Mudra

So far, these are the main means I have found for facilitating the flow of the energy called prana or qi (chi). There may be more, and I would be glad to know of the ones you are aware of. This comes from someone who has no practice or teacher and is from a Western perspective. I used the simplest of methods and listened to my inner guidance that came as the river of light opened more and more within me. The one observation I have made after raising kundalini was that all of this is not difficult, and nor should it be hard to understand. All of this is about being human. Do not attempt raising kundalini without adequate preparation, however. Learning the art of surrender is one very important prerequisite. The main ways of facilitating the flow of prana:

  • Quieting the mind
  • Feeling
  • Breathwork
  • Movement

Quieting the Mind

This is not as simple as it seems. One goal of meditation is to quiet the mind, but as is often the case, we sit for some time waiting for all of our thoughts from the day to settle before we can begin the innermost work that meditation can bring us to. And then, once the thoughts do settle, what is the point? It has been known that when we quiet the mind enough, there is something that arises from the substratum of consciousness that can begin to show us clues to the deeper nature of consciousness as energy. Thus, as a result, for as simple as it is, meditation has been used by many cultures as the way to get to this point where the normal “monkey mind” is stilled. This takes work. It takes discipline. It is very helpful to do meditation the same time of the day each day if possible. I always meditated before bedtime because that was when the house was its most quiet and I was able to drop into a much quieter relaxed state. In the East, early morning (say, 4:00 a.m. for example) is often chosen as a good time to meditate because the body is not busy with digestion, and the mind is quiet from having been in sleep for a number of hours. By having a schedule your mind will be able to go into a quiet state must faster. Many years ago I practiced projection of consciousness and I was able to have some limited success with it. I practiced this each night as I went to bed. I was able to go immediately into an altered state and then “switch on” the astral state automatically whereby my astral awareness came to the fore. Before this, it took months to develop this state. My brain and body had become trained and it seemed to know that when I directed my attention along certain lines, it would follow along much quicker. Meditation is the same thing. If you train yourself through practice to reach a certain state with regularity, it becomes a snap to go into that state later once it has been practiced. The benefit of meditation as it relates to prana or chi is that you can begin to become familiar with the energy. By simply watching it or observing it you can find that it reacts simply to your act of observation. It is also possible to inhibit it as well, depending on how you respond to this activity. The best way is to try it. Prana will feel like the tide or flow upon which your consciousness moves, so they are very closely bound or connected. Feel “below” the thought to what is supporting your thought. What is it that is animating it? What is that quality that is making me alive, vital, and that gives my consciousness this presence and vitality?

It can often help to quiet the mind by keeping it busy with something else. I found a meditation technique very helpful in this regard where I placed my hands together and then put all of my awareness on the point where my hands touched. I held my attention there as long as possible. If my mind wandered, I didn’t beat myself up, I just went back to imagining I was looking at the point between my hands. I put myself there between them. After a while, I found that I had this very open and vast state begin to open up within me. It came about not by focusing on how it was happening. Being aware that it was happening using the “I” awareness caused it to stop immediately. It was at first a very odd sort of state I was reaching, but it was a prelude to a full blown awakening. It was very similar to never focusing on anything in particular when you are using your eye, except in this case it is your inner attention. There is a defocusing that seems to be happening in this other state. If you begin to focus on anything, becoming self-conscious, anything that was happening would immediately stop. I was dragging in my sharp focus of ego-awareness (left brain activity) into a state that was much more broadly “focused.” The usual way just didn’t work. The wave of cosmic consciousness would collaps and I would be left grasping at straws. Over time I found that a lot of energetic phenomenon began to happen once I entered into this defocused state, along with suddenly being suffused in a brilliant white light. After that encounter with the white light, things began to change. I began having more and more prana-based events, and not all were known to have been prana at the time. But being able to enter into what is called a state of “presence” helps to still mind by training the mind to be more and more quiet. This could take a good deal of time to achieve even moments of silence or relative quiet, but the brain will learn to fall into a meditative state when you train it through repetition, and then it will be easier each time. The point is not to do anything when there, the point is to feel and to be aware of the energy that is present in you. It is possible to train the mind/brain to enter a deep state through just about any trigger, really. It is all about association and the mind needs that association to remind it where it needs to be. Sitting in a certain posture can do it, even. Music or a certain song can also do it. Routine.

