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!
The Power of Lakshmi: Confronting Negativity in Your Life
My first encounter with the goddess Lakshmi was, as a child, watching my mother dress in her finest silks and taffeta dresses for parties and going to the symphony, as well as her financial contribution to the arts and education. While my mother modeled Lakshmi, at sixteen I dressed in oversized khakis and my father’s flannel shirts. I wore just about anything that would cover up my piston thighs and my discomfort as my body was changing.
While I was an avid athlete and modern dancer, it wasn’t until I started formal yoga practice in my twenties that I began to confront my negative body image and to have reverence for myself. Each inhale asked me to fill up with gratitude for breath, for life, for this body. Every exhale invited me to let go of my negative self-talk.
Each posture evokes positive attributes such as the strength and elegance of a mountain, the uprightness of a regal tree, and the wisdom of a sage. Through yoga practices, we begin to recalibrate our inner map and rewrite the story we wish to live, one of vibrant creativity, joy, and reverence for life. As one of my teachers Douglas Brooks teaches, “Turn your Klesha’s (pain) into Lakshmis ( jewels).” Take your negativity and pain and get creative with life. Make more beauty out of our pain.
It’s said that anytime Lakshmi is disrespected she leaves her human form and takes refuge and protection in nature. The way in which humans disconnect from the life force in themselves and consequently in everything else has caused us to be in a deep, heavy sleep and living in denial.
Environmental devastation, indecent treatment of animals, and catastrophe will persist until humans wake up to the feminine essence in themselves and in everything. This is what the word yoga insists upon, the integration of the masculine and feminine within every human being. We need the masculine to hold a boundary, to help us act in the world, but without the feminine, we lack the ability to reflect upon our actions and speech, and the ability to nurture and sustain. Without the feminine human beings very well could perish.