“It’s called enlightenment. It’s nothing more or less than seeing things as they are rather than as we wish or believe them to be. — Buddhism Plain and Simple, Steve Hagan
This weekend I am serving as a mentor for people who are trying out Tantra for the first time. It’s a really nice experience for me to serve as their guide into a practice that I find so rich. Some people are nervous and intimidated and too afraid to ask questions, sure that everyone else is much more comfortable than they are. Others are excited and assertive, secure in the knowledge that they “know” what they are doing.
Both mindsets are totally natural, and we all probably have a bit of both. And it is also good to see how both mindsets can work against you. If you are certain you are doing it wrong, then you reject your experience because it is not the one you think you should be having. If you are certain you are doing it right, then you cling to your experience and don’t allow it to shift or grow. Both mindsets also make you feel separate from others, either inferior or superior to them.
The best mindset is actually very childlike. You know nothing and that’s wonderful! You have no expectations. You accept whatever comes up on it’s own terms because you have no filters or templates to judge it against. And because you have no resistances, you feel the actual experience you are having much more vibrantly. In Tantra, our senses are the gateway to higher levels of consciousness. When we touch life directly, we enter into the fullness of the present moment.
So I feel like my job as a mentor is in large part to drive home the point that there is absolutely no right and no wrong way to experience Tantra. The only question is how fully you can accept whatever is happening. What does it really feel like to feel nothing, to feel ashamed, to feel turned on, to feel frustrated? Go beyond the label and explore what it feels like in your body. .
I am working with this too. Sometimes when we are doing the exercises, I find I am more concerned with whether I am doing it right or wrong than with just directly experiencing. When I remember to stop judging, I become engaged again. Life is happening! I am alive! I get out of my head, catch “traction”, and feel the energy awaken in my body.
And of course, this lesson extends beyond Tantra workshops, to life in general. As I move back into a regular routine after my travels, I acutely sense how hard it is to stay awake and sensitized in modern life. Practicing Tantra reminds me that to approach everyday with a bit more wonder, a bit more lightheartedness, and to stay present for whatever comes up.