BODY & MIND & ENERGY
Today, we have created our world in such a way that no other generation could’ve imagined such comfort and convenience. We have managed, through technology, to engineer the outside world the way we want it.
But at what cost? In pursuit of happiness, we go on destroying every other life form on the planet, including the planet itself. But if destroying half the planet gave us happiness and peacefulness, maybe it’s all worth it.
But has it? Our generation might be enjoying the most comfort and convenience of all generations but can we say our generation is the most loving, most joyful, or most peaceful generation?
With all the modern comfort and convenience that we achieved through exploiting everything we can, if we aren't the happiest generation or the most peaceful generation, then what's the point? In fact we are the most stressed generation and probably the most wining generation ever.
Today, we have the necessary resources, technologies, and the capabilities to solve all these problems. But why aren’t they being solved? Everyone is trying to fix the world “out there.” But what is the cause of all these problems?
Isn’t it us? Aren’t human beings the cause of all these problems? Then who or what should get fixed?
Just as we've engineered the outside world and upgraded our standard of living, isn't it time we look at how we can engineer our interior and upgrade our humanity?
WHY ARE WE CAUSING ALL THESE PROBLEMS?
One of the main misconceptions we have as human beings is that we think the world is human centric. In other words, we believe humans are at the center of the universe and that everything else is here to serve us. Are humans really at the center of the universe? Are we really that important?
Well, let’s take a look. If bees disappeared from the earth, most fruits and vegetables would disappear, which would then affect most of the animal lives, which would then affect us humans beings. If earthworms disappeared from the earth, the earth’s soil would soon disappear and without soil, there wouldn’t be food for most of the animals including us humans. But, if humans disappeared from the earth, the earth and all living creatures in it would thrive! So you figure it out.
Over 96% of the observable universe is unknowable. Unknowable because it's not physical. We just named them dark energy and dark matter. So everything that we know make up less than 4% of what's out there. Out of this less than 4% which makes up the physical universe, over 99.9999999% is made up of space - atoms. So in essence, we have come to identify ourselves with this tiny, tiny aspect of the physical which is less than .00000000004% of the observable universe.
Another perspective is that the observable universe has at least two trillion galaxies. So if our Milky Way galaxy, a small speck in the universe, disappeared, it wouldn’t even be noticed. To go further, our Milky Way Galaxy, one of two trillion galaxies, could have as many as 100 billion solar systems. So our solar system is truly a speck of a speck in the observable universe. In this speck of a speck, our planet earth is a micro speck. In this micro speck, you are a big shot!
This is not meant to belittle us human beings. We can definitely be wonderful and magnanimous when we want to. It’s just that we’ve lost perspective as to who we are and our place in relation to all other living creatures that we share our planet with, and to the planet earth itself, and to the greater universe.
WHO ARE WE REALLY?
So if we are the main cause of all the problems, shouldn't human beings be the first and foremost agent of change?
There are a plethora of self improvement programs out there in the market, from countless exercise programs to endless diet programs, which by the way happens to change almost every year. And most of the self improvement programs focus on the body and not on the mind. But regardless, are they working? Whether it’s a physical exercise program using the latest gadget, or the most trendy diet program, or an inspirational talk you were excited about, the commitment to change lasts only for a short while and then we’re back to where we started. It seems as though the only ones really benefiting in the long run are the self improvement businesses and not the people. As a generation we are the weakest generation ever in terms of physicality and it’s getting worse. What will happen to our next generation?
We all want to improve ourselves but how can we truly do that when we are clueless as to the true nature of who we are? Our human system is the most complicated piece of biological machinery on this planet and yet we haven’t spent any time looking into what this system is all about. From our early childhood on, our focus has been solely on learning about what’s “out there," but nothing on the true nature of who we are, what makes this piece of life tick.
It’s as though we are using the most sophisticated piece of machinery without first reading the users manual. So it is only natural that we’re making a mess of ourselves. We rush through life not knowing what life is all about. When we look at the fundamental reason why we’re making such a mess of ourselves is because we believe we are something we're not.
We, human beings, have come to identify ourselves with our body and our mind. In fact, most would ask, what else is there to what I call myself? That’s why when we try any kind of self improvement programs, we work mostly on the level of the body and maybe a little on the level of the mind. This is not to say that these are incorrect ways to approach self improvement but it’s a partial and not a holistic approach. If we do anything partially, we get partial results at best and that’s what’s happening..
Hugh Jackman - “With meditation, my anxiety levels dropped considerably. It seems to me that the mind is fuel to the fire of fear. The mind can make us worry about things beyond their measure. And the great thing about meditation is that twice a day, the monkey mind just calms down...[how much meditation has impacted his life] I would say possibly equally to how marriage and kids did—I would put it right up there, in terms of things that have affected my life. I was always very curious and very much a searcher, but soon after I started meditating, I felt I gained a true understanding of myself and was no longer just being reactive to events that came my way.
I felt a sense of calm, a sense of purpose, of finer energy in things I did. I think I had been quite an external person, living very much outside of myself, either for validation or just for stimulation, until, through meditation, I started to find what I call home, or a sense of my true nature or true self.”
The Human System
5 Layers of the Body
In yoga, the human system is looked at as five sheaths or layers. Every aspect of the human system, including the mind, is seen as a body, and yoga is a technology to transform it. These are known as:
Food Body - Anna Maya Kosha (Maya - Full, Kosha - Sheath)
Mental Body - Mano Maya Kosha
Energy Body - Prana Maya Kosha
Transitional Body - Vijana Maya Kosha
Bliss Body - Ananda Maya Kosha
They are not to be thought of as concentric sheaths - bodies, but as interpenetrating at different levels of subtlety, from the grossest to the subtlest.
Food Body - The physical body that you have is just an accumulation of the food that we have eaten. It is something that we gathered. If fact, an average human being eats 35 tons of food during one’s lifetime. In other words, our body is just a piece of the earth.
Mental Body is a layer of intelligence which is capable of accumulating knowledge. It is not here or there but every cell in our body has its own intelligence. In other words, intelligence is all across our body. Accumulation of knowledge is all across. Now there are talks about gut intelligence, emotional intelligence, and heart intelligence. Generally you think memory is in your head but our body has a million-fold more memory than our mind. Right now, our great grandfather’s nose is sitting on our face because something in the body remembers. Isn’t it? The texture of the skin is like this and our complexion is like this because our body remembers. The intelligence and the memory in the body is way beyond what happens in our head. It is just that the brain part of our intelligence can generate thought. Because we have become very attached to our thoughts we think intelligence is all coming from the brain. No. This whole body is exuding much more intelligence than our brain can ever think of. One cell in our body, one molecule of DNA carries information that our whole brain cannot decipher. The whole creation is just intelligence.
These two layers can only function in connection with the third dimension, the Energy Body. In modern terminology, we can compare the food body to hardware, the mental body to software. But by themselves they cannot do anything unless you plug supply them with quality power.
Pranayama, the energy body, is composed of vital energy, the force that vitalizes and holds together the body and the mind.
Physical body, mental body, and energy body are all in the realm of physicality, but on different levels of subtlety. To use an analogy – you can clearly see that a light bulb is physical. But the light it diffuses is also physical. And the electricity behind it is physical as well. Light bulb, light, and electricity: all are physical but differ in subtlety. Similarly, the physical body, the mental body, and the energy body are all physical but differ in subtlety.
The next layer of the body is a transitory body that is known as Vignanamaya Kosha. It facilitates the transition from the physical to the non-physical. It does not ascribe to any of the physical qualities, but at the same time, it is not yet completely nonphysical either. The fifth layer is called Anandamaya Kosha, which in English translates as “bliss body”. This does not mean there is a bubble of bliss in you. We call it bliss body because in our experience, whenever we touch it, we become blissful. Bliss is not its nature, bliss is what it causes for us. Anandamaya Kosha is a nonphysical dimension which is the source of everything that is physical. Only if you bring the first three layers of the body into alignment, there will be a passage and a possibility of touching Anandamaya Kosha, where blissfulness becomes a natural state of being. Not blissful about something in particular – simply blissful because that is the nature of life.
Since for most of us, the last two bodies are not in the realm of our experience, we will focus on the first three bodies: namely, the physical body, the mental body, and the energy body: the hardware, software, and the power source of the human system.
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best football players ever... and could be regarded as one of the most disciplined players in world with immense determination and will. Thus, it's no surprise he also practices yoga and meditation and believes that they can help cope with physical strains resulting from long sessions playing football.
FOOD BODY - HARDWARE
Sadhguru: The human body is such a miraculous instrument but most people experience their body as just flesh and bone. It is seen as a source of either pain or physical pleasure, and its most subtle and profound aspects are never discovered. The medical physiology and biological functions of the body are only the outer shell. In the yogic sciences, the body is revered and recognized as an intricately crafted system which is constantly connected to and pulsating with every atom in the existence. For a yogi, the body is the supreme instrument, a tool to access and experience the entire cosmos. Through various yogic practices, one can delve layer by layer into the very roots of the body, refining the human system to such a point that it can become the very axis of the Universe.
