Tag Archive: Kundalini


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Many years ago, when I first became interested in the esoteric elements of yoga, I remember looking through dozens of texts and noticing a strange recurring theme. Throughout the texts I saw paintings of yogis depicted as being in a deep state of Samadhi, with their eyes crossed and directed up towards the centre of their forehead.

It turns out that the yogis in those images weren’t just pulling funny faces, they were applying a simple yet powerful consciousness expanding technique known as shambavi mudra. Applying this simple technique of turning the eyes up towards the centre of the forehead allowed these explorers of consciousness to open their mind’s eye and see the unity and the oneness of everything.

Shambavi mudra can be looked at on two levels; they are the external, physical level, and the internal, mental level. In this post I’ll describe the physical level, as understanding and learning how to apply it lays the foundation for practising on the mental level.

The Physical level of Shambavi

In the same way that Yogis noticed the other bandhas and mudras occurring spontaneously throughout their body as their mind began to awaken, they also observed how, when they entered a deep state of meditation, their eyes would naturally roll up and in towards the centre of their forehead. It seems that this natural movement of the eyes, in response to the mind entering deeper states of awareness and expansion, has the affect of bringing the two hemispheres of the brain into harmony with each other, creating a unity and synergy between all parts of the brain.

With this understanding of shambavi mudra, it’s interesting to see how an awakened mind is often symbolised by closed eyes turned up towards a single, opened eye in the centre of the forehead. Symbolically, this represents the neurological integrative affect shambavi has upon the brain, and the subsequent awareness of unity and oneness that arises in the mind.

Practice:

  1. Sitting or lying in a comfortable position, bring your index finger to a central point in front of your face, level with your eyes.
  2. Focus your eyes on the point of your finger.
  3. Keeping your eyes focussed on the tip of your finger, slowly move your finger to touch the point just above the bridge of your nose, where the third eye is often depicted as being situated.
  4. Once you have reached the position described in step 3, maintaining your eyes in that position, close your eye lids as your remove your finger and bring your hand to rest in your lap.

The effects of this practice, although happening mostly in the background, manifest in a specific way. Over time, as the eye position of shambavi integrates the brain’s hemispheres and begins to stimulate and activate specific areas of the brain, the practitioner begins to see a light in the centre of his/her forehead. The longer the practice is used, the stronger the new neurological connections become. The affect of this neurological strengthening is a growing intensity in the brightness of the inner light in the head.

Integration

When we integrate shambavi mudra into our bandha and meditative practices we are greatly enhancing their affects on the awakening body and mind. Eventually, when we practice our meditation in conjunction with shambavi, the mind becomes completely absorbed in the light in the head. When we reach this point in our practice, the mind expands and we see ourselves in everything and everything in us.

One Love <3

My disappearing body

All this week I’ve had the feeling of living in a dream, of being completely disconnected from what I would normally call reality. And although I can’t find the words to portray exactly what I’m experiencing, I can best describe it as a type of doing without doing, thinking without thinking. It’s like this body is moving, acting and reacting, and the mind is thinking, but it’s not me. I’m simply watching it all happen. Even thinking about these words I’m typing, and the act of physically using the keyboard on the laptop in front of this body I call my own, doesn’t feel real. It’s like I’m observing it all from behind the curtain of the mind. 

Oh words are so meaningless. They completely fail me at times like this.

Dissolving in light

Tonight, during meditation, as I felt my body becoming lighter, I perceived a brightness, an intense light, filling my physical form. It was like my body was a balloon filling with helium. Becoming lighter and lighter with every breath. Soon after this, I began to notice parts of my body disappearing, until eventually there was no body. There was only light. I was light.  

As I regained the sense of body, it was as if I was in the body but at the same time all around it. It is a strange sensation. It feels similar to the awakening I experienced a number of years ago, only the intensity is far milder. Anyway, I just thought I’d share. 

Next post will be on Shambavi Mudra, an important step in reverse engineering the awakening process. 

Although I’m feeling separate from everything at the moment, paradoxically, I’ve never felt so connected. With this, there comes a feeling of immense love and compassion welling up from the depths of my being. 

