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Chi, Prana, or Shakti

His Holiness The Dalai Lama

What is Chi, Prana, or Shakti?

Prana is the Sanskrit word simply translated as "energy", but it is more. In Japanese it is "ki"(as in the martial art aikido); in Chinese it is "chi" (as in tai chi). Prana is the vital life force energy that is the sum total of all the forces of the universe, mental and physical. Prana is the origin of all motion in the universe-- the flow of rivers, the flow of breath, the flow of thought in the human mind.

Prana exists around us and inside of us.

Out in nature, we are being regenerated by Prana through our eyes, our lungs, and our hearts opening. We take in Prana through our food, and through the air, so how we eat and how we breathe are important to our energy levels. When we are ill, we can barely take care of ourselves. When the body is in great stress it shuts down or moves into a state of "dis-ease". This can also happen to our mental or emotional state. When we are struggling with our physical or mental health, we use Prana for maintenance just to get through the day. However, when we are balanced, Prana is available for something more. Then we can access our internal Prana and move into our spirit, our creativity, our intuition, our inner wisdom. When we are well, we have an abundance of energy to use for our higher potential. Then we can live each moment to its fullest.

Prana actually carries its own innate intelligence.

Even without us knowing it, Prana moves to the exact areas which need healing. The body is always trying to find balance, but sometimes the mind gets in the way. Part of yoga practice is to move into a state of relaxation to allow the Prana to flow freely. We can connect to the natural external state of the universe if we are internally balanced. In the practice of yoga postures, breathing exercises, and focusing techniques, we become more aware of what is happening in our body-mind connection. We can chose to reduce stress and increase wellness before serious health problems happen. Then, other aspects of our life, like a job or family relations, change because we have changed.

Simply Relax

Resistance to what is and hanging on to what was, both create tension. Prana flows when we The Scorpion Pose or Vrischika-asana "let go" of what our minds think and move into a place of "feeling" what our body-mind knows. Prana Analogy: Consider your body like a car, and Prana like the fuel. If you don’t take care of the body, it may rust; the internal parts can deteriorate. Although there is fuel in the tank, the car can’t go anywhere. Consider your driving skills like the mind. If you drive the car badly and don’t treat it with an "attitude of gratitude", the tires may wear out on one side. You may arrive somewhere, but not balanced. You use fuel, but not at its optimal level. By nurturing, protecting and respecting our planet, its natural resources and its inhabitants, we enrich our own lives and those of future generations. May Prana always be with you in a-bun-dance throughout your adventurous lifelong journey.


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Tibetan Prayer Wheel Om Mani Padme Hum