Some days I bounce out of bed ready to tackle the day. Other days, it feels like climbing Mount Everest just to get myself to the meditation cushion! This depends largely on how much general stress I may be under, how well I have eaten the day before, and what depth of sleep I have gotten. Sometimes I feel in the flow, everything clicking along as planned, and sometimes totally out of sync. What makes the difference?
Everyone has high energy and low energy days, but to get myself balanced and filled with the mojo I need for my day’s activities, I know I need to listen to my body and my spirit, and take steps to address their needs regularly. There is no shortage of energy in the universe, but sometimes we block its flow into our lives. However, if we integrate the physical and spiritual aspects of our being through our yoga practice, we can draw upon the boundless energy that is always available to us, particularly shakti energy. Here is why you need this divine feminine energy and four ways to build more of it in your life.
Why We Want Shakti
Our spiritual nature is a mirror of the Divine in its transcendental aspect as pure being. Our human nature reflects the activating energy of creation manifest in the world, known as shakti. Shakti is the creative force of the universe and is the feminine principle of divine energy. As a vehicle for universal Consciousness, shakti is often associated humanly with creativity, fertility and change.
In Hinduism, Shakti is represented as the supreme goddess, or Divine Mother. She is the female counterpart to the divine masculine, Shiva. Within us, the qualities of both deities are embodied: the un-manifest potential of pure consciousness and the active creative energy put into manifestation to live our lives.
Other terms for shakti are chitta shakti or atma shakti. Chit and atma are both names for universal Consciousness. Therefore, the shakti is the pure power moving into form as an extension of source Consciousness that is individually expressed in each of our lives.
4 Ways to Build More Shakti
We are Spirit come into form; so, the more shakti energy we can draw from the field of potential, the more vital and successful our individual lives become. Most yoga practices help us to do this physically, mentally, or both. Consider these four approaches to building more shakti, or creative power and energy, in your life today.
The power of shakti can be channeled through conscious breathing. By remembering to breathe slowly and deeply, we immediately begin drawing in more shakti. Furthermore, techniques such as alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana) can increase and balance the movement of energy through the main nadis, or channels, in and around the spine.
To practice nadi shodhana, begin by curling your index and middle fingers into your palm. Close the right nostril with your thumb. Inhale through the left nostril. Then close the left nostril with your ring finger and exhale through the right nostril. Inhale again through the right. Close the right nostril with your thumb and exhale through the left. Inhale left, close, exhale right. Inhale right, close, exhale left. Keep up this pattern of changing the closure on the exhalation for several more minutes. This is alternate nostril breath and, with consistent practice, it will regulate the shakti and you will be able to breathe more fully and clearly.
Stop the Energy Drains
Take stock of the energy expenditures in your life. Are you giving too much time and focus to work and not enough to exercise or creative pursuits? Are you worrying constantly rather than asking for help or trusting the flow of life? Are you ruminating over some past hurt, resentment or lost love?
Energy drains come in many forms. They are especially apparent when we are not practicing self-control in the ways we know we should. They zap our shakti and deplete our power of creation in the here and now. Over time, they can cause illness and severe fatigue. Where do you need to stop the energy drain? Consider taking a day in silence to get recalibrated or doing more activities such as eating meals in silence. Talking all the time or being around others talking can drain us. Silence is healing for the soul. If we can combine silence with being in nature, it is even more powerful. The shakti of Mother Earth replenishes us through sunlight, fresh air and the powerful sense of being at one with the natural elements. (Learn more about the benefits of silence and how to practice more of it in Taking Silence Breaks Throughout Your Day.)
Maintain a Virtuous Lifestyle
When we think of a healthy lifestyle, obviously there are the minimum requirements such as the right amount of water, balanced nutrition, proper physical movement and rest. But at a deeper level of health, "The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali" recommend internal as well as external practices that put us into a state of harmony and virtue. Ultimately, true power is created through the alchemy of living in integrity, wisdom and humility. A healthy lifestyle is one that encompasses right action inwardly and outwardly. This would include practicing peacefulness, generosity, self-control, contentment, introspection and devotion.
Engaging some self-reflection can illuminate an aspect of your health that needs a tune-up at this time. Are you avoiding some truth you know you need to face? Are you taking reflective time to listen to your inner wisdom and be self-honoring? Are you allowing unbridled desires to drive your choices in an unhealthy way?
Develop a Spiritual Practice
Most of every day is spent developing our material lives -- our careers, hobbies, physiques, etc. -- but, for true success, we need to develop our spiritual lives as well. In the same way that a slow, gentle Yin yoga class can balance our bodies when we are feeling a lot of strong yang energy, our spiritual practice balances our ability to receive as well as to do.
To access an understanding and experience of your spiritual nature, many different practices can be used. Silent reflection, prayer, mantra repetition and devotional chanting are all ways that we can draw closer in our hearts to the connection we have with the divine Spirit. These techniques help prepare us for sitting in the stillness of meditation through which we can cross the bridge from human awareness to spiritual awareness. In this unified state, the shakti of creation merges back into the universal Consciousness and we experience true Self once again.
Oh, How She Shimmers
For me, a combination of daily yoga asana and seated meditation, combined with on-going self-reflection to keep my mind and heart aligned with my highest values, keeps me energetically in tune. And, thankfully, the more consistent I am with these practices the less likely I am to get too far out of balance.