Fifteenth night: Chitra Nitya: “Fiction”
Energy: authoring your own story
Chitra is multicoloured, lustrous like rays of the rising sun, bedecked with jewels made out of nine kinds of gems, and her garments are made of the silk of variegated diverse colours. She carries the noose and goad, and her hands are held up in vara mudra (receptivity and gift-giving) and abhaya mudra (fearlessness).
“Chitra” means “fiction,” and this fifteenth night of the moon cycle is right up close to the full moon, so close that when you look at her, you may easily mistake her for the full moon. She stands without the need for the many weapons that some of our Nityas carry. Chitra comes almost at the end of our sexual narrative, and the personal journey that many of you have been taking with me through this moon cycle. She is the goddess that asks us what story we are going to tell about the experience we’ve been having.
Stories, the act of collecting up our experience and placing it in a narrative that has a beginning, middle, and end, are deeply important. Separated from the experience itself, the story means something on its own. The story becomes the thing we learn from, the way we remember and teach (“I’m something like you”). Chitra reminds us, however, that experiences are always variegated, and and the story can’t hold within it every detail and perspective of an experience. Tantra yoga is about opening ourselves to the diversity of gifts life has to offer. We practice experiencing the full spectrum of emotion: fear, sadness, self-protection, bliss, connection, grief, boredom, joy, the whole shebang. Life, desire, and relationship is always more complicated than the story we must distill it down to after the fact.
When we begin telling a story, we are in control of it: we choose what details to keep and which to throw away. We decide its moral. With time, however, the story can start to have control over us: the story of our lives becomes a narrative we repeat over and over again, For example, when I was a young girl, I got the idea in my head that I was bad at math. Now I own a business, and accounting is one of my favourite parts of the week. I realized that my story about math was far more created by a culture that doesn’t think women should do math (perhaps it was that talking Barbie who spouted, “I hate math!”) than it was by my actual personal experience with math. We have to be careful that the stories we tell don’t start to tell us.
Perhaps there’s a story in your life that it’s time to re-write. You can be the hero.
If we wish to know about a man, we ask, what is is story, his real inmost story? For each of us is a biography, a story. Each of us is a singular narrative which is constructed continually, unconsciously, by through and in us. Through our perceptions, our feelings, our thoughts, our actions, and not least our discourse, our spoken narrations. […] Biologically, physiologically, we are not so different from each other. Historically, as narratives, we are each of us unique. To be ourselves we must have ourselves: possess–if need be, repossess–our stories.
Sit or lie down and call up an emotion, something powerful for you (perhaps desire). Get right into the story of the emotion, and let yourself feel it as fully as possible. Notice what it feels like to have this emotion in your body. Then see if you can hold the emotion in your body without the story of the before and after, the who, why, and when. Can you feel without plugging the feeling into a story? What does the feeling mean to you when it’s not caught in a story? Is it separable?
Write your life story in around three sentences, just focusing on the major details. Reread it, and then rewrite it, focusing on different aspects of your life. Repeat this a third time. Now imagine yourself writing this a year or maybe 20 years in the future. What do you want those three sentences to say?