I respect my traditions and feel that we are missing the science behind many of our ways. If we understand why something came to be in the first place or how something was formed and evolved through the ages, we can make use of them to our advantage and needs.
I have an enormous interest and a basic understanding of Ayurveda and Yoga. It says our body channelizes it’s energy into one of the of three Agnis (heat) or manifestations of power during it’s day to day operations. The body at any given time is exclusively or predominantly in one of the 3 modes. They are digestive, kinetic and immune powers.
Digestive power: The energy goes in creating hunger and assimilating the food we intake into our system through digestion process. That is why a few minutes after a heavy meal, the body feels heavy and lethargic. This is especially evident to me during mid afternoons after lunch. The kinetic power or the ability to move about or concentrate is turned off and I would just want to slump and take a short nap. A power nap helps a lot during this time when the body is busy with it’s digestion business. The immune power is also believed to be turned off.
Kinetic power: The body is busy managing physical action such as doing a hard work or exercising vigorously. I used to feel hungry before exercising but during a session the hunger vanishes and it gets back after the session ends. Of course, it is not possible to exercise for long duration on empty stomach. The point is that the hunger is not a priority when we are involved in a physical activity up to a certain threshold limit. The immune power too is turned off during this time.
Immune power: The body builds it’s defense system and does it’s repair job when both digestion and movement is off. This happens at rest, during night, which says the importance of a good night’s sleep. This also happens when one gets into a deeply relaxed state during meditation with positive thoughts or absence of negative thoughts or distractions. Also when we fall sick and have fever, the body temperature raises and all it’s energy is channelized to work on the immunity department. And we do not feel hunger or interest to eat or to move around. The body is forced to this state as an emergency response to a pathogenic attack.
To lead a healthy strong life, it is important to help the body perform all the three modes to it’s required extent on a daily basis.
Eating at right time, enough quantity, good quality and right intervals within a day, exercising vigorously for a time limit based on the body’s needs, good resting habits and deep sleep every day is mandatory.
As part of our tradition, we even have certain days in a year when people go on fasting, as religious practice, when they forcefully restrict the digestive power and keep their activities to a minimum and increase the prayers and meditation time so that the energy is channelized to build their immunity.
The Power of Emotions:
Emotions are of 3 types: Satva, Rajas and Tamas. Each of them have enormous power and uses our body’s energy to channelize through one of the 3 ways we discussed earlier.
Satva feelings are balanced and peaceful. It is the middle line. They make us feel grateful, happy, confident, peaceful… all the good feelings. The energy is channelized through immune power. To be in this state during major part of our operating hours greatly enhances the quality of our life. Meditation, visualization, planning and scheduling to keep important goals in control and to move in an overall forward direction are some techniques that help us to get here.
Rajas is heightened, intense emotions. It is the upper range. Emotions like anger, extreme disappointment, frustration, hatred when the energy of the person spills to create external chaos or destruction. The person may shout, act violently, throw things around, break things, hurt people physically or even emotionally are some of the symptoms we can see. The energy of the body is pumped out with enormous force and at the end of the episode, the person undergoing this emotion feels depleted and most probably feels guilty for all the havoc wrecked through them. This state acts through kinetic power. As discussed earlier, the immune and digestive powers are switched off. It is important to learn to handle this state in the best non-destructive way possible. Best way to channelize this energy is to do a vigorous physical activity and drain it out. More importantly, if we use up our energy even before we hit this spot by routine exercise, we don’t even have to deal much of this in the first place. Plus the hormones that exercise produces gives a cushioning to handle the negative effects of any triggers.
Tamas is depression. This too is unpleasant and sucks out all the energy of the person going through this emotion. Some of the Tamas emotions could be worry, anxiety, fear, inferiority complex, dealing with uncertainty or a vaccum, ruminating on negative thought patterns etc. The main way this emotion is expressed is through digestive channel. This is when we reach for comfort foods. We don’t feel like moving about or getting out of the spiral. We just indulge in binge eating until we get through this emotion or until our stomach hurts. We tend to take up any addictive behavior during this phase as a crutch to give us a temporary high. It could affect us physically, emotionally, financially or in other ways. To deal with this, we need to systematically build a positive thought process, surround ourselves with positive reminders and people, set and achieve goals that are meaningful, contribute to the society in a small or big way, work to eliminate the cause for the depression and so on.
Again, with meditation, we practice to look at our self from a distance (from a third person’s point of view) instead of acting involuntarily. This gives us more awareness in changes to our emotions and behavior thereby giving us control of the situation. Of course this does not happen over night. It takes years of practice to keep oneself in an peaceful realm from inside irrespective of the external triggers or situations.
ஆதி பொவ்திக ஆதி தைவிக ஆத்யாத்மிக
த்ரிவித தாப க்ஷமாணம் சித்யர்த்தம்
ஓம் ஷாந்தி ஷாந்தி ஷாந்திஹி!
Aadhi Bauthika Aadhi dhaivika Aadhyaathmika
Thrividha thaapa kshamaanam sidhdhyartham
Om Shanthi Shanthi Shanthi hi!
External triggers from situation and people around me, triggers from events decided by God – external powers other than people and things, triggers arising from within me – my own insecurities, negative patterns and thoughts: Let forgiveness for all these three be blessed upon me! Om Peace, Peace, Peace!
This is one part of my basic pooja/ prayer ritual that I love.