Brahmacharya

sacred-sexuality-with-dr-ray

In 2012, a few months before I went into my first 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training, I made a radical decision. I decided that for a year, I would observe Brahmacharya. Named for the state of searching for the ‘Great One, Supreme Reality, or Self,’ Brahmacharya is one of the five Yamas according to Yogic texts. In Vedic traditions in refers to the state of celibacy one chooses during the life stage of being an unmarried student and fidelity when married. In modern times, it is better known as a state of being sexually responsible. In Hindu and Buddhist traditions, Monks practice Brahmacharya their whole lives as it is considered necessary for their spiritual practice.

It wasn’t a decision that required a lot of consideration on my end. I loved the sound of the word, ‘Bharmacharya,’ and something about doing it felt completely right. I chose the more strict sense of the word, not only refraining from the sexual act, but also anything that could lead to it including kissing, extreme alcohol consumption and situations where I am alone with a man I am attracted to in a private setting.

As soon as I had decided on it, it was like I had donned a veil that made me sexually invisible. There was a sense of liberation in being able to let it go and practice my Yoga, learn my texts and most of all, learn more about myself. Once I had taken the whole dynamic out of the picture, I found a lot of freedom. I learned to walk in my own skin without trying to gather the attention or to please a dominant male figure.

A lot came up in that time but once the year was up, and as I was ready to lift the veil, my beloved father passed away. Now that opened up a whole other can of worms and Brahmacharya was extended. The relationship between a daughter and a father is always something pretty amazing. My father, no matter what he did was my hero. Whenever he was in a room, his was the only presence that mattered to me. We had our ups and downs of course. When we disagreed there were so many strong emotions running around that the charge was palpable. It was the love that was also the double-edged sword. When he hurt me, I would lash out as strongly but the love was so deep that when I hurt him, it was akin to taking a knife to my own heart.

My father was a bit of a narcissist in that he never saw how his actions hurt the people who loved him. Growing up I was used to him getting distracted either with a new relationship, a new love interest or a new work venture and he would disappear during those times. Those were the days when he didn’t return my calls, or was simply not available. Then when the thing that had his interest for the moment went to shits or he got bored of it, he would be back and I would welcome him. It hurt like hell but I was young not to see the cruelty and selfishness in it so it became the norm.

When he passed, the patterns that I had carried on from my relationship with him to my relationship with other men came to light. Of course, I never loved anyone quite as strongly. How could you love an employer, friend or lover as much as you love your own father? Not even close. But I did notice that in my relationships with men, I had been willing to accept a degree of cruelty. I’m not saying that the men in my life have been cruel, not all of them anyway, but there have been acts of cruelty that I had previously quickly forgiven and even sometimes apologised for.  In doing so, I had been cruel to myself and reaffirming the belief that I was not worthy and therefore it was my responsibility to hold things together.  That was a pretty big one to see and a bigger one to disprove.  Thanks goodness for the friends who see your light even when you can’t.

There is something to be said for not being in a romantic relationship and seeing these patterns. I haven’t been a monk where emotions are concerned. Of course, I’ve had crushes and emotional interests but the commitment to my practice has held me from getting into going forward with a relationship. I had nothing to lose. I’d spent my entire twenties almost continuously in long-term relationships. The thing is, when you are in one, you’re so caught up in the highs and lows of it that you can’t step back and say, ‘wait a minute, here’s that behaviour that I am repeating.’ I’m not saying the change is immediate but like with everything else, you have to notice the pattern to change how you act to it. That has been my greatest lesson.

I have many lessons to learn, I’m sure, but it has been three years and eight months since I committed to a state of learning these lessons on my own. This has in a way become a crutch to save myself from complications and the possibility of pain, but what is life without some complication. It might be time to opening myself to lessons that involve another dynamic now.

In about two weeks, I enter into my second 200 Yoga Teacher Training. The main teacher, the amazing Shiva Rea is a true Tantrist. This time instead of slow assimilation to practice, it will be a month away in an insulated situation, but once the month is done, I think it is time I consciously lift the veil of Brahmacharya that I’ve been wearing all this time.

To victory in facing fears, taking risks and standing in the discomfort of the fire until change is ready to happen. Jai!

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The Terror of My Own Universe

Live for a few days in the meditation,
“I am immersed in the flame-
The flame of time,
The flame of love,
The flame of life.
The universal fire flows through me.

It took me almost two and a half years of regular practice before I even attempted sitting in meditation on my own. Even with my eyes closed and no mirrors, and although I have been celibate for a while now, I know I look nothing like the picture of the monk meditating on the mountaintop.  And I sure as hell don’t feel like it most of the time.

Sitting Still with a Storm Brewing Inside

Sitting Still with a Storm Brewing Inside

Every meditation is different.  Some days I am on this cloud of euphoria, others I would be in tears, then are the days when conversations go on with the 50 people living in my head, or worse still, conversations with people in my life, played in BluRay on the canvas of my brain. Other days reining myself in is akin to trying to tame a dragon.

There are days when there is this dance going on inside me and it reaches a climatic point of ecstasy, followed by a long exhale and total bliss. An internal orgasm, where the universe inside me is fucked into a state of euphoria.

Sweating.

Hot.

Wild.