Feeling

Feeling is the other side of the coin. It is also the one aspect that gets discounted the quickest by most folks. Prana is an intelligent energy and it communicates through feeling as does the intelligence of the cosmos. It is the rational mind that then takes the stream of information and assembles it. This is also how remote viewing works, by the way. So much of our capacity to feel, which is an important part of our capacity for awareness, can be hijacked by a rogues gallery of buried emotional material that can crowd out deeper feeling into the flow of prana. Pick something that inspires you, and there you will find your prana being released. It doesn’t matter what it is, but most often it will be something that makes you feel good in an authentic way, that makes you open up as you feel more and more expansive. Does a painting do that? Music? A certain line of thought? Thinking of someone you love also opens up channels for prana. Watch yourself when you feel this energy. Do you feel how effortless it is when it begins to move? That is its secret. Prana flows naturally and does not flow as well when we shut down. It Prana shuts down when we are self-conscious and opens up when we aren’t. Just don’t try and force it, just be present with it, watch it and learn what you are thinking and feeling when it does flow. Can you feel how different those two states are? In one state the valve is closed down and in the other it is open wide. You might think that there are all kinds of technical diagrams that you have to memorize, but no, it is much simpler than this, so simple a child can do it (and children do this naturally as they are less shut down). Walks in nature, the beach, your favorite places. Can you feel that shot of energy that goes from your pelvis up into your heart? That is prana moving. You can learn all about prana by learning to be exuberant. Gratitude does more to boost prana than any special meditation technique. You see, while you can focus prana with thought, prana responds to how you choose to feel in the moment. This is amazingly simple, and hopeful.

It is true that one reaches the highest state in samadhi through feeling. It is less what you do than what you don’t do. Any wonder why it is so hard to reach? Also, it is a unitary state that sparks kundalini awakening. This unitary state is where the two sides of the self come into unity and spark the generative force to move through the body, no longer “stored” in the base of the spine. People have spent decades studying it and attempting to get it to rise. The secret is that it is how you feel. Feeling moves the two opposites together so that nothing can stand before what it can do when joined together. Much of what kundalini has to teach you will be based less in rational thinking as your capacity to feel and then release stored emotion from the past (which kundalini does in its process of cleansing). This is not a rational process. Placing your hands together like I explained earlier is a form of this unitary state, and is a good start for being able to feel what energy does in your body. But do not play with trying to raise kundalini. Once it rises you are on a roller coaster. Learning the art of surrender is of singular importance. Whatever kundalini strips from you will be what does not serve you. People can “lose it” in a process like this, especially those with little appreciation for or understanding of how to work with this energy instead of against it. It is a great disrupter, all for the better in the end, but you need to ask yourself if you are up to the task, which will be life-consuming.

Breathwork

It is often said that prana is in the air. I find this a little funny because when tracing this down I see that people who say this go on to explain that when you breathe in the air, you can feel the energy. In my study I found that there is something about the act of breathing itself that is actually the thing that is stimulating prana. If you quiet your mind and settle in and take long slow breaths, holding them at the top and bottom of each inhale and exhale, you might find that your body begins to feel buoyant, calm, peaceful, and lovely….blissful, even. I sense that when we breathe like this we are telling the mind that we are calm and the mind and brain work like a loyal servant and begin putting out the chemistry of calm and bliss. Learning to keep the mind still and not running lots of thoughts, will make your ability to feel this energy beneath all of this easier to perceive.

Breathwork has evolved into a complex science in India with the practice of pranayama. You can hold breath and still the movement of prana. You can move prana through breathwork, too. The best way to be aware of how it can move in you is to do the simple types of breath exercises first to see how well this can work. You can wind up feeling so good sometimes that it can further train your mind to prefer those states where you can learn how to be much more simple minded, or single-minded. Again, this is not complicated. Keeping your field of awareness quiet and still might be the hard part. But this is something achieved through feeling, wanting that feeling more than you want to grab onto a thought. Don’t beat yourself up when your mind races ahead. It is natural. Bring it back, each time you teach yourself to be calm and quiet for a few moments longer. Moments turn to minutes, minutes can stretch into half an hour. Breathing has the power to quiet the mind and help you to forget the worries of the day. What I found and which was supported by the science on the parasympathetic nervous system is that when you breathe like you do when in a relaxed state, like sleep, this sends s signal to your brain and body that you are calm. You can sometimes even feel the shift or change in your physiology as you do this. Full and deep breaths with pauses at the top and bottom are veryeffective in calming yourself down and slow the monkey-mind. I have had students use breath work to calm down and to stop feeling stressed. it is not uncommon for breathe work to be so effective that within minutes of doing so when stressed, you forget what you were even worried about earlier. A different part of the mind is now being used instead of the part that “grinds” away at the things that you cannot control.

Another very effective form of breathing is alternating nostril breathing. You begin by holding one nostril closed while taking a long deliberate breath in, holding it for the count of three, and then exhaling. You can then close the other nostril and then do the same type of deep deliberate breath the same way. You can also take several breaths with on nostril closed and then alternate to the other nostril, making sure that you keep the number of breaths through each nostril balanced. You can begin to meditate, turning inward using breath work. Use it for as long as you need to reach deeper and deeper states of calm. Then, the only thing you will have to guard against is falling asleep! But what is the harm in doing that? None. Perhaps you need sleep. Try again the next day or next time and don’t beat yourself up about it. Eventually, you will be able to cultivate this quiet calm while being alert. Again, it is all conditioning. Like a body builder, this takes time and discipline. If you fell asleep in meditation, try next time to be as relaxed but try not to fall asleep. It is being alert but not busy in the mind. It is at this place, as you meditate, that you begin to feel your energy. It is really just that simple, because it is at this place where you can begin getting aquianted with your true nature.