Even if you want to use the body as a basic instrument, the first and foremost thing is you have to dis-identify yourself from this body. You know very well that you gathered this body – it is just an accumulation of food. How can you call what you’ve gathered as “myself?” What you gather can be yours for a certain period of time but it cannot be you. If you want to explore this in one lifetime, it will take a lot. But one way or the other, people’s entanglement with the body is so deep that they cannot treat the body as an instrument. Their attachment and identification with the body are so deep that they continue to see this as “myself”. The moment you see this body as “me”, there is a whole lot of emotions attached to it. Then we cannot use it as an instrument.
If we look at our body, we were not born the way we are right now. In your mother’s womb you started as two cells, then you came out as a baby and now you have become so big. How did all this happen? Whatever is the fundamental force that is creating this body – the basis of creation – is functioning within the body every moment. The manufacturer of this body is inside. If you have a repair job to be done, would you like to go to the manufacturer or the local mechanic? If you had access, you would go to the manufacturer. If you’ve lost access, you go to the local tinker. I am not trying to belittle medical science, but if you had access to the source of that which creates this body, definitely every problem that you generate within the body could be handled.
There are two kinds of ailments: infectious and chronic. Infectious ailments happen because of an external invasion. You must go to the doctor. But 70% of ailments on the planet are self-created. Why I say self-created is because it happened from within you. This body is essentially programmed for health. Every cell in your body wants health for itself. So why would it turn against you? Because somewhere, you are not keeping it happy. You must pay a little more attention. There is a systematic way of paying attention to this, because everything in this body was created from within. When that is so, you can also easily fix it from within.
Almost one in two people in the U.S. (or 46% of the population) used one or more prescription drugs in the last month between 2015–2016, according to a new National Center for Health Statistics Survey, and over 52% for age group between 20 and 59.
According to Fidelity Investments, as of December 2019, the Food and Beverage Industry market size is almost $2 trillion dollars whereas the Pharmaceutical Industry is almost $2.34 trillion dollars.
In the world today, more money is being spent on drugs than on food and drinks!
Sadhguru: For the things you create from within, running to the doctor is of no use. The medical profession can only help you manage chronic ailments, they can never rid you of them. When you are creating it, how can they rid you of it? Every day, they will put more chemicals into you but every day you will doggedly create more disease within yourself. Unless you change that basic pattern, health will not happen.
For now, let's look at the 3 aspects to making the Food Body healthy and vibrant: 1. What, when and how much to eat, 2. Movement of the body on a daily basis, and 3. Getting plenty of restfulness.
1. What, When, How much to Eat: Making the Right Choices
Sadhguru: Every few years, a different theory emerges on what kinds of foods to eat, and there are a whole lot of people who follow it religiously. People talk about “vegetarianism and veganism”! We shouldn’t be making food a religion. It is not about what you or someone else believes. It is about eating sensibly.
The first thing to remember is that essentially, food is fuel. If you want to refuel your car, you go to the gas station and choose the appropriate fuel for this particular machine, in order to achieve optimal performance. You could put kerosene into your car and it would actually drive, but it may smoke and cough, and you may not be able to accelerate as you want. This is the situation with most people when it comes to their food choices. To choose the appropriate fuel, you need to know what type of machine you are.
Eating properly is an important aspect of health. If you are interested in your wellbeing and that of your children, you must ensure that the food you eat is fresh. The average American eats processed food that has been prepared three or six months ago. In the yogic culture, we always consume cooked food within 1.5 hours after it comes off the stove. If it’s any later, inertia will set in. If you eat food that creates inertia in the system, you will lose all your dynamism. There is also a correlation between the kind of food you eat and the amount of sleep you need. Generally, doctors advise that everyone must sleep a minimum of eight hours. If you sleep eight hours per night, it means you are sleeping one third of your life.
Sadhguru: People are writing books on how everyone must sleep eight hours, and warn of dire consequences if you don’t. These days, I am getting a little lazy and sleep for four hours. But earlier, for twenty-five years, I used to sleep less than three hours per day, and I am healthy. The body needs restfulness, not sleep. One important factor of how much sleep you need is what type of fuel you put into your system. If you put the wrong fuel into your car, it will need a lot of servicing. Similarly, if you put the wrong fuel into your system, it will need a lot of sleep.
There are many aspects that need to be considered in this context. One important factor is that you may be eating food that has a high level of inertia in it. We classify foods as rajas, tamas, or sattva. Tamas means inertia. If you eat food that has the quality of inertia to it, then how can you be active? If you eat dull food, it will make you dull.
A Rajasic diet is one which is overly spicy or hot, includes food with onion and garlic, coffee, fizzy soft drinks, tea, and sugary foods. These foods may give us a lift in energy but ultimately we experience a low or increased stress.
A Tamsic diet consists of dead food such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, stale food, processed food full of chemical additives, fast foods, reheated food, alcohol, cigarettes and drugs of addiction. A sattvic food can become tamasic when processed, old or fried.
These foods and substances do nothing to lift our energy and consciousness, if fact they pull us downward into laziness and inertia.
A Sattvic diet is pure vegetarian nourishment and includes fresh fruit and vegetables, fruit and vegetable juices, pulses, grains and sprouts, nuts, seeds, honey, and herbs.
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
- Albert Einstein
* Rudraksh test
Eat What’s Furthest From You
Sadhguru: Your body is just an accumulation of the food that you have eaten, after it has been transformed and assimilated. There is a certain intelligence, memory, and genetic code in the body that determines what the food that you eat is converted into. For example, the same apple, depending on who eats it, becomes part of the body of a woman, a man, or a cow.
In the yogic tradition, we always said you must eat what is furthest away from you, genetically. In that sense, plant life is furthest away from us. As life evolves, the information and memory an organism carries get increasingly complex. If you must eat non-vegetarian food, we advised the consumption of fish, because among the animals, it is furthest away from a human being, if you look at it from an evolutionary perspective.
After a century of saying the best thing to eat is meat, doctors in the West are slowly shifting to a different view today. For some time now, they have been saying that beef is the main cause for most of the cardiac ailments in America. And in the last few years, they are also saying that meat consumption is a cause for cancer. In the yogic culture, we have been telling you for ten thousand years that if you eat foods with a complex genetic code, not only will your system will not be able to completely break it down to make it your own system, your own system will eventually breakdown one way or the other. We arrived at that not by doing billion-dollar research, but just by observing what happens in our system when we eat. If you pay enough attention, you will know. Every creature does. A dog just knows what to eat and what not just with few sniffs. Human beings do not know because they go by whatever information someone gives them, not by awareness of life.
What This Body is Designed For
Although many humans choose to eat both plants and meat, earning us the dubious title of “omnivore,” we’re anatomically herbivorous.
1. Human saliva has Amalyse Enzyme which breaks down carbohydrate into sugar. 30% of it happens in the mouth. Amalyse Enzyme is not found in carnivorous animals.
2. Humans have short, soft fingernails and small “canine” teeth. In contrast, carnivores all have sharp claws and large canine teeth that are capable of tearing flesh. Carnivores’ jaws move only up and down, requiring them to tear chunks of flesh from their prey and swallow them whole. Humans and other herbivores can move their jaws up and down and from side to side, allowing them to grind up fruit and vegetables with their back teeth. Like other herbivores’ teeth, humans’ back molars are flat for grinding fibrous plant foods.
3. Carnivorous animals swallow their food whole, relying on extremely acidic stomach juices (PH level of 1 to 2) to break down flesh and kill the dangerous bacteria in it, which would otherwise sicken or kill them. Our stomach acids are much weaker in comparison (PH level of 4 to 5), because strong acids aren’t needed to digest pre-chewed/digested fruits and vegetables.
4. Animals who hunt have short intestinal tracts and colons that allow meat to pass through their bodies relatively quickly, before it can rot and cause illness. (Alimentary canal length of carnivorous animals average 2 times body length) Humans’ intestinal tracts are much longer than those of carnivores of comparable size. (Alimentary canal length of humans average 5 to 6 times body length, roughly 30 feet) Longer intestines allow the body more time to break down fiber and absorb the nutrients from plant-based foods, but they make it dangerous for humans to eat meat. The bacteria in meat have extra time to multiply during the long trip through the digestive system, increasing the risk of food poisoning. Meat actually begins to rot while it makes its way through human intestines, which increases the risk of developing colon cancer. Meat-eaters have a higher incidence of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other problems.”
