During my 6 week stay in India, I decided I would immerse myself in another shambhavi mahamudra mandalam – where the kriya is practiced twice a day for 40 days. I was first initiated into this kriya in 2016, and have been practicing it on and off since then. Off – because I spent a large part of these two years pregnant twice, and found this kriya aggravated my morning sickness – making it very hard to complete. I wrote about the first time I did a 40 day practice here. Reading back on that account, I realized that I mostly just shared my experience with Isha’s Inner Engineering, but didn’t speak much on the actual kriya itself. I guess I just didn’t have much to say, because if I did, I probably would have said it! All I can say now is that this 40 day experience was a completely different experience to the first time I did it – which only demonstrates to me how each time you engage in your spiritual practice, it has the potential to become deeper and more saturated. My first 40 day cycle was really a beautiful introduction into a new direction of being and life, and I have maintained this direction for the last 2 years. It changed my life. This 40 day cycle went deeper, somehow. It changed my life in a different, more potent way. It changed me.
Kriya + a daily focus
My approach to these 40 days was as such: I wanted more. I wanted to immerse my entire day in this practice and not have it contained in two 30 minute meditations. I wanted to shake myself up, rock my world, I wanted to swim in the deep end. To do this, I decided on two things. Firstly I promised myself to give my all to this meditation practice, to do each kriya with the most intensity and dedication I had in me. Secondly, I gave myself a certain focus/insight each day, something that I would gravitate the entire day around; an exercise, an awareness, a reflection of sorts. Each day after my morning Kriya, I spent a few extra minutes in stillness allowing a single divinely guided suggestion on how to deepen my day presented itself to me. I followed this guidance, using it as a intention for the day. 4 examples of some of the focuses I used were:
- Spend the day noticing any impulses that arise within me – to want to sleep, to oversleep, to wake up, to anger, to sadness, to lethargy/fatigue/laziness, to be offended, to be affected by another persons moods, to eat, to overeat – these are just examples of some of the impulses I observed in myself. This was my focus for day 1. I brought this awareness with me for the remainder of the 40 days, and truthfully, it remains within me even today.
- On another day, my focus was to allow myself the freedom to not react unconsciously to these impulses. To choose something different.
- Spend the day in silence.
- The next day – be very selective of the words I do speak. Choose only to speak truth, kindness, wise words. Draw power into the words I speak for words have the ability to create.
Reflection + an invitation
At the end of the day I reflected on my experience of that day, and what I had learned about myself and about life. I understood a lot of new things. I tried to bring each new layer of awareness I unearthed into the remaining days. The first half of the 40 days was a chance to take a look at myself and my state of being. To really notice. The second half was an invitation to choose, to transform. Over time, I noticed a space between myself and my impulses emerging. Initially, I would be consumed by an unconscious impulse to do something, to react a certain way, to feel something – and I would do it automatically. The first step was noticing “these are just impulses” and noticing which ones come up the most for me, and how truly compelling they are, how deeply they are ingrained into me. Over time, I was able to differentiate between me and an impulse. And then I was able to decline or accept. I finally had a choice.
The most remarkable thing about these 40 days is that when your energies begin to orient to a certain direction, life rearranged itself and gave me plenty of opportunities to put these lessons into practice – because if they are not practiced, what good are they? I was given so many situations where I would have previously reacted unconsciously and intensely – but now I was different. I was not pulled into it. I was just the observer. I didn’t succeed with this every time, but some of the time. I felt that was a good start at least ;).
Now the Kriya itself – offered an experience of it’s own. Here are some observations:
>> From day 1, if I completed the Kriya with a certain level of involvement and intensity, I would experience a deep purple colour in the shape of a circle in the space between my eyes. I used this as an indicator of whether I had given enough of myself to the kriya to shift and work with my energetic body. In the beginning, I would witness this purple light during the bandhas, but as I progressed through the 40 days, the colour came earlier and earlier. The earliest I experienced it was during the Aum chanting.
