Sunday, 6 April 2014

Shambhavi Mudra

Compliled by Madhuri

In March, Swami Satyaprakash, Swami Krishnaprem and Madhuri led an In Service Training weekend on Mudra and Bandha and 20 participants attended.  The following is based on a handout given during this retreat. As with all yoga practices it is recommended that a practitioner seeks guidance from an experienced teacher before commencing practice. 

Explanation: Shambhavi Mudra is a meditative technique in which the eyes are open and a relaxed gaze directed towards Bhrumadhya (the eye brow centre).  It is widely referred to in yogic texts; the Gherand Samhita reveals the depth of the practice when it states that while turning the gaze towards Bhrumadhya, one should reflect on one’s real nature.

Awareness: With practice, Shambhavi Mudra changes one perception; throughout the day one may experience intuitive reminders to look beyond the appearance of things. 
A luminous daffodil. 
Objects take on a mysterious luminosity and joy is awakened in one’s heart.  After the practice, when the eyes are closed and relaxed, one is able to look into the Chidakasha (mind space) and see the space in which thoughts arise.  The mind can then become a spectacular display of energy rather than something to avoid or control. 

Definition Shambhavi is the name of the wife or consort of Shambhu (Gracious One; a name for Shiva who represents ‘Consciousness’).  Their connection is symbolic of spiritually transformative and unifying processes within the yoga practitioner. Shambhu encouraged Shambhavi to practice this Mudra diligently for the attainment of awakened awareness.  Shambhavi Mudra will cause Shambhu to appear before you!
It is also called “bhrumadhya drishti.” Bhru, eyebrow; Madhya middle or centre; drishti, gazing.
Shambhavi is an essential part of Kriya Yoga and a meditative practice in its own right. It is also a powerful practice for the awakening of the Agya Chakra (the third eye).

Benefits: As referred to above, on a deeper level, Shambhavi Mudra assists in reflecting on one’s deepest essence. The practice of gazing towards the eyebrow centre can awaken an apperception of Reality (Shambhu).
On the level of the mind it can reduce anxiety and emotional stress. It improves concentration and mental resolve.
Physically, Shambhavi Mudra helps to strengthen the eye muscles.

Position: A steady meditative posture.

Practice:
The eyes are sensitive and so it is important not to strain.
Practise body awareness and establish a steady breathing rhythm.
Open the eyes and relax the eyes.
Look slowly upwards and direct the gaze towards Bhrumadhya.
With the eyes held in and up and two curved images of the eyebrow 
will merge to form a V-shaped image.
Release and close the eyes.
Fix the awareness on the Chidakasha (the mind screen).
When ready practise another round.
If you feel discomfort, stop the practice and relax the closed eyes.
With practice the gaze can remain at the eyebrow centre for several minutes.

Accessibility: As preparation, the yogic eye exercises may need to be practised to strengthen the eyes.  Also one can initially one can gaze at the tip of the index finger held at arms length.  Then slowly bring the tip of the finger towards the Bhrumadhya and transfer the awareness from the finger tip to Bhrumadhya itself.

Advancing the Practice (with instruction from an experienced teacher):
Stage One:     As above with normal breathing.
Stage Two:   With co-ordinated breathing. Breathe in to perform Shambhavi Mudra and out to release.
Stage Four: Internal Shambhavi Mudra; when the practice of external Shambhavi Mudra has been mastered. 
Stage Five:   With reflection on our essential nature. The Hatha Yoga Pradapika states: “After some time a light will appear when the eyes are open. After still more practice the light will appear when the eyes are closed.”

Shambhavi Mudra and the Vigyana Bhairava Tantra
                        Dharana 8 states:
                        Rapidly pump breath energy into the forehead.
                        Then concentrate on the eyebrow centre to free the mind of thought.
                        In this way you can realise Consciousness, which is Omni-present. 

Resourses:    Insight into Reality by Swami Nishchalananda
                       Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Swami Muktibodhananda
                       Yoga and Kriya by Swami Satyananda Saraswati
                       Gherand Samhita (formally available from the Bihar School of Yoga 
                       but is now out of print.)


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