Health and Healing

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

How should one look at disease?

When you suffer from a disease, you must realize that you have broken certain fundamental laws of nature. Even if you have inherited the disease from your family, still the major responsibility lies with you, because by breaking the laws of nature you have destroyed the immune system. You should understand that your disease indicates a breach of discipline.

Therefore, side by side with medical treatment, you must try to discover and understand where you have made an error in your relationship with nature. There are many diseases where you need not go for medical treatment, and there are certain diseases where medical treatment is absolutely indispensable, but in most diseases, side by side with medical treatment, you will have to become aware of and understand the mistake in your physical, mental and emotional personality.

This physical body is very mysterious. It is much more than we have understood. It has powerful secretions inherent in it, which definitely affect the metabolic, catabolic and anabolic processes without your knowledge. Breach of discipline in any realm can put the natural system completely out of order.

Laws about diet, thinking, responses and reactions, stress and strain have to be well understood. When a disease comes, then a spiritual discipline in the form of yoga and meditation comes in. Many times when we suffer from a disease, we are hopelessly worried about it. In order to find a cure for the sickness, we run from pillar to post and have no faith at all in ourselves. When we have no faith in ourselves, then the disease is aggravated even more.

Role of the mind

The mind plays a very important part at all stages of your life. A disease may have been caused due to mental defects, and when the disease takes place you are worried about it. Then again, the mind plays the part of an aggravator, and you do not know what to do, so you are confused. Then the mind plays the part of a complicator. At all stages it is a generator, an aggravator and a complicator. Even if the disease is purely biological and physiological in origin, still the role of the mind is important. Therefore, you should try to treat the patient first.

Methods of healing

Medical science has great limitations because doctors only treat the disease. Of course, it gives some sort of relief, but the patient remains sick. One sickness is gone, and another sickness is in waiting. Therefore, spiritual healing comes into the picture.

In India, there are spiritual healers in every village, and they are very humble people. They heal through mantra, through touch, through group sessions, and by exploding emotions.

However, apart from these spiritual healing systems, there is another one, which is the practice of yoga in day-to-day life. It has been found even by scientists today that when you meditate, great changes take place in your body. Pratyahara, dharana or dhyana, concentration and meditation practices, are not merely psychological or purely spiritual. Body and mind are in total interaction with each other. What happens to the body happens to the mind and vice versa. Therefore, you should try to become your own healer.

Mind over matter

I had a friend in France who was having problems with his testicles, and he was fed up with his life on account of this disease. He resigned from his job and wanted to go away somewhere. At that time, he remembered his sister who was practicing raja yoga, and she taught him concentration at the mid-eyebrow centre. This young man started practicing the same practice every night. One day he happened to go deep into meditation, the mind began to dissolve and he heard a terrific sound in his body, and after that his testicular problem was over. Scientists are now trying to understand how an abstract mental process affects the physical organism.

In Australia, scientists have taught pranayama, relaxation and meditation practices to cancer patients and tried the effect of meditation and the dharana system of raja yoga on the behaviour of cancer cells. In dharana, concentration, you have a concept or a form. You visualize something that you like or desire. Cancer patients were asked to visualize the conflict and fighting between cancer cells and white blood cells. The strong visualization of this conflict showed a remarkable decrease in cancer cells. A similar experiment was repeated in America with comparable results.


When you can awaken your mental and spiritual force, then you can start independent spiritual healing. However, at the same time, there are other methods of spiritual healing. Some people are endowed with special magnetic or electro-magnetic radiation. You can study this force by studying the Kirlian photographic system, which has shown that every individual body has an aura. This aura belongs to everybody, but some people have the special magnetic force of prana.

This pranic force can be radiated, transmitted and transferred into another person's body. In the tantric system, we call these sciences prana vidya. There are many forms of prana vidya and their purpose is to increase the quantum of pranic force in your body. When there is plenty of pranic force, your resistance increases. As a result of this resistance, your body can exercise what we call the powers of immunity. Nature has created this physical body with many kinds of defences.

Due to nature's strong defence and immune systems, diseases do not happen all of a sudden. These systems of resistance or immunity are always backed by prana or the life force. When there is a disease in your body, you should realize that it has been developing for a long time.

Chateau Theyrargue, France, 19 July 1984

Is spiritual healing effective and lasting?

Every form of healing is effective, but not lasting, because it is only healing the symptoms of sickness, not the person who is sick. The mind, emotions, thinking and philosophy of the patient should be healed. The process of spiritual healing improves the condition for some time, but if there is no change in the person's attitude and reactions, after some time, the person falls sick again.

Law of karma

When you are trying to heal a sick person, you must understand the reason for the sickness. Karma is the first law in science and life. Karma related to eating, sleeping and thinking is responsible for sickness. The karmic process of the individual must be corrected and reorganized. If you are not reorganizing the karmic process, you are only trying to suppress the law of nature and scrap the disease. Therefore, there is sickness after sickness.

The purpose of disease is not suffering, but the expulsion of the toxins of karma. With diarrhoea, an abscess or fever toxins are expelled, and you must undergo the sickness because it is the process by which nature is trying to force the expulsion of toxins. You did not allow nature to release the poisons before but were withholding the process. Therefore, nature is finally trying to push the process by force.

