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Namah Journal


The work of alignment

James Anderson


Aligning oneself to the Truth of one’s being is a key to well-being and health. The soul is the chief determinant in regaining wholeness. However, in the early stages of growth, it works from behind the scene, so one needs to find that part of our nature which resonates most strongly with the psychic influence. In the author’s experience, the work of alignment comes through detailed observation, a process of the Integral Yoga, and the enquiry that accompanies it produces a dynamic shift towards the Truth. Progress requires immense personal effort at the beginning but the aim is always for alignment to become our spontaneous, natural state.

The beginning

To be inwardly aligned is to be connected to the Truth of one’s being. Deep within the heart is to be found a hidden recess where the ultimate answer lies. It is the only adequate answer to humanity’s endless question: how to end this life of misery? Only the Truth can provide the panacea for complete well-being. Here, deep inside each one of us, the evolving soul or psychic being resides, waiting to assume rightful mastery over our nature and our life. This is the Truth and it is every human’s mission in life to find it and unite with it. When the soul is ready, a call comes and there is a point where it all unfolds. So the first phase is one of awakening. Slowly or suddenly, we become aware, vaguely or concretely, that there is this Truth within us and we make a decision to unite with it. From this first glimpse, we start to move progressively towards it. To know it deeply by identity becomes our overriding goal.

It also becomes the key to a more complete state of health and well-being. The key to alignment lies in harmonisation inside. Without harmony, the separate parts of our nature rub against each other or collide, a chief cause of physical or mental illness. Any inner imbalance eventually surfaces on the body. So what ensues is a process of integration and the momentum of this work is always towards oneness: one indivisible nature around the central Truth. But it can be a very long journey.

In my experience, the emphasis of this work consists of addressing the causes rather than the effects or even the symptoms of this human malaise. So the process of alignment begins inside, radiating over the outer being, the physical itself. It needs to be integrated with the outside world. It is a process of expansion too.

Harmony brings equilibrium throughout our being. I find that all alignment begins with equilibrium. This balance is essential to our psychology but steadies the physical consciousness too. When one learns to align oneself, this protection provides a thick layer of immunity, becoming a wonderful preventive against all manner of illness or attack. It can forestall or save us also from the onset of accident and catastrophe. This alignment guarantees an abiding resonance with the Divine Grace. The seed of knowledge begins to sprout inside and gradually we begin to learn and trust that the Truth is our best armour and protection.

Our ‘divine possibility’

Many years may pass before one realises one’s soul. For most, the process will take many lifetimes. One has to want it above all else. Initially at least, we see or feel it in auspicious moments or with unexpected glimpses. We may be conscious some of the time of its presence but without the certitude and settled experience of realisation. The psychic influence tends to work from behind the scene. It often comes when our guard is down, usually when our doubting mind has gone to sleep. So there are steps before the truest alignment.

In the meantime, we can look into our nature to ascertain where the ‘divine possibility (1)’ lies. In all of us, I believe there is a particular part of our nature which has the greatest resonance with the psychic influence. It is the part of our nature which most shines; it reflects something of the radiance of the psychic being. This, indeed, is our destined gateway into the soul-realisation itself. This aspect of our nature still breathes and vibrates in the realm of the Ignorance. It is still prone to error, but for the time being it is our chief source of strength and shows the rest of our being a truer perspective. It provides a way forward and the process of alignment needs strength to support it. This is a phase of transition. Our spirit is expanding and this seed, which is our evolving soul, is slowly making firmer roots inside our being and venturing outwards. By continually referring to it and asking it for guidance, the Truth inside us becomes more singular and definitive to our eyes. We begin to interpret its instructions and answers more clearly. Surely, it has been present all along but it has hitherto been obscured by the curtain of our nature. Over time, we can observe this veil slowly being lifted. As it rises, a more infallible Guide gradually emerges.

