A practice to both center and expand awareness which helps with letting go of limiting thoughts, bringing freedom and restfulness.
by Jenny Jnani Hale
In spiritual circles, it’s fashionable to exhort women to “surrender.” The neo-Tantrics will explain that expanded orgasms lie just the other side of surrender, and that resisting surrender makes a woman “unfeminine.” Fundamentalist Christians and Muslims will point to verses requiring women to “submit” to their husbands (in exchange for protection and being guided to God, of course).
What about men? Do men get a pass in this “surrender” business?
Obviously, to reach transcendent states in which the ego is dissolved, everyone, whether male, female or gender-fluid, will need to make the ultimate surrender – relinquishing the separate self.
The oft-forgotten secret?
This ultimate surrender is waaaay easier for someone in a female body than someone in a male body, at least on average. There are always individuals who buck the trend of their biological gender.
There are spiritual traditions which make it clear that this gender difference was well-known to the ancients.
In Kabbalah, women have only two observances – a morning consecration, and a weekly ritual of lighting the menorah on shabbat evening. These two small rituals are enough to keep a woman on track, because she is naturally much more connected to the Divine, and less likely to stray from the path. Men, on the other hand, have a dazzling array of practices designed to remind them at every turn that they are here for a Divine purpose, not for personal accomplishments.
In traditional Tantra, every woman, no matter how uneducated, is to be treated as a manifestation of the goddess of instantaneous enlightenment. In some cases, the texts go so far as to say that without the assistance of a woman, a man practicing alone can never reach the highest states of liberation.
In modern times, we can make hypotheses about why this gender difference might occur. We now have some understanding of the effects of hormones on perception and motivation, and the personal testimonials of transgender people who have experienced both versions of reality in the one body.
At the base of the gender difference are the effects of the male hormone, testosterone. Women also have some testosterone, but at much lower levels than men. Testosterone mutes the proprioceptive feedback which forms the basis of interpersonal visceral empathy. In more simple language, testosterone makes us less aware of what is happening both within our body, and within the bodies of the people around us.
Adrenaline also has this effect, which is why stressed women feel so much more isolated than women who have a lot of social support and control of their time. Studies have shown that even spiritual seekers, such as students studying to be ministers, can be made to ignore a person needing medical help if they believe they are late for an exam. Adrenaline is a gender-neutral empathy-suppressant, though. Both men and women suffer from a reduction in empathy and compassion when stressed, regardless of their baseline levels.
One of the major ways to offset the effects of testosterone is to generate more of the “bonding hormones,” such as oxytocin and vasopressin. These hormones are stimulated by physical touch, affection, emotional closeness, trust, and spending a lot of time together.
Given this hormonal recipe, it is easy to see why people in male bodies could get deep spiritual benefits from the loving presence of another person (generally assumed to be of the opposite gender, but unless that person is a highly advanced practitioner with good detachment, personal preferences, cultural taboos and sexual orientation would still play a part).
Neural entrainment is another valuable tool which has been used since time immemorial to help bridge the spiritual gap.
When two individuals consciously “connect,” with or without sustained eye contact, their brain waves synchronize. This process allows someone who is very familiar with a particular state to induce that state in another person, even if that person has never previously experienced that state. In spiritual circles, this is referred to as “initiation”, and is often supported by rituals, which subconsciously encourage the person to be open to receive the new state.
When men are initiated into deeply connected states of consciousness by women, they can attain the same effects as monks who have meditated alone in caves for years on end, within a very short span of time.
In our Western culture, however, we glorify the ruggedly individualistic state in which the average man finds himself. Mainstream media encourages women to “lean in,” to adopt more individualistic traits, to be less receptive and empathetic, and put their own interests first, in order to “make it” in an economy organised around individual men. We lack language to express the ways in which people rise together to accomplish things beyond what can be accomplished as isolated individuals, and we attribute successes to individual leaders, not to well-interconnected teams.
Even in spirituality, the vast majority of publicly visible spiritual leaders are in male bodies. There are more books by male spiritual teachers than females. The work of female spiritual leaders and teachers is often misattributed to their male teachers or disciples. Looking at the available corpus of works and biographies from spiritual leaders, one could be forgiven for thinking that spirituality is generally a masculine pursuit, with women only contributing via fundraising, housekeeping/secretarial services for the Great Leaders (being their consorts in non-celibate traditions), and cleaning the houses of worship.
