Question and Answer

From the teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati

How can we remain harmonious and balanced in a life full of contradiction and conflict?

Contradiction is the law of life, progress and mobility. We all are contradictions. Contradiction is everywhere in creation, not uniformity. There is no uniform philosophy in life. Actually, the very fact of existence is a contradiction.

Who is Lord Shiva? He has the moon on his forehead and the Ganga flowing from his hair. He rides on a bull and sits on a tiger skin together with Parvati. Through his personal life he is trying to teach us that life is like this. In the day we work, at night we sleep, and so there is balance. We eat lunch and digest it, we eat dinner and digest it, so there is balance. We don’t eat all the time, like birds and animals.

If there were no contradictions, no difficulties, no adverse situations in life, there would not be any progress. Friction is the secret of motion. When there is motion, there is friction, and when there is friction there is motion. Therefore, we should not worry about the various contradictions in life, whether emotional, mental or intellectual. People often are concerned about conflicts, but they are being neurotic.

Can hatha yoga cure psychological problems?

According to scientific investigation, physical postures known as asanas and breathing exercises known as pranayama not only influence the physical condition but also influence the psychosomatic, mental and vital conditions which appear in the form of psychological diseases. Mental conditions such as restlessness, anxiety, neurosis, insomnia, worries and other psychosomatic conditions, though psychological, can be safely managed through the practices of physical postures or exercises. Asanas affect the endocrinal glands, such as the adrenal, thyroid, and pancreas. By influencing these glands they not only remove and correct physical defects and problems, but also change the imbalanced condition of the human mind.

What effect can the functioning of the endocrine system have on human behaviour?

Scientific research has brought a fundamental fact into the limelight, namely the behaviour of the endocrine glands on the human mind, behaviour or emotions. Endocrine glands are called ductless glands – the thyroid, pancreas, pituitary, pineal, thymus, adrenals, and gonads.

Scientists have come to the conclusion that if a person is angry by nature, there is something wrong with his glands. If a person thinks too much, it could be that some of his glands are overdeveloped. If one is too emotional, thinks too much, sleeps or worries too much or is too self-conscious, it may be due to some kind of fault in the system of the endocrine glands.

There are some basic asanas which control the endocrine secretions. For example, siddhasana controls sex hormones, sarvangasana the thyroid glands, and halasana the pancreatic and adrenal secretions.

I suffer from an inferiority complex due to stammering. What should I do?

You have used the term ‘stammering’, I call it impure speech. There are two specific practices to correct this disorder but you should continue regular asana and pranayama practice as well.

The first method is the daily chanting of Vishnu Sahasranama. Sanskrit chanting purifies the speech. The second method is regular bhramari pranayama in vyaghra mudra. You may practise bhramari also with Om chanting.

Can yoga help in the case of a nervous breakdown?

Yoga can help a person suffering from nervous weakness and nervous depression. Nervous depression takes place when the nerves or nervous system is overworked.

The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems carry impulses to the brain and receive instructions from the brain. When the mind is overworked, is nervous or anxiety-ridden, the nerves begin to throb or pain. Therefore, when the brain is overworked, the nervous systems are also overworked, because there is a limit of resistance in the nervous system. Of course, the amount of resistance varies from individual to individual.

Through the practices of yoga one stills the mind, relaxes the body and muscles and tries to harmonize the emotions. Through the practice of jnana yoga one analyses the various situations properly. Through the practices of pranayama extra energy is supplied to the body, and through the practices of yoga asanas an enriched supply of blood is received by the nerves. The practice of bhakti yoga harmonizes the emotions.

The practice of yoga nidra relaxes the whole body, and the practices of concentration and meditation stop the activities of the mind for some time. If one can stop the mind for some time, nervous depression can be helped at once.

Does mental relaxation play a role in managing diseases?

One day I found myself sitting beside a young boy in a hotel in London. He told me that he was a heavy smoker. He offered me cigarettes but I refused. After some time, he drank wine and had meat for his meal. When I said that I was a vegetarian, he was astonished to know that I could survive without meat, wine or cigarettes.

Later he told me he suffered from colitis, so I explained some relaxation techniques and suggested that he could get rid of the disease by relaxing the mind. After a few days, he met me again in the hotel and reported that he was fifty percent better. Therefore, by regularly releasing the tensions of the mind one will always stay healthy and cheerful.

According to psychologists, many diseases can be managed by the process of self-analysis. The patient is asked to witness his thoughts. Then positive suggestions are given by the psychologist, so the mind can become relaxed and receptive. The patient starts feeling better because his mind is becoming free from tensions.

People go to see films for entertainment which means that they are not self-content. They don’t seek the real charm in life. They try to escape from their adverse circumstances by playing cards, games and reading novels. This is not the solution to their problems. It is nothing but escape. The enmity or wars between countries, the collapse of societies, individual problems and worries are nothing but the product of unhealthy minds.

Which yoga should we practise to create a healthy society worldwide?

The various methods of yoga are karma yoga, hatha yoga, jnana yoga and raja yoga. People living in today’s world, who have to step into a new dimension of consciousness, and open new doors of perception to bring about a healthy atmosphere for mankind, need to practise the yoga of meditation, dhyana yoga.

All the dimensions of one’s personality undergo a process of complete reorientation and relaxation of the muscular, mental and emotional tensions. These three-fold tensions are deeply integrated in the personality, but can be easily eliminated by the practice of dhyana yoga, meditation.

Yoga should be understood in terms of one’s personality. People are not aware of their unhappiness and frustration which are embedded deeply in the subconscious. The conscious personality does not want to admit to problems and difficulties. One tries to hide the dark side of the soul.

The time has come when we will have to be free with ourselves and realize this. First, we treat problems of the personality, so the mind is able to express its inner faculties and finally, after a long time, we will come to the state of self-realization which is the ultimate purpose of life for which we are born.

The innermost consciousness in us belongs to transcendental dimensions. The Supreme Being, the supreme consciousness, the higher intelligence is in us all.