Formless Tantra

How to prepare for a magical relationship
By Christopher Michaels

All relationships are Tantric, in a sense, or at least can be. ‘Formless Tantra’ was coined by a friend to describe the way I approach facilitating the experience of Tantra using everyday relationships and life. When she came to me she expected training in various rituals, techniques and exercises pointing to sexual ecstasy and from there to spiritual bliss or vice versa. She expected various intense multi-sensory meditations, the invocation of Goddesses and Gods might be involved, setting the space, possibly various magical tools might also be used and maybe initiation into secret knowledge. And maybe sex. All of which she was already an expert at, it seemed repetitive to go over what she already knew. i wanted to take her somewhere new and towards the essence.

Instead I listened and we talked about her life, we exchanged energy and power and explored its dynamics in our relationship as we lived it in our gatherings together. That relationship came to an end some time ago but lasted eight years. For a long time I didn’t use this term or another term we played with the “Zen of Tantra” because well I thought it was a little cliché and seeking undeserved authority from going along for the ride as so many do. But recently I did a series of mini-workshops under the name Formless Tantra and it made sense.

The essence of Tantra is what I’m trying to get at. There is secret knowledge but it is that Tantra, its energy and power, are not exotic and occult, it is here and now in everyday ecstasies. It is in the simple realisations that whether we experience the spirit in everyday life is a matter of point of view. Like so many insights it is secret because it is too obvious. Tantra is how we are made up of our relationships both internally and externally. Its rituals, the breathing, spiritual and physical awareness and control are great and useful, I teach them, but it is the mindfulness shared in relationship that is the core. It is the centre in the sense that all the other games we play are given meaning by it.

The ecstatic sexual and spiritual experiences of Tantra, so many people focus on, are natural outgrowths of profound honest deep connections when you share your spiritual journey with your partners. Those partners maybe lovers, friends, mentors, gurus and even workmates.

When people teach mindfulness they usually teach it as an individual practice, not a shared one. Tantra at its core is about shared mindfulness where each partner undertakes to acknowledge the prominent role they play in each other’s life, both inner and outer. They accept and experience each other as real, not just teachers, not just reflections but real partners living both inside you and outside.

Many people will have values, often expressed in the form of emotional reactions, that decide this or that response and/or event is negative or positive. Mindfulness is a process of intentional awareness of the sensations, emotions, thoughts and feelings and their affects on your experiences and actions as an act of loving acceptance, respect and care. It is greater than tolerance because that can mean just putting up with the bits of you that are uncomfortable for you rather than truly embracing all of who you are.

All the traditions, with a few exceptions, start the great journey from the earth plane of our existence. The earth plane is the here-and-now daily life, not just the simple sensations but also the emotional connections. If you are to be trusted with a direct relationship with yours and/or other people’s spirits, their whole point of view on the world, then how you conduct yourself in the mundane ordinary world is the test, and training ground. How you love your romantic partners in everyday ordinary life points to how you love yourself internally. How you negotiate, share and create energy and power at work, with friendships and in your intimate relationships points to the way you’ll relate to the spirit, to the Goddesses and Gods, to other kinds of power.

So how do we go about this? First we explore the power of the senses, and develop awareness of our experience of the moment and our relationships with games that come from many different traditions. Though I call it “formless” we still use the Chakras as a structure because they allow us to be sure we explore all the dimensions of who we are. For example, we start by exploring the very fact that we are strangers rather than try to artificially creating trust and intimacy. This is the first chakra. How are you with strange situations and setting, with people you don’t know? We exaggerate those feelings so as to clarify and demonstrate what mindfulness is by using the real experience of the moment we are all living. We help you be aware of the way you draw your boundaries, and your changing experiences moment to moment. This helps you develop choice in the way you attract and push people away in drawing those boundaries. By the end of this very first exercise, paradoxically, you are actually really close to everyone.