Wishing every one of you much love and happiness :-)

Namaste

Infusing the mind with love

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For the most part people tend to approach life either from a rational, intellectual level or an intuitive, emotional level. It’s rare to find a fully integrated person capable of living life and seeing the world from both perspectives, simultaneously feeling, intuiting and rationalising what they see and do. This is because for most of us there’s a clash between the heart and mind. Yet there doesn’t have to be a clash, we don’t have to choose the heart or the mind. As humans, we’re capable of integrating the rational and the emotional centres of being, and when we do, an entirely new perspective begins to develop, and a new type of intelligence emerges. This is Yoga, a process of joining together and integrating all aspects of our being, a process that happens on a psychological, physiological and energetic level.

Although there are many methods used to integrate our mental and emotional states of being, those ingenious yogis of the past, using their reverse engineering insights gleaned from lifetimes of meditative practice, developed a very simple technique. This technique, capable of building a bridge between heart and mind, is called Jalandhara Bandha.

Practice:

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  1. Sitting in a relaxed posture, begin by focusing on your breath.
  2. As you inhale, tilt your head forward, allowing your chin to drop down onto your chest or as close to it as feels comfortable.
  3. As you exhale, slowly lift your head and tilt it backwards.
  4. Continue in this way for ten breaths. Then relax. Slowly increase the length of time spent doing this exercise and make sure not to move your head too fast as you can damage your neck if you do.

Energetically, Jalandhara Bandha is said to seal the upward flowing prana and reverse its flow in the body, sending it down into the heart. This is an important aspect of yogic theory. Using the language of energy, yogins say, when the upward flowing energy and the downward flowing energy reverse their direction, they fuse together. When these two energies fuse, a third energy is created, that energy is known as kundalini. As kundalini rises, the mind expands into Samadhi. When Jalandhara is integrated with the other bandhas, we create this reverse flow.

Neurologically, Jalandhara stimulates the nerves of the heart and throat, and lights up the frontal lobes and emotional centres in the brain, while on a more physical body level, moving the head in this way increases the pumping action of the other bandhas on the cerebrospinal fluid, further sharpening and clearing the mind while detoxing the brain.

Integrated practice:

  1. As you breathe in, apply Mula Bandha, Uddiyana Bandha, and Jalandhara Bandha.
  2. As you breathe out, release all three Bandhas. Continue in this way for ten breaths. Increase the number of breaths slowly. This practice has much deeper effects than are immediately obvious.

Personal experience

My own experience of Jalandhara Bandha was a little uncomfortable, as all of these spontaneous things tend to be. I woke up one morning with a stiff neck. Initially I thought it was caused by a draft in the room or a bad sleeping position. So I got up and went to work. I sat down to begin my workday, and over the period of about half an hour I noticed my neck becoming increasingly tense. Eventually it got to the point where I couldn’t even turn my head. So I went home sick and got into bed. And that’s where I spent the next three days, lying there, in complete stillness. On the third day, I woke up and all the tension in my neck had completely disappeared. It was the morning of that third day, after a short breathing and meditative practice that I had my first kundalini awakening, the awakening I’ve described in my earlier posts.

Samadhi

A short animation I made to illustrate the realisation of unity and oneness brought about by the awakening of Kundalini.

Awakening the Heart

This is a short animated video I made to Illustrate the flow of energy during the practice of Uddiyana Bandha.

Deepening the energetic flow

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Awakening Kundalini

We can greatly enhance the effects of mula bandha by altering the angle of our pelvis during our practice. To do this, we simply tuck our pelvis forward as we draw the perineal muscles up during the inhalation phase of our breathing cycle.

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Awakening Kundalini

Then, as we exhale and release the muscle contraction of mula bandha, we tilt our pelvis back by sticking out our bum (just a little).

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Awakening Kundalini

This simple, dynamic structural addition to the muscle contraction of mula bandha dramatically increases the stimulation of the pelvic nerve structures, while acting as a pump for the cerebrospinal fluid. The resulting effect is a dramatic increase in the energy flow in the spinal channel (sushumna) along with stronger stimulation of the lower brain structures, resulting in a deeper, more expanded state of mind.

