One of the most formative moments in my life was in a tantra group in India when our teacher, Radha Luglio, was asked how to open more: to more love, more sexual pleasure, more life. Her answer still rings in me: “I don’t try to open more, instead, I become aware of where I am closed.”
This is completely against how we conceive of things in the West. If something is broken, we want to fix it. If there is something we can’t do, we want to become able to do it. If we can’t speak Spanish, we will take Spanish lessons, or hire a personal trainer because we want to acquire a certain type of body. If we want love, we will read books to acquire knowledge how to get it, or take classes or seminars. We try to force the opening.
But what Radha and the tantra perspective are offering is that all this forcing of the acquisition of skills and knowledge is not necessarily the way. We only need relax and become aware of what is happening in the moment. It is not that there is no love; it is that we are guarded against it. It is not that we need to do something for greater sexual pleasure, it is that it is helpful to notice how we are defended against it. More life equals more openness to how things are, not more forcing of how we want things to be.
When I offer this perspective to clients and ask them to notice where they are holding, they are always able to locate it. I have never met a client who cannot easily notice where in their body it resides. The holding is not usually in our conscious awareness, rather just below the surface.
When we notice where we are holding, we take responsibility for our condition instead of blaming outside factors or other people for why we don’t have more love or sex in our lives. We can take up disciplines such as meditation and bodywork to help us relax into a state of “let go” in our bodies and our lives.
So, right now, notice where you’re holding any tension. Maybe in your shoulders, your neck, your pelvis. You might take a breath and see if it loosens a little, but if it doesn’t, just notice that too. No need to do anything. Just breathe, and become more aware of yourself and the human condition. We are all like this, afraid of more love, more let go, more surrender — the very things we want the most.
© 2014 Catherine Auman This article is an excerpt from Catherine’s book Shortcuts to Mindfulness: 100 Ways to Personal and Spiritual Growth