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Advanced Yoga Practices
Tantra Lessons

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Lesson T64 - Shame and Guilt about Sex  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: May 8, 2009

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of this tantra yoga archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "What is tantra yoga?"


Q: I am ashamed of the sexual lifestyle I find myself in, and of the excesses I am prone to engage in. Can tantra methods bring me more in balance and help me get over the shame and guilt I suffer.

A: Yes, tantra methods can help bring balance and reduce self-judgment about sex, especially when combined with a broader view encompassing our overall spiritual development. Sex is one part of the whole of our life. By addressing the whole, we will bring light into every part.

The first step to resolving a personal difficulty is the recognition of it, which you are doing now. From there, we can move beyond self-condemnation to dissolve the underlying cause that is producing our shame and guilt. Sometimes it will be in our best interest to favor an intention to change our conduct. Other times, it will be in our best interest to favor an intention to accept who we are, forgive ourselves for the self-judgment we have imposed on ourselves, and move on. If we have harmed others along the way, we can find ways to make amends and move on from there. Where there is the will, there is a way.

Sexual lifestyle is not an obstacle to spiritual development. The underlying principles of preservation and cultivation of sexual energy can be applied within any lifestyle or sexual behavior. This is what the AYP tantra lessons are about, looking at it from many angles, and suggesting ways to apply the underlying principles in each case. So, whatever sexual excesses we may be experiencing, developing a good understanding of the principles of tantra can help bring balance into our sex life, no matter what it has been before. But if we want a lasting solution, we must look beyond the application of tantric sexual principles alone.

Nothing can change the fact that ultimately we are not our thoughts and emotions, or even our actions. We are the pure consciousness behind all that. What are deeply held shame and guilt but an attachment to a perception? It is identification of our awareness with our thoughts, feelings, body, and events that have occurred in our life. This is why we meditate daily, to cultivate pure consciousness, that abiding inner silence -- the witness. Then, as we observe all that is going on in our life (inside and outside), we can allow it and let it go. When we do, the compulsive conduct and self-judgment will begin to relax. That is how it is done. It takes some time, so it is suggested to develop a habit of daily meditation (see Lesson 13), and see what gradual changes in self-awareness and conduct occur over months and years. You may be surprised how quickly your point of view can change with just a little inner silence coming up.

All emotions, including shame and guilt, can be converted with the methods of bhakti. You are already doing this by asking your question. One sincere cry for help is worth more than lifetimes of self-condemnation. It is a major shift, and you are encouraged to keep going. When help comes in the form of new opportunities created by your own sincere desire, be prepared to take action in the direction being shown if it resonates with you. It is one thing to cry for help. It is another thing to act when a promising door opens. We are each responsible for our own progress in life. No one can do it for us for long if we are not willing to do for ourselves. For more on converting negative emotions to a higher purpose, see Lesson 67.

Under certain circumstances, emotional baggage and compulsive conduct can be released in the mind by systematic application of the methods of self-inquiry. See Lesson 321 and the ones that follow for suggestions on how to apply the mind in ways that can lead to less self-judgment and a greater sense of freedom.

If there is a stubborn addiction that is causing harm to us and others, then additional help from a 12 step program can be very good. The 12 step support program is a systematic way to step out of a destructive attachment by surrendering to a "higher power," which is also our inner silence.

There are a variety of approaches we can use to overcome shame and guilt in our life. It is recommended to take a multi-pronged approach according to your inclinations. If you take actions along several lines that resonate with you, the results will be there, and the whole will be greater than the sum of the parts.

Above all, cultivate an intent to be kind to yourself and to those who may have been affected adversely by your conduct. Our respect for others begins with developing respect for ourselves. What you seek you will find. You are obviously longing for a fuller life. Act on that longing, and all will be well. Good things are happening.

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed instructions on the methods of tantra in relation to the broad scope of yoga practices and the enlightenment process, see the AYP Tantra book, and AYP Plus.

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