What Is Family Constellations

What is Family Constellations
Family Constellations is a psycho-dynamic, somatic, and spiritual approach to resolving current problems by looking into family systems and ancestral lines. It explores hidden trans-generational family dynamics, traumas, secrets, and exclusions that can cause emotional entanglements and disruptive attachment patterns. The approach reveals how we carry our parents’ emotional burdens that often began generations before. Family Constellations takes us on a journey of handing back responsibility for emotional issues that did not begin with us, yet simultaneously honours our parents and ancestors for the life given to us through them. The healing process requires us to drop deeply into our bodies, and to notice what sensations arise, so that the body does the talking and not the rational, discursive mind. Family Constellation work requires us to put aside the conditioned narrative we have about our life and to enter the experience with a sense of openness and curiosity. It takes us to the core of an issue and for some, can rapidly resolve long held difficulties and traumas.

How does Family Constellations work?
Family Constellations are traditionally facilitated within a group workshop. They can also be facilitated in individual one-on-one sessions.
In a workshop, the Family Constellation facilitator creates an open space for whatever needs to come out to come out. If you are having your issue constellated, the facilitator will ask you to briefly describe an issue that is impacting you the most right now. The clearer you are about the issue, the deeper the constellation will go. The facilitator will then ask you to give some information about your current family, family of origin (parents) and both maternal and paternal grandparents. You will be asked about any major traumas in you family line such as death, divorce, migration, war, pregnancy loss and abuse. From the information you have given, the facilitator will decide who will be represented in your constellation.
You will be asked to choose people to represent both your family members and your issue. For example if your  current issue is depression, the facilitator will ask you to chose a person to represent yourself, your mother, father, possibly grandparents and depression. You will then be asked to place those people and issue in relationship to yourself. These people are referred to as representatives. The facilitator will then guide the constellation based on feedback given by representatives on what they are feeling in the form of sensations in their body. You will then view your constellation unfold through the representatives. You will be asked to join the constellation when either you feel compelled to or when the facilitator thinks it’s appropriate for you to be included. You can choose to observe the entire constellation, however, it is a more powerful experience when you become part of it.
Individual Sessions
In individual sessions, you will use pieces of felt material to represent your family members and issue. The facilitator will ask you to place these on the floor in relationship to yourself and then you will be asked to step onto the pieces of felt material and nice what sensations arise in your body and how you feel. At times, the facilitator may also act as a representative. The whole constellation then unfolds according to what you are feeling and sensing in your body.

Am I ready for Family Constellation work?
Family Constellations can invoke intense psycho-emotional and somatic experiences, which for some, can be overwhelming. In particular, this can be the case for those people who have never engaged in any psycho-emotional, therapy, and/or somatic or spiritual healing techniques.
The strong sensations that can arise in the body can be triggering and overwhelming, as these are the physiological response to the emotional experience. This can sometimes induce deep sobbing, which can be a scary experience for some.

You may not be ready for Family Constellation work if:
-You have unacknowledged traumas or feelings about your parents, children or other family members
-Have never had your feelings validated
-Have never had the opportunity to express your story in a safe and self-reflective space
-You are easily emotionally overwhelmed and find it difficult to regulate your emotions during moments of intensity

What can it help me with?
Family Constellations works differently for everyone, but there are some common shifts that people can experience such as:
-Gaining insight into unspoken family trauma
-Gaining insight into the emotional impacts of your parents own childhood
-Expressing unspoken emotions
-Feeling your suppressed emotions
-Being released from family ‘dramas’
-Understanding how your unmet emotional needs affect your parenting and impact your children
-Accepting that sometimes, we do treat each of our children differently
-Expressing held back grief and loss as a result of a death
-Revealing how we live out our parents’ unmet desires and dreams and repress our own
-Recognise the cycle of abuse in our ancestral lines

