On Care of The Physical Body
It should not be necessary for one to write on such a subject as the care for one of the closest companions a person can have in life, but in our current ‘civilized society’ many people have inevitably turned away from nature and proper care of their bodies. This must at all costs be remedied, the luxuries of our society are of no good if we are so unwell as to be unable to enjoy them properly. Such should be of even more importance to people concerned with practical metaphysics, for although primarily such studies delve into mind and soul, the body is the container of these (though they surely can escape!) and ought to be kept looked after, it is not hypocritical to delve to purify the murky waters while keeping the container without cracks, otherwise you may find yourself with no water left to purify. The physical temple is the springboard to the higher realms, and it has a distinctly evident relationship to the mind, which the meta-physicist aims to control.
Exercise through Asanas
Thusly, we shall move on to look at something that our society has not forgotten, the muscles. Certainly some strength is wanted, however unlike a lot of society our concern is not with size but with flexibility. An occultist’s body must be flexible and relaxed, otherwise the mind shall be more difficult to calm, blood flow is potentially restricted and our health shall not be at optimum level. The below outline is based on certain yogic asanas and its specific set together as is I first saw given by Swamji Sivananda, I have found it to be the best group of asanas practiced at any one time I have found for someone on an occultists path.
The first exercise useful for a warm up to the asana set is surya namaskar otherwise known as Sun Salutation, this exercise can be done fast paced or at a slower pace depending on your own tastes.
i. Stand with feet together and hands in the prayer position in front of your chest. Exhale.
ii. Inhaling, stretch your arms up, palms still together and arch back from the waist, pushing the hips out, legs straight.
iii. Exhaling, bend forward, and press your palms down, fingertips in line with toes - bend your knees if necessary.
iv. Inhaling, bring the right leg back and place the knee on the floor. Arch back and look up, lifting your chin.
v. Retaining the breath, bring the other leg back and support your weight on hands and toes.(as in after the pushing up of a push up)
vi. Exhaling, lower your knees, then your chest and then your forehead, keeping your hips up.
vii. Inhaling, lower your hips and bend back. Keep legs together and shoulders down. Look up and back.
viii. Exhaling, raise your hips and pivot into an inverted "V" shape (downward facing dog) Try to push your heels and head down and keep your shoulders back.
ix. Inhaling, step forward and place the right foot between your hands. Rest the other knee on the floor and look up, as in position 4.
x. Exhaling, bring the other leg forward and bend down from the waist, keeping your palms as in position 3.
xi. Inhaling, stretch your arms forward, then up and back over your head and bend back slowly from the waist, as in position 1.
xii. Exhaling, gently come back to an upright position and bring your arms down by your sides.
Those 12 steps constitute half a round, repeat again but take back the left leg first on the second half. When completed that then makes a round, do at least 4 rounds before starting the asana set. Now the body is nicely warmed up and proper asana practice can begin to be undertaken.
The asanas we are concerned with here are sarvangasana, matsyasana, paschimothanasana, bhujangasana, salahbhasana, dhanurasana, ardha matsyendrasana, Mayurasana, pada hasthasana and trikonasana. These 10 asanas overall offer a good workout to the whole system and can be learnt fine I believe online without much harm possible except through extreme carelessness, in which case one should not be on this path anyway! Let us get onto the description of their performance then. These descriptions I take directly from Sivananda’s ‘Kundalini Yoga’ and ‘Practical Lessons in Yoga’ because I myself cannot word how to perform them as well as he eloquently has in his text, which is freely available online as a PDF for anyone interested anymore in the subject.
Lie on the back quite flat. Slowly raise the legs. Lift the trunk, hips, and legs quite vertically. Support the back with the two hands, one on either side. Rest the elbows on the ground. Press the chin against the chest (Jalandhara Bandha). Allow the back-shoulder portion and neck to touch the ground closely. Do not allow the body to shake or move to and fro. Keep the legs straight. When the Asana is over, bring the legs down very, very slowly with elegance and not with any jerks. In this Asana the whole weight of the body is thrown on the shoulders. You really stand on the shoulders with the help and support of the elbows.
