Prana (the life force) is the eternal, universal, vital life force, which is in constant motion. “The cosmic manifestation of prana in the individual body is represented by Kundalini. On one level it is the macrocosmos in the form of Kundalini shakti; on the other it is microcosmos in the form of prana shakti. To have an exact understanding of prana is very difficult for it is not oxygen; neither is it the air we breathe.”
– Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, Prana Pranayama Prana Vidya
We are constantly breathing in air that is charged with prana. However, through pranayama (breathing techniques) the internal life force is increased and greater quantity of prana can be stored. Just as oxygen in the air is appropriated by the blood and circulated in the physical body, in the same manner prana is appropriated by the nervous system and utilized in its work. All activity, no matter how small, is carried out with the aid of prana.
Prana is absorbed in the body by the breath and the manner in which we breathe sets off pranic vibrations, which influence our entire being. Through pranayama the gap between inhalation and exhalation is increased. With the retention of breath for a longer duration, there occurs a longer gap between the nervous impulses and their responses in the brain. So, with the stillness of the breath will come the stillness of the mind. Prana and mind are intricately linked; fluctuation of the one means fluctuation of the other.
Besides the simple pranayama (breathing exercises) that we are taught in the Brahma Vidya (Mental Physics) course, any other pranayama that was required for the purpose of my awakening happened automatically.
In the earlier stages of my meditation I would see a fine mist flowing around me. It took me some time to realize that the colourless thing moving around in all directions and in and out of my body, was prana. I was wonder struck at seeing something that cannot be seen with the physical eyes. Prana looks more like the vapour that we breathe out in very cold climates. Only it is in the subtlest form. The density differs, probably indicating the condition of the area within the body it is flowing through.
Prana flowing out of the navel
The quality of the prana flowing out of the navel is thick, sticky, rope-like, smoky liquid. The feeling is of it being pulled out. This is most likely the quality of a toxic prana. After the outflow of the negative prana and the process of cleansing taking place, it leaves the body with a feeling of lightness.
Prana in a spiral motion
After the sticky prana is out, the quality improves and the outflow is much lighter. The prana moves out from the navel and it takes on the shape of the large intestines, giving an indication that it is moving through the digestive tract. This same prana catches momentum and moves as a spiral upwards and then downwards. Maybe the spiral movement means that the prana is recharging itself. The quality of prana has become light and misty. Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati: “…the nature of prana is cloud-like and has electromagnetic energy.”
Prana moving out of the Ajna chakra (Brow chakra)
The next purification starts at the Ajna chakra. This seems most appropriate. As said earlier, prana and mind are intricately linked; fluctuation of the one means fluctuation of the other. I feel and see the prana moving in the form of rhythmic energy out from the forehead, curving and going far beyond.
Prana moving in at the Manipura chakra (navel) and moving out at the Ajna chakra (Brow chakra)
Having cleared the centres and the pathways through which it moves, the prana’s movement became free-flowing. There are no obstructions and blocks that would distort its movement.
Prana movement in the hands
The next step is for the prana to re-cycle itself. It does that through the chakras located in the palm of the hands. It moves out of both hands, and meets at mid-point in what seems like a perpetual cyclic motion.
Prana in a free-flowing movement
Energy is flowing in at the Manipura chakra from two different directions. The body is enveloped in the misty light of Universal Energy, in what is understood as the ‘pillar of light’ above the head, open and receptive to the play of consciousness within and without.
Prana flowing into the Anahata chakra
Prana of the colour of the different elements of the cosmos, flows into the body.
Prana flowing in at the spleen
I see prana in the form of rose buds flowing into the body through the spleen and out again, forming a garland.
“The spleen is devoted to the specialization, subdivision and dispersion of the vitality which comes to us from the sun. That vitality is poured out again from it in six horizontal streams, the seventh variety being drawn into the hub of the wheel… Each of the six divisions of the wheel shows predominantly the colour of one of the forms of the vital force – red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.”
– C. W. Leadbeater, The Chakras: A Monograph
I identify this experience with Leadbeater’s description of prana as ‘vitality globules’ charged by the solar energy. Once absorbed by the spleen, these are circulated into the nervous system.
According to the scriptures, there are five types of prana within the human body: Udana circulates in the throat and above, Prana in the chest region, Samana in the stomach region, Apana in the intestional region and Vyana, in the entire body.
These are few of the visuals that have been given just to show how intricately and accurately the whole system of an organism works, and this is only the beginning.
My experience is not a random happening, but a very systematic process that was set in motion in order to fulfill a wish I had expressed which was to know the ‘source of my being’. The whole process made me very conscious and aware of what I say and how I say it. Every time we think of anything, the machinery of the body-mind intellect is set in readiness to work towards the fulfillment of it. The more scattered our thoughts, the more scattered our being. It is with practice that focus can be retained.
Thus, these visuals in a step-by-step manner helped me to understand the role of prana and its importance in the spiritual evolutionary process. This has been revealed in a visual form so that in turn it may be presented as sign-posts for you – the meditators.
– Santosh Sachdeva