What can it help me with?
Family Constellations works differently for everyone, but there are some common shifts that people can experience such as:
-Gaining insight into unspoken family trauma
-Gaining insight into the emotional impacts of your parents own childhood
-Expressing unspoken emotions
-Feeling your suppressed emotions
-Being released from family ‘dramas’
-Understanding how your unmet emotional needs affect your parenting and impact your children
-Accepting that sometimes, we do treat each of our children differently
-Expressing held back grief and loss as a result of a death
-Revealing how we live out our parents’ unmet desires and dreams and repress our own
-Recognise the cycle of abuse in our ancestral lines

Although Family Constellations is a brief therapeutic intervention, it is by no means a quick and only fix to long held trauma, emotional wounds and unmet needs.
It may take months, a year or many for the full effect of your constellation to unfold. Every person’s experience is different and depends on their own previous engagement in healing, as well as the level of validation received for their emotions. And the hardest and most fundamental one of all, is a person’t readiness to fully accept their parent’s emotions and parenting limitations. Perhaps even, what they so desperately needed but did not receive from their parents- emotional attunement, regulation and care.
Shifts you may notice include:
-Less emotional reactivity when interacting or triggered by family members that the constellation focussed on
-Ability to pause before responding when in the midst of an emotional reaction
-Ability to step back emotionally when feeling responsible for loved ones, including parents, children, partner’s etc.
-A softening towards parents in recognition that they did the best they could with what they had
-Less anger towards parents
-A stronger feeling that “I matter”
-Ability to open to future possibilities, no matter how small they are
-More understanding of your own children
-Accepting responsibility for your own shortcomings


Drawing on Tantrik Teachings during times of difficulty

It is my hope that all of you are managing to draw on yoga for support, healing and hope during this really difficult time. Our country is experiencing utter despair, division, coersion, the stripping of personal choices, censorship and fear and emotions are raging.

The state of tension and recalibration was somewhat released last week, when Mother Earth in Melbourne sent us a timely reminder that no matter how much we try to control outcomes, we are always living in uncertainty. Emotions are high and the path of Tantra has a lot to teach us about how to manage all of these experience with openness and awareness! Now is not the time to let go of your practice, eventough lethargy and heaviness may be reigning over you. 

My heart-teacher reminded me last week in one of our private sessions, that I am a yogini Tantrika and learning to manage my emotions that are currently in over drive is the path and the fruit of Tantrik practice!!! Just re-read that line again and take some time to contemplate it.

The reason that I am here today writing this newsletter is because, no matter how much destruction, censorship, and stripping of personal freedoms that the Tantrikas experienced in India upon the Muslim invasion 1000 years ago, their teachings and practices have survived and are flourshing in far away places like Melbourne!!!!

Here are two things I have been contemplating and grappling with from transmission I have received from my heart teacher this year, and I would be keen to hear how other people would approach them:
1. Transmute Anger (superiority- there are a few expressions of anger) into the higher virtue of essential humility
2. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika: Chapter One Verse 15 states:
“Overeating, exertion, talkativeness, adhering to rules, being in the company of common people and unsteadiness (wavering mind) are the six (causes) which destroy yoga”.

Hari Om Tat Sat


Shiva Sutras

Contemplation from the Siva Sutra’s
The Siva Sutra was revealed to and written down by Vasugupta around 875-925 CE. Vasugupta was not a guru. He was an ordinary man who, through deep devotion and practice, was gifted this divine revelation.

There are 77  sutras and the text, which acts both as pointing out instructions and as view teachings, describes our true nature beyond mind- our Sva Svarupa. The sutrasinspire us to work with the mind and open up its boundaries.

Here is the first verse from the Siva Sutra for you to contemplate!“Caitanyam atma”Caitanyam means: consciousness, intelligence, pure awareness
Atma means: self, self-experience, principle of life, nature, essence, sensation, character

My teacher describes the self  as not being a soul or spirit, an attribute or a thing! The self, he says, is best described as being a capacity or a function of the ultimate that comes through as energy and is not a discrete object. This means, that the individual exists as an emanation of essence (see translation of caitanyam above).

