power-and-self-determination

Power and Self Determination – By Iris Disse –

Written by Iris Disse

“I’m like the snake. I have power. Power belongs to man. It is not good, it is not evil. Power IS.”
Words of a Shipibo Shamaness

Trance yoga is what the yogis of my yoga school call the meditative Kaula Tantra Yoga. During the finishing round after a three-hour session, a young yogi says: “I now know that I don ́t want anything to do with power. In any way. Power is evil, it destroys our planets, it births wars, it makes us greedy and reckless.” I look at the group and see nods of agreement.

Through the yoga meditation the people have become soft and receptive. Body, mind and soul now swing together and even the ‘madness of normality’ has for many suddenly become conscious. All you want is to get out of this supersonic aircraft flying at high speed towards collective suicide. What I need is personal power. What does that mean?

To build up your personal power is a process, an experience. I can’t read nor theoretically think about it. Personal power is the equivalent of a life well lived. In our society we often stay within the edges of our comfort zone. We think too much about our lives. We accept a certain way of living. We feel the powerlessness: “I can’t do anything about it anyway.” We think it’s normal to divide our lives into work and leisure. We take pride in earning our money with jobs that rob us from our life energy and that do not please us. We allow ourselves to continue living in fear instead of following that which inspires us.


Only when we’re confronted against our inner truth do we decide to follow our hearts.

Take a pacifist who is working in the weapons industry. Such examples exist! Why? He did not believe he would find a job that matched his convictions. In our Kaula Tantra Yoga teacher training, we explore
which experiences encourage us to come into our power from a dimension deep within, and out of which we empower ourselves to be self-determined. How can yogic or shamanic rituals support in this search?

The Power Of My Thoughts

We start the Kaula Tantra Yoga session off with an Om to connect us with the energy of new beginnings.
Creation is now as we dive into deep relaxation and land in our own bodies. Old thought patterns of control arise and we become aware of the powerlessness:
“The asana is not perfect yet – I’ve got to do better,” despondently followed by: “ I can never do it, everyone else is better- slimmer, more agile, prettier.”
I perceive now how I sabotage myself in everyday life too. New patterns form. I allow my body to flow into the asanas without effort. The way my body stretches today is just right for me. I patiently disempower my inner saboteur. I feel the corresponding field of thought and energy. A new space emerges in which I can decide what’s right for me. My inner authority and my inner power grow.

I Am Reminded Of The Power I Have Over My Decisions

I reminisce about a ritual night of preparing to take Ayahuasca with two Shamans, Vlady and Rut, and I remember right before beginning one of them said:
“Ayahuasca shows up as Boa or Anaconda. She has no pity. She challenges you. Are you strong? Can you face your fears? You encounter with your own death, in many forms. When she accepts you, the spirit of the Ayahuasca travels with you to other dimensions. She shows you your life and the world as it really is.”

Naturally, some of us became scared and couldn’t make up our minds: should I take Ayahuasca?

Yes or no? They attempted to think through all the consequences that would follow after making the decision.

“You brought our attention to it. There’s no right or wrong there is only a decision to be made,” says one yogini.

It is natural to weigh in advance which the best option is – but we’ll never know what consequences will follow thereafter. Who hasn’t had the feeling of wanting to make the right decision but the consequences are negative or vice versa. Our freedom as human beings is that we get to decide what we do and to take responsibility in whatever the consequences of our decisions might be.

When I make myself a victim: “But it was not my fault … This idiot has … I can’t help it …”, I give up my personal power.

So, the question is rather: Can I take responsibility for my decisions? Can I take Ayahuasca even if it frightens me and I don’t know what’s going to happen to me? If I can say yes to that, it’s good. When I feel fear and hope the Shaman or the Ayahuasca will save me, I should probably not take it as I am giving into fear.

