What is Unique About Shambhavi Mahamudra?
From Meditation to Mahamudra
Sadhguru: The word “meditation” is used for so many things. Generally, if you are concentrating on something, people will say you are meditating. If you are thinking one thought continuously, people say you are meditating. If you just utter one sound, a mantra or whatever else, continuously, that is called meditation too. Or if you are mentally alert to things that are happening around you or within your physiological system, that is called meditation as well.
Shambhavi does not belong to any of these categories. This is why we are calling it a Mahamudra or a kriya. What is a mudra? The word “mudra” literally means a seal – you lock it. In today’s world more than ever, the biggest problem that human beings have is dissipation of energy, because our sensory system is stimulated more than ever before in the history of humanity. For example, today we can sit the entire night with bright lights on. Your eyes were not prepared for this – they were made for twelve hours of light and twelve hours of darkness or a very subdued light. Now your visual apparatus is stimulated like crazy.
System Overload: Overstimulation of the Senses
In earlier times, for you to hear any sound, a lion had to roar, an elephant had to trumpet, or some other exciting sound had to happen; otherwise it was silent. Now there are sounds going on all the time. Your ears are taking in too much. Earlier, to see something colorful, you had to wait for the sunset. And before you could call your family to come and see, it was gone. Now, if you turn on the television, you see every kind of color, in rapid succession, to dazzle you all the time.
So the amount of sensory input that you are taking in is like never before. When this level of sensory input is there in you, if you sit here and say “AUM, Ram,” or whatever you think, that will also go on in endless, rapid succession. Unless they create a powerful process within themselves, in today’s world, most human beings cannot sit with their eyes closed without daydreaming.
Reversing the Energy Drain
That is why a Mahamudra, because it is a seal. Once you put the seal and lock it, your energies will divert themselves in a completely different direction. Now things will happen. Rarely does any practice blow up people right from day one as Shambhavi Mahamudra does. This is simply because if you apply the Mahamudra right, your own energies are turning in a direction that they normally never do. Otherwise, your energies dissipate in reaction to various sensory inputs. It is like if you keep looking at something, you get tired after some time. Not just the eyes – you get tired.
Because every time you pay attention to something, you lose energy. If a ray of light comes at you, for you to see it, there is loss of energy. If a sound comes at you, for you to hear it, there is loss of energy. We want to turn it around in such a way that there is gain. Why we spend so much time to psychologically and emotionally prepare you for a twenty-one-minute practice is to get you to the right level of receptivity.
Scientific Evidence of Substantial Impact
There is a lot of research happening on Shambhavi. You know, in today’s world, what is happening within you is not good enough. It must be measured in a laboratory. Scientists found that the cortisol awakening response is significantly higher for people who have practiced Shambhavi. The BDNF, which is the brain derived neurotropic factor, also increases.
The cortisol awakening response marks different levels of wakefulness. Enlightenment is also called awakening. Why? Aren’t you awake already? No, you are not at the same level of awakening every moment of your life. If you have been practicing Shambhavi for at least ninety days, thirty minutes after you wake up in the morning, your cortisol awakening response is several times higher than in a normal person.
Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Aging, Anti-Stress
The inflammatory markers greatly improve too. And your DNA shows that after ninety days of practice, you are 6.4 years younger than what you were, on the cellular level. All this has been properly established by responsible scientists. And above all, the most beautiful thing is, the level of calmness multiplies manifold, while the brain is still active. This is a unique dimension of Shambhavi.
The studies that have been done in the United States are largely about Buddhist meditations, not other dimensions of yoga. A significant aspect of Buddhist meditations is people become peaceful, pleasant; at the same time the brain activity goes down. What is significant about Shambhavi is people become very peaceful, pleasant, and at the same time their brain activity goes up.
Peace and Possibility without Problems
You must have your brains working. In the name of spirituality, you normally see people sit and do “Ram, Ram” or some other mantra. Even if you just keep repeating “ding dong ding,” you will become peaceful. It is like a lullaby. If no one is singing to you, you sing it to yourself. It will help. Everyone is using such tricks, which they unconsciously arrived at, and tell themselves something repeatedly. Whether it is a so-called sacred sound or a nonsensical one, if you keep repeating it, a certain dullness will arise. Dullness is often mistaken as peace.
The only problem with you right now is the cerebral activity. If we take away the cerebral activity, you are peaceful and wonderful, but without possibilities. Essentially, the human problem is just this: they are experiencing their possibilities as problems. If you take away the possibility, if you take away half your brain, of course the problem is gone. To enhance the possibility and still not have a problem with it – this is the uniqueness of Shambhavi Mahamudra.
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A version of this article was originally published in the Forest Flower magazine, June 2019.