Third Stage – Shakti Pad – The Stage of the Practitioner
We spent a lot of time on this one inside my yoga teacher training and they embedded in our psyches a certain amount of caution about this stage. This is the most important stage out of all the stages of Wisdom. Essentially Shakti Pad will make or break you and your growth on your chosen path. So it’s a pretty big deal!
Yogi B states that Shakti Pad generally occurs 3 to 7 years in a practice. The choices made during this stage will lead you to mastery, keep you at the level of the apprentice, or you will stop practising all together. This is the test of the ego, or test of power, as it is known in other practices I’ve read about.
In Shakti Pad the apprentice has gained a lot of experience. He has acquired both unconscious and conscious habits, has tested the rules, and generally knows a lot about the practice. He is also now responsible for the journey instead of the journey being prescribed to him by a mentor.
“The practitioner who learns to command commitment, to overcome doubt, and to discern the proper values, conquers this stage of learning.” ~ Yogi B
The practitioner must look at the whole situation and consciously act from the whole or from a part of the whole. If he acts unconsciously or incorrectly he makes a fatal error as he also does if he chooses the value or goal which he enjoys or finds better than a value that serves the larger project or task.
In Shakti Pad, the practitioner experiences uncertainty and doubt about his decision. It’s a huge question of not only where the practitioner is going but also identity and commitment. This stage can be considered similar to the experience of being a teenager – the agony of decision-making, the way decisions feel like they are a big deal (because they are!), and a time of identity forming.
This choice is a leap of faith. This is the moment when the practitioner chooses to follow the higher values established by the teachings he is studying or to remain with his own desires and limitations. This is the part of the path where the ego is dealt with. A possible symptom of the ego coming up to be is the practitioner no longer wants to do the practice.
In this stage many students leave the path because they may feel some aspect of Self has been denied or neglected. Others feel they are complete and finished due to their ego. And others still disappear because they decide they no longer need to follow the rules because they are the exception.
“If you surrender to the path and goal you began your study to fulfil, you will emerge with strength and empowered with an unshakable direction.” ~ Yogi B
This is a time to step through your fears and to let your heart and gifts lead. It is a time of servitude. It is time to accept your power and know what you are going to do with it: serve!
Things to help if you are Shakti Pad: write a letter stating what your original reasons were to go on this path to remind you, and the chant Ardas Bahee.
Personal Experience of Shakti Pad
I feel like this is the stage I am entering right now in my Kundalini Yoga Practice. I stopped doing the practice because I lost my direction, as I said in this previous post, I wasn’t sure where I was going or what my aim was or if I should have any expectations of result.
My dad said to me last night, “Every time I suggest something for your yoga you shut me down by making excuses. I just want you to get a job as a yoga teacher. You’ve got to stop doing that and do the uncomfortable and put yourself out there. Go beyond your doubts.” Sounds like… Shakti Pad!
I’m much more comfortable writing and talking and doing yoga in my own private practice. It kind of terrifies me to be doing what I love full-time as much as I know it would make me happy I know too it would be a major turning point in my life to embody my full light. AHHH!!
Breathe. Just breathe. I’m going to start doing that chant every day.
Have you gone through Shakti Pad? How did you work through it? Did you “graduate” to the next stage?