One of the main differences between homoerotic yogic Tantra and most mainstream faith or belief traditions is that Tantra (तन्त्र) affirms the physical body and the senses; in fact, the physical body and the senses are incorporated into our ritual practices as a path to liberation or mokṣa (मोक्ष).
One of the tools we use in meditation is what we call body mindfulness or body sensing. I’d like to guide you through a simple body sensing routine that is akin to progressive relaxation.
You must first be ready to surrender, to accept vulnerability, because you may or may not experience sensations in the body— and, if you do, some of those sensations and the emotions accompanying them may be strange or even disturbing — but just know that whatever you experience is it is positive whatever it is.
For the present, I’ll use a simplified top-down method. Mindfully explore the back of the head, the top of the head, the scalp. Move to the forehead and focus the energies of your attention on the space between the eyebrows.
At this point in our session, I’ll begin by applying a tilaka (तिलक) to the energy center or kṣetra (क्षेत्र) of the ājñā (आज्ञा) cakra (चक्र) between the eyebrows, above the bridge of the nose. This is the seat of concentration, and when applying the tilaka (तिलक), we will affirm our intention.
The Centrality of the Breath, Prāṇa (प्राण)
Whatever the yogic tāntric practice, the breath and breathing assume a paramount role. We are guided by the axiom, “Where the breath goes, the body and mind follow.”
Thus, we start every activity by being aware of the breath and breathing and practice some method of prāṇāyāma (प्राणायाम), or vital force awareness or purification of the vital force.
Begin by breathing through the nose, and sensing the breath as a sensation. Starting at the nostrils. The left nostril. The right nostril.
Then sensing the movement of prāṇa (प्राण) through both nostrils at the same time. We may make use of fragrances or aromas to enhance the olfactory experience.
From the nose, we now focus on the sensations in the mouth. Be aware of the roof of the mouth, the floor. The left cheek and the right cheek.
The back of the throat, moving forward to focus on the tongue. The entire oral cavity. We may make use of flavors to enhance the gustatory experience.
The ears. First the left ear, then the right ear. Finally, sense both ears at the same time. The aural or auditory sense is a particularly powerful tool in our practices.
Sound is a potent stimulus frequently used to enhance pacing, relaxation, visualization, etc. Sound, particularly that produced by a bell, a singing bowl, or a gong, is a powerful attention-getter, and we use it to redirect focus or to re-orient the meditator.
The sense of vision is the most complex, and he will return to vision after opening all of his senses. All of the senses taken individually will be used to envision associations with those senses.
Once that is done, he will engage his mind to create images or focus on mental images of persons, places, sounds, objects, or colors behind the eyes, seen with the mental eye, jñānacakṣus (ज्ञानचक्षुस्).
The left eye. The right eye. Both eyes together. Feel the radiant, luminous sensations associated with the eye and vision.
Move down to the neck and the throat, This is where viśuddha (विशुद्ध) or the throat cakra (चक्र) resides.
Concentrate on the sensations in the throat. This is the seat of communication, both verbal and non-verbal, with both other human beings and with the Divine through māntra (मन्त्र) and other sacred sounds.
Move to the left shoulder down to the left upper arm and forearm, and the wrist. The left hand and fingers. Finally, the entire left appendage.
Do the same for the right shoulder and arm. Finish with both arms and hands as one field of energic sensation. Visualize both giving and taking touch with the main organs of touch and tactile sensation, the hands.
Focus now on the sensations in the upper chest. The upper back. The mid-chest, the seat of the heart cakra (चक्र), anāhata (अनाहत).
The pelvis and the genitals, the perineum the svādhiṣṭhāna (स्वाधिष्ठान) or sacral cakra (चक्र) and. Now focus on the entire torso.
The abdomen, particularly the navel, the seat of maṇipūra (मणिपूर), the navel or solar plexus cakra (चक्र) . The mid-back, again a location holy to anāhata (अनाहत).
The lower back — a space holy to svādhiṣṭhāna (स्वाधिष्ठान) —, the buttocks, and the anus and the perineum, the regions of mūlādhāra (मूलाधार) chakra.
Focus on the body as a single field of vibrant energic sensation. Sensing the entire front of the body. The back of the body. The left side. The right side.
Sense the entire body externally and internally. Visualize your physical organs as they function within you. Attempt to visualize the cakra-s as vibrant spheres of subtle energy, each luminous with its characteristic color.
