Self-Realization through Yoga Meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra

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Chakra Meditation
Bhuta Shuddhi
Purifying the 5 Elements

by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati 

Bhuta Shuddi is an ancient Chakra Meditation of Yoga and Tantra practice through which the five elements (bhutas) are balanced or purified (shuddhi). Bhuta refers to the past, and shuddhi refers to purifying that past, or the samskaras that operate in conjunction with the five elements. This is a very useful practice, whether you think of it as preparation for kundalini awakening, or simply as a practice for feeling balanced, centered, or tranquil, etc. (One of the two foundations of Yoga is Abhyasa, practices seeking of tranquility; Yoga Sutras 1.12-1.14). 

For the Chakra Meditation of Bhuta Shuddhi, it is necessary to understand how the five elements relate to the chakras. The five bhutas are the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and space, and they operate in conjunction with the lower five chakras (at subtle level they are called tanmatras, which are part of tattvas, or subtle constituents). The sixth chakra is of mind, and is beyond or prior to the bursting forth of space, air, fire, water, and finally earth. Consciousness itself (or whatever you want to call it) is prior to, or the source of manifestation of mind, and is the seventh chakra (surely there are other chakras, including between sixth and seventh, but the bhuta shuddhi practice itself need not focus directly on these).

Sound file of the bija mantras

Click here to download an 2:55 minute mp3 recording of the bija mantras for the chakra. Two series of repetitions are there for each of the chakras. The recording systematically moves from the base chakra up to the crown, and the reverses, going back down to the root chakra. Then you might enjoy simply breathing up and down the sushumna channel, the subtle spine, either with Om going up and down, or Sohum, with So going up to the crown and Hum going down to the base of the spine.

Alignment of the five elements

The five elements align with, and operate from the five lower chakras, along with the ten indriyas and a seed mantra for each. In systematic Chakra Meditation, you progressively move attention through the chakras, along with awareness of the nature of each chakra.

Method of practicing Chakra Meditation - Bhuta Shuddhi

There may be many methods of purifying the five elements, ranging from meditative practices (including Yoga Nidra) to various forms of ritualistic practices. With some reflection it makes sense how it is that many practices might have such an effect. The Chakra Meditation method presented below (Bhuta Shuddhi) works directly with attention on the chakras, balancing the subtle forces of the five elements through the use of the bija (seed) mantras of the chakras.

Before doing the Chakra Meditation - Bhuta Shuddhi practice itself, it is useful to do some some stretches or hatha asanas (postures) followed by some form of physical relaxation exercise, such as a complete relaxation. This helps prepare the mind to be able to focus on the chakras.

Chakra Meditation - Bhuta Shuddhi: Sequentially move through the chakras in the following sequence. As you read this, please keep in mind that reading about the practice is more difficult than doing the practice. The descriptions are lengthy, but the practices actually straightforward and simple.

  1. Muladhara Chakra Meditation: Bring your attention to the perineum, the flat space between the anus and the genital area. Take several seconds to allow your attention to find the space, and to get settled into it. Allow the mantra Lam to arise repeatedly in your mind field, silently. Allow it to repeat at its own natural speed. You may find that it comes 5-10 times and wants to pause, or you might find it wants to come continuously. If it pauses, allow it to return in its own time. The mantra may move quickly or slowly. In any case, keep your attention on that space; this is very important. That space might be tiny, such as a pinpoint, or it might be several inches across. Follow your own inclination about the size of the space. Allow your mind to naturally be aware of earth, solidity, or form. That awareness may come a little or a lot; either way is okay. Allow to come through your mind field the awareness of of the karmendriya of elimination (which operates throughout the body), and the jnanendriya of smell (best to become familiar with the nature of the indriyas). Gradually, over time with the practice, it becomes more clear how it is that the indriyas operate from these centers, along with the five elements. You may or may not also find that colors and sounds naturally come to the inner field of mind.

