Physical Health and Preksha Meditation

Posted: 02.07.2006
Updated on: 13.02.2008

0n meeting our friends, acquaintances and relatives, the very first question that we usually ask is: "How are you' How's your health?" Here, the reference is to physical health. We never ask about mental or emotional health because the mind is subtler than the body, and emotions are also at a subtler level. These are not visible to us. That which is visible is our physical body and so we are inquisitive only about the physical body. So, in this context, we should know something about our body. The body that is visible to us is the gross body. Within this is a subtle body, and within that is an even subtler body. In Jain terminology, the names of the bodies are `Audarik (gross), `Tejas' (subtle) and `Karma' (subtlest). All the three bodies are interconnected. The macro body being visible to us is the centre of our attention, but without knowing the subtle and subtler bodies, we cannot understand the real nature of the gross body.

How was the physical body created? Who is the creator? The karmic body is the main cause of creation of the physical body, the acquisition of the physical body acts as the external cause for taking on a particular form. The latter absorbs the material (Pudgala) particles to allow the formation of the gross body. The fruition of each and every Karma is present in the chambers of our brain and body. Millions of such chambers exist. Cells abound in our body and brain (latter has neurons). All these cells organized together systematically and gave rise to the shape of a gross body. Why does this happen? Why does this develop? The cause is the `karmic body'. The vibrations and consequences emerging from the karmic body manifest themselves through the means of a concordant part of a physical body. Through the medium of that body part, they perform their function. All the consequences of the karmic body are present in some body part or the other. Who is the controller of this gross body? It is the `Tejas Sharir' (subtle body). Whenever the question of health arises, the functioning of this Tejas Sharir must be considered. The vibrations of Tejas Sharir are the vital life force or 'Prana' (bio-energy). In Jain Metaphysics, ten kinds of `Prana' have been elaborated.

Ayurveda and Hatha Yoga have described five kinds of Prana (vital force):

  • Pran
  • Apaan
  • Samaan
  • Vyaan
  • Udaan

Our body works with the help of electromagnetism. All bodily functions are occurring because of this force. A kind of electric force is in the form of electricity outside, while another such force is within us. There is no part of our body devoid of this electric force and there is no activity of ours which is done without its help. According to physiology, our brain needs 20 watts of electric energy. The brain requires maximum energy for its functioning. The powerhouse of electricity is our Aura or the `Tejas Sharir' (luminous body). The Tejas Sharir is made up of electric force.

The simplest answer to questions pertaining to health is: if the Tejas Sharir is well, our physical body is healthy and if it is weak, our physical body is also weakened. For example: the clock is working fine. After some time, it does not show the correct time. Why? We say the battery has run out, and hence, the clock stops working properly. Similarly, we, too, have a battery within our bodies in the form of electricity. If this electric force is depleted, the systems of the body start malfunctioning and we are prone to disease. Until our body is backed up well by the luminous body or Tejas Sharir we remain healthy.

Ayurveda also believes in the same principle. Why does a person fall sick? An Ayurvedic doctor would say that the Prana (vital life force) is depleted. According to medical science, the resistance power has lessened, or the immunity system has become feeble: All of these convey the same essence: that with depletion of the Prana, the immune system has become feeble. Why does the immune system become weak? One of the causes of its feebleness is imbalance. A person who does not maintain a balance between action and inaction lessens the potential of its vital force. Balance should be maintained between action and inaction. If a man keeps on performing actions constantly, while he ever remains engaged in executing his job, his vital force would be over-used, and its strength would lessen. What would happen if your expenditure exceeded your income? The result would be the closing down of the shop, disorder would follow. Hence, it is necessary to check the sources of income and expenditure of our vital force as well.