It is almost impossible for someone raised in such a culture to spontaneously realize that the average woman starts her spiritual journey several stations down the track from where the average man starts, simply by virtue of her biology.
So, if you find yourself in a female body, in a spiritual tradition or community run by men, this is your get-out-of-jail-free card. Your inherent connection with the people around you, and your inner wisdom, will be of more use to you than following instructions that are designed by men for men.
Does a particular practice feel rigid, constraining, or limiting? Allow yourself to explore what happens when you gradually release arbitrary constraints. Do you find yourself sinking deeper into communion, or does the laxity allow you to get distracted?
This is not carte blanche to declare yourself to be your own guru, and not in need of teachers any more. Everyone needs guidance, as the pitfalls on the spiritual path are many and varied.
This is simply a reminder that if you are in a female body, you might not need to do so much, or such highly structured practice, in order to reach the same results as someone in a male body might require. Sinking in may benefit you more than pushing through. Connecting with the Universe may work faster than seeking to transcend it. Honoring your inner wisdom may be more effective than painting by numbers.
And if you are in a male body, you just might be able to save yourself a few years of pushing through and practicing hard, if you can find a woman who is willing to initiate you to the level of consciousness she has already attained!
By Jenny Jnani Hale
In my work, both personal and professional, I spend a lot of energy becoming aware of identities, both my own and supporting those I work with in uncovering theirs.
But what is an identity?
Here’s a simple example. We are all born FREE. Completely, infinitely free. But soon after we’re born, we start responding to and being conditioned by the world around us. In my case, I developed an early age the identity of being self-sufficient. This came from a feeling that others’ needs were more important than mine and so it began to feel like a waste of energy to share my needs or ask for them to be met. Regardless of what the actualities of my childhood are, this is an identity I created: I will do it my damn self.
Where we can find empowerment in discovering this identity (also called a story) is in letting go of what actually happened to create this story and seeing that at its core, it’s completely hollow. Transparent. Nothing. When I see that, feel that, breathe that, I get to choose to be free again.
This morning, the aforementioned identity came up and smacked me in the face. It’s one that I’ve seen in my intimate relationships repeatedly this year, that others’ needs are more important than mine, so I will just take care of my damn self. It’s an identity that causes me to not state my needs or desires for fear or disappointment. It’s an identity that puts me in a holding pattern of fear and traps me into not expressing what’s alive under the surface of, “No, it’s fine.” And it makes it difficult to trust.
So, I have a choice: I can hide behind this identity, fault others for playing into my pattern and stay locked away in hiding. Or, I can see that whenever I feel that way, it’s most likely just the world bumping up into my identity and rubbing my bruise until it hurts. I can let it go. Again and again, every time it rears its head. Most powerful of all: I can love the shit out of that identity. I can hold it, embrace it, see it, accept it, love it, sing to it, cry with it, ask others to love it, and let it be absorbed and dissolved as part of me.
The more I meditate, ask for self-reflection with people on the Path, and pause to listen deeply to the ripples around me, the more the strings of my identities start to unravel. At times, this feels very liberating. At times, it feels dismantling and shattering. Today, it feels like a mix of both, the complexity of being both human and divine. Dissolving into the ocean of, well, myself.
For all those on the Path of Awakening, may we all be inspired to surrender.
These days when we think of Tantra, we think of experimenting with sound, movement and sex, but the path of Tantra as it was created about 1500-1000 years ago was a dedicated path of spirituality that permeated every aspect of being. Initiates would undertake intensely disciplined practices to go beyond the limited perceptions of the mind, and often took months or years as a renunciate, away from their homes and families, away from anyone they knew and essentially, away from themselves.
Taking away sensorial input and committing to a practice of mauna, noble silence, has been a practice in every mystical awakening tradition since documented human history. It may seem extreme now, but it was common for rites of passage and initiations into different phases of life, especially for those who were healers, shamans and people with a longing for God–for the Divine spark manifest in our very being.
