Saturday, July 26, 2008

Subtle System

“Within us lies the peace, the
beauty, the glory of our being.
There is an ocean of all
that. We cannot seek it outside.
We have to go within."
- Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi

The human subtle system is a vastly intricate one, made up of thousands of channels which carry energy throughout the body. The concentrations of the energy in the subtle system are called Chakras (“wheels”), or energy centers.

The entire system is governed by three primary vertical channels of energy called “Nadis” in Sanskrit and by seven main chakras. Our subtle system is fully activated only with the awakening of the Kundalini, which cleans and balances the entire system and enlightens the pure qualities of the chakras within us.

In each human being, the energy flows in one of three different channels. For simplicity we refer to them as the left, right and centre. Prior to Self-realization through Sahaja Yoga, the energy flows - the attention settles - in the left or the right. The left - the tamo guna - is concerned with desire, with yesterdays, with the moon, with conditioning, with memory. If the left side is out of kilter we can become cold, insecure, depressed, fearful. On the other side is the right channel - the rajo guna - concerned with action, with tomorrows, with the sun, with planning. If the right side is out of kilter we can become tense, aggressive, even violent. Some of us swing from one side to the other, and back again with painful consequences.

But Self-realization opens up the central channel - the satwa guna - bringing about the yoga, the union of the spirit with the Divine energy of creation. And once this central channel has been opened, then good meditation, health and well-being follow. When the energy flows along this central channel the other two - the left and the right - are brought into balance so that insecurity and depression on one side, tension and aggression on the other, disappear.

The energy that flows through the central channel is called kundalini, a sanskrit word. There is no English word for it. This power is the mothering energy in us, the nurturing energy, the energy that transforms us into spiritual beings. It is a reflection, in miniature, of Divinity. It is a seed of God’s power, the First Power, the Adi Shakti, the Holy Spirit, the Devi, the Feminine Aspect of God. The Goddess. And it is our honouring of this Divinity within us, our dedication, our worship, that strengthens the flow of kundalini, and opens up the rich world of the spirit.


The left channel (or Ida Nadi in Sanskrit) is also called the Moon Channel. It begins at the Mooladhara and runs up the left side, crossing the Agnya Chakra into the temple and superego
on the right side of the brain. It provides the conduit for the energy of our desire. From these wishes, our emotions are triggered. Emotions are actually desires that have not yet materialized. These desires and the attendant feelings about them travel through this left channel to the appropriate places in the body to bring about the actions of fulfillment. Our desires are essential for action. Without their impetus we would have nothing to act upon.

The greatest quality of the left side is to provide joy which is the steady condition of the Spirit. You may remember having this joy as a child, or you may have observed it in small two- or three-year-old children. They usually wake up in the morning happy. While they may experience physical and emotional pain once in a while throughout their day they do not cling to it with memory. Rather, they cry, recover and resume the steady state of joy. The desire for this joy is still alive inside us the same as it was when we were infants. It may be blocked or covered with “tarnish” from emotional or physical hurts experienced in living life. Before Sahaja Yoga, we did not have effective techniques for clearing away the hurts and blows that are normal for those of us living active lives. The practice of Sahaja Yoga helps us remove those old tensions and recover that joy as a steady state of being.

Problems of the left side tend to result in passivity or emotional extremism whereby we are thrown between elation and depression. With this type of imbalance, self-discipline becomes difficult and bad habits become hard to correct. In the worst case, we will become lethargic and self-obsessed. Because this channel feeds also into the skull area, pressure on the brain becomes excessive. This cycle is what causes mental breakdown, epilepsy and senility (decay of the brain).


The right channel (or Pingala Nadi in Sanskrit) is also called the Sun Channel. It begins at the Swadisthan Chakra and travels up the right side. It crosses over to the left temple (ego) at the Agnya Chakra. It provides the conduit for our active energy. This energy is comprises of our mental and physical activities. When the demand for energy on this side is too great, the left side is weakened; the desire to have joy of the Spirit evaporates. When the right side dominates, the personality becomes very dry and aggressive. Excess pressure shoots up into the left temple and into the ego, causing it to inflate into a balloon that blocks the central channel. The entire system is thrown off balance. Blinded by ego, sensitivity to our own emotions is diminished. Decisions and actions are taken that dominate or disrupt the lives of others with a firm belief that they are “necessary” and “logical.” Taken to this extreme, right-sided behavior leads to heart disease.

The high-tech, high-powered, “fast-track” environments of the Western world’s cities and suburbs are generating predominantly right-sided citizens. It is difficult to maintain equilibrium
between emotions and action when the work, school and shopping environments are aggressive and stressful. It is difficult to maintain a peaceful home where the imbalances and negativities can be corrected and purified. Instead, most of us go back to work or school with the accumulated negativities of the past clinging to our systems.

Sahaja Yoga practices are effective at removing negativity and balancing the chakras and channels. Using simple meditation and techniques, such as footsoaking, lying on the ground, sweeping the “aura” and shoebeating once can begin each day with joy from the open chakras and energetic power from a balanced system. You can revitalize yourself and the relationships around you simply by working on yourself from the inside out.


The central channel (or Sushumna Nadi in Sanskrit) is also called the Middle Path. It begins at the place where the Kundalini resides and passes straight up the spine to the highest chakra.

As the conduit for the parasympathetic nervous system, the central channel coordinates our involuntary system activities. We do not have conscious control over these activities. Our heart beats, our lungs breathe, our blood system manufactures plasma, our brain centralizes and coordinates communication, our mind performs “word processing”… all of these incredible functions – and more – operate more powerfully than forty billion computers. These operations are performed regardless of where our attention is focused. They seem to have no need for our conscious leadership and control. Yet, miraculously, our body’s involuntary activities function according to an organized operating plan with such complex interactions, syntheses, and communications that our deepest medical scientific research, which is now probing into the DNA,
recognizes that still we have only reached the “tip of the iceberg.” We have discovered that the human system is so vast and so ingenious that even to get some type of rudimentary understanding of it, requires recognition of our ignorance of it. We may start learning something new.

This is what Sahaja Yoga is about.

The activities that take place through the parasympathetic system are spontaneous happenings. They happen naturally, without our doing anything. The rising of the Kundalini and her work, as well as all the other spiritual activities, are spontaneous. Hence, the term Sahaja was selected to label this type of yoga because it means spontaneous. The implication of the parasympathetic nature of the middle path is that the rise of the Kundalini is totally beyond our own volition or control. That is why, actually, Shri Mataji has to act as a catalyst. Once our Kundalini has been awakened and has travelled through this central channel, out the top of the head, we can begin to become aware of the vast internal galaxy of our subtle system. This initial “enlightenment” or realization is only the beginning of our greatest adventure.

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