In non-dual Tantra, one of the powers of consciousness is its power for reflective self-awareness.  As an emanation of essence/consciousness, this reflective self-awareness means that we have a knowing in us that something is happening. This self-knowing is extremely important, and is not an action initiated by an individual object towards a subject. Rather, this self-knowing is inherent in the subject and is an integral aspect of it. Given that the atman is not an attribute, then this is what makes our atman not a discrete object. And, my teacher goes on to explain that this verse is what destroys any sense of an ego!….phew…..this takes a lot of contemplation and some basic understanding of the view of non-dual Tantra to really understand. So I encourage you to sit with this verse and use it to contemplate in your meditation practice!

“Consciousness is my self” “
Consciousness is my essence”
“Consciousness is the principle of life”
“All we have and are is awareness”


Mantra Japam

Repeating mantras in yoga is called Mantra Japam. In its literal meaning, mantra translates as an ‘expansion of the mind’ or“a seal of the mind”.
Through repeating ceratin mantras, we can transform the mind from it’s usual discursive (moving from topic to topic without order) ramblings, to the mind of Shiva (in Tantra, Shiva is our essential nature of spacious, expansive equanimity).

In Tantra, we can practice mantra for our own enlightenment and/or to effect our external circumstances. Tantrik mantra practice includes both deity mantras and bija mantras, which we will explore in our monthly satsangs thoughout the year.

You can practice mantra japam with mala beads. I recently purchased a beautiful mala from a wonderful Tantrik Yogini named Kendra. If you are interested in purchasing one, you can contact Kendra through Facebook here:

For now though, here is a way of getting you started in your mantra japam practice:
1. Repeat any public domain mantra (yes there are mantras that should only be given through direct initiation with your Guru/heart teacher), in particular chakras. For example, chant the Maha Mritjunjaya Mantra at the ajna chakra).

2. Using a mala, repeat 108 mantras in the following way:
a. 1-25 out aloud
b. 26-50 whispered
c. 51-75 lip synced
d. 76-108 silent

The first one hundred should be chanted for your own liberation and the last 108 for the benefit of all beings!

When repeating the mantra, really hook your mind onto the mantra and drop into the pure potential (the parashakti) experience of the mantra before it becomes audible sound.

Tat Astu Shivo’ham!


Purifying the 5 elements

Have you ever done an elemental purification practice in yoga, but have never fully understood them? From a non-dual Tantrik perspective, the five elemenst of earth, water, fire, wind and space elements aren’t just aspects experienced in nature. They are considered phasic energies of pure light that press into this world to have visual appearance of reality arise,. And all of this happens within the space of he mind.
What the hell does all this mean????

One of the most pragmatic ways to understand the five elements is to think about the qualities of each and how they are expressing through our emotions and ways of being in the world. When we engage in elemental purification practices, we want to purposefully invoke the karmas of each element so that we can resolve them and transform.
Consider each element in the following way:

EARTH qualities: associated with the continuity of experience and the continuity of awareness, immobility, grounded
Purified earth: stability, persevering, security, confidence in your own psychology
Unpurified earth: subborness, inflexible, holding on to emotions, attachment, close mindedness.

WATER qualities, it is moist and binds things together, it gives cohesiveness.
Purified water: Generosity, compassion, sensuality, nourishment
Unpurified: not strong in conviction, neediness (way too much cohesion), greed and craving

FIRE qualities: Luminous, clarity, dynamism
Purified fire: optimisim, inspiration, enthusiasm, warmth in life, courageous
Unpurified: over ambitious, destructive, always angry, too abrasive, over joyous

WIND qualities: movement, strength, the mover of all elements
Purified wind: Powerful, animate, reciprocal, fast, being able to sense things
Unpurified: anxiety, paranoia, weakness, too much thinking

SPACE qualities: it holds and hosts everything that can arise within it, expansive, undisturbed
Purified space: equonimous, expansive, unconditional
Unpurified: lonely, dissociative, disorientation, confusion


Emotions & Feelings

Part of the trauma processing work that I support clients through in therapy sessions involves helping people understand the difference between feelings and emotions.

