A Little Tantra with Your Vedanta?

by Milissa on September 4, 2011

in Intention,Mindful Nature,Nature,Philosophy,Yoga

The first yoga teacher certification course I took–oh so many years ago, when the only teacher trainings were held at ashrams–was steeped in Vedanta. I tried to embrace this philosophy…I really did.

During the yoga teacher training we were taught about taming the ego, about transcending the physical plane to align completely with the nondual realm of oneness with God, about the causality of life and rebirth, aka karma. It all was very heady and very masculine.

So, for the young, progressive women (and men) at the training there was a great deal of philosophical head butting with the swamis who were our teachers. Most of us had enrolled to make a career change–we were there to learn to teach yoga asana.

Where is the body in all of this? we wanted to know.

This was what we were taught: You need to purify that dirty body of yours (through asana, pranayama and kriyas), rise above Prakriti, Nature (aka the feminine) to transcend the lower impulses and become Purusha, the Self (with a capital “S”).

Okay, how are we going to do that?

We were told, “By relentless effort to tame your desires and instincts you will attain the Self.”

One day, the head swami, who spoke English with an Israeli accent, harangued the group of hundreds of yogis from around the world, “You must kill ze eagle! KILL ze EAgle!” At least that’s what I heard and I was indignant. There’s no way I’m killing MY inner eagle, I thought. That just seemed wrong.

Turns out he was saying “ego,” but by this point he’d lost me anyway. It seemed like, as in so many masculine systems, “Nature” was code for the feminine. I’d been through a long journey to heal parts of me that were wounded as a child because I was female. I won’t go into details, but I know this is a common wound–it certainly was among my women friends at that teacher training–so I want to bring it up here. Part of why I’m outing this part of the yoga culture that denigrates Nature, is that I believe we need to do exactly the oppositeĀ if we are to help heal Mother Earth. We must reclaim our vital connection with the Feminine (with a capital “F”) through Nature.

To me that is Yoga (which means to yoke, or to link, by the way).

And what better place to start the healing of our relationship to nature, and the resulting transformation, than in our own bodies? (Men have a feminine side too, so please do join us in this guys.)

So here’s where the Tantra comes in. (I’m not talking about esoteric sexual practices, by the way, though I have nothing against that, you just need to find a qualified teacher, and I’m not her). What I’m talking about–and what we practice in Tree of Life Yoga–is an approach to spiritual realization that happens right here on EARTH! I mean this is the plane on which we create, right? Actually we co-create–with the Universe. Through the–gasp!–body. Yep, our minds (even that darn ego) are part of the body. And it’s on this level that sankalpa, Right Intention, is formed.

Built into sankalpa is wanting to put our personal intention into the service of All Creation. It’s part of the package: wanting to make the planet a better place to live for all beings. But we don’t claim our intention from a goodie-goodie holier-than-thou place in us. That can actually backfire, becoming a “should.”

So how do we get there? Desire, baby! I know a lot of us were told it was a no no to have desires, but the path to creating the life we want comes through those seeds of longing within us. We have desires; that’s part of being human. And what we deeply desire we can manifest. Joy?! The Universe will cooperate with you on that. Prosperity? Go for it!

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

Will claiming your heartfelt intentions lift your vibration higher, as you manifest a way of being that cooperates with–instead of controls–Nature? I’m banking on it!

How about you? Please leave your comments below.

Join me for classes, retreats and bodywork packages this Fall at Tree of Life Yoga to help you work with the feminine energy of Earth andĀ  to embody your intentions. Hop over here and check it out or if you’ve already scoped the offerings out it’s time to register now!

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