I posted ‘What is a ‘Religious’ Way of Life? – Part1 of 3‘ on 2021.06.16. Item 11 in there says as follows: In order to have a human mind and body and live a human life, we must be aware of our special ability and cultivate it. This special ability is the ability of self-control. Self-control means that we enlighten the new layer of the cerebral cortex and develop the ability to control things emerging from the old layers. Only when we can do this, can we call our life ‘spiritual’.
Relating to the topic of ‘Self-contol’, I have read and summarised one of Msahiro Oki’s articles which was written in his Japanese monthly magazine issued in April 1969. Michael Cullingworth assisted me by correcting and polishing up my English translation.
A. Grasp the way you need
1– One of the main differences between humans and animals is that humans are endowed with the ability of self-control.
2– Many of the students who attend my yoga dōjō*1 suffer from physical or mental disorders. Their self-controlling ability is impaired. Yoga is a philosophy based on training of both body and mind, but not a treatment method. Therefore the name of a disorder does not matter in my dōjō, and no special treatment is given following the difference of the names of disorders. Then why are those disorders cured there ? It is because everyone is guided to correct their lifestyle.
*1 A Japanese term consisting two characters: dō (the way) and jō (a place). So, it means a place to search for truth by training. Often the word is known as ‘a place to practise a Japanese martial art’. But, this understanding may not reflect the total meaning. If it implies the meaning ‘a place to acquire a true way of living by practising a martial art, it does.
3– For example, the students learn through practical training a correct way of walking, a correct way of sleeping,a correct way of breathing, a balanced nutrition, a correct way of thinking, and so on. Everybody receives the same lessons and grasps what they particularly need from there.
B. All abnormalities are manifestations of the unnatural state of nerves and body fluids
4– Many people may think that a different healing method is needed for each disorder, but that is not true. In conclusion, even if the names of disorders are different, they are all unnatural states of the nerves and body fluids. When somebody is ill, these unnatural states appear in his most tired part. Therefore, we do not need to look at each disorder as it is named. The function of the nerves and body fluids will be normalised by correcting the lifestyle. Then a more natural state will return, by which the illness will be cured. This happens in my dōjō while we cannot point out exactly when the illness has been cured.
C. A busy lifestyle does not necessarily cause abnormalities
5– Our body and mind work and feel best when their power is fully exerted. Busy life is a great opportunity to create such a condition. The problem is not that we are busy, but use our mind and body in unnatural ways.
6– An unbalanced state which attaches to the mind and body becomes a condition to creates stress. As an example of how to use the mind and body in a balanced way: when we are busy, our nerves get excited and blood acidified. In such a case, if we bring stimuli which inhibit the nerves’ excitement, we can continue our activity while maintaining balance, or naturalness.
D. Do things in the natural state
7– The ability to create balance consciously and freely is the ability of self-control. The utmst secret for it is to do something as if you weren’t doing anything. This is called ‘doing in the mu*2 mind’. Yoga teaches you to be awake as if sleeping, be alive as if dead, or remember as if forggeting. This is the state of ‘doing things in the natural state’. At this time the stability of our body and mind is hightened, and so neither stress nor tiredness is caused.
*2 the mind of non-attachment to pre-conceived jugdgements. Read ‘Thus Spoke Oki-sensei on Meditation’ Items 4 & 5.
8– To be in this state, you should imitate the state of sleeping. For example, slow down the pulse. To do this, breathe as long, deeply and quietly as possible and keep the muscles as flexible as possible. To do so, relax the shoulders and put strength on the posterior muscles of your back and tighten the anal muscles. If you are excited in these conditions, you can maintain balance.
9– We cannot maintain a good posture just by paying attention to the positions of our bodily parts and our breathing. It is essential to take account of our mindset and blood quality.
10– The more minerals and vitamins there are in our blood, the better we can inhibit excitement. For this purpose, we had better take food which increases our power of endurance. Such food also purifies the blood, enhances the function of excretion and promotes blood circulation.
