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Dr K K Aggarwal

Prayer for Inner Happiness

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Stress is defined as the physical and mental reaction to the interpretation of a known situation. In absence of a known situation there cannot be a stress. One cannot be stressful for a person who has just died in New York in an accident unless he or she is a known person.

There has to be a right, conscious based interpretation of the situation as the same situation can bring happiness to one and stress to the other.

The most important consequence physical or mental of stress, therefore, depends on the right interpretation of the situation.

The interpretation or judgment in the body is governed by chemical reactions and is controlled by the balance of autonomic balance system which in turn is governed by the interaction of para sympathetic and sympathetic nervous system.

During the phase of acute stress when the sympathetic system is predominant, heart rate and blood pressure rises and a person cannot take correct and decisive decision. He or she is likely to make mistakes which can often be detrimental to ones living. Sympathetic mode is basically the mode of flight or fight reactions of the body.

Right conscious based decisions can only be taken in a state of relaxed mind when the intention is inserted in the field of consciousness. The relaxed mind state of the body is the parasympathetic mode which is healing and is evident by reduction in heart rate, blood pressure and increase in the skin resistance. Most conscious based decisions will be based on truthfulness, will be necessary and will bring happiness to both the persons and the surroundings.

The yogic lifestyle by which a person learns do’s and don’ts of living, does regular practice of correct postures,  indulges in daily  pranayama and practices regular withdrawal from the outer atmosphere, helps in preparing a state of physical and mental body state which is more receptive for conscious based decisions. Yoga Sutras of Patanajli included them in his asthanga yoga as the processes of Yama, Niyama, Asanas, Pranayama and Pratihyar.

Prayers have no value when the mind is not at rest. All of us have participated in hundreds of mourning prayers each lasting two minutes of silence. This prayer has no value if the two minutes of silence is not observed. If prayer is done without it the mind will remain restless and we will keep on thinking these two minutes are not over yet. The process of silence does shift our awareness towards test and parasympathetic state and temporarily we get to be in contact with the memories of the departed soul and we pay homage to him or her.

Today a large number of organizations are teaching the process of meditation but the same cannot be taught unless a person practices procedures by which the mind gets relaxed.

The eight limbs of patanjali focus in detail about pre-meditation preparations and once that is learned one can go to the other three limbs which are dharna, dhyana and Samadhi. .

Yoga asanas are different from exercises. They stimulate and stretch all or one of the seven charkas, autonomic plexuses, and ganglion and there located ductless endocrine glands. Also during a yogasana the mind is in the exercise and not wondering here and there.

While yogic exercises at rest are termed yoga asanas and the same yogic meditative exercises with activity are called traditional Indian dances. Western exercises and dances do not follow the principles of yoga. Many international studies have shown that over one-third of the people during their lifetime pray either for their own illness or for somebody else.

All hospitals should have spirituals areas. The prayer and meditation rooms in a hospital setting invariably will provide an arena which will improve patient-doctor relationship and will reduce the rising disputes amongst them in the country.

Whenever we pray, think of God, undertake an internal healing procedure, make love, kiss someone, or meditate, we automatically close our eyes. It is a common Vedic saying that the soul resides in the heart and all the feelings are felt at the level of heart.

Most learning procedures in meditation involves sitting in an erect, straight posture,  closing the eyes, withdrawing from the world and concentrating on the object of concentration. Yoga Sutra of Patanjali describes pratihara (withdrawal of senses) as one of the seven limbs of yoga: Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratihara, Dharma, Dhyana and Samadhi.

After pranayama, one needs to withdraw from the world and the senses and then begin dhyana on the object of concentration. The process of pratihara becomes easy and is initiated with the closing of the eyes. The inward journey starts with the detachment of the body from the external world and in yogic language, it is called Kayotsarga, the first step of meditation..

Even when the process of hypnosis is begun, a person is made to lie down, look at the roof and withdraw from the world. The procedure involves asking the person to gently roll the eyeball up until he goes into a trance. Rolling of the eyeballs upward has the same physiological significance as that of closing the eyes.

When we close our eyes, there is a suppression of sympathetic nervous system and activation of parasympathetic nervous system. The blood pressure and pulse reduce and skin resistance goes up. A person goes into a progressive phase of internal and muscular relaxation. The inward journey is a journey towards restful alertness where the body is restful yet the consciousness is alert. The intention is to relax the body and than the attention is focused on the object of concentration. Most visualization and meditation techniques involve closing of the eyes.

By detaching from the external stimuli, the activities of the five senses are suppressed and ones awareness shifts from a disturbed to an undisturbed state of consciousness. This inner journey helps in producing a state of ritam bhara pragya where the inner vibrations of the body are in symphony with the vibrations of the nature.

People who visit Vaishno Devi by traveling long distances on foot enter the cave and as soon as they have the darshan of Maa Vaishno Devi, they close their eyes. This is natural and instant. Even though Maa Vaishno Devi cannot be felt in the murti, her presence is felt in the heart and that presence can only be felt by closing the eyes.

Most yogic techniques like shavasana, yoga nidra, body-mind relaxation, progressive muscular relaxation, hypnosis involves closing the eyes in the very first step. Daytime nap is also incomplete without closing the eyes. Shok Sabha and two minutes silence are also practiced with the eyes closed. When we think of someone or try to remember something, the body automatically closes the eyes and one starts exploring the hidden memories. To recall something, one has to withdraw from the external world through its five senses.

Only advanced yogis or rishis acquire the power where with eyes opened they are in a state of Ritam, Bhara, Pragya. These yogic powers are acquired by practicing advanced sutra meditation for hours, days and years.  Lord Shiva is often portrayed in a meditative pose sitting on Kailash Parvat with his eyes semi opened. But for ordinary persons like us where the aim is to be in that phase only for 20 minutes twice in a day, the best is to close our eyes as the first step towards the process of meditation.