The elements of ecstasy
Or, how to make love to life...
When I first began my spiritual journey as an adult, I have to admit didn’t actually have ecstasy as a goal. Ascension - yes, mastery, definitely, wisdom - absolutely, but ecstasy wasn’t really something I had on my list, because I would have defined mastery etc. more in terms of absence - absence of pain and suffering, feeling good and whole, experiencing flow, peace etc.
But I hadn’t really been led, by anyone I’d learned from, to expect states of extreme pleasure, communion and totality.
I hadn’t been led either, to think that ecstasy could be a tool to experience more of those other good things. Tantra for me has become an attitude to life. When I experience resistance in certain areas, I feel in and let the ecstasy do the work in healing and unblocking so that bit by bit more of life becomes ‘ecstasy-compatible’.
When I first opened to ecstasy, many of the elements were familiar, whereas others were completely new. I think it is helpful, if the concept of ecstasy resonates with you, to know what you are aiming for, and which states and experiences to develop. It is like joining the dots. You start with isolated incidents, then they ripple out, joining into each other to create a state which you can dip into at any time.
Ecstasy is a state of non duality where you can observe polarity but simultaneously hold two poles, understandings, opinions, in your consciousness, with appreciation but without judgement. You reach a point where the one enhances the other and you understand that both are a part of the whole, of what is divine. You can feel this rippling through your body.
Ecstasy has infinite moods and layers. It is literally all of existence, every feeling, every experience, transmuted into divine pleasure and communion. The more of yourself you can allow, can open to, the greater your capacity for the many ‘threads’ and harmonics of ecstasy.
So, these are some of the elements of ecstasy. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start...
Joy without boundaries. Childlike. Just because you are IT and this is IT. Touching joy in another at being alive and observing the primal nature that brings you together.
For ecstasy this is a key element. It is much more important than ‘love’, which is an overused term to the point of being meaningless for many. Compassion for another opens you to the depths and layers of feeling that will melt you at your core and bridge the polarity that separates you.
The more complex a situation, relationship, an appreciation, the greater its potential to teach you ecstasy. The fact that you need to hold awareness of many different appreciations at once which may seem impossible to resolve into black and white, right and wrong, forces you simultaneously into simplicity - checking out your mind and seeing only with your presence.
Dipping into your emotional reservoir - the feelings you’ve healed, those which are unresolved, those that others are going through to which you can relate. The songs we sing, the stories we tell. The histories. What it means to be human AND divine.
Not necessarily sexy, just alive and full of creative power. Power to heal, power to be vulnerable, power to surrender, power to explore the shadow, power to accept. Appreciating everything in its finest, many layered potential. Not judging.
A quieter state on which to build. Do you attain this in meditation? Where else does this crop up in your life? Talking to animals, after a yoga class, massage or Reiki treatment? For me, for years, inexplicably, this was induced by sitting with a cup of tea and my favourite catalogue. Practice imagining yourself in that state until you can tap into it just by focus.
Accepting your place in it all. Your childlike self, your divinity. Being humble yet curious. Infinite yet finite. Primal yet harmless.
Humour and delight
The kind of humour where someone adores you but can’t help teasing. A precocious child who says something gorgeous and you are not sure whether to weep or giggle. When you see a kitten and want to give it’s tail a tweak...
Especially this. You need to allow yourself to look at pain and surrender to it. If you try to shut yourself off from pain or other difficult emotions, if you resist them, you are also shutting yourself off from ecstasy and higher states. We need to own what it means to be human. This is the hardest element for the ego to swallow. When Babaji first showed me this it made part of me very uneasy. But if you want to own your birthright, you need to be able to look at pain with the perspective of deity, of everything being ultimately ok from the perspective of eternity, not of the individual stuck in illusion. Feel into pain, don’t resist it, express it, then access that higher perspective and work on transmuting it into one or more of the other elements.
If you do not feel this is ‘you’ (I didn’t used to), try starting with love and compassion. Think about it. Are there certain tasks you devote yourself to easily? Do you feel this more easily around certain people? A lover? A child? A mentor? Start where you find it, then spread it outwards. The goal of devotion is not to put the ‘other’ on a pedestal and make yourself wretched, but is in fact an act of enormous self esteem (big Self), which allows you to dissolve into communion with the other and puts you in a receptive state (also try my Divine Lover Bhakti playlist for more on this).
So those, for me, are the key elements of ecstasy.
Add to these a healthy dose of surrender, gratitude and inner connection, and you’re on the right track.
As promised, we have a brand new playlist!
You know, back in the day I would have made you a mix tape...but this is more portable.
This juicy playlist is called Guilty Pleasures...
