In an exclusive interview with Life Positive magazine, Acharya Mahaprajna, head of Jainism's leading Terapanth sect, discusses the philosophy of the Jain faith and his own vision for the future
According to Jainism, the physical body is the medium and not the root cause of suffering. The cause lies in the karma sarira, the coded record of one's past deeds.
Kayotsarg meditation, the core technique of Preksha Dhyan, helps in first identifying the cause of this suffering and then eliminating suffering from both the physical body and the karma sarira by harmonizing body, mind and spirit. Kayotsarg literally means abandonment of the body, coupled with high degree of conscious awareness. But before the mind can be steadied, the body has to be free of tension. So, in kayotsarg, "you perceive the self through the self". Says Acharya Mahaprajna, head of the leading Jain sect of Terapanth: "The principle behind it is that this physical body is not mine and I am not just this physical body." In practice, it is a conscious suspension of all gross movements of the body, resulting in total relaxation of the physical, vocal and mental make-up of the individual. To practise this meditation, simply follow the given instructions:
• Adopt a comfortable posture to meditate, sitting, standing or lying down. Make this affirmation: "It is essential for me to relax to get rid of physical, mental and emotional tensions. I shall devote myself only to this exercise of relaxation."
• While standing, take a deep breath and stretch yourself on tiptoe, arms above the head.
• Lie down on your back on a folded blanket and repeat the above step. Feel the tension go out.
• Put your head comfortably on the blanket, legs slightly apart, arms along the body, palms turned upwards. Close your eyes.
• Slowly breathe in, the stomach rising while inhaling. Then slowly breathe out, the stomach falling while exhaling.
• Still in the same position, with eyes closed, focus on the muscles of your toes. Concentrate on relaxing the muscles of the right toe. Slowly move to ankle joints, then calf muscles, knees and finally thighs. Repeat the procedure with the left leg.
• From the legs move on to muscles of the lower abdomen at the hip, around the waist and at the base of the spine. Concentrate on relaxing these.
• Relax the internal organs-kidneys, intestines, spleen, pancreas, stomach and liver. · Relax all muscles up to the collarbone.
• Relax the arms. Start with the right arm-first the thumb and fingers, then the palm and wrist. Move on to the elbow, shoulders and shoulder blades. In the same manner, relax left arm.
• Come to the neck. Concentrate on the top, back and muscles supporting the neck.
• Now, the face. Allow the jaw to fall without opening the mouth. Inside, the teeth must be unclenched and the tongue becomes limp. Relax the facial muscles and each ear in turn. With eyelids gently closed, relax each eye. Relax the head.
• Initially, you will sense gravity. Your trunk and limbs will slowly become heavier. Don't fight this, for consciousness will reveal its existence.
• Once the exercise is over, allow your will to travel over each part of the body, from the head to the feet, breathing regularly and consciously.
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