What is Prana? – Why You Should Know About It

What is Prana? - Why You Should Know About It

Hello my dear ones, as you dive deeper in your learning journey about spirituality, especially when it is related to the awakening of the kundalini and psychic powers, you will definitely encounter the particular term known as Prana. According to the Yogic traditions, everything is said to be made of Prana. Prana or life energy, also known as life force or vital force or mana or Chi or Qi in the Chinese traditions, is inside you and all around you. Prana represents the sum total of all energy that is manifest in the universe. It is the sum total of all the forces in nature and in the cosmos. It is the totality of all latent potentials and powers which are hidden in men and which lie everywhere around us. Heat, light, electricity, magnetism are the different manifestations of Prana. All mental forces as well as all physical forces goes under the category ‘Prana’. It is the driving force on every plane of being, from the highest to the lowest.

Whatever works or moves or has life, is just another manifestation or expression of Prana. The ether also is an expression of Prana. The Prana is deeply linked to our mind and through our mind to our will, and through our will to the individual soul, and through this to the Divine Supreme Being. Through the understanding of  how to control the little waves of Prana moving through the mind, the hidden secret of subjugating universal Prana will then be known to you. As the Yogi or spiritual seeker becomes an expert in the knowledge of this secret, he will have no fear from any power because he will gain mastery over all the manifestations of powers in the universe. In truth, what we know as the power of personality is nothing more than the natural ability of a person to wield his Prana. Indeed, some individuals seem to be relatively more successful in life, more influential and fascinating than others. This is all due to the power of this Prana. Such persons shape every day, though unconsciously of course, the same influence which the Yogi utilizes consciously by the command of his will.

In truth, the functioning of the Prana can be seen in the diastolic and systolic processes of the heart, when it pumps the blood into arteries; in the action of expiration and inspiration during the course of breathing; in the digestion of food; in the excretion of liquid and solid matter; in the production of semen, saliva, chyle, chyme, bile, gastric juice, intestinal juice; in the opening and closing of the eyelids; in walking, running, playing, talking, thinking, reasoning, feeling and willing. Prana is the definitive link between the astral and physical body. If the delicate thread-link Prana is cut off, the astral body detaches from the physical body. Death is then said to have taken place. The Prana that was once working in the physical body is then withdrawn into the astral body.

By controlled act of breathing, you can efficiently govern all the various motions in the body and the different nerve-currents that are running through the body. You can effortlessly and rapidly control and develop body, mind and soul through breath-control or the control of Prana. It is through the actual practice of Pranayama that you can actively shape your character and circumstances and can consciously harmonize the individual life with the cosmic life.

When directed by thought under the control of our will, the breath becomes a tremendous regenerating, vitalizing force which you can use consciously for your own self-development; for healing many incurable ailments in your system; for healing others and for other various useful purposes. Your breath is within your easy reach at every instant of your life. Use it judiciously. Many Yogis of yore had utilized this breath, this force, the Prana, in a variety of ways. Indeed, if you practice Pranayama by prescribed breathing exercises, you can also do so. In reality, it is Prana that you are breathing rather than the atmospheric air.

Inhale slowly and steadily with a concentrated mind. Hold it as long as you can do it comfortably. Then exhale slowly. There should not be any strain during any stage of Pranayama. Realize the occult and powerful inner life-powers which underlie the breath. Become a Yogi / spiritual seeker and radiate light, joy and power all around you. Prana exists even when the mind is absent during sleep. Hence, Prana conducts a more vital role than that of the mind. If you go through the parables in the Indian sacred texts of Kaushitaki and Chhandogya Upanishads, when all the physical sense organs, mind and Prana fight amongst themselves as to their superiority, you will find how it is eventually acknowledged by all of them that Prana is the highest of all. Prana is considered as the oldest, for it begins its functioning from the very instant a child is conceived. On the other hand, the organs of hearing, begin to operate only when their special abodes, the ears, are formed. Prana is acknowledged as the oldest and the best in the Upanishads. It is actually through the vibrations of psychic Prana that the existence of the mind, thinking is kept up and thought is produced. You hear, see, talk, sense, think, feel, will, know, etc., all through the help of Prana.