Feelings are mental associations and reactions that arise from thoughts. Some times these thoughts are in our conscious or subconscious awareness. Feelings are subjective because they are influenced by our own personal experiences, memories and beliefs unique to us.

Emotions on the other hand are biochemical reactions associated with the nervous system, usually triggered by neurophysiological changes associated with feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Emotions are generally universally experienced. Helping people understand that our emotions can be physically felt and held in our body as a result of trauma is part of the processing work. That’s why I find it important to draw on the wisdom of both psychotherapy and somatic therapy when supporting clients manage the often unmanageable emotions, feelings and sensations. If you are interested in working with me, I have current availability and I am also a registered NDIS provider. I offer a free 30 minute consultation to see if the support I offer is what you looking for. Contact me here:


Nose Breathing

As a yoga practitioner and teacher, I was always taught to breath through the nose during asana. In fact, in our everyday natural state, awake or asleep, we should always breathe through the nose. There are many benefits for nose breathing as opposed to mouth breathing and here’s why.

The nose has an innate immunity and eliminates airway pathogens. When bacteria is inhaled into the nose, exosomes are released that directly attack the pathogens and shuttle the protective anti-microbial proteins from the front of the nose to the back along the airway, protecting other cells before they get too far into the body. So nose breathing can act as an early warning and defence system for the rest of the body.
Did you know that when we mouth breathe pathogens such as dust mites enter the lungs and can live within them for up to three or four months. When breathing in through the nose, the nose can kill these dust mites in just fifteen minutes!

Nose breathing also slows the airflow movement, which comes in through the nose and down in a circular pattern due to the inside shape of the nose. This slow movement is beneficial for the lungs. Lung tissue is sensitive and when cold air comes in through the mouth it can stress and damage it. If lung tissue is damaged it affects the whole nervous system.

Nose breathing allows air to move deeper into the bottom of our lungs due to the vacuum that is created within it. The air is sent deeper into the lungs where there are more alveoli and more efficient air exchange within them. Alveoli are tiny air sacs in your lungs that take up the oxygen you breathe in and keep your body going.

Nose breathing also produces nitric oxide, which is a natural gas of respiration. It is produced in the paranasal sinuses and if you don’t breath through the nose, you aren’t able to take that nitric oxide into the body. Nitric oxide is something that our body needs, and it does a lot of amazing things. Firstly it is a vasodilator, which means that it regulates blood pressure by dilating and opening the arteries. Nitric oxide is also a bronchodilator, meaning that it opens the bronchioles, the little branches in the lungs that allows airflow movement through them. And interestingly, nitric oxide is a neurotransmitter regulator, helping to regulate serotonin, a key hormone that regulates our mood and feelings of well-being, glutamate and GABA. So by breathing through your nose you are:
allowing better blood flow
allowing better air flow
Helps regulate your mood. WOW!!!

And the best bit of all, did you know that humming increases nitric oxide by 15%. No wonder we feel so good after chanting long OM’s and practicing Brahmari pranayama (bumble bee breath)!!!!!!


Feelings & Emotions

Part of the trauma processing work that I support clients through in therapy sessions involves helping people understand the difference between feelings and emotions.
Feelings are mental associations and reactions that arise from thoughts. Some times these thoughts are in our conscious or subconscious awareness. Feelings are subjective because they are influenced by our own personal experiences, memories and beliefs unique to us.
Emotions on the other hand are biochemical reactions associated with the nervous system, usually triggered by neurophysiological changes associated with feelings, thoughts and behaviours. Emotions are generally universally experienced. Helping people understand that our emotions can be physically felt and held in our body as a result of trauma is part of the processing work. That’s why I find it important to draw on the wisdom of both psychotherapy and somatic therapy when supporting clients manage the often unmanageable emotions, feelings and sensations.


