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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Pancha kosha 4 - Basics of Yoga Therapy


Life is dynamic and is bound to have ups and downs, elations and disappointments, desire – fulfillments and non-fulfillments. Thus, we go through a certain amount of disturbances that are personified in our moods. These things individually and collectively leave a certain degree of disharmony. In addition, our own expectations and greed create even more disharmony. According to the philosophy of yoga, this disharmony, if at the incident level, will disappear, similar to the way a child wants something and then cries a bit when he doesn’t get it, but soon forgets about it and moves on. However, we are not like that. We get caught up. Disharmony becomes deeply set in us and takes the shape of habit, much like how our anxiety may manifest in the form of smoking for temporary relief and soon becomes a habit. When we do not remove this at the habit level, it becomes Vasana. At habit level it has not percolated into our pathology.
When it becomes Vasana, it becomes pathological. For example, when smoking has percolated into a deeper level than a mere habit and the lack of a cigarette actually manifests itself as a headache or other such physical ailment. Similarly, several people have the habit of drinking coffee or tea and it has become a Vasana. If they cannot find what they are addicted to, they become dysfunctional and will not feel okay until they get it. As this goes deeper, it becomes genetic or influencing at our gene level where it is called ‘Samskara.’

Therefore the equation is

Incident or episode -> habit -> Vasana -> Samskara

Let me explain it with the help of a real life examples
A colleague of mine one day asked me, “Hi Raghuram, you go all over the world to help people to get rid of their habits. Why don’t you help me to overcome my habit of smoking? I smoke almost continuously and want to quit smoking please suggest me something simple. After all you are my good friend therefore keeping all the yoga kind of stuff for others, and suggest me some thing simple. He is after all a good friend and therefore I want you to help him. I thought when ever one feels like smoking there will be uneasiness in the mouth and if we take care of it with some thing less harmful that will solve his problem. I thought if he takes a pan (the beetle leaf with lime and nuts you get in India) when he has a desire for a cigarette that will keep the mouth engaged for next half hour and leaves mouth bitter and may be he does not feel like smoking for next one hour or so. That way once a cigarette gets postponed eventually he may give up smoking. With this idea I suggested him go for a pan when ever you feel like smoking.
But two months later he appeared before me asking Raghuram now get me rid of both the habits earlier only cigarette used to be my craving but now a days when ever I feel like smoking I also want a pan and I don’t get right kind of pan every where which makes me more frustrated!
This is Vasana. At habit level it was simple but now it has risen to the level of Vasana where it is more complicated.
Further hardened, Vasanas will become samskaras which then percolates into our deep inner sub conscious levels.
Therefore habits Vasanas and samskaras are not different things. Habit itself is like being in a groove loosing our freedom of movement and Vasana is much deeper groove and samskara is still more deeper groove. These grooves are formed when we are not being aware of what we are doing. It happens unconsciously. One may have several things at habit level and several at Vasana and some at samskara levels also. Our journey towards freedom is a conscious process of removing these grooves.

-to be continued...

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