Preksha Dhyana: Perception Of Body ► [5] Perception Of Body: Benefits

Posted: 09.02.2010

A significant benefit derived from the perception of body (śarīra-prekṣā) is the balanced flow of vital energy in the body.

Perception of body is not only a spiritual exercise but physical as well as mental one also. It is a valuable therapy for maintaining good health. The practitioner of this technique not only has a spiritual experience but undergoes a therapeutic treatment. He provides remedy for his maladies.

Evenness of Vitality

Why does one fall ill? An allopathic doctor would say that disease-producing germs are the main cause of illness. When the resistance to these microbes is at a low level, one becomes ill. A practitioner of Āyurvedic system, on the other hand, would declare that imbalance in the trinity - vāta, pitta and kapha—is the primary cause of sickness. A sādhaka would be reluctant to accept either of the above statements. He will aver that imbalance in the vital energy - prāṇa—is the fundamental cause of all diseases. If the vital energy is balanced and its flow is unimpeded, there will be no sickness. One becomes a victim of illness only when one does not maintain the vital equilibrium. If the flow of vital energy to some organ is impeded, the equilibrium is disturbed. The flow of vital energy must be perfectly even in all parts of the organism. The flow of electrical impulses in the body should be well regulated. If the regulation is weakened, diseases get an upper hand. If there is pain, the body is unwilling to work. If some vital organ fails to function properly, there would be aches and pains. All this is because the flow of vital energy to the organ is not even. In perception of body, the sādhaka perceives the whole body from the tip of one's toes to the top of one's head. Each and every part of one's body is carefully tended by one's consciousness. And wherever the consciousness goes, it is faithfully followed by the vital energy. Conscious attention and vital energy always go hand in hand. Wherever and whenever there is concentration of attention, vital energy will have to reach that part. Vital energy is the faithful follower of the conscious attention. When the conscious attention embraces the whole body, as in śarīra-prekṣā, the vital energy also flows evenly in the entire body. If there were an imbalance, it would be corrected. The entire body gets filled up with vital energy. The main objective of perception of body is regulation of the flow of vital energy and the objective is achieved because the flow is even and unimpeded after the exercise. 'Perception of body' is a technique for alerting the deep-level consciousness and balancing the flow of vital energy. Functional efficiency of the sensory and motor nerves is enhanced. Consequently, while the spiritual self is cleansed (of contamination), the physical and mental elements are also benefited satisfactorily due to the increased vitality, more efficient nervous system, improved blood circulation and balanced muscular movements.

Immunity

Another means of keeping the body free from disease is development of immunity. When the immunity is strong, the disease-producing microbes cannot harm the body. Even when some of them succeed in entering the body, they fail to colonise and are destroyed. Anybody having strong immunity and resistance power, even if attacked by bacteria of virus, does not fall a prey to their depredations because immunized body stays healthy. Perception of body enhances the immunizing capacity of the practitioner and fortifies him against the vicious attack of the enemy.

How and why Health Improves?

A question may well be asked - 'How does one improve one's health just by perception of body?' The anatomy and the physiology teach us that the homeostasis of the body depends upon a balanced equilibrium between the two components—sympathetic and parasympathetic—of the autonomous nervous system. This system controls all the automatic functions of the body, such as rate of respiration, digestion, heart-rate, blood-pressure, blood- sugar etc.

In other words all the internal processes are controlled by it. Now, as soon as our conscious attention is concentrated on a particular organ or a part of the body as in the perception of body exercise, our will establishes its control over the automatic functions and our conscious mind becomes their regulator. For instance, the rate of breathing is regulated normally by the respiratory centre situated in the medulla oblongata, but in perception of breathing, the control is transferred to the conscious mind as soon as it becomes aware of the function. Similarly the vagus nerve which regulates the heart-rate can be brought under the control of the conscious mind by perception of heart. In the beginning, of course, the concentration is not satisfactory and full control may not be established, but continued practice to concentrate full attention on various parts and organs of the body enhances the efficiency and depth of perception. And, in due course, our conscious mind will be able to dominate such automatic body functions, as maintaining constant body temperature or regulation of the digestive processes. This is perhaps the only technique for coordinating and integrating the functions of the subconscious and the conscious mind, for relieving tension and producing homeostasis.