When I decided to apply for the 49-Day Silent Retreat at Hridaya, I didn’t think of any of those things. I just felt a longing in my heart for solitude and said yes. They said yes, too. And then I got very scared. What had I done? Would I really spend 40 days all alone in a room? Would I go crazy and lose my mind? (two very different things, come to find out) I’m quite used to living around the world and being on my own, but this was going to be a whole new level of “on my own.”
Sahajananda, my teacher and the founder of Hridaya Yoga, created the 49-Day Silent Retreat to support those with a longing to go deep. Many who live at the school have attended and come out the other side changed, in various ways. We all face our own challenges, breakthroughs and moments of transcending. The layout is this: 10 days at a group silent retreat with the school (50-100 people together) and then 40 days in solitude at a hotel an hour away from the school. One person on the retreat is dedicated to service, cooking us sattvic vegan meals twice a day and handling our needs, should they arise. In all that time, we practice noble silence which means no talking, making sound or looking at one another, a pivotal part of the practice of mauna. After this period of 49 days, there is an additional seven-day retreat which the school allows participants to join. We had 3 days of transition before the 7 days, making a grand total of 59 days in silence.
I won’t be able to share all of the experiences, thresholds and moments of surrender I experienced in this period, or in the weeks since, and that isn’t my intention. My intention going into the retreat was to surrender, surrender, surrender; to give up control and give up “me” at every turn. So, I’ll focus on these experiences, their arising and the residual space they’ve left, which is simply Love. I will not spend time defining the concepts. If they interest you, look into the Hridaya teachings which, in my opinion, capture the essence of the spiritual path of nonduality with clarity and Heart.
This article will be raw, vulnerable and imperfect. I invite you to read with the heart, rather than the mind, and to take in the essence, not necessarily the words. May whatever you take from this writing inspire your mind to quiet, your heart to open, and your faith in the path, to rise.
The Present Moment
I’ve been on the spiritual path for a while, long enough to understand that it takes a lot of time to ripen in the vision, and the deconditioning and persevering faith it takes to break free from the collective paradigm I find myself in. I’ve spent periods of three to four months at a time in spiritual schools, and experienced that the longer the time, the deeper the dive. But I’ve still always lived in “time,” meaning the construct of days, hours and minutes. I’ve been tied to the clock since I can remember, and have lived, as most of us, fragmented between doing this and doing that.
From the first day of the retreat, I decided to let go of time completely. Let go of what day it was, what time it was, how long I’d been practicing or sleeping or doing anything. I found it easier intended than done. There was a struggle for the first week or two in solitude as my mind desperately wanted to compare how much I had meditated or practiced today versus yesterday, and especially how much time until the meal was served (we received one meal at 11:30am and one at 6pm). In the 10-day retreat, I never looked at the clock except to be at school at a certain time for sessions. Once in solitude, I didn’t set my morning alarm, didn’t time my practices and in fact, turned the clock around so I wouldn’t see the time unless I intentionally picked it up and looked. There were a few times I was struggling with practicing more or taking a break, so I was glad I did have the clock to relieve me of the feeling of anticipation. As with the deconditioning process of most things, there were a lot of patterns and tendencies to break through. For me, being able to say, “I meditated for this long” has always been a way that I value myself. My mind just loves comparison, especially comparing with myself. So, this was something to drop again and again whenever it came up.
Eventually there came a moment, maybe two weeks into the five-and-half weeks of solitude, when the idea of practicing and not practicing ceased. Where there was no separation between being on my mat or eating a meal or taking a walk on the beach. Eating a banana mid-morning became simply a continuation of awareness; eyes open or closed, walking or sitting, lying or stretching, it all became simply Being instead of doing. My teacher advised us before the retreat, “Let go of whatever you do and simply Be in joy.” So, I did. No time. No comparison. No right or wrong.
This isn’t to say there weren’t thoughts about those habitual tendencies of the mind. Thoughts were there, but at a certain point, they didn’t register as “my” thoughts or anything worth taking notice of. They just arose and fell into the background of consciousness. After a while, that background became my only identification. Instead of identifying with the waves, I sank into the ocean of the present moment.