It’s designed to be played at full volume with lots of raucous dancing, jumping up and down, singing at the top of your voice. It is perfect for shadow body healing.
When healing the shadow body, guilty pleasures need to be embraced and integrated.
You need to stop holding yourself tightly, keeping yourself ‘together’ and feel expansive.
Give yourself permission to feel childlike and joyful.
Accept your primal nature and any tension you perceive between your enjoyment and your mind.
As with the previous playlist, these songs have been rigorously tested in the Tantra Mataji kitchen and you can be assured that they rate highly on the Ecstasy-O-Meter.
When you’ve got this little lot out of your system, try meditating right after. I bet it will be a good one - you’ll find it much easier to quiet your mind and savour your inner peace.
I have recently really tapped into the power of Reiki. It is just over three years now since I was first attuned. And not the first energy therapy I have ever practised. But it is the one I’m using now.
They say that the more you use Reiki, the better a channel you become. I believe this is true, but significantly the shifts I have noticed recently are based upon understanding, letting the Rei Ki teach me how best to use it, and how to really step into its power. Not just using techhniques because I’ve been told they are useful, but being guided to pick exactly the right technique and know simultaneously that it will work. It’s not that nothing was happening before - I would not be without my Reiki for nourishing, balancing, relaxing, and healing of many issues has taken place over time, it’s just that it often felt as if I was nursing issues along, taking the edge off but not really getting to the bottom of the issue. I wasn’t even sure if Reiki was the right tool for this.
Lately I have started using it slightly less, but more consciously, and increasingly only when I know it is targeted where I need it. I have been listening to my body, going deep within myself, and realising I can manifest what I need from there in terms of healing.
Recently for one slightly daft example, I asked my body what it needs right now, and a packet of chia seeds came to view. I had just left for 3 weeks hols to Turkey where to my knowledge, chia had not yet taken off. So instead of worrying about it, I laughed and said well if you need chia seeds you’ll have to manifest some in your direction, because I’m not going to think about it. Shortly after, I remembered that I had brought some coconut snacks with me in the suitcase, and indeed, they had chia seeds added. Is that enough chia I asked? The next day at breakfast I reached for the gluten-free wraps that I’d brought along. Without realising, I had bought the seeded version which also includes chia. A day later we visit the supermarket and I find there are two brands of chia seeds to choose from in huge packets. More chia than I know what to do with. I should just be quiet...
So this is not really about chia seeds, but about me teaching myself not to stress over things that I think I need. If a voice out there, no matter who this is, however much you respect them, tells you to do something, or that this or that is the best, or if you are in your rational mind which has taken any of this in, you will not be in your power unless this resonates deeply with your inner knowing. If you go deep within, the requirement, the ‘what we are working on next’, the ‘do this now to achieve ....’, is effortless. If you get your mind out of the way, it happens. The need and the having are the same thing #askanditshallbegiven.
Your body knows how to do tantra. It doesn’t need any lessons. It knows exactly what to do for your current healing. Even if it’s one simple thing. It’s the one simple thing you need to do until you get another impulse bubbling up. Your body knows how to do yoga. I have experienced my body making postural adjustments from a deep meditative state of body consciousness. Your body knows how to heal itself and release trauma. Your body consciousness will not ask you to do any more at any given time than you can manage. Your task is to access this inner awareness, but in the knowledge that it is there.
And that is not all. I have been identifying and targeting some deep-seated issues. You know - the ones you have to tackle or you just can’t move forwards. And it’s as if the universe was just waiting for me to identify these underlying causes instead of picking off symptoms. The healing has been so profound and rapid that I’m sure that I'll be sharing this with others in due course. You can only really share what you have healed in yourself, and this healing goes very deep.
So what am I saying? Go within. Let your soul, your body consciousness teach you. Feel into the areas of tension and resistance and really listen, but not with your mind. Equally, listen to what feels peaceful, and good. Practise tantra with yourself - sit quietly in a state of acceptance and compassion. Feel loved. And then see what bubbles up. If you are in tension with your mind, or a belief adopted by your mind, you will know which part to let go of, and which to keep. Your power is within you. Your soul knows its way home. Can you trust it to take you through?
Find out about Body Wisdom Training here
My daughter fasted!
It was the first day of Ramadan last Thursday, and my eldest daughter, who is nearly 12, decided to fast for the first time.
This is kind of a big deal.
For those of you not familiar with Islamic fasting, this means no food OR drink from sunrise to sunset. And with it being May, that’s quite a long time. It evoked some unpredictable reactions in our family - I am a big fan of liquid only fasting, but my initial reaction was to recommend she save this for a weekend. She had two school assessments that day and we didn’t know what effect it would have on her. My husband, who is Muslim, but often not the most enamoured with my free-spirited fasting, decided it was ok if she really wanted to test herself. He, after all, started fasting with his family from a similar age.