The Power To Follow My Creativity

In complete silence we begin to paint with colored sand a Yantra on the ground in front of the yoga room. Birthed in complete spontaneity. Do I want to change the elements of another painter? If so, I have to do it without asking permission. Some start off assertively, others remain hesitant and some don’t dare at all to draw anything. Since there are those who are very artistic and meticulous in their
own world, they can paint without feeling much pressure. Meanwhile, another one cries because she is afraid to do something wrong, or bother the artists.

At some point she takes courage and begins drawing small signs on the outer edge. Small rays are created which connect the Yantra with flowers. After a while, she is immersed and there are no more thoughts about right or wrong; she’s part of the creative flow. An hour later, we look at the art we have created; we feel touched and fascinated.
In the next few hours the Yantra will disintegrate. The colored sand will fly away with the wind, the dogs will wipe off the picture with their wagging tails. Do not attach, have trust that you can unfold and be creative in every moment.

Power Over Matter

“If I’m spiritual I don’t need anything. Especially no ‘dirty’ money,” says the old yogi who dominates every asana but is always worried about money.
I am going to tell the story of a Baba, the leader of one of four spiritual lines which are founded directly from Shiva. He is a Sadhu: he has long dreadlocks and dresses only in white ashes. He has spent years meditating in the Himalayas.
Short before the Kumbh-Mela, the biggest meeting of the Sadhus at the shore of the Ganges; I was his guest at his home. He was worried: his task was to show that he had mastery over matter. He had to to raise enough money to be able to entertain and host 1000 people during the festival, and even give them money to take back as a gift. Through this he would prove his freedom and control over matter. It was only four weeks before the big event- where would he get the money? He tried everything. He even tried getting money through online calls and on social media: nothing. When I saw him on the Kumbh-Mela and met him in his tent, he was ecstatic. He had a wonderful banquet with more than 1000 men and women that were being hosted.

“How did you managed to raise enough money?” I asked him.

“As soon as you left, just one day later, a limousine parked in front of my house. A man knocked and asked if Baba lived here. Then he went back to the car, got a suitcase and gave it to me and promptly left again. When I opened the suitcase it was full of money. It had the exact amount I needed.”

One of the yoginis laughed: “That happened during the training as well. I desperately wanted to do the 500 hours training to get the ‘Advanced Yoga Teacher’ title but I didn’t have enough money. Yet, I felt so connected that without having the money I still said yes and extended my training. You won’t believe it: a week afterwards I received a completely unexpected tax refund.”

The Power To Let My Own Importance Go

The final performance of the Heyoka or of the shamanic clown is an intensive work with feelings of non-attachment. A manager that had been in business for years had been reluctant to participate for weeks in the classes. He was ready to leave in the morning: ‘he still had so much to do’, but something in his heart changed and he ended up staying in for the class. Whilst he was doing his own scene, he was
cramped and annoyed. Afterwards, came the the woman’s scene and he had to play her partner in the game.

Suddenly, the transformation began to unravel before our eyes – he had forgotten all about himself. He became incredibly funny and he stopped taking himself so seriously. We laughed and laughed until tears filled our eyes. What a beautiful moment it is to be able to watch a human being come into his or her power.

Later the woman said: “I was terrified that he would leave me hanging. That’s what I’ve been accustomed to since my childhood, accustomed to men leaving when times get rough. Thank you, that healed a big wound.”

He responded: “I wanted to run away – but then I knew I’d be doing what I always do. So I stayed, and it feels wonderful.”

Iris Disse is a Yoga teacher, journalist, theatre-radio director and filmmaker. She is the catalyst for Durga ́ s Tiger School ® in Ecuador, a transformative energy composition of Yoga, Tantra, Arts and Shamanism. She is a teacher of Tantra Yoga and Sacred Sexuality at international festivals, universities and workshops, and is a renowned filmmaker. Her documentaries and films reflect the social reality of the indigenous people. Until 1995, Iris was a well-known German television and theatre actress. As a director, she performed in Berlin, Hamburg Zürich and Vienna; Mexico City; Buenos Aires; St. Petersburg; Budapest. She is also an award-winning sound artist. Until today she is producing radio-dramas for the RBB, Radio Berlin Brandenburg.

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