Shiva and Shivaratri

Monday 4 March 2019
7.30pm to 10pm 
Allerton Park, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, West Yorkshire
£20 (concessions available for low waged etc, please contact us)

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Join Zeenat to celebrate Shivaratri, the Dark Night of Shiva, which falls on Monday 4 March 2019.  In Tantra yoga Shiva is considered to be the ultimate void, the formlessness from which all manifestation is born, the underlying ground of all being. Shiva is the totality of consciousness, experienced in us as spaciousness, stillness, expansiveness, and ultimately as pure Awareness. Shiva is the essence of our own enlightened nature. 
 
Shivaratri falls on the night before the new moon, so on one of the darkest, moonless nights of the year. It is said to be most auspicious time for Shiva practice. The energies then are at their highest for us to be able to drop deep into our own Shiva nature. To worship Shiva is really to acknowledge and become intimate with the Shiva aspect of our own being, to unite with the silence, the spaciousness and the tranquillity within; to recognise ourselves as nothing other than pure Awareness.
 
So the best time to practice on Shivaratri is after dark, the time of optimum stillness when it is easier to go into the restful depths of our being. From the mythological point of view it is also said that at night the ghosts come out and Shiva is able to heal their wounds and sorrows. In other words, the night of Shivaratri, is a powerful time to heal and resolve our own deep inner demons.
 
During the session we will go deep into meditation, and Shiva chant and mantra, guided by relevant aspects of Shaiva philosophy and teaching from the Shiva Puranas.  
 
We will practice the ‘abhishekam’, a beautiful ceremony in which we make offerings to Shiva while chanting his mantras.  What does it mean to make offerings to this ultimately formless consciousness, to pure awareness? The human mind is programmed to relate to life, to the everyday and material, through forms; we relate through form and it is normally very hard for us to relate to the formless, which is abstract and unknown. The formless is very difficult for our limited everyday minds to grasp, even if it is our own essence nature. So in Tantra we relate to the formless through form, for example through personified forms of the deities, which are all ultimately aspects of our own awakened consciousness. The forms are like mirrors we hold up so we can relate to, encounter and then embody, our own awakened consciousness.
 
Shiva is visualised with many forms, from the blue-black yogi with his long, matted hair sitting in meditation posture and holding a trident, to the lingam, a more abstract symbol which is a small pillar representing the energy and potential of Shiva. When we  personify the ultimately formless Shiva, we can more easily come into relationship with our own Shiva nature on the human level. The illusions of separation from the whole are deconstructed, and we come to see this vastness of consciousness as none other than ourselves. 
 
The abhishekam, as well as a way of becoming intimate with and experiencing ourselves as pure consciousness, is also a powerful tool for cleaning the senses and removing the obscurations of the mind, and of binding the energies of higher consciousness into the mind-body system.  
 
OPTIONAL:
There will be the option of remaining until midnight for those who would like to stay longer and continue to chant and practice as the night goes on.  In India the celebrations of Shivaratri usually go on through the whole night! 
 
Course requirements
All are welcome from newer to very experienced practitioners; and if you are familiar with meditation and/or yoga, but are new to or want to learn more about Tantra philosophy and practice (e.g. mantras, ritual, visualisation) then this would be a good event to try.