>> At around day 30 I developed a certain awareness of my breath as it travels through my whole body, the energy it brings and how it saturates my cells, almost expanding them as I inhale. It was an expansion that spread beyond the lung; an expansion of life energy. I had never been aware of my breath on this level before. I have never before experienced just how electrifying just breathing can be. This awareness and sensation continued after I completed the kriya, sometimes lingering for a couple of hours. This 40 day practice has created a deeper awareness of the daily mechanics of my mind, body and energy. It was not a collection of just profound experiences and realizations one after another – rather just noticing the most simple stuff. Breathing. Blinking. Thinking. Moving. Sitting.
>> I found myself filled with a “wriggly” restless sensation during the application of the bandhas. Once the locks are released, the restlessness is somehow transformed into an intense clarity and focus.
>> I can feel a lot of heat being built up during vipreeta swasa. I always feel hot after Kriya.
>> During my 40 day mandalam, I found myself having quite an intense energetic experience during a homa puja conducted in India. After this, I found that I was able to see and sense the “life energy” of people around me, how much they had, the quality of it etc. I don’t even know what it really is, but I could see it. Needless to say, this was a new experience for me, despite having had many intuitive experiences and knowingness in my life for many years- the clarity of which I experienced this time around, was vibrant and different to anything I had witnessed before. Honestly and unfortunately though- since completing the 40 days and then being thrown into normal every day life back in Canada + a sickness + my baby getting sick, I seem to have lost that particular ability since then.
>> During this mandalam I was able to approach my practice with intensity for about 98% of the 40 days – as it was part of the promise I made to myself. I know I struggled with keeping myself dedicated and devoted the last time I did it. What helped me with this was reminding myself of why I was spending these 21 minutes of my day doing this kriya. I found that the kriya magnifies what is within me at the time, so I always tried to take a couple minutes before beginning to get myself into the right state of being.
Above, I have described to you all the physical and energetic sensations and experiences I had during the 21 minutes of Kriya – and yet what was more impactful was the way my day to day life changed.
I started to see that every single thing that happens to me in my day is an opportunity to learn, to grow, to transform, or at it’s highest possibility – to enlighten. I came to experience and understand so many new things about life. I felt myself opening up. Most profoundly, I felt my mind and my thoughts opening. There was a dramatic shift. There was a certain space created between myself and my thoughts. The glue between this moment and my past, became less sticky. It is still there, I know it is, but it’s not as strong as it was. There was a a freshness within me. There was healing. There was a softness. There was a lightness. I felt an opening on the energetic level too, but this was very subtle to me, and this is a layer of life I don’t know much about, so I will not say more on it until I have experienced more.
I had the opportunity to reflect on a lot on life, death, karma, reincarnation, energy, success, failure, creation, ambition, awareness, consciousness. I’d like to share these thoughts with you someday as they have impacted me a great deal. Perhaps they will be the topics of blog posts to come!
As always thank you so much for taking the time to read my writings. Your encouragement and support always means so much to me!
Where can I learn how to do Shambhavi mahamudra Kriya?
Inner Engineering is a course offered by the Isha Foundation where you can be initiated into this kriya. Follow the link and find a course happening near you!
I have taken Inner engineering before, but have forgotten certain steps to the kriya – can you send me the steps for doing this Kriya?
If you have taken Inner engineering before, I would recommend you contact your Isha Instructor and I am sure they would be more than happy to send you in the right direction. Many cities also have monthly sathsangs that offer support and corrections. Check the website to see if there is one in your city.
What is the correct way to do X/Y/Z in the Kriya?
Though I can share with you my experience, I am not an expert and I have not been trained to teach or offer corrections for this process. Please e-mail your Isha instructor! That’s what I do when I have a question!
Can you do Shambhavi when pregnant?
Yes you can. My Isha instructor advised me to do the preparatory asanas as per my comfort, and to leave out the locks or do them for less time if they were uncomfortable to do (and they were)