Any kind of sickness, whether it is insomnia, schizophrenia or a physical disease, should be treated without obstructing the laws of nature. Nature is an all powerful and omnipresent force which controls the entire universe by certain inexorable laws.


Nature, known as prakriti, is a very organized system. According to samkhya and tantra, prakriti, is of two types: para prakriti, the transcendental, and apara prakriti, the material nature. The material nature is of eight types: the five tattwas, the elements, and chitta, the mind,buddhi, the intelligence, andahamkara, the ego principle. This is called ashtadha prakriti, the eightfold prakriti. The eight queens of Krishna, the ashtha rani, symbolize these eight forms of nature. However, the transcendental prakriti controls the invisible laws of the entire cosmos.


For the last twenty years I have been talking to spiritual healers in the West. Often they become terribly sick because the purpose of disease is suppressed. Many spiritual healers have chronic and incurable diseases that medical science, acupuncture or homeopathy fail to heal. They also have another difficulty. When they treat a patient suffering from rheumatism, in the end, they have the rheumatism themselves. They don't know how it happened because they don't know the laws of nature. Nobody knows.


Samarth Ramdas had a very high fever, but he had an important consultation with his disciple, the king, Shivaji. Therefore, he transferred his fever to his tiger skin. When the king came, they had their consultation and the king found the tiger skin was shivering. Ramdas said, "Shivaji, do not worry, it is my fever. I have transferred it to the tiger skin because of our important consultation." The king replied, "But when you can take the fever out of your body to the tiger skin, why don't you throw it away?" Ramdas said, "I must suffer and undergo the karma."

There is a process of evolution in the body and mind, and karmas must be undergone in order to evolve. Spiritual healing is a good science. It will help people, but it is not the ultimate healing of suffering. It is a relief at the time of agony, yet the whole structure of mind, body and spirit must be reorganized.

Bombay, India, 3 November 1981

How can memory be improved?

The memory centres in the brain undoubtedly do degenerate. The degeneration is caused by strong toxins, like alcohol, narcotics or sedatives. Even if we do not take alcohol, smoke or take sedatives, there is ample in our day-to-day food habits. Food produces alcohol, and some amount is definitely necessary for the body but not in excess. When people are suffering from cerebral or paralytic stroke, they lose their memory. This means that we should avoid clotting in the blood vessels and high blood pressure. This is the physiological sign of memory loss.

There is also a psychological aspect to memory. When your mind is distracted and overcrowded, you miss many details. One yoga practice is known as antar mouna, inner silence, in which you sit down quietly and do not concentrate on anything, but just observe all the thoughts that come into your mind. Many times you are able to think of what happened to you during your childhood. Depending on the particular frequency at which your brain is functioning, you sometimes remember the immediate past and then suddenly jump to your childhood. Sometimes you begin to remember such insignificant things which you did not even notice when they happened. This is a practice which has to be done day in and day out assiduously.

All memories are recorded in the brain, but the capacity for reproduction is very inadequate. Therefore, when you want to know about maintaining memory, you are actually talking about the capacity for reproduction.

When people are on their deathbed, they remember so many events of their lives, even to the tiniest detail. The most insignificant things are remembered. Just before death, the memory becomes brilliant and sharp. It means that everybody has the memory intact and it is only the capacity for reproduction that has to be maintained. For retention and reproduction of memory the best and most effective practice is pranayama.

Helsinki, Finland, July 1981

How can obesity be eliminated?

People have time and money for everything but not for the life-saving system of yoga. It is not only food that is the cause of obesity. The cause is a process of thinking. This process of thinking eliminates certain processes of digestion in the system. There are various yoga practices that could be prescribed for eliminating obesity. One important practice for jolly fat people is tadagi mudra, the barrelled abdomen technique.

Practitioners should stretch out both legs and just hold the toes. The knees and elbows should be straight, and the head not bent towards the knees. In this particular posture, you breathe out through the mouth and then push your belly a little inside. Then breathe in through the nose, expand the abdomen, wait for a while and then blow the breath out. Contract the abdomen and breathe in through the nose. Repeat this as many times as you can.

When it is not possible to hold the toes, then hold the ankles. If that is also not possible, then tie two handkerchiefs to the two toes and hold the other ends of the handkerchiefs. In about a week's time you will find that your hands are becoming longer and the legs shorter! This is one of the best practices I can suggest in the shortest period.

Another practice is ushtrasana, the camel pose. Not everybody can do it, especially fat jolly people. Instead, they should stand straight, hold their hips and slowly move the palms down the legs over a period of time. Gradually, they will also be able to move into supta vajrasana, the sleeping thunderbolt pose. These are two more exercises for obesity

Lastly, people who are suffering from obesity also have fat bank balances. They should try to correct that through yoga, because obesity in the bank is not good for the mind. It is said in the Bible that, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven." It is one of the most important pieces of advice. It does not mean that you should not become rich, but it is important that you improve your legacy. There are millions of people to whom you can distribute your wealth.

Las Palmas, Spain, 23 September 1980