Prana, The Breath of Life
Prana is a common term being widely used in alternative medicine and yoga system. It is originally derived from the Sanskrit language meaning “life energy” (Prā means forth, while an means to breathe, move or live); therefore the nearest English equivalent of this Sanskrit term is “the breath of life.”
According to ancient Indian literature, there is only one Life, one Consciousness; and Prana is the energy of the One, from which life begins. Therefore Prana is being used to address the life-energy in every being. There is a conversation in Upanishads between Indra and Pratardana where Indra says: “I am Prana… Meditate on me as life, as immortality. Prana is Life. Life is Prana. Immortality is Prana, Prana is Immortality. As long as Prana dwells in this body, so long surely there is life.” III.2 (Max Muller, 2004)
There is another verse which refers to Atma or the Soul from which Prana is born. Indra teaches Visvamitra, a famous Rig Vedic Seer about Prana, in Aitareya Aranyaka II.2.3 saying: “I am Prana… all creatures are Pranas, he that shines is Prana. In this form I pervade all the quarters. This, my food is my friend, my support. This is the food of Visvamitra. I am he that shines.” (Witz, 1998, p. 158) Derived from the literature, Prana refers to the totality of life in all the creatures.
Therefore Prana can be understood as the life energy which gives life to the body and keeps it healthy and alive. The equivalent of Prana in Hebrew language is ruah, referring to the “breath of life” being called as Nephesch; which was breathed into the nostrils of Adam in the beginning of creation. The same concept exists in Persian philosophy when God breathed into the nostrils of Man the Breath of Life.
“Prana is that life energy which nourishes the whole body so that it could, together with its different organs, function properly and normally. Without energy the body would die.”
Master Choa Kok Sui
In Chinese Prana is called “chi,” while in Japanese it is known as “ki.” In Greek Prana is equivalent to “Pneuma” and in Polynesian it is “mana;” all referring to the same concept. It can be best described as “Vitality,” “as the integrating energy that co-ordinates the physical molecules, cells, etc and holds them together as a definite organism.” (Powell, 1882, p. 10)
It means that without Prana, translated as life, there would be no physical body as an integrated entity. Physical body without Prana is basically a collection of cells independent from one another; Prana is the substance that links these independent cells together creating one whole living complex.
Although science is still trying to detect, see and measure this life energy with the aid of certain instruments, seeing Prana with naked eyes is possible through certain simple practices.
There are basically three major sources of Prana: the Sun, the Air and the Ground.
The Sun Prana is the Prana being absorbed from the sunlight by being exposed to it. As no Sun Prana is harmful to health, too much Sun Prana can also damage the body, in some cases leading to skin cancer.
Air Prana is absorbed by the energy centers or chakras of the energy body such as the Spleen chakra. The Ground Prana is unconsciously and automatically being absorbed by the soles of the feet; thus walking bare foot increases the amount of Ground Prana absorbed by the body.
There are also many other secondary sources of Prana, like water, trees such as pine tree and food, especially fresh food. Further to automatic absorption of Prana by the body, one can learn to consciously draw in Prana from the Air, Ground or Sun to increase the life energy in the body. However, just as too little Prana will lead to exhaustion, depletion and ultimately death, too much Prana will also creates congestion, manifesting as disease; this mainly happens if too much energy combines with diseased or dirty energy.
Prana can even be transferred from one person to another person; what is commonly known as the act of healing. In fact the rate of the healing of the body can be increased by increasing the life-energy on the affected part and on the entire body. Just as light can cause chemical reactions, which is used as a basis in photography, Prana increases the chemical reactions of the body, manifesting as healing. This principle is basically one of the main principles in alternative healing techniques such as Pranic Healing.
- Master Choa Kok Sui (2009). The Chakras and Their Functions. Institute for Inner Studies Publishing Foundation.
- Max Muller, F. (2004). The Upanishads Part 1: Sacred Books Of The East Part One. Kessinger Publishing.
- Max Muller, F. (1962). The Upanishads, Part 2. Courier Dover Publications.
- Powell, A. E. (1882). The Etheric Body.
- Master Choa Kok Sui (2006). Miracles Through Pranic Healing: Practical Manual on Energy Healing. Philippines: Institute for Inner Studies Publishing Foundation.
- Witz, K. G. (1998). The Supreme Wisdom of the Upaniṣads: an Introduction. Motilal Banarsidass Publication.