Mark: “I spent 15 years learning martial arts at tournament level, learning about chi in the energy body, and trying to silence my thoughts using a variety of methods. I practiced most days. In 2007 I did my first 10 day Vipassana retreat (S.N.Goenke) and since then have done over 15 retreats including working at a retreat centre for a few weeks. In 2010 I took my first long-term meditation retreat and spent 3 months meditating all day, every day, and doing nothing else. I spent the entire time doing the Anapana method and at the end of it used a Vajrayana Meditation Technique by Lama Zopa Rinpoche to undo the nature of existence. It blew my mind, and I had to stop meditating for about 6 months. After things settled, I did another Vipassana retreat but something had shifted. I needed a method that I could live by, outside of retreat settings. From all my learnings I devised The Gentle Resonance Meditation Method (Join the mailing list and get free access to the Podcast instructions) which I started to teach and adapt to the point that it is now. In 2013 Jodie joined me in setting up The Temple Space. We both had extensive knowledge of Tantra and we started running workshops in both meditation and Tantra, among other things (I will talk about the Tantra journey in another FAQ). I have since spent 2 years working on Shri Yantra meditation, a further 2 years meditating on The Mahavidya (10 Wisdom Goddesses). Today, I am currently focused on going deeper with The 8 Jhanas, as taught by Ayya Khema and Leigh Brasington. I try to do 3 hours of Anapana meditation per day (or the Gentle Resonance if I can’t focus), as I find that is the tipping point to combat the effects of living in modernity.
You can learn The Gentle Resonance Meditation Method in less than one hour. (Free to learn via podcast if you join our mailing list – click here to subscribe). If you practice this method at every opportunity and integrate it into your day, then you will find you are meditating with ease pretty quickly. But that is by using supportive methods that The Gentle Resonance is deliberately designed around in order to speed up the process. It is like taking a fast-track course, you will get certificated quickly, but you won’t really have a full grasp of the skill. Only time and daily practice can create the kind of deeply grounded core sense of stillness and knowing that long-term meditation practice will create. So, you can definitely experience what meditation can do within 1 hour by using The Gentle Resonance Method, but to feel the real benefits of meditation on your life, it will require daily practice for a number of years, and then you will start to notice subtle changes in your thinking patterns and behaviour that are improvements on how you used to be and think. This requires daily practice, and The Gentle Resonance Method is designed so that you can do it while you are doing other boring chores that don’t require too much concentration, you can even do it while driving. But the deeper knowledge and power of meditation takes years to attain, and this is why we suggest you approach meditation as a lifestyle choice and not just something you try to schedule into your day occasionally. If you really want to learn meditation fast, then the best way is to go to a 10 day immersive Vipassana retreat. You will have all you need by the end of it, and I highly recommend you do that if you can anyway, they have centres all over the world. It will still take 10 years of regular practice to become good and see real benefits in your life from meditation. It is a slow journey, not a fast one, and should be approached as such. Meditation gently tunes The Mind & thinking processes, and that is not something that should be rushed, so it is right that it takes many years. Learn it in 1 hour, but be prepared to practice it every day for the rest of your life.
Probably within another 3000 lifetimes, but more seriously, learning meditation should be considered a lifestyle choice and not just a 15 minute practice you do once a week. Unfortunately, if you can only do 15 minutes a week you will probably only ever achieve relaxation, not meditation. Maybe that is enough for you, but if you want to learn it properly then think of it as like trying to become a Doctor (in the case of meditation you will be studying the Science of Mind and Attention). So first, you must go to school to learn the basics, you probably already did that, but now you decide you want to specialise and become a Doctor, so you go to college. It takes about 7 years of some pretty serious study to get the label Doctor, but even then you can’t actually practice as a Doctor yet, you have to go and do more training in a hospital under an actual Doctor for a few years before anyone would really think of you as a Doctor. To truly become good at meditation requires as much practice and study as it does to become a Doctor. You are trying to wrestle control of the Mind, which is a huge challenge and takes just as much perseverance, study, and diligent effort to achieve as becoming a skilled Doctor. Even after 10 years of regular focus and practice you probably still wont meditate like a Buddha, but you will be an okay meditator, and you will be good enough to explain the basics to someone else and help them take the journey to learn it properly. How long for you to become a Master meditator? who knows really, the journey to expand perception is never ending and there is no measuring stick.
