Welcome to our first Rosehare blog.
Given that most of our workshops and 121 offerings have a Tantric flavour, it makes sense to start this blog ball rolling by giving you a sense of how we understand the nature of Tantra. Before you read any further, we invite you to grab a pen and paper, make yourself comfortable, have a drink to hand, play some ambient music, dim the lighting if it is evening, warm yourself in a sunny part of the room if its daytime. And if it is daytime and it is not sunny, pull on those warm woollies and hunker down under a blanket.
Ready to dive in? Bear with us; this is quite long as far as blogs go but it is a necessary introduction to a complex subject.
Tantra is one of those words like ‘personality’ and ‘soul’ and ‘love’- on the face of it, these are easy words to slap a definition on but, when you start to reflect on exactly what these words signify, you end up with something as not-neat as Jon’s spaghetti dishes and the definition extends beyond a single sentence to a dozen paragraphs. And not only is it hard to pin down but everyone has their own spin on it; ask anyone in Tantraland what Tantra is and they will offer you a different response. The terrain of Tantra is like Europe; a Norwegian sees Europe differently from a Spaniard for reasons of climate, topography, language and culture. There is no ‘typically European’ town or region. In the same way, Tantra hosts different ‘countries’ in terms of emphasis on sexuality, meditation, devotion and a whole host of other ‘geographical’ factors. Beware the countryman who tells you that his or her definition of Tantra is more accurate than the others; this sort of assertion holds no more water than a Scandinavian telling you that the fjord is the defining characteristic of the European coastline.
Which brings us to the view from the land of Rosehare, a demesne of the Paths of Transformation, whose founding father, John Hawken, is one of the planet’s foremost Tantra teachers. In essence, we reflect his teachings.
We invite you to close your eyes for a few moments, take a deep breath and ask yourself; ‘What do I really want from life?
Let the answer come from your belly and your heart… be spontaneous… deny yourself nothing.. give yourself permission to yearn…
Okay, write down your responses.
We are willing to wager that you have a whole list of wants like;
- My soulmate
- The work I love to do earning me squadrillions of megabucks
- Amazing sex
Are we on the same page here?
What all of us essentially desire is to fully embrace life in all of its myriad manifestations, to meet every single moment with all the integrity and joy and compassion which we can muster. Every one of us will have a different take on what this actually looks like, but in essence, this embrace of life, this participation in The Great Dance is what we are here for and what we aspire to do. And whilst everyone is going to dance their own dance, we share and participate in the one vital element that makes our Dance of Life possible.
The more energy we have, the more aliveness, vitality, confidence, curiosity, versatility and downright sexiness we embody. Through the cultivation of our energy, we accumulate the power to transform our dreams into reality. And this is where our single-sentence definition of Tantra comes in…
Tantra is a system whereby my connection to energy is freed-up and intensified so that I may participate in the Dance of Life to my fullest and truest potential.
We will now qualify the terms of this definition and link to other bloggings which will develop this material in more detail. (Please note that this material is in the process of being written and published).
Tantra is a system. We might think of a system here as being a curriculum of structures which involve body movement, breathwork, contemplation, visualisation and wisdom narratives. Tantra is a system which has been around for about 1600 years and originated in India. Like school curricula, it has mutated over time to suit the culture and age in which it is situated.
My connection to energy.. The manifest cosmos is one vast ocean of vibration, waves of energy dancing around and condensing as physical matter; quantum physics has demonstrated this scientifically over the last 100 years whilst Tantrikas (adherents to a Tantric system) have described this truth as a personal experience for sixteen centuries as a result of their insights gained through practising various tantric structures. Energy pervades both horizontally and vertically. The horizontal dimension refers to physical extension; energy is the stuff pervading infinite space. The vertical dimension refers to the bandwidth of subtlety from the densest solid matter to the subtlest vibrations of thought and beyond to what might be termed ‘divinity’, energy manifesting beyond the reach of grosser scientific instruments
In the Tantric frame of reference, my body is energy condensed at the lower end of the vertical scale whilst my mind exists also as a body of energy vibrating at a much higher level (Classical Yoga refers to thought as ‘chitta-vrittis’, a Sanskrit term meaning ‘mind-waves’). Existing at a point midway between the body and mind is an energy known as prana. Human beings are ensheathed by a pranic body which extends beyond the parameters of the physical body whilst existing within it, albeit on a more subtle level; in the same way, a magnetic field extends beyond the physical body of a magnet whilst ‘saturated’ within the magnet itself.