The Alchemy of Yoga

Over the last five years deity yoga has been a big part of my sadhana and I have been observing how my relationship to it has gone through different phases.

Kali Ma is the Mother Goddess of transformation, and I know that you are familiar with her. She is that part of you that expresses as that deep primal yearning within you that longs for change, destruction and transformation. Although you don’t know it yet, this deep yearning is your innate desire to truely know who you are beyond all the ego and labels/stories/roles and conditioning attached to your identity.

This deep yearning for transformation is none other than Goddess Kali herself. She is that emanation of consciousness that expresses as powerful transformative and destructive energy/shakti!!!

Your initial awakening to the power of Kali Ma (Mother Kali) of Mahakali (The Great Mother) initially awakens as your desire for change, for something to shift, for something to transform in your life or circumstances. Something may not be working in your relationships, your work, or family and you just know that you have to do something about it. Often you just don’t know how.

But for the sadhaka on the yoga path, and through the power of grace, you become curious about who these Goddess of yoga are, and why deities are so revered. You are thirsty to know more! And so begins your journey with deity yoga!!!

With enough self-reflection, you acknowledge that change is necessary even though it may initial cause pain and suffering! You look to which yoga Goddesses/powers of consciousness you can call on to support and hold you through this destructive stage. So you choose Goddess Kali- a powerful transcendent energy, a mighty force so big and replete. An energy much bigger than you, that could only exist outside of your “tiny, powerless self”. This way of working with deities is a necessary stage because you simply don’t have the personal power or agency to get through this on your own. Your conditioning is just too strong and binding.

As you call on Kali Ma’s power by invoking her through meditations on her form and visualisation of offering all her limitations, inner blocks and fears into the fire of her body, you slowly begins to feel and notice shifts both within and without you.

As Kali Ma’s power ripples either forcefully or gently through your life (she can be experienced as both) those necessary hurtful shifts happen, and you begin to see how new things blossom at the feet of Kali’s destructive and transformative power. These positive changes drive your yearning even deeper and you want to get to know Kali Ma more intimately. So you begin to chant her mantra and offer your prayers as part of your regular sadhana. Wow…now you notice how much your yoga practice has changed…less asana…more meditation…more mantra repetition…..more devotion…. Your yearning becomes so palpable that it is physically felt in the depths of your heart and you begin to wonder if there is something wrong with your physical heart???

As your practice with deity yoga becomes stronger, you begin to realise that the more devotion you give to Kali Ma or any deity, the more you feel held in life and the more your begin to relax and surrender into its embrace. When this transformation happens, people begin to notice and tell you…”you’ve changed”…”you’re different”…. And you know you are, and when this realisation dawns there is no going back. You’ve been drawn into the lure of her embrace and your spiritual practice becomes even more devoted to knowing her.

This is when you notice the third phase of deity yoga and you begin to embody the Goddess herself. You feel Kali Ma’s immanence- that the transformative power lies within you and that all you needed to do was invoke it. The power of destruction and transformation is within your very own being- you are destruction and transformation. And FUCK…when you have an embodied insight/experience of this, even if it’s only for a few seconds or it last for a few days, that deep yearning eases a little. Your perspective on life shifts. You become less fearful of life’s uncertainty and impermanence. You even begin to revel in it!!!! Making decisions is easier, you stop expecting and blaming things on others and you realise that you are the creator of your own reality.

You realise how far you have come in your sadhana and you approach your practice with Kali Ma on a new level…seeking to know more…asking is there more for me to know…..and her lure draws you back to your mat or meditation seat day in and day out, week in and week out, month in and month out, year in and year out….. Then you really begin to question, if I am this powerful force of transformation, what else lies within me….and you question…who or what am I really…..the yearning hasn’t gone away, but multiplied in force. And even though you didn’t know it at the beginning, you really start to get it know and to understand what that deep yearning is all about!

Your sadhana eventually becomes the goal of yoga….knowing your true nature!!!!

This is the alchemy of yoga!!!!


The Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra

I’m deeply indebted to the beautiful work of Christopher Wallis, Tantrika and Sanskrit Scholar for this translation.

The Maha Mrityunjaya is the Death Conquering Mantra
This is a healing mantra for overcoming fear and pain, fear of death or death. It is found in the Rig Veda in the 7th mandala. It is approximately 4000 years old and is one of the oldest mantras in unbroken continuous use throughout the world and as such has accumulated a lot of devotional shakti.
Vedic mantras are also used in Tantra

Om tryambhakam yajamahe
Dugandhim pushtivardhanam
Urvarukamiva bandhanam
Mrytor muksiya m’amrotat

Maha Mritunjaya- is another name for Shiva who was a conqueror of fear. This form of Shiva is also known as Amrtesvara as taught in the Netratantra. It is not a specific form of Shiva from a Vedic point of view, but in the Tantrik lineage it gets associated with Amritesvara- Lord of Nectar. He holds a pot of nectar and his consort is Lakshimi- the Goddess of abundance. This form of Shiva is no longer worshipped.

Tryambhakam- the three-eyed lord- another name for Shiva
Yajamahe- we worship you
Sugandhim- who is fragrant and sweet smelling. This is referring to the fragrance of awake consciousness
Pustivardhanam- he who increases abundance, wellbeing and prosperity
Urvarukam- like a cucumber. This is referring to a cucumber being separated from its vine
Bandhanam- from bondage
Muksiya amritat- liberate us
Together this means: liberate us from bondage like a cucumber separated from its vine (you can’t reattach a cucumber to its vine once it’s picked.)

The Tantrik version includes a couple of bija mantras at the beginning and reads as such:
Om jum sauh tryambhakam yajamahe……..


Psycho-therapy, spirituality & kundalini

When we see ourself through the lens of our wounding, our challenging life experiences and our traumas, it’s hard to progress in our spiritual practice. Now the word trauma all too often gets thrown around very lightly, especially in spiritual circles. In my humble opinion, those that use the word in this sense are generally referring to the the challenges and ups and downs that most of us face in learning to navigate embodiment. When we refer to trauma in this way, we minimise the experience of those who have experienced on-going complex trauma and the deep impacts that these traumatic experiences leave.

Now either way, if we are stuck in seeing the world, people and even our own bodies as an unsafe place, then we will never be able to open up to the possibility of even experiencing the true goal of yoga- the experience of our own essence nature- free of any mental construct, poised in equanimity, peace, the ability to express compassion to self and others, and yes I’m gong to say it-joy!!!

As long as we stay stuck in the limiting stories about ourself and life, the stories that we have about others and even the stories that others have about us, then we inevitably stay stuck in the blame game and self-loathing- two big obstacles on the spiritual path!!!

The inability to look into our deep wounding and stories creates dis-integration of our whole self, and severely limits our capacity to open up to the deeper experience of the real yoga. Understanding how our challenging life experiences and traumas shape our beliefs and actions expands our awareness, which then allows us to see patterns and motivations that keep us stuck in the unintegrated state.

Psycho-therapy or any other form of healing practice that gently guides you to intentionally address these woundings and traumas in a safe way, is absolutely necessary on the spiritual path.

Some of you may be interested to know that in the oral practice tradition of Tantra, as I’m currently studying with Dharma Bodhi, there are two movements of Kundalini…yes two, not one as most people are taught! The first movement of kundalini is called “sva”- meaning self and is a downward movement into “the dark night of the soul”. This is where you go into deep reflection about your life, look at yourself with honesty, face your wounding or traumas and deeply question whether all there is too life is what you currently have?

On the spiritual path, this “dark night of the soul’ is an absolutely necessary path in order to get closer to your essence nature. The downward movement of kundalini hurts- it hurts like hell! And during times like this, you can’t really see yourself and life clearly. That’s why engaging in some time of therapy can be useful. If you want to know if you are progressing on the spiritual path, then observe your self carefully. Notice if there has been any changes in your character. Are you different in some way- big or small? You will notice these changes and other will too!

