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White Tantric Yoga Prelude and Experience

By Nicole Bawden

April 18, 2015
On May 2, 2015, I will join hundreds of others in Toronto for White Tantric Yoga®. This will be my 4th Tantric practice, and as every time before, I am filled with excitement, anxiety and fear.

The most challenging, overwhelming and beautiful experiences I have had were in meditation with hundreds of others, dressed in white, all seeking a spiritual purification—one that is sought through 6+ hours of a physically and emotionally challenging series of meditations.

There are times when the air feels charged with the electricity of hundreds in chanting meditation. Times when the defeating voice in your head fills your ears. And then there are the times when your heart swells with pure joy and gratitude; experiencing your true form—a being of lightness and love, free from all fear.

It is those moments that bring us back to our centre. Glimpsing our infinite potential, we find the ability to let go, and begin again.

April 30, 2015
Tantric is fast approaching and I can’t help but feel my anxiety growing. It is the uncertainty of the day that evokes such emotion—the idea of being so physically uncomfortable that each second feels like an eternity—a physical discomfort that in retrospect really wasn’t that bad. It certainly paled in comparison to the love and fullness that has flooded my being after experiencing White Tantric.

In an effort to calm my anxiety, and better prepare mentally and emotionally for this experience, I will be up bright and early (4am) to complete a 2 hour Sadhana the day of White Tantric. Sadhana is a daily spiritual practice, traditional for die hard Kundalini Yoga Practitioners—a practice that I hope will help me arrive at White Tantric with an open heart, and a willingness to surrender to whatever it is this day has in store for me.

May 12, 2015
My morning practice was a desperate attempt to stretch my neck and upper back muscles out of spasm—an injury I suffered from an awkward night’s sleep, and a lifting and turning of my head to the right as I rose from the couch. I was in so much pain and fearful that I wouldn’t last the day at White Tantric.

With every strain of my muscles, I could feel my panic rising. I wouldn’t forgive myself if I backed out, yet was afraid to cause additional injury to my body. Trying to balance both fears, I made a promise to try my best and see how I felt as the day progressed.

Arriving at the Church of the Holy Trinity was surreal. Nervous anticipation filled me as I gazed upon hundreds of faces dressed in white, coming together for a common purpose, sitting shoulder to shoulder and knee to knee in four rows spanning the length of the room.

The first meditation lasted 31 minutes and was completed with some ease. I felt a sense of lightness entering into the second 31 minute meditation. As we began, I looked directly into my partners eyes, and could not suppress the rising laughter. I felt exposed and awkward, uncomfortable in my skin. The muscles in my face tightened as an ache rose in my throat. Tears streaming down my face, I struggled to catch my breath. I felt sadness flowing out of me—pure emotion, not tied to any one experience. As the tears fell, I was becoming lighter, centered and aware of my inner strength that would carry me through the rest of the meditation.

The following three meditations were an exercise in finding softness in the discomfort. My body was aching, my mind screaming as each minute passed by. I struggled to find even a glimpse of ease at the thought of the upcoming exercises.

The next meditation of 62 minutes required us to sit with fingers interlaced around the back of each other’s neck. The pain in my body was building, muscles in my back and neck tightening as I got into position. I felt tortured and defeated, ready to cry out in pain, when a thought entered my mind…I could be angry, I could scream and cry, but regardless of what emotion I allowed to take over, I would still be here and I would still be uncomfortable. My outburst would ultimately provide no benefit and leave me feeling even worse. I fought to quiet my mind and ignore the throbbing pain as the minutes inched towards the magical moment when we were able to release from the pose.

Difficult, challenging, freeing and beautiful—I am grateful for all of my experiences at White Tantric. I have been reminded that by finding ease in the discomfort, we are granted the strength and courage to let go, leaving us free to love and experience each moment fully.

Re-posted from Nicole Bawden, student of life, practitioner and teacher of yoga