Thursday, March 27, 2008

Connecting to grounding energy in Warrior, part 1

Prana--life force.

In the Hindu philosophy of yoga, all living beings have a vital energy force called "prana."

As someone with a rationalist temperament, I was a long-time "prana" skeptic. I don't like to believe in things that can't be proven to me with scientific methods. To me, it's a dangerous road, choosing to believe something simply because you want to: once you start making those leaps of faith, where do you stop?

So as I studied "prana" or it's apparent taoist counterpart "chi," I was frustrated to find these systems of "energy" and their explanations frequently contradictory and unsatisfactory. For example, there doesn't seem to be much consistency between the different kinds of "prana," what they do and how they relate to the "elements."

But for me, this remains: the reported experience of so many sensitive yogis and sages, with highly cultivated body awareness. And I have my own experiments with their teachings and so I have my own direct experience with some small part of this "prana" or "chi."

When my practice is good and I'm really in my body and aware of the flow of energy, strange things happen. This is a silly example, but, I'll go to open a heavy door and before I even I touch it, I get an intuitive sense of the door's energy. I'll feel my own energy connect with and, through me, connect downward to the earth and like an electric shock, straight from my hips, when those energies connect the door seems to fly open without feeling like I even moved my hand. It feels like the energy pushed the door. As if there were no muscular effort involved. When I'm that aware, everything feels well-coordinated, smooth, effortless and even a little "magical:" getting in the car, eating, walking and yes, yoga. To the rationalist in me, that "energy" sense is my kinesthetic body-intelligence crunching a bunch of numbers on the mechanics of opening the door, and then conveying that info to my conscious mind in a way it understands: "energy." It's a very real phenomenon. And that physical/mechanical intelligence is just one kind "energy" I've learned to experience in such a real, tangible way.

So it's easy for me to see how these great yogis and sages could reason by analogy and translate their profound experience into the accepted "scientific" language of their day.

From my theosophic world-view, I've learned to accept their intuitive experience of "prana" as truth and appreciate that our human intuition and body intelligence does not speak to us in "ohms," "torque" or "normal force" but instead in this more mysterious kinesthetic language of "energy."

For me, giving up trying to understand this energy and put labels on it and just accepting it has added a real beauty and utility to my practice.

Feeling "prana" in warrior.

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