Tag Archive: Breath


Image

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).

Cycle of life and death

Image

Spending time in nature this weekend got me thinking about the cycle of life and death. It made me remember that Death’s greatest gift to us is Life.

In the warrior traditions of Japan, there’s an art called sakkappo no jutsu (the art of killing and resuscitation). This art teaches the warrior how to kill with a single strike, and how to revive someone from death, as if by magic. Although there are many dark aspects within this art, learning it didn’t turn me into some kind of crazed psychopath, instead, it developed within me a deep appreciation for life.

Seeing how delicate the human body is and how easily that delicate spark of life can be extinguished forced me to think about what was really important to me and gave me the strength to tear down the self imposed barriers and limitations that would have otherwise stopped me from truly living instead of simply existing.

As we think about death, our mind becomes incredibly clear. Coming to terms with our own mortality really does wake us up to life. 

When walking the path of the warrior, we must constantly think about death. The warrior, reminding him/her self that each breath taken may be their last, lives every moment in the present, without fear, ready to face and overcome every challenge placed in front of them. This is is Death’s greatest gift to us.

%d bloggers like this: