Uniting Energy and Consciousness:
A Yogic Marriage of Shiva and Shakti
By: Heather Indu Eilering
You have most likely already heard that Yoga means “union”. Maybe the idea of Unity is what drove you to begin exploring this ancient practice. But what are we unifying? If I inhabit this body and you inhabit a totally separate body, how in the world can unity happen? If I have my concept of what is right and what is wrong and you have a different concept of right and wrong, how do we unite? When faced with conflict perhaps you think to yourself, “Just admit I am right!” We are only human and that is what many of us do every day with our children, our partners, our parents, friends, and siblings. We try to convince them to see and agree with our point of view. That agreement is what makes us feel safe and validated in our world. We create whole communities and countries based on that agreement. But history shows us that countries fall, divorce happens, children estrange themselves from their parents, and friendships end. So then, dear ones, where does Yoga come into all this?
Yoga is a science that has been tried, tested and validated by yogis for thousands of years. The final result of the practice, we are told, is a merging into “All” where there is no suffering, loss, fear, or anger; only an infinite Peace. Along the path of Yoga the practitioner will notice some seemingly amazing things happen. They have more energy; they feel a deeper sense of peace with the world; their body becomes strong and more flexible; they require less food and sleep; things that seemed impossible begin happening (called siddhis or yogic powers). The truly amazing thing is that a true yogi desires none of the above once they begin happening. Yoga butt is no better than a droopy bottom. A true Yogi has their eye on the true prize – freedom.
So where does one who has become interested in freedom begin? Let’s begin at the end, with “union”. How do we unify a world that has so many conflicts in it? Simply stated, there are really only two things that make up this world; energy and consciousness.
An analogy to assist in understanding these two concepts is to imagine a sky filled with clouds. The sky is consciousness, or in yogic terms, Shiva, and the clouds are energy, or Shakti. Consider the qualities of the sky; no boundaries, limitless, contains everything, vast, open. The sky does not care if the clouds are in the shape of a castle or an ice cream cone. The sky is not concerned if there are rain clouds or if there are only a few sparse clouds allowing the sun to shine brightly. The sky contains every cloud exactly as it is without any preference as to which cloud is passing through at any given moment. It simply holds the space unconditionally for each cloud to express itself.
A cloud on the other hand takes up space, it is made of something. It can easily change its shape depending on the weather pattern surrounding it and within its own makeup. When the external pressure is strong enough and the internal density of the cloud is right, a storm happens. When the external pressure, temperature and moisture are light, the cloud is white and fluffy. A cloud doesn’t choose to be white and fluffy, rainy or laden with snow, it simply allows for its internal and external environment to shape it.
Now consider any object. Scientists have proven that all things can be broken down into microscopic particles of energy. Did you know that if you broke down the energy of your physical body, all its particles could fit on the head of a tack? Things are not as solid as they appear. Unlike the cloud and the sky that doesn’t have a preference if it’s a stormy or clear day, we humans have lots of preferences. It’s those preferences that are causing our unhappiness. Remember, countries fall, relationships end, everything changes. If we could learn practices to return us to our pure cloud-like nature, we’d be happily floating through every aspect of our lives. And we would set ourselves up to join with the infinite sky.
Consider looking around the world and viewing everything not as different solid forms, but made up from the same source of energy. If you look at them from the energetic viewpoint, a democrat is really no different than a republican. In solid form they seem to have different ideals. But try breaking them down into cloud donkey and cloud elephant. You know from experience that according to the weather patterns, over time those clouds will shift into different shapes, but their core energy will remain the same. So within all opinions, shapes, sizes, actions, and ideals is an unchanging energy that is the same for all. This energy appears to take on different forms and opinions but comes from the same source, making it the same. Therefore, within all your opinions and concepts is simply one energy which takes on the form you command. You, as the consciousness, observe energy and direct it to a specific form based on what you like and dislike. But remember, all things change and you certainly don’t have the whole picture yet. So, my suggestion is to learn how to let go of the need to control the energy and be like the sky; allow the energy to play as it will. That’s what yoga will teach you to do.
These days there are many styles of yoga available in the United States and around the world, however, there are only a few styles that hold true to the time tested ancient practices of yoga that have been handed down from Guru to disciple. In order to unite Shiva and Shakti, consciousness and energy, one must learn from a modern practice that has its roots in ancient times. Those are the practices that have been scientifically tested and shown to work.
Let’s consider the practical everyday reasons for beginning a true yogic lifestyle. It is the practical reasons that will open you up to a limitless desire for freedom, freedom without strings attached. When you use the external practice of Yama/Niyama (observances/disciplines), asana (postures), pranayama (breath) with focus and concentration, you are cultivating prana or energy while maintaining awareness of what you are doing (that’s consciousness). The practices themselves will focus your mind and help you release pre-programmed habits and behaviors while replacing unconscious habits with conscious energy that will heal your body and mind. More energy means the ability to live more fully! More energy with consciousness means to live with more meaning. The more you practice, the more energy and consciousness begin to naturally work together.
Remember, the ancient practice of yoga was designed for the practitioner to reach true freedom without limitations. Temptations along the path of yoga will arise to use the practice for external gain. Keep your eye and heart on the True prize – Freedom from the need for the clouds to show up a certain way to be happy. As you transform, the temptation to transform those around you will arise. There’s nothing you have to do, just hold true to the practice and reflect the Light you are embodying and the world around you will transform at its own pace. Remember the weather patterns analogy. A cloud changes shape from external pressure (your unconditional light) and internal energies (you cannot force change on someone who is not ready). All you need to do is embody the Light that is uncovered within, and peace will be yours. By living in that peace you offer it to all and will not need to change the clouds thus uniting with your limitless skylight nature.
From the science of yoga side, as you cultivate more prana you open the energy centers in your body. As these centers open, the physical body, energy body and mind are naturally healed of imbalance and disease. As these energy centers, or chakras, are opened, the associated organs and mental/emotional traits are progressively healed. Ultimately as one progresses on their yogic journey, Shakti (energy) races to meet her consort, Shiva (consciousness), and when they embrace the explosion of union is remembered.
Finally, a simple truth to take with you as you begin your journey: the union we have been discussing is already present. You’ve simply forgotten and buried it under lifetimes of reaching for what you want and running from what you don’t want. All you need to do is stop and let go. When you do that, you give perfection a chance to be itself, to show you your true nature. Yoga was designed to save you time because eventually you will naturally let go. But if you begin practicing now, the peace your heart yearns for will be remembered much sooner.
In Loving Service,
Heather Indu Eilering