Even our modern-day scientists have already discovered that everything is made of energy. For years, it was believed that everything was just made of atoms and molecules. However, after looking deep into these molecules, there were atoms, and looking deep into atoms, the surprising fact was discovered: atoms are made of energy. Hence, everything is made of Prana. Without Prana, life would not exist. Hence, it is crucial for you to understand it, as well as how you can use it to your advantage. When a person meditates, his whole system gets charged with Prana. This has been experimented using Kirlian photography. This is a kind of photography that allows you to see a person’s aura and energy body. This is why meditation is very important. This is not really something new. Even the great scientist, Nikola Tesla, said that to understand the universe and how it operates, you should think in terms of energy. Be reminded that this is no longer limited to the formula given by Albert Einstein about gross material energy, but this also involves something that is spiritual.

The Prana that is inside you is called personal Prana/energy, while the Prana that is outside of you is called universal Prana. You can tap and use both sources if you want. Many advise that you should not always use your personal Prana since it can be tiring once you have exhausted your storage of personal Prana. Therefore, if you know that you will be using lots of energy, it is highly advised to get it from the universe.

The Nature of Prana

Prana is said to be the basis of everything and is said to be everywhere. It is inside you and all around you. No life can exist without Prana. Prana is also in the breath. Hence, there is a famous practice known as Pranayama, which is a practice of controlling one's Prana by controlling the breath. Another nature of Prana is that it cannot be killed or destroyed. Instead, it can only change or be transmuted from one state into another. It is interesting to note, that conventional science has also proven this teaching, that energy cannot be destroyed; it only changes.

Everything in the universe swims in an ocean of energy. Perhaps this is also how everything is said to be connected. Hence, the web of life. Prana or energy can also be used for various purposes. It is not just for awakening the Kundalini. Many people use it for healing traditions such as in Reiki and in Pranic Healing. It can also be used for many other purposes, even for evil. Indeed, Prana is everything and everything is composed of Prana. Although Prana may be seen as one and the same, it should be noted that its quality might vary. When you use Prana, only focus on harnessing positive energy. There are many other ways to direct Prana, although the simplest and usual way of doing it is by visualization. Other known ways include dancing, chanting, and certain movements, among others.

Prana is considered vital to humans. People with low Prana are often more prone to getting sick, while people with lots of Prana are more likely to be active and healthy. Prana or chi has been in existence for centuries; in fact, ancient writings also talked about Prana. Mind you, these writings can be traced back to before the time of Christ. However, although Prana has been known and used for so long, it is not yet accepted by conventional science. Still, this does not mean that it is not real. Just because science cannot explain something does not mean that it does not exist.

Prana Locations and Functions

Even though Prana is essentially one, it takes five major forms namely Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana and Vyana according to the different functions it performs. The location of Prana is the heart where it is responsible for respiration. Apana is found in the anus and is responsible for excretion.  Samana is seated in the region of the navel and is responsible for digestion. Udana is located in the throat and is responsible for swallowing of the food. Last but not least, Vyana is all-pervading all over the physical body and is responsible for  the circulation of blood.

How to control Prana?

Now, to better understand what Prana is, it is best that you learn how to use and control it. This way, you can also feel it. With enough training with clairvoyance, you can even see this Prana. Let us now move on with some practical exercises on Prana so you can experience it firsthand.This is a secret that you must learn to and understand. You will find this extremely helpful especially when you finally take the actual steps to awaken the Kundalini. When it comes to controlling Prana , you should remember that Prana follows thought. This means that you can control Prana with your mind. But how do you do it? Well, the answer is actually much simpler than what you might think. It is through conscious visualization. Yes, you just have to imagine it. However, this is more than doing a simple imaginary act. You should engage as many senses as possible. For example, if you want to draw Prana into your hand, then you can visualize Prana, like a flowing river, flowing into your hand. Do not just see it in your mind's eye, but also try to feel it, even hear it and smell it. The more senses are involved the better it will be. There are, however, two important senses that you should ensure to focus on—the senses of sight (seeing) and feeling.

