BY SWAMI CHETANANANDA
We realize our best self, our finest self, and our most extraordinary life through the practice of yoga, which I describe as “Contact, Alignment and Flow.” To make Contact is to quiet our mind and bring our attention, first to ourself: to our heart, to the chakras, to the essence of what this body is, which is creative energy, and to begin to feel the structures, the energetic structures within us—the chakras and channels, and to create a Flow within ourselves. Contact is giving the structures of our own creative energy our full attention, so that our mind is not dragging us all around the block, and experiencing the circulation of the energy inside us. We experience it first in its grossest form, as the breath, and then as Prana, Citta, and Para Kundalini.
Yoga also means “Contact, Alignment and Flow” in the field of our life, with our families, with our loved ones, and whatever work it is that we have been called to do in this world. With an attitude of service, we establish Contact among ourselves, and an Alignment and Flow that establishes, sustains and grows our connections, the energy that extends from us through the whole field of our life. So there is Contact, Alignment and Flow inside, and Contact, Alignment and Flow outside.
The esoteric or Kashmirian Shaiva traditions are the bigger context in which Kundalini yoga is the main practice. They teach that the entire world is Consciousness, which is autonomous and beautiful and vibrant, expressing itself as respiratory process in the three dimensions through 36 layers called the tattvas. In recent times, paradoxes that are well-documented in the domain of experimental physics have led scientists to think that space and time don’t really exist--that they are actually projections of the mind. There’s no space and no time. This is basically the same as the teaching of the esoteric or Shakta Shaiva traditions.
So, everything is Consciousness, and even the appearance of space and time are structures that have no reality on their own. They are in fact just a way in which Consciousness demonstrates its vibrancy. Think of the whole world as the aurora borealis—an explosion of photons, curtains of light. That means that, instead of trying to figure out what’s going on around us, we need to look ever more deeply within ourselves. Then the whole process of Contact, Alignment and Flow is the dissolution of each of the layers of tattvas, so that we can be established in the experience of beauty within ourselves. Transforming the whole structure of our brain and our awareness, we discover endless joyfulness, endless love, and endless possibility present inside us always. After a while, through our practice, we become established in an experience, an understanding of our life that is wholly positive.
This experience doesn’t come about because we have been reading Facebook a lot and are established in all the euphemisms and all the kind of affirmations that we find in our Newsfeed. It isn’t like this at all. Contact, Alignment and Flow bring us to an experience that is wholly positive, that facilitates evermore increasing Contact, Alignment and Flow, and reveals to us, from within ourself, the ultimate reality of our own Consciousness. The Consciousness that is us is also the entirety of the universe and, residing in that experience, we have the possibility of discovering our own autonomy and imagining for ourselves whatever experience it is that we want to have—whatever experience it is that is appropriate to our accomplishing our final aim.
When we have accomplished the siddhi, then we can accomplish liberation. At that point we have dissolved all the disappointments of our ancestors, melted every tension with the Flow, and become so completely filled with love and joy that all this insanity in the world can’t reach us anymore and, when we leave this body, we are free. We never come back here.
I used to just focus on the fact that the visualization practices taught among the Tantric traditions were a good way to get people who had nothing to do to spend a whole lot of time doing practice. Recently, I’ve come to understand visualization practice in completely different way. I’ve discovered that visualization practice is a way of reaching the deep structures of our brain and changing them to begin to see our own Consciousness at work, transforming our life. Experiencing that power happening in us constantly transforming our life, we can shift our attention from all of the external circumstances, and we can begin to appreciate that everything external is actually internal. Holding the space of beauty that is the second quality of pure awareness (freedom is the first), we can begin to observe the power of the autonomy of Consciousness Itself, doing its work and transforming this field. We can experience it to the degree that we dissolve ourselves in happiness and that’s the end of the story. We ride off into the cosmic sunset…hallelujah! So, here you have encapsulated, in one blog post, 2,000 years of Tantric tradition and practice. It’s just about all you really, really need to know.