A total solar eclipse will take place on 21 August and will be fully visible in parts of the United States and a few other countries (approx 13:00 to 16:00 Washington time). The last time a total solar eclipse was visible from coast to coast in the US was 1918! In India, the eclipse time is between approx. 21:16 (21 Aug) to 02:34 (22 Aug) but the effects of the eclipse will be reduced. Consult the time of the eclipse in your city here. Remember that one should not look at the sun with naked eyes during an eclipse.
In Indian culture, an eclipse (grahanam) of the sun or moon has always been held as an important event, given the importance we give to both the sun (Surya) and the moon (Chandra) in daily life. Traditionally, people are advised to not take major decisions at this time when there is confusion of energies, expose themselves to the eclipse rays (especially pregnant women) or eat during the period of an eclipse. They are advised to pray and make donations.
Eclipses are a time when a transformation of energies is happening at a cosmological level. It is therefore considered to be a particularly beneficial time for sadhana (spiritual practices) where one is aiming to achieve a transformation of one’s own energies. It is the same underlying principle on the basis of which it is generally considered beneficial to do one’s sadhana at sunrise or sunset (sandhya kaal) – these being times when nature itself is in a phase of transition/transformation and thus one’s own transformation has natural support.
According to spiritual leader, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of the Art of Living, mantras recited and meditation done during an eclipse see their power increase multi-fold.
To further increase the efficacy of one’s sadhana, one is advised to fast during eclipse time because an empty stomach aids in meditation and kriya yoga practices.* (The principle here is that when there is only you, so to speak, and less foreign elements in your body like food, the practices can mould your energies more easily; see more).
Further, as Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev explains, “One of the simplest ways to be conscious is to not eat. Then you will constantly be conscious of at least one thing. And the moment your stomach is empty, your ability to be conscious becomes so much better. Your body becomes more transparent and you are able to notice what is happening with your system much better.”
“This is not just about food. This is about the way you are itself. If you have moved away from the natural dimension of who you are in any way, you become more susceptible to these forces. If you are in your natural state, you are least available to these forces.”
It is considered beneficial to chant mantras during eclipse time. Simple mantras like ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and ‘Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya’ may be chanted or Surya (Sun) Mantras like the Aditya Hridayam (Heart of Aditya, the Sun God).
While we focus on our sadhana during eclipse time, it is important to remember that sadhana is not only about a certain practice but the way we handle every aspect of ourselves, including our thoughts and simple daily activities.
“Everything can be sadhana. The way you eat, the way you sit, the way you stand, the way you breathe, the way you conduct your body, mind and your energies and emotions – this is sadhana. Sadhana does not mean any specific kind of activity, sadhana means you are using everything as a tool for your wellbeing.”
-Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev
At this eclipse time of great transformative energies, let’s bring our most conscious selves to the forefront of our daily lives.
*Generally fasting on the day of the eclipse involves, in the strictest sense, only consuming water on the day however, commonly, fasting includes consuming fruits and milk. Those unable to follow such a strict fasting, restrict themselves to one full meal a day, consuming fruits and/or milk during the remainder of the day if desired. The important thing is to not consume foods during the few hours of the eclipse itself nor to consume food prepared prior to the eclipse. Please consult your doctor before fasting if you have medical conditions and remember that fasting should be supported with sadhana and musn’t be practiced if one considers it to be torturous.Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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