Sleeping and Waking
I decided to experiment with sleep, a practice recommended in the Yoga and Tantra traditions. During 10-day silent retreats, I typically start lucid dreaming, not sleeping much, and remaining conscious most of the night. This time, when we went into solitude, I started an experiment where I slept most of the night lying on my back with a glass of water on my chest to keep me conscious, even when I eventually fell into the state of sleep. Within a few days, I hardly lost consciousness in the night at all, but rested deeply and maintained consciousness throughout the night.
I also found what I like to call “the sweet spot” between waking and sleeping, a deeply restful state with the eyes open or closed with a fully present consciousness and completely relaxed body and mind. I discovered this during lying down meditations, which I began practicing during solitude to relieve myself of chronic neck and shoulder pain. Soon I discovered that it put me in this sweet spot where I could stay for hours or longer.
When I discovered that this deep place could continue through the day and night, I started perceiving that time just continued to be the present moment with no interruptions except the wandering attention of the mind. And eventually that dropped away and was not a distraction.
Impermanence & Spontaneity
Another effect of the continuous present moment awareness was the feeling of prolonged spontaneity. I found myself surprised by what I chose to do in the moment, be it going for a walk, sitting in meditation, lighting incense, taking a nap, etc. I stopped planning anything, and more noticeably I stopped trying to be efficient. When I took my first Hridaya meditation retreat, this was a concept I deeply resonated with: letting go of the efficiency mind that tries to be one step ahead of the moment. This future-jumping mind gets in the way of the present moment being perfect, surprising and magical as it unfolds; it judges right and wrong based on what it thinks will be best before it actually happens. This was the existing programming of my mind.
This present moment perception led to an understanding of impermanence, a central tenet of Buddhist wisdom. The only thing permanent is existence-consciousness itself, not any thought, emotion, energy or material creation. These come and go, if we let them, and dissolve back into the Pure consciousness. As I watched every one of these rise and fall, rise and fall, I started to see the deep Truth in this teaching: that all things are impermanent. ALL things. This understanding led to the ability to surrender more and more.
I found myself letting every day, every meditation and yoga practice be different. Instead of grasping at how they should be or if they went deep or what I was experiencing, I just let them be exactly as they unfolded. And in that unfolding was the most beautiful state of Joy. The Joy of Being in the moment. I know this sounds like every clichéd spiritual teaching. I can hear that. And yet, it’s exactly what I felt and still feel.
The only intention I carried into my days was to create the best conditions in each moment. That meant following the needs of my body, like eating less and less as my metabolism slowed way down, and moving less and less as my heart rate slowed way down. Or even going for a run on the beach if there was a big upsurge of energy–if something felt different, I went with that exactly as it was. It may not seem like rocket science, but for me this letting go of all expectations whenever I noticed them come up led to a huge shift in how my days played out. And continuing to be in the present moment now that I’m teaching and writing again brings this Joy more and more into whatever I’m doing in the world.
There were hard moments and hours. For me, three demons especially plagued my thoughts, and it wasn’t until I could automatically send compassion to the thoughts and people they were about, that they began to dissolve.
The first was about my intimate relationships and letting go of expectations around what things would look like when I came out. There was a solid week where this came to my mind every day. Sometimes I ignored it and let it float by, which it always eventually did. And sometimes I looked at it, examined what was sticky, what stories it triggered for me and why it kept coming back again and again. I began to uncover that some thoughts simply are triggered by imagination or memory of other thoughts. They come up and overlap until the mind/ego grabs on and starts to weave a story. And some thoughts just come up because we’ve deemed them important and have programmed our mind to go to them again and again. This is a thought pattern, I realized, that I had deemed important, as meaning something about “me.” And that’s the level where I had to let it go. Nothing that happens in my relationships means anything about who I am or who my partners are.
About this, a passage from my journal: “During a series of external events last night, I watched the monkey mind. It really does attach to the next thing that comes up bigger than what it’s currently attached to. One thing seemed so big and all encompassing for the mind, then the next totally superseded it, then the next. The one before disappeared (for a while) because the mind just dramatizes and tries to get something wedged in the hamster wheel to play over and over again. When the energies of the Heart are more aroused than the mind, it all dissolves again right after it comes up. There are many thoughts still, but they just don’t matter so much anymore. They just come and go like trains passing by, but the awareness of the whole station is greater.”