Physical illness (vyādhi) is produced by mental tension (ādhi) which in turn is produced by the frequent emotional stresses (upādhi). The question arises: is the perception of body an efficient cure for somatic diseases? The answer is: Yes, it is. But the process of curing is rather round-about and not direct

While a doctor treats the symptoms of physical disease, śarīra prekṣā, on the other hand, goes to the root of all troubles and cures the emotional malady (upādhi). The remedy for emotional upset cures the mental illness (kaṣāya) and this, in turn, cures the physical disease (vyādhi).

Vigilance

The second benefit of śarīra-prekṣā is vigilance - increased awareness of the conscious mind. One, who closely perceives the everchanging pattern of the sensations, stays always active and awake. Sometimes the sensation is pleasant and sometimes it is painful. The vigilant sādhaka carefully avoids involvement of attachment to the pleasant and aversion to the painful. He is fully but neutrally aware of the phenomena

Swimming Upstream

A further benefit of śarīra prekṣā is swimming upstream. Our habit of perceiving non-self (i.e. external things) has so vitiated our perception that we never think of seeing the self. We have forgotten that we must also sometimes turn inwards. Śarīra prekṣā is the process of looking inwards and seeing one's own self. This process strengthens our consciousness and enables it to swim against the (habitual) current. Consequently, it gets rid of the habit of seeing non-self and begins to see one's own self. At the commencement of the meditation session it is customary to recite the slogan, "See the self. To see the self, I am going to practise preksha meditation." The object of reciting and repeating the slogan at every session is to strengthen our con­sciousness, stop the habitual drifting and create the capacity to swim upstream.

Until this happens, we consider the external conditions to be more attractive than our own selves. When, however, the transformation takes place, the values are reversed, i.e., the self takes the driver's seat and the environment is relegated to the back seat Thus the capacity for swimming against the current enables us to resist and overcome the forces of circumstances and establish full control over them.

Transmutation

In the process of śarīra prekṣā, one not only perceives the state-of-the-moment but is also fully aware of the transformation and transmutation (resulting from the practice). One feels the changes from heaviness to lightness at the beginning and the end of the session. Sometimes at the commencement one may feel heaviness in the head, but at the end of the session, the heaviness is gone, the load is removed, tension is relieved. The benefit is immediate. Śarīra prekṣā is valuable, because the benefit derived from it is immediate and measurable. We achieve higher levels of consciousness; internal cleanliness is enhanced; bliss is inexhaustible and there is a general feeling of well-being and lightness. To achieve higher levels of consciousness, it is essential to revitalise the physical body, and śarīra prekṣā is the process for doing the regeneration.

Rejuvenation of the Body

The most important benefit derived from śarīra prekṣā is development of the power of will which is inherent in the conscious self. Old vicious habits are destroyed and new ones are created by the will. To keep the body young and healthy, it must be washed and cleansed by catharsis of poisons and contamina­tion. When the excretable elements accumulate in the body due to improper or inefficient functioning of the excretory system, they become poisonous and impair proper functioning of the vital organs. If the excretory system functions properly, one enjoys a pleasant and comfortable life. Śarīra prekṣā helps body's excretory systems to remain active and efficient so that the poisonous metabolic wastes produced in the body are excreted easily and naturally. The respiratory system, besides inhaling oxygen, also excretes carbondioxide. If the lungs are kept properly ventilated by total and scientific breathing, and slow, deep, and rythmic breathing is cultivated as habit, one can control emotions and passions easily.

Blood circulation improves; impediments in the circulatory system are eliminated; arteries are kept free and properly dilated, and the blood pressure is kept normal. The heart is never overloaded and it functions efficiently for a long time.

Stomach, liver, intestines and other organs of the digestive system function properly. Consequently adequate nutritions reach each and every cell in the body. The muscular and other tissues are ever ready to give proper service at all times. All the maladies of the gastro-intestinal tract are automatically eliminated and prevented.

Śarīra prekṣā directly affects the nervous system. All our mental brain-illness are produced by distortion and improper transmission and communication by the nerves. If the nervous system is in top condition, all the mental problems disappear.

While we should be aware of all phenomena, nothing should disturb our equanimity and poise. One should neither feel elated nor miserable. Practitioner of śarīra prekṣā will be keenly aware of the state of his body; he will continue to do his duty. He will apply his mind to the work in hand, but will not get upset, and unduly anxious. He will be free from irrational psychological distortions and will thus be ever blessed with perfect bliss.

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Published:
Jain Vishva Bharati
Ladnun-3 41 306 (Rajasthan)

Edited by: Muni Mahendra Kumar

© Jain Vishva Bharati

Fourth Edition: September, 1995

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