The Interrelationship of Mind, Prana and Body
Satsang by Swami Sivananda
Prana, vital energy, and mind stand to one another in the relationship of the supporter and the supported. They are like the flower and its odour or a sesame seed and its oil. If one ceases to be, then the other will also become non-existent. If the mind and prana both cease to exist, then thoughts will not arise at all. The destruction of both will confer moksha on the being.
Prana, mind and body
Prana is grosser than the mind, but subtler than the body. Mind is formed out of the conglomerate sattwic essence of the five tanmatras, whereas prana is formed out of the sum total of rajasic essence of the five tanmatras. Pranamaya kosha (energy or vital body) is more subtle than annamaya kosha, the physical body. It overlaps annamaya kosha and is more extensive than it. Manomaya kosha, the mental body, is more subtle than pranamaya kosha and more extensive than the vital sheath.
You have to touch the body of another person to have a physical influence over him, whereas you can stand at a distance and by mere 'passes' impart your prana to him, because prana is more subtle than the body. You can influence a person mentally through thought even, if he is living a thousand miles away, because mental force is more subtle than prana.
There are two principal tattwas in the universe: mind and prana. Wherever there is prana, there is mind also. Even in the external movement of the breath beyond the nose, the mind is mixed with the external breath. Prana is like an overcoat for the mind. Prana digests the food, turns it into chyle and blood, and sends it to the brain and mind. The mind is then able to think. The life of the mind is kept up through the vibration of the subtle psychic prana which gives rise to the formation of thought.
Ekagrata (one-pointedness) and nirodha (controlled state) are two avasthas, states, of the mind. Spanda (vibration) and nirodha are two avasthas of prana. When the mind becomes one-pointed, the spanda avastha of prana comes by itself. If the mind is purified with true sattwa guna or purity, prana will be distributed freely throughout the body.
Body, the mould for mind's enjoyment
The physical body is the outward manifestation of the mind. Mind is the subtle form of this physical body. The mind, contemplating upon the body, becomes the body itself and then, enmeshed in it, is afflicted by it. The body has its seat in the mind only. Should the mind be paralyzed, then the body will not evince intelligence. Without water, can a garden exist? It is the mind which transacts all business and is the highest of the bodies. Mental actions are real actions.
The mind performs all actions very speedily in the linga sharira (psychic body) and fluctuates thereby. However, the gross body knows not anything and is inert. Should this gross body be dissolved, the mind will assume a fresh body to its liking very quickly. The physical body is the mould, as it were, made by the mind for its own enjoyment, for the outpouring of its energy and thereby gaining different experiences of this world through the five avenues or channels of knowledge, the five jnanendriyas, organs of knowledge or perception.
Thoughts make the body
The actions of the mind alone are indeed actions, not so much those of the body. The body is really our thoughts, moods, convictions and emotions objectified, made visible to the naked eyes. It is a point worth noting that every cell in the body suffers or grows, receives a life impulse or death impulse from every thought that enters the mind, for we tend to grow into the image of that which we think about most.
When the mind is turned to a particular thought and dwells on it, a definite vibration of matter is set up. The more of this vibration, the more it tends to repeat itself, to become a habit, to become automatic. The body follows the mind and imitates its changes. If you concentrate your thought, the eyes become fixed. Every change in thought makes a vibration in the mental body and this, when transmitted to the physical body, causes activity in the nervous matter of the brain. This activity in the nervous cells causes many electrical and chemical changes in them. It is thought-activity which causes these changes.
Face, an index of the mind
The mind very conspicuously reflects on the face its various states which a person of intelligence can easily read. The face is an index of the mind just as the tongue is an index of the stomach. Fear, anxiety, grief, cheerfulness, hilarity, anger all produce their various impressions on the face. The eyes, windows of the soul, bespeak of the condition and state of the mind. There is a telegraphic instrument in the eyes to transmit the messages or thoughts of treachery, cunningness, fraud, pure love, compassion, devotion, depression, gloom, hatred, cheerfulness, peace, harmony, health, power, strength and beauty. If you have the faculty to read the eyes of others, you can read their minds at once. You can read the upper-most thought or dominant thought of a person if you are careful to mark the signs on his face, conversation and behaviour.
The face is like an advertisement board for what is going on inside the mind. You can hardly hide your thoughts from your face. Thoughts of lust, greed, jealousy, anger, revenge, hatred, etc. at once produce deep impressions on the face, which is a faithful recorder and a sensitive registering apparatus for all that is running in the mind. The face is a polished mirror that indicates the nature of the mind and its contents at any given time. He who thinks that he can hide his thoughts is a dunce of the first order. He is like an ostrich that hides its head in sand when chased by hunters, imagining that it cannot be seen by anyone.
Mutual influence between mind and body
The mind is intimately connected with the body. The mind acts upon the body and the body reacts upon the mind. A pure, healthy mind means a healthy body. Grief in the mind weakens the body. The body influences the mind also in its turn. If the body is strong and healthy, the mind also becomes healthy and strong. If the body is sick, the mind also becomes sick. An ache in the stomach causes depression in the mind.
The primary cause of the diseases that afflict the body is negative thoughts. Whatever you hold in your mind will be produced in the physical body. Any ill feeling or bitterness towards another person will at once affect the body and produce some kind of disease in the body. Intense passion, hatred, longstanding bitter jealousy, corroding anxiety and fits of hot temper actually destroy the cells of the body and induce diseases of the heart, liver, kidneys, spleen and stomach. Violent fits of temper do serious damage to the brain cells, throw poisonous chemicals into the blood, produce general shock and depression, and suppress the secretion of gastric juice, bile and other digestive juices in the alimentary canal, drain away energy, vitality, induce premature old age and shorten life.
When the mind is agitated, the body also is agitated. Wherever the body goes, the mind follows. When both body and mind are agitated, the prana flows in the unwanted direction. Instead of pervading the whole body steadily and equally, it vibrates at an uneven rate.
The pains that afflict the physical body are called secondary diseases, while the vasanas or desires that affect the mind are termed mental or primary diseases. If the primary cause is removed, then all diseases will disappear. If negative thoughts are destroyed, all bodily diseases will vanish. Purity of mind means a healthy body. Therefore, be careful in the selection of your thoughts. Always entertain noble, sublime, loving and kind thoughts. You will have harmony, health and beauty.
Conquer the mind to control the body
With the majority of people, the mind is greatly under the control of the body. Their minds are very little developed, and therefore they mostly live on annamaya kosha, the body of matter. Develop the vijnanamaya kosha, the psychic body, and through vijnanamaya kosha, control the manomaya kosha, the mental body. Vijnanamaya kosha is developed by abstract thinking and reasoning; by systematic meditation, Brahma-chintan (contemplation of the Supreme Spirit) and study of the scriptures. When you have controlled the mind, you will have perfect control over the body. The body is only a shadow of the mind. The body becomes your slave when you have conquered the mind.