Words by Ralf Putz About two years ago, I was introduced to meditation through a 21-days program. It had a great impact on me, even though I had no intellectual understanding of it. The experience of meditation lit a flame…
Just as Biddulph’s book Manhood, aimed at fathers and sons, was an informative read for women (I gifted many copies to women to better understand their fathers, sons, brothers, and lovers), his new book offers illuminating insights for women and men of all ages.
For me, the book offers visceral insights into the state of the feminine in current western culture. Regrettably, it ain’t particularly pretty.
What are the 10 things girls need most?
Tantra is the ancient empirical philosophy and science of liberating energy in order to expand consciousness and realize one’s inherent spiritual power.
Consciousness and energy are united and made available for health, mental peace, emotional resilience, creativity and spiritual realization.
Tantra is a practical, empirical and experiential science that lights the torch and shows the way to self-transformation through psychological, psychic and spiritual growth and fulfillment.
Tantra and Yoga are intimately related. Many yogic techniques are used as part of tantric practice and ritual. Both yoga and tantra share the common goal of uniting our individual awareness with the highest Self.
The word tantra is derived from the Sanskrit roots tan and tra. The root tan means extension, expansion, a stretching and pulling, as you pull rubber. Tra means to liberate, to release, to emancipate, and to make free. Energy is liberated so that it can be united with consciousness.
Yoga means connection or union. In this context, it refers to techniques that enable the union of consciousness and energy, of Shiva and Shakti.
Yoga-tantra, therefore, is the “liberation of energy (trapped in matter and neurotic psychological patterns) in order to expand individual consciousness and unite it with universal consciousness”
Energy is often trapped in tensions, old unconscious habits, and patterns within the body-mind. We may feel small, powerless, and out of touch with our true Self.
The Sanskrit word sankalpa means “a resolve or intention formed in the heart”.
We’re greatly heartened to know that so many of our students have been empowered to make meaningful changes in their lives, some small, some large, all significant.
The ability to make a powerful Sankalpa – one that empowers us to manifest our intention is difficult to achieve because the mind is innately unstable, full of doubts, and conflicting desires.
To counteract these conflicts and doubts, students of our course are given various tools and exercises to examine each desire. Using Yogic Knowledge, Meditation Practices and Integration Exercises students test their desires and intentions through different perspectives or lenses. For example, how each desire fits into a particular stage of life and how to cognize the different desires that arise from each of the seven chakras. This results in an ability to form a holistic relationship with desires.
If we only listen to what one part of us wants we are silencing another part of us, and sooner or later this part will demand to be heard.
The Clarifying Power Of Adversity
Sometimes it takes a negative experience to stir up a powerful Sankalpa. In this way, adversity can be a blessing because it thrusts us into reconnecting with our will to survive, to overcome the odds, to heal, or to repair. And it is the aim of the course to support all of our students being able to remain on track while facing difficult, challenging and powerful life experiences, experiences that have the potential if they are managed wisely, to change your life for the better.
In our moment of truth we either collapse under the weight of the adversity or, if we are lucky and able, we muster all of our internal resources to rise to the challenge. The course will help you do this.
Case Study: How our student overcame a near death experience and taught her doctors about the power of Sankalpa
The story by Sanyasi Yogamitra epitomizes what we can do, even when faced with life-threatening illness, in what appears to be insurmountable odds.
If you are unaware of your own shadow, or if you are aware but neglect responsibility for it, your shadow can send distressing thoughts, emotions, and impulses into your awareness, seemingly from out the blue, and can even cause accidents. You can say or do things that you would rather not say or do, and this erodes the quality of your life.
Your Shadow in Relationships
The more control your own shadow has over you, the more easily you fall prey to another person’s shadow. Relationships can be fraught, strained or stormy, and they often end suddenly and badly. This is because if your shadow is in control it causes projection and denial. You can’t see who the other person actually is because your projection is getting in the way. The greatest tragedy, however, is that you can’t see yourself.
No-one is immune to the power of the shadow and we all have one. The quest is not to get rid of it (since you never can), but to learn about its nature and impact on your life, and begin a process of reintegration of all the shadow aspects that you’ve disowned. Ultimately, you need to take responsibility for your shadow so that you stop projecting both your ‘negative’ and ‘golden’ shadow onto others. This creates psychological peace, which is essential for mature relationships.
Feelings and Behaviors from the Unconscious Shadow
An unconscious shadow can cause anything from niggling annoyances to severe psychological disorders. Here are some examples of the shadow being in control; when the suppressed shadow becomes energized and empowered.
- Feeling irritated and angry for no obvious reason
- Feeling nervous or anxious for no obvious reason
- Regurgitating a negative thought or emotion
- Thinking that life is meaningless
- Feeling apathetic or bored
- Compulsively hiding how you really feel
- Acting against your own values and ethics
- Feeling shame or guilt
- Blaming others for your problems
Types of Shadows: Negative, Golden, Family, Societal
Everyone carries several types of shadows, and they often overlap.
Here are some examples:
You repeatedly encounter people who share the same fault e.g. jealousy, aloofness, thoughtlessness. This is your active Negative Shadow.
You are surrounded by people who are talented in the way you wish you were e.g. they are outgoing, creative, successful. This is your active Golden Shadow.
One of the greatest things about yoga psychology and psychotherapy is that they not only provide a holistic path to self-healing, they also enable spiritual awakening. This is because in these systems illness can be viewed as a sacred path to higher awareness if one has the appropriate knowledge, techniques and support.
Modern medicine is realizing that a physical approach alone, e.g. prescription drugs, or a psychological approach alone, e.g Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), delivers limited and often short-term benefits.
A holistic approach, which is sometimes called a bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach is preferred over the purely biomedical model and the purely psychological model. The biomedical model does not fully recognize the effects of the mind on the body. The purely psychological model does not fully grasp the impact of the body on the mind.
Yoga psychology is a modern term that is in evolution. I define it as:
The science of the embodied relationship between consciousness and mind.
Yoga psychology sees body and mind as indivisible and gives maximum emphasis to the role of cultivating self-awareness as the foundation on which improved health and wellbeing is built.
Yoga psychology can also be called the science of the “subtle body,” the part of us that lies between and links the physical body and the spiritual, or causal body, the subtlest part of us.
The 4 Dimensions of Yoga Psychology
In order to gain a larger vision of the theoretical basis of yoga psychology, we need a 4-dimensional approach that draws from various Indian philosophical systems, including Yoga, Samkhya, Tantra, and Vedanta.