How I Found My Self Through Tantra
Following post is contributed by our guest blogger Krystal Aranyani
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My journey with sexuality began when I hit puberty and started to become a woman. I learned very quickly that things like my growing breasts (my friends and I used to tape them down to appear smaller and attract less attention), and my period (my Seventh Grade teacher let me go home early the day I unexpectedly got it, telling me, “I’m so sorry this happened to you”) are meant to be hidden and shamed. Anything to do with my temple body then was definitely not sacred, special, or beautiful. Like many girls my age, I was completely disconnected from my womanhood and my body. Once I began receiving attention for these attributes, I didn’t know how to handle it. And so I found my worth in my sexuality; choosing partners who only cared about that aspect of me and later becoming an exotic dancer. I had zero guidance when it came to sexual energy, I only knew it to be something I could use to get what I wanted or to share out of politeness. Since I was a young girl it never felt like MY sexuality was MINE.
It wasn’t until I was 25 and walked into my first women’s Kundalini class that I ever heard of the concept of personal power. The beautiful Goddess leading the class, radiant and draped in all white, told us, “It’s time to take our power back ladies!” I looked around nervously and thought, “But.. Are we allowed to do that?” The other women seemed to think so as they excitedly clapped and squealed. This new idea excited me as much as it frightened me. I saw my power as my sexuality, as that is what had gotten me ahead in life so many times before. I was spiritually seeking for many years before, traveling and studying ancient belief systems and religions, and that day was the first time something instantly struck a chord deep within my soul. Something had been awakened and I needed to know more. It felt as though I had known this concept before, like it was put away in the bookstore of my soul and the lady running that class had just handed me a sacred text I had forgotten all about, but now I remembered.
Over the next two years I studied Kundalini and began to understand my feminine essence while reconnecting with my temple body and the divine. Growing up I was taught that all things divine were masculine, but I always knew within me that both are equally as magical and powerful when balanced. This was a time of disconnecting from all that was no longer serving me along the path of my highest purpose, and reconnecting to my true Self, to the Divine. I slowly shed off all of the layers from media and societal conditioning to reveal the woman I was underneath, standing proud in her own sovereignty. I reconnected with the earth and moved out of the city to be with nature. It felt like I was remembering who I was all along under all those toxic skins, rather than becoming anyone new.
I was still confused at that point as to what “divine” meant exactly. I never saw God outside of myself, but I still didn’t know how to pray or what I would be praying to. At this time I was in a constant tug-of-war from living a highly spiritual life which renounced all worldly ways of living, to “slipping up” and surrounding myself by the material world. As I used to model and dance many of my friends were still very much in that world, and I felt guilty every time I would want to get dressed up beautifully and go out with them or want to buy myself a nice dinner after a week of hard work. My ‘spiritual’ friends judged me for wanting to live well and my ‘material’ friends judged me for living in my van! Even though I was constantly discovering more of who I was, I felt that I couldn’t find a place for me to be me.
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Eventually my path led me to Tantra. All that I knew about Tantra before I began studying it was that it had to do with sex. I was thrilled to discover that this sacred path is so much more than that. Tantra is life! ALL of this physical realm and beyond. Everything I learned resonated so deeply that I was constantly experiencing sporadic streaks of bliss during the discovering process. I knew that this was the path I was always meant to walk, and it came to me exactly when it was meant to. I learned that I no longer had to be ashamed of wanting to play out my roles in this world while following a spiritual practice, it’s completely possible to have both! I didn’t have to live out of society or hide the desire to have a good quality life for myself if I wanted to be a yoga teacher. I could wear makeup and adorn myself in a way that makes me feel like a Goddess and still, if not more, be connected to the Divine. We can fully embrace all the gifts in this physical experience and play out our roles, so long as we don’t identify deeply with them or become too attached. That is when suffering manifests. This is Lakshmi’s important message to us while she stands with one foot on her lotus and one in a yogi pose; that it’s okay to be in the world, to experience all it’s beauty, just not to become consumed by the world.
The Divine archetypes (mainly Hindu Goddesses) taught me that even my shadow self is Divine, as even the deities have a shadow if their attributes are in excess. As I learned to accept all parts of myself, the dark and the light, I learned to love myself. The multifaceted, complex, wild, proud, DIVINE woman that I am. As I dived deeper into the Goddesses I began to know that my resonance with them wasn’t only because of our similar characteristics, but because we are one in the same. We are all faces of Shakti and manifestations of Shiva in our own unique perfection.
Tantra is all about the here and now. While I’ve always loved my quiet meditation practice, I agree with the idea that we can make our entire lives a form of meditation. The sensual pleasures we experience all day long can be gateways into higher states of bliss. Dancing, surfing, painting, intimate union with yourself or another, playing and creating in any form can become ecstatic expressions of the Divine. We don’t need to evolve into some enlightened being, we just need to see what’s in front of us with more clarity, experience it more fully.
Tantra melted away any shame I had left towards my sexuality and femininity, and now I celebrate it proudly! I found my true identity through Tantra, and that is one of pure light, love, and Divinity. We are all pure beings of love, sensuality, creativity, and sexuality. We are beautiful instruments of bliss and a representation of Shiva and Shakti in the most perfect form. Our collective suffering at this time is all due to forgetting who we are. With the rise of readily available sacred knowledge on paths such as Tantra I hope we will continue to see more and more remembering this truth and letting their light shine bright.
Om Nama Shivaya.
Om Shakti Om.