Again, remember that energy follows thought. To truly engage this energy, you should use visualization. Through visualization, you can effectively direct Prana. There are, of course, other ways to control Prana  but as far as working on your Kundalini is involved, then the best way to do it is with the use of visualization while you are engaged in meditation.

Do not think of this as a mere exercise with your imagination. You must also have faith that what you visualize is also real. Keep in mind that Prana can take any form, color, and shape; and all it takes is for you to control it with your mind.

There is also what is known as tactile visualization. This is also highly effective. If you find it hard to visualize and “see” things in your mind's eye, then you may want to learn tactile visualization instead. Tactile visualization is where you rely solely on your feelings. For example, instead of visualizing the sight of a fire in your hand to produce heat, you can just visualize or imagine your hand getting warmer and warmer, even without having to “see” a fire in your hand. However, it should be noted that it is still best to get used to doing visualization using as many senses as possible. Do not worry if you think you cannot do it in your first few attempts. It may take some practice before you can get used to it, but it is definitely doable, and you can do it.

Here is a simple exercise to help you learn to control Prana: Focus on your hand. Here, you can employ either your right or left hand. Now, visualize the energy in your body. You can see it in any way you want. The most common way of visualizing energy is by seeing it as white light. Now, see and feel this energy flow and accumulate in your hand. Keep charging your hand. You can also direct and accumulate energy/Prana in other parts of your body.

Energy is often felt as something warm. Hence, if you accumulate energy in your hand, you may be able to tell if you are able to do it correctly if you feel that your hand gets warmer. Another sign of energy is when you feel a tingling sensation. Often, this is felt on the palm of your hand. Take note that energy is inside you and all around you. The energy inside you is referred to as personal energy. There is also what is known as universal energy. This is the unlimited energy that exists all around you.

Benefits of Prana Centering

Inhale the Prana from outside, fill the stomach with it, centre the Prana with the mind's conscious intent in the middle of the navel, at the tip of the nose, and then at the toes, during the ‘Sandhyas’ (sunrise and sunset) on a consistent daily basis for a period of six months. In doing so,  the Yogi / spiritual seeker gains freedom from all diseases and fatigues.

Likewise when the spiritual practitioner consciously centers this Prana at the tip of the nose, he will obtain total mastery over the elements of the air. When the Yogi centers the Prana at the middle of his navel, all diseases of the body and mind are destroyed. By centering the Prana at the toes, his body becomes light and nimble and full of energy. By drinking air through the tongue, the Yogi destroys his fatigue, thirst and many other diseases. For the spiritual seeker who consciously drinks the air with his mouth, during the two ‘Sandhyas’ and the last two hours of the night, within three months, the Divine Mother becomes manifest in his speech, i.e., he becomes fully eloquent and learned. Doing the same practice for a period of six months, the Yogi becomes free from all diseases. Drawing the air at the root of the tongue, the spiritual seeker thus drinking nectar enjoys all prosperity and enjoys immense material success.

Nadis

Existing in the astral body, nadis are the astral tubes made up of astral matter that transmit the Pranic currents. They can only be perceived by the astral eyes. They are not the nerves. In totality, they are 72,000 in number. Ida, Pingala and Sushumna are the important ones. Sushumna is the most important of all.

