Prana-the Outer Coat Of Mind
There are two principal Tattvas in the universe, viz., mind and Prana. Wherever there is Prana, there is mind also. Even in the external movement of breath beyond the nose, the mind is mixed with the external breath. Prana (energy) is the outer overcoat for the mind. Prana digests the food, turns it into chyle and blood and sends it to the brain and mind. The mind is then able to think and do Brahma-Vichara (enquiry into Brahman). The life of the mind is kept up through the vibration of the subtle psychic Prana which gives rise to the formation of thought.
Prana is gross. Mind is subtle. Mind is formed out of the conglomerate Sattvic essence of the five Tanmatras; whereas, Prana is formed out of the sum total of Rajasic essence of the five Tanmatras. That is the reason why mind is more Sukshma than the Prana.
The Pranamaya Kosha (vital sheath) is more subtle than the physical body. It overlaps the Annamaya Kosha (physical sheath) and is more extensive than it. Manomaya Kosha is more subtle than the Pranamaya Kosha and more extensive than the vital sheath. You have to touch the body of another man to have a physical influence over him. Whereas you can stand at a distance and by mere 'passes'you can impart your Prana to him; because, Prana (vital) is more subtle than the body. You can influence a man mentally through thought even though he lives a thousand miles away from you, because mental force is more subtle than Prana.
Inter-Dependence Of Mind And Prana
Prana and mind stand to one another in the relationship of the supporter and the supported. Both these are only like the flower and its odour or a sesamum seed and the oil in it. If either of them is slain, then the other also will cease to exist. If the mind and Prana cease to exist, then thoughts will not arise at all. The destruction of both will confer Moksha on all.
Ekagrata (one-pointedness) and Nirodha (controlled state) are two Avasthas of the mind. Spanda (subtle or Sukshma) and Nirodha are two Avasthas of the Prana. When the mind becomes one-pointed, Spanda Avastha of the Prana comes by itself. If the mind is purified with true Sattva Guna, the Prana will be distributed freely throughout the body. The food will be digested thoroughly.
Mind, Prana And Virya
Mind, Prana and Virya (semen) are under one Sambandha (connection). If you can control any one of these three, the other two are controlled by themselves, quite easily. Hatha Yogins try to control the Prana. Raja Yogins try to control the mind. Jnana Yogins start their Sadhana with Buddhi and will.
Benefits Of Pranayama
By Pranayama (control of Prana or restraint of breath), you can also increase the mental energy and develop thought-control and thought-culture. This will help concentration and meditation. This will make the mind steady. This will remove Rajas (passion) and Tamas (inertia). This will burn the dross in the mind.
By Pranayama, the mind gradually moves from the gross to the subtle. It, therefore, exercises a wholesome check upon sexual irritation. When some evil thought disturbs your mind, at once take to Padmasana or Siddhasana and do Pranayama. The thought will leave you immediately.
The Superiority of Prana Over Mind
The sight is more internal than speech as the sight generally informs without contradiction. Similarly, the hearing than the sight, as the eye may convey false impressions, e.g., the mother of pearl as silver, but the ear never hears a non-existing sound. Similarly, the ear only exercises its functions with the aid of the mind's attention and, similarly, the mind depends on the Prana or life. Prana is, therefore, Brahman, the Innermost of all.
"Forsooth, mind departed from the body. It returned after a year's absence and enquired of the organs: 'How did you survive my separation?' 'In the same way', replied the organs, 'in which an infant not possessing the power of reflection breathes through the agency of his respiratory organs, speaks through the organ of speech, sees by his eyes, hears by his ears.' Mind resumed its place. Then did mind say unto Prana, 'The quality of containing all, which belonged to me, is due to thee. 'The function of mind belongs to Prana; from Prana or life proceed all." (Chhandogya Upanishad, V-xiv-15). This parable illustrates the superiority of life (Prana) over mind and other organs. In reality, there was no dispute of any kind.
Mind And Kundalini
Kundalini, the serpent-like coiled power that lies dormant with 3 coils with the face downwards in the Muladhara Chakra, the basal lotus at the end of the spinal column, is connected with Prana and Prana is connected with the mind.
Even a Vedantin (student of the path of Jnana) can get Jnana-Nishtha (superconscious state) only through the awakening of Kundalini Sakti. No superconscious state or Samadhi is possible without the awakening of this primordial energy, whether it is in Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga or Jnana Yoga.
Kundalini Sakti can only be aroused when the mind is actually free from passions and desires. Sakti-Chalana or Asvani Mudra, Tadana, Pracharana-all help in awakening the Kundalini. Mahabheda helps in taking the Kundalini higher up. When the Kundalini Sakti is awakened, the mind enters, along with Prana and Jiva, the Sushumna and all perceptions are in the mental space (Chidakasa). After Kundalini is awakened, Prana passes upwards through Sushumna or Brahma Nadi within the spinal cord, along with mind and Agni. The Yogin is freed from physical consciousness. You are shut out from the external objective world. As soon as Kundalini is awakened for the first time, a Yogin gets these six kinds of experiences which last for a short time, viz., Ananda (spiritual bliss), Kampana (tremor of various parts of the body), Udbhava (rising above the ground from his Asana), Ghurni (intoxication divine-the body moves in a circle), Nidra (sleep) and Murchha (fainting). After awakening the Kundalini, you will have to take it up to Sahasrara in the top of the head.
When this Kundalini moves from Chakra to Chakra (from centre to centre), layer after layer of the mind opens up. The Yogin experiences different kinds of bliss (Ananda) at each new centre. He gets different experiences also as well as different powers. He gets control over the five elements. He perceives the universe in its subtle or causal form. He gets full knowledge of the types of various kinds of the causal plane. When Kundalini reaches the Sahasrara Chakra, you are in the Chidakasa (knowledge space).