The word “Immunity” has become a buzzword in this pandemic, as that is the only strategy which seems to be working with a mathematical precision in our battle against COVID19. Suddenly so many nutraceuticals have popped-up in the market claiming to boost immunity. But all these overnight medicines, nutraceutical inventions and hurriedly developed vaccine by pharma and healthcare fraternity during last one year is quite at nascent stage to prove its efficacy.
Through this article, an attempt is made to bring the attention back towards the time-tested age-old practices and rituals which are so deeply engraved in our culture, religion and spiritual texts and which modern science have been recognizing lately for its health benefit and especially “boosting” immunity. The most interesting part of this is that they are all self-administered and does not cost anything.
Jain Doctrine of Disease (Pain, Suffering, Cure and Prevention)
Jain doctrine considers soul and body as two separate entities. Soul is sentient and eternal with infinite perception, knowledge, energy and bliss. Body is the matter which is insentient and concrete (with form, taste , colour and odour as its attributes). Karma bonded with soul is the root causes of sickness, pain and pleasure. Karmik bondage takes place when the soul has perverted views and tainted with 4 types of emotions or passions (anger, pride, greed and deceit) known as Kashay. Passion causes loss of equanimity and tranquility of mind and responsible for programming our mind and character negatively. It acts like a glue for binding Karmik particle with soul. Intensity of these emotions determines the strength of the bondage and subsequent fruition upon its maturity.
Among the 8 types of Karma that binds to pure soul, the specific karma to cause sickness and bodily suffering is feeling-producing Karma known as “Vedanīya Karma”. Meritorious Karma causes good health and pleasure whereas demeritorious karma causes ill-health and material suffering. These karmas become an instrumental cause of the interruption of the soul’s uninterrupted and eternal happiness. As a result of this, the soul remains agitated.
“Asātavedanīya Karma” refers to “unpleasant feeling” and represents one of the two types of “Vedanīya Karma” or “feeling producing Karmas”. Asātavedanīya Karma is built by causing pain to others, harassing others, killing others, causing others to worry, and by making others miserable. When we rid ourselves of Vedanīya Karma our souls attain infinite bliss. The pure soul has no disease, pain, sorrow, boredom, or uneasiness and is ever blissful.
Similarly, the life span determining karma is known as “Ayu Karma”. So, if a person dies due to material sickness, the cause of death is actually not the sickness. It is only instrumental in death. Actual cause, of cessation of life is exhaustion of ‘Ayu Karma’. Once Ayu Karma is exhausted, the soul has to leave that body which we materially call death.
Besides 4 types of passions (Kashay), another important factor for sickness is objectified desires born out of sensory perceptions through 5 senses known as Indriya. Indriya is a prolongation of the mind. As the sea is fed by the rivers, mind is fed by Indriyas. Indriya is mind in manifestation. The desire in the mind to eat has manifested as tongue, teeth and stomach. If you have controlled the sensory addiction of Indriyas, you have already controlled the mind. But when a person gets addicted to sensory pleasure and desires, it looses the tranquillity of mind, which leads to the same chain reaction of Karmic bondage as mentioned earlier and thus it has direct co-relation with the cause of bodily sickness.
According to Jain philosophy, disease and death are momentary stage of body and hence it should not disturb the state of ‘equanimity’. Bodily suffering, when calmly endured, burns away the karma that keeps soul trapped in worldly existence. This principle of physical inconvenience for spiritual gain is evident in Jain ascetic practices, which ranges from various kind of fasts to periods of temporary solitudes and performance of bodily mortifications – the plucking of hair by hand being the most iconic example. When it comes to sickness too, it would appear to be consistent with the principle that Jain medicant should calmly tolerate bodily suffering, rather than seek to alleviate it. In other words, since bodily discomfort and suffering are soteriologically effective, they ought to be utilized for spiritual perfection rather then cured, healed and alleviated.
For the strict followers and especially for Jain monks, medicine is forbidden due to the strict interpretation of non-violence (ahimsa) vow. Medicine eradicates microorganisms that cause disease and many mammals, insects, yeasts, and bacteria are destroyed to produce the medicine itself, including common curatives of meat, honey, and alcohol. Medicine also represents a damaging attachment to the body, such that a doctor is described in the earliest text, the Acaranga-sutra, as “appearing wise” (pandita-mani), while actually being bound to the pleasures of the body. He professes to cure, while he kills, cuts, strikes, destroys and chases away life.