The Unfortunate Modern Diet
Until recently, only the wealthiest people could afford to feed, raise, and slaughter animals for meat, while everyone else ate mostly plant foods. Consequently, prior to the 20th century, only the rich were plagued routinely with diseases such as heart disease and obesity. Now that animal flesh has become relatively cheap and is easily available (thanks to the cruel, cost-cutting practices of animal farming), deadly ailments such as heart disease, strokes, cancer, diabetes, and obesity have spread to people across the socio-economic spectrum. And as the Western lifestyle spills over into less-developed areas of Asia and Africa, people there, too, have begun to suffer and die from diseases associated with meat-based diets.When humans consume animal protein, research shows a link to cancer of the colon, breast, prostate, and pancreas. According to nutrition expert T. Colin Campbell, the director of the Cornell-China-Oxford Project on Nutrition, Health, and the Environment, “In the next ten years, one of the things you’re bound to hear is that animal protein . . . is one of the most toxic nutrients of all that can be considered.”
Published January 23, 2018 by PETA. Last Updated January 28, 2018.
Sdhguru: Studies have found that the human brain works best when the stomach is empty. A team led by Tamas Horvath, chairman of Yale’s comparative medicine program found that an empty stomach produces Ghrelin, a hormone that carries the message to the brain that the stomach is hungry. The interesting thing is that this hormone seems to perform other functions as well. Ghrelin stimulates and heightens the performance of the hippocampus, the region in the brain that handles learning, memory and spatial analysis, keeping us alert, active and focused. This of course doesn’t imply that we should never eat, but rather points to the fact that we should be conscious of how much we eat.
Another important aspects when it comes to food is that you must be conscious of is how quickly a certain type of food digests and becomes a part of yourself. If you eat something and it does not digest within three hours, it means you have eaten food that should either be avoided or reduced in quantity. If the food moves out of your stomach within three hours, it means that even if it is not the best food, it is still something your system is able to handle.
If you maintain a clear gap of five to six hours between one meal and the other without having anything in between, cleansing will happen on the cellular level. This cleansing on the cellular level is most important for a healthful life. If you are over 30 years of age, two good meals a day will suffice – one in the morning and one in the evening. There must be three hours after the evening meal, before you go to bed. If this includes at least 20 to 30 minutes of light physical activity – such as simple walking – your system will largely be healthy. If you go to bed with food still inside the stomach, it generates a certain level of inertia in the system. Physiologically, this inertia is like an acceleration towards death. Death is ultimate inertia. Another dimension is that if you go to bed with a full stomach, it puts pressure on other organs in the abdomen. This will also lead to various kinds of health issues. For that reason too, it is very important that before you go to bed, the food you have eaten has moved out of the stomach. As you sleep in different postures, the stomach should not put pressure on other organs at any point.
If you eat a fruit, within 1.5 to three hours’ time, it will be fully digested. If you eat cooked vegetables, it will take twelve to fifteen hours to digest them. If you eat cooked cereals and other foods, it will take twenty-four to thirty hours. If you eat cooked meat, it will take forty-eight to fifty-two hours. If you eat raw meat, it will take seventy-two hours to digest it. When food remains in the system for such long periods of time, it will rot and cause unnecessary levels of bacteria. With such food choices, you are causing damage to the system. And then you believe you need medicines, rather than living healthy. You need pharmaceutical products because you are generating poison within yourself.
If you have been eating the wrong kind of food for too long, the body may have become so lethargic and dense that you cannot notice anything. In that case, fasting will give you a break. In any case, especially when you eat too much, it is good to fast once in a way.
If it is a question of survival, eat what is available. But when survival is taken care of, there is a choice. When you have a choice, you must eat sensibly, what is best for your system. The ideal fuel for your body is what leaves you alert, agile, and active. You could experiment. One day, just eat fruits; another day, just eat raw vegetables; yet another day, you cook the vegetables; then you eat fish, you eat meat – try out everything. With what kind of food you are experiencing maximum levels of energy and alertness, please eat that, and you will be healthy.
The Joy of Eating
Sadhguru: As important as it is to make sure you eat the right kind of food that's conducive for your well-being, you need to remember not to get paranoid about the food you eat. Don't become a food freak – “I will not eat this, I will not eat that. I have to eat like this, I have to eat like that.” Eating joyously is more important than eating properly. Food has influences on you but it is not the deciding factor. The true joy of eating is that you are conscious of some other life willing to become a part of you, to merge and mingle with your own life and become your body. This is the greatest pleasure that a human being knows, that in some way, something that is not him has become willing to become a part of him.” - Sadhguru
2. Your Body - Use It or Lose It
Sadhguru: One of the simplest things about health is just to use the body. If you use the body sufficiently, it has everything to create health for itself. The more you use it the better it gets. When it comes to activity, one simple thing that we need to consider is that our body is capable of bending forward, bending backward, and twisting to both sides. This much activity must happen in some kind of form.
Among the countless forms of exercises people practice, it would be ideal to add Classical Hatha Yoga to your current routine. Classical hatha yoga is one of the best methods for movement of your body, and a scientific one. If classical hatha yoga is not yet part of your life, you must somehow make sure that every day, you bend forward, backward, twist to both sides, and squat so that the spinal column is stretched. This is a must for everybody on a daily basis if you want to keep the entire system healthy – particularly the neurological system, which will otherwise be an issue as one ages.
Today, man has become physically inactive like never before - he could not afford to be so physically inactive before, he had to do so many things physically, just to survive. So, he has become more neurotic than in the past. As a general phenomenon, there were neurotic people then also, but not in these numbers. Today, it has become a common phenomenon in society that too many are in some level of neurosis. This is simply because your energy is not worked out; it’s trapped. You have not transcended your madness and at the same time you’re not working it out. The therapy also is not there. If you went out and chopped wood for the whole day, a lot of your energy would be spent, and life would be peaceful; but today it’s not like that. You are not using your body the way it used to be used, so you go on generating all kinds of diseases, like never before. This builds up inside your system over a period of time. Then your physical and emotional energy need some outlet. That is how your bars, your clubs and your discotheques have come into place. People have to work out their neurosis somewhere, somehow. These discos look like madness, you can’t even breathe inside. They are full of smoke and sweat but people are just going wild. You can’t even dance, everybody is bumping into everybody else, but it doesn’t matter, you have to work it out, otherwise you will go crazy. So, on Saturday, you go work out your neurosis for the week. Then the piling up starts once more and once again the Saturday night fever comes. There is another way to drop this madness and go ahead. Completely leaving it behind and going ahead where you are no more a part of it. This is what yoga and meditation is all about.
All the entertainment in the world has come just to hide your madness. If you were perfectly sane, you would not need entertainment, you could just sit and watch this bamboo grow.. You need entertainment just to cover your madness. If we take away your entertainment, you will go crazy. If the need for entertainment is gone in you, then you will become available to the magnificent exuberance of life. Every moment becomes a phenomenon of immeasurable depth.
The Science of Hatha Yoga
Sadhguru: When you experience everything as oneness in your consciousness, then you are in yoga. To attain that unity within you, there are many ways. You work with the body, then you move to the breath, then to the mind, then to the inner self. Like this, many steps have been created, but they are only different facets of yoga. It is important that all of them are addressed in a very balanced way, all at once, as one single unit. There is really no division as such; yoga employs all aspects of who you are.
The body is a very large part of who you are right now. The science of using the body to hasten your evolutionary process is hatha yoga. The body itself has its own attitudes, its own ego, its own nature. Let us say you decided, “Starting tomorrow, I will get up at five in the morning and go for a walk.” You set the alarm. The alarm rings. You want to get up, but your body says, “Shut up and sleep.” It has its own way, doesn’t it? Hatha yoga is a way of working with the body, a way of disciplining, purifying and preparing the body for higher levels of energy and possibilities.
Hatha yoga is not an exercise. Understanding the mechanics of the body, creating a certain atmosphere, and then using body postures to drive your energy in specific directions is what hatha yoga or yogasanas are about. “Asana” means a “posture.” That kind of posture which allows you to reach your higher nature is a yogasana. There are other dimensions to this, but to put it in the simplest way, just by observing the way someone is sitting, you can almost know what is happening with him, if you have known him long enough. If you have observed yourself, when you are angry, you sit one way; if you are happy, you sit another way; if you are depressed, you sit another way. For every different level of consciousness or mental and emotional situation that you go through, your body naturally tends to assume certain postures. The converse of this is the science of asanas. If you consciously get your body into different postures, you can elevate your consciousness.
Out of the innumerable asanas a body can assume, 84 have been identified as Yogasanas, through which one can transform the body and mind into a possibility for ultimate wellbeing. This profound science enhances how one thinks, feels, and experiences life. In an untrained state, the human body is a constant manifestation of various levels of compulsiveness. By consciously forming the body into a certain posture, one creates a conducive passage for energy flow that can elevate one’s consciousness. Yogasanas are a way of aligning the inner system and adjusting it to the celestial geometry, thereby becoming in sync with the existence and naturally achieving a chemistry of healthfulness, joyfulness, blissfulness, and above all, balance.
