Question: You mentioned that if you have intimate sexual relationships with different people, it can mess up your energies. I find myself in such a situation. I left one relationship and now I am in another one, but I feel guilty and confused about it.

Sadhguru: Whatever guilt and confusion you feel is in your mind. That can happen to you anyway, even without any physical contact. Guilt is a social phenomenon. What you feel guilty about essentially depends upon what people around you have told you is right and wrong in whatever society you live. Something you feel guilty about in one society, you would not feel guilty about in another society.

What you feel guilty about essentially depends upon what people around you have told you is right and wrong in whatever society you live.

What I was referring to in this context was runanubandha, which is a certain kind of physical memory. You pick up runanubandha in many ways, but sexual relationships have maximum impact in terms of the amount of memory that they leave, compared to any other kind of touch, or any substance you come in touch with.

This is not a question of guilt or ridding yourself of guilt. This is not about social conditioning – we are only looking at the existential aspects of life. The body has its own memory. Today, there is research happening in this direction. To put it in a simplified way, let us say for example, your father, when he was a child, liked to play with round objects, round pebbles, and things like that, and he developed a certain level of involvement with them. As his child, without knowing why, you will tend to choose similar things. It is proven that these repetitions happen. This is simply because you carry a certain genetic material.

Runanubandha in Men & Women

Runanubandha is the physical memory that you carry within you. This memory can be acquired due to blood relationships or sexual relationships. When it comes to sexual relationships, a woman’s body has much more memory. When it comes to genetic material, a man’s body has much more memory. Generally, over eighteen to twenty-one years of age, a woman’s body carries less physical memory than a man’s body. The main reason why nature has done this is because a woman has to bear a child from a man who is not genetically connected with her. For her to carry the child to term, it is very important that her genetic memory is less.

Many women can vouch for this – the moment you get pregnant, without knowing why, your emotions for your parents and other blood relatives will fade to some extent. At least in India, when you are pregnant, you go back to your mother to seek her support, for practical reasons. But the emotional connection will decrease dramatically. This is part of nature’s system to enable a mother to comfortably accommodate the genetic material of the child’s father within her system. Otherwise, if the mother’s body has too much memory of her own parentage, the unborn child, which carries different genetic material, will struggle.

It is just that even if you as much as hold someone’s hand, you develop runanubandha. This is why in India, people greet you with folded hands.

Runanubandha cannot be equated with the genetic factors that are being transmitted from parent to child. It is a physical memory of where you came from – not necessarily in terms of color of your skin, shape of your nose, how you are built, and so on. It is just that even if you as much as hold someone’s hand, you develop runanubandha. This is why in India, people greet you with folded hands. They do not want to acquire runanubandha. The same applies for passing on certain substances, like salt, sesame seeds, or soil – people never take them from somebody else’s hands, to avoid developing runanubandha. Since this culture is essentially oriented towards liberation, this awareness and these sensitivities are there not to build bondage in life, but to keep it only to the extent that is absolutely necessary.

The body remembers any kind of intimacy – not only with another physical body, but with any physical substance. Certain types of substances have more of an impact than others. You will see, if a yogi comes to sit somewhere, he will walk up and down, look here and there, feel different places, and then settle down in a particular place. Because they are sensitive to what is suitable for their system.

You will only be conscious about these things if you are working in a certain way with your system. Otherwise, if every day you are eating all kinds of things that you have no control about; if you are travelling a lot, you cannot maintain all this. But generally, for long periods of time, people did not move anywhere. Even just two generations ago, most people would be born, live, and die in the same house. Today, you come in touch with many more people and substances, and it has become all-the-more relevant to be conscious of not developing too much runanubandha.

Washing off Runanubandha

There are certain festivals like Pongal or Bhogi that are about clearing up your mental baggage, your emotional baggage, and your runanubandha. At Linga Bhairavi, we are doing Klesha Nashana Kriya. You could consider it as a ritual fire wash, which you can make use of if a regular shower is not sufficient to get you clean. Klesha Nashana Kriya is a way of burning physical memories that you have picked up – not necessarily because of relationships. Just by coming in touch with people, situations, atmospheres, so many things, the body picks up memory.

Klesha Nashana Kriya is a way of burning physical memories that you have picked up – not necessarily because of relationships.

There is fire wash, and of course, water wash every day. At the time in my life when I was into a lot of sadhana, I would have somewhere between five and seven showers a day, because your system becomes so sensitive. For example, you sit on a particular cushion, and you are conscious what this cushion is doing to you, so you want to wash it off by at least letting water run over your body. I did not calculate that I must take a shower five or seven times a day – whenever I felt like it. Most yogis have bath at least twice a day, at the minimum. Usually, it is a dip in the river – you dip in flowing water so that you are washed clean.

During certain seasons, like the shift of the Sun from the southern hemisphere to northern hemisphere, and again, from north to south, the winds are strong on the Indian subcontinent. One simple process is to go and stand in the wind so that you get a proper air wash. It will do wonders to you. Try this – when there is a strong breeze, just wear something loose and simply stand there for half an hour, with your eyes closed, being conscious of it. Turn both ways, so that the breeze flows over you from front and back. You will feel so much lighter and better.

In the ashram, all the brahmacharis wash their clothes separately. This is because all of them are doing sadhana and everyone has their own specific characteristic – we do not want it all mixed up. Another way to prevent a mix-up is to coat the clothes with soil in every wash. Sadhus and sanyasis always use finely sieved red earth to dye their clothes. The clothes are originally white, but because they are constantly washed with filtered earth, they turn mud color.

Similarly, the buildings in the ashram are painted with soil and a certain adhesive for it to stick like paint. Those who are doing intense sadhana must either wash separately, or coat your clothes with some soil material every time you wash them, so that the only runanubandha that you have is with the earth – not with people or things around you. Apart from that, if you wear clothes that are dipped in red earth, in some way, it is a reminder for the body as to where it comes from and where it will go. Another way of doing it is to have a mud bath, like we do at the Isha Rejuvenation Center. The idea of a mud bath is to clear everything.

Editor’s Note: Why are relationships such a circus for most of us? What is this primal urge within us that demands a bond – physical, mental, or emotional – with another? And how do we keep this bond from turning into bondage? These are the fundamental questions that Sadhguru looks at in “Compulsiveness to Consciousness”. Ebook available for purchase at Isha Downloads.

A version of this article was originally published in Isha Forest Flower. Download as PDF on a “name your price, no minimum” basis or subscribe to the print version.