Then there are days where the thoughts just pass by like clouds and my attention is centered on the sensations over and under my skin and the steady beating of my heart.

Calm.

Quiet.

And occasionally, I fall asleep.

Because no two times are the same and absolute stillness and focus almost an impossibility, I though that I was meditating wrong.

You can have a million meditation guides but truthfully, nobody has the roadmap to what goes on inside you.

Then last weekend I spent some time with meditation guru, Dr. Lorin Roche http://www.lorinroche.com/.  With Lorin’s playfulness and sense of mischief, we explored the teachings of the Vajnana Bhairava Tantra.  Lorin’s approach to meditation makes you feel like there is no need to become a poster, that meditation, like yoga is something completely personal and that you are free to explore what works for you.  You welcome every part of you into the seat of your meditation, even the ones that you might not be overly fond of.  It is a place where you find love for yourself and perhaps even send love to others.  He made me feel like I had not been failing the meditation exam after all.  There was so much acceptance and security that for a while, I even forgot myself and danced with the words of the texts.

And there’s that word – Bhairava, meaning “terrible.”. It is that place where you want to go forward but you are petrified.  I realised that a lot of times, this is exactly how I feel when I’m in yoga class – being upside down was it for me for a long time, and then meditation.

Not everyone is but I am – Scared.

Petrified.

Terrorised.

The Image of Bhairava

The Image of Bhairava

But it’s perfectly fine to be.

Step into that fire wholeheartedly,
Starting with the big toe,
Then surrendering everywhere.
Only the not-self,
Which doesn’t exist anyway,
Burns away.

And I am not doing it wrong after all.

Meditation is not the celibate monk on the mountaintop.
Shit comes up in meditation because we have a life.  The monk on the mountaintop has renounced all their connections.  We have not and in meditation is where we can deal with the emotional drama, separate the stories from the reality.  Like a massage where the therapist needs to dig in to the tissue to release it, so meditation sometimes allows us space to dig into our emotional tissue in order to release it.

It is a limitless exploration of our universe which includes all of us – our thoughts, bodies, emotions, the parts we like, and the parts we might not. Ever pulsating. Ever changing. A vortex of instances that are occuring. Atoms and particles forever moving. Light and dark, eternally dancing. Sometimes slow and gentle, sometimes wild and free.

It can be utter stillness or an internal pulsation, or even a dance party under our skin.

Just like there is more than one path to life, there is more than one path to meditation.

It is an exploration, looking inside with wonder and finding our own journey to ecstasy.

It is the burning away of the not-self.

For me, meditation is sometimes like stepping on a cloud and sometimes stepping into a flame.  I never know what might come up.  It is a continual exploration. I now go into this state of terror with the question, “what have you got for me today?”

Attend to this continually,

And awaken into tranquillity.

Your essence is renewed in the flame,

For the flame knows itself as flame

Since the first heartbeat of creation. 

Verses from the Radiance Sutras, Verse 29.

Sober Sex?

A few weeks back, a few friends and I decided to meet for dinner. As usual when a group of girls get together, the topic of sex comes up.  What’s a dinner when there aren’t discussions about who’s currently doing whom? The discussion went round to first time sex with new partners, and how nine times out of ten, that first romp would include alcohol.  For some, that first alcoholic romp occured the first time they meet their partners even.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong, or right, or anything at all. People meet in many different ways.  I’m just putting it out there. We treat sex like its just part of life. In fact, those who do not include sex in their need for basic survival, we psychoanalyze to pieces – oh she’s been abused/hurt/still in love with her ex/unbalanced second chakra/physically unhealthy/ugly so on and so forth.  Yet for all our talk, we proceed to drink ourselves silly when we see a potential partner in the bar/pub/races.  If we meet them somewhere without alcohol, we invite them out to drinks or dinner, with drinks included.

Could it be that with all our talk on how sex is a necessity/way to unwind/part of life that we do in fact find sex with someone new too confronting? Or could it be that like everything else we do in life (dinner/dancing/movies), we need some sort of stimulant in order to enjoy it? Alcohol, as we know is the commonly accepted drug widely used as an emotional shied and a mood enhancer.  And sex, first time sex with someone, can be a confronting, uncomfortable and awkward event (or non-event).  It’s never like it is in the movies, and sadly enough, no amount of alcohol can make it so.

Sex has the potential of being a very “in your face” experience. And let’s face it, a lot of times, when we move the relationship to that arena, we really do not know this person well enough to be comfortable staring into their eyes dead sober while our bodies are as close as two entities can get.  I don’t know what to do when a man stares at me from across the room, let alone when his face is three inches from mine. Something is needed to take the edge off the experience.

We can handle physical contact, and we can handle emotional contact, but what happens when there is the opportunity to have both at the same go? What happens when someone is close enough to feel you and see how you really feel? Is it too much? Do we have drunken sex to hide how much we care or do we have it because we do not care enough? Is alcohol our way of getting the physical release and affection without having to give emotionally?

There are a lot of questions and not enough answers, but what will you do when he’s standing right next to you, desire emanating from both of you, and there is no drink in sight? Will you go into this challenging confronting vortex of awkwardness or will you hold off until you can have a drink to dull things down? Or are you ready to face sex with all your boundaries down and nothing to cloud your senses? Are you ready to be uncomfortable and awkward, and to let someone into more than your physical space?