Shambhavi Mudra, Gesture to aid Meditation and Mind Power
Shambhavi is the name of the wife or consort of Shambhu, Shiva. In Indian mythology she is also known by various other names like Parvati, Shakti etc. It is believed that Lord Shiva had taught the technique of Shambhavi Mudra to Shambhavi told her to practice it diligently in order to attain higher awareness. Shambhu is also equated with super consciousness and it is believed that with the regular practice of Shambhavi Mudra the practitioner can make Shambhu appear before him, or realize supreme conscious state.
Another of the theories about how this gesture got its name as Shambhavi Mudra is rooted in its connect with the Kundilini Shakti which lies latent, coiled up within the Mooladhara Chakra at the base of the spine as per Kundilini Yoga. As the practice of Eyebrow Center Gazing advances with time this kundalini Shakti begins to rise upwards, piercing through the other chakras located at different locations within the spineand reaches the Ajna Chakra, located at the point between the center of the eyebrows. This point is also thought to be the seta of Shiva, or Shambhu as he is also called, and as the Kundilini Shakti reaches here it unites with the Shiva and experiences the bliss of Shambhu, thus the name Shambhavi.
The practice is also known as bhrumadhya drishti. The word bhru means eyebrow, madhya stands for in between, or center, and drishti stands for gaze. Thus, if translated to English the Sanskrit term for the practice becomes eyebrow center gazing. Shambhavi Mudra finds mention in ancient texts like Gherand Samhita, Shiva Samhita, Amnaska Yoga, and Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Gherand Samhita describes its technique in very simple terms: Direct your eyes towards the middle of the eyebrows. Reflect on your real nature. This is Shambhavi Mudra, the most secret of all tantric scriptures. Further the same text praises this practice: The man who diligently practices and knows Shambhavi Mudra becomes Lord Shiva himself. He becomes Narayana (Vishnu), the sustainer of all and also Brahma, the creator of the universe.
It has been found that by practicing Shambhavi Mudra for a long period of time one begins to lose individual awareness and can experience higher expanded awareness. In this way, one sees the significance and essence behind everything, and realizes that one’s real nature is far more than can normally be conceived. This is the reason that Shambhavi Mudra is also regarded as a meditative practice in its own right.
Shambhavi Mudra – Practice converging the eyes the right way
It is advisable to attain certain proficiency in the Nose Tip Gazing Technique (Agochari Mudra) before practicing Shambhavi Mudra so that a certain degree of control and endurance with directing the gaze at a point is attained.
- Place one finger at the tip of the nose
- Focus both eyes on the finger tip
- Slowly move the finger upwards keeping the eyes glued to the fingertip till the eyes are drawn up enough to focus on the center of the eyebrows and the tip of the finger moves out of sight above the eyebrows
If this preparatory practice is carried out regularly in the manner as described here, after some practice the eyes will automatically be drawn upwards to focus on the eyebrows center.
Shambhavi Mudra Steps
- Sit comfortably in any meditative posture like Sukhasana or Padmasana
- Keep the spine and the head erect
- Form Gyan Mudra with both the hands and place them over the knees
- Slowly close the eyes for creating introversion and relax the body, relax the muscles of the face, shoulders, neck, and the muscles holding the eye balls
- Breathe normally throughout the practice
- Slowly open the eyes and fix the gaze at a point in front of you, choose the point at eye level located directly in front of you
- Fix the position of the head here, the head will not move at all from here onwards till the end of the practice
- Now roll the eyeballs up and inwards and fix the gaze in the center of the eyebrows
- Both the eyes should be able to see the two downward facing curved lines of the eyebrows merging together into a V shape right over the root of the nose
- The place where the vortex of the V shape formed by the merging of the eyebrow curves is the approximate location of the eyebrow center
- In case you do not see the V shape as mentioned, it means that the eyes are not converging as required
- Hold the gaze on the center of the eyebrows till comfortable, if a strain is experienced then close the eyes for a few moments and relax them
- Resume the practice after sometime, practice 10-15 rounds
The beginners may find holding the gesture for long a bit strenuous, thus they should hold the gaze between the eyebrows for not more than 10 -15 seconds initially. Slowly the endurance capacity will increase when you can gradually increase the time you should maintain the gaze in Shambhavi Mudra.