If you are interested in either generalist psycho-therapy/counselling or are interested in exploring the intersection of traditional psycho-therapy with spirituality and progress on the spiritual path you click the enquire now button.

Shanti, shanti shanti
Peace, peace, peace

[maxbutton id=”1″ url=”” text=”Enquire Now” ] 


Human Suffering according to Patanjali

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
The yoga sutras are based on Sankya philosophy, which is a dualistic philosophy, different to that of non-dual Tantra. This means that unlike Tantra, there are two ultimate and irreducible principles of reality. They are:

1. Purusa– Pure consciousness/ the atman/ the soul/ spirit/true self/ essence nature/boundlessness/existence.

2. Prakriti– material reality. Everything that exists in this manifest world, from your body and mind, to thought, emotions, nature, the universe comes from this principle.

In Patanjala yoga, what causes human suffering is confusing the belief that prakriti (body/mind) reality is part of pursusa/spirit/ consciousness.

Let’s briefly revisit why we as human beings experience suffering. It mainly has to do with the experience of identification, common to all yoga traditions. On a day to day level, most of us identify and understand ourselves to be none other than the mind. We believe we are our thoughts, feelings, emotions and all the roles we play in our life. Our mind has such a tight grip over our experience of ourselves and of reality, that we come to identify ourselves through our mental constructs or states of mind.

The main goal of Patanjali’s system is to bring the mind to a point of stillness that consciousness can clearly see it is completely separate from the mind. In fact Patanjali’s definition of yoga is found in Sutra 1.2

“Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind”
In Sutra 1.5, Patanjali states that there are five categories or changing states of mind, which are either detrimental (klista) or non-detrimental (aklista) to the practice of yoga. These are the vrittis. The vrittis are sensual impressions, thoughts, ideas, cognitions, feelings, activity or mental states. The vrittis constantly pull consciousness away from its own pure nature, channeling it into the realm of prakriti/body mind.

These changing states of mind or vritts are extremely detrimental and are caused by the five klesas. The klesas impede not only our yoga practice, but are what fundamentally causes all our suffering. They are:
1. Ignorance
2. Ego
3. Attachment
4. Aversion
5. Clinging to life

These five klesas are considered detrimental because they are viewed as the seeds of karma. Karma refers to any initial action, whether good or bad and all its subsequent reactions that it produces. According to Sankya philosophy, they can ripen in this life time or they can spill over into the next. This cycle of spilling over into the next life time is called samsara.
Karma, or actions that keep us attached to the external world and forgetful off our true nature is generated by the fluctuations in the mind and these fluctuations are caused by the vritts. So the goal here is to learn to:

1. Know our true or essence nature so that we don’t remain ignorant
2. Stop misidentifying our essence nature with our body and mind. We are not our body and mind- ego
3. Learn not to be overly attached to things and learn to let go of things that keep us away from realising our essence-nature. Unhealthy attachments include the stories we have about ourselves and life that keep us stuck and suffering, the thoughts and beliefs we cling to that don’t serve our own wellbeing and the well-being of all of humanity, letting of of relationships and people that have broken our hearts, letting go of our hurt and anger as well as good experiences in life that we hold on to and want more of and finally letting go of all the obsessiveness we have with material wealth- attachment
4. Learning to face the things that we are avoiding because they are too difficult, too hurtful, too scary, or too triggering. It can even be about avoiding getting into healthy, happy relationships because we are fearful of being vulnerable or getting hurt- aversion
5. Being scared to die and not facing the reality or our own impermanence or holding on to a loved one in an unhealthy way after they have died- clinging to life 
As a side note, Patanjali explicitly states that we don’t necessarily have to believe in a Divine reality or God to realise or essence-nature, but he does say that it does fast track our spiritual journey if we do! Another worthy contemplation!

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Yes Peace, Peace Peace


Human Suffering & The Yogic Perspective

One of my favourite ways to spend my time is to immerse myself in the spiritual teachings and philosophies of yoga. It’s what naturally happens when the heart awakens to the deeper truths of life!  

