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How to Practice Tantra

Shiva lingam puja
October 4 2008

Tantra begins and ends with using your innate capacities and natural longing to turn toward following wisdom.

First, establish naturalness in the rhythms of your everyday life by following the guidelines of Ayurveda. The practice of dinacharya, described in detail on the Ayurveda Practice page, is the key. Second, learn about and follow the dietary guidelines for your constitution and for the changing seasons. Finally, establish an appropriate movement practice. These are the absolute, bedrock foundation of Tantrik practice. If you do just these things and nothing else, you will experience a profound shift in your life. Your tensions will dissolve. Your relationships will improve. Your body will feel totally different. You will discover something of your real nature, and doing so is the sole purpose of human life.

Find a qualified teacher. How do you find a qualified teacher? Attend satsangs and other teachings given by teachers you think might be the real thing. Read about the traditions that interest you. Scour the Internet. Ask anyone you respect who might know. If no teacher is to be found immediately, you can consult the books of qualified teachers, such as Swami Satyananda Saraswati, and start some of the beginning practices given there. The single most important think you can do is to cultivate the desire for a teacher. Cultivating the desire to be taught will prepare you for meeting a teacher. In fact, that desire and its cultivation will be a teacher, stripping away overblown self-concept and helping you to discover your true purpose in life.

Persevere. Do not give up, even if you become discouraged. This is also turning toward Nature. This will also teach you.

Once having found a teacher, follow that teacher’s instructions. Don’t keep seeking elsewhere. Relax and surrender to the process of unfolding under good guidance.

If you are practicing Ayurveda, doing appropriate movement, attending satsang, cultivating your desire for a teacher and learning about the tradition through study—guess what? You are already practicing! This is called “integrated practice.” You are practicing with your real circumstance in your everyday life. Congratulations!

Understand fully that doing some special practice while seated on a meditation cushion (or as some imagine, while lying in a bed!) and then carrying on as usual in your everyday life is in no way Tantrik practice. There is no such thing as Tantra without integrated practice based on the daily precepts of Ayurveda.

Begin a seated practice. If you have established your daily routine along the lines suggested above, it is perfectly fine to begin a seated practice based on the written instructions of highly qualified teachers such as Anandamayi Ma.

For instance, it is perfectly fine to begin a mantra practice using universal mantras such as OM, OM MA, OM NAMA SHIVAYA, and OM NAMO NARAYANI. These mantras are recommended until you find a teacher, or forever.

No person who does not already have a high level of accomplishment can really know what is beneficial for herself or other beings. You just can’t figure life out using your intellect or “common sense.” You must practice, fully practice, in every aspect of your life and discover what is truly beneficial by directly experiencing it. This is one of the main reasons why following the guidelines of an accomplished teacher is key. What I have shared with you here is exactly what I have been taught by my teachers and have realized in my own life through diligent practice.

In Ma’s love,

Shambhavi