Perception of Body
With the modern life-style, an
average educated person working almost entirely with his brain, is scarcely
aware of his own body. He is, no doubt, quite familiar with the stresses he is
forced to face, and the resulting fatigue as well as the mental tension. But
his knowledge about its process is meagre. Even when one does experience
tensions, he is unable to pin-point exactly where the tension lies. Indeed he
has not an inkling that his body possesses an innate protective mechanism
which, when triggered, can counteract the effects of the overstress. If,
therefore, one desires to improve his physical and mental health, he has to
re-establish contact with his body.
It should also be remembered
that the body is the abode of the soul. Our existence functions in duality.
That is, the subtle spiritual self works within the gross physical body. It is
the spiritual self which gives one a sense of wisdom and mastership. But it
must have a physical body to function and perform in. Science also has now
proved that life's processes for man lie almost wholly within himself. Thus,
the body alone can be the medium of exercising the power and authority of the
consciousness to control and subdue one's primal drives, animal impulses and
carnal desires. And subjugation of these urges will ultimately result in the
eradication of the contamination by karmic matter. The spiritual self
will then achieve the state of pure uncontaminated consciousness.
The process of sarira preksa
is centripetal, i.e. from outside to inside, thus reversing one's usual
direction of the flow of consciousness which is from inside to outside.
Commencing with the outermost layers of consciousness one has to penetrate
more and more deeply. Thus the successive stages of sarira preksa would
be perception and awareness of :
(a) the superficial sensation
of the skin such as contact with cloth, warmth, perspiration, itching etc.,
(b) the sensation produced by
the muscular movements,
(c) the sensations produced by
functioning of the internal organs such as liver, heart etc., and finally,
(d) subtle vibrations produced
by the electrical impulses travelling in the nervous system.
In the vast complex of our
organism various complicated chemical, mechanical and electromagnetic
processes are constantly going on. Our sense-organs and other sensory outposts
send thousands of separate sensation signals coded messages to the brain every
moment. They are a variety of intensities of pleasure, pain, etc.
Process of sarira preksa
aims at the development of totally impartial perception of pleasure and pain.
This is practically achievable because there is a remarkable distinction
between sensation and perception. While the sensation signals are the
unprocessed inputs of awareness, perception is the finished product processed
by the brain in the light of mood, expectations and many other variations. In
the case of pain, for example, same sensation-signals (say, from a toothache)
affect each person differently. His suffering is his perception and this
varies immensely from person to person. The sarira preksa changes one's
perception so that the sensation signals of pain are experienced without
suffering. Same is the case with the signals of the sensation of pleasure.
As stated above, the sarira
preksa is a centripetal process. Now the extension of the psyche is on par
with that of the body and the spiritual self is on par with the psyche. In
other words, each and every one of the billions of cells which constitute the
body is permeated by the spiritual self, and that is why each cell is
sensitive and capable of carrying out metabolic function through biochemical
and bio-electric actions. In short, a totally impartial perception of the mass
of sensations within the body is direct perception of the psyche and the
It is obvious that sarira
preksa is the only means of complete body awareness, which, as explained
above, is really self awareness. On the physical level, it helps each cell to
revitalize itself, it helps digestion, improves quality and circulation of
blood and increases the efficiency of the nervous system and bio-electric
activities. On mental level, it is a methodology for training the mind to
concentrate on internal phenomena instead of wandering about externally. On
the spiritual level, impartial perception of ever-changing biological
functions of the body is a means of experiencing the substratum of
consciousness through its modes and attributes.