The Nisıtha-sutra (3rd–1st cent. BCE) prohibits monks from washing or cutting into a wound which would destroy skin microorganisms. Disease is considered one of “22 troubles” that monks should bear, while mature mendicants should not seek food when ill, nor bathe, brush teeth, or protect themselves from sun. Medical literature (cikitsa-sruta), such as Ayurveda, is described as false teaching (mithyatva), and medical treatment and medicines are listed among the fifty-two things that are unacceptable for a devout mendicant.
According to the Jain code of conduct, emphasize is more on the prevention which is synonymous with stoppage (influx) or self-restraint (sanyam). However, when inflicted with pain or sickness, Jain doctrine recommends penance (tapa) for disassociation of Karma as that is the root cause. There are total 12 types of penance classified in two categories i.e. 6 external which can be observed by others and 6 internals which can be experienced by practitioner.
A few high-impact spiritual interventions (practices), which are mostly part of Jain tradition, are narrated in following part of this paper which is supported by scientific facts discovered and clinical research carried out during this modern time for its impact on immunity, longevity and overall well being. They are to be practiced with complete understanding and discipline. They are known to keep the immunity level high and save us from infection with disease.
1. Fasting and Vegetarian Diet
In Jain tradition, fasting is done as a penance to expunge Karma. Apart from this spiritual objective, there are all round bodily benefits which are not known among the common people.
According to Dr Françoise Wilhelmi de Toledo, the Scientific Director of Buchinger Wilhelmi Clinic (https://www.buchinger-wilhelmi.com/en/) based in Germany, fasting causes “metabolic switch”. That means our body changing over from glucose as a primary fuel source to using fat for the same. Through this switch-over, glucose and insulin are suppressed to a sufficient level and for an adequate length of time to trigger a transition toward fat (fatty-acid) mobilization and oxidation, or ketosis. Based on her clinic’s more than 100 years of clinical experience in observing therapeutic fasting, it causes metabolic resets in our body. With fasting; blood pressure, sugar level and various other vital health parameters which have been disturbed due to chronic bad habits; tends to normalise. It lifts up your mood. It is also accompanied by the reset of gut microbiota which plays important role in preserving health.
Let’s understand it further. Fasting flips a “regenerative” switch, which prompts stem cells to create brand new “white blood cells”; essentially regenerating the entire immune system. Prolonged fasting, as practiced especially during the Jain festivals, forces the body to exhaust the stores of glucose and then fat; simultaneously also breaking down a significant portion of white blood cells. During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells. When you fast, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. This phenomenon is called as “Autophagy”.
Recently in the year 2016, Japanese scientist Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi from Tokyo Institute of Technology, was awarded Nobel Prize for the discovery of this phenomenon. (https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/2016/press-release/)
The word autophagy originates from the Greek words auto-, meaning “self”, and phagein, meaning “to eat”. Thus, autophagy denotes “self-eating”. This concept emerged during the 1960’s, when researchers first observed that the cell could destroy its own contents by enclosing it in membranes, forming sack-like vesicles that were transported to a recycling compartment, called the lysosome, for degradation. Difficulties in studying the phenomenon meant that little was known until, in a series of brilliant experiments in the early 1990’s, Yoshinori Ohsumi used baker’s yeast to identify genes essential for autophagy. He then went on to elucidate the underlying mechanisms for autophagy in yeast and showed that similar sophisticated machinery is used in human cells as well. Ohsumi’s discoveries led to a new paradigm in our understanding of how the cell recycles its content.
So, in a way, fasting is a smart strategy for a deep cellular level cleansing in our body without depending upon any medicine. Our experience with fasting is important since the time there was no drugs and no modern treatments for various ailments that is prevailing in today’s time. In Jain tradition, fasting manual and methodologies are exhaustive; ranging from time restricted intermittent fasting, medium term fasting, long-term fasting and several combinations designed amongst them. Daily code of conduct in Jain religion prohibits eating beyond sunset and subsequent breakfast only next day after 48 min of sunrise. This long gap of around 12 to 14 hours is nothing but an intermittent fasting that body undergoes daily. Fasting during religious festival is so deeply woven into the culture that it becomes so natural to derive amazing health benefits from this tradition effortlessly. This strategy can be very useful and handy during this pandemic time to keep the immunity level up and always battle-ready against any infection or disease.
