Tantra as a Pathway to Expanded Enlightened-Awareness: A Shedding of Layers

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Tantra as a Pathway to Expanded Enlightened-Awareness: A Shedding of Layers

By Goddess Asha (Northbrook/Chicago, IL)

Enlightenment itself is not a goal or something to be reached; it is a process-oriented way of becoming more of who we already are. It is a journey to our most authentic self. Tantra enables us to embrace our true nature and to peel away the layers, if you will, to our ‘home coming.’ It all begins and ends with you…let me explain.
In Sanskrit the physical body or ‘sheath’ is called the Anna Maya Kosha which is essentially what we are made of: 70% water and the rest bones, muscles, organs, you get the idea. What we ingest or consume ultimately consumes us. Therefore we are affected by the food and beverages we take in as well as other environmental factors and stressors. We become especially tuned into our physical nature when we experience pain, which is stress manifested in its’ physical form. That is our intuition speaking to us through our human instrument of a body. By giving ourselves proper care in adequate rest and relaxation techniques such as massage, restorative stretching and proper exercise, we can help to re-store our frame into its most supple form. In this beginning stage of relaxation, we allow for the energy to move upward through the limbs and into our lower energy (chakra) centers. The sacrum, or our sacred storage, is thought of as our storehouse for the kundalini energy. This is where we get ‘our engines started,’ so-to-speak. In order to liberate ourselves from the restraints of the physical body, we can contract and then relax it in a way that frees up the space for the energy to do what it needs to do.
The next layer to peel away then is the energy body, or the Prana Maya Kosha. You may have heard it referenced as chi or qi or even our ‘aura’ emanating from within. Without fuel you cannot get your car to run. The same holds true for the body and mind, which is why prana is often viewed as ‘the vital life force’. This energy can be seen as the breath, with the breath simply being the communicator between the body and mind. The yogis say that one who controls the breath also controls the mind. In tantric practices we utilize the breath as a powerful yet subtle way to release bodily- tension and calm the mind. We are metaphorically letting go so as to allow for new breath and new life to take shape or form. The first and last thing we do when we enter and exit this world is breathe. As the breath creates that pathway for us to ‘settle in,’ we can then move a little deeper into the next layer.

The Mano Maya Kosha then is where we have finally ‘come to our senses,’ where our thoughts and feelings have come alive, through our sense of home. This is where we really get to know ourselves through our likes and dislikes and discover our personal boundaries, guided by our sense-forms. Our pain can run much deeper here in the form of our memories within the mind and senses. Have you ever wondered why you keep injuring the same area of the body or why you seem to get a similar sickness around the same time of year? It is no coincidence my friend. It can become en-lighten-ing to discover where your heaviness lies, where your ‘heaviest’ thoughts and feelings have manifest. We can access these areas again with the breath in a way that allows us to then let go of any of our emotional attachments or holdings. As we release these so-called attachments, we inevitably feel lighter.

Then we enter into a body of higher wisdom, or the Vijnana Maya Kosha. It’s that feeling of knowing without a shred of doubt. The challenge here is learning to trust that inner-guidance system and to listen to our own hearts, more over what we hear or read from outside sources. When we have come to think for ourselves, independent of our environment, we become more whole and self-fulfilled and self-sufficient. We have all of the answers already inside of us. We just need to be willing to go that deep. This is where we can access those subtle messages that are meant for our guidance, and this can be made possible when we have totally relaxed the mind and body and let them take a break. This can almost feel like we are ‘outside of the body and mind looking in,’ acting as an unattached witness or peaceful observer. Our prejudices and biases melt away as we come to a more non-dualistic way of thinking where we don’t judge our experiences as either good our bad, or right or wrong. We take everything in as it is, at its rawest form. Very little energy is required and used to do this; it’s like we are running on auto-pilot. We become more open, and this awareness is what brings us deeper into that knowingness of pure joy.

The last sheath is the body of joy, Ananda Maya Kosha, our most vulnerable and intimate state of being. This is where we reach that still and quiet place within where everything else just disappears, including time and space. Where we have come to the end of the tunnel only to find that the light was the tunnel all along, bathing in the light-body that we are to its’ greatest capacity. Coming to an understanding that the energy within is also all around and that there is in fact no separation, only the illusion of separateness. The entire universe is with-in, and therefore we can never be with-out.
Tantra allows for this awakening to be made possible. It gives us a taste of this state of bliss. It is through the body, the mind, the breath, the senses, and heart of intuition that we can en-lighten ourselves to our highest form, not in spite of. In Tantra we embrace everything and exclude nothing. The potential is limitless.

Love & Light,
Goddess Asha

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