I’m just coming out of four expansive and wonder-filled days sharing some of the sweet and subtle practices of Tantra with a beautiful group of longtime yogis. I was sleeping, eating, breathing, reviewing, studying, practicing, writing tantra for a couple of months leading up to the training, so even after four days of teaching, it’s still sort of spilling over the top.
You know that the Yamas and Niyamas are part of the essential foundation that make yoga practice something profoundly more than a stretchy exercise class. In the same way, continuity is one of the principles with which Tantra (the practice of expanding what we find in Yoga, or awakening from our dormancy to a fuller and happier way of being in the world) begins and ends.
Here it is in a nutshell: You know when you’re feeling a deep sense of calm after an amazing yoga practice, or you’ve had a sublime savasana, or experienced profound peace in meditation? How long does that feeling last? What happens: if you leave yoga class and someone cuts you off in traffic; if you roll up your mat after savasana and check your phone to see devastation from the most recent natural disaster; if you proceed in your day after meditation to a litany of grievances from your boss/co-worker/partner? How long is the peaceful, calm, steady, truest version of you sustained? Is there a lack of continuity? I’m guessing there is.
Don’t for one minute think that I have figured this out. I have moments behind the steering wheel that would make you wonder if I’ve ever done a practice of any kind, ever in my whole entire life. Not that that’s the only place, but it can be pretty extreme. I know there’s a better way to be. There’s a better version of me. And I want to feel it and live it, more of the time. I want to learn to better sustain the continuity of awareness that we are so much more than our reactivity to the ebbs and flows of life. There is so much more to each of us than meets the eye.
Where to start:
1- Consistency in daily practice is essential. You can’t do a practice once a week and expect the cumulative results to push you well along the path to enlightenment. It is necessary to return over and over and over and over to that still place under the swiftly moving current of sensations, thoughts, and emotions. It’s when you create a relationship to the unchanging part of yourself that, when things go sideways, it’s possible to ground, center, and call up right speech or right action from the depths of your wisdom self. Note: you can’t find it quickly if you don’t know where it lives.
2- That’s still not enough if continuity is your goal. Yes, the morning reboot is essential to reset the inner compass to Witness. But whether it’s 30 minutes or two hours of practice, it’s unlikely to hold you over for the other 16+ waking hours of the day if that’s all you’re doing. Adopting a dedicated plan for mindfulness over mindlessness is incredibly helpful. No matter how strong your morning practice, this doesn’t just magically happen. As I mentioned in August, your commitment to a more mindful life, a more present way of approaching each moment and every task— all of these efforts add up in exponential ways.
3- Recalibration of your world view is imperative. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard my teacher say this, but it’s a big number. In addition to being beautiful, expansive and magical, life is loud and painful and messy. If you don’t find ways to weave the sacred, the profound, the awareness of oneness throughout your day— every day and no matter the circumstance— your default choice is the suffering of duality. And if there’s ever been a time in history when how much that world view DOES NOT WORK has been played out on the global stage in all its glory, it’s now. Tune in to the one, sacred, all-pervading reality. In all things, at all times.
Why are we here? To wake up. How long do we have? Not long. At its core, the essence of tantra is expansion. To expand beyond our limitations, to expand our capacity, to weave the sacred into all the moments of our lives. Awareness and cultivation of continuity is the key. This and only this will allow us to bring the fullness of our potential– all that we were made to do, to create and to contribute– into being.