The body can become a means for your spiritual growth or it can become a major barrier. Suppose some part of your body – your hand, leg or back, for instance – is hurting. When it is hurting badly it is hard to aspire for anything higher because that becomes the biggest thing. Right now if you have a backache, the biggest thing in the universe is your backache. Other people may not understand that, but for the person who is going through it, that is the biggest thing. Even if God appears you will ask for your backache to go! You will not ask for anything else because the physical body has such a power over you. If it is not functioning well, it can take away all other aspirations from your life. Whatever you may fancy, all your longings just disappear once the body starts hurting – because to look beyond that takes an enormous amount of strength, which most people do not possess.
There are thousands of people who have come out of spinal problems by doing simple asanas. Doctors had told them they would definitely have to go through a surgery, but they never had to. Your back can be restored to such an excellent condition that you will never need to go to a chiropractor. It is not only your spine that becomes flexible; you also become flexible. Once you are flexible, you are willing to listen, not just to someone’s talk; you are willing to listen to life. Learning to listen is the essence of a sensible life.
Dedicating a certain amount of effort and time to see that the body does not become a barrier is important. A painful body can become a major obstacle, and so can a compulsive body. Simple compulsions, whether they are about the body wanting to relieve itself or of lust, can rule you so strongly that they will not allow you to look beyond; the physical body becomes a major entity. Body is only a part of you; it should not become the whole of you. Asanas level the body down to its natural place.
Hatha Yoga Prepares the Body
Sadjguru: Another aspect of hatha yoga, when one wants to move into deeper dimensions of meditation, is that it allows for a higher possibility of energy. If you want your energies to surge upwards, it is very important that the pipeline of the body is conducive. If it is blocked, it will not work, or else, something will burst. Preparing the body sufficiently before one goes into more intense forms of meditation is very important. Hatha yoga ensures that the body takes it gently and joyfully.
For a lot of people, spiritual growth happens very painfully because the necessary preparation does not happen. Most human beings have unfortunately let themselves live in a condition where the external situations mold them and direct them. Whether it is wisdom of the world or spiritual possibilities, they get the point only when they are knocked around by life. Even then, only some become wise; others become wounded. It is this possibility of transforming a potential wound into a source of wisdom that leads one to a state of freedom. If one has put in the necessary preparation, it can be a very pleasant and wonderful experience of growth. But for a majority of the people in the world, growth happens painfully; very few people grow blissfully. It is becoming a norm in the world that growth must be painful. It can be done blissfully, but because both the body and mind have not been prepared, all change happens painfully. So, asanas prepare you for growth and transformation by equipping you with a solid foundation.
Today, the hatha yoga that people are learning is not in its classical form, not in its full depth and dimension. Largely the “studio yoga” that you are seeing today is unfortunately just the physical aspect of it. Just teaching the physical aspect of yoga is like having a stillborn baby. That is not only no good, it is a tragedy. If you want a live process, it needs to be taught in a certain way.
Life Beyond the Body
Sadhguru: Hatha yoga does not mean twisting your body, standing on your head, or holding your breath. There was a time when I was personally teaching hatha yoga as a two-day program. People would burst with joy; tears of ecstasy would flow simply doing asanas. That is the way yoga needs to be done. Unfortunately, the hatha yoga in the world today brings peace for some, is healthful for others is and a painful circus for many.
Most yogis just use the simple postures to break the limitations of who they are. That is all I learned when I was eleven years of age – just a few simple postures. It is just the way it is done that makes the difference.
The basic premise in yoga is that if your energy body is in full flow and properly balanced, there can be no chronic disease. If people are willing to do a certain amount of sadhana, or inner work, to balance and activate their energy body, they can definitely be free of all chronic ailments. Yoga is a means to build a pathway to the manufacturer.
In yoga, we are using the physical to transcend the physical, not to strengthen it. But we know, we understand and we respect that the physical has a right to be, and that it has a power of its own. If we do not keep it at absolute ease, it will be in our way. If your body is not in good shape, it will take your entire attention. Only when it is really well, you can completely ignore it. We are keeping it well so that it does not become an obstacle. There is a difference in the fundamental ethos of yoga and exercise. We are not doing yoga to build, look at and present our muscles. Hatha yoga is about making the body so strong and so subtle that you do not even know if it is there. If it sits here, it just sits here, without even asking for water, food, going to the toilet and things like that. This means it is very low maintenance. That is the quality of a good machine, and that is the quality of a good body too, that it does not seek your attention. But the world has turned this upside down – for most people, a good body means it is seeking attention all the time.
Right now, I would say 99% of most people’s thoughts would be meaningless because they are all around the compulsiveness of the body. It is all about saving yourself, protecting yourself, beautifying yourself and keeping yourself comfortable. If you did not have a body, you would not be looking at these concerns, you would be looking at possibilities. The only question would be, “What is the ultimate possibility for a human being?” Unfortunately, people are making this physiological mechanism a barrier, not a possibility, simply because they are identified with it.
Once you create a distance between you and the body, you will have the joy of knowing what kind of a machine you have in your hands. It has all the ingredients of bondage and freedom within it. You can make this divine – you can move your energy system in such a way that the body becomes a deity. Or you can be like a corpse. It can function in ways you have never believed a human being could function.
Essentially, there are only two dimensions of experience – inner experiences and outer experiences. Yoga is about creating a union between these two dimensions – inner and outer, you and the rest, you and the other. When there is no “you” and “the other,” when there is just “you” and “you,” that is yoga. Asanas are a physical form of approaching this ultimate union, because the physical body is the easiest thing to work with. If you try to come to this union with your mind, it will play too many tricks. With the body, at least you know whether it is doing it right or not, whether it is cooperating or not. If you push the mind too hard, it will make you believe all kinds of things and dump you the next day. The body is a more reliable factor. If you work with it sensibly, the yogasanas can definitely lead to ultimate union.
In the meantime, before this alignment with the ultimate happens, by getting into the postures, inner alignment happens, which will naturally create a chemistry of healthfulness, joyfulness, and blissfulness – and above all balance. Balance is something that modern societies have ignored, and they are paying a huge price for it. Whatever your intelligence, whatever your competence, education, and qualifications – if you do not have the necessary balance, you will not succeed. You will not go very far in your life.
The most important thing for people who are seeking to be successful – whether in the corporate sector, in politics, in the military, or any other field – is balance. Only if you have a balance that is not disturbed by external situations, are you capable of making use of the competence and intelligence within you. Otherwise, even the most wonderful qualities that one may have will go waste, simply because of lack of balance. Hatha yoga brings this balance.
3. Get enough rest… but not too much!
Sadhguru: Today, there is a lot of misunderstanding going around as to how much sleep a person needs. It is important to understand that the body does not need sleep, it needs restfulness and relaxation.
If you bring restfulness, you bring ease into your system. Once you sit here with absolute ease, the amount of residual stress that builds up in your physical body is very minimal. Almost twenty-seven years, I managed with two-and-a-half to three hours of sleep, on an average. These days, I am getting a little lazy and sleep four to four-and-a-half hours!
#1 Don’t Battle With Life
Sadhguru: The body needs rest, not sleep. In most people’s experience, sleep is the deepest form of restfulness they know, so they talk about sleep. But essentially, the body is not asking for sleep, it is looking for restfulness. Your mornings would be pretty bad if your nights were not restful. So it is not sleep but restfulness that makes the difference.
If you keep your body relaxed throughout the day, if your work, exercise and every other activity is a form of relaxation for you, your sleep quota will go down naturally. The problem is that people have been taught to do everything hard – in tension. I see people walking very tense in the park. This sort of exercise will bring more harm than well-being. Don’t go at everything like it is a war. Whether you are walking, jogging or exercising, why don’t you do it easily, joyfully? Don’t battle with life. Keeping yourself fit and well is not a battle. Play a game, swim, walk, whatever you like. You will only have a problem if all you want to do is eat cheesecake! Otherwise there is no problem about being relaxed with any activity.
Now if you learn certain very simple meditation practice that will just take you just few minutes a day, if you do it for 4 - 6 weeks, and you check your pulse again before and after food, you will see it will be lower. This means you are going at lower RPM. If you keep driving your car at 5000 RPM, it will wear out faster than when you drive it at 2000 RPM. Similarly, if you are constantly going at a high pulse rate, you work yourself into the ground, and then you try to compensate for it with more sleep.
#2 Bring Natural Foods in Your Diet
If you are sleeping eight or nine hours a day, one thing to look at is the food you eat. Consuming at least a certain amount of vegetarian material, particularly foods that can be eaten in their natural, uncooked condition is very important for your general wellbeing. When you cook food, a large volume of prana or life energy is destroyed. This is one reason why lethargy can set into the body. If you eat a certain amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, there are many benefits, but one thing you will notice immediately is that your sleep quota will come down.
