In the second part of the Awakening Heart Intensive with Sianna Sherman, Sianna brought in renowned scholar, author, and professor, Paul Muller-Ortega, Ph.D, to speak about Tantra in the Kashmira Shaiva tradition. Also, included in the mix was Shantala, the sounds of the very talented Benji & Heather Wertheimer and Sean Frenette, to play music during the asana practice. They also lead Kirtan, a call and response mantra sing-along. I have taken many workshops and teacher trainings in the past, but have never experienced the full balance of philosophy, wisdom, asana, mantra and music that I experienced over this one incredible weekend.
Paul Muller-Ortega has a way of relaying information and wisdom through story telling and the use of colorful adjectives and pronouns, contagious enthusiasm and bubbling excitement about the opportunity of living life with a heightened awareness and applying that to practical use in order to live life to the fullest potential. The way he spoke of Tantra from his years of study was like a river of consciousness flowing with positive, insightful, inspirational wisdom and knowledge that makes you want to embrace the path of an awakened heart.
Paul spoke of many things that I want to write about, but for this piece I want to focus on the idea of Satsang. Satsang comes from the Sanskrit, sat – true and sanga – company. It can mean the company of the highest truth, the company of a teacher, or company with an assembly of persons who listen to, talk about, and assimilate the truth. Paul said that in satsang a deep profound concentrated awareness can take place that goes beyond differences and works for the upliftment of the vibratory sphere. Insights and rearrangements can take place in satsang. The experience is mostly vibrational and words are not even necessary. Just a gathering of humans coming together to focus on the highest consciousness. Releasing that which is not worthy and holding us back. Linked to truth, reality, the core, the highest, etc. Satsang is not coming together to argue about what is better, but hearing the conversation between Shiva & Shakti dispensing rays of wisdom. And in doing so sitting closer to the heart of reality. The answer is going within and finding the answers in ourselves. A true teacher empowers the teacher within.
The idea of Satsang is something I have always been drawn to. Being around other people and talking about the larger whole that we are all a part of and the mystery behind it all is something that has always made me feel good and want to be a better person. When I am surrounded by people that are striving to be better people it makes me want to be a better person, as well, and live those higher ideals. More than anything it is the opportunity to be a part of something larger connected to the highest enabling us to be focused on doing the inner work until it’s not work anymore but simply who we are. All aspects of the self, physical, mental, spiritual, & energetic working together in unison fully integrated and combined.
The weekend encompassed the idea of satsang. It was a combination of listening to the lectures and being able to ask questions and get feedback from Paul. Dispersed with that was the physical practice of asana taught by Sianna with her wisdom, guidance and insightful words. In addition there was the soulful, rhythmic, enchanting sounds of Shantala before, during, and after practice. It would speed up and slow down to match the intensity of the poses, and helped get us ready and wind us down. The Kirtan sessions of call and response allowed for some expressiveness and we even got to dance on a night of Kirtan only with Shantala. The balance of all these elements made it easier to absorb all of them. When tired from sitting and listening to the lectures the asana practice allowed us to move in a dynamic way and be more in our bodies while the music allowed us to be more in our hearts. The kirtan and asana practice, both, allowed us to open our minds and hearts and be more receptive to all of the information we were taking in from the teachings of Paul and Sianna.
During and after the weekend I felt like a was vibrating at a different frequency and empowered in a way that words can not express. After getting back to a busy schedule for the past few weeks and reflecting on my notes and the experience of the weekend I am reminded of why I am on this Awakening Heart sadhana journey with the intensive and the entire Yoga Union community. Satsang is a way of being. Being in the company of the highest truth in all its different forms.
At one point Paul asked us to write down a letter to ourselves or a reminder of what we want to remember about ourselves and what makes us who we are. Here is what I wrote…
Build on the foundation you have
Keep expanding and adapting
Keep growing, moving towards more awareness
Keep evolving, learning from the past, visualizing the future
Appreciate the love of those around you
Love those around you
Be there for those around you
Don’t abandon those closest to you for the illusion of freedom
Find freedom in the love of those around you
Don’t look for what you already have somewhere else
See the divine, beauty, magic in the everyday
Live with an attitude of gratitude