As a reflection, having been home a few weeks now, I’m so grateful to have spent time looking at the sticky points. Of course, the expectations that were secretly hiding away about what my intimate relationships would look like three months later, do not live up to their stories. And external life has shifted. In a way, I tested myself to see what would happen if such and such a story came to be. I prepared myself for the things that have actually happened and for possible situations in the future. It feels like my heart has expanded to take in every possible outcome, instead of weaving through what makes me comfortable and avoiding the discomfort. And, of course, it’s impossible to avoid discomfort when relating with other people.
The second demon was a life situation in which I felt I had failed just days before I left for the retreat. This thought came up again and again and again, day after day after day. At first, I spent a lot of mental energy justifying my actions, saying to myself “it’s okay that I did that,” and creating a whole story about why it was okay. So basically, I was in big, fat resistance to what was, and the story I created about it. When this thought pattern would begin to arise, it pulled all of my attention and I couldn’t focus on anything else for minutes or longer. And then one morning I was journaling and realized that this was what was meant by a demon. I remembered the story of the Buddha facing his last demon in his final meditation under the Bodhgaya tree and sending unending love and compassion until it dissolved. So I tried this, and . . . it worked. It worked like a magic wand. When I opened my heart instead of closing it off and being in resistance, my pain and reaction dissolved, my hurt dissolved, my identity around the story dissolved. I sent compassion to the people affected in the situation and I sent compassion to myself. And within 48 hours, it was completely gone and never disturbed my thoughts again.
This became my routine when anything triggered hurt, pain or identity gripping: open the heart, breathe into the heart and send Love to anyone affected by this thought. I can tell you after experimenting with this for about seven weeks: it works. And it is incredibly purifying to the mind. Instead of creating more and more thoughts, it leaves the mind quiet, calm and still; capable of perceiving the True nature, the background of stillness, instead of being obsessed by thoughts.
My third demon was food. It usually happens that what normally challenges you in everyday life comes up in retreat. Having struggled with lifelong mental and physical challenges around food, I knew this was going to come up, and it really did. On the very first day of my 59 days, I got quite sick, and after purging my body of any food in my system, I didn’t eat a meal for the next 48 hours. Fasting is not a regular practice for me, as it usually stirs up my control issues around food and I’ve found it healthier the last few years to just eat whatever I want and create a relationship of freedom with food. But this period of necessary fasting – for my body, not my mind–felt physically very purifying, and left me quite available to the lightness of the body that was to come. And it triggered a whole slew of patterns about being happy that I wasn’t eating. For years, maybe decades, I used food to feel in control, especially the decision to not eat. Sometimes that would turn into binging, too. In this extended period of silence, I watched all of this come up – every single day. And every day I did my best to return to the Heart, return to the freedom of Pure Being, while witnessing the patterns that have kept me locked in control around food for 20+ years. I made some deep discoveries that unlocked those patterns and eventually realized this: I Am Free. Totally free to choose my relationship with anything in the outside world.
Three weeks out of retreat, I can now say that this is a lasting change. So much of my energy has been released by not constantly worrying about what/how/why I’m eating, and just listening to what my body really wants. The mind doesn’t need to be involved in these decisions at all. What joy.
At the beginning of our journey, Sahajananda said, “The spiritual journey is about going into uncharted territories. It’s about giving up the limitations of control. It requires a constant reconnection to the unknown.” This quote stayed with me and carried me through many scary moments of surrender. At first that surrender was active, with the intention that I, Grace, am giving up something, like a pattern or habit, a piece of identity or a story of reacting to external situations.
Then one afternoon when conditions seemed the worst to sit and meditate, a fit of laughter seized me, and the surrender became beyond me. I’ve heard many spiritual teachers talk about the Divine Mercy bringing surrender, and this was the experience I began to have more and more. Instead of “me” letting go of “something,” I started letting go of me. I stopped believing I was a separate thing or that there was anything separate from me. I began experiencing the world as One.