Compassion and non-violence (Ahimsa) – the first and the most important virtue to be followed in Jain tradition – is not just essential for the sustainable and peaceful coexistence, but it has direct correlation with physical, mental and emotional health.
Since time immemorial scriptural studies and researches have revealed one thing that is common to all living beings and that is the desire to live and to be happy and not to die and be unhappy. But man in his pursuit of pleasure and happiness forgets this and goes to the extent of exploiting everything and everyone for his greed. To satisfy his yearning, he engages in violent acts like hunting, killing, confining, or taking the life of freely roving innocent creatures and ignores their right to live happily.
In this way, not only does he abuse the living creatures, but in turn abuses himself by doing this. He forgets that he too is part of the planet and cannot remove himself from the universal law of vibrations of the living which is, that which you throw out comes about.
A non-violent approach to life through vegetarianism expresses our reverence for all life forms including ourselves – from the minutest micro-beings to the major macro-beings, from the lowest developed consciousness to the highest developed consciousness. The food that feeds the system has a definite influence on the person physically as well as emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.
One often forgets that in flesh, the negative vibrations of pain, fear and rejection exist, and they permeate in every cell of the human body creating there the feeling of fear, pain and rejection. How does one hope to live with good feelings of health, happiness and sound mind when negative vibrations of pain are working in the body? These are the main causes that lead to the fatal diseases of the mind and the body. That is the reason why we see so many people suffering from emotional, psychological and physiological diseases.
Fasting is an eternally powerful all-round fitness hack. It tricks the body to decompose and get rid of the aged cells and triggers metabolism to rebuild the basic building blocks of human anatomy. Coupled to that, vegetarian and satvik food that feeds the system has a definite influence on the person physically as well as emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.
2. Drinking Boiled and Warm Water
Water is significant influencer to human health as water constitutes more than 70% of our body composition. In Jain tradition, water is not just a host to other living entities like microbes and marine life but a living entity by itself, similar to plants and trees which are manifestation of life form.
With boiled-water, there is a lot more to it than just sterilisation to make it safe for drinking.
The Charaka Samhita, the classical text of Ayurveda, states that boiled water is “appetizing” and tends to disintegrate the accumulation of kapha (watery, earthy, and damp qualities) while creating balance for pitta (fiery) types and vata (spacy/windy/cold) types. As water’s inherent qualities are cool and heavy, it creates more internal heaviness and coolness. But when you cook water (boiling), it becomes less dense and its inherent qualities are transformed; making it lighter, more warming, and easier to assimilate.
As it applies to any other cooked food, even water is at its best when cooked and consumed fresh. According to Ayurveda, leaving water overnight in a dark vessel will change its properties and decrease its vitality. That’s why in Jain tradition, even the boiled water is not acceptable after lapse of certain time.
Untill now we explored only the gross aspect of the boiling water. However, that’s not all. Subtle influence through boiling, deserves equal attention here.
Water has the ability to retain the information of the substance which it has been exposed to. Water holds the vibratory signature of pollutants even after it has been physically and chemically purified. These vibratory patterns are stored in form of a water’s molecular-structure (without altering its chemical composition i.e. H2O) which retains those frequencies and oscillations. Biologically valuable water must contain useful frequencies in order for the human organism to benefit from it. This is an area of energetic reciprocal action and interaction between material and biological systems.
Let’s understand this in further detail. Water’s inter-molecular structure (not intra-molecular which is well known H2O), is knowns as a liquid crystalline structure – which plays an important role. Liquid crystalline structure is the key to information storage and to information transfer in water. Water molecule forms a repeating, geometric, molecular pattern—a liquid crystal similar to the liquid crystals used in today’s video display terminals (LCDs). Like solid crystals, they are extremely efficient at transferring signals. The repeating pattern inside provides a pathway for the efficient flow of energy and information. Water’s repeating geometry is the same geometry available in quartz crystal which generates mechanical vibration when subjected to calibrated electrical pulses and vice versa.
The glue which holds the two molecules of water (H2O) together is nothing but an inter-molecular force known as “Hydrogen-bond” between two of them as shown in below picture.
When we boil water, the heat-energy breaks apart the hydrogen-bond, which has been holding water molecules together and in a perfect array and orderly pattern. And thus, the liquid crystalline structure gets dismantled as shown in following picture.