Our Mind never stops thinking. We have been training it to think for all our lives. It is very good at analysing, and judging, and talking to itself. Our Mind spends all day telling us what it thinks it is seeing and what it thinks is going on. This is very useful, but this also causes a problem – the Mind is actually quite limited in its abilities, and it just wont shut-up even when it does not know what it is talking about, or worse, when it is depressed. When you learn meditation properly, you will be able to get your Mind to focus on a single point, and it will then become quiet enough to let your attention expand and take things in slightly differently when you do. Nothing really changes, and the Mind never really stops, but it is a bit like training a bad dog to sit in the corner and behave itself instead of claiming all of your attention by barking. It still whines a bit and stares at you eagerly waiting for you to engage it again, but it has finally learnt to allow you the space to focus your energy on the rest of the world, and without it’s constant yapping distracting you. That is just the beginning, once you master the art of focusing your Mind onto a single point then you can begin to explore places that I cannot explain here because your Mind will be sat in the corner behaving itself and wont be invited, so it cannot really grasp what I would be saying. Don’t worry, you won’t go mad meditating, but you will expand your potential horizons and get to leave the house if you want to. Simply put, would you prefer a dog that yaps constantly and wont let you leave the house? or an obedient dog that behaves itself but still does all that you ask of it? To achieve this kind of freedom, your Mind, and your dog, both require training, patience, love, care, and lots of hard work, but there are rewards in the end that we can only imagine until the moment we achieve them. Meditation is the start of a journey towards a greater awareness than the Mind alone can perceive. How? Because the mind is a limited machine that can only perceive in a limited way, but you are more than just your Mind, or could be, if you could get it to stop yapping for a minute.
No, there is no need for sex or nudity at our Tantra workshops. In fact, there is no need for touch either. We do encourage connection that may lead to touch such as a hug, but not to sexual touch in any way. It is not about getting excited. One of the biggest issues in our society is the blind drive for instant gratification through thrills. People throw themselves at each other, desperately seeking fulfilment, but never stopping long enough to observe the subtle energy at work between us. In our Tantra workshops we teach people how to observe that subtle energy. We do this by slowing everything down, stopping social chit-chat, and then we bring everyone into their heart. Then we observe what is happening to our energy. We keep our attention within ourselves, we do not project out onto others. That is where the Tantric experience occurs – within ourselves – and not through touch, excitement, sex, or nudity at all. Fulfilment for men and women occurs in the heart centre, not the sex centre. If you are going to workshops that introduce Tantra using sex, then you will probably find yourself feeling let down later by the decisions you make in that workshop due to peer pressure or over-excitement at the time. Therefore we recommend never going to an Introductory Tantra workshop that offers sexual connection. Later on, when you have come to understand Tantra properly, then you can seek that for yourself with your partners. Our book goes into great detail about the importance of knowing your own limits and undoing all the bad habits that make sexual connection dissatisfying or a later regret. In Tantra, you do not need to be touched to have an orgasmic experience, in fact, some of the most powerful and long-lasting blissful states can be had without anyone touching you. This is because true connection occurs in the heart, and so it is the heart centre that we focus on in our Tantra workshops.
We consider Tantra to be divided into two fields: Western Tantra and Eastern Tantra.
Eastern Tantra deals with the spiritual aspect of Tantra as a lifestyle and requires a lifetime of study.
While Western Tantra is imported from Eastern Tantra, but is about the sensual experiences that can be had through genuine Tantric practices.
Western Tantra can be learnt in workshops – such as the ones we run – that teach about energy, and ways to relate and connect with ourselves, as well as with others, but connecting from the Heart centre and not the Sacral sex centre. It makes connecting a much more pleasant and fulfilling experience, no one feels pressured, and it is the best way to start to learn what Tantra is all about. The secret to Western Tantra is found in the subtle energy observed in the space between two people when there is no agenda, projection, or falsity.
There is a detailed article about Tantra, and how we approach it at The Temple Space in our blog section and you can read it here – What is Tantra?