Our true being rests in pure consciousness mirroring the cosmic reality of divinity. Life’s most transformative experiences unfold when we search out the cosmic unknown, surrendering to Maha Prakriti, or “Great Nature.” Escaping into Nature’s wilderness from the world of our ordinary experiences, worldly pressures and turbulence allows us to touch base with the simple reality of pure existence.
The key to all personal and universal well-being dwells in the sweet bliss of meditation. The subtle pause in our lifestyle draws us to our soul, the atman, lighting the flame of our inner awareness. Meditative bliss is an important aspect of healing and rejuvenating the emotional, psychic and physical being.
Discovering the truth of our core being allows us to embark on our sacred journey, taking us beyond our illusory world of maya. Our consumer oriented way of life veils our inner truth as we blindly follow the Pied Piper of our 21st-century sensate culture. Even spirituality today is well-marketed and packaged for the needy desires of a lost and vulnerable seeker.
To reach the truth of our inner reality, we must reclaim our individuality and spirituality by withdrawing from all external sensational manipulation and exploitation. Our world is marked by outer sensory entertainment, ideas and enjoyment not withstanding their ephemeral nature. Truth uncovers the mystic essence of our being when we move into the depths of silence, avoiding the hue and cry of all materialistic trumpeting. Materialism may be part of our growth process but should be kept in check with a conscientious restrain that keeps it in the realm of necessity, with our heart free to seek its fulfillment elsewhere.
The unfolding of our spiritual journey is the result of a deeper sankalpa or sacred intention. Sankalpa is a beautiful Sanskrit word which encompasses our wishes, desires and will-power. Everything we attempt in life rests upon our motivations in one form or another. We are the manifestation of our personal sankalpa.
For every spiritual seeker, the harnessing, nurturing and cultivation of sankalpa is essential for inner growth on the yogic path. To discover our higher consciousness and inner Shakti, we must first create a strong sankalpa or sacred intention. This Sankalpa Shakti becomes our guiding power.
The sankalpa or intention born of time unfolds our worldly desires and wishes for happiness, achievement and success for ourselves and our loved ones. These are the prerequisites for our outwardly sense of stability, power and motivation revolving in the realms of time. A beautiful home, harmonious relationships, wealth, intelligence and work, all play an important role in establishing our position in society.
At a deeper level, however, there is another sankalpa born of eternity that unfolds the desires of the soul which lead to Nirvana, or eternal peace, liberating us from the bond of outer physical and psychological existence. For the light of our consciousness to find its divinity, we must hold sacred the sankalpa of eternity, seeking the higher truth in our hearts.
In the realms of Shakti, it is Goddess Kali who represents the sankalpa of eternity through her grace. Kali’s form of the Divine Mother guides us to discriminate all lesser worldly goals, helping us to remove all our time bound deep-seated intentions that manifest through our karmas or actions in everyday life.
Our senses originate from the light of consciousness resting within the heart. Discrimination or viveka gives us the inner intelligence to work out our karmic patterns, awakening the supreme light which heals and rejuvenates our being. Only a dedicated effort within us makes the path to the light of our higher consciousness possible.
Tapa Shakti, the Power of Self-discipline
My own sacred path guided through the power and benevolence of Shakti led me to discover the Yogini’s mystical delight. It is the power of Shakti which transforms our lives, not merely our personal efforts. My sadhana drew me into the tapas of surrender. The subtlest form of tapas lies in yielding a singlepointed wish to offer oneself to divinity.
The tapas of surrender unites our inner fire with the universal fire, merging our soul into the radiance of cosmic light. Surrender is to concede, yield, relinquish and reconcile – a sheer abandonment to the wonders of the soul. Tapas is the universal power of consciousness, an expression of Shakti guiding us to seek out the supreme cosmic light within us. This ability to surrender holds the highest power that arises not from the effort to control but through the strength to let go.
The realistic tempering of beatitude in one’s inner discipline is Tapa Siddhi, the perfection of tapas. Sincere tapas inspires a deeper flow of Shakti, the hidden spiritual current behind our lives. Through the fiery heat of tapas the Mother Goddess works her mystical power within us, not to subjugate or weaken us, but to make us steadfast within.
Tapas is an internalized brooding heat with the ability to mature, ripen and develop things. Just as the artist experiences a period of gestation or deep contemplation before his creativity manifests through its art form, similarly tapas is the heat when focused inwards develops higher subtler energies and insights. The sacred heat of tapas manifests through the art of being steadfast within oneself.
