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
(a) the superficial sensation of the skin such as contact with
cloth, warmth, perspiration, itching etc.,
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.
(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.
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 spiritual self.
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