Growing up in a repressive culture and being full of fire meant a deep journey into embracing passion for Tantra teacher Shashi Solluna. Here she shares her experiences and some great tips for growing your inner fire.
“Tantra is the hot blood of spiritual practice. It smashes the taboo against unreasonable happiness; a thunderbolt path, swift, joyful, and fierce. There is no authentic Tantra without profound commitment, discipline, courage, and a sense of wild, foolhardy, fearless abandon.” – Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
As a triple fire woman (Aries-Sagittarius -Sagittarius) and a Fire Dragon to boot, one of my life lessons has been that of learning to play with the fire! At its worse, fire can express itself as impatience and a short-fuse temper…but once allowed its unhindered and natural flow, we can fill ourselves with the divine fire known as “passion”.
In my youth I often felt I had been born into the wrong culture. Surely I should be an Italian or Latino woman, part of a culture where fire is revered and celebrated. But no, life placed me in the English home counties in the world of posh and stiff upper lip, where to be passionate and ecstatic…well it just doesn’t wash at Royal Ascot!
As with many of our culture, the fire became a shadow self, expressed only in night clubs, on dance floors under various influences on particular nights…then tucked away in the daylight hours, so that one blends in with the rest of the dispassionate society.
But the trouble is, to suppress fire is a LOT more dangerous than to let it dance free. To hold down one’s passion one must enforce a lot of tension patterns, and like a pressure cooker if that heat ever gets out, all hell breaks loose. Perhaps that is why there is so much anger hidden away behind the closed doors of families and relationships.
Tantra gives us a space to safely explore the energy of fire…to find out what is the relationship between anger and passion.
One of the great models of self exploration that Osho gave us to play with is the camel-lion-child (originally from Nietzsche). The camel is the victim, one who suppresses anger and passion, denies it completely and takes all the emotional load from others. The lion on the other hand lets the anger fly lose, but in burst of chaos and unconsciousness. The transcendence of these two is the child…to become authentic, able to let emotion flow through naturally.
This child-like quality is an essential ingredient of passion. To be truly passionate in life is to be child-like, playful and enthusiastic. Our culture teaches us instead to be “cool”…to become passionate is to lose one’s cool completely! It is better, in eyes of modern popularity, to be sarcastic, aloof and cool.
I’d like to say my first opening to passion was at Osho’s ashram in Pune, but in fact I must attribute this to the cinemas of India! Aged 18 I went to my first Bollywood screening and was amazed to see the audience dancing, singing, cheering, booing, clapping, singing and having a damn good time! One wouldn’t be seen dead having so much fun in an English cinema!
But not long after I found myself at Osho’s ashram and began the path of passionate spirituality. A far, far cry from the protestant churches of my youth (“we are not worthy to gather up crumbs under thine table”), at last a place where devotion is ecstatic and celebrational. And thus I began the task of throwing off the English conditioning chains, and rekindling my passionate nature.
Tantra is one of the few spiritual paths that allows all energies to flow, including the fiery ones. Even the best of the bunch of other spiritual paths seem to have a problem with fire. Anger is the big enemy, yet people are not taught what to do with this strong force.
There are different ways to activate the fire and awaken one’s passion. Three keys are breath, movement and sound.
Air fuels the fire, and breathwork can awaken the fire within. Fast breathing through an open mouth, the belly pumping like bellows, can really activate fire (known appropriately as “breath of fire”). This activates and awakens the whole system. The belly pumping like bellows, brings the flames of passion alive, and clears the dust of up-tightness!
Passion is not associated with stillness! Movement is a huge part of awakening passion. Dance, shaking and movements of release help us to throw off the rigidities that have held our passion in. In particular hip movements are essential. Opening the hips allows lifeforce to flow upwards from the Earth and also helps shift stuck sexual energy. One only has to compare the salsa dancers of the Latino world to the standard nightclub moves of the UK… A simple movement to stir the passions within is hip thrusts, Elvis-style, to some good pumping tunes! Try five minutes in the morning and just see how much more passionate you feel about your day!
Passion is not associated with silence either! Sometimes when passion moves through us we simply cannot help ourselves but to let out a whoop whoop or a cheer! Passionate love-making is known to be one of many delightful sounds, but if we were raised in a quiet and well-behaved way (“nice girls don’t…”) we may suppress our passion by holding in our sound. Sounds can be made during heavy breathwork, shaking, dancing and moving, as we allow ourselves to trust the sounds that naturally want to come.
This big question on the path of passion: what to do with anger?
We all know that to be on the receiving end of someone’s anger can be unpleasant indeed. Yet if we do not want to suppress the fire, what do we do when we feel angry that we do not invade someone else’s space?
Becoming aware of it, we can take this energy and channel it into a practice, combining the above three keys: so shaking, wild dancing, or chakra breathing meditation are all great ways to let the energy flow free without pouring it onto someone else. The trick is to watch anger, see the energy that is there and witness this energy as you consciously give it space to move.
I was once really angry with a lover, but I knew if I shouted at him, he would defend himself and we’d reach point blank. Yet I felt so much inside me, and really wanted to express to him. So I asked if I could dance for him. I put on my most passionate gypsy music, looked into his eyes and danced my rage. As I danced, and he watched, tears began to flow and I found myself moving beyond the story and into pure and deep feeling. To top that I felt him feeling me too, and we moved into a deep, and passionate, heart space.
The moral of the story is: if we can bring consciousness and meditation to any emotion, then it simply becomes pure and natural life force energy.
The other warning to those on the path of awakening the fire is to stay attentive of the energy released. It is possible in any fire practice to over stimulate too quickly, lose one’s ground and discharge the energy. It is really all boy-scout stuff…the best fire is built slowly and mindfully, tempered here and there along the way, and then it may keep burning for a long time! So as you embark on these practices, watch to see if you are raising fire too fast, going up in flames then feeling empty. Or are you able to stay with it, keep your ground and allow the fire to build? The best way to find out? Just do it! It is recommended to pick one practice such as chakra breathing, and repeat it daily for 21 days. This is the greatest way to discover how to awaken the fire and rekindle the passion!
“Keep attentive on the fire in the beginning,
And so continuing,
Avoid the embers in the end”
Vigyan Bhairav Tantra
Read more of Shashi’s reflections on life and the spiritual journey at her blog.
Find out more about the workshops and trainings she offers at the TaoSpiral Tantra website.