I'm often asked what Swatantra is. It is a question that is hard to answer because it isn't definable by words, only by experience.
Swatantra can be translated as finding one’s own technique or practice. It weaves the ancient knowledge of the Vedic rishis with an individual’s own karma, genetics, and personality, guiding them towards their personal path to Freedom/self-realization. Through self-discipline, commitment and the guidance of my Guru, Swatantra has given me a container for all of my accumulated knowledge and experience, resulting in the focusing, purifying and strengthening of my innate wisdom and life force energy.
Everything is energy in Tantric belief, and the "work" is to keep the energy balanced. This includes the physical body, the thinking mind, emotions, and the energetic body. Practices involve movement, pranayama (breath work), meditation, and self-inquiry. Pranayama is a key element to the transformation process as this helps to purify and energize the physical body and keeps the mind clear and calm. When your internal world is calm there is space for your own truth and life force energy to arise naturally. Harmony with nature is another key element; understanding that we are a gift of nature and following the flow of nature leads to a contented life.
My own experience and transformation through this path has brought clarity around my beliefs, my abilities, my emotions and my life in general. With self-discipline and focus I have been able to get to the root of past wounding, which then helps to move through current day-to-day issues with minimal attachment. At a certain point, the path brought me beyond the psychological and into transformation at an energetic and cellular level. This means being able to experience daily life from presence rather than from memory or future anxiety, being fully alive in my senses while also understanding that sensations are transient as well, and resting in awareness of the eternal. For me, I needed to isolate myself and focus 100% on my spiritual development. This required me to live alone and spend my time in self-inquiry. I have been fortunate to also spend extensive time one-on-one with my own Guru for the past four years. This is not the path that everyone requires or desires, and that is what makes Swatantra unique. You can always find a way to work it into the life you have at some level.
I don't currently use the word Teacher to describe myself because I don't feel Swatantra (or spirituality in general) is something that can be taught. Tantra does have ancient texts and there are known Tantric techniques, but Swatantra is specifically about finding one's own path...consequently something that must be discovered by oneself. Although I believe Guru is a proper term- technically meaning one who leads another from darkness to light in regards to consciousness, which is a beautiful process that does not include power plays or ego-based interactions - it is commonly misunderstood by the western world and therefore not often used. So I do not use this label in regards to my role with others but I do use it in reference to my own Guru. Another title that could be used is Master, yet that too invokes a sense of "power over" in western thinking, and Swatantra does not subscribe to that in any way (other than mastery over one's own mind and physical body). So I've settled on the label of Guide in reference to my role in someone else's process for now.
Along with self-discipline, the energy of a Guide is of great importance in that this is what holds the entire experience. Energetic transmission occurs as a person’s field opens and resonance with the Guide is achieved. Being enveloped in this high frequency allows for lower vibrational energy that is held in the body to be purged. Working with a Guide helps to contain, focus and purify the energy that is invoked in a way that is helpful in order to maintain one's daily life throughout their transformation. The misconception of "Guru" is that one must give up all discernment, decision making and free will and do only as the Guru says. Although there are some self-proclaimed gurus who do say this, my experience and opinion is that this is almost the opposite of what is asked by a true Guru. The importance of a Guru is often to keep one's ego in line. The ego is much more clever than you can imagine, therefore sometimes there is frustration because one thinks they know what is right and the Guru will suggest something else, but in the end a Guru will tell you to do what is best for you so you can find out your own way. Is self-realization possible without the guidance of a Guru? Yes! My experience though has shown me that my growth has happened at a much faster speed and depth in the past four years than the 15+years prior to that. Most of this is because he was able to help me see where my ego was coopting even my own spiritual pursuits.
Although I prefer to work in person, given the state of worldly affairs, I have been offering more online sessions consisting of counsel and meditation. Energy is not confined to time or space and can be felt regardless of physical presence. If you would like to know more please contact me to set up a session time.
Photography by Jo-Ann Colangelo