Visualize the six cakra-s and the subtle energies of each as they move up and down the Nadi (नाडी) channels within your subtle anatomy. You have become one field of radiant energy and sensation.
Being and Being Aware of Being
You are now prepped to be aware of all that is present in your microcosmic consciousness. You have become the one who is aware of all that is present. You are now sensing and experiencing yourself as a field of cosmic awareness, within which everything is flowing, becoming, transforming, dissolving, and re-creating.
Om Namah Shivaya |
You have become the pulsating, vibrant microcosm. Your physical and cosmic bodies are breathing, and you are aware of your body breathing. You have already focused on the flow of the breath, and the movement of the life force, prāṇa (प्राण), through the nostrils.
You have traced the flow down the back of the throat. You perceive the gentle rising expansion of the abdomen, it’s rising and expanding as the vital force fills and energizes it. You trace the breath as it then flows upwards and out on the expiration.
You merely have to be present to and experience these events; the body breathes with a wholly natural vibrational, pulsating rhythm, effortlessly. As you breathe in, the abdomen expands; as you breathe out it relaxes. No need to do or change anything; it just happens. You need only to become aware, let go, let it happen.
Simply be aware of the sensations that are flowing throughout your body. The body is naturally awake and alert and manages perfectly on its own, without the intervention of the sensual mind or thinking, or any notion of control inputs by the sensual mind.
The body is a miraculous field of radiant energy and sensation. You simply have to be present to it and open your awareness to it and join the flow.
Gradually you are becoming the dancer and the dance, the seer and the seen, as both you become the One who is aware of everything, sensing, perceiving, experiencing everything that is present in the moment.
At the same time experience yourself as simply being pure awareness, within which everything is unfolding.
As we now move into the realm of feeling and emotion always be aware that you may return to your own inner sanctum if you need to restore your feelings of groundedness, security, and tranquility.
It is in these transitional moments when we make use of the bell, the singing bowl, or the gong to signal a retreat back to where you were; to re-orient the meditator lest he becomes lost on some excursion away from the original intention.
Bring attention to the physical body and the sensations, feelings, perceptions that are present only in the physical body, the felt sensations such as cool/warm, heavy/light, pleasure/suffering, etc. Focus on a sensation or feeling present in your body.
If you find this difficult, simply focus on what is present without struggling to identify or name it. Can you now focus on what may be the opposite of what you’re feeling? If you can, allow this opposite feeling to come fully into your field of focus.
Now allow both feelings into your focus at the same time. Note how you are experiencing this and how it affects your physical body and your mind.
Emotions as sensation
I mentioned above that you may experience emotions while practicing awareness meditation. We can conceive of emotion as energy-in-motion; e-motion, if you prefer.
Emotion is a subtle, energetic force, and can manifest as mental phenomena transiting the field of attention of the sensual mind, or as feelings that arise as sensations or perceptions in the body.
Emotion is amoral; that is, emotion is neither good nor bad, it is simply feelings to be experienced. (See fn 3, below.)
Focus now on any emotion that arises in your being, or on an emotion that you’re dealing with in your current life. It is sometimes helpful to recall a memory that will fuel an emotion.
Note how emotion fuels a sensation. If there is no identifiable emotion in your moment, don’t try to create one or make something happen; just work with whatever is there.
If you are experiencing an emotion, try to establish where in the body it manifests itself, and wherein the body you feel it most strongly. While focusing on the emotion and its location, note if there are particular thoughts or images, or memories that accompany the emotion.
Try to call up the opposite emotion and sense it. Recall a memory that will invite the opposite emotion into your awareness.
Again, note where you most strongly feel this opposite emotion. Alternate this process several times between the original emotion and its opposite. Experience the first one, then the other.
Keeping these two emotions, allow both to enter awareness at the same time without thinking about them. Experience how this affects the entire body and the mind. Be aware of all that is now taking place in your awareness. Envision yourself in the situation as the one who is witnessing all that is presented. Become the witness.
Then experience yourself as being a field of awareness energy, a field in which everything is unfolding, flowing, transforming, dissolving, and re-creating.
As we now begin to explore thoughts and beliefs remember that you’re welcome to return to your inner sanctum at any time.
It’s important to realize that there’s no right way or wrong way of doing all of this. Remember your experience is perfect just as it is in the moment.