  2. Svadhistana Chakra Meditation: When you move your attention upwards towards the second chakra, be mindful of the transition, of the motion of attention and the nature of the shift of energetic, emotional, and mental experience. Allow your attention to naturally find the location of the second chakra. Your own attention will find, and settle into that space. It is important to note that the actual chakra is in the back, along the subtle spine called sushumna, although we usually experience it in the front. Allow the attention to rest where it naturally falls, probably in the front, but be mindful from time to time that the chakra is actually in the back. Gradually attention will find this central stream running up and down through all of the chakras (sushumna is actually subtler than the chakras). Allow the mantra Vam to arise and repeat itself, at its own speed, naturally coming and going. Hold your attention in the space, whether a pinpoint or a few inches across. Allow the awareness of water to arise, and come to see how this has to do with allow forms of flow or fluidity, whether relating to energy, physical, emotional, or mental. Explore the awareness of the karmendriya of procreation and the jnanendriya of tasting (once again, become familiar with the indriyas). Again, colors or sounds may or may not come and go.

  3. Manipura Chakra Meditation: Be aware of the transition as you move to the third chakra, at the navel center, which is also actually along the sushumna channel. Allow the mantra Ram to arise and repeat itself, at its natural speed. Keep attention in the space, whatever size at which it is experienced. Be aware of the element of fire, and the many ways in which it operates throughout the gross and subtle body from this center. Be aware of the karmendriya of motion, and how motion itself happens in so many physical, energetic, and mental ways. Be aware of the jnanendriya of seeing, which you will easily see as related to fire and motion. Colors and sounds may or may not come and go.

  4. Anahata Chakra Meditation: Observe the transition as you move your attention to the fourth chakra, the space between the breasts. Allow attention to become well seated there, and then remember the vibration of the mantra Yam, allowing it to repeat at its own speed, while being mindful of the feeling it generates. Be aware of the element of air, and notice how that feels with the mantra. Notice how the element of air relates to the the karmendriya of holding or grasping, whether physically, energetically, mentally, or emotionally. Observe how these relate to the jnanendriya of touching, and how that touching is very subtle in addition to being a physical phenomenon. Colors and sounds may come and go.

  5. Visshuda Chakra Meditation: Bring your attention to the space at the throat, the fifth chakra, which is the point of emergence of space (which allows air, fire, water, and earth to then emerge). In that space, be aware of the nature of space itself, allowing the mantra Ham to arise and repeat itself, reverberating many times through the seemingly empty space in the inner world (a space that is really not empty, but is of potential). Awareness of the karmendriya of speech (actually, communication of any subtle form) is allowed to be there, experiencing how that vibrates through space. The jnanendriya of hearing is allowed to come, also seeing how it naturally aligns with space, speech, and the vibration of mantra. Notice the fine, subtle feelings, which come with the experience. Colors or sounds are allowed to come and go, if they happen to arise.

  6. Ajna Chakra Meditation: Gently, with full awareness, transition awareness to the seat of mind at the space between the eyebrows, ajna chakra. Allow the mantra OM to arise and repeat itself, over and over, as slow waves of mantra, or as vibrations repeating so fast that the many OMs merge into a continuous vibration. Be aware of how mind has no elements, but is the source out of which space, air, fire, water, and earth emerge. Be aware of how this space, this mind, itself, does no actions, but is the driving force of all of the karmendriyas of speech, holding, moving, procreating, and eliminating. Be aware of how this chakra, this mind, has no senses itself, but is the recipient of all of the information coming from hearing, touching, seeing, tasting, and smelling, whether the source of this input is the sensations from the external world, coming through the physical instruments, or coming from the inner world of memories or subtle experience, presenting on the mental screen through the subtle senses. Gradually, come to see how OM mantra is experienced as the source or map of manifestation itself. Many senses, images, or impressions may come and go, but they are let go, as attention rests in the knowing beyond all senses, in the ajna chakra and the vibration of OM.

  7. Sahasrara Chakra Meditation: Allow attention to move to the crown chakra, which has no element (bhutas), no cognitive sense (jnanendriyas), no active means of expression (karmendriyas), as it is the doorway to pure consciousness itself. Experience how this is the source out of which mind emerges, after which emerge the five elements, the five cognitive senses, and the five means of expression. The “mantra” (in its subtler, silent form) is that silence (not mere quiet) out of which the rest have emerged. It is experienced as the silence after a single OM, merging into objectless, sense-less awareness. Allow attention to rest in that pure stillness, the emptiness that is not empty, which contains, and is, the pure potential for manifestion, which has not manifested.

