September 5, 2011

Tantra Practice: 3 Steps to Meaningful Mindfulness Meditation.

Many teachers of Buddhism and yoga promote and teach the practice of Mindfulness. When practicing mindfulness, for instance by watching the breath, one maintains attention on the chosen object of awareness. Whenever the mind wanders away, one faithfully returns back to refocus on the breath.

The term for Mindfulness in Sanskrit is Smrti—to recollect, to remember to be in the present moment, now and in the future. In Tantric practice, one will also remember the nature of the breath, that the breath is Consciousness. As Kabir said: the Divine is the breath within the breath.

Thus we may term Tantric meditation Meaningful Mindfulness; the remembering not only to meditate on the breath but also remembering that the breath itself is Consciousness; the Inner Witness; the Real Self.

This form of meditation has the capacity to take us into a deeper state of silence and spiritual depth than mere Mindfulness. And, when remembering, when having attained  continuous mindfulness one attains Dhruva Smrti; that is, one experiences continuous remembering. Remembering of what? The remembering that all objects of one’s attention are Sacred, are Divine, are bliss.

Step 1. Developing a Tantric Worldview.   

Tantric Philosophy says: SHIVA SHAKTIATMAKAM BRAHMA. Brahma is the composite of Shiva and Shakti.

This Sanskrit sutra contains the basic concept of Tantric philosophy, that Brahma, the Supreme Entity, is One but has two aspects, namely Cosmic Consciousness, or Shiva, and Cosmic Energy, or Shakti.

In this physical world of duality, these two appears to be separate, but after attaining knowledge of nondual Brahma, one sees only One. There is no differentiation, only One without a second.

On a metaphysical level, the ultimate reality, Brahma, is expressed in the “polarity” of Shiva and Shakti. Within our own conditional reality, this is expressed as the dualities of male and female, objective and subjective, masculine and feminine, without and within.

Shiva and Shakti, as the perfect unity-principle, also symbolize integration, in Jungian terms, for example, the integration of animus and anima. In Taoism, the Chinese version of Tantra, they are the esoteric twin pair yin and yang.

Psychologically, this unity-principle represents our need to integrate our male and female energies. Neurologically, it represents the integration of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Ontologically, it is expressed when scholars seek to integrate spiritual and scientific knowledge. Ecologically, it represents the interrelationship of all of creation.

And spiritually, it represents the way we contemporary yogis integrate spiritual exercises, such as meditation and chanting, and physical exercises, such as asanas, into our daily lives. As within, so without. As above, so below.


Step 2.  Developing Tantric Vision through Madhuvidya.

As you can see, Tantric metaphysics has far-reaching implications for how we can find balance and harmony in our daily lives.

Deeply contemplate this Tantric unity-principle of the cosmos.

Envision how the Tantric principles of wholeness embrace everything, even contradictions and unpleasant experiences. Use this vision to embrace aspects of life you are afraid of, reject or hide. Move beyond conflict and pain, and discover joy and peace in polarity.

Everything in this world contains Cosmic Consciousness, or Shiva, and Cosmic Energy, or Shakti. All things and beings are created by Shakti, or Comsic Energy, and all things have in them the latent force of Shiva, or Cosmic Consciousness.

Thus, all things are, in essence, Brahma. In this physical world of duality, things and people appear to be separate, but after attaining knowledge of nondual Brahma, one sees that all are One.

Try to find as many situations as you can during the day when you can contemplate this union of Shiva and Shakti as Brahma, this duality in Oneness. Try to feel that your food is Brahma before and during a meal. Try to feel that your friend is Brahma when talking to him or her.

Try to see and feel Brahma in everything and everyone you encounter. The more you remember doing this, the more you will become connected to the world around you in a deeply spiritual and sacred way.

This is Madhuvidya, or honey knowledge, the remembering that everything is Divine Honey. Everything. This is Meaningful Mindfulness.

Step 3: Meaningful Mindfulness Meditation.

So when a Tantric yogi sits with his or her eyes closed in either lotus position, half lotus or in any other relaxed position with the back straight and meditates on the breath, with a a mantra, focusing on a chakra and the meaning of the mantra, that whole process becomes one continuous meaningful remembering.

And even after sitting meditation, one may continue the remembering by repeating the mantra during japa practice all day long. One may keep doing this over and over until one feel relaxed and natural and the mind is focused on the breath. Then imbue the breath with Meaningful Mindfulness; that is, start to feel that the breath is Consciousness, Divine, God, Sacred, Love, whatever heartfelt feeling comes to mind that also represents Divinity in your life.

When one sits down to eat, feel that the food is Sacred, Divine, God, and so on. Whenever any action is performed, that action is also Divine, also sacred.

And when this practice is natural and continuous, it becomes Dhruva Smrti, the state of always being in the presence of Meaningfulness, of Divinity, of the Sacred. Of always being in the Now.

This is easier said than practiced, of course, but the habit of sitting every day, twice a day, then doing japa during the day, remembering the Divine before acting, before seeing, touching, etc., and also during the act itself, then singing kirtan, and doing yoga exercises on the breath, with a mantra, one is gradually reminded of the inner meaning of life; the inner mindful meaning of life: that it is Sacred, Blissful, always.

And if forgetting, one can always go back to the meaning, to the mindful remembering. Always. To paraphrase Rumi: if you wonder whether there is Divinity, whether God responds to your meditation, your longing for That, then remember, it is the longing itself, the practice itself, that is the message, the return message from the Divine.

Yes, the effort itself, even the process of forgetting and then returning, is part of the practice, is Meaningful, is Divine. Always.


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