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Namah Journal

Consciousness and health

Growing and expanding

James Anderson


Expanding is conducive to growth, health and well-being. True expansion is integral: as every part of our being is interconnected, the process begins from inside to spread through the whole range of our nature and to manifest and radiate in the body itself. The process of expansion is the work of transformation.


Expanding in consciousness is central movement of all yoga. When on the path of growth, it is important for our well-being to learn how to expand. In the Integral Yoga itself, making oneself vast gives ampler room for the transforming Force that seeks to descend. It offers an easier and perhaps more practical way of stepping outside the prison-house of ego. Making oneself vaster is ultimately triggered by the influence of the soul and liberates our entire nature. In this process, the nature identifies with something much greater and becomes more transparent.  The concerns of the mundane existence fall away as one opens and widens the being. The process realigns one’s priorities in life and loosens the bindings of duality. We then make an important step forward towards realising the oneness of Existence.

This change has also an immense effect on our health and well-being. It is not exclusively a yogic movement. It includes many gradations and can be incorporated into everyday life. Every time we identify with something greater than our individuality, we move into a wider and more open space. Our psychology thrives when it is unfettered and free. The clutter disperses: there are no longer any corners for it to hide. The whole being can breathe in and absorb from the universe. Through this process, the range and clarity of the mind enlarges and can rise up to new planes of intuitive thought. The vital re-discovers its largesse and becomes a dynamic but compliant instrument; the heart meanwhile is brimful with love. 

As every part of our being is interconnected, it is not surprising that these movements will act positively on the body itself. The whole being needs to expand if the result is to be integral. Expanding the physical consciousness itself offers an answer to constriction and pain. When we expand our energy soars; our body becomes more plastic, light and free. 

Initial expanding 

There are many ways to expand in con-sciousness. As we cast our eyes over the splendour of a mountain range or gaze at a glorious sunset on the horizon, our being immediately receives a lift. We immediately widen: one doesn’t need to be a yogi to do this. However, as we begin to consciously develop and grow, we move into a ‘fast-lane’ where the whole process becomes considerably enhanced. We start to observe our nature. Internally, we might even become aware of a part in us which gently invites the rest of the being to follow its lead. This is what Sri Aurobindo refers to as the ‘divine possibility (1)’ which is in every one of us. We start to identify with this facet of our nature and we find it provides an essential lever for expanding our consciousness, lifting it high above the morass of the superficial existence. We need aspringboard for expansion. This is our ‘Truth’ if you like and its influence can considerably broaden the rest of our nature. In all of us there is a part of our nature waiting to take this lead. Its influence has a way of introducing the rest of our nature to the freedom of the soul. The closer we get to this entity, the more we expand. 

But the consciousness can only expand if the connection is nurtured and developed. The link cannot be coerced by the artificiality of the mind. The connection comes when we are spontaneous and open. The rest of the nature magnifies and glows from this link. It provides also an essential bridge to the well-being of the body. This link with the body needs to be always protected. So often I might experience a feeling of recoil when pain or difficulty arrives! The whole being shrinks, right down to the tissues and nerves. This retreat emanates from the mind not the body and as soon as I recognise this truth, the connection starts to form again.  


We can next try to look at what binds and constricts us. Our inner life ultimately governs our entire well-being and we rarely find it a homogenous and vast whole. What one often sees are tangles and knots caused by the conflicting wills, thoughts and impulses of one’s nature. Many of these distortions go very far back. Long buried memories, unreleased traumas or closed associations may lie at their source. These tangles and knots also narrow our being and make us very small. The first time one realises this fact it is quite an awakening! It can be a painstaking task unravelling these ties, one that can go on for years and years, but as far as I am concerned, it is the only way. Besides the work unearths vast riches and gives continually fresh insight into what truly motivates and inspires us. Once the knowledge is attained, once each distortion is seen in a true light, it is finished and over. But this is no piecemeal solution: it is the insight of a phenomenon from the perspective of the whole. There are no shortcuts; every stain has to be exposed to the Light and seen in its truest context. This is truly the work of the psychic being.This portion of the Divine, as Sri Aurobindo often calls it, has a way of seeing everything from all angles and possibilities. It provides a knowledge throughidentity. 

