Meditation and Kundalini Awakening, Part One

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December 21, 2010

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Tami Simon speaks with Sally Kempton, a meditation teacher who has immersed herself in the world of meditation for over four decades and has earned a reputation as a highly experienced, gifted, and insightful meditation teacher. Sounds True will be releasing Sally Kempton’s new book Meditation for the Love of It, and the audio program Beginning Meditation. In part one of this two-part episode, Sally discusses her understanding of the grace-based tradition in which she teaches, the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism, and the role of the guru. (48 minutes)

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Sally Kempton has been studying and teaching the wisdom of yoga for 40 years. A highly regarded teacher of meditation and spiritual philosophy, she writes the popular Yoga Journal column “Wisdom.” Known for her gift of making yogic wisdom relevant to daily life and for transmitting deep states of meditation, she teaches retreats and teleclasses internationally. Sally is the author of Meditation for the Love of It (Sounds True, 2011). She resides in Carmel Valley, California.

Author photo © Cynthia Johnson-Bianchetta


Listen to Tami Simon's interview with Sally Kempton: Invoking the Goddesses of Yoga

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Embodied Awakening Practices in the Vijnana Bhairava

So often, we compartmentalize our lives, with the spiritual stuff over here and everything else over here.  The more I’ve noted this tendency in myself, the more I’ve tried to bring the same open awareness to tasks such as shopping, work, and doing the dishes that I bring to reading sacred texts and meditation.

I’m always on the lookout for teachings that understand the essential unity of all existence, whether it manifests as the transcendent or the banal. When I first read a translation of the Vijnana Bhairava—one of the key texts of non-dual Kashmir Shaivism, the tradition from which Indian Buddhist Tantra evolved—I was delighted to find that its 112 dharanas, or practices, ranged from the subtle and obscure to the sensuous and embodied.   In other words, its techniques for meditative awareness encompassed all of life.

Earlier this summer, I had the pleasure of working with one of my favorite Sounds True authors, Sally Kempton, to record a new program called Doorways to the Infinite: The Art and Practice of Tantric Meditation.  In this program, to be released next spring, Sally explores the practices of the Vijnana Bhairaiva, unpacking the deeper meanings of the dharanas and offering guided meditation practices that evoke their unique flavors.

Each of the Vijnana Bhairava’s verses—which are presented as a conversation between the  supreme lord Shiva and his consort Parvati—offers a doorway to expanded consciousness.  Some are concerned with the space between breaths, the ascent of kundalini, and mantra practice—familiar subjects for spiritual practitioners.  Other dharanas focus on the taste of food, on touch, on sexual ecstasy.

Still others point toward immediate realization of the Self as pure consciousness.

These dharanas prove that the ancients knew what we are rediscovering today—that spirituality is not something apart from all the other aspects of our lives.  In Tantric teachings, the human body is a mirror of the cosmic body.  When we have a felt sense of this unity of body and spirit, there’s no more gap between our spiritual lives and our ordinary lives.  All life is spirit, and everything is our path to awakening.

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Invoking the Goddesses of Yoga

Tami Simon speaks with Sally Kempton, a teacher who has practiced, studied, and written about meditation and spiritual philosophy for more than 40 years. With Sounds True, Sally has authored Meditation for the Love of It and the recently released book Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga. In this episode, Tami speaks with Sally about how we can seek guidance and blessing from a goddess, the role of imagination in invoking goddess energy, the light and shadow sides of each goddess, and the relationship between goddess energy and the awakening of Kundalini in the human experience. (69 minutes)

Meditation and Kundalini Awakening, Part Two

Tami Simon speaks with Sally Kempton, a meditation teacher who has immersed herself in the world of meditation for over four decades and has earned a reputation as a highly experienced, gifted, and insightful meditation teacher. Sounds True will be releasing Sally Kempton’s new book Meditation for the Love of It, and the audio program Beginning Meditation. In the second part of this two-part episode, Sally discusses “having a love affair” with meditation, what it means for meditation to be one’s beloved, and kundalini awakening. (48 minutes)

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Standing Together, and Stepping Up

Dear Sounds True friends and community,

While holding a mirror to our own organizational accountability, Sounds True unequivocally stands in solidarity with the Black community, the family of George Floyd, and the many others who have been victims of police brutality and ongoing racial injustice.