#3 How Much to Eat
How keenly you manage your energies is what decides your alertness. To meditate, alertness should be not just of the mind but of your very energy. To assist this, for people on the yogic path, it is said that you should eat only twenty-four mouthfuls, and you must chew every mouthful at least twenty-four times. This will ensure that food is pre-digested in your mouth before it goes in, and it will not cause dullness. After one-and-a-half to two hours, you will be hungry, and that is the best way to be. Just because the stomach is empty, you do not have to put food. Just drink water and you will stay alert and energetic throughout the day. Your system will learn to use the food you have eaten well, rather than simply wasting it. Economically and ecologically it is good for the world at large, and good for your health—you may never fall sick if you eat like this.
#4 Don’t Forcefully Deny Sleep
How much sleep your body needs depends on the level of physical activity you perform. There is no need to fix the quantum of either food or sleep. When your activity levels are low, you eat less. When they are high, you may eat more. The same goes for sleep. The moment the body is well rested it will get up, whether at 3 AM or 8 AM. Your body should not wake up to an alarm bell. Once it feels sufficiently rested, it must come awake. If you forcefully deny sleep to the body, your physical and mental capabilities and whatever else you have will drop. You should never do that. You must give the body how much sleep it needs.
#5 Don’t Sleep Right After You Eat
There are quite a few people who are in such a mental state that unless they load themselves with food and make the body dull, they cannot fall asleep. You must give sufficient time for digestion to happen before you sleep. I would say 80% of the food that you eat will go waste if you fall asleep within two hours of eating. If you are in a condition where you cannot sleep unless you have a full stomach, you need to address this issue. This is not about sleep, this is a certain mental state.
SIMPLE TOOLS for upgrading your HARDWARE
Upa Yoga is a simple yet powerful set of 10 practices that activate the joints, muscles and energy system, bringing ease to the whole system. Based on a sophisticated understanding of the body’s mechanics, Upa Yoga dispels inertia in the body’s energy and brings ease to the whole system.
Within the human system, the energy flows along 72,000 pathways called nadis. At the joints, the nadis meet and form nodes, making the joints storehouses of energy. Upa Yoga activates this energy and also lubricates the joints, creating an instant sense of alertness and liveliness. Upa Yoga essentially means “sub-yoga” or “pre-yoga”. Because of its many immediate and evident benefits, the word Upa Yoga in Indian languages is commonly used to denote “usefulness.” It is a good starting point for those who are new to yoga, and it can be used as a preparation for other yoga practices.
Based on a sophisticated understanding of the body’s mechanics, its benefits include:
Relieves physical stress and tiredness
Strengthens the joints and muscles
Rejuvenates the body after periods of inactivity
Negates the effects of jet leg and long travel
Marc Benioff is the billionaire tech entrepreneur responsible for the software company SalesForce, which is worth roughly $97 billion, according to Forbes. Benioff has a very spiritual nature; He spent time in Hawaii and India with spiritual gurus and returned with a vision of his future company. Benioff has meditation rooms all throughout the various SalesForce offices, according to an interview published in June 2018 in The New York Times.
When asked how meditation influences his leadership, Benioff said that “Having a beginner’s mind informs my management style.” A beginner’s mindset is a concept from Zen Buddhism called "shoshin" that involves being as open-minded and eager as a beginner in the subject would be — even when studying at an advanced level, according to Creative Huddle.
“I’m trying to listen deeply, and the beginner’s mind is informing me to step back, so that I can create what wants to be, not what was,” Benioff told The New York Times. “I know that the future does not equal the past. I know that I have to be here in the moment.”
MENTAL BODY - SOFTWARE
“Meditation” or “Dhyana” means to go beyond the limitations of the physical body and the mind. Only when you transcend the limited
perspective of the body and the mind do you have a complete dimension of life within you. When you are identified as the body, your
whole life is only about survival. When you are identified as the mind, your whole perspective is enslaved to the social perspective,
religious perspective, or the family perspective. You can’t look beyond that. Only when you become free from the limitations of your
own mind will you know the dimension of the beyond.” -Sadhguru
The mind is a very powerful instrument if properly channelized and used. The mind is capable of creating whatever we want simply with powerful intention and attention. So it is important that we create a clear vision or an image of what we want before we start working towards it.
The modern world we see around us was first created within our mind. This means all the beauty and the ugly, the profound and the profane we see in the world were first birthed in our mind.
When we look at our human system, the term psychosomatic refers to real physical symptoms that arise from the mind and are influenced by thoughts and emotions rather than a specific physical cause in the body (such as an injury or infection.
A psychosomatic illness originates from mental and emotional stress and manifests in the body as physical pain and other symptoms. Depression can contribute to psychosomatic illness, especially when the body’s immune system has been weakened by severe and/or chronic stress. A common misconception is that psychosomatic conditions are imaginary or "all in the head.” In reality, physical symptoms of psychosomatic conditions are real and need treatment just as any other illness would. https://www.verywellmind.com/depression-can-be-a-real-pain-1065455
Conversely, we can also heal through psychosomatic.
Your mind can be a powerful healing tool when given the chance. The idea that your brain can convince your body a fake treatment is the real thing — the so-called placebo effect — and thus stimulate healing has been around for millennia. Now science has found that under the right circumstances, a placebo can be just as effective as traditional treatments.
"The placebo effect is more than positive thinking — believing a treatment or procedure will work. It's about creating a stronger connection between the brain and body and how they work together," says Professor Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, whose research focuses on the placebo effect. "They have been shown to be most effective for conditions like pain management, stress-related insomnia, and cancer treatment side effects like fatigue and nausea."
A study published online Oct. 27, 2016, by PLOS Biology may have identified what goes on in the brain during a placebo effect.
Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of people with chronic pain from knee osteoarthritis.
Then everyone was given a placebo and had another brain scan. The researchers noticed that those who felt pain relief had greater
activity in the middle frontal gyrus brain region, which makes up about one-third of the frontal lobe.
Furthermore, the placebo effect is no small or insignificant statistical aberration. Estimates of the placebo cure rate range from a low of 15 percent to a high of 72 percent. The longer the period of treatment and the larger the number of physician visits, the greater the placebo effect.
Finally, the placebo effect is not restricted to subjective self-reports of pain, mood, or attitude. Physical changes are real. For example, studies on asthma patients show less constriction of the bronchial tubes in patients for whom a placebo drug works.
The placebo effect is not deception, fluke, experimenter bias, or statistical anomaly. It is, instead, a product of expectation. The human brain anticipates outcomes, and anticipation produces those outcomes. The placebo effect is self-fulfilling prophecy, and it follows the patterns you'd predict if the brain were, indeed, producing its own desired outcomes.
So if our mind is such a powerful instrument and we are capable of creating whatever we want, then why isn't the world full of healthy, joyful, and peaceful people?
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps
determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from
childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
According to studies conducted by organizations like Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Justice:
1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34
Mental illness and substance use disorders are involved in 1 out of every 8 emergency department visits by a U.S. adult (estimated 12 million visits)
Mood disorders are the most common cause of hospitalization for all people in the U.S. under age 45 (after excluding hospitalization relating to pregnancy and birth)
Across the U.S. economy, serious mental illness causes $193.2 billion in lost earnings each year
20.1% of people experiencing homelessness in the U.S. have a serious mental health condition
37% of adults incarcerated in the state and federal prison system have a diagnosed mental illness
70.4% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosed mental illness
41% of Veteran’s Health Administration patients have a diagnosed mental illness or substance use disorder
Depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion in lost productivity each year
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide
With such an epidemic of mental illness, no wonder a whole lot of people are talking about how to stop their mind, slow down their mind, thoughtlessness etc...
The problem is just that we are not able to manage our minds, the most sophisticated faculty we have.
Sadhguru: You want to stop your mind? There are a whole lot of thoughts about this thoughtlessness.