The work arises from connecting to our true source and while holding onto this one observes the recesses and contours of the nature. It is the body that I disinterestedly scan from top to bottom: everything appears there. I stay attentive and alert but I try to allow the play to simply unfold. I just want to see what is there. I don’t invite difficulty but if it comes I face it squarely. If it does, I gently but persistently enquire into why it has surfaced. The distortion may be resonating with pain or unease. I find it helps to ask the question aloud. If the connection is strong an answer will spontaneously descend which can be verbalised too. Anew Light dawns. 

These knots and tangles are the cause of all inner disequilibrium. They narrow the nature and prevent it from expanding. They lie at the root of all malaise and ill-health. So one solution lies in conscious observation and enquiry:   

“But for oneself, who can look inside himself quite positively and precisely and know exactly what is out of order, why it is disturbed, how it has been disturbed? And all this is simply a work of observation; afterwards one must do what is necessary to put it back into order again, and that is still more difficult. 

Well, this is the A B C of the transformation of the body (2).”   

The body-consciousness 

The task of expanding the body-consciousness is very necessary but not easy. Perhaps it provides the secret to eternal youth. This is truly the work of transformation because it is only through continual expansion that the body can hope to overcome the forces of decomposition. To do this, one has to put the body into a state of readiness and receptivity.  

The Mother points (3) out: 
“… I believe that unfortunately the amount of resistance is much greater than the amount of receptivity. One must work very hard to become receptive.” (p. 28)  

This resistance is “all that refuses to progress (4).” This denial comes from all parts of our lower nature. When our being shrinks the physical is never immune. 

Above all, I find that the body needs to relax. Sometimes I find my body as tight as a clenched fist. It needs to learn to trust and let go. Perhaps this tension has become a habit. Often I sense that locked memories, negative thinking and the whole inner psychology are conspiring to keep the physical in a state of constant alert. Once the body learns to relax, it automatically opens and when it opens, it receives and expands. Sometimes simply laying a hand helps. The process needs our presence. The relaxation comes from connection not inertia: a conscious choice made out of love to connect with the Divine. If the body is capable of making this choice itself then a wonderful Delight intervenes. 

However the very fixity of the physical consciousness lies at the root of this resistance. This fixity hampers the receptivity of the body and “is just what prevents the body from progressing as rapidly as it could and should (5).” As time goes by “you become dry and hard like wood and even like stone in the end. And as the body is no longer able to adapt itself to the movement of inner transformation, it drags, it ages and cannot keep pace any more, it dries up (6).”    

In spite of this fixity, one can always identify the body with the ideal that it secretly holds. This is the truth of the body; it is our divine birthright. The decay is what is false. Impregnated in the body is the divine seed and with proper nurturing and care, I believe this seed can grow into a sturdy and magnificent tree of light. We can hold onto that truth always. 

The truth is that as one part of the body opens, it automatically expands. It becomes a vehicle for the descending Light and Force. When it expands a new clarity emerges; the tangles are cleared as it becomes saturated with the divine Energy. The body as a whole becomes a channel for something very new. It becomes a vehicle for transformation. It is merely a matter of uncovering what is already there. It just needs our consciousness and love. It needs this always. This work of expansion is endless and without limit! 

In my next article, I shall look at the means of expanding through pain. 


1. Sri Aurobindo. Birth Centenary Library, Volume 24. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 1970, p. 1652.

2. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 6, 2nd ed. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 2003, p. 37.

3. The Mother. Collected Works, Volume 5. 2003. 

4. Ibid. 

5. Ibid.,p. 260. 

6. Ibid. 

James Anderson is a member of SAIIIHR and coordinating editor of NAMAH.

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Tangles and knots