I’ve been a long-time yogi, now entering my 21st year of enjoying a steady and thorough everyday practice. I’m also a woman. So, years ago, when I ran across Shakti while exploring meditation, she resonated with me and I have practiced honoring her ever since by awakening her energy within me.

Shiva and Shakti represent the masculine and feminine energy of the universe. We also have both energies within us, with Shiva being masculine and Shakti being feminine. Shiva is the space that holds all the wild and wonderful Shakti energy. Every sound vibration in the universe is filled with the creative force of Shakti. Goddess energy is Shakti energy. (Learn all about Shiva and Shakti.)

So, how do we harness this divine feminine force that resides within us so we can experience this sacred reality? Here are five ways you can awaken your Shakti energy waiting within.

Expand Your Awareness

We can all begin by expanding our awareness and by filling our consciousness with goddess statues, goddess paintings, mantras and yantra. Reading and listening to Hindu myths about the goddesses can serve as a pathway into the heart of this divine reality. The teachings threaded throughout these myths can help us cultivate our own feminine nectar of self-awareness.

Through the teachings of Tantric yoga, we learn that the external and internal worlds are brimming with divine energy; with Shakti. The path of Shakti is Tantric in nature. So, anytime you study Tantra, you are expanding your awareness to include Shiva and Shakti.

Shakti energy is dynamic, while masculine energy is more inert, but you cannot have one without the other. Without the stability and spacious awareness of the masculine energy, Shakti is uncontrollably wild. The dance between the two is intertwined. Both men and women have both masculine and feminine energies within. We all shift and change from moment to moment. At times, we might be totally grounded in Shiva energy, while at other times we are completely motivated by Shakti. (Compare Shiva and Shakti with Balancing Yin and Yang.)

Chant Goddess Mantras

Durga energy, Lakshmi energy, Saraswati energy, Parvati energy and Kali energy: By getting in touch with each of these energies, you’ll be invoking various parts of your feminine nature in all its divine glory. The more you bring each of these goddesses into your conscious awareness, the more you’ll naturally awaken your Shakti. (Learn more about Invoking the Divine Feminine.)

Each of these goddesses has her own mantra. By chanting their mantras, you’re awakening Shakti. You can carve out a little bit of time each day to chant one or more of these goddess mantras. For example, Lakshmi’s mantra is Om Shreem Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha. It can also be Om Shreem Maha Lakshmiyei Namaha. Saraswati’s mantra is Om Sam Saraswatyai Namaha. You can choose one of the mantras and chant it out aloud or to yourself. Chanting a mantra 108 times is a good place to start. (Learn about The Sacred Meaning of Mantras.)

Try This Shakti Visualization

To practice awakening your Shakti, practice bringing your attention to your body and to your world. Now visualize that everything in your awareness -- everything you see, feel, sense, both inside and out -- is made up of the goddess energy. See everything as a manifestation of this divine feminine Shakti. Take a deep breath and imagine that the air you breathe sparkles with Shakti. Your lungs are filled with the eternal vibration of Shakti. Even your mind is filled with shining particles of Shakti energy. In essence, the goddess is everything. (Ready to try another visualization? Try this Heart-Opening Visualization Meditation.)

Include Kundalini Yoga in Your Practice

Shakti energy is also often referred to as kundalini energy. Many yogis believe that one of the fastest and most direct ways of awakening kundalini is through the regular practice of Kundalini yoga and the many kriyas that exist within the kundalini tradition. If you’re not familiar with Kundalini yoga and kundalini energy, you’ll definitely want to be guided by a certified kundalini yoga teacher. (Learn more in Kriyas, Kundalini and You.)

Add Guided Meditations to Invoke the Goddesses

One other powerful way to awaken your Shakti is to invoke the primary Hindu goddesses through guided meditation. Sally Kempton is one of the West’s great teachers on the subject and has written a fascinating book titled, "Awakening Shakti." In the book are tools to integrate goddess energies into our lives. AwakeningShakti.com and Awakening Kundalini Shakti / The Divine Feminine / The Great Goddess on StellaMuse.com are also great resources on how to awaken your Shakti.

Your Shakti Awakening Awaits!

Have fun exploring your divine feminine essence. You are filled with Shakti energy and so is this beautiful universe that surrounds you. Shakti is everywhere and once you open your eyes to see it, you’ll be much more open and ready for your own Shakti awakening. (Read on in How to Build Your Shakti.)