Column: It's My Health!
The Stream of Life
by Gerald Lopez, LLB; Dip.Ayurvedic Medicine
What is common to all traditional health systems is the concept of life force - called Prana in Sanskrit, Qi in Chinese and Ki in Japanese. This concept was lost in the west as science became more materialistic; and now no longer exists in modern medical knowledge.
If you can't feel or measure something, is it because it doesn't exist (as western science tells us)? Or because your measuring tools are too crude?
The pranic body
Yoga tells us that our physical body, by itself, is just inert matter. We are a heap of molecules, mainly carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen - a heap of dust.
What makes these molecules organise into trillions of cells each performing millions of functions every second is the intelligence, the information provided by prana. In the yogic model, the molecules are the workers, the prana is the management.
According to yoga, prana flows through hundreds of thousands of channels in the body. Where there is good flow of prana, there is good organisation the body works well. Where there is weak flow or blockages, organisation breaks down, and the workers start doing their own thing without regard to the body's requirements. The finest example of this is cancer. When there is no more prana, the body dies and, as the Bible says, it returns to dust.
The body is on the physical level of existence, and prana is on a much more subtle level (hence the scientist's difficulty in measuring it). The transformers, the connectors between these levels are the Chakras, of which again there are thousands throughout the body. The yogis consider the most important prana channels to be around the spine, and have developed techniques to explore the six major chakras on the spine.
In order to become healthier, and to cure disease, we can get others to encourage the flow of our prana. Reiki and many other healing methods basically work on prana. Ayurvedic massage is pranic massage. After receiving one of these therapies, you feel good, with a lovely flow of energy.
We can learn to move our prana ourselves, by practising yoga, taiqi, aikido and other arts, under proper guidance. It is a skill that is accessible to all of us in fact I believe it is our birthright, and a necessary part of our life's learning.
The first step is to open yourself to the concept, and to become aware of your energy flows. By bringing your awareness to your energy every day, it will become more powerful. That is what yoga, taiqi and those other arts are movement with awareness.
If you can't feel the flow, use your mind and visualise the flow - where the mind goes, energy flows. Tension blocks the flow; the more relaxed we learn to become, the stronger is the energy.
The other way to develop prana is through breath. The word Prana in Sanskrit means both energy and breath, because they are closely linked where there is breath there is life. Become aware of your breath, follow the flow with your mind, deepen it, slow it down. This creates profound effects in the body and the mind.
99% of people are not aware of their breath that is why their bodies, emotions and minds are out of control. Yogis have shown they can control body functions like heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, etc. through controlled breathing. There is nothing special about it everyone can do it. The only reason we don't is that science has convinced us prana doesn't exist.
Ageing with power
When I was an aikido practitioner and instructor in London, I met elderly people who were incredibly powerful. They had cultivated their prana, by regularly practising with awareness of energy.
Prana affects not only our physical health and strength, but also our mental health and wellbeing.
Depression, today's emotional epidemic, is due to loss of prana. As we work on our prana and become more connected with our energy, we also reconnect with the energy of nature around us Disconnection leads to our sense of isolation, loneliness and despair. Reconnection reminds us of the deepest meaning of life - the true source of happiness and contentment.
Buckminster Fuller said that we can't solve our problems using same-level solutions we need to move to higher-level solutions. This also applies to health.
I propose that prana is the key to our next level of existence, the next level of healthcare and human potential... and I encourage you to explore prana for yourself.
In the next issue I will look further into BREATHING, and its effects on many levels.
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