I have completed 40 days of practicing Shambhavi Maha Mudra Kriya twice a day, and in this post, I would like to share with you my experience of it so far.
But first, let’s start at the beginning.
At the end of September, I attended Inner Engineering, a course conducted by Sadhguru’s Isha foundation.
I have been following Sadhguru for the last few years. I have completed inner engineering online (this is not a pre-requisite for the teacher-led program) and also the Hata Yoga Surya Kriya program (you can read about my experience here). My husband has also been practicing for the last two years, so the prospect of taking this course was not new to me, and yet, everything was.
This blog post isn’t to share much about the specific events of the program, the teachings, the exercises, the schedule or the initiation to the kriya itself. I truly believe it is something you need to experience for yourself. Words can only take you so far, and besides, no two peoples experiences are the same. Telling you too much will only take away from your experience.
My friend happened to also be taking the program, and as the location was closer to her house than to mine, I stayed with them for the 4 days. I brought my diary with me, where I usually write my spiritual contemplations and reflections. And yet, I could not write. Each moment simply demanded to be felt and lived, my cells saturated in all that I learned and have come to understand about life. I just could not find it in me to write
But now, I have returned to our quiet home, and life resumes as usual, and yet, nothing feels the same. Everything feels brand new. I can hear the rain falling outside, and there is a soft shadowy darkness in the room. I feel bright and full of light and yet when it rains, I also rain inside myself in the most beautiful way.
There is nothing in this world that I cannot contain within me, and there is nothing in this world that does not contain me. I never knew it before, but I feel it now. This is just one of the things that it has been unearthed in me.
Let me begin by telling you a story about a rose. The day before the course started, I had a particular desire to draw a rose. I had never drawn a rose before, but I tried anyway to bring it to life on the pages of my book. The act of drawing is almost an internal experience. My perception has to increase, I have to notice a rose in such intricate detail in order for me to capture and translate at least a fraction of the beauty onto paper. I observed the way the petals overlap each other and cradle in the inner bud, so condensed and yet so open and blossoming at the same time. There are many subtle aspects of the rose.
There are so many subtle aspects of everything in life, and yet, I never notice it.
This is the drawing.
At the very end of the course, each participant was given a single red rose as a thank you. My rose, blossoming first on paper, then in my heart, and then in my hand.
Once I returned home after the 4 day course, I began my 40 days practice of Shambhavi Maha Mudra, practiced twice a day.
I took some simple notes throughout this time period of my experiences and challenges encountered, so that I may share them with you.
First let’s look at the practicalities of incorporating this kriya into your day.
The whole practice takes around 30 minutes to complete, which includes the 10 minutes of preparatory asanas. Certainly not a large time commitment, especially if your spiritual growth is a priority for you, and if you account for all the time we waste doing meaningless things – then it really puts that total 1 hour investment into perspective.
Of course this is looking at the actual physical practice of the kriya itself which is confined to the 30 minutes. The effects of this practice are likely to spill into the rest of your day and send ripples throughout many facets of your life.
So I personally did not look at it in terms of “1 hour invested every day towards my spiritual practice.” I was ready for a whole shift. I was ready for it to consume my entire day, and my entire being. I was ready to make it everything, and that has made all the difference.
The second requirement that you practice on an empty stomach. This means 4 hours after a full meal, 2.5 hours after a snack, or 1 hour after a beverage. This does take a little bit of scheduling, especially if you have a busy day with many engagements. But once you have set your schedule, there isn’t much forethought required.
I practiced my first session the morning as soon as I woke up, when I am naturally on an empty stomach. I would then have breakfast.
After lunch at 1pm, I would remain on an empty stomach till 5:30-6:00, and then practice the Kriya. I would have dinner shortly afterwards.
By the end of the 40 days, I appreciated the order and discipline the practice bought to my eating habits throughout the day. I started eating at the right time, and I stopped senselessly snacking throughout the day. I was aware of each and every time I decided to consume food – which sounds simple enough, but it now surprises me how unconsciously I would eat food before.
Did maintaining this practice mean I had to sacrifice much on a day to day basis? Not to me. The benefits far outweighed any effort I had to put into making it happen.
I am blessed to have a husband who is as passionate about my spiritual growth as I am, and his encouragement really helped on days when fitting in my practice was more difficult.
