‘Welcome to Shambhala’ by Sahaya

A visual escape into an ethereal space once reserved for the spiritually enlightened

In Buddhist and Hindu mythology, it is believed that only individuals deemed karmically appropriate by the gods can access Shambhala—a distant mythical land of spiritual bliss. Lucky for us, since that is no longer the case— Sahaya brings the land out of scriptures and onto her canvases. Between fearful murmurs of an apocalypse and the cracks in our world order that are being laid bare, Sahaya welcomes her audience to the glowing utopia that is ‘Shambhala.’
‘Welcome to Shambhala’ is Sahaya’s fifth visual art show and it is a transcendent experience featuring different explorations of the myth such as Alternative, External and Internal Shambhala, each with various series within them (‘Living In The Neocortex,’ ‘A Dyad in the Force’, ‘No More Daggers’ to name a few). Her work is an insight into an ethereal space once reserved for the spiritually enlightened, and while we contemplate lockdowns and incorporeal relationships, she leaves the door to Shambhala’s spiritual bliss ajar for just long enough for us to catch an indelible glimpse.
In particular, the ‘Empire of Light’ series from Alternative Shambhala is an intellectual and artistic triumph. Pieces from the series are soft fusillades of fluorescent pastels—with unique colours and patterns, spilling freely and yet deftly contained on the canvas. This tension is reflected in the premise of the series, which invites its audience to revel in the naturally occurring psychedelic consciousness of the mind. Through the practice of certain meditative techniques, the brain can induce the secretion of DMT. Sahaya paints this altered state in vibrant but never jarring tones that depict a sense of heady lucid dreaming and profound inner bliss. ‘Empire of Light’s’ greatest triumph is that it feels like an exultant mind-altering meditation itself.
Artwork from the ‘Empire of Light’ series
In conversation with Sahaya
1. How long do you work on each piece in a series for and what determines that? Do you have preferences among your works?
A painting can be over within a week, ten days or keep building up in layers over a year or more. It really depends. I think paintings that are technically sound and emotionally layered automatically stand out among the rest, so yes, you could say those are my favourite. But every piece carries its own story, charm and connection to my life.
2. Has your experience of work as an independent artist changed since the lockdown? How are you dealing with it?
Tremendously. I used to hesitate being all “out there” with my work. But since the lockdown, I’ve started to embrace digital platforms and it’s been good so far! It’s also taught me that the hype, urgency and effort around a single exhibition in a year is stressful, artificial and overwhelming. I feel more laid back and centred operating through a new mode of exposition.
3. What does it take to induce the hallucinogenic DMT and reach the altered state of mind you spoke about? Do you practise it and what has it been like for you?
Meditative techniques that use sound, visuals, chants may generate particular wave patterns whose fields induce resonance in the brain. The pineal gland begins to “vibrate” at frequencies that weaken its multiple security barriers to DMT formation: the pineal cellular shield, enzyme levels, and quantities of anti-DMT. The end result is a psychedelic surge of the pineal spirit molecule, resulting in the subjective states of mystical consciousness.
I practice the Meditation on Twin Hearts and the experience has been very psychedelic in nature in terms of the colours, patterns, forms and movement. You can say that ‘Empire of Light’ is an extension of those visions.

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