The Magic of Shaktipat, Part 3

Desire is a mental affirmation of lack.   

Prana gets suppressed when we try to get things to be the way we want them to be. It is one thing to have a desire and another thing to act on a desire, but even the intention to satisfy a desire suppresses prana. It works like this: We want something and our attention is on getting it to happen.  Where the attention goes, prana goes. So even the simple act of using the mind to work out the means of achieving its aim acts to control prana. When we finally take action to obtain the desired object, we reinforce this limitation on prana’s freedom and prana is not free but subject to our ‘will.’ This is the source of the teaching of the Ancient Masters to abandon desire if we wish to achieve liberation. When desires become powerless, prana moves freely and things happen automatically to this end. This, in fact, is how these desires are ultimately dethroned—by freeing the prana to ‘God’s Will.’

In spite of our attempt to control it, prana is able to maintain some degree of freedom in order to maintain life, but due to the limitations we place on it, its freedom is limited. Having been forced to act according to personal will power rather than her own innate and divine intelligence, interruptions in the flow of prana occur, and mental, physical and emotional well-being are affected. The prana itself is not what is imperfect or impure; we might say that the prana has impurities mixed in with it like an alloy in gold, or that there are obstacles in the path of the flow of prana.

Liberating the Life Energy

Shaktipat is responsible for freeing prana. This release of the life energy is called pranotthana, which means ‘strong prana,’ or ‘prana up.’ When prana is allowed to be free, she moves according to her own intelligence. Because of the inevitable impurities, distortions, obstacles and disorders associated with bodies, her release can create unusual phenomena.

Some examples of the pranotthana experiences are divine visions, spontaneous withdrawal of the senses (pratyahara), automatic movements of the body (kriyas or asanas), spontaneous dynamic breathing (pranayama), out of body experiences, sleep of a highly unusual quality (yoga nidra), emotional releases, dreams of unusual quality and continuity, and even samadhi.

I’ve seen conservative people hop across the floor like frogs, stiff people bend into pretzels, and reserved people cry like babies and laugh hysterically. Spontaneous healings occur, sometimes immediately, sometimes over a period of time. I’ve had people go into such deep states that I just had to let them be. Eventually they came back to normal consciousness—very, very slowly, sometimes taking as long as an hour.  Others have no experience at all during the initiation, but things unfold gradually as they continue the meditation.

Pranotthana is sometimes confused with the awakening of kundalini.  While it is the precursor to the awakening of kundalini, it is not the same thing. One might also experience pranotthana unknowingly, become frightened, and believe that there is something wrong. I have known people who have had their experiences diagnosed as the symptoms of fatal diseases and told that they had only a short time to live. Because their ‘problem’ began in meditation, they were advised to stop meditating. Upon learning that they were experiencing pranotthana, they continued their meditation and the symptoms went away. The doctors were astounded by their unexplained recovery.

I am not suggesting that you attribute everything to pranotthana and ignore symptoms of ill health—physical, mental or emotional. One cannot expect that symptoms are just dramatic pranotthana experiences and not seek the aid of a physician. I mention it to illustrate the remarkable power of prana. If prana had its way, there would be no death.

From Living the Mysteries, Copyright ©1999,
Durga Ma and Terry Anne Preston, Ph.D.

On the subject of desire, I would add … 

Desire indicates that you believe that you don’t have something you want. This belief acts as a reinforcement for keeping the very thing you want from coming to you, or going away—we sometimes have a desire that we don’t want to have; prana is suppressed by attempting to overcome this desire as well. 

I mentioned last time that we all have everything, and that the issue isn’t really the desire, but access. Achieving access is a matter of understanding and applying your inherent power (this is described in the Empowerment Meditation course). Regarding the resolution of desire as an obstacle to God-realization, you may want to reread this entry: Surrender & Non-Doership

The masters have told us to let go of desires not because it is ‘wrong’
to have desires, but because you already have it all
so there is really nothing to want.

Durga Ma

Go to the list of posts on KUNDALINI.

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8 thoughts on “The Magic of Shaktipat, Part 3

  1. Thanks a lot for your reply!
    What I understand from your reply (and also from Swami Satyananda Saraswati’s books) is that various spontaneous kriyas (and even spontaneous asanas) may be wrongly inferred as a kundalini Awakening while they are just an indication of Pranotthana. I also understand that until the prana enters the Sushumna it cannot be called a ‘real’ Kundalini Awakening.
    The problem now arises – how to identify whether Prana has really entered the Sushumna?
    I remember that over a course of time my rate of breathing decreased to 4-6 minute in normal waking hours and about 1-2 per minute (or lesser) during meditation. during such period of breathlessness (between two breaths) I could still feel extremely soft and subtle pulsating movements (something like a faint breathing, not the heartbeat which has quick and sudden movements) even though I wasn’t actually inhaling or exhaling. A few months later I read a book by Swami Muktananda where someone asked him about a similar experience to which he replied that it’s a very good experience and indicates that Kundalini (or Prana, i don’t remember well) has entered your Sushumna.
    This leads me to another question is- Do spontaneous kriyas, asanas, bandhas happen when Kundalini enters Sushumna too? – because then the only way to differentiate between Pranotthana and Kundalini Awakening would be to identify whether Prana is still in other nadis or whether it has entered Sushumna.
    If so then what are the symptoms that indicate Prana has enetered the Sushumna ?
    I know I may be acting particularly nosy but please forgive me for that – I only ask such questions when I know there is a possibility of getting a reliable answer.
    Though I really don’t care too much about names and terms (pranotthana or kundalini) as long as something good is happening spiritually, I still wouldn’t want to lose an opportunity of getting a better understanding of these terms, while I can 🙂


  2. Personally I think the divisions made between “one” thing and another causes a great deal of confusion. So much of life is a continuous process, not a series of boxes. My early energy movement was the far end of a kundalini awakening. They were all connected and related to one another. It is like we say “this part of the wave is the rest of the ocean while this part we call the crest of the wave” while it is all a gradual becoming.


    1. Think of pranotthana as very strong prana. Think of that strong prana as the thing that kick-starts kundalini, wakes her up. Kundalini herself is not perceptible. Her workings are too subtle.

      People who talk about feeling something are mistaking the activities of prana (outside the sushumna) for kundalini (inside the sushumna). If someone talks about a vibrating chakra, for instance, this is the experience of the prana’s actions—it is prana activating the chakra from outside the sushumna. It is not kundalini, and may or may not be related to kundalini.

      Think of pranotthana as the phenomena, like the heat, the kriyas, sensations, and so forth—it’s the thing that you experience. Think of kundalini as the functioning of the energy inside the sushumna unbeknownst to the practitioner. Kundalini functions in a sequential manner and is generally known after the fact based on its effects, and is rarely identified correctly. So how can I tell when it’s kundalini? I don’t always know. Sometimes I just have to wait until someone tells me something that makes it obvious.

      Durga Ma


      1. Ok, may be I understand now….does Pranotthana refer to the stuff that happens immediately after Shaktipat (which may cease to happen within 1-2 days) while Kundalini Awakening is the stuff that happens (may be after days/months) after the initial upsurge. So while, after receiving Shaktipat some people may immediately experience things like bliss, lights, yogic postures, etc – that only indicates Pranotthana. But if after these initial symptoms have subsided and then after few days they again experience things like spontaneous asanas or spontaneous meditation then that could mean that the Kundalini has awakened….Please correct me if I’m wrong…Thanks!


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