When a forgotten word comes out from behind the curtain and re-inserts itself into my vocabulary it is such delight. Welcome back prajnaparadha. A Sanskrit word, prajna means wisdom and apradha translates as crime. So, the literal meaning of prajnaparadha is crime against wisdom. A term from aryuvedic medicine considered the first cause of disease. The absolute natural human tendency to NOT do what we know is best for us. What? Me?
5,000 years ago yogis recognized and gave a name to the way we knowingly engage in behavior that harms us. Can you feel how that takes a load off? To know this way of being in the world is normal? If we look closely and honestly we sense the application for how we treat our physical bodies—diet, exercise, rest—but also the ways we live in these vulnerable hearts and busy minds. Crimes against wisdom in small ways and large on a regularly frustrating basis.
Wisdom whispers, sometimes shouts, about how health-giving regular movement is for our most tender physical body. So with this piece of wisdom in mind I envision all of us falling on a kind of prajnaparadha continuum. Some of us take that bit of health-giving wisdom to the extreme. People obsessed with exercise. People who run through pain. People joylessly pushing through gym routines. That’s way over at one end of the continuum. We all know the other end. The comfy couch calls us more than the yoga mat on the floor. We choose denial of pain over being with it by stepping onto some form of healing path. We feel hopelessly out of touch, out of shape, out of sorts…too far gone to make a move. We all fall somewhere on this line and change our position on it all the time.
No matter where we fall, prajnaparadha takes guilt out of the equation. Gives us permission to wake up daily in love with our very human self, curious about what it means to be incarnated in a physical body. What it might mean to care for that sacred vehicle just for today. What movement might feel nurturing, supportive or even (can you imagine?) pleasurable. And even if we choose the painful run or the couch, we can lean into the exquisite truth that we are in good company, that we are oh so human and that tomorrow is another day. We can turn on the self compassion faucet, know that it is way more kind than dragging out the whips and chains.
Me? Even before I had a name for it, I’d been tracking this human quality in myself and my patients. More than fifty years of faithfully fashioning home programs, skillful rehab plans, individualized self-care coaching in multiple settings. Advising, cajoling, educating us to move and breathe, progress and heal. I remember when it was all shiny new. I was young and totally bewildered about “non-compliance”. It took awhile for me to put two and two together: acknowledge my own vacillation, my own on-again, off-again, my own prajnaparadha. I finally looked in the mirror and saw the same struggling human I saw in my patients.
You may be asking, how can someone who has invested an entire professional lifetime on maintaining optimal health fall down on the job? It’s easy, I’m human…just like you. This slice of human experience, this working knowledge of the reality of discipline, the way it really looks, not the way we think it should look…this totally intrigues me. It is total pleasure to craft do-able movement options in partnership with you and acknowledge the on-again, off-again love-hate affair of it. To move with you as we learn to love this prajnaparadha-part of ourselves, to know that self-compassion is ten times more important than connective tissue flexibility. To take the load off.
The way the human body gets in trouble is, at the same time, infinite and predictable. And the way it heals is the same. Mostly we need to learn how to get out of our own way and do some simple practice to optimize what our body elegantly will do on its own. That’s where a little expertise comes in. If you want a companion, a witness, an expert coach for your own journey, I’m here waiting for you,
Your own version of prajnaparadha awaits….love, bella