Ida and Pingala

On either side of the spinal column, there are two important nerve-currents. The right is called Pingala and  the left one is known as Ida. These two are actually Nadis. Some people tend to take these as the right and the left sympathetic cords, but they are in truth subtle tubes that convey Prana. The Moon of the nature of 'Tamas' (quality of inertia, inactivity, dullness or lethargy) moves in the Ida and the Sun of the nature of 'Rajas' (quality that drives motion, energy and activity) in the Pingala. Ida is cooling. Pingala is heating. The Pingala flows through the right nostril whilst Ida flows through the left nostril.

As a matter of fact, the breath courses through the right nostril for one hour and then through the left nostril for one hour. When the breath flows through Ida and Pingala, Man tends to be busily involved in worldly activities. But when Sushumna operates, he becomes apparently dead to the world, and enters into Samadhi. One of the aims of the Yogi is to make the Prana run in the Sushumna Nadi, which is also known as the central Brahman Nadi. Located on the right of the Sushumna is Pingala whilst on the left of Sushumna is Ida. Ida and Pingala indicate time whereas Sushumna is the consumer of time.

Sushumna

To the Yogi, the Sushumna is deemed the most important of all the Nadis and is the sustainer of the entire cosmos and the path of the universe and the path of spiritual salvation. Located at the back of the anus, it is connected to the spinal column and extends to the Brahmarandhra of the head and is invisible and subtle. The true work of a Yogi is said to start when Sushumna begins to operate. Sushumna travels along the centre of the spinal cord or spinal column. In the region above the genital organs and below the navel is the location of Kanda, which is in the shape of a bird’s egg. There originate from it all the Nadis 72,000 in number. Of these, seventy-two are common and generally known. Of those the main ones are ten and they transmit the Pranas. These ten main Nadis are called Pingala, Ida, Sushumna, Gandhari, Hastijihva, Yusasvini, Pusa, Kuhuh, Alambusa and Sankhini. The Yogis must be knowledgeable about the Nadis and the Chakras. Ida, Pingala and Sushumna are said to convey Prana and have Moon, Sun and Agni (Fire) as their Devatas (Deities). When Prana moves in Sushumna, sit for meditation. You will have deep Dhyana (meditative state of being with keen awareness without the focus). As the coiled-up energy,  Kundalini, gets  awakened and moves up along the Sushumna Nadi and is taken up from Chakra to Chakra, the Yogi obtains different sorts of experiences, powers and Ananda (bliss).

Kundalini

Commonly called as the sleeping Sakti or serpent power, Kundalini is composed of 3 1/2 coils with face downwards and resides in the Muladhara Chakra (Root Chakra) at the base of the spine. No Samadhi is possible without its being awakened. In Pranayama, the practice of Kumbhaka (breath retention) creates heat and by that, Kundalini is  awakened and passes upwards along the Sushumna Nadi. The Yogic practitioner starts to experience numerous visions. Then the Kundalini travels along the Six Chakras and finally, it gets united with Lord Shiva (Supreme Consciousness), seated on the Sahasrara (Crown Chakra) or thousand-petalled lotus, at the crown of the head. Nirvikalpa Samadhi occurs now and the Yogi gets liberation from the cycle of physical life and death and acquires all the divine Aishvaryas (opulence, recognition and power). One should practice breath control with concentration of mind. The awakened Kundalini that is taken up to Manipura Chakra (Solar Plexus Chakra) may drop down again to Muladhara. It has to be raised again with effort. The sincere spiritual seeker should strive to become perfectly desireless and should be full of Vairagya (quality of dispassion, detachment or renunciation) before one attempts to awaken Kundalini. Kundalini is like a thread and is resplendent. When it is aroused, Kundalini hisses like a serpent that has been beaten with a stick and enters the hole of Sushumna. Though no need to fear, this can be quite a unique and jolting experience for many. As the Kundalini energy moves up from Chakra to Chakra, layer after layer of the mind becomes revealed and the Yogi acquires various Siddhis (psychic powers).