Concentrate on the Thyroid gland which lies on the front lower part of the neck. Retain the breath as
long as you can do with comfort, and slowly exhale through the nose.
Spread a blanket and sit on Padmasana by keeping the right foot over the left thigh and the left over right thigh. Stretch the head back, so that the top of your head rests on the ground firmly on one side and the buttocks only on the other, thus making a bridge or an arch of the trunk. Place the hands on the thighs or catch the toes with the hands.
Spread a blanket on the ground. Lay on it face down and the muscles of the body completely
relaxed. Place the palms on the ground just below the shoulders, bending them in the elbows. Touch
the ground with the forehead and raise the head and the upper part of the body slowly just as a cobra
raises its hood. Bend the spine backwards. Let the lower part of the body from the navel downwards
right up to the toes touch the ground. Breathe normally through the nose. Retain the breath till the
head is raised and the spine bent nicely. Then again exhale. Then retain the breath while bringing
the head down and as soon as the head touches the ground, slowly inhale again. Repeat this process
of raising the head and bringing it down half a dozen times or more.
Lie on the blanket face down and the arms touching the ground. Let the palms face upwards
with the fingers clenched. Inhale slightly. Then stiffen the whole body and raise the legs the hips
and the lower abdomen up. putting the whole weight of the body on the chest and the hands. Raise
the head also slightly. Remain in this pose for 10 seconds in the beginning and prolong the time
little by little as long as you can retain the breath. Bring the legs down slowly, relax the muscles of
the whole body and exhale. Repeat this pose four or five times taking care to see that the lungs are
not unduly strained.
As you did in the previous two poses, lie on the blanket face down. Relax all the muscles of
the body. Bend the legs slowly at the knee-joint until the hands catch hold of the ankles. Raise the
head, chest and knees. Keep the arms and the forearms stiff end straight. Try to keep the knees close
together. Now the whole body rests on the abdomen A good convex arch is formed resembling a
bow with a string. You can either breathe as usual or retain the breath according to your
convenience. Remain in this pose as long as you can comfortably do so. Do this Asana four to six
times. When you have done this, lower the knees and the chest first. Then bring the hands and legs
down and stretch flat on the ground.
Sit on the ground and stretch the legs stiff like a stick. Catch the toes with the thumb and
index and middle fingers. While catching, you have to bend the trunk forwards. Fatty persons will
find it rather difficult to bend. Exhale. Slowly bend without jerks till your forehead touches your
knees. You can keep the face even between the knees. When you bend down, draw the belly back.
This facilitates the bending forward. Bend slowly by gradual degrees. Take your own time. There is
no hurry. When you bend down, bend the head between the hands. Retain it on a level with them.
Young persons with elastic spine can touch the knees with the forehead even in their very first
attempt. In the case of grown-up persons with rigid spinal column, it will take a fortnight or a month
for complete success in the posture. Retain the breath till you take the forehead back, to its original
position, till you sit straight again. Then breathe.
Kneel on the ground. Sit on the toes. Raise the heels up. Join the two forearms together.
Place the palms of the two hands on the ground. The two little fingers must be in close touch. They
project towards the feet. Now you have got steady and firm forearms for supporting the whole body
in the ensuing elevation of the trunk and legs. Now bring down the abdomen slowly against the
conjoined elbows. Support your body upon your elbows that are pressed now against the navel or
umbilicus. This is the first stage. Stretch your legs and raise the feet stiff and straight on a level with
the head. This is second stage.
Place the left heel near the anus and below the scrotum. It can touch the perennial space. Do
not allow the heel to move from this space. Bend the knee and place the right ankle at the root of the
left thigh and rest the right foot well on the ground close to the left hip-joint. Place the left axilla or
arm-pit over the top of the vertically bent right knee. Push the knee now a little to the back so that it
touches the back part of the axilla. Catch hold of the left foot with left palm. Then applying pressure
at the left shoulder-joint slowly twist the spine and turn to the extreme right. Turn the face also to
the right as much as you can do. Bring it in a line with the right shoulder. Swing round the right arm
towards the back. Catch hold of the left thigh with the right hand. Retain the pose from 5 to 15
seconds. Keep the vertebral column erect. Do not bend. Similarly you can twist the spine to the left
Padha Hasthasana – This is the same as paschimothanasana except it is performed while standing up and bending forward, rather than sitting down.
