I was chatting with one of the lovely and talented karma yogis at the Sivananda Yoga Centre in Toronto last week. He told me that he had heard a talk by an Ayurvedic doctor on the topic of prana. The doctor’s ideas were fantastic and struck a very deep chord in me. They didn’t feel ‘new’ but reinforced some thoughts and feelings that I’ve been having, so I’ll share them with you…
There are now two types of prana, the very real life-force which animates our being, which is influenced by what we eat, our environment, thoughts, actions etc., and now, synthetic variations and forms of energy which mimic prana to certain degrees in the body. So many relatively new things within our environment create an effect or sensation of prana within the body; electromagnetic frequencies and radiation from electrical power supplies, electronic devices, appliances, cell phones, radio waves, x-rays and microwave ovens. Even something simple like blow-drying your hair can create a heightened experience or feeling of prana. We don’t yet know the long-term effects of these things and we don’t really have a way of measuring this either. It is well understood in Ayurveda that ceiling fans disrupt the energy field of the body. Someone with a little sensitivity will not want to practice yoga with forced air blowing on them.
It can be likened to the difference between natural and synthetic hormones in the body; xeno-estrogens from our food supply and exposure to plastics which mimic natural hormones in the body but at the same time are causing various health problems. The body tries to integrate and make sense of these synthetic hormones and imbalance often results. In fact the body doesn’t really judge, it just accepts and does the best it can with things.
The doctor also spoke about medicines and supplements as being of different qualities. He gave the example of essential oils. We can have a very pure source essential oil, and a synthetically derived one. They both may smell the same, but will have very different energetic effects on the body and mind. He further suggested that we are evolving as humans in two different directions, those who are favouring a more natural approach to their health and those who rely on more synthetic medicines, or have been exposed to more synthetic agents, toxins and chemicals.
It makes me think about conventional cancer treatments which are terribly toxic and yet, we are reaching a point where people can be said to be surviving these treatments (beyond the 5 year statistics), however they are changed quite deeply in ways that we don’t yet understand. These treatments must be changing us at a very deep level. Often quality of life is very poor after treatment, although a person has “survived”.
Fascinating stuff! Almost like that idea of a human/machine hybrid is becoming real. I strongly believe however that the medicine of the future is one where we have more awareness of the energy body and the role of the mind in healing…but that is another ball of rice!
Here are some of Swami Vishnudevananda’s words on ‘prana as electricity’, from his comments in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika:
Your physical body is like a machine. It runs on two types of energy: chemical energy, which comes from food, and psychic energy (called prana) which comes from all the objects we take in: food, water, air, and sunlight. These are the basic sources of our prana, and they are found everywhere in nature. Prana also exists in the vacuum of space, underground, and even in water. But it is not a chemical thing, it is electrical in nature. Your body is a storehouse of prana, and the blood system (circulatory system) acts as a transformer, diverting the prana from the astral to the physical.
Yogis do not believe that the body exists merely because of its physiochemical nature; to them it is basically electrical in nature. When the electrical connection from the astral to the physical is severed (like a battery disconnected from an engine), it doesn’t matter how powerful the engine is, it cannot start. The impulse of prana travels through the astral to the physical through an astral umbilical cord at our solar plexus. When this cord is severed, no more prana can come to the physical body. If the prana comes in very small amounts then the body will be comatose (unconscious).
…Yogis go directly to the mind to change the pattern. According to the nature of the pattern of your thought, the voltage will be increased or decreased. If the voltage increases, then the energy goes to a higher chakra. If you reduce the voltage (make your thought very gross with only sensual and sexual thoughts), then the energy goes only to the lower chakras because the voltage is not sufficient to lift to the higher chakras.