The Body (Śarīra) – when in doubt, stabilise!

Body, posture and health determine to a great extent the quality of our consciousness and the stability within. The practice of asana is meant to bring stillness of body and stability of consciousness (citta), which is the beginning of meditation.

This stability in consciousness is often experienced in terms of reduced sense of oscillation between extremes such as failure and success, pleasure and pain, hysteria and depression, sanity and insanity, past and future – which we call duality (dvandva), lack of confusion (asaṁshaya), and sometimes even lack of thought (thought being the movement of the past into the present.)

The term consciousness as used here is in coherence with the term citta used in Pātañjali’s yoga sutras, which means to encompass the mind (manas), intelligence (buddhi), the sense of ‘I’ (ahaṁkāra), and much more.

But where is the line between physical stability and psychological stability, could anybody demarcate this within themselves? This separation between physical stability and stability in consciousness (citta vrtti nirodhah and snāyu vrtti nirodhah) is a “concept”. Such a separation does not truly exist. Our lack of understanding of the interdependence of mind-nervous system-body comes from our ignorance and lack of sensitivity. Physical stability makes it easier to enter into meditative states. Then the body and mind become a temple for meditation to come, to enter and to illumine.

I have visited in my wanderings, shrines and other places of pilgrimage. But I have not seen another shrine blissful like my own body.

– Saraha (Buddhist texts)