Not that it mattered what we thought. Her mind was made up.
Why did she want to do it? Mainly to keep company with one of her best friends who was fasting. Also, to see what it feels like. To see if she had the willpower. To manage her intake.
And she did it.
We didn’t even get up for a pre-sunrise meal in the early hours as many do. At just before 9pm when I got her favourite dinner ready a little victory shimmy was happening in the kitchen.
Sometimes life just throws out a surprise. The daughter who grazes every time she walks past the fridge or cupboard managed something most adults would find challenging...
The funny thing is, I have been fasting a lot recently, just not this kind of fasting. Initially I thought I might get the blame for setting a 'bad' example, but as we've seen, this wasn't the case. I find fasting more effective than almost any other practice, for almost everything: being present and in the moment, peace, increased levels of bliss and balance, clarity of guidance, clearing karma without struggle, letting go, slaying demons, breaking patterns, increasing devotion, self acceptance, manifesting something outside my comfort zone etc. etc.
When I say 'fasting', some people think this is quite extreme, for others my kind of fasting is probably a little tame, but generally, a not too arduous fast for me is 3 - 7 days of fasting until evening meal. Plant-based gluten free. No caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar, or chocolate. I also avoid soy. On a couple of occasions I’ve gone all the way through without evening meal making it around 48 hours in one go but this is rare and depends on not having people around who are alarmed by this. I’d like to do more, if only out of curiosity, as after a fast that long I start to feel ready for pretty much anything. And it’s easier to keeping going once you’re in the groove and feeling the benefits than it is to get started. But people get concerned I'll waste away so what’s to do?
Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I always knew that one day I’d try a Ramadan-style fast. What I didn’t know is that my daughter would beat me to it. So on Monday when she decided to do it for a second day, I joined her.
It’s not that bad.
After all those years of concern over the lack of liquids for so many hours (I drink a lot compared to most people), it just wasn’t that hard. I didn’t really feel that hungry or thirsty.
It was quite revealing - just how much of a displacement activity eating and drinking is. I have never sat at my desk and focused for so long - no tea breaks, no toilet breaks, just working and not thinking too much about it.
Coming home and not getting dinner ready immediately was also challenging as this is something I look forward to. By the time sunset at 20.57 arrived we had amused ourselves by preparing more food than we could eat and arranging it on the table beautifully. I was struggling after half a plate which doesn’t happen during my usual fasts. Admittedly, this would be a lot more difficult in a hot climate, or as a manual worker, and this is nothing on those who do this every year for a full 30 days, but it was an experience. And there are benefits to not drinking, as even water carries a certain energy which can be positive or negative depending on the source. When you consume nothing, you have your breath and nothing else.
So now we know what our Turkish relatives experience every year, and will be prepared to join them if our visits coincide with Ramazan. And we’ll probably test ourselves a few more days before the current month is complete.
In case you haven’t noticed, I highly recommend fasting.
As long as you’re fit, healthy, not insulin diabetic, pregnant etc. it's a great practice with many benefits. It’s not to be confused with a health detox or diet as the attitude and goals are different although some of the benefits may overlap. Fasting as tapas (austerities) is to be carried out with a humble attitude and devotion for a spiritual purpose. Intermittent fasting for can also be used for weight management - you will reap many benefits from this as well, but it is good to be clear about your purpose before starting.
If you’ve never tried it before, I’d recommend trying a 1-3 day fast with water and evening meal as described above. When I first started, I this I was still eating fish, dairy and wheat and still found it to be highly beneficial, so I wouldn't worry too much about the content of meal you use to break the fast as long as it's 'clean'.
Give it a go, and see what changes in your life.
It's not me, it's you
It's not me, it's you.
Let's call this delegation.
This is counter to most streams of thought which tell you that anything you perceive in anyone else is a reflection of something in yourself. So you do your own work and see what shifts. But then you get to a point where this is your own work. Because if you can feel it, you need to call it. Maybe not out loud, but firmly and silently. Because the bigger you become, the more you can feel other people and their stuff. Or they'll unconsciously try to project it onto you. And if you feel bad about seeing negativity in others you'll end up sucking it up. You need to call it. You need to give it a name. Pretending it's not there is not loving. And when you do, don't allow yourself to feel bad or guilty. Demons go for the jugular every time so you need to be tough. They will say: 'you don't understand me or what I've been through', 'I'm being nice', 'I'm just worried about you', 'you are not so perfect yourself' etc. etc. All these things sound reasonable, play to your compassion, and are designed to get you to back off so that you'll leave them alone to be small. It takes practice, but if you do this your relationship with the real person you care about will improve and more love will flow between you. It's actually an act of trust in the other person - you don't need to rescue them from seeing what needs to be seen and correcting it.