This perception carried through to more and more moments of my day and led to deeper experiences of surrender. As the control mechanisms of my mind tried to take over, I chose to surrender and go deeper into the unknown. I opened to those moments of feeling beyond a “me;” I let surrender win over fear. And the joy just kept opening and opening to unlimited depths.
One passage from my journal around day 40 said, “Carefree, light, childlike, joyful, spontaneous, gleeful, sweet and tender. No pushing into surrender, just letting go.”
Sahajananda often talks about a sense of transparency and availability to the Divine Flow. Around the third week in solitude, I started understanding what this meant. With no one recognizing me, seeing me, talking to me, I started to feel like a ghost. Being in a constant state of meditation, I felt I was becoming more and more transparent, full of more light and less material. I watched my body processes slow to nothing, including my digestion and my blood pressure. No mirrors, no being seen. It was the most incredible phenomenon to become as light as light and to feel like I was floating in the air.
This had a massive effect on my consciousness in that I felt less separate and more unified with everything around me; that my Being was one and the same as all things, or that perhaps there are no individual beings, just one Being of which I am a part. From my journal: “Noticing that not looking in the mirror this long creates a bit of a separation from the body – Who Am I becomes a more real question…Who is it that’s looking through my eyes? Who hears with my ears?”
After a few weeks of intense investigation of the mind, I stumbled into this state of transparency and began to see the mind as transparent. Near the middle of the retreat I wrote, “There is an unbelievable vastness of the mind – how inconceivably infinite the power of perception is. Today I felt like I was melting the mental separateness I usually experience into union.” Along with this, internal and external stopped feeling differentiated, and from this came a feeling of freedom: first in small drips and eventually in waterfalls. The feeling of Joy – a permanent joy, not the fleeting happiness experienced from external circumstances being how I want them to be – was the new state of Pure Being. And the vastness into which I was melting felt simply free. As Sahajananda says, “There is such a freedom in solitude.” Yes, I found that freedom. And now I get to play in it while doing my daily activities, making phone calls, driving and playing in life.
The day we broke silence was incredible. Tears poured from seemingly nowhere for hours. The idea of talking or looking or being on my device was so far from any desire I had. In fact, I noticed a few days after the retreat ended that I was in a desire-less state. There was nothing I wanted except to keep diving into the ocean of the Heart, the ocean of God. As I move back into my work of personal coaching, Spiritual teaching and leading silent retreats, my only desire is to offer these teachings to others so that they may feel this peace of Pure Being and Joy of the Heart in their lives. So that we may all choose to surrender our identities and live in the Bliss of Compassion that comes from the transparent expression of the Heart.
In the last three weeks, the overall sensation of integration I’ve felt is one of stability. No longer does my spiritual path feel like achieving states of consciousness. Instead, it feels like a sweet naturalness and awareness that extends and expands. I notice when the triggers of my patterns come up, and instead of reacting to them like I have in the past, there is a tender compassion for my own stories. I can see how attaching to my identities and unconscious patterns in the past has caused so much suffering, and choose to forgive myself and others when I see these memories. I notice the wandering attention of my mind with laughter, not seriousness, and let my awareness return to the gravity of the Heart. And at the bottom of all this is Love. Just Love.
The last time you had a broken heart, did you spend a lot of energy wishing it hadn’t happened? Trying to fix it?
We often view having a broken heart as being a victim, whether someone else broke up with you or you lost a loved one to cancer or you moved across the country and it ended a deep relationship. I would like to submit another angle for heartbreak: that it’s the best medicine for knowing, accepting, and loving ourselves.
It leads us to show up more as our whole self.
Most of us have layer upon layer of walls around our hearts, hence we don’t let people see us as the full human we are. We don’t even see ourselves fully. Breaking our hearts, in whatever way that happens, can cause enough of a shift to let new parts of us be revealed.
Read the full article at Beducated.
Have you been thinking that Tantric sex means slow sex?
Slow sex is delicious. It helps us become more aware and attentive to all the sensations, obvious and subtle, that we exchange with another body during lovemaking. But Tantric sex isn’t defined by its speed or duration.
Tantric sex is goalless.
It’s free of expectations. It’s full of a love without attachment. Tantric sex is as deep as the moment allows. And it’s present with what the moment calls for.