Jain Agamas have described an ascetic discipline, which is actually meant for spirituality, but is very important for the maintenance of our health also. Whenever an ascetic goes out for half a kilometer, one kilometer or even for 100 steps, on returning, he has to practice 'Kayotsarga' i.e. relaxation. Relaxation has to be practiced with all monastic disciplinary practices like `Pratikraman' (a special prayer for repentance, forgiveness) and `Pratilekhan' (watching their clothes carefully with the aim of not killing or hurting any living organisms). It is necessary for a monk to practice relaxation 15-20 times a day. This means balancing action and inaction. If we practice `Kayotsarga’ i.e. relaxation, after every action, we establish an equilibrium. Relaxing just once is not sufficient. 'Kayotsarga' can be practiced by anyone, twenty to thirty times a day. Whenever you are engaged in activities for an hour or two, you should practice Kayotsarga for five minutes. This will help maintain an equilibrium. If you keep on working continuously without a break, your vital energy will be in danger. `Kayotsarga' is the best key to good physical health. We have prescribed a technique of meditation for physical health, on the basis of `Kayotsarga' called 'Kayakalp'. Ayurveda has been practicing the technique of 'Kayakalp'. If a man becomes severely ill or becomes quite old, he loses the power to work. The ancient Ayurvedic doctors used to make such people practice Kayakalp. Ayurveda has a very rigorous procedure for Kayakalp. In Ayurveda ‘Kayakalp’ is put into practice along with meditation and spiritual practice. Preksha Meditation has a systematic schedule for it.

The first step of the procedure of Kayakalp is to lie down in the position of Kayotsarg (relaxation). In the relaxed posture, focus your attention on your big toe of your right foot. Give an autosuggestion to relax and experience it relaxing. Now relax all your other toes, one by one. Loosen all the muscles of your toes, sole, heel and ankle and suggest to yourself two, three times, "They are becoming healthy". In the same way, concentrate on each and every organ, practice relaxation over there, and autosuggest that they become healthy'. Now relax your calf muscles, knee, thigh muscles and buttocks. Stand focused there for two to three minutes. Autosuggest to them- `Toxins are coming out of my body, and it is becoming healthy'. Feel all the infectious and harmful particles going away and feel yourself completely healed in each part. Similarly, practice Kayotsarg on your left foot from toes to waist and suggest the same. Now relax inside the abdominal cavity, each and every internal organ, liver, stomach, pancreas, gall bladder, duodenum, small intestine, colon and kidneys. Experience that they are relaxing. By autosuggestion, feel that they are becoming healthy. Now relax your lungs, heart, shoulders, hands, neck, facial muscles, each and every sense organ, forehead and brain. Experience their relaxation. By autosuggestion, feel that they are becoming healthy. Along with Kayotsarg, concentrate on each and every organ and simultaneously practice long breathing.

Your breath will not reach there, as our breath cannot go beyond the sub-diaphragm region, but by your gentle suggestions, the energy of the vital force will reach there. Let your vital force spread there. Wherever the vital energy reaches, enough electric force will be supplied and this will spur the exit of alien, infectious particles. You will be able to feel the healthiness of the body. This is the first step of the technique of Kayakalp.

The second step of Kayakalp is the practice of Preksha Meditation with `Leshya Dhyan' (Colour Meditation). According to Hatha Yoga and Swarodaya Science, our body is made up of the five elements. They are earth, water, fire, air and space. Also, our body is made up of seven basic elements, which is why it is sometimes termed an image of seven elements. All these basic elements have their own colors. From the legs to the waist is the region of the earth element, whose colour is yellow. Above this, and up to just below the bellybutton, is the region of the water element, whose colour is white, like water. The complete area of the digestive system, all around the bellybutton, is the region of the fire element, whose colour is reddish yellow, like fire. The area of our heart, where the centre of bliss is located, is the region of the air element, whose colour is blue. The part above the neck is the region of the space element, whose colour is smoky: neither completely grey, nor completely white. It is a mixed kind of colour. These are its five colours. We must practice `Kayakalp' with long breathing and visualize these colours. While concentrating from toes to the part of lower abdomen, imagine and visualize white colour there. At the centre of bioelectricity, in and around the bellybutton, feel the radiance of pink colour. While meditating on the centre of bliss, visualize blue colour. Above your neck, experience and imagine grey colour.

