Is the practicing of traditional asanas helpful for meditation?
Man’s personality is neither solely physical nor solely mental but both simultaneously. Rather, it would be correct to say that it is psychosomatic. There is no gap between the two, so anything that happens on the physical plane vibrates on the mental plane and vice versa. Philosophers have been in the habit of thinking of man as only body or only mind, or both parallel but separate, but not as one. To me, and to present-day science, they are one.
The visible mind is the body and the invisible body is the mind. These are two polarities of one existence. Mind means something that transcends our senses and is outside the grip of our senses. Body means something that comes within the grip of our senses. The division between the two is due to the senses and their limitations.
Man’s existence is both body and mind simultaneously. Even to say both simultaneously is inadequate. They are the same. The difference is only of vibrations. Body is the gross vibration that can be received through the senses and mind is the subtle vibration that transcends the capacity of the senses.
Why am I saying this? There is a well known theory in Western psychology known as the James-Lange theory. Common sense has always understood that body follows mind: when you are in fear, the body begins to run away; when you are in anger, your body begins to prepare for fight. But the psychologists, James and Lange, proposed quite a contrary view: it is not fear that creates running, but running that creates fear.
According to them the body comes first; mind follows. Their argument is that you cannot be fearful or angry if no corresponding body situation is created. So they have argued that you can only prove that anger is something mental if you can be angry without your body’s responding to it. They claim that it is impossible to find anger in you if your eyes are not red and your fists are not ready to fight. But James and Lange are not right even though their theory seems very plausible. There are body reactions – and without body reactions no mental attitudes can be expressed – but that does not mean that mental attitudes cannot exist without body reactions.
One can show symptoms of anger as far as the body is concerned and yet be without anger – like an actor. An actor can be completely acting anger – and as far as his body is concerned anger is there – but there is no anger within him. In the same way he can show all the symptoms of love by his appearance and yet not feel love. The body can express anything without the mind’s feeling it.