I’m all up for slow, all-night lovemaking. Sometimes. I’ll be honest – I like to go to bed early, and I can get tired during the all-night marathons. For me, the Tantric quickie can be just as deep and profound, earth-shattering, and laughter and tear-filled as a longer love-making session.
I also love the excitement of a time limit, a secret hiding place, pulling off the road in a secluded forest, or needing to be really quiet so others don’t know you’re doing it.
Here’s a little “how to” on the Tantric Quickie. Note that these are not rules, they are simply guidelines to keep you on the track of freedom for your afternoon delight, late-night snack, or pit-stop. You make the rules if you need them. And you demolish the rules that don’t serve and keep you limited by stories of right and wrong.
I’m a newbie to the poly world. I’ve only been living in conscious non-monogamy for the last six years, more or less consciously depending on the year and day. The surprising part is that I couldn’t tell you why it started. I heard a lecture on polyamory, had big triggers and mental blocks, thought I would never consider it, and then a month later I wasn’t interested in monogamy anymore.
Not only has my approach to dating and partnership been flipped on its head since then, but my whole life has changed paradigms. It continues to do so regularly. I have been influenced by all of the partners, lovers and configurations of polycules (see below if you’re unfamiliar with this term) I’ve been in over the last six years. And through much trial and error, yes I have made a lot of mistakes, and the support of many lovers and partners, I’ve come up with my ideal way I want polyamory to look in my life.
Just to clarify, this article is not about how to overcome jealousy, find compersion or deal with the stuff that comes up in poly relationships. And it is not to help you decide if you want to be in a non-monogamous relationship, although it might help people considering non-traditional relationship structures.
The intention of this article is simply to offer a few ideas of how to uncover the non-monogamous relationship structure you want, clarify the conscious non-monogamy and open yourself to playing within these structures as they change with each new arrangement of people. And, finally, I hope it helps you to find your own boundaries, desires and the non-negotiable things in your intimate relationships.
Read the whole article on Omooni.com.
I must start by saying that however near or far we may be, I am grateful that you are a part of my community. I continue to be reminded how important resonance with like-minded, inspiring souls is as I walk this globe and connect with people from unbelievably different circumstances. My community in Seoul continues to expand into different circles, but as usual the people I feel most drawn to and inspired by are those on a path of self-discovery and self-growth. This is the path of Yoga, of finding your truest self through disciplined and continuous searching, cleansing, practicing, sharing and connecting.
It has been many months since I have reached out. And while some things have changed, as they always do, some things have also stayed the same, like my challenge of living in a city of 10+ million people, 25 million in the metropolitan area. The buzzing energy of this city is exciting and exhausting and I am trying to balance how to stay open to the flow of life but also not get sucked into the mainstream ways of living. Fortunately, I do have some really wonderful friends here, both Korean and other nationalities, who support my journey and keep me smiling. The generous Universe has recently thrown some spirits my way who remind me that people who choose to live with consciousness and awareness exist everywhere and that maybe I am the fool for not looking for it more often.
An interesting calling and intuition has appeared lately: to introduce Korea to the style of Yoga that I find most beneficial and direct, Agama Yoga. Not only through my own teachings, but perhaps in inspiring people to go and immerse themselves in a Yoga community. Today I taught a Diving Deep: Yoga to Open the Heart Workshop and by the time the class was over, you could see the cracked-open souls who were daring to bare their hearts to one another. When I first advertised it 3 weeks ago, the class filled up in 24 hours. I have more workshops on the calendar and plan to offer a Transformative Women’s Journey this summer. While I don’t have the energy to teach a full schedule of yoga classes in addition to full-time teaching, etc., I think teaching regular classes is something that I will manifest for the 2nd half of my time here, both in Korean and in English. Plus it really motivates me to study Korean, more than learning conversations about going to the post office. There is always the fine line of boundaries, of knowing when to rest and when to act, and I will listen as best I can to my energy levels and daily need to recharge.
I pray that your world is shimmering with Shakti’s radiant dance and Shiva’s full-on consciousness. May you also take the time soon to connect or reconnect with those who inspire you and whom you in turn inspire. And may this quote from the Radiance Sutras remind you, as it reminds me, that we are always at home.
