Here we are in this difficult place, between coping with the effects of isolation and navigating our way in an unsafe world. This in-between zone is not only a harsh new reality but also a dramatic metaphor for the changes…
Prāna is life-force, and life feeds on life. The main function of prāna is to maintain itself, to keep you alive. To generate prāna in your body you need to extract energy from the world, for example in the form of food, water, and oxygen, and use this energy to generate more energy within you.
To reach your greater prānic potential you need to fill yourself with the best quality of fuel at all levels of your being, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
You produce physical energy in mitochondria, little powerhouses that exist within the cells of the body. Healthy mitochondria are the physical basis of prāna in your body. You have approximately 37 trillion cells in your body, and approximately 1,000 mitochondria in each cell – a lot!
All activity (all karma) uses prāna. This includes movement, speech, thought, and emotion.
Healthy forms of exercise both use and generate more prāna by stimulating the growth of mitochondria in your muscles. Certain activities use excessive amounts of prāna, for example, worry or emotional distress, leaving you feeling depleted and exhausted, while poor diet and lifestyle can damage prāna. Whereas negative emotions and depression deplete prāna, loving experiences create prāna.
You take in energy from in the form of food and liquids, and from the air, you breathe. The more alive a substance is, that is, the more prāna it has, the more life-force you can extract from that substance.
Generation of prāna also occurs through stillness and deep rest. Deep restful sleep and meditation are the two best ways of generating prāna. Though sleep is designed to restore energy, it is not always efficient, especially if you go to bed exhausted or full of worry and tension. This is why relaxation and meditation practices are the more efficient form of rest, allowing you to calm the mind and emotions and to deeply replenish yourself with energy. You can actually use meditation to tune into and access your prāna at a very deep level of being.
Generate, Store and Utilize Prāna
Yoga and meditation enable you to delve into the mystery of the life-force via an exploration of the relationship between the breath and prāna. You do this by utilizing physical postures, breathing techniques, and specific mental visualizations. These techniques provide a profound and systematic approach to sense what prāna feels like, how to generate and store it, and how you use it to your best advantage.
Yoga and meditation enable an authentic experience of prāna.
You discover what lack of prāna feels like and can feel where it is flowing and where it is blocked. You can then liberate the energy blocked and trapped within tensions, contractions, and negative patterns, thereby reducing the degenerative effects of aging and support healthy flow. You can actually influence the smooth flow of prāna using techniques such as ujjayi prānāyāma, throat breathing, which is taught on several of Big Shakti’s meditation training programs.
As you develop prānic awareness you are tuned into, and become more sensitive to your body’s needs. You intuitively sense what makes you strong and healthy, and what makes you weak and sick.
Prāna is the energy at the basis of all creation. Everything that exists, animate and inanimate, is a manifestation of prāna in one form or another. At the macrocosmic level, prāna is called Mahā Shakti, which means ‘great power’ (mahā = great, shakti = power).
Within the microcosm of living beings, Mahā Shakti manifests as prāna shakti. Whereas Mahā Shakti is responsible for all creation, animate and inanimate, prāna shakti is the source of all sentient life.
Prāna is your life-force or vital energy, your inner power and strength. It is the energy that powers growth, change and your ability to engage with life. Prāna empowers both the gross physical and the subtle dimensions of your being, for example, prāna powers your intelligence and intuition.
The word prāna can also be translated as breath. At the subtlest and most refined level, it is the energy that powers your spiritual essence.
The term prāna, therefore, has multiple meanings depending on the context. For example, Mahā Prāna is macrocosmic prāna, prāna shakti is microcosmic, and prāna vāyu is the term used to describe a sub-prāna (which will be explained in more detail in part 2 of this article), which lies in the chest. The fact that each of these areas shares the name prāna, points to the fact that it is via the chest, the heart and the lungs that we can connect our individual prāna and consciousness heart to cosmic prāna and consciousness.
Did you know that chronic, unresolved stress can create an imbalance between the self-aware, rational, decision making, and problem-solving parts of your brain (the pre-frontal cortex) and the emotion and memory controlling parts of your brain (the amygdala and hippocampus)?
Long-term (chronic) stress alters your thinking, emotion, and behavior and over time changes the size, structure, and function of parts of your brain. Chronic stress also shortens the length of your chromosomes and interferes with how your genes express themselves, making you more vulnerable to disease.
How your ability to learn and remember shrinks
The hippocampus, the learning and memory center of the brain, shrinks as a result of chronic stress. Neurons die and the connections between neurons in the hippocampus become weaker, which is detrimental to your memory. Memories become fragmented making it hard for you to keep track of what you are doing. You might have brain fog and be unable to think creatively.
Medical science proves that purpose keeps you young, fit, and ALIVE!
One of the great satisfactions in life is to be fully aware of your life’s purpose. Equally, one of the great sufferings is to be ignorant of it.
Although the latter is far more common, many people give up pursuing their purpose too early and settle for less.
The question, ‘what is your life purpose’, can overwhelm us with anxiety, self-doubt, and existential angst.
People can become embarrassed and bewildered when the topic arises. Memories of failed efforts, regrettable life choices and a low opinion of potentialities can make us reluctant to venture there.
It can feel easier and safer to remain gilded to our habits, psychological patterns, and external structures even if they’re working against our best interests.
And it can feel destabilizing and risky to respond to the subtle voice of our inner calling because it almost always wants us to change and grow in an uncomfortable way.
You can resist your life purpose for years (or a lifetime) but, as many wisdom-keepers have advised over the centuries, a higher purpose can revolutionize your life.
Now medical science is substantiating this old wisdom and proving that life purpose directly impacts health and wellbeing.
Purpose as medicine
Various studies over the last decade show that a purposeful life positively influences:
- Psychological well-being
- Healthy brain function
- Cardiovascular health
- Muscle strength
- Sound sleep
The message is clear, life purpose is not something to be pursued at a (leisurely) later time.
Nor is it a luxury or indulgence only available to a talented few.
Life purpose is your individual gift. When discovered and expressed, it brings vitality, meaning, and satisfaction.
Add up all the stories told from deathbeds; the regrets, confessions, sorrows, secrets, petitions for forgiveness, and desperate calls to turn back the clock, and we have an infinite library of tragedy.
I must change my life so that I can live it. Not wait for it.
— Susan Sontag
Death’s Day is coming — today, tomorrow, or it could be decades away.
Good health and youth do not protect anyone from death’s decision.
When death calls your name, you must go.
In my late teens, I almost died in a car accident, but death let me off the hook.
Not long after, death called my best friend, then my father.
I pushed their deaths into the shadow and ran into the light but soon discovered that chasing light created too many fears and even bigger shadows.
Then I found a wise teacher and teachings that led me back to the darkness to befriend death. Since that time I have allowed myself to remain with the awareness of death and this has driven me to interact with life more purposefully and joyfully.
In this essay, I reveal the 7 things I have learned about regret and death:
- Take a leaf from the Top 5 Regrets
- Explore other cultures
- Break the silence around death in daily life
- Learn the skill of change and letting go
- Meditate on death
- Interact with myths, art, and symbols of death
- Express your experience of death
1. Take A Leaf From The Top 5 Regrets
What we can learn from those near death, is that regret is the greatest pain.
Nurse Bronnie Ware spent 12 years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She collected stories and published a book, The Top Five Regrets Of Dying.
My friend Ann Marie is a nurse who worked in palliative care for twenty years. She carries her patient’s stories so deeply that being with her is sometimes heartbreaking.
Together these nurses have thousands of stories, and yet their top 5 regrets are identical.