Stand up straight, and place your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart. Stretch your right arm up, then bend to your left, sliding your left hand down your thigh. To eventually grasp your ankle. Do not twist your body. Repeat the pose on the other side. Your body forms a straight line, parallel to the floor. from your waist to your fingertips.
So I have now given the performance of the asanas, I admit such from the textual level may look overly complicated, but on the contrary, when in practice they are quite simple. Such asanas should be done in the order given if they are to be done. To make sure asana is not just idle physical exercise, mind must also be involved. When breath is controlled and mind is focused, then it becomes proper asana, otherwise it is just physical exercise. To do this a mantra should be taken, Om is the simplest and most ideal from my point of view, but you may use anything you want. The breath should be rhythmical and calm, not rushed. So during asana one shall inhale for say four om’s, hold for four om’s and exhale for four om’s (or one may skip retention of breath) each om equating to about a second. Thus one shall keep the mind focused and the breath controlled. In asana the body must always be kept still, it must not be allowed the luxury of moving. One can then know how long they are holding the asana for as well through such breathing. For our purposes, we have no real need to go beyond 5 minutes for every asana. At the beginning you can do just one minute for each, that is about 8 breaths without retention (using the above counting of mantra). If one is retaining the breath for asana which can improve efficiency but which I personally do not recommend for the average person reading this article, at least not at first, they can keep repeating om until they can no longer hold their breath WITH EASE…this does no mean you hold your breath until you gasp for air, if you do this there must always be slow inhale and exhale.
After such asana performance one can move on to performing Shavanasana which I have described in another article elsewhere, and will go into more detail on later in this article.
Now then we can move on to control of the more subtle muscles, the diaphragm and intercostals. This part shall not concern with the pranayama practices, I may deal with them in another article, I am not sure, but now is not the place. This shall be simple. Breathing should be slow, steady, deep and rhythmical. That is the essence. One should sit with back quite straight, body in a specific asana, then take one’s mind to breath. First observe the breath as it is, one must be able to observe the breath without affecting its flow. After some moments of observation move on to deliberate control. First gently expand the lower abdomen forward, then the upper abdomen, the lower chest and finally the upper chest should expand up and out. This is a full breath. The breath should not be drawn in forcefully through the nostrils, it should flow naturally as a result of the movement on the muscles and their subsequent creation of a change in volume/air pressure. This is all to be done in a relaxed, wave like fashion, connected, not disconnected. Then exhale in the opposite fashion, starting again from the lower abdomen. This may take some practice at first, but it will come. Once the fashion of breathing is established one can move onto the rhythm. Pick some point to reach to and use that. First use just inhale and exhale, one may inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 4 counts, or one may inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 8 counts. Afterwards one may add some retention of breath between inhale and exhale, and another retention after exhale before the subsequent inhale. All up to your own discretion. This is not pranayama, it needn’t be excessive, do not increase the count to a high point, this is just minor. This results in calming the mind, all the lung is used so the body is more charged with oxygen and prana, and removal of wastes is more effective. Do like this for a few minutes each day, say 10. You will notice some good results on your health if such is not already normal to you, of this I am sure, if it is persisted with. This breathing can be elaborated on for more than mere technical effects, but this is beyond the scope of this article, you can look them up yourself. This is fine for general good health and a calm mind.
I will not go into dietary disciplines here. There are plenty others who go into that around, and I trust people are intelligent enough (against my often pessimistic view of society, I admit!) to know what is best for them to eat, and that eating 5 eggs and 7 steaks a week is not overly healthy. You can choose your diet as you believe it is suitable. What is of more importance than what you eat, is how you eat. Many will go on and on about what you should eat, but that is relatively pointless and wasted time, since many people are not even eating properly to get the full nutritional effects of such.
A person should eat slowly, with a focused attention on what they are eating. Before eating one may, if they have such an impetuous offer some thanks. Consider how the food has been produced and brought to their table, the labour of others in its procurement etc. Then one may impregnate it with a certain desire using the Will and Imagination, but here we are concerned primarily with physical care.