Thoughtlessness, no mind, these kinds of terms have been propagated all over the place and these terms have been badly misunderstood and made into all kinds of things and people are striving how to stop my mind. It took millions of years of evolution to get a mind of this kind of capability, hmm? Isn’t it? Millions of years of tremendous amount of nature’s work that today you have a mind of this kind of scope and now you want to stop it. Why is it that you want to stop it? If your mind was constantly producing absolute pleasantness for you, would you think how to stop this mind? Would you? No. It's producing lot of unpleasantness, that’s why you’re thinking of how to stop the mind. This is the first thing – wherever you go in the world this has gone so much into people’s mind – if you tell them, ‘You meditate,’ they say, ‘But Sadhguru, I am not able to stop my mind.’ I said, ‘That will happen only after you stop your kidneys, liver, heart; you stop all these things, then the mind will also stop. Do you want it to stop?’ ‘No.’ ‘Then why do you want the mind to stop? Why do you have such a horrible prejudice against the mind? You don’t mind if your heart is beating, you can meditate. You don’t mind if your liver is working you can meditate. Your kidneys are functioning you can mediate. If your brain functions you can't mediate? What is the problem? You seem to have something against intelligence, isn't it?’ (Laughs)
This is the conspiracy of the stupid against human intelligence that to meditate means your brain must be frozen. No. You don’t have to freeze your brain. There are many ways to do it, Shambhavi for one, is a simple but a powerful process. If you sit here, you will see your body is here, your mind is somewhere, who you are is somewhere else. Once there is space between you and the mind then what the mind is doing is not even an issue. It is like you’re stuck in a traffic jam, you know you’re struggling through the traffic, that’s one experience. Suppose you are floating in a hot air balloon and looking down at all the traffic, very peacefully, traffic, hmm!’ (Laughter) (Gestures) Why? There’s a distance, isn't it? When you’re in it traffic is a different experience. From really high up there sitting in a hot air balloon you looked down you can't even hear the sounds, looks wonderful traffic, isn't it? Yes or no? Because there’s a distance.
So once there’s a distance between you and your mind’s activity, mind is not a problem. Mind is a miracle, it is not a problem. And anyway if thoughts are going continuously, if you’re having a mental diarrhea obviously you ate some bad [mental] food, isn't it? Yes? You’re having a physical diarrhea, you ate some bad food, isn't it? If you’re having a mental diarrhea you obviously consumed something wrong. What this wrong thing could be is, the moment you identify yourself with something that you are not, then you’re finished; your mind is in a continuous… runs. There is no other way. Do what you want, try as hard as you want, it is not going to stop. If you do not identify yourself with anything that you are not, you know how to be with everything, you know how to use everything but you’re not identified with it, then you will see if you sit here simply mind will be like this – if you want to use it you can use it, otherwise it’ll be like this. (Gestures)
Right now your hands are like this - (Gestures) , you can keep it like this. (Gestures) You can keep it like this; you can keep it like this. (Gestures) When you want to use it you can use it. So it's a useful instrument. Suppose your hands become like this (gestures - all over the place), you know some people have become like this? If it becomes like this, you will become ridiculous, isn't it? If it happens to your mind also you’re equally ridiculous. It is just that you are living in the comfort that nobody else can see it, but people can see it. If they watch you closely enough they can see it, isn't it? And whether they can see it or not, that’s not the point. The point is the most important faculty of your life is out of control, doing its own rubbish all the time, not doing what you want it to do.
So if you have to be freed from this ailment you should stop eating bad [mental] food. Wrong food or bad food means you are identifying yourself with things that you are not. If you just release yourself from that – If you sit here, if you are not identified with this (Gestures) and with this, then you will see everything is just fine. Then your mind will do what you want it to do, otherwise it’ll simply hang there and that’s how it should be. Mind should not be telling its own stories all the time; it should tell the story that you want it to tell, isn't it? Otherwise it's quite a nuisance.
The Source of Thoughts
Questioner: Sadhguru, what is the source of thoughts?
Sadhguru: In terms of content, the source of your thoughts is the accumulation of your sense perceptions. In terms of substance, a thought is just an [energy] reverberation - you can give it any form. When the reverberations become continuous, the thought process picks up momentum. Through meditation, you calm down the reverberations into stillness. The reverberation that you experience as thought right now would on a lower scale of evolution be instinct. Instinct is not exactly the same as thought – there is much more clarity in instinct than in thought. Instinct is a lower form of thought, or thought is a higher form of instinct.
A thought can be formed one way or the other – it can be contradictory. Instinct is clear-cut. Animals that are lower on the evolutionary scale seem to be so much surer about their life than human beings, because their reverberations are on the level of instinct. Instinct is always about survival – mostly physical survival. If you look at a worm for example, it seems to be surer – it just knows where to go, because it follows its instinct. Instinct has minimal reach – it is always about your immediate surroundings. But your thoughts need not be about your immediate surroundings – they can be about anything. That is why you think of so much nonsense that does not really concern you. You think about all kinds of things – heaven, hell, a million years later or a million years ago – thoughts can go anywhere.
In the evolutionary process, as the body evolves, the reverberations that happen within also evolve from instinct to thought. Thought is a certain freedom – it gives you larger access to life. But at the same time, thoughts create total turmoil in human beings. All suffering is because you do not know which way to think and what to do. If you went by your instinct alone, you would know what to do. Life would be much simpler, but also very limited. There would be no possibilities other than survival.
After instinct evolved into thought, and the thought process became excessive, the struggles have arisen, because the thoughts happen involuntarily, according to the sense impressions that you have gathered. The thought process has become a problem for people only because they are not aware that it is just a reverberation. These reverberations can take any form, or you can experience them just as reverberations without giving them any form.
In a way, the process of Shoonya meditation is just that. It is not that your reverberations have stopped, as yet – it is just that you have stopped attaching forms or meanings to them. Being aware enough not to attach forms or meanings to every reverberation that happens within you is an enormous freedom, and it releases you from the past content of your mind.
The whole process of Isha Yoga is about not giving a form to the reverberation that you are right now. Your thought is a reverberation, and in a deeper way, what you call as “myself” is also a reverberation. Life itself is a certain reverberation. Modern physics is proving that the whole existence is a certain reverberation of energy. The physical body, thoughts, emotions, and everything else are different aspects of the reverberation that existence is. In human beings, this reverberation has evolved from an instinctive state to a thought state, which is a freedom because it gives you a larger access to life. At the same time, without the necessary awareness, all suffering that human beings are going through is just in their thoughts – it is in the way they think.
There is no huge bank of thoughts within you. Thoughts are just going and going, one at a time, one at a time, one at a time. If you try to do anything with them, they will go faster and faster because in your mind, there is no subtraction or division, there is only addition and multiplication. Can you take away one thought forcefully? Experiment and see: For the next 10 seconds, do not think about monkeys. If you try not to think about something, only that will happen. That is the nature of the mind.
Another way to look at thought is that it’s just a certain emanation, a certain surface fluctuation of the content that you hold in your mind. In a way, your mind is like society's garbage bin; everybody that goes by stuff something in your head. You have no choice as to what to receive and from whom. If you say "I don't like this person" you will receive much more from that person than from anybody else. Have you noticed this? If you say, "I don't want to have anything to do with that man," you will think about him more and more. The more you resist someone, the more he becomes a part of your consciousness.
If we look at your mind as a garbage bin, thoughts are like the smells that emanate. Do not understand this analogy as negative. A garbage bin is not useless; a garbage bin is very useful. Your house can do without a television and a telephone, but it cannot do without a garbage bin. If you use it when you want, if you open it and shut it when you want, it is a wonderful device. Without it, your whole house would become filthy. But if you decide to live in it, it is a horrible thing. Right now, that is all that has happened. There is nothing wrong with the content of your mind. It is better that you have all the filth in the world in your mind -- otherwise, you will walk into the filth and not know what is what. But now, you are constantly living in the mind, and it is such a torture for people. They don't know how to be out of it.
There are certain types of meditations where you simply sit and notice that you are "here" and your mind is out "there." There is a clear distance between you and the mind. Once there is a distance, whatever the mind says, it has no impact on you. The content does not matter. If you hear the word "Buddha," you may think in terms of Gautama the Buddha. But Gautama is not the only Buddha; that was not his second name. His name was Gautama Siddhartha, and he became a Buddha. Buddhi means "intellect," or the logical dimension of your mind (analytical mind/conscious mind). Dha means "one who is above." So, one who is above his mind is a "Buddha." One who is in his mind is a nonstop suffering human being. Once you are in the mind, your suffering is inevitable. You may watch the sunset and forget your sufferings for a moment, but then you will turn back and see your fears, anxieties and troubles are right there. Once you are in the mind, there is fear and anxiety. You may get breaks here and there, but there is no release from it.
What is keeping this thought process continuously on is that you have identified yourself with things that you are not. You have identified yourself with your body, but the body is just an accumulation of food that you have eaten. Even if you own the chair you are sitting on, after some time, you will get identified with the chair. If your neighbor's child comes and scratches the polish, it will hurt deep in your heart; it will not just be a scratch on the chair. This is because you are capable of getting identified with anyone or anything that you come in touch with. Once you are identified with someone or something that you are not, the thought process is endless. It just goes on and on. It is like you have eaten very bad food, and now you have gas in your stomach. If you try to stop it, your stomach will bloat and burst. But you cannot stop it; it keeps going. Thought is just like this. You became identified with things that you are not, starting from your body - the food that you’ve gathered, your mind - the impressions that you’ve taken in, things around you and people, ideas, philosophies, slogans, etc., and now thought is an endless process [because you're trying to serve and protect all that you're identified with]. You try to do many things, but you cannot stop it.