Physical changes like boiling only breaks the inter-molecular forces (not the intra-molecular force). When water boils, its only the hydrogen-bond between molecules that breaks; not the covalent bond inside of each water molecule.
Dr. Gerald Pollack, professor of bioengineering at the University of Washington, has provided an enormity of evidence for water’s liquid crystalline state. Many components of the body are also considered to be liquid crystals, including collagen and cell membranes. These tissues work cooperatively with water to create an informational network that reaches to every cell. The liquid crystalline organization of water accounts for the near instantaneous transfer of signals and other biological information. It has been hypothesized that even acupuncture meridians (channels that energetically link every part of the body) are chains of liquid crystalline water.
Liquid crystalline structure is the key to information storage and to information transfer in water. Energy and information are stored both as vibrations in molecular-bonds and in the structure of the system itself. Water’s capacity to store information is directly proportional to the structure in the water. The greater the molecular structure (characterized by an increase in hydrogen bonding), the more efficiently water can store and deliver energy, signals, and other information.
Dr. Masaru Emoto, the Japanese scientist, studied the scientific evidence of how the molecular structure in water transforms when it is exposed to human words, thoughts, sounds and ‘intentions’. In his book “The Hidden Messages in Water”, Dr. Emoto demonstrates how water exposed to loving, benevolent, and compassionate human ‘intention’ results in aesthetically pleasing “physical molecular formations” in the water while water exposed to fearful and discordant human intentions, words or sound results in disconnected, disfigured, and “unpleasant” physical molecular formations. His research also showed us how polluted and toxic water, when exposed to prayer and intention can be altered and restored to beautifully formed geometric crystals found in clean, healthy water. A few photographs of the frozen water-crystals exposed to different word and intentions are shown below.
Water—so sensitive to the unique frequencies being emitted by the world—essentially and efficiently mirrors the outside world. This leads to a completely new paradigm and a new dimension of the water which is similar to the “living-consciousness”.
In another experiment, Dr. Emoto, heated water in a microwave oven and then attempted to see the impact of the damaging electro-magnetic field on its crystal formation. First, he showed the water the words “love” and “gratitude”. The crystals formed from the raw water were deformed and incomplete, but the water that was shown the words love and gratitude formed complete crystals. In other words, love and gratitude were able to make the water “immune” to the damaging effects of the magnetic field. He concluded that when you have become the embodiment of gratitude, think about how pure the water that fills your body will be. When this happens, you yourself will be a beautiful, shining crystal of light.
In 2011, Nobel Prize laureate Luc Montagnier, who had earlier discovered HIV virus, carried out an experiment to prove the concept of this “water-memory”. In first part of the experiment, he captured the “electromagnetic signals” (EMS) emitted by the known pair of DNA from an “aqueous” solution. These EMS are recorded and stored in form of a digital computer file which was later used to irradiate the other sample of aqueous solution with precisely the same EMS. By irradiating those recorded EMS, he could successfully synthesise and reconstitute those same DNA pairs with 98% fidelity. That proved that water, when exposed to the same set of information, could reproduce precisely the same end result (the same DNA pairs in this case). It proved the hypothesis of Water-Memory.
Detail of this experiment can be checked on following weblinks.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8VyUsVOic0andt=41s (documentary of the experiment)
In molecular biology, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) enables you to produce millions of copies of a specific DNA sequence from an initially small sample – sometimes even a single copy of DNA. First step in a typical PCR is “denaturation” in which hydrogen bond of the DNA base pair separates the double stranded helical structure. It happens at the temperature of 96 C, just around the boiling temperature of water. In a same way, during boiling at 100 C, hydrogen bond of the water molecules weakens and finally breaks apart.
Boiling the water is an attempt to “erase” memory of the substances which it has come in contact with or been exposed to. This is similar to defragmenting or even formatting computer hard-disk. Boiling raises the energy level of water, weaken and breaks hydrogen-bond among water molecules and upon gradual cooling it resets the molecular arrangements to make it neutral and free from its past history. Besides sterilisation, boiling is a very subtle and important purification process of the water wherein the we remove the unknown past influences of the water and wash out the previous memory that it has been carrying with it.
Similar or even a better phenomenon happens in a natural water cycle wherein the water turns into “vapour”, goes up in the upper atmosphere and forms cloud. When that same water comes back in the form of rain, it is considered as the most suitable water for agriculture and for human consumption.
