Do you know what prana is? The most important practice of Yoga is to observe your level of prana and to recognize pranic energy in your life. Prana is Vital Energy. We all want energy to live. We want to feel alive. If we don’t have energy, we feel dead. Energy is everywhere. It is a universal life force. It is Nature’s gift. It’s everywhere. It is provided to us all the time in abundance. Then why is it that sometimes we don’t have prana?
How to understand prana?
- Increase prana. You want more prana at all costs.
- Conserve prana. You want to make money and save money.
- Channel prana. You want to spend it wisely. Not just use it, but channel it.
- Balance prana. A lot of problem comes from imbalance. Energy is out of control too much this, too much that.
- Purify prana. It is like you change your 5 dollar bills to 100 dollar bills. You want to make the energy become more powerful. Because when it becomes more pure it becomes more powerful.
Understand why we are tired
- Sometimes we think “ I’m tired so I go to sleep”. But meditation at that time is better.
- You do the asanas so you can sit to meditate. Eventually if you will be able to control the mind, you tune to the transcendental self.
- When you are tired, you think only of the physical body, but you are not realizing that your tiredness is also coming from mental tiredness and spiritual tiredness.
- When you are tired you think only of the physical body and say “ I’d better go get some food”. That means you refer back again and again to the physical body.
- But you also have mental tiredness, mental emotional tiredness. When you are tired maybe you have the mental tiredness because you have some negative emotions that are eating you up inside.
- You might not even be aware of that. Like you are angry at something or you resent something and your intellect go in the wrong direction thinking all kind of things that are completely wrong.
- On top of that, the ego is there, blocking the flow, so the energy of pure consciousness is not there, and you are blocking yourself from that flow of energy.
The Prana Pulse
- We need to learn to feel the pulse of our prana at all times and when we feel that our prana is lacking, you have the choice to go to the highest source of prana, the spiritual prana . This purest kind of prana that will supply prana to all the other levels.
- Any amount of physical activity will not supply the spiritual prana and relaxation that you need. But if you are able to yield the spiritual prana, this will give you all the energy to solve all your mental, emotional blockages, all your ignorance in your thinking, dissolve the ego and provide health to the body.
- But if you tune only to the physical level and interpret everything physically, centering your whole life and consciousness around the physical body, you are wrong. At that time you starve your mental body and spiritual body. You don’t know about spiritual purpose. You put the spiritual behind the physical.
- So that’s not a very wise way of using the Universal energy available to you for your well being. Remember, our well being is physical, mental, and emotional.
- You increase prana by a careful choice of lifestyle. Lifestyle needs to be balanced and wholesome. Be aware of the fact that the energy of Nature comes from the energy of the 5 basic elements of Nature: Earth, water, fire, air, ether.
- Just the fact that you are living in nature, you are getting prana. If you live artificially, you are cutting off yourself from the natural flow of prana. You live in concrete, glass, and steel, neon light, no prana air. You go to shopping center, office building, mix with many people of no wisdom, without transcendental thoughts. Everyone is stressed, and greedy. You try to make money to be somebody. You go out of buildings and step in the car and drive on highways… most of your daily activities are artificial. This lifestyle increases vata, and the artificial-ness in the mind. You arrive at artificial home, eat artificial food, microwave. You surf the Internet and have artificial relationships. Can you imagine…..
- You need to feed the physical body with nature, sit on earth, look at trees, hug a tree, look at animals. Marvel at flower, grass. This gives you prana. Try to conserve, don’t spend. You need to make a wise choice of lifestyle which will give you vibrancy and aliveness. Sometimes, you need to make drastic choices to regain your quality of life.
- When you are sick, you lie there and you cannot speak, think, or move, because your prana is completely down. Imagine everything takes prana. All day long you are active you are moving around. You are thinking. You use up so much prana. How do you recharge? You cannot spend more than you make.
- Daily, you have to calculate in your mind very quick how do you spend energy. Am I doing things today to recharge? Every day, you meet with challenges and you need to conserve energy spent on useless things so you will have energy to meet with your challenges.