Chakras

Chakras are psychic vortex centers of spiritual energy and are situated in the astral body, but they also have corresponding plexuses in the gross physical body. They can hardly be seen by the naked physical eyes. Only a clairvoyant can perceive them with his astral sight. There are six important Chakras. They are: Muladhara (Root Chakra containing 4 petals) at the anus; Svadhishthana (Sacral Chakra containing 6 petals) at the genital organ; Manipura (Solar Plexus chakra containing 10 petals) at navel; Anahata (Heart Chakra containing 12 petals) at the heart; Vishudha (Throat Chakra containing 16 petals) at the throat and Ajna (Third Eye Chakra containing 2 petals) at the space between the two eyebrows. The seventh Chakra is known as Sahasrara (Crown Chakra), which contains a thousand petal and it is located at the top of the head. Sacral plexus correlates to the Muladhara Chakra, Prostatic plexus to Svadhishthana, Solar plexus to Manipura, Cardiac plexus to Anahata Chakra, Laryngeal plexus to Visuddha Chakra and Cavernous plexus to Ajna Chakra.

Purification of Nadis

Pranayama is said to be the fusion of Prana and Apana. It is of three kinds—expiration, inspiration and retention. They are linked with the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet for the correct performance of Pranayama. Pranava (AUM pronounced as ohm) only is said to be Pranayama. Sitting in Padmasana (Lotus-posture) one should draw up the air through Ida (left nostril) for the space of 16 Matras, one should mentally chant on the letter A (phonetically pronounced as Ahhhh) during that time, retaining the inspired air for the space of 64 Matras one  should mentally chant on the letter U (phonetically pronounced as Ooooh) during that time. One should then exhale the inspired air for the space of 32 Matras through Pingala (right nostril) while mentally chanting on the letter M (phonetically pronounced as Mmmm) during that time. One should practise likewise in the above order again and again. A Matra is a unit of time and is usually 1 second in duration.

Having become stable in the posture and having sustained perfect self-control, the Yogi should, in order to cleanse the impurities of the Sushumna, sit in Padmasana (Lotus position), and having inhaled the air through the left nostril, should hold it as long as he can and should exhale through the right nostril. Next, inhaling again through the right nostril and having retained it, the Yogi should exhale it through the left, in the order, that he should draw it through the same nostril, by which he breathed out before and had retained it. For the person practicing it according to these strict rules, through the right and left nostrils, the Nadis become purified rapidly within three months. One should try to practice suspension of breath at sunrise, at midday, at sunset and at mid-night, slowly, 80 times a day, for 4 weeks. In the early stage, perspiration will be produced; in the middle stage the tremor of the body; and in the last stage, lightness of the physical body.

When perspiration arises with effort, one should rub one's body well. By this, the body becomes firm and light. In the early stage of practice, food containing milk and ghee is excellent. By sticking to this rule, one becomes stable in his practice and gets no Taapa (burning sensation) in the body. Likewise, the breath thus rigidly managed, comes naturally under one's control.

With the consistent and regular practice of Pranayama, the purification of the Nadis, the kindling of the gastric fire, hearing unmistakably of spiritual sounds and good health result. When the nervous centers have become purified through the Pranayama practice, the air easily forces its way up through the mouth of the Sushumna, which is in the middle. The Prana which alternates ordinarily between Ida and Pingala, is held by long Kumbhaka (breath retention); then it will enter the Sushumna, the central Nadi, at one of three locations where it yields space for entrance through such restraint of breath. After such an entrance, it is said that the Yogi becomes dead to the world, being in that highly exalted state called Samadhi. Through Pranayama practice, numerous chronic ailments, that confront most Homeopathic, Allopathic, Ayurvedic and Unani doctors around the, will be rooted out. When the Nadis have become sufficiently purified, certain signs appear externally on the body of the Yogi. These include brilliancy in complexion, lightness of the body, increase of the gastric fire, leanness of the body and along with these, the disappearance of restlessness in the body. They are all tell-tale signs of purification.

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