The third step of Kayakalp is the practice of chanting Mantras. Practice the Mantra of Arham. After slackening and relaxing your legs completely, start chanting the Mantra Arham three to nine times. In your initial practice, do it only thrice. Focus your attention on your waist and chant Arham. In this manner, concentrate on each and every part of your body, relax it, and feel the effect of the faithful chant of Arham Mantra, while focusing on these parts. Thus, the procedure of Kayakalp is accomplished in three steps. The first step is relaxation with expansion of flow of vital energy. The second step is visualization of colors, with autosuggestions of good health. The third step is the chanting of Arham Mantra with the resolve of good health.

These three steps together complete one cycle of Kayakalp. It may take half an hour. If practiced with perfection, it may take about 45 minutes to one complete hour. This indeed proves to be a very powerful procedure for our optimal health.

A practitioner of Preksha Meditation should know that he has to develop a balance. Just sitting in meditation, and closing your eyes for an hour, is not the objective of meditation. Meditation aims to rejuvenate our physical, mental, vocal and spiritual power. I saw Acharya Tulsi at the age of 83. The day he passed away, he completed almost 40 tasks, with his day going from 4 am. till 11:15 pm. He talked to someone, directed another. Analysing his work on that day we found that he accomplished almost 40 different tasks. How could he do so much work at the age of 83? The reason is that his luminous body was strong and powerful. He left the world because his life span was completed, not because of any disease or illness. His luminous body was so vigorous that he kept on working right till the end. He never stopped work.

When does our luminous body become vigorous? Wherever there are practices of restraint of the senses and mind, abstinence from the enjoyment of worldly objects and controlled desires, the luminous body becomes powerful.

The first practice for physical health is Asana These are of two types. Some of them are meant for meditation (Dhyanasan) like Padmaasan­ ( lotus posture), Ardhapadmaasan (half-lotus posture), Sukhaasan (simple cross-legged posture), Vajraasan ( prayer posture) etc. These are both meditative (dhyanaasan) as well as for physical well being (shariraasan). Those people having weak digestive systems should sit in Vajraasan for 10-20 minutes after meals. This would strengthen their digestive system. Those suffering from knee pain should practice Taadaasan (palm tree exercise, standing on the toes and stretching the whole body). Specific Asanas are prescribed for each and every organ of our body. There are Asanas for liver, pancreas, intestines and colon. Regular practice of Asanas is necessary for maintaining our physical health.

The second practice for maintaining physical health is Pranayama. It means control and regulation of Prana (vital energy). The fundamental characteristic of Pranayama is Kumbhak (holding breath). Then`Rechak' (exhalation) and`Purak' (inhalation) also follow. This lets the fresh air and healthy particles in, while throwing out the toxins and unhealthy particles. The practice of Pranayama revitalizes our body. An ill man feeling very weak and feeble, when endorsed to practice Pranayama for 10-20 minutes by an expert practitioner would experience a new vitality in his body, with increased vital energy. He would feel rejuvenated and refreshed.

So on one hand, there is meditation for maintaining good health, and on the other hand, meditation helps us to progress in the realm of spirituality. It enhances the inner powers and controls the mind. If you want to discover how good health can be maintained by the practice of meditation, this may not be so feasible. To attain good health is not the true objective of meditation. It only assures us that if there is an imbalance of vital energy in our body, meditation will help us in restoring that energy balance. Meditation cannot cure any physical ailments. For that, it is necessary to practice Asanas and Pranayama. In the schedule of Preksha Meditation, Asanas and Pranayama form a part of the practice.

Preksha Meditation is not just a procedure of meditation. It is accompanied with the practices of Mantras, will power, Asanas and Pranayama. Hence it has a holistic approach of our life and not a mere meditating technique. The sonic vibrations created by chanting of Mantras and will power also play an important role in it.

We must employ them thoroughly and we will then be able to resolve the problems emerging from within us. Only then can we develop a healthy personality.

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