Movement

How you move can help to open you to prana. Sitting in rigid postures will be less effective as more opening postures. How you move through space can have an effect on your awareness of prana flow. Ecstatic dance or any movement that feels particularly good to you will work. Prana responds to thought. Thinking that is hard and harsh will wash away a lot of the flow of prana. That said, intense emotion can release prana, too, but the emotion itself may be shaping the prana into forms that may feel less natural or organic. Many of the Chinese disciplines of Tai Chi and Chi Gung (also chigong) are designed to move prana or chi in the body, although tai chi is often described as more of an exercise using mindfulness over energy movement). It can release trapped emotion and it can also free up energy in the body. All good things.

Chigong works by focusing movement with attention on different areas of the body in a routine that seeks to open up awareness and the energy in each major part of the body. Energy goes where your attention is, and this discipline focuses it through movement as the hands move through the energy field and are used in a way that places or focuses energy in some areas and then others. Your mind follows the movements while having very little happening with the mind. It is cool trick. White Crane qigong is a very good system to follow and you might be surprised at how it helps you to feel. The movements are slow, meditative, and purposeful. There is an order and purpose to all of the moves since each move works on one area of the qi field. Like making sure you alternate nostril breathing in a balanced way as I told you earlier, the series of movements in a “set” is important to follow.

Qigong is itself like a moving meditation. It is good to do chigong with a teacher who understands what is being achieved for each movement so they can explain what the point is, but you can also follow along watching a video of a qigong practitioner. Is there magic in getting the moves exactly right? This is a system developed over centuries. Estimates place the age of qigong as being anywhere from 5-7,000 years old. Qigong stimulates the same points in the body that acupressure and acupuncture also stimulate. Qigong masters were often great healers as well.

In similar but different ways, yoga does achieve some similar results even though it is from a different tradition. The idea of bringing mind and body together is an important first step in any inner practice. Many of the stomach pumps that yogis do help to open up blocked energy in the body, for example. Also, by focusing on your body movement the mind is naturally quieter, so movement in this way has a great benefit in this regard. Over time as you become more and more aware of the flow of prana in the body, by placing different fingers into position with your thumb, you can often sense if you are sensitive enough (quiet mind), how those finger positions can route energy through your body in different ways. These positions are called mudras and each one achieves a different result. I can remember the point where I tried mudras at a time when my mind was quiet enough and I could feel the difference in the flow of energy. It was very much like how one might direct the flow of water to different parts of the body. Most often, when my mind is very busy, I cannot feel this flow of energy with the change of each mudra. I need myself to be very attentive, mindful, and quiet.

Finally, having your body worked on by a body worker who understands energy is another way to free up prana flow. Acupuncture achieves this, and deep tissue massage also does this. Observe how you feel after a good session with an acupuncture practitioner or a message therapist. You know how “out of it” that you feel? That feeling is what happens when prana is opened up in the body. The more this happens, the more effect that it can have on your consciousness. This state is excellent for meditation work, too. You can also learn or identify this “out of it” state this way and then look for it in meditation work. The problem is not feeling “out of it” but being in too focused of a state, having to do with the rational mind. It is precisely these parts of the mind that are best able to relate to energetic effects and that part is also the feeling side. Are you getting it? I tend to think that most people are naturally inoculated against feeling this way because it goes against the active “doer” that is seeded into the Western mind. It is very beneficial to let that sense go in your work.

Now this might be the hard part. Trust yourself and listen to your intuitition. Is breathing better to do first or will meditation get you right into the baseline state? The best way to know, if you have no idea where to begin, is to experiment. Intuition improves with greater pranic flow. It is possible to begin to hear the voice of your inner guidance begin to direct you. Or maybe not. It all depends on what your proclivity in this direction is. What is clear, though, is that a greater flow of prana or qi aids in better health. The entire endochrine system is stimulated and this has a benefit for healing and even slowing down the aging process. I am the second to youngest sibling in my family and while all of my other siblings have long since gone grey I am still holding on to my dark hair. A fluke? I noted prior to the awakening of kundalini that I was beginning to show some grey, but after awakening that process quite obviously stopped. It went onto pause for about ten years and has only recently begun to slowly advance. That, and I don’t get sick like I used to. Colds and the flu are all things of the past pretty much. That isn’t to say that when it is time to go that I wont get sick, but by that time, I will be ready.

You can, though, bear these main points in mind and use each of them in an effective way to tap into your own wellspring of energy. You can use breath to calm your mind prior to meditation. You can then use feeling in meditation to use that to explore more deeply your capacity to feel energy. Once you do these things well, you can begin to incorporate movement in a conscious way in your day to day to begin opening up the body and also feeling its native vitality as more energy begins to flow. Those are my tips and learning the art of becoming inspired is the single most important driver for being able to feel life to its fullest. It can be said that when you are able to cultivate gratitude in your life it has a way of washing away regret and any negative tendencies as you begin to see the good that is there waiting for you there. Prana responds to this kind of mental and emotional landscape. In a sense, like breathing, prana responds to saying “yes” to the abundance of life that is your birthright. This can become, with practice and exploration, and the cultivation of greater levels of prana, the path of ecstacy.