*I just wanted to add this bit of information before moving on to the other bandhas. There are a few other things we can do to enhance the energy flow when practising mula bandha, however, these become more applicable at a later stage.

Enjoy the practice and the energy and peace it brings into your life :-)

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This is the first ink image I made, about one week after my kundalini awakening. It shows the path through which she travelled on her journey into bliss.

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This image illustrates the realisation of my body being nothing more than a vessel, like a boat navigating its way through the river of life.

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I called this ‘Dead wood,’ to symbolise the same idea of the body being dead and without life when there was no SELF stirring it.

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This is how I saw my aura shortly after the awakening. I was in such a blissful state that nothing on this earth could disturb my mind.

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For months after my awakening, I had the sense of being much bigger than the physical body. Often I would find myself walking around the house during the night, only to realise my physical body was still in bed, at which point I would be snapped back into the physical world.

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I painted this vision a few months before my daughter was conceived. I called it ‘Incarnating Buddha’ :-)

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This was how I perceived love. Two divine lovers, embraced with their energies in complete harmony. 

Awakening the serpent fire

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Just as my awareness reached the point where it seemed as if nothing existed, I felt my head explode and as it did, my awareness spread outwards in every direction. I felt as if I was both everything and nothing, simultaneously existing and not existing.

 – From my personal diary

Kundalini (coiled serpent) is the spiritual power that, in most people, lays dormant at the base of the spine. When she awakens, she makes her way up through the spiritual centres, called chakras, until she reaches the highest spiritual centre, the sahasrara chakra, where she unites with her consort, shiva. As Kundalini and shiva unite, the Sadhak (spiritual aspirant) enters a deep meditative trance where he/she becomes one with the universe.

The path of kundalini, also called the path of fire, is filled with many dangers and for that reason is only suited for certain Sadhaks (spiritual aspirants). If Kundalini rises through the wrong channel, even though various siddhis (yogi powers) arise, many physical and mental illnesses manifest in the practitioner, sometimes ending in death.

What follows is my story of how Kundalini woke me up to the world.

The Awakening

Five years ago, in late Spring, I had just finished my morning practices, which consisted of breathing and Meditation. As I lay down on my back to allow the energy generated by my practices flow through me, a sudden panic set in as I realised my body was completely paralysed. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t even move my eyes; every part of me was frozen.

Soon after the paralyses set in, I began to feel something moving just beneath the surface of my skin. It felt like dozens of worms wriggling and moving upwards, starting in my lower legs and making their way towards my upper thighs and sacrum (tail bone). As they progressed up my legs, they grow in size and reduced in number, as if they were merging into one.

My dying breath

Once the worms, which were more like two snakes at this stage, reached my upper legs, they merged into one large snake. This powerful snake entered my sacrum and began moving up my spinal column, one vertebrae at a time. As she moved through my spine, each vertebrae she moved through, completely disintegrated.

As the snake ascended, I became increasingly panicked. And by the time she reached the level of my heart, I thought I was going to die. At this point, I completely surrendered to the process; I accepted my impending death.

Once I accepted my death, the process became much smoother and almost enjoyable, although still scarier than anything else I had ever experienced.

As she moved into my chest, she forced her way into my heart, which felt as if it exploded into a billion pieces. As this happened, I released a deep sigh, after which my breathing became completely suspended. I thought it was my dying breath, but strangely, I was still conscious, still existing in this thing, this body I call my self. From this stage on, my mind became completely serene. Even though I thought I was dying, I was absolutely at peace with the process.

The grand finale: my orgasmic brain

As the serpent emerged from my heart, she continued moving up through my spine until she reached the point at the base of my skull. She paused there for a few moments as if preparing for her final ascent. Then as she penetrated my skull, my tongue physically rolled back and pushed up behind my soft palate, penetrating my nasal cavity, with the tip of my tongue touching a soft spot directly above my nasal septum. As this happened, it was like having a thousand orgasms all at once, in my brain. In this moment, everything around me disappeared as my awareness was turned completely inward.

