So why is so important to increase the intake of prana in our food & what kind of effect will this have on the mind, hence the body & its internal systems? What is the effect of prana within the mind once digested & how can this influence disease? “The quality of the prana obtained, and therefore the relative chaos or harmony of the body & mind, is determined by the quality of the food consumed.” (Svoboda, 2002, p62).
According to yoga & ayurveda, it is within the mind & mental body (manomaya kosha) that imbalances start. Our likes & dislikes influence our choices, often incorrectly. Once amplified these imbalances result in mental illnesses (Adhis). These stress related imbalances are further amplified by our inherent desires which begin to manifest externally towards physical secondary diseases, known as Vyadhis (Dr Nagarathna & Dr Nagendra, 2015).
The Adhis (primary causes) are as follows:
1) Samanya – common/ordinary; psychosomatic as in stress related
2) Sara – essential/genetically inherent; due to previous lives & congenital diseases
The more subtle causes (sara) which can have an influence on the physical body are removed as one transcends the koshas, eliminating cycles of birth & death. Needless to say let’s not concern ourselves with this cause at present, primarily let us deal with the “here & now” (stress related). If the correct food is ingested, body & mind exercised appropriately without discontent (stress), psychosomatic illness can be eliminated, hence removing any connected physical symptoms.
These common types of mental imbalances (samanya) cause traumatic fluctuations in the flow of prana throughout the body & within the nadis. Prana may flow inharmoniously; creating instability, causing the nadis to shake & fluctuate (like a finely vibrating tuning fork). Prana is then restricted, blockages occur. Due to this unsteadiness in the nadis, food cannot be digested correctly. I’m sure many of us experience the following symptoms after assimilating food?:
- Kujirnatvam – wrong digestion & irregular breathing
- Atijirnatvam – non digestion & excessive breathing
- Ajirnatvam – over digestion & poor breathing
This incorrectly digested food then settles into the body and of course is stimulated & subjected by further internal turmoil. This manifests as the psychosomatic type & transformed into incurable diseases. (Laghu Yoga Vasistha, 1937). Therefore most diseases do originate in the mind & can be eliminated if the correct choices are made prior: by choosing ‘natural’ fresh food high in prana; by taking the time to nurture & assimilate food correctly (self masticating by chewing slower & longer – e.g. ‘liquidising’ food); by breathing correctly & calming the mind – all lead to primary causes being annihilated & hence eliminating disease (Dr Nagarathna & Dr Nagendra, 2015).
The Vyadhis (secondary ‘ physical’ diseases) are as follows:
- Adhija – psychosomatic stress related; hysterical/neurosis
- Anadhija – unrelated to stress; infection/contagious disease; injury
The most common type of secondary physical disease is that of adhija (psychosomatic stress related) which we’ve already covered. The second category of injury/contagious diseases doesn’t originate in the mind & can usually be treated with ones choice of conventional medicine/alternative therapies (allopathic/ayurveda). Additionally purifying the mind (exercising that dormant muscle) through mantras/mindfulness or ones preferred choice of meditation towards Satvaguna, allows the even distribution of prana throughout the body & hence improve the assimilation of food. Through time disease will vanish (Laghu Yoga Vasistha, 1937).
Therefore the origin of disease is now more widely understood, rather than just some random occurrence that suddenly ‘appears’ within the body one day. The remedy for disease is to be found in the cause, as cause is effect concealed and effect is cause revealed (Vimalananda, citied in Svoboda, 2002). Providing ourselves with the correct food (diet/lifestyle/exercise & bodywork) becomes the correct medicine, this medicine in turn becomes our food. The old saying “we are what we eat” has even greater relevance today with so much “junk” food available; bear in mind whatever can affect the body can in turn affect the mind and vice versa. Finally don’t forget to leave our ‘previous life’ diseases until our ‘next birth’, as things will be a lot easier that way!
References and Bibliography
Dr. Nagarathna, R. & Dr. Nagendra, H.R. (2015). Integrated Approach of Yoga Therapy for Positive Health. Bangalore: Swami Vivekananda Yoga Prakashana
Pandurnak, J. (1937). Laghu Yoga Vasistha. digitallibraryindia: DLI.
Svoboda, S. (2002). The Hidden Secret of Ayurveda. Alburquerque: The Ayurvedic Press.