Working inside

Change is the purpose and there are many ways to initiate change, particularly with the body. “The method by which you will be most successful depends on the consciousness you have developed and the character of the forces you are able to bring into play (2).” Some may like to visualise a story bringing about a successful cure. I myself was recently introduced to the idea of talking to the cells, surrounding them with an aura of harmony and love. But with intention behind, our own unique process will tend to naturally unfold:

“If once, even for a moment only, the inner being has said, ‘I am here and I am yours’, then it is as though a bridge has been built and little by little the crust becomes thinner and thinner until the two parts are wholly joined and the inner and the outer become one (3).”

It is this relationship with our soul and its divine possibility that is the bedrock of all meaningful practice. Through those eyes we need only observe and enquire. The consciousness should always be seated there. My observation is always on the body: this allows the full play of experience to manifest and through those eyes we are able to observe like a spectator watching a play. Once the consciousness makes sincere contact with its object, a dynamic shift occurs and that object becomes a more vivid reflection of the Truth.

I screen the body from the top to bottom. I find the body to be a very accurate barometer of what is happening inside. The body is regarded as something ‘separate’ and with that knowledge, I am able to look at it in a disinterested but more helpful way. I try to follow the Mother’s guidelines. The process that I find works best for me “consists in putting a force of consciousness and truth on the physical spot which is affected (4).”

As I survey the body, I enquire into those patches or spots where the descending Force is being interrupted. These patches might indicate pain, unease, tension, nausea or any manner of affliction. When I am sufficiently receptive, I experience the disorder immediately lifting. In this instance, the “force of the consciousness” exerts itself and “its pressure restores order (5).” I may utter aloud the location of the body where I feel the problem and very often the disorder immediately lifts. This practice seems to identify and open that area for the force to fully descend. Sometimes though, the obstacles may prove more stubborn and I need to enquire into the reason for their existence. Sometimes too, there might be only temporary alleviation:

“When the action is directly upon the body, that is, on the affected part, it is possible that one is relieved; then, some hours later or even after a few days, the illness returns. This means that the cause has not been changed… it is only the effect which has been cured. But if one can act simultaneously upon both the cause and the effect, and the cause is sufficiently receptive to consent to change, then one is completely cured, once for all (6).”

If I am presented with this challenge, I get inside the pain and experience the sensation yet look at it as something foreign. Why has this pain come? With a patient attitude, the soul influence will give me the true answer. Usually it is instantaneous. If I am not sufficiently patient and have to wait there is a possibility that the pause may leave the process prone to premeditation. There is an unspoken resonance when the answer does arrive, nothing more dramatic than a quiet inner knowing. I will then verbalise the answer and say it out loud. This has the effect of ‘nailing’ the affliction altogether. But the words have to ‘fit’ the particular vibration that is confronting me. If they don’t, they may have no effect at all or even exacerbate the unease or pain even further. If there is resonance, there is instant healing and the problem immediately disappears. I believe that it’s just a matter of practice. In time, I find that one gets a greater understanding of this communication. It is a language without words but for something as presently finite as the body, words have an immense impact. So why not invite the Truth as interpreter too? Wherever Truth reigns, natural order is resumed and this normalcy implies joy, peace and bliss: things which are only our natural birthright. Somewhere in this world of ignorance, this condition has been lost and the process of alignment returns it back to us.

Sometimes the deeper I probe, the more I realise just how many ‘causes’ there actually are! Frequently, one might conceal others in separate layers underneath. Like boring into very hard ‘crust’, the rock often gets harder and harder the deeper one goes. Many of us go through lifetimes with these causes entirely hidden from our gaze. Like trapped memories, they gnaw away at one’s well-being without being noticed. It explains why so many people live a life of tension, unease and misery. One knows something isn’t right but can’t put a finger on it. It is the practice of yoga, or more specifically this detailed observation, which can shed light on the hidden corners of our nature.

I find these disfigurements from the past very difficult to efface: they just keep coming back, if only in a slightly different guise. Being so hidden, they are easily able to undermine our psychological balance. They are chronically embedded in our nature, most stuck in our subconscious. One has to go deep down, right down to the bottom of the root.

The Mother herself describes this work so beautifully:

“This then is truly the truth, you are upon earth for that, surely. All individual beings and all the little concentrations of consciousness were created to do this work. It is the very reason for existence: to be able to become fully conscious of a certain sum of vibrations representing an individual being and put order there and find one’s way and follow it (7).”

