Dancing remains my fullest teacher. dance dancer yoga tantra touch open vulnerable brave inviting
I was chatting with a Vedic astrologer recently who told me that in classical Indian astrology, Enlightenment and Sexual Union occupy the same spot in a person’s birth chart. Astrology isn’t really my thing but I was intrigued by this. It makes complete sense to me.
For centuries the pursuit of Enlightenment has so often been taught as a movement away from the flesh; a giving up of earthly pleasure for the fruit of Spirit. This has never made sense to me for one very simple reason.
Everyone has a body.
There probably are infinite paths to Enlightenment with infinite ways in which we can configure our relationship with the flesh. But there must be a relationship with the flesh because….everyone has a body.
Enlightenment is a physiological matter. But the understanding of Vedic astrology goes further than acknowledging the body in relation to spiritual pursuit. It specifically associates Erotic Pleasure with Enlightenment. I started to think about why this is and realised that the Sanskrit words are interesting in this regard. Vedic Astrology uses the word ‘moksha’ for Enlightenment and ‘mithuna’ for Sexual Union. Moksha literally means ‘liberation’ or ‘freedom’; ‘mithuna’ means ‘pairing’ or ‘sexual union’. Shared erotic pleasure takes us beyond the duality of pleasure-pain to a pleasure of Being that is more elusive and ethereal – rather like Enlightenment. Sharing erotic pleasure also takes us out of the mundane experience of, “I have a body,” and into the out-of-the-ordinary experience, “I am my body,” or even, “My body is I.”
Many people know experientially or intuitively that the pleasure experienced in sex is a taste of Being; a taste of something beyond their mundane experience. Sex liberates us (moksha) from the mundane.
Enlightenment is an erotic matter.
Breath control is one of the main practices in yoga. When you breathe up and down the spine (into each chakra) you are meant to breathe deeply. The classical texts on yoga are clear that the lungs should be filled and emptied.
But there are times when my body doesn’t want to breathe deeply. It almost hurts to breathe deeply. So I don’t. I allow my breath to be shallow.
If deep breath takes you into deep meditation, does shallow breathing take you into shallow meditation? I don’t know.
Shallow breathing is that it makes me pay keen attention to my body. The slightest over-expansion on my lungs feels uncomfortable. To stay comfortable – and comfort is essential for good meditation – I have to stay tuned into my body.
The restricted movement of my lungs diffuses my attention into my flesh. Not just any attention, but tender attention – making sure that each breath caresses my lungs and doesn’t push against them.
Deep breathing, deep meditation. Shallow breathing, tender meditation.
I’m often told that for yoga and meditation to be effective, you need to do it every day.
‘Be disciplined,’ I’m told.
‘How dull,’ I think.
My wayward body finds sacred stillness in its own breath. No need for imposed discipline. I don’t know if my meditation would be deeper if I made it a daily habit. But I’ve no desire to find out.
The body’s way is enough for me.
When I do sit down, cross legged to meditate, its easy and fun. I expect that takes me into a pretty deep state.
Recently I’ve been creating and sharing a lot of content on different online platforms. Last night I became aware of the double feeling of eloquence and vulnerability. The throat chakra is the space of expressing self in the world.
I took this selfie. The contours of my throat – strong muscles, vulnerable dip – embodied the dual feeling of eloquence and exposure.