The food consumed should be chewed slowly with attention on it, and its taste. One should not swallow until the food has been properly masticated. As a rule, one may assume, so long as food still has some taste it can be chewed for longer. When properly masticated almost any food will become some liquid, normally white, which as it were will dribble down the throat easily. Only then can one be sure the potential nutritional value will fully be taken advantage of. The taking of food ought to be sacred where possible, and always done slowly with attention. If you are in a position where you cannot eat slowly, then you do better to give your digestive tract some time to rest, gulping down food in a hurry means the rest of your digestive system will have to work harder, and full nutritional benefits will not be taken advantage of, so it should in all cases be avoided where possible.
The focus of mind is threefold. Firstly it allows one to acknowledge when the food is properly masticated, otherwise one will gulp down without thinking due to habit. Secondly it has to do with magicians and mystics thoughts on prana, and when mind is directed to food, more prana will be assimilated from it and so the astral body will also be more nourished from the subtler parts of the food. Thirdly it is a good chance to practice concentration in everyday situations, so meditation later will come quicker. For our general purposes, the first is the only reason it is stated here, the other two are mere beneficial side effects.
Drinking follows practically the same method above as for eating. The drink should also not be gulped down, but should have mind focused on it, and swirled around by the tongue for a second or two before being swallowed. Upon rising in the morning, and directly before going to bed, a glass of water should be taken. Throughout the day, one does well to have water by them at all times, and to occasionally sip, but not gulp altogether, from the bottle or cup. The simplest test is to check your urine, if it is yellow, then you need to take more water. Where possible, try and keep from soda, and keep to as pure water as possible, or otherwise fruit juice, containing pulp preferably. All liquids, particularly colder (but not ice cold!) water can be impregnated in a similar method to the food. A specific mini-ritualistic method involves taking the glass of the liquid in the left hand, held by the bottom if possible, while taking the right hand over the top and sprinkling the fingers over it, using Imagination to see droplets of prana emit themselves into the water, along with the Will for a particular effect. The symbolism in this is actually quite potent when understood. The cup is the general symbol for the female, while the fingers are phallic and symbols of the male. The liquid inside composes the ‘tears of the white gluten’ while the prana emitted from the fingers is ‘the blood of the red lion’ These then combine through such actions. The right hand is electrical and thus used for the emission of prana, while the left hand is magnetic and ensures the equal distribution of the charging throughout. Thus the idea is impregnated in the womb through the seed, and it’s subsequent birth into reality takes place when it takes birth, in other words, when it leaves the glass and enters your mouth.
I shall take it for granted that you all brush your teeth, shower etc. Now then we shall focus on the showering aspect. Of our concern and primary importance for the general public is scrubbing of the body with a firm bristle brush, perhaps along with a rubbing of the body with particular oils, most favourably among many is almond oil. The body should be scrubbed all over with the brush until it begins to turn faintly red. This helps remove old dead skin cells. Normally this would have naturally happened to man, but civilized life has changed this, we are normally beyond the harsher environment which would have naturally exfoliated us. So then we must artificially imitate this state of nature using the natural bristle brush. After the skin is scrubbed we can take to a cold shower, the shower needn’t be excessively cold, we may gently decrease the temperature if necessary. During the shower, you should take to massaging the body quite firmly, you might also chant a mantra (om) while doing this, combined with the above breathing method. Of particular importance is under the armpits and the throat should also gently be massaged. Make a point to get the feet well in the spray, but try and keep the thighs out of direct spray. The face also should be focused on under cold spray. This tightens the pores and improves blood circulation, the skin is through such well taken care of. This is also very refreshing for someone who is involved in certain rituals, meditations etc and who arises early to fit them in, there are other more ‘occult’ reasons for this, but they are not our concern.