Sadhana or spiritual practice accomplished with the right resolve bestows upon the seeker an inner heat and light, a radiance of the Goddess’ benevolence and blessing. In my personal sadhana, tapas unfolded as spiritual passion. Turning our energy inwards and then learning to conserve and nurture it, we create the sacred potential for higher powers to unravel. This inner flowering and holding of the power within is tapas. Tapas is the essence of this sacred, creative process.
Tapas is the power of prana and attention, focused inwards. Tapas is the practice of patience and prayer through divine love which creates the inner vessel to sustain divine energy and grace. A certain equipoise manifests from this flow of inner grace.
Mantra is an important form of inner tapas, generating even a subtle heat which illumines the mind and heals the soul. Mantra nada reveals the gentle tapping of the cosmic sound within the heart. Allowing the breath to find its sacred flow within us, we can use the mantra Om Hrim Om. Using the spoken word aloud has its resounding nature which resonates with our soul, impacting the prana, blood, plasma and entire cellular structure of our being. If we place our hand on our heart while reciting the mantra we will feel its powerful vibratory force.
Lighting the Flame of Awareness within the Heart
For meditation, we need to prepare the sacred vessel, which is our body, for receiving divine grace. The purpose of meditation is to let go of all our psychological baggage, to move out of
the mind into the heart. Acknowledging and dealing with our emotional setbacks in a gentle way allows a deeper sense of healing to arise within.
Spiritual retreat drew me into the quiet repose of the Himalayas. These sacred mountains still resonate with the meditative bliss of ancient sages. We have all experienced the calm stillness of mountain terrain, its peaks and valleys. The Himalayan mysticism is so pervasive that it fills our being with wonder and awe, stilling our emotional and psychological imbalances. The pristine energies of its flora and fauna heal and rejuvenate our core feelings.
Sacred silence in the stillness of nature is inherent in each one of us, and in nurturing its flourish, it ignites our inner potential to discover the light of our inner consciousness. The humdrum of our outer life tends to drown our deeper reality. Silence draws us into the cave of our hearts where we heal and embalm ourselves with its flow of grace.
The philosophy of yoga explains that the heart, not the mind is the center of all wisdom, divine grace, mystic thoughts and eternal bliss. The heart is the source of pure consciousness, intuition, creativity and silence. Nature resonates with the gentle heartbeats of our being, serenading our senses through its prism of bliss and delight.
It is this necessary pause which we must train ourselves to delve into, discovering peace and happiness as our true nature. Balancing the inner and outer worlds is most necessary for our personal and planetary well-being. Success must be measured on the scales of sacred wisdom, where we understand and appreciate our roles as conscious beings, not merely pawns in the game of coarse commercialization.
Yoga Shakti, in the classical sacred context, is the power through which restlessness in the mind and body is tempered to transcend all bliss. Yoga is not merely a set of asana practices which draw attention to the body; it is a meditation which unfolds the calm and balance within our inner and outer self. The poise and calm allow us to rest in our true nature as sat-chit-ananda; the truth of our reality resonates with our blissful nature!
Mahabhava of Bliss in Shakti Meditation
Meditative bliss unravels as Mahabhava, the celestial expression of transcendence in our inner and outer existence. Bhava is the creative contemplation, the essential manifestation of the yoga of pure devotion. Mahabhava is the union of peace and serenity which rests in the still point of harmony. Meditative states unfold the finer nuances of Shakti in stillness and depth, unifying the self with our cosmic universal forces. The practices indicated below help cultivate Mahabhava.
Meditation on the Shaktis of Nature
Prakriti Shakti or worship of Shakti’s force in Nature connects us to our spiritual quest, awakening the intuitive voice of the soul’s purity. Meditating in nature is the naturally therapeutic honing of our sensitivity to the gentle sounds, smells, touch and sights. Taking a flower in our hands, without plucking it, heals the soul through its pure essence and prana. The sweet aroma opens up and balances the breath in both the Ida and Pingala or “lunar and solar forces.” Breathing deeply we draw in and sustain the pure prana or life force of the flower. Nurturing and deeply sensing its textures and color hues enhances our senses of touch and sight. And tuning into its whisper against the wind allows us to sharpen our sense of hearing.
