Tuesday, June 18, 2013
It is said that ‘we are not human beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a physical experience” (de Chardin). It stands to reason, therefore, that to remain healthy we need to be spiritual. Ayurveda believes that we become ill because we have lost our connection with Divinity . Forgetting our true nature is the root cause of disease leading us to commit “Crimes against wisdom”. What is good health? This a very pertinent question….we normally assume that since we are not suffering from any ailment, we must be healthy but this is not true! As defined by the WHO” Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” Unfortunately even this definition does not give a very clear picture of good health. A much better term is ‘Swastha” which means “established in the self” as envisaged by our ancient rishis. ’Swa” means self and ‘Tha” means established …..Hence swastha clearly tells us that being healthy has to have a spiritual component. How is our body related to Spirit? When the One decided to be many the The Lord covered our soul first with an idea body, then encased it with a very fine or subtle light(the astral body)and finally an illusionary fleshy form. The physical body is made of blood and flesh; the astral body is composed of life force and mind; and the causal or ideational body is woven together with wisdom and ever new bliss. The dense physical body is the result of solidified vibrations, the astral body of energy and mind vibrations, and the causal body of nearly pure vibrations of Cosmic Consciousness. Sri Paramhans Yogananda has said that when we are tasting, smelling, touching, listening, or seeing, we are working principally through our physical body. Visualizing or willing, we work mainly through our astral body. When thinking or diving deep in introspection or meditation, we are relating to our causal body. He goes on further to say that when we dream we remain in our astral bodies while when our sleep is deep and dreamless, we transfer our consciousness to the causal body. Our physical body is made of matter and is called the Sthula Sharir. The astral component of our ‘body’ comprises of Energy (Pranashakti) and Mind (Manas) and is called the Sukshma Sharir. The part derived from the Causal Body consists of Intellect or Budhi and Soul or Spirit. According to Yoga our body consists of five koshas based on their derivation as described above. The physical body is called the Anamaya Kosha, the Pranamaya kosha is the Energy body, while the Manomaya Kosha is the Psychological body. …both being parts of the Sukshama Sharir. The Vijanamaya Kosha is the Intelligence body followed by the Anandmaya Kosha or the Bliss Sheath, both being parts of the Causal Body. It is, therefore, clear that there is a cohesion between our Mind, Body and Spirit and all three must remain in balance for us to remain healthy. All these three are forms of energy. This further translates to the fact that for us to be healthy, there must be a free flow of energy (pranashakti) in our bodies along with a relaxed mind. Where has this energy come from? It has come from “Pranashakti’ (life force and a part of Cosmic Energy) which has been given different names in different religions eg The Holy Spirit, Christ Consciousness, chi(Chinese)ki (Japanese),etc. It is “prana shakti” which helped us to take form and shape inside the womb and brought “life’ to us. It, however, becomes dormant at birth as it has finished its job till that point. This has also been called Kundalini shakti and dwells at the base of our sushumna or spinal column or muladhar chakra from where it controls the entire physiological system through a network of 72,000 nerves. At the external level this prana shakti operates through the senses. Our physical body is sustained by a body of energy and contains a series of “energy centres’ located in the spine and head. These are actually five subtle vibratory forces into which the Creative force differentiates itself. Each of these ‘chakras’ or wheels are responsible for the functioning of different organs and systems of our bodies. (For more details about the chakras kindly refer to my blog http://www.speakingtree.in/public/spiritual-blogs/seekers/wellness/mantra-meditation-on-the-chakras-and-their-health-benefits The Movement of energy is normally from the brain down to the spine, through the peripheral nervous system and then from the extremities back to the spine and brain through a series of nerve centres. In a healthy person the flow of energy is unimpeded and positive throughout but if it is sluggish, blocked, damped or negative in one or more energy centres then the health is likely to be poor . Dr Richard Gerber, in his book, “Vibrational Medicine” has said “The body is a dynamic energy system where the mind and body are true sources of consciousness and emotions and spirit can influence via energetic and neurohumeral connections among mind, body and spirit” Our mind, therefore, too plays a very important part. Our Conscious Mind has birthed out of the Universal Superconscious