Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra 

By Master Sheng-yen Lu
Translated by Cheng Yew Chung, Edited by Dance Smith

This was translated from Grandmaster Lu's 51st book, 無上密與大手印.

CHAPTER 10 - The Techniques of Mahamudra

Besides entering into meditative absorption daily, my cultivation at the True Buddha School in Seattle, USA also includes the practice of Mahamudra techniques. These techniques, known as Asanas, are essential. What are the techniques of Mahamudra? These techniques compliment meditation. Each of the seven chakras is a plexus of nerves, which are the meridians. As we direct the winds into the meridians, we must release the knots in the meridians.

A practitioner of Mahamudra whose increase in spiritual strength is accompanied by a weakening of his physical body is really out of balance. Exercising with these techniques contributes to the development of balance in the body, mind and spirit. The meditative absorption of Mahamudra and the physical techniques of Mahamudra compliment each other.

The 16th Gyalwa Karmapa taught me the vajra techniques of Great Performance Bliss. I learned many more of these techniques from other yogis as well. Thus the vajra techniques revealed here are rather eclectic. I want to teach you a few simple techniques that can be done easily. While they may appear simple and easy, they are nevertheless significant. The student must first pay homage to the guru and lineage holders to show respect.

The physical techniques of Mahamudra are as follows:

1) The Lifeforce Technique [Translators note: Resembles the Forward Bend Posture or the Paschimothanasana)]

From a lying position, with your arms straight out behind you, inhale slowly and lift your upper body slowly from your waist. Then continue to bend forward, lowering your upper body as far as you can and grasp your toes with your fingers. Hold your breath for three to eight seconds before releasing it. Bend backwards until you are lying flat on your back. Repeat this sequence eight times.

This technique resembles the exercise of a sit up, but differs slightly. One may visualize white light while inhaling, blue light while exhaling, and red light while holding the breath. The breathing should be gradual and full. The body should bend and extend from the waist from as low a point as possible, ideally resting the chest on the thighs.

This Lifeforce Technique helps to press the chi or breath towards the navel chakra, so as to release all the knots around that chakra.

2. The Loosening Technique

Seated in the cross-legged full lotus position, with the hands clasped into a fist and held closely at the waist, turn the upper body from right to left and from left to right as one sequence. Repeat this five times. This turning of body helps to loosen the knots around the navel chakra, which helps to clear the knots and eliminate any problems in the navel area.

3. The Inverted Technique [Translators note: Resembles the Supported Shoulder Stand or Salamba-Sarvangasana]

This is an inverted pose. The novice may learn it by supporting himself against a wall. This inverted pose requires the head, neck and shoulder areas to press on the floor, with the hands placed on the spine to support the back, while keeping the elbows in and resting on the floor. The body beyond the shoulder forms a straight line. Tuck your chin against your chest and keep your legs together, focusing your attention on the tips of your feet.

Keep your body still. Hold the pose for about 2 to 5 minutes. Repeat three times.

This inverted technique serves to fill the body with air. After completing this technique, rotate your neck several times either clockwise or counter-clockwise to release the knots around the throat chakra. This posture can eliminate all the problems around the throat chakra.

However, this inverted technique is unsuitable for elderly persons and those suffering from high blood pressure. Those who are unable to do a shoulder stand should not attempt this technique.

4. The Slapping Technique

This technique requires one to sit cross-legged. Extend your hands and rub your palms to produce heat. Lift your right arm straight up to expose the armpit. Slap your right armpit 3 times with your left palm.

Repeat this with your left arm extending straight up, and slap the left armpit 3 times with your right palm.

Following this, massage your left and right shoulders respectively by rubbing them with your hands. You can combine the techniques of rubbing and slapping. You can even slap your chest area. By slapping from your shoulders down to your legs and feet, including your toes, you are literally giving your body a full slapping massage.

This approach is one of the best ways to loosen the heart chakra and the meridians in the armpit area. Usually, it is difficult for the chi or winds to circulate through the meridians at the armpit; this is a dead end in the practice of Mahamudra. It is just as difficult for the chi to reach the tip of the toes. This is made possible with the force of the slapping technique. This is vital. This technique can cure any problems arising around the heart and chest area.

Someone has described this technique as the flapping of the wings of a bird. You can slap on your arms and hands, and on the area around your chest, waist and legs.

I would like to elucidate on this further: The Awakening of Spirit exercise of the Golden Mother of Jade Pond, if performed in full consciousness with good control of timing, is no different from the Slapping Technique mentioned here. By applying the force of slapping, one releases all the knots in the meridians and helps to improve the health of the body. The Awakening of Spirit exercise includes both the techniques of slapping and rotating and twisting the body. It is an exercise that involves the application of techniques to cure the illnesses of the body by clearing the knots in the meridians and helping circulate the chi within them.

