Tantra Yoga School

Small rituals for a joyful life

Do what you want – with consciousness and love: What can support you to find inner clarity and to live your life with joy, personal responsibility and joy of discovery.

Spring in the Alps.

I start walking towards the stream, passing a bee house, a glimmering stone.

The sun is shining. An icy wind blows. The snow is melting in the shallow valley basin. Large, mossy stones lie scattered everywhere under birch trees and bare pines – a rough and gentle magic land. A mighty rock calls. I lie down in its slipstream on the long dry grass, gray from the previous year. Smell the earth. Breathe. I sing into the earth, calling the eagle, my power animal, which had been given to me yesterday by our shaman.

“Aaaii-aaaii,” it echoes across the valley, towards the white jagged mountain range, that stands in the blue sky framing the valley.

I walk on, two crows pointing the way. Where to? I do not know.

Wide curved willows covered with snow – and suddenly a break. I see a rock tower, and soon I am sitting up there, a feeling of security in my aerie. I’m dreaming, looking up at the blue sky, far below a small river winds through the valley.

Then it appears – in large circles an eagle comes flying towards me from the mountains in the south. And then a second one. They circle around each other, slowly rising and falling. Joy. Tears. Wild longing. The world speaks to me of love in freedom.

We are in a yoga teacher training in the Swiss mountains in the traditional village of Guarda. We are looking for effective methods to come into our personal power. We take time and space to feel, to laugh, to cry and to connect with others. We are relearning how simple and powerful it is to have nature as our ally; how it gives expansiveness to our asana practice. And we want to implement what we discover here later in our daily lives.

This is exciting.

We learn through experience, follow Shakti’s meandering, spiraling joy of life to creation, and then use Shiva’s mind to classify what we experience, thus build up theoretical knowledge ourselves first. What do we need to experience and thus understand the tantric commandment: “Do what you want – in consciousness and love”? What do we need to take back the power over our lives – in joy and trust?

Humility and love for myself

We humans are the only living beings who can throw energy into the future and materialize reality. That is powerful. We do it unconsciously or consciously with our thoughts at every moment. When it happens unconsciously, we quickly feel that we are the victims of our fate: “I can’t do anything in this world anyway.” It becomes exciting when it happens consciously: I experience that I am co-creator of my life’s path, together with the “Great Mystery” or “GodMotherFather,” as the indigenous people of Ecuador say. I therefore get to shape my path, I have to learn to make decisions, and to take responsibility for my actions. This I can only do if I confront my fear: “Why am I binge-watching Netflix series after work? Why do I have to go out for a drink now, when I’m actually tired?” I pause, discover a diffuse fear. Now I can face it, can stop, endure, just pay attention to this feeling of fear in my stomach. I often discover that it is strongly based on socially shaped images and assumptions: “If you don’t make it to high school … if you lose your job … if you don’t earn enough money … if you don’t provide for retirement … if you have an accident … if you don’t …” If one is obedient and directs one’s life toward the advertised security in order to find the promised happiness, one feels more fear than before: the security hypnosis has covered up the knowledge of who I am deep down. If I now find the courage to continue to be a silent observer of my fear, it melts away and I am left with a feeling of humility and love for myself. I feel that I am not stumbling around in this world by accident, but that I have a mission.

I live my own life

Now I can shake myself, step out of the dump of conventions. This path circles and winds through unknown landscapes, and adventures await me. I get into storms of crisis, the uncertainty is hardly bearable, again and again I am confronted with the old patterns and habits of thinking.

But I feel that it is my own life, with all its fractures, injuries, joys and adventures, and not a prefabricated “carefree package” that pretends to give me security where there is none. Life is dangerous, death is my companion. Now I dare to make my calling my profession, and open myself to the paradox of being only a human among humans and yet great. What small rituals can help me break out of social hypnosis and into the unknown?

Three magic keys

In the search for powerful knowledge, I discover that this knowledge often wears the cloak of simplicity. It seems too mundane to the searching mind – “It can’t work unless it comes across as a bit complicated and mystical,” it thinks to itself, and doesn’t even try it out.

What I mean by that? On the path of yoga, tantra and all other mystical traditions, it takes only three keys to unlock the gate to a comfortable vibrant life. These mysterious keys are called: breath, sound and movement. The point is to use them consciously: When you’re stuck, check to see if you’re really using all three keys: Am I moving my body in a way that I can feel it? Am I dancing? Am I using my senses? Am I breathing consciously and regularly? Am I using my breath to absorb prana, the energy of life, into my body? Do I make sound? Do I sing, laugh, hum, shout, whisper, sigh? Do I express myself? Am I communicating? You will see that you are not using at least one of the keys.

Time for unstructured experience

In order to embark on this journey into the unknown, I first have to consider myself important enough to give myself time for unstructured new experiences. Emotional and mystical time do not correspond to our linear time. Thus, a time gateway is needed in everyday life in order to cross over into timeless time. How? It’s simple: I schedule a section on my linear time arrow each day for “meandering” time. When I feel “I just don’t have time” or “I can’t take time for spiritual frippery,” I start small, for example, I give myself five minutes each evening before going to bed. To declare my intention, I resolutely take a step forward, while my joined palms also thrust forward. Then I make a swimming motion and clap my hands behind my back with a shout. At that moment I have left everyday life behind me. Now I take a notebook and write down one or two beautiful moments I experienced during the day – moments that were extraordinary. Even on bad days they exist, and it’s interesting to track them down. After two weeks, your perception will have changed.

Time to take off the masks

Now I have brought more moments of well-being into my consciousness – the focus is aligning with beautiful moments. I decide to take a walk in nature once a week. It’s spring, time to take off the masks. Why not incorporate a little ceremony? I could stop by the creek and intently listen to it. To listen consciously is a tantric technique. Or to ask the water to take away in its course everything I no longer need in life.

In the “Nature Walk” I assume that every flower, every stone, every stream, every bird, every tree has consciousness that is connected to my being. The world becomes alive, speaks to me in encounters and symbols. I tune in, meditate for a moment, center myself. I can ask myself a question, then I set out. If I want to be playful with rituals, I take a small flask of liquor and something sweet. That’s what the spirits love, according to the wisdom of the indigenous people.

The world speaks to me

Everything that happens from now on – also what comes to your mind – you take as an answer, as a sign – even if you do not understand it immediately. Your mind may think: “What’s the point of all this, nothing happens to me anyway.” At that moment you hear a hoarse barking behind your back, you turn around and a roebuck jumps away. Now you are fully attentive. There, an eye-catching tree invites you to linger. The Chinese character for tranquility consists of the union of the symbols for tree and man – by chance you saw this in a book yesterday. You become calmer as you ask the tree with a song to welcome you in order to rest leaning while against its trunk. In this moment you can give it a gift – sprinkle it with some liquor and put the chocolate at its root. This act brings you even more in touch, and sets a good energy to ask your question to the tree. Then you let go, breathe consciously. Maybe you have a new project in mind, but you’re still stuck in your old job? “Dream your reality,” the tree says. “That sounds good,” you think, “but how do you do that?” A moment of purposelessness, you enjoy the sun, the cold wind in your face. Then a vision: you see green flames dancing around all the branches of the bare tree; the whole tree seems to dance and laugh. Your heart melts like the snow in spring. You realize: The tree dreams each of its leaf-lengths before they are there.

The adventure of being human

The shadow of human consciousness is pure intelligence. If we decide only out of our head, fear and destruction arise from the feeling of separateness. We can observe this well at the moment – our planet and people are suffering. “It’s the students who are destroying the world,” said an indigenous friend the other day. That hurts.

The light aspect of our consciousness could be called “spiritual clarity”. It is the dance between the intelligence perceived as Shiva power and the Shakti power of introspection and knowledge from the heart, with compassion, the responsibility not only for the family but for our neighbors and the planet, the stone, plant and animal world included. Since we have established connection through our small rituals, this is easy. The “spiritual clarity” is developed to create a life in which we can explore and develop the adventure of our humanity in trust and joy. The three keys breath, sound and movement support us to see that security is not to be found outside, but in ourselves and in the relationship to other people. Once again, the techniques are simple, such as the powerful ritual of the “Talking Stick”: a stick is passed around the circle. The person who has the stick has the word and the undivided attention of the group. Everyone talks “from the heart” about what is on their mind, what is moving them. This little ritual creates a “group heart.” I am convinced and observe during our yoga teacher training that we humans are inherently good. Yes,

more than that, it is healthy for us to share, to live in community, to trust, to cuddle, to take time to communicate, to dance, to sing. To play and laugh with the children. To live our love. To be creatively artistic. Time to empathize; to ask ourselves again and again what really matters – for ourselves, the community, the living planet – and then to develop solutions together. Meditation is also used for decision-making. In meditation we are a channel through which the “Great Mystery” can express itself. It helps us to act out of this connection. We thus learn to deal with our fear differently; it no longer has to express itself in stress, competition, isolation and aggression, but can to warn us when danger threatens. The shaman tells us: “We are all family”, and in the tantric opening ritual “The Eye of Shiva” lovers say to each other, “I honor and respect you as part of myself.”

Translated by:

Stascha Kirchner



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Small rituals for a joyful life

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