The entire Homeopathic science of dilution rests on the theory of water-memory; as after successive dilutions, no molecule of the original medicinal substance remains in the final dilution of medicine. Despite that, the final dilution works effectively as a medicine. That is because the memory of the original medicine infused in the water, is carried forward in subsequent dilution and that’s responsible for reconstitution of the same medicine infused at first stage.
In Indian tradition, there is practice of taking vow or oath with a glass of water in front or taking water in the palm while reciting the oath. In Christianity, baptizing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit makes sense only through the hypothesis of water-memory and consciousness. In both cases, water helps to program us the way its desired.
If water can retain memory of its past experience, if it can be made to erase those unknown bad records, then it is also possible to impregnate the desired beneficial frequencies in the water which we intend to consume. That is why the holy Navakar Mantra is expected to be recited in Jain tradition before drinking the water. With the intent to bless the water that we consume and by chanting Navakar Mantra, positive vibrations are induced in the water. And when it goes into our blood vessel inside, it transduces that same information there, purifying our body and mind.
Boiling the water and subsequently cooling that down to room temperature before consumption is an important step at both gross and subtle level of its purification.
These latest scientific experiments and age-old tradition of drinking boiled water; points towards the attributes of water i.e. ability to alter its molecular structure, retaining memory of the surrounding environment and the its behaviour like a “living-consciousness”. It seems to be leading towards the doctrine about water-bodied life-form (Apkäy Jeeva) as mentioned in Jainism.
3. Daily Recitation
Daily recitation of the various Shlok and repetitively chanting of Mantra are integral part of all Indian traditions. Mostly these rituals are followed simply by faith. But besides that, they have been studied for their physical, mental, emotional and psychological healing effect and overall well-being.
Everything in this universe is manifestation of energy, frequency and vibrations. Every vibration produces sound. So, everything that exists is a complex consolidation of sound. This implies that the whole of existence, is a union of multiple sounds or mantra.
The Sanskrit word Mantra, comes from roots ‘Manas’ (the linear thinking mind) and ‘tra’ (to cross over). Mantra are sonic formulae that take us beyond, or through, the discursive faculties of the mind and connect our awareness directly and immediately to deep states of energy and consciousness. It serves as vehicles for the mind to cross over the material world and into enlightenment. It cuts through mental clutter, facilitate meditation practice, and create a deeper state of awareness
Mantras stimulate the secretions of the pituitary gland, which is located only millimetres from the palate. Certain permutations of Mantra send signals to the command centres of the brain—the hypothalamus, the pituitary and also to the pineal gland, which orchestrate a healing response and send out packets of information in the form of neurotransmitters and chemicals, in the brain and throughout the body. There are 84 meridians on the roof of the tongue that are stimulated through mantra, and scientific evidence shows that mantras facilitate the release of secretions that strengthen our immune and neurological systems.
Mantra, when used in certain way, open the doors to wider and higher dimensions of life and experiences. Mantras serves to bring back frequency of the organ to the original healthy state by bombarding it with another frequency. When the vibration created by an object reach body which receive the vibration, the body begins to vibrate at the new frequency. When the Mantra or sound reaches the organ which is in disorder, the vibration created through chanting of mantra encounters to the existing vibration of that organ which is in disorder. When the new sound continuously penetrates the target area, the organ begins to access the new frequency and mimic the new vibration, bringing change in the organ and body at large.
When we continuously chant mantra, other noises in the body and mind get drowned out. Eventually the brain gets completely soaked in this new realm created by sound, which then reverberates in the whole body. Further, one-pointed concentration brings in a cosmic expansion of the self. Here the boundary of the body is lost; finite vanishes and infinite appears.
In the 1970s, Dr Franz Morell, a German medical doctor who used homeopathy in his practice, developed a dedicated therapeutic intervention based on this concept; which validates the faith based traditional practices. It is known as “Bio-Resonance Therapy”. This therapeutic technique designed on the same premise that all particles of matter generate electromagnetic energy. In humans and other animals, this electromagnetic energy is continually resonating out from the body in oscillations of varying wavelengths and frequencies, which can be “detected, amplified, graphed, and examined”.
This energy-informatics led to the creation of fundamentally new type of “electronic therapeutic device” designed to detect and record these oscillating electromagnetic waves, destroying the barrier between conscious and the subconscious.
