Have you ever struggled with balancing your need for inner peace and wild passion? Although opposites, these two energies are actually complementary. One is the pathway to the other.
Many of you know that I love to ride my bike. Each Spring it takes me at least six weeks to get back into shape after not riding for the winter. But this year, in one of my meditations, I had the insight that if I trained indoors over the winter, my spring training would be much easier, and I would be able to retain the strength that I built up the previous season.
However, I didn’t think that I would have time to meditate if I added training on my bike. What I discovered is that I did have time to meditate, and my meditation helped me to stay focused on why I wanted to ride my trainer. Since I started riding outdoors again, my speed skyrocketed in just one week to the level of my riding at the end of last season! Peacefulness supported my wildness.
Śānta means peace, serenity, safety, and a deep sense of groundedness. Śṛṅgāra means passion, sensuality, wildness, and erotic love.
Both are two of the Nava (9) Rasas (divine tastes, flavors of experience). Śānta and Śṛṅgāra act like “bookends” for the other seven Rasas (Hasya-lightheartedness, Adbhuta-wonder, Raudra-furious, Vira-heroic, Karuna-compassion, Bibhatsa-gruesome, Bhayanaka-fearsome.
They are bookends because they provide the boundaries within which all of the other rasas emerge. Śānta is like the earth which provides the boundary of stability, security, and stillness, while Śṛṅgāra is like the sky with its vastness, freedom, and unboundedness.
So many people are checked out of life today. They lack the feeling of connection to others and to life. They simply go through the motions of existence without registering the experience of anything at all. It’s like eating without really tasting the food, listening without being present, or doing yoga without really enjoying the poses.
As yogis, we’re not interested in mere existence. We want more. We want to thrive, to live to the fullest, to love to the fullest.
One of my teachers, Douglas Brooks, says that everyone wants two things, and they want them at the same time – love and peace. Using a color analogy, love and peace are the primary colors and the other seven colors come from these two. The world is constantly offering an array of experiences. It “paints” an experience of itself such that you can taste it.
The question is, are you savoring the world? Are you open to the full spectrum of your emotional experience? Or are you merely going through the motions of your life just to get by?
Śṛṅgāra is the real heart of the Rasas since all Rasa is desire, the urge to merge, to express, to experience life fully. Śānta represents security, the basics, the predictable. The universe is so ordered that it must start with Śānta. Yet, it’s not one before the other. It’s one with the other. Too much Śṛṅgāra and you get whacky. You feel really good, but you are not grounded - not enough Śānta, not enough clarity. Too much Śānta, life becomes routine, monotonous, and boredom sets in. Not enough Śṛṅgāra, not enough passion.
The goal of Tantra Yoga is to find the balance of all of your experiences. when you have harmony among all of the Rasas, you have Dhvani – resonance and alignment. When you are present with all of the Rasas, the gestalt happens. This is the fulfillment of consciousness.
May you find the balance of peacefulness and passion in your life and thrive with fulfillment and joy! I look forward to seeing you on the mat!
Todd and the Ashaya Yoga Team