Without life-energy, we are nothing. It is our greatest barrier against disease and ill-health. A strong vital is a necessary component in Integral Yoga. Its shortcomings are well documented but when converted, it exhibits immense virtues for this path of transformation. It is from this reservoir that we summon all the vigour, courage and enthusiasm to move forward towards our goal. We have to realise the spiritual warrior within us and a healthy vitality truly assists.
However, the reality is often very different. We feel drained of this necessary life-force. So what is the secret to a healthy vital? Almost forty people registered for this event to find out. The workshop had been planned to run for three consecutive days, but a lockdown intervened and there was a gap of over 20 days before the final session.
Dr. Debabrata Sahani is a consultant ophthalmologist, working in Odisha. He is closely associated with the Sri Aurobindo International Institute of Integral Health and Research and is an editor of NAMAH, the journal of Integral Health. Over the past thirty years, the main focus of Dr Sahani’s work has been to integrate higher spiritual principles in the day-to-day life of common people.
The first session looked at the material considerations that shape our vitality. These aspects were examined closely:
Increase our vitality through sleep. It is important to identify how much sleep the body needs and in what pattern. We have to learn to listen to your body. Focus on our dreams; they affect our vitality. When we awaken, we should try not to stir: remain still and quiet and pray.
Increase our vitality through food. When our body asks for food, it is hunger, when the tongue asks, it is greed. Become conscious of the body’s need for food. Only eat when hungry. Our stomach should be half-full after eating. Eating the wrong kind of food will undermine our vitality.
Increase our vitality through activity. Stretch to engender the vital flow in the body (asana). Make a routine, stretch and become one with the breath. With practice, the body will not get tired but will acquire greater vitality.
Increase our vitality by watching our posture. A sedentary lifestyle leads to stiffness, a sign of diminished vitality. On must consciously watch that our posture is correct.
“What a wonderful first session. Just by listening, my energy levels increased. Looking forward to practising all the tips. Thank you so much,” wrote one participant.
The second session went deeper, beyond the body and enquired into our lives.
To increase our vitality we have to be active. Where do we lose vitality? Passivity is idleness. Sitting and thinking is not productive. The mind should focus on action not thoughts. Thinking without action drains our vital energy. The same applies to thinking without purpose.
We also waste energy through unnecessary talking and chatting. Idle talk should be avoided. We should keep in mind the following principles when we are about to engage in talking:
Is it necessary to have this conversation?
Is this conversation going to benefit someone?
Is this the right time for this conversation?
Concerning desires, our capability and desires should match. If we find ourselves in a situation of deficit, our vitality will get depleted.
In relationships: if we are in conflict with the person we are with, we lose vitality. We should be cautious about the company we keep. If these people, whom we are in conflict with, are at our home or our workplace, we can’t avoid them. In such a case establish physical distance, for a couple of hours, between oneself and the other person with whom one is misaligned.
Be organised. The more disorganised we are, the more vitality we lose. We need to organise our time. A routine helps. Your things should be organised. Things like making our bed in the morning maintain our vitality. When we are organised we are more sensitive towards the level of our vitality. We notice the unease that leads to depletion.
If we found ourselves on gratitude and respect for all, our vitality expands. We have to behave appropriately with others and see the Divine in all.
Increasing the Vital Force Within
The gross world is comprised of five elements — earth, water, air, fire and ether. These five elements are the source of vitality.
These five elements (in different states — solid, liquid, gas, radiation and plasma) are in fact different levels of condensation of the vital force/consciousness. Consciousness, as it descends, first becomes the mind (Manas), then the vital (Prana) and finally the matter (Padartha).
Our human body too is a result of this condensation of vital energy. As such there is a constant exchange of energy between us and our surroundings; between the Pinda (Body — Microcosm) and the Brahmanda (Universe — Macrocosm).
Gaining Vitality from the Universe
By willing consciously, we can gain vital energy from our surroundings (the Universe).
Willing consciously requires using the faculties of the mind to remember that you want to gain energy from the various elements present in your surroundings.