Meditation on the Shakti of the Waters or Apas Shakti, allows our subtle being to rejuvenate through the cosmic waters that descend from space. Shakti resides in the atmospheric vapors, clouds, raindrops, spray of waterfalls, flow of rivers, whiff of mists and the lash of waves. Meditating on water replenishes the waters of our inner and outer being, moistening the layers of our skin, sustaining the flow of our bodily fluids.
Meditating on the Shakti of Fire or Agni Shakti, in the flora and fauna, rocks, earth, gem layers, reflects the power of fire through our entire being. The body holds its own digestive fire as Jatharagni, which helps digest our food nutrients and diminish all bacteria, whereas the fire in the spiritual heart nourishes the soul and purifies the mind and heart.
Meditating in the solar plexus or Manipura chakra heals not only our digestive tract but also the ego. When the ego is silenced, the purity within the heart opens up as the supreme fullness of our sacred being.
Meditating on the Shakti of air and space or Vayu Shakti is honoring the power of sacred air and space through prana or life force. A simple contemplation on the flow of the breath without trying to manipulate it will calm the entire being. Maha Prana is Shakti, the Mother Goddess and in the Tantric realm we learn to honor her majestic power.
Whenever we create space, Shakti moves in with her rejuvenating power. In disengaging the mind from the knot of prana, the mind becomes infinite, creating holistic space beyond all time and space.
Meditating on the Shakti of the Earth or Bhumi Shakti holds the grace of Mother Earth. Meditating in the lotus posture allows us to be in sync with the earth, grounding our energies in the root chakra. Maintaining steadfastness in our thoughts, emotions and physical stance creates harmony and a deeper awareness.
The Shakti of Meditation
Meditation (Dhyana) has its own power or Shakti that we must cultivate in order to go to the depths of spiritual practice. To be able to meditate first requires a power of attention or Dharana Shakti. If we are not in
control of our attention, we cannot control the mind or go beyond its disturbances. One can measure a person’s Dharana Shakti by their ability to hold to a single point or thought.
To develop the power of attention, one must cultivate Pratyahara (not being disturbed by the senses), where we internalize our thoughts, perceptions and energies. Pratyahara is practicing silence or mauna which helps us to gently draw our attention, mind, senses and prana into the heart.
Concentrating on a flame helps to hold our Dharana Shakti, and also helps heal and nurture the eyes. One must hold one’s attention on the flame until it is comfortable without hurting the eyes. Meditating is about being gentle with oneself, not restricting one to the vagaries of techniques and mind games.
Meditation is a receptive or feminine state, like a mirror reflecting the purity of concentration. Silencing all outer sound we are able to tune in to the subtlety of “Who am I?” Our minds are always engaged or preoccupied with ideas, thoughts, sensation, news, propaganda, gossip, television and noise. Disengaging from the outer sensory world allows us to center our silence in the core of our being.
The Shakti of Self-inquiry, Vichara Shakti, unfolds as meditative inquiry which draws us to the sankalpa or deeper wishes of the soul. Our thought processes and actions revolve around compulsions, addictions, sensations and habits. Our conscious will in life falters under the pressures of society. Searching our reality we must overcome all illusions about ourselves. Our identity is an illusion, the susceptibility of the drive and ambition to become someone in the eyes of others. Our egotistical thoughts reflect our social personality, thus snaring us into a false image of who we really are.
When we honor the purity of the divine within our hearts it will manifest all our deeper wishes through the flow of grace. The true Self allays the false identity, bringing us to work with the beauty and brilliance of our higher consciousness.
The Shakti of the Heart, Hridaya Shakti, is the power to hold the mind in the heart. The heart is the source of one’s mind and merging the mind with the heart is the highest form of meditation. It is only when the mind moves out of the heart that we are unhappy, as the heart is the source of pure bliss and serenity. Sorrow is the wandering of the mind from its home in the heart.
The essence of feeling and knowing within us is taking the mind back to its spiritual resting place. We need to create the sacred space in the heart. The mantra Hrim resonates with the heart, offering the mind into the fire of the heart, allowing the heart to purify the mind.
Meditating upon the entire universe as dwelling in the small space of the cavern of our hearts is an important Vedic practice called Dahara Vidya. In the cavern of the heart we rest in the benevolence of the Devi, the benign Mother Goddess. All Shakti or power dwells in the still point of space in the core of our being. In sanctifying harmony and bliss within ourselves, we mirror image the divine grace in the universe. Meditative bliss must become the quiet repose we celebrate in Shakti Consciousness!