Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 44 - Finding the Spinal Nerve
Date: Sat Dec 13, 2003 3:00pm
Q: I am having some difficulty imagining the spinal nerve. Does it look like a nerve or a tube? You mentioned both. Does it have a color, a taste, a feel, or any other sensory characteristic?
A: We effortlessly imagine the spinal nerve as a tiny tubular channel going from our perineum (the spot underneath, between the anus and the genitals) to the point between the eyebrows. During inhalation we trace it up the center of the spine to the center of the head, and turn forward to the center of the brow. On exhalation we trace it back down the same path to the perineum again, and so on, over and over, for our time of pranayama. If we realize we are not tracing the spinal nerve up and down during our pranayama session, we just easily come back to it. We don’t force the mental image of the spinal nerve. We gently favor it. The details will come on their own.
What is the spinal nerve? What is this sushumna thing? Is it something we will just keep imagining in our pranayama forever, and that’s it? Fortunately, not. Imagining the spinal nerve and tracing it up and down in pranayama is only the beginning. At first, it is like making a survey of the land where we have been told there is a rich vein of gold underneath. Then we are digging, and soon we are into the gold. Then the imagining, the tracing of the mental image of it, takes on a different quality. We find we are into the vein of gold and there is no more looking for it. We know where it is. It is shining in our face. Our imagination is supplemented by the growing reality of it.
So, imagining the spinal nerve is just a beginning, We have to start somewhere. As we trace out the path of it over and over again with the breath, something begins to happen. Something starts coming up. It may be feelings. It may be colors. It may be sounds. We will experience something. We just keep practicing, not detouring very much into the sensations that come up. All the senses operate in the inner realms, and we are gradually opening them up. How we first perceive the spinal nerve depends on our unique condition, our unique pattern of purification that is going on in both pranayama and meditation. However unique our pattern of purification may be, we are uncovering the same thing, the sushumna, the spinal nerve. In doing so, we are opening up our highway to the infinite.
What we are doing in spinal breathing is simultaneously finding the spinal nerve and opening it. We find it by opening it, and then we keep opening it. It will not be the imagination alone for very long.
Soon we will be adding powerful features to our pranayama practice that will aid in opening the spinal nerve more quickly. The breathing and imagination will get lots of help. When you are mining for gold, you may want to use some dynamite. There is plenty of dynamite available. It will soon be brought to you. Then you can be quickly uncovering something very real as you go up and down in spinal breathing. The spinal nerve will become tangible on the inside, palpable. There will be less imagining of it. You will be in it, experiencing the inner dimensions of yourself. Ecstatic radiance will fill you and start to stretch you from within.
At some point you will come to a realization that is both comforting and scary at the same time. You will realize that while you have been looking for the spinal nerve, the spinal nerve has been looking for you. In finding the spinal nerve, the spinal nerve has found you. Then the doing will shift. Before, you were the one doing the seeking, digging and digging. Finding the spinal nerve changes that. Now it is the awakened spinal nerve that is doing the seeking, spreading out everywhere inside you, purifying every cell in you. You become a witness to a vast and glorious display of cosmic cleansing, and you are falling into an endless abyss of ecstasy. It is a humbling experience, and a gratifying one. Now you are witnessing first hand what has been recorded in the scriptures and truth writings of humanity for thousands of years.
This is what finding the spinal nerve is like. It is like being found. Then we move into a mode of surrender, accommodating the divine process going on inside, because we are no longer alone on this quest. We never were. We don’t sit back and do nothing. There is much more for us to do — many more means that can be applied to facilitate the transformation. So we go on with our daily practices, and add more advanced yoga practices, as we are able to digest them. There is no resting on our laurels. We may be full with ecstasy, but there is more, and we will not stop.
The guru is in you.