Rituals and transfiguration are two significant aspects of Tantra.
My tantra teacher always emphasizes greatly on rituals. She will create the most beautiful, ravishing altar with beautiful flowers, countless candles, sacred items and statues, placing at the centre of our sacred circle before we begin the class. We have rituals every day during our tantra training, ranging from mini rituals like wearing a bindi on our forehead, transfiguring ourselves into Goddesses by wearing beautiful dresses, wearing hip scarves when we perform belly dancing, to big rituals like conducting a sacred marriage (we married our inner Shiva and Shakti, the divine masculine and divine feminine, the sacred marriage is so fascinating, I feel it deserves another post) and fire ceremony.
At first, I didn't quite understand the importance of rituals, although I clearly enjoyed it a lot, and that was precisely why I became so drawn to the tantric path initially. When you had experienced tantric lovemaking with rituals, there was really no going back to "normal lovemaking," and interestingly, many women in our course came on the tantric path because they all used to have a lover who was a tantra teacher! And once they had experienced tantric lovemaking, there is no going back. (Once you have been treated like a Goddess, why would you bother to lower your standard?)
Of course, tantra is not just about lovemaking, although sexuality is one aspect of Tantra. To me, Tantra is a lifestyle. Once you understand that you can transfigure everything in your daily life, you can literally make rituals out of everything.
The more I have experienced all these different rituals, the more I appreciate them. Sometimes my mind could be a bit impatient (My mind: "Okay, here we go again, chanting Om Namah Shivaya ... hmmm when can we finish this? Hmm what am I gonna eat for dinner later? Oh I am starving, I can't stay for the chant any longer..."), but now I have really understood the importance and the power of rituals, by transforming a simple act into a ritual, it can immediately bring you into the present and it will be much easier to appreciate the sacredness in everything (sometimes our mind may take things for granted).
I now even enjoy doing daily mini-rituals myself (drawing inspiration from my tantric practice). For instance, before I eat, I kiss my food (the Sufi way) and also say a prayer to my food (the Japanese do this too). I realise by doing this, it will immediately bring my mind into the present, and I can really enjoy my meals without being too much in my head (like thinking about other things, or looking at my phone).
Or another example, before I write an important message, I will also say a prayer, and after I send it, I can also say a prayer. Even before I began writing this blog, I said a prayer, so I could really focus on writing without getting distracted by other things.
I have also developed my "daily tantric trick" as I realise that my mind can sometimes be very judgemental - this is good, this is bad, this is boring, this is interesting. Then I realise this mentality does not really serve me in my daily life and I want to live each moment joyously - if I deem something as boring, how can I be joyous? So I have decided to transfigure what I would normally deem as boring e.g. paying bills as a mini-ritualistic task.
There is also a saying in Bhakti, if you witness any negative thoughts in your mind, again transform it into a prayer. To me, this is tremendously powerful.
I have realised that by transforming what seemingly mundane tasks into rituals can make the act itself becomes sacred and super interesting, and it will also help me to become much more present in my daily life, which is super tantric!
As Osho says, "Tantra says say yes, say yes to everything. You need not fight, you need not even swim - you simply float with the current. The river is going by itself, on its own accord, everything reaches to the ultimate ocean. You simply don't create any disturbance, you don't push the river; you simply go with it. That going with it, floating with it, relaxing with it, is Tantra." (Tantra: the Supreme Understanding by Osho)
I am eternally grateful to be on the tantric path and particularly grateful to my guruji Osho's guidance, my tantra teacher Monika Nataraj and other amazing tantra teachers out there who are spreading the wisdom of this sacred practice.