The subtle movement of prana has a powerful effect on the quality of the mind
In a previous article we very briefly touched on the relationship of food and mind. The connection between the body made of food (annamaya kosha) on one hand and the mind-content of personality (manomaya kosha) is through the sheath that consists of prana (pranamaya kosha). We read in the Atharva Veda: Praanaaya namo yasya sarvam idam vashe Yo bhuutah sarvasyeshvaro yasmin sarvam prati shthitam. Homage to prana under whose control it all is; Who is the lord of all, in whom all this is established? Atharva-veda 11.4.1
The phrases ‘it all’ and ‘all this’ in the mantra refer to the macro cosmos that is in the micro cosmos of our personal selves, in our personalities. With this view, do read the mantra again and dwell on it a moment.
In order to understand the functioning of our minds, it is essential to know what prana is and how it moves. Mind is said to be the subtle product of prana. One who controls prana can direct his/her mind along any of the pathways and channels of energy.
prana is not breath, which is merely a physical manifestation of the subtle force called prana. When the yogi moves into these subtler realms of personality he experiences that force which is beyond breath but to which many of the breath exercises lead. Prana is the totality of our energy-field of physical vitality. In the practices known as pratyahara – a special set of practices for directing the mind-prana systems, breath plays a subsidiary role and one sees experientially prana’s effect in generating the mind-field and direct the latter’s movement within the personality. One sees there the way the state of prana affects the mind. A definite movement within the prana-field from head to toe is observed.
yoga we know prana as the link between mind and body. By altering the state of prana, one can change both the states of body on one hand and those of mind on the other. In the earlier articles we spoke of weak and strong mind-fields. Weakened mind-fields can be made stronger by the practices of channelling prana. Strong mind-prana systems can revive a failing body. Weakened, the same may generate a general feeling of debilitation, illness and decay. An aged practitioner can even pull his body through a most weakened condition and make it work like that of a young person. But this science is subtle that requires a 24-hour alertness to keep up such masterful states of mind.
When the prana is weakened, both the body and the mind thereby begin to feel weakened, leading to weak emotions and weak states of the body. Both these in turn affect the other, leading to a vicious cycle of weak mind and weak body. These create conditions like hypochondria, emotionally-induced recurrent stomach problems such as indigestion (which might also simply be the result of overeating), irritable bowel syndrome and certain types of headaches, and longer term illnesses.
The causes of the weakening of prana include: • Irregular sleep patterns, or rajasic and tamasic sleep. • Bowel movement and, to lesser degree, maturation. • Wastage of sexual energy through regularized urges and over-indulgence, especially in the absence of deep love and reverence. • Food habits: Any eating, and to a lesser degree, drinking, disturbs prana by drawing the energy into digestive functions. Irregular and excessive eating, or the consumption of rajasic and tamasic foods, or consuming ill-prepared, or ill-served foods also affect the prana. • Loud speech, excessive speaking, or malicious, non-benevolent, and non-beneficial speech. • Negative emotions like jealousy, anger, vengefulness, whether nurtured mentally, secretly, or expressed through angry words. • Body movements such as uncontrolled involuntary moving of the limbs, unregulated darting eyes, lack of self-observation, lack of an inner peace and stillness. • Failing to meditate, especially in those who are used to meditating and then miss it.
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