Various energy-enhancing practices were described:
Sitting on our Asana (on which we meditate) remember that it is connected to the Earth and is a source of energy. Give oneself the suggestion that energy from your Asana in entering inside. When this suggestion is repeated again and again, with belief, it transforms into Will (Sankalpa). Faith is key for this transformation to happen and the flow of vitality to take place.
Ø In India, dung of the Indian breed of the cow is considered very sacred. Smearing it on the floor of the Pooja room and using it as manure while gardening are excellent ways of connecting with the Earth and gaining vitality.
Ø Walking barefoot over soil is another excellent means of absorbing vital energy from the Earth.
Ø Water has a lot of energy and memory. While drinking water, remember that it has energy which we are absorbing. This can be done by sitting down and slowly and consciously drinking water.
Ø Vital energy from the water-element can be gained consciously while taking a bath.
Ø Sunlight, moonlight and the fire are sources of gaining vitality from the fire element. The Indian ritual of standing barefoot on earth and offering water to the Sun (Surya Arghya Danam) combines the conscious gain of vitality from the elements of earth, water and fire.
Ø The ritual of fire sacrifice (Agnihotra) — offering plant extracts of medicinal value (havan samagri) and ghee ((clarified butter) to the element of fire can be done every morning to energise your vitality. If one is not able to do this every day, it should be done at least once a year in the form of conducting a Havan.
Ø Lighting a butter lamp every evening and consciously taking in the fire-element by meditating and praying before it (Aarti) is an excellent way of energising ourself.
Ø Conscious breathing exercise (Pranayama) helps you gain vitality from the air element.
Ø Conscious Mantra chanting (Japa) brings in vitality to you from the ether element through sound vibrations.
Ø Taking in food is a process of increasing your vitality, as plants are packed with vitality from all the five elements. Therefore, one should be conscious while taking in food — remember that food is enhancing your vitality.
We experience vital energy through our vital being. The vital being constantly wants to satisfy itself. If it is not satisfied we experience a drop in our vitality. Thus, if left unchecked and independent, the vital being proves to be a terrible master. Our task is to transform our vital being.
Generally, in our lives there is a discrepancy between our ability and the desires of our vital being.
If the amount of success (satisfaction of the vital being’s desires) in our life is high, we experience a high level of vitality. Therefore, if we are able to tailor the vital being’s desires and design our life in such a manner that chances of success are high, our vital energy will be in an auto-renewal mode.
We can start by setting small targets. For example, we can set walking as part of our daily routine. Set a time and stick to it. The sense of achievement will strengthen our will.
As our vital being purifies, we acquire greater energy.
Purification of the vital being
Passive purification: Nature purifies our vital being by creating situations which are difficult.
When faced with a difficult situation, if one develops the will to fight back with endurance through the pain, the vital being is being transformed to accept more discomfort and dissatisfaction.
By simply accepting difficult situations in our lives we can train our vital being.
Active purification: The vital ego, which desires satisfaction, has to be expanded and its barriers have to be broadened to include family, friends and the society. The vital being, by accepting pain and discomfort for the sake of this broadened circle, gets purified. This purification happens when one serves selflessly — without any expectations of reward in terms of monetary gains or prestige.
One must identify and take up work where one can offer selflessly. Working with nature (planting trees) and working with children are ideal examples of selfless work.
The Final Purification
The vital being becomes a wonderful instrument when it learns to obey and surrender to your innermost Light.
This can be done by experiencing the empty space and the silence within, where the vital being may be very softly, gently and acceptingly persuaded to change.
Instrument of the Divine
The higher your goal, the higher will be our vitality. Your goal gives meaning to our life.
Achievement of goals set by the mental being and the vital being lead to momentary happiness — a momentary spike in our vital energy.
The higher, the deeper and the vaster our goal, the higher will be our vitality.
The highest goal is to become an instrument of the Divine.
What did you most enjoy about the workshop?
“The specific practical sessions and explanation.”
“Dr. Debu’s simple, clear and practical thoughts and advice. I have started putting some of his suggestions into my daily life and there is a tangible difference in my energy level and attitude. Looking forward to continuing to build on the foundation and grow.”