Another important thing people should occasionally do is cleansing of their gut. This can be achieved through fasting, excessive drinking of water and such, but all of these can be considered when taken to extreme’s rather unnatural so we shall go with something that while perhaps not natural, is better than these in my opinion, if perhaps rather ‘gross’ to average senses. This involves simply taking water into the anus, holding it in for a small amount of time and then eliminating it. This cleanses the large intestine well and particularly the rectum which is of our concern. This is basically a self-enema. Use a syringe or such to insert the water, or if one is able, one may take it up through their own bowel movements after inserting some pipe/straw. Shortly (though not straight) after, defecate. This shouldn’t be taken to excess, but is beneficial if occasionally done. This removes any build-up of shit, occultists are often claimed to be full of shit, let us remedy this then. This can act as a blockage to proper release of it later, and can basically sit ‘fermenting’ in the intestine, in effect, poisoning the body slowly. Many people go around in a semi-constipated state. As a rule you can check any success in that you will eliminate very easily without any effort needed when desired and when wiping the toilet paper will be almost bare. This may not altogether be the nicest area to have gone into, but it is part of your system and of utmost importance to its maintenance. I hope some will at least try to keep it clean, it is not difficult to get a syringe.
Nowadays, our eyes are often in a constant state of tension and it is of importance that we devote some time occasionally to allow them to relax, Tratak allows us to do just this. The technique is itself relatively simple, take some point and steady the gaze on it, keep the mind on it, in affect it is meditation. The eyelids must not blink, the eyes should not move. The item will morph and change but you must keep the eyes still if it is to work. So far as you can easily, do not blink, but do not strain to not blink either. If the mind is focused well the want of blinking shall not be present so strongly. Allow the eyes to tear, then close them and relax for a few minutes. Afterwards you may rinse them with cold water. This has many good effects on the eyes and purportedly people have ‘thrown off their spectacles through this exercise’…I myself have not made much use of this, but when I do its relaxation to my eyes is evident. I however do wear glasses, but my vision has improved through such and my glasses have been slightly lowered. I trust you can see any benefits it may have for yourselves.
Along with the above things there are a few more general things that may be taken advantage of and one is sun bathing. While this shouldn’t be taken to excess, it is beneficial for one to get direct sunlight on as much of the body as possible, in occult theories the best time for this would normally be in the early hours of the morning when it is still cooler. I myself live in an almost always clear skied area, and have my own private pool etc so this is easy for me. For those who live where it is rather the opposite this may not be so, but when you can it can be taken advantage of to good results. Another thing is fresh air, some people spend a lot of time indoors, in the morning if possible, open all your windows and let the sunlight and fresh air in for the day, also try and spend plenty of time outside, this does not mean walking between classes or going out for a cigarette, it means spending time outside just for the sake of being outside, not in some hurried manner where you are expected back somewhere soon. Though any is better than none.
Our society is very stressful and so we need an effective way to cope with this, physical relaxation is of utmost importance to people to participate in. It is very simple. Lie down on the back, at first it is better on a harder surface. Have the feet fall outwards and the hands palm up to the sides at about 45 degree angle to the body. Tense the various areas of the body starting with the feet, hold it, then suddenly relax them. Go through all the areas of the body like this. Then take to mental focus alone. Take all your concentration to the feet and tell them to relax mentally, develop a heavy feeling in them and feel them sinking into the floor. Do this for about 30 seconds in one area, then move on to the next area, say shins. One should do this through all the body. 30 seconds is ideal, it is long enough to allow proper sinking and focus, but not too long as to allow the mind to easily wander. Keep going through the whole body like this multiple times, at some point the mind will begin to stop thinking almost altogether, or will drift off into other concerns and forget what it is doing. If you do it well with some small practice you may enter yoga nidra. You will be constantly on the brink of consciousness and may not come to until a few hours, so make sure to do this properly when there is some good time. An excellent time for this is while in bed before sleeping, do it on back, then move to left side and do it, then right side and do it etc.
Now I conclude my article. It will be noted that practically none of the material is entirely my own and in fact has merely been a drawing from my brain, and pretty much a culmination of certain yogic techniques for the most part in maintaining bodily health. I have no doubt you can find all of it elsewhere. But nonetheless I present it here, I have tried to keep its focus on practical work, rather than theoretical jabbering. Its importance is in being put to use. If all this is done I am quite sure that good health will be had among the general population.