We use psychodrama and ritual, shamanic dance, multi-sensory imagination, sensitivity games and experiences from yoga and esoteric (inner) martial arts, and discussion circles in an atmosphere of growing trust. As we get to know each other we track our changing feelings and the whole experience we are sharing. The aim is to have a direct experience of the transformative power of loving mindfulness. Through these we reframe your experience of your relationship with yourself and through this all your other relationships.

Just a reminder on the upcoming workshop on the 5th of February, 2011.

Group Healing Ritual

An Example – A group healing-light ritual

Article Explaining the ingredients of a Ritual

An Extract From A Soon to be Released Ebook “Circle of Power”

  1. Setting the Space

    Stage one: individual – setting your internal space, your body. Doing this exercise together as a group will connect you together to hekp build focus for the ritual
    You pause for a moment to feel my hands and feet and the position of spine, your whole body. You breathe and feel the sensations intensifying, becoming aware of the internal space of my body/mind, the space you occupy. You relax by unlocking my knees (if standing) and feeling a little stretching up though my spine, up to my head so that you feel taller, comfortable and powerful. You imagine and feel that as you breathe you’re taking in the spirit, visualizing it as a fluorescent rainbow with the colours settling in the places in my body that most need balancing, healing. It feels like you can feel my body is being energized, more intensely alive, more sensual.
    Stage two: setting your space, your environment
    This ritual is a healing ritual that can be conducted anywhere. In this case focus on your surroundings taking note of the colours, sounds and smells around you. If there is anything, particularly like sounds or smells, that you feel will distract you, interfere with your experience of the ritual. Focus on it. Take in its details, be curious about it, let it be something you embrace as an object to enhance your ritual. Then set it aside and focus on your feelings of the energy in your hands and feet as you breathe.
    If you are not doing the work in a public place like you are at home in your lounge room. Take your time so as to maintain this intense awareness of your body as you move around the room cleaning, organising everything so that it feels like you are energising the room with the same feelings as developed with your body. In fact the movements you are doing and the sense of energizing the room should intensify your sensual experience of it – by concentrating on what you are looking at the colours will become clearer, if you move as if you are your aura is like water around you and you are radiating light you will feel your movements have power. Pay attention to the colours and smells, the textures of everything you touch, the sounds outside and inside the room of my movements and breathing as you work. You are taking ownership of the room.
    For other rituals like an invocation you might cover the floor with a sheet you have drawn a circle on and symbols from a recipe provided by your tradition of choice, then follow the lines in pure salt either as power or dissolved in pure water or consecrated water from a sacred place, but this is for another day.

  2. Motivation, Goal, Desire

    We usually have a variety of reasons for the things we do. Some we are centrally aware of, others we have a background awareness of and others we overlook, we don’t notice at all. How motivation works for you is unique to you. As so many say all power and wisdom starts with self-knowledge. For a ritual to work it’s not enough to only have a goal, your motivation has a big influence on the outcome. Your intentions, emotions and imagination have a profound influence on your power, on how it is expressed through your ritual and other actions.

    The most obvious reason for wanting to heal is to be of service or to fix something that’s a really problem to you. These are the desires you are centrally aware of. But there are other emotions, desires and motivations that will influence the effectiveness of the ritual which you may not be centrally aware of. You may feel powerless and helping others may help you feel empowered, it may also help you avoid your own problems. You may feel depressed or undervalued, so it could help you feel valued and special. You maybe avoiding those feelings with positive thinking and other self-management habits that blind you to some of the ways you are blocking your powers. These secondary motivations may not affect your ability to heal, in fact they may help you do good work but they may open you to side effects like feeling drained, or attacked by the weakness in others you are seeking to heal.

    For the ritual to work not only do your aims need to be clear but your reasons for choosing this path need to be clear. Being clear about the reasons you want to do the ritual means you are aware of them and have addressed them in a way that means you aren’t being sabotaged by them. This is why we call it the path of “wisdom and power”, both are necessary. There are internal rituals you can use that help in working with the various ways we sabotage ourselves. During the process of setting the space and thinking about the ritual in the lead up to conducting it, you should focus on the strongest feelings you are motivated by. If it is desperation then so be it. The ritual will be more powerful if you are honest and really connect with the feelings you have rather than try to force yourself to be positive overriding your real feelings. The ritual will change your feelings. It’s part of the point.