I think we would all agree that human suffering is something that most of us have tried to understand at some point in life.  Below is a brief outline of what creates human suffering based on classical non-dual Tantrik philosophy. In the Tantrik tradition, there are three aspects of reality that create suffering, referred to as the malas or impurities. 

1. Anava-mala– the impurity of individuality. This relates to the human experience that yoga calls bondage and simply means being stuck in limited identification with the body and mind and with no connection to our original source of existence. In yoga, this source of existence is known by many names such as consciousness, awareness essence-nature, the core of our being, Goddess, God, the heart and ultimate reality. Use whatever term you like, but it is important to note that non-dual Tantra is a theistic philosophy- meaning that they saw this ultimate principle of reality/conscioussness as being innately Divine…hey….they believed in the Goddess/God. To digress a little, most of the Tantrik traditions were worshippers of the Divine Feminine. The tradition that I am the most connected to- the Trika lineage, workshipped Paradevi- the Supreme Goddess!
I recently came across a term to describe this reality or whatever term you prefer,  as boundlessness. I love that so much!!!! Boundlessness….think about it….the true essence of your being is boundlessness. Boundlessness makes me feel so free and powerful- not powerful in a dominant way, but powerful in an unstoppable and unrestricted sense. Your true essence is BOUNDLESSNESS!!

Anava-mala refers to that very deep belief that we are insignificant, incomplete and unworthy. In his book Tantra Illuminated, Christopher Wallis notes that, “This belief is what gets in the way of you revering yourself as divine and as separate from God/Goddess”. 

The original purpose of yoga was to find ways to uproot this belief and the way you could do it was to have a powerful abiding experience of purnata- completeness and fullness. On some level you have all had this experience of purnata- it’s what keeps drawing you back to your yoga mat or meditation seat over and over again!!!

2. Mayiya-mala- the impurity of differentiation. This is the form of ignorance that causes us to see everything and everybody separately from ourselves- me versus you, you versus, them, without seeing the underlying unity of our existence. What you see out there in the world through your conditioned filter and senses is separate and different from you. As Christopher Wallis notes in Tantra Illuminated, “True seeing is seeing all beings within yourself and yourself within all beings”. The capacity to do great things and the capacity to do bad things is present in all of us! When we see an ‘object of perception’ ( an object of perception is any tangible thing we can perceive through our senses as well as intangible thing like our feelings, emotions and thoughts) as separate from ourselves, we suffer. 

3. Karma-mala- impurity of action. This refers to the bondage of karma. This mala is deeply related to the first two malas. The way we see ourselves, others and the world impacts how we relate and how we act in the world. These actions have repercussions that bind us to the cycle of karma. This cycle is also closely related to two of the five klesas of Patanjali Yoga, which we will explore in the next newsletter. Attachment refers to the belief that we need something outside of ourselves to experience purnata- fulfillment. It also relates to the way we cling to things and the inability to let things go- both good and bad things!

Aversion is the other end of the continuum and refers to the belief that we will never experience fulfillment unless we eliminate or avoid certain things. The more we do this, the more extreme our actions become and the more we perpetuate karma. It is impossible to be free of all karma repercussions because we are constantly acting in the world. One solution the Tantrikas came up with to be free of karma-mala was to simply stop being the person to whom the karma applied. This is no easy process and takes commitment, patience and time. The best way Christopher Wallis notes to overcome this mala is to work with it from the root as expressed in the following quote, again from his book, Tantra Illuminated,  “Become thoroughly convinced that there is nothing outside yourself that need be added to make you complete nor is there anything that need be added to make you pure. This profound love and respect for your own being will, if achieved even in part, make it easier for you to perform actions without any selfish grasping motives and thus you will be free from karma”. 

I hope these teachings deeply touch and transform your heart in the same way that they have transformed mine!

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
Yes! Peace, Peace, Peace