The word Tantra means expansion or weaving. It is a Sanskrit word, connected to an Eastern Indian spiritual path, Tantra Yoga. The ultimate goal of Tantra Yoga is the Divine Union between the goddess Shakti and god Shiva. Shakti, also called Kundalini, is in the base of the spine. In her form as Kundalini she is seen as a cobra, coiled 3 1 / 2 times, asleep. As Shakti, she is the divine feminine, passionate, strong, an incredibly creative force to be reckoned with.
The Divine Union takes place as the Kundalini snake starts waking up at the base of the spine, gradually uncoiling herself as she rises up the spine. She pierces each chakra in her undulating movement upward, and meets god Shiva, seen as pure consciousness, at the top of the head. Their merging ends the longing for wholeness.
The dance of Shakti and Shiva symbolizes the coming together of the feminine and masculine energies inside a person, as well as the creation of the world.
In Tantric teachings the sexual energy at the base of the spine is seen as the seed of our spirituality. As we fully say yes to our sexual energy, we give it a chance to expand into ecstasy. Having our permission to exist, this energy starts moving up the spine, longing to be met, connecting with the energies in each chakra, creating a rainbow inside and all around us. Finally, it reaches the crown, having grown and matured, to meet its spiritual counterpart, pure consciousness. Form dissolves into formlessness, ecstasy expands into silence. Because we have physical bodies, at some point Shakti must return to the base of the spine to create. Shiva, as pure consciousness, doesn’t know action, yet carries the potential for all action. Shakti is the one who takes this potential, and gives it form in her journey down the spine.
Fear of Feeling
What we allow ourselves to feel is based on our religion, culture, and family. In different cultures the “undesirable” feelings can be different. When we grow up in a culture where feeling anger is not okay, we either repress it or feel guilty each time we express it. Often we make a decision to not express anger, because we have seen how much damage it can cause in the world. Because we don’t know that expressing and feeling anger are not the same, we don’t allow ourselves to feel it, either. When we repress anger, we also repress our fire energy, our spark in life, because that is what is underneath anger. Ultimately, we repress our ecstatic nature. So, by expressing anger we potentially harm others, and by repressing it we potentially harm ourselves. If we see expressing anger and repressing anger as two opposites, we also understand that there is a middle way: to let ourselves feel the anger fully and lean back into and through it until we are in ecstasy. As an intermediary step we can find healthy, non-destructive ways to express it, until we are ready to fully feel it without any need for expression.
Some non-destructive ways are: writing an angry letter that you burn afterwards; imagining that the person or situation you are angry about is the pillow in front of you, and you express the anger to the pillow; stomping your feet while you make faces and sounds, beating a punch bag. The middle way is the tantric way.
We can respond to life this way when we are not afraid of our feelings any more. When we feel what is there, we stop harming ourselves. When we realize that we can feel an emotion without expressing it in hurtful ways, we stop harming others. The feelings, then, become like waves in the ocean or clouds in the sky; they come and they go. If we don’t “do” anything with them, if we just let them be, the energy in the emotion reverts back to its original state, to ecstasy.