  3. Resources, form, structure, plan

    For a healing light ritual all you need is yourself with good intention, though some people may want to use some tools for protection. Candles can be perfumed, an incense or oils that are particularly rich and strongly symbolic. Sandalwood is very protective. Wearing a medallion that has symbols on it for healing goddesses, gods and/or shamanic animals or trees are powerful protectors, healers or guides can be very useful. You might choose some tarot cards as a way helping explore the reasons for ill-health and the path to be free of it. You might go to Eastern Emporium, or a Tibetan op-shop, or Buddhist or other esoteric or New Age bookshop where you can get various pieces of jewellery with power symbols inscribed on them or in the shape of them. You soak them in saltwater and meditate on them, visualising the full colour three dimensional version of them. You can go to sleep with the symbol so you can clear them on the astral. Channelling light into them and from them can also be useful.
    Structure/Plan For Our Healing Circle
    We’ll sit in a circle. We will go through the process of setting the space mentioned above. We will then do some energy/aura sensitising exercises individually, in couples and as a group. Then anyone who feels they could use a healing will get to be at the centre of the circle. Next we will do some absent healing for people we are connected to who are not physically present. Finally we’ll send our energy for the harmony and balance of the whole of the universe. After this we will talk about the theory, practice and structure of what we have done. And answer questions.

  4. Action, doing it, passion, expression, doing it

    We will carry out the plan in the form mentioned above. For it to work, to be as powerful as possible we want to feel it, give it the kind of focus that intense passion calls us to – curiosity, love, fear, hate even anger can give us the alignment of our circles of power or light (Chakras in India or Sephiroth in the Kabbalah) to bring the force of magic(k) to you actions an goals. When you practice promise-keeping (to yourself and others) them your word develops the power of ritual action. Different people feel different ways about what makes to actions of ritual powerful. Some think spontaneous action based on the feelings you are creating. Others feel that actions precisely rehearsed will allow you to focus your energy to express your power fully. Both of these are valid. It depends on what works for you which you choose.

  5. Receptiveness, listening, responsiveness in the moment

    You don’t always feel the power working but you do have to be aware of its effects. The point of a ritual is to bring about change. For that change, happening moment to moment, to be most effective we need to be aware of it and ready to respond because it may not go quite as expected, it may go better.

  6. Meanings, Broader effects, consequences to your story of yourself and your context/culture, myth

    The deepest most powerful changes change our view of ourselves, the stories we have for our past and our future these also influence the symbols we use in the rituals. These symbols come from the myths we feel are most powerfully, we are most excited by. If a healing ritual works in a deep and significant way it will empower us to change our myth of ourselves changing the way we experience the world. It will change our psychology and physiology. This can be small incremental changes or a profound turn, a quantum leap to a new way of being in the world.

  7. Unexpected, limitations, humility, spirit

    Most people seek healing when they are confronted by their limitations. We are most confronted by our limitations when something unexpected or unpredictable happens. This humility causes us to look beyond the ordinary options to more mysterious solutions and this is where the spirit comes in its own. Rituals for healing will be participated in by people who are aware of the limitations of mainstream medical approaches. Mainstream medicine still use symbols from magic like the crossed “R” at pharmacies that represents Jupiter. Though there are laws of spirit, as mentioned above they can be influenced by many things that we are not always aware of, so the results an and often are unpredictable and unexpected. Ritual can however be mundane. You can use the principles here and in the accompanying article for analysing a visit to a mainstream doctor. They accidentally do invocations of spirit because of the habits they develop out of their traditions going back to medieval times and before when healing ritual was mainstream medicine. It is a thread of Western science and medicine has been to limit the unpredictability in our experience of life and the universe.

Article Explaining the ingredients of a Ritual