These electronics medical device uses frequency patterns taken from the body. Then it separates these waves into harmonious (healthy) and disharmonious (unhealthy) components. The healthy waves are boosted and sent back to the body to strengthen normal functions, while the unhealthy waves are ‘inverted’ or turned upside down by an electronic mirror circuit before returning them to reduce their negative effect on the body. What actually happens is more complicated but the ‘inverted’ wave cancels the harmful wave that was stressing the body’s energetic system. You can see this effect at the beach where a wave reflected from a rock flattens the next incoming wave. The same electronic principle is used in noise-cancelling headphones for use on aircraft.
In 6th century AD, Bhaktamar Stotra composed by Acharya Mantunga is an outstanding example of the devotional hymns which can invoke the supernatural powers. In reality, the intense sound vibration produced while composing Bhaktamar Stotra at that time, could break-open the heavy iron chain that were tied to Acharya Mantunga and released him without any other aid. Jain scripture has exhaustive collection of such target-oriented Mantras which are recited to accomplish the specific tasks through invoking and channelising sound energy produced from it towards the defined objectives.
Stories of legendry musician Tansen is well-known, who could sing Deepak Raag, so meticulously that entire atmosphere became extremely warm and literally lighted-up lamps only through the power of sound.
Today we have some revolutionary scientific concept of Cymatics. But ages ago, Jain Tirthankars deftly defined the importance of sound vibrations through daily recitations. Jain tradition has woven so complex science with such a simplicity that it may not be understood by all; but still can be practiced by everyone to avail its astonishing benefits.
4. Meditation and Prayers
Prayer is considered miraculous. Prayers can move mountains. It can’t be explained or comprehended with any conventional rationality. Prayer is considered to be so powerful that it can turn impossible situations upside down with no logical reasoning.
Understanding the co-relation of meditation and prayer with strong immunity – against external attack of harmful bacteria or virus, maintaining all-round mental and physical health and overall well-being, is quite a complex phenomenon. Although it is not exactly a straight-line path to understand, it’s perhaps the most powerful tool at the disposal, to even a person who is bodily incapacitated to practise anything mentioned in above 3 practices.
So, from where does prayer derive so much power? Prayer works at quantum level. We are deeply connected through a phenomenon known in the quantum physics as “entanglement”. It simply means that everything in the cosmos is unified, even if they are physically separated by many miles or light years. Energetically everything is still connected. It empowers us to participate in healing of the self as well as of the loved one just by honestly expressing the intent to do so.
Whether or not a divine power truly does exist might be a matter of opinion, but the neurophysiological effects of religious belief are scientific facts that can be accurately measured. Physiologically, praying involves the deeper parts of the brain: the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex — the mid-front and back portion which can be seen through magnetic image resonance (MRI), which render detailed anatomical pictures. These parts of the brain are involved in self-reflection and self-soothing by opening and activating neural pathways
The science of Neurotheology, or what is better known as ‘spiritual-neuroscience’; is a recent entrant to the specialty of neurology. The other sub disciplines of neuroscience, i.e. neuropsychology, neurophysiology and neuro-philosophy have now also come into the forefront. The entire concept of neurotheology is to bridge the phenomenon of spirituality and the emanating subjective experiences, there off, with plausible scientific explanations of the same.
Dr. Andrew Newberg (http://www.andrewnewberg.com) is renowned neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital. According to his studies carried out in above mentioned sub disciplines, praying releases of hormones knowns as Serotonin, Dopamine and Oxytocin which acts as a neurotransmitter. All of these neurotransmitters play a role in how you feel that leads to your behaviour. Serotonin has a direct impact on your mood, and not having enough serotonin has been linked to depression. Dopamine, on the other hand, is associated with reward and motivation. Oxytocin is known as a “Love Hormone”. It is also associated with empathy, trust, and relationship building; giving us a good feeling despite living in a world of threat. It makes you feel like “I can count on something to protect me when I am out of ideas and helpless”. This feeling is much like you had when you were a baby.
