Thursday, June 5, 2014
I am an explorer. I like to set off on journeys, travel to places unknown, immerse myself in languages, scents and sounds that are unfamiliar, attune myself to the local vibration. This has fueled my passion for visiting foreign countries, and it is also why I am so intrigued by inner journeys, spiritual quests. There is an endless amount of mystery and wonder within each of us, so even though I’ve been physically traveling almost non-stop for the last several months, the most significant exploration of all has been to places unknown, or at least forgotten, within myself.
At the start of this year a few pivotal events transpired that set the stage for this particular adventure, so allow me to share the backstory: On New Years Day I met a man who stirred something in my soul that I’d never felt before, and cliché though it may sound, I knew as soon as I laid eyes on him that this was something major. The following day he facilitated my formal introduction to the path of Tantra, which was one of those sun rays shining, angels singing, ah-hah moments as I finally had a framework and a vocabulary for the direction my heart and soul had been moving in all along. Years of practicing hatha yoga, which is also a Tantric path, coupled with exploring my spirituality and sexuality, had me tiptoeing around the edges, but now I’d finally crossed the threshold. The day after that, we marked the beginning of a new seven-year cycle for him, celebrating his birthday and fanning the flames of a serious spark between us. I can count on both hands the number of days it took for that spark to become a burning fire, and it wasn’t all that long after that we solidified our commitment to journey deeper down the path hand in hand and heart to heart. So when he told me his immediate path would take him to his family’s land in northeast Alabama for a few months, I told him I wanted to go too. Something profound had been set in motion between us, and I wasn’t prepared to stop the momentum with a prolonged separation. Simple as that.
It turns out, much of what has occurred since has been anything but simple. Getting here might have been easy, but being here simply has not been simple. When two seekers on the path fall in step with one another, you can be certain there is significant work to be done between them. It will be an exploration of epic proportions. Whether the relationship is that of a teacher and a student, family, friends or lovers, this kind of connection is based on soul contracts, commitments made to one another at a level beyond conscious understanding, designed to facilitate expansion and ascension. It’s the journey of a lifetime, or many lifetimes, and it is all about growth. And as with all growth, there are bound to be growing pains. Let’s just say I have been all sorts of achy recently!
As I’ve delved Tantra, I’ve been digging deep into the recesses of my heart, seeking out the trauma stored in my body, unearthing the unhealed wounds that cause me to lash out when triggered, with the aim of liberating myself from them. If you thought Tantra was all about prolonged orgasms, think again. Sure you can have those, eventually, but that is far from the sole focus. Tantra is about Self love and celebrating your own Divinity. It is the balanced, harmonious union of masculine and feminine. It is about intimacy and compassion. But in order to get to what it’s really about, you have to go through your story, your pain. And if you’re doing this work in partnership, you’re going to be faced with your beloved’s story and pain too. You’re going to trigger and be triggered. The ecstasy and joy commonly associated with Tantra are unquestionably part of it too, as these are our True nature. Yet most of us are extremely far removed from that, so it takes serious work to get there. And when I say work, I mean down, dirty, heavy lifting kind of work. So be prepared . . . it’s likely going to hurt, for a while anyway.
My hurt is quite vicious. It unsheathes itself in the form heavy criticism, biting words, a barrage of judgments, and masterful manipulations. My hurt is also quite cunning, as is true for most. It projects onto others, casting blame outward to avoid looking, and feeling, inward. My hurt pours heavy sadness, anxiety and frustration upon me, pinning me down with its weight so I do not feel free to move energy as needed. My hurt insists on being seen, heard and felt, and will go to great lengths, breaking me down, bringing me to inconsolable tears and overwhelming grief, punishment for myself and those around me. My hurt is not pretty.
But I am.
I AM Shakti, the Divine feminine, glorious, radiant, benevolent being. It is high time I remembered this and stopped identifying with my hurt.
I am not my hurt. This I know to be True. My hurt is a story, albeit a convincing, moving, powerful one, but it is still just a story. Tantra teaches us to uncover our stories and see them for what they really are so we can transcend them. It is a path to healing, and when you’re hurting, healing is exactly what is needed. In the last month I’d gotten to the point where practically all I knew and all I saw was the hurt. Moments of clarity arose in between, and I genuinely showed up as my joyful Goddess self in them, but they’d fade far too quickly. I came dangerously close to losing sight altogether of the fact that I’d embarked on this journey to facilitate healing and Self-discovery. Very gratefully, my beloved hadn’t lost sight of this, and insisted that something had to shift. He loved himself enough and had enough clarity of mind to be firm in this Truth. My story resisted at first, but it was a feeble attempt. I didn’t want to hurt anymore, and deep down I knew he was completely right. So I listened, and I shifted.
When you’re hurting, you seek consolation and relief, and that is exactly what I am doing right now. I’m actually not in Alabama as I write this. I shifted to Tennessee, Chattanooga to be precise, since that is the closest city for me to find the familiar comforts and conveniences I’ve been craving- yoga studios, people I could connect with as contemporaries, Whole Foods, cafes, bustling energy. I needed these comforts and conveniences to help me create a refuge in which I could come home to myself and heal. Though this is a city I’m just getting to know and that aspect speaks to the traveler in me, the real reason I’m spending the week in a little apartment I rented here is to reconnect to my original intention of Self-exploration. Funny that I embarked on this journey largely because I felt physical proximity to my beloved was essential to my growth only to find that being apart from him is the exact thing I need right now.
No sooner had I settled in here, taken a couple of yoga classes and unwound with a steamy shower and an Ayurvedic self massage, the story subsided and a stream of Truth started pouring through me onto the pages of my journal. All this time, all this suffering and heartache, I was the responsible party! I’d set off on a journey of Self-love but somehow lost my way and was severely neglecting myself. Of course, I didn’t see it this way while I was in the thick of things. My story was that someone else was to blame, so I blamed my beloved and our surroundings, never really stopping to give proper to consideration to how I was showing up, or not, for myself. I knew I was behaving poorly with my stressed out, emotional antics, but what I overlooked was how I was responding and whether or not I was properly caring for myself in the face of them.
So this week has been all about self care. I committed to showering myself with total love and remembering who I AM and why I am here. Shakti is Love, nurturing essence, compassion and gentility, and I AM Shakti. As Shakti, I must love every single facet of my being, the child within who has been wounded, the woman who has been neglected, and the goddess who has been forgotten. As Shakti I speak to myself with loving kindness, total compassion and sincerity, looking myself in the eyes as I do, no judgment, total acceptance. As Shakti I commit to daily meditation, chanting and asana practice, yummy, nourishing foods, massages and pampering, making new friends. As Shakti I make myself the #1 priority and focus on rekindling the most important love affair I will ever have: the one with myself.
There is nothing selfish about this. To the contrary, a woman who showers herself with love is a woman living in abundance, and she will naturally have more to share with others. When she fills her cup with nurturing and joy, it is nurturing and joy that spills over to those around her. I’d forgotten this. I’d bought into a story I was telling myself that said being a martyr was the way to go and blaming others was justified. Not so. The journey of moving past my stories, through my pain and into my Truth has led me to This, Here, Now, and I AM so very grateful.
Here: in a safe and sacred space created for myself
Now: this present moment
Thank Goddess for this revelatory remembrance, and for abundance enough to share it. Namaste.