4 Simple Steps to Feeling the Presence of Shakti
There are many accessible energies available to conscientious practitioners. We previously covered chakra, and now, as we delve deep into yoga on a daily basis with the 30 Day Breakfast of Champions Challenge, we’d like to discuss shakti.
Shakti is the subtle energy that means “power” or “empowerment,” the primordial cosmic energy, and represents the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe in Hinduism. Shakti embodies the active feminine energy of Shiva and is identified as Mahadevi or Parvati; this is why it is often referred to as “she” and “her” rather than “it.” However, shakti is present in both men and women. In Taoism, shakti is known as chi.
In a less overarching sense, shakti is the energy within everything. It is credited with governing our spiritual evolution, opening up the inner world of meditation, and unfolding the state of union, or yoga, between body, mind and spirit. If yoga is an ingrained part of your lifestyle, it’s definitely worth tapping into.
Yoga Journal published four steps to getting an immediate sense of shakti’s presence. Give them a try and let us know what you experience!
4 Steps to Feeling Your Shakti
- Hold your hands two or three inches apart and feel the energy between them. Move your hands apart another few inches, keeping the sense of the energy connecting them. When you lose the connection, move your hands closer until you feel the energy between them again.
- Bring your attention to the heart. Inhale and exhale with the feeling that your breath moves through the heart and out the back of the body. Become aware of a subtle energy behind you, supporting you like a backrest. Let yourself take the support of that energy, as though you were leaning into it. Feel as if the energy flows out and surrounds you on all sides. With long, slow breaths, breathe the energy into any places in your body that feel stuck or tight. Recognize that you’re inhaling and exhaling shakti.
- Become aware of the area at the base of the spine. Sense the presence of a subtle channel of energy running through the center of your body from the base through the crown of the head. With the breath, let your attention flow from the base of the spine to the heart, and from the heart to the crown, and then back again. Be aware of the gathering of energy moving in this inner channel. You may feel it as expansion, tingling, or a subtle feeling of electricity. Again, recognize that this feeling is shakti.
- While you’re doing your asana practice, bring your attention to the flow of your breath. Gently guide your focus into the core of the body, the subtle channel running from the base of the spine to the heart. As you practice you may notice subtle physical or energetic sensations, such as shivers, feelings of expansion, heat, a sense of lightness or heaviness, even a change in heartbeat. It’s not uncommon to notice the sensations in Savasana (corpse pose) because it’s easier to notice subtle energy when you’re still.
For some, a tangible shakti experience takes a long time, anywhere from a few months to a few years. It can have uncomfortable ramifications, as well, from intense emotions to self-judgment. According to Yoga Journal, this is all part of the release that shakti triggers as the energy clears you from the inside out. It suggests just riding out the storm as you would a detox, and you will feel a calm right after.
Become a student of the process and discover all the ways it can manifest, and what it is trying to tell you about your body, heart, and mind. You can learn incredible things about your essence and your own subtle energy through what’s called shakti dialogue. It’s hailed as being a great way to release emotions or discomfort in body or mind. The more connected you to shakti, the more you can invite it to help you through physical and emotional problems.
5 Step Shakti Dialogue
- If you notice a part of your body that feels tight, painful, or stuck, tune in to the pain. Notice how big the area of tight energy is, how it feels (sharp or hard, prickly or achy), what shape it is. Recognize it as being a bundle of energy.
- Consciously welcome the energy sensations, even if they are uncomfortable. Welcoming invites letting go.
- Speak to the energy gently. Try to use suggestive words like “ease” or “open.” You can even ask the stuck energy what it has to show you.
- Imagine a light-filled circle of spacious energy around the stuck places. Breathe, allowing your attention to flow between the energy of your pain and the spacious circle of shakti.
- Breathe with a thought like “ease” or “open” to detach difficult emotions or problems; shakti is inherently healing!
Stay dedicated and connected to your inner shakti. Peace and light to you!
Ridding Your Negative Personal Narratives With Lord Shiva
Lord Shiva is a well-known and worshipped Hindu deity. He is one of the Holy Trinity (the Trimurti), which consists of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva. What each represents in our familiar terms are brand new beginnings (Brahma), the middle of everything in existence (Vishnu), and the endings (Shiva). When Shiva, as the Lord of Dissolution, gives us the endings, he also provides the space for Brahma to instill a bright new beginning. It is from the void of nothingness, or space, left after something comes to an end, that Brahma responds by bringing the start of something new.
Shiva, Lord of Dissolution
Shiva, The Auspicious One, is also known as Mahadeva or The Great God. He is worshipped as the Supreme Being in Shaivism, a major institution within Hinduism. I like to explain the concept of endings giving way to brighter new beginnings with the metaphor of a bookshelf filled with storybooks that represent our own considerations about ourselves.
Imagine you have a large bookshelf in your mind. The bookshelf is jam-packed with books whose titles represent your own self-judgments or concepts of yourself. One thing to mention is that we are constantly in judgment of ourselves. We are usually in judgment of something and judgments can be good or bad. For instance, we might see a book entitled ‘I am a great Mother,’ or ‘I am a giving person.’
Conversely, we have the debilitating narratives. ‘I am unworthy’ or ‘I am not flexible enough’ as some of the titles we’re experiencing. But the debilitating narratives are simply opportunities to grow or bring Shiva into our lives.
Shiva comes along as the Lord of Dissolution; he shows us where we are hindering our growth with certain stories or ways of being. For instance, when you decide you are fed up with thinking of yourself as unworthy, or not good enough, Shiva gives you the willpower to dissolve that story. The ‘I am unworthy’ book gets removed from the shelf and thrown to the wayside.
What is left behind is an open space, an open space ready and willing to house a new book with a new title. Brahma steps in and gives us the capacity to formulate a new storybook title that feels brighter and shinier as a new beginning, or judgment of self. For example, we switch from the ‘I am unworthy’ mantra to ‘I am good enough.’ In this way, Shiva and Brahma give us the ability to challenge our belief system and change it for self-betterment.
Shiva, Lord of Dance
A common depiction of Shiva is one of a dancing four-armed deity. In this form, Shiva is known as Nataraja, or the Lord of Dance. He is seen dancing in a halo of fire which represents samsara, or ‘flowing around.’ In his upper right hand, Shiva holds a hand drum said to have drummed the first drum beats to help create everything, paired with the sound of “Om.”
His upper left hand holds a flame said to have the ability to destroy on behalf of transformative new beginnings. His bottom lower right hand holds abhayamudra, a gesture used to convey fearlessness. His bottom left hand mimics the lifted position of his left leg. This symbolizes a respite soul’s find from the earthly troubles on a path towards soul liberation. His lifted left leg is a journey towards this elevated consciousness. Finally, the snake he wears around his waist is the creative energy that exists in our psychic body.