In the Andean tradition, intention drives energy—the kawsay, or light living energy, of the universe. Our aim is not to imagine or intuit that we are pushing the kawsay, but to actually perceive the flow of energy. Perception comes through your senses, through a visceral experience, so that you know without any doubt you are actually achieving your intention.
Perceiving kawsay can be a challenge. It can sometimes take months or even years to develop a perception of kawsay and its movements. If you are having trouble perceiving kawsay, here are some tips for improving your perceptual capacities.
Whether you are doing saminchakuy, saiwachakuy, hucha mikhuy or some other technique for moving energy in a specific way, practice makes perfect. When you practice, be sure you fully understand the technique—how to do it, what you are intending to achieve, and how the kawsay will move. For example, with saminchakuy, the flow of energy will be downward moving, whereas with saiwachakuy it will be upward. With hucha mikhuy, you can expect to feel a split flow, both upward and downward, within your poq’po.
You don’t need to spend hours practicing. Ten minutes a day on one technique is about right. At first focus not so much of achieving the effect (cleansing, empowering, etc.), but only on perceiving the movement of energy. But don’t try too hard! Sometimes a gentle effort is better than a strong one. Rein in your expectations. Be gentle on yourself. Be patient.
Cleanse Your Poq’po
The more hucha you have, the more difficult it is to develop your qawaq abilities—both mystical seeing and mystical sensing. The more hucha you have, the less you can perceive and see reality as it really is, because you may be projecting a lot of unconscious “stuff” out into the world. Therefore, use saminchakuy to cleanse your bubble.
Remember, saminchakuy is like taking a shower. It cleanses the skin level of your poq’po, where most of your hucha accumulates. Send the hucha to Mother Earth and pull in sami from the cosmos. Do that for five or ten minutes a day and you should see your ability to sense kawsay improve.
Examine Your Beliefs
If you have erected unconscious (or conscious) boundaries between yourself and the world, it is unlikely you will develop a clear perception of the world, and certainly not of its subtle energies. Fear, feeling the need for protection, anticipation of being hurt or taken advantage of, being overly critical or judgmental, relying too heavily on the egoic voice, and even low self-esteem can create a wall between you and the world, lessening your ability to truly perceive energy flows. When you doubt your own ability to “be” in the world, the world retreats. Do your psychological “shadow work” to draw the world back to you and to learn to embrace it. You will find that your metaphysical perceptual work becomes easier.
Get a Boost from Your Misha
Sometimes an extra punch of sami is all that is needed to crack open your perceptual abilities, and a great place to get that sami is from is your misha. The misha contains only sami, so it is a deep repository from which you can freely draw. Place the misha on your uma (top of your head) and bring its sami into your poq’po. Through it, you will be drawing on the experience of a long line of powerful paqos and the deep ancestry of the Andean tradition. When you work with the misha, you are never alone. Allow the ancestors to help you, and they will.
Learn to Physically See Kawsay
Not everyone can do the following because of the requirements, but if you can, go for it! While we generally learn to perceive kawsay as a visceral feeling and through our metaphysical eyes (the ñawis), it is possible actually to see it with your physical eyes. For this you need a completely dark, or black, room. It must be free of any ambient light.
Don Melchor Desa had such a room in his little house: the walls, floor, and ceiling were painted black, the door was well sealed, and there were no windows. It was in that room that Juan Nuñez del Prado learned to see kawsay—simply sitting and staring into the darkness. It took many, many hours over many days before he first saw kawsay as different sizes of luminous spheres that moved freely through the air. He was even able to learn to “taste” them—taking them into his qosqo but perceiving an actual physical taste.
This was a training, not a parlor trick. It can be invaluable because of the dynamics of human nature: seeing fosters believing, and believing in the physical reality of kawsay fosters the development of perception at the purely energetic level, which is our ultimate goal. However, a word of caution. Don’t taste kawsay by taking it into your poq’po (“eating it” and “digesting it” through your qosqo) unless you are skilled at the technique of hucha mikhuy. Instead, send seqes (cords) of energy out from your qosqo to reach out to the living universe to perceive and taste the flavors of kawsay.