I acknowledge this irreverent depiction of Wheels of Life from the Internet. After having seen this i decided to title my post as Whorls of Life!
Shiva talks about energy in the next ten verses in Vigyana Bhairava Tantra. Many tantric practices, especially Shakti centric ones, work around the energy centers of the body, known as chakras.
Chakras are virtual energy centers in the body. Being virtual, they have no specific physical location, though associated with certain body areas. When energised these centers are large . When blocked, they are small. Our physical states as well as emotional states affect the energy of the chakras. Nadis, the energy highways, connect chakras with other parts of the body mind. Most yogic and tantric texts talk about 6 chakras, starting with the root muladhara and ending with the third eye ajna chakra. The crown, sahasrara, is Shiva’s home.
In this verse Shiva talks about 12 energy centers.
These 12 are: Muladhara chakra or root center at the perineum; Swadishthana chakra or groin center; Manipuraka chakra or navel center; Anahata chakra or heart center; Visuddhi chakra or throat center; Ajna chakra or third eye center between eyebrows; Lalana, Nasikagra, Manas, Soma and Bindu chakras that lie between the Ajna and the gateway Sahasrara chakra or crown center.
Lalana, Nasikagra, Manas, Soma and Bindu chakras are rarely referred to, though they are very subtle and powerful energy points lying between the ajna and sahasrara.
These chakras link through the central pathways or nadis: ida, pingala, and sushumna. In all, 72000 nadis connect the mind body energy system, at 108 junctions.
In the first of these verses, dharana 5, Shiva says:
Focus as your energy rises like sun’s rays
Subtly from the root to the twelfth
Finding Me at the subtlest.
It is essential to master the previous four dharana exercises to be able to practise the following ten.
Shiva refers to the kundalini shakti in these verses. Shakti, Shiva’s other half, is the active energy accompanying the passive Shiva consciousness. Shiva is unmoving. Shakti is forever in action. Shakti resides in each of us, active, ready to move, whereas Shiva stays passive, to be reached only through silent and subtle contemplation. Merger of Shakti and Shiva within us is the purpose of our lives.
Shakti stays in root energy center, mooladhara chakra, at the perineum point, as a snake coiled three and half times as kundalini energy. Released, she moves upwards towards Shiva, residing twelve centers away, at the crown center, sahasrara chakra. The carrier of this movement is the prana, breath energy. The pathway is the sushumna nadi, the central energy highway, lying along the spine.
Shiva says that when the kundalini moves out of its base at the muladhara, moving silently through the chakras, opening them one by one, and finally reaches Shiva’s abode at sahasrara, shining like the sun’s rays. Each of the chakras is subtler than the preceding one. Therefore, in the process of kundalini rising, experiences of the mind body energy system are not physical but purely energy based.
In the tantric process, Shakti meeting Shiva is the samadhi state described in yoga.
Don’t take this journey lightly. Don’t follow the advice of anyone who has not experienced it. It’s not to be taken by reading books and blogs. Even more importantly, one who has experienced it should also know how to guide another in this journey.
I have suffered, as have many others, in this journey. I was lucky, not all are. I have seen people in a zombie like state, led there by attempts to forcibly raise the kundalini through tantric rituals of mantra, yantra and meditation. My sincere advice is, don’t.
For almost all of us, it should not be about raising the kundalini from the muladhara, but being being aware of the kundalini at various energy centers. Chakra awareness, with no attempt to invoke the kundalini to rise, creates self-awareness. This is the yoga method of energizing chakras and reaching samadhi. It’s more certain, and certainly safer.
Over the next several posts, i shall try to take you through safe yoga routes to chakra awareness. These may not result in sun burst experiences as Shakti meets Shiva, nor will you end up physically and mentally disabled for life.
To start with, practice this dharana.
Breathe deeply, observing intently inhalation, holding, exhalation and holding. Settle into a rhythm. Focus on the pause between inhalation and exhalation. Settle into the stillness of the pause.
Shift slowly your awareness from this pause between breaths to the lowest of the chakras, Muladhara, at the perineum, the point where your trunk meets your legs, the lowest point of your spine. Just observe this point as you breathe. Soon, you will feel as if you’re breathing from this point. Let your muladhara breathe. Continue to focus on the pause between breaths at the muladhara. Stay for a few minutes.
Now, shift your awareness to the Swadishthana chakra, the groin center, just above the pubis. Feel your self breathing from this point and focus on the pause between breaths.
Chakra by chakra, shift your awareness to the Manipuraka chakra at the navel, Anahata chakra at the heart , Visuddhi chakra at the throat, Ajna chakra at the point between eyebrows and finally the Sahasrara chakra at the top of the head. Observe these centers breathing or pulsing or vibrating. Focus on the pause as they breathe.
Always move from the muladhara to the sahasrara, from lowest to highest, from Shakti to Shiva, through these energy centers. Always complete the cycle at the Sahasrara.
Once you have spent some time at the Sahasrara, you can exit from this cycle, or continue with another full cycle.
You will find your mind body system energized after even one cycle. After all, you’re meeting Bhairava at each of your energy centers.