feeling lack and wanting more. There is nothing wrong with the desire for fulfillment, when it comes from a relaxed place of joy. When it comes from lack, we are trying to fill ourselves up from a place that does not believe we can be fulfilled, so the cycle continues.

 

It is natural to desire a nice job, car, home, or loving partner. But when we feel that we are not OK without them, then those things possess us, hold us in some way. They become temporary gap fillers and will not bring us the lasting happiness we truly seek. The desire for them will bring about not joy, but suffering.

 

Look for wanting in your life. Begin to notice it at work, at home, with your friends, with family and spouse. Notice it also in your sex life (or absence of one). Wanting has a heyday in the land of the libido. Next week, I will take a look at the power of sex and where sexuality and spirituality meet.

 

Until next Sunday, be well.

Parvati

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Parvati Magazine April 2012 is Live

Dear friends,

The latest issue of Parvati Magazine is live. This April issue is all about spring cleansing and getting rid of excess. You will find articles that are geared to inspire you to feel light in body, mind and spirit and be active stewards of our beautiful planet.

We are pleased to feature in this, our quarterly double issue, our special guests: environmental activist Emily Chartrand, Aymeric Maudous, founder of the Arcadia International Environmental Film Festival, and music industry mogul Tom Silverman and his groundbreaking New Music Seminar.

I will return next week with more blog entries. Until then, enjoy!

Parvati

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tantra Yoga: What's Sex Got To Do With It? - Part 4: Funky Sex and Multiple Orgasms

(Continued from The Catch: Tantra’s Sex Appeal and the Need for a Guru)

 

A branch of Tantrics, known as the Left Hand Path, supported, encouraged and condoned the use of sexual rituals as a means to cultivate spiritual enlightenment, whereas the majority of Tantrics, known as the Right Hand Path, frowned upon such, casting out the beliefs of the other group as erroneous, even dangerous. The Right Hand Path instead promoted celibacy as a means to mastery over desire and wanting, in order to merge with the Divine while in form.

 

Saying Tantra is about sex is like saying that Muslims are about terrorism. Nothing could be further than the truth. The vast majority of Muslims are a faith-loving, good people who promote wise and compassionate action. An extreme sect promotes the use of terrorism. The same could be said for Christianity and Buddhism and other world religions, where small sects seem to paint a general picture over the tendency of that belief system. Perhaps because we lack cultural and spiritual maturity as a people, we allow the flavour of one grape to affect the entire batch of wine.

 

I have always had a natural connection to the unseen realms, ever since I was a child. As such, my yoga and meditation practices and studies naturally and organically flowered into a relationship with the realm of the energetic. Fueled by the desire to understand what was naturally occurring within me in my yoga practice, I uncovered references in the Tantric texts to contextualize what I intuitively knew and what I was physically and energetically experiencing.

 

It has been in some sense a personal interest of mine to support a deeper understanding of Tantra through my musical works and performances, and through my yoga teaching method called YEM: Yoga as Energy Medicine. YEM naturally finds home in the Tantric traditions, since this Hatha Yoga practice emphasizes the alchemical power of breath and its relationship to the flow of life-force energy throughout body/being in order to create a body/being that consciously co-creates with the divine.

 

So I say to the New York Times article, “Come on! Really?” Surely we have evolved into a people that can hold the notion of potential paradox so that that a few does not colour the whole. A few Tantrics were keen on sexual rituals, whereas the majority stressed the rituals’ deviance from the spiritual path and warned of their self-deluding tendencies. But I guess if we elect presidents and leaders who are overly ready to press the button on war with alarming reactivity to fight terrorism, we must not be quite ready to see that a few does not make the whole. We may need more time to mature.

 

Until then, Tantra will be seen as being about funky sex and multiple orgasms, Hatha Yoga will come from a sex cult and yoga studios will be full of those who seek beautiful bums instead of spiritual alchemy. I used to own a yoga studio in Montreal, then one in Toronto. But my music career become too demanding so instead I offer YEM workshops as I tour my music and shows. I used to also teach Tantric workshops, but tired of having to continually explain that Tantra was not about orgies and how to master blissful sexual climaxes. Thanks to John Friend and the recent sex scandals, here is another opportunity to help clarify the beautiful and powerful roots of Hatha Yoga and Tantra, illustrating what it is, and what it is not. Thank you, John.

 

I believe that sex has a place in the spiritual arena and by no means, though my personal practice lies most naturally in the Right Hand Tantric field, do I dismiss it. But just like Tantra and yoga are easily misunderstood, so too do I feel that the spiritual power of sex is largely misunderstood and misdirected. Sexual power is after all the very force that creates life! So what are we creating with it, beyond new babies? Whatever consciousness we bring to sexual acts will be amplified through it. But this is for the topic of another blog.

 

Until next time, practice fierce discernment and courageously follow your deepest joy.

Jai Ma,

Parvati

 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tantra Yoga: What's Sex Got To Do With It? - Part 3: The Catch: Tantra's Sex Appeal and The Need For A Guru

(Continued from Hatha Yoga, Sex Rituals and Tantra’s Shadow)

 

“Wow,” you may be thinking. “A spiritual path where sex is seen as a path to the divine! Sign me up!” But here’s the catch. Firstly, Tantra as a whole does not support the actual practice of sexual rituals. Only one offshoot branch of Tantra does, and that is a branch not generally condoned as a viable path by Tantrism as a whole due to its inherent spiritual dangers. These dangers are part of the second catch.

 

Secondly, when a spiritual aspirant begins to look at matter and the body as vehicles for spiritual evolution and personal transformation, he begins to walk the razor’s edge journey to spiritual enlightenment. He must learn to discern between the ego’s tricky wanting and expansive evolution. He must learn to balance the relationship between Nature’s involutionary tendency, that is, the rootedness of being in form, and the evolutionary cosmic play as it unfolds spiritually.

 

A Tantric aspirant can easily either become overly mired in the pleasures of the physical and lose spiritual expansion, or he can become overly lofty, detached and ungrounded by the spiritual and lose the presence of the physical. Like a gracious balancing act, the Tantric yogi walks an extremely potent path that is both delicate and dangerous.

 

I agree with Georg Feuerstein who stresses the need for Tantric aspirants to find the guidance of realized masters. I could not list the number of people I have seen over the years in my teaching and healing work – beginner and advanced practitioners, even teachers - who feel they have found their path through Tantra, yet seem lost. Without a guru while on the Tantric path, one runs the risk of losing the plot altogether and sinking into the mire of seductive wanting.

 

I have met many people in the yogic world who expound wise teachings, but vibrate with constrictive and involutionary energies. Void of humility, openness, honesty and pure spiritual shakti, people can easily become trapped in the Tantric path. One must remember that a fully realized master is one who loves all beings equally and sees all beings equally. This is not the case in most leaders and teachers.

 

The ego is a tricky and hungry thing that has power only when we feed it. But sometimes – even often - we are unaware we are doing so. Just as a reptilian chameleon can change colour to blend with its surrounding, so too our ego can shift and fool us to suit our desires. We may think we are evolving when in fact we are unconsciously justifying our self-serving ego.

 

The ego can even quietly adjust to fool us, so that we think we are growing when we are actually becoming more attached. It can even feign enlightenment. A spiritual aspirant must be careful of this. Only when we have surrendered to the guidance of a fully realized master can we overcome this.

 

(Continues tomorrow with Funky Sex and Multiple Orgasms)

 

 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tantra Yoga: What's Sex Got To Do With It? - Part 2: Hatha Yoga, Sex Rituals and Tantra's Shadow

(Continued from Hatha and Tantra Yoga)

 

I love the descriptions of Tantra by the widely respected yogic scholar Georg Feuerstein who penned one of my favorite books, “Yoga: The Technology of Ecstasy”. For those of you who have seen me perform my song “Yoga In the Nightclub” in my current show “Natamba” (and if you have not yet, please come out!) you know that I use elements of the following quote from Dr. Feuerstein in my extended version of the house music track:

 

“What Tantric masters aspired to was to create a transubstantiated body, which they called adamantine (vajra) or divine (daiva) – a body not made of flesh but of immortal substance, of Light. Instead of regarding the body as a meat tube doomed to fall prey to sickness and death, they viewed it as a dwelling-place of the Divine and as the caldron for accomplishing spiritual perfection. For them, enlightenment was a whole body event.”

As such, the body is more akin to place of alchemy, a caldron to transform the base metals of crude desires into the gold of spiritual perfection. Tantra was not an endorsement of bestiality and debauchery, but a highly ritualized practice that keenly witnessed the nature of desire and a fiercely confronted it at its root in order to use its powerful charge to fuel the fires of inner transformation. Tantra was not about freely doing what one spontaneously desired, but about developing razor-sharp insight in order to understand the impulses that arose through the body and learning acute discernment as to what those impulses fed. Enlightenment for Tantric practitioners is not an intellectual thing, nor something that is beyond form, but a full body experience.

 

The Yoga Bija celebrates the power that the physical body can provide a spiritual aspirant:

 

“The fire of Yoga gradually bakes the body composed of the seven constituents [such as bone, marrow, blood, etc…]. Even the deities cannot acquire the exceedingly powerful yogic body. The [yogin’s] body is like the ether, even purer than the ether.”

 

The obvious shadow to a practice that embraces the physical as a means to enlightenment, and why Tantra is considered the razor’s edge of the razor’s edge, and by far not for most spiritual practitioners, is that aspirants can easily fall prey to the subtlety of greed, the tricks of desire and the illusions of wanting. Just as modern bodybuilders can become overly attached to their physical form, so too can those who use their body as a vehicle for spiritual transformation start to think that their body and themselves are the divine. We see this often in Hatha Yoga, where the goal of the practice seems not to be the release of attachments to desire, but the cultivation of the best yoga butt in Lululemon pants.

 

It is also easy, I guess, for newspaper reporters to let their imaginations get carried away with the idea of sexuality being integrated into spiritual practice, while forgetting to dig a little deeper to find that in fact only a small sect of Tantric practitioners actually used the physical practice of sexuality in their spiritual pursuits. On the issue of sexual practice, Tantrism split into the Left Hand Path, a group that practiced ritual sex, and the Right Hand Path, a group that understood sexuality more symbolically than physically enacted.

 

The development of Hatha Yoga as part of Tantrism was developed to help support the body’s potential so it could meet the challenges of, and change in concurrence with, spiritual transformation. Spiritual bliss is seen not as a purely mental state, but something that involves the whole body/being. The Hatha Yogi therefore cultivates a body of light that is both metaphorically and actually baked in the heat of transformation, and ultimately freed of all notions of separation and desire.

 

As a warning to this shadow of attachments to the body and desire, and an admonition that body-practice alone is not the goal of yoga, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, considered the most popular manual for this path, clearly states: “All means of Hatha [Yoga] are for [reaching] perfection in Raja-Yoga. A person rooted in Raja-Yoga [truly] conquers death.” (IV.102)

 

Even the purified body of the Hatha Yogis is subject to the laws of nature and will eventually pass. If one is a true yogi, one must be rooted in Raja Yoga, that is, yoga that brings aspirants to the goal of full realization, seeing Hatha Yoga as a part of such, but not an end goal in itself.

 

(Continued tomorrow with The Catch: Tantra’s Sex Appeal and the Need for a Guru)