- When you spend time at the ashram, you are in fact investing your energy to get the spiritual energy, the wisdom. If you get this spiritual energy, you will waste less your energy.
- For example, if you have a mental problem, when you have spiritual energy, you will say “this is peanuts, this is easy” . Overall, you need perspective of your life and who you are. If not, you get upset of every little thing. We spend energy going round, round, round.
- Sometimes you are tired, you would say “ I’m going to eat,and chat and not go to satsang” . This means that you are not investing wisely your energy. Beware not to waste your energy on things that are not necessary.
- That’s why in yoga philosophy the wise teacher says: detach, detach! … Don’t worry, don’t worry. So you can get to the source of the problem. The same problem will be there, but you can see it for what it is.
- Channeling energy means make your life useful. Use your energy for selfless purpose, then you will gain more spiritual energy. If you spend energy for selfish purpose, it makes you feel strong, but you pay in another way, stress, defensiveness, hoarding, egoistic ambition. It blocks you so you pay the price. It’ s not even worth it if you think about properly.
- If you use energy selflessly, let’s say in service, you get the spiritual energy. You use your physical, mental energy, but you get in return spiritual energy. That’s called the principle of karma yoga. It’s a conscious exchange of energy. It becomes spiritual energy. That spiritual energy is powerful and can solve a lot of blockages from before.
- How you can be imbalanced? Lets say you do too much physical work, you won’t have enough energy for thinking and won’t be able to do mental work or even have feeling.
- Some other people are feeling all the time, they are so emotional that they have no energy for thinking. They just feel, feel, and feel. Other people are thinking, thinking, and then they have no energy for emotions. So you will have to balance it all out.
- It is said if you are too emotional, you would have to be more rational, and think a little bit. In the contrary, if a person is too dry, then they need to develop their capacity of feeling. Swami Sivananda teaches us the 4 paths of Yoga to balance ourselves.
- So whatever you do at the ashram you are balancing yourself. Chant a little, meditate a little, tune to the spiritual, and conserve your physical energy. If you don’t feel like chanting, that’s exactly when you need to chant to replenish your emotional energy that is down and dry at that time.
- This will build up that devotional energy that floods you and balances you out and make you feel alive. Then sometimes you don’t want to think. At that time you need to be awake and think. So you exercise your intellectual energy.
- Sometimes you want to read 5 hours a day. In the ashram you have to do physical work, because most of us are too mental. You have to go chop wood, carry water, dig trench, clean pond. This sort of physical work is also good for people with too much physical energy as it would spend that excess of physical energy out and balance you. Otherwise you become out of sort.
Some people are so absorbed at looking at their neighbor i.e. they are self absorbed, always worried about what others think about them. This egoistic energy consumes them. We need to have enough of self-awareness, but if you are consumed by it, at that time you become cut off from your higher purpose.
- This is the most interesting topic. How do you purify your energy? You purify through practicing spiritual practices, by consciously taking a course of action of what to do with your body, mind, emotions that is helping you to change consciousness. That is called sadhana. That is how you purify your energy.
- Practicing sadhana is not your normal tendency. But once you understand the trend of your body – mind and understand how you go on repeating patterns and create mistakes, at that time, you endeavor to train your body-mind differently and shift it from its normal course.
- Sadhana removes the ego and it becomes purified. Sadhana changes your wavelength from gross to subtle. In yoga, every practice is to purify your whole system. Your nadis become clear, and more energy flows through.
- Sw. Sivananda says it is important to purify our thoughts. How to do this? One of the practices is satsanga, when you go to the people who know how to think and you listen to them then you think about what they said. The idea of purification is we are pure spirit pure Self.
- Everything about us is radiating pure energy. We have tremendous amount of prana or a energy and the main is the spiritual energy. We have it in abundance. Everything else we do is just to clean the covering that is obstructing that radiance of the Self that is already within us. The more you gain Self knowledge or Self awareness the more energy or prana you get.
© Swami Sitaramananda 2018 No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the author.