So, what can you do? Un-identify yourself with everything that you are not:
Keep your house aside, keep your education aside, keep your husband aside, keep your children aside, keep your body aside, keep your mind aside, and keep your emotions aside. Care for them, take care of them, handle them -- but don't become that. If you are not identified with anything, if you are simply here, you will see there is no room for thought at all. Once you have this awareness, you will see thought is a conscious process. If you want to think, you think, otherwise there is nothing in your head, and that is how it should be. Just the beauty of emptiness.
THE HUMAN MIND
Sadhguru: In the yogic understanding, there are 16 dimensions to the human mind. These 16 dimensions fall into four categories. These four categories are known as buddhi, ahankara, manas, and chitta.
Intellect is the logical dimension of thought. Unfortunately, the modern education systems and modern sciences have largely limited themselves to buddhi. That is a buddhu (foolish) way of existence.
The next is called as ahankara or the identity and your intellect always functions around your identity. Whatever you are identified with, your intellect functions around that. It may be your individuality, it may be your family, it may be your community, it may your race, religion, nationality, but it functions around that. You live for it, you will die for it. Whatever you are identified with, that is what it will try to protect because intellect is essentially a survival tool, without intellect you cannot survive. Right now we are using intellect as the way of acquiring knowledge, we are using intellect to enhance our life but it will not work like that, intellect is the fantastic survival tool, if your intellect is sharp you will survive well but survival will never satisfy human being. Though you are doing very well, your stomach is full, you are eating and sleeping well, you feel like you are being obsessed because you have raised the bar of survival to an unrealistic place. If you come as an animal, then eating, sleeping, reproducing will be highest things in your life. But now when you have come as a human being, these things will never settle you down. You are always looking for something more. This is the nature of human beings. Because of this nature only, human beings have progressed on this planet compared to other species. Only When you come as a human being there is a possibility to achieve your ultimate nature if you work in the right direction but that will not come through intellect because intellect will only think about survival because it is a survival tool. Intellect is like a knife, you are using a knife to stitch, you know you will end up tearing more and more. You will see, the more intellectual people will get, they look smarter in a society but if you just look at them as a life, they are just stupid, they don’t know simplest things of their life, they are smart compare to somebody else because they are able to do something that somebody cannot do, but how they are, within themselves, they can’t sit in one place, peacefully, this means, you obviously don’t know how to handle your intelligence. The only problem with most human beings is, people do not know how to handle their own intelligence, well they have exotic names for this, they call it stress, they call it anxiety, they call it depression and many varieties of depression and madness but fundamentally you don’t know how to handle your own intelligence. If you do not know how to handle the most vital aspect of who you are which is your intelligence, which sets you apart from every other creatures on this planet, it's a disastrous life, how can this be a smart life. If you are smart, you know how to handle your vital assets, one of the greatest assets that we have as a human beings is we have a cerebral capability that no other creature has, but we have not taken charge of it, it works against us. This is like you have a car with four wheels but you want to drive it on one wheel, its very stressful, it's bound to be stressful, because the other dimensions are not used.
The second is called ahankara which is the identity and it is very important how an identity is set up. People may misunderstand ahankara as ego but it is not ego here, it is identity. The people are identified at different levels right from their body, family, society, race, religion, nationality up to the universe (infinity). Everybody is concerned about well being, it is just that scale and scope varies from person to person. If a person is just identified with his body, for him well being means just about himself, limited to his body. If a person is identified with another person or family, for him well being means taking care of his/her dear ones or family. For another person well being means about his race, community or religion, for another person well being means about his nation, for another person well being means about the world and for another one it may be every life on this planet.
One thing traditionally in India we set up is which is unfortunately vanishing today because we have taken English education, traditionally when a child has to start education, first alphabet he has to learn means first he is told, your identification is with the entire cosmos – aham bhramasmi is taught, he is made to utter a mantra which means, "I am everything", because the education is seen as an empowerment, you should not empower a human being, who has limited identifications. If you empower somebody with limited identity he will cause damage to everybody else who are not in ambit of that identity. This is what as nations we are doing, this is what as a race and religion we are doing to each other. Isn’t it? Everyday this is happening, when somebody else does it, it looks ugly, but when we do it, we are justified because everybody has their own logic. This is a very important requirement if intelligence has to simply expand without limits, it is very very important, children start with the limitless identity that you are identified with everything in the universe, this is very important. Now this identity if we want to use an analogy, your intellect is like a knife, the identity is the hand that holds it. The hand that holds decides whether a knife will make life or take life. Isn’t it? Knife doesn’t decide, in the hands of a surgeon it may save a life, in an irresponsible hands it takes life. Knife is not doing this, it is the hand that holds it. What kind of identity have you taken on, accordingly your intellect becomes fruitful for everybody around you or it becomes a destructive process.
Intellect is a useless instrument unless we feed it with some data. If there is no data, if we wipe out all your memory, suddenly you will look like a dumb person, though you have a sharp intellect, because intellect cannot functions without data. So the third dimension of the mind is called Manas. Manas is a complex amalgam of memory and has many layers to it. Manas is not just in the brain – it is right across the body. Every cell in the body has a phenomenal memory and intelligence – not just of this life but of millions of years. Your body clearly remembers how your forefathers were a million years ago. Top to bottom, there is manas – this is called Manomaya Kosha - Mental Body, which is a huge bank of memory.
Memory is not just in the brain, it is spread throughout your body. We identify 8 different forms of memory: elemental memory, atomic memory, evolutionary memory, karmic memory- in that there are two varieties – one is a huge bank of memory and another is active memory (which is called sanchita and prarabhda), and sensory memory, inarticulate memory and articulate memory. What you are experiencing as conscious memory is the articulate memory, it is not even 1% of the memory that you carry, when I say not even 1% of the memory that you carry, you definitely do not remember how 10 generations ago your great great great great great grandfather looked like, but his nose is sitting on your face, because your body remembers every bit of it, here we call it as a genetic memory.
What you call as your body and your mind are a certain accumulation of memory. It is because of memory – or you can call it information – that your body has taken the particular shape that it has. For example, if a man eats a piece of bread, the bread becomes a man. If a woman eats it, it becomes a woman. If a dog eats the same bread, it becomes a dog. That’s a smart piece of bread! No, it is not the bread but the kind of memory or information that one’s system carries that transforms bread into a man, woman or dog.
There is memory and intelligence in every cell in the body, but no intellect. Intellect is only in the brain. In English language, everything comes under one banner called “mind.” The idea that intelligence is only in the brain has produced human beings whose consciousness is seriously constipated. What is in the brain is intellect, not intelligence. Intelligence and memory are right across your body. But people have never been trained how to use this intelligence. Instead, they use their intellect for everything. No wonder they are stressed out whatever job you give them. The whole weight is on only one dimension of the mind out of sixteen. It is like loading a sixteen-wheeler truck and trying to drive on only one wheel – you can imagine the stress! That is what today’s world is going through.
People may be using other dimensions of the mind marginally, unconsciously, but they are not trained to use them. They have only been trained to use their buddhi, or their intellect. They are very smart. They know everything about everything, but they do not know how to figure their own life. They do not even know how to sit here peacefully and at total ease within themselves. If there is true intelligence, the first thing that you need to figure out is how to make life happen. You kind of know how to make the world happen, but you do not know at all how to make your life happen. You do not know how to conduct your mind, your energies, your emotions or your body.
If you ask people to become fit, they become tense and tight. If you ask them to live in a more natural way, they become loose and overweight. Where is the intelligence? There is only intellect. Intellect looks good only in comparison. Suppose you are the only person on the planet, your intellect will not mean anything. Only because there are a few idiots around you, you shine. By itself, intellect will not be of any consequence.
Sadhguru: What you call as "my life" is a certain amount of life energy charged with a certain amount of information, [which] in today’s terms, can be called software. Together, this information technology is you. You become a certain kind of character because of the type of information that has gone into you. The past impressions of life go far beyond the moment you were born, but in your perception right now, at least from the moment you were born till today, what kind of parents, family, and education you had, what kind of religious and social background, what kind of cultural realities – all these impressions have gone in. Someone has become a different character simply because of the type of information that has gotten into him. This is what is karma.
The different types of karma
This information is on many different levels. There are four dimensions, two of which are not relevant right now. For understanding, we can talk about the other two. One is sanchita karma. This is the warehouse of karma or information which goes right back to a single-celled animal and even inanimate substances from where life evolved. All the information is there. If you close your eyes, become aware enough and look into yourself, you will know the nature of the universe – not because you are looking at it through your head, but simply because this information is present in the making of the body. There is a warehouse of information going back into creation. That is your sanchita karma. But you cannot take your warehouse and do retail business. You need to have a shop to do retail. That “retail shop,” which is for this life, is called prarabdha.