It's not me, it's you. Because it puts you back in touch with who you are, standing firm in your inner light.
This is work in progress. I'm an empathic healer which makes this really tricky so I have been finding rage useful. Allowing rage helps to integrate the shadow body and it's not the same as anger at all. Anger is more superficial, reactive and based in the ego and its attendant emotions. Rage is a much purer cleansing power which bubbles up from your belly in the same way laughter does. Rage is loving, and should leave you feeling light and joyful. It can even be funny.
Here is a selection of four poems around this theme. Rage-y, muscle-the-demon-to-the-ground-y alchemy: this is me, and it's not ok to be aggressive, passive aggressive, cynical, victimised, reductionist, self-righteous, pious, complacent, patronising or accusatory around me. We are all heart-broken, maimed, limbless athletes in the Paralympics. But we can still GO.
I am not here to make friends
to seek reassurances
I am not here to blend in
I am here
Suddenly it’s not ok
for you to deny me
to pretend that I’m not real
to make me doubt my soul
and what I feel
It’s not ok
for you to humour me
to redefine this cynically
I hear your demons
they are carping at me
They want to make me small
so that you don’t have to let go
But it’s not ok anymore
when I look at the work
that I’ve done
the passion that I’ve shown
the truth that I’ve grown
to feel your indifference
If you try to give me bullshit
if you are nice
if you try to be understanding
show me sympathy
but we are feeding your pretense
I will grab you by the throat and shake you
If you take the moral high ground
I will slap you
and pull it out from under you
It is kinder than the violence
this does to my soul
If you play the victim I will keep away from you
lest you make me your next aggressor
I am on my knees
at the beauty of this
but you are unmoved
Where is your fire?
You are busy, you are tired...
Let me tell you how God is busy
Did you not see
what happened there in that
how the universe realigned itself
to my pretty?
Can you do that?
Who will give you permission
to call the clouds to attention
the moon and stars to heel?
I want to see the rage in you
that burns your self to ashes
I am not gossiping
with other inmates
I am standing at the door
and turning the key
Will you be free?
How much love
do you allow yourself to give?
the only question
If you think it is other
your arguments are
But our soul
is a simple
Consecrating your space
I've been wanting to say a little about consecration for a while. This is an enormous topic but if you're serious about your wellbeing and development, a very important one.
You can consecrate just about anything - your food, your projects, yourself, but what I am going to talk about now is consecration of your space. This one thing can make a huge difference to your sense of peace, wellbeing and clarity of mind.
You might wonder why this is such a big deal, but if an area is under-consecrated, your energy will be lower, the quality of your thoughts will be more negative, and it may be difficult for your family to feel in harmony there. This may not make sense to the rational mind, but everyone knows how much better they feel in harmonious surroundings, such as in nature, or the difference between when you've tidied up before you went to bed, and when you haven't.
Think of your living area as being a reflection of your energy (and that of any other people you live with). The macrocosmic mirrors the microcosmic, so if your home is disharmonious, it is likely that your mind lacks harmony. Often people think, 'I will wait until I have more time/energy/things are less chaotic and then I will do it', but the opposite is often true. It may be that the most compassionate thing you can do for yourself is to give your space some love, and this will bring about the desired changes in your world. It means that the space will work for you in your life, providing an area of light for you to grow in. An unconsecrated space can magnify your karma and keep you stuck. If the people you live with are going through problems you may not be able to change them directly, but you can provide a safe space for them which will give them the best chances of working through their issues. If your work is challenging you, you need a sanctuary to return to at the end of the day.
If you are going to meditate or take part in other spiritual practice, it is extremely important to clear and consecrate the room in which you do this. It will make your practice progress much more easily and help you to feel more connected as you do.
Ideally all spaces in your living area should be consecrated, but in order of priority, look at your communal and sleeping areas, and then if you work, your desk or other areas.
So, how to do this?
As a first step (and if you only do one thing), de-clutter and tidy. Then de-clutter and tidy some more. Clean (this is a note to self here too over the bank holiday weekend). Feel into the space. What would make it more harmonious? Do you need to move things around? Is anything unsightly? As an aside, it's good practice to keep electronics out of your sleeping area. The most important ingredient in consecration is love. Love the space, enjoy keeping it in a pleasant state. If it helps, think of your efforts as karma yoga, a form of prayer, or devotion.