Hide and seek

I find I sometimes get lost in the outside world. At those times when I identify with it, I fall prey to outer circumstances and this undermines my alignment. I lose connection with the Truth of my being. I also lose touch with the presiding part of my nature. The shift happens spontaneously and often without catching my attention. Sometimes a great amount of concentrated effort is required to settle again at a truer inner poise. There is a danger of losing this inner poise the moment one opens one’s eyes after aligning oneself inside. The eyes need to be opened slowly, integrating the newly gathered presence and surroundings into the body. I need also to expand my consciousness before I open my eyes. When I am ‘back’, I might do some stretching or gentle movement to remind the body of its natural alignment. It is important for the physical to sustain the contact for as long as possible.

This inner poise and contact are so essential to alignment. When our consciousness strays outside, it gets scattered and all control over the nature is relinquished. The body is left to stumble on through in its own ways of mechanical habit.

“The push towards externalisation must be rejected always – it is a way the physical consciousness has of slipping out of the condition of concentrated sadhana. To keep in the inner consciousness and work from it on the external being till that also is ready is very necessary when the work of change is being specially directed towards the physical consciousness (8).”

One has to find a way of countering the gravitational pull of our nature. It’s as if nature and soul are playing a perpetual game of hide and seek. In truth, the soul is not hiding at all; it is doing everything it can to be found. However, the nature blindfolds itself repeatedly and loses track of its truest companion.

The ‘push to externalisation’ is probably the chief obstacle we all face in establishing alignment throughout our being. Alignment has to become effortless and spontaneous: our natural state. The scale has to irrevocably shift in favour of our true nature, which is, of course, the soul. Considerable effort will inevitably be expended in achieving this state. One has to aspire for a non-stop, 24x7 awareness, particularly in times of activity. I find this not easy as activity has a way of scattering the consciousness. But ultimately, I feel, this is work that has to be done. It is all, quite simply, a divine undertaking and we have to connect with the Divine in us. Because of that, with a sincere attitude, one is assured of the truest help along the way.

Warning signs

It is important to recognise those movements that throw us out of alignment. I only need look at the body: the ‘effect’ always manifests on the physical. I then need to interpret those trigger points that appear on the surface but which are caused by imbalance from inside. Wherever there is strain or excessive effort my nature has already started sliding into a very harmful trap. I may find myself in a very positive mood, for instance, and that strength overspills into the vital nature giving it a strong shot of energy. I may even feel elated and that feeling might transfer into a sense of vital impatience which undermines the whole equilibrium of the being. The vital, with the complicity of the mind, will start bullying and forcing the body in order to obtain its satisfactions as quickly as possible. The result is disequilibrium. In such circumstances, any weakness in the body is disregarded, allowing no strength to come from above. The body might find it impossible to keep up with the vital’s demands and the whole being becomes horribly mis-aligned.

However, I find that nothing re-aligns the being more than the force of love. The effect can be instantaneous. Even love (as my humanity interprets it) galvanises the nature around this potent and mysterious force. It is such a source of strength! True Love is impersonal; it might dally with the multiplicity but remains always separate and distinct from any variation. Surely, we must all aspire for Love without dilution in order to truly evolve. Not surprisingly, it is the Truth alone which has the capacity to impose Love’s dominion over the full range of terrestrial existence. Perhaps that is one reason why Sri Aurobindo often used to state that the consciousness of Truth had to settle here first.

The reality is that the human being is part of an unfinished process. The work of alignment is the perfect preparation for the transformation that is decreed and yet to fully come. In a sense, the work takes away the element of ‘miracle’ from the overall process itself. Everything necessarily is imposed by a higher determinism. It is a divine law. So there can be no greater joy in life than aligning oneself decisively to this Truth.


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 3. 2nd ed. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 2003, p. 96.

3. Ibid., p. 7

4. The Mother. Collected Works, Volume 4. 2003, p. 264.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid., pp. 264-5.

7. The Mother. Collected Works, Volume 5. 2003, p. 201.

8. Sri Aurobindo. SABCL, Volume 24. 1970, p. 1455.

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

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