Thursday, January 13, 2011

Supporting the dance: Listening to the sounds of creation

As I begin to contemplate my dance with the shakti, I have been practically compelled to seek out the teachings that underly my yoga. In Anusara yoga, we practice Shiva-Shakti Tantra and I have gradually become intrigued and inspired by this philosophy over the last 5.5 years of practice.
But now, it's time for me to explore the teachings. I am desiring to delve deeper. I have been drawn to the Shiva Sutras and to all sorts of other sutras of the teachings. Today, I came across "The Radiance Sutras" and I want to exerpt from Lorin Roche's webpage (

The word tantra has interesting resonances. Its usage here is “the teaching,” and is from the Sanskrit tantram, meaning “loom.” There is the image of stretching threads in patterns across the framework of a loom — a tapestry of knowledge. The Indo-European root of the tan in tantram is ten, to stretch.

Thus tantra comes from the same root that gives English the words “attention,” “tender,” “intend,” “entertain,” “intensity,” and “tendon.” Each of these terms is a vital clue to how to practice. To practice tantra is to stretch ourselves, to extend our capacity for attention to the utmost. Tantra is also the pattern of interconnectedness that we discover when we do so.

The tra of tantra means “technique.” The same root shows up in mantra (manas=mind, + tra=skill, thus, “a tool of thought”). Each verse of a tantra is called a sutra, (there’s tra again) which means “thread,” and is cognate with the English “suture,” the thread that joins together. So we are presented with images of skillfully weaving together all the elements of life — mind, body, emotions, breath, soul, individuality, and infinity – into one exquisite tapestry.

Jnana (sometimes spelled gyan) is knowledge, to know. Vijnana means practical knowledge. In this context vijnana refers to your “knowledge body” – the dimension of your body that is in direct practical contact with the mysteries of the universe.

The approach this tantra advocates is simple — a completely undefended looking and feeling into the essential activities of life: joy, sorrow, breathing, loving, walking, dancing, sleeping. Meditation is diving into your entire sensorium so fearlessly that you go beyond it into the core of your being and rest there. This is a yoga of delight, awe, and wonder.

Meditation is about taking one thing and going deeper and deeper into it. Ask your body to teach you and to lead you into the realm of these experiences. If you ask, life will lead you, for these are all sensory experiences, and all have to do with how life maintains life.

Life renews itself through a symphony of ongoing rhythms. Tantra can be thought of as attending to these rhythms. Breath is a rhythm, and we breathe in and out thousands of times a day. Breathing involves an intimate relationship of this body with the ocean of air within which we suspire. A dozen senses inform us of the rhythm, texture, and qualities in each breath. Life is always inviting us into a deeper relationship with breath, with the pulsing of our hearts and emotions.

As I read this, I recognize what a gift it is to be apart of this tradition. He goes onto say that "Sutras such as these are there to remind us of what we already know. And they are there to invite us to go more deeply into the experience of being human."

To support my dance with the shakti, I will be deeply delving into the Tantra, the teaching, the exquisite tapestry of knowledge. Along the way, I will share quotes and contemplations and will share how this supports my dance.

Ultimately, my dance with the shakti is about being more deeply human, being more deeply myself and experiencing each moment in the most meaningful way possible.

Don't take a single breath for granted.

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