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  • Writer's pictureRev. Ani

A Model for Crafting the Life You Want

Musings of an Alonester, PART ONE


photo by Susanna Marsiglia on Unsplash.com


In September 2022, my beloved husband of 24 years was killed in a motorcycle crash, the victim of a negligent driver. The next year for me was spent in a metaphorical ICU, then a regular hospital room, progressing to a step-down unit and rehab. Now I am out of the infirmary and in the process of reconstruction.


Intentionality is one of the keys to navigating the course of life. So, I want to operationalize this device in my present lifestyle design project. What model are you using to craft a life that has meaning and beauty for you? In this series, I will discuss the deliberations, inspirations, and procedural reflections that have informed my maneuvering in this new epoch.


 

I am an only child whose parents are both deceased. My adult children currently live out-of-state, and except for two cat companions who reside with me inside my house and several more felines who occupy the porch, I live alone. My priority right now is considering how I want to spend my precious remaining time of animation. Life is a process, not a product, and I want to enjoy it.


Each of us is always interacting with ourselves, sometimes consciously and often unconsciously. It is especially evident to me these days that my primary relationship is with myself, so I want to cultivate a nurturing alliance and treat myself as if I truly loved and cherished myself. Respecting and maintaining my own boundaries and identifying and communicating my needs have historically been paramount factors in fostering a healthy sense of self, and I aspire to continue these habits.


Part of honoring myself and my needs involves deciding whether I want to have a secondary relationship that requires a commitment. This consideration involves diverse options, such as living a vowed life as a monastic or spouse, seeking a partnership, or negotiating co-habitation with a roommate. Today I am choosing to reject those alternatives and focus on enjoying life as a single person.


To this end, I am coining the term alonester to indicate a person who was not originally alone by choice, but subsequently is alone on purpose. So in determining what kind of relationship I want to create with myself and the type of life I choose to facilitate, I am contemplating my needs, desires, and values. Intuitively I know that my essential value is love, and my fundamental desire is to be the presence of love. To flesh out the rest, I turn to the philosophical system of Tantra Yoga, whose express intent is the integration of the spiritual and physical — a warm embrace of the entire experience of being human and divine.


The elegant research of Zappala (2007) showed that as egocentricity increases, wellbeing decreases. So, to live out my wish to embody the presence of love requires self-transcendence or meaning making beyond my small, egoic or conditioned self. That is why yoga is particularly suited for my quest because the purpose of yoga is self-transcendence. Many paths of yoga focus on renunciation and ascetism, but Tantra Yoga seeks self-transcendence through the lived experience of the body. Regarding Tantra yoga, George Feuerstein (2012), yoga scholar, wrote,

Enlightenment is not a matter of leaving the world or of killing one’s natural impulses. Rather, it is a matter of envisioning the lower reality as contained in and coalescing with the higher reality, and of allowing the higher reality to transform the lower reality. (p. 343)

Thus in this context, living a life sanctified by love involves releasing the duality of sacred and profane. Life is One.


In Feuerstein’s seminal work The Yoga Tradition: It’s History, Literature, Philosophy, and Practice, he offered the translation of the word tantra as “that by which knowledge/understanding is extended, spread out” (2012, p. 342). Anodea Judith (2011), chakra expert, further explicated the term,

The word Tantra literally means ‘loom’ and the verb tan means ‘to stretch.’ Tantra is the spiritual practice of weaving together opposite energies . . .” (p. 455)

Even science is recognizing the value of taking an integrative approach, as trauma specialist and psychiatrist, Bessel Van Der Kolk (2014), affirmed,

Top-down regulation involves strengthening the capacity of the watchtower [rational brain] to monitor your body’s sensations. Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga can help with this. Bottom-up regulation involves recalibrating the autonomic nervous system.” (p. 63)

While Van Der Kolk was not referring to the synthesis of the immanent and the transcendent, it is noteworthy to recognize that wellbeing is found in balance.


Tantra Yoga uses a seven-tiered, theoretical, archetypal pattern of energy organization and assimilation called the chakra system. Judith (2011) explained,

The word chakra literally translates as ‘wheel’ or ‘disk’ and refers to a spinning sphere of bioenergetic activity emanating from the major nerve ganglia branching forward from the spinal column.” (p. 4)

In her masterpiece Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self, Judith explicated the seven chakras in terms of seven identities and seven rights grouped under three categories (pgs. 26–34):


Somatic

Chakra One: physical identity (self-preservation)/the right to be here or to have


Chakra Two: emotional identity (self-gratification)/the right to feel or to want


Chakra Three: ego identity (self-definition)/the right to act or to be free


Egoic

Chakra Four: social identity (self-acceptance)/the right to love and be loved


Chakra Five: creative identity (self-expression)/the right to speak and hear truth


Transpersonal

Chakra Six: archetypal identity (self-reflection)/the right to see


Chakra Seven: universal identity (self-knowledge)/the right to know


I relate to chakra theory as a philosophical system, rather than a scientific one, that can help me organize my thoughts around how I want to move forward in life. So, considering Judith’s delineation, I am imagining a template for attunement.

In part two of this series, I examine what it means to attune to the physical and self-preservation.


 

Dear friend,


May your mind be peaceful and calm,

may your body be relaxed and comfortable,

and may your heart be filled with love.

Thank you for reading.


Blessings and gratitude,

Ani


 

References


Feuerstein, G. (2012). The yoga tradition: Its history, literature, philosophy, and practice. SCB Distributors.


Judith, A. (2011). Eastern body, western mind: Psychology and the chakra system as a path to the self. Celestial Arts.


Van der Kolk, B. (2014). The body keeps the score: Mind, brain and body in the transformation of trauma. Penguin UK.


Zappala, C. R. (2007). Wellbeing: The correlation between self-transcendence and psychological and subjective wellbeing (Publication №3297586) [Doctoral dissertation, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology]. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. https://www.proquest.com/dissertations-theses/wellbeing-correlation-between-self-transcendence/docview/304744014/se-2

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