Most people are not able to feel their pranic bodies and Tantric structures are designed to cultivate pranic awareness. When we can do this, we can more effectively harness our own personal power; the more prana to which I am connected through being aware of it, the more alive and energised I will feel. I exist as a body of energy in an infinite sea of energy and Tantra teaches me how to experience this as a phenomenal reality rather than a theoretical construct. As energy I can learn to resonate with the sea of energy around me, to breathe it in and give it back out, to let life flow through me. If, on the other hand, I think of myself as an island separated from the Ocean I am more liable to delimit my aliveness and potentiate a sense of victimisation, a sense that life is somehow against me. ‘Tantric sex’, which we are sure you have heard of, refers to the merging of energy bodies rather than simply physical sex.
Energy is freed up…. Our sense of aliveness is restricted to the extent that we have been traumatised, particularly in our early years. Trauma isolates us. If we have been physically or verbally assaulted, we protect ourselves from further harm by closing down. Physically, we contract our muscles and fascia into lockdown tension, energetically we contract and mentally we freeze into character structures built out of our frame of reference which is shaped through chronic fear and grief. The overall effect of this mechanism is to protect us from further harm, though in doing so, it traps energy.
Much of this frozenness is hidden from conscious awareness in a similar way to that in which we screen off the ambient noise of our ticking clocks and refrigerators; they are so pervasive as to be below the threshold of awareness. We might think of this as material belonging in our shadow.We use contemporary Tantric structures in our Rosehare workshops to release energy trapped through trauma and we are adept at doing this (Jon has practised and taught psychotherapy and yoga for 30 years; Rose has spent an equivalent apprenticeship practising and teaching massage and therapeutic dance).
The result; you get to feel more alive, vibrant, fearless and happy.
Here is a little structure which our teacher John Hawken refers to as ‘The Kindergarden Exercise’.
Lift your right hand in front of your face (not too close) and shake it as vigorously as possible. Shake it and shake it, breathing deeply. Do this for a minute or so.
Now relax the hand. Hold up your left hand. Notice the difference? Note how your right hand might feel like it is wrapped in an ethereal boxing glove?
This might be a first experience of your energy body transcending the skin of your physical body. You can feel it because the shaking intensified the prana and made it available to your perception.
We have many Tantric structures designed to intensify your energy and thus magnify your aliveness and joy. Many of these involve the cultivation and harnessing of sexual energy. We teach that sexual energy is life energy; there really is no difference (see a later blog for more about this) and many of our structures reflect this fact. So we do not advocate sex in our workshops; we raise energy primarily through breathwork. Our workshops and the structures within them are extremely boundried and safe, and clothing is optionalin the more advanced work.
So that I may participate in the Dance of Life… We like the analogy of the dance. Energy dances. A dance has no purpose beyond itself, like play and game, which are also good analogies. Human evolution is one vast Dance, best achieved by living in joy and ease. Traumatised rigidity does not dance so well. When we relax, we begin to allow ourselves to feel and experience our oneness with life and we dance our unique expression of it.
To my fullest and truest potential. Relaxation as we describe it here is not about lying on the couch eating snacks and watching Kath and Kim (a favourite of ours) although that kind of relaxation can be loads of fun. Here we refer to the loosening of muscular tension and the fixed (and often derogatory) beliefs about self, others and world. We relax into the flow, and we are active participants in the sea of energy of which we are an intrinsic part.
Take a look at your piece of paper once more. The things you want out of life.
If these things do not harm yourself, others or the environment, then, as you ease into your flow, you will attain and acquire these things. And perhaps, as you melt into your truer, untraumatized self, your desires change.
Tantra can enable you with the means to self-actualise. Come to our workshops and experience the freedom and the fulness in what we offer. And shop around. There are many very good tantra teachers around. In a sea of energy we are not isolated so there is no competition between us Tantrikas.
Thank you for reading. May your heart remain as open as the sky.