Advanced Yoga Practices
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Lesson 56 - Sambhavi - Opening the Third Eye
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, “Why This Discussion?”
Date: Fri Dec 26, 2003 4:38pm
In the last lesson we discussed mulabandha, which is applying direct stimulation near the lower end of the spinal nerve (sushumna) to enliven sexual energy upward. Now we are going to the top end of the spinal nerve and begin to make a connection there.
A connection with what? This is one of the most amazing things about working with the spinal nerve. As the spinal nerve gradually becomes purified through pranayama and meditation, a new kind of experience becomes possible. We begin to awaken sexual energy in an upward direction near the root, and then we make a connection between the lower and upper ends of the spinal nerve. This connection is real and can be felt clearly by the practitioner as a kind of conductivity through the spinal nerve, an “ecstatic conductivity,” if you will. The spinal nerve becomes a conductor of ecstatic experience. From there it spreads out through all the nerves in the body. This is perceived directly through all five senses operating inside the body. As the experience of ecstatic conductivity goes deeper into every cell in the body, the senses go inward with it. The experience is so pleasurable and captivating that the senses cannot resist following. It is a unique situation where the senses willingly go inward instead of outward. In yoga terminology it is called pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses inward. It is a perfectly natural situation as the experiences of huge inner pleasure lead our senses inward. It is great fun too. Some say more fun than worldly sex. Well, you can be the judge of that.
Jesus said, “If your eye be single, your body will be filled with light.” An apt description of an awakening spinal nerve and the rise of ecstatic conductivity.
There are two main components to sambhavi. First is a gentle furrowing of the brow, the point between the eyebrows. It is bringing the two eyebrows slightly toward the center. This is barely physical, mostly just an intention. It is only physical enough to allow feedback for a habit to form. Under normal circumstances it will not be visible to an outside observer. Maybe only a little in the beginning stage. With practice, you will find that this is really an internal movement reaching back into the center of your brain, pulling the center of your brain forward toward the point between the eyebrows. We begin this internal activity with the brow-furrowing impulse just described. It will evolve naturally after that, as ecstatic conductivity arises. You will feel it working inside your head.
The second component of sambhavi is a physical raising of the eyes toward the point where the furrowing is happening at the point between the eyebrows. The sensation of furrowing at the point between the eyebrows is where the eyes will go. This will involve some raising and some centering of the eyes. We keep the eyes comfortably closed as we do it. We don’t force the eyes. In the beginning, they may not go as far up as we would like. That is okay. Do not force them. Just let them gravitate naturally toward the sensation of furrowing at the point between the eyebrows. Again, it is a subtle physical habit we want to cultivate. Once the habit in place, the attention is free for spinal breathing. All of pranayama is physical habit, except for the attention going very simply up and down the spinal nerve with the breath. As we become adept at it, everything will be happening automatically, with our attention completely free to be easily going up and down inside the spinal nerve, which will be transforming before our inner sight.
As we do these two things simultaneously, the slight furrowing of the center of the brow and the raising and centering of the eyes to that point between the eyebrows, we continue all the other elements of pranayama just as before. It should be pointed out that as the attention goes up and down in the spinal nerve with the breath, the eyes remain aimed up toward the point between the eyebrows. We are not looking through our eyes with our attention. Our attention is going up and down in the spinal nerve. We do not try and look at the point between the eyebrows with the attention through the physical eyes. The eyes are physically going there, but our attention is going up and down in the spinal nerve. In fact, our physical eyes aren’t doing anything other than muscular. When they are going up to the point between the eyebrows, the eyes are physically stimulating the spinal nerve all the way back through the brain and all the way down through the spine to the perineum. We are using our eyes in a physical way to awaken the spinal nerve. Meanwhile, our vision (attention) is in and through the spinal nerve, easily going up and down inside. It is a new kind of seeing we are beginning, an inner seeing.
Depending on how far you have gone in purification of the spinal nerve so far in pranayama, when you do sambhavi you may feel a sensation all the way down in the pelvic region. Or you may not. Either way, the spinal nerve is being stimulated and purified by the combined effects of all the practices covered to date. It is only a matter of time before the ecstatic conductivity begins to occur and we start to “see,” really see. When it happens, there will be more milestones we will observe on our journey home. First we will perceive the spinal nerve inside to be like an ecstatic thread. Then it becomes like an ecstatic string. Then it is like an ecstatic rope. Later on, like a big column of ecstasy filling our entire body. Finally, it goes out in all directions and gently encompasses everything we perceive outside our body. All this emanates out from the spinal nerve. So you can see how important traveling the spinal nerve and cultivating ecstatic conductivity is.
Even before advanced yoga practices, there is biological precedence for what we are discussing here. Perhaps at some time in the past you have noticed some pleasurable feelings in your pelvic region when you crossed your eyes. It is common knowledge that the eyes tend to cross and raise up at times during the sex act. There is an instinct there. Something in us knows how to raise the sexual energy up through the center of the nervous system. It is an inherent ability we have, a natural reaction that is observable even before undertaking yoga. With mulabandha and sambhavi, we are consciously promoting a natural ability inside us, just as we have been doing with all of the advanced yoga practices discussed from the beginning. And so it shall be with all the practices we discuss in the future. We are systematically awakening what we already have – our spinal nerve, our highway to heaven.
The point between the eyebrows is called, “the third eye.” Why? What is it that we can see through there? In the language of chakras, it is called, “ajna,” which means, “command” or “control.” These two descriptions point to the importance of the energy dynamics that come up in our head as a result of advanced yoga practices. Not only do we begin to see something there, but we also are in command there.
Jesus said, “If your eye be single, your body will be filled with light.”
This is usually taken figuratively to mean, if we are one-pointed in our devotion we will be filled with the light of God. This is certainly true. We have emphasized the importance of devotion on the spiritual journey. Without single-minded devotion to spiritual transformation, and action in the form of daily practice, not much will happen.
These words of Jesus also have a literal meaning — a very literal meaning. If your attention becomes centered in the single channel of the spinal nerve, taking it to the point between the eyebrows again and again, your body will become filled with light. This is how it happens. Sambhavi is one of the most important means by which the third eye is opened. In opening the third eye, all that is below is activated as well. Sambhavi has direct influence through the spinal nerve on sexual energy. As purification of the nervous system progresses, sambhavi gives us a great degree of control over the cultivation and rise of sexual energy. This, in turn, gives rise to the experience of increasing ecstasy in the body, which includes profound experiences of divine light surging through every nerve in us. Our body is “filled with light.”
As this transformation continues, we also begin to see beyond the body. We find that the spinal nerve doesn’t stop at the point between the eyebrows, but extends out far beyond it. As we observe this, our spinal breathing takes on a new dimension. The third eye opens!
The guru is in you.
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Note: For detailed instructions on sambhavi mudra, see the AYP Asanas, Mudras and Bandhas Book, and AYP Plus.