  8. Ajna Chakra Meditation: Briefly bring your attention back to the sixth chakra, allowing the vibration of OM to return, which starts the journey of attention back into the body and world. A few seconds, 30 seconds, or maybe a minute should be comfortable, though it may be longer if you wish.

  9. Visshuda Chakra Meditation: Bring your attention down to the fifth chakra, the throat, remembering Ham, as you enter into the realm of space, hearing, and speaking. Again, a few seconds or a minute is good.

  10. Anahata Chakra Meditation: Transition to the fourth chakra, the heart, as you allow the mantra Yam to arise, remembering the element of air. Awareness of holding and touching may or may not arise.

  11. Manipura Chakra Meditation: Be aware of the third chakra, the navel center, and the vibration of Ram, along with the element of fire, with awareness of motion and seeing coming or not coming.

  12. Svadhistana Chakra Meditation: Bring your attention to the second chakra, and allow the vibration of the mantra Vam to arise and repeat itself, remembering the element of water, with awareness of procreation and tasting coming or not coming.

  13. Muladhara Chakra Meditation: Transition attention back to the first chakra, at the perineum, allowing the mantra Lam to come.

When first practicing Chakra Meditation of Bhuta Shuddhi, it can seem confusing to keep track of mantras, elements, senses, and actions. To make this Chakra Meditation easy, the two keys to emphasize initially are: 1) keeping attention in the space, and 2) remembering the vibration in the mantra (it won't take very long to memorize which mantra goes with which chakra). Then allow the rest to gradually come in time. Both the balancing of the elements (and chakras) and the many insights will come over time, with practice.

After the Practice: After the Chakra Meditation - Bhuta Shuddhi practice itself, it is best to then do some more meditation practice (since mind is now quite prepared). One good thing to do first is to practice spinal breath, where you bring your attention upwards to the crown with inhalation, and then follow the stream of the subtle spine down to the first chakra with exhalation. This is nicely done with soham mantra, where you inhale up with Soooo and exhale down with Hummm. This can then be followed by your regular meditation, allowing your attention to rest in only one of the chakras, the one where you regularly place attention during meditation, or the place that feels most comfortable.

Complete practice based on Chakra Meditation

The Chakra Meditation - Bhuta Shuddhi practice can be practiced alone or as a part of a complete meditation practice. Here is one way to do this, which can be adapted to match personal inclinations. This example is a 60-minute practice.

  1. 15 minutes of Hatha: Practice some hatha Yoga postures (asanas) or simple stretches, along with some breathing practices (pranayama). Obviously the times can be much longer, or might even be less. You might want to also experiment with doing some more vigorous physical exercise before doing the postures and breathing, such as walking, jogging, swimming, bicycling, or working out with some exercise routine. 

  2. 30 minutes of Chakra Meditation: If you move upwards through the seven chakras, allowing 3-4 minutes for each chakra, and then downwards through the seven chakras, allowing about 30 seconds each (to bring you back to being grounded), the total Bhuta Shuddhi practice itself will be about 30 minutes.

  3. 15 minutes of Meditation: Then do your regular meditation practice, whatever that may be, such as bringing your attention deeply into the space between the breasts (anahata chakra) or the space between the eyebrows (ajna chakra), with or without mantra or your regular object of meditation.

Honoring your capacity

As with all practices, it is best to be aware of, and honor your capacity. The example above is 30 minutes of Chakra Meditation - Bhuta Shuddhi, and 60 minutes in total. For some, this might seem like a short time. For others, it might seem like a long time. Practicing within your comfort level is far more useful than trying to strive for any goal. If you find a complete practice of 10 minutes serves you, then this is the right amount of time. Actually, it can be quite useful to simply move through the awareness of the chakras (up, then down) in a matter of a couple minutes, remembering the mantras along the way. Even a brief practice of Chakra Meditation of 30 seconds to 1 minute is quite pleasant and useful, and can be done often.

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This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.