Physical, emotional, and mental stress leads to higher levels of ‘cortisol’, a hormone produced by the adrenal gland. During times of stress, the adrenals produce more cortisol, since the body is now essentially in fight-or-flight mode. This is a natural survival response. For a short time, that’s okay. But at sustained high levels, cortisol gradually tears your body down. Apart from causing hormonal imbalance, sustained high levels of cortisol destroys healthy muscle and bone; slows down healing and normal cell regeneration; co-opts biochemicals needed to make other vital hormones; impairs
digestion, metabolism and mental function; interferes with healthy endocrine function, and weakens your immune system. The continual release of this stress hormone can cause surge in release of insulin, adrenaline, and norepinephrine—which leads to cravings, sleep issues, etc. People who meditate frequently report that it helps them de-stress, maintain hormonal balance and approach life with a steadier mind.
To maintain strong immunity, controlling mental faculties is very important. It is the mental faculties that govern our behaviour, actions and habits. According to Louise L. Hay – the author of an international best seller book “You Can Heal Your Body”; every disease in the body is nothing but the manifestation of the predominant negative thought that you have been holding in your mind for a long period of time.
Jain religion puts a significant emphasis on the thought process of a human being. A person’s behaviour and his actions are the reflection of his internal thoughts, day in and day out. It is not the action but intention behind the action that results in the accumulation of Karma. Hence, one should be very careful about his thoughts, how he thinks, and the subject matter of his thought.
To make room for pure thoughts, and to drive out the evil ones, Jainism recommends to reflect or meditate on overall 16 thoughts knowns as or Bhavna or Anuprekshas.
First 4 Bhavanas are more action oriented and can be instrumental in improving our behaviour and relationship with others. The other 12 contemplatives Bhavanas explain the reality of our existence. They guide us about the virtues we need to develop. The first 4 Bhavanas are: 1) Maitri Bhavana (Friendship) 2) Pramod Bhavana (Appreciation) 3) Karunya Bhavana (Compassion) 4) Madhyasthya Bhavana (Equanimity).
Contemplation of these 4 Bhavanas require us to do daily introspection with respect to our behaviour changes and interactions with others during our worldly affairs. In Jain tradition, daily-repentance (Pratikramana), is a ritual during which Jains repent for their sins and non-meritorious activities committed knowingly or inadvertently during their daily life through thought, speech or action. Seeking forgiveness, repentance and forgiving others through this ritual, when done with correct understanding and sincere intentions relives you from the mental distress.
Vinay – meaning politeness, modesty and absence of ego – is an important internal austerity (abhyantar-tap), which controls both 1) senses and 2) mind. Ego is unhealthy for both mind and body as it makes you insecure and competitive. It is only when mind is calm and saturated with pure thoughts, it maintains hormonal balance necessary to tune up all organs, drive out toxins and maintain their functions in harmony.
Staying healthy and maintaining immune system abreast is a natural state and default setting of the body. Disease arises only when this default setting is disturbed through subtle mental faculties which weaken our immune system thereby making us vulnerable to infection. Prayer and meditation is a daily cleansing exercise; which daily resets the mental faculties to its default state and keeps us clear-off 4 passions which might have seeped into our characters due to our day-to-day worldly affairs.
Spiritual practices covered in this article and its physiological effect has a strong co-relation with the health, immunity level and overall well-being.
However, the biggest hurdle that one need to overcome while imbibing above practices in one’s life; is to cross-over the mental inertia of disrupting the old unhealthy habits, which we are so accustomed. In today’s fast paced life, time is extremely scare commodity to have these practises in your daily schedule. But when you are a follower of an age-old tradition like Jain, Buddhist or Vedic; then it becomes very natural to imbibe these practices in your daily chores.
The mentioned spiritual practices in this article – are daily or a periodic ‘rituals’ for the followers of Jain and other Indian traditions. This is mostly the faith driven behaviour and not as much of the knowledge driven. This is mostly driven by the common and collective behaviour of the society through social customs and social engagement norms.
For example, fasting is an annual ‘festival’ (knowns as Paryushan) which attracts mass participation and which is celebrated by followers of Jain tradition. Drinking boiled water, meditation, prayer, daily recitation before starting and ending your day; are part of a faith-based daily code of conduct followed without questioning and that’s what makes it easy to follow.
Understanding the precise science about the rituals and spiritual practices are difficult to comprehend for an ordinary man. In normal situation, without clear understanding of the purpose and possible outcome; it is difficult to prepare ourselves to adopt such practices in our daily life. But when it becomes faith inspired social custom; it empowers the whole society to derive the benefits of spiritual interventions even without understanding them so meticulously by masses.