Shaktipat- The Indian Way to Enlightenment
In his article Between Coma and Convulsion, in Energy and Character, David Boadella quotes the report of a person studying the self—regulatory practices in India. Although this is a recent account, the yoga practice it describes has been used for many centuries in India:
I have been in India for about four months now and I thought the readers of Energy and Character might be interested in the similarities between Reichian work and Shaktipat or Kriya Yoga. The Sanscrit word ‘shakti’ means energy, bio-energy, or more correctly, bio— cosmic energy. Shaktipat is a practice which is described as the loosening of this energy by a guru from the way it may be blocked in us. When this shakti energy is loosened and no longer tightly bound by the control of the conscious mind it begins to circulate in the body. It is then said to open up energy channels or pathways, and usually begins to manifest in what are known as ‘kriya’. Kriyas are spontaneous movements of the body and of the respiratory system. One interesting aspect of kriyas, which resemble Reichian abreaction, is that they very often manifest as highly involved asanas (body postures) and as mudras (meditational postures involving the hands). I have seen many persons who practice shakipat enter a phase of intense energy flow in which breathing becomes rapid and involuntary and in which people begin with great rapidity to do asanas they never knew and which they ordinarily would never have been able to perform. Although the conscious practice of asanas facilitates this process, true hatha yoga (Indian techniques using physiological processes to integrate ones being) occurs involuntarily in this kriya phase. The burst of energy that results is sometimes astounding and may continue for well over an hour. The movements in some individuals are so intense and frantic they appear dangerous. In other persons the movements are soft, delicate and flowing. Thus some persons may breathe like locomotives, beat themselves repeatedly, stand on their heads, bellow, twist their limbs in the most unbelievable postures; others begin to dance harmoniously, to sing softly in languages they have never learned, to become playful and flirtatious and to utter strange sounds.
The explanation for this is that the shakti is opening or purifying obstructions in the energy pathways, that the individual is working out the results of past actions and experience, and that an evolutionary process is allowed to unfold which eventually will result in an expansion of awareness.
In this kind of meditation the individual sits still, but not rigidly; he doesn’t concentrate in any way, but simply relaxes as much as possible and permits the energy to do its thing. The energy is of course thought of as ultimately cosmic or divine. Hence the path of enlightenment lies in relinquishing ego control and identifications and allowing this bio—cosmic energy to express itself and lead us. The final results of this process is the opening of the highest brain centres in a new type of consciousness in which the individual merges with the universal consciousness. The total process takes a very long time but this should not dissuade us as each stage has its own rewards. The bodily spasms, automatic breathing, asanas, contortions and reflex patterns that manifest spontaneously as the energy gains momentum all serve to purify the organism. Though some of these phenomena may sound strange they are not experienced as unpleasant once the practitioner no longer totally identifies with bodily processes. Thus the meditator can be totally in their body without identifying totally with its experiences.