Celebrating the Senses:
Portals to Awakening
religious and spiritual traditions teach us to limit, avoid, or transcend
our physical bodies and sensual pleasure in order to meditate, pray,
or connect to spirit. But in Tantra, the path to spirit begins in
the body and embraces our sensory experience.
teaches us to celebrate love, life, and spirit through the windows
of our senses, to awaken our hearts, minds, and bodies to the magic
and ecstasy of each moment. The Tantric approach is to choose with
intention and awareness what brings us pleasure and joy which
ultimately opens the door to a deeper connection with spirit and a
greater sense of aliveness and well-being.
are "sentient" beings (from the Latin sentire, "to
feel"). Life showers over us and through us, and our senses "make
sense" of our experience by filtering and organizing it into
meaningful patterns. Our senses define the very edge of our conscious
experience. As newborns, we float in a realm of intermingling sight,
sound, taste, touch, and especially smell. Life is a textured mystery
awaiting our exploration and discovery. In time we categorize, name,
and often ignore the richness of our sensory input. Our senses connect
us intimately with or distance us from ourselves, the
world around us, and each other.
Tantra, we embrace sensory experience, including erotic and sexual
pleasure, as a sacred meditation. In fact, through our physical senses
we practice reverence for the sacredness of life itself. Many of the
practices and meditations in Tantra teach us to fully experience,
expand, and transform physical pleasure into delight of the heart
and ecstasy of the spirit. We learn to celebrate our bodies as the
temple of the spirit, where even sexual energy is experienced as a
conscious, joyful meditation.
Odier, teacher of the path of Kashmir Shaivite Tantra and author of
Tantric Quest, talks about touching the thirty-six Tattvas,
or universal categories. The first five tattvas are earth, water,
air, ether, and fire. "With all my body I touch the earth. My
hands touch the earth
My heart touches the earth
deeply and my breath is united with the earth
I delight in the
earth, its presence, its energy." In Tantra, the goal is to enter
into our sensory world with this kind of fullness. The so-called "subtle
tattvas" are smell, taste, form, touch, and sound. The tattvas
of perception are the skin, eyes, tongue, nose, and ears. "The
body begins to enjoy the smallest thing. Attention is heightened.
We take in the world's freshness
We open our senses to the plenitude
an apprenticeship in completely restoring our ties to the universe,
beginning with the basic elements and arriving at the divine."
invite you to explore and embrace this sensory playground, alone or
with a friend. As you explore, gather together objects that help you
to experience and enhance each of your senses sensual foods,
luxurious textures, delectable aromas, beautiful and delicate sounds,
and visual delights for your eyes. (With a friend, use a blindfold
for this practice, and be surprised!). Are you willing to fully open
yourself to pleasure? Allow yourself to cultivate the subtlety and
sensitivity of your sensory palate, and discover your world with a
fresh, exciting, and spiritual perspective.
Namaste. And be well!