This site is for learning and sharing about Yoga. Topics include teaching, asana, meditation and a nurturing forum for questions about your Yoga practice.

Mystical Life Force Energy … (Prana Shakti – Chi)

Written by:
Ananda Prema Shakti (Felicia Case)
©EarthStar Publishing, Inc.

…”Although similar to states of feeling, mystical states seem to those who experience them to be also states of knowledge. They are states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the intellect.” ~William James

The Life Force (Prana, Shakti, Chi -pronounced chee and also spelled qi or ch’i) is energy – the life giving soul energy from God that unites body, mind and spirit. Everyone has the life force. When we die, our life force is no longer there with the body. When we are alive and helathy, our life force is strong, balanced, flowing and focused, and we exude energy, balance and good health.

The life force is that which animates life. Animation denotes movement, and effect. An invisible force known only by its effects, the life force is recognized indirectly by what it fosters, generates and protects and manifests. The Lakota Native American name for the life force is “Taku Skun Skun” which is translated to mean “the Something that Moves…” God and the life force is definitely something that moves. Like the wind, we cannot see the wind, but we can feel the wind and see the effects of the wind. We can see movement in wind dancing through the leaves of the trees, across the water, on the lilting melody of the breath blowing through a flute, and in the etching whistle of wind and rain through chiseled canyon rock. We can see lungs rise and fall in the rhythm of breath. We can sense and feel the effects of the wind even indoors with the doors and windows closed as storm clouds and blowing rain move in, changing the barometric pressure, feeding the friction of lightening that charges Mother Earth.

Life force (chi, ki, prana, shakti, etc.) manifests as a moving, vibrant spiral energy. It simply IS. This energy cannot be forced, mimicked, or replicated.  Who commands the wind? the rain? the oceans? When energy levels are built and stored in the body, and grow when obstacles have been removed (which is a helpful bi-product of many paths such as martial arts, energy work, our yoga asana, breathing, and bandhas).  In any practice, merits of the heart borne of selfless love and devotion also move us aong on the journey.

Our meditation practice is not about control, sitting rigid and fighting down thoughts and feelings in a hope of being blissful and attaining ‘enlightenment.’ It is not about ‘trying’ to feel good and relaxing. In our practice we cultivate, build, and carry Prana Shakti (Chi, the Life Force, Taku Skun Skun) with the primary catalysts being the eight limbs of Yoga and merging with the Great I AM. Once cultivated, we have a responsibility to treat our body as a temple so that we will be strong enough and able to carry advanced spiritual energy and the subsequent states such a practice and spiritual energy brings to our lives. We then become catalyzers of spiritual energy and we can be instruments for sharing, healing, growing, teaching, and illuminating our families, and people of the world.

How do we become catalyzers? The greatest conductor of of this energy is our Mother Earth who is charged and replenished regularly by nature and Father Sky. By practicing flows of martial arts, dance, walking barefoot in the grass and through pranayama and sitting in meditation, we plug in through our feet (or sitting bones) into the energy of the Earth. Like trees draw up from their ‘root(s)’, life force energy climbs from our roots.

What happens when we run low? Most often, we might feel overly emotional, fragmented, sensitive, nervous, out of rhythm, apathetic, tired, irritable, depressed, base, sick, weakened, hopeless and off-kilter.

What are some of the biggest drains on our life force reserves?

– Worries, fears, thought processes and analysis
– Financial pressures
– Too many distractions and inputs, sounds, visuals
– Too much sexual release
– Extreme levels of exercise
– Heavy Spiritual Practice and Ceremony
– Too much shopping and spending
– Digestion of too much food, meat, processed snacks and sugar
– Lack of sleep
– Too much work
– Too much time indoors away from nature and fresh air
– Rushing
– Too much talking
– Noise and man-made background sounds

What are the richest sources for replenishing the life force:

– Sunlight and moonlight
– Deep nostril breathing
– Love
– Natural earth-grown food
– Walking barefoot on grass, rocks, sand
– Music, singing, playing and listening to instruments
– Drumming
– Being outdoors in nature (by forests, ocean, lakes, streams, red rock, and other power places)
– Loving touch and massage
– Sacred sexual union
– Yoga postures, especially in a group with a teacher
– Sleep (we might be surprised by this, but the deep breathing rhythm of sleep is a huge source of the life force)
– Quiet
– Spiritual practice and ceremony (sometimes just a modest amount of time, and a quick heartfelt prayer is all it takes)

Balance in Yoga (and in life) is something that is static and ever changing. Sometimes, though, if we get too far out of balance, be might have too large a discrepancy between the foundation (strength of the body and foundation) and the spiritual energy. During these times we pay attention to the areas that need supporting and building. Asana and bandhas fortify the body. The control and extension of breath (pranayama) fortifies the building of a storehouse of prana in the body. Asana, pranayama, mudra, and bandhas are of the quickest ways possible to build prana shakti as this combined practice puts pressure on nerves and energy vortexes which will help the body to “fire.” That firing is what keeps us energized.

The nice thing about the life force is that we don’t “lose” it. Certainly our spiritual energy does ebb and flow. In the words of Dr. Ronald Steiner (Arjuna), a Yoga teacher in Germany:

“It is the balance between lightness and foundation, between being down to earth and up in heaven, … and between being rational and spiritual. Balance can never be achieved fully. Balance always needs work just like a Yoga pose. When you balance, it is not a static thing. It is always playing at the point between falling forward and backward. Same in the internal practice of Yoga.”

Even if we detour off the path, it only takes a few days to fortify and refill our storehouses if we are faithful and disciplined. The beauty of our spiritual practice is that we can always come home to this natural, holistic and nurturing Body-Mind-Spirit practice of Yoga.


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