Satsang with Swami Amritananda

Is kunjal the best practice for relieving tension headache?

All the yoga practices relieve tensions, bat the best method depends on the cause of your headache. If the cause is something external or environmental, then you can relieve it with neti kriya. If the cause is due to acidity in the stomach or overeating then you must practise kunjal. But if the cause is intestinal, due to constipation, diarrhoea or dysentery, you must try shankhaprakshalana.

Now, if the headache is due to emotional distress or anxiety, the best method is yoga nidra. But if the headache is due to some organic problem then prana vidya will invoke the vital energy to that part of the body which is causing tension and pain. If the headache is due to some psychological problem, then mantra is the surest method.

All these practices have been found very useful for alleviating tension headache, however the length of treatment will vary according to each individual. Your headache may disappear from the first day or it may continue and get better in one to three months time. This depends upon the nature and cause of the problem and to what extent it has become rooted in the body and mind.

Why is the repetition of mantra relaxing?

The power of mantra itself creates a relaxing, soothing, purifying vibration. It releases all the blockages on the physical, emotional and mental levels. Mantra immediately calms the nerves. You can practise it with the mala, the breath, the heart beat. Or you can just chant or sing it over and over again.

What are the advantages of practising yoga in the ashram?

Come and see for yourself. You can stay for a few weeks or a few months and learn yoga seriously so that you can practise properly when you return to your home later. When you practise yoga in such a powerful atmosphere, amongst people who are great souls, it has a completely different effect than when you practise at home. What is achieved in three years of practice in your home can be accomplished in just one or two months in the ashram. This is because in the ashram you become so relaxed. You feel that you are in another state of mind. Just living in the ashram will help you a lot.

What is the relevance of prayer?

The vibration of prayer is very powerful because, like the mantra or yantra, it calms the mind and directly links it with the deeper layers of consciousness. When you chose an object of worship such as the shiva lingam or the picture of a certain deity, you can transmit your devotion through that form. Whether it hears your prayers or not does not matter because your own subtle consciousness does hear and definitely it is affected. Whatever you ask in prayer, you should know that your atman or enlightened consciousness will answer and comply according to your wishes.

Some people believe in yajna, vibhuti and sacrifices. These all work in the same way. They are techniques of purification which help to unfold the darkness surrounding the enlightened self. So, according to your wishes, prayer or sankalpa, you either create more darkness or unveil the light.

Of course, in the final understanding, it does not matter whether the ishta or object of your devotion is outside. You utilise an eternal form because the mind requires something to meditate on. So that the emotion can be purified into devotion, you chose one of the deities to meditate upon. But the aspirant who practises internal sadhana sublimates the emotion and integrates it with the mind. Then he takes an object like the yantra, mantra or chakra as a point of concentration. However, this form is still an external thing and later on you will have to get rid of it. Even mantra of the breath will eventually have to be given up along with every other conscious object. You have to remove them all, renounce them, and take the help of that real and eternal light. This requires years of rigorous sadhana.

What is the best sadhana for householders?

The best sadhana for household life is the practice of vairagya or detachment. Learn to be impartial in all your interactions with family members, with friends and neighbours, even with strangers. To develop total impartiality, not just in giving but also in feeling, is something which must be practised and achieved.

By this practice you can get rid of your desires which are the main root of avidya. Vairagya is not an easy thing to practise. It requires effort. Therefore, it is regarded as the best sadhana. You should practise vairagya in every action, at every moment. Even with your breath, whether it goes on and you live or it stops and you die, should not matter to you. You must develop so much dispassion.

Some people pray for more devotion, but what if they lose it? How disturbed they will be. So don't even have any expectation for that. Only try to increase your dispassion; this is a completely different effort. Do not place any emphasis on attachment or craving. All craving must be renounced. This is the real sadhana.