We stand with and for our Black employees, our Black authors and colleagues, our Black customers, and all of the protestors and social change activists—past, present, and future— who are working to put an end to racism in every corner of our society.

And we are committed to not just stand in solidarity but to step up.

Since George Floyd’s murder, we have been having many in-depth discussions among the 125-person staff at Sounds True about the most meaningful actions we can take as a transformational learning company to help educate ourselves and our community and contribute to the dismantling of racism.

We have been asking ourselves questions such as:

  • How can we best use our platform to better amplify the voices of wisdom teachers who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)?
  • What’s in our Shadow, as individuals and as an organization? What unconscious areas must now be brought into awareness?
  • And how do we actively address these areas so that we can evolve as an organization and be a force of genuine service in the world?

The answers to these questions are not simple, quick, or easy. It has taken me a while to write this email to you, our beloved customers and Sounds True community, because we have felt as a team the need to listen carefully and look deeply within in order to lay out an action plan moving forward that will contribute to meaningful and substantive change.

Anything less falls short of what I believe this moment is asking of us.

We also want to learn and evolve in partnership with you. We are learning and growing together as a community, and it has been important for us to create a moving-forward action plan that invites engagement from our entire audience.

With arms wide open, I invite you to witness, support, and step up with us in the following ways:

  • Over the next two years, Sounds True will be undergoing an in-depth Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training in the workplace. This training initiative has been in development for over a year, and will be provided by TMI Consulting, led by Dr. Tiffany Jana. Dr. Jana is coauthor of the books Overcoming BiasErasing Institutional Bias, and Subtle Acts of Exclusion. As part of the training, we will be uncovering how unconscious bias, microaggressions, and micro-acts of exclusion show up in the workplace, in our personal lives, and even in our products. The training also includes a thorough audit of Sounds True’s hiring practices, HR policies, marketing materials, and more.
  • Sounds True also wants to include our customers, authors, and partner businesses in the introductory phase of this training process that we will be embarking upon. With that in mind, we are hosting a three-part webinar series on “Healing Racism” with Dr. Jana, beginning on Wednesday, June 24, at 8:00 pm ET | 5:00 pm PT. The series is free, and we are inviting our customers, authors, and business associates to join the Sounds True staff for this online training and to walk this part of our journey together. As someone on our email list, you will be receiving all of the details in future emails.
  • It is clear to us at Sounds True that we need to publish and otherwise amplify the voices of more authors and presenters who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. If you have ideas about new BIPOC authors you would like to see published at Sounds True or included in our summits and online offerings, please write to us at acquisitions@soundstrue.com.
  • The Sounds True Foundation, formed in 2018, is increasing its efforts to raise scholarship funds for BIPOC students to attend our Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program and become trained as mindfulness teachers who will bring this practice to diverse communities all over the world. We will be hosting a virtual fundraiser on June 30 for this initiative and will be emailing you with more details.

As I mentioned, working to dismantle and heal racism—in ourselves, in our organization, and in our world—is not a flash-in-the-pan effort at Sounds True. This is a long-haul commitment to the creation of a different world that is just, kind, and equitable. And we have a heckuva road to travel with you to get there.

And we are committed. We don’t want to simply talk about spiritual awakening. We want to embody it … as individuals, as a company, and as a force in the world. Humbly and boldly, we are going to give everything we have and invite you to do the same. This is the time for us to step up, together.

With love on the journey,

Tami Simon

Founder and Publisher, Sounds True

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