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by Murshid Hidayat Inayat-Khan
(To listen to recordings by Murshid Hidayat on Shagal, please scroll down).
Among the many esoteric practices given in the Esoteric School of the Sufi Movement, there are some, which are very helpful; and there are others, which might be confusing as from the start, unless one is prepared to experience them.

There are other practices, which are very important for spiritual growth for those who have a couple of years in back of them, and that is the reason why a guide can be helpful in suggesting the practice which might be the most appropriate at a given time. There are also practices which one does during one's whole life, and others again, which are especially important in certain circumstances.

Our Master was inspired by several yoga practices known since centuries and centuries, many of which can be found in the booklet called Pranayama and in particular, the practice known in Hinduism as "Mudra Yoga", which is also found in many and various publications.

Here again, when trying to do that practice from instructions found in a book, it might mean nothing to some, and obviously, nothing is experienced. For those who take special interest in this esoteric practice, it is important to know that our Master, transformed ancient cultures into gold, when translating the well-known yoga practiced called Mudra Yoga into what is now called the Shagal Practice.

In Shagal all the descriptions concerning the different sensations do not correspond to the physical impressions of the five senses. These inner experiences are of a different nature; they are of a spiritual nature.
With the Shagal practice, one does not acquire any particular powers. That is not the idea. What one does discover is an attunement to the Divine Presence. The five senses become much more intense and subtle. The experience in Shagal is the discovery of the luminosity of the inner self, which is then offered to others insofar as one's radiance captivates their hearts. With this practice, one closes the doors of the five senses and one tries to discover what is to be found on the other side of the doors. The breath is like a bridge, connecting the outer world with the inner world, which is the real spectator of all impressions, experienced through the five senses, or  five channels through which all impressions are absorbed.

All that one knows has come either through the sight, through the hearing, through the olfactory ability, through the taste, or through the touch. If these senses did not have any access to the outer world, one would know nothing. In other words, the five senses are like antennas, constantly focused outwards, in order to receive as much as one's mind is able to assimilate. And what is more: we receive through the five senses much more than our mind could ever be able to be conscious of. The eyes capture many more impressions than the mind can register. The same thing with sound, and the same with all senses.

In the Shagal practice, one is closing the doors of the five senses so that all the attention, normally directed through the senses, is now directed within.

Mystical Consciousness Experienced in Shagal
When closing the ears, one hears an inner tone, and when closing the eyes a brilliant light unknown to the eyes is then visualised. It is the inner self which experiences that tone and that light; and the same with the other senses, when the attention directed through them is reversed inwardly.
The Divine Touch
In Science it is known that as soon as a shape is created, there is a magnetic radiance around that shape. This phenomenon can be experienced when looking at a coloured dot placed upon a white screen. At a certain moment, one might notice an aura around the dot. What is it? It is the magnetic radiance of the shape that manifests to our sight, as soon as the visualised image  is received upon the retina.

From a mystical point of view, when adopting a different image of oneself, the adopted image is then translated in one's mind as an aura, just like the light in the electric globe takes the shape of the globe in appearance, but that same light also spreads out its rays into the space, as illumination. Perhaps that is a clearer way of understanding the reality of awakening to "The Divine Presence within".

The "Touch" is only there when there is something to be touched, otherwise there is no feeling of contact, whereas magnetism is always felt as a Divine caress when the mind is disconnected from the physical sense of touch. When holding hands with another, leaving a gap of four or five centimetres, one feels a subtle energy, which cannot be described. The more one experiences the feeling of tenderness in the palms of the hands, the more one understands the subtleness of the communication felt, when giving or receiving the blessing. This is a sacred communication.

Furthermore, at any time of the day, when feeling irritated, restless, worried or in need of guidance, if one tries to experience the "Divine Touch", this can help so much to understand the true mystical reality of "The Divine Presence within".
The Taste
In the previous preparation stage of the Shagal practice one becomes conscious of the Magnetic Energy radiating as an aura around the physical shape of the body. In the second part of the preparation stage of the Shagal practice, one tries to discover that same energy in the sense of the taste. This is done while gently pressing the tongue against the palate, and absorbing an unknown taste from within.During this experience, one is creating in the mind an unknown taste, which is then perceived as an inner sensation, revealed as a mystical concept of Divine sustenance.

The Olfactory Ability
Now, in the third part of Shagal, the olfactory ability becomes like an akasha, receiving the divine all-existing perfume of the Prana energy in space. This meditation is done with closed eyes, while focusing on the bridge of the nose.

The Sight
In the fourth part of Shagal, always done with eyes closed, one now concentrates upon a five-pointed star, while focusing on the third eye, which is shining with bright light, illuminating one's entire being. One is quietly inhaling on 4 beats, then holding the breath on 6 beats and exhaling on 6 beats.

The Sound
In the fifth part of Shagal, always with closed eyes, the focus is on the top of the head, the crown, and one places the fingers very gently upon the ears, so as to symbolically close the hearing, so that the inner consciousness seems to be more of a reality, when the inner sound becomes gradually intelligible, as  a Divine sound heard from within.
Basic Preparation For Shagal Practice

Focusing with eyes closed, for a certain length of time, either on the tip of the nose, the bridge of the nose, the third eye, the top of the head or above the head. These centres or Chakras could be seen as openings onto the kundalini stream, manifesting as an aura surrounding the image of oneself.

When closing the hearing, one perceives an inner tone; when closing the eyes there is a brilliant light unknown to the eyesight, and the same for all other senses.
As our master mentions in the Sangathas:  'while seeing the beauty of nature, and listening to the breeze of the air, one is experiencing the magic power of Prana, which is constantly offered.'

In other words, the one who has mastered Shagal unconsciously practices Shagal at all moments and in all circumstances, amidst the constant turmoil in daily life.
One cannot explain in words the depth of the experiences felt when concentrating on these centres, and when directing one's attention inwardly, which is the basic principle of Shagal.
Shaghal means an occupation to penetrate through the inner planes.

The first Shaghal is to close one’s ears with the tips of the fingers for about five seconds, not longer. This must be done after having inhaled a full breath; and it is necessary to control the breath, in other words to hold the breath in, while doing this exercise.

One concentrates on the word ‘Hu’ during the practice; in other words hear the sound which comes to one on closing the ears as ‘Hu’ and interpret it to oneself as a sound of the inner working of the whole universe.
This practice brings one to stillness of mind, taking one above the general noises of the world, and gives one peace in the midst of the crowd.

One should practice Shaghal 1 for five minutes and then try to hear the word ‘Hu’ by summing up all of the different noises in one. The best time for this practice is in the midst of the night or early in the morning.

By hearing this word, one gets closer to the higher planes of life, the intuitive faculties become more clear, and one is drawn closer to the Creator.
Shaghal - The Five Senses

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Shaghal - 1

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Shaghal - 2

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