After one has mastered the eye movement one must begin mastering coordinating the eyes movement with the breath.
- Lift up the eye balls and gaze at the center of the eyebrows inhaling slowly throughout
- Then slowly exhale while lowering the eyes
- Practice 10 – 15 rounds
After training to coordinate the eye movement with the flow of the breath begin practicing holding the Gaze in Shambhavi Mudra while performing Kumbhaka (Internal retention of breath).
- Raise the eyebrows while inhaling, hold the breath inside the lungs as in Kumbhaka pranayama or suspend the breath outside the lungs (Sunyaka) for the duration you hold the mudra for, and finally release the mudra by lowering the eyes while exhaling
- Keep the spine and the head straight throughout the practice
- Practice for 10-15 rounds
Five types of visualizations can be added to Shambhavi Mudra, each generate a different experience for the practitioner. As one sequentially progresses through these stages one the image of the self is developed.
On the other hand, these visualizations aid in concentrating the mind so that the blurring of the individual awareness can take place faster.
In the first visualization concentrate on the entire body in the form of agni, or fire. Imagine the whole body is on fire and feel the flame and the heat along the spine and the front of the body.
In the second visualization the image of the Sun (Surya Mandala) is visualized in the Shambhavi Mudra at the point in the center of the eyebrows.
In the third visualization the symbol of Ajna Chakra (Chandra Mandala or Ajna Mandala) is visualized at the gazing point in Shambhavi.
In the fourth visualization white light is imagined at the center of the Ajna Chakra, this light is pure white light, bereft of any heat or coolness.
The fifth visualization id of lightening within the white light so imagined in the center of the Ajna Chakra.
Visualizing all the levels completes one round of this stage and one must initially begin with 5 rounds and move to 10 rounds over the period of some months.
Variations and Practice Note
Once one has mastered Shambhavi Mudra with open eyes one can attempt the same with eyes closed. It is difficult to maintain the mudra with closed eyes as the gaze here lack any navigation indicators, like the V shape formed by the curvatures of the eyebrows while doing it with open eyes, due to which one is prone to losing the right orientation of the eyes towards the center of the eyebrows.
In order to master Shambbhavi Mudra first practice Trataka where one is required to keep the gaze fixed on an object, and then one can gradually move to concentrating the eyes between the eyebrows as in Shambhavi.
Duration and Repetitions – Shambhavi Mudra
Shambhavi Mudra must be practice on an empty stomach, or at least 4 -5 hours after having a proper meal. The beginners can start by holding the final gesture for as long as in comfortable, or up till any strain or watering in the eyes is experienced.
Try practicing 15-20 rounds of each stage at a single sitting which can extent up to 6 minutes.
Practice Shambhavi Mudra twice daily: once in morning hours and once in evening hours.
Listen to your body and gradually increase the time span as your staying power in the mudra progresses with regular practice.
Contraindications and Precautions
- Since the eyes are very sensitive to strain avoid holding the final gesture for too long, in case the nerves of the eyes are weak, which a lot of us are not aware of, the strain can cause retinal detachment
- Avoid wearing contact lenses, or spectacles while practicing Shambhavi Mudra
- Overdoing this mudra can cause dizziness and mild headache
- Make sure that the gaze isn’t strained at all and relax the eyes by cupping them with the palms after each round ends in order to undo any effects of a possible strain
- If practiced intensely, without paying any heed to the precautions as required, one can experience wild hallucinations technically known as phantasmagoric visions, this will go away with practice over time
Persons who are experiencing the conditions mentioned here must avoid practicing Shambhavi Mudra.
- Diabetic Retinopathy
- Recent cataract surgery, lens implant, or any other operation
Shambhavi Mudra Benefits
Shambhavi Mudra if done regularly the right way can offer immense benefits to the practitioner. as listed here.
- It helps awaken Ajna Chakra
- It helps one to experience the higher consciousness
- It relaxes the muscles and nerves of the eyes along with having a relaxing effect on the same, this helps heal the issue of drooping eyelids and double vision if present
- It helps reduce anger, anxiety, and emotional stress, it can be effectively used with the yoga techniques for managing anger for receiving faster results
- It is an easy technique for inducing concentration, or steadiness of the mind
- Shambhavi Mudra can be a great help for easily inducing one’s mind into meditation
- The eyes turn watery while doing this mudra, this helps cleanse the toxins out of the organs of vision
- A regular practice of Shambhavi Mudra is known to enhance the interpersonal communication skills of the practitioner
- It helps establish a balance between the left and right hemispheres of the brain which will boost clear thinking
- It is known to develop psychic powers
- It helps stimulate the pineal gland which secretes serotonin, this chemical is responsible for keeping the mind calm
- As it increases the production of Alpha Brain Waves it helps heal depression, eradication the feeling of fear, and enhances the creativity of the practitioner
- It’s a very effective technique for curing insomnia, or help induce sleep
- It helps boost memory and increase general confidence levels, it forms an unmissable part of the yoga techniques for enhancing confidence
- Shambhavi Mudra if done by applying Jalandhara Bandha can cure throat issues
- It enhances the cortisol awakening response (CAR) which increases the level of alertness or wakefulness within the individual
- It helps trigger the neuron production, and neuron activity within the brain which helps improve its overall functions
- If done in combination with Uddyana Bandha it rejuvenates the abdominal organs which can be beneficial for medical conditions like diabetes and constipation
- It adds magnetism to one’s personality
- It provides anti-ageing, anti-inflammatory benefits if practiced regularly over a long period of time
The Effects of Shambhavi Mudra on the Meridians (Energy Channels)
The gaze and the concentration are directed to the center of the eyebrows where as per the theory of Chinese meridians (EnergyChannels) a very extraordinary point is located. The Chinese name for this point is Yintang, and it translates to “seal of the hall”. The term seal is also used to define mudra, as the mudra seal the energy within the body and prevents it from dissipating into the external environment due to certain bodily activities.
Hall may be correlated with Chidaksha, the space where Chitta resides. Chidaksha is also the name given to the dark space one perceives when the eyes are closed. The practitioner concentrates, meditates on this space while practicing Shambhavi Mudra. As per some literature on acupuncture points within the body this is the point from where one can access and experience the inner self. Acupuncture practitioners also use this point in healing tension, headaches as stimulating this point can calm the spirit, dizziness, vertigo, hay fever, insomnia etc.
Certain points of the urinary bladder, stomach, and gall bladder meridians are located near the eye balls. These points receive stimulation was the muscles of around the eyes exhibit movement and contract while doing Shambhavi Mudra. These points are also used for the treatment of various eye disorders and the disorders of the eye muscles. A branch of the heart meridian originates from the heart, runs along the side of the oesophagus ad ends in the eye.
The eye balls movement in Shambhavi Mudra stimulates the heart through this branch of the heart meridian, as per acupuncture philosophy the heart is responsible for regulating emotions and the mind from which awareness originates. Thus, practice of Shambhavi Mudra helps calm anger, increase the level of awareness, and leads to higher states of consciousness.
As per the theory of Chinese Meridians and the related acupuncture points liver controls the eyes, it opens up in the eyes. The eye ball movements in Shambhavi Mudra influence the liver positively which enables a harmonious and stable flow of energy throughout the body creating the over all balance within.
This balancing act involves balancing of all the three doshas within the body as described by Ayurveda. It impacts the thought process and functions of the eyes positively as it balances the alochak pitta which is located in the eye.