The flow of prana or lung within the body is directly connected to mind and its functions. This connection is pervasive. Rather than thinking of mind as being “in our heads” or our “brains” the Ayurvedic and Tibetan medical and spiritual understanding of mind is that it permeates the entirety of our physical bodies and even interacts on an elemental level outside of the limitations of our individual forms. The entire nervous system and our senses are directly linked to mind and the elemental structures of the world. When we examine mind and health through this lens we can see that there is a holistic functioning of our body-mind connection that extends through us, and even into the space of the perceived “other”. Through the coarse act of drawing our life-sustaining breath and returning it to the greater atmosphere we are intrinsically linked to all living things and the physical structures of the world, and by extension, the universe.
By taking a sensitive and honest examination of our surroundings and our own internal state we can come to the conclusion that there is a uniquely pervasive tension, or anxiety that seems to be dominating many of our interactions with each other and the environment. We see our relationships dominated by internal power struggles that lead to people not having their needs met, and the erosion of the empathetic collaboration that brings about authentic, loving communication. This breakdown isn’t limited to the dimension of personal relationships. We see it in our professional lives, the media, and the general provocation of the natural world that has become endemic of our species.
We often categorize anxiety and depression as mental illness and leave it at that, but it seems that a more open and expansive analysis could prove useful in understanding our condition and the deeply interdependent nature of all things. In a sense, we may need to get “out of our heads” in order to understand what our experience truly is, and how to heal our selves, our communities, and our precious Mother Earth.
By opening up to our interdependence, and on an even deeper level, our complete non-dual integration with the entire expanse of phenomena we naturally dissolve the insular misperception of ourselves as isolated entities and can truly nurture the life force that flows through us all as prana. There is tremendous potential for finding common ground in the very essence of our life, our breath. Our breath, is the power that flows through our nerves and manifests as our thoughts, which then comes through as our speech, and our physical actions. When we are aware of our total and undeniable connection we can see that by committing to ahimsa, or non-harm, we are not just making the courageous stance to guard the well-being of others, but we are in fact healing and protecting what we think of as our selves. This is a healing practice that we can experience directly, in the moment, when we do the fundamental act of life, breathing.