I thought I would elaborate on the Shambhavi mudra to go into deeper detail of this most powerful mudra. This is a more detailed description of the process which was discussed in an earlier post.
means gesture. Gesture can mean many things, from a physical gesture to
an internal gesture. It is a slight movement that is initiated with the
will which has the capability of propagating outward or inward through
Shambhavi mudra, also call Bhairavi mudra, is a
subtle internal technique involving the eyes which can lead one to the
depths of yogic meditation. It is described in many texts including
Hathapradipika, Gherandha Samhita, Amanaskya Yoga, and Vijnanabhairava
Tantra. These texts however do not give full instructions of this
powerful technique but rather only hint at what it truly is.
The process of mudra follows what is called in Patanjali's yoga sutras parinama.
Parinama is the process of transformation of one state to another. It
involves movement and a change of state. The important point to
understand in parinama is the process of movement itself. Mudra is a
gesture that starts in a very subtle way and then follows a powerful
movement gradient to affect objective perception, transforming the
energy that underlies this objective manifestation to one of pure
clarity. This clarity can be followed internally to the central nadi
Susumna. At this point many "doors" open, through which the movement can
be continued and the expansion of knowledge through one of these
doorways can be facilitated. This is the topic of the 3rd chapter of the
Shambhavi mudra thus is the excellent
technique which brings about the results of the containment of the mind
discussed in the first chapter of the yoga sutras. It is a technique
which starts beneath the mind and completely brings it under control. It
is in some ways a powerful technique of bio feedback.
of the most important things to attend to in the mudric process is
movement and not object or outcome. If one is attached to name and form,
one is still in the objective layer of mind and will have no access to
this mudra. The mudra is purely an instrumental or sensory process that
underlies the mental functioning. The Hathapradipika quoting the Yoga
Vasistha tells us that the mind and prana are like two sides of a single
coin, that if we control one we control the other. In the Hatha
tradition we take a hold of the mind by taking hold of the prana. So
what is this prana? Prana is the felt layer that underlies all sensory
processes. It is immediately felt as the totality of the
underlying sensation body. So following this understanding, we can
access this prana by following any of the knowledge or action senses to
their point of origin. With Shambhavi mudra we use the eyes.
technique of Shambhavi mudra begins with the eyes. We keep the eyes
open. The texts say not to blink but in my opinion this matters not in
the slightest because it doesn't matter what we are seeing. The important point is the seeing itself.
This technique in my opinion is also not about directing the gaze.
Gazing is not Shambhavi mudra. Gazing at the midbrow or third eye only
puts the attention on an object and not on the seeing itself. The seeing
itself is what draws us in, not what the eyes are looking at. The
opening of the third eye comes when the ordinary two eyes become clear
of the mental projections. Ordinarily our eyes are completely
contaminated by the "eye of the mind" which distorts what we are seeing
through the pureness of the seeing itself. I have given the example
before of trying to see purely when one is thinking of one's favorite
movie. Try it. Can you do it? Can you see with complete clarity and
focus while the mind thinks of some topic? It can't be done. We are
either seeing through the mind's eye or the 2 eyes of the body. Both
cannot be simultaneously activated. In our everyday functioning, we are
bouncing back and forth between objective and instrumental awareness,
normally so quickly that we are not even aware of it. And our home base
is in the objective level of perception. Continued application of
Shambhavi mudra takes our home base lower into the instrumental realm, a
vast realm completely unlike the objective reality.
back to the technique. We look and then see. In seeing there is
distortion. The distortion takes us towards the rajasic or agitated
state or the tamasic or lazy state. The eyes experience this as either
becoming tense or lazy. The eyes have to be constantly adjusted or
focused so that they continuously come into a state of clear focus.
Remember that it is not the focusing on an object but the focusing of
the seeing itself. This is only the initial stage of Shambhavi mudra but
it is a very important one. In fact many things occur as a result of
this focusing/clearing that propagate throughout the body and mind
The next part of the technique involves feeling the seeing. We yoke the feeling layer directly to the seeing layer. To do this we have to focus more on the movement.
We attend to the directional gradient that either takes us from clarity
to unclarity or from unclarity to clarity. Attending to either movement
is extremely important as it is the catching of the movement from
unclarity to clarity which reactivates the mudra process. This is a
powerful form of bio feedback and is the heart essence of the yoga. It
is discussed quite clearly in Yoga Sutra 1.18. The holding of the state
of meditation is brought about by what is called samskara or a
conditioned pattern. The holding of a state is effected by parinama or
transformation which is movement. We don't attend to the state, we
attend to the movement which holds the state. This is an extremely
powerful process, one which I will elaborate on in a later blog.
by recognizing the unclarity, the mudra activates and "tunes" the eyes
and system to bring it back to clarity. This clarity/unclarity, when we
yoke it to the feeling layer begins to reveal itself in the totality of
the body. Suddenly it is no longer just limited to the eyes. We feel
Shambhavi mudra as a holistic activity which is felt throughout the
system. Mind is felt suddenly as tension in the body. With the release
of that tension, mind disappears and the clarity of body/mind expands.
This is the process of unmesa/nimesa discussed also in an earlier blog.
we follow the feeling of the clarity, it takes us "backward" into the
central column area. If we stay with the movement, it takes us to a very
special realm. At this point we can either just hold steady or "direct"
the movement further into an infinite realm of doors. If we hold the
mudra on a particular doorway, the knowledge of that doorway opens and
reveals itself. This is the process called samadhi which is discussed by
Patanjali. I will discuss this aspect in another blog.
nice thing about Shambhavi is that it can be done anywhere and at any
time. It is not limited to seated sessions of practice. It takes our
asana and physical practices to a whole other level.
Hopefully this post has helped to outline the process of mudra,
Shambhavi in particular, in a more comprehensive way. With the use of
this technique, one has no longer to rely on hours of meditation to
still the mind. The mind instantly comes under control along with
the body and one can utilize the focusing of that energy for a number
of different purposes. Thus we have yoga, through the practice of prana
nirodhah, giving rise to citta vrtti nirodhah.
Please check out my youtube video for a video instructional on Shambhavi mudra.