Novelty vs dullness
The first 15-20 days were quite enjoyable, most likely due to the novelty of it all. But then I came across my first hurdle in my practice. I was becoming dull. The novelty was wearing away, and I found myself going through the motions just to be able to complete that day.
I needed to find away to make my practice vibrant again. I thought about it. I realized that this kriya has not changed, it is only I who have changed. The kriya has not become slack and dull. I have become slack and dull. I had stopped approaching the practice with a sense of reverence.
So, I recalled something that had been taught to us in the course – that before we begin our sadhana, we should spend 2 minutes reminding us for the concepts bought to light during I.E.
This made a huge difference in my practice. It lit a warm fire in my sadhana again. In my experience, Shambhavi Kriya acts as a magnifying glass of what is inside us, so it is important to fill yourself with what you want to be magnified before you practice it. Spending 2 minutes reminding myself of these profound concepts of life and living, made a difference.
Being in Sadhgurus presence
I flew back to Vancouver to attend an evening with the mystic. Everything about that night and everything about me was electric. Being in his presence, listening to him speak, meditating together, being blessed by his touch and intense gaze which sent waves of electricity through me, and to have my book signed by him.
That evening, when I returned back to the hotel room to do my evening Kriya, everything was absolutely heightened to another level completely. Perhaps for the first time I realized how powerful this tool I have been given really is. We may all be given different tools in life, but to make magic happen, you have to know how to use it.
The entire evening served as the perfect opportunity for me to deepen my kriya, and now I experience it so differently to how I did when I first began.
After that evening, I started to feel that practicing kriya was a way for me to switch myself “ON.” I started looking forward to it each day, not out of novelty, but out of necessity. I needed to be switched on. I don’t want to go through my day on “off” mode. I need to be on.
I also started to approach practice with a greater sense of reverence. I began to treat it as sacred as it is. I stopped rushing. I started to sit there with as much intensity as I did on the first day of initiation.
I started approaching kriya thinking “if there is even just one thing I do today that I absolutely lose myself in, that I can do with complete intensity, let it be this. Let it be this meditation.”
My body began to grow more comfortable with each component of the kriya. I can sit for longer periods of time comfortably (which was not the case when I first started). My breath deepened. Maintaining Vapreeta Swasa for 3 minutes, which seemed impossible to me initially – slowly became available to me.
I initially used the app Yoga Timer to help guide my practices. The entire kriya takes 21 minutes, which is further divided for each component of the kriya. The timer was good at first, but ultimately, I found it disturbing. Sometimes I would have to open my eyes to reset the timer if I got a little off sync etc. Eventually I put the timer away and allowed my internal timing to improve.
Finally it got to a point where I would naturally complete the Kriya at exactly 21 minutes, and I don’t know how.
Life on Fast Forward
They say once you throw yourself into your spiritual practices, when you make your spiritual growth your absolute priority in your life, your life goes on fast forward. Because we need to burn through karma, we need things to happen fast, so that we can reach our spiritual liberation. Life becomes blurry.
I became pregnant.
For a few days after finding out I was pregnant, my kriya was not as focused. I felt so distracted and overwhelmed. I found it difficult to be present and melt into my breath. I was filled with thoughts. Filled with excitement and fear. Filled with plans and expectations.
After a couple of days of that, I thought – this cant go on this way. Something has got to change. So instead of being lost in thoughts about how much life as we know it was going to change, I focused my energies on the growing life within me. I began a communion with my unborn child. A connection from my baby, to me, to the divine. A connection from the divine, to me, to the divine.
I sank into my ability to be a mother of the world.
And then morning sickness kicked in and greatly impacted the quality of my practice. Infact, I found that certain parts of the kriya intensified my nausea, and I was unable to give my sadhana the intensity it requires. I completed my 40 days and decided as much as I felt energetically prepared to continue on, I should take a break until I feel better. And I did.
40 days is not a long time. It feels long in the beginning, because perhaps there aren’t many things I have stuck to for that long. But once I got into it, and felt the roses blossoming within me, I realized that 40 days is nothing. It seemed senseless to stop there, and had it not been for being so sick, I could never have stopped. And so, now that I am feeling better, I return to my practices.
For my unborn baby,
For my family,
For the world.
For my liberation,
I cannot change the world without being able to change my life first.
And though 40 days is not much, it is something. It is the first small step in the right direction and one thing I am certain about is that life can never be the same again.