In trying to get every work-related task completed in order to clear the mental space for this experience, I was up till 3am on the computer. (It’s not uncommon for me to be up past midnight after a long day at the pc.) Waking up the next morning and suddenly being in a task-free space with the objective to shift into quietude and steady within-ness was a jarring transition. I had difficulty downshifting from the Go-Go-Go mind that is in a flurry of this task and that. Thus, not feeling so meditational after a late wake-up, I put my attention to mindful, slow cleaning and preparation of the space for sacred work.
Trish and I live and work together 365 days a year. We are each other’s best friends and almost all of each other’s social circle save for visiting loved ones. We’re seldom separated. This has had some mutual downsides over the years, and it has been an intense pressurized environment at times, including a few marital crises; but like the conditions that make diamonds, it’s had an overwhelmingly net positive effect on our coal-like selves.
We’ve grown considerably together, and we continue to fine-tune our harmony and co-created efficiencies in managing our home, marriage, and shared service to L/L Research. Trish carries more than her weight, and like me, is proactive in meeting and exceeding her responsibilities in ways that keep our dwelling clean, vital, and well-operational. I couldn’t be luckier to be her partner. And, lucky us, we love hanging out together as well. The non-responsibility slices of weekends with Trish are some of my favorite times in life.
Even though we have been away for short periods several time, something about this experience was particularly unusual. I kept getting phantom sensations of Trish being about some activity in the house somewhere, or of one of the dogs being in the room with me or just around the corner. Unlike the non-phantom sensations I am experiencing right now writing one month later as both monsters wolf down their afternoon meal in a food frenzy. You would think we never feed them.
I did receive/subconsciously manufacture a big dose of encouragement on this day: a cluster of four repeating digits on the clock. Ever since repeating digits took on some subjective significance over twenty years ago, they have a tendency to cluster around particular events, like L/L’s gatherings—though they still remain a generally rare phenomenon in batches like this. Today I saw few other times on the clock outside of 1:11, 3:33, 5:55, 11:11, the first one at the start of my first meditation.
It felt like a day of commencement of and transition into the experience. The resting, the recovering, the uncoiling was underway, but I hadn’t yet entered the silence, as our pups, Emma Lou and Cooper so easily do.
My circadian rhythm unintentionally set to a late-night schedule—I am forever wrestling with it—I used the night to revisit a book I love about pranayama in study and notetaking. And then, just past midnight, I undertook my first serious practice of Nadi Shodhana.
Incredible! I don’t think that I’ve ever made such a profound and palpable shift into calm and almost cellular pleasure without a chemical before. These sorts of practices have not traditionally gotten through my thick head, but this time I was beaming with an inner subtle joy at the sense of ease I felt in my body. I went to sleep in contentedness.
Nadi = “energy channel”
Shodhana = “to cleanse or purify”
The three principal nadis—ida, pingala, shushumna—are the high-voltage wires of the energy system carrying and distributing prana, or life force energy, into and through the chakras and the nadi network.
You’ve seen an echo of this in the Caduceus, a symbol now used to represent modern medicine, with a central staff and two crisscrossing serpents wrapping around it. Ida and Pingala crisscross through the chakras, or power substations that step-down the pranic energy, from red ray up to indigo ray. Sushumna is the central nadi—what I believe is the power supply of the spirit complex, if not the spirit complex itself.
Through pranayama (or breath control) practices—the most fundamental and universal of which is Nadi Shodhana—the pranic channels are “purified and regulated.” Among the benefits of Nadi Shodhana, it:
- Vitalizes pranic energies
- Releases pranic blockages
- Achieves balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems
- Restores equilibrium between mind and body
- Awakens dormant shakti and directs it thru sushumna, leading to deep states of meditation
Simple description: It involves alternating breath through the nostrils in certain patterns. The left hand rests on the leg in nasagra mudra (tip of thumb and index finger forming a circle, remaining four fingers outstretched and facing upward). The index and middle fingers of the right hand rest gently on ajna, or indigo ray—with the thumb over the right nostril when breathing through the left, and the ring + pinky fingers on the left nostril when breathing through the right.
From the book Prana and Pranayama, by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati.
As of a few weeks later, I have been conducting nadhi shodana every day. While only performing the beginner level practice, it is surprising how effective it is in calming, focusing, and regulating the body/mind.