By Dr. Rita Khanna
We have been taking care of the physical body, trying to meet our nutritional needs with adequate vitamins and minerals but we have not been trying to supplement the necessary needs of the mind, the state of the inner being which constitutes real health. Therefore, man has become mentally ill. He does not even know how to think, what to think, or why to think; what to feel, how to feel, or why to feel. His mind is like a motor car being driven by a driver who is heavily drunk. By chance the car may reach its destination, but more than likely it will meet with an accident along the way. Thus it is very important that we have knowledge about controlling the mind, training the mind as a whole, and thereby improving the quality of mental health. This can be achieved surely through Yoga.
External or Internal Cleanliness
You take bath every day. You keep your house clean. It is because you believe that physical cleanliness, external cleanliness is necessary for good health. Do you ever consider the same thing for the mind that particular thoughts have to be cleaned out of the mind? When a thought of fear, anxiety or sorrow comes into your mind, what do you do? You just let yourself go; you fall into it; you do not even try to clean it out of the mind. That is why you are suffering from anxiety, fear, depression, dejection and anger. These thoughts are hitting your mind, infecting your mind just like a virus causes havoc in your body. But a thought is more dangerous, powerful and effective than an ordinary physical virus. When a virus enters your body, it can be treated by certain drugs and medicines. But when a thought enters, when fear strikes, when passions and anxiety get into your mind, you do not know what far reaching effects it is going to have. Therefore, when we talk about health, we must definitely understand that we lack proper knowledge about the health of the mind, the health of the inner being.
Yoga…Surely a System of Total Health
Yoga is a perfect practical system of physical, mental and spiritual health. According to the basic Yoga philosophy is a composition of three basic constituents: life force (Prana Shakti), mental force (Chitta Shakti), and spiritual force (Atma Shakti).
Prana is the universal life force, and this body has a certain amount of it. Our existence is a miracle of Prana Shakti. It is on account of Prana that we live, move and grow. This Prana Shakti is not the air we breathe, it is inherent in us; we are born with it. For up to four months the foetus lives on the mother’s Prana, but from the fifth month on, it develops an independent Pranic unit. Life is the manifestation of Prana. When Prana is flowing in the correct voltage, you feel strong, energetic, enthusiastic, and all your sense faculties are sharp. But when the voltage falls, you feel physically weak and exhausted.
Besides Prana, there is another Shakti in the body called mind or consciousness through which we are able to think, remember, analyse and differentiate. There are so many mental faculties within us and they all are manifestation of the mental Shakti. Prana Shakti and mental Shakti are represented in this physical body by two important flows known as Pingala Nadi and Ida Nadi respectively. The word ‘Nadi’ means flow. In every electric bulb you have two wires, positive and negative. In the same way, in every organ and part of the body, there is a combination of both of these Shaktis. Prana Shakti and mental Shakti pervade the whole body of man. Pranic force is positive and mental force is negative. When these two are connected, they create energy. If there is any disconnection, what happens? If you remove one of the wires from a switchboard, the light will not burn. It is the same in the lower and higher organs. If one of the energies flows and the other does not, then the organs do not function. Therefore, according to Yoga, there should be a balanced distribution of energy to every part of the body from head to toe. If there is any imbalance, there is illness. Prana Shakti and Chitta Shakti are both physical energies.
Atma Shakti, the third type of energy, is spiritual. It is non-physical, transcendental, formless energy. Mooladhara Chakra produces both the physical and spiritual energy, but the spiritual energy is produced by a larger generator. This energy cannot be conducted by either Ida or Pingala. For this there is another line called Sushumna which conducts the spiritual energy from Mooladhara straight up to Sahasrara in order to open the whole brain.
You know that only one part of the brain is functioning; nine parts are locked. These nine parts of the brain contain infinite knowledge, experience and power, but we are not able to utilise it because there is no conscious force. When Sushumna conducts this spiritual energy to Sahasrara Chakra, the dormant parts of the brain become active. Then they not only give you mental health, but also spiritual wealth. When the practitioner of Yoga is able to awaken Kundalini and connect it with Sahasrara through Sushumna Nadi, he becomes the master of the body, mind and spirit.
Therefore, the secret of human health is the proper distribution of the three Shaktis – Prana, mind and spirit. In Yoga this is done through the practices of Hatha Yoga which purify the physical body; Pranayama purifies the channels or Nadis through which energy is distributed; and Meditation stops the flow of Prana and mind and leads the spiritual energy directly to the brain, Sahasrara Chakra. The different branches of Yoga such as Hatha, Raja, Kriya, etc. are very powerful systems for the health, not only of this external physical body, but the health of the whole man in totality.
In order to gain total health, it is necessary for the spiritual life to become the base of our ordinary life. Most of us think that spiritual life should be led for the sake of improving the physical life. We have put the cart before the horse. We consider the physical life as the base and the spiritual life as an adjunct, but it should be the other way around. Man’s life is essentially spiritual; the physical life is just one part of his existence. In the same way we have been making many mistakes. We say, ‘Oh, the divine is within us’, as if we were the containers of the divine. When actually it is we who are in the divinity, not the divinity which is in us. This is a different way of thinking which must be developed in order to correct the errors of body, mind and soul, and create harmony on all levels of our being.