Tantric Alchemy: Saying Yes to Life
Usually to hear the word “Tantra” implies a murky and vaguely spiritual association with sex. Although Sacred Sexuality is part of the practice, in our view of the tradition, Tantra includes a much wider field of possibilities. We consider it a way of being, a constant meditation, and above all, a profound alchemical process.
Tantra - a practice in presence
Tantra is essentially a profound saying of “Yes” to Life, a practice through which we embrace whatever sensation, memory, feeling or reaction that arises as a result of our living fully. Pleasurable or painful, loving or violent, beautiful or dreadful, Tantra is a wide-open embrace of every state of being, for in the Tantric view, each one of them holds the possibility of our spiritual actualization.
As we fully feel whatever is happening in the moment, seeing that beloved thing arise in the body and directly giving thanks to the source of that sensation, we slowly dissolve our old habits of escape and projection. In their place, simply being in the immensity of the feeling, creating a distance between sensations and our reactions to them, we are able to respond from a place of profound presence.
An alchemical process
This is the fundamental alchemy of Tantra - taking the stance of the loving witness to our own reactions to Life, observing rather then denying, discerning rather then judging, embodying rather then rationalizing.
Because Tantra is the path of no rejection, our priority is radical inclusion and acceptance. We understand this practice to be the basis for genuine transformation of deep patterning. Saying yes to any situation that comes and allowing it to be is the process of self-discovery and transmutation.
Through the alchemy of personal courage and shared trust,
Relaxing totally into the profundity of our weave and ebb,
We surrender into the bottomless space of total union
With Life herself.
Saying Yes to the Dark - a practice in transmutation
Before we engage on the Tantric path, our habitual reactions to negative emotions often have us to close down to the full experience of those energetic movements within our bodies. This causes the energy to “kink,” taking the forms of knots, sensitive spots and even unexplainable pains in certain places. After years of denying our full participation with our emotional flow, these energies are forced either into inappropriate expressions of violence, rage or shaming, or into subtle afflictions, numbness, or actual disease.
Tantra holds that the only constant in life is change, and that our full engagement with this forever-flow is what will ultimately lead us out of our denial-patterning to our realization of Oneness with all.
While seemingly very simple, the Tantric path is a serious undertaking. It is the opposite of “spiritual escapism” – the tendency within new-age tribes toward promoting Light and serenity, while running from the deep intensity of darkness and negative emotions. The irony is that this intensity is actually the seat of our power for spiritual growth.
We believe the full embrace of our dark emotions (anger, pain, shame, sadness, guilt, fear), is a crucial step on the Tantric path, as these emotions represent some of the strongest energy available to us for our growth process. The trick is to change our relationship to these emotions; rather then finding ingenious ways to escape, we suggest offering them our full attention.
For instance, the next time you feel anger rising, pause.
Pay attention to this feeling. Witness how it boils up. Fully feel and relax into it.
Allow yourself the time to realize: I am angry!
Observe the energy: where is it located? What is its color? Its shape or sound? Is it moving?
Then feel into the possibility of saying: I fully accept the emotion of anger inside of me.
Then sit with that energy as it moves within you.
Just sit with it, and see where it moves, and what expression it would like to take. Choose the most appropriate expression for that particular moment, and then move it. Dancing, yelling, stomping, hitting a pillow, taking a cold shower – all of these could be options. The importance is to fully participate in your anger, not from reactivity, but from a place of presence. If you engage in this way, the energy of anger will move through you healthily and allow for real emotional release. This creates a certain momentum within you toward greater and greater consciousness. The next time this energy arises, you will have this Tantric precedent to aid in your conscious response.
Just Say Yes
Tantra is the path of the courageous. We invite you to join us in surrendering to the experience of consciously feeling as much as you possibly can – and to witness your emotions as the continuous flow of energies in motion.
By engaging in this sacred, conscious relating, we make powerful “vows of no-escape,” whereby The Other becomes our guru (remover of darkness), holding a continuous mirror in front of us. We can no longer retreat in the depth of ourselves or in the comfort and stillness of our meditation. Instead there is only one choice: to face the darkness and see it transform.
In our courage and trust, we say “Yes” to Life.
By Aude Barras & Noah Cebuliak