mInd from where all thoughts arise, come to the Individual Superconscious (Atma), then to the Subconscious Mind and finally to the Conscious. The Universal Superconscious Mind is the same as God. It is clear that all thoughts arise from the Cosmic Mind. When we are in tune with “ourselves” we are in tune with the Cosmic mind. How we react to our thoughts is decided by our free will and to the Gunas of Prakriti, namely Satva, Rajas and Tamas. These gunas decide our psychological nature and the way we behave. If we are Satvic in nature we are more likely to have Divine qualities of purity and virtue because of which we are more likely to be healthy. If we are Rajasic we would be associated with wordly activities and passions, resulting in a greater likelihood of disease. A Tamasic temperament means laziness, inertia etc which is contributory to development of disease. From the above it is clear that we essentially have a Mind, Body and Spirit. A balance is necessary between the three for our wellness and wholeness. The soul or atma being part of God has godly qualities of universal love, compassion etc and teaches us to be good and constantly tries to take us back to Him but our conscious mind is always looking for sense pleasures and a tug—o-war ensues…the soul whispering to us about goodness and the mind shouting for pleasure…the net result is stress and disease. It is said that “Stress causes 50% of what kills us and 50% of what chronically disables us”(Dr Levy) When we face any stress(we experience a lot of it at the present time) ,our brain responds by secreting a lot of chemicals/hormone which leads to the “fight or flight” response. As a result blood flows more to the heart and large muscles and less to the digestive system and other vital organs. The immediate effects of this are a dry mouth, sweating, palpitations, increase in blood pressure, mental anxiety, enlarged pupils and sleeplessness. Along with there is an increase in heart beat, increased flow of blood and blood pressure, rapid respiration, more production of glucose from glycogen as a result of which more energy is available, while non essential actions like appetite, sleep, sex activity etc get reduced. When this happens day in and day out as a result of chronic stress, it leads to the development of Hypertension, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity, peptic ulcer, poor digestion, autoimmune problems, glandular disease, poor healing, decrease in sexual drive, headaches, palpitations, loss of appetite, constipation etc. which in turn cause other complications. It can, therefore, affect almost any system in the body. Negative emotions like anger, jealousy, hatred, envy, worry, anxiety, depression, are harbingers of disease and have a lot to do with stress:”Negative emotions, persisting over a long period of time, can impair the immune system, thus lowering the body’s defenses against disease”(Norman Cousins). ”Peace of mind sends the body a “live’ message, while depression, fear and unresolved conflict give it a “die” message (Bernard Seigel ).He goes on to add that “the immune system simply can’t stand chronic gloom” Anger, hostility and depression play an important role in the development of Coronary Artery disease. We , therefore, create both good and bad. God has given the gift of ‘free will’ which we need to exercise for good use. This is where spirituality comes in. We know that the human body is a hologram of the universe, each part of the hologram contains the whole. Plato has said “The part can never be well unless the whole is well”. Gibran too says something similar ”In one drop of water are found all the secrets of the ocean”. To remain healthy we need to conform to Nature/Universe/Divinity. This wholeness is reminiscent of the famous Sanskrit Shloka: ‘Om purnamadah Purnamidam Purnat purnam udacyate Purnasya purnamadaya purnameva avasisyate” Meaning: ‘that Om (the Supreme Self) is full and wholeness itself. All that is around us is as full and whole (meaning ‘that’ and ‘this’ are really the same) From the wholeness comes out this wholeness. And after this whole is taken out from that whole what remains is also full and wholeness itself” To remain ‘Swastha’ we need to be spiritual. Spirituality means to know who you are. The original ‘you’ is full of compassion, kindness, universal love, empathy, wisdom, and free from any negative emotions due to the spark of Divinity in you. True healing, can occur only when we are close to ourselves. In the end i would like to add that when diseases do occur, it may be worthwhile to integrate(wherever possible) the “Complimentary Systems” of Medicine, namely, Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Energy Healing, and various practices of Meditation, Visualization and Forgiveness techniques, all of which are spirituality based, in addition to Western Medicine…..which only ‘treats’ as compared to the spirituality based systems which help in ‘healing’ and “cure’. We must, however, take into account that each of the systems have their plus and minus points.