We’re incredibly lucky to be working with Zeenat Cameron for our Tantra, Mantra + Meditation // Shiva + Shakti workshop on October 7th at 2:15. Zeenat is a meditation teacher and personal development facilitator, who for the past twenty-five years has studied and practised extensively in the Buddhist, Yoga, and Tantra wisdom traditions.

Can you tell us more about Tantra Yoga?

The word ‘Tantra’ comes from the root ‘Tan’ meaning ‘to expand’. Yoga means ‘unity’. So the idea in Tantra Yoga is that we can expand beyond our usual self-imposed limitations and views, to experience ourselves as intrinsic parts of a much larger, vaster and unified whole. Rather than being a small ‘me’ who is separate from all other beings, and limited in power, awareness and knowing, Tantra says we are never separate from the whole, we are totally interconnected with all of life, and we already have everything we need to be happy and whole inside of us. We simply need to recognise this and to clean our minds of the old patterns that obscure our insight.

Interestingly many of the practices in the mainstream yoga world have their roots in Tantra. Hatha yoga, from which all modern postural yoga schools arise, has its roots in Tantra, as does the idea of the subtle energy body, with its chakras and channels. Mantra is a core practice of the Tantra tradition; as is meditation on the breath and body sensations, and cultivating awareness, which nowadays we call ‘mindfulness’.

Think of it as the yoga of inner transformation, a science of consciousness that uses the interconnection between the body and the mind to help us expand our energy and consciousness, for deep levels of transformation and healing.

In helping us access expanded levels of consciousness, the practices naturally open us to the awakened qualities that reside in all of us, such as our awareness, love, compassion, wisdom and joy.

 

What are the Benefits of Yoga Philosophy and how can this complement someones practice?

 In yoga the word we usually translate as ‘philosophy’ is ‘Darshana’ which can also be translated as ‘viewpoint’ or ‘map’. Yoga philosophy is really a map that guides our yoga practice in the right direction, if you want to climb a mountain you need a map of the landscape. If you want your yoga practice to transform your life and bring you to a place of healing and happiness and balance, you need a map to guide you, so you can understand what you are doing and why. Without the philosophy we can do our yoga postures, and meditate for hours on end, without seeing any results, because we don’t always know what we’re doing!  It describes it detail why our mind is normally so agitated, and teaches us how we can be free of inner conflict and awaken our potential. All of the practices – postures, pranayama, meditation, mantra – arise out of the philosophy as tools to transform this agitated mind, and to experience our potential for conscious awakening.

 

What is a primordial energy?

In this context primordial means the foundation, and the ever-existing, so in other words –  the background forces of the universe which continually create and keep everything in motion and harmony. These energies exist in us as our capacity for awareness, connection and love.

 

If someone has never explored Meditation and Mantra before – what should they expect?

Meditation is really a chance to rest quietly and peacefully with awareness (as opposed to when we’re asleep for example, and not aware), rather than being caught up in tension, thinking and having to ‘do’ things. You’ll be guided in very simply ways to relax your body and mind so you can access that state, for example by focussing gently on the breath and bodily sensations, and returning your attention to them when your mind wanders.

Mantras are simple sounds we repeat quietly to ourselves (no need to do it out loud, in fact they usually work better when we don’t!). By concentrating on the sound as we repeat a mantra, it invokes a certain state of being. Just like hearing a pleasant sound, like bird song or ambient music, can induce a feeling of peace or expansion, mantras can induce positive states.

 

Will there be any physical practice or movement in this workshop?  

There will be a little movement meditation, involving deep belly breathing, and slow simple stretching through the spine, torso and limbs. It’s always good to let the body have a stretch in a meditation class so it can feel happy! You can then either rest and be still, or come into a gentle free flowing dance, depending on what feels right for you. We’ll be guided by music and I’ll offer some body awareness cues to help you. This exercise is called Tandava and it will bring a sense of expansion, spaciousness and relaxation.

 

Will anyone be put on the spot in the session?

Absolutely not, there will be a chance for questions and sharing for those who’d value that, but being quietly in your own space and just listening is also wonderful!  There won’t be interactive practices and also it will be fine to sit something out if you’re not comfortable doing it.

 

How do you feel that your experience as a clinical psychologist lends itself to your teachings?

I’m much more of a Tantra teacher these days than a psychologist, but this background really informs how I work, and how I listen and respond to what arises in the space when I’m with a student or teaching a class. Clinical Psychology and Tantra are both about healing and finding our true wholeness, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Both are about listening to the deep self, being honest about our strengths and weaknesses, and moving fresh into each moment free of the limitations of the pastBoth are about being fulfilled and happy in all aspects of our lives and sharing that generously with others. Yet they approach this in very different ways – Tantra through the practices of inner and outer yoga, and psychology through the therapeutic relationship where we can process our feelings and difficult experiences in a safe, non-judgemental space. I’ve found both work very well together. Psychology offers insights into our different states of mind, and helps us develop a healthy sense of identity for functioning in the world. Tantra yoga takes us beyond the identity into unity with the whole. A rounded person needs to have access to both of these apparent polarities. I’m so glad I studied and practised in psychology as well as in Yoga and Tantra – I feel it helps me help others embrace and move between both of these aspects of our being!

 

What do you consider the definition of spirituality?

In essence I think spirituality is a search for meaning and wholeness, the process of exploring what we need to explore, and experiencing what we need to experience, to feel part of a wider whole beyond the practical demands of our modern lives. We’re all interested in the big questions of Who am I? What is the universe? What is my place in the world? If we explore it through physics we call it science, if through the thinking mind we call it philosophy, if through meditation, yoga or religion we call it spirituality, but it is all looking into the mystery of life.

 

In Tantra we speak of a web of energy, interconnection and intelligence that underpins everything, and that we are all a part of. We call it Shiva, or Absolute Consciousness. From this viewpoint we’re not just our thoughts, feelings and actions, we’re not just our desires and fears – we’re aspects of this cosmic intelligence at play.  To know this and to experience this, is spirituality from the Tantra viewpoint. The realisation that we are one with this ultimate reality heals us. The felt experience of this is happiness, peace, wonder, love, and beauty.

 

Will students learn practices they can use outside of the studio?

Yes, the meditations we will do, you can keep practising at home.  During the session we’ll talk about how to set up the practises so you feel confident to do them.

 

How will this session benefit a student?

You may expect to feel any number of positive states from the practices we’ll explore: maybe energised, playful, and vitalised or calm, balanced, and spacious. Maybe both energised and relaxed. And you’ll have some valuable yoga tools you can keep coming back to, to help you develop these positive states of mind on your own. This may be all you ever need from Tantra yoga. It may be the start of your Tantra journey towards complete liberation from all suffering, called ‘Moksha’ or ‘Enlightenment’. Whichever it is for you is perfect!

 

To book our Tantra, Mantra + Meditation workshop // Shiva + Shakti workshop with Zeenat Cameron on 7th October at 2:15pm, click here.

Zeenat Cameron is teaching on our Teacher Training Course. If you’re interested in becoming a yoga teacher, click here to find out more.

 

Zeenat Cameron Shiva + Shakti

 

 

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