Enter the bowl of vastness that is the heart.
Listen to the song that is always resonating.
Give yourself to it with total abandon.
Quiet ecstasy is here –
And a steady, regal sense
Of resting in a perfect spot.
You who are the embodiment of blessing,
Once you know the way,
The nature of attention will call you to return.
Again and again, answer that call,
And be saturated with knowing,
“I belong here, I am at home.”
– The Radiance Sutras, #26
I have been beyond blessed this summer to spend time, both in Seattle and in the beauty of the northwest, with friends, family and loved ones. I danced and loved at two yoga festivals in BC, spent time with the goddesses in my family in Leavenworth, took a spontaneous trip to Whidbey with my beloved partner, and have more adventures planned for my last weeks in the Puget Sound. It’s time I answer the question of, “So, what’s next??”
I have two more weeks teaching musical theater in the Seattle area, along with wrapping up the Transformative Women’s Journey, leading Diving Deep: Yoga to Open the Heart workshop at Three Trees Yoga, and starting a 4-week discussion series called ‘A Practical Guide to Karma Yoga: The Path of Action,’ also at the wonderful home of Three Trees Yoga in Federal Way. If you’ve been curious about how to take your yoga practice into every moment of your life, through your words, actions, and work in the world, this series is for you! Then, beginning August 25th, I will be attending a 4-week intensive CELTA course in English Teaching in Tacoma, so my homebase will move to Federal Way for that time. And then I “plan” to take off around the 1st of October with an English teaching contract somewhere in the world…yet to be manifested!
My last offering of the summer will be a special something that is still brewing. I hope to announce it soon. Stay tuned for a juicy and connecting time that will re-set you on your path through the rest of the year. I would also love to connect with you in my northwest tribe if we haven’t had the chance yet.
As I immerse in the flow of the Universe moment by moment, I find myself laughing and crying at Shakti’s expression of time, the paradoxically limiting and expansive force of our existence. Intimately knowing both groundedness and restlessness, I am surprised to awake each morning to one less day in Seattle and one day closer to the next adventure. Of course, that’s all not real because the Truth is actually what’s unfolding in the present, not the past or the future. I set the intention to show up to every hug, prayer, teachable moment, candlelight dinner, walk in the park, and frustrating thought, equally and attentively, and remind myself through all of those moments that we are not humans reaching for a Divine experience, we are Divine Spirits expressing ourselves through human form. And all you have to do is show up. Easy, right?
Non-attachment is a big part of what I’m working on right now. In yoga, non-attachment (sometimes called dispassion) is a very pivotal point. Does that mean complete detachment from life? From loved ones? From daily conveniences?
In my experience, it’s two things. The first is learning to be detached from the desires of the ego, the part of our mind that is constantly being driven by attachments and aversions, likes and dislikes, wanting and avoiding. The second is becoming detached from the fruits (results, outcomes) of action. It’s okay to have a preference for the outcome, but being non-attached means staying calm no matter the result. In the bigger picture, this means being open to what life presents and trusting that your steps are always being led in the best direction. It also means being aware of every moment and of why our mind is leading us this way and that: is it because the ego craves/avoids something or because we’re in line with the true nature of our Self? To figure out the difference, one needs to cultivate an awareness of every moment, every breath, and the turning of the mind. You can start with this breath and this thought right now.
Let’s take, for example, hot showers. What I’ve found out about myself is that I can remain perfectly fine with no hot showers** for, say, 4 weeks, but after a while I realize that my preference would be for a hot shower. This morning I asked a friend to shower in their room so that I could have a hot shower. Needless to say, it was divine. So in this situation, non-attachment means being okay with not having a hot shower and cultivating equanimity for my current situation but at the same time realizing that my preference would be for a hot shower and doing what I can to make it a reality. I love being in India and traveling in general, and I realize that there are sacrifices to be made in certain situations. However, if I can have a hot shower I will take full advantage, knowing how happy it makes me.
**Note: I have had hot water by the bucketful in many places and cold showers from a shower head, just not the combination of hot water from a shower head. It’s not that I haven’t showered in a month. And I wash my feet twice daily, which is a necessity in most of India.