Prarabdha karma is a certain amount of information allotted for this life. Depending upon the vibrancy of your life, life allots for itself how much information it can take on. The creation is very compassionate. If it gives you the whole lot of information that you have, you will be dead. Right now, many people are tortured by the simple memories or information from the 30-40 years of this lifetime. If they are given a hundred times that memory, they wouldn’t survive it. So, nature allots prarabdha, an allotted memory or information that you could handle.
It is this complex web of memory or information which is throughout the body that gives you a certain character and the ability to function. This information is being gathered every moment of your life, in wakefulness and sleep through your five senses. You are unconscious of most of the information that you gather because it is being gathered in such heavy quantities.
The numbers below show how much information is processed by each of the five senses. The five senses gather and send approximately 11 million bits per second to the brain for processing, yet the conscious mind seems to be able to process only 50 - 120 bits per second.
Information Transmission Rates of the Senses: Sensory System Bits per Second
Skin . . 1,000,000
Ears . . . .100,000
Smell . . . 100,000
Taste . . . . 1,000
Most of the 11 million bits of information we gather per second is processed unconsciously and only 50 - 120 is processed consciously.
So many things that you do so easily, something as simple as walking on two legs for example, is possible not just because of your bone and muscle, but because of the memory or information that you carry throughout the body. The body remembers how to walk. If you forget, you cannot walk.
What kind of thoughts you have, on the conscious level, is just the tiny slice of information that you have gathered and processed on the conscious level in this life time, from your birth to now. This conscious memory is part of prarabdha. But what kind of emotions these thoughts generate within you is coming largely from an unconscious process of memory. As we saw, that memory is way bigger than the conscious memory and is part of sanchita. Sanchita, the unconscious accumulation of information, keeps on acting in its own way. It is not active in terms of manifesting itself but it is active in terms of influencing you in a million different ways.
Does that mean you are all fixed and there is nothing you can change? No. It is only because of this basis that you exist. What you want to make out of yourself is still you. Destiny is not a done thing. Destiny is like the skeletal system of your body. It decides your stature but it doesn’t decide everything. How much you put onto this skeletal system is up to you.
Thought and Emotions
Sadhguru: Let us first understand what is being referred to as the “head” and the “heart.” You usually assign your thoughts to the head and your emotions to the heart. But if you look at this carefully and with absolute sincerity, you will realize that the way you think is the way you feel. But it is also true that the way you feel is the way you think. This is why yoga includes both thought and emotion as part of the same Manomayakosha, or mental body.
What you normally think of as “mind” is the thought process or intellect. But in fact, the mind has many dimensions: one is the logical aspect. Another is the deeper emotional aspect. The deeper dimension of the mind is conventionally known as the heart. But in yoga this deeper emotional mind is known as manas. Manas is a complex amalgam of memory that molds emotions in a particular way. So, the way you feel and the way you think are both activities of the mind.
The way you think is the way you feel, but thought and feeling seem to be different in your experience. Why is this so? Because thought has a certain clarity and agility about it. Emotion is slower. For example, if today, you think this is a very wonderful person and you have warm feelings about him. Suddenly, he does something that you don’t like, and you think he is horrible. Your thought tells you he is horrible, but your emotion cannot change immediately. It struggles. If it is sweet now, it cannot turn bitter at the very next moment. It takes time to turn around. It has a wider turning arc. Depending on the strength of your emotion, maybe it will take three days or three months or three years, but after some time, it will turn around.
There is no need to create this conflict between head and heart. Emotion is just the juicier part of thought. You can enjoy its sweetness, but it is largely thought that leads the emotion, whether you recognize it or not. Emotion is not entirely steady. Your emotion also chatters, goes this way and that, but it is less agile than thought. Since it takes longer to turn, and its intensity is usually substantially greater than thought, it often seems as though thought and emotion are different. But they are no more separate than sugarcane and its juice.
Thought is not as intense as emotion in most people’s experience. (You usually do not think as intensely as you get angry, for instance.) But if you generate an intense enough thought, it can also overwhelm you. Only five to ten percent of the population may be capable of generating the kind of thought that is so intense that there is no need for emotion. Ninety percent of the population can only generate intense emotions because they have never done the necessary work in the other direction. But there are people whose thought is very deep. They don’t have much emotion, but they are very deep thinkers.
It is best not to create polarities within yourself. That makes for civil war and schizophrenia. Thought and feeling are not different. One is dry. Another is juicy. Enjoy both.
Memory is a possibility and it is also a boundary, memory means accumulated information, accumulated information means it is a limited possibility. So the fourth dimension of the [mind] is refer to as chitta. This is a dimension of intelligence unsullied by memory, it is pure from the memory. This intelligence is like the cosmic intelligence – simply there. Everything happens because of that. It does not function out of memory – it simply functions. In a way, what you call cosmos is a living mind. By “mind”, I do not mean mind in the sense of intellect. Chitta is the last point of the mind. It connects to the basis of creation within you. It connects you with your consciousness.
Chitta is always on – whether you are awake or asleep. Your intellect comes on and goes off. Many times it fails, even when you are awake. If chitta or the intelligence within you was not always on, you could not stay alive. Try to conduct your breath with your intellect – you will go crazy. Chitta is keeping you alive, keeping you going, making life happen. If you touch this dimension of your mind, which is the linking point to one’s consciousness, you do not even have to wish for anything, you do not have to dream of anything – the best possible thing that can happen to you will anyway happen.
Once you know how to consciously access your chitta, everything that is needed will simply happen in the best possible way. You can live in this entire edifice of body and mind built of past memory, but you can be free of it, untouched by it. You can remain in such a way that this memory, which gives you a certain physical and psychological structure, has no influence on you. If you go by your intellect or your buddhi, today you think “this is it,” tomorrow morning you think “that is it” – like this it goes on endlessly.
If these aspects of life do not come into the experience of individual human beings, they will naturally seek other means for excitement. If people are not offered a way to engineer themselves the way they want to be – joyful and blissful – drink and drug will become the biggest phenomena on the planet. It is already becoming so. It has already become prevalent in the West, and it is becoming very big in urban India too. In another seventy to eighty years’ time, if we do not sweep the world with a logically correct, scientifically verifiable spiritual process, I would say 90% of human beings will be on drink and drug – chemical solutions to keep themselves pleasant.
Larger Slice of Life
This will happen because every human being is trying to have a larger slice of life. Whether someone goes to the temple or the bar, whether someone gets doped out or meditates, they are essentially looking for a larger slice of life. The question is only about what is sustainable. If you want human beings to have a phenomenal experience within, but without causing damage to themselves, you have to turn them inward.
Turning inward can mean many things. One simple way of understanding it is that you touch chitta – that dimension of intelligence which is the very basis of your making. There is no such thing as your chitta and my chitta. It is just there. The question is whether you as an individual have access to it. This is not yours or mine. This is a cosmic intelligence – the source of creation.
Chitta is beyond identity, beyond intellect, beyond judgment, beyond divisions – simply there, just like the intelligence of existence that makes everything happen. If you access this, you do not have to worry about what happens or what does not happen. It will happen in a way that you never imagined possible. It slo makes you see things that no one else can see – in every direction. It is your crystal ball. It is a magnifying glass that brings the very core of life close to you.
The whole process of yoga is to transcend the limitations of the mind. As long as you are in the mind, you are ruled by the past, because mind is just an accumulation of the past. If you are looking at life only through the mind, then you will make your future just like the past, nothing more, nothing less. Isn’t the world enough proof of that? It does not matter what opportunities come our way through science, technology and many other things, aren’t we repeating the same historical scenes again and again?
Remembering and imagining appear to be very different functions, one recovering true information from the past, the other considering the unreal or exploring the future. And yet many patients with damage to the hippocampus (a structure in the temporal lobes) – and resultant memory impairment – struggle in imagining the future. Moreover, neuro-imaging data show the hippocampus is involved in both tasks.
credit: Gray’s Anatomy/Wikipedia
If you take a closer look at your own life, you will see the same repetition happening, because as long as you are functioning only through the prism of the mind, you are functioning only with the old data. The past is carried only in your mind. Only because your mind is active, past exists. Suppose all your mind ceases right now, is your past here? There is no past here, only present. The reality is only present, but past exists through our minds.
The whole effort of spiritual sciences has always been how to transcend the mind, how to look at life beyond the limitations of the mind. Many people have defined yoga in many different ways, but Patanjali nailed it this way – “To rise above the modifications of your mind ... when you cease to be a part of your mind, that is yoga.” All the influences of the world are entering you only through the instrument of the mind. If you can rise beyond the influence of your mind in full awareness, then you are naturally one with everything. The separation – you and me, time and space – has come only because of the mind. It is a bondage of the mind. If you drop the mind, you have dropped time and space. There is no such thing as this and that. There is no such thing as here and there. There is no such thing as now and then. Everything is here and now.
If you rise above all the modifications and manifestations of the mind, then you can play with the mind whichever way you want. You can use your mind with devastating impact in your life, but if you are in it, you will never realize the nature of the mind.
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