The first of the vikshepas is vyadhi or disease. Here Patanjali means physical disease, where the system is unbalanced and away from ease. Where does disease start? Rarely does it initiate in the physical body itself, unless it is the result of an accident or physical trauma. Generally, it starts in the sheath of prana, in the bio-energy field known as the pranamaya kosha in Yoga.
The pranamaya kosha is the sheath where we experience the flow of energy within us, and with the world around us. Yogis describe this energy flow according to five energetic processes (karmendriyas) and five energy flows (pranas):
The sheath of prana is subtler and more refined than the physical sheath; it is also not glued to it. It envelops us like an energy bubble, and also creates the aura. The chakras of the subtle body are associated with this sheath. Because it is affected before any physical illness occurs, traditional healing systems like acupuncture, acupressure and polarity work on the energy meridians.
Whenever an imbalance or illness happens, the first kosha to be compromised is usually the pranamaya kosha. Sometimes we can even predict the health of a person just by looking at the aura around their face, and Russian research shows us that disturbances in this bioenergy sheath have also shown up in Kirlian photography months before any physical disease manifests. Kirlian photography also captures unique images of individuals after meditation, with newer levels of consciousness affecting the aura in a positive way.
It is our attitude that affects our pranamaya kosha to a large extent. When this kosha is light and shining, our overall health is benefited. We radiate whatever state we have in our energy sheath, whether that is a loving joyous feeling or a negative feeling. When we are stressed, angry, or emotionally reactive, we need more energy. As a result, the pranamaya kosha is activated and this is what activates the sympathetic nervous system: our heart rate goes up, our breathing changes, and our body goes into its stress response.
Today, stress is the known as the great epidemic of the early 21st century, leading to all sorts of other chronic diseases, both physical and mental.
Moderation of emotions and mental faculties
harmonizes the pranamaya kosha,
which in turn harmonizes the physical body.
The Heartfulness practices, including Point A Meditation
and Point B Cleaning, are very beneficial
in refining this kosha and thus, ultimately,
in preventing disease.
This is one of the reasons why pranayama came into being in Yoga – to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. When our sympathetic nervous system is activated by stress, we can calm ourselves by activating the parasympathetic system by breathing through the left nostril, activating the Chandra nadi. And when we need to be more active and engaged, we can activate the sympathetic system through the Surya nadi. We are able to bring about balance.
The pranamaya kosha is not easy to refine, because here the ego mixes with consciousness, and that can be a volatile mix! All our energetic processes and cognitive senses derive their energy from this sheath, which also regulates our waking consciousness. Emotions like passion and anger are fed by it. Fights and conflicts result from its misalignment, and we may become very egotistical if it is not refined. Excessive desire and materialism also upset the balance of the pranamaya kosha, leading to dis-ease.
Per contra, moderation of emotions and mental faculties harmonizes the pranamaya kosha, which in turn harmonizes the physical body. The Heartfulness practices, including Point A Meditation and Point B Cleaning, are very beneficial in refining this kosha and thus, ultimately, in preventing disease.
Continuous mind chatter, likes and dislikes, attraction and repulsion, all make this sheath unstable. So it helps to cultivate a smooth way of speaking, gentle body language, and a gracious inner attitude.
Heartfulness practices provide the foundation for this moderation. It is our reactions of likes and dislikes that create the first vibration or stir in the field of consciousness, which affects point C, the strategic point or landing point for samskaras into our system. To prevent point C from being affected by likes and dislikes, try to maintain a meditative state throughout the day, like a beautiful lotus flower resplendent and contented in a dirty pond.
When we are humble and respectful towards everyone, no matter what their status in life, including young people and the elderly, and when we constantly dive into a state of insignificance and curb the ego, we find that this sheath becomes more and more refined. It finds its true luster when we have totally refined the ego to its original purity.
When we are healthy, centered and whole,
the energy in our pranamaya kosha circulates
freely, without blockages. Energy is not dissipated
entropically, and is instead being recycled.
And this is important because we also need energy
to connect with the Center – we need escape velocity,
and that requires a healthy body and a healthy mind.
As we have already discussed, Heartfulness Cleaning removes the underlying samskaras, cleaning the complexities and impurities in the field of consciousness at the vibrational level, and this significantly reduces the volatility of the pranamaya kosha.
The word for health in Sanskrit is swasthya, meaning “to be centered in one’s Self.” In English, also, the word “health” is from the same root as the words “whole” and “holy.” When we are healthy, centered and whole, the energy in our pranamaya kosha circulates freely, without blockages. Energy is not dissipated entropically, and is instead being recycled. And this is important because we also need energy to connect with the Center – we need escape velocity, and that requires a healthy body and a healthy mind.
This aspect of careful utilization of energy gives us a clue as to why the Asanas for meditation are cross-legged with feet and hands turned inward, with a straight back and closed eyes. The body dissipates energy easily through the fingers, feet and eyes. When our hands are gently clasped, and our feet are crossed, they form closed circuits and energy is conserved.
Open eyes actually dissipate the largest amount of energy from our pranamaya kosha, and when we close our eyes this energy is conserved well.
When the spine is straight, we conserve energy in another way. With the body and head upright, gravitation doesn’t lead to more energy being dissipated than needed. Even when they are balanced lightly on top of our necks, our heads weigh around 5 kilograms. When the head is straight and balanced, it will feel almost weightless. But when our heads fall forward during meditation or at other times, 15 degrees of movement away from the balanced position adds 12 kilograms to the weight of the head, and 60 degrees of movement adds 27 kilograms of strain on the neck and shoulders. So it is important to stay upright, steady and balanced in a relaxed way during meditation.
Now, let’s move to another level of functioning entirely: imagine the role Transmission or pranahuti plays in regulating the bio-energy sheath and directing our attention toward the Center, away from the entropy of afflictions and obstacles. In the very first Heartfulness Meditation, a person can dive deep into Samadhi because of Transmission, because it is the subtlest energy emanating from the core of our heart itself. While it requires a Guide of the highest caliber to infuse Transmission into our hearts in a masterly way, so that it acts as a catalyst in our system, the process is simple. The Guide is taking the prana of prana itself, the ultimate form of energy – so subtle that it has no hint of actual energy left in it – and is utilizing it to transform us from the inside out. Through Transmission we learn how to stay connected. It gently entices us from the core of our heart itself, so the connection becomes more and more effortless. In fact it is an effortless antidote to our individual entropy.
Article by KAMLESH PATEL
Kamlesh D. Patel
Kamlesh Patel is the world teacher of Heartfulness, and the fourth spiritual Guide in the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga. He oversees Heartfulness centers and ashrams in over 130 countries, and guides the thousands of certified Heartfulness trainers who are permitted to impart Yogic Transmission under his care. Known to many as Daaji, he... Read more