Sadhguru’s Kriya Meditation
Sadhguru is an Indian mystic and yogi whose videos I have been watching on YouTube for about a year now. He created the Isha Foundation which teaches meditation in centres in both India and the United States. He holds talks at these centres regularly and publishes 5–15-minute snippets of them on YouTube, each usually covering one specific subject. There are literally hundreds of them on Sadhguru’s official YouTube channel. He is an engaging speaker and his talks are filled with profound wisdom. I watch them daily. He is probably my favourite guru, currently.
Sadhguru has an interesting past. He attained enlightenment spontaneously one day, apparently having had no prior interest in mysticism. He claims knowledge of his own past lives, and that his last three lives have been virtual copies of his existing one as Sadhguru. He says that he and yogi friends who shared past lives together still accidentally refer to each other with their old names from time to time. Sadhguru’s wife also died several years ago. He claims she wilfully entered mahasamadhi, which is when an enlightened yogi chooses to consciously exit his or her body during meditation. The physical body dies and the yogi’s karma is said to have been extinguished, meaning he or she will not be reborn again. This has predictably led to controversy, with some claiming she committed suicide and others accusing Sadhguru of murder. This controversy has only increased my interest in him.
Sadhguru leans far more toward the Hindu side of Indian mysticism and his stories are more colourful than their drier Buddhist counterparts. They are filled with saints and devas, and talking animals including monkeys, snakes, lions and pigs — everything you expect from a mystic of India’s rich mythological tradition. Sadhguru is an adherent of Shiva above all, who he calls Adiyogi (“the first yogi”). He holds the Buddha in high regard but considers his path to enlightenment to be just one among many, and that his method is dry and technical and only suitable for certain people. This is an interesting counterpoint if you are coming from a primarily Buddhist background, as I did.
Sadhguru has a polite but evident disdain for Western dualistic thought and the monotheistic religions that both arise from and propagate it (“Everything is either good or bad, God or Devil. Can anyone really be just one of these things all the time?!”). I have drawn similar conclusions, partly as a result of receiving emails from Christians describing my site as “demonic”. This mode of thought is the cause of all major schisms in the West — left vs. right, liberals vs. conservatives, good vs. evil. The tendency to split reality into two opposing camps has greatly hindered our ability to see life just as it is.
The purpose of this post is to introduce you to Sadhguru’s beginner’s meditation, or kriya as he calls it. It is technically a kriya as it utilizes energy work (a.k.a. kundalini). The reason I am encouraging you to try it is that, when I first saw it just a month ago, I was very surprised to find that it is almost identical to my standard kundalini meditation, i.e. the one I practise every day as my default meditation, and which was revealed to me during my kundalini awakening. Sadhguru’s intention is to “introduce a drop of spirituality to every human on the planet”. Here is the meditation, which is guided:
Despite being intentionally made suitable for beginners, this is in no way a “weak” meditation. It is fully capable of inducing strong samadhi/jhana and bliss if you practise it regularly. I will break down the components of this meditation now:
Sitting position — Spine is straight for upward energy flow. Head is slightly back to favour flow into the third eye chakra. You can use a chair if, like mine, your legs are too thick and inflexible to sit cross-legged (though this should probably be worked on over time).
Mudra — Hands are open, upward, placed on knees. This mudra induces broad upward energy flow and a feeling of openness, which is ideal for letting the meditation “take” you. I will sometimes place thumb and forefinger together for a more intense and narrower energy beam, but this is for specific purposes (meaning I know how to channel that more intense energy into samadhi states and visualizations). I recommend you keep the hands open.
Third eye focus — The point of focus – and, essentially, your “object” in this meditation – is the third eye chakra, which is located between your eyebrows. This chakra is the seat of spirituality and is capable of generating states of bliss quickly and easily, usually accompanied with ultrafine bursts of REM. You simply gaze at this point the whole time, and if you are distracted by thoughts just bring your attention back here. I also recommend being aware of your breath, which allows absorption very quickly, but just take it one step at a time and basically do what he says.
Breath control — This very basic intentional exhalation/inhalation will steady the mind quickly, since mind is so linked to the rhythm of the breath. This also allows an easier implantation of the formal resolution.
Formal resolution/intention (1st mantra) — “I am not the body. I am not even the mind.” This is actually a type of formal resolution or intention (a verbal command which will shape the outcome of the meditation) being set right at the outset. This instructs the meditator to let go of his attachment to both his body and his mind and instead experience the True Self, or atman. (This is as opposed to Buddhist meditations which are geared to experiencing No Self, but I won’t get into that topic now).
Chant (2nd mantra) — “Aaaah.” These deep vibrations activate the lower chakras at the base of the spine. Combined with then gazing at the third eye, you have established a steady upward energy flow from the base of the spine to the third eye. I personally achieve this via a “will” for the base of the spine to become active, which is like pressing a button within myself, but that is from the kundalini awakening and you should not attempt to copy that at this time. The “Aaaah” sound is a perfectly valid way to achieve the same activation.
Equanimity — You ignore all activity of the mind and body and return attention to the third eye. This conditions equanimity to those things. You are not attempting to “do” anything in this meditation. In fact you are simply stripping back mindbody chatter to something more fundamental underlying that — the True Self. You are not “trying” to “attain” anything. It is all about letting go of goals and just following the instruction.
He recommends 12 minutes minimum for a sit, but I believe that is so as not to discourage people who would find longer times daunting. In my opinion however you should definitely do 30 minutes at a minimum, and definitely go on for longer if you feel a momentum has been built.
This meditation is a composite of concentration and energy work, and insight also will almost certainly arise with regular practice. I am so impressed with this meditation that I am considering making it the official PPM meditation, recommending it to beginners first and foremost while also continuing to provide materials on the more Buddhist-styled mindfulness, concentration and insight practices. Please let me know how it goes.