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Season 2 - Episode 5

Shambhavi Mudra Meditation

5 min - Practice


Shambhavi is one of the names of Shiva. Building on the previous Back of the Head Meditation, Richard guides us through a body mudra meditation, drawing our awareness towards the bridge of the nose. This meditation is designed to help us become more inclusive of the outside world, bridging the inner and outer landscapes.
What You'll Need: No props needed


Read Full Transcript

Hi, we're here with Betsy and Ilana. And the practice we're about to work on is called Shambhavi Mudra, Shambhavi being a name of Shiva, one of the many names of Shiva, the deity. Shiva is often, the Hindu trinity, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva. Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the sustainer. And Shiva is often called the God of Destruction.

This is not exactly accurate. He's a deity that withdraws the universe at the end of its cycle. He doesn't really destroy it, sort of recycles it. So I just read the other day where somebody called Shiva the God of Destruction and that's a little bit off on that. Also this is called Shambhavi Mudra.

Now it may be a little bit confusing to you because there are three categories of mudras that you have to be aware of. We are all familiar with the hand mudras, the Hasta Mudras, which are done, fingers. But there are also two other categories of mudra, one of them being Kaya Mudra, the body mudras, which are done with the tongue and the eyes and lips and things like that. And there's also a category known as the Chitta Mudras, the Consciousness Mudras. Chitta Mudras are more like meditations, they're done by directing the attention to various chakras in the spine and visualizing colors and shapes and things like that.

A mudra literally means a seal, S-E-A-L seal, and these seals are designed to literally seal energy in the body, the prana. But there's also a symbolic meaning to the word sealed. In the old days when people sent a letter they would take some wax, put it on the envelope and then take a ring, a signet ring and press it into the wax to seal the envelope. And this is another sort of meaning of the word mudra, it means that the mudra seals the image of the deity on the body. And there's also some very sort of imaginative etymologies of the word mudra, for example.

They point out the word mud, which means to make the deities happy. But literally speaking the mudra means a seal. So this is a kaya mudra, a badi mudra, a shambhavi mudra, a shiva seal. And it's a very interesting meditation. The first thing that you have to do, now we've done a meditation previously where you took the attention to the back of the head, here you take the attention to the bridge of the nose or just behind the bridge of the nose.

So all of the awareness, all of the attention is held here, between the eyebrows. And this, in this particular context is called the shiva shtana, which means the place of shiva or shtana is cognate with the English word to first stand, so you can say the stand of shiva. And you may know this also as the ajna chakra, the chakra of command, or the third eye. So there's various names for this spot. Anyway, you take your attention, and just as you did earlier by bringing the attention to the base of the skull, now you concentrate it at the bridge of the nose or behind the bridge of the nose inside the skull.

And then once you do that, you open your eyes just a little bit, so you crack your eyes and you look out onto the world in front of you. Now what the yogis say is to look but don't see. In other words, you look out but you don't name anything that you do see. You try to keep the eyeballs very quiet and you try not to blink, so the eyes are very quiet, very still. And what often happens right at first is, of course, the attention sort of leaks out from the bridge of the nose through the eyes and into the world.

So the attempt is made to withdraw all of that leaking awareness, if you want to call it that, and pull it back into the spot behind the bridge of the nose and hold it there. This is a very interesting practice because usually when we're asked to meditate in a yoga class or any other kind of class that deals with meditation, we're asked to go inside and that, in essence, cuts off the rest of the world. And so Shambhavi Mudra is a meditation that includes what's outside, which is in Hatha yoga is alive, is conscious, is part of the body of the goddess. So it's one of my favorite practices because it is all inclusive. I'm not withdrawing myself as I would in a classical practice, in a practice that's described by Patanjali, where the consciousness is withdrawn into the body and pulled away from the outside world because the outside world is considered to be a distraction.

In this practice, the outside world is included in the meditation. And so we learn to appreciate what's both inside and outside, and there's really no separation between the two. This is called Shambhavi Mudra, and we're peaking out. We're keeping the focus right here, but we're looking out at the world to make sure that we don't cut ourselves off from what's outside. And to come out, we'll take a few breaths, and I'll have the helpers close their eyes first, and let that awareness seep out again into the body, and then you can open the eyes, look out at the beautiful world, and thank you, Shambhavi Mudra.


Rebecca Urban
LOVE this meditation...thank you Richard
Katherine F
Thank you Richard.
I am thinking g with practise, this meditation does not feel like it involves any division of the mind.....and if it feels like division more practising may be this mudra my attention naturally want to withdraw inward and downward, not outward in any way........

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