There are many, many practices and objects you can use to consecrate a space, however I am only going to recommend here those which I have found most effective versus their simplicity, practicality and price.
1. Fire - if you have a stove or fire, put it on regularly. If not, or if it's summer, get yourself some candles. There is nothing as purifying as a flame, and it creates an atmosphere which is harmonious on all levels. Most people resonate with candlelight so you are not going to freak out your family, partner or less sensitive housemates.
2. Sacred symbols - for the sake of ease and simplicity - choose a sacred symbol which appeals to you for each room you are consecrating. Easy to find, print and put on a wall. Try to feel into what the space requires rather than imposing something on it. For example, I love the Sri Yantra for it's power and ability to bring on/enhance samadhi, but recently when I was re-consecrating my bedroom, Sri Yantra was not right - despite the fact that I meditate here. The 'right' symbol for this space turned out to be the Om Shanti symbol. If you're not sure or new to this, try one or more out until your room feels attuned. Be prepared to re-evalutate this over time as your needs change.
3. Crystals - by no means a must, but a very simple, easy way to help clear your space and keep the energy attuned to your highest good. As with symbols, experiment with what you are drawn to for a particular room. The bigger the crystal, the more powerful its range. Amethyst is a good all-round choice for purifying energy, and is useful for 'in-between' places - perhaps halls and smaller rooms that you' haven't given the full treatment. Crystals are also good for a child's room as they are tactile and your child can help choose which one they want. Remember to cleanse the crystals when you first receive them in salt water and refresh at intervals thereafter.
4. Anything else you've learned: Reiki, tibetan singing bowls, music, scents, holy water, flowers, plants, clever geopathic healing etc. etc.
5. Any of the above will lose their impact if you fail to keep the space uncluttered, fresh and tidy. Your space needs to feel loved, not neglected. Keep your eyes on the ball and continually see this as a work in progress. There are some times when your space will feel more challenged than others and may need extra attention to keep it in alignment.
Don't underestimate the importance of consecration. In your list of spiritual practices, this may not be at the top, but you may want to move it higher. It's something I didn't consider so important when I first began my journey, but now I can feel the difference when I move from room to room or if something is out of place. I spend a lot of time in spaces which could be made to work better.
Over time, consecration will simply become a way of being, a way of going through life that allows you to slice effortlessly through karma. It's both an art and a science that you'll develop with practice.
Start with your home.
The Divine Lover bhakti playlist
Today, I’m excited to be introducing...
(drum roll), The Divine Lover bhakti playlist. (You can find it here).
Explore consciousness with me through Bhakti yoga...
This is the first Tantra Mataji playlist which has come to fruition but there are more to come. These are the result of many years of rigorous testing in my very own kitchen. Each playlist has its own focus, but together they are designed to help you become more alive, more total, experience more love. In order to make the list, each song has to rate very highly on the Ecstasy-o-meter. The blend of artists, lyrics, music, and combination of songs in the list adds a further dimension of complexity.
Who do I mean by The Divine Lover?
Your sweetheart? Your guru? Your deity? Does it matter?
Sufis know God as the Beloved. Jesus offers himself as the Bridegroom. Shiva is a loving husband to Parvati. Krishna is Lover to many. What are these archetypes telling us about our relationship with the Divine? Who or what will point the way to communion with the ONE and Divine Unconditional Love?
I am not making any apologies for the song choices (Boyzone warning). There will be some tracks which you don’t immediately like. That is ok. There may be some song transitions that shock you. The goal is to PLAY with the list. If something annoys you, ask yourself which part of you is annoyed. Savour the tracks you do like or which move you. Stop and start and play the ones you like over and over. These are not designed as background music or easy listening. Ideally, if the idea resonates, you will treat this as sadhana and ‘work the list’. Turn up the volume and sing. Dance around. Do it in front of other people. Especially if it’s ‘not you’.
‘Yes, but I don’t really do Bhakti’ I hear you say. Hmm, that’s what I used to think - not a devotional bone in my body. I guess that joke is on me (spontaneously dissolves into puddle). If you are human, you are capable of Bhakti yoga. If your goal is bliss and ecstasy, try it. Paramhansa Yogananda once told a disciple, “Kriya Yoga plus devotion works like mathematics. It cannot fail.” It’s a bonafide path of yoga that works, especially in combination with other practices.
And if you’re still hovering, this is not just a simple Bhakti playlist (you can find plenty of those already on offer on YouTube). My mix-y up-y mix tapes are tantricly woven to challenge you a little, activate more energy sub-harmonics, and help you expand into totality.
confidence - freedom - passion