E. Acquire naturalness from a comprehensive perspective
11– In a busy life, it is important to consciously maintain a posture and mindset that will not be harmed by the busy schedule. Distorted posture, imperfect breathing, unbalanced blood quality and a biased mentality cause an unnatural state. A natural state is manifested with no waste of energy, or no unevenness. Therefore, feeling some pain means that something is unnatural. Any situation can be solved by comprehensively devising a way to return from an unnatural state to the natural state.
12– A key point to maintain the body’s normality is to follow the inner voice of our life force. Irregularity is not about doing something at a irregular time, but about living against the inner voice of the life force. The most natural way of life is to ‘do something because we want to do it’. However, many people with physical and mental abnormalities do the opposite. Instead of listening to the life force, they seem to have attachment to a fixed time when they should eat or sleep, which can cause an unnatural state.
F. About sleep
13– Most of those who suffer from insomnia are cured within five days of the life in my yoga dōjō. It is because they stay up until they get sleepy. Not feeling sleepy means: the body is appealing that the sympathetic nerves have not yet switched to the parasympathetic nerves, and your body wants to stay up to use the sympathetic nerves more. Sleeping for a long time does not mean a deep sleep. Just as our lifestyle creates a habit in our mind and body’s functions, a shallow sleep can become a habit. It cannot be cured except by correcting our lifestyle. In my yoga dōjō, we do a lot of physical training in the morning, which help many people recover a balance in their nerves’ functions. And after a good physical condition is achieved, they do intellectual work.
G. About diet
14– The basis of stamina is nutrition. However, nutrition is not determined by particular kinds of food, but by whether the food is suitable and needed for the body at that time. Therefore, we can eat when our body demands. If we want or have to eat at a fixed time, we can make a situation that our body demands, and then eat.
15– To eat the right food in the right quantity, we must eat with a ‘cold’ head and consciously, not with a ‘hot’ head. A ‘hot ‘head means a head which is too excited to know our body’s correct need. Consciously maintaining a ‘cold’ head means to control the function of the old layers of the cerebral cortex as well as that of the diencephalon, by enhancing the function of the new layers of the cerebral cortex. A training method for this is meditation.
H. Do everything consciously
16– The state of mind and the state of body are connected via the nerves and body fluids, explained as follows: It is set up as the natutal law that such-and-such a physical state happens in such-and-such a mental state. Therefore, we can consciously control ourselves by acquiring these natural rules through practice. This is the self-controlling technique yoga teaches.
17– For example
• When we get angry, our centre of gravity is raised and the muscles of either the left or right side of the body are particularly stiff. We don’t get very angry if our muscles are relaxed.
• People who are timid and easily get frightened tend to lean their weight on the little toe sides of their feet. If we put strength to our big toes, our mental stability and willpower will be enhanced so that we will feel more energetic.
• When we are gloomy, our chest muscles are contracted. So we should stretch our chest muscles.
• When we are laughing or feeling at ease, our exhalation is powerful, and when we are crying or scared, our inhalation is powerful. Therefore, if we want to be in a cheerful state, we should exhale strongly.
• Long breath calms our mind, and short breath makes us irritated. By retaining breath, we can enhance our inner strength.
• When our blood becomes acidified more than the normal state, our physical and mental functions become excited, and when our blood becomes alkalised, our mental and physical functions become inhibited.
• The various components in our blood stimulate our nerves, which accordingly affects our physical and mental conditions.
18– If we want to develop the ability of self-control, try to do everything consciously. The power of unconsciouness is extremely strong: we say “I understand, but I can’t stop”. However, through conscious training, we will become able to control our desires or emotions. Those caused by physiological stimuli should be adjusted physiologically, and those caused by psychological stimuli should be adjusted by correcting the way of thinking.
This is the way to self-control taught in yoga.