Just as my awareness reached the point where it seemed as if nothing existed, I felt my head explode and as it did, my awareness spread outwards in every direction. I felt as if I was both everything and nothing, simultaneously existing and not existing.

The sense of being everything and nothing at the same time seemed to go on for an eternity.

Re-entry: My descent into a world of illusion

After a period of time, I’m not sure how long, my awareness re-entered the physical body. It felt as if the universe was breathing me into physical existence. Moments after entering my body, my lungs expanded as I took my first breath in this new state of expanded awareness.

For about three months after this experience, I felt as if I was floating around in a world of illusion. Everything I looked at had a glow emanating from it. Living things had auras of vibrant colour that expanded further than I could see. Each aura was connected to the things around it. Watching the world in this way was like living in a dream. I watched waves of energy dancing across the sky, witnessing scenes that I could never hope to describe in a physical sense.

Gradually, over the next six months, I settled back into a more normal state of perception, mostly because I stopped my practices, in fear of leaving my body and not returning 

The after effects

Although, five years later, I still experience many after effects from this kundalini awakening, I am for the most part able to function as a “normal human being.” But in saying that, there are two after effects that are of deeper significance than the others. One is the ability to apply something called Kechari mudra. This is the name used to describe when the tongue is pushed up behind the soft palate, into the nasal cavity. Doing this has many powerful effects upon the body and mind, effects I’ll discuss in my next post. The second after effect is called Shaktipat, the ability to initiate the awakening of another person’s kundalini. This is something I’ll also look at in a later post.

A visual journey

I made some drawings soon after my kundalini experience to visually illustrate the process of awakening I went through. I’ll upload them, hopefully tomorrow :-)

 

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While walking by the river in Sligo town with my daughter Aoife, the beautiful swan pictured above came over to say hello.  

Our brief meeting with that swan reminded of a powerful practice called hansa yoga, a practice that is both basic and advanced. Basic in that it’s a simple exercise of following the breath, and advanced in that it’s a powerful mantra capable of arousing the spiritual power called kundalini shakti that lays dormant within us.

The practice is simple. To do it, you sit, stand or lie in a comfortable position. Then, listening to the sound of your breath, as you inhale, visualise a stream of light flowing up through your spine and out into the universe, and as you exhale, visualise a stream of light flowing in from the universe, through your head, and down your spine. During the inhalation phase, sub-vocally make the sound sa, and during the exhalation phase, sub-vocally make the sound han.

This is a very deep subject that probably needs more explanation than I’m about to give it. So, I’ll expand on what I write here in a later post.

Hansa as a mechanism of Samadhi

Hansa is the natural mantra generated by the breath and movement of the prana (energy) through the nadis (energy channels). According to yogic science, It’s this movement of prana through the nadis that causes consciousness to arise. The aim of Yoga is to unite the up-moving prana with the down-moving prana. This unification causes the energy to stop moving, stilling the mind and allowing samadhi (self absorption) to occur.

Han and sa are the sounds of the prana (downward moving energy) and apana (upward moving energy). In using the hansa sadhana (spiritual practice), you are mixing the two of these energies together, which eventually stills the consciousness.

Inner meaning

The meaning of the mantra is “I am that.” I am is the awareness of self, the first point of consciousness arising in duality.

Now, the breath is the sustaining power that binds us to physical existence. As we breathe hansa (I am that), we are binding ourselves to duality. I am that is the cosmic vibration that pulls the SELF into duality, through identification. Keeping this in mind, you can note the following about kundalini shakti. Shakti is the power of the self, the creator of this illusory, phenomenal existance. So you can see that shakti manifests itself through the principle of hansa (I am that).

By consciously using the hansa mantra, you are awakening the sleeping shakti and calling her to the first point of duality within you, which is energetically located at the third eye. This is what’s called raising the kundalini, which leads to the breathless state (nirbikalpa samadhi). 

Whew, how did such a simple post end up getting so full on?!

In my next post, I’ll talk about my own kundalini awakening and somehow explain how yoga relates to Bushido (the way of the warrior).

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