4. The Light Technique [Translators note: Resembles the Virasana or Hero Pose]

This technique involves sitting in a kneeling position. However, the body does not rest on the legs, but the buttocks is seated on the floor between the left and right legs, which are parted and bent backwards, so that the body and the tips of the toes form a ninety degree angle. This applies to both legs. The palms are stretched to touch the kneecaps. This sitting position basically turns the kneecaps. The thighs are kept together, with the left thigh touching the left calf, and the right thigh touching the right calf.

Hold this sitting pose for 30 seconds at a time, and repeat it 4 times. This Light Technique unlocks the knots in the meridians of the knees, and these meridians are among the most difficult to clear. When the knots are released, any problems of the lower body shall be removed.

5. The Shaking Technique

Many yogi masters often support the physical body with their hands and then let go and let their whole body hit the floor. This sudden throwing of the body to impact the floor is said to help loosen the knots of the whole body. Other yogis sit firmly on their buttocks and kick their legs towards the sky, shaking them after kicking. This serves to loosen the knots in the lower body. Some yogis instruct others to perform rope skipping for 10 to 30 minutes daily. This is applying the method of trembling, which is intended for the loosening of the knots.

6. The Buddha Prostration Technique

The Buddha Prostration Technique may appear simple, yet it is far from being simple. The technique can heal one from sickness, and also clear the knots in the meridians. Besides, it involves making prostration to the Buddha. This technique sure cuts both ways!

The method is as follows: First kneel down so that your buttocks rest on the soles of your feet. Hold your palms together. Inhale and raise your arms upwards towards the sky so your arms touch your ears. Then prostrate by bending your body forward, with your chest touching your thighs as closely as possible. Stretch your arms forwards and ideally touch your forehead and nose to the floor. At this stage it is important to breathe out all the air in your lungs. Hold yourself in prostration for 8 seconds before inhaling a fresh breath, and then lift your trunk upwards and repeat the initial sequence. The Buddha Prostration Technique should be performed 9 times in every session. Perhaps the more the merrier.

This technique releases the knots around the navel chakra and eliminates any problems around the stomach or waist.

To open all the chakras of the body with the practice of Mahamudra involves pith instructions and techniques. Every clearing of a chakra produces great bliss, and leads one to recognize the verification of attaining the inherent great wisdom. With the opening of the seven chakras, one naturally enters into Samadhi.

The psychic heat circulates within the charkas, which gives rise to unmatched vibration. This psychic heat permeates the whole body, rendering it in flames, reaching the level in which every outward breath could fill the space of the universe. He who attains this level of accomplishment naturally finds a protrusion on the top of his crown like those seen in buddhas and bodhisattvas. At this stage, the individual has attained the great vajra body and knows what it is like to truly be in the supreme victorious realm of attainment. As I pen these words, I cannot help but sigh over the ignorance of sentient beings who are oblivious to cultivation, and are thus completely unaware of the greatness of accomplishment attained through the practice of Mahamudra!

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01 - Homage to the Lineage Holders of the Mahamudra
02 - Mahamudra is the Method of Attaining Buddhahood
03 - The Meditation of Vairocana
04 - Psychic Heat, Drops and Inner Fire
05 - The True Practice of Speech Purification
06 - The Fourfold Mindfulness of Nagarjuna
07 - Blessings of the Guru on Mahamudra
08 - Ekagrata Meditation
09 - The Circulation of Mantra and Breathing
10 - The Techniques of Mahamudra
11 - The Dual Functioning of Tranquillity and Contemplation
12 - The Spiritual State of Supreme Bliss
13 - The Spiritual State of Immovability
14 - The Mahamudra Practice of Dreaming
15 - Clear Light Mahamudra
16 - Mahamudra of Leaving the Physical Body
17 - The Bardo Deliverance Yoga of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva
18 - Mahamudra of Opening the Crown
19 - The Samadhi of Observation
20 - The Mahamudra of Eternity, Bliss, True Self, and Purity
21 - The Mahamudra of Dispelling Delusion
22 - The Levels of Mahamudra
23 - The True Significance of the Master
24 - The Affection Practice of Ragaraja
25 - The Yoga of Great Secret Accomplishment
26 - The Practice of the Mantra of Vajrapani
27 - A Brief Introduction to the Many Practices of Tantrayana
28 - The Conclusion to the Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra