Energy Channels and Transmitters
NĀDĪS are energy channels through which PRĀNA – divine energy, life and consciousness – streams. Within the human body there is a subtle and perfect network of 72,000 Nādīs that distribute this life force throughout the whole body. On the physical level the Nādīs correspond to the nervous system, but their influence extends beyond this to the astral and spiritual planes of our existence. If all the Nādīs are functioning correctly then we are healthy and generally feel happy. But nearly every one of us has some physical or psychic problem, which means that some of the Nādīs are not working properly and need to be balanced.
PRĀNA is conscious energy, which means that the Nādīs also transmit consciousness. By means of the Nādīs one can see and hear things at a great distance and move in other levels of consciousness. There are numerous reports from people who were clinically dead and then came back to life again. They nearly all described how they travelled along a tunnel with light radiating at the end. This tunnel is the Nādī through which life escapes from the body.
We can also have such “tunnel experiences” in dreams and on astral journeys. With these we are not really outside the body but in an altered state of consciousness. The Nādīs make it possible for us to take mental journeys of discovery throughout the entire Universe. With their help our consciousness is able to go to any place we would like without the body having to move at all.
Three Nādīs are of special importance - IDĀ, PINGALĀ and SUSHUMNĀ.
- IDĀ arises in the left side of the body and represents the moon principle
- PINGALĀ begins on the right side of the body and symbolises the sun principle.
- SUSHUMNĀ runs through the central channel of the spinal cord and represents the consciousness.
On the physical level PINGALĀ has its counterpart in the Parasympathetic Nervous System, IDĀ in the Sympathetic Nervous System, and SUSHUMNĀ in the Central Nervous System.
The moon symbolises the mind with its changeable feelings, whereas the sun represents the intellect. Just as our emotions and thoughts change constantly, the moon is also constantly changing its form. The intellect, however, is a stable and constant principle like the sun. Only when harmony and balance prevail between the moon system and sun system are we healthy and capable of developing further mentally and spiritually.
We are able to activate and harmonise the Nādīs through the breath. When we breathe through the left nostril in Prānāyāma we activate the Idā Nādī. The Idā Nādī cools, quietens and refreshes body and mind like the silvery light of the moon. Pingalā Nādī, however, which is influenced by breathing through the right nostril has a warming and activating influence, in the same way as sunshine warms the earth and stimulates the growth of vegetation.
Idā and Pingalā begin in the brain at approximately the level of the Pituitary Gland. Idā has an effect on the right side of the brain whilst Pingalā influences the left hemisphere. To maintain balance both Nādīs run in a snake-like course from one side of the body to the other. At the points where they cross they also meet with the central Nādī, Sushumnā. At those places where the power and radiance of the sun and moon meet, together with the strengthening effect of the Sushumnā, very powerful energy centres called CHAKRAS form.
The first crossing of the Nādīs at the top of the spinal column forms the Throat Chakra (Vishuddhi Chakra) and the last crossing at the base of the spinal column forms the Root Centre (Mūlādhāra Chakra). Here the Idā Nādī flows on the left side of the body and the Pingalā Nādī on the right side, and it is precisely here that our dormant consciousness lies hidden.
At several places along the spinal column the Nādīs form a type of knot (GRANTHI), each of which constitutes a key point in our spiritual development. When these knots are “untied” the energy located within them is activated and the hidden powers (SIDDHIS) are given to us as healing powers, the seeing of past and future, the seeing of auras, and other supernatural abilities.
Other terms for Idā, Pingalā and Sushumnā are GANGĀ, YAMUNĀ and SARASVATĪ. These are the names of the three holiest rivers in India. Gangā and Yamunā flow on the surface but Sarasvatī flows underground. It rises to the surface only once every twelve years. This event happens in conjunction with a particular planetary constellation and is known as the KUMBHA MELĀ. This great spiritual festival of India held at the confluence of these three rivers (Sangam) is attended by millions of people who come to attain liberation from their Karmas and the cycle of rebirth by bathing in the sacred waters. But for the Yogi the three main Nādīs are the “divine rivers” and the Āgyā Chakra (the eyebrow centre) where these Nādīs meet is the holy place of pilgrimage where the Yogi attains liberation.
Just as the mysterious river, Sarasvatī, only rarely appears, the Sushumnā Nādī is only active for certain short periods of time (for example, at dawn and dusk). When the three main Nādīs unite only one stream of consciousness flows – the spiritual energy of the Sushumnā Nādī. The energy also flows through this Nādī in deep meditation and in Samādhī. For as long as the Sushumnā is inactive we are plagued by constantly changing CHITTA VRITTIS – thoughts, emotions, worries, etc. But once the Sushumnā begins to flow the waves of the mind come to rest and we “bathe” in the bliss of divine consciousness.