Overcoming Arthritis

Soledad R. De Leiva, Colombia, South America

Ten years ago I started taking yoga classes. I had only been practicing for three or four months when suddenly a series of terribly pains caused me to go to the doctor. Arthritis located in the spinal column was the diagnosis. When I informed my yoga teacher of my medical problem, he advised me very firmly, 'In spite of all your pain, you should continue with your exercises. Stop taking drugs and start a vegetarian diet. The arthritis needs about ten years to get into your body, and you will need to practice yoga for that amount of time to get rid of it.'

Most people would be discouraged by these words, but I wasn't. With regularity, discipline and faith I continued my practices. On some days I finished crying because of the pain.

I had been practicing for about four years when I noticed that the pains were not coming so often or with such intensity. Also the veil of ignorance started to disappear. I began to see the results of yoga in my personal life, in my work, and in my relations with relatives and strangers. It was a slow change, but firm and effective in every sense. I had begun to perceive something extraordinary. I felt that even if it cost my life I would keep on, for I was confident that in yoga I would find what I had been searching for since my childhood. With this thought and a great amount of patience I dedicated my life to yogic practices, studies and meditation.

Yoga produces physical, mental and spiritual reactions as one progresses. These manifest themselves as obstacles and at times are very strong, depending on one's state of mind. When these arise the guidance of a teacher is very important. He helps the aspirant to recognize and be aware of these reactions on all levels. Thus blockages are removed and the process of purification proceeds. Each obstacle can be overcome by clear thinking, understanding and willpower.

Some time later the arthritic pain returned again in full measure. My teacher was away on a trip at the time and I could not go on practicing asanas because the pain was too great. I went to the doctor and the diagnosis couldn't have been more disheartening. I not only had uric acid throughout my body from the arthritis, but I also had pneumonia. My kidneys and liver were affected and my health was very bad. The doctor treated me with herbs and drugs, and after six months my health improved so that I was able to resume my yogic practices for half an hour daily.

Soon after this I received an invitation to attend a series of lectures given by Swami Amritananda. She impressed me very much. I knew that she was going away on a world tour so before she left I asked her for a personal interview. She kindly gave it to me. It lasted for only five minutes, but in this short time all my doubts and fears were eliminated. Happiness, which I had long forgotten, returned to my soul.

It is difficult to find words to tell about the results of this short but transcendental interview with Swamiji. She is gone now, but her words and wishes for me have come true in every way. My progress has been real, noteworthy and surprising. I have completely overcome the critical state my health was in for over a year. I have also gained equilibrium which gives me spiritual happiness and shows me the real meaning of my life. I feel that I have found an immense well, profound and filled with precious stones and all the wealth of the world. Every day I pick up the precious stones of will, regularity, courage, clarity, control and progress. Here to this inexhaustible well, everyone may come. Here you will find what you have always been looking for.