The Mind, Thoughts, Beliefs
Now bring a thought or a belief about yourself as a person — a thought or belief that you either hear from others or that believe to be true about yourself—, or focus on a situation that you are dealing with.
If no thoughts or beliefs come up effortlessly, simply focus on what is present in the moment. If it is a belief you hold of yourself to be true, localize it to some part of your body; feel it there. What is the quality of the sensation in your body? Feel the thought or belief and the sensation in the body.
Be aware if there are images or emotions or other thoughts that accompany this experience. Be simply aware without trying to change anything. Try to envision the opposite of the thought or belief.
What if this opposite thought or beliefs about yourself were to be true? Do you experience other sensations in your physical body? Be aware of any images, emotions, or memories that accompany this opposite.
Note your experiences without attempting to change anything or make something happen. The task is simply to be aware.
Now do the same for a thought or a belief you have heard from another person, or for a situation.
At your own pace and rhythm, cycle between these opposites of thought and belief several time. As you alternate experiencing how each belief affects your physical body and mind be aware of how. Now invite both beliefs into your awareness at the same time.
Notice the sensations in your entire body and the sensual mind. Be aware of all that is presented in awareness. You are the one who is aware of everything and are the one who is sensing all their effects. Envision yourself as the field of awareness, in which everything is evolving.
Sensations of Pleasure, Joy, Happiness
We will now focus attention on pleasure sensations in the body. These are sensations of engagement and enjoyment, sensations of purpose, sensations of well-being.
They are sensations of joy, bliss. It may be helpful to recall an event or an activity in your life that will aid in envisioning appropriate feelings of pleasure and joy, thus allowing the element of joy to enter into your body and into your awareness at the moment.
The sense of joy is the sense of being okay just as you are. The experience of joy is a deep inner satisfaction, attained meaning and purpose; it includes a sense of belonging, groundedness, security, peace, and oneness. It is an energy that radiates from the heart-mind.
It is a radiance that propagates throughout your entire being. The radiant energy flows out into your torso, arms, and hands, flowing down into the pelvis, genitals, thighs, legs, feet, toes.
From the locus of the heart (anāhata (अनाहत)) the radiant, vibrant energy flows up into the head and face. Every cell in your body is radiant and is vibrantly alive. You are alive with a feeling of wholeness and well-being.
Let go of any attachment, memory, or image and simply remain with the sensation of joy and well-being. Allow it to reach and saturate every muscle, every organ, every cell of your being.
Joy is Holy Energy
Joy is inherent in the body and fills the space around the body. Joy is a field of radiant well-being. It is there within you, for you to experience regardless of the circumstances in your life. Joy has always been within you.
You are present and aware of yourself as the witness, the witness of all that is present in consciousness. You are the witness of everything that is being experienced. It is experienced through you as the witness. You become the spacious and changing witnessing of pure awareness.
Being the liberated witness, free of clinging and attachments, with the heart-mind at peace, space is created for joy.
Pure awareness is dissolving into the experience, owning and holding everything as it unfolds. You become a vessel for pure awareness. Just be pure awareness. It is your pure awareness, the space within which everything is evolving and transforming.
This pure awareness is holding and owning everything that is unfolding. Allow yourself to dissolve into simply being, into a state of pure awareness. Allow yourself to be carried on the current; not analyzing or thinking, just being pure awareness.
As you are whole and perfect as pure awareness itself; there is no point in asking where is my beginning and where do I end. Just find your center; it will be the center of the Eternal Now. Sense how pure awareness is subtle and undeniable, without color or form, or any other perceptible attribute. It is full of nothingness yet overflowing with content, well-being and peacefulness. It is the essence of simply non-being in a vast and constant awareness.
Experiences are arising and dissolving; circumstances are ever-changing, and yet you are constant as pure awareness. You are awakened and aware with a sense of well-being and peace, and that sense of well-being and peace has always been present within you.
Realize this and realize the fact that only the illusions outside of you, produced as the images of the sensual mind, have changed, and are significant only in the fact of their being impermanent, insubstantial, and illusory. You have entered the state of pure awareness, bliss, ānanda (आनन्द). When you return to your own inner sanctum, to your place of grounding, security, well being.
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Oṃ śānti, śānti, śāntiḥ ||
Peace